FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s groundbreaking book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Engl. orig. 2006), on the events in 1947-49 that led to the formation of the state of Israel, had just been published in German translation, and he was in Austria to promote it. A few weeks prior to the outbreak of the Gaza war (2008-2009), Pappe answered our questions in such a way that all his points are still as relevant today as they were a year ago. Gaza is still suffocating under a heavy Israeli blockade, East Jerusalem and the West Bank still being invaded by illegal Jewish settlers. It is clearer than ever before that Israel is not defending itself; it is extending itself. The remaining Palestinian pockets of land look like 20th-century South African Bantustans, and worse, like the shrinking and disappearing American Indian reservations of the 19th century.

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is still ongoing today, according to Pappe, and it is an intentional policy by the state of Israel. The international community, unfortunately, is doing next to nothing to stop Israel’s illegal expansion. But Pappe lit up the evening for the roughly hundred-strong audience. He illustrated with concrete examples and vivid testimony how everybody and anybody can do something to contribute to justice and peace in the Middle East. His research and findings, as well as his ideals, have been viewed in a negative light by Israelis, and their reactions have led to his exile from his home in Haifa. The distinguished researcher and dedicated activist is currently Chair of the History Department at Exeter University in the UK, and he continues to research events and issues that many Israelis would rather leave buried and forgotten. He also spreads awareness of the injustices suffered by the Palestinian people through giving lectures around the world and publishing journalistic work.

What are the responses to your book from the scientific community?

The Israeli scientific community would say the facts are right but my interpretation is wrong. That I don’t understand that Israel had the right to do what it did. But I think, around the world, most of the scientific community accepts the findings of my book, and accepts that this is now an integral part of history, to be taught in schools and universities and so forth.

How has your book been treated by the mass media?

I think unfortunately in the West, mainstream media tended to ignore the book, though not in England, where the book was well received. I think the book was more received by the alternative media, the ones on the Internet and so on. It was difficult to get the book reviewed and discussed, especially on the main television channels. The newspapers were a bit better. So I don’t think the mainstream media are ready, yet, to hear this version of events, especially in the US. Even Germany is better. Die Zeit reviewed the book and I did two interviews on major German TV channels. But in America it is very difficult.

What are you researching now?

I’m working on 1967. There is some new material. And I would like to show how the Israeli policies in the occupied territories were actually shaped in 1967. And they haven’t really changed since then. The Israelis made up their minds about the territories back in 1967. And nothing that happened after that has changed those policies. I want to go back to the core of the Israeli vision: that most of Palestine belongs to them and they don’t see any place for Palestinians in Palestine.

How can Palestinians be rehabilitated and restored to their rightful place within the human community?

I think there are three things that they have to go through before things will get better again. I think Israel and the West have to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing of 1948, and the ethnic cleansing since then. I think Israel should also be held accountable. This would open the way for Palestinian normal life. And I think only then can you ask the Palestinians to accept the Israelis. I think there are similar events in history where people have gone through this process: First acknowledge something happened, and then take responsibility. This is the Israeli part of the deal. And then the other side forgives and accepts the new life.

Ultimately, how do you see the future of the Palestinian people? Do you really think a solution can be reached or the Palestinian refugees may one day return to their country?

Yes, I’m optimistic. I think there is a chance that eventually these rights will be granted to the Palestinians. I’m afraid it’s a long-term prospect. My great worry is the near future. There is a great danger that it will become worse before it becomes better.

What would you advise young people do to raise consciousness about the gross human rights violations taking place in Israel and Palestine, and what steps can they take to help stop them from occurring?

I think people like you should become VIPs. You should Visit, Inform, and Protest. It’s not easy, I know, but you should try to see with your own eyes, and not just rely on others. And when you know what’s happening: to tell other people. And then protest in a non-violent way, to change things. But it’s also important not to forget Israeli society, to engage, to understand its fears and problems, to have a comprehensive picture. I think this will help push the peace process forwards.

Could you please add any comments on the more general context, more specifically on the international community including the EU and Austria?

