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Invisible Horizons of a Just Palestine/Israel Future

I spent last week at the United Nations, meeting with ambassadors of countries in the Middle East and presenting my final report to the Third Committee of the General Assembly as my term as Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine comes to an end. My report emphasized issues relating to corporate responsibility of those companies and banks that are engaged in business relationships with the settlements. Such an emphasis seemed to strike a responsive note with many delegations as a tangible way of expressing displeasure with Israel’s continuing defiance of its international law obligations, especially in relation to the unlawful settlements being provocatively expanded in the West Bank and East Jerusalem at the very moment that the resumption of direct negotiations between the Palestine Authority and the Government of Israel is being heralded as a promising development.

Richard Falk

Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967

There are two reasons why the corporate responsibility issue seems to be an important tactic of consciousness raising and norm implementation at this stage: (1) it is a start down the slippery slope of enforcement after decades of UN initiatives confined to seemingly futile rhetorical affirmations of Israeli obligations under international law, accompanied by the hope that an enforcement momentum with UN backing is underway; (2) it is an expression of tacit support for the growing global movement of solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people for a just and sustainable peace agreement, and specifically, it reinforces the claims of the robust BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) Campaign that has itself scored several notable victories in recent months.

My intention here is to put aside these issues and report upon my sense of the diplomatic mood at the UN in relation to the future of Israel/Palestine relations. There is a sharp disconnect between the public profession of support for the resumed peace negotiations as a positive development with a privately acknowledged skepticism as to what to expect. In this regard, there is a widespread realization that conditions are not ripe for productive diplomacy for the following reasons: the apparent refusal of Israel’s political leadership to endorse a political outcome that is capable of satisfying even minimal Palestinian aspirations; the settlement phenomenon as dooming any viable form of a ‘two-state’ solution; the lack of Palestinian unity as between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas undermining its representational and legitimacy status.

The most serious concern on the Palestinian side is whether protecting the interests and rights of the totality of the Palestinian people in a peace process can be achieved within the present diplomatic framework. We need to be constantly reminded that ‘the Palestinian people’ cannot be confined to those Palestinian living under Israeli occupation: refugees in neighboring countries; refugees confined within occupied Palestine, but demanding a right of return to their residence at the time of dispossession; the Palestinian minority living in Israel; and 4-5 million Palestinians who constitute the Palestinian diaspora and its underlying reality of enforced exile.

It was also clear that the Palestinian Authority is confronted by a severe dilemma: either to accept the inadequate proposals put forward by Israel and the United States or reject these proposals and be blamed once again by Tel Aviv and Washington for rejecting a peace offer. Only some Israeli anxiety that the Palestinians might actually accept the U.S. proposals might induce Israel to refuse, on its side, to accept what Washington proposes, and spare the Palestinians the embarrassment posed by the dilemma of swallowing or spitting. That is, Israel, when forced to show its hand, may actually be unwilling to allow any solution to the conflict based on Palestinian self-determination, even if heavily weighted in Israel’s favor. In effect, within the diplomatic setting there strong doubts exist as to whether the present Israeli leadership would accept even a Palestinian statelet even if it were endowed with only nominal sovereignty. In effect, from a Palestinian perspective, it seems inconceivable that anything positive could emerge from the present direct negotiations, and it is widely appreciated that the PA agreed take part only after being subjected to severe pressure from the White House and Secretary Kerry. In this sense, the best that Ramallah can hope for is damage control.

There were three attitudes present among the more thoughtful diplomats at the UN who have been dealing with the Palestinian situation for years, if not decades: the first attitude was to believe somehow that ‘miracles’ happen in politics, and that a two state solution was still possible; usually this outlook avoided the home of the devil, the place where details reside, and if pressed could not offer a scenario that explained how the settlements could be shrunk sufficiently to enable a genuine two-state solution to emerge from the current round of talks; the second attitude again opted to support the resumption of the direct talks because it was ‘doing something,’ which seemed preferable to ‘doing nothing,’ bolstering this rather vapid view with the sentiment ‘at least they are doing something’; the third attitude, more privately and confidentially conveyed, fancies itself to be the voice of realism in world politics, which is contemptuous of the advocacy of rights and justice in relation to Palestine; this view has concluded that Israel has prevailed, it has won, and all that the Palestinians can do is to accommodate an adverse outcome, acknowledging defeat, and hope that the Israelis will not push their advantage toward a third cycle of dispossession (the first two being 1948, 1967) in the form of ‘population transfer’ so as to address their one remaining serious anxiety—the fertility gap leading to a feared tension between professing democracy and retaining the primary Zionist claim of being a Jewish state, the so-called ‘demographic bomb.’

As I reject all three of these postures, I will not leave my position as Special Rapporteur with a sense that inter-governmental diplomacy and its imaginative horizons have much to offer the Palestinian people even by way of understanding evolving trends in the conflict, much less realizing their rights, above all, the right of self-determination. At the same time, despite this, I have increased my belief that the UN has a crucial role to play in relation to a positive future for the Palestinian people—reinforcing the legitimacy of seeking a rights based solution rather than settling for a power based outcome that is called peace in an elaborate international ceremony of deception, in all likelihood on the lawn of the White House. In this period the UN has been playing an important part in legitimating Palestinian grievances by continuously referencing international law, human rights, and international morality.

