In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, National Security Adviser and daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Condoleezza Rice, recently expanded upon her Christian Zionist ideology. “I first visited Israel in 2000. I already then felt that I am returning home despite the fact that this was a place I never visited. I have a deep affinity with Israel. I have always admired the history of the State of Israel and the hardness and determination of the people that founded it.”
While Rice does not elaborate on this “hardness and determination,” or provide specifics, we can safely assume she is talking about Israel’s relationship with the Arabs, both Palestinian and those surrounding the Zionist state. “Israel was a state who in the beginning was not given a chance to survive,” Rice explained. “She survived mainly because of the hardness of the Israelis and their readiness to sacrifice their lives for the state.”
Rice may know something about Russia, her area of expertise, but when it comes to the history of Palestine and Israel she appears to be seriously misinformed. Rice is simply perpetuating the overworked myth of hardscrabble Zionists rising above the hatred of duplicitous Arabs.
In fact, the British promoted the economic destabilization of the indigenous Palestinian economy in favor of Zionist settlers as a colonial tactic well before the creation of Israel. “The Mandatory Government granted a privileged status to Jewish capital, awarding it 90% of the concessions in Palestine,” writes Ralph Schoenman (The Hidden History of Zionism). “This enabled the Zionists to gain control of the economic infrastructure (road projects, Dead Sea minerals, electricity, ports, etc.). By 1935, Zionists controlled 872 of a total of 1,212 industrial firms in Palestine. Imports related to Zionist industries were exempted from taxes. Discriminatory work laws were passed against the Arab workforce resulting in large scale unemployment and a substandard existence for those who were able to find employment.”
These conditions, and the awareness that the Zionists intended to grab as much land as possible, led directly to the Arab uprisings of 1936 and 1939. The British declared martial law in response and sent in an estimated 20,000 troops. “Anyone suspected of organizing or sympathizing with the general strike or other resistance was detained,” explains Schoenman. “Houses were blown up throughout Palestine. The British destroyed a large section of the city of Jaffa on June 18, 1936, rendering 6,000 people homeless. Homes, as well, in the surrounding communities were demolished.”
As if to add insult to injury, and to send a message to the Arabs, the British employed Zionists as a local police force. According to Ghassan Kanafani (The 1936-1939 Revolt in Palestine), this Zionist “quasi-police force” consisted of 2,863 recruits. 12,000 men were organized in the Haganah, and 3,000 in Jabotinsky’s National Military Organization (Irgun). Again, to make certain the Arabs knew what to expect, these Zionist paramilitary “police” forces were named the “Defense of the Jewish Colonies,” and later the “Colony Police.”
“Between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this country,” Joseph Weitz, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department, said in 1940 (A Solution to the Refugee Problem, Dal’ar, September 29, 1967). “We shall not achieve our goal if the Arabs are in this small country. There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighboring countries — all of them. Not one village, not one tribe should be left.” In fact, by 1948, “there were 475 Palestinian villages and towns,” notes Schoenman. “Of these, 385 were razed to the ground, reduced to rubble.” The so-called “Koenig Report” (“the master plan for the Judaization of the Galilee,” according to Israeli historian Dr. Israel Shahak), states that the Zionists “must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”
But it wasn’t simply Palestine the Zionists wanted. In 1937, David Ben Gurion said, “The boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.” In 1938, he was even more explicit, “The boundaries of Zionist aspiration,” he told the World Council of Poale Zion in Tel Aviv, “include southern Lebanon, southern Syria, today’s Jordan, all of Cis-Jordan [West Bank] and the Sinai” (cited by Israel Shahak, Journal of Palestine Studies).
Ten years later, Ben Gurion revealed his plan for the Arabs of the Middle East: “We should prepare to go over to the offensive,” he told his General Staff. “Our aim is to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the Moslem regime is artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan; Syria will fall to us. We then bomb and move on and take Port Said, Alexandria, and Sinai” (Michael Bar Zohar, Ben Gurion: A Biography).
