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Balfour at 100: A legacy of racism and propaganda

Middle East
on 31 Comments

This article extends from a longer piece, entitled “Remembering Balfour: Empire, Race and Propaganda,” which the journal Race & Class is publishing to mark the centennial of the Balfour Declaration. The journal’s editors have lifted paywall restrictions to make that article widely accessible for the centennial, and it is available in full here.

The coming months mark the centennial of Palestine’s forcible incorporation into the British Empire. In November 1917, British foreign secretary Lord Arthur Balfour declared his government’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”; in December, Jerusalem fell to British troops. One hundred years later, the effects of these events continue to reverberate. This should be a time of sombre reflection about international responsibility for the unfolding tragedy in Palestine.

This responsibility should weigh heavily on the West. Walid Khalidi put it well: “The Zionists were the initiators. But they were also, as they still are, the protégés of their Anglo–American sponsors and the emanations of their power, resources, and will.” The fact is that the Israeli state can’t be credited for much originality – either in its brutality or in the hypocrisy deployed to cover it. And it is all too fitting that it was British imperialism that propelled the Zionist movement onto the world stage.

Palestine was occupied, after all, amid one of the British Empire’s last great scrambles for territory in the Afro–Asian world. The scramble was pursued amid an outpouring of imperial self-adoration. Balfour was not alone in proclaiming, wherever and whenever he could, “the extraordinary novelty, the extraordinary greatness, and the extraordinary success” of the British Empire, a system drawn together, he insisted, not by “the bonds merely of crude self-interest, but the bonds of a common belief in a great ideal.” Freedom and justice marched with British troops. These may seem the banal platitudes of an imperial state. But during its “Great War,” the British state deployed them as never before. Its propaganda set a new world standard in its scale, its organization, and its impact.

This is an appropriate time to look back to that propaganda and all that it revealed. The aspect of Britain’s wartime propaganda that has been most widely criticized is the manipulation of atrocity stories coming out of Belgium. That’s a reasonable place to start. The centerpiece of British atrocity propaganda was the “Bryce Report” of 1915, named after Viscount James Bryce. Bryce was chair of the Committee on Alleged German Outrages. As it happens, he was also a leading white supremacist and a pioneer of the kind of democracy that Britain helped Israel bring to the Middle East.

Those who know Israeli politics will find Bryce’s theories familiar. Democracy and self-government were, he insisted, the rightful preserve of civilized and conquering peoples. The key to democracy was therefore the establishment of a demographic basis for it. Africans, Asians, Indigenous peoples the world over – all were in Bryce’s judgement “subject races,” unfit for self-government. Only through colonial settlement and a restricted franchise could democracy flourish. Bryce lectured and wrote incessantly about “the risks a democracy runs when the suffrage is granted to a large mass of half-civilized men.” This great liberal’s theories were influential from Australia to the United States, and they attained near-biblical authority amongst settlers in South Africa.

Their application in Palestine, in turn, was made possible thanks to British power. This history was from the beginning steeped in propaganda. As the British war effort turned east, the Holy Land was a potent symbol. In the first instance it conjured images of the Crusades. Howevever, if the goal of Allied conquests was the defence of Christendom in the Levant, France had the stronger claim. British propaganda found a convenient alternative in support for Zionism. As Herbert Sidebotham, the Manchester Guardian’s military correspondent, explained, the Bryce Report didn’t have to do its work alone: “great as the ideal of relieving Belgium from the invader may be, the ideal of restoring the Jewish State to Palestine is comparably greater.” This could tap into deep public emotions, Sidebotham argued, and was another opportunity for Britain to deploy “ideal considerations as the allies of our military and political interests.”

No one did so with greater gusto than the Scottish writer John Buchan. Buchan is best remembered as the author of adventure novels, one of which, The Thirty-Nine Steps, was readapted for the screen in a feature film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. But he was also an accomplished propagandist. More even than Bryce, Buchan had built his public service around the imposition of white rule in South Africa. In early 1917 Britain’s Imperial War Cabinet selected him to direct the wartime propaganda service, with instructions to whip up public support for British war aims in the Middle East.