The Israelis (and officialdom in the United States) indicate their awareness of this UN role by repeatedly stressing their unconditional opposition to what is labeled to be ‘the delegitimation project,’ which is a subtle propagandistic shift from the actual demand to uphold Palestinian rights to the misleading and diversionary claim that Israel’s critics are trying to challenge Israel’s right to exist as a state sovereign state. To be sure, the Palestinians are waging, with success a Legitimacy War against Israel for control of the legal and moral high ground, but they are not at this stage questioning Israeli statehood, but only its refusal to respect international law as it relates to the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.

Let us acknowledge a double reality. The UN is a geopolitical actor that is behaviorally manipulated by money and hard power on many fundamental issues, including Palestine/Israel; this stark acknowledgement severely restricts the effectiveness of the UN with regard to questions of justice. Fortunately, this is not the whole story. The UN is also a normative actor that articulates the grievances of peoples and governments, influences public discourse with respect to the global policy agenda, and has great and distinctive symbolic leverage in establishing the legitimacy of claims. In other words, the UN can say what is right, without being necessarily able to do what is right. This distinction summarizes the narratives of articulating the Palestinian claims and the justice of the Palestinian struggle without being able to overcome behavioral obstacles in the geopolitical domain that block their fulfillment.

What such a gap also emphasizes is that the political climate is not yet right for constructive inter-governmental negotiations, which would require both Israel and the United States to recalculate their priorities and to contemplate alternative future scenarios in a manner that is far more congruent with upholding the panoply of Palestinian rights. Such shifts in the political climate are underway, and are not just a matter of changing public opinion, but also mobilizing popular regional and global support for nonviolent tactics of opposition and resistance to the evolving status quo. The Arab Spring of 2011 initially raised expectations that such a mobilization would surge, but counter-revolutionary developments, political unrest, and economic panic have temporarily, at least, dampened such prospects, and have lowered the profile of the Palestinian struggle.

Despite such adverse developments in the Middle East from a Palestinian perspective, it remains possible to launch within the UN a broad campaign to promote corporate responsibility in relation to the settlements, which could gradually be extended to other unlawful Israeli activities (e.g. separation wall, blockade of Gaza, prison and arrest abuses, house demolitions). Such a course of action links efforts within the UN to implement international law with activism that is already well established within global civil society, being guided by Palestinian architects of 21st century nonviolent resistance. In effect, two disillusionments (armed struggle and international diplomacy) are coupled with a revised post-Oslo strategy giving the Palestinian struggle a new identity (nonviolent resistance, global solidarity campaign, and legitimacy warfare) with an increasing emancipatory potential.

Such an affirmation is the inverse of the ultra-realist view mentioned above that the struggle is essentially over, and all that is left is for the Palestinians to admit defeat and for the Israelis to dictate the terms of ‘the peace treaty.’ While admitting that such a visionary worldview may be based on wishful thinking, it is also appropriate to point out that most political conflicts since the end of World War II have reflected the outcome of legitimacy wars more than the balance of hard power. Military superiority and geopolitical leverage were consistently frustrated during the era of colonial wars in the 1960s and 1970s. In this regard, it should be understood that the settler colonial enterprise being pursued by Israel is on the wrong side of history, and so contrary to appearances, there is reason to be hopeful about the Palestinian future and historical grounds not succumb to the dreary imaginings of those who claim the mantle of realism.

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About the Author

Richard Falk

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Richard Falk
Richard Falk is an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years. Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He is the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. 
  • Fred Skolnik

    Dear Prof. Falk

    Rather than arguing with you, I will confine myself to noting once again your persisting errors of fact and omission.

    Neither in law nor in precedent does a right of return exist, nor do the descendants of refugees have a legally established right to be called refugees. But more significantly, you refuse to recognize the fact that Jews were displaced from Arab countries in equal numbers and were resettled in Israel, thus creating a de facto exchange of populations at the time of the 1948 war, just as occurred between Pakistan and India, for example. Any wild claims for the settlement of millions of Arabs in the State of Israel have no meaning or value other than as pure rhetoric, and needless to say doom any possibility of a peace settlement.

    You continually and deceptively talk about the “expansion” of West Bank settlements when all building is taking place within the boundaries of existing settlements, whose final disposition will in any case be determined in negotiations.

    The blockade of Gaza is not illegal. It was not found to be illegal by the UN Palmer Report, which states: “The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”

    Your never-ending disparagement of the so-called “primary Zionist claim of being a Jewish state” is also misleading. Israel is a Jewish state, just as Turkey is a Turkish state, and the Arabs living in the State of Israel are a national minority, just as the Kurds living in Turkey are a national minority.

    I’ve already noted your lack of qualifications to serve as Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian territories on behalf of the UN Human Rights Council. In fact you are so blinded by your biases that when you write in your last report: “The Special Rapporteur was informed by several Gazans that rockets were neither stored nor fired from residential districts, but were stored underground and launched from open spaces. Such information was confirmed in the briefing received from the United Nations security specialist” – it does not even occur to you that such launching and storage sites would have been photographed by Israel and made available for all to see. Any child could have found the incriminating evidence on the Internet and you could have too if you had wanted to.

    The contours of a settlement are known to everyone: land exchange, limited return, some imaginative solution for Jerusalem and satisfaction of Israel’s security concerns. This is fair and reasonable and there is no other real basis on which the Palestinians will achieve statehood. If statehood and a better future for their people were what the Palestinian leaders really wanted, they would have had a state years ago.

    • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com/ Jeremy R. Hammond

      Fred, it is you who is in error, starting with your first assertion that the right of refugees to return to their homeland isn’t codified in international law.

