Through Ramzy baroud for The Palestinian Chronicle
Haaretz’s investigation report – ‘Classified documents reveal massacres of Palestinians in ’48 – and what Israeli leaders knew’ – is must-read. It should be read especially by anyone who considers themselves a “Zionist” and also by people who for whatever reason support Israel, all over the world.
“In the village of Al-Dawayima (…), 8th Brigade troops massacred around 100 people,” Haaretz reported, although the number of Palestinian victims subsequently rose to 120. One of the soldiers who witnessed this horrific event testified before a government committee in November 1948: “There was no fighting or resistance. The first conquerors killed 80 to 100 Arab men, women and children. The children were killed by smashing their skulls with sticks. There was not a house without people being killed there.
The nearly 5,000 word Haaretz report was filled with such painful details, stories of former Palestinians who were unable to flee the Zionist invasion and ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine (1947-48), lined up against various walls and massacred; of an older woman being shot at point blank range with four bullets; other elderly people crammed inside a house and shelled by a tank and hand grenades; many Palestinian women raped, and other devastating stories.
Quite often, historians refer to how Palestine was ethnically cleansed of its indigenous inhabitants by making this typical claim about Palestinian refugees: “… those who fled or were expelled from their homes”. The reference to the word “fled” has been exploited by supporters of Israel, claiming that the Palestinians left Palestine of their own accord.
It was also Haaretz who, in May 2013, reported about how Israel’s founding father and first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, fabricated this very story to protect Israel’s image. Document number GL-18/17028, which was found in Israeli military records, showed how the story of the fleeing Palestinians – allegedly at the behest of Arab governments – was invented by the Israelis themselves.
Sadly, as the latest Haaretz revelations prove, the Palestinians who chose to stay because of their disability, age or illness were not spared and were slaughtered in the most gruesome manner.
But something else struck me about the report: the constant insistence of the delusional Israeli leaders, then, that those who committed the many gruesome killings were just a few and that they hardly represent the conduct. of an entire army. Note that the “army” referred to here are Zionist militias, some of which operated under the name “gang”.
In addition, much emphasis has been placed on the concept of “morality”, for example, “the moral foundations of Israel” which, according to these early “ethical Zionists”, were compromised by the misconduct of a few soldiers.
“In my opinion, all of our moral foundations have been undermined and we need to look for ways to curb those instincts,” Haim-Mosh Shapira, then Minister of Immigration and Health, said at a government meeting. Committee.
Shapira, who represented the voice of reason and ethics in Israel at the time, did not dispute Israel’s right to settle on the ruins of colonized – and ultimately destroyed, Palestine. Nor did he question the murder of tens of thousands of Palestinians or the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands during the Nakba. Instead, he was referencing and protesting the excess violence that followed the Nakba, now that Israel’s future and the destruction of Palestine were assured.
This branch of “humanist” Zionism, that of selective and selfish morality, continues to exist to this day. Strange as it may sound, Haaretz’s editorial line itself is the perfect manifestation of this supposed Zionist dichotomy.
Needless to say, very few, if any, Israelis have been held responsible for the crimes of the past. 73 years later, Palestinian victims continue to demand justice that continues to be delayed.
One might find this conclusion a little harsh. Zionist or not, one can protest that at least Haaretz exposed these massacres and the guilt of the Israeli leadership. Such assumptions, however, are very misleading.
Generation after generation, Palestinians, as well as many Palestinian historians – and even some Israelis – have already seen most of these massacres. In his report, for example, Haaretz refers to “previously unknown massacres”, which include Reineh, Meron (Mirun) and Al-Burj. The assumption here is that these massacres were “unknown” – read unrecognized by the Israelis themselves. Since Haaretz’s editorial line is driven by Israel’s own misinterpreted historical narrative, the killings and destruction of these villages simply never happened – until an Israeli researcher acknowledged their existence.
Walid Khalidi, one of the most influential Palestinian historians, has known, along with many others, of these massacres for decades. In his seminal delivered, “All that remains: the Palestinian villages occupied and depopulated by Israel in 1948”, Khalidi speaks of Al-Burj, whose only claim to existence is now “a house in ruins (…) at the top of the hill “.
With reference to Meron (Mirun), the Palestinian historian discusses in detail and with precision what remains of the village: “While the Arab part of the village has been demolished, several rooms and stone walls are still standing. One of the walls has a rectangular door-shaped opening and another has an arched entrance ”.
This is not the first time that an Israeli confession of guilt, while still conditional, has been seen as the very validation of Palestinian victimization. In other words, any Palestinian allegation of Israeli misconduct, although it may be verified or even filmed on camera, remains in question until an Israeli newspaper, politician or historian recognizes its validity.
Our insistence on the centrality of the Palestinian narrative becomes more urgent than ever, as the marginalization of Palestinian history is a form of denial of that story – denial of the bloody past and the equally violent present. From a Palestinian point of view, the fate of Al-Burj is no different from that of Jenin; Mirun is no different from Beit Hanoun and Deir Yassin is no different from Rafah – in fact, all of Gaza.
Reclaiming history is not an intellectual exercise; it is a necessity, yes, with intellectual and ethical repercussions, but also political and legal ones. Of course, the Palestinians do not need to rewrite their own history. It’s already written. It is time for those who have paid much more attention to the Israeli narrative to let go of such illusions and, for once, listen to Palestinian voices, because the truth of the victim is a totally different story from that of the aggressor.
Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and editor-in-chief of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr Baroud is a non-resident principal investigator at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). Its website is www.ramzybaroud.net
~ Photo: UNRWA