Seething With Rage

The Palestinian Saga

by N.D. Jayaprakash

June 28, 2002



While there is constant harping about micro-violence (suicide bombings) and castigation of the Palestinians for the same, the world at large has practically turned a blind eye to the gross macro-violence (State terror) being perpetrated on them by Israel with the unstinting support of the United States of America. That Israel has been a crypto-fascist state has not been widely recognized as yet despite the fact that there is no shortage of information on this count. Umpteen UN reports have brought to light the nightmarish existence of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Aren't such reports ample proof of the fascistic nature of the occupying forces? All those who refrain from acknowledging this startling truth only become accomplices to the ongoing crime. The need of the hour is to take action to end the fascistic terror being perpetrated by the Israelis. The unrelenting struggle that the Palestinians are waging against Israeli occupation and for national liberation deserves far more moral and material support from the rest of the world than what has been forthcoming.


Of course there have been many concerned people across the globe who have spoken up forthrightly for the cause of the Palestinians. None other than Mahatma Gandhi was one of the foremost amongst them. Others who were not initially opposed to the creation of Israel soon realized their folly and began to alert the world to the growing fascist tendencies there. The noted scientist and humanist, Albert Einstein, tried to do precisely that. Isn't it time the world listened to the appeals of Gandhi and Einstein?


Crux of the Problem


It may not take too much time and effort to understand that it is the call for a Jewish national home in Palestine, the subsequent immigration of Jews into that territory and the resulting coercive displacement of the Palestinian population from their land that has resulted in the Palestinian-Israeli imbroglio. In this context it would be appropriate to recall what Mahatma Gandhi had to say regarding the matter. In an article in his journal, the Harijan, on November 26, 1938 he wrote:


The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me.... Why should they not, like other people of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?


Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct.... Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.  [1]


Gandhi's observations, that (a) "It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs" and (b) "What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct", are as relevant and valid today as when they were first made 64 years ago. In other words, it is the forcible occupation of Palestine by Jews emigrating from other parts of the world and the resistance offered by the dispossessed native Palestinians against the humiliating treatment meted out to them in the process that is the crux of the problem.


In the latest phase of its history most of Palestine has been under the occupation of the Zionists since their unilateral proclamation of the "State of Israel" on May 14, 1948, which coincided with the decision of Britain to terminate its mandate over the territory. This precipitate action needlessly aborted the move for a peaceful transition of power as envisaged in the UN Partition Plan for Palestine, which the UN General Assembly had adopted on November 29, 1947. It is true, as will be explained below, that the Palestinians were aghast by the idea of Partition. They were even more outraged when they got to know the terms of the Partition Plan. The terms were such that they favoured the Zionists in a manner that was far disproportionate to their relative size in Palestine at that time.


While Britain could have played the role of a mediator to evolve a just and amicable solution to the controversial Partition Plan, it did not do so. Instead it suddenly decided to terminate its "mandate" and leave Palestine to its fate, which was to the advantage of the well-armed Zionists who were now free to impose their will with impunity. The seizure of power by the Zionists and the forcible eviction of the Arab population from their lands lead to outbreak of war with the neighbouring Arab countries, which came to the defense of the Palestinian people who were at the mercy of the marauding Zionist gangs. A UN report later recounted the developments as follows:


One of the two States envisaged in the partition plan proclaimed its independence as Israel and in the 1948 war expanded to occupy 77 per cent of the territory of Palestine. Israel also occupied the larger part of Jerusalem. Over half the indigenous Palestinian population fled or were expelled. Jordan and Egypt occupied the other parts of the territory assigned by the partition resolution to the Palestinian Arab State which did not come into being. In the 1967 war, Israel occupied the remaining territory of Palestine, until then under Jordanian and Egyptian control (the West Bank and Gaza Strip). This included the remaining part of Jerusalem, which was subsequently annexed by Israel. The war brought about a second exodus of Palestinians, estimated at half a million. [2]



Imperialist Conspiracy


It may be recalled that Palestine was placed under the British Mandate in 1922 by application of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Mandate resolution had entrusted Britain with the task of leading the indigenous people of Palestine to full independence. Britain had occupied Palestine on December 9, 1917, thereby ending Turkish rule over the territory since 1517. The occupation came about as a result of the Sykes-Picot agreement between Britain and France in 1916, which was part of a policy to divide and rule the Arab world. (The secret plan was drawn out between Sir Marks Sykes representing Britain and George Picot his French counterpart in consultation with Italy and Czarist Russia for partitioning the Turkish Empire after World War I. The plan came to light when, following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the new Bolshevik regime published the secret imperialist treaties.)


Even before gaining control of the territory, Britain promised a national home for Jews in Palestine through its infamous Balfour Declaration issued on November 2, 1917. It thus planted the seeds of an endless conflict in that land. The Declaration was in the form of a letter written by Arthur James Balfour, the then Foreign Secretary of Britain, to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, one of the leaders of British Jewry. As one commentator put it: "By this strange instrument, one country, acting without legal or moral right, decided the fate of another without even consulting it and gave it away to some people scattered across the world" [3]. The ulterior motive of the British in issuing the Declaration was to win the support of the Zionist Jews across Europe and America for the ongoing war (WWI). Moreover, it was a convenient way to stem the flow of Jews into Britain from other parts of Europe while at the same time carving out a safe haven for a potential ally in West Asia.


The ravages of World War I and the economic disaster that followed threw up social and political crises in Europe once again. Anti-Semitism was one of the tactics adopted for diverting people's anger and for disrupting their unity in the struggle against those forces that caused these crises. Many such devious means were used to cover up the real motives for unleashing yet another world war: the desperate struggle between imperialist powers to corner markets and to grab new colonies. During World War II (1939-45), Hitler and his Nazi regime in Germany carried out a systematic campaign to destroy among others the Jewish communities of Europe, in the course of which some six million Jews alone, including some 1.5 million children were exterminated. (It is one of those great ironies of history that today the malevolent Zionists are perpetrating on the Palestinians almost the same type of atrocities, which the Nazis had perpetrated on Jews and others in Europe!) But was a separate homeland in Palestine for Jews a solution for the anti-Semitic attitude?


During 1870-1896 several societies had sprung up in various cities across Europe for propagating the idea of Zionism, i.e., the political movement for a separate homeland in Palestine for the Jews. The bizarre idea was staunchly opposed by many well-known intellectuals of Jewish origin of that time and since then. (Of course there was one streak of Zionism, which was of the non-malignant kind. Known as Kibbutzim - based on collective farming - it originated in 1909 with the genuine desire to seek social justice for the Jewish people. But today it is a movement that has been sidelined within Israel. There is also a sect of native Jews in Palestine - known as Natvri Karta - who are anti-Zionists.) Modern Zionism effectively began with the holding of the First Zionist Congress on August 29, 1897 at the initiative of Theodor Herzl, an Austrian Jew, in Basle, Switzerland. The Zionist Organization emerged out of this Congress. Central to Zionist thought is the concept of the Land of Israel (Palestine) as the birthplace of the Jewish people (a mythical claim invoking the Old Testament) and the belief that Jewish life elsewhere is a life of exile. It is true that the Jews as a community were formally expelled from Palestine in 135 AD - a process that began from as early as 70 AD. But by no stretch of imagination can the Palestinians be blamed for the forced exodus; the decision to expel the Jews was that of the Romans. It was a form of reprisal for revolts by the Jews against the Romans, who had conquered Palestine in 63 BCE and made it a province of the Roman Empire. The devotion of Jews to their religion and special forms of worship was used as a pretext for political discrimination against them, and the pent-up anger had led to the revolts.


