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

Nakba

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.

Ten years ago, Aisha Mershani began a project to document the lives of everyday Palestinians non-violently resisting Israeli occupation. Since 2003, she have photographed and gathered testimonies from Palestinian communities that have resisted the building of the Wall. After six years away, she is returning to the West Bank in the summer of 2013 to complete this project. Thus far, Aisha has self-funded her work; she is now asking for your support with the completion of the last stage of this ten-year project.

IOA Editor: We highly recommend supporting Aisha’s work.

In an interview on IDF Radio, Pundak confirmed that forces under his command razed Arab villages in 1948. “My conscience is at ease with that, because if we hadn’t done so, then there would be no state by now. There would be a million more Arabs,” he said.

In 1948, some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from more than 400 villages as the new state of Israel was declared on a large part of their homeland – an event known to Palestinians as the nakba, or “catastrophe”. The refugees – mostly descendants of those driven from their homes – now number around five million, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

Six mass grave sites dating back to the 1936 Palestinian uprising and the 1948 Nakba were discovered around the Jaffa cemetery, the al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage reported Wednesday, revealing hundreds of bodies of Palestinians killed by Zionist forces.

Al-Nakba

15 May 2013

“The Nakba did not begin in 1948. Its origins lie over two centuries ago….” So begins this four-part Al-Jazeera series on the ‘Nakba’ (the ‘catastrophe’), about the history of the Palestinian exodus that led to the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel.

The number of Palestinians who remained in their towns and village in 1948 after the Nakba was estimated at 154,000. Their number is now estimated as 1.4 million on the 65rd anniversary of the Nakba. In 1948, 1.4 million Palestinians lived in 1,300 Palestinian towns and villages in historic Palestine. The Israelis controlled 774 towns and villages and destroyed 531 Palestinian towns and villages during the Nakba.

When the government tries to silence a history, a light is shed on the nation’s biggest taboo. This is the story of those who fought to erase Palestine and created an Israeli landscape of denial.

[L]et’s face it. It isn’t that we don’t know what happened in 1947-1948. It’s that we’ve chosen not to see or hear anything that jars our thinking on the subject. Certain words and ideas have remained taboo, certain questions have been sidelined as suspect and certain histories – ours and theirs – have been excised, the better to educate us to numbness and indifference. The result is that we prefer to think of Israeli-Arab wars as instances of the much lamented ‘clashes of civilization’ that pit our civilized allies against the violence-prone ‘other,’ As long as our side wins, there is no need to look into the face of the ‘enemy,’ or to ask ourselves why and why again? Admittedly, doing so risks discovering that ‘they’ are like us, which is as disconcerting as learning that what the ‘experts’ have taught us about our history and theirs is often plain wrong, leaving us to discover that deception can be dangerous.

A new documentary by frequent IOA contributor Israeli-Canadian journalist Lia Tarachansky aims to decipher some of the anxiety that accompanies the Israeli debate over the events of 1948.

Seven Deadly Myths

8 October 2012

Upcoming documentary profiles Israeli journalist Lia Tarachansky’s return to the settlement where she grew up, to uncover a buried history and a landscape of denial. The film tells the stories of four veterans of the 1948 war that erased from the Israeli landscape hundreds of Palestinian villages and connects their stories to the modern-day Palestinian dispossession through the occupation and settlements.

Our beloved Tel Aviv, whose reputation for enlightenment and openness is world renowned, is built in part on ruined Palestinian villages – and refuses to acknowledge it.

One can conclude from Grossman’s article, probably contrary to his intent, that in theory things could have been different. In theory the occupation could have been sustained with the upholding of the law – that is, in an enlightened and democratic manner, without dumping an entire people by the side of the road. Furthermore, one can also conclude that if and when we annul the corrupting occupation we will be able to continue the enlightened existence of the small and just State of Israel of the pre-1967 era. [Not so.]

