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The official Israeli Line has always been that more than 700,000 deserted more than 500 villages left on their own accord.

In a little noticed article on page 19 of the September 1 edition of Maariv, the Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, Reuven Rivlin, assailed the actors and artists who have refused to perform  at the theater in the Jewish settlement of Ariel. As a proud advocate of Greater Israel and professed friend of even the most fanatical members of the settlement enterprise (see his remarks at the recent funeral of murdered settlers in Kiryat Arba), Rivlin’s attack would not have been significant if he hadn’t revealed some uncomfortable facts in the process.

Seemingly lost in his anger at the lefty artists, Rivlin conceded that the founders of Israel, the cream of the kibbutznikim, had carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing to a massive degree. "I say to those who want to boycott – Deer Balkum ['beware' in Arabic]," Rivlin said to Maariv. "Those who expelled Arabs from En-Karem, from Jaffa, and from Katamon [in 1948..] lost the moral right to boycott Ariel."

From Max Blumenthal

This is a very important admission of the obvious.

This man, of course, sees nothing wrong with ethnic cleansing. Benny Morris, who has documented how terror attacks on Palestinian villages in 1948 led to their ethnic cleansing, also sees nothing wrong with ethnic cleansing, suggesting it was necessary for the creation of the "Jewish State". In fact, he states that it would have been better to expel the whole of the Palestinian population, rather than a mere 700,000.

What about the rest of us? This is fundamental to creating peace in the Middle East, recognizing this historical wrong and seeking to address it by allowing refugees to return to their homeland. this is a very important right.

Article 9.

   * No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 13.

   * (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
   * (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

When there is a real peace process, this will be an important subject to tackle.

In the meantime, Israel continues to build illegally in the West Bank, continues to demolish Palestinian homes at a record pace, hardly even pretending to be serious about the prospect of giving that up for peace.

Rivlin is wrong about many things. But what he is correct about is that it is hypocritical to merely blame "settlers" as if they were not part of the whole zionist project of colonizing Palestinian land, depopulating it of many Palestinians, and pushing the remainder to as little land as possible, that goes back to the founding of Israel.

You won't read that in the book "Exodus", but it's part of the history that needs to be confronted and dealt with if there is going to be peace.

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Originally posted to Tom J on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 07:31 AM PDT.

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