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Friday, January 15, 2016

Everything You Think You Know About the Israel-Palestine Conflict Is Wrong

Deconstructing the mythical standard narrative of the origins of the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
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Jeremy R. Hammond

The Fiction

The standard narrative about the origin of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that you're constantly bombarded with goes something like this, in brief:
In 1947, the UN passed Resolution 181, partitioning Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. While the Jews were willing to share the land, however, the recalcitrant Arabs rejected the plan.

Obstacle to PeaceThen, on May 14, 1948, when the Jewish leadership issued their declaration of independence, the neighboring Arab states declared war on and sent their armies to invade the nascent state of Israel.

As a result of this war started by the Arabs, many Palestinians fled from their homes and became refugees. This is why there exists a refugee problem today, and while Israel has repeatedly made generous concessions towards the Palestinians, they have since continued to reject every opportunity they've been offered to have a state of their own.

This problem with this standard narrative is that every single aspect of it is false.

I won't spend a lot of time on it here since I've written much about it already, and it is covered in detail in my forthcoming book, Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, but I'll give you the bullet-point version here.

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The Facts

These are arguments I'm confronted with constantly. And it's little wonder so many people believe them, given how they are constantly repeated as though factual by government officials, the media, academics, and so on. This institutionalized misinformation is a major part of the problem, contributing greatly to the perpetuation of the conflict.

This is precisely why I wrote Obstacle to Peace: to set the record straight both with respect to the origins of the conflict and the reasons for its persistence. But for now, here's my bullet-list reply; the facts speak for themselves:
  • The UN did not partition Palestine in 1947; it neither claimed to do so nor had any authority to.
  • The UN partition plan was inherently inequitable and grounded in racist colonialism and explicitly rejected the right of the Arab Palestinians to self-determination.
  • Neither did UN Resolution 181 confer any legal authority for the unilateral declaration of the existence of Israel by the Zionist leadership.
  • At the time the Zionist leadership declared the existence of the state of Israel without defining its borders, the minority Jewish community legally owned less than 7% of the land in Palestine; Arabs owned outright or were in possession of most of the rest.
  • The claim that Arab states invaded "Israel" in May 1948 assumes the legitimacy of the Zionists' unilateral declaration of statehood; it had none.
  • Hence there was no "Israel" to invade. The Arab forces entered the territory then known as "Palestine" (for instance, when the armistice lines were finally drawn, often called the "Green Line" for the color with which it was drawn, it was on a map labeled "Palestine").
  • By the time the neighboring Arab states managed to muster a military response to the Zionists' unilateral and illegitimate claim to most of the territory of Palestine, 300,000 Arabs had already fled or been forcibly expelled from their homes by Zionist military forces.
  • Most of the fighting occurred in territory that had been assigned to the Arab state under the UN partition plan and the largest and most capable Arab force, Jordan's Arab Legion, only actively defended the area known today as the West Bank (under a tacit understanding with the Zionist leadership that Israel would accept Jordan's annexation of the territory as a quid pro quo for its army not going any further).
  • By the time the armistice agreements were declared, 750,000 Arabs had been ethnically cleansed from Palestine and never permitted to return to their homeland.
  • The claim that Israel has offered generous concessions to the Palestinians during the so-called "peace process" defines a "concession" as Israel agreeing to give up something it wants; in terms of what each party is legally entitled to, however, Israel's concessions have been negative. That is, every single concession in each of the so-called "generous offers" (actually ultimatums) has come from the Palestinian side. (Example: the claim is obligatorily made that Israel offered the Palestinians 95% of the West Bank at Camp David in 2000. This isn't true, but we can dispense with the details for our purposes here; even if it was true, looking at it in the proper framework, it would constitute a territorial concession not on the part of the Israelis, but the Palestinians.)
In light of the actual facts, it becomes evident that the unbalanced story is the one we are daily bombarded with by the government, media, and intelligentsia.

For further reading, see my article "The Myth of the UN Creation of Israel" and pick up a copy of my book The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination: The Struggle for Palestine and the Roots of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. It's a great primer for Obstacle to Peace, so if you haven't read it already, be sure to check it out.

The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination
"Excellent short work on the founding of Israel via the wholesale violation of the rights of Palestinians. This is the book to give to people who ask what's at the root of Middle East strife. Highly recommended!" 
-- Sheldon Richman, former editor of The Freeman, author, and research fellow at the Independent Institute
BUY THE BOOK                              

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