It may be pointed out that the Hebrew patriarch Abraham, the founder of Judaism - the religion of the Jews, was not an original inhabitant of Palestine. According to legend, he is said to have emigrated from Ur in Babylonia (what is now Iraq) some 3700 years ago. On his way to Cannan - or what later came to be called Palestine - he along with his people had to trudge on to Egypt to escape a famine. While he returned to Cannan, his people sojourned in Egypt for 400 years and slaved under the Pharaohs. It was Prophet Moses, the next important figure after Abraham, who led the Hebrew people out of Egyptian bondage around 1300 BCE. Moses tried to lead them into Cannan but they were repeatedly turned back by the Cannanites, i.e., Palestinians, until around 1260 BCE when finally, under the leadership of Joshua, the Jews succeeded in conquering Cannan. Joshua was followed by a succession of leaders prominent among whom are David and Solomon, whose combined rule lasted for 78 years until 922 BCE. It was nearly eight centuries later that the Maccabees, a Jewish family, established themselves as the rulers of Palestine. Their rule lasted from 142 BCE to 63 BCE, until the Romans took over power.


The right of return to Palestine after a long gap may have had some semblance of justness if all the Jews of today were the direct descendants of those who were forced to emigrate from there over 1900 years ago. But that is surely not the case. Of the total Jewish population the world over, direct descendants of the expelled Jews would constitute but a tiny fraction. A slightly larger fraction would be of mixed decent, while the overwhelming majority would consist of those who are Jews by religion but having anthropologically no connection whatsoever with the Jews expelled from Palestine. This is because there have been conversions to Judaism of large numbers whose earliest forefathers were nowhere near Palestine. After their dispersal from Palestine the thing common to all Jews was only their religion. If religion should be the yardstick for deciding nationality, all Christians across the globe should also have the right to make Palestine their home as Christianity too originated there! Mahatma Gandhi saw through the fallacy of this tenuous claim of the Zionists and was of the opinion that:


The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French. If Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the national home affords a colourable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews. [4]



Occupation by Force


By no stretch of imagination could a separate homeland in Palestine for Jews have been a solution for anti-Semitism. But that was the solution the Zionists prescribed and they went about seeking that goal in a very organised manner. The first large-scale immigration of Jews into Palestine (mainly from Russia and Rumania, all of whom were converts and not descendents of the expelled Jews) took place during 1882 -1903. Still in the early 1880s, there were only about 24,000 Jews in Palestine, consisting less than 4% of the total population there and a mere 0.3 % of the world's total population of Jews at that time. [5]


After the First Zionist Congress, the Zionist movement organised itself as a worldwide organisation with permanent institutions. The primary tasks of the Zionist Organisation were to purchase land in Palestine, reclaim unproductive land and to settle immigrating Jews in newly created rural settlements and townships. For these purposes, it established two central agencies. The first was the Jewish National Fund (JNF) founded in 1901, whose charter specified land purchase in Palestine as the organisation's sole pursuit. The second agency that was founded was the Palestine Land Development Company (PLDC) established in 1908. Subsequently an overseas fundraising mechanism known as Keren Hayesod was founded in London in 1920 (its headquarters were moved to Jerusalem in 1926). The net result was that, according to the Zionists' own admission: "By May 1948, when the [British] Mandate expired and Israel was about to proclaim its statehood, land redemption had placed nearly one-tenth of the country under Jewish ownership, the rest being owned by the government or by Arabs" [6]. While the Jews admit owning only 10 % of land in Palestine, after usurping power in 1948 they forcibly seized over 77 % of the land [7] although even under the UN Partition Plan they were to get only 56% of it as its share!


The Zionists were able to impose their will over the Palestinians only because of their military superiority. Such superiority was achieved through long-tem planning. To advance their interests, the Zionists methodically went about arming and training their members in large numbers soon after they started immigrating to Palestine in an organized manner. They began by setting up so-called "security organizations", the first of which was founded in 1909 and was called Hashomer. Subsequently, in 1920 an underground organization called Haganah was formed as a "grassroots" armed force (which gradually became the full-fledged military wing of the Zionists) to unleash terror on the Palestinians and to remove all obstacles in their path including those placed by the British.


In 1931 a group of Haganah members seceded from the organization and founded the Irgun Tzevai Leumi (National Military Organization) also know by its acronym, Etzel. Etzel advocated a much harsher line of action against the Palestinians and protested the policy of relative restraint adopted by the Haganah. Etzel split in 1940 when a section within it demanded that the military struggle against the British should be continued irrespective of the war against Nazi Germany. The new group which called itself Lohamei Herut Yisrael (Fighters for Freedom of Israel) or Lehi for short, was also opposed to enlisting in the British army. Haganah, Etzel and Lehi eventually joined together in November 1945 to form the Hebrew Resistance Movement.


Interestingly, during the Palestinian uprising of 1936-39, strategic interests persuaded Britain to allow a certain degree of military co-operation between the British army and police and the Haganah. This co-operation gave the Haganah a measure of legality and manifested in the "Supernumerary Police" venture (enlistment of over 20,000 members of the Haganah into the British police force in Palestine) that lasted until 1948. Of course the most important factor that contributed to the development of Zionist armed forces in Palestine were the more than 30,000 Zionists who enlisted in the British army in the course of World War II, which led to the establishment of the Jewish Brigade Group. This helped them learn a broad range of military subjects - combat, administration, technology and logistics - and after the war they were able to transfer this knowledge along with the trained men to the Zionist armed forces in Palestine. [8]


It is suspected that the Zionists managed to procure vast quantities of arms from the residue of the US and British military campaigns in the Middle East after World War II. The military co-operation with the British stood them in good stead when British forces departing from Palestine in 1948 reportedly sold arms and ammunition, even tanks and other heavy weapons to the Zionists. The steady flow of military hardware from Czechoslovakia after World War II was what finally helped them a great deal in consolidating their military might. Thus, at the time of forcibly establishing the State of Israel in 1948, the Zionist had a well-trained and well-armed force, which were at least 65,000 strong. There was little doubt that the number of armed Zionists in the field in 1948 was far greater than the combined strength of the ill-trained, in-disciplined and poorly armed Arab armies from the neighbouring countries that eventually confronted them.


Palestinian Resistance


The Palestinian peoples' resistance against the disastrous immigration policy, including major revolts in 1920, 1921, 1929 and 1936-39, was put down only through intimidation and brute force. While the Zionists immigrated to Palestine in a very organized manner, the Palestinian resistance against it was most disorganized. There were several reasons for it. The prospect of a strong, united and committed leadership emerging from amongst the Palestinians was constrained by the social setup of their society. Big land-holding families (many of them non-Palestinian Arabs) had largely controlled Palestine. In the 1930s, while about 30 % of the Palestinian rural families were land-less, 250 families owned the same amount of land as cultivated by 60,000 peasants [9]. Family-based political factions, their self-interests and their rivalries frustrated any hope of building a sustained struggle against foreign incursion. The two most important families - the Husseinis and the Nashashibis - fought for primacy and could never get over their rivalry even for the sake of presenting a solid front against British imperialism and Zionism.


There were three distinct strands within the nationalist movement in Palestine. The notables, who were disturbed by popular agitation and sought accommodation with the Zionists, 'performed the role of diplomats, the educated middle-class that of articulation of public opinion and the peasants that of the actual fighters in the battle against the Zionist presence' [10]. While the traditional leadership 'refused to commit themselves to any platform which would imply the acceptance of the Balfour Declaration, they also refused to promote or condone any revolutionary course against the Anglo-Zionist convergence' [11]. The latter stand could be attributed to the belief that revolution would inevitably be detrimental to their own interests. Their failure to adhere to a revolutionary platform prevented the emergence of a revolutionary leadership from among the middle-class militant nationalists. Thus, the 'lower strata' of the Palestinian society, which was potentially willing to revolt, was left leaderless.