There is an international context to this question. And without addressing this context you will never have a solution. So many people who are now oppressed, or who feel oppressed, are Muslims. And they feel there is a connection between the way Muslims are mistreated in Palestine and they way they are mistreated elsewhere. And there is this connection. There is a feeling that America and Britain and the West are treating Israel in a very extraordinary way. This raises the question why this attitude was never granted to anyone who is not Israeli, in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America. So that is one international context.

There is also a specific German and Austrian context. It has to do with the fact that so much that Israel does is justified by what was done to Jews in these countries. And I think it is up to the Germans and the Austrians to face courageously what they have done so they can tell Israelis to face courageously what they have done. All these things are part of the solution.

(The interview took place on December 6, 2008 at Amtshaus Währing in Vienna, Austria)

 

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
November 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Meet Ukraine: America’s Newest “Strategic Ally”
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Frankenstein Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ukraine in the Membrane
Jonathan Steele
The OPCW and Douma: Chemical Weapons Watchdog Accused of Evidence-Tampering by Its Own Inspectors
Kathleen Wallace
A Gangster for Capitalism: Next Up, Bolivia
Andrew Levine
Get Trump First, But Then…
Thomas Knapp
Trump’s Democratic Critics Want it Both Ways on Biden, Clinton
Ipek S. Burnett
The United States Needs Citizens Like You, Dreamer
Michael Welton
Fundamentalism as Speechlessness
David Rosen
A Century of Prohibition
Nino Pagliccia
Morales: Bolivia Suffers an Assault on the Power of the People
Dave Lindorff
When an Elected Government Falls in South America, as in Bolivia, Look For a US Role
John Grant
Drones, Guns and Abject Heroes in America
Clark T. Scott
Bolivia and the Loud Silence
Manuel García, Jr.
The Truthiest Reality of Global Warming
Ramzy Baroud
A Lesson for the Palestinian Leadership: Real Reasons behind Israel’s Arrest and Release of Labadi, Mi’ri
Charles McKelvey
The USA “Defends” Its Blockade, and Cuba Responds
Louis Proyect
Noel Ignatiev: Remembering a Comrade and a Friend
John W. Whitehead
Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded
Patrick Bond
As Brazil’s ex-President Lula is Set Free and BRICS Leaders Summit, What Lessons From the Workers Party for Fighting Global Neoliberalism?
Alexandra Early
Labor Opponents of Single Payer Don’t  Speak For Low Wage Union Members
Pete Dolack
Resisting Misleading Narratives About Pacifica Radio
Edward Hunt
It’s Still Not Too Late for Rojava
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Why Aren’t Americans Rising up Like the People of Chile and Lebanon?
Nicolas Lalaguna
Voting on the Future of Life on Earth
Jill Richardson
The EPA’s War on Science Continues
Lawrence Davidson
The Problem of Localized Ethics
Richard Hardigan
Europe’s Shameful Treatment of Refugees: Fire in Greek Camp Highlights Appalling Conditions
Judith Deutsch
Permanent War: the Drive to Emasculate
David Swanson
Why War Deaths Increase After Wars
Raouf Halaby
94 Well-Lived Years and the $27 Traffic Fine
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Coups-for-Green-Energy Added to Wars-For-Oil
Andrea Flynn
What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Health Care
Negin Owliaei
Time for a Billionaire Ban
Binoy Kampmark
Business as Usual: Evo Morales and the Coup Condition
Bernard Marszalek
Toward a Counterculture of Rebellion
Brian Horejsi
The Benefits of Environmental Citizenship
Brian Cloughley
All That Gunsmoke
Graham Peebles
Why is there so Much Wrong in Our Society?
Jonah Raskin
Black, Blue, Jazzy and Beat Down to His Bones: Being Bob Kaufman
John Kendall Hawkins
Treason as a Lifestyle: I’ll Drink to That
Manuel García, Jr.
Heartrending Antiwar Songs
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Poetry and Political Struggle: The Dialectics of Rhyme
Ben Terrall
The Rise of Silicon Valley
David Yearsley
Performance Anxiety
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail