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zionist myths

by brian Thursday, Jul. 24, 2003 at 4:31 PM

what israel hope yu dont learn

Myth

At the time of the June 1967 war it was stridently asserted by Israel's supporters that Egyptian President Gamal Nasser threatened to drive the Israelis into the sea. This claim, for which there was no evidence at all, was almost universally accepted as fact in the West and it had a powerful effect on public opinion in Britain and the United States at that time, in the wake of the Holocaust of Jews during the Second World War.

Facts

No evidence or proof has been offered to support these allegations. Those who suggest otherwise are seriously mistaken and merely help to increase the fear and hatred in the Middle East which does so much to prevent a peaceful and just settlement.

One British MP, Christopher Mayhew, even offered £5,000 to anyone who could produce evidence that Nasser had made such a statement. Mayhew repeated the offer later in the House of Commons (Hansard, 18 October 1973) and broadened it to include genocidal statements by other Arab leaders. (Manchester Guardian, 9 September 1974).

During the following four years Mayhew received a steady trickle of letters from claimants, each one producing some quotation from an Arab leader, usually culled straight from one pro-Israeli publication or another. Eventually, one claimant, Warren Bergson, took Mayhew to court. In February 1976, the case was heard. Significantly, Bergson was unable to offer evidence of Nasser's alleged statement. In Britain's High Court of Justice Bergson acknowledged, after thorough research, he had been unable to find any statement by a responsible Arab leader which could be described as genocidal.

The irony of the claim that the Arabs want to throw the Jews into the sea has not been lost on the Palestinians. In 1948, Palestinians were literally pushed into the sea. As photographic evidence shows, Palestinians were driven into the sea at Jaffa late in April 1948. With land routes cut off by Zionist forces, tens of thousands from the Palestinian city of Jaffa and neighbouring villages fled by boat to Gaza and Egypt; scores were drowned.

Major R. D. Wilson, who served with the British 6th Airborne Division describes the situation in Haifa in 1948: "Tens of thousands of panic-stricken Arabs streamed out of Haifa [...] The journey was not without its perils since they were open to attack by Jews" (R.D. Wilson, Cordon and Search: with 6th Airborne Division in Palestine, Vale and Polden, 1949, p. 193).

The creation of the Palestinian refugee problem is balanced by the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries

Written by Arjan El Fassed. Edited by Laurie King-Irani.

Myth

Israel and its supporters claim that the Palestinian refugees' losses and claims are balanced by claims resulting from a comparable exodus of Jewish refugees from the Arab world, so consequently, nothing worse than a "population exchange" or a "double exodus" had occured.

Facts

First, the Palestinians are refugees; their exodus was involuntary and enforced. Oriental Jews, also known as Mizrahim or Sephardim, came to Palestine, in most cases, voluntarily. A small minority of them may have suffered in the countries of their birth in the Arab world, but the vast majority moved to Palestine of their own accord or in response to Zionist recruiting efforts in the Arab lands as well as in Iran.

Secondly, the movement of Oriental Jews into Palestine did not occur concurrently with, or immediately after, the Palestinian exodus. Only about 126,000 Oriental Jews (mostly from Iraq and Yemen) emigrated to Palestine in the two years immediately following an-Nakba in 1948. The remainder who elected to move to what became known as Israel, particularly those from North Africa, did so much later. The whole emigration of Oriental Jews was thus spread over twenty years.

Zionists regularly portray the lot of Oriental Jews in Arab countries as one of misery, fear and virulent anti-Semitism. But Jews of the Arab world had never experienced the appalling race hatred so characteristic of European anti-Semitism. In general, Jews lived in harmony with their Muslim compatriots in the Arab-Islamic world. When Jews did experience persecution during their 1,300 years under Muslim rule, it was not because they were Jews - for many others also suffered under particularly despotic rulers.

The emigration of Oriental Jews to Palestine was not a result of force majeure. For many, the motive to move was economic. For others, the majority, the chance to live in a Jewish state as Jews was greatly desirable and attractive. The chance to trade their minority status in their countries of origin for a majority status in the Jewish state was appealing to many Oriental Jews.

For many others, direct covert pressure from Zionist agents provacateurs, in need of Jewish colonists, stimulated their emigration. Operations "Magic Carpet" and "Ali Baba" simply scooped up Yemini Jews and flew them to what became known as Israel.

In Iraq, Zionist agents planted a series of bombs targeting the Iraqi Jewish community. As a result, all but a few thousand left for Israel, believing that the bombs were the result of anti-Jewish sentiment. The facts were first revealed, in part, in 1966 when Yehuda Tagar, an official in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, broke silence about his part in the business. Zionist terrorist activities against Jews in Iraq are well documented but not well known. The Black Panther, a magazine for Oriental Jews, tells much of the story in its November issue of 1972. Yehuda Tagar's testimony was first printed in Ha'Olam Hazeh (29 May 1966).

If any individual Oriental Jew has a legitimate grievance against an Arab government this would in no way diminish the State of Israel's responsibility towards the Palestinians whom they uprooted.

One should remember that, according to Zionism, Jews who come to Israel do so as the culmination of millennial aspirations. Migration to Israel on the part of world Jewry is considered a duty. In Israel, an immigrant Jew is an oleh, someone who has "ascended", who has fullfilled aliyah. Therefore, the situations of the Palestinians and Oriental Jews are thoroughly dissimilar and not parallel.

The Palestinian refugees were forced out against their will, have never relinquished their rights to their land and homes, and cannot be denied their inalienable right to return, guaranteed under international law.

