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Perpetrators of the Nakba

Israel/Palestine
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While the testimony of survivors plays a vital role in establishing the facts of genocide and ethnic cleansing, an approach that focuses on perpetrators can tell us much more about why such events occur. Many studies have examined perpetration at the level of ideology and top-level power politics. Studies of perpetrators at lower levels – the people whose violent acts directly accomplish genocide and ethnic cleansing – are rarer, though studies of this type also yield valuable insights.

A superb example of such a study is a long book by Michael Mann (University of California at Los Angeles) – The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing (Cambridge University Press, 2005). Using a consistent theoretical framework, Professor Mann examines in turn pre-modern ethnic cleansing, New World genocides, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, “communist cleansing” by Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot, ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, and the Rwandan genocide.

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine, however, does not number among Mann’s case studies. Nor have I been able to locate a similar study of the Nakba by anyone else. I hope that this essay may prompt someone in a position to undertake a more substantial investigation to do so.

I start by explaining how I categorize the perpetrators of the Nakba and describing in general terms the behavioral variations among them. Then I consider whether the evidence supports two plausible contrasts – the conventional contrast between “moderate” and “extremist” components of the Zionist forces and a contrast between combatants born or long settled in Palestine and volunteers from the Jewish diaspora.

Categories of perpetrator

The main military forces that conquered Palestine were the Haganah and its “elite striking force” — the Palmach. After Israel declared its independence these forces became the Israeli army. Two “dissident” forces also participated in the conquest – the Irgun and the Lehi (Stern Group).

The bulk of Zionist combatants, and probably all members of the Irgun and Lehi, were Jews born or long established in the Yishuv (the pre-state Zionist community in Palestine). However, a major role was also played by Jews (and a few non-Jews) recruited abroad under two programs:

Machal – about 3,500 volunteers from 43 countries, including about 1,250 from Canada and the United States. Most volunteers were recently discharged soldiers from the Allied armies with combat experience from World War Two; the remainder were young people trained in camps run by Zionist youth movements (especially Beitar).

Gachal – about 20,000 recruited by Haganah emissaries in the refugee camps in Europe and Cyprus. To what extent these people were volunteers is a matter of dispute.

People recruited through Machal and Gachal were not organized into separate military forces but deployed throughout the Haganah and Palmach and later the Israeli army, navy, and air force. However, Machal volunteers were especially prominent in the new navy and air force and in one of the Haganah’s twelve armored brigades – the Seventh Brigade, which fought in the north of Palestine

Behavioral variations

There was evidently very little open defiance of orders to massacre, intimidate, and expel Palestinians, although I did find one quite significant case in which an order to expel was defied.

What is perhaps a typical range of behavior is reflected in Khirbet Khizeh, a novella by S. Yizhar (pen name of Yizhar Smilansky) published in Hebrew in 1949 and in English by Ibis Editions in 2008. The narrator is a reluctant soldier in a company that has received orders to participate in expelling the residents of a Palestinian village and destroying their homes. He timidly tries to restrain the excesses of other soldiers, who want to kill more Arabs, and after the operation complains to the company commander about “this filthy war.” The commander occupies a middle position between the narrator and the enthusiasts, guiding the company to do exactly what their orders require – no more and no less.

This suggests a threefold division – those who simply obey orders, those who not only obey orders but also commit brutalities not required of them, and those who express some sort of protest, however ineffectual.

Hypothesis 1: “moderates” versus “extremists”

A standard Zionist narrative of Israel’s war of independence contrasts the “moderate” Haganah with the “extremist” Irgun and Lehi. The massacre conducted by the Irgun at the village of Deir Yassin supposedly shocked the “official” Zionist leadership, who hastened to dissociate themselves from it.

The trouble with this version is that there were several large-scale massacres (in addition to numerous smaller ones) and not all of them were the work of the relatively few soldiers of the Irgun and Lehi. Thus, the massacre at the coastal village of Tantura was carried out by the Haganah. One Palestinian eyewitness (Yusuf Salam) reports an argument in which an officer named Samson told Yaacov, head of the neighboring Jewish settlement of Zichron Yaacov, that he “had orders to kill the whole lot” (apparently meaning all the men of Tantura). Yaacov succeeded in having the order rescinded, thereby saving the lives of forty men who were about to be shot. [1]

There is considerable evidence that all the massacres – large or small, conducted by Haganah or the Irgun – were intended to serve the same purpose of spreading panic among Palestinians and inducing them to flee. This is why in each group led away to be shot in Tantura one man was spared and told: “Watch how they die and then go tell the others” (testimony of Farid Taha Salam). The Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani portrays a similar scene in his short story “He Was a Child That Day”: soldiers make some Palestinians get out of their car, line them up along a roadside ditch and shoot them – except for a child, who is told: “You see? Remember this well when you tell the story.” [2]

Hypothesis 2: “Israelis” versus “diaspora Jews”

Tikva Honig-Parnass, a writer and activist who was born in Palestine, has shared the following reminiscences of her time in the Palmach during the Nakba:

We were the generation that were programmed to commit the mass expulsion. We imbibed it with our mothers’ milk. Although I attended a secular school, we were taught the Bible five days a week as though it were a historical document. And we were already ready when the ’48 war broke out. We were already indifferent to the Palestinians —- not even hating, just indifferent. They became for us a kind of an environmental nuisance. It is the kind of objectification which prepared us not to care about the expulsion.

