Putting Israeli Bombing of Gaza in Perspective

(July 2014)



In the midst of the current escalation of violence in Gaza, Western political leaders and diplomats (including the UN Security Council) repeatedly urge a cease fire and return to peace talks in order to diffuse the tension between Israel and the Palestinians.  But all this assumes that the Israelis actually want to achieve a peace settlement.  Indeed, the continued colonization and acquisition of Palestinian lands has been a fundamental Israeli strategy even before the establishment of the State of Israel, just as American policy from the inception of the country was to expand and inhabit the entire North American continent, removing what peoples (Indians and Mexicans) stood in their way  ó"Manifest Destiny" and all that!

Each dot on the map below represent a Palestinian village that was destroyed between 1947 and 1949 to make way for the construction of Jewish settlements.  A total of 418 Palestinian villages were demolished during those years, resulting in the dislocation of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

"Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population." 

--Moshe Dayan, former Commander-in-Chief of the Israeli Army and Knesset (Israelís Parliament) address to the Technion, Haifa, reported in Haaretz, April 4, 1969




The occupation of Palestinian land by Jewish settlement has continued unabated ever since. According to a study by B'Tselem, an Israeli human-rights group, the West Bank settler population doubled in size during the seven-year Oslo "peace process" (1993-2000), and the settlements' territorial reach extended to cover nearly 42% of the West Bank. This huge expansion was achieved largely through the construction of settler-only bypass roads and military zones which serve to integrate the settlements with Israel proper (Economist October 31, 2002)  óroads that the local Palestinian population is not allowed to use. 

The Israeli settlement process has continued unabated ever since, with the building of more and more settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, displacing more and more Palestinians.



The net result is that Israel now occupies and controls the Lionís Share of the West Bank, leaving little in the way of resources upon which a viable Palestinian economy can be built.  In addition, Israel controls everything that flows in and out of Gaza and the West Bank, including money, foreign aid, medicines, construction material, water and electricity, and frequently shuts these flows down when it wishes.



As would be expected, many Palestinians have resisted this process, just as native Americans fought the conquest and colonization of their land by the expanding American population (another group of European colonizers). In the inevitable conflict, the Palestinian death toll has averaged 6 times that of the Israeli death toll (see table below).  By comparison, according the the U.S. Bureau of Census (1894), "The Indian wars under the government of the United States have been more than 40 in number. They have cost the lives of about 19,000 white men, women and children, including those killed in individual combats, and the lives of about 30,000 Indians." óa ratio of 1.5 Indians killed for every white person killed in the struggle. While this ratio represents a conservative estimate (most scholarly estimates, however, are less than 2 to 1), it is significantly lower than that experienced by the Palestinians.  This is due in part by the fact that the Palestinians can only muster rocks and small, largely homemade, rockets while Israel [ranked by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC) as the most militarized country in the entire world] responds disproportionately with the most modern and sophisticated weapons in its arsenal, including Flechette-shell-darts, which are aimed specifically and indiscriminantly at civilian populations.






SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/20/israel-using-flechette-shells-in-gaza




According to the Ministry of Information in Ramallah, 1,518 Palestinian children were killed by Israel's occupation forces from the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 through April 2013. That's the equivalent of one Palestinian child killed by Israel every 3 days for almost 13 years. The ministry added that the number of children injured by the Israelis since the start of the Second Intifada against Israel's occupation has now reached 6,000.



"The majority of these [Palestinian] children were killed and injured while going about normal daily activities, such as going to school, playing, shopping, or simply being in their homes. Sixty-four percent of children killed during the first six months of 2003 died as a result of Israeli air and ground attacks, or from indiscriminate fire from Israeli soldiers."

 óCatherine Cook (2004)



Meanwhile, Western leaders shuttle back and forth to try to limit the violence and repeatedly call for a settlement of the conflict.  A successful settlement depends on both sides being able to come to a territorial agreement. However, the Israeli Government is no more willing to compromise on its territorial ambitions than was the U.S. government in its conquest of Native American (and Mexican) territory.  Just as the ambition of successive American governments was to colonize the entirety of North America (even invading Canada twice during the War of 1812 in an attempt to incorporate its territoories into the U.S.), so also has the goal of Israel been to occupy the full extent of Eretz Israel (the Biblical name for all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River).  One only needs to read the statements made by successive Israeli leaders to see that their desire and willingness to establish a peace settlement with the Palestinians is highly unlikely.


David Ben Gurion, The first Israeli Prime Minister:

In response to the UN establishment of two states in Palestine: one for Jews and one for Arabs . . .

"No Zionist can forgo the smallest portion of the Land Of Israel. [A] Jewish state in part [of Palestine] is not an end, but a beginning . . . .  Our possession is important not only for itself . . . through this we increase our power, and every increase in power facilitates getting hold of the country in its entirety. Establishing a [small] state . . . will serve as a very potent lever in our historical effort to redeem the whole country."

"[I am] satisfied with part of the country, but on the basis of the assumption that after we build up a strong force following the establishment of the state--we will abolish the partition of the country and we will expand to the whole Land of Israel." (comment in response to the 1948 UN vote to establish two states in Palestine: one Jewish and one Arab)

"If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti - Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault ? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?" --Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pp121.

