soldiers
© Kluger Zultan/Store Norske Leksikon
Soldiers from the nascent Israeli army 8th brigade, Palestine war, October 1948
One of the greatest triumphs of Zionism is to have neutralized reaction to its genocidal expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948, the Nakba. Even after Israel's own "New Historians" exposed the irrefutable facts, in the 1980s, the Western world's fixation on "Israel's right to exist" scarcely budged. Backed by such mantras, Zionists only had to ease back on their beloved version of Israel's "War of Independence" (David versus Goliath, etc.) and make a few concessions to the grim realities of war. They correctly calculated that peoples' hearts were still with the Holocaust survivors, struggling in the fog and fear of a hard-fought war to create a safe haven for the Jewish people. Sensitive souls might shed a few tears over the tragic excesses ("on both sides") but they could cling to Israel's basic goodness and necessity - and still trust it to find a solution to the "plight of the Palestinians."

A good example of this neutralization is Ari Shavit's 2013 book, My Promised Land: The Triumph and the Tragedy of Israel, in which he "courageously" confronts painful facts, such as the war crime expressly ordered by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and executed by future prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to expel the inhabitants of Lydda (now Lod) in 1948. Shavit admits to himself the truth: "If Zionism was to be, Lydda could not be." In a final cri de coeur he declares, "I'll stand by the damned. Because I know that if it wasn't for them, the State of Israel would not have been born." The book received awards, and rapturous reviews as proof of Israeli sensitivity and moral courage.

Reruns of the crimes of 1948 — even on Netflix in beautiful, shocking films like Farha - won't shake public acceptance of Israel's founding — not as long as false assumptions keep Zionists in a favorable light.


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This wall of favoritism, prejudice and willful ignorance faces two new challenges, however. First, Israel's tougher-than-ever, newly-elected government is casting doubt on the basic character of the Jewish state.

Second, a seminal new study has rolled out direct, contemporaneous evidence of the largely hidden, hugely successful pre-1948 Zionist campaign of double-dealing, disinformation, intimidation, and assassination, crowned by a torrent of terrorism that set the stage for the whirlwind expulsion of 80 percent of the Palestinian population in 1948.

In Palestine Hijacked, author Thomas Suarez claims to have "pierce[d] the opaque narratives that hide the truth to perpetuate injustice." An epic presentation of new and existing research, the book shows that the Nakba was over before it started. The outcome was locked in before the UN partition resolution of November 1947 had even been proposed. Suarez quotes senior officials and observers at the time, including Zionists, to show that the UN partition plan was merely intended to serve as a fig leaf to give Britain cover to cut and run from Palestine. No one in the know really believed the Zionists would adhere to the partition resolution they signed on to — and they didn't. They forcibly took as much of Palestine as they could without even waiting for the British to decamp. The great powers merely blinked and moved on, with no desire to remember, much less discuss, events that reflected badly on them. Palestinians' and other Arabs' vehement protests were ignored, while comforting myths of innocence were embraced by Jews and non-Jews.

The book draws on records in poorly-tapped and newly unsealed archives that Suarez spent years digging out. It presents more than enough evidence to puncture the myths about Israel's founding, plus further material about the several years of atrocity-filled consolidation of the Palestinians' exile and subjugation in the 1950s. Rather than address the myths one-by-one, Suarez takes a simple but effective chronological approach, beginning in the early years of World War I with the machinations that produced the 1917 Balfour Declaration. Heavy on facts and light on argument and interpretation, the book succinctly documents a large number of incidents, statements, and maneuvers, with just enough no-frills background to keep the flow of events and developments smooth.

The effect is dramatic, a devastating narrative of relentless Zionist aggression against any who stood in the way. In their own words, Zionist perpetrators express their impatience and fury, the British their rising frustration and dismay, and the victims their anguish and despair — including numerous non-Zionist Jews among the countless Palestinians. We listen in on police, spies, terrorists, bystanders, reporters, diplomats, political chiefs, et al.

It is overwhelming to take in the spectacular violence, the lies and tricks, the exuberant intimidation, and the absolute dedication of the Zionists over decades. But we should be overwhelmed if we are to get a sense of the bewilderment of the Palestinians, the British, the many non-Zionist Jews, and eventually much of the world, at the birth of Israel. The book pulls us along through wave after wave of deceptions, bombings, shootings, clever escapes, daring infiltrations, denials, accusations, obfuscations, demands, mad propaganda, and intimidation that break over the land. We see the Palestinians provoked into the doomed, desperate 1936-1939 revolt against the British and their Zionist clients. Next, the British are beaten down and terrorized until they give up the mandate. All this before the Nakba erupted.