The Palestinians chose to leave their land in 1948

Written by Arjan El Fassed. Edited by Laurie King-Irani.

Myth

Israel and its supporters claim that Palestinians left their homes in Palestine of their own accord during the 1948 war

Facts

In the 1948 war the Palestinians were largely defenceless, and sought to avoid getting caught in the fighting which broke out. A significant proportion of the Palestinian population was terrorized into leaving.

At first this was the result of threats, intimidation and acts of terror, in cities like Jaffa and Jerusalem, carried out by two Jewish terror organizations, IZL (Irgun Zvai Leumi) and LEHI (Lohamei Herut Israel). Of such acts the most notorious occurred on 9 April 1948 at the village of Deir Yassin on the western side of Jerusalem, when 120 villagers were killed. Deir Yassin had a devastating impact on Palestinian civilian morale, in the words of Israeli military intelligence,

"a decisive accelerating factor [to flight]"

(quoted in Benny Morris, 'The Causes and Character of the Arab Exodus from Palestine: The Israel Defence Forces Intelligence Service Analysis of June 1948', Middle Eastern Studies, vol.xxii, no. 1, January 1986, p.9).

Deir Yassin has always been considered as an Irgun outrage, but the destruction of the village was approved by the Haganah.

There were also deliberate efforts to force the Palestinians to leave their homes. During the summer months of 1948 a decision was taken to prevent Palestinian villagers, both in the forward battle area and behind Jewish lines, from harvesting their summer and winter crops in 1948. Others were directly expelled. In July 1948 Jewish forces resolved to seize the two Palestinian towns of Lydda and Ramla. From the start, the operations against the two towns were designed to induce civilian panic and flight, and at least one of the four Jewish brigades was told:

"Flight from the town of Ramle of women, the old and children is to be facilitated. The males are to be detained"

(Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 (Cambridge, 1987), p.28).

In Lydda fear led to panic, and many were shot down in what amounted to a large-scale massacre of probably 250-300 men, women and children after the town had surrendered.

When General Allon asked:

"What shall we do with the Arabs ?"

Ben-Gurion made a dismissive, energetic gesture with his hand and said:

"Expel them"

(Morris, p. 207).

Approximately 70,000 inhabitants of the two towns were then driven out, almost 10 percent of the refugee total.

Expulsions, sometimes accompanied by atrocities, became increasingly frequent in the mopping-up operations from late summer 1948 onwards, and increased the fearfulness of the Palestinian population. In the course of his research the Israeli historian Benny Morris found an Israeli Intelligence report that estimated that 70 percent of those who fled in the decisive period up to 1 June 1948 did so as a result of direct or nearby Jewish military or paramilitary action. In other words, they fled either because they were expelled or because they thought their lives were in immediate danger, not because they voluntarily 'abandoned' their homes. Furthermore, it was widely understood what was intended, and it took place under 'a coalition government whose policy, albeit undeclared and indirect, was to reduce as much as possible the Palestinian population which would be left in the country and to make sure that as few refugees as possible would return.

By 1948, the number of Palestinian refugees was estimated 780,000. Zionists claim that this figure is 520,000. Israel's Six Day War proved almost as great a disaster for the Palestinians as the 1948 war had been. Large numbers of Palestinians fled or were expelled from villages or refugeecamps, particularly those on the floor of the Jordan Valley where they could flee across the river. Altogether 355,000 Palestinians crossed to the East Bank, of whom 210,000 had not previously been refugees and were now described as 'displaced'. Of those displaced either during the 1967 war or immediately after it, only 15,000 were allowed to return, less than 5 percent of the total. By 1994, the 'displaced' of 1967 numbered an estimated 800,000. Once again, as in the period after the 1948 war, Israeli troops routinely shot civilians trying to return home.

Even after the armistice agreements of 1949, Israel continued to expel or coerce thousands of Palestinians into leaving, notably from the "Little Triangle", a strip of West Bank land ceded by Transjordan during negotiations, and in the south from Majdal ("Ahkelon") on the coast, to Faluja and Bir Saba. the environs of Hebron, and from the demilitarized zone east and north of the Sea of Galilee. In 1953 it expelled another 7,000 bedouin.

Only 17 percent of the Palestinian population, approximately 160,000 remained in what became Israel. What had just taken place was the second major case of ethnic cleansing in the post-war world.

The Palestinians have no 'right to return'

Myth

Israel regularly denies responsibility for the Palestinian refugee problem and denies that the Palestinians have a right to return to their homes in what is now known as Israel, citing:

"...the refusal of the Arabs to accept UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (the Partition Plan)

"...[The Arab armies'] invasion of the newly formed State of Israel, initiating the war that led to Israel's independence..."

That Palestinians "abandoned their homes..."

That Arab countries made "no attempt... to absorb [Palestinian refugees] into society"

and concludes:

"Since Israel is neither responsible for the creation of the refugee problem nor for its perpetuation, it cannot declare, even as a gesture, its responsibility for this problem."

(all quotations from The Current Situation in Israel - Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (Last Updated January 2001), Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

Facts

According to international law, Palestinian and other refugees are entitled to full restitution, which includes the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes of origin, the return of their property, and the right to compensation for material and non-material losses.

These rights are inalienable and are not dependent on the refugee's acceptance of unrelated political resolutions, who started the war that resulted in them becoming refugees, the reasons why refugees left their homes, or their treatment in the societies in which they live as refugees.

Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that:

"(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country"

and the Fourth Geneva Conventions (1949) prohibits:

"individual or mass forcible transfers ... regardless of their motive";

and calls for evacuated persons to be:

"transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased."

