Sixty Years of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Yawm al-nakba (The Catastrophe) and Yom Ha'atzmaut (The Independence Day) occur on May 14 each year. But this year is the 60th anniversary of the events of May 14, 1948 that the Israelis celebrate as their independence day and the Palestinians recall the horrors of massacres of Palestinians and expulsions from their homes in what is now the state of Israel.

For a long time, the Israeli textbooks have either not mentioned or completely denied any violence and forced expulsions of Palestinians by Israelis. This is beginning to change. In July of 2007, the Israeli Education Ministry agreed to approve a text book for use in the state's Arab schools that for the first time describes Israel's 1948 war of independence as a "catastrophe" for the Palestinian population. However, it balances it by also including the Jewish narrative of the establishment of the state, including that the Arab parties rejected the United Nations' 1947 partition plan for Palestine while the Jews were willing to accept it.

For many decades since 1948, the Israeli narrative in the history textbooks and the media claimed that the Palestinians had simply abandoned their country, not fought hard enough for it and left for friendly Arab countries. The narrative conveniently defined the Palestinians as ignorant and cowardly. But since the opening of the Israeli archives in the past decade, that myth has been destroyed by a younger generation of Israeli historians - Avi Shlaim, Benny Morris, Ilan Pappe, Tom Segev and others - who have argued that the period from December 1947 to May 1948 involved a series of massacres designed to terrorize the native population into abandoning their homes and fleeing to safety.

Benny Morris is considered one of the most important Israeli historians of the 1948 war. From his first book 20 years ago, Morris has documented Israeli atrocities and the expulsion of the Palestinians. He was considered part of a group of so-called ‘revisionist’ historians who challenged conventional Israeli thinking about 1948. However, unlike his critics to the left, Morris did not consider the expulsions to be part of a systematic Israeli policy of transfer.

Though there were many reports of the massacres of the Palestinians by the Jewish settlers in 1947 and 1948, the horrors of Dir Yassin are well documented. It was the killing of between 107 and 120 villagers, the estimate generally accepted by scholars, during and possibly after the battle at the village of Dir Yassin near Jerusalem in the British Mandate of Palestine by Jewish irregular forces between April 9 and April 11, 1948. It occurred while Yishuv forces consisting of the Jewish settlers in Palestine, fought to break the siege of Jerusalem during the period of civil war that preceded the end of the Mandate.

Contemporary reports, originating apparently from a commanding officer in Jerusalem of one of the irregular forces involved (particularly the Irgun, headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Menachem Begin, who later became Israel's prime minister), Mordechai Ra'anan, gave an initial estimate of 254 killed. The size of the figure had a considerable impact on the conflict in creating panic and became one of the major causes of the 1948 Palestinian exodus.

The Dir Yassin incident was universally condemned at the time, including repudiations from the Haganah command and the Jewish Agency. The Haganah were the Jewish paramilitaries in Palestine that later became the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).

Instead of recognizing each others' great suffering, the Israelis and the Palestinians have often engaged in either denying or belittling each others suffering. Many Palestinians deny or belittle the Holocaust and many Israelis reject the Nakba. And both continue to suffer, though some might justifiably argue that the Palestinians have suffered much more than the Israelis in the last several decades. In the words of former US President Bill Clinton, the Palestinians have been "dispossessed and dispersed".

And both sides have continued to undermine mutual trust and further exacerbate the situation: Israel by insisting on Israeli settlement expansions and by building walls of separation and both parties by perpetuating a cycle of violence by recklessly (even deliberately) attacking each others' civilians.

The United States remains the only country in the world with significant leverage on both sides of the ongoing violence. But the US has not exercised that leverage wisely in the last seven years of the Bush administration, with the US foreign policy held hostage by the neo-cons, the right-wing Israeli lobby and the far right evangelical Christians. Unless the next US administration begins to play a serious and patient mediation role as an honest broker, the chances of peace will remain elusive. And both the Israelis and the Palestinians will continue to suffer.

UPDATE: A video presentation by Miko Peled, author of the General's Son:

Views: 424

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 24, 2013 at 10:30am

Here's an Op Ed for GeoTV by Ansar Abbasi on Punjab textbook changes:

The Punjab government has excluded several key subjects from the fresh 10th class Urdu text book edition published in February 2013 which is now being marketed for new students of matric.

These subjects include ‘Islamic ideology of Pakistan’ and ‘Hazrat Umar (RA)- a Great Administrator’ besides removing persuasive Islam-related poems of even poets like Allama Iqbal. On the poetry side, all the Islamic poems including ‘Rabbe Kainaat’ of Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali, ‘Mohsin-e-Insaniat (PBUH)’ (the Saviour of Humanity) by Mahirul Qadri, ‘Tulu-e-Islam’ (the rise of Islam) of Allama Iqbal, ‘Siddiq (RA)’ on Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddiq (RA) by Allama Iqbal, ‘Shaan-e-Taqwa’ (which is against drinking) by Allama Iqbal etc have also been removed in the new text book.

While the title page of the book contains the picture of Allama Iqbal, it does not contain any poem of the great poet of Islam and Pakistan.

