on November 20, 2006
In order to achieve peaceful coexistence in Palestine/Israel, it is imperative that both Palestinians and Israelis hear the true stories of the other and acknowledge their own wrongdoings.
This book documents, using historical sources, the wrongdoings that were done to the Palestinians during the 1948 war (the Israeli war of independence and the war the Palestinians call the catastrophe). This book analyses historical evidence from Israeli sources, indepdently proving true the 1948 experiences the Palestinian refugees, men and women, rich and poor, muslim and christian recount about their cleansing from their land and property.
These events of 1948 accounted here were censored by the perpetrators from even the Israeli population. These events were never added to school books and intentionally pushed out of the Israeli society's consciousness.
However, these events and experiences are vivid in the Palestinian consciousness. Palestinians continue to live the consequences of their diaspora and forced migration in 1948 today.
In order to achieve peace, it is crucial to understand the Palestinian experience and acknowledge it. These experiences are just as true and unquestionable to Palestinians as true and unquestionable the holocaust is to the Israelis.
Now it is totally expected that the book would face resistence and bad reviews here by some Israelis who have never heard these stories and are unwanting to hear them (thanks to censorship). Similarly, zionist enthusiasts are likely to resist this book as they've always resisted any effort that would make heard the Palestinian history.
But a mutual aknowledgement of history in its good and bad, accepting responsibility for crimes and correcting any wrongdoings are a must for both sides to achieve true peace with the other.
This book is a must read for anyone (Israeli, Palestinian, Western or Eastern) that is truely interested in peace in the middle east and in a well-founded and well-informed understanding of the Palestinian situation.
on March 12, 2007
This historical account focuses mainly on the period of time from about the 1920's through the British departure from the Palestinian territory in 1948, when their Mandate ended. Pappe presents the Palestinian side of the struggle, which is virtually unknown by most Americans.
I'm a former teacher, and consider myself fairly well-informed on many issues. Jimmy Carter's recent book was the first I'd read on this subject and shocked me into a reality about myself. I had lived my entire life never even considering the possibility that there was a dark side to the state of Israel. The Israelis were intrinsically always good and right, and it was our duty as Americans to defend them from the evil Palestinians. It was pretty much that simple--unquestioning loyalty. Because it was so conveniently packaged and ingrained, I was not even sparked to curiosity. I'm now into my 3rd book, and I've ordered a 4th on the subject. I've got a lot of catching up to do if I'm to get a balanced understanding both sides of this issue.
Pappe's book provides a rather detailed account (drawn from archival Israeli records and mainly oral accounts of displaced Palestinians) describing the plans set in motion by a radical group of Zionists to make Israel a nation for Jews and rid it, entirely if possible, of its Palestinian population. Pappe catalogs the Palestinian villages (providing dates and details of the incidents) targeted by the special Israeli military units. The details of the Plan were developed by a hard core group, and was thinly veiled from general public knowledge. Most of the villages were very small, apolitical, and offered no means of defense. Hundreds of thousands were driven from their homes and villages with only what they could carry. Most villages were totally destroyed burned, dynamited, bulldozed), leaving the inhabitants nothing to come back to. Intimidation, terror, rapes, massacres were all part of the Plan.
While providing details of these military sweeps through cities and countryside, Pappe also covers the larger context. The UN, the press, and the world in general turned its back on the plight of the Palestinian people. Coming on the heels of the atrocities of the Holocaust, there was no stomach for countries or individuals to point an accusing finger at those who had suffered so horribly at the hands of so many. The heavy burden of guilt of much of the world provided a virtual free pass for the leaders of the Plan to advance their intensive cleansing activities. UN agreements included strict prohibitions against displacement of the existing population. As the Palestinians were driven en masse across the borders to become refugees in neighboring countries, thousands of Jews poured in to inhabit their lands. Though the UN agreement defined strict boundaries for the newly established Israeli state, those boundaries were blatantly ignored by the Plan. Though the UN has verbally opposed this occupation effort, no action has been taken to correct it. Though the UN agreement prohibits discrimination pertaining to rights of citizens within its boundaries, Palestinians have been in fact plagued with countless restrictions limiting their actions and rights which affect almost all aspects of their lives. It is Apartheid.
