Meanwhile in the Middle East . . .
A recent interview by Ha'aretz (Israel's equivalent of the New York Times) with Benny Morris , a leading Israeli Jewish historian has unearthed some very dirty laundry.
In the new edition of his famous book "Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001," Morris discusses recently declassified documents from Israel's War of Independence.
These documents show that during Israel's war of independence, Ben Gurion and the Israeli command structure determined that Israel could not survive on the land allocated by the UN partition plan, and ordered the Army to systematically expel Palestinian's from areas of what is now Israel, and destroy their villages. In all, Morris reports some 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their land. The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are still there today because in Morris's words "Ben Gurion got cold feet" and couldn't go through with the whole plan. In Morris's view the eventual expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza is the only "realistic" solution to the current conflict. Naturally, this story has received scant attention from the American Media.
Two caveats before I lay it on Israel:
- These are the statements of one man, and we are yet to see if the documents bear scrutiny.
- If true the context of this event was post-war Europe in which ethnic groups across Europe (Germans, Czechs, Poles, etc) were being systematically uprooted and moved to conform with boarders defined at the end of the war.
Those caveat's out of the way: What the F*ck Israel!?!
One of the main complaints of even the most moderate anti-violence Palestinians is that their "Nakba" happened, and the world's Jews refuse to acknowledge it.
The Israeli Retort to this for nearly 60 years has been, "No it didn't happen, it's a myth the Palestinians are perpetuating because they made bad choices during the war." The Israelis have pounded on the myth that Palestinians left Israel by choice to join the Arabs who were attacking it. If some Arabs were displaced those were "isolated" incidents that occurred without the blessing of central command.
The new documents, if true, show how false this assertion has been. Essentially the Israeli narrative of the war is wrong, and the Palestinian narrative is right.
What does this mean for Peace? As an American Jew I can only say that I am deeply disturbed. Since Rabin's Murder Israel has grown increasingly bellicose and militaristic, they have moved from defence of their boarders to aggressive, offensive moves to confiscate territory in Palestinian lands, they have enacted policies (targeted extra-judicial killings, destruction of Palestinian homes) that are certainly unethical, and in all likelihood illegal under international law, and they have tolerated the behavior of Israeli hoodlums (the settlers) who vandalize Arab property (uprooting olive groves), and take land.
The reaction of the Bush administration? Do you even need to ask? Condoleeza Rice claims that the root of the Israeli/Palestinian problem is Yasser Arafat, and that essentially the Israeli's can do what they want until the Palestinians do the impossible, isolate Arafat, and reorganize their entire political system.
Let me make one thing clear, attacking Israel's policies is not anti-Semitism. Rachael Corrie an American Jew, was brutally murdered by the Israeli Army while working with nonviolent elements of the Palestinian resistance. Many Jews, religious and secular, oppose the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and those who would use the conflict to inflame anti-Semitism are exploiting the Palestinians for their own nefarious means.
However, the cold reality is, the Sharon government could not get away with its policies with out the support of the US government, and the US government would not have these policies without extreme pressure from Reactionary American Jewish Groups allied with reactionary Fundamentalist Christina groups.
I argue that it is the ethical and religious imperative of American Jews to speak out against the reactionary American groups that claim to speak for us.