Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was once on a judicial trial as part of “his alleged involvement in a massacre in an Arab village in the 1948. The judge asked him: What made you commit such a heinous crime (killing innocent Arabs)? It was the false promise of the state of Israel that made me doing so”, he replied in a resolute and unwavering manner. What? How come a false promise of the State motivated one to kill the Arabs, the judge went on asking. Sharon’s argument was logically placed: You only tutored us, ‘Palestine is a land without people, and the land without people is for the people without land.’ So, when I saw people (Arabs) here I shot at them. Who is the culprit then, you or me? The blame no doubt goes to the State of Israel,” argued Sharon.” [Excerpt From: P J Vincent. “The History of Arab – Jewish Conflict: 1881-1948.” (2019) Apple Books].
The creation of an independent Jewish State in the Middle East in 1948 was the result of the biggest lie invented by Europeans, notably the British, which was built around the vision of the founder of political Zionism, Theodore Herzl in 1897. In 1917, when World War I was still on, Britain announced its support for the creation of a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. The first Jewish migration to Palestine took place during 1882-1903. About thirty-five thousand Jews from Morocco and other Arab countries settled in areas surrounding the old city of Jerusalem. Britain and the US also had the option of establishing a Jewish state in any of the vast hinterlands of the United States. They also had the choice of establishing Israel in any of the white Anglo-Saxon Dominions, or in South Africa and Rhodesia. But they chose Palestine for the Jews because it had the attraction of the holy land. It was an offer the Jews of Europe could never refuse.
Palestine has a long and complicated history. The Jews claim it as the territory of the Kingdom of Israel in the North and the Kingdom of Juda in the South. The Palestinians call it the land of their prophets and the first Qibla of Muslims. Palestine was controlled by various ruling dynasties (Sasanians, Byzantines, Islamic Caliphates, Crusaders, Mongols, Mamluks, and Ottomans) of which Muslim dynasties ruled Palestine for thirteen centuries until the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. There is no record of a Jewish rule in Palestine except in Biblical times.
In 1922 the League of Nations placed Palestine under British Colonial Administration. In 1923 the British and French colonial powers signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement dividing Arab lands among themselves. Palestine came under British control. In 1948, Israel was created by the British in the North of Palestine by depopulating 418 Arab villages and expelling about 80% local Muslim Palestinians. The Colonial Mandate also placed the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in the South under Jordanian and Egyptian Administrations. These Administrations took a large number of displaced Palestinians, but it was unable to erase their national yearning to return to their homeland.
The former colonial powers, notably Britain and the US, were aware that the Sephardic Jewish population of Palestine was unprepared to run an independent Jewish country. They encouraged the European and American Jews to emigrate to their ancestral land and take part in building a country that was committed to restoring the Kingdoms of Israel and Juda as predicted in the Jewish Biblical texts. Over the years, thousands of Ashkenazi families left the US, UK, Poland, Russia, Germany, Albania, Austria, Hungary, Ireland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Turkey and other states in Eastern Europe and South America to resettle in the new country built on acquired Palestinian land. The Arab Sephardic Jews also came to live in Israel from Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and other Arab countries.
The colonial powers had an embarrassing history of treating their Jewish populations in the host countries. The Christian population in Europe stereo typed Jews as an untrustworthy, greedy, intriguing and closed community. They had a guilty conscience which increased manifold after the anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda and Hitler’s genocide of six million Jews in the holocaust, which they could not stop, except getting a few thousands of them out on false documents. They felt it was their moral responsibility to compensate the Jews for this historic injustice, but they were not prepared to accommodate the Jews in their own countries. They planned to send them away to a place that struck a chord with their religious beliefs. This place was Palestine. They took the vision of Theodore Herzl and supported the Zionist movement to make the Jewish dream a reality.
The colonial powers’ choice of Palestine for the new state of Israel was a carefully crafted plan. Palestine was neither too inhospitable for survival such as the Ruba-al-Khali in Saudi Arabia nor too deep-rooted in culture and history to pose a challenge to the lifestyle of Jewish immigrants such as Egypt, Syria, or Iraq. Besides, the Jews also needed to be given a pull factor to accept the promised offer of a state of their own. This came in the form of going back to live in the land of their ancestors. It was the land of Isaac, Israel, David, Solomon, Joseph, Moses, and Aron. Only Jerusalem did not fit this criterion because it was a sacred city for the Jews, as well as for the Christians and Muslims; but they found an answer by keeping East Jerusalem outside the original boundaries of the new Jewish state. This was also the place the Jews were told they could rebuild the Temple of Solomon and fulfill the prophesy for finding the lost sacred casket of memorabilia of their prophets.
Israel was an unnatural state. Of the four essential elements of statehood, namely, land, population, government, and sovereignty, the new state of Israel did not have land nor population. Israel was built on the colonially acquired land of another people, the Palestinians, who were not consulted about it either by the League of Nations or by the signatories of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The new state of Israel did not have population, so it imported thousands of Ashkenazi Jews from Europe and the US to supplement its Sephardic population. The first-generation Jews who came to populate Israel were educated, well settled, secure and more comfortable in the countries of their birth and spoke little or no Hebrew.