The inhabitants of the whole area of Beit Jibrin, Beit Jamal and Zakariyah, who are now refugees in Dheisheh and in Beit Jibrin and in camps around Bethlehem, were expelled by the Palmach, in which I was a soldier.

I have a letter that I wrote to my parents on October 30, ’48 on the office stationery of the director of a garage who fled a few days before I came there. I don’t even relate to the fact that I’m writing on someone’s stationery.

In a passage that really raises my hair to this very day, I mention two American volunteers in our unit — there were many American volunteers who came after World War Two – and I call them liberals. We were left Zionists. And that was the decisive difference between us and these two Americans. They were shouting in the evening, after meeting starving women and children on the way back to their villages. And they said that if this new state could not take care of its residents there was no justification for it to be established.

And what was my reaction? I wrote: “Dear mother and father, I am very often sick and tired of these American philanthropists.” And then I continued with my daily news, as though nothing had happened. It was the climax of dehumanization, not only of the Palestinians but of us.

How broadly applicable is the contrast suggested here between the brainwashed young generation of the Yishuv and the “philanthropic” Jewish youngsters of the United States? Let’s juxtapose another document – a message sent to a Palestinian website [4] by a relative of another American volunteer:

I am writing through tears. I wept when I saw the photo of the ruined village of al-Sanbariyya because it was my brother-in-law who helped destroy the village and the lives of those who lived there. My now deceased brother-in-law was born in Los Angeles and after World War II decided he wanted to live in Palestine. He met his wife-to-be at a training camp somewhere in the midwest. While at the camp many of the people decided they wanted to build a kibbutz in Palestine…

My brother-in-law went to Palestine on a ship smuggling refugees into the country when the ship was stopped by the British. He jumped ship and swam to shore and soon he met up with the other Americans. They received weapons, probably from the Haganah, and went to the northern part of Palestine to begin the ethnic cleansing of the land so that they could build Kibbutz Maayan Baruch.

It was a few years later that I met my brother-in-law when he and his wife came to Los Angeles for my marriage to his younger brother. I will never forget how he laughed as he described the frightened villagers fleeing their homes as they left their shoes by the door and their pots on the stove. Later, in an internet search, I found out that the village had been called al-Sanbariyya and had been home to 130 families. His story bothered me, but I was young and caught up in the story of Israel. It was only after the 1967 war that I started having doubts and as I read more and more history of Israel/Palestine,  not always easy to come by,  I discovered the incredible injustices done to the Palestinian people…

Evidently not all young Jewish-American volunteers were such “philanthropes”

The case of Dunkelman and the Seventh Brigade

A less clear-cut case is that of Ben Dunkelman (Benjamin Ben-David), a Canadian Jew persuaded to volunteer on account of his experience as an officer in World War Two. Ben Gurion appointed Dunkelman commander of the Haganah’s Seventh Brigade in early July 1948. Entering Nazareth in mid-July, he concluded a formal surrender agreement with the town’s Christian and Moslem notables in which he undertook to ensure that no harm would come to its residents. Soon thereafter he received an order from General Chaim Laskov to expel the inhabitants, but refused to comply. The Seventh Brigade was then ordered to withdraw from Nazareth and Avraham Yoffe was appointed to replace Dunkelman as the town’s military governor. Yoffe had served as a battalion commander under Dunkelman, and this may have helped Dunkelman to extract from him a promise to honor the agreement with the notables. Laskov sought confirmation of the expulsion order from Ben Gurion, but Ben Gurion decided to cancel the order. Perhaps he judged that the expulsion of a few more Arabs did not justify the political risk of antagonizing a war hero from a prominent Canadian Jewish family. [5]

Dunkelman’s motive in defying Laskov’s order seems to have been respect for a formal agreement rather than any general objection to expelling Palestinians. Indeed, the Seventh Brigade under his command must have expelled many Palestinians living in the Galilee (outside Nazareth) in the summer of 1948 – despite the fact that its commander and hundreds of his subordinates were volunteers from English-speaking countries. [6] A publication of World Machal, the organization of volunteer veterans of Israel’s War of Independence, tells us that in Operation Hiram the Seventh Brigade “cleared the entire Galilee and routed the ‘Arab Liberation Army’ led by Kaukji” – a fairly clear allusion to expulsion. [7]

If far from all volunteers from abroad were “philanthropists,” there are also indications that far from all soldiers reared in the Yishuv were brainwashed brutes. I have already mentioned the intervention at Tantura by the head of a neighboring Jewish settlement. Other Jews from the same settlement also tried to help the people of Tantura, with whom they had longstanding friendly relations. Yusuf Salam reports:

In Umm Khalid, the deserted village they had transformed into a prison camp, some people from Zichron Yaacov came one day and tried to convince the head of the camp, whose name was Ashkenazi, to treat us more kindly and with less insults and humiliation, but he refused to listen and made them leave.

