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The nakbah “ the palestinian catastrophe

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The Arab rebellion (1936 – 1939) quelled, disarmed and impoverished, the Palestinian was left with only his conviction intact – that he would defend his rights.

The hitherto underground British trained army, the Haganah, trained explicitly to put down the Arabs, along with massive supplies, emerged in collusion with their masters, as a formidable force. In addition, the notorious British trained night squads (with Moshe Dayan on its first mission), given a free hand by the authorities, played its role with zeal. Indeed, it was British military doctrines that the Israeli Defense Force adopted on the inception of the Jewish state.

The Arab rebellion had spelt out the Palestinian position: the policy of infiltration had been the core cause of the uprising; the Palestinian would only relinquish his land by force, thus giving clarity to the strategic needs of the settler:

To allow for a Jewish settlement in a small country such as Palestine, it would necessitate the transfer of the Palestinians, one and all, to neighbouring countries.

To this end, The Jewish National Fund, with ingenuity, sought to create districts, with a Jewish majority, as opposed to villages. Thus when the Jewish state was proclaimed, the outline of the districts were automatically included within the boundaries of the Jewish state!

Subsequent to the Arab rebellion, the British decided to revoke its policy, which had proved to be unfeasible. The unrest between Jews and Arabs since 1920, was indeed the result of an incoherent policy. It declared that the Jewish national home had now been established; within five years Jewish immigration and land purchase, with restrictions imposed, would terminate; thereafter independent self-governing institutions would be set up in Palestine.

Loyal to the creed of their bizarre logic, the Zionist turned their fury, with eloquent threats, on the British.

The interlude of World War II (1939 – 1945) brought about a lull in Palestine, at least, in the military arena. Having taken note of the power shift, with meticulous foresight, the Zionists sought to involve the hitherto indifferent, powerful American Jewry to exercise its influence on the White House.

The tacit understanding between Western powers and the Zionists, that in return for Western support for the Zionist cause, a negligible quota of refugees would be admitted by the West, the rest, siphoned off to Palestine, would remain intact, the Zionists assured. It sought only American commitment to Zionist aspirations.

This commitment they found in Harry Truman, the American President. And, by 1945 the American Jewry had secured in excess of $46 million for the Zionist cause.

Moreover, this unshakeable alliance persuaded the ‘civilised world’ to see, for those wretched survivors of the Holocaust, Palestine as their natural saviour.

The war over, the Zionist turned their guns on their masters, calculated to drive them out; the American Jewry applauding all the way; Washington, insidiously approving.

Meanwhile, the wavering UN members succumbed to President Truman’s duress and in addition to the 7% of the country already acquired by way of purchase, the UN instantaneously handed over to the Zionist a staggering 47%; although less than what had been proposed by the settlers, the Zionists were confident in the belief that this division was by no means the final.

Outraged at the dismemberment of their land, the Palestinians refused to recognise the validity of the UN decision and along with volunteers from Arab countries, against overwhelming odds opposed it by force. The outcome was never in doubt.

The gruesome butcher at Deir Yasin on 10 April 1948, (a prelude to other massacres), of 250 children, women and men, led by Menachem Begin, (incidentally a Nobel Peace Prize winner), was part of a calculated strategy, designed to create panic. Indeed, the horrors of Deir Yasin were later to be ruthlessly played on; the fear the massacre had generated, resulted effectively in the mass exodus of almost a million Palestinians to other lands.

The Arabs driven out, the Zionist with ease moved in to occupy their land. On 14 May 1948, the state of Israel was proclaimed.

Having found itself in an untenable position, Great Britain surrendered the mandate to the UN (14 May), making its ignominious exit, followed by a combined Arab force entering Palestine on 15 May 1948. Uncoordinated, ill-equipped, and in intense rivalry (each party eager to secure a negotiated settlement of Palestine), it failed to impress itself on Israel’s secured positions, and, to the chagrin of their Palestinian brothers, the Arab armies were soon on the retreat.

Their fate was sealed, or so it would seem?

Amena Hayat
Cape Town