Buchan spun Britain’s eastern war as “the Last Crusade.” Tolerance and secular justice, oddly, were its supposed hallmarks. He assured his readers that the capture of Jerusalem by Allied troops was nothing less than “a parable of the cause for which fought. They would recover and make free the sacred places of the human spirit which their enemies sought to profane and enslave, and in this task they walked reverently, as on hallowed ground.” Today we see what this freedom has brought to Jerusalem. Buchan’s propaganda itself suggested a politics that was far from ecumenical.

Where Buchan excelled, after all, was in channeling racism in service of state. This is what he had done for the Empire’s cause in South Africa, using a combination of nonfiction studies and novels. And it is what he did for the Great War. Some of his bigotry will ring familiar. So it is with his description of the menace of Islam, “a fighting creed,” Buchan warned, its fanatics taking to “the pulpit with the Koran in one hand and a drawn sword in the other.” Buchan’s racist depiction of Jews, on the other hand, have fallen out of favor in polite Western society. Here, for example, is his fictionalized image of who was pulling the strings in Germany: “a little white-faced Jew in a bath-chair with an eye like a rattlesnake. Yes, Sir, he is the man who is ruling the world just now, and he has his knife in the Empire of the Tzar, because his aunt was outraged and his father flogged in some one-horse location on the Volga.”

The antisemitism expressed by Buchan, and by the imperial establishment for which he acted as mouthpiece, squared more easily with support for Zionism than one might think. Jews were cast in various roles: as a subversive threat in Europe (Buchan did not forget the “Jew-anarchists”!); as a justification for Britain to hold Palestine; and as potential settlers, allies of the Empire in the east. These were not contradictions so much as a faithful expression of British settler colonialism. For Britain, colonial settlement was indeed a means of territorial expansion; but it was also a means of offloading the contradictions of industrial capitalism onto distant frontiers. Empire, as the Marxist literary critic Raymond Williams remarked, was represented in British culture as an “escape-route,” to which the ruined, the misunderstood, “the weak of every kind could be transferred.” This theme dovetailed with straight imperial calculations to structure British support for Zionism. A Jew settled in Palestine was a Jew not knocking on Britain’s doors. We would do well to remember that the first modern British statesman to clamp down on Jewish immigration, imposing the Aliens Act of 1905, was none other than Lord Balfour himself.

The worsening crisis in Palestine reflects more than a local record of colonial crimes, severe as these have been. Responsibility for it is global. Arundhati Roy was right to describe the Palestine tragedy as one of “imperial Britain’s festering, blood-drenched gifts to the modern world.” It is also a product of a history of racism and empire that extended across most of the West. On this centennial of the Balfour Declaration, reflection on this shared culpability should serve as a reminder of the responsibility for the political action that comes with it.

About Dan Freeman-Maloy

Dan Freeman-Maloy is an activist and writer based in Montreal. He holds a PhD from the University of Exeter, completed through its European Centre for Palestine Studies, and can be contacted at [email protected]

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31 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson
    October 16, 2017, 5:37 pm

    RE: This article extends from a longer piece, entitled “Remembering Balfour: Empire, Race and Propaganda,” which the journal Race & Class is publishing to mark the centennial of the Balfour Declaration. The journal’s editors have lifted paywall restrictions to make that article widely accessible for the centennial, and it is available in full here.

    MY COMMENT: The longer piece, entitled “Remembering Balfour: Empire, Race and Propaganda” is very good as to both I-P and empire/colonialism.
    LINK➤ http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0306396817733877

    P.S. How about that portrait of Scottish novelist and politician John Buchan, later, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir (1875-1940). Is that an especially fine set of epaulets, or what?!?! They are truly to die for! Those Brits really know how to do uniforms right.
    [Rufus T. Firefly, President of Freedonia, should have a uniform like that!]