The new edition of the ‘Urdu compulsory for 10th class’ does not include the very first chapter of the earlier edition’s prose i.e ‘Hazrat Umar Farooq (RA)- a great administrator’ by Allama Shibli Naumani. The new text book’s first chapter is an essay on writer ‘Mirza Muhammad Saeed’ written by Shahid Ahmad Dehlvi.

The second chapter in the old edition was on ‘Ideology of Pakistan’ written by Dr Ghulam Mustafa Khan. This important chapter highlighted the basis for the creation of Pakistan and endorsed that the country was created in the name of Islam, to make it an Islamic state, has been replaced by a new chapter on ‘Princess of Paristan’ (Paristan ki shahzadi) written by Ashraf Saboohi.

The third chapter of the old edition of the 10th class text book was ‘Musaddas-e-Hali’ written by Moulvi Abdul Haq. This chapter narrates how a Muslim poet in the 19th century influenced the hearts and minds of the Muslims. It has now been replaced by a writing of Dr Waheed Qureshi on ‘Eidul Fitr in Urdu Literature’ (Urdu Adab main Eidul Fitr).

Similarly the chapters like ‘Sacrifice’ (Eisaar) by Deputy Nazir Ahmad, which has a great lesson for children, has been removed from the new 10th class text book. This chapter gives the lesson of how the affluent should help the poor. The story is about a child, who distributed his Eidi to a poor family.

Another important chapter of the old book ‘Fatima binte (daughter of) Abdullah’ written by Mirza Adeeb has also disappeared from the new Urdu compulsory of class 10 for Punjab students. This story was about a 10-year old daughter of an Arab leader Abdullah. The story is about Jihad and the young Muslim girl’s urge to help the Muslim Mujahideen in Jihad against un-Islamic forces. The girl was martyred and did her parents proud.

This incident has such an importance that even Allama Muhammad Iqbal had also written a poem on this young girl with the title ‘Fatima binte Abdullah’. Allama presented her as a role model for Muslim youth.

A chapter Nam Dev Mali was, instead, included in the book that was about an expert Hindu gardener who was killed when attacked and stung by honey bees. The writer of this short story Maulvi Abdul Haq described the death of the expert Hindu gardener as ‘having embraced Shahadat (martyrdom)’.

One of the chapters in the old edition was about ‘The deprived of inheritance’ (Mahroom-e-Virasat) by Allama Rashidul Khairi has also been excluded. This chapter focused on the un-Islamic tradition of depriving women of inheritance.

One chapter called ‘Travelling is the key to success’ (Safar Kamiabi ki Kunji hay) written by Moulana Abdul Haleem Sharar, a great Urdu writer, has also been removed. It covered the adventures, jihad, travelling etc of the great Muslim leaders.

A chapter on the ‘words of poets’ (Shaeron ki batain) in the old book has also been removed.

The chapter presented different aspects particularly self respect of Muslim poets.......

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 24, 2013 at 10:36am

When discussing Israel we need to look at the root cause of the conflict - have a look at this video The Israeli General's Son – the video Israeli does NOT want you to see was made by the son of the general who lead the 73 Israeli offensive - and later turned against Israel's foreign policy

A real eye-opener, pass this around

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 26, 2015 at 5:02pm

Hundreds of British academics sign letter vowing to boycott #Israel. Jewish World News #boycottisrael #FreePalestine

A letter in support of the Palestinian cause signed by 343 British academics is due to be published as a full page advert in the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday.
Reporting on the letter, the Jewish Chronicle said that the signatories come from 72 institutions, including the prestigious Oxford and Cambridge universities.
"As scholars associated with British universities, we are deeply disturbed by Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land, the intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement," the academics write in the letter.

The signatories of the letter undertake to reject invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions, to refuse to act as academic referees and to stay away from all conferences "funded, organized or sponsored" by Israeli institutions.
However, they say that they will continue to work with their Israeli colleagues "in their individual capacities."  
The letter follows the launch last week of a pro-Israel initiative backed by 150 writers, artists and musicians, including Harry Potter author JK Rowling. That initiative opposes boycotts of Israel.

read more:

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 25, 2016 at 8:13am

Story of #Israel's West Bank’s Settlements ‘Wildest, Most Violent’ Young Radical #Jews Preying on #Palestininans

YISHUV HADAAT, West Bank — With shoulder-length hair tumbling from beneath his knit skullcap, Hanamel Dorfman, a radical young Israeli settler, explains matter-of-factly on camera how hilltop settlement outposts like his own will continue to proliferate across the West Bank. From there, he says bluntly, Israelis will cross the Jordan River and start building on the other side.

Reminded that beyond the river there is another sovereign nation, Jordan, Mr. Dorfman says with an unwavering gaze, “Everything is temporary.”

The stunning statement comes in one of the final scenes of “The Settlers,” a documentary by an Israeli-American filmmaker, Shimon Dotan, that opens a rare window into the reclusive and politically explosive “hilltop youth” movement.

The film, which had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was shown for the first time in Israel on Monday evening, suggests that the fringe group of religious hippies is underestimated in its ability to influence Israeli politics and thwart any possibility of peace with the Palestinians.