The First Palestinian National Congress (PNC), which was organized in March 1919 in Jerusalem, sent two memoranda to the Paris Peace Conference (following World War I): one rejecting the Balfour Declaration and the other demanding independence. At the Third PNC, convened in Haifa in December 1920, an Executive Committee was elected that continued to stir the Palestinian movement till about mid-1930s. At the Arab National Conference held on December 13, 1931 in Jerusalem a 'national charter' was chalked out and a new level of activity became evident leading to the founding of the Arab Independence (Istiqlal) Party in 1932. This was the first serious attempt by the rationally thinking Palestinians to pool their anti-British and anti-Zionist zeal on a national plane without constraints of tie-up with the Husseinis or the Nashashibis. 'In their first manifesto the Istiqlalists attributed the lamentable disarray in the ranks of the national movement to the egocentric and self-interested political notables who were subservient to the imperialist rulers. The party founders vowed to struggle against imperialism face to face and fight against Jewish immigration and land sales and to endeavour to achieve a parliamentary Arab government and work for the attainment of complete Arab unity' [12]. The decision of the British to hold an electoral sideshow on the local municipal level, instead of establishing a national self-governing institution, led to the formation of four more political parties.


One of the most influential leaders of the Palestinians was Haj Amin al Husseini who became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (traditional leader of the Palestinian Muslims) in 1921. 'The Istiqlal Party had ceased to be an effective organised force in the latter part of 1933, partly owing to Haj Amin's efforts to sabotage their reputation and position within the national movement' [13]. 'It was a remarkable feat on Haj Amin's part to achieve ascendancy within the national movement in Palestine while maintaining friendly relations with the High Commissioner and a conciliatory attitude towards the British at a time when the contradiction between the two forces was becoming increasingly sharp'. [14]


Palestine was an excellent ground in the 1920s and 1930s for a peasant led revolution. Large numbers of absentee landlords (mainly from Lebanon and Syria) were ready to surrender to the temptations of selling their estates at generous prices offered by the Jews. The Jewish campaign of dispossessing the natives in favour of immigrants inevitably created an acute sense of economic outrage and helped politicise the Arab peasantry. The British occupation of Palestine also kindled the passion for national liberation. As a result, the entire objective conditions for a successful peasant revolution existed except one: radical leadership [15]. Istiqlal was an organization that was capable of throwing up such a leadership but the traditional overlords had quickly stepped in to stifle its growth. Nevertheless, Sheikh Izzeddin al Qassam, one of those who joined the Istiqlal in 1932, rose to become a national hero in Palestine.


Sheikh Izzeddin, a man of immense religious learning, was a Syrian born Arab who came to Palestine in 1921 after the failure of the Syrian revolt against French occupation of which he was a prominent leader. As an ardent patriot and a fiery orator, he stood up against Zionism and British rule and preached about the necessity of armed revolt against subservience. He succeeded in setting up secret cells among the growing number of land-less peasants, but in a pre-mature encounter with the British forces he and his closest associates attained martyrdom on 19 November 1935. Less than a month after the killing of Sheikh Izzeddin, hostility towards the British government spread to the villages of Palestine where the Sheikh and his followers were held in high esteem. In the major towns radical youth groups began to emerge to replace the discredited older political leadership. The Great Arab Revolt (1936-39) was in effect triggered off by the killing of Sheikh Izzeddin. The overall losses suffered by the Palestinians during 1936-39 -- both in terms of lives and property -- was quite substantial [16]. Thus, the Zionist were able to ride roughshod over the Palestinians in the 1940s because most of the revolutionary Palestinian cadres were wiped out by then and there was no effective force within Palestine to counter the organized Zionist offensive.


The sustained protests by the Palestinians against the wave of Jewish immigration did force the British to set up several commissions of inquiry between 1929 and 1939. As a result of the ambivalent policy of the British Government, report of one commission tended to contradict the report of the one that followed. The net result was that none of them could propose a satisfactory solution to the problem. Meanwhile, the rapidity with which immigration was taking place was quite staggering. According to scholars, between 1882 and 1948 about 600,000 Jews had immigrated to Palestine. Thus, during the period of British occupation, there was an eleven-fold rise in the Jewish population, by 1948 Jews constituted around 33% of a total population of about 2,000,000 in Palestine [17]. This was due to the British administrative and land laws, which facilitated huge wave of Jewish immigration. Almost all the new immigrants were from Europe. The outbreak of World War II and the subsequent decline of Britain as the premier imperial power opened the way for the United States of America to take over Britain's role.


UN Partition Plan


To safeguard US interests in the region, US President Truman, through a letter to British Prime Minister Attlee in November 1945, sought to appoint an Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine. The Committee, in tune with the new role that USA had chosen for itself, abrogated the recommendations made by Britain in the White Paper it had issued in 1939 and urged for a free transfer of land for Jews and lifting of restrictions on their immigration into Palestine. Meanwhile, the Zionist movement, which had developed a numerically strong and well-armed force, was indulging in organized terror against the Palestinians.


Britain again tried to organize a round table conference in 1946 to discuss the new development. After that attempt too failed to produce any results, Britain shifted the Palestinian Question to the United Nations in April 1947 where a partition plan was adopted. It was Resolution 181 (II) of the UN General Assembly adopted on November 29, 1947 [18] that formally destroyed Palestine's territorial integrity when it was partitioned into Arab and Jewish States. While the Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan, the Jews more or less welcomed it although there were a few who not only wanted the whole of Palestine but also harped on establishing a "Hebrew kingdom from the Euphrates to the Nile" [19]. India, Iran and Yugoslavia opposed the partitioning of Palestine and had instead proposed the setting up a federal state where both Arabs and Jews could co-exist. [20]


The partition plan allocated approximately 43 % of the territory of Palestine to the Arab State, while about 56 % of the area (including the most fertile land [21]) to the Jewish State, and less than 1 % of area to the City of Jerusalem [22]. This ignored the fact that the Jews then constituted only about one-third of the population and the land under their possession, which in 1918 amounted to less than 2% of the total land area of Palestine, had by 1946 just increased to about 6 % of the total land area there [23]. The population composition in the UN Partition Plan would further reveal the patently discriminatory nature of the Plan. In the designated Jewish State nearly half the population consisted of Arabs: 498,000 Jews against 407,000 Arabs, totaling 905,000 in all. On the other hand, in the designated Arab State there were 725,000 Arabs against a mere 10,000 Jews, totaling 735,000 in all, while in the City of Jerusalem there were 100,000 Jews to 105,000 Arabs, totaling 205,000 residents in all [24]. After proposing the creation of two separate states, was it not absolutely mischievous on the part those who prepared the Partition Plan to enlarge the boundaries of the Jewish State to include within it such a large number of Arabs, most of whom were driven out as soon as the Zionists seized power?