According to the testimony of Muhammad Kamil al-Dassuki:

A soldier asked me: “You’re from Tantura. Do you know someone from the Dassuki family? -“Me,” I replied. “Do you know Abu ‘Aql?” “He’s my mother’s brother.” He put down his rifle and said: “Where is he?” I said he was at Fraydiss. He then started to cry: “Greet him for me. I know him, I’m the son of Abraham Hallaq, the train conductor on the HaifaJaffa line and my father is a friend of your uncle!” Then he asked after my cousins and I told him that Salim and Nimr had been shot. He immediately cursed the murderers and added, “Me, too. Two of my brothers were killed.”

And the same witness observes: “In the cemetery I saw cars filled with Jews. Some of them were laughing and singing, but others were terribly silent.” Most of them were to remain silent, and we shall never know what was going on inside them.

Concluding remarks

The general picture that emerges is not all that different from other cases of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Some people within the perpetrator community were deeply disturbed at what their fellow Jews were doing. Some tried to help the victims, not in every case without success. And yet – as in other historical cases – they were only able to exert a marginal effect on the ongoing tragedy. The overall impression remains one of vicious sadism, cruel pettiness, [8] or at best callous indifference to the suffering of members of the “out group.”

This post originally appeared on Stephen Shenfield’s website.

Notes

[1] Eyewitness accounts of the events in Tantura are taken from: http://www.palestineremembered.com/Haifa/al-Tantura/Story560.html

Yahya Abu Madi says that the massacre ended because 300 Jews had been taken prisoner at Kfar Etzion “so it would be useful to leave us alive for future prisoner exchanges.” He adds that he does not deny that Yaacov was a compassionate man. It would require detailed research to determine what exactly happened and why, but the Dunkelman case (see below) suggests that some high-ranking Zionist leaders were inclined to placate influential Jews with humanitarian scruples so that they would not resort to public protest and undermine sympathy for Zionism in Western public opinion.

[2] Ghassan Kanafani, Palestine’s Children: Returning to Haifa and Other Stories, translated by Barbara Harlow and Karen E. Riley (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000), p. 139.

[3] See: http://www.democracynow.org/2008/16/israeli_writer_activist_tikva_honig_parnass

[4] See: http://alnakba.org/testimony/sanbariyya.htm

[5] This account is taken from the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Dunkelman#Military_career. It is of interest to note that the whole story of the order to expel the population of Nazareth and the ensuing conflict was removed from later editions of Dunkelman’s book, e.g.: Ben Dunkelman, Dual Allegiance: An Autobiography (Macmillan Company of Canada, 1976). The chapter in which the story originally appeared (“Truth Whereby Nations Live”) was eliminated in its entirety.

[6] In summer 1948 the Seventh Brigade had 170 volunteers from English-speaking countries, rising to about 300 in late October. One of the brigade’s infantry companies consisted wholly of English speakers. Source: Dr. Yaacov Markovitzky, Machal: Overseas Volunteers in Israel’s War of Independence (World Machal, 2003; internet edition 2007), p. 31 http://www.mahal-idf-volunteers.org/about/Machal.pdf.

[7] ibid. Clear the Galilee of what or whom? Armed resistance? But that would seem to be covered by “routing.” Perhaps the brigade was engaged in clearing the land of weeds?

[8] An example of what I mean by “cruel pettiness” comes from the testimony of Amina al-Masri and Tamam al-Masri of Tantura: “In their search for money and gold, they even went through the swaddling clothes of our infants, and when a little girl tarried in taking off an earring, a woman soldier ripped it off and the little one began to bleed.”

Stephen Shenfield
About Stephen Shenfield

Stephen Shenfield is a British-born writer. After several years as a government statistician, he entered the field of Soviet Studies. He was active in the nuclear disarmament movement. Later he came to the U.S. and taught International Relations at Brown University. He is the author of Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies, Movements (M.E. Sharpe, 2001). He now works as an independent researcher and translator. He is a member of the World Socialist Movement. A collection of his writings is on his new website at stephenshenfield.net.

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30 Responses

  1. Blake
    Blake
    August 29, 2012, 2:28 pm

    Author of “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” ,Ilan Pappe, explains it best:
    “The 1948 Israeli war of independence involved one of the largest forced migrations in history. Around a million people were expelled from their homes at gunpoint, civilians were massacred & 531 Palestinian villages destroyed. Denied for over 6 decades had it happened today it could only have been called “ethnic cleansing”. A central plank in founding of “Israel” was removal of the indigenous population. That strategy of ethnic cleansing continues to the present day.”