Pappe covers many of the elements that have worked toward perpetuating this untenable situation. If a long term solution is to be found, one thing is clear. We must give up our knee-jerk conditioning to embrace and defend any action by the Israelis as inherently defensible. They are not saints. Their tactics and actions are not above scrutiny. Allegations of ethnic cleansing and apartheid warrant examination. These methods and tactics are just as reprehensible in Israel/Palestine as in Africa, Germany, or anywhere else. Despite the objections to an open debate, there must be one. The first step is to recognize that the rights of both sides must be given fair consideration. (At this point in time, any criticism of Israel is summarily labeled anti-Sematism. We really must get past this!)
on January 25, 2007
Pappe, an Israeli historian and a senior lecturer at Haifa University, has written a superb account of the Israeli expulsion of the Palestinians from their land in 1948. He quotes David Ben Gurion, leader of the Zionist movement from the mid-1920 until the 1960s, who wrote in his diary in 1938, "I am for compulsory transfer; I do not see anything immoral in it." This contradicts the Zionists' public claim that they were seizing a land without a people.
Pappe writes of the Israelis' March 1948 plan for evicting the Palestinians, "The orders came with a detailed description of the methods to be employed to forcibly evict the people: large-scale intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding villages and population centres; setting fire to homes, properties and goods; expulsion; demolition; and, finally, planting mines among the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning."
Between 30 March and 15 May 1948, i.e. before any Arab government intervened, Israeli forces seized 200 villages and expelled 250,000 Palestinians. The Israeli leadership stated, "The principal objective of the operation is the destruction of Arab villages ... the eviction of the villagers." On 9 April, Israeli forces massacred 93 people, including 30 babies, at Deir Yassin. In Haifa, the Israeli commander ordered, "Kill any Arab you encounter."
This all happened under British rule in Palestine, where Britain had 75,000 troops: Britain's Mandate did not end until 14 May. The Labour government connived at the Israeli onslaught, although the British state was legally obliged as the occupier (and also by UN resolution 181) to uphold law and order. Yet the Labour government announced that it would no longer be responsible for law and order and it withdrew all the British policemen. It also forbade the presence of any UN bodies, again breaching the terms of the UN resolution. The government ordered British forces to disarm the few Palestinians who had weapons, promising to protect them from Israeli attacks, then immediately reneged on this promise.
On 24 May 1948, Ben Gurion wrote, "We will establish a Christian state in Lebanon, the southern border of which will be the Litani River. We will break Transjordan, bomb Amman and destroy its army, and then Syria falls, and if Egypt will still continue to fight - we will bombard Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo. This will be in revenge for what they (the Egyptians, the Aramis and Assyrians) did to our forefathers during Biblical times." These ravings of an insane warmonger hardly betrayed any genuine fear of a `second holocaust'. The Palestinians were suffering massive expulsion, not trying to destroy the Jewish community.
Pappe summarises, "When it created its nation-state, the Zionist movement did not wage a war that `tragically but inevitably' led to the expulsion of `parts of' the indigenous population, but the other way round: the main goal was the ethnic cleansing of all of Palestine, which the movement coveted for its new state. A few weeks after the ethnic cleansing operations began, the neighbouring Arab states sent a small army - small in comparison to their overall military might - to try, in vain, to prevent the ethnic cleansing. The war with the regular Arab armies did not bring the ethnic cleansing operations to a halt until their successful completion in the autumn of 1948."
Overall, the Zionist forces uprooted more than half Palestine's population, 800,000 people, destroyed 531 villages and emptied eleven urban neighbourhoods of their inhabitants. Pappe concludes that this was "a clear-cut case of an ethnic cleansing operation, regarded under international law today as a crime against humanity."
on December 8, 2006
Ilan Pappe has written a scholarly work on the dark side of the formation of the state of Israel. While this is the first book I've ever read on the subject and can't ascertain whether the book is 100% factually accurate, you can't just dismiss all of it simply out of hand just because you don't agree with the contents.
