This year will see in 40 years of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands when Israel took control of the last 22 per cent of historic Palestine within the internationally-recognised Armistice “Green” line, known as the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. That was in 1967. It was a bold and deliberate plan to take all of Palestine, an idea that was put into effect with the UN Partition of 1947 giving European immigrant Jews 55 per cent of Palestinian land and the remainder going to the majority Palestinian population.
The plan was for an exclusively Jewish state on land historically known as Palestine. The Palestinians were never consulted, nor did they agree. It, therefore, required the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and throughout the months of 1947-1948, subversive European Zionist groups engineered the calamitous dispossession of the majority Palestinian population. Some 750,000 Palestinians fled their homes and homeland in terror as word of massacres and razing of villages and towns reached them. These events culminated in the al-Nakba or “Catastrophe” on 15 May 1948. The same day, the Arab states declared war on the newly-created Israel, but the weak and disorganised Arab armies were no match for the highly efficient and well-armed Israeli military force that had been formed from the Zionist terrorist groups already operating inside Palestine.
Like the Palestinians, the Arab states had only just emerged from colonial occupations and they were unable to withstand Israel’s blistering attacks. They lost the war and the subsequent armistice agreements between Israel and the Arab states increased Israel’s land acquisition to 78 per cent of Palestine. Again, the Palestinians were not consulted. It was a monumental betrayal of Palestinian rights by the Western powers and their own Arab neighbours. The Palestinians – both inside and outside of Palestine – were put in limbo and Israel continued to devise the most extraordinary schemes to ensure that Palestinians could no longer claim under Israel’s law, any of the land appropriated by the Jewish state.
Then came the six-day war of 1967 and Israel’s illegal military occupation which has continued for 40 years – a crime against humanity that has so humiliatingly oppressed and subjugated two, even three generations of Palestinians and is illegally and relentlessly stripping them of even more land. Today, there is barely 7 per cent of the land left for the Palestinians.
It is 40 years too many—an occupation that has no legitimacy in law and no morality in human behaviour. But, the crime is not Israel’s alone. The world powers—America, England, France, Russia and others —are all complicit. The ineffectual United Nations is complicit; the self-serving Arab regimes are complicit; the Zionist-controlled Jewish Diaspora is complicit; the Bible-struck Christian churches are complicit; and so is every person who has remained deafeningly silent in the face of Israel’s criminal acts. Only the remarkable resilience of the Palestinian people has stopped their deliberately planned demise. It is no wonder then that Israel’s crimes are becoming ever more blatant, in order to create immutable facts on the ground that will make it impossible for the Palestinians to realize self-determination in their own homeland.
And that is the inequity of it. Dispossession, displacement, ethnic cleansing and occupation have all been excused and accepted as a consequence of the shameful Jewish Holocaust. But, for the Palestinians, there will be no such universal acknowledgement, shame and reparations if Israel is allowed to continue its plunder of Palestinian lands with impunity. The world can no longer allow the vengeance of the victims to wreak havoc on a blameless people. After the original sin of dispossession and the wretched years of inhumanity that followed, we all have a responsibility to stop Israel’s crimes rooted in an illegal occupation and its colonialist expansionism. We must demand a free Palestine and seek a way forward that will redress the wrongs and finally bring justice to the Palestinians. Only then will there be a chance for peace and reconciliation between the two peoples – Jews and Palestinians.
- Sonja Karkar