Palestine: A People and a Land Betrayed

Since the Roman conquest, most Jews have lived outside Palestine, which had been previously conquered by the Philistines, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians and by the Greeks, who named it “Palaistine” – probably related to the Hebrew name “Peleshet.”

By the 1890s anti-Semitism and general hostility toward Jews in Europe lead a small group of German and Russian secular Jews, lead by Theodor Hertzl, to establish Zionism. Their goal was nationalistic and political – they advocated a Jewish nation. Locations in Africa and the Americas were considered before settling on Palestine as a place to colonize.

At first, the new Russian Jewish colonists created no problems; Palestine was traditionally a peaceful mix of Muslims, Jews and Christians. But as more and more Zionists immigrated to Palestine – many with the express notion of confiscating land from the original inhabitants – the native Palestinians became increasingly worried.

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 granted Palestine to Great Britain as a League of Nations mandate to create a colony for the world’s Jews.

Following the Nazi Holocaust, pressure on Britain greatly increased to encourage Jewish immigration. Finally, in 1947, the United Nations decided to intervene. But rather than supporting national self-determination in which the people themselves create their own state and system of government, the UN followed a conquest strategy where an outside foreign power divides up other people’s land and imposes a government on them. Under considerable pressure from the Zionists, the UN recommended giving away 55% of Palestine for a new state of Israel, despite the fact that the Zionist colonists owned less than 7% of the land.

The native Palestinians did not accept the imposed land partition and war broke out. With the help of American weapons and money, the Zionists won a decisive victory, expanded their Palestine conquest and occupation, and created several hundred thousand Muslim and Christian Palestinian refugees.

It is important here to remember that the Arabs entered the conflict only after Zionist forces had committed 16 massacres on them, including the grisly massacre of over 100 men, women and children at Deir Yassin.

By the end of the war the Zionists had conquered 78 percent of Palestine; over 500 native towns and villages had been obliterated, and a new map was drawn up in which every city, river and hill received a new Hebrew name as all vestiges of traditional Palestinian culture were methodically erased.

There are two primary issues at the core of the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

First there is the inevitably destabilizing effect of trying to maintain a Jewish preferential state, particularly when it is largely composed of foreigners. The original population of what is now Israel was 96 percent Muslim and Christian. These now-deposed people have been prohibited from returning to their homes in the self-described Jewish state (while those who stayed in Israel are subjected to systematic discrimination).

Second, Israel’s continued military occupation and confiscation of privately owned land in the West Bank and Zionist control of the Gaza Strip are extremely oppressive, with Palestinians having minimal control over their lives and virtually no human rights.

See: “If Americans Only Knew”: http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/

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