While atrocities were committed by both sides one can't but help feel sympathy and sadness for the Palestinians. Not only were they the majority in Palestine but the world's memory of 1948 is that the land was empty and those few Arabs living there left voluntarily. They were up against a determined, highly organized and motivated Zionist movement that saw Palestine as their future homeland that necessitated a majority Jewish population. The Arabs were to pay for the blood on the hands of Europeans with their own blood and the land they lived on for centuries.
Well before 1947 there were extremely extensive surveys started of every Arab village down even into the minutest detail. These surveys were they used by the Nagana and the Stern gangs terrorize those villages to "motivate" the Arabs to leave. Dynamiting houses with the occupants inside was quite effective as was shooting through windows.
There are those who think that any ad motion of guilt will lead to the destruction of Israel miss the point. The Truth and Reconciliation committee in SA has led to peace. Could not the Israelis admit some guilt and start on the road to peace? Admitting guilt will take away some of the fire that the Jihadist's use to fan the flames of their hatred.
Honest dialogue by both sides is what is sorely needed if we are to see peace in our lifetimes.
on March 13, 2007
This is a stunning and relentless collection of evidence. Pappe uses things such as military archives (opened in the 1990s), diary entries from Ben-Gurion, and oral histories from Hagana soldiers and Palestinians. He gives lengthy, village-by-village accounts of the destruction of homes and expulsion of residents. The expulsions were guided by files of the Jewish National Fund, which had been gathering intelligence data on the demographics of the villages for decades.
It is hard to think of a book that is more opposite of a commonly accepted history than this one. According to Pappe, 1948 was not a desperate fight for survival by a surrounded Jewish enclave, it was a Zionist attack on the countryside. Most of the fighting stemmed from the Hagana's systematic destruction of 400 Palestinian villages. Most refugees were driven out BEFORE the main war started on May 15, 1948. Arab armies did intervene in a haphazard attempt to defend Palestinian sections (as set by the UN partition plan), but they were always out gunned, out numbered and out coordinated by the Hagana. Jordan, in particular, had a secret agreement with the Zionists to annex the West Bank in return for not joining an invasion of Israel. So the most effective Arab army, (and a Jordanian also commanded the pan-Arab "Arab Liberation Army") was not trying to destroy Israel, only protect its own designs on the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Among many pieces of evidence, Pappe argues that the Arab attack on Israel was so weak (despite public pronouncements of impending doom from Ben-Gurion) that the Hagana never had to be diverted from its main task of ethnic cleansing. It was able to hold off the sporadic pan-Arab attacks, and depopulate the countryside at the same time. It was assisted in this by large shipments of arms from Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, while Britain and France embargoed arms to the Arabs. The private conversations of Ben-Gurion and his associates show great confidence they could defeat the Arab attacks, which amounted to little more than face-saving gestures by Arab governments who were only recently independent themselves.
There is also a very interesting chapter on the literal erasure of the existence of Palestine. Parks and newly planted forests in Israel now cover the foundations of numerous Palestinian villages. An Israeli "Naming Committee" was formed to give Hebrew names to the features of the countryside that were once Arab, with special attention to creating links to the Israel of 2,000 years ago, while ignoring last week's residents. The Byra forest tourist destination, for example, contains no reference to the six villages that were wiped from the map there.
For decades, kids in Hebrew schools in the US collected coins to plant trees in Israel. Those same trees now hide stone foundations of nameless villages. Trees in Israeli forests are only 11% indigenous, the rest were planted in recent decades. So not just the people were cleansed, the memory too.
This book deserves to be the center of an international discussion about Palestine, but a crushing silence is the more likely result.
on January 14, 2007
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe
Zionist mythology presents events in Palestine in 1948 as the triumph of plucky beleaguered Jews over the combined armies of five Arab nations to secure the existence of modern Israel, while Arabs voluntarily fled their villages to facilitate the annihilation of the Jews. This view is incomplete and false. The Arabs have a different version, much of which has been confirmed by at least two Israeli historians in recent years.
