FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Transfer as Ethnic Cleansing

It’s not every day that you get the chance to prevent a crime against humanity.

This is one of those times.

For several months now, those of us following events in Israel-Palestine closely have been hearing increasingly disturbing reports. Americans returning from the Palestinian Occupied Territories reported that the Israeli government appeared to be preparing to “transfer” the Palestinian population; in other words, to forcibly remove them from their homes and transport them elsewhere.

Israeli parliamentary members began more and more openly to advocate such expulsion, and parties that actively promote transfer were included in the ruling coalition. A renowned Israeli historian suggested that the region would be much more peaceful today if all of Israel’s original inhabitants had been forced out in 1948, instead of only 60 percent. The implication was clear: it was not too late to remedy this lapse.

A major Israeli daily reported that the military was studying the tactics that had been used by Germany in the Warsaw Ghetto, looking for tips on how to control an unwanted, violently rebelling population. Palestinians sent out emails describing Israeli soldiers going from house to house, counting the occupants–“taking inventory of us,” as one person wrote.

Here in the U.S. more and more supporters of Israel began openly debating the merits of “transfer.” Gamla, an American support organization for Israel, published a 9,000 word article entitled “The logistics of transfer.” The author argued that “the only possible solution” to the Palestinian Question was transfer of the Palestinians, and claimed that ancient Judaic literature substantiates this tactic. A group in New York fought to name a street after the Israeli government minister who had most ardently urged such “cleansing.”

For a number of months I ignored this mounting evidence. Keeping track of the daily cycle of Israeli fatal and mutilating violence, followed by violent Palestinian retaliation, was already a chillingly full-time endeavor. That this tragic two-year period of violence could turn out to be but the “calm” before the storm was beyond my ability to contemplate.

But now, 178 Israeli academics and over 1,000 American professors have written two letters to the world community forcing us all to consider just such a possibility. And unlike many other writers, they are calling “transfer” by its real name: ethnic cleansing.

In letters released on the internet they write: “We are deeply worried that “the ‘fog of war’ [during an invasion of Iraq] could be exploited by the Israeli government to commit further crimes against the Palestinian people, up to full-fledged ethnic cleansing.”

They call on all of us to prevent this: “to make it absolutely clear that crimes against humanity will not be tolerated, and to take concrete measures to prevent such crimes from taking place.”

For that is what “transfer” is: a crime against humanity. It is what Hitler espoused; what Milosevic urged. It is the getting rid of people of the wrong kind… of the wrong race, the wrong ethnicity, the wrong religion… the wrong people. It is, by its very nature, violent, racist, cruel. It is the uprooting of human beings from their land, their homes, their heredity, their lives; a ripping out, by the very roots, of an entire culture.

It is like the violent uprooting of a vast, rolling prairie–stalk after stalk ripped from the earth… each stalk another man, another child, another woman. Some survive, many do not. Some die quickly, others wither slowly, invisibly; in hardship, grief, despair. In 1948, when over 700,000 Palestinian men, women and children fled their homes, one Red Cross worker at the time wrote: “No one will ever know how many children died.” This is “transfer.”

I refuse, any longer, not to pay attention. I refuse to stand by while evil renames itself and is entertained in respectable society. I refuse to remain silent while the filthy is perfumed and the unthinkable thought. I refuse to become guilty, through my inaction, of complicity with atrocity.

The world has looked away before, too often, and in too many places. To its eternal shame.

I refuse.

ALISON WEIR lives in Sausalito, California. She is the executive director of If Americans Knew and is a contributor to THE NEW INTIFADA (Verso press) and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.. She traveled extensively throughout Gaza and the West Bank in winter, 2001, as a freelance reporter, and has given presentations on the Middle East on Capitol Hill, the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine, and numerous other venues throughout the United States and Canada. She can be reached at: alisonweir@yahoo.com

 

More articles by:

Alison Weir is executive director of  If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. An excerpt of her book was published in the March 21-23, 2014 issue of CounterPunch. Upcoming book talks can be seen on the book’s website.

July 23, 2018
Pam Martens
Koch Industries Is Staffing Up with Voter Data Scientists to Tip the November Election to the Extreme Right
Binoy Kampmark
Ecuador’s Agenda: Squeezing and Surrendering Assange
Vijay Prashad
America’s Reporter: the Hersh Method
Colin Jenkins
Exposing the American Okie-Doke
Patrick Cockburn
What Boris Johnson Doesn’t Know About British History
Jack Random
Asylum Seekers in the 21st Century
Howard Lisnoff
How We Got Sold on Endless Wars
Ed Meek
Trump Has Taught Us Some Valuable Lessons About Executive Power
Myles Hoenig
Trump, the Mr. Magoo of American Diplomacy
Winslow Myers
The Mind Reels
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Peaceful Revolution
Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail