Israeli Aggression and Palestinian Pain

Disclaimer: I have no direct connection with any individual or organization, whether political, religious or otherwise, and the intent of the following essay is not to cause any offence on any grounds but to highlight the historical context relevant to the events currently unfolding in the Middle East.

I condemn unreservedly the actions undertaken by the Hamas organization in recent days, that have led to innocent men, women and children in Israel losing their lives, and equally the responding action taken by the Israeli Defence Force that has caused similar casualties and loss of life in Gaza and elsewhere.


What is happening in Israel and Gaza and Lebanon right now is terrible, and I have the deepest sympathy for everyone who has been affected by the tragic events – on both sides. But this has been coming for many years, and the context is as usual absent in the flood of pro-Israeli propaganda that is swamping the media.

Let’s be clear: Arabs and Jews (and Bedouins) lived happily in the area referred to from Biblical times as Palestine, shared villages, shared work, shared schools for a thousand years. Then in the 19th century an influx of Jews from Europe joined them and the dynamic changed. The newcomers were hardline Zionists searching for somewhere to set up a Jewish homeland they termed Eretz Israel. They liked what they saw, and by the end of WW1 had essentially taken over the territory, and demanded the land as part of the peace settlement. Enter British Administered Palestine, a Crown Dependency policed by the British Army, who busied themselves training the Jewish army (although not a recognised state, the Zionists insisted they were and developed the apparatus of statehood, including armed forces) in skills of riot control, soldiering and demolition. The Arab population was excluded from this entire process. The seeds were sown.

Come the end of WW2 and thousands of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust headed for Palestine to join forces with the Zionists already there and proclaimed the state of Israel. Many more headed to the UK, Canada, other European nations and, especially, the US, where they form still a politically powerful and wealthy lobby that to this day supports unequivocally and funds today’s Israel.

Britain happily stepped aside and allowed the UN to pass a Resolution that legally recognised Israel as a sovereign nation, of which a sizeable portion had to be set aside for a Palestinian state. Israel and its Zionist leaders, however, ignored this (and every successive UN resolution) as it insisted that unless a minimum 90% of its land and a similar percentage if its population were Jewish, it would not be a viable state.

The result was two years (1947 and 1948) of terror and bloodshed as the Israeli armed forces brutally removed, interned or massacred the majority of Palestinian Arabs left in the country and flattened their villages with a combination of high explosives and bulldozers. There are documented cases of villages being occupied by the army in the middle of the night and dynamiting houses where Palestinian families were sound asleep (survivors were then force marched to concentration camps). Men of “military age” – defined by the Israeli government as between 10 and 60 – were rounded up and either interned or summarily executed on the spot.

The world and the UN looked on and did not intervene – for them it was a purely domestic matter. The destroyed villages were subsequently built on (the expansion towns that are now recognised under international law and UN articles as illegal), or planted as forests and national parks and playgrounds, and Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. Complaints by the UN, the EU, the Red Cross and other international bodies are ignored.

This policy has remained in place since 1947. The actions that have been taken under it meet all the criteria for ethnic cleansing and genocide, as agreed by the international community after WW2 and applied in the wake of the Balkan wars in the 1990s to bring Milosovic and Karadzic and others to justice when they used the same playbook in Serbia and Kosovo.

Palestinians are scattered all over the world, in small and still grieving communities, or penned in to what are essentially the concentration camps of Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights bordering Lebanon, where they are watched day and night by Israeli forces. The land that under UN Resolutions should be reserved for their homeland remains in Israeli hands, out of sight and out of reach, and there is no prospect of a peaceful solution because that requires both sides to accept their own shares of the blame, apologise for past actions, return land and compensate (all as a bare minimum, a starting point) and neither side can do this. The Palestinians are under occupation, subject to an apartheid regime with absolutely no democratic rights or personal freedoms, so have nothing to offer in the negotiation. The Israelis, with American backing, are too stubborn to accept they have done a single wrong thing in their history, and are the good guys, a small country fighting for its survival (remember: it’s also a nuclear power…) and in any case believe there is nothing to negotiate.