Moreover, UN General Assembly Resolution 3236 (1974) upholds:

"the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return";

and UN General Assembly Resolution 52/62 (1997):

"reaffirms that the Palestine Arab refugees are entitled to their property and to the income derived therefrom, in conformity with the principles of justice and equity."

The UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948) of 12 December 1948 resolved that:

"refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for the loss or damage to property..."

This resolution has been reaffirmed one hundred and ten times by the UN.

More information

· "The Feasibility of the Right of Return," by Salman H. Abu-Sitta, a ICJ and CIMEL paper, June 1997.

· CPRR's Right of Return factsheets

The Palestinians were wrong to reject the UN partition plan

Written by Arjan El Fassed. Edited by Laurie King-Irani.

Myth

Britain, unable and unwilling to continue its governance of Palestine, requested the United Nations to take steps to resolve the communal conflict between Palestinians and Zionists. In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly resolved, by a two-thirds majority, to endorse the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state (Resolution No. 181). Israel and its supporters say that the Palestinian rejection of the Partition Plan in 1947 was tantamount to their forfeiture of any future claim to Palestine.

Facts

First, the United Nations was not competent under international law to partition or otherwise dispose of the territory of Palestine against the wishes of the clear majority of its inhabitants. Although Palestine, in 1947, was still subject to a mandate that had legally terminated as a result of the dissolution of the League of Nations, it did not affect its statehood or the sovereignty of its people, so the question of its future government was a matter that fell exclusively within its own domestic jurisdiction and could not become subject to adjudication by the United Nations. The United Nations did not possess any sovereignty nor did it exercise any other right over Palestine. It therefore had no power to partition Palestine or to assign any part of its territory to a religious minority comprised mostly of recent European immigrants in order that they might establish a state of their own.

Second, the Partition Plan has no legal validity. The Partition Plan was adopted by the General Assembly, not the Security Council. Resolutions of the General Assembly have the force of recommendations to member states of the United Nations but do not have any mandatory force. Therefore, the General Assembly vote to accept the recommendations of UNSCOP to partition Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state did not mean that one or another state was being created over the objections of one of the parties.

The partition plan also violated a very basic principle in international affairs: that of self-determination of peoples, recognised by Article 1 of the United Nations Charter. The carving-out of 55 percent of Palestine for the creation of a Jewish state and the subjection of part of the original inhabitants (who were not Jewish) to its dominion represents a blatant violation of this principle.

Third, the Partition Plan was neither just nor fair. The Partition Plan granted 55 percent of Palestine to the Jews, who at that time comprised only 30 percent of the population, and who owned a mere 6 percent of the land. Within this Jewish state were to have been 407,000 Palestinian Arabs. The Arab state was to comprise only the remaining 34 percent of the land. The major reason the Palestinians rejected the partition resolution was on the grounds of its lack of fairness: it proposed to give the minority population an exclusive and hegemonic right to the majority of the land.

In 1946, the total population of Palestine was 1,972,0000 inhabitants, comprising 1,247,000 Palestinians and 608,000 Jews, as well as 16,000 others (see UN Doc. A/AC 14/32, 11 November 1947, p. 304). The Jewish population was composed primarily of foreign-born immigrants, originating mostly from Poland, Russia and Central Europe. Only one third of these immigrants had acquired Palestinian citizenship (Government of Palestine, Statistical Abstract, 1944-1945, p. 42).

With respect to land ownership, it appears from the government of Palestine's Village Statistics that the Jews then owned 1,491 square kilometers (exclusive of urban property) out of a total of 26,323 square kilometers in Palestine (Appendix IV, to the Report of Sub-Committee 2, UN Doc. A/AC 14/32, 11 November 1947, p. 270.). Thus, Jewish land ownership amounted to 5.6 percent of the total area of the country. In contrast, the Palestinians owned the rest of Palestine, including all the areas that were categorised as public domain. Moreover, the territory allocated to the Jewish state included the coastal plain extending from Akka to Ashdod and other fertile lands, while the Palestinians, an agricultural people, were left mainly with mountainous and arid regions.

Israel's claim that since the Palestinians rejected the partition resolution it therefore has is a claim devoid of any legal foundations. The Palestinian refusal to accept the partition in no way confers upon Israel the right to aggravate a wrong. In other words, the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 could not take away the rights of the Palestinians nor enlarge the rights of the Jews. The United Nations itself affirmed this view when Israel was admitted to the UN by reaffirming its resolutions, which provided for the rights of the Palestinians, including UNGA 181 and UNGA 194.

There was no such thing as "Palestinians"

Written by Arjan El Fassed.

Myth

Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said "there was no such thing as Palestinians", former Prime Minister Begin said that Palestinians were "two-legged vermin"; Rafael Eitan said they were "drugged roaches in a bottle"; former Israeli Prime Minister Shamir said they were "grasshoppers".

Today, the myths that the Palestinians don't exist as a coherent people, that Palestine didn't exist as a coherent geographical entity, and that the land was empty, are still maintained in one form or another. This denial of the Palestinians is a wholesale dehumanisation of a people.

Facts

The Israeli scholar Y. Porath has written that:

"at the end of the Ottoman period the concept of Filastin was already widespread among the educated Arab public, denoting either the whole of Palestine or the Jerusalem Sanjak alone" (Y. Porath, The Emergence of the Palestinian National Movement 1918-1929, Frank Cass, 1974).