    • Mayhem
      Mayhem
      August 31, 2012, 12:54 am

      @Blake, Ilan Pappe’s book has been rightfully condemned to the realm of the polemic, lacking in scholarship.
      No doubt it suits you because it fits your biased agenda.
      Your remark “Around a million people were expelled from their homes at gunpoint” is classic bluster talk intended to exaggerate; it has no foundation in truth.
      Even the revisionist historian Tom Segev indicates that half of the Palestinian Arabs who left their homes during the Nakba were ‘forced’ out.  Approximately 711,000 to 725,000 in total left, fled or were expelled from their homes.
      Refer to http://www.meforum.org/1886/the-ethnic-cleansing-of-palestine if the facts interest you at all.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        August 31, 2012, 3:00 am

        Ilan Pappe’s book has been rightfully condemned to the realm of the polemic, lacking in scholarship.

        By Seth J. Frantzman* no less!

        How devastating for Professor Pappé.

        *”Seth J. Frantzman is a doctoral candidate in historical geography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.”

      • justicewillprevail
        justicewillprevail
        August 31, 2012, 4:16 am

        Lol. If you wanted facts, you certainly wouldn’t be going to the meforum.

        And if Pappe has been ‘condemned’, then it is for exposing the inconvenient facts.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        August 31, 2012, 4:34 am

        Lol. If you wanted facts, you certainly wouldn’t be going to the meforum.

        justice,

        Are you also suggesting that a “think tank” founded and directed by Daniel Pipes might not be the most reliable arbiter of who is a scholar and who is a polemicist?

        That must put you firmly in the polemicist camp. Shame on you ;-)

      • Blake
        Blake
        August 31, 2012, 8:42 am

        @ Mayhem: Not true at all. Besides they never left voluntarily according to your own denial hence they are REFUGEES awaiting their RIGHT OF RETURN (international law).

        “The BBC monitored all Middle Eastern broadcasts throughout 1948. The records, and companion ones by a United States monitoring unit, can be seen at the British Museum. There was not a single order or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine, from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine, in 1948. There is a repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put.” Erskine Childers, British researcher.

        Benny Morris, Israeli historian, went to special archives in Reading, England where the British had monitored every broadcast that was made in those days since 1936 and he found, as did Ilan Pappe, in fact they all know for sure NO such proof and no such call by Arabs for the Palestinians to flee. That is another Zionist Israeli propaganda myth.

        Benny Morris, the Israeli historian, in an interview with Haaretz: “In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves. A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population.”

        213 Palestinian village/towns (pop 413,794, 52% of refugees) were “cleansed” while under “protection” of British mandate; that is before start of Arab-Israeli war on May 15, 1948. 264 localities with 339,272 inhabitants (42%) were vacated during 1948 War. After signing Armistice Agreements, 54 localities were ethnically cleansed (52,001 people or 6% of refugees). Usually, the cleansing (“Nikayon,” a word used frequently in Zionist terrorist communications at the time) was initiated by massacres.

        According to Benny Morris & other Israeli historians, the reasons Palestinians left their localities were:
        1.Expulsion by Zionist ⁄ Jewish forces – 122 localities,
        2.Military assault by Zionist ⁄ Jewish forces – 270 localities,
        3. Fear of Zionist ⁄ Jewish attack, or of being caught in the fighting, influence of the fall of neighboring town, and psychological warfare – 12 localities,
        4. Abandonment on Arab orders – 6 localities,
        5. Unknown – 34 localities

        One example of British complicity: Before the British ended their mandate in Palestine on May 15, 1948 they had opened the way for the Zionist occupation of the coast from Jaffa to Jerusalem. Jaffa was evacuated & tide continued northward following the coast up to Haifa on 22 April 1948. Joseph Mansour, historian: The horrific assault on Haifa took place from the jewish neighborhoods that were up on the hills against the Arab ones that were down in the plains or on the slopes a premeditated and planned operation, code named “Scissors” commenced by descending from Mt Carmel creeping up on Arab areas & then storming them to force the exodus. The British were calling through loudspeakers: “Come out this will only be for 10-15 days then you can go back to your homes”. People left with hastily wrapped bundles some did not even take that much they believed they would be returning soon. They did not realize it would take much longer than 10 days or even 15 years or 60 years.”

        From the port of Haifa, the British transferred thousands of its inhabitants to the shore at Akka, the Palestinians thought because of the short distance that this was just a temporary measure for their protection. From Akka the zionist soldiers expelled the inhabitants of both Haifa & Akka to Lebanon. At the time, and before May 1948, the towns of Tiberias, Safad & Bisan were occupied before the British mandate forces left Palestine. More than 200 villages were evacuated under the watchful eye of the British troops. These included the ancient Roman coastal town of Qaisaria where the inhabitants were expelled 3 mths before the withdrawal of British troops as far as Sindiyana, South of Haifa where residents were expelled a few days before the British departed where the inhabitants who were rounded up and then a corridor eastwards was open to them. The jewish soldiers said “go east to king Abdullah” just like that. In Lod there were 97 people in the Dahmash mosque all were killed incl 3 girls. The Palmach were known as savage terrorists every village they entered they committed a massacre. That obviously terrified the people.

