Telling Truths about Israel/Palestine

False national narratives play key roles in controlling human behavior, especially when enforced by an aggressive propaganda system that demonizes factual counter-narratives. That has long been the case as Israel minimized its harsh treatment of Palestinians, but the truth has begun to break through, says Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

On Oct. 16, the Israeli organization Yazkern hosted dozens of veterans of Israel’s 1948 “War of Independence” for a look at what that struggle really entailed. The veterans testified to what can only be called a conscious effort at ethnic cleansing the systematic destruction of entire Palestinian villages and numerous massacres.

The aim of Yazkern’s effort at truth-telling was to break through the  sanitized “mainstream nationalistic narrative” of 1948  and the accompanying denial of any legitimate Palestinian counter-narrative.

In 1948, some Palestinians, uprooted by Israel’s claims to their lands, relocated to the Jaramana Refugee Camp in Damascus, Syria

documentary film by Israeli-Russian journalist Lia Tarachansky, dealing with this same subject, the Palestinian “Nakba” or catastrophe, is nearing  completion. It too has the testimony of Israeli soldiers of the 1948 war.

These latest revelations lend credence to the claims of Israel’s “new historians,” such as Ilan Pappe, who have written books based on evidence gleamed from government archives showing that, even before the outbreak of hostilities leading to the creation of the State of Israel, the Zionist authorities planned to ethnically cleanse as much of Palestine as possible of non-Jews.

OK, you might say, the Israelis behaved savagely in 1948 and only a small minority will admit it but what about after “the War of Independence”? As it turns out, the ethnic cleansing never stopped. Conveniently, the longstanding denial that it ever started has helped to hide the fact that it’s ongoing.

Just this week, we received the news that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has given the order to demolish eight Palestinian villages with some 1,500 residents in the south Hebron hills. The excuse offered by Barak is that the land is needed for military training exercises.

According to the “new historians,” this is a standard Israeli government cover for ethnic cleansing. Sure, for a couple of years the Israeli army will use the land that held the demolished villages. Then, almost inevitably, the area becomes the site of a new Israeli Jewish settlement.

On Oct. 20, Al-Jazeera reported on Israeli documents showing that between 2008 and 2010 the Israeli army allowed food supplies into the Gaza Strip based on a daily calorie count that held the basic diet of a 1.5 million people to a point just short of malnutrition.

According to the Israeli human rights organization Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, “the official goal of the policy was to wage economic warfare which would paralyze Gaza’s economy and, according to the Defense Ministry, create pressure on the Hamas government.” Actually, this bit of savagery predates 2008.

Back in 2006, Dov Weissglass, then an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, stated that “the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” Of course, precedents for this can be found in the treatment of European Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. One assumes that Mr. Weissglass was aware of this.

However, just as with the barbarism practiced in the “War of Independence,” in this case too there is a well-practiced capacity for national denial. According to Gideon Levy writing in Haaretz, “the country has plenty of ways of burying skeletons deep in the closet so that Israelis shouldn’t be overly disturbed.”

The military authors of the document that turned Weissglass’s hideous “idea” into savage practice, operated in a country afflicted with blindness. Just so the present Israeli government does not worry about public unease over the fact that it is slowly but surely destroying the Gaza sewage system and rendering its water supply undrinkable.

Then there are the petty acts of cruelty that can be considered telltale signs of an underlying savagery. For instance, the fact that Israeli customs officials held back the the exam sheets for the October 2012 College Board tests bound for the West Bank graduating high school seniors.

AMIDEAST, the organization that serves as the testing agency for the Palestinian territories, had made sure the Israeli authorities had the tests in their hands weeks in advance. Nonetheless, in an apparent act of vindictiveness, the customs officials held on to them until AMIDEAST had to cancel the exam.

One observer has asked the question, “what has the SAT [tests] have to do with Israeli security?”  Well it might be that, in the mind of a cruel customs official, the more college-bound Palestinians from the Occupied Territories, the more articulate witnesses to Israeli oppression.