      As for Jews being displaced from other countries, you mention this fact as though it somehow justified the ethnic cleansing of the Arab population from Palestine or the ongoing displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land.

      Prof. Falk talks about the expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements because that is what building more housing units in settlements does — expands them.

      Israel’s blockade of Gaza is illegal, the Palmer report’s non-authoritative opinion to the contrary, which was given despite this not being within the commissin’s mandate, notwithstanding. As the ICRC, numerous UN bodies, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Gisha, etc., etc., etc. have all pointed out, this policy constitutes collective punishment of the civilian population and is therefore illegal.

      Prof. Falk’s discussion of Israel as a “Jewish state” and the racism inherent therein is not misleading. It was, after all, to make this demographically “Jewish state” that 750,000 Arabs were ethnically cleansed from Palestine.

      As for your comments about Prof. Falk’s report with relation to Israel’s destruction of the Al Dalou family home during Operation Pillar of Defense, if you have evidence contrary to what his report says, you are of course welcome to present it. To borrow from your own rhetoric, any child can claim evidence exists without actually presenting any.

      The contours of a settlement are indeed known to everybody. The problem, of course, is that the US and Israel reject the international consensus on a two-state solution. The US-led so-called “peace process” is in fact the process by which the US and Israel have blocked this solution from being implemented.

      • Fred Skolnik

        You are again making gratuitous assertions that have nothing behind them. Saying that something is true or not true does not make it so.
        What unofficial bodies say about the blockade has no legal meaning.
        Using blog phrases like ethnic cleansing also has no meaning. If you were equiped to read original documents you might have a better understanding of how the refugee problem was created.
        I am talking about Prof. Falk’s report in relation to his assertion that Hamas was not firing rockets from residential neighborhoods. Do you want the evidence?

        • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com/ Jeremy R. Hammond

          Similarly, denying facts does not make them untrue. I defer to my previous comment. The facts are as I’ve stated them.

          • Fred Skolnik

            But you didn’t state any facts, Jeremy.

          • Mike Thompson

            Oh yes he did Fred!

          • Fred Skolnik

            Dear Jeremy

            As you are a diligent historian, the following may help you in your investigation of the refugee problem, or “ethnic cleansing” as the ignorant or malicious like to call it:

            Research reported by the Arab-sponsored Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut, stated “the majority of the Arab refugees in 1948 were not expelled, but that 68% left without seeing an Israeli soldier.”

            “The Arab exodus from the villages was not caused by the actual battle, but by the exaggerated description spread by Arab leaders to incite them to fight the Jews”
            - Yunes Ahmed Assad, refugee from the town of Deir Yassin, in Al Urdun, April 9, 1953

            The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies.
            - Falastin (Jordanian newspaper), February 19, 1949

            “It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees’ flight from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa, and Jerusalem.”
            - Near East Arabic Broadcasting Station, Cyprus, April 3, 1949

            “Since 1948 it is we who demanded the return of the refugees… while it is we who made them to leave… We brought disaster upon Arab refugees, by inviting them and bringing pressure to bear upon them to leave… We have rendered them dispossessed… We have accustomed them to begging… We have participated in lowering their moral and social level… Then we exploited them in executing crimes of murder, arson, and throwing bombs upon… men, women and children – all this in service of political purposes…”
            - Khaled al Azm, Syria’s Prime Minister after the 1948 war

            “The refugees were confident that their absence would not last long and that they would return within a week or two. Their leaders had promised them that the Arab armies would crush the ‘Zionist gangs’ very quickly and that there was no need for panic or fear of a long exile.”
            - Monsignor George Hakim, Greek Catholic Bishop of Galilee, in the Beirut newspaper Sada al Janub, August 16, 1948

            “The Arabs did not want to submit to a truce they rather preferred to abandon their homes, their belongings and everything they possessed in the world and leave the town. This is in fact what they did.”
            Amal Husseini, Acting Chairman of the Palestine Arab Higher Committee, speaking to the United Nations Security Council. Quoted in the UNSC Official Records (N. 62), April 23,1948,p.14

            “As early as the first months of 1948 the Arab League issued orders exhorting the [Arab Palestinian] people to seek a temporary refuge in neighboring countries, later to return to their abodes in the wake of the victorious Arab armies and obtain their share of abandoned Jewish property.” – bulletin of The Research Group for European Migration Problems, 1957

            “This wholesale exodus was due partly to the belief of the Arabs, encouraged by the boasting of an unrealistic Arab press and the irresponsible utterances of some of the Arab leaders that it could be only a matter of some weeks before the Jews were defeated by the armies of the Arab States and the Palestinian Arabs enabled to re-enter and retake possession of their country.”
            - Edward Atiyah (then Secretary of the Arab League Office in London) in The Arabs (London, 1955), p. 183

            “The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by order of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city…By withdrawing Arab workers, their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa.”.
            - Time Magazine, May 3, 1948, p. 25

            “The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of the action of the Arab States in opposing Partition and the Jewish State. The Arab States agreed upon this policy unanimously and they must share in the solution of the problem,
            - Emil Ghoury, Secretary of the Arab Higher Committee, the official leadership of the Palestinian Arabs, in the Beirut newspaper, Daily Telegraph, September 6, 1948

            “The Arab governments told us: Get out so that we can get in. So we got out, but they did not get in.”
            - from the Jordan daily Ad Difaa, September 6, 1954