At the outset of Suarez's narrative, the British assume that the Zionists will be useful pawns in their war against the Kaiser and their post-World War I competition with other world powers. They are gung-ho to support the "public lie" that the Balfour Declaration's "Jewish National Home" will not disadvantage the Arabs of Palestine or lead to a Zionist state in Palestine. As it turns out, the British serve as the pawns of the Zionists. They roll out a red carpet for Zionist immigration and grant to the "Yishuv," the Jewish community in Palestine, many rights and privileges — and to the Palestinians none. They crush Palestinian political and military resistance during the Arab Revolt.

In 1939, however, when they try to put some brakes on the Zionists with the White Paper, things get nasty. Britain finds itself trapped by its own lies. It can hardly make an abrupt about-face to tell the world — especially with the Holocaust in the background — that the Zionists actually are rough customers, who have always sought Jewish supremacy in Palestine, and are proving impossible to control.

The British never speak out plainly, although their private comments are insightful, drawing on the prodigious intelligence they possess about almost everything that is happening (intelligence Suarez taps extensively). They never dare to really crack down on the Zionists, even as terrorists attack and kill their soldiers, police, bureaucrats, and high officials, and deploy hundreds of highly sophisticated bombs to wreak havoc. They fear to provoke the outrage of a pro-Zionist American political establishment and media that will attack U.S. loans crucial to Britain's economic survival. Mandate officials realize that a crackdown will trigger a mass uprising by the entire Yishuv.

In a final comeuppance the British are cast as loathsome villains standing in the way of the Jewish liberation struggle, accused by self-appointed Jewish leaders of "waging a war of extermination on the Jewish people, . . . successors of Hitler's extermination campaign." Claiming to be underdog freedom fighters, the Zionists publicly boast of their terror attacks and constant robberies as acts of heroic resistance. They raise funds in the West for their noble struggle. Their pose as underdog fighters also allows them to justify the buildup of a large and heavily armed fighting force that by 1948 is ready to sweep away the poorly armed and trained Palestinians, whom the British savagely keep down to the very end.

One might almost feel sorry for the old imperialists, which only shows how outdone they were by their Zionist partners in crime. But that is not the point. The point is that the genocide of the Palestinians was in no way an unintended outcome, arising from the fog, fear, and chaos of war. Just like the British, the Palestinians were eliminated to make way for the Jewish state.

Zionist narratives have always framed the Palestinian Arabs as prone to violence and as the initiators of terrorism. Suarez acknowledges that Palestinians committed terror attacks, and he condemns violence against random individuals. However, he shows that, except for the full-fledged uprising of 1936-1939, such incidents were sporadic reactions to ceaseless political, economic, and social aggressions of the Zionists and the British. The uprising itself arose only after non-violent resistance through petitions, protests, strikes, and boycotts was met with violent punishments. Meanwhile, superbly organized Zionist terror and provocations were a constant. British terror against Palestinians was also heavy, featuring indiscriminate violence against the innocent, the use of human shields, and demolition of large sections of Palestinian cities.

Most telling, but generally overlooked, was the virtual absence of violent Palestinian resistance from 1939 through all the years leading up to 1948 - despite continued Zionist attacks intended, among other things, to provoke Palestinian violence that would bring British retaliation and serve Zionist propaganda.

The debunking of myths about the British, the UN, and the Palestinians is essential to understand the character of the Zionists but will never suffice, as long as people (Jews and non-Jews) maintain the assumption that Zionists were and are primarily dedicated to the safety and welfare of the Jewish people and religion. Suarez acknowledges:
"For the victims of pogroms in Europe and Russia, the attraction to Zionism was unquestionably sincere. However, history makes plain . . . that the driving motivation of the Zionist movement itself was not Jewish safety and dignity, but an ethnically-predicated settler state."
Avoiding thorny questions of Jewish identity, religious faith, and history, Suarez simply documents Zionist mistreatment and manipulation of Jews in Palestine and the Diaspora to make sure that they served the cause of Zionism, and that cause only.