On the Gaza side of the equation, the U.S. was forced to cancel a small scholarship program for Gaza college students because the Israelis refused to let the students leave their open-air prison, even if only to go to a West Bank school.  (For anyone who might want to follow the grim procession of Israeli oppressive acts on a day-to-day basis, I recommend the web site Today In Palestine.)

Challenge and Denial

In the face of this behavior on the part of Israel, that country’s public support in the United States has finally begun to slip.

Most recently, 15 prominent church leaders, representing major Christian denominations, wrote an open letter to Congress calling for “an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations. We urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and we request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance.”

So far, Congress has turned a deaf-ear to this request, but the Zionist reaction was loud and clear. Leading the way in this effort was the head of the misnamed Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Abraham Foxman. Charging the Christian leaders with a “blatant lack of sensitivity” (one might ask just how sensitive one is suppose to be to an oppressor?) Foxman decided to punish the offending clergy by refusing to engage in ongoing “interfaith dialogue.”

Having “big brains” is a two-edge sword for human beings. It means we can think all manner of creative thoughts and even exercise some self-control over our own inappropriate impulses if we care to try. However, it also means that we can be manipulated into thinking that we need not try that we are the victims even as we are oppressing others and that any criticism of our actions is just another example of our victimization.

Israeli culture and indeed the culture of Zionism generally is one ongoing project of self-manipulation to achieve just such a state of mind. And, to a great extent, it has succeeded. A recent poll taken in Israel shows that “a majority of the [Israeli Jewish] public wants the state to discriminate against Palestinians revealing a deeply rooted racism in Israeli society.”

The Zionists are not the only experts in denial. The United States, Israel’s chief ally, has always been good at this gambit as well. After the 9/11 attacks, any consideration of the possibility that United States foreign policy in the Middle East might have helped motivate the terrorism was anathema and it still is over a decade later.

Instead of taking a hard look at our own behavior, we are simply expanding our capacity to kill outright anyone who would challenge our policies in a violent fashion. Our answer is targeted killings by drone or otherwise, a bit of savagery we copied from the Israelis.

Machiavelli, who can always be relied upon to see the darker side of things, once said, “Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.”

But is it really inevitable?  

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

14 comments for “Telling Truths about Israel/Palestine

  1. Rich Beckmann
    November 7, 2012 at 00:58

    No Arsen, I don’t care . Maybe if you didn’t starve the people in Gaza, cross international borders at will and kill people, and steal what little is left of Palestine, maybe, just maybe, people wouldn’t be aiming rockets at you. Duh, ya think?

    • borat
      November 8, 2012 at 19:59

      you are an ignorant jackass. Maybe if iran and hezbollah would supply the Gazans w/food, etc. instead of rockets, and “palestinians” or just arabs would cease teaching their children virulent antisemitism in their schools things would be different you ignoramus…

  2. elmerfudzie
    November 4, 2012 at 11:01

    The biblical land of milk and honey promised by God to the Israelite s was contingent more so on faith than military prowess. Unfortunately Zionist leaders continue to prefer the latter over the former. There have been many human Holocausts before and after the second world war. Slaughters and land grabs are common throughout history and no Zionist can use or point to the Jewish holocaust as an excuse for an incessant militarism allegedly on behalf of Israels sovereignty. In general terms, the quick and easy way was chosen over the arduous task of tedious formal diplomacy. For example, deep political, ethnic and religious rifts oozing out of many European countries were an outgrowth of two world wars and clearly, no one wants to witness a third world war from these same frictions in middle eastern countries resurface even tho every effort is under way to do just that. Idealism aside, it’s fair to say we may never see a United States of Europe but again, through formal diplomacy a European Union now exists and with it came a great distaste for fascism and skin head mentalities. Yes indeed during the great wars there were land grabs, unjust reparations, endless family dislocations but how has it come to pass that for sixty years two tiny nations, Israel and Palestine cannot negotiate their borders and resolve to make Jerusalem an international city state? What lessons can be drawn from the wars in Europe? can they be applied today? A yes in the affirmative. Words such as forgiveness, reconciliation, barter, exchange, treaty among many others comes to mind. These words are the pearls that need a string and savvy hand to lace them all together, problem is, we have yet to find that personage and there is so very little time left.

