By Clive Hambidge and Soraya Boyd
Palestine. Just to think of Palestine is evocative. From the lush orange orchards to the laden olive groves, many examples could be provided to confirm the fact that prior to the creation of Israel, Palestinian society thrived in all areas of human endeavour. The splendour of Jaffa was aptly captured in the photograph which appears above, renowned for its famed produce namely oranges which were exported to England as well as other destinations.
Debunking the myth, the first example, based on Before Their Diaspora: A Photographic History of the Palestinians, 1876-1948, a book by Walid Khalidi, depicting Palestinian life in all of its aspects, was commented upon by the French newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique which stated that Khalidi’s visual testimony unequivocally laid to rest the claim that there never was a land without a people for a people without a land. That generations of Arab Palestinians had lived, were living and lived in a land with a people.
Numerous examples attest to the vibrant dynamism which prevailed in all areas of Palestinian society before 1948: from the celebrated poetry of Ahmad Hilmi Abdel Baqi or such distinguished cutting age advocates as Ihsan Abbas and Jabra Ibrahim Jabra advancing the case of the Modernist movement in the field of poetry; to the renowned Palestinian dramatist Jamil al-Bahri’s plays, with Jerusalem in the lead boasting well over thirty theatrical troupes; to the eminent translations of western literary oeuvres such as Amin Abu al-Shi’r ‘s Dante’s Divine Comedy (Inferno) or Anbara Salam Khalidi’s Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. From culture, the arts, literature, agriculture to a sustainable economy, a vibrant dynamism permeated all areas of Palestinian life and oversaw the very birthplace of the Arab Cinema Company Ltd in Haifa. Europe was not alone in its efforts to develop its fledging film industry, Bashar Ibrahim’s Palestinian Cinema in the 20th Century evidences the Palestinian cinematographic drive both prior to and after 1948 and in the 1990s.
From an agricultural perspective, let us take the village of Sirin which according to Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestine “was noted as a fine example of the collective system of land-sharing to which villagers adhered, dating back to the Ottoman period, and here had survived both the capitalization of the local agriculture and the Zionist drive for land.” Pappe adds “[Sirin] boasted three rich bustans (gardens with fruit trees) and olive groves, which spread out over 9000 cultivated dunam of land (out of 17,000) … Today, a cactus hedge surrounds the rubble that was Sirin. Jews never succeeded in repeating the success of the Palestinians in holding on to the tough soil in the valley …”
Biblical Historiography Appropriation
In the shadow of the impending catastrophe (Nakba), a deliberate tale to wilfully and violently eradicate an indigenous people was emerging. History for most and the violent Israeli narrative has been the formulation of a biblical historiography dominated by Zionism constructed over time using vast financial resources to re-shape the actuality of Palestinian historical progress by ignoring it and destroying it. The present eidetic imagery that is associated with Palestine is the violence raged upon its people and its land by a belligerent Zionist Israel. Since 1948 it, Israel, has schemed, deceived and manipulated to obliterate Palestine of its people by all means and defile the land. The cold hungry child, the cold dead bodies of Palestinian children this is the stamp of Israel; the apartheid Wall its seal; the ink, Israel uses to write its fabricated history, the blood of generations of Palestinians.
With those huge financial resources Israel can and does manipulate facts and history. Israel as it annexes more and more of historical Palestine invents and re-invents an Israelite morphological re-shaping of a history that doesn’t exist and never existed. All is a studied manipulation arising from an accumulative knowledge of Israel’s perceived superiority claimed from various archaeological artefacts found on Palestinian territory by prejudicial scholars. From this has developed the racist apartheid pariah state that is Israel today. It has invented itself. And now it persecutes millions and that is no invention.
The Un-earthed Narrative
Keith W. Whitelam writes : “The literary construct that is ‘ancient Israel’, which has obscured the history of ancient Palestine in the late Bronze and Iron Ages, will be allowed to achieve the same objective from later periods.” Whitelam goes on: “The evolutionary scheme which has presupposed the replacement of Canaanite by Israelite culture has distracted from the aesthetic and cultural qualities exhibited in the rich deposits of ceramics, faience, glass, jewellery, etc, evidenced throughout Palestine”. Further adds Whitelam: “The discovery of female figurines and statuettes in the different levels at many Palestinian sites.” gives us a rich sense of fertility and rebirth in Palestine. Never empty, the only thing empty was has been Israel’s promises of peace as it murders and maims. To unearth is to reveal, to expose. The archaeology of the peace process has been exposed and continues to be exposed. It reveals the non-intention of Israel and America to conduct or hold meaningful dialogue for a peace or a legitimate land for the Palestinians. (The Invention Of Ancient Israel. The silencing of Palestinian history, Routledge)
Whitelam evokes an appreciation of the cultural and aesthetic minds that gave modeled form to any part of historical passage and reminds us why the Palestinians are still with us. And why Israel is not, but removed in a sort of artificial intelligence (AI), anchored in its barbarity and increasingly its mechanized warmongering cruelty. Israel’s ‘finds’ help to create a normative (though false) history of cultural spirals and scholarship so rarefied as to consign Palestine to some sort of historical intellectual rubbish dump. Nothing could be further from the truth. We discover from Whitelam in that small paragraph the sensitivity and creativity of a still vital and present people. And why they survive decades of on-going attempts of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Now, in modern times, in reading Edward W. Said’s book The End of The Peace Process we realized that civilization is an admixture of historical layers from different lands, time- in -‘flux’ moving as we write ‘mixed,’ ‘hybrid.’ That somehow the West has ingrained unto itself, its civilization, its culture by itself. That, the West had/has no discernible context where different cultures have not collided, “clashed” with the West but have given, not always freely, but have given and that giving accepted willingly or not, because more often than not, this ‘giving’ has perniciously coincided with being taken. So “Nothing could be more fruitless than seeing the West as somehow standing apart and above from the civilizations of Africa, Islam, India, and Latin America. True, there are specific ideological attempts to pretend that some preexisting essence defines culture once and for all, but that is ideology, not history or the serious interpretation.”
In Blaming The Victims we find “The present situation of the Palestinian people then is fundamental and seriously anomalous. The Palestinians have all the attributes of nationhood – a common history, language, and set of traditions, a national culture, national institutions, a national representative,” the Israelis just won’t recognize this, and the international community with numerous laws and UN resolutions against Israel do-a-Chamberlain and do nothing but appease.
If we return for a moment to what Edward Said had to say we find the nub of the Israeli Palestinian tragedy. Israel wants to see itself apart a Jewish Nation and separate. Problem is besides it being ideologically not feasible, Israel has Semitic neighbors which it wants to go away, disappear. They haven’t, and, the world won’t allow it, neither the law. So Israel bombs, maims, withholds wages, taxes, persecutes every minute of every day every Palestinian in some way. Apparently the 2007 report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on the OPT Control and Oppression of the Palestinians by Israel gave rise according to Kathleen and Bill Christison to a “powerful rumor that Tony Blair “having took on the role of special international representative in the occupied territories in mid 2007, left a briefing prepared for him ashen-faced and in shock.”
It’s bad, it’s worse, it’s criminal. According to Robert Fisk we see how cop out was decades long, anti-Semitism the card played “It was quite acceptable for Israel’s supporters to raise family issues of family or national origin if others criticized its actions. When, for example, the UN General Secretary Boutros Boutros Ghali , instructed his military adviser Dutch Major General Franklin Van Kappen, to conduct an investigation into the Israeli massacre of 106 Lebanese refugees at the UN base at Qana in southern Lebanon in 1996, a pro–Israeli newspaper condemned the decision on the grounds that Van Kappen came from a country which had surrendered its Jews to the Nazis in the Second World War. Yet when AIPAC’s former prominent staff member was appointed America’s top negotiator, no questions were asked.” All the while children died, Palestinian land stolen, their sacred olive trees uprooted and their homes bulldozed by American Caterpillar machines, elderly Palestinian mothers ridiculed and molested by settlers as Israeli bombs rained down the core of Israel’s boundless brutality.
The Truth Writ-large
Many of our elected officials have claimed and continue to claim to not know, that they are ill informed about the Israeli Palestinian conflict. They have had more than enough time to inform themselves. In the main most concerned people who stand on the right side of history have taken the time to inform themselves and visit Palestine. Many politicians have also been to the OPTs, attended numerous events/workshops/conferences organised by various local and international ngos, met with Palestinians, heard firsthand accounts, wrote and published official reports. Yet in spite of this and in spite of the fact that many formal records of historical zionist colonialists’ statements have been in the public domain for decades on end in pain sight for all to see, still many political figures sit on the fence. Are our elected officials disingenuous, woefully ignorant, perhaps naive, simply incompetent or deliberately towing the line under considerable pressure from the zionist lobby?
