Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands


Irene L. Gendzier presents incontrovertible evidence that oil politics played a significant role in the founding of Israel, the policy then adopted by the United States toward Palestinians, and subsequent U.S. involvement in the region. Consulting declassified U.S. government sources, as well as papers in the H.S. Truman Library, she uncovers little-known features of U.S. involvement in the region, including significant exchanges in the winter and spring of 1948 between the director of the Oil and Gas Division of the Interior Department and the representative of the Jewish Agency in the United States, months before Israel’s independence and recognition by President Truman.

[T]here was also “straight talk” among US military and intelligence officials about the comparative strength of Israeli as opposed to Palestinian and Arab forces, the first of which they regarded as superior from the vantage point of training and equipment. US officials concluded that Israel had become the number two power in the Middle East after Turkey, and could be useful in contributing to US strategy in the Middle East.

The March visit of the Israeli PM to Washington has aroused rapid opposition among Israel’s supporters in Congress as well as Democratic Party activists. At issue is the matter of protocol, not to say, principle. But there is something else afoot, namely, the realization that Netanyahu’s action risks alienating a political base that is increasingly skeptical of Israeli claims, including those about Iran’s nuclear arms that were exposed as false by Israel’s Intelligence agency. Then there was the PM’s analogy between his leadership of Israel in 2015 and that of David Ben-Gurion in 1948, that was rapidly written off by Israeli critics. At bottom, however, is the threat of blowing open the taboo on plain talk about Washington’s relations with Israel, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The strategy of Israel’s leadership towards the ‘peace process’ is patently designed to prevent the supposed outcome of that process: a two-state ‘solution’, with a sovereign Palestinian Arab statelet ‘alongside Israel’.

US officials understood the Israeli reliance on force to expand and control territory, which they criticized while recognizing Israel’s military superiority as compared to that of surrounding Arab states. It was on the basis of such force that Israel altered the balance of power in the Middle East in 1948. And it was on the basis of such developments that Washington calculated that Israel could be useful in the protection of US regional interests.

It is easy to forget, with eulogies casting him as the unexpected “peace-maker”, that for most of his long military and political career Ariel Sharon was known simply as The Bulldozer. That is certainly how he will be remembered by Palestinians.

Whether in military uniform or in politics, Ariel Sharon’s time in power was characterised by construction and destruction frenzies that decisively shaped the physical realities in which both Israelis and Palestinians still struggle to live. His legacy is not only that of a military man and a politician, but also that of an architect. Sharon, more than anyone else, has shaped the spatial realities of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

The true goal of Sharon’s separation regime was never to end the occupation but to reinforce it under new parameters that would prevent the collapse of Israel’s international image. A top aide to Sharon, Dov Weissglass, revealed the real logic behind Sharon’s plans: “The disengagement [from Gaza] is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”

A political project is purely utopian unless it can indicate a likely agent – a socio-political force able to realise it and whose long-term interests it would serve. In the present article I propose to apply this precept to the project of the ‘one-state solution’ for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the vision of a single democratic (or secular-democratic) state in the whole of so-called ‘historical Palestine’ – the territory of Palestine as it existed under the British mandate from 1923 to 1948.

Israel has been poisoned by the psychosis of permanent war. It has been morally bankrupted by the sanctification of victimhood, which it uses to justify an occupation that rivals the brutality and racism of apartheid South Africa. Its democracy—which was always exclusively for Jews—has been hijacked by extremists who are pushing the country toward fascism. Many of Israel’s most enlightened and educated citizens—1 million of them—have left the country. Its most courageous human rights campaigners, intellectuals and journalists—Israeli and Palestinian—are subject to constant state surveillance, arbitrary arrests and government-run smear campaigns. Its educational system, starting in primary school, has become an indoctrination machine for the military.

At the fringes, some observers reject the shared [US] assumptions, bringing up the historical record: for example, the fact that “for nearly seven decades” the United States has led the world in aggression and subversion — overthrowing elected governments and imposing vicious dictatorships, supporting horrendous crimes, undermining international agreements and leaving trails of blood, destruction and misery.

As [the conflict] is caused by colonization, resolution requires decolonization. In this specific case, as the cause is Zionist colonization, what is required is deZionisation, overthrow of the Zionist project and its state.

Fouzi’s work centered around Israel and the Palestinians, with particular focus on the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Following in the footsteps of his mother, Najla El-Asmar, who was an activist long before Israel’s establishment in 1948, Fouzi helped found al-Ard, an anti-Zionist political organization committed to the defense of the civil and political rights of “Israeli Arabs.”

Journalist Magda Abu Fadil remembers Palestinian activist Fouzi El-Asmar who died last month in the Washington DC area.

Fouzi El-Asmar discusses Al-Ard (The Land), a political organization he helped found in Palestine during the late 1950s whose history and perspective have been marginalized if not largely absented from most narratives about the Palestinian liberation movement.

Leaders from the [Israeli] Palestinian community, Christian and Muslim, who have spoken against this new [IDF] enlistment effort have been called in for investigation by Israel’s secret police. In an Orwellian inversion, they have been accused of “incitement to violence.”

Michael Sfard: “While talks are happening Israel gets away with anything. Land grabs, the expansion of settlements, even [Operation] Cast Lead was waged while there were peace talks.”

Former Israeli defence (then industry) minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer: “People like to buy things that have been tested. If Israel sells weapons, they have been tested, tried out. We can say we’ve used this 10 years, 15 years.”

[Lawyers] and others argue that Israel is carrying out a systematic and intentional policy to drive Palestinians off their land to replace them with Jewish communities. This, they say, should be identified as “ethnic cleansing”, a term first given legal and moral weight in the Balkans conflict in the early 1990s.

While Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies on the far right were castigating an amusement park called Superland for separating Jewish and Arab children, they were busy backing a bill that will give Israeli Jews who serve in the army a whole raft of extra rights in land and housing, employment, salaries, and much more. Superland’s offence pales to insignificance when compared to that, or to the decades of state-planned and officially sanctoned discrimination against the country’s Palestinian minority.