Top U.N. Investigator Accuses Israel of Ethnic Cleansing
Richard Falk, an American academic and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, spoke to the UN Human Rights Council as it readied a resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlement building in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Falk said that the “continued pattern of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem combined with the forcible eviction of long-residing Palestinians are creating an intolerable situation” which “can only be described in its cumulative impact as a form of ethnic cleansing.”
Falk is not allowed to enter Israel because authorities in the Jewish state have accused him of being “biased,” a term which, like “anti-Semite” or, my favorite, “self-hating Jew,” is used to attack anyone who disagrees or finds fault with Zionist policies or actions. He said he would like the Human Rights Council to ask the International Court of Justice to look at Israeli behavior in the occupied territories.
Falk’s comments are likely to raise eyebrows, but not in Israel where denial of the Jewish state’s origins run as deep as the Dead Sea. The fact is, Israel was largely established through a process of slow-motion ethnic cleansing. The very earliest Zionists, like the delegation of Austrian rabbis who traveled to Palestine (which would later become Israel) in 1897, realized that they would have to engage in ethnic cleansing if they were to establish their beloved Israel because it wasn’t exactly “a land without a people waiting for a people without a land,” as many pro-Zionists purported. After that rabbinical delegation arrived in the Holy Land, it cabled back this description of Palestine to Vienna: “The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.” So much for the “land without a people.”
Through a series of concerted land purchases and a slow but steady migration of Jews into Palestine, the ethnic makeup of the territory slowly began to change. At the time of the First World War, only around 7% of the population of Palestine was Jewish. By the time the Nazis were throwing all their energies behind eradicating the Jewish people from the pages of history, still only about 30% of Palestine was Jewish. The horrific genocide of the Holocaust strengthened the resolve of the Zionists, who with deadly irony ramped up their own campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people immediately after the war. These early leaders of what would soon become the state of Israel were much more forthcoming about what they were doing that today’s leading Zionists:
“In our political argument abroad we minimize Arab opposition to us. But let us not ignore the truth among ourselves… A people which fights against the usurpation of its land will not tire so easily.” -David Ben-Gurion, first Israeli Prime Minister.
“When we say that the Arabs are the aggressors and we defend ourselves– that is only half the truth. As regards our security and life we defend ourselves…. But the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict, which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves.” -David Ben-Gurion.
“We were not just working– we were conquering, conquering, conquering a land. We were a company of conquistadors.” -David Ben-Gurion.
Those early Israelis were also much more honest about their intentions:
“Among ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both people in this country… and there is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to neighboring countries, to transfer them all; except maybe for Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem, we must not leave a single village, a single tribe.” -Joseph Weitz, director of the Jewish National Land Fund.
What followed, of course, was the forcible expulsion of some 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, never to return, during a fevered campaign of ethnic cleansing that saw the slaughter of women, children and the elderly at the hands of Jews who’d just escaped the horrors of the Holocaust. Here, an 11-year-old survivor of the Deir Yassin massacre, in which some 200 Palestinian villagers were murdered, many of the women and girls raped before being executed, recalls the horror visited upon him and his family by Zionist forces:
“As soon as the sun rose, there was knocking at the door, but we did not answer. They blew the door down, entered and started searching the place; they got to the store room, and took us out one by one. They shot the son-in-law, and when one of his daughters screamed, they shot her too. They they called my brother Mahmoud and shot him in our presence, and when my mother screamed and bent over my brother, carrying my little sister Khadra, who was still being breast-fed, they shot my mother too. We all started screaming and crying, but were told that if we did not stop, they would shoot us all. They then lined us up, shot at us and left.”
This was just the beginning of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people that continues to this very day. Within a few years of Israel’s founding, most of its citizens were already in denial about how they established their little “Jewish” state. By the end of the 1960s, clearly fallacious remarks like this one by Prime Minister Golda Meir were accepted as fact in both Israel and America:
“It was not as though there was a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”
Contrast those words with the quotes above from earlier Zionists and you’ll easily see how leading proponents of Israel worked tirelessly to alter the historical narrative of Palestine in Zionism’s favor. As the decades rolled on, this narrative formed the backdrop of further ethnic cleansing, from the post-1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the continued expansion of Jewish settlements onto what remains of Palestinian territory to apartheid walls that literally split Arab villages into pieces. All these actions are designed to make life so difficult for the Palestinians that they give up and accept Israeli domination.
Richard Falk is right. Israel is guilty of ethnic cleansing. The entire Zionist enterprise is one great big experiment in ethnic cleansing; ethnic cleansing is the foundation upon which the edifice of the Jewish state was built. To profess otherwise is to ignore more than a century of historical truth.
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