While Ben Gurion’s ambitious aims were not entirely realized, the Zionists and the newly created state of Israel did manage to force a huge number of Palestinians off the land where they had lived for centuries. “Between November 29, 1947, when the United Nations partitioned Palestine, and May 15, 1948, when the State was formally proclaimed, the Zionist army and militia had seized 75% of Palestine, forcing 780,000 Palestinians out of the country,” writes Ralph Schoenman. Massacres of Palestinians at places such as Deir Yasin and Dueima by the IZL (Irgun) and Lehi (Stern Gang) and later the Israel Defense Forces resulted in “a maddened, uncontrollable stampede,” according to Menachem Begin, the military commander of Irgun and eventually prime minister of Israel. “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 overestimated.”
After the state of Israel came into existence, however, the calculated mass murder of defenseless Palestinians did not subside. In the early 1950s, the Zionists continued to murder Palestinians in the refugee camps and villages of Gaza. In 1953, Ariel Sharon personally commanded the cold-blooded murder of men, women, and children in the village of Kibya. “Public opinion, the army and the police have concluded that Arab blood can be freely shed,” wrote Prime Minister Moshe Sharett in 1955. “It must make the state appear in the eyes of the world as a savage state” (cited in Livia Rokach, Israel’s Sacred Terrorism). Members of Ariel Sharon’s Commando Unit 101 were also responsible for the massacre at Kafr Qasim. The IDF awarded the perpetrators with medals and promotions.
Considering the above historical facts, Rice’s comments that “Israel was a state who in the beginning was not given a chance to survive,” and Israel “survived mainly because of the hardness of the Israelis and their readiness to sacrifice their lives for the state” are absurd, if not disingenuous. Of course, she may be right about the “hardness of the Israelis,” that is to say the cold-hearted brutality and racism afflicting many Israelis, especially the settlers who faithfully back Sharon. As David B. Burrell writes, there are two “contradictions” latent in Israeli society, “that the homecoming of one people entailed the home-wrecking of another — something obscured by official Israeli mythical history.” Obviously, the American Christian Zionists have embraced this contradiction as well, as evidenced by Condoleezza Rice’s remarks.
Moreover, according to Rosemary Ruether, the Christian Zionists hold a “dualistic, Manichean view of global politics. America and Israel together against an evil world.” Kathleen Christison, a former CIA political analyst, believes Christian fundamentalism is a strong current in the Bush White House. “There is a group of people in the Defense Department and in the vice president’s office who are very, very pro-Israeli and very pro the Likud Party in Israel,” notes Christison. “I think in general it’s safe to say Christian fundamentalism has an influence on the administration and specifically with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and other conservative Christian leaders lobby on behalf of Israel and support the reactionary, anti-Palestinian positions of the Likudites. Christian Zionists believe Israel’s existence is nothing short of proof that biblical prophecies are coming true. “The most dramatic evidence for His imminent return,” Jerry Falwell claims, is “the rebirth of the nation of Israel.”
Rice and the Bushites, however, may have a more pragmatic side to their unswerving support for Israel. “Karl Rove, Bush’s political eyes and ears, has made it his role to be sure that Bush junior doesn’t suffer the same fate as his father,” observes Jo-Ann Mort. “In order to cement a two-term presidency, Rove is shoring up a conservative domestic agenda for the president. Now he has the aid of liberal American Jews.” As the Guardian pointed out last year, it was Rove who “lobbied to maintain the administration’s close backing for Israel, on the grounds that it was vital to secure the party’s core support among southern conservatives and win over Jewish votes in Florida and California.”
In the meantime, the Palestinians continue to suffer at the hands of rabid Likudites determined to realize a Greater Israel. Once again, the accused war criminal Ariel Sharon appears to hold out an olive branch, proclaiming on Israeli radio that to “keep 3.5 million people under occupation is bad for us and them… This can’t continue endlessly. Do you want to remain forever in Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus?”
As Sharon made these seemingly reasonable comments, the ugly head of Israeli occupation reared once again: Samer Arar, an 11 year old boy from the West Bank village of Krawat Bani Zeid was executed for the crime of throwing stones.
Is it possible the killing of children is the sort of “hardness and determination” Condoleezza Rice had in mind when she mentioned her emotional attachment to the state of Israel?
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