The Palestinians had genuine reasons for being upset about the UN Partition Plan. Partition, which was recommended for the first time by The Royal (Peel) Commission of 1937, had been rejected by The Partition (Woodhead) Commission of 1938 on the ground that the Jewish State contemplated by that Plan would contain an Arab minority amounting to 49 per cent of the total population [25]. The British Government had set up both the Commissions. The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry of 1946 too had expressed the view that "now and for sometime to come any attempt to establish either an independent Palestine State or independent Palestinian States would result in civil strife such as might threaten the peace of the world " [26]. The UN Special Committee on Palestine, which had proposed the Partition Plan, had also noted that: "In the appraisal of the Palestinian Question, it be accepted as incontrovertible that any solution for Palestine cannot be considered as a solution of the Jewish problem in general." [27]


If the Jewish problem was not being solved, what was the plan of partitioning of Palestine seeking to solve? Did partition result in an amicable solution to the Palestinian problem? What is the justification in creating a bigger problem in the attempt to partially solve another? What was the justification for allocating 56% of the land (including the best land) to the Jews who comprised just 33% of the population and who legally owned less than 6 % of that land? Is there any unbiased yardstick by which this blatant discrimination can be justified? Strange as it may seem, even the Soviet Union had backed this outrageous Plan for Partition of Palestine. How and why the Soviet Union supported such a flagrant and unjust Plan at that time remains a mystery [28]. A decisive turnaround in the Soviet attitude towards the Palestinian cause came about only after Gamal Abdel Nassar--a staunch anti-imperialist--rose to power in Egypt in 1952.


Expulsion of Palestinians


When the Zionist movement unilaterally proclaimed the "State of Israel" on May 14, 1948, they occupied over 77 % of the land in Palestine--far in excess of the 56 % of land allocated to it under the UN partition plan [29]. This was achieved when Zionist gangs, partially under the protection of the British occupying forces, forcibly and systematically evicted through unbridled terror an estimated 750,000 Palestinians not only from the area allocated to Israel but also from a portion of the area allocated to the Arab state. The facts, as ascertained by the US Library of Congress, a source that the Zionists would not dispute, are as follows:


According to British Mandate Authority population figures in 1947, there were about 1.3 million Arabs in all of Palestine. Between 700,000 and 900,000 of the Arabs lived in the region eventually bounded by the 1949 Armistice line, the so-called Green Line. By the time the fighting stopped, there were only about 170,000 Arabs left in the new State of Israel. By the summer of 1949, about 750,000 Palestinians were living in squalid refugee camps, set up virtually overnight in territories adjacent to Israel's borders. About 300,000 lived in Gaza Strip, which was occupied by the Egyptian army. Another 450,000 became unwelcome residents of the West Bank of the Jordan, recently occupied by the Arab Legion of Transjordan. [30]


According to the same report:


The property of the Arabs who were refugees outside the state and the property expropriated from the Arabs who remained in Israel became a major asset to the new state. According to Don Peretz, an American scholar, by 1954 'more than one-third of Israel's Jewish population lived on absentee property, and nearly a third of the new immigrants (250,000 people) settled in urban areas abandoned by Arabs'. The fleeing Arabs emptied thriving cities such as Jaffa, Acre (Akko), Lydda (Lod), and Ramla, plus '338 towns and villages and large parts of 94 other cities and towns containing nearly a quarter of all the buildings in Israel'. [31]


Palestinian sources claim that 418 Palestinian villages alone were completely obliterated in the wake of creation of Israel [32]. The occupied land was then leased out to the Jewish immigrants who rebuilt villages with new names in place of the destroyed ones.


The usurpation of power by the Zionists and the expulsion of the Palestinians created a piquant situation for the United Nations, which lost no time in appointing a mediator to find an amicable solution. In pursuance of the decision of the UN General Assembly, a committee composed of representatives of China, France, the USSR, the United Kingdom and the United States met on May 20, 1948, and appointed Count Folke Bernadotte, President of the Swedish Red Cross, as United Nations Mediator on Palestine [33]. In his Progress Report submitted to the Secretary General on September 16, 1948, Count Bernadotte confirmed that:


The majority of these [Palestinian] refugees have come from territory which, under the [UN General] Assembly resolution of 29 November [1947], was to be included in the Jewish State. The exodus of Palestinian Arabs resulted from panic created by fighting in their communities, by rumours concerning real or alleged acts of terrorism, or expulsion.... There have been numerous reports from reliable sources of large-scale looting, pillaging and plundering, and of instances of destruction of villages without apparent necessity. [34]


The Report further said:


Moreover, while those who had fled in the early days of the conflict had been able to take with them some personal effects and assets, many of the late comers were deprived of everything except the cloths in which they stood, and apart from their homes (many of which were destroyed) lost all furniture and assets, and even their tools of trade. [35]


(On September 17, 1948, the day after this report was published in Paris, the malevolent Zionists assassinated Count Bernadotte in Jerusalem. It was quite apparent what they thought of his mediatory effort!) [36]


Prior to the deluge, hundreds of Palestinians were systematically massacred; the cold-blooded slaughter of over 350 people (254 according to some others) in the village of Deir Yassin on  April 9, 1948 stands out as a glaring example of the extensive terror perpetrated by the Zionist gangs. Jacques de Reynier, member of the Swiss Red Cross and head of the International Red Cross Delegation in Palestine during 1948, who got to know of the tragedy and who managed to reach the spot with great difficulty, was a witness to the aftermath of the massacre. Later describing the horrifying act in his memoirs he said:


There had been four hundred people in this village, about fifty of them had escaped and were still alive. All the rest had been deliberately massacred in cold blood for, as I observed for myself, this gang was admirably disciplined and only acted under orders.


Later he went on to add that:


The affair of Deir Yassin had immense repercussions. The press and radio spread the news everywhere among Arabs as well as the Jews. In this way a general terror was built up among the Arabs, a terror astutely fostered by the Jews.... Finally, about 700,000 Arabs became refugees, leaving everything behind in their haste, their one hope being to avoid the fate of the people of Deir Yassin. The effects of this massacre are far from being over today, as this immense crowd of refugees is still living in makeshift camps, without work and without hope, the Red Cross distributing to them emergency aid provided by the United Nations. [37]


One of the two Zionist terrorist gangs--Irgun Zvai Leumi--that carried out the barbaric attack was then headed by Menachem Begin, a fact that is readily acknowledged. Begin, who went on to head the right wing Herut ("Freedom") Party and then the Likud ("Unity") Party, become Israel's Prime Minister in 1977 and was awarded--believe it or not--the Noble Peace Prize for 1978! But it may also be noted that many eminent intellectuals especially of Jewish origin, including the noted scientist Albert Einstein, had protested against the visit of Begin, while he was in the United States in 1948 on a fund raising campaign, for his role in the Deir Yassin massacre. In their protest letter, which was published in the New York Times on December 4, 1948, they did not mince words while urging the citizens of the United States of America not to support Begin or the fascist political movement he represented. The letter stated as follows:


Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the emergence in the newly created State of Israel of the "Freedom Party" (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine. ...Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions...the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr.Begin's and his movement. ...Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state.


A shocking example was their behaviour in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands which wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (The New York Times) terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, killed most of its inhabitants--240 men, women and children--and kept a few of them alive to parade them as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdulla of Transjordan. But the terrorists far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicised it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin. The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character of the Freedom Party.


It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin's efforts, or to even expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin....


The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.  [38]


(It is the same fascist Freedom Party that has re-emerged as the Likud Party, which has been ruling Israel for the last several years. At least three of its members who have occupied the Prime Ministerial post--Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Aerial Sharon--have blood on their hands. Sharon, the present Israeli Prime Minister, is accused of having had a direct hand in the massacres at Qibiya in 1953, at Sabra and Shatila in 1982 and at Jenin in 2002.)


Post-1948 Situation


Since its creation, Israel has waged four wars against the Arab States, i.e., in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, occupying more Arab lands as well as the whole of Palestine. It has waged four wars against the PLO alone in 1978, 1981, 1982 and 2002. Over the last fifty-four years, the Israeli army has killed several thousands of Palestinians, injured ten times as many, demolished tens of thousands of Palestinian houses in West Bank and Gaza and have detained hundreds of thousands Palestinians in Israeli prisons at various times. Selective assassination of key PLO leaders in and outside Palestine is a routine matter for Israel's secret service, Mossad.