            “The Arab civilians panicked and fled ignominiously. Villages were frequently abandoned before they were threatened by the progress of war.”
            - General Glubb Pasha, in the London Daily Mail on August 12, 1948

            “[The Arabs of Haifa] fled in spite of the fact that the Jewish authorities guaranteed their safety and rights as citizens of Israel.”
            - Monsignor George Hakim, Greek Catholic Bishop of Galilee, according to Rev. Karl Baehr, Executive Secretary of the American Christian Palestine Committee, New York Herald Tribune, June 30, 1949

            “Every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab populace to stay and carry on with their normal lives, to get their shops and businesses open and to be assured that their lives and interests will be safe. [However] …A large road convoy, escorted by [British] military . . . left Haifa for Beirut yesterday. . . . Evacuation by sea goes on steadily. …[Two days later, the Jews were] still making every effort to persuade the Arab populace to remain and to settle back into their normal lives in the towns… [as for the Arabs,] another convoy left Tireh for Transjordan, and the evacuation by sea continues. The quays and harbor are still crowded with refugees and their household effects, all omitting no opportunity to get a place an one of the boats leaving Haifa.””
            - Haifa District HQ of the British Police, April 26, 1948, quoted in Battleground by Samuel Katz

            “the military and civil authorities and the Jewish representative expressed their profound regret at this grave decision [to evacuate]. The [Jewish] Mayor of Haifa made a passionate appeal to the delegation to reconsider its decision”
            - The Arab National Committee of Haifa, told to the Arab League, quoted in The Refugee in the World, by Joseph B. Schechtman, 1963

            “The Arab exodus, initially at least, was encouraged by many Arab leaders, such as Haj Amin el Husseini, the exiled pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, and by the Arab Higher Committee for Palestine. They viewed the first wave of Arab setbacks as merely transitory. Let the Palestine Arabs flee into neighboring countries. It would serve to arouse the other Arab peoples to greater effort, and when the Arab invasion struck, the Palestinians could return to their homes and be compensated with the property of Jews driven into the sea.”
            - Kenneth Bilby, in New Star in the Near East (New York, 1950), pp. 30-31

            “We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down.”
            - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said, quoted in Sir Am Nakbah (“The Secret Behind the Disaster”) by Nimr el Hawari, Nazareth, 1952

            “The Secretary General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and of Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade… He pointed out that they were already on the frontiers and that all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the Mediterranean. . . Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes, and property and to stay temporarily in neighboring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down.”
            - Habib Issa, Secretary General of the Arab League (Azzam Pasha’s successor), in the newspaper Al Hoda, June 8, 1951

            “Some of the Arab leaders and their ministers in Arab capitals . . . declared that they welcomed the immigration of Palestinian Arabs into the Arab countries until they saved Palestine. Many of the Palestinian Arabs were misled by their declarations…. It was natural for those Palestinian Arabs who felt impelled to leave their country to take refuge in Arab lands . . . and to stay in such adjacent places in order to maintain contact with their country so that to return to it would be easy when, according to the promises of many of those responsible in the Arab countries (promises which were given wastefully), the time was ripe. Many were of the opinion that such an opportunity would come in the hours between sunset and sunrise.”
            - Arab Higher Committee, in a memorandum to the Arab League, Cairo, 1952, quoted in The Refugee in the World, by Joseph B. Schechtman, 1963

            “…our city flourished and developed for the good of both Jewish and Arab residents … Do not destroy your homes with your own hands; do not bring tragedy upon yourselves by unnecessary evacuation and self-imposed burdens. By moving out you will be overtaken by poverty and humiliation. But in this city, yours and ours, Haifa, the gates are open for work, for life, and for peace, for you and your families.”
            The Haifa Workers’ Council bulletin, 28 April 1948

            “…the Jewish hagana asked (using loudspeakers) Arabs to remain at their homes but the most of the Arab population followed their leaders who asked them to leave the country.”
            The TIMES of London, reporting events of 22.4.48

            “The existence of these refugees is a direct result of the Arab States’ opposition to the partition plan and the reconstitution of the State of Israel. The Arab states adopted this policy unanimously and the responsibility of its results, therefore is theirs.”
            …The flight of Arabs from the territory allotted by the UN for the Jewish state began immediately after the General Assembly decision at the end of November 1947. This wave of emigration, which lasted several weeks, comprised some thirty thousand people, chiefly well-to-do-families.”
            - Emil Ghory, secretary of the Arab High Council, Lebanese daily Al-Telegraph, 6 Sept 1948

            “One morning in April 1948, Dr. Jamal woke us to say that the Arab Higher Committee (AHC), led by the Husseinis, had warned Arab residents of Talbieh to leave immediately. The understanding was that the residents would be able to return as conquerors as soon as the Arab forces had thrown the Jews out. Dr. Jamal made the point repeatedly that he was leaving because of the AHC’s threats, not because of the Jews, and that he and his frail wife had no alternative but to go.”

            “The Arab streets are curiously deserted and, ardently following the poor example of the more moneyed class there has been an exodus from Jerusalem too, though not to the same extent as in Jaffa and Haifa.”
            - London Times, May 5, 1948

            “Even amidst the violent attacks launched against us for months past, we call upon the sons of the Arab people dwelling in Israel to keep the peace and to play their part in building the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its institutions, provisional and permanent.
            “We extend the hand of peace and good-neighborliness to all the States around us and to their people, and we call upon them to cooperate in mutual helpfulness with the independent Jewish nation in its Land. The State of Israel is prepared to make its contribution in a concerted effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.”
            - David Ben-Gurion, in Israel’s Proclamation of Independence, read on May 14, 1948, moments before the 6 surrounding Arab armies, trained and armed by the British, invaded the day-old Jewish micro-state, with the stated goal of extermination.