The contempt for non-Zionist Jews was deep. In Britain, prominent Jewish scholars, cabinet members, military veterans, and the like, who attempted to block or soften the Balfour Declaration because they believed it was bad for Jews, were dismissed by the Zionists as out-of-touch, "assimilated Cosmopolitan Jews." And the contempt was hard: Most victims of Zionist targeted killings in that period were Jews, Suarez writes, such as Dr. Ya'cov Israel de Hahn, a prominent critic of Zionism, who was shot down in Tel Aviv in 1924 (after five earlier murder attempts). Many other Jews were murdered, attacked, or had their businesses torched for failing to support Zionism (often just for employing non-Jews or refusing to pay extortion to Zionist terror groups). The fear and intimidation kept Jews in line, even if they disliked Zionism.

Zionist leaders' animus toward the Diaspora was most chilling in the case of the Nazis. Early on they rejected the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott and even helped Germany to circumvent it through the Haavara agreement of 1933. Privately they welcomed the boost Nazi persecution gave to Jewish immigration to Palestine (and later warmly hosted Adolph Eichmann with that in mind). After 1939, the main goal was to weaken Britain in Palestine, even though that hindered the fight against Hitler. The Jewish Agency, the institutional leader of Zionists in Palestine, discouraged Jews from joining the British army, unless by way of a segregated Jewish corps. Churchill authorized a Jewish Brigade in mid-1944, but the soldiers used their training mostly to fight the British. At the height of the Holocaust in 1942, a memo of the Jewish Agency tagged "non-Zionist Jews" as the "foremost enemy" of the movement.

The Zionists were eager to highlight the desperate plight of the Jews of Europe but not to alleviate it (except by immigration to Palestine). So, the (Zionist) Board of Deputies of British Jews, aided by Stephen Wise, the American president of the (Zionist) World Jewish Congress, torpedoed a 1943 effort in Parliament, led by Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld, to get Jews out of Axis territory and over to England. The next year, Zionist leaders blocked a vast plan blessed by President Franklin Roosevelt and the British government to resettle hundreds of thousands of mostly Jewish refugees. "The dominant vocal Jewish [Zionist] leadership of America won't stand for it," Roosevelt told an incredulous adviser, Morris Ernst. When Ernst still tried to lobby influential Zionist friends, he was called a traitor. The problem, of course, was that the refugees' destination would not be Palestine. Similarly, the Zionists fought to block Jewish orphans from being adopted by European families (Jewish families in many cases). After the war, they even engineered the forcible removal of many Jewish orphans from adoptive homes in which they wished to remain.

A huge campaign concerned Jewish survivors in post-war displaced persons (DP) camps. The first step was to get them segregated from non-Jewish DPs, Suarez explains. Then Jewish Agency and Irgun personnel indoctrinated, intimidated, and if necessary, beat up DPs, until they agreed to insist they be sent only to Palestine. DPs also underwent military training in the camps; many took part in the widespread, though now forgotten, Zionist terror campaign to intimidate European, as well as British leaders. Shiploads of DPs were shunted around to dramatize the storyline that Palestine was the only acceptable solution to Jewish trauma. The tragic denouement of the highly stage-managed affair of the refugee ship "Exodus," in which desperate but determined Holocaust survivors were literally dragged kicking and screaming back to Germany, resulted from Zionist pressure that prevented them from disembarking in Southern France. Given such thuggish actions against fellow Jews, as well as against their British sponsors, and above all the violence against all Palestinians, it is no wonder that Suarez quotes many sources who saw similarities with the Nazis.

Assertion of existential dominance over the "Jewish nation" was, of course, fundamental to Zionism, but it had side effects: It reinforced non-Jewish tendencies to see "the Jews" as a single tribal mass, which is the classic premise of antisemitism. Non-Jews, whether hostile, friendly, or ambivalent, were thus lured into believing that the Zionists spoke for the Jews. Being so perceived from the outside boosted the inside pressure on Jews to embrace, pretend to embrace, or at least not to oppose the Zionist program.

Suarez lays out his historical narrative with deep and transparent scholarship, even inviting readers to access "lesser-known source documents" cited in the book at two websites (paldocs.net and thomassuarez.com). Thus, he seeks to pierce the fog of time, in which lies can become myths, the disappearance of a people can seem inevitable, and calculated crimes can look like fated tragedies - so much so that later, ongoing crimes somehow are sheltered by the past crimes.

Can this infusion of historical facts overcome such pro-Zionist myths and mantras? It's hard to say, but Israel isn't taking any chances. Rather, it has ordered its national archives to reseal some records and "prevent the unsealing of others due for release," as the book notes, "while a 'Malmab unit' has been searching the country's archives to remove evidence of war crimes." Thankfully, Palestine Hijacked has already let a swarm of sleeping archival facts out of the bag.