The massacre of over 3700 Palestinian civilians carried out by the Israelis in collusion with Lebanon's 'Christian' militia, the Phalangists at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps near Beirut on September 16, 17 and 18 1982, remains the bloodiest in the short bloodstained history of Israel. The Kahane Commission of Inquiry headed by Yitzhak Kahane--the then President of the Israeli Supreme Court, while down-playing the magnitude of the massacre, nevertheless accused the Israeli Government of 'indirect responsibility' for the same. The Report forced the then Defence Minister (and the current Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon to resign from his post. Subsequently, the then Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, also had to resign on the issue. The International Commission, headed by Sean MacBride--former Foreign Minister of Ireland and a leading figure in the international peace movement--too had no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that: "Israel was involved in the planning and preparation of the massacres and played a facilitative role in the killings". [39]


Following years of desperation, frustration and failure of the UN to solve the Palestinian Question, the Palestinian people began in the mid-1950s to organise themselves into a genuine national political movement. Yasser Arafat, the present Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), founded the Fatah (Palestinian National Liberation Movement) in 1958. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) led by George Habash was established soon after. Both Fatah and PFLP, along with few other groups, later became constituents of the PLO. The PLO itself was established at the first session of the Palestine National Council (PNC) convened in Jerusalem on May 28, 1964. The PLO was recognised by the UN on 14 October 1974 as the sole representative of the Palestinian people [40]. But programmatic differences among the various factions constituting the PLO did impede its organizational growth and dissipate its struggle against occupation. Repeated attacks against the Palestinian refugee camps by Israel forced the PLO to downplay factional squabbles within it and to carry on the struggle for national liberation in a more united manner. The 18th Session of the PNC held in Algiers in April 1987 did bring about the much-needed unity within the PLO. As a ripple effect, the first Palestinian intifada (sustained protest) against occupation began on December 9, 1987 bringing back memories of the 1936-39 revolt.


The PLO has repeatedly called for a just, durable and comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian Question on the basis of international legitimacy and all UN resolutions supporting the various international efforts and initiatives towards this goal. The Declaration of Independence adopted at the 19th session of the PNC in Algiers on November 15, 1988 has outlined the structure of the future Palestinian State. According to it:


The State of Palestine is the state of Palestinians wherever they may be.... Governance will be based on principles of social justice, equality and non-discrimination in public rights of men or women, on grounds of race, religion, colour or sex, and the aegis of a constitution which ensures the rule of law and an independent judiciary. Thus shall these principles allow no departure from Palestine's age-old spiritual and civil heritage of tolerance and religious coexistence.... The State of Palestine proclaims its commitment to the principles and purposes of the United Nations, and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It proclaims its commitment as well to the principles and policies of the Non Aligned Movement. [41]


While the PLO began to move forward in a more united manner, a new organization by the name of 'Hamas' (the Arabic acronym for Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya, i.e., "the Islamic Resistance Movement") appeared on the scene. It was about the same time that the CIA funded and armed Bin Laden's Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan. The 'Islamic Covenant' [42] published by ' Hamas' on August 18, 1988, clearly betrays the objectives of the movement. It purveys hatred: its language is intemperate, vituperative, and provocative. It makes extreme demands, which can never be the basis for any amicable settlement of the Palestinian Question. It is totally opposed to the moderate and secular approach of the PLO. While subjectively appearing to spew venom at Zionism, objectively the actions of 'Hamas' fit in well with the vile schemes of the Zionists. It appears that 'Hamas', "was at first given some encouragement by Israel, as a means of countering the influence of the PLO". Israel perhaps also encouraged 'Hamas' because "the opposition of the Hamas to an international conference that would adjudicate the problem of Palestine, coincided with the policies of the Shamir government" [43]. It is hardly surprising that some among the Palestinians living under trying conditions in the occupied territories flare up under the influence of the 'Hamas', thereby offering the fig leaf of justification for the inhuman actions of the Israeli armed forces.


While individual suicide bombings are described as terrorist attacks, the widespread atrocities perpetrated by the Israeli armed forces on the Palestinians, for some strange reason, are not categorized as such! It is very unfortunate that the world has largely remained a mute spectator to the systematic terror, humiliation and plunder of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Zionists. Micro-level terror gets all the attention, while macro-level terror goes unnoticed! Mahatma Gandhi's observation in this regard is again very pertinent here. He said:


"I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted cannons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds." [44]


The Matrix of Control


It has always been difficult to fathom the meaning of occupation. But an eyewitness account by a keen observer of the goings on should be an eye-opener to anyone with an iota of conscience regarding the horrendous state of affairs in the occupied territories of Palestine. At the International Meeting on the Question of Palestine organised in July 2001 at Madrid, Spain, by the United Nations' Division on Palestinian Rights (DPR), the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory was again one of the issues in focus. One of those who spoke at the Meeting was Jeff Halper, Co-ordinator of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, Jerusalem. The Report of the Meeting, which was subsequently brought out, has summarised his speech as follows:


Jeff Halper...said that Israel had succeeded in making the occupation invisible.... In order to maintain control for a long period of time and to avoid international opposition, the control had to be subtle, invisible and bureaucratic, through thousands of regulations and a so-called civil administration that was actually run by the military.


Mr. Halper described the Matrix of Control, the system imposed by Israel over the Occupied Palestinian Territory.... The Matrix was composed of three layers. One of them was military actions both in response to the intifada and in "normal times". Those in normal times included the use of undercover units and collaborators who undermined the very fabric of Palestinian society.... The second measure was creating facts on the ground: expropriation of land, construction of more than 200 settlements, carving the Occupied Territory into areas which confined Palestinians to some 190 islands. It also included a massive system of highways; severe control on Palestinian movement; construction of industrial parks; control over aquifers; and exploitation of holy places as a pretext for maintaining a security presence. The third and the subtlest mechanism was bureaucratic or legal in nature. It entangled Palestinians in a tight web of restrictions including temporary closures of the West Bank and Gaza, a discriminatory system of work, entrance and travel permits restricting freedom of movement, and active displacement through exile, deportation and induced immigration. Land expropriation, house demolitions, schemes of transfer, a freeze on the natural development of Palestinian town and villages, restrictions on the planting of crops and their sale came under such bureaucratic controls. The advantage of the Matrix of Control was its invisibility. Since it was a low-intensity control, it was not covered by the media even though it absolutely defined Palestinian life. [45]


The extremely trying conditions of life for the Palestinians under occupation could not have been described better. The 'overwhelming odds' about which Mahatma Gandhi wrote in 1938 might not have been half as bad then. One can therefore well imagine the mental make-up of the Palestinians forced to live under far worse conditions now. But, as Jeff Halper has pointed out, these exasperating conditions remain largely 'invisible' from the outside world. What is visible of course is the spate of mindless suicide bomb attacks by young Palestinians, who prefer to blow themselves up rather than meekly submit to the unbearable humiliations. But how many of them realise that their supreme sacrifice - by targeting in many cases unarmed Israeli civilians - does little to advance their cause? The world at large does wake up to the sound and fury of the suicide attacks only to end up labeling the Palestinians as terrorists. Strangely enough the same world takes no notice of the low-key but systematic and widespread terror being perpetrated on the Palestinians by their Zionist adversaries who are never taken to task for the same!


In monitoring the situation on the ground on a daily basis, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, on several occasions, voiced its grave concern at the severity of the Israeli military response to the outbreak of Palestinian protest. It may be recalled that the Committee was established by the UN General Assembly in 1975 [46] with the task of recommending a programme designed to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights as recognised by the Assembly [47]. The salient features of the latest report released by the Committee on October 31, 2001 may be summarised as follows.


Repression: 'The Committee noted that during the year, in addition to the use of plastic, rubber-coated metal and live ammunition, the Israeli military, in their attacks against Palestinians, continued to rely on heavy and sophisticated weapons, using them in an excessively harsh and indiscriminate manner. In the course of the past several months, the Committee has noted the alarmingly frequent use by IDF [Israeli Defence Force] of helicopter gun-ships, air-to-surface and heavy anti-tank missiles, tanks and missile boats throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory. On May 18, 2001, the Government of Israel changed the nature and scale of the conflict by authorizing the use of fighter aircraft against unprotected Palestinian targets.... The Committee also expressed the view that this policy was contrary to the accepted norms of international law'. [48]


Assassinations: 'In the course of the past several months, the Israeli security apparatus has resorted to selective assassinations of Palestinian activists and political leaders. The methods used in these Government-authorized operations have varied from special undercover units and snipers to helicopter-gunship fired air-to-surface missiles and other high-tech means. In this regard, the Committee noted with special concern the public statements by some Israeli leaders openly calling for the "liquidation" of the fathers of Palestinian militants. Since December 2000, more than 50 Palestinians have been killed in targeted attacks'. [49]


Incursions: 'Since April 2001, the Committee has observed with great concern what appeared to be an emerging pattern of Israeli incursions into areas under full Palestinian control. The Committee has stated that this type of IDF operations constituted an illegal activity and violated the letter and the spirit of the bilateral agreements signed as part of the peace process. During these massive incursions, IDF was supported by tanks, heavy armoured vehicles, helicopter gunships and bulldozers. The incursions constituted a virtual reoccupation of Palestinian lands, accompanied by the destruction of public and private property in various Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps...' [50]


Destruction: 'There has been an alarming increase in the demolitions of Palestinian houses and other property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Also, most of the IDF incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas were accompanied by the indiscriminate and often massive bulldozing of Palestinian property, both public and private, under various security-related justifications. The Gaza Strip suffered the most from these massive demolitions. ...In the same period [Sept. 2000 to Sept. 2001], 112,900 olive trees were uprooted and [hundreds of] square miles of cultivated land destroyed'. [51]


Settler Violence: 'According to the "Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza", during 2001, the number of settlers in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip has increased by 17,000 and has now reached nearly 227,000. ...Under the protection or due to indifference on the part of IDF, settler groups often resort to the use of firearms, hit-and-run incidents, torture and beatings of Palestinians. The arsenal of their illegal and criminal activities includes the obstruction of Palestinian road traffic and setting up roadblocks, throwing stones at Palestinian cars, setting Palestinian property on fire, uprooting trees, attacking Palestinian medical crews and journalists, and burning Palestinian places of worship'. [52]


Collective Punishment: 'The Palestinian economy, in the year of the current intifada, has experienced extreme difficulties and has shown signs of rapid disintegration as a result of the Israeli military occupation. Months of intensive violence and military confrontation as well as protracted closures and restrictions on the movement of goods and the labour force have decimated practically all sectors of the economy. ...Since the beginning of the crisis in September 2000, the Israeli authorities have introduced a policy of recurrent and often prolonged closures, which is viewed as a particularly harsh form of collective punishment... The closures have caused a dramatic rise in unemployment, bringing the rates back to the 1996 levels'. [53]


Restricting Mobility: 'Mobility has been severely restricted on the borders between the Palestinian Territory and Israel, between the West Bank and Jordan, and between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Internal closures within the West Bank and Gaza Strip have led to the establishment of a dense network of Israeli checkpoints, which, in turn, has resulted in temporary or permanent traffic disruption and road blockages'. [54]


Control of Water Supply: 'Constant water shortages continued to have a harmful effect on Palestinian households throughout the Palestinian territory. Israeli authorities continued to exercise control over Palestinian water resources, with thousands of Palestinian families deprived of connection to water networks. Almost 200,000 Palestinians were forced to rely on alternative water sources. ...Settlers have been reported to use their bulldozers to rupture Palestinian water pipelines, whereas Israeli snipers have targeted Palestinian roof water tanks...' [55]


How should the Israeli strategy of using such oppressive means to subjugate the Palestinians in the occupied territories be described? Is there any way of describing the combination of indiscriminate repression, selective assassinations, frequent incursions, massive destruction, systematic torture and harassment, imposition of collective punishment, etc., other than to term it as fascistic? Why is the world at large shying away from describing the Israeli terror as such? Refusing to recognise the truth would not obliterate it.


Shocking Apathy


The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has been submitting its report to the UN General Assembly every year for the last twenty-four years. But it seems to have made little difference. According to the Committee:


The recommendations made by the Committee in its first report to the General Assembly were endorsed by the Assembly as a basis for the solution of the question of Palestine. In its subsequent reports, the Committee has continued to stress that a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, must be based on the relevant United Nations resolutions and the following essential principles: the withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and from the other occupied Arab territories; respect for the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized boundaries; and the recognition and exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination. The Committee's recommendations could not be implemented, and the Assembly each year renewed the Committee's mandate and requested it to intensify efforts in pursuit of its objectives. [56]


It is the UN Security Council, controlled by the United States and its allies, which has ensured that the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People remains unimplemented. The only inference that one could draw from this pathetic state of affairs is that as long as the United States is allowed to play such a domineering role, the UN can never fulfill the objectives for which it was founded. Without the unstinting support of the US, there is no way that Israel and the malevolent Zionists would dare to act with such abandon. If Israel has to mend its fascistic policies pressure has to be exerted on the United States and none else.


Meanwhile the first intifada that had begun on December 9, 1987 ended in 1993 through some notable diplomatic initiatives. It began with a Peace Conference of concerned parties (minus the PLO) at Madrid on October 31, 1991. The major breakthrough was achieved when on  September 10, 1993, the PLO and the Government of Israel exchanged letters of mutual recognition. This was brought about through the intervention of the late Norwegian Foreign Minister, John Holst. The developments at Oslo (Norway) have been an important milestone in the journey towards the realization of a just and lasting peace in the region. Several follow-up agreements have been signed since then, the fifth one being on October 23, 1998 at Washington. The sacred date that Palestinians anxiously waited for to exercise their inalienable rights as an independent people was May 4, 1999. But the saddest part is that even three years later, Israel remains non-committed to the articles of the five agreements signed since the commencement of the peace process. Instead the Israeli leadership in its latest phase has chosen to unleash terror with a view to derailing all that was achieved so far. There is therefore a big question mark over the fate of the Oslo process. Doubts are also being expressed as to whether the entire exercise was merely intended to raise false hopes and to hoodwink the Palestinians.


Anyway the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) at its meeting held in the presence of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President, Yasser Arafat, in Gaza on July 2 and 3, 2000, has reiterated its stand vis-a-vis the key issues of the conflict. The PCC reaffirmed that:


1. It stands by its commitment regarding the right of the Palestinian refugees to return or to seek adequate compensation in accordance with UN Resolution 194 and that it would reject all attempts aimed at accommodating Palestinian refugees abroad which would deprive them of the right of return.


2. It would continue to seek complete Israeli withdrawal from all the Palestinian land occupied in June 1967, including Jerusalem, in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and based on the principle of "Land for Peace" as enunciated at the Madrid Peace Conference.


