In 25 days, out of a population of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, Israel massacred 1317, including 419 children & 108 women. It wounded 5340 (6657 were either killed or wounded). This killed the same proportion of Gazan society as would killing 263,400 Americans in the U.S., including 83,800 children and 21,600 women, and injuring more than one million.
The invaders used a wide array of high-tech weapons, including white phosphorous and what appears to be the experimental Dense Inert Metal Explosive, or DIME—a new weapon that penetrates the body with a fine metal dust that amputates limbs, cannot be surgically removed, causesorgan failure and cancer.
This escalation was supported by most governments of the world—most adamantly the United States—and including neighboring Arab states. However, alongside this gruesome assault we saw one of the largest mobilizations of international solidarity the human community has seen in quite a while.
From the beginning of Zionist settlement of Palestine, the settlers have been at war the native inhabitants. Zionist colonization started around the turn of the 20th century. In its first few years Zionists used highly exploited Arab labor to build a Jewish-dominated economy. However, early on Zionists found that Jewish labor could not compete with the local Arab labor and rapidly began excluding Arab labor altogether.
Zionist organizations and investors bought land primarily from the elite Arab absentee landlords and pushed all Arab labor off the purchased land. In buying up so much land the Zionists infused the property market with money. This drove prices up and pushed other small farmers into debt and off their land.
Meanwhile, the Zionists organized campaigns to push Arabs out of the economy. Jews who employed Arab labor were targeted with demonstrations, boycotts, and physical attacks. Here’s an account by a socialist Zionist, David Hacohen, leader of the Zionist workers’ movement in Palestine in the 1930s and 1940s: "When I joined the socialist students’ club (in London) there were English, Irish, Jews, Chinese, Indians and Africans—all under English domination.
“Already at that time I had to fight with my close comrades around the issue of Jewish socialism, to justify the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my union, the Histadrut, that we urged Jewish households to not buy anything at Arab stores, that we organized guards around the orchards to keep Arab laborers from working there, that we tossed gasoline on Arab tomatoes and broke Arab eggs in the baskets of women who had bought them.
"The Jewish National Fund sent Yehoshua Hankin to Beirut to buy lands from rich absentee landowners and we then kicked out the farmers. It was all right to buy dozens of hectares from an Arab, but to sell, God forbid, one Jewish hectare to an Arab, was forbidden. It really wasn’t easy to explain!"
Needless to say, the native communities were not in favor of these developments. And so, Zionists came to rely heavily on the British to protect their project. They procured laws and declarations in support of their colonization—most notably the Balfour declaration in 1917—as well as favored banking status and physical protection.
Zionist police forces eventually collaborated with the British in keeping down native uprisings, which were fighting a dual colonization carried out by Britain on the one hand and the Zionists on the other.
By 1936 the Palestinian resistance came to a head with a general strike that held out for six months. By the fifth month Britain cracked down hard on the resistance. They arrested strikers and blew up buildings, terrorizing the population. One incident alone made 6000 people in Jaffa homeless.
Despite the barbaric force employed, the British were losing to the resistance by 1938 and began to join with Zionist forces, who then aided in crushing the rebellion. By 1939, 14,411 Zionist soldiers had joined this effort.
It should be noted that only in Palestine was the Arab rebellion directed at any Jewish institutions, and that even there the rebellion targeted institutions specifically related to Zionist settlement, and avoided the native Jewish inhabitants.
With the Arab uprising of 1936 the Zionists began to rely on a combination of walls and towers in their settlement construction. This design incorporates two features that have proved essential to the Zionist project: The wall to keep the native inhabitants outside the colonial community, and the tower to dominate them.
Getting hold of a local force that was already mobilized against the native population was a godsend to the British colonial forces. It was in this co-operation that many future Israeli military leaders—such as Moshe Dayan—learned how to crush resistance.
This pact with Britain allowed the Zionists to acquire enough land and power under the British mandate to conquer a far larger swath of land. This was no mere happy accident. From very early on Zionist leaders intended their new state’s land to reach deep into modern Arab territory. This is recorded in the works of modern Zionism’s founder, Theodore Herzl, and right up to the founder of the Israeli state, Ben Gurion.
When Ben Gurion spoke to the World Council of Poale Zion in 1938, he said, "The boundaries of Zionist aspiration include southern Lebanon, southern Syria, today’s Jordan, all of Cis-Jordan, and the Sinai."
In 1947 the United Nations attempted to partition Palestine between Jews and Arabs. The partition was unacceptable to everyone. On the one hand, it would have given far more land to Jews than they were living on. At the time, Jewish land owners held only 6 percent of the land. On the other hand, the Zionist movement sought to claim far more land for itself and would not settle for the partition.