    [National Seal of Freedonia]

    TO: Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom, and Whomever Else It May Concern

    The people of Freedonia and its government view with favour the return of that portion of Ireland now designated as Northern Ireland (and currently considered to be a part of the United Kingdom) to the Republic of Ireland, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this objective, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Catholic communities in Northern Ireland.

    Effective as of October 11, 2017
    By Order of Rufus T. Firefly, President of Freedonia
    Attested to by Mrs. Gloria Teasdale, Freedonia’s National Benefactress and Special Assistant (for External Affairs) to President Firefly

    P.S. Freedonia’s being a relatively small nation (for the time being) does not mean we do not know how to play “The Great Game”.

  2. just
    October 16, 2017, 5:52 pm

    “… It is also a product of a history of racism and empire that extended across most of the West. On this centennial of the Balfour Declaration, reflection on this shared culpability should serve as a reminder of the responsibility for the political action that comes with it.”

    Well said. Thank you for this thoughtful essay, Dan Freeman-Maloy. There’s so much Western complicity with/enablng of Israel’s crimes and continued and frenzied demonization of others and the victims of their crimes.

    Here’s a case in point:

    Pence to Attend Israeli Event Marking UN Acceptance of 1947 Partition Plan

    U.S. ambassador to UN Nikki Haley will also attend event organized by Israeli UN mission, to take place at site where the UN historic vote took place

    Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, announced Pence’s participation on Sunday, writing that the Israeli delegation is “honored” that he will be joining the event.

    … Pence has been the Trump administration’s most senior representative at other Israel-related events associated this year, such as the AIPAC annual conference in March, and a reception in honor of Israel’s Independence Day in May. Pence also spoke at a conference organized by the Republican Jewish Coalition in February. …”

    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.817568

  3. Citizen
    October 16, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Instead of celebrating the Balfour Declaration, Britain should be ashamed of what it did https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/instead-of-celebrating-the-balfour-declaration-britain-should-be-ashamed-of-what-it-did-1.55106 via @TheNationalUAE

    Polls show twice as many Brits support Palestine, not Israel, but, as in USA, the government is not accountable to the people in any significant way.

  4. MHughes976
    October 17, 2017, 6:34 am

    I find it hard to class Balfour, who denounced much anti-Semitic behaviour as abominable and objected to discrimination against Jewish people in Britain, as an anti-Semite. For a more balanced, though not at all uncritical, discussion see Brian Klug ‘The Other Balfour’ (2013). He did think that there was a certain otherness about Jews in the West but this was also the view taken by the Zionist stream of Jewish thought that most influenced him, so it’s not a clear reflection of prejudice in anti-Jewish form. He was the heir to three centuries of Anglo-American, especially Scottish, Christian Zionism and believed, as did Lloyd George, that he was acting in the spirit of the Bible and doing God’s work. He was wrong about that in my view.
    The words ‘fictionalised image’ of Jews in reference to Buchan mean that Buchan, writing political fiction, invented a character, Franklin Scudder, who believed in this anti -Semitic – also very anti-capitalist – image. The narrative does not bear out thus aspect of Scudder’s
    interpretation of events. Scudder is an American, though he is in British Intelligence employ, and a person of some racial feeling – he uses ‘you’re a white man’ as a compliment. I think Buchan was satirising or subverting certain American attitudes in the period of neutrality. Pointing out the rightness and sacredness of the British cause to the overwhelmingly important and English speaking neutral power was of course a major British objective.
    The Balfour Declaration was an evil deed. It came partly from a belief that the British Empire would gain suppprt for the future but mainly from misplaced idealism and religious conviction.

  5. Maghlawatan
    October 17, 2017, 12:03 pm

    Maybe some day a brown person with power will hand England over to another tribe.
    Even with Balfour Zionism still had to do awful things to hold onto the land. Such as brainwashing Jewish kids. And dropping the Jewish commitment to justice.