      • Mayhem
        Mayhem
        September 2, 2012, 8:33 am

        @Blake the right of return is not enshrined in international law. “The right of return or the right to enter one’s country in the 1966 International Covenant “is intended to apply to individuals asserting an individual right. There was no intention here to address the claims of masses of people who have been displaced as a by-product of war or by political transfers of territory or population, such as the relocation of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe during and after the Second World War, the flight of the Palestinians from what became Israel, or the movement of Jews from the Arab countries.” (Stig Jagerskiold, “The Freedom of Movement”, in Louis Henkin, ed., The International Bill of Rights, New York, 1981, pp. 166-184 at p. 180)
        I read the typical rejoinders about my reference to a critical review of Pappe’s book that concentrate on just the authorship of the review – nobody has the mental disposition to really discuss the inherent issues. Too hard. Easier to dismiss without a proper considered response or to accuse one’s opponent of the evil zionist crime of hasbara than to deal with facts or argue with logic.

        Now let me consider what Blake has said:

        The BBC monitored all Middle Eastern broadcasts throughout 1948. The records, and companion ones by a United States monitoring unit, can be seen at the British Museum. There was not a single order or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine, from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine, in 1948. There is a repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put.” Erskine Childers, British researcher.

        Yes the Arab civilians ignored the appeals from the mufti-led Arab Higher Committee to stay put as their cowardice got the better of them and they had no stomach for a fight with the Jews.

        From Ephraim Karsh in Commentary magazine May 2008:

        Palestinians fled their homes and by early April 1948 some 100,000 had gone. The Jews were still on the defensive and in no position to evict them. On March 23, fully four months after the outbreak of hostilities, Arab Liberation Army commander-in-chief Safwat noted with some astonishment that the Jews “have so far not attacked a single Arab village unless provoked by it.”  By the time of Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14, the numbers of Arab refugees had more than trebled. Even then, none of the
        170,000-180,000 Arabs fleeing urban centers, and only a handful of the 130,000-160,000 villagers who left their homes, had been forced out by the Jews.
        The exceptions occurred in the heat of battle and were uniformly dictated by ad-hoc military considerations—reducing civilian casualties, denying sites to Arab fighters when there were no available Jewish forces to repel them—rather than political design. They were, moreover, matched by efforts to prevent flight and/or to encourage the return
        of those who fled. To cite only one example, in early April a Jewish delegation comprising top Arab-affairs advisers, local notables, and municipal heads with close contacts with neighboring Arab localities traversed Arab villages in the coastal plain, then emptying at a staggering pace, in an attempt to convince their inhabitants to stay put.

        Fear of Zionist ⁄ Jewish attack, or of being caught in the fighting, influence of the fall of neighboring town, and psychological warfare – 12 localities

        This diminution of this, the most significant factor in the Palestinian Arab exodus, is Blake’s big lie. Whatever Benny Morris or others say there are the facts on the ground that speak as to what actually happened.
        Blake has conveniently overlooked that there was a non-acceptance by the Arab population in Palestine and in the surrounding Arab lands for this fledgling Jewish state that had been given independence by the United Nations to come into existence. To dish up stories of the forceful efforts by the Jewish side to win, and of course kill Arabs in the process, and to ignore the fact that the events took place in a time of war is to look at the conflict through rose colored glasses. The Arabs tried to destroy the Jews. They failed and continue to fail. They need to face the consequences for their own nefarious actions and to stop blaming others for their own demise.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        September 2, 2012, 12:07 pm

        “Yes the Arab civilians ignored the appeals from the mufti-led Arab Higher Committee to stay put as their cowardice got the better of them and they had no stomach for a fight with the Jews.”

        This kind of nonsense has no place in civil society. It’s like saying that the Jews killed in the concentration camps deserved their fate because they were too cowardly to fight back against the Germans.

      • talknic
        talknic
        August 31, 2012, 9:58 am

        Mayhem August 31, 2012 at 12:54 am

        It’s irrelevant if civilians fled the violence of their own accord or whether they were told to flee or why they were told to flee or whether they were forced. They have a right to flee the violence because they’re civilians and they have a right of return because they’re civilians ! Quite simple and applies to all civilians.

  2. RoHa
    RoHa
    August 29, 2012, 9:40 pm

    “The ethnic cleansing of Palestine, however, does not number among Mann’s case studies.”

    What do you expect? He wants to keep his job.

  3. Miura
    Miura
    August 30, 2012, 8:07 am

    We were already indifferent to the Palestinians–not even hating, just indifferent…The overall impression remains one of vicious sadism, cruel pettiness, or at best callous indifference to the suffering of members of the “out group.”

    Or as Ian Kershaw noted to his surprise 4 decades ago:

    “…the road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with indifference”.

  4. eljay
    eljay
    August 30, 2012, 8:51 am

    >> The overall impression remains one of vicious sadism, cruel pettiness, [8] or at best callous indifference to the suffering of members of the “out group.”