In 1948, war broke out between the Zionist forces and the Arab countries surrounding Palestine. Before the war there were about 950,000 Palestinians in the land that became Israel. The Zionist forces drove out or killed between 700,000 and 800,000 of the 950,000 Palestinians.
In the past, Zionists have hidden the role Zionist forces played in ethnically cleansing the land of its Palestinian inhabitants, but such denial is pretty futile by now. Even right-wing historians like Benny Morris have heavily documented the atrocities committed by Zionist troops and their intent to drive out the native inhabitants. Morris’s only problem with the operations is that they did not do a thorough enough job in expelling the Arabs.
We have, for instance, accounts such as that of Zvi Ankori, commander of the Haganah, who said, "I saw cut off genitalia and women’s crushed stomachs. … It was direct murder."
Menachem Begin, a former prime minister of Israel, expressed great pride in the terrifying effects of the Zionist operations. On the massacre of 254 men, women, and children in Deir-Yasin, Begin said, "A legend of terror spread amongst Arabs who were seized with panic at the mention of our Irgun soldiers. It was worth half a dozen battalions to the forces of Israel. Arabs throughout the country … were seized with limitless panic and started to flee for their lives. This mass flight soon developed into a maddened, uncontrollable stampede.
"Of the 800,000 Arabs who lived on the present territory of the State of Israel, only some 165,000 are still there. The political and economic significance of this development can hardly be overstated."
The 700,000 Palestinians who fled their homes in 1948 have not been able to return since. They and their children now number 4 or 5 million people. Many of them are huddled in the same refugee camps they entered when they first fled. They are one of the largest and longest running refugee populations in the world.
After these Palestinians were expelled, the new Israeli government systematically destroyed Palestinian homes and possessions. They destroyed nearly 400 whole villages between 1948 and 1949, and even more in the 1950s.
Then the newly formed Israeli state confiscated nearly all of the remaining land. By the time the Jewish state was founded, the Jewish National Fund estimates that it had 90% of the land.
Land held by the Jewish National Fund cannot be leased to a non-Jew, not sub-leased to a non-Jew. It cannot be sold, mortgaged, given, or bequeathed to a non-Jew. Non-Jews cannot be employed on the land, cannot be employed in any connection with cultivation of land. In modern Israel, the Jewish National Fund holds 13% of the land. Arabs living within the bounds of Israel were given citizenship, but were placed under martial law until 1966.
The government continues to use a number of methods to limit the power of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, such as refusing building permits or declaring Arab land a closed military zone.
Furthermore, Israeli law explicitly states that a political party "may not participate in the elections if there is in its goals or actions a denial of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, a denial of the democratic nature of the state, or incitement to racism."
In December 2002, a Palestinian Knesset member Azmi Bishara and his party Balad, which calls for Israel to become "a state of all its citizens," were banned by the Israeli Central Elections Committee since Israel cannot be both a state "of all its citizens" and "a state of the Jewish people." One out of five Israelis are non-Jewish Arabs.
While the Supreme Court overturned the decision in January 2003, the conflict between Israel’s Jewish character and its parliamentary democracy continues to sharpen. During the recent attacks on Gaza the Israeli Elections Committee banned parties representing two-thirds of Israeli Arabs largely in response to the sympathy they showed for Gazans.
Israel has no constitution defending basic minority rights. Because it is a Jewish state with a significant non-Jewish population such guarantees are impossible. The wide disparity between Jewish and Arab ownership of land and wealth, and the solid Jewish control and occupancy of the military, places the material bases of state power solidly in the hands of the Jewish population.
While the majority status of the Jewish population allows the state to afford some parliamentary decorations, the continued growth of the Arab population will increasingly limit the Israeli ruling class’s ability to defend the Jewish character of the state within the framework of majoritarian democracy.
Israel could not have become a Jewish state without forcibly expelling the majority of indigenous population. It cannot remain a Jewish state without forcibly preventing the re-entry of the expelled indigenous population and without forcibly preventing immigration of non-Jews into Israel.
It cannot remain a Jewish state without denying the rights—or even existence—of the remaining indigenous population within Israel.
Israel has an ever-present interest in acquiring control over the natural resources in its region, and over the economy into which it integrates. For its own immediate interests Israel has always been opposed to the strengthening of Arab countries, especially under independent—much less working class—leadership. Because of its inherent isolation from the world around it, and the violence needed to create and maintain its existence, the Jewish state has always required an imperial sponsor—now the United States.
This was never a significant contradiction since, as a colonial project, as a spartan minority in conflict with the majority; the Jewish state has always been formed by the same ideology and has held roughly the same interests as imperial powers in the region. Both imperialists and Zionists need to dominate the Arab majority.
If the Palestinian struggle is to succeed, it must overturn the Jewish supremacy imposed by Zionism and the dominance of U.S. imperialism.