Israel’s Long Trail of Duplicity – How Western Support Sowed the Seeds of Gaza Genocide

Israel continues to enjoy Western support amid Gaza genocide. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Jeremy Salt

Living permanently outside the law, Israel has now gone so far that even its relationship with the US is fraying.

No club in the world except the United Nations allows a member to violate its charter and rules indefinitely. In other clubs, the member will be warned once, twice, and three times but if the rules are still being violated despite warnings, the member will be thrown out. This should be, and probably would, be Israel’s fate were not the US on hand to blunt any attempt to punish it for the gross crimes it has committed over the past 76 years.

Living permanently outside the law, Israel has now gone so far that even its relationship with the US is fraying, a problem Netanyahu expects to be solved when Trump replaces Biden in November. This might not happen, but Netanyahu is rolling the dice in the expectation that it will and that he can hang on until then, by keeping Israel in a state of war.

Israel’s refusal to abide by the rules shaped its existence even before it became a state. It used the 1947 resolution to justify its existence and then ignored it. Allocated 54 percent of the land it took 78 percent; Jerusalem was to be an international zone, but Israel attacked the city and took the western half before being stopped by international intervention in the form of truce negotiations.

While it was Lehi (the Stern Gang) that assassinated the UN Security Council’s mediator Folke Bernadotte in September 1948, his removal from the scene removed an obstacle in the way of the Zionist leadership, which had no intention of accepting the partition recommendation on Jerusalem.

The truth was that Israel had no intention of abiding by any UN resolution concerning the Palestinians, and the states around Palestine, that did not suit its territorial and strategic interests, which basically meant all of them, a pattern that has continued until the present day.

Declaration of ‘Independence’

In May 1948, by which time hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had already been ethnically cleansed, David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the ‘independent’ state of Israel. In truth, as a European colonial settler movement, Israel had no more of a right to independence than the white settlers of East Africa.

Ben-Gurion’s declaration was intrinsically no different than the Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom made by Southern Rhodesia’s ‘prime minister,’ Ian Smith, in 1965, after he refused to accept majoritarian rule as a condition of independence.

Where the difference lay was in the consequences.

While Southern Rhodesia was boycotted internationally until Smith was forced to give in and sign the agreement that resulted in majority rule in a new state, Zimbabwe, the Zionists got away with it despite the violation of the right to self-determination of ‘peoples’ that had been gathering force since 1918, was written into article one of UN Charter in 1945 and is guaranteed under international law.

Issued when it was recognized that decolonization would be of central importance in the postwar world order, the charter’s reference to ‘peoples’ clearly was intended to mean an indigenous people living on their own land, not a non-native settler colony established on that land.

There is no difficulty in understanding why Israel got away with it and Ian Smith didn’t: Israel had the US and its western allies behind it all the way and Smith didn’t.

US Support

It was the White House that pushed through the partition resolution, after it was clear that it would not pass unless pressure was brought to bear on vulnerable governments – mostly poor and dependent on economic support – that were likely to abstain or vote ‘no.’

“We went for it,” said Clark Clifford, US President Harry Truman’s special counsel. “It was because the White House was for it that it went through. I kept the ramrod up the State Department’s butt.”

Whereas Truman played to a domestic audience, unease at his support for Israel was common among the professionals in the State Department. Already by 1946, Dean Acheson, the Undersecretary of State, was describing differences over the Palestine policy as “civil war along the Potomac.”

By early 1948, the US delegation at the UN was confident of securing support for a resolution placing Palestine under international trusteeship, as it was clear partition could not be achieved peacefully.

On March 8, Truman had authorized the State Department to introduce trusteeship “if and when necessary.” On March 20 secretary of state George Marshall said that “I recommended it (trusteeship) to the president and he approved my recommendation.”

Yet, eleven minutes after Ben-Gurion announced the establishment of the state of Israel on May 15, Truman recognized Israel without informing the US delegation at the UN until the last minute. Its head, Warren Austin, had left the General Assembly to take a phone call and decided not to return, leaving the responsibility to announce Truman’s decision to someone else.

In December 1948, the General Assembly passed resolution 194. It enunciated the right of return for all Palestinians ready to live at peace with their neighbors or compensation for lost or damaged property to be paid, “under the principles of law or equity should be made good by the governments or authorities responsible,” clearly with Israel at the top of the list.

How to take the land without the people had been the central dilemma of Zionism all long but that the people had to go was clear.