Benny Morris, in The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, details the forcible ejection of Palestinians from their villages, confiscation of their livestock and crops, and destruction of buildings so that there would be nothing to return to for those fleeing for their lives. It is no figure of speech to say that the Palestinians were fleeing for their lives because Haganah units in capturing Arab villages summarily executed men and boys suspected of actual or potential resistance. Also, there were massacres, over 20, according to Morris, some by Haganah units, others by Irgun or Stern Gang forces. Morris presents a map showing the names and location of almost 400 Arab villages "abandoned" and estimates that about 700,000 people were displaced.
Ilan Pappe, in The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine tells much the same story. But whereas Morris believes that the "cleansing" of Arabs from the land resulted from improvised actions that took advantage of Arab weakness and fear, Pappe documents the pre-planned program of terror to remove Palestinians. Haganah Plan D is the smoking gun that gave specific orders for cleansing. (Pappe states that a Hebrew word of that meaning is actually used in the Plan.) Ben Gurion's diaries and letters give additional evidence that Arab removal and extension of Zionist territory was pre-meditated. From the beginning of December 1947 until May 15, 1948 the "five Arab armies" did not come on the scene. Only poorly armed and led local militias, assisted by a number of Arab volunteers from other countries, were against well armed and organized Zionist forces. During this period about 200,000 Palestinians were displaced.
The most important difference between the two authors is in their differing moral views of the events of 1948-49 and the subsequent subjugation and displacement of Palestinian Arabs that continues. Morris is no friend of the Arabs, and in an interview a few years ago he likened the cleansing of Palestinians to the displacement of the American Indians. His only regret seems to be that the cleansing was incomplete. Pappe quite accurately identifies the cleansing of Palestine as a war crime for which there must be some accounting, even though almost all the guilty leaders are now gone. He goes on to make the point that until there is acknowledgement of this gross injustice, and acceptance of the universally recognized right of refugees to return, no peace plan will work.
on December 4, 2006
Dr. Pappe is amazing. This book is quickly becoming the most useful book in my archive for articles, speeches and testimony. As someone who's been reporting on this issue since 2000, I didn't think I could be shocked further. But I was. Pappe meticulously documents Ben Gurion and his henchmen orchestrating what can only total as thousands of crimes against humanity that must be addressed, rectified and finally delt with through justice. This is not an easy book to read; but I do know from all the study I've done on this subject, it is accurate. No, the Zionists will not like this and they'll use every method they can to discredit it from denouncing it to calling it false. Of course they'll never challenge the facts. They cannot. The facts stand on their own. Truth has a habit of doing that.
This book exposes Zionists, both Christian and Jewish Zionist, for exactly what they are: racists, monsters, hate-monger's, liars, propagandists and murderers. Pappe is incredibly brave and this book is a testimony to truth. Not the fairy tale, but the real truth. The truth CIA, MI-6, Russian and other government's intelligence groups document. The cold blooded murder and destruction of a people over elitism and entitlement that continues this day. Reading this book you will understand exactly why Israel, and now the United States for its blind support of this genocide are both hated. Reading this you will understand why justice must occur if both America and Israel are to survive. These types of crimes cannot go unacknowledged or unpunished. More importantly, Pappe's book also demonstrates that not all of those whom have grown up in Zionism are seduced by the evil it represents and good people do exist in Israel. Pappe is one of those good people. These are the Israelis the world should listen to and support.
When you see the documentation of the pure evil Zionism represents and how murderous and disgusting it is, its purpose and cold, calculated execution, there is no doubt. The truth will set people free and this book tells it, the whole ugly truth. Read this, and don't ever fall for the lies again. There have been enough holocausts. Let's end it with this one. Thank you Dr. Pappe.
on November 19, 2006
Ilan Pappe has written a book about what actually happened. A proper historical record. From the historical records - for instance he quotes from Ben-Gurion's diary quite frequently.