Examples of ideological Zionism:
– Ben Gurion’s words: “In defiance of all restrictions, immigration will continue and increase; pioneering will go on despite all obstacles”. He also stated “I believe in miracles” and so have every leaders (so-called) since…
“A song [was] written in Hebrew was accepted as the national anthem of a century which did not exist and would not for another half-century. But, most important of all, this body of world Jewry dared to state openly, for everyone to hear, that its aim was to bring into existence ‘a publicly recognized and legally secured Jewish home in Palestine.”
– “The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more”…. Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel at the time – August 28, 2000. Reported in the Jerusalem Post August 30, 2000
– “[The Palestinians are] beasts walking on two legs.” Menahim Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the Beasts”. New Statesman, 25 June 1982.
– “The Palestinians” would be crushed like grasshoppers … heads smashed against the boulders and walls.” ” Israeli Prime Minister (at the time) in a speech to Jewish settlers New York Times April 1, 1988
– “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, New York Times, 14 April 1983.
– “How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to.” Golda Maier, March 8, 1969.
– “There was no such thing as Palestinians, they never existed.” Golda Maier Israeli Prime Minister June 15, 1969
– “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.” Israeli General Matityahu Peled, Ha’aretz, 19 March 1972.
– David Ben Gurion (the first Israeli Prime Minister): “If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault ? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?” Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pp121.
– Ben Gurion also warned in 1948: “We must do everything to insure they (the Palestinians) never do return.” Assuring his fellow Zionists that Palestinians will never come back to their homes. “The old will die and the young will forget.”
– “We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves.” Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv, October 1983.
– “Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.” – Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio. (Certainly the FBI’s cover-up of the Israeli spy ring/phone tap scandal suggests that Mr. Sharon may not have been joking.)
– “We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimetre of Eretz Israel… Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.” Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces – Gad Becker, Yediot Ahronot 13 April 1983, New York Times 14 April 1983.
– “We must do everything to ensure they [the Palestinian refugees] never do return” David Ben-Gurion, in his diary, 18 July 1948, quoted in Michael Bar Zohar’s Ben-Gurion: the Armed Prophet, Prentice-Hall, 1967, p. 157.
– “ … we should prepare to go over to the offensive with the aim of smashing Lebanon, Trans-jordan and Syria… The weak point in the Arab coalition is Lebanon [for] the Moslem regime is artificial and easy to undermine. A Christian state should be established… When we smash the [Arab] Legions strength and bomb Amman, we will eliminate Transjordan, too, and then Syria will fall. If Egypt still dares to fight on, we shall bomb Port Said, Alexandria, and Cairo.” ” David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978.
– “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.” Israel Koenig, “The Koenig Memorandum”
– “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” Moshe Dayan, address to the Technion, Haifa, reported in Haaretz, April 4, 1969.
– “We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!’” Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.
– Rabin’s description of the conquest of Lydda, after the completion of Plan Dalet. “We shall reduce the Arab population to a community of woodcutters and waiters” Uri Lubrani, PM Ben-Gurion’s special adviser on Arab Affairs, 1960. From “The Arabs in Israel” by Sabri Jiryas.
– “There are some who believe that the non-Jewish population, even in a high percentage, within our borders will be more effectively under our surveillance; and there are some who believe the contrary, i.e., that it is easier to carry out surveillance over the activities of a neighbor than over those of a tenant. [I] tend to support the latter view and have an additional argument:…the need to sustain the character of the state which will henceforth be Jewish…with a non-Jewish minority limited to 15 percent. I had already reached this fundamental position as early as 1940 [and] it is entered in my diary.” Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department. From Israel: an Apartheid State by Uri Davis, p.5.
– “Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours… Everything we don’t grab will go to them.” Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
– “It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.” Yoram Bar Porath, Yediot Aahronot, of 14 July 1972.
– “Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment… Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.” Theodore Herzl, founder of the World Zionist Organization, speaking of the Arabs of Palestine, Complete Diaries, June 12, 1895 entry.
– “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” — Rabbi Yaacov Perrin, Feb. 27, 1994 [Source: N.Y. Times, Feb. 28, 1994, p. 1]
There you have it the words condemn and the actions betray Israel. Unless the world works on collectively condemning Israel, Palestinian suffering and betrayal by the international law makers continue.
- Clive Hambidge is Human Development Director at Facilitate Global. Clive can be contacted at [email protected]. And Soraya Boyd is CEO and Founder of Facilitate Global. She contributed this article to Palestine Chronicle. Contact her at: [email protected]