3. It would continue to seek the removal and dismantling of all Jewish settlements built in the occupied territories.


4. East Jerusalem occupied by Israel in June 1967 would be the capital of the independent Palestinian State and that Peace will never prevail without the liberation of East Jerusalem from Israeli occupation. [57]


Current Crisis


It was the highly provocative visit of the then opposition leader (and the current Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon to the Al-Haram al-Sharif compound (the third holiest site in Islam) in the Old City of Jerusalem on September 28, 2000 that set off the second intifada. What was Sharon's objective in visiting the holy site? Did he visit it as a pilgrim, as a gesture of goodwill for speedy reconciliation between the warring sides? Or was it designed to demonstrate Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem and to instigate the Palestinian believers to react to the impudent act? There is little doubt that it was a calculated ploy on the part of Sharon to provoke a sharp reaction. Another event that escalated the crisis further was the assassination of Abu Ali Mustafa, head of the leftist PFLP - one of the key constituents of the PLO. In a targeted killing the Israelis eliminated him by firing two missiles into his office in Ramallah on August 27, 2001. Shortly afterwards, on October 17, 2001, Rehavam Zeevi - the most right-wing minister of the Israeli cabinet - was assassinated for which the Israelis have held the PFLP responsible.


Zeevi's assassination could not have been the reason for Israel to step up its current offensive. Nearly two weeks earlier on October 5, 2001, in the aftermath of the September 11 events, Israel had already sent in tanks and troops into areas that had been handed over to the PNA as per the Oslo accord of 1993. From then on Israeli forces have been wrecking havoc in West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is clear that, in the garb of fighting "Palestinian terrorism", Israel was merely looking for excuses for not complying with its obligations under the Oslo accord especially concerning the rights of the Palestinian refugees and regarding withdrawal of Israeli settlements from the occupied territories. The spate of suicide bombing attacks did help the Israeli cause a great deal. According to Aijaz Ahmed (Frontline), the renewed Israeli aggression seems to have three other objectives:


1. To beat the populace into abject submission through military assault, political repression, encirclement and starvation; 2. The permanent destruction of infrastructure as well as the Palestinian Authority as such, so that living conditions become so insufferable that sizable numbers of people would be forced to flee the occupied territories; 3. The toppling of Arafat and negotiating with local leaders so that the leaders become the equivalent of the "chiefs" in colonial Africa and are then made to manage the remaining population on the models of the Bantustans in apartheid South Africa.


He then went on to add:


U.S. collusion in all this is palpable. It has bestowed upon Israel $92 billion in aid, more than any country has ever gifted another country. It allows Israel to use the whole range of U.S.-supplied weaponry - from F-16 jets to Apache helicopters - to kill and terrorise a population that does not even have ordinary armour to defend itself. [58]


The latest round of terror unleashed by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in the town of Jenin and elsewhere during March-April 2002 only revives the bitter memories of the massacres at Sabra and Shatila. The fact that Israel has refused to permit the UN Fact Finding Mission from visiting the area is ample proof that it is desperate to cover up its despicable acts at Jenin. It was the unanimous decision of the UN Security Council on April 19,2002 [59] to depute a UN Fact Finding team to verify allegations of large scale destruction of life and property by the Israeli forces in the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin in the first week of April 2002. The self-appointed champion of global human rights, the United States of America, was a party to that resolution. But the US has made no attempt to persuade Israel, its gendarme in West Asia, to comply with the UN resolution. Instead the US has been looking for ways and means to bail out Israel from facing the embarrassment of exposing its bloodied hands. In the course of the past two years, violent confrontations have left over 1500 dead and nearly 20,000 thousand wounded - many of them permanently disabled - including hundreds of children. Predictably, most of the casualties are Palestinians. [60]


The Zionists are intent on depriving the Palestinians of all their land through force and subterfuge. The Jewish population in Israel has already risen to about 5,000,000 and the free flow of Jewish immigrants meant occupation of more and more Palestinian lands! Jewish settlers are occupying West Bank and Gaza Strip (i.e., whatever is left of the land ostensibly allocated to the Palestinians under the UN Partition Plan of 1947) at an alarming rate. This precisely is the issue that is adding fuel to the fire. By 1998, 62 % of the land in West Bank and 35 % in Gaza were confiscated to serve only 155,000 Israeli settlers, while nearly 3,000,000 Palestinians were cramped into rest of the area [61]. The situation has aggravated since then. Thus, nearly 90 % of the original Palestine homeland has been taken over by the Israelis. If this trend continues, the entire Palestinian people would - in the not too distant future - be deprived of all their land and become a stateless people (already more than 50% of the Palestinians are forced to live outside Palestine, while in 1948 nearly all of them lived inside it). The Palestinian population has also gone up to over 8,000,000 today. While nearly 2,000,000 live in West Bank, over one million in Gaza Strip and about one million in Israel (and in the areas it had occupied before 1967), over 4 million of them live in Diaspora in the four corners of the world [62]. Their living conditions are such that during 2000-2001, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) had to provide 'some 3.8 million Palestine refugees with social services, schooling and health care.' [63]


Under the circumstances, the only possible solution to the ongoing conflict is the convening of an authoritative international conference for peace in the region as proposed by the UN General Assembly resolution 38/58C adopted on December 13, 1983. PLO has strongly supported such a conference. The EEC (presently the European Union) too on February 28, 1987 had endorsed the said UN resolution. The proposal was reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly through Resolution No. 43/176 adopted on December 15, 1988 by 138 votes to 2. While the appeal for convening of the International Conference has received overwhelming support of the international community, USA and Israel stand in total opposition to the proposal.


The same United States was quick to react when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. UN Security Council sanction was no problem and the US lost no time in assembling a 36-nation international coalition to oust Iraq to ostensibly protect the human rights of the 1,700,000 Kuwaitis. But the human rights of more than four times that many Palestinians, who are also in the same region and who are under occupation of the Israelis for the last 35 years, is of least concern to the United States! Can there be any better example of double standards? The undeniable fact is that every atrocity that the fascist Israeli regime is perpetrating against the Palestinians has the tacit support of the US Administration. The day the US Administration is forced to withdraw its support to the Zionists, a just solution to the problem will begin to take shape. Therefore, without further delay, pressure has to be brought to bear on the United States to extend support to the proposed international conference.


The Government of India's current policy of 'running with the hare and hunting with the hound' also needs to be exposed. On the one hand, India has been one of the members of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, a body with representatives of 25 nations, which has been doing yeoman service. On the other hand, especially in the last few years, the Government of India has been expanding strategic collaboration with the fascist regime of Israel and, thereby, turning a blind eye to the widespread repression being unleashed by that regime. Given India's long-held principled stand on the matter, the pro-Zionist stance of the present Indian Government is a matter of national shame and deserves to be condemned in no uncertain terms.


The world at large is blissfully unaware of the enormity of the tragic situation confronting the Palestinians. It is time that the world lent its ears to the anguished cries of the Palestinian people against occupation and fascistic repression and forthrightly intervenes to peacefully resolve the long-standing dispute. All efforts should be made to ensure that the proposed international conference under the aegis of the UN -- and UN alone -- is held at the earliest. The desperate attempts by the US Administration to hijack the proposed International Conference, with a view to shielding Israel and whitewashing the inhuman crimes it has been committing against the Palestinian people, must be resisted sternly. In the light of the colossal indifference towards their just cause and the almost total inability on the part of the international community to ensure that justice is done, is it at all surprising that the beleaguered Palestinians are seething with rage?


