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Norman Finkelstein: Introduction to the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Posted by uscsjp on October 5, 2006

Background

To resolve what was called the “Jewish question” – i.e., the reciprocal challenges of Gentile repulsion or anti-Semitism and Gentile attraction or assimilation – the Zionist movement sought in the late nineteenth century to create an overwhelmingly, if not homogeneously, Jewish state in Palestine. (1) Once the Zionist movement gained a foothold in Palestine through Great Britain’s issuance of the Balfour Declaration, (2) the main obstacle to realizing its goal was the indigenous Arab population. For, on the eve of Zionist colonization, Palestine was overwhelmingly not Jewish but Muslim and Christian Arab. (3)

Across the mainstream Zionist spectrum, it was understood from the outset that Palestine’s indigenous Arab population would not acquiesce in its dispossession.  “Contrary to the claim that is often made, Zionism was not blind to the presence of Arabs in Palestine,” Zeev Sternhell observes.  “If Zionist intellectuals and leaders ignored the Arab dilemma, it was chiefly because they knew that this problem had no solution within the Zionist way of thinking…. [I]n general both sides understood each other well and knew that the implementation of Zionism could be only at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs.” Moshe Shertok (later Sharett) contemptuously dismissed the “illusive hopes” of those who spoke about a “‘mutual misunderstanding’ between us and the Arabs, about ‘common interests’ [and] about ‘the possibility of unity and peace between the two fraternal peoples.'”  “There is no example in history,” David Ben-Gurion declared, succinctly framing the core problem, “that a nation opens the gates of its country, not because of necessity…but because the nation which wants to come in has explained its desire to it.” (4)

“The tragedy of Zionism,” Walter Laqueur wrote in his standard history, “was that it appeared on the international scene when there were no longer empty spaces on the world map.” This is not quite right. Rather it was no longer politically tenable to create such spaces: extermination had ceased to be an option of conquest. (5)  Basically the Zionist movement could only choose between two strategic options to achieve its goal: what Benny Morris has labeled “the way of South Africa” – “the establishment of an apartheid state, with a settler minority lording it over a large, exploited native majority” – or the “the way of transfer” – “you could create a homogenous Jewish state or at least a state with an overwhelming Jewish majority by moving or transferring all or most of the Arabs out.” (6)

Round One – “The way of transfer”

In the first round of conquest, the Zionist movement set its sights on “the way of transfer.”  For all the public rhetoric about wanting to “live with the Arabs in conditions of unity and mutual honor and together with them to turn the common homeland into a flourishing land” (Twelfth Zionist Congress, 1921), the Zionists from early on were in fact bent on expelling them.  “The idea of transfer had accompanied the Zionist movement from its very beginnings,” Tom Segev reports.  “‘Disappearing’ the Arabs lay at the heart of the Zionist dream, and was also a necessary condition of its existence…. With few exceptions, none of the Zionists disputed the desirability of forced transfer – or its morality.” The key was to get the timing right.  Ben-Gurion, reflecting on the expulsion option in the late 1930s, wrote: “What is inconceivable in normal times is possible in revolutionary times; and if at this time the opportunity is missed and what is possible in such great hours is not carried out – a whole world is lost.” (7) (continued. . . )

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3 Responses to “Norman Finkelstein: Introduction to the Israel-Palestine Conflict”

  1. […] maiming Palestrinian Arabs back the, Read the History written by a "self-hating Jew" . Norman Finkelstein: Introduction to the Israel-Palestine Conflict . __________________ The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been […]

  2. […] reports 77% of Gaza dead are civilians – Salon.com They know it. They are simply adhering to the original Zionist plan of 1925. Let's create a Jewish State in Palestine and lets murder or disappear any Palestinian Arab who […]

  3. […] […]

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