May 15, 2018

Word: Israel's ethnic cleansing

Ethan Ackelsberg, Socialist Worker - The ethnic cleansing of Palestine's indigenous Arab population is well established, thanks to the work of Palestinian scholars such as Noura Erekat, Rashid Khalidi and the late Naseer Aruri; Israeli historians such as Ilan Pappé; organizations like the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights and Jewish Voice for Peace; and, of course, the memories of Palestinians themselves.

Yet this claim of "ethnic cleansing" remains highly controversial. So it is worth revisiting some of the basic facts from 70 years ago about the founding of Israel in May 1948.

While there is no accepted definition of "ethnic cleansing" under international law, a United Nations report from investigations in the former Yugoslavia defines it as "rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area" and later as "a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas."

The forcible removal and displacement of roughly 750,000 Palestinians during the 1948 war--about 80 percent of the Palestinian Arab inhabitants of the land that became Israel--in order to create a Jewish-majority state certainly fits both of these definitions.

The Israeli nonprofit Zochrot has carefully documented the destruction of Palestinian villages from 1948. According to its research, 601 Palestinian villages were destroyed--33 of which had more than 3,000 residents, including Jaffa (76,000) and Haifa (70,000).

One of the most heinous acts of "terror-inspiring" violence occurred on April 9, 1948, when two right-wing Zionist militias banded together to attack the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, massacring at least 110 of its residents. Other Palestinians were placed in labor camps by Israeli forces between 1948 and 1955.

Even today, Israel continues its policy of "transfer" of Israeli citizens into the West Bank in order to advance its agenda of pushing Palestinians off their land in order to establish ever more Jewish-only settlements.

For all 70 years of its existence, Israel has denied the massive Palestinian refugee population the right to return to their homes--a right required by UN General Assembly Resolution 194, article 11, which reads in part:
Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and...compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the Boston Globe, clueless super-cretin Jeff Jacoby uses WWII to suggest Palestinians accept their fate; the right of departure and return are fungible, apparently.