A review of State of Terror: How terrorism created modern Israel, by Thomas Suárez. Published today in the UK, available for pre-order in the U.S.
To introduce the theme of this book, I can do no better than to quote its endorsement by Prof. Ilan Pappé:
A tour de force, based on diligent archival research that looks boldly at the impact of Zionism on Palestine and its people in the first part of the 20th century. The book is the first comprehensive and structured analysis of the violence and terror employed by the Zionist movement, and later the state of Israel, against the people of Palestine.
Thanks to Prof. Pappé and other Israeli ‘new’ historians working from Israeli government archives, we now have a good understanding of the extent of the catastrophe which befell the Palestinian people in the 1947-49 period as the Zionist forces fought through Palestine either driving out the non-Jewish population, or, if they fled, taking over their property and destroying empty villages.
The less well-known history of the period before this, from the Balfour Declaration of 1917 through the British Mandate of 1922-1948 has now been thoroughly researched in this new book by Thomas Suárez, working largely from British Government archives. He continues the story until the end of the 1956 war in which Israel, Britain and France attacked Egypt.
The book is a substantial work of historical scholarship of over 400 pages, including 680 endnotes, some of them long paragraphs quoting several sources. There is also a very comprehensive index, and a few contemporary photographs. Some maps of the territory would have helped the reader follow the story.
The story he tells is of a Zionist elite determined from the beginning to turn all of Palestine into a Jewish state in which the local non-Jewish Arab population would be either subjugated or expelled. The Zionists were quite willing to use violence and terrorism to achieve this aim, and the book traces the resulting unhappy history in detail, to the extent that, in places, it reads like a catalog of Zionist terror attacks. The Zionist policy is made clear in this quote from Menachem Begin, later a Prime Minister of Israel, which appears at the head of the book’s Introduction:
“We intend to attack, conquer and keep until we have the whole of Palestine and Transjordan in a Greater Jewish State”.
The author does not deny or condone the existence of Palestinian Arab terrorism, but shows how it was then (and remains today) “a reaction to Zionist ethnic subjugation and expropriation of land, resources and labour, with non-violent resistance having proved futile”. Whereas the Palestinian terrorists were loose bands of guerillas operating in the country districts, the Zionist terrorists were organized militias operating from within urban centers under the protection of those communities.
As Palestinian terrorism died down after the brutal suppression of the Arab protests in 1936, Zionist terror escalated, particularly after the 1939 White Paper which placed restrictions on Jewish immigration, “targeting anyone in the way of its political objectives – Palestinian, British or Jewish”. During the second world war, the official Zionist militia, Hagana, toned down its attacks on the British. Both Arab and Jewish Palestinians volunteered to join the Allied forces, though the Jews insisted on their own regiment.
From 1942 onwards, when it was clear that the Allies were going to win the war, the Zionists restarted their campaign of wholesale terrorism (as the British described it) to establish a Zionist state by force: a campaign which eventually forced Britain’s decision to abandon the Mandate, leading to the UN Partition Plan, civil war, ethnic-cleansing of the Arab population, and the unilateral declaration of the State of Israel in 1948.
The book makes the important point that in the early days most of world Jewry were opposed to Zionism. In Britain, the Jewish cabinet minister Lord Montagu, supported by other Jewish leaders, viewed the Zionists as collaborators with the anti-semites who were delighted with the idea of the Jews expelling themselves from their current homelands. Montagu was instrumental in changing the aim of the Balfour Declaration from “Palestine AS THE Jewish national home” to the vaguer “A Jewish national home IN Palestine”. Orthodox Jews, including the indigenous Arab Jews of Palestine, thought that the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel could not take place until the time of the Messiah, and rejected Zionism as an attempt to replace Jewish religion with a secular, nationalistic ideology. Liberal Jews did not believe that Jews constituted a national group who needed a political home, and were loyal to their existing homeland. In the USA a group of (mainly Reform) rabbis established the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism, still active today.
The book also reveals the Zionist willingness to use violence against their Jewish opponents; their conviction that all Jews had an obligation to leave their homelands to go to Palestine; their willingness to stir up anti-semitism to encourage such migration; and their attempts to prevent displaced Jews going anywhere other than Palestine.
The coverage of historical events in the book is somewhat sketchy, and might confuse the general reader not already familiar with the topic: for example, the 1917 Balfour Declaration is discussed but the text is not provided. It presents the 1947 UN Partition Plan simply as a division of Palestine (excluding Jerusalem) into two states, Jewish and Arab, as if they were to be independent sovereign states. In fact, they were to be joined in a confederation effectively under UN trusteeship, and created by a process in which there was no place for a unilateral declaration of independence. Ben-Gurion’s attempt in Israel’s Declaration of Establishment to justify it through the Partition Plan was a fraud. We are told that the Declaration did not acknowledge any borders for the new state, but not told that the Zionists were forced to make a formal declaration of borders as proposed by the Partition Plan in order to achieve recognition by the USA. This is significant because it makes it clear that Israel was not invaded by 5 Arab armies on 15 May 1948, as Zionists claim: most of the fighting in the subsequent war was outside its borders, and only Syrian and Egyptian troops entered Israeli territory.
This book is true, and it is important. It proves beyond doubt that Israel is not the perpetual victim of Arab violence that it claims to be, but has been the aggressor throughout the history of the conflict.
Thomas Suárez is to be congratulated and thanked for his work. This book is a tremendous achievement by a writer who is also a talented musician and an expert in historic cartography.
UK Edition published by Skyscraper Publications, 13 October 2016, RRP £20.
Format: Hardcover, 417 pages
Available on amazon.co.uk
US Edition published by Interlink-Olive Branch, November 23, 2016, $20
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Available for pre-order on amazon.com.
Electronic edition forthcoming. The book has its own website at state-of-terror.net