The Israel project was a politico-religious movement. It’s birth was midwifed by countries who were the guardians of secular ideas and democratic pluralism in Europe. They even accepted the Jews as a separate race even though Judaism is rooted in the same open tradition as Christianity and Islam. Making a nation state from a diverse community of Jews who were separated from each other geographically, genetically, and culturally was the second lie that was sold to the Jews, and they bought it enthusiastically in the spirit of living in the holy land. Even today, an Ashkenazi Jew is as different from a Sephardic Jew as is a European from an Arab.
As many post-war colonial solutions elsewhere were implemented unchallenged despite their inherent flaws, such as the disputed status of Kashmir, the final solution of the Jewish problem came attached with another inherent problem. This problem was land. Israel was established on the land of the Palestinians who could not become part of the Jewish nation. The colonial powers were adamant in selling the idea of a homeland in Palestine to the Jews, but not to Palestinians. They backed up their solution with massive military and economic support for Israel to suppress the subjugated Palestinians, which continues to this day.
It is ironic that the principle of the right of self-determination of a people is valid when it comes to Timor-Leste or South Sudan, but it is invalid when it comes to giving the same choice to the Kashmiris, Palestinians, Northern Cypriots, or Kosovars. It is also a coincidence that where this fundamental right is denied to a people, they happen to be Muslims living under non-Muslim occupying regimes; and when it is granted to a people, they happen to be Christians or non-Muslims living in Muslim jurisdictions. When these disenfranchised people fight to get their rights accepted, they are labelled as terrorists and savages.
In the area of human rights, there are also duplicate standards. Human rights violations of Palestinians and Kashmiris at the hands of the occupying powers are conveniently ignored but these are immediately noticed when these occur in a Muslim state. When these are raised, such as in the case of Rohingyas and Uyghur Muslims, this is because their regimes are on the radar of the West such as Myanmar and China. The West has never agreed to the narrative of root causes in the search for lasting peace in conflict areas. It chooses when to use the security argument and when to use the political argument depending on its priorities. This is an anomaly of the old-World Order which was created by the former colonial powers to keep their influence in the former colonies. It is possible that the memory of the four-century rule of the former Ottoman Empire in Europe is still fresh in the minds of Western powers. It may take another hundred years to make a fair world.
Whenever there is a Palestinian protest or uprising in Israel, the US, UK, France, and other European nations rush to support Israel blindly, because they do not want Israeli Jews coming in large numbers to their countries as refugees. The West has supported Israel’s expansion from its original 1948 borders which remain open-ended to cover wherever the ancient Kingdom of Solomon extended. The West has also supported Israel’s policy of kettling the Palestinians in tightly guarded zones in East Jerusalem, West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. These strictly guarded hell holes of Palestinian population provide Israel cheap manpower to service the needs of its settler population in Kibbutz and create a master-servant relationship.
It suites the former colonial powers to make Israel attractive for their younger Jewish population to move to new settlements just as their parents and grandparents moved to Israel in the last seven decades. This helps the former colonial powers to keep their younger Jewish population contained in their own countries. The former colonial powers have given Israel the status of a European state in the Middle East. They also want to prop up Israel as a regional power and become their intelligence and defence hub in the Middle East, guarding against increasing Chinese and Russian influence.
This lie has been sustained by pumping billions of financial and military help to Israel over the last 75 years so that the attraction of Israel does not fade away from the Jews despite their existential threat. Most Israelis are not as religiously committed as were their parents. They want a secure and good life and couldn’t care less for the Kingdom of Juda. On the contrary, the religious Jewish groups, such as the Hassidic are unhappy with the secular policy of the government.
Israel was given massive aid during the 1967 and 1973 Arab wars and its armed superiority enabled it to expand Israel’s original boundaries into occupied Palestinian territories. Israel has continued to struggle for establishing diplomatic relations with all Muslim countries. It is no longer isolated in the international community as before, but it is still seen as an occupier state. The US has never put pressure on Israel to implement UN Security Council Resolution 242 requiring Israel to withdraw from the occupied Arab lands.
Another lie that the Jews of Israel have been fed and believe is that Palestinians are terrorists, and their women are harlots and not fit to be accepted as equal people. The religious narrative of Jews and Gentiles also does not help this frame of mind. Israel’s friends keep telling Israel that by keeping a heavy hand on security, Palestinians would eventually forget their demand for a separate homeland for themselves. These countries helped Israel by proscribing certain Palestinian resistance organisations that threatened Israel with armed violence. But the Palestinians surprised Israelis by launching their first Intifada in December 1987 which lasted 6 years until September 1993. The Israelis were then told another lie that if they used disproportionate force, the Palestinians would learn a lesson and will never organise an uprising. But the Palestinians launched the second Intifada in September 2000 which lasted 4 years until February 2005. Israeli Defence Force demolished their homes and besieged them. It erected tall fences in Gaza and set up security checkpoints on all access points to control their movement. Israeli authorities used work permits, raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque, and curfews as pressure tactics to keep the Palestinians subdued and compliant. Despite this, Palestinian resistance continued under many names.