N.D.Jayaprakash is a member of the Delhi Science Forum/Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace in New Delhi, India. Email:






1. The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, The Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, New Delhi, 1977, Vol.68, p.137


2. Overview, UN Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) at


3. Punyapriya Dasgupta (member of the 1985 UN sponsored international team of journalists on a mission of fact-finding about the Palestinians), Cheated by the World -The Palestinian Experience, Orient Longman Limited, New Delhi, 1988, p. 45


4. The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, op cit., p. 138


5. Prakash C Jain (School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University), 'Population and Society in Israel', Encounter (New Delhi), Vol. 2, No. 3, May/June 1999, pp. 57-58


6. (Official web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Israel)


7. See endnote 2 above


8. Information on Haganah, Etzel and Lehi are primarily from the official web-site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Israel at: and


9. Don Perez, 'The Historical Background of Arab Nationalism in Palestine', in Richard Ward, Don Peretz and Even M. Wilson (eds.), The Palestinian State: A Rational Approach, New York, 1977, quoted in Dasgupta, op. cit., p.131


10. A.W. Kayyali, Palestine - A Modern History, Croom Helm, London, 1978, p. 41


11. Ibid., pp.123-124


12. ibid., p. 167


13. Ibid., p.176


14. Ibid., p. 175


15. Dasgupta, op. cit., pp.133-134


16. Palestinian casualties were 5,032 killed and 14,760 wounded (Kayyali, op cit., p.231) About 460 Jews and 101 Britons were killed during the same period (Dasgupta, op cit., p.138) Unaccounted Palestinian casualties may have much more.


17. Amnon Kapeliouk, “The Changing Pattern of Israeli Immigration,” Le Monde Diplomatique, November 1997,, p.1


18. UN General Assembly Resolution <No.A/RES/181> (II) (A+B)


19. One of the goals enunciated by the Zionist extremist organisation Lehi.



20. See Recommendations (III), Chapter VII, Report to the General Assembly, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, 3 September 1947, Document No. A/364 (Official Reocords of the second session of the General Assembly, Supplement No. 11, Volumes I)


Note: India, Iran and Yugoslavia, which were part of the 11 member UN Special Committee on Palestine set up on May 15, 1947 to deal with the question, had instead proposed the creation of a federal state. They had also forewarned that any other decision would have tragic consequences. But the other members of the Committee--Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, and Uruguay--voted against the proposal. Australia abstained.


21. (a) "The Jews will have the more economically developed part of the country embracing practically the whole of the citrus-producing area which includes a large number of Arab producers". See Point No. 13 (1), Recommendations (II), Chapter VI, Report to the General Assembly, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, 3 September 1947, UN Document No. A/364


(b) "In view of the fact that the proposed Jewish state would include the best land in Palestine, the [Peel Committee] Report recommended that the Arab state be assisted by an annual subvention from the Jewish state." See Kayyali op cit., p. 207


22. Document No. A/364, Add.1, 9 September 1947 (Official Records of the second session of the General Assembly, Supplement No. 11, Volumes II, Map of Palestine--Plan of Partition with Economic Union [Majority Proposal], Map No. 82 United Nations, UN Presentation 520, September 1947)


23. "The total area of Palestine, according to official data, is 26,320,230 dunums. The greater part of this area belongs to the Arabs who lived there for thousands of years as uncontested owners. Jewish ownership at the beginning of the British Mandate represented only 2 per cent of the above total area. As a result of laws imposed by the Mandatory Government without the consent of the rightful indigenous population, Jewish ownership rose by the end of the Mandate to 1,491,699 dunums, a figure still representing less than 6 per cent of the total area' of the whole of Palestine.". Letter dated 11 April 1966 from the representatives of Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and the United Arab Republic addressed to the Chairman of the United Nations Conciliatory Commission for Palestine, in UN Document No. A/AC.25/W.85, dated 16 May 1966 [1 dunum = approx. 1/1000 of a Sq. km]


24. Point No. 5, Justification, Part II, Recommendations (II), Chapter VI, Report to the General Assembly, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, 3 September 1947, UN Document No. A/364, p.54


25. See Paras 3 and 4, Chapter IV, ibid.


26. Para 5, ibid.


27. Section B, Recommendations (I), Chapter V, ibid.


28. The Soviet stand was inexplicable because every communist leader--from Karl Marx (who was himself of Jewish origin) downward, including Stalin in his early phase--had opposed the idea of a separate Jewish homeland. Therefore, there is no denying the fact that the Soviet Union had gravely erred in its assessment of the ground realities in Palestine in the late 1940s and its support for Zionism during that crucial phase was one of the biggest blunders it had committed. For more details see Dasgupta, op cit., pp. 110-126


29. See endnote 2 above


30. Report on the web-site of the US Library of Congress/Federal Research Division/Country Studies/...Israel-A country Study, Israel: Israeli Arabs, Arab Land and Arab Refugees at


31. Ibid.


32. Details of all the destroyed villages can be found at:


33. General Assembly resolution of May 14, 1948, Document No. 186 (S-2)


34. Paras 6 and 7, Section V--Refugees, Part I, Document No. A/648 (Supplement No. 11, Official Records, Third Session, General Assembly, United Nations, Paris, 1948)


35. Para 3, Section I--Nature of the Problem, Part III, Document No. A/648 (Supplement No. 11, Official Records, Third Session, General Assembly, United Nations, Paris, 1948)


36. Folke Bernadotte (1895-1948), a Swede with family ties to the Swedish King, gained international recognition through his work as head of the Swedish Red Cross during World War II. One organisation that saw Bernadotte's mediation efforts as a threat was LEHI--a Jewish underground group then headed by Yitzhak Shamir. Under international pressure the assasins of Bernadottte, Natan Yellin-Mor and Mattiyahu Shmuelevitz were tried and sentenced but were released in 1950 under a general amnesty. Thereafter, Natan Yellin-Mor was elevated to membership of the Knesset--the Israeli Parliament! Yitzhak Shamir reputedly played a role in planning the assassination. However, Shamir was never tried and he went on to become Prime Minister of Israel in October 1983, in the wake of the resignation of Menachem Begin, who was forced to resign as a result of the fallout of the Sabra and Shatila massacres. For more details see: (Jewish Virtual Library -A Division of the American-Israeli Co-operative Enterprise) and the official web-site of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs: at


37. Jacques de Reynier, A Jerusalem un drapeau flottait sur la ligne de feu [In Jerusalem a Flag Fluttered Over the Line of Fire], Neuchatel: Editions de la Baconniere, 1950 [Geneva, Switzerland], pp.69-74, at


38. Albert Einstein and twenty-eight others, New York, Dec.2, 1948 (NYT, 4 December 1948)


39. See Dasgupta, op. cit., p. 241


40. UN Resolution No.A/RES/3210 (XXIX)








44. The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, op cit., p.140


45. Report of the International Meeting on the Question of Palestine (Madrid, 17-18 July 2001), Division of Palestinian Rights, United Nations, Document No. 01-63718, dated 27 November 2001, paras 44 and 45


46. Resolution No. 3376 (XXX) of 10 November 1975


47. Resolution No. 3236 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974


48. Para 19, UN General Assembly Official Records No. A/56/35, 31 October 2001


49. Para 20, ibid.


50. Para 27, ibid


51. Para 24, ibid.


52. Para 25, ibid.


53. Para 27, ibid. [In 1996 over 50 % of the Palestinians remained unemployed]


54. Ibid.


55. Para 28, ibid.


56. Para 2, ibid.


57. Ministry of Information, Palestine National Authority at


58. Aijaz Ahmed, 'Israel's Colonial War', Frontline (Chennai, India), March 1, 2002, pp.58-59


59. UN Document No. S/RES/1405 (2002)




61. Khalid El-Sheikh, The Palestinian Catastrophe, Embassy of the State of Palestine, New Delhi, 1998, p.65


62. Ministry of Information, Palestine National Authority at:


63. Para 29, UN General Assembly Official Records No. A/56/35