While western mainstream media may celebrate the 65th anniversary of the State of Israel these days, this is usually also associated with al-Nakba, the catastrophe of the Palestinian people. Forceful expulsion and expropriation of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians then living in Mandatory Palestine. That al-Nakba might have begun one and half centuries earlier, when General Bonaparte with his 13.000 French soldiers attempted to advance into Ottoman Palestine in 1799 in order to check British expansion is not so well-known. In his recent book Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East, Juan Cole only briefly touches the brutal Syrian campaign of 1799.
According to Al Jazeera’s critically acclaimed documentation of 2008, the later Napoleon then had encouraged the “Jews of the world to reclaim their land in league with France.”
“This story [the Nakba] starts in 1799, outside the walls of Acre in Ottoman-controlled Palestine, when an army under Napoleon Bonaparte besieged the city. It was all part of a campaign to defeat the Ottomans and establish a French presence in the region.
In search of allies, Napoleon issued a letter offering Palestine as a homeland to the Jews under French protection. He called on the Jews to ‘rise up’ against what he called their oppressors.
Napoleon’s appeal was widely publicised. But he was ultimately defeated. In Acre today, the only memory of him is a statue atop a hill overlooking the city.
Yet Napoleon’s project for a Jewish homeland in the region under a colonial protectorate did not die, 40 years later, the plan was revived but by the British.”
Whether this was Bonaparte’s real intention, is highly questionable, though. It seems to be one of the numerous myths about the origins of Zionism.
18 May 2013 @ 10:55 am
Last modified May 18, 2013.
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It is inappropriate to compare Gaza with the Warsaw Ghetto which was created by Governor General Nazi Hans Frank in October 1940. Razing the ghetto commenced on 18 January 1943 and lasted until April. Neither the size of the Warsaw Ghetto (3.4 as compared to 365 km2) nor its population (400,000 as compared to 1.7 million) nor the number of civilian casualties (at least 300,000 Polish Jews) fit. Purposeful extermination of the Jews in the ghetto was due to starvation, contagions and mass shootings while the people of Gaza are only put on diet, with 2279 calories a day far more than what German Nazis suggested for Polish Jews (184 calories a day), see further “red lines” of Israeli authorities here [pdf]. While the wall surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto was typically 3 m high, people in the “World’s largest open air prison” (as the Gaza strip has recently been described by Noam Chomsky) are contained by up to 9 m high walls.
While the Israelis have called their current assault on Gaza “Pillar of Defense” any comparisons with Adolf Hitler’s yelling “Seit 5.45 Uhr wird zurückgeschossen” when his assault on Poland unleashed World War II after the plotted Gleiwitz incident are inappropriate. Likewise, likening Hitler’s pretext to WWII with Iran being the the real target these days is absolutely inappropriate.
Hitler’s strive for Lebensraum must not be compared with Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory with its ongoing illegal settlements, constantly colonizing and stealing Palestinian land on the West Bank, and its blockage of the Gaza strip.
While Gaza is being razed these days, the 70th anniversary of the final destruction of Warsaw’s Ghetto is upcoming.
18 November 2012 @ 8:18 am.
Last modified November 18, 2012.
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Posted in Academics, Israel, Palestine, tagged BDS, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert, Gaza, Gaza Islamic University, Hamas, IDF, Noam Chomsky, Operation Cast Lead Operation Pillar of Defense on November 16, 2012 |
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Noam Chomsky, who had been visiting Tromsø University in September this year, managed a couple of weeks ago to enter Gaza, where he attended a linguistic conference at the Islamic University, for the first time in his life. He had to enter from Egypt (where he was later guest at the American University in Cairo) since Israel of course denied access to the strip under its blockade. Gaza Islamic University awarded Chomsky (a true pillar of defense of Palestinian rights) with an honorary doctorate for his “efforts for truth and freedom in Palestine.” Interviewed in Gaza, Chomsky repeated his warning against an academic boycott of Israel which he had also expressed when in Tromsø.
“If you call for an academic boycott of say Tel Aviv University you have to ask yourself, what the consequences are of that call for the Palestinians and there’s an indirect answer. When you carry out an act in the United States, you are trying to reach the American population and you’re trying to bring the American population to be more supportive of Palestinian rights and opposed to Israeli and US policies.