If anything can be said about the inhabitants of the many refugee camps in Jordan it is that they have shown remarkable resilience in the face of unspeakable injustice. The people at Gaza camp are warm and welcoming, albeit curious. Numbers haunt the life of every refugee; on one hand, there are passport numbers, national identification numbers, and social security numbers that are denied to them. On the other hand, you have the statistics that their lives have been reduced to: 24,000 refugees, 2,000 makeshift shelters, 50% unemployment, 0.75 square kilometers.

Every year the US allocates $250 million to UNRWA, which provides food as well as health, education and employment services to millions of Palestinians in Jordan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. For years Congressional representatives have been trying to reduce U.S. contributions to the agency, on the grounds that UNRWA was born in sin and that its policies are anti-Israeli.

In fact, it is rarely useful to compare the Holocaust and the ordeal of the Palestinians; it does not help us understand the reality of either. Sixty-four years have elapsed since the Nakba, 64 years during which Palestinians have been subjected to further wars, expulsions, and dispossession. They have been denied political, economic, and human rights… This is not genocide, but what name is there for it?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012, is the 64th Anniversary of Palestinian Nakba Day. This date commemorates the end, on 15 May 1948, of the so-called “Mandate” over Palestine “granted” to Britain by the League of Nations (the UN’s predecessor) following the end of World War I. The Mandate system was devised by the victorious powers, chiefly Britain and France, to give a veneer of legality to their post-war military occupation and rule over the former Middle Eastern Arab provinces of the defeated Ottoman Empire.

“When you grow up you will understand how injustice was brought upon your father and upon thousands of Palestinians whom the occupation has put in prisons and jail cells, shattering their lives and future for no reason other then their pursuit of freedom, dignity and independence. You will know that your father did not tolerate injustice and submission, and that he would never accept insult and compromise, and that he is going through a hunger strike to protest against the Jewish state that wants to turn us into humiliated slaves without any rights or patriotic dignity.”

“My beloved Lamar keep your head up always and be proud of your father, and thank everyone who supported me, who supported the prisoners in their struggle, and don’t be afraid for God is with us always, and God never lets down people who have faith and patience. We are righteous, and right will always prevail against injustice and wrong doers.”

Safi Kadaan: “We’re talking about a new idea, a new campus framework in which there will be a ceremony not just for Arab students, but for everyone.”

Members of the left wing organization Zochrot were attempting to distribute flyers containing the names of Palestinian villages that were evacuated or destroyed in 1948, when they were held indoors by police for almost four hours.

IOA Editor: The Only Democracy in the Middle East in action…

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is planning to build a Museum of Tolerance on the Muslim Mamilla cemetery. This project is a grotesque attempt to erase the well-established history of a continuous Muslim presence in the city that dates back over a millennium… There is no justification for these desecrations. If they were occurring in any other place on earth, the outcry would be deafening. Unfortunately, the treatment of Mamilla is not an anomaly; Muslim and Christian sites of cultural, religious and historical significance continue to be systematically disrespected by Israeli authorities. The Protection of Holy Sites Law in Israel now covers 137 sites. Not one of these is Christian or Muslim.

Benny 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 are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing… A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians…There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages.”

In late 2011, the self-appointed media watchdog CAMERA informed the Journal of Palestine Studies of an incorrect citation in an article by Ilan Pappé referring to a quotation by Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion which supports the expulsion (“transfer”) of Arabs from Palestine. Rashid Khalidi discusses the case, its implications and historical context.

We managed to delete Mount Hermon’s original, Syrian name as if it had never existed. Precious few Israelis have ever heard the name, or are aware of the 200 towns and villages that were obliterated in the Golan Heights. Most Israelis, we might assume, aren’t aware that they were ever there, since Israeli collective consciousness also erased the existence of their 120,000 residents – refugees that no one knows or cares about.

Rashid Khalidi: ‘This book is the most comprehensive and penetrating analysis available of the catastrophe that befell Arab Palestine and its people in 1948, known as the nakba. It shows how the expulsion and physical obliteration of the material traces of a people was followed by what Masalha calls ‘memoricide’: the effacement of their history, their archives, and their place-names, and a denial that they had ever existed.’

