Saturday, May 31, 2008
Aftermath of the Snow Storms at Baqa'a Agency Camp (1969):
Losing her tent in the winter storms of February 1969 was a major tragedy for this displaced Palestinian refugee woman who found shelter in Baqa'a emergency camp, east Jordan.
Nearly a year elapsed since this blog's inaugural posting and I've been quietly pondering a steady stream of reflections on this tumultuous planet. What do you say we fire up some something incandescent once again?
Just a few weeks ago, in mid-May, the most appalling, ignorant, and corrupt president in American history made a stopover in his very favorite client-state in the whole wide world, Israel. George W. Bush, our champion of freedom, zealous protector of all our civil liberties, was there to help toast the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Palestine.
But in all of Dubya's enlightening insights, he had time to mention the word "Palestinians" but only once. The rest was his trademark drivel denouncing "extremists." You see, he takes the popular formula Middle East myth that stars only Muslim terrorists and Israeli freedom fighters.
"The joy of independence was tempered by the outbreak of a battle," said The Shrub, "a struggle that has continued for six decades. Yet in spite of the violence, in defiance of the threats, Israel has built a thriving democracy in the heart of the Holy Land."
Right. A "thriving democracy." But the details in the "building" part in that monumental year, 1948, often get so very fuzzy. Or, shall we say, so very scoffed at, attacked, or outright censored by dutiful politicians prostrate before the omnipotent Israeli lobby, American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). That's why we're grateful that a bonafide Israeli historian, Benny Morris, has generously filled in the "gaps" that Bush and too many others keep trying to bury.
Morris's latest book, "1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War," will be reviewed in tomorrow's Washington Post. But it is not his first examination of what the Palestinians know not as a "joy of independence," but rather as "Al-Naqba" (The Catastrophe.)
Understandable, especially after looking at the unabridged record of events. The catastrophe's grand design can be dated all the way back to 1895, written in the diary of Theodor Herzl himself, founder of political Zionism.
"...We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border," wrote Herzl, "by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly..."
Of course, as it ultimately turned out, this "removal of the poor" ended up being a hardly discrete or circumspect bit of ethnic cleansing, not in 1948, nor in any of the other 60 years to follow.
Not by a long shot.
Morris's other seminal book on the issue, "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited," was a devastating indictment of the Zionist steamroller that's been an integral part of this sixty year-old cycle of Palestinian terrorism begetting more Israeli terrorism, and on and on and on.
Morris did his homework. The bulk of his data comes directly out of the Israeli Defense Forces Archives. That's right, the actual IDF files.
In a 2004 interview with the Israeli newspaper, Haaratz, the Ben-Gurion University professor had shocking statistics exposing the brutal destruction of a nation--the Palestinian nation--which the remnents today continue crumbling under the treads of all those U.S.-supplied Caterpillar bulldozers.
An excerpt from the Haaratz interview:
RAPE, MASSACRE, TRANSFER
Haaratz: Benny Morris, in the month ahead the new version of your book on the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem is due to be published. Who will be less pleased with the book - the Israelis or the Palestinians?
Morris: The revised book is a double-edged sword. It is based on many documents that were not available to me when I wrote the original book, most of them from the Israel Defense Forces Archives. What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape. In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah [the pre-state defense force that was the precursor of the IDF] were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves.
At the same time, it turns out that there was a series of orders issued by the Arab Higher Committee and by the Palestinian intermediate levels to remove children, women and the elderly from the villages. So that on the one hand, the book reinforces the accusation against the Zionist side, but on the other hand it also proves that many of those who left the villages did so with the encouragement of the Palestinian leadership itself.
Haaratz: According to your new findings, how many cases of Israeli rape were there in 1948?
