Paula Orloff: Which version of Israel-Palestine history?
For decades U.S. history described the pioneers as victims of Native American brutality. Generations later, historical accounts changed to admit that the U.S. government forces inflicted the brunt of the brutality as the indigenous population attempted to resist.
A recent opinion in The Union, Sept. 4 by Ralph Remick describes the Israelis as defending themselves against Palestinian brutality during the creation of Israel and after. However, historical accounts are changing.
Remick says of the partition that created Israel: “The Arab nations immediately rejected the UN Decision to partition Palestine in 1947.” Remick’s description lacks historical context: Israel was delineated without participation of the Palestinians though they were two-thirds of the population. Only 45 percent of the land went to the Palestinians. (IDAP: Inter-denominational Advocates for Peace, 2009)
Further, around the 1947 partition, “ … The Jews, taking advantage of their superior military preparation and organization, had occupied … most of the Arab cities in Palestine …” (Jews for Justice in the Middle East, 2001.) Then came the 1948 war. Israeli historian Simha Flapan dispels the myth of the outnumbered, outgunned Jews surrounded by an Arab behemoth. Israeli historian, Ilan Pape, and Israeli organization, Gush Shalom, confirm this. By 1949 when the armistice was signed, more than 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, becoming refugees. Over 500 Palestinian villages were seized. Israel declared itself a state on 78 percent of historic Palestine (Jewish scholar: AnnaInTheMiddleEast.com).
Remick addresses events after 1967 which supposedly show Palestinian intransigence. He notes that Palestinian leader Arafat didn’t accept Clinton’s 2000 Camp David Summit dealing with control of Palestinian territories and refugees. Remick omitted that the deal gave Israelis major strategic control. Also, Palestinians would be left with even less land and no refugee return rights (Jews for Justice in Middle East, 2001).
As for the Gaza strip, Israeli warfare began after 2005 when Israel moved the Jewish settlers out, reimbursing them handsomely. Therefore, Israel’s periodic massive bombing attacks on Gaza would not harm Jewish settlers.
Remick’s description of rockets coming from the Gaza Strip misses important information. In the most recent attack, the UN Human Rights Council independent investigation of Israel’s assault on Gaza, 2014, found massive and systemic war crimes: “The evidence shows the scale and impact of Israeli violence dwarfs anything allegedly done by Palestine.” Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch confirm this.
Most Palestinian rockets were unsophisticated Quasams with no guidance systems (Wikipedia). On the other hand, Israel has an advanced military aided by billions of U.S. taxes. No wonder the 2014 Israeli War on Gaza left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians while 66 Israeli soldiers were killed, and six civilians (Amnesty International, March, 2015). Quite a disparity.
The Gaza strip is one of the most overcrowded, deprived areas in the world. This is due to widespread Israeli destruction of housing, orchards, schools, electrical and water systems. It is also due to Israeli blockade of trade, health care, reconstruction materials, and travel (Gaza Unsilenced, 2015).
From the outset, Zionists envisioned Israel as the homeland for Jews only. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion stated: “After we become a strong force as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand into the whole of Palestine.” This belief continues. Prime Minister Sharon said, “There is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.” (1998)
In the West Bank, Prime Minister Netanyahu has accelerated the Zionist policy of taking over Palestinian land and water and bulldozing Palestinian homes and orchards to build well-subsidized Jewish-only settlements and massive security infrastructure (IDAP).
President Obama observed in 2009, “Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s.” The Palestinian Authority agreed in 1988 to recognize Israel and reaffirmed this in the 1993 Oslo Accords. (Wikipedia, and IDAP). They did not, however, agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state since 20 percent of Israeli citizens are Palestinians or other ethnicity. Further, where are Israel’s borders? Israel hasn’t defined its borders as it continues to take over Palestinian land, relentlessly constructing more settlements.
The BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement pressures Israel to end its oppressive apartheid control just as BDS helped end apartheid in South Africa. Recently, 470 prominent Israeli intellectuals, including high ranking Israeli Defense Force officers, urged Jews worldwide to challenge Israel’s policy toward Palestinians and end the occupation (Times of Israel, Sept. 15).
Paula Orloff lives in Nevada City.
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