Last month we noted that the Columbia, Mo., Daily Tribune declined to conduct a dialogue about divestment in its pages. Well, the Tribune is getting right with the lord. Today it publishes a George Smith piece about the Nakba that ends by calling for granting West Bank Palestinians a right to vote, come what may:
Zionist mythology paints the war of independence as a heroic epic in which a tiny Jewish nation fought desperately for survival against an onslaught of invading Arab armies. Well-documented facts tell a less flattering story. From the beginning, the Zionist leadership had no doubt about their ultimate victory. Palestinian resistance, they knew, would be negligible after the suppression of the 1936-1939 revolt. Arab armies didn't intervene until May 14-15, 1948, by which time 250,000 Palestinians had already been expelled. Those armies were greatly outnumbered by the Zionist forces and, with one exception, were ill-equipped, poorly trained and ineptly led. The one disciplined force that actually posed a threat to the Zionist takeover was the British-led Arab Legion of Transjordan. It conquered the West Bank but chose not to interfere with the ongoing ethnic cleansing in the remainder of Palestine, possibly because of a secret agreement with the Zionists.
That is why the Green Line that defines the present state of Israel excludes the West Bank. In June 1967, Israel conquered the remainder of Palestine, and it has subjected the millions of Palestinians living there to an increasingly oppressive occupation ever since, dispossessing them of 40 percent of their remaining homeland to accommodate more than half a million Jewish settlers.
The Nakba and its aftermath are a shameful chapter in Jewish history. For Jews of good conscience everywhere, repudiating and resisting the injustice perpetrated in their name is an urgent mitzvah. This doesn't mean Israeli Jews must be expelled from their homeland, for that would be to pile a new injustice on the old one. But it does mean the Jews of Israel must at long last grant the Palestinians they've ruled for so long the same rights as they themselves enjoy, even if it means an end to the ethnically exclusivist Jewish state.
George P. Smith is a nonreligious member of Congregation Beth Shalom.