Morris: About a dozen. In Acre four soldiers raped a girl and murdered her and her father. In Jaffa, soldiers of the Kiryati Brigade raped one girl and tried to rape several more. At Hunin, which is in the Galilee, two girls were raped and then murdered. There were one or two cases of rape at Tantura, south of Haifa. There was one case of rape at Qula, in the center of the country. At the village of Abu Shusha, near Kibbutz Gezer [in the Ramle area] there were four female prisoners, one of whom was raped a number of times. And there were other cases. Usually more than one soldier was involved. Usually there were one or two Palestinian girls. In a large proportion of the cases the event ended with murder. Because neither the victims nor the rapists liked to report these events, we have to assume that the dozen cases of rape that were reported, which I found, are not the whole story. They are just the tip of the iceberg.
Haaratz: According to your findings, how many acts of Israeli massacre were perpetrated in 1948?
Twenty-four. In some cases four or five people were executed, in others the numbers were 70, 80, 100. There was also a great deal of arbitrary killing. Two old men are spotted walking in a field - they are shot. A woman is found in an abandoned village - she is shot. There are cases such as the village of Dawayima [in the Hebron region], in which a column entered the village with all guns blazing and killed anything that moved.
The worst cases were Saliha (70-80 killed), Deir Yassin (100-110), Lod (250), Dawayima (hundreds) and perhaps Abu Shusha (70). There is no unequivocal proof of a large-scale massacre at Tantura, but war crimes were perpetrated there. At Jaffa there was a massacre about which nothing had been known until now. The same at Arab al Muwassi, in the north. About half of the acts of massacre were part of Operation Hiram [in the north, in October 1948]: at Safsaf, Saliha, Jish, Eilaboun, Arab al Muwasi, Deir al Asad, Majdal Krum, Sasa. In Operation Hiram there was a unusually high concentration of executions of people against a wall or next to a well in an orderly fashion.
That can’t be chance. It’s a pattern. Apparently, various officers who took part in the operation understood that the expulsion order they received permitted them to do these deeds in order to encourage the population to take to the roads. The fact is that no one was punished for these acts of murder. Ben-Gurion silenced the matter. He covered up for the officers who did the massacres.
Haaratz: What you are telling me here, as though by the way, is that in Operation Hiram there was a comprehensive and explicit expulsion order. Is that right?
Morris: Yes. One of the revelations in the book is that on October 31, 1948, the commander of the Northern Front, Moshe Carmel, issued an order in writing to his units to expedite the removal of the Arab population. Carmel took this action immediately after a visit by Ben-Gurion to the Northern Command in Nazareth. There is no doubt in my mind that this order originated with Ben-Gurion. Just as the expulsion order for the city of Lod, which was signed by Yitzhak Rabin, was issued immediately after Ben-Gurion visited the headquarters of Operation Dani [July 1948].
Haaratz: Are you saying that Ben-Gurion was personally responsible for a deliberate and systematic policy of mass expulsion?
Morris: From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created.
Haaratz: Ben-Gurion was a “transferist”?
Morris: Of course. Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist.
Haaratz: I don’t hear you condemning him.
Morris: Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here.
WHEN ETHNIC CLEANSING IS JUSTIFIED
Haaratz: Benny Morris, for decades you have been researching the dark side of Zionism. You are an expert on the atrocities of 1948. In the end, do you in effect justify all this? Are you an advocate of the transfer of 1948?
Morris: There is no justification for acts of rape. There is no justification for acts of massacre. Those are war crimes. But in certain conditions, expulsion is not a war crime. I don’t think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands.
Haaratz: We are talking about the killing of thousands of people, the destruction of an entire society....
Of course, there are many in the Israeli Cheerleader Crowd that wish Morris would shut up. They don't want to be confused by facts and surely don't appreciate his unvarnished opinions, which hardly sound dovish, especially that hokum about the Israeli ethnic cleansing NOT being a war crime.
Frankly, I didn't much care for his "omelet" analogy, either. Josef Stalin said the very same thing after murdering 30 million people.
Nevertheless, keep up the good work, Benny. Maybe, just maybe, some enchanted evening enough of our Congress folks will be able to find their missing backbones and make that Israeli lobby be the one to blink. As long as they continue colonizing the West Bank while making bogus promises about a genuine two-state solution, the status que will continue.
Something has got to change, and soon. Tel Aviv is about to turn most of the leftover 22 percent of Palestine into Bantustans that would make a diehard Afrikaner blush.