By Dallas Darling
It was on this day, February 29, 1948, that 28 British soldiers were killed as a mine exploded under the Cairo-Haifa train. Lehi, also known as Stern Gang, a Zionist terrorist group, claimed responsibility. But the Cairo-Haifa attack was only one of several acts of terrorism that Israeli Zionists employed. And the Stern Gang was just one of several terrorist organizations working to establish a Jewish-Israeli state in Palestine. Israel, then, was born on a wave of Zionist terrorism.
Some the West would like to see Palestinians and Palestinian statehood quietly go away, to suffer in silence and to die in darkness. But even now as electricity is slowly being cut from the Gaza Strip, not to mention a harsh economic blockade that for years has caused immense suffering, terror comes to mind. And even now as the West collaborates with Israel on how to sabotage a Palestinian state, displaced guilt from events and mistakes during and after World War II becomes even more apparent.
Britain, who received the mandate to administer Palestine after World War I, eventually succumbed to Zionist extremism. As the rise of Nazism fueled Jewish immigration to Palestine, right-wing Zionist groups and movements, like Lehi and Irgun, saw the British as the enemy. They assassinated British soldiers and leaders, including Lord Moyne. They attacked British targets too. The bombing of King David Hotel, the center of British administration in Jerusalem. Killed 91 people. It ultimately persuaded the British to leave.
After World War II, Palestine descended into civil unrest. Zionist terrorist organizations continued their attacks while Arab Palestinians, who once welcomed Jewish immigrants fleeing the Holocaust, protested, sometimes violently. While Britain was busy with post World War II rebuilding efforts and its own crises, Zionists played on Western guilt for either participating in the Holocaust or not preventing it. A United Nations partitioning plan would create a new Jewish state west of Jordan and absolve culpability.
In 1947, the exclusive UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 giving the Zionists the majority of Palestine, even though Zionist Jews represented only one-third of the population in Palestine. When the plan was suspended, the Stern Gang massacred all 254 inhabitants of the Arab Palestinian village Deir Yassin. Weeks later, Zionist troops took Haifa and Jaffa forcing hundreds of Palestinians to flee. Meanwhile, Arabs and Palestinians continued to resist. But their efforts failed.
On May 14, when the last British commissioner left Palestine, David Ben-Gurion (one of Israel’s founders and the country’s first prime minister) announced the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel. The U.S. and UN quickly recognized Israel. Palestinians and Arabs felt betrayed. Not only did the British use them to help defeat Nazism during World War II, but Britain’s promise of an independent confederation of Arab states after World War I, including Palestine, was tabled. Palestine would not be recognized.
Although the West and UN did not recognize a Palestinian state, Palestinians did and still do. For decades, they have not only resisted and struggled against terrorist acts, but they have tried to overcome institutional terror, mainly the systematic destruction of a Palestinian state, including its religious, racial, political, and cultural heritage. Palestine was, and is, a land with people. They have had to drink a poison chalice, one filled with British and U.S. imperialist aims and a nation born through acts of terrorism.
When a convoy carrying UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was pelted with shoes and sticks by Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip, it was a reminder of UN culpability of an unjust partitioning, of Palestinians having to suffer in silence and die in darkness. And when hundreds of Palestinians shouted and complained that family members were being held in Israeli prisons, including children and juveniles, it was a reminder of Israel’s ongoing structural terrorism and violence.
Even now as Israeli troops clash with Palestinians over their right to freely assemble and honor martyrs and over the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, firing teargas and rubber bullets injuring several, it is an indictment of the West’s responsibility for ongoing civil strife and war. Nations like Britain and the U.S. are liable for Israeli violence against Palestinians because they have helped armed and trained Israeli security forces and have aided in crushing popular dissent. They have also remained silent.
For Palestinians, international law was trampled on in 1948. How can Palestinian groups, like Hamas, ever recognize Israel and how it was founded through terrorist activities? If they did, they would have to condone 800,000 Palestinians being driving from their homes, farms and villages and into exile in neighboring countries and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. How can Fata condone illegal concrete barriers and armed checkpoints that divide Palestinians and Palestinian lands? How can they condone indefinite detentions.
And when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official Facebook page expressed “relief” that “only Palestinians” were killed in the school bush crash near Al-Quds, a crash that killed 9 children and injured 30, it evoked how many leading political figures in the new Israel, such as Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin, were either leaders or played key roles in Zionist terrorist organizations like Lehi and Irgun. Others wrote “Can we send another truck?” and “May there be such buses every day!”
Israel has experienced victims justice, but not so for the Arabs and Palestinians living in artificial states and refugee camps. The U.S. and Britain and UN should commit to preemptive peace campaigns instead of preemptive wars. They should establish peaceful occupations instead of violent armed occupations. Palestinians have had to endure abuse, injustices and despair. They are held solely responsible for broken truces and agreements that were not of their doing. For some, their only way out is death – or martyrdom. (1)
When will Palestinians no longer be victims of Israeli terror and be forced to carry the burden of displaced guilt and mistakes that occurred during and after World War II?
– Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John‘s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.beverlydarling.com.
(1) Hedges, Chris. The World As It Is: Dispatches On The Myth Of Human Progress. New York, New York: Nation Books, 2010., p. 181.