Zionists who deny the existence of the Palestinians, or "Palestine", claim that when the Western Powers, after the First World War, laid down the modern frontiers of the Middle East they did so entirely arbitrarily. The facts show that, in establishing the boundaries of "mandated Palestine" where they did, the Western powers implicitly recognised the reality of Palestine as an area of special significance whose residents were a people distinuishable from their neighbors.

Equally revealing, Palestine was also recognised as a distinct area by tourists. Baedecker's famous guidebook, published in 1876, was entitled Palestine - Syria. Herzl himself, the founder of Zionism, in his correspondence with the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid, referred to "Palestine" and neither seems to have been confused by the term.

The bounderies established for Palestine by the colonial powers enhanced the already existing unity of the area. Evidently the Palestinians and others did regard pre-British Mandate Palestine as a distinct area, as something much more than a part of Syria or the Arab world.

In short, the Palestinians recognised it as their homeland, and others recognised it to be so. It hardly needs stating that these facts alone would be enough on which to base the conclusion that Palestine's residents regarded themselves, and were regarded by others, as Palestinians.

In 1968, Jewish historian Maxime Rodinson wrote that

"the Arab population of Palestine was native in all the usual senses of the word" (Rodinson, M., Israel and the Arabs, Penguin, 1968, p. 216).

Estimated Population of Palestine 1870-1946*

Arabs (%) Jews (%) Total

1870 367,224 (98%) 7,000 (2%) 375,000

1893 469,000 (98%) 10,000 (2%) 497,000

1912 525,000 (93%) 40,000 (6%) 565,000

1920 542,000 (90%) 61,000 (10%) 603,000

1925 598,000 (83%) 120,000 (17%) 719,000

1930 763,000 (82%) 165,000 (18%) 928,000

1935 886,000 (71%) 355,000 (29%) 1,241,000

1940 1,014,000 (69%) 463,000 (31%) 1,478,000

1946 1,237,000 (65%) 608,000 (35%) 1,845,000

* Figures are rounded.

Sources: The numbers in this table are estimates constructed from the following: Yehoshua Ben-Arieh, "The Population of the Large Towns in Palestine During the First Eighty Years of the Nineteenth Century, According to Western Sources" in Moshe Ma'oz, ed. Studies on Palestine during the Ottoman Period, Magnus, 1975; Alexander Scholch, "The Demographic Development of Palestine 1850-1882", International Journal of Middle East Studies, XII, 4, November 1985, pp. 485-505; "Palestine", Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edn, 1911; "Palestine", Encyclopedia of Islam, 1964; UN Document A/AC 14/32, 11 November 1947, p.304; Justin McCarthy, "The Population of Ottoman Syria and Iraq, 1878-1914", Asian and African Studies, XV, 1 March 1981; Kemal Karpat, "Ottoman Population Records and the Census of 1881/82-1893", International Journal of Middle East Studies, XCI, 2, 1978; Bill Farell, "Review of Joan Peters", 'From Time Immemorial', Journal of Palestine Studies, 53, Fall 1984, pp. 126-34; Walid Khalidi, From Heaven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem until 1948, Institute for Palestine Studies, 1971 appendix I; Janet L. Abu Lughod, "The Demographic Transformation of Palestine", in Ibrahim Abu Lughod, ed., The Transformation of Palestine: Essays on the Origin and Development of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Northwestern University Press, 1971 pp. 139-63.

Conclusion

The most significant fact about the existence of the Palestinians has been not just their displacement as a result of the 1948 war, but their continual and systematic displacement. It is clear from this that the central issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict from an Israeli perspective is the existence of the Palestinians as a distinct social, political, and cultural entity. For this reason Israel has devoted enormous energy to expelling them from their homes, to stripping away their identity, and to denying their existence and importance for the resolution of the conflict.

The Arabs started all the wars: 1948

Written by Arjan El Fassed. Edited by Laurie King-Irani.

Myth

Since the establishment of Israel there have been five major wars between Arabs and the Israelis. These wars occured in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982. Israel claims that the Arabs started all the wars. Although there has been low-intensity conflict in the intervening years and major conflagrations during the "War of Attrition" in 1969-1970 and the 1978 invasion of Lebanon, massive civil disobedience during the Uprising of 1988, and in 2000-2001 during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, it is these five wars Israel refers to when it makes its claims, creating the impression that Israel has only acted "in self-defence".

The roots of the 1948 war go as far back as the first recognition on the part of the Palestinians that the Zionists wished to establish a Jewish state on their land. In late 1947 the United Nations proposed that Palestine be divided into a Palestinian Arab state and a Jewish state. The UN Partition Plan recommended that 55 percent of Palestine, and the most fertile region, be given to the Jewish settlers who compromised 30 percent of the population. The remaining 45 percent of Palestine was to comprise a home for the other 70 percent of the population who were Palestinians. The Palestinians rejected the plan because it was unfair.

Israel and its supporters claim that the Arabs first attacked in Janurary 1948 and then invaded Israel in May 1948.

Facts

The truth is that by May 1948 Zionist forces had already invaded and occupied large parts of the land which had been allocated to the Palestinians by the UN Partition Plan. In January 1948 Israel did not yet exist.

The evidence that Israel started the 1948 war comes from Zionist sources. The History of the Palmach which was released in portions in the 1950s (and in full in 1972) details the efforts made to attack the Palestinian Arabs and secure more territory than alloted to the Jewish state by the UN Partition Plan (Kibbutz Menchad Archive, Palmach Archive, Efal, Israel).