            “The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny but, instead, THEY ABANDONED THEM, FORCED THEM TO EMIGRATE AND TO LEAVE THEIR HOMELAND, imposed upon them a political and ideological blockade and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live in Eastern Europe, as if we were condemmed to change places with them; they moved out of their ghettos and we occupied similar ones. The Arab States succeeded in scattering the Palestinian people and in destroying their unity. They did not recognize them as a unified people until the States of the world did so, and this is regrettable”.
            - by Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), from the article titled: “What We Have Learned and What We Should Do”, published in Falastin el Thawra, the official journal of the PLO, of Beirut, in March 1976

            “The first group of our fifth column consists of those who abandon their houses and businesses and go to live elsewhere. . . . At the first sign of trouble they take to their heels to escape sharing the burden of struggle.”
            - Ash Shalab (Jaffa newspaper), January 30, 1948

            “The Arab streets are curiously deserted and, ardently following the poor example of the more moneyed class there has been an exodus from Jerusalem too, though not to the same extent as in Jaffa and Haifa.”
            - London Times, May 5, 1948

            “Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the -Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit.. . . It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades.”
            - The London weekly Economist, October 2, 1948

          • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com/ Jeremy R. Hammond

            It is vain to deny the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. I recommend Ilan Pappe’s book on the subject for readers who want to learn about it.

            http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005KR0M5Q/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005KR0M5Q&linkCode=as2&tag=forepolijour-20

          • Fred Skolnik

            I don’t deny it, the Arabs do.

            Recommending Pappe is a joke. But your readers should also read what Benny Morris had to say about him:

            http://www.newrepublic.com/article/books/magazine/85344/ilan-pappe-sloppy-dishonest-historian

          • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com/ Jeremy R. Hammond

            Dismissing Pappe’s extensive documentation of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by citing Benny Morris, who likewise documented the forcible expulsions of Arabs from Palestine in “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949″ and who famously criticized the Zionists’ strategy on the grounds that they did not more thoroughly purge the land of its Arab population, is the only joke here.

          • Fred Skolnik

            I’m not citing him, I’m giving you the opportunity to read what he says about Pappe, along with what the Arabs themselves said about how the refugee problem was created. Of course you have no way of verifying or evaluating Pappe’s “extensive documentation” in any case, do you? But I do, I happen to have the Ben-Gurion war diaries in Hebrew on my shelves and can see for myself how Pappe falsified what Ben-Gurion wrote, just as Morris says he did. If you want to pose as a Middle East analyst or expert you’d better learn how to read documents yourself, otherwise you’ll never graduate from self-publishing.

          • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com/ Jeremy R. Hammond

            Morris’s criticisms of Pappe on less substantive matters (e.g., putting in quotation marks what appears rather to be an accurate paraphrase from Ben-Gurion’s diary) have no bearing on the fact that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is a well documented historical fact. Once again, Morris acknowledges and himself documents the violent expulsion of Arabs from Palestine, criticizing this on the grounds that it wasn’t carried out more thoroughly. To borrow from your own rhetoric, I don’t say this, Israelis do. Apart from both Morris and Pappe, take former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, who acknowledges “the often violent expulsion of 700,000 Arabs as Jewish soldiers conquered villages and towns throughout Palestine”, that many fled for fear of further massacres such as the one that occurred in Deir Yassin, but “far more Palestinians were expelled on explicit orders from commanders in the field”, etc. Like I said, your denials are vain willful ignorance.

          • Fred Skolnik

            No, the ethnic cleansing of the Arabs is not a well-documented fact. The newly available archive material from which Pappe also worked yields a far more complex picture which Morris has elucidated over the past 10 years and with which all historians who have examined the archive material concur. I have given you a sample of what the Arabs themselves and other eyewitnesses had to say about how the refugee problem was created. You of course have not examined the archive material or any other documents and therefore are just picking and choosing among historians to get what you are looking for. It is not a coincidence that the term “ethnic cleansing” is only used among Israel haters. I have never heard it used by anyone taking an objective view of the conflict, even when criticizing Israel. Being eaten up by hatred is not healthy, Jeremy. You ought to try looking at yourself occasionally instead of spending so much time feverishly scanning the Internet for incriminating evidence produced by people pretty much like yourself.

          • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com/ Jeremy R. Hammond

            It is a well-documented fact, in fact. You say ‘the term “ethnic cleansing” is only used among Israel haters.” Perhaps you prefer the term Ben-Gurion used, “compulsory transfer”? Or do you prefer “expulsion”, such as, e.g., Shlomo Ben-Ami has described it?

            And I guess Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy is an “Israel hater”, since he calls it “ethnic cleansing” (http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/ben-gurion-s-dark-side.premium-1.526699).

            And this Haaretz piece acknowledging the forcible expulsion of Arabs from Palestine takes on the old Zionist propaganda you are peddling: http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/catastrophic-thinking-did-ben-gurion-try-to-rewrite-history.premium-1.524308.

            The explusions also were not the work of a few bad apples. Ethnic cleansing was a deliberate policy, formalized under Plan Dalet: “These operations can be carried out in the
            following manner: either by destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by
            blowing them up, and by planting mines in their debris) and especially of those
            population centers which are difficult to control continuously; or by mounting
            combing and control operations according to the following guidelines:
            encirclement of the villages, conducting a search inside them. In case of
            resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled
            outside the borders of the state.”

