Thursday, June 5, 2014

Using Force, Rewriting History & Getting Away With It

In an opinion piece in Tuesday's edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, international editor Peter Hartcher concluded his commentary on the the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre as follows:

"As it did 25 years ago in a very different situation, China is using force, rewriting history, and getting away with it." (China muscles its way to power, 3/6/14)

(The present tense is using refers, of course, to the recent sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea.)

Whatever this formulation's applicability to China, however, I was struck by how well it summed up Israel's modus operandi: using force, rewriting history, and getting away with it.

Thank you, Mr Hartcher.

But typically, not in a million would Hartcher, rambammed in 2009 and 2011, ever say any such thing about the apartheid state, its long history of murder and mayhem, its false historical narrative, and its Scarlet Pimpernel-like ability to evade censure and sanction.

To take just two recent examples from The Australian Jewish News of history rewritten:

1) A supplement to the AJN last month, Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) 2014-5774, leads with a two-page spread A journey through history, by Nathan Jeffay.

Essentially a tourism ad, the only history we get here is:

a) that "the modern Jewish state" was established on May 14, 1948.
b) that an attack by Arab armies followed the above.
c) that three "Zionist militias" (the Palmach, the Etzel "paramilitary organisation, also known as the Irgun and commanded by the man who became Israel's 6th Prime Minister, Menachem Begin," and the "hard-line Lehi, also known as the Stern Gang") made this glorious event possible.

What we don't get is any mention of Palestinians or the fact of their ethnic cleansing at the time.  They are completely absent from Jeffay's journey through history.

2) An article by Uri Butnaru, The forgotten refugees, in the AJN of 23/5/14. This begins:

"The decision by the Canadian parliament earlier this year to recognise the refugee status of 850,000 Sephardi Jews forced to leave Arab lands such as Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Libya between 1948 and the early 1950s is another small step towards justice. Being the son of an Iraqi Jewish refugee, it gladdens my heart that in a small way the world is starting to understand that there was suffering on both sides of the conflict, sparked by the establishment of Israel in May 1948 - it wasn't just the Palestinians who were dispossessed and displaced. Sephardi Jews from Arab lands had to leave everything behind, their homes and all their possessions. But while not one of the 22 Arab countries that could have taken in the displaced Palestinians did so, for the Sephardi Jews there was one tiny country in the world that welcomed them with open arms."

Butnuru's is, of course, a propaganda piece premised on a false equivalence, namely that both Palestinians and Arab Jews were "refugees," sharing a similar experience and fate (summed by Butnuru as "dispossession and displacement") and that Israel's sole involvement in the matter extended to nothing more than merely "welcom[ing] them with open arms."

A Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) report from March 28, 1950 gives the lie to this:

"Premier David Ben Gurion returned today from his 3-weeks leave and tonight will attend a joint session of the Israel Cabinet and the Jewish Agency executive, called to explore the possibilities of the immigration of Iraqi Jews to Israel after they are permitted to leave Iraq." (Ben Gurion returns from vacation; discusses immigration of Iraqi Jews to Israel,

The key word here, of course, is immigration. Broadly, while the Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homeland by Zionist forces, Arab Jews emigrated from Iraq with more than a little help from Ben Gurion and friends.

Now I could stop here, but let's go on and explore some of the differences between the experiences of Palestinian refugees on the one hand, and Iraqi Jewish emigrants on the other.

Here, for example, is a description of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian port city of Jaffa in late April, 1948, courtesy of our aforementioned Israeli 'paramilitary' chieftain, Menachem Begin:

"Then a strange phenomenon was revealed before our eyes: the mass flight from Jaffa. Arab civilians and a variety of Arab 'fighters' suddenly began to leave in panic. There appear to have been two causes for this epidemic flight. One was the name of their attackers and the repute which propaganda had bestowed on them.* The Beirut correspondent of the United Press cabled that when the first boat-load of refugees arrived there from Jaffa they reported that the information that this attack was being made by the Irgun had thrown the population into a state of abject fear. The second factor was the weight of our bombardment. I do not know exactly how many [mortar] shells we sent into Jaffa. Yigal Yadin, Operations Officer of the Haganah, told me afterwards that we had not been sufficiently economical with our precious shells. The total load was certainly very heavy." (The Revolt: Story of the Irgun,1952, p 363)

[*A veiled reference to the Irgun's Deir Yassin massacre of April 9, 1948.]

Nothing even remotely comparable happened to Iraqi or any other Arab Jewish community.

To stick with the example of Iraq's Jews, news of Zionist atrocities against Palestinian civilians in 1948, the Iraqi army's involvement in the war against a Zionist takeover of Palestine, and the existence in Iraq of an armed Zionist underground, all combined to foster the view that Iraqi Jews constituted a potential 5th column for Israel.

The Iraqi government initially reacted by seizing the property of Iraqi Jews known to be in Israel, and some Jews began leaving Iraq illegally by December 1948. When restrictions on the emigration of Iraqi Jews were lifted in March 1950, a spate of mysterious bombings of Jewish targets in Baghdad followed, leading to a mass emigration, mostly to Israel, from May to August 1950. Evidence points to the work of Zionist terrorists seeking to speed up the process. (See my posts Greg Sheridan: Charmed by Israel's 'Most Dangerous Politician', 21/12/07; Shameless Israeli Propaganda at the WaPo, 3/12/14)

Israel's foreign minister at the time, Moshe Sharett, crowed in a telegram that "[The emigration] is striking vindication persistent and daring efforts of Mossad Ha'Aliyah [underground Zionist movement for encouraging emigration] which in long years of underground work... succeeded creating movement which breathed new spirit into traditionally submissive Iraqi Jewry." (quoted in Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries, Michael R. Fischbach, 2008, p 56)

To return to our opening theme: aggression in spades, rewritten history on a grand scale, and getting away with it every time. Israel makes the Chinese look like mere amateurs.

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