"We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?' Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said 'Drive them out!'" --Yitzhak Rabin, in a leaked version of Rabin's memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.


Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces (1978-1983) and later member of the Knesset:

"We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel... Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours." - New York Times 14 April 1983.


Chaim Weizmann, first Israeli President:

"We shall spread in the whole country in the course of time . . . this is only an arrangement for the next 25 to 30 years."  (in a letter sent to Palestine-British High Commissioner in 1937) 


Golda Maier: Israeli Prime Minister (1969-1974):

"There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist." they never existed." (The Sunday Times June 15, 1969)  

"How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to."  --March 8, 1969.  

"This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy." (Le Monde, October 15, 1971)


Menachem Begin, Israeli Prime Minster (1977-1983) [former Head of the Irgun, a Jewish Terrorist organization fighting for independence under the British Mandate]:

"The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized . . . Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for Ever." (1948) --One day after UN vote to partition Palestine into two states.

". . . the Jewish people have unchallengeable, eternal, historic right to the Land of Israel [including the West Bank and Gaza Strip], the inheritance of their forefathers," (1977)

" [The Palestinians are] beasts walking on two legs." --speech to the Israeli Knesset, New Statesman, June 25, 1982.


Albert Einstein and several other prominent Jews sent a letter to the New York Times in 1948 protesting the visit to the U.S. of Menachem Begin.  The letter began as follows:


Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the "Freedom Party" (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.

The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Beginís political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.

Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Beginís behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement.

The public avowals of Beginís party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.


A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants (240 men, women, and children) and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin.

The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party.

Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model.


Ze'ev Jabotinsky,

Founder of the right-wing Revisionist Movement (which eventually evolved into the post-1948 Herut Party, and later became the Likud Party, the party of Ariel Sharon, Menachem Begin and Binyamin Netanyahu whose father was secretary to Jabotinsky).  Netanyahu considers Jabotinsky to be one of his strongest influences.:

"I devote my life to the rebirth of the Jewish State, with a Jewish majority, on both sides of the Jordan."

"If you wish to colonize a land in which people are already living, you must provide a garrison for the land, or find a benefactor who will maintain the garrison on your behalf. ... Zionism is a colonizing adventure and, therefore, it stands or falls on the question of armed forces."

"The Arabs loved their country as much as the Jews did. Instinctively, they understood Zionist aspirations very well, and their decision to resist them was only natural ..... There was no misunderstanding between Jew and Arab, but a natural conflict. .... No Agreement was possible with the Palestinian Arab; they would accept Zionism only when they found themselves up against an 'iron wall,' when they realize they had no alternative but to accept Jewish settlement."  (1923)


Yitzhak Shamir, Israeli Prime Minster (1983-84, 1986-1992): [Shamir was also a prominent leader in Irgun, the Jewish terrorist organization)

"The past leaders of our movement left us a clear message to keep Eretz Israel from the Sea to the River Jordan for future generations, for the mass aliya (Jewish immigration), and for the Jewish people, all of whom will be gathered into this country."  --November 1990. Jerusalem Domestic Radio Service.

"The settlement of the Land of Israel is the essence of Zionism. Without settlement, we will not fulfill Zionism. It's that simple."  --February 21, 1997

"(The Palestinians) would be crushed like grasshoppers ... heads smashed against the boulders and walls."  --in a speech to Jewish settlers New York Times, April 1, 1988


Ehud Barak, Israeli Prime Minister (1999-2001), Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister during Binyamin Netanyahu's second term from 2009 to 2013:

"If we thought that instead of 200 Palestinian fatalities, 2,000 dead would put an end to the fighting at a stroke, we would use much more force...." -- quoted in Associated Press, November 16, 2000..  


Ariel Sharon, Israeli Prime Minister (2001-2006):

Many in the Arab world referred to Sharon as "the Butcher of Beirut" after he oversaw Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon while serving as defense minister.  Sharon, a former army general then serving as Israeli defense minister, was held responsible by an Israeli inquiry in 1983 for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. He was forced to resign.

"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands."  -- addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.

"Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Palestinian) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours.  . . . Everything we don't grab will go to them."
  --addressing a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, Nov. 15, 1998.


Benyamin Netanyahu, Current Israeli Prime Minister:

"Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories.", address to students at Bar Ilan University as Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, , From the Israeli journal Hotam, November 24, 1989


The attitude consistently and repeatedly expressed by Israeli leaders and other prominent Zionists for nearly 100 years clearly indicates that there isn't, and never has been, a serious interest for compromise with the Palestinians. Given that most Israeli Prime Ministers were former military leaders in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and served as Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Defense, etc. in various administrations, Israel has maintained a consistent, expansionist and obstructionist policy with regard to the settlement/peace process.  The goal has been from the beginning to occupy all of Palestine as the Biblical Eretz Israel, and the strategy has been to increasingly realize this goal by forcibly occupying more and more Palestinian territory.   Western leaders, such as John Kerry, who shuttle back and forth to Israel, believing that a negotiated settlement to the Israeli/Palestinian problem is possible, are naive.  Similarly, repeated resolutions issued by the United Nations which call on Israel to halt its settlement expansion represent exercises in futility.


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Of Related Interest . . .




Colonization and Resistance

in North America and Palestine













Genealogy, Politics and History in the Book of Genesis








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