Already, Zionist forces were implementing their "Plan Dalet" to

"control the area given to us [the Zionists] by the U.N. in addition to areas occupied by Arabs which were outside these borders and the setting up of forces to counter the possible invasion of Arab armies after May 15" (Qurvot 1948, p. 16, which covers the operations of Haganah and Palmach, see also Ha Sepher Ha Palmach, The Book of Palmach).

Operation Nachson, 1 April 1948

Operation Harel, 15 April 1948

Operation Misparayim, 21 April 1948

Operation Chametz, 27 April 1948

Operation Jevuss, 27 April 1948

Operation Yiftach, 28 April 1948

Operation Matateh, 3 May 1948

Operation Maccabi, 7 May 1948

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operation Gideon, 11 May 1948

Operation Barak, 12 May 1948

Operation Ben Ami, 14 May 1948

Operation Pitchfork, 14 May 1948

Operation Schfifon, 14 May 1948

The operations 1-8 indicate operations carried out before the entry of the Arab forces inside the areas allotted by the UN to the Arab state. It has to be noted that of thirteen specific full-scale operations under Plan Dalet eight were carried out outside the area "given" by the UN to the Zionists.

Following is a list drawn from the New York Times of the major military operations the Zionists mounted before the British evacuated Palestine and before the Arab forces entered Palestine:

Qazaza (21 Dec. 1947)

Sa'sa (16 Feb. 1948)

Haifa (21 Feb. 1948)

Salameh (1 March 1948)

Biyar Adas (6 March 1948)

Qana (13 March 1948)

Qastal (4 April 1948)

Deir Yassin (9 April 1948)

Lajjun (15 April 1948)

Saris (17 April 1948)

Tiberias (20 April 1948)

Haifa (22 April 1948)

Jerusalem (25 April 1948)

Jaffa (26 April 1948)

Acre (27 April 1948)

Jerusalem (1 May 1948)

Safad (7 May 1948)

Beisan (9 May 1948).

David Ben-Gurion confirms this in an address delivered to American Zionists in Jerusalem on 3 September 1950:

"Until the British left, no Jewish settlement, however remote, was entered or seized by the Arabs, while the Haganah, under severe and frequent attack, captured many Arab positions and liberated Tiberias and Haifa, Jaffa and Safad" (Ben-Gurion, Rebirth and Destiny of Israel (N.Y.: Philosophical Library, 1954, p. 530).

Although late PM Ben-Gurion speaks of "liberating" Jaffa it was alloted to the Palestinians by the UN Partition Plan.

Late PM Menachem Begin adds:

"In the months preceding the Arab invasion, and while the five Arab states were conducting preparations, we continued to make sallies into Arab territory. The conquest of Jaffa stands out as an event of first-rate importance in the struggle for Hebrew independence early in May, on the eve [that is, before the alleged Arab invasion] of the invasion by the five Arab states" (Menachem Begin, The Revolt, Nash, 1972, p. 348)

On 12 December 1948 David Ben Gurion confirmed the fact that the Zionists started the war in 1948:

"As April began, our War of Independence swung decisively from defense to attack. Operation 'Nachson'...was launched with the capture of Arab Hulda near where we stand today and of Deir Muheisin and culminated in the storming of Qastel, the great hill fortress near Jerusalem" (Ben Gurion, Rebirth and Destiny of Israel (N.Y.: Philosophical Library, 1954, p. 106).

Israeli historians have themselves refuted the claim that the Arabs started the 1948 war. Benny Morris uncovered a report from the Israeli Defense Force Intelligence Branch (30 June 1948) that shows a deliberate Israeli policy to attack the Arabs should they resist and expel the Palestinians (Benny Morris, "The Causes and Character of the Arab Exodus from Palestine: the Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Branch Analysis of June 1948", Middle Eastern Studies, XXII, January 1986, pp. 5-19).

Conclusion

In sum, it is not true that the Arabs "invaded Israel" in 1948.

First, Israel did not exist at the time of the alleged invasion as an established state with recognised bounderies. When the Zionist leaders established Israel on 15 May 1948 they purposely declined to declare the bounderies of the new state in order to allow for future expansion.

Secondly, the only territory to which the new state of Israel had even a remote claim was that alloted to the Jewish state by the UN Partition Plan. But the Zionists had already attacked areas that were alloted to the Palestinian Arab state.

Thirdly, those areas which the Arab states purportedly "invaded" were, in fact, exclusively areas alloted to the Palestinian Arab state proposed by the UN Partition Plan. The so-called Arab invasion was a defensive attempt to hold on to the areas alloted by the Partition Plan for the Palestinian state.

Finally, the commander of Jordan's Arab Legion, was under orders not to enter the areas alloted to the Jewish state (Sir John Bagot Glubb, "The Battle for Jerusalem", Middle East International, May 1973).

The Arabs started all the wars: 1956

Written by Arjan El Fassed. Edited by Laurie King-Irani.

Myth

Since the establishment of Israel there have been five major wars between Arabs and the Israelis. These wars occured in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982. Israel claims that the Arabs started all the wars. Although there has been low-intensity conflict in the intervening years and major conflagrations during the "War of Attrition" in 1969-1970 and the 1978 invasion of Lebanon, massive civil disobedience during the Uprising of 1988, and in 2000-2001 during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, it is these five wars Israel refers to when it makes its claims, creating the impression that Israel has only acted "in self-defence".

Israel blames the 1956 Sinai war on Egypt's aggressive behavior, including the closing of the Suez Canal.