‘We Must Expel Arabs’

In a letter to his son in the 1930s, Ben-Gurion wrote that “we must expel Arabs and take their place,” an imperative he repeated early in 1948 when writing in his diary of expelling Palestinian townspeople “so our people can replace them” and of expelling Palestinians generally under the cover of military operations. Once gone, Israel clearly had no intention allowing them back.

No compensation has ever been paid, no Palestinians have been allowed to return and Israel does not even recognize their legal right of return, as opposed to the false ‘right’ of settlers who could not be said to be ‘returning’ to a land in which they had never lived.

In 1949, the question of Israel’s UN membership came up. In resolution 69, passed on March 4, the Security Council decided that as a “peace loving nation” Israel should be given UN membership.

In resolution 273, passed on May 11, the General Assembly granted Israel membership. In debate, Israeli delegate Abba Eban assured the chamber that Israel would honor its obligations under resolution 181 – the partition recommendation of 1947 – and resolution 194 of 1948, upholding the Palestinian right of return.

Eban gave an “unqualified affirmative answer” when questioned about resolution 194, saying that “with all the means at our disposal,” Israel would fullfil the terms of the resolution. However, he declined to respond when asked whether Israel would cooperate or put into effect the internationalization of Jerusalem.

General Assembly resolution 273 noted that “in the judgement of the Security Council,” Israel “as a peace-loving state” unreservedly accepts the obligations of the UN Charter “and undertakes to honor them from the day it becomes a UN member.”

37 delegations voted in favor of the resolution and 12 against, with nine abstentions. Significantly, they included the United Kingdom, whose sponsorship of Zionism was the first step towards catastrophe in Palestine.

The ethnic cleansing by this “peace-loving state” in 1948 and commitments that Israel never intended to live up to began a long trail of massacre, duplicity and serial violations of international law at numerous levels. They are the seeds sown long ago of the “plausible” genocide now being committed in Gaza.

– Jeremy Salt taught at the University of Melbourne, at Bosporus University in Istanbul and Bilkent University in Ankara for many years, specializing in the modern history of the Middle East. Among his recent publications is his 2008 book, The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press) and The Last Ottoman Wars. The Human Cost 1877-1923 (University of Utah Press, 2019). He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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  1. Professor Salt is in error on a couple of points.

    A few hundreds, or even a few thousands, of Palestinians did return to pre-1967 Israel in the early 1950s. More were able to return after the Madrid – Oslo talks, including the author of “The Arabs in Israel.”

    Interestingly, some units of Bedouins fought on the Israeli side in what the Israelis call the “War of Independence” and, at Ben-Gurion’s insistence, there were Arab members in the First Knesset.

  2. JEREMY SALT: Several thousand Palestinians did return after 1948, but as ‘infiltrators, many shot on sight after crossing the armistice lines. In the first decade after Israel’s establishment, more villages were destroyed, land closed off for bogus ‘security’ reasons and tens of thousands of Palestinians expelled. They included the remnant community of Majdal Askalan (Ashkelon), kept in a ghetto since the town was ethnically cleansed in 1948 and in 1950 driven into the Gaza strip. While a small number of Beduin, along with Druze and Circassians, serve in the Israeli military, most of the Beduin population of the Naqab (‘Negev’) was ethnically cleansed in 1948. The war against them continues until today.

  3. Even during the holy month the lies and distortions flow. 75% of Israel is made up of people of color so forget the bogus European claims. Israel has consistently been in favor, since before 1948, in a two state settlement. Hamasaki fired more rockets into Israel on Oct 8 than Germany did on England in all of WW2. Peace, respect, than disavow terrorism and Iran, the true killers of Palestinian children and women.

  4. readers will be aware of the genocidal background to what the ICJ has now called actual or ‘plausible’ genocide in gaza. for those who have not yet seen it, here is the latest UN summary of the crimes committed by israel’s politicians, military command and ordinary soldiers, including the individual who celebrated purim by wearing a clown’s nose in shifa hospital, the site of an “utterly inhumane situation” – as described by the head of the WHO – following five months of siege, killing and deprivation of essential services by the invading forces.

  5. Even during the holy month, the illegitimate, artificially-created, genocidal Zionist entity endlessly continues on with its horribly savage holocaust against the defenseless civilians of Gaza, completely enabled and funded by the extremely morally bankrupt USA.

    Beautiful job by the Axis of Resistance (Hamas & the other Palestinian Resistance groups, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Syrian and Iraqi Resistance groups, Yemen, and Iran) in fiercely resisting the massive terror and destabilization that’s being pushed by Big Satan and Little Satan (USA and Israel) against the whole, entire Middle East.

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