So you therefore ask yourself, will an academic boycott of Tel Aviv University have – you ask yourself what the effect would be on the American audience in the United States that you are trying to reach. Now, that depends on the amount of organization and education that has taken place in the United States.
Today, if you look at the people’s understandings and beliefs, a call for an academic boycott on Tel Aviv University will strengthen support for Israel and US policy because it’s not understood. There is no point of talking to people in Swahili if they don’t understand what you are saying. There could be circumstances in which a boycott of Tel Aviv would be helpful, but first you have to do the educational and organizational work.”
A couple of days before the critical situation in Gaza is now being escalated by Israel after having assassinated Hamas military leader Ahmad al-Jabari on Wednesday this week (the new operation has got already a name, Pillar of Defense), Chomsky has given a disconcerting account of his visit at truthdig.com, where he writes about the “World’s largest open-air prison”.
Four years after then Prime Minster Ehud Olmert had raided the strip in what is now called Operation Cast Lead (more than 1000 Palestinians, including 926 civilians, and 13 Israelis were killed), the same seems to happen again under similar pretense. And again shortly after US American President Obama’s (re-)election. This time, the upcoming war is carefully popularized by Israels’ Defense Force though.
16 November 2012 @ 9:25 am.
Last modified November 16, 2012.
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Posted in Israel, Palestine, tagged apartheid, Bantustan, Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, homeland, One State solution, Shlomo Sand, standing ovations, two-state solution, US Congress on May 25, 2011 |
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When Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got standing ovations in almost gone-wild U.S. Congress last night, one might actually wonder what he actually meant by proposing his Two State solution by stating,
“So it is therefore absolutely vital for Israel’s security that a Palestinian state be fully demilitarized. And it is vital that Israel maintain a long-term military presence along the Jordan River. Solid security arrangements on the ground are necessary not only to protect the peace, they are necessary to protect Israel in case the peace unravels. For in our unstable region, no one can guarantee that our peace partners today will be there tomorrow.”
It’s an apartheid One State solution, of course, with future Palestine as sort of Bantustan without its capital (East-)Jerusalem. It’s not what Shlomo Sand had had in mind, i.e., a true democratic state of Israel, not a Jewish ethnocracy. It will be a hollow victory in the absence of President Barack Obama.
Juan Cole writes today that Netanyahu has dug “the grave of his own vision of a Jewish state” yesterday. Well, let’s hope the best.
Last modification May 25, 2011.
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Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has reportedly surprised his Premier Benjamin Netanyahu when briefing him about his own map of Palestine he had drawn in provisional borders. Apparently, Lieberman believes that we believe that once a state has provisionally been established one might negotiate further adjustments (or not). He was well advised not to make the map public.
As Ha’aretz reports, Lieberman has suggested that, by taking the diplomatic initiative by proposing a Palestinian state in provisional borders, “this would preempt international recognition of such a state in the 1967 borders, reduce international pressure on Israel and transfer at least part of the state to the Palestinians,” an official has reported; emphasis added. Indeed, Israel may have nothing more to fear (apart from nuclear Iran) than the current trend of recognizing Palestine in 1967 borders.
The unnamed official said that Lieberman’s map also “includes a network of new roads linking the areas under Palestinian control. The map ‘provides territorial contiguity that would enable the Palestinian state in provisional borders to be viable,’ he said.”
“Lieberman’s plan, which corresponds to the second stage of the 2003 U.S.-sponsored road map peace plan, would not involve evacuating settlements or transferring significant additional territory to the PA. Thus the new state’s provisional borders would comprise mainly the parts of the West Bank known as Areas A and B. The PA currently has full control over Area A, and civilian but not security control in Area B.”
Although most probably nobody else than Lieberman has seen the drawing so far, it was immediately rejected and labeled as “invention and joke” by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
Since the beginning of the colonial age drawing maps has especially been popular in the Middle East, frequently with just a ruler. One lesson learned after centuries of war might have been asking the simple question, Why don’t we ask the people?
But what is just simple in this complicated world?
Last modified January 23, 2011.
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