Facts

The facts concerning the Sinai war come from Israeli sources. A decisive and authoritative contribution exploding the myth of Israel's accusations are the relevations from former Prime Minister Moshe Sharett's Personal Diary (Moshe Sharett, Yoman Ishi, Ma'ariv, 1979, in Hebrew with portions trans. in Livia Rokach, Israel's Sacred Terrorism: A Study Based on Moshe Sharett's Personal Diary and Other Documents, AAUG, 1980).

The main reason often given for the origin of the 1956 war was Egypt's closing of the Suez Canal. Moshe Sharett reveals that the Israeli leadership was planning the territorial conquest of the Sinai and Gaza as early as the fall of 1953. The Israeli attack on Gaza in February 1955 was undertaken as a conscious preliminary act of war. David Ben-Gurion became Prime Minister and Israel soon became very aggressive.

On 28 February 1955 Israeli troops invaded Gaza killing 37 Egyptians and wounding 31. The attack came out of the blue. Egyptian President Gamal Nasser said it "was revenge for nothing. Everything was quiet there" (Kennett Love, Suez: the Twice Fought War, McGraw-Hill, 1969, p. 83). The Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation, Swedish General Carl von Horn, confirmed Nasser's claim, asserting that there had been

"comparative tranquility along the armistice demarcation lines during the greater part of the period November 1954 to February 1955" (Report to the Security Council, UN Doc. S3373, 17 March 1955).

In the 1950s few people believed that Nasser had aggressive intentions towards Israel. Richard Grossman, a British Zionist, wrote in 1955 that:

"not only Egypt, but the whole Middle East must pray that Nasser survives the assassin's bullet. I am certain that he is a man who means what he says, and that so long as he is in power directing his middle-class revolution, Egypt will remain a factor for peace and social development" (Richard Grossman, New Statesman and Nation, 22 January 1955).

The Gaza raid changed everything. Arab public opinion was outraged and demanded action, as it was intended to. Nasser needed arms to equip his army which was hopelessly outgunned by Israel. Western Intelligence was convinced that Egypt had no intention of attacking Israel. The Americans rebuffed Nasser in any case and Egypt turned to the Russians who orchestrated the famous Czech arms deal which was used by Israel for feigned outrage. The Russians had also used the Czechs to supply arms to Israel in 1948.

Nasser did not realise that he was being set up for the Israeli invasion, although he did recognise that the situation was heating up. In October 1955, a year before the war, Israeli PM David Ben-Gurion ordered his Chief of Staff, General Moshe Dayan, to prepare invasion plans. Ben Gurion was determined, according to Dayan,

"not to miss any politically favorable opportunity to strike at Egypt" (Moshe Dayan, Diary of the Sinai Campaign, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1966, p. 37).

Dayan expressed the hopes of the Israeli leadership when he said in December 1955:

"One of these days a situation will be created which makes military action possible" (Kennet Love, Suez: The Twice Fought War, McGraw-Hill, 1969, p. 106).

The opportunity to make war against Egypt came in July 1956 when Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal, an act within the legal right of the Egyptian state. The Suez Canal was controlled by foreigners in 1956 and represented an important vestige of colonialism affronting the Arab people. Nasser's action was popular although, in hindsight, politically cataclysmic. France and Britain, in one of the last spasms of European colonialism, colluded in a secret alliance with Israel to invade the Sinai and destroy Nasser.

On 29 October 1956 Israel attacked Egypt and occupied the entire Sinai. French war equipment poured into Israel and French and British warships bombarded the Egyptian coast. French and British troops landed and helped the Israeli armed forces. Eisenhower, who had been in the dark about the invasion plans and the secret alliance, demanded that Israeli forces withdraw from Egyptian territory. Israel refused, leading Eisenhower to exclaim:

"Should a nation which attacks and occupies foreign territory in the face of U.N. disapproval be allowed to impose conditions on its own withdrawal? If we agree that armed attack can properly achieve the purpose of the assailant, then I fear we will have turned back the clock of international order..." (Address to the nation, 20 February 1957).

The Arabs started all the wars: 1967

Written by Arjan El Fassed. Edited by Laurie King-Irani.

Myth

Since the establishment of Israel there have been five major wars between Arabs and the Israelis. These wars occured in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982. Israel claims that the Arabs started all the wars. Although there has been low-intensity conflict in the intervening years and major conflagrations during the "War of Attrition" in 1969-1970 and the 1978 invasion of Lebanon, massive civil disobedience during the Uprising of 1988, and in 2000-2001 during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, it is these five wars Israel refers to when it makes its claims, creating the impression that Israel has only acted "in self-defence".

Israel claims that its attack against Egypt in June 1967 was a defensive measure to prevent Gamal Abdel Nasser from attacking.

Facts

Israel began planning the re-conquest of the Sinai soon after its forced withdrawal in 1956. In 1967, as in 1956, Israel waited for favorable circumstances to put its plan into action.

In 1967, however, Israel had a greater appreciation of the necessity and utility of a sophisticated publicity campaign, waged through the international media, to convince Western opinion that any Israeli military actions could only be construed as acts of self-defense. This publicity campaign was two-pronged: stressing that the Arabs attacked Israel and that Israel was in danger of annihilation. Both presuppositions were patently false.

In the early hours of 5 June 1967, Israel announced to a credulous Western world that the Egyptian Air Force had initiated hostile actions. In fact, it was the Israelis who had attacked the Egyptians and destroyed virtually the entire Egyptian Air Force while its fleet was still on the ground.

General Matityahu Peled, one of the architects of the Israeli conquest, committed what the Israeli public considered blasphemy when he admitted the true thinking of the Israeli leadership:

"The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967 and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff, which was born and developed after the war" (Ha'aretz, 19 March 1972).