It is a painful read. The whole thing is an absolutely tragic and grim farce, because the State of Israel has done to the Palestinians quite a number of the truly nasty things that were done to them. And by not recognising what they have done, and are doing, they continue to traumatize the Palestinians, and the rest of the world.
Race and religion are remarkable in the hold that they have over human minds and lives. It is incredible that after nearly 1900 years anybody should think they had the right to kick another people out of their homes, or want to do so.
If it is right (I strongly believe it is) under modern ways of thinking about human rights that Jewish people should have paintings, money, etc stolen in the 1933-45 period, returned to them, or their relatives, today, then it can only be right that the Palestinian people get their property back. As far as I can gather about 90% of Israel was taken by force, or left by a people frightened away by deliberate terror, and not allowed to return, their land illegally confiscated.
That is a big story. It is the sad tragic truth. It needed to be written down in detail. A very important work.
Israel needs a truth commission, in the South Africa, Mandela style.
It needs to be honest about what happened, and start taking the (very difficult) measures required. Otherwise this terrible tragedy will grind on to a possibly truly horrible end. And Jewish people the world over will suffer - however unfairly. As will we all.
By the way, I live in England. I am an Anglican Christian Atheist - like George Orwell, who is buried in my churchyard. The UK and the US have had a great deal to do with the creation of Israel, and we should own up to our part in this tragedy, and pay up - the Palestinians need to be properly recompensed. I would not object to paying $200 extra in my taxes - or whatever it takes to make good the wrong.
If we are going to get the people of the planet working properly together, to solve the climate problem, and to make poverty a thing of the past, and to give nature its fair share of the planet - sorting this problem would be a very good start. The injustice the Palestinians have suffered MUST be PROPERLY dealt with. That means FAIRLY. Really.
Jerusalem could be made an International Heritage City, as the UN originally intended, for the benefit of everybody on this planet, including religious atheists like myself (an ancestor of mine was William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury at an interesting time !) and not just for the benefit of a small selfish religious or racially minded group of people.
Buy the book. Read it. Pass it on. A really important work.
on December 12, 2006
Simply put, this book is excellent and must be read by all who are involved in and concerned with the Israel/Palestine conflict. Of course, specifically, it should be read by Israelis and American Jews in particular (I say this as an American anti-zionist Jew) who to a large degree are in denial as to the true source of the conflict, which is the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians initiated in 1948, aka the Nakba. In an age where the world is shocked by denial of the Nazi Holocaust, there is still pervasive and widespread denial of the Nakba, the central event in the plight of the Palestinians. I hope all those who are skeptical and hostile to the premise of this book overcome their fear and insecurity and do the right thing; read it.
on January 19, 2007
For years I could not understand how a Jewish state could be created in a populous region like Palestine. How is that a couple of million people( Palestinians) would leave their homes and their livelihood to accomodate an almost exclusive Jewish state? The answer can be found in this wonderfully researched book. A prominent Israeli historian, Professor Pappe strips away all the obfuscation and historical deceit to lay bare the ugly truth. Zionism, as a doctrine and state philosophy, would not permit Palestinians to remain on Palestinian lands. Israeli's have committed unspeakable crimes against Palestinains to advance Zionist philosphy. Israel, with the help of the United States and Britan participated then AND now to cleanse the area of Palestinians and other Arabs.
Mr. Pappe writes "Neither Palstinians nor Jews will be saved, from one another or from themselves,if the ideology that still drives the Israeli policy towards the Palestinians is not correctly identified. The problem with Israel was never its Jewishness-Judaisim has many faces and many of them provide a solid basis for peace and cohabitation; it is the ethnic Zionist character." This is what Arabs states have long maintained was the crux of the problem.
The book along with President Carter's book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" make compelling reading to anyone who wishes to understand why the region is so anti-Israel and anti-United States. Neither book is anti- Israel. Both believe that the published truth will lead to peace between Israel, Palestinians and the surrounding Arab states.