  6. Maghlawatan
    October 18, 2017, 10:55 am

    Nobody talks about what Balfour meant for Judaism. It turned the religion”s focus from justice and ethics to land worship and violence. Judaism has been the biggest loser, imo. The collapse in Jewish marriage in the US is a direct result of Balfour and the capitulation to the fantasy of Zionism.

    Like a soul without a mind
    In a body without a heart

    • RoHa
      October 19, 2017, 12:02 am

      “Maybe I’m just getting old, but life here in Gaza seems tougher than ever.”

      “I know what you mean. But we should think ourselves lucky we’re not Jews. Thanks to Balfour, things are so bad for them that American Jews have started marrying Gentiles!”

      “Oh, the poor dears! We should … Look out, here comes the Israeli Air Force again.”

  7. Nathan
    October 18, 2017, 4:29 pm

    “This should be a time of sombre reflection about international responsibility for the unfolding tragedy in Palestine”.

    Well, to be quite frank, I don’t have a clue what the author means. I don’t know what would be the purpose of “sombre reflection”, nor do I know what is “international responsibility”. I would suggest that the author define specifically what one is supposed to do. Is he asking us to cancel the Balfour Declaration (or perhaps just to reflect about its cancellation)?

    Let’s assume that, indeed, the founding of Israel is solely the result of British power (as the article contends). So what? It’s not going to be undone. In the real world of politics, the international community might be busy dealing with how to solve the conflict (i.e. the future); however, no one is going to busy the international community with the doings of the British Empire (i.e. the past).

    • Annie Robbins
      October 18, 2017, 5:12 pm

      is that as far as you got nathan, the first paragraph? did you read the rest of this article and/or the full elaborative article it linked to? i find it rather self explanatory but i’m sure myself or others could walk you through it if you still find it incomprehensible. it just seems rather redundant and a waste of time if you have not even read the (very clear) article.

    • Brewer
      October 19, 2017, 2:44 am

      Interesting style you got there Nathan. Let’s try it out:

      Well, to be quite frank, I don’t have a clue what Nathan means.
      “the founding of Israel”
      Does he mean a State, as in a territorial Government for and of a people within certain recognized borders? Hasn’t happened yet so far as I know.
      “It’s not going to be undone. ”
      What does he mean by “undone” ?
      Is it ending policies that are either theocratic or racist (I’ve never been able to figure out whether a “Jewish State” is for a religious identity or blood).
      Is it allowing the rightful owners of the land to return to their homes?
      Is it ending the occupation?
      Is it ending the apartheid-like policies?
      In the real World of politics these are achievable objects – all been done before at the behest of “the International Community”. Far from being the “undoing” of Israel, it could be the making of it.
      I would suggest that the Nathan define specifically what he means by these terms. That way we (and the International Community) can continue arguing for another one hundred years while the blatant injustice continues on the ground.

      • Nathan
        October 19, 2017, 4:50 pm

        Brewer – I’d be happy to explain my comment. The founding of Israel is the same act that all other states in the world have done: There is a government that has effective control of territory. Do I have to define what “government” means? I hope not.

        You seem to be perplexed that the borders of Israel have not been defined. Well, you might want to read the Oslo Agreement. It has been agreed that the final borders will be established through negotiations (at the end of conflict). For the time being, in the absence of an agreement with the Palestinians to end the conflict, the final borders have not been established. The non-definition of borders, therefore, is also agreed upon between the two sides.

        The “undoing” of Israel means the disestablishment of the state and its replacement by another state. What is a “Jewish state”? It really isn’t too complicated. It is a state founded by the Jews. It’s quite similar to a state founded by the Poles or the Czechs or the Estonians.