Israeli Air Force General Ezer Weizmann declared bluntly that "there was never any danger of extermination" (Ma'ariv, 19 April 1972). Mordechai Bentov, a former Israeli cabinet minister, also dismissed the myth of Israel's imminent annihilation: "All this story about the danger of extermination has been a complete invention and has been blown up a posteriori to justify the annexation of new Arab territories" (Al Hamishmar, 14 April 1972).

After the 1967 war Israel, claimed it invaded because of imminent Arab attack. It claimed that Nasser's closing of the Straits of Tiran constituted an act of war. It also cited Syrian shelling on the demilitarized zone of the Syrian-Israeli border. The claim that the Arabs were going to invade appears particularly ludicrous when one recalls that a third of Egypt's army was in Yemen and therefore quite unprepared to launch a war. On the Syrian front, Israel was engaging in threats and provocations that evidenced many similarities to its behavior in the lead up to the Gaza raid of 1955.

The demilitarized zone on the Syrian-Israeli border was established by agreement on 20 July 1949. Israeli provocations were incessant and enabled Israel to increase and extend its sovereignty by encroachment over the entire Arab area. According to one UN Chief of Staff, Arab villagers were evicted and their homes destroyed (E.L.M. Burns, Between Arab and Israeli, Ivan Obolensky, 1962, pp. 113-114). Another Chief of Staff described how the Israelis ploughed up Arab land and "advanced the 'frontier' to their own advantage" (Carl von Horn, Soldiering for Peace, Cassell, 1966, p. 79).

Israel attempted to evict the Arabs living on the Golan and annex the demilitarized zone. When the Syrians inevitably responded, Israel claimed that "peaceful" Israeli farmers were being shelled by the Syrians. Unmentioned was the fact that the "farmers" were armed and using tractors and farm equipment to encroach on the demilitarized zone (David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: the Roots of Violence in the Middle East, Faber and Faber, 1984, pp. 213-15). This was part of a "premeditated Israeli policy [..] to get all the Arabs out of the way by fair means or foul."

Shortly after the Syrian response on 7 April 1967, the Israeli Air Force attacked Syria, shooting down six planes, hitting thirty fortified positions and killing about 100 people (Hirst, op. cit., p. 214). It was unlikely that any Syrian guns would have been fired if not for Israel's provocation.

Israel's need for water also played a role in the 1967 attack. The invasion completed Israel's encirclement of the headwaters of the Upper Jordan River, its capture of the West Bank and the two aquifers arising there, which currently supply all the groundwater for northern and central Israel.

The Israelis followed-up their massive retaliation with stern warnings. On 11 May 1967, General Yitzhak Rabin said on Israeli radio: "The moment is coming when we will march on Damascus to overthrow the Syrian Government" (Godfrey Jansen, "New Light on the 1967 War", Daily Star, London, 15, 22, 26 November 1973). Syria sought Egypt's assistance under their Mutual Defense Pact of November 1966. Nasser could not afford to stand idly by. He ordered the removal of the small UN force stationed in Sinai and closed the Straits of Tiran. This action provided the casus belli that Israel soon invoked.

Nasser's move was a gesture of solidarity with Syria and no threat to Israel's economy or its security. The closure of the Straits did not force Israel into war. Claims of economic strangulation were absurd since only 5 percent of Israel's trade depended on free movement through the Straits of Tiran. No Israeli merchant vessel had passed through the Straits during the previous two years (Michael Howard and Robert Hunter, Israel and the Arab World: the Crisis of 1967, Adelphi Papers 41, Institute for Strategic Studies, 1967, p. 24).

In sum, the threat to Israel's survival in 1967 was non-existent. According to the British newspaper The Observer, Nasser's purpose was clearly "to deter Israel rather than provoke it to a fight" (The Observer, London, 4 June 1967). New York Times columnist James Reston reported that "Egypt does not war [...] certainly is not ready for war" (New York Times, 4 and 5 June 1967).

The Israelis themselves were perfectly aware of this, given their sophisticated military intelligence capabilities. Later, in the first few days of the war, they were so concerned that their plans for attacking Syria would be discovered that they deliberately attacked the USS Liberty, killing 33 American sailors, in an attempt to prevent it from monitoring war preparations.

A few months after the war, Yitzhak Rabin remarked: "I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to the Sinai on 14 May would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it" (Le Monde, 29 February 1968).

Israeli General Peled was even more frank: "To pretend that the Egyptian forces massed on our frontiers were in a position to threaten the existence of Israel constitutes an insult not only to the intelligence of anyone capable of analyzing this sort of situation, but above all an insult to the Zahal [Israeli army]" (Ha'aretz, 19 March 1972).

Finally, in 1982, the Israelis admitted that they had started the war (although official Zionist propaganda in the United States still does not acknowledge this fact). Prime Minister Menachem Begin, in a speech delivered at the Israeli National Defense College, clearly stated that: "The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him" (Jerusalem Post, 20 August 1982).

The Arabs started all the wars: 1973

Written by Arjan El Fassed.

Myth

Since the establishment of Israel there have been five major wars between Arabs and the Israelis. These wars occured in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982. Israel claims that the Arabs started all the wars. Although there has been low-intensity conflict in the intervening years and major conflagrations during the "War of Attrition" in 1969-1970 and the 1978 invasion of Lebanon, massive civil disobedience during the Uprising of 1988, and in 2000-2001 during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, it is these five wars Israel refers to when it makes its claims, creating the impression that Israel has only acted "in self-defence".