          • Fred Skolnik

            You are misrepresenting Plan Dalet, which was devised as a defensive plan in the eventuality that the Arab states imposed a war on Israel, which they did.
            What the archive material shows is precisely that it was not government policy to expel Arabs. The opposite was true. They were urgd to remain. What happened when they chose to fight is what happens in war. A new reality was created and part of that reality was the parallel displacement of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries, which constituted a de facto exchange of populations.
            Gideon Levy is certainly an Israel hater just as some of your American “columnists” are America haters. Your view of the Middle East is unbalanced and therefore pretty much worthless, but by all means keep plugging away if it helps you get through the day.

          • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com/ Jeremy R. Hammond

            Quoting Plan D verbatim can hardly be called “misrepresenting” it. Its purpose speaks for itself. Ethnic cleansing operations had already been underway. Plan D just formalized it into an official policy.

          • Fred Skolnik

            You are certainly not equipped or qualified to determine what operations were or what not carried out. It may be impossible in these exchanges to diminish your hatred of Israel but at the very least I would hope that you learned something about how real historical judgments are made.

          • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com/ Jeremy R. Hammond

            “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.” — Benny Morris

          • Fred Skolnik

            “Since 1948 it is we who demanded the return of the refugees… while it is we who made them to leave… We brought disaster upon Arab refugees, by inviting them and bringing pressure to bear upon them to leave… We have rendered them dispossessed… We have accustomed them to begging… We have participated in lowering their moral and social level… Then we exploited them in executing crimes of murder, arson, and throwing bombs upon… men, women and children – all this in service of political purposes…”
            - Khaled al Azm, Syria’s Prime Minister after the 1948 war

          • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com/ Jeremy R. Hammond

            “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…. 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…. There is no doubt in my mind that this order originated with Ben-Gurion.” — Benny Morris (you know, the guy you cited in a vain attempt to bolster your willful ignorance of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine)

          • Fred Akolnik

            “Most of Palestine’s 700,000 ‘refugees’ fled their homes because of the flail of war (and in the expectation that they would shortly return to their homes on the backs of victorious Arab invaders).”

            — Benny Morris

            “There was no Zionist ‘plan’ or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of “ethnic cleansing.”

            — Benny Morris

            “The Secretary General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and of Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade… He pointed out that they were already on the frontiers and that all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the Mediterranean. . . Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes, and property and to stay temporarily in neighboring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down.”
            - Habib Issa, Secretary General of the Arab League (Azzam Pasha’s successor), in the newspaper Al Hoda, June 8, 1951

          • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com/ Jeremy R. Hammond

            “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.” — Benny Morris

            “In Operation Hiram there was an 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 tothe roads.” — Benny Morris

            “Yes.” — Benny Morris, in answer to the question, “What you are telling me here, as though bythe way, is that in Operation Hiram there was a comprehensive and explicit expulsion order. Is that right?”

            “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 inmy 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.” — Benny 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.”– Benny Morris, in answer to the question, “Are you saying that Ben-Gurion was personally responsible for a deliberate and systematic policy of mass expulsion?”

            “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.” — Benny Morris

            “Ben-Gurion was right. If he had notdone 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 nothave arisen here.” — Benny Morris

            “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….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. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population.” — Benny Morris

            “There were 200 villages [in southern Palestine] … and these are gone. We had to destroy them, otherwise we would have had Arabs here … as we have in Galilee. We would have had another million Palestinians.” — Yitzhak Pundak, commander of the Givati Brigade’s 53rd Battalion

            “These operations can be carried out in the following manner: either by destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by blowing them up, and by planting mines in their debris) and especially of those population centers which are difficult to control continuously; or by mounting combing and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the villages, conducting a search inside them. In case of resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled outside the borders of the state.” — Plan ‘Dalet’, approved by the Zionist leadership under Ben-Gurion on March 10, 1948

          • Fred Skolnik

            You aren’t doing the math. Benny Morris did:

            “Most of Palestine’s 700,000 ‘refugees’ fled their homes because of the flail of war (and in the expectation that they would shortly return to their homes on the backs of victorious Arab invaders).”

            But don’t argue with me. Argue with the Arabs quoted above and other eyewitnesses.

          • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com/ Jeremy R. Hammond

            Indeed, Benny Morris did the math, sure enough, when he criticized Ben Gurion for not doing a thorough enough job of ethnically cleansing Palestine.

    • Mike Thompson

      Actually Fred, you dotty old Zionist, Israel announced a total acceptance of the 1947 UN Partition plan, which “SPECIFICALLY” included the right of return for all displaced ethnic population.

      Most people accept the term “Palestinian” to describe those people you claim didn`t exist, but UN figures at the time stated 750,000 of the ethnic population had been displaced.

      No getting away from it Fred, Israel exists on stolen, Palestinian, or if that name upsets you, Ethnic population land that they were driven from never to be allowed to return,

      P.S. The settlements are illegal as well.

      • Fred Skolnik

        “Israel” did not announce total acceptance of anything in 1947 because Israel did not exist in 1947.
        The 1947 Partition Plan did not include the right of return because there were no displaced populations in 1947.
        You’re faking it again., Mike.

        • Mike Thompson

          Whoops! Fred you have some very weird ideas of what actually went on.