        As far as returning refugees and ending the occupation, again I must refer you to the Oslo Agreement. It has been agreed with the Palestinians (Mr Arafat signed the agreement) that the end of conflict (final status) deal will solve these issues. In the absence of a final deal, the interim agreement of 1995 remains in affect.

        I know that this is very difficult for the anti-Israel people to understand that there must be an end-of-conflict agreement. Anti-Israel people seem to believe that Israel must end the occupation and return the refugees without a peace deal and an end of conflict. No. It has been agreed that there must be a negotiated end-of-conflict in order to deal with these issues.

        You should note, finally, that the International Community is a witness to the signing of the Oslo Agreement. In other words, the International Community agrees that there are five issues, and that they must be worked out through negotiations. These issues are (1) borders, (2) Palestinian statehood, (3) settlements, (4) Jerusalem, and (5) refugees.

      • amigo
        October 19, 2017, 5:43 pm

        “As far as returning refugees and ending the occupation, again I must refer you to the Oslo Agreement. It has been agreed with the Palestinian”nathan

        It was also signed by the Israeli PM.But that did not matter to Nuttyahoo!!.

        “NAZARETH // The contents of a secretly recorded video threaten to gravely embarrass not only Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister but also the US administration of Barack Obama. The film was shot, apparently without Mr Netanyahu’s knowledge, nine years ago, when the government of Ariel Sharon had started reinvading the main cities of the West Bank to crush Palestinian resistance in the early stages of the second intifada. At the time Mr Netanyahu had taken a short break from politics but was soon to join Mr Sharon’s government as finance minister. On a visit to a home in the settlement of Ofra in the West Bank to pay condolences to the family of a man killed in a Palestinian shooting attack, he makes a series of unguarded admissions about his first period as prime minister, from 1996 to 1999. Seated on a sofa in the house, he tells the family that he deceived the US president of the time, Bill Clinton, into believing he was helping implement the Oslo accords, the US-sponsored peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, by making minor withdrawals from the West Bank while actually entrenching the occupation. He boasts that he thereby destroyed the Oslo process.”

        https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/netanyahu-admits-on-video-he-deceived-us-to-destroy-oslo-accord-1.557322

      • Brewer
        October 19, 2017, 8:03 pm

        Sorry to put you to the bother of writing yet another obfuscation Nathan. My post was what the British call a piss-take, the point being that Israel is all bad faith negotiations, no change in behaviour. Amigo puts it in context.

  8. JustJessetr
    October 19, 2017, 10:46 am

    Undoing the Balfour Declaration has as much chance of passing as BDS has of gaining a single Palestinian their rights, their land, and their money. Which is to say not at all.

    The plight of the Palestinians grows worse everyday, yet you encourage another long-term losing strategy.

    • echinococcus
      October 19, 2017, 1:05 pm

      Jesse “the Just”,

      We have been hearing immortally stinking crap just like yours during every fight against colonizers. Possibly though, you might be excused if you are too young and unable to read much.

      In my lifetime only, we have India, several African colonies including Algeria, to say nothing of South Africa. My parents heard it every day during the Spanish War and the Nazi occupations.

      The same exact stinking crap. What do you think people are, all morons?

      • JustJessetr
        October 19, 2017, 5:10 pm

        50 years is enough time to see that a strategy or tactic doesn’t work. It’s time to try something new.

      • amigo
        October 19, 2017, 5:52 pm

        “50 years is enough time to see that a strategy or tactic doesn’t work. It’s time to try something new.”court jester

        Indeed it is , so let Israel get out of occupied Palestine, start obeying international Laws and stay behind it,s self declared Borders ,which it is very luck to be allowed to have , considering what they did to get them.

        Try that for a change .

      • JustJessetr
        October 19, 2017, 6:49 pm

        “Indeed it is , so let Israel get out of occupied Palestine, start obeying international Laws and stay behind it,s self declared Borders ,which it is very luck to be allowed to have , considering what they did to get them”

        You’re missing a step. What are the Palestinians going to do so that the Israelis get to that point? Something that has worked. Something that gives them a little bit of power, maybe?