The Road to Tantura is a gripping documentary film that follows a Los Angeles woman as she delves into the history of her family’s past. In 1948, her family was ripped from their homeland of Palestine, forced into refugee camps in Syria, and years later landed as immigrants in Ann Arbor, Michigan. By telling the story of one woman’s journey to her family’s past, this documentary offers a microcosm of the collective Palestinian experience that has been kept buried along with those who perished in Tantura that fateful day in 1948.

IOA Editor: For over 50 years, Tantura has been one of Israel’s most popular beaches; few Israeli-Jews are aware of its history.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF), that ownes 13% of Israeli lands, forbids the sale or lease of its lands to any but Jewish owners. Many are now joining a global campaign against this policy whose roots come from expropriated Palestinian Land. The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky looks at the history of JNF land acquisition from the land taken from 1948 refugees in the village of Ma’alul, 1967 refugees on whose land Canada Park was built, and the Bedouins of Al Araqib on whose land the JNF is attempting to build the Ambassador’s Forest.

IOA Editor: An outstanding report by Lia Tarachansky where she puts current events in their historic, political, institutional, and legal context: How the repeated destruction of the Beduin village of al-Araqib fits in the Palestinian history of the Nakba, post-1948 confiscation of Palestinian lands within Israel, and the destruction of the Latroun villages after the 1967 War — all with the full involvement of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a tax-exempt organization in the US.

False Prophets of Peace refutes the long held view of the Israeli left as adhering to a humanistic, democratic and even socialist tradition, attributed to the historic Zionist Labor movement. Through a critical analysis of the prevailing discourse of Zionist intellectuals and activists on the Jewish-democratic state, it uncovers the Zionist left’s central role in laying the foundation of the colonial settler state of Israel, in articulating its hegemonic ideology and in legitimizing, whether explicitly or implicitly, the apartheid treatment of Palestinians both inside Israel and in the 1967 occupied territories.

Start with fragmentation. When talking about Israel refer to a mythical state that existed between November 1966 and June 1967, the only period during which the majority of Palestinians living under Israeli control were NOT subject to military rule.

US Likudniks, who had remained relatively restrained on [book talks] until now, could not stand it any longer. They launched a massive attack against me in the form of a smear article … written by two Campus Watch vigilantes and first published on FrontPageMag… From there, the article was reproduced by countless websites and blogs belonging to the same ideological swarm, and distributed by them to their extensive email lists.

Gilbert Achcar is Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London; his latest work is The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives. Achcar discusses what he calls the “Nazification” of the Arabs, what implications this narrative has had on the past and present political situation in the Middle East, and some of the context from which anti-Semitism and Holocaust-denial has taken root in a segment of Arab society.

The US and Israel have both been intent on forestalling the appearance of the Palestinian Authority before the UN, in case it succeeded in winning support for its unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence. This is a reversal of history: in 1948, the US regarded the prospect of an Israeli declaration of independence as a threat to its interests in the region, and the State Department, Defence Department and CIA were worried about such an outcome.

Bedouins in the Negev continue to be targeted by Israeli efforts to displace them. The Israeli government has now approved a plan that would uproot 30,000 Palestinians and place them in “recognized villages.”

Yasmin Dahr and Eilat Maoz put Israel’s July 14 Movement in its proper historical, social, and political context – something the protest movement’s loosely structured leadership has, so far, insisted on avoiding. Important analysis. (HEBREW)

What will the Palestinians do at the UN in September? The question appears to haunt Washington and Tel Aviv as they prepare to block Palestinian attempts to obtain UN recognition, as though the very idea of such action represents a form of political impudence that merits the harshest international rejection. Sober accounts by Palestinians of what they may expect from a trip to the UN have done little to allay the dark cloud of suspicion that is fostered in mainstream accounts.

A new report of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is highly critical of Israel for its handling of incidents on the border with Lebanon on May 15 – Nakba Day. It concludes that the Israeli soldiers used disproportionate force against Lebanese demonstrators, which resulted in seven deaths.

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