          The Zionist colonists, or do you call them The Stern Gang or perhaps Irgun? accepted the terms of the UN Partition resolution, David Ben Gurion (That`s the Polish David Ben Gurion) was the one in charge at the time.

          UN figures show some 750,000 “non existent?” Palestinians were displaced in 1947 bu Zionist terrorists (That`s if you don`t want to call them Israelis!

          It was Golder Mayer (That`s the Russian Golder Mayer) was the first to voice the Porkie Pie that there was no Palestinian people.

          Benny Morris (That`s the Israeli Benny Morris) a historian, wrote, “A Jewish State would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians”.

          Have a word with Benny, Fred, he actually lives and was born in Israel and has made a career researching Israeli historical documents, he strongly believes in “evicting” Palestinians, and is honest enough to accept it has been going on since before 1947, the Stern Gang and Irgun certainly started something eh!

          • Fred Skolnik

            When you get into these arguments you should have some simple outline of history in front of you so that you don’t get confused. The Stern Gang or the Irgun did not accept the partition plan. The Jewish Agency did.

            The UN does not show that anyone was displaced by “Zionist terrorists.” The Arabs themselves tell you how and why they were displaced. See the Arab quotes below.

            I doubt if you’ve actually read Benny Morris. And what difference does it make if he believes in “evicting Arabs,” which he does not. What he writes on the basis of the recently opened Israeli archives is that it was not national policy to evict them, which you can also see in the quotes below. In actual fact the exchange of populations that resulted from the war started by the Arabs did turn Israel into a more viable Jewish state. So what? The exhanges of populations between India and Pakistan also turned them into more viable Sikh and Muslim states. That’s what happens in war.

            No, it’s not Golder Mayer in Russia, it’s Golda Mabovitch, which became Myerson in America. You never get anything completely right, do you?. And why shouldn’t she have said there were no Palestinians. There weren’t any until Nasser invented the term “Palestinian entity” in the early 1950s. Your Palestinians thought of themselves as Arabs living in Greater or Southern Syria and had no national identity other than a general Arab one.

            And once again:

            “The 1947 Partition Plan did not include the right of return because there were no displaced populations in 1947.”
            Would you care to point out where the 1947 Partition Plan mentions a right of return?

          • Mike Thompson

            The 1947 resolution on the report of the ad hoc committee on the Palestinian question General Council resolution 181. Future government of Palestine (The Official wording).

            Maps were produced titled “Palestine Plan of Partition”, long and convoluted, but promising a “right of return” for both sides.

            However, at the 1949 Lausanne conference, in May, Israel accepted a return of all Palestinian refugees as a pre-condition to Israel`s acceptance of UN membership. UN General Assembly resolution of 11th May 1949 stated “Noting furthermore the declaration by the State of Israel that it unreservedly accepts the obligation of the United Nations Charter and undertaken to honour them from the day when it (Israel) becomes a member of the UN.

            Some 500,000 Palestinian refugees existed at the time, David Ben Gurion (the Polish David Ben Gurion) quickly reneged on this promise, offering to accept only 100,000 but in reality doing nothing, Surprise, Surprise!

            Count Folke Bernadette was the UN security Council mediator in the matter of Palestinian refugees, but he had been murdered in 1948 by the Zionist terror group Lehi, on the orders of Yizhak Shamir (the Russian Yizhak Shamir), good old Yizhak had form for murder, he had popped off Lord Moyne who was trying to mediate, some 4 years earlier in a very similar manner, hey if it works why change it!

            The really funny thing is Fred, is; Menachem Begin, though good old Yizhak was not terroristy enough! So menachem went to work, he kidnapped off duty British solderes and hanged them (A first!), then booby trapped their bodies, caused carnage when the British recovered the bodies, neat eh!

            Both Yizhak and Menachem became Israeli Prime Ministers, voted in by adoring Israeli voters, Oy vey, that`s the way eh fred?

            Mark Regev (the Australian Mark Regev) and his predecessors, weave their tales of fantasy that are swallowed by many like your self Fred, such is life. I`m more than happy to bandy words with you, but in all honestly, your and my opinions are simply academic.

            It`s the current 4 to 6 million Palestinian refugees who need to be appeased and at the moment there is fat chance of that happening, it`s grim Fred, don`t you think?

          • Fred Skolnik

            It’s hard to figure you, Mike. Don’t you realize that you’re going to get caught every time you try to fake it. There is not a single word in Resolution 181 about any right of return. How could there be, since no one had left?

            http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/un%20general%20assembly%20resolution%20181.aspx

          • Mike Thompson

            You provide an Israeli propaganda website, to support your opinions Fred, try the UN web site!.

            Not hard to figure you out though Fred. Your belief system is so strong you demand total compliance with your opinions on all things Israeli.

            Unfortunately your opinions are multi-faceted, for example you insist there was an empty land and Palestinians did not exist within the Israeli Partition lines (How you might assume “The Land of Milk and Honey” was left empty is beyond me!).

            Yet on this same web site you give many stories of the reasons for the eviction of the same non-existent Palestinians.

            Were I like you Fred, I would provide quotations from The Palestinian Information Centre, however I prefer using independent sources for my research, or Israeli academics, though with no false modesty I do have a competent knowledge of Middle East history and I`m well aware of the imposition of Western values since the end of WW1, and the legacy of resentment within the general population with regard to Western interference.

