Can the Palestinians Achieve Peaceful Aims by Peaceful Means

Ending colonialism can never be achieved by negotiations between the colonialist and the colonized. (Photo: WH, file)

By Hasan Afif El-Hasan

Vladimir Jabotinsky, a devoted Zionist leader and the spiritual father of the “Israeli right” was born in Lvov, Poland, and immigrated to Palestine in 1935. He wrote an article in 1923 in which he asked the question whether one could always achieve peaceful aims by peaceful means.

His answer to his question regarding the Zionists’ colonization of Palestine was, “It [peace] depends on the attitude of the Arabs toward Zionism, not on Zionism toward them.”

He went on to conclude that, “A voluntary agreement between us [the Zionists] and the Arab Palestinians is inconceivable now or in the foreseeable future.” I agree with Jabotinsky’s conclusion but not with his premise that Zionism as a colonial enterprise has peaceful aims or with his reason for the failure to peace being achieved.

Colonial projects of acquiring control and wielding authority over other peoples’ lands and lives are the ultimate aggression and the antithesis of peace. It leads to a binary struggle between the colonialists and their victims where one wins and the other loses. This was exemplified by the leading European colonial countries in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when they were carving out colonies across the globe and exploiting non-European lands.

The sea-going military power was the only medium to explore far-away lands, establish colonies and commercial enterprises that impose trade monopolies, and secure exclusive control of the flow of trade and resources for the enrichment of the colonizer. European colonialism led to the creation of liberation movements and the struggle for sovereignty and freedom. Likewise, peace has never been part of Zionism, a European Jewish national movement to colonize Palestine. Zionism was sponsored and executed by the most powerful European colonial powers, Britain. Its leaders exploited the erosion of the Ottoman Empire and the vulnerability of the Palestinians.

The early Jewish settlers in Palestine (at the time when it had been ruled by the Ottomans as the southern part of Syria) were the subjects of great European powers. They settled in Palestine under the protection of the consuls of their countries who had become very powerful when the Ottoman Empire “the sick man of Europe” became too weak to have control over its own empire. The Zionists rested everything on the British connection with the hope that Zionism would be speedily fulfilled after the infamous Balfour Declaration and the two world wars. They assumed that the support of a great power is absolutely indispensable for the success of their project.

Waves of European militant Jews colonized Palestine under the protection of the British military. When Weizmann was asked at the 1910-20 Paris Peace Conference what was meant by designating Palestine a Jewish national home as stated in the Balfour Declaration, he replied: “To make Palestine as Jewish as England is English”. At the time, the Jewish population, then constituted only five percent of the total population. But based on Weizmann’s admission and decades before the creation of Israel, this Jewish minority was planning to be the exclusive rulers over the land that had been home to the Arab majority. Amazingly enough, what Weizmann said was eerily synonymous with what ended up happening.

For more than ninety years, there was no peace in Palestine as the Zionists started their invasion and the fervor with which the creation of Israel has been carried out. The western hegemonic umbrella of protection and excessive Jewish violence have been the basic foundations upon which the Zionist endeavor was founded, and within which the Zionist project has been maintained.

Peace had not existed in Palestine since the 1920s when the Jewish settlers realized that they were not alone in Palestine as their leaders had claimed, and peace was not a reality either when Jewish colonization led to the dispossession of Arab tenants in the Valley of Harod in the 1930s. When the early settler, Moshe Smilansky, explored the idea of a bi-national state and suggested that Jews must learn to live with the Arabs peacefully, he was denounced by the militaristic chauvinists who dominated the Zionist organizations. The Zionists saw immigration and settlements as their main goals before and after the establishment of Israel.

There was no peace when the Jewish Palmach battalions forcibly emptied Arab villages and the cities of Ramle and Lydda and when they murdered the civilian population of Deir-Yasin in 1948. The Jewish writer, S. Yizhar, described the Jewish militants as savages and murderers in his novels “Khirbet Khizeh” [Khizeh in Ruins] and “Ha-Shavui” [The Prisoner]. He was denounced by the Zionist media and leaders as a “national traitor.” There was no peace when David Ben Gurion, the first president of Israel, and all his successors refused all UN peaceful resolutions to deal justly with the Palestinian refugees. Ben Gurion never concealed his contempt for the Arab Palestinians. He acted exactly like the white men of the Victorian era who refused to regard non-whites as equals. According to the American journalist, Max Blumenthal, Ben-Gurion wrote, “In all the centuries of their existence on this earth, the Palestinian Arabs remained at the most rudimentary level of human existence.”

Ben Gurion decided to build the Dimona reactor and introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The reactor, a gift from France, was intended to protect the Zionists from the animosity that they provoked when they had taken over the land and cleansed it from its indigenous population. It was audacious, even unhinged, when the small nation of Israel with its 1.8 million people, with scarce resources and partially industrialized, would afford to become nuclear in 1956, and join the only three world-wide nations that had possessed nuclear weapons: the US, the USSR, and the United Kingdom. The West believed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was too deep and irresolvable by peaceful means, and the state they created to ensure ultimate security and future dominance of the Middle East might very well rest on the existential policy of a nuclear option. By 1967, Israel had reached the capability of producing a small inventory of nuclear weapons, the means by which it would be delivered means, and the ability to annihilate other people.

Israel joined the ill-fated plot with Britain and France to attack Egypt in 1956; each of the conspirators had its own colonial goal. The British wanted to retake the Suez Canal; France decided to stop Egypt from supporting the Algerian Liberation Front; and Israel sought to annex the Sinai Peninsula. On the day of the invasion of the Sinai, the Israelis under Ben Gurion displayed deep hatred and racism provoked by the state, against the peaceful Palestinian Arabs, the original citizens of Israel.

The Arab villagers of Kufur Kassem were returning home in the evening unaware that they were violating any rules. They met Israeli armored vehicles and troops that immediately opened fire at close range with automatic weapons. Forty-seven innocent people, including twenty children were killed in the course of one hour. When the journalist, Latif Dori, reported the massacre and his paper demanded investigation and justice, the Israeli government added insult to injury. Lieutenant Gavriel Dahan, the commander of the military unit that committed the massacre, was convicted and fined one piaster-the equivalent of one US penny, for his role in the crime! Later on Lieutenant Dahan was appointment as “officer responsible for Arab affairs” in the city of Ramle, one of the large Arab communities in Israel.

The 1993 Oslo Agreement was hailed as a breakthrough to peace in the Middle East and the signatories received Nobel Prizes in 1994. The Oslo Agreement’s failure to produce peace after twenty years of negotiations suggests that ending colonialism can never be achieved by negotiations between the colonialist and the colonized. Only the international community, through its public opinions, and United Nations institutions can end colonialism. The problem is that Israel is an implant of Western interests in the Middle East as a geostrategic conception in which it is to be permanently allied with European colonialists against the Arabs in the eastern Mediterranean.

– Hasan Afif El-Hasan, Ph.D. is a political analyst. His latest book, Is The Two-State Solution Already Dead? (Algora Publishing, New York), available on and Barnes & Noble. He contributed this article to

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1 Comment

  1. “At the time, the Jewish population, then constituted only five percent of the total population.”
    And the native ones among them were most certainly not zionists.

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