    This seems like the perfect thread in which to resurrect the stirring words of “liberal Zionist” RW:

    >> I cannot consistently say that “ethnic cleansing is never necessary”.

    >> If I was an adult in 1948, I probably would have supported whatever it took to create the state of Israel, and held my nose at actions that I could not possibly do myself.

    >> I feel that the nakba [sic] was a necessary wrong …

    >> The nakba [sic] that occurred in 1948 was accompanied by the independence, the liberation, of the Jewish community. So, I primarily celebrate …

    • Sumud
      Sumud
      August 30, 2012, 11:08 am

      RIP RW.

      Alive in body but long dead in spirit, a perfect example of the banality of evil.

    • Donald
      Donald
      August 31, 2012, 9:34 am

      “A standard Zionist narrative of Israel’s war of independence contrasts the “moderate” Haganah with the “extremist” Irgun and Lehi. The massacre conducted by the Irgun at the village of Deir Yassin supposedly shocked the “official” Zionist leadership, who hastened to dissociate themselves from it.

      The trouble with this version is that there were several large-scale massacres (in addition to numerous smaller ones) and not all of them were the work of the relatively few soldiers of the Irgun and Lehi. ”

      That imaginary distinction between the Irgun thugs and the mainstream Haganah saints was/is at the core of RW’s view. He’d respond to this point by ignoring it, or if pressured, in a squidlike manner, spewing forth a vast cloud of ink and scooting to the next thread.

      • philweiss
        philweiss
        August 31, 2012, 10:13 am

        true. i am reading arthur koestler, zionist, on that period. promise and fulfillment (1949). he says haganah was no different in the end than irgun and stern; was compelled by british stance to resort to terrorism, even while condemning it

      • tree
        tree
        August 31, 2012, 1:56 pm

        …was compelled by british stance to resort to terrorism, even while condemning it

        I think you have that backwards, Phil. The Zionist officials were compelled by the British stance to condemn Irgun terrorism, even while committing it themselves. Most of the Haganah terrorism was committed against Palestinian civilians, while the Irgun and Lehi also committed significant terrorism against the British Mandate government as well.

      • Walid
        Walid
        August 31, 2012, 11:54 am

        The recounting of what happened at Tantura by Shenfield how the “good” terrorists spared the lives of 40 Palestinians is more twisting and turning. The story of the Tantura massacre in cold blood of the 250 men, women and children was hidden by the Israeli and Western press for 52 years until exposed by Haifa University student Teddy Katz in 2000 that was subsequently sued for libel by the Alexandroni Brigade Veterans that he said had committed the senseless massacre of the villagers that had surrendered.

        This mushy story about good guys in the Haganah sparing the life of one man or 40 at Tantura does not lessen the atrocity committed by the Zionist terrorists on May 11, 1948.

  5. yourstruly
    yourstruly
    August 30, 2012, 12:19 pm

    same as for all acts of ethnic cleansing the nakba doesn’t liberate its perpetrators nor its enablers, it enslaves them to self-degrading concepts of being better &/or more important than some demonized “other”.

  6. Walid
    Walid
    August 31, 2012, 6:33 am

    Shenfield is trying to understand what was behind the 1948 ethnic cleansing 0f Palestinians by looking back into its history of a few weeks before it actually hapened. He should go back to several decades earlier when it was being discused by the Zionists and more specifically to 1938 and the various Zionist transfer policies being considered. The Jewish Agency created the Population Transfer Committee with Dr Kurt Mendelson, a specialist on transfers, proposing to buy land in the Transjordan to resettle all the Palestinian Arabs over a 10 year period but Ben Gurion was for their outright physical expulsion once the eventual partition would take place. Years before that, Ben Gurion had been unsuccessfully negotiating with the Saudis to transfer all the Palestinian Arabs to Iraq. In 1948, the partition happened and Ben Gurion finally did it. The involvement of the Saudis, Iraqis and Jordanians before the expulsions started could be mentioned.

    • Blake
      Blake
      August 31, 2012, 9:00 am

      Nice comments Walid. In 1943 Gen Patrick Hurley a former Sec of war in the American admin submitted a report to the White House following a visit to Palestine & talks with David Ben-Gurion. In his report he said The Zionists in Palestine have committed themselves to (1) a sovereign Jewish state which would embrace Palestine and probably eventually Transjordan, (2)The eventual transfer of the Palestinian population from Palestine to Iraq, (3) jewish leadership for the entire ME in fields of economic development and control.

      • Walid
        Walid
        August 31, 2012, 10:50 am

        Blake, by 1943 mostly everyone knew what the Zionists were up to and that included the Arabs. Today, they make 1948 sound as if Israel expelled the Arabs in self defense whereas their expulsion in 1948 had been under discussion and preparation for almost 50 years. Another lie you highlighted above in your reply to Mayhem, was how 213 Palestinian Arab villages had already been emptied before the war actually started and the “5 Arab armies” invaded poor little helpless Israel. The Arab invasion was a joke.

