portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary global

actions & protests | imperialism & war

Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

In 1948 about a million Palestinians were forcibly driven from their homes at gunpoint by Israeli soldiers, civilians were massacred, and around half of the Palestinian villages and towns were wiped out (over 500), according to Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian, in his book "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine." He describes this immense tragedy as a planned "ethnic cleansing." He provides archival evidence to prove that the colonization of Palestine and the forcible removal of the Palestinians was a central strategy of the Zionist movement as early as 1920s. This book is a must-read for all who care about what's happening in Palestine.
Protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza 1
Protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza 1
Protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza 2
Protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza 2
Protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza 3
Protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza 3
Protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza 4
Protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza 4
Protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza 5
Protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza 5
Protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza 6
Protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza 6
At the protest on Jan. 17 against the Israeli attacks on Gaza (photos above), a young Palestinian told us that in 1948, Israeli soldiers swept into a Palestinian village where his grandparents lived, and forced the people to leave their homes at gunpoint. The village and their homes were destroyed.
Days earlier, I had learned of an important book, "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine," by Ilan Pappe, who documented this event as a historical truth. Pappe is a renowned Israeli historian who had taught at Haifa University in Israel, and now teaches at Exeter University in England. According to Pappe, in 1948 about a million Palestinians were forcibly driven from their homes at gunpoint by Israeli soldiers, civilians were massacred, and around half of the Palestinian villages and towns were wiped out. He describes this immense tragedy as a planned "ethnic cleansing." He provides archival evidence to prove that the forcible removal of the Palestinians was a central strategy of the Zionist movement. In the early 20th century, before Hitler and the Holocaust, the Zionist movement clearly stated that their plan was to take over 100% of the land, and forcibly expel as many Palestinians as possible. To achieve this goal, their strategies included the colonization of Palestine with the use of violence, force and terrorist acts against the Palestinians to expel them from their homeland, and to coerce the remaining population into total submission to the Zionist state. Pappe laments that this tragedy, "one of the largest forced migrations in modern history," was either unknown to the rest of the world, or forgotten. Furthermore, the lies perpetrated by the Zionists that the Palestinians had left voluntarily, were accepted as the truth. Pappe states unequivocally that for any meaningful peace to have a chance in this troubled region, the unconditional return of Palestinian refugees to their ancestral homes must be taken into account.
He asserts that the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians which began in 1948 continues to the present. The latest Israeli attacks on Gaza validates his assertion. The brutality of Israel's attacks plunged the 1.5 million people of Gaza into hell for 3 weeks. The attacks killed around 1,300 people, most of them civilians, including hundreds of children, targeted and destroyed homes, hospitals, schools and UN facilities. Israel's use of white phosphorous against the civilians in Gaza has been confirmed by Amnesty International, which called it a "war crime." The ferocious Israeli attacks on defenseless civilians and its blatant disregard for human lives have shocked millions of people around the world, including the U.S. Thousands of people took to the streets in mass demonstrations against Israel's crimes against humanity. In the face of this massive condemnation, Israel continues to maintain that it is the "victim" of terrorist Palestinian acts, and therefore has the right to defend itself. I find this claim totally revolting and deceitful. How can Israel, who in reality is the aggressor, guilty of war crimes and atrocities against the Palestinians, claim to be the "victim?" That's like someone who breaks into your house, kills your loved ones, forces you to leave at gunpoint, and then claims to be the victim when you try to defend yourself by fighting back.
I urge all of you who care about what's happening in Palestine to read this groundbreaking and brave book. With truth comes clarity. With clarity comes courage. Armed with clarity and courage, we can more effectively support the Palestinians in their long struggle for justice.