On 7 October 2023 Hamas launched a surprise military operation in Israeli settlements in the Southern OPT under the name Toofan Al-Aqsa which resulted in the deaths of over 1400 Israeli civilian and military personnel. In response, IDF carried out its most ruthless revenge operation, Swords of Iron, and raised to ground thousands of buildings in Gaza,including schools, bakeries and hospitals and caused over 9000 Palestinian deaths. Prime Minister Netanyahu formed an emergency government and cut off electricity, water, food, and fuel to Gaza. A ground offensive by Israel to eliminate Hamas could start the third Intifada by drawing other Palestinian militant groups, such as the more trained and well-equipped Hezbollah, into the conflict and protract it for many months. In this conflict, the world seemed to be clearly divided into two camps, one siding with the right of the Palestinians to have an independent homeland, and the other supporting the right of Israel to defend itself against Hamas and other Palestinian terror outfits.
This was evident from the failure of the UN Security Council to agree to a humanitarian break in hostilities for providing humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza, and from the uniting for peace emergency General Assembly resolution which was rejected by 14 countries who stood firmly with Israel, and abstained by 45 other countries but was passed by 140 votes, The US, UN, UK, France, and some European countries were reluctant to ask Israel to observe a ceasefire in order to give Israel time to finish off Hamas at the expense of civilian lives and structure as collateral damage. Even after the Israeli bombardment of Gaza for three consecutive weeks, Hamas was not subdued as it continued to hold 200 hostages and send rockets into Israel, reaching as far as Tel Aviv.
Israel has been fed another lie that Hamas and other Palestinian armed militias are worse than ISIS. Israel has believed this lie and after the current Hamas attack has vowed to wipe off Hamas from Gaza. Hours before declaring war against Hamas on 12 October 2023, the Israeli Prime Minister said that every Hamas member was a dead man. A comparison between ISIS and Palestinian resistance is ludicrous. ISIS was a collection of rag tag Islamic fanatics who were collected by Western intelligence agencies to be exposed and exterminated. They were lured under the utopian slogan of Islamic State in the Levant in the aftermath of the civil wars in Iraq and Syria. They were provided with air-dropped food and weapons by CIA. ISIS fighters had no country to claim nor did they have any historic basis to be in the Levant. On the other hand, Palestinian militancy is a national resistance fighting for the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people in Palestine. Israel has the military capability and the unconditional support of its friends among the former colonial powers to wipe off the 2.3 million inhabitants of Gaza by labeling them as members and abettors of Hamas, but Israel does not have the capability to uproot the desire for a separate Palestinian homeland from the hearts of the newborn and yet to be born babies in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The US has also not shown any interest in implementing the two-state formula, declaring Palestine as the second independent and sovereign state coexisting with Israel. The two-state promise is a lie which will never be fulfilled due of objective difficulties. East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza do not form a geographical contiguity and cannot become parts of a new Palestinian state. Israel’s friends will never want it to agree to UN Security Council resolution 242 and give up the swathe of occupied Palestinian land that falls between West Bank and Gaza, where hundreds of Israeli settlements lie dotted and supported by Israel’s friends. The two-state rhetoric is only to keep the Palestinian resistance divided and frustrated. An offer of self-rule for Gaza along the same lines as the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank would not be acceptable to the Palestinians. PA has disappointed the Palestinians. They will not fall for another divide and rule approach. The Western powers deliberately avoid pressurising Israel to find a political solution of the problem. Instead, they keep reminding Israel that it has a security problem in the Middle East which requires their modern weapons and intelligence sharing. They want to keep the Israeli Jews hostage to their support and arms dependence and continue their strategic influence in the former Arab colonies.
It is gradually beginning to dawn on the Jews of Israel that despite having an independent homeland, peace has never entered their lives. They know that their relatives in Europe and the US are better off than them living in secure and predictable societies. They have realised that agreeing to a secular democratic Palestinian state, existing side by side with Israel, is the only alternative left to them if they want to end this cycle of violence that keeps visiting them many times in a year with no end in sight.
The Jews of Israel lived peacefully for four centuries in the Ottoman Empire. Prior to that they also enjoyed their religious and civil and political freedoms in the holy land under thirteen centuries of various Muslim rules. If it were not for this lie that has ruined their lives despite being a democracy, they would have no conflict living side by side with a secular, sovereign, independent and geographically defined Palestine whose people have so much in common with the Sephardic Jews of Israel compared to their own Ashkenazi compatriots. This lie can only be cast away by a different kind of courage and vision, which does not rely on armed power but requires a vision for Israel’s long-term peaceful existence, but it has not yet visited Israeli leaders. This is because sitting in the company of the former colonial masters, they are too busy remote controlling their war drones and pressing their machine guns to silence the Palestinians.
Jonathan Cook, This is another Iraqi WMD Moment, (October 2023) https://jonathancook.substack.com/p/this-is-another-iraqi-wmd-moment?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web
Mohannad Ayyash, Israel is a Settler Cplony, Aljazeera Opinion (July 2020) https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2020/7/7/israel-is-a-settler-colony-annexing-native-land-is-what-it-does