      • Blake
        Blake
        August 31, 2012, 12:28 pm

        Walid, it was indeed a phony war as British Gen Sir John Glubb at the time himself admitted.

        In total no more than 24,000 soldiers entered Palestine from all 7 Arab armies. The entire Arab force was 1/3 the size of the zionist forces which were also well trained and equipped awa having their own arms factories whilst the Arab forces were taking orders from their respective countries and when the orders came to withdraw they did although soldiers shouted “treason treason”. They were highly dedicated soldiers with strong feelings against the Zionist impostors. The leader of the highly trained Jordanian army was the British General Sir John Glubb better known as Glubb Pasha who had 46 other British officers under his command. However the British had concluded an early deal with Zionists that there would be no confrontations between the Jordanian Arab army and the zionist militia. This is why Glubb called the 48 war “the phony war”.

      • Walid
        Walid
        August 31, 2012, 2:45 pm

        Blake, the war was phony because the Jordanians had an agreement with the Zionists to stay out of it in exchange for Israel letting them easily take the West Bank. Not very nice what Glubb did to the Palestinian resistance fighters on the WB.

      • seanmcbride
        seanmcbride
        August 31, 2012, 10:51 am

        Blake wrote:

        BEGIN QUOTE
        In 1943 Gen Patrick Hurley a former Sec of war in the American admin submitted a report to the White House following a visit to Palestine & talks with David Ben-Gurion. In his report he said The Zionists in Palestine have committed themselves to (1) a sovereign Jewish state which would embrace Palestine and probably eventually Transjordan, (2)The eventual transfer of the Palestinian population from Palestine to Iraq, (3) jewish leadership for the entire ME in fields of economic development and control.
        END QUOTE

        I think the entire Zionist and Israeli leadership under all major political parties has been following this game plan from the very start — the peace process and the two-state solution have been a fraud from the very start — a subterfuge and delaying tactic to try to get the world off Israel’s back while it continued to build settlements and crush Palestinians with the intent of encouraging them to engage in a voluntary transfer from Eretz Yisrael. Israel will never abandon this dream, even if it leads to the destruction of Israel, the entire Mideast, its patrons (including the United States) or even the entire world.

        This is your brain on Old Testament messianism — on automatic pilot, hell-bent for Armageddon, for reasons that are entirely unconscious and impenetrable for those who are the victims of this psychological disorder. Where is the off switch?

      • Blake
        Blake
        August 31, 2012, 12:26 pm

        Bingo Sean. Only they never managed transferring the population to Iraq. The burden mainly fell on Jordan and other neighboring countries.

      • mthunlan
        mthunlan
        September 2, 2012, 3:04 pm

        RUBBISH!
        I. has now for long time given up all expansion plans made in the first ebthusiams. Despite there is nearly NO border between all Arabic states undisputed, and even at the Palestine side, there are still some dreamers who believe in an all Palestine state including Jordan.
        There had been enthusiastic dreams of a bigger I. far wider over WB & GS (which has actually already been given up), but the I. politicians prooved to be more insighted than most of the Arab leaders and if one of them did, was killed.
        Curiously only Israelian politicians are unforgivened.

  7. Walid
    Walid
    August 31, 2012, 8:05 am

    A little more on the history and concept of transfer and how the transfer of Palestinian Arabs had been planned decades in advance of the founding of Israel:

    (From a Nakba history site supported by Ilan Pappé and many other sympathizers with the Palestinian cause.)

    “… With Palestinian riots erupting in 1936, Britain decided to dispatch a commission to investigate the causes for the riots and the clashes taking place between Jews and Arabs. The Royal Commission, known as the Royal (Peel) Commission arrived in Palestine in November of that year led by William W Peel, 1st Earl Peel (1867-1937). It interviewed Zionist and Arab leaders before it made its recommendations suggesting in a nut shell that “sooner or later, there should be a transfer of land and, as far as possible, an exchange of population”.

    The Commission’s recommendations were seen as the first official indication of a plan to partition Palestine and to transfer its population, an idea credited to one of the Peel Commission members, Reginald Couplan, who was considered Zionism’s greatest friend on the Royal Commission.

    So the transfer concept was slowly tied to the idea of partitioning and became the central core of all Zionist lobbying efforts that followed.

    Moshe Shertok (1894-1965), who, like Jabotinsky, was born in the Ukraine, (and later became the 2nd Prime Minister of Israel), was elected as the head of the political department of the Jewish Agency. He was crucial in formulating policies on the question of transfer. In a speech to the Zionist Actions Committee in April 1937, he stated:

    “The proposed Jewish state would not be continuous. The frontier line would separate villages from their fields…the Arab reaction would be negative [to the partition idea] because they would loose everything and gain almost nothing…they would loose the richest part of Palestine…the orange plantations, the commercial and industrial centres…most of the coastal areas…and [they] would be driven out into the desert. As for now, we must not forget who would have to exchange the land? Those villagers who live more than others on irrigation, on orange and fruit plantations, in houses built near water wells and pumping stations, on livestock and property and easy access to markets. Where would they go? What would they receive in return? This would be such an uprooting, such a shock the likes of which had never occurred before and could drown the whole thing in rivers of blood”.