            And it`s that resentment that is the greatest problem for the survival of Israel as a viable entity, it`s a catch 22 situation for Israel, accept Palestinians back to their homeland and a Jewish majority State is not possible, deny the right of return and resentment will grow, it`s a simple matter of demographics, and unfortunately for Israel, Israelis are already in the minority.

            In the 11, 12 and 13th centuries the Normans were a European “driving force, they held great swathes of France and Italy, yet they no longer exist, they were absorbed by the ethnic populations. The Crusaders also (those Normans were enthusiastic crusaders) tried keeping to their own, it was a crime to copulate with a Moslem (An Israeli Arab/Moslem was recently jailed for doing just that with a consenting Israeli young lady!).

            The Crusader Kingdoms failed as European support declined and Baybars went on his bloody rampage, Saladin was a Mary Poppins in comparison!

            History has a knack of repeating itself Fred, as I said previously, the current situation in the Levant is grim..

          • Fred Skolnik

            You’ve got to be kidding, Mike. Here’s the identical document on the UN website:

            http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/181(II)

            You’re a bigger fake than I thought. And also a little incoherent. Normans copulating with Moslems has nothing to do with the refugee problem. Throwing up a smokescreen of half-digested “facts” from second- and third-hand sources in not “independent research” and does not hide your ignorance of the Arab-Israel conflict. The Arabs will have to solve the Arab refugee problem in their own countries just as Israel solved the problem of Jewish refugees from Arab countries in Israel.
            I’m still waiting for you to quote Resolution 181 on the “right of return.”
            Caught you faking it, didn’t I?

          • Mike Thompson

            Read it Carefully Fred, but I notice you ignore the agreement of Israel at the May 1949 Lausanne conference where Ben Gurion specifically accepted the right of return of some 500,000 displaced Palestinians, no surprise there, that has you by the short and curlies!

            Arab countries are already hosting the vast majority of Palestinian refugees, the problem is they want to return to their homeland, and why not?

            You don`t seem to understand that the overwhelming majority of Middle Eastern citizens are apposed to having a country filled with Western colonists living on stolen land, the fact it happens to be a Jewish state is immaterial, they would appose such a State even if it were for Druids.

            Nor do you seem to understand that China and Russia have strong Middle East interests, particularly China with Iran. We have seen the recent results of Russian actions in preventing the US from using military force in Syria, and if you have not noticed there is a softening of the US stance on Iran, if it has passed you by, don`t worry it will become increasingly obvious that China is starting to flex her muscles .

            Israel exists because it suited Britain in 1947, and Israel continues to survive only because of overwhelming US support, British influence has long disappeared, and the US influence will be replaced by China.

            You also seem oblivious of what will happen in the future. Iran with 60 million people opposed to a Zionist state and openly supportive of Palestinians, even Saudi Arabia and the other “friends of the USA” Middle East countries are anti Israel. Without US help, Israel will not survive, and China will, in time, quite easily prevent US intervention.

            Zionist may well believe that “God gave that land to them” the problem is Fred, they are in a very tiny minority.

            And it`s funny how, sooner or later, the will of the majority will prevail, it always has, it always will. It may not bother you one little bit Fred, but I think it`s grim.

          • Fred Skolnikl

            Don.t tell me to read anything carefully, my fraudulent friend. Quote me a single word about the right to return in Resolution 181. If you can’t, show a little integrity and say so instead of trying to wriggle your way out of it.
            Ben-Gurion did not accept the right of return of 500,000 refugees at Lausanne. Quote me that too.
            And “why not” is because a similar number of Jews were displaced from Arab countries, which constitutes a de facto exchange of populations, and that is the reality.
            Israel exists because the UN voted for partition and was created in the same way as all the independent Arab countries in the region were created.
            It is the fanatics among Middle Eastern citizens who are opposed to the existence of a non-Muslim country in the region. That’s too bad. Nazi aggression did not deter Russia and the West from fighting back and Arab aggression will not deter Israel. The net result of Arab aggression has been the misery of the Palestinian people and will continue to be so until they wake up. Your reading of the political map is as relevant as a child’s reading of a comic book.
            Zionists do not believe that “God gave the land to them.” You are again displaying your ignorance. Zionism is a secular national movement that aspired to reestablish a sovereign Jewish state in the Land of Israel because the Land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish peoplw where their culture and national identity was born.

          • Mike Thompson

            You are a strange person Fred, you display all the attributes of a fundamentalist Talmudic Fanatic, assuming your opinions are totally correct, and any opposing opinions are totally wrong, held only by Nazi lovers, Jew haters and ignorant readers of comic books (Your words Fred).

            Your opinions may well be reinforced by a closed group of like minded acquaintances, but they are not held by the wider world, or in particular, the Middle East.

            To remain a Jewish State, Israels population must retain a Jewish majority, a right of return for displaced Palestinian Moslems, and Christians, would in time, make a Jewish majority impossible.

            All the justification you may claim for imposing a Jewish State on the people of Levant, will not alter the demographic reality, and it`s the majority opinion in that neck of the woods that is the important factor. .

            I have to say that the Jewish (Hebrew) culture and identity was “born” in Iraq, David and Soloman were simply two Arabs with Hebrew beliefs who happened to rule part of the land of Canaan, and for less than 80 years, that`s some 120 years less than that of the Christian Kingdom of Outremer!

          • Fred Skolnik

            You’re talking nonsense again, Mike. We’ve gone over the Jewish Arab and Arab Jew thing already. Good luck to you.

          • Mike Thompson

            You make my case for me Fred, thanks.

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