Dubian Ade

Brief Histories: Palestine

Dubian Ade
Brief Histories: Palestine

The Israeli occupation of Palestine began in 1948. After World War II and the subsequent atrocities of the Holocaust, there was an outcry from the Jewish community that Jews should have a land of their own.

Zionism, a view that was present before WWII, then fermented with the demand of a Jewish nation-state loosely based on the territories mentioned in Hebrew scripture. These were the ancient Jewish kingdoms of David and Solomon, which was located in Palestine. It is important to note that before the Hebrews entered around 1800BC and before David's conquest around 1000BC, the region was home to the Ancient Canaanites. Canaanite civilization lasted from 3000 to 1000BC and covered what was present-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. Many groups migrated to the kingdom of Canaan, among those groups were Persians, Samaritans, Greeks, and Arabs. Jews were not the first people to live in the region, were themselves interlopers, and for most of the history of the region represented a small percentage of the population.

After the fall of Judah in 586BC, Jews were deported in large numbers out of the region in a period known as the Babylonian Exile. Around the end of the Sixteenth Century Palestine became predominately Muslim-Arab and in 1516 became a province of the Ottoman Empire. It was apart of the Ottoman empire until 1917.

Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the British had taken administrative control of Palestine at the end of WWI and it was renamed the British Mandate for Palestine. Mandates were territories that were overseen by a foreign power until the area could be formally independent. Arab Palestinians were promised an independent Palestine by the British. But talks had already been occurring between Zionist and British administrators well before the end of the war. The famous Balfour Declaration, a document written by British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour, proclaimed British support for a national homeland for Jews that would be established in Palestine. Perversions were made to the Treaty of Versailles that supported the pro-Zionist project. Under the British administration Jewish immigration into Palestine was heavily encouraged. Israel essentially employed the help of British colonial imperialism to install itself in Palestine.

Palestine was then partitioned along the Jordan River by the British administration in 1922 in what was call the 1922 White Paper. East of the river was allotted to Arab Palestinians while west of the river could be used for Jewish settlements. The new territory east of the river, which represented 80% of the original Palestine Mandate land, was renamed the Emirate of Transjordan and remained under the British administration. The British ruled the Mandate for Palestine and the Emirate of Transjordan for thirty years and facilitated the massive influx of Jewish settlers.

The Israeli conspiracy, instigated by British colonial power and backed formally by the United States continued well into the middle of the 20th Century. Under the British administration Jewish settlers made aggressive land seizures that displaced many Palestinian Arabs. The Jewish National fund (JNF) had been purchasing large swaths of land from absentee landlords. The JNF worked in tandem with the Zionist Settlement Department, which forcefully evicted Palestinian tenants off lands recently purchased. Violent confrontations over land were frequent. Zionist settlements were regulated but ultimately protected by the British administration. The growing tensions sparked a major revolt led by Palestinian Arabs in 1936. The revolt was suppressed by the British and Zionist forces.

The British announced their withdrawal from the territories in 1947. The combustible situation that Britain helped to facilitate proved too much for the administration. Both the Mandate and the Emirate of Transjordan were to be turned over to the United Nations. The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) was formed and the UN General Assembly issued Resolution 181. The resolution once again partitioned the territories into Arab and Jewish states, this time with Jerusalem as a separator. The United States put pressure on over twelve Latin American countries to support the resolution.

Resolution 181 was approved on November 29, 1947. Just before it was past Zionist groups secretly prepared the purchase of massive amounts of arms from Europe. This was in preparation for Plan Dalet (or Plan "D") a Jewish military plan that involved the conquest of Palestinian villages listed under the "Village Files." The Village Files was a living record of photographs, maps, and other detailed information about Palestinian villages and their inhabitants that was collected by the Zionists prior to 1947. At least 13 clandestine paramilitary operations were carried out against these villages before the UN partition was even put into place.

On May 14, 1948 the last of the British troops withdrew from the region, officially ending the Mandate. That same night Zionist leaders met at Tel Aviv to sign a Declaration of Independence for the State of Israel. At this point there were about 600,000 Jewish immigrants living in the region compared to a population of 1,300,000 Arabs. In the subsequent months that followed the announcement of Israeli independence, Zionist paramilitary forces would forcibly remove over 725,000 Arabs from their homes. This event was known as the Nakba. Over 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed and at least 10 massacres occurred in the immediate months following Israeli independence.

Plan D and the Nakba laid the groundwork not only for the solidification of the so-called Jewish state, but also set the stage for its expansion. With the expulsion or otherwise extermination of the Palestinian Arabs came more Israeli land-grabs and purchases. In December of 1948 the Law of Acquisition of Absentee Property was passed by the Israeli legislature. The law effectively classified all Palestinian refugees as absentees, which essentially turned over their private property to the Israeli government. The Israeli state grew in size from 55% (in 1947) to 78% of the original Mandate territory by the end of 1948.

The events outlined here mark only the beginning of the Israeli settler colonial project. From the start the Zionists have sought to remove Arabs from the region through a policy of infiltration and ethnic cleansing. To achieve its nationalist goals, the Zionist leveraged the imperial power of the British and the support of the colonial United States. The scandal that is Israel continues.