All of the foregoing is historical fact, documented by a host of government departmental files (on both sides of the Atlantic) and international aid agencies. I’ve worked in the region, and seen some of this for myself. While working in Beirut, 20 odd years ago, I was sent home to Europe for safety when the Israelis started shelling a Palestinian refugee camp in the Golan Heights and threatening an invasion (basically target practice, as the vast majority of the camp inmates were either elderly, women or kids). It petered out after a couple of weeks and I went back for two months more before leaving for good. Then ten years or so ago I spent 6 months working in Tel Aviv, where the Israeli people I worked with generally followed the official narrative of Poor Little Besieged Israel – it seemed ludicrous at the time and even more so now.

Neither are pleasant memories.

But while in Tel Aviv, in an English language bookshop close to the hotel, I bought a book written by an eminent Israeli historian that details much of the foregoing. The book contains maps and photographs to illustrate the narrative, quotes passages from Ben Gurion’s diary and others, as well as official combat reports and eye-witness testimony (from both Israeli and Palestinians). I learned much from the harrowing read, and it convinced me that what I had thought was probably the case was indeed true. Despite the atrocities Hamas and, before it the PLO, certainly carried out they were the desperate efforts of a people with nothing left to lose, and the brutal atrocities that successive Israeli governments have been carrying out for more than 70 years – and continue to do so – are largely ignored, swept under the carpet to satisfy……well, I’m not sure what, exactly. So is what is happening now as I write this essay.

How will it all end? God knows! More name calling. More bloodshed. More lies and deceptions. More victimisation. More brutality. More kidnapping and more murders.

BOTH sides are to blame for this, but for me at least most of the blame lies with the intransigent Israelis.

Footnote and sources: The information contained in the foregoing is distilled from a wide range of sources, including but not limited to conversations I have held with one individual who spent a year working with an aid agency assisting Palestinians in Gaza in the early 1980s and conversations I have had over many years with Jews I have worked with in a number of locations in my business life, especially my Israeli colleagues in the six months I spent working in Tel Aviv. I consider them all reputable individuals with by and large the same views on the tensions in the region. Other sources include a list of world histories that I have read over the course of my lifetime, both in school and privately (since history has always been a great personal interest since my school days).

Most of the detail summarized is taken from the book I bought while working in Tel Aviv: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, written by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe. The book is a very detailed account of the 1947/8 militarily operations that emptied most Palestinian villages and homesteads and moved their occupants to what are now the disputed areas at the centre of the current conflict. As stated above, it contains maps and photographs that illustrate the extent of the operations, a detailed timeline that charts how the conflict evolved (from the mid 19th century to the situation at the time of its writing – 2006), as well as further details from sources including the diaries of, amongst others, David Ben-Gurion, as well as official Israeli Government archives and eye-witness testimony from both Palestinians and Israelis, and representatives of international bodies including the UN and the International Red Cross. It seems to me an impeccable source that is difficult to challenge.

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  1. Raping women, parading them naked in public and then shooting them in the head is not a military response. It is genocidal… it is intifada. Decapitating 40 + babies is not a military, political response. It is pure evil committed by Satanic individuals. They rape and kill and then hide behind their own families and claim any response by Israel is aggression. Both sides are NOT to blame for these atrocities. In Sydney they are chanting “gas the Jews.” Your pathetic attempt at an explanation is a disgrace. It should be removed immediately and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    1. I fully agree with you that the atrocities you mention are completely evil, and totally condemn them without hesitation.
      But the points I made remain historical facts that show similar atrocities were being carried out by Israeli troops
      75 years ago during their forced eviction of Palestinians from the shared lands that had been allotted to them under
      UN Resolution 141 that created (I don’t like the word particularly but can’t think of a better one I’m afraid) the
      state of Israel from the territory of the British Mandate of (wider) Palestine. It’s also a fact that the Palestinian people
      remain stateless, without any democratic and human rights, under occupation. Israel continues to flout a number of UN
      Resolutions and has no interest in any kind of negotiated settlement.
      My only intent is to show the historical context to the events that is unfortunately missing from all the reporting so far on this tragic war. I apologise for the offence I have clearly caused to you, but I will not remove the piece, nor am I ashamed of
      telling the truth, unpalatable though it undoubtedly is.


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