Mr. Dorfman, now 21, told me that Israel’s government was illegitimate because it did not rule based on the laws of the Torah. “It stays in its place in a pathetic attempt at survival,” he said.

Mr. Dorfman said he had been arrested numerous times, but not for any major attacks on Palestinians. Still, his ideology echoes a manifesto of a new group of extremist Jewish settler youth that Israeli security officials revealed last year.

Mr. Dotan’s film chronicles the germination of the early settler movement after Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in 1967, including the ideas and religious zeal that fueled it, and explores its latest extreme element: the hilltop youth.

They are but a tiny fraction of the more than 400,000 Israeli Jews living in the occupied West Bank, but the object of mounting concern as they are blamed for extreme violence there, like the arson last summer that killed a toddler and his parents in the village of Duma.

“The Settlers” is one of the first close-up views of the motives and personalities in a group that rarely opens up to outsiders. Though mainstream settler leaders denounce violence and try to distance themselves from the radical youth in the hills, Mr. Dotan sees the hilltop dwellers as a natural outgrowth of the original movement.

“Those who push it forward today are the hilltop youth,” he said. “And it seems to me a very dangerous direction.”

Often depicted as uneducated hooligans, the youth in the film come off as raw but canny — an American like me might call them street smart — using acts of defiance and violence to achieve their aims. There is also an aura of romance: Mr. Dorfman, with his long sidelocks, wispy beard and rimless glasses, seems more like a hard-eyed John Lennon than a backwoods militant.

At one point in the film, a settler with a guitar sings Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” in a mixture of English and Hebrew while sitting at a fire. But there are also expressions of virulent racism, a glorification of violence and a desire to replace the modern state of Israel with a full-scale biblical kingdom that would extend as far as Iraq.

In one scene at Esh Kodesh, Pinhasi Bar-On, 25, speaks playfully with several young children about his legal troubles, asking them if they will come along on his escapades when they get older.

“What will you do with me?” Mr. Bar-On asks, as if teaching a preschool class.

“Beat up Arabs,” one child says.

“Yes,” Mr. Bar-On says approvingly.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 20, 2023 at 11:51am

An Israeli minister (Gila Gamliel) reveals one rationale for destroying so much of Gaza. By rendering large parts of it inhabitable, Israel can "promote the voluntary resettlement of Palestinians in Gaza, for humanitarian reasons, outside of the Strip."

One of the issues on which my office has been working diligently is how to proceed the day after Hamas has been defeated and annihilated.

Albert Einstein was quoted as saying: “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.”

The State of Israel is in the midst of one of its greatest crises, certainly for at least two generations.
More than 1,200 of our people were viciously murdered, 239 brutally kidnapped, thousands more injured, and 240,000 made homeless by the Nazi-like regime in Gaza.
Women were raped. The elderly were abused and taken hostage. Children were beheaded. Families were tortured in front of each other for the entertainment of their captors before being burned alive while bound to each other.These inhuman atrocities changed everything.

It is clear that much has to change, as many conceptions were proven wrong on the day of the pogrom on October 7.

What should be just as clear is that many more conceptions must be addressed, challenged, and possibly destroyed in the weeks and months ahead.
One of the issues on which my office has been working diligently is how to proceed the day after Hamas has been defeated and annihilated.
We will still have around two million people in Gaza, many of whom voted for Hamas and celebrated the massacre of innocent men, women, and children.

Gaza is a breeding ground for extremism. It is a small area, by no means the most populated on earth, but one where for too long, its rulers have prioritized war against the Jews over a better life for their people.
It is a place devoid of hope, stolen by the genocidal terrorists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups.
This situation has already led to a large exodus of youths from Gaza. It has been estimated that since Hamas violently took over the Strip in 2007, between 250,000 and 350,000 mostly young adults have left Gaza to make a new life abroad.

As we consider our options for the day after, the international community appears to be pushing to bring the Palestinian Authority back to rule Gaza. This has obvious structural flaws, as it was tried in 2005 after the disaster of the Disengagement when all 8,600 Jewish residents were forcibly evicted from the Gaza Strip. It took only two years for Hamas to seize power, largely by throwing PA leaders off high roofs.
Furthermore, as we are witnessing at this very moment, the PA does not have a markedly different ideology from Hamas. Recently, for example, the PA Ministry of Religious Affairs distributed instructions to preachers in mosques throughout Judea and Samaria to deliver a teaching about the requirement to kill Jews and the wider goal to exterminate all Jews.
So, this option – bringing the PA back to rule Gaza – has failed in the past and will fail again. It is an option that is seen as illegitimate by the Israeli public and one that would put us back to square one within a short amount of time.

Other options for Gaza's future
ANOTHER OPTION is to promote the voluntary resettlement of Palestinians in Gaza, for humanitarian reasons, outside of the Strip.

It is important that those who seek a life elsewhere be provided with that opportunity. Some world leaders are already discussing a worldwide refugee resettlement scheme and saying they would welcome Gazans to their countries. This could be supported by many nations around the world, especially those that claim to be friends of the Palestinians.
This is an opportunity for those who say they support the Palestinian people to show these are not just empty words.


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