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November 22, 2012

Hard facts are ignored in recent Palestinian-Israeli conflict

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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The recent Palestinian-Israeli conflict raises old issues but they all are ignored by the Western media, Western politicians and Zionist Jews.

Is Israel a colonial-settler state, and the Palestinians are colonially oppressed people? Supporters of Israel say definitely not and denounce the yes answer to the question as propaganda by anti-Semitics or by self-hating Jews against a Jewish state established by people seeking to end thousands of years of exile and bondage.

Is Zionism a political-religious ideology discriminating against non-Jews? Again the answer given by many Zionist Jews is no.

But these are two fundamental questions that must be addressed by whoever is seeking a lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Peace will never come to Jews or Arabs unless these two issues are honestly addressed, especially by Jews.

Israel, of course, does not fit precisely the model of a white racist South Africa but there are too many striking similarities and few differences.

One such difference is that Zionist nationalists, unlike European colonialists, created a social base to take over a territory. And in the process they advocated “a land without a people for a people without a land,” as the leading Zionist Jew, Israel Zangwill, put it.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s Zionist Jews racist prejudices were no worse than those prevailing among their European contemporaries. 

But setting up an exclusively Jewish state in Arab Palestine got nowhere and found little favor even among Jews until the British was persuaded to sponsor it in order to justify their own continued intervention in the Middle East.

Several hundred thousand Jews, fleeing Hitler before the war and escaping the wretched displaced persons camps after the war, found refuge in Palestine because they were not accepted by the western democracies, like my country Canada, who are today so friendly to Israel. 

These refugees, persecuted victims themselves, were absorbed into the armed settlement community and only intensified the colonialist impact upon the Palestinians.  The same was true with the Oriental Jews who arrived afterwards – some under Zionist pressure and others expelled from their Arab countries of origin in retaliation for the expulsion of the Palestinians. In both cases, the Palestinians were made to suffer the consequences of the deeds of others.

That Zionist Israel, once formed and well-established, could assume some normal relationships with the conquered Palestinians has proven impossible for the last 64 years.

What made things worse is that Zionist Israel was built on the backs of hired Palestinian labor from the occupied territory. And Israel, with the help of US had grown accustomed to expanding armed Jewish settlements, oppressing the Palestinian population and using them as a cheap labour.

A prominent Israeli dissident, Yehoshua Arieli, writing in 1972, pointed to the effects of occupation in producing political conformity, spurring new vested interests, deepening social and material inequality, and leaving “Zionist values jettisoned” by hiring Arabs to do the dirty work.

This brings us back to the point made at the beginning that Jews, in Israel and in the US must address the fundamentals of the issues of the occupation, armed settlements and the Zionist ideology on which Israel was built. Most of them however are sadly blind by the overwhelming support they receive from the US and by the Israeli victories over the last 64 years.

But the reality is this: the Palestinians, despite the wishful thinking of many Zionist Jews, are not going away.

In 1967 Joseph Weitz, former head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department, wrote “...when the UN passed a resolution to partition Palestine into two states, the War of Independence broke out to our great good fortune; and in this war a twofold miracle happened: a territorial victory and the flight of the Arabs.  In the Six Days’ War one great miracle happened: a tremendous territorial victory; but most of the inhabitants of the liberated territories remained “stuck” to their places – which may destroy the very foundation of our state.”

Weitz was one of the main architects of a “transfer solution,” to the Palestinian problem advocating transferring “the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries; to transfer all of them; not one village, not one tribe should be left.”

It seems incredible that after 64 years of the creation of Israel, that so many Zionist Jews still deny the historical reality, and blame the victims; the Palestinians.

It is even more incredible that the colonial-settler character of Zionist Israel has not been widely recognised by so many Jews and their Western supporters, even among those who normally sympathise with the oppressed. 

This is mainly because the West’s guilt feeling after the Holocaust, permitting the big powers to hand Palestine over to the Zionists in the name of atonement and compassion – and feeling relief that so many Holocaust survivors wouldn’t be knocking at their doors. But by their blind support of Israel, the West is punishing both the Palestinians and the Israelis, many times over. How sad!

Elmasry is a professor emeritus of computer engineering, University of Waterloo. He can be reached at

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