Facts

After coming to power in late 1970, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat indicated to the United States that he was willing to negotiate with Israel to resolve the conflict in exchange for Egyptian territory lost in 1967. In February 1971 he offered a full peace treaty to Israel, which it rejected, although international consensus supported the Sadat offer which conformed to the US position (John Kimche, There Could Have Been Peace, Dial, 1973, p. 286). When these overtures were ignored by Washington and Tel Aviv, Egypt and Syria launched an coordinated action in October 1973 against Israeli forces occupying the Egyptian Sinai and Syrian Golan Heights.

The devastating defeat of 1967 left Israel in control of the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the Sinai. Israel rapidly moved to incorporate these occupied territories into its domain. Israel illegally annexed Jerusalem and began establishing colonial settlements in all the occupied territories.

It was clear that the Arab World could not go on indefinitely watching the Israel expel Egyptians, Syrians and Palestinians while installing Jewish settlers in their thousands. By 1973 nearly 100 settlements had been established and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had been displaced, expelled, imprisoned or deported.

On 6 October 1973 the Egyptian and Syrian armies attacked Israeli positions in the Sinai and on the Golan Heights in an attempt to liberate their territory occupied by Israel. The Secretary-General of the Arab League explained the Arab action:

"In a final analysis, Arab action is justifiable, moral and valid under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. There is no aggression, no attempt to acquire new territories. But to restore and liberate all the occupied territories is a duty for all able self-respecting peoples" (Sunday Times, 14 October 1973).

The Arabs started all the wars: 1982

Written by Arjan El Fassed. Edited by Laurie King-Irani.

Myth

Since the establishment of Israel there have been five major wars between Arabs and the Israelis. These wars occured in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982. Israel claims that the Arabs started all the wars. Although there has been low-intensity conflict in the intervening years and major conflagrations during the "War of Attrition" in 1969-1970 and the 1978 invasion of Lebanon, massive civil disobedience during the Uprising of 1988, and in 2000-2001 during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, it is these five wars Israel refers to when it makes its claims, creating the impression that Israel has only acted "in self-defence".

In 1982, Israel claimed that its military objective was to attack, not Lebanon, but the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in Lebanon in order to 'safeguard the Galilee region from enemy artillery and infiltration'.

Facts

The facts are that Israel invaded Lebanon on 6 June 1982 in order to totally destroy the PLO, not only its insignificant military capability, but also all of its civilian functions. The other basic war aim was described by Israeli Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon:

"The bigger the blow and the more we damage the PLO infrastructure, the more the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, [the Biblical name for the West Bank used for obvious political reasons by Israel] and Gaza will be ready to negotiate with us"

-- The Times, 5 August 1982 --

Israel had hoped that, with the destruction of the PLO, Lebanon could be ripped from its Arab moorings in order to create an Israeli puppet regime of pro-Israeli Maronite Christian Lebanese, a minority of the population. As early as 1954, David Ben-Gurion had urged that one of the "central duties" of Israel's foreign policy should be to push the Maronite Christians to "proclaim a Christian state". Moshe Dayan had said that:

"[the] Israeli army will enter Lebanon, will occupy the neessary territory, and will create a Christian regime which will ally itself with Israel"

-- Livia Rokach, Israel's Sacred Terrorism, op.cit., pp. 24-30.

Also see, Laura Zittrain Eisenberg: My Enemy's Enemy: Zionist Intentions in Lebanon.

The Israeli claim that it had invaded Lebanon "in self-defense" is false. Between August 1981 and May 1982 the PLO maintained a truce, sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia, on Lebanon's southern border. Israel, on the other hand, violated the truce 2,777 times (United Nations records cited by Robin Wright in the Christian Science Monitor, 18 March 1982; Alexander Cockburn and James Ridgeway, Village Voice, 22 June 1982). [For the most thorough, as well as the most compelling treatment of Israel's invasion of Lebanon, see Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation]

Once again Israel only needed an excuse to make war. This time the casus belli was the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador to London, an act determined by Scotland Yard to have been conducted by the PLO-dissent Abu Nidal group. In any case, Israel's excuse was so flimsy that, for the first time in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israeli propaganda was not taken on board without question by the international community.

At first the Israelis operated under the pretense that they were only securing their borders and stated that they did not intend to go beyond a 25 mile limit. But the truth was very different as described by the former chief of Israeli military intelligence, Aharon Yariv:

"I know in fact that going to Beirut was included in the original military plan"

-- Jerusalem Post, 24 September 1982.

Israel's invasion of Lebanon has no validity in international law. Israel thus had no grounds to rely on the provision of the Charter of the United Nations concerning self-defense, while the means used to effect the invasion clearly lacked proportionality. The cease-fire of July 1981 had been observed scrupulously. The objective of the 1982 invasion and war, therefore, was to achieve certain political and strategic aims at a high cost, which included breaches of some of the most fundamental rules of international law.

As for the Israeli justification for the conduct of hostilities, the principle of military necessity cannot excuse the massive number of civilian casualties which resulted from Israeli attacks on refugee camps, hospitals, schools, cultural, religious and charitable institutions, commercial and industrial premises, Lebanese government and PLO offices, diplomatic premises and urban areas generally.

Particularly heinous was the August 8th bombardment of Beirut by the Israeli Air Force, which some correspondents compared to the WWII bombing of Dresden in its ferocity. Hundreds of innocent Beiruti civilians died as a result of this war crime. [See Thomas Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem; Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation; Jean Said Makdisi, Beirut Fragments; Chris Giannou, Besieged: A Doctor in Lebanon.]

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