    This 70-year old speech, could have been made today as it would reflect exactly what is happening to the Palestinian territories now. The fear amongst the Palestinian people was that the Peel Commission was taking one step towards turning the Balfour Declaration of a ‘Jewish National Home’ into a Jewish State.

    Although Ben-Gurion admitted that he could forsee enormous difficulties “in uprooting by foreign force some 100,000 Arabs from the villages in Galilee which they have inhabited for hundreds of years”, he was, nevertheless, determined that “we must be prepared to carry out the transfer…we must expel Arabs and take their place, and if we have to use force…the we have force at our disposal…Our strength will exceed theirs [the Arabs] and we will be better organised and equipped because behind us still stands…the whole younger generation of Jews from Europe and America”.

    This is from a terrorist who became the first Prime Minister of Israel.”

    For the rest of the story of how the ethnic cleansing was planned and carried out by the Zionists:

    http://www.1948.org.uk/the-concept-of-transfer/

  8. JaapBo
    JaapBo
    August 31, 2012, 3:53 pm

    I studied the military plan behind the Nakba, “Plan Dalet”, it’s a hypocritical plan aimed at ethnic cleansing under the cloak of “security”. Ben Gurion is the main instigator of the Nakba.
    See: http://tiny.cc/wvhuw

  9. mthunlan
    mthunlan
    September 2, 2012, 1:34 pm

    Before all of you proceed by counting peas what crimes -oh wonder- the Zionists did and -oh what a surprise- go on to write about the confusions of that time as a Palestinian hagiography, you could be helped being freed from all that madness by simply realising these facts:
    1. ALL Historical documents about the goal of the BM to build up a home for Jews and Arabs as well stated no matter from whom (whether GB, US, UNO , LON, even Arabs themselves etc.) that this idea will FAIL no matter under what constitution (Federation, Confederation, one binational State, an Arab State with a Jewish autonomy etc.) .
    2. UNO R 181 would have divided both states into three enclaves intersected by a UNO-Trust area around Jerusalem (& Jaffa). This would have under no doubt perpetuated the conflict.
    3. the Arabs themselves didn’t care three straws about the Palestine case. They didn’t want an Arab nor a Jewish state. They wanted to rip their part out of the corpse, therefore their expedition armies didn’t form a union and were no big help for the Palestinian civilians either.
    BTW it’s remarkable that even after the 6 Day war in 1967 (!!) the main agent in the fight against I was handed over from the Arab states to the PLO (simply read Art. 26-29 of their Charta)
    4. in every war at least in the last 200 years you have a mass production of refugees, and no war is a football match (oh wonder), where every riot can be stopped by a referee simply by blowing a whistle. Simply every party produces war crimes. Curiously only those of the Jews are remembered (that’s funny that I have to tell this to USAmericans after Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Wikileaks etc.).
    5. that’s why Ben-Gurion thought that he could expand his territory into a consistent Jewish state and then make peace with the neighbours by simply giving them some gifts by arrondations. King Abdullah was the first who wanted to pick up the olive branch. If he could keep his conquests (including East Jerusalem) and having a nice harbor at the Middle Sea (Haifa?), he would make peace.
    We can speculate about the outcome, he was killed therefore in 1952, so it makes no sense.
    It’s needless to say that this idea as so many others of B-G and other Zionists and Arab leaders as well turned out into an illusion (e.g. Sadat believed in a Domino effect in the peace process after fixing his peace treaty with I.).
    Conclusion: wouldn’t have the Arabs treated the Palestinians only as their dummies, at least would have formed a Palestine state on the WB & GS between 48 & 67, the refugee problem would have never been so crucial no matter in which year from 1948 until today.

  10. JaapBo
    JaapBo
    September 3, 2012, 3:10 pm

    Points 1-5 here are not really relevant to the questions whether there was an ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 and if so, whether this was intended. With regard to these questions the crucial stage of the Palestinian flight is in April and May 1948, when over 250,000 Palestinians fled.

    It is now clear from the work of Benny Morris and Ilan Pappé that a large majority fled because of Zionist violence or the threat of Zionist violence, and that this violence was deliberately unleashed on them in the framework of the military plan “Plan Dalet”, which prescribed systematically attacking almost all Palestinian villages, most of which were not participating in the military struggle. In other words, the Zionist responsibility for instigating the mass flight is clear.

    The second question boils down to the interpretation of Plan Dalet. Was it a plan that aimed at expulsion for the sake of realising Zionism, or was the mass flight of Palestinians an unintended, but not unwelcomed, side effect of a defensive plan? When one investigates the military logic of Plan Dalet it turns out that it did not make sense as a defensive plan. “Security” was the pretext for ethnically cleansing the Palestinians. See for a more extensive argumentation the article I wrote about it: http://tiny.cc/wvhuw

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