      • Mooser
        October 19, 2017, 6:54 pm

        “The same exact stinking crap. What do you think people are, all morons?”

        “Echin” they all have the most endearing way of assuming we should be honored to share their bigotries.

        Once again, the only arguments Zionists know are the ones which convince themselves and other Zionists. Beyond that they are lost.

      • echinococcus
        October 19, 2017, 11:55 pm

        The Jesse imagines that “50 years is enough time”.

        So you really think we are all morons, eh? What 50 years? The open war was started by your criminals against humanity 70 years ago and has only intensified since. That “50 years” nonsense is just for the gullible boobies, to make them think that invasion and aggression by the colonial racists was somewhat legitimate. It isn’t.

        Also, “strategy or tactic” my eye and left foot. If anyone thinks this is going to be amicable (yes, I know some do) heshe is living on another planet. South Africa got somewhere after 90+ years of untold bloodshed. As you well know.

        And peoples don’t just give up because “equal rights” are mentioned. In the case of Palestine, I’d be hugely surprised if the Palestinians don’t continue to fight generation after generation, with stops and jerks of course, until they get their land back. Or until you murderers are successful in your genocide, whichever the earlier.

      • JustJessetr
        October 20, 2017, 11:00 pm

        @ echinococcus.

        If you’re going back 70 years, then you’re talking about the entire existence of Israel. You’re against it. You think it should be abolished. You’re a one-stater at best.

        There is absolutely zero diplomatic traction anywhere in the world for abolishing Israel as a state or pushing for a one-state solution. Not even Iran is for a one-state solution. Even among Palestinians there is no political movement of any significance for a one-state solution .

        So all you have in the end is your rhetoric. And quite juvenile rhetoric at that.

      • echinococcus
        October 21, 2017, 2:49 am

        Diplomatic traction? Who ever mentioned diplomatic traction?
        Entire peoples are not diplomatic. They just keep remembering. They end up arming themselves.
        I’ll go back some 75 years instead of 70 and remember the words of a Dr. Goebbels about the lack of traction of the Resistance.
        You surely recognize your teacher. Hope you don’t end the same way.

      • echinococcus
        October 21, 2017, 2:56 am

        Even among Palestinians there is no political movement of any significance for a one-state solution .

        There is no major organization thanks to you thieves and murderers, but the political movement for it is an overwhelming majority in Palestine.

        It’s not the feelgood one-state solution. It’s the one that wants justice, which in turn only means Palestine back and whole. Looks like you’re too young to have lived Algeria.

        Listen to Amina Elashkar, she knows:
        “(… I was told that I should not say that “Israel” has no right to exist (which is not part of our presentation, but which is a view held by millions of Palestinians).”
        https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/17/if-you-work-for-justice-in-palestine-why-wont-you-let-palestinians-speak/

      • amigo
        October 22, 2017, 11:01 am

        “You’re missing a step. What are the Palestinians going to do so that the Israelis get to that point? Something that has worked. Something that gives them a little bit of power, maybe?” court jester.

        So Einstein , what do you suggest that does not involve the entire Palestinian people submitting to anal invasion by your zionist invaders.

        The truth is , that there is nothing the Palestinians can do to get Israel to act legally and in accordance with Intl Law and like any civilised member of the Intl community.

        They need the help of the Intll community and they are getting it.

        Your squatting here at MW , whining about BDS and claiming it is a failed policy does not change the facts which are that BDS has Israel and it,s apologists running scared as evidenced by the efforts being carried out in the US and elsewhere to defeat BDS.

        It is working and growing exponentially and will one day bite you zios in the nether regions.I look forward to witnessing the collective whelping and whining of millions of zionists who assured each other it would never work , so ignore it.

        Have a nice day jester and thanks for the entertainment.

    • John O
      October 19, 2017, 2:05 pm

      @JustJessetr

      “passing”

      Passing what? Passing where? Passing whom?