  3. Charlie
    November 3, 2012 at 23:18

    Wow!! What a powerful and accurate article on the systematic abuse and terrorizing of an entire population by Israel, or more appropriately IZRAHELL. The people of Izrahell may be deep seeded racists but we here in the USA are surely not. It is only a matter of time before the masses in the USA the good ol USA wake up to Izrahell’s abuse and savage behavior. Hopefully much much sooner, rather than later. People are dying.

  4. Otto Schiff
    November 2, 2012 at 14:40

    It is difficult to tell the truth from fiction.

  5. rich
    October 30, 2012 at 04:35

    it has always been obvious the naked giant hypocracy that israel represents just as usa big media and government and their 110% support of israel’s behaviour personnifies the corruption in my country that has almost completely enveloped us since kennedy to nixon to reagan to shrub. there are way to many ignorant and brainwashed people in this country by now who dont have a clue. dont see that changing in my lifetime.

  6. Gusseppe
    October 29, 2012 at 15:21

    jews are NOT Semites.

  7. Khalil Al-Shanti
    October 29, 2012 at 14:32

    An excellent and poignant analysis as always Mr. Davidson. Please keep up the good work we have come to expect from you!

  8. borat
    October 29, 2012 at 04:30

    nothing davidson has ever said or written has credence. He’s a self hating Jewish American who is just a shill for the medievalist antisemitic regiemes, and the rehmatshits and herr hillarys who squawk the hate Jews and Israel line.

    • anti-borat
      October 29, 2012 at 07:43

      So the sources Davidson is quoting … are all faked? All lies that he asked other people to come up with?

      You should seriously consider coming up with some better excuses for keeping your eyes clo

  9. Hillary
    October 28, 2012 at 21:28

    No matter who you vote for, you end up with dystopia. You end up with wickedness in high places.

    “Our government is now controlled by a criminal cabal” and “the country we now live in is a police state masquerading as a democracy.”

    I agree with this grim analysis, so the crucial question facing me and millions of other concerned Americans is how do we rectify this dismal situation and regain our democratic republic?

  10. Hillary
    October 28, 2012 at 20:00

    Miko Peled, the Israeli General’s Son. Seattle. Oct. 1, 2012

    Israel – Apartheid Without Shame or Guilt

    Israel Lobbyist – We Need a False Flag to Start War with Iran!

  11. F. G. Sanford
    October 28, 2012 at 11:57

    Just substitute “Antisemitism” for “Treaty of Versaille” and “Terrorists” for “Jews” and you’ve got the entire Machiavellian script from 1923 to 1939, all for free and written by real propaganda experts. All you have to do is change 1923 to 1948, and proceed according to the script.

  12. the Lord
    October 28, 2012 at 10:37

    While Israel was cautioned that Nina is just like Holy Land on which they are living, in usual monkey madness they has sent her to the East. Where she is begin forced to marry Israeli replacement. Maybe never returning.

    In response, as warned, Lord will throw this stone on 11 November, delivering his mystical Spear of Destiny to Russian Embassy. At the other hand, through Plebiscite 596+ he will be slurping Trojak wine , causing Israel to disappear. This way or another. Even if it will be nuclear one, as was in case of his grandfather Hiroshima and Nagasaki.. More:


    Just after posting my Nina response I had meet replaced Israeli Sigismund, it means that she is still on Western side of border. MY RESPONSE IS CLEAR AND IT CAN BE NUCLEAR, AS WITH WITKACY. They now that i know both fiances since childhood and i expect both of them.

    Moreover with Nina i was in same class during primary class. There is no way to cheat me, as my grandfather made portraits of both. It is worse that was in St. Petersburg, as Israeli are now living on my land.


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