      Are you sure you’re on the right thread? BDS is mentioned nowhere on this thread until you introduced it.

      Oh, and BDS was quite successful in bringing down apartheid South Africa.

      • JustJessetr
        October 19, 2017, 3:59 pm

        @ John O

        Nope. It was the violence of the ANC among others that got SA rethinking. Plus the public shitshows year after year of peaceful protesters walking directly into harm’s way like here in the US in the 60s. If the Palestinians can’t do all of that in the long term no matter what the Israelis throw at them, BDS will be nothing. And it IS nothing if you want to look at the results so far.

        This Balfour garbage is a losing strategy repeating itself.

      • John O
        October 20, 2017, 3:01 am

        @JustJessetr

        In essence, what you are saying is the Palestinians must try harder. Classic blaming the victim.

        Many factors brought down apartheid in South Africa.

      • John O
        October 20, 2017, 4:12 am

        @JustJessetr

        “And [BDS] IS nothing if you want to look at the results so far.”

        So no need for all that legislation in various US states making support for BDS illegal.

    • amigo
      October 19, 2017, 2:29 pm

      “Undoing the Balfour Declaration has as much chance of passing as BDS has of gaining a single Palestinian their rights, their land, and their money. Which is to say not at all.”court jester,

      You are right if the zionist criminals and their shameless apologists get their way.But they wont as the world is tiring of zionism and it will be consigned to the bin of history –preferably at the bottom with a few other fascist , racist entities.

      https://www.globalresearch.ca/greater-israel-the-zionist-plan-for-the-middle-east/5324815

  9. amigo
    October 19, 2017, 2:54 pm

    “Israel,s currency is lies and propaganda but it is being devalued everyday.

    “Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the scene but by Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division. In an interview in Ha’aretz on 22 December, he accused Israel’s government of having made a ‘central error’ during the tahdiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce, by failing ‘to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip … When you create a tahdiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues,’ General Zakai said, ‘it is obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire … You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they’re in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing.’

    The truce, which began in June last year and was due for renewal in December, required both parties to refrain from violent action against the other. Hamas had to cease its rocket assaults and prevent the firing of rockets by other groups such as Islamic Jihad (even Israel’s intelligence agencies acknowledged this had been implemented with surprising effectiveness), and Israel had to put a stop to its targeted assassinations and military incursions. This understanding was seriously violated on 4 November, when the IDF entered Gaza and killed six members of Hamas. Hamas responded by launching Qassam rockets and Grad missiles. Even so, it offered to extend the truce, but only on condition that Israel ended its blockade. Israel refused. It could have met its obligation to protect its citizens by agreeing to ease the blockade, but it didn’t even try. It cannot be said that Israel launched its assault to protect its citizens from rockets. It did so to protect its right to continue the strangulation of Gaza’s population.

    Everyone seems to have forgotten that Hamas declared an end to suicide bombings and rocket fire when it decided to join the Palestinian political process, and largely stuck to it for more than a year. Bush publicly welcomed that decision, citing it as an example of the success of his campaign for democracy in the Middle East. (He had no other success to point to.) When Hamas unexpectedly won the election, Israel and the US immediately sought to delegitimise the result and embraced Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Fatah, who until then had been dismissed by Israel’s leaders as a ‘plucked chicken’. They armed and trained his security forces to overthrow Hamas; and when Hamas – brutally, to be sure – pre-empted this violent attempt to reverse the result of the first honest democratic election in the modern Middle East, Israel and the Bush administration imposed the blockade.”

    Read more at ,

    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n02/henry-siegman/israels-lies

  10. amigo
    October 19, 2017, 3:09 pm

    Israel,s war crimes–.

    “List of Arab towns and villages depopulated during the 1948 Palestinian exodus”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Arab_towns_and_villages_depopulated_during_the_1948_Palestinian_exodus

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