Citizen Action Monitor

Unimaginable brutality characterizes Israel’s colonization, expansion and expulsion of Palestine’s inhabitants

Abby Martin’s video explores the history of the creation of Israel and how it came to occupy so much territory.

No 1788 Posted by fw, September 29, 2016

Previewing Abby Martin’s on-the-ground investigation in Palestine, she looks at the long history of Zionist colonization, expansion and expulsion of Palestine’s indigenous inhabitants. Giving critical historical context from 1882 to the occupation today, this timeline explores the creation of the state of Israel and how it came to cover so much land since. From the early settlements, to the Nakba, to it’s conquest of the West Bank, Abby Martin reveals the brutally honest root of what is behind the so-called “Israel-Palestine conflict.”

Below is an embedded repost of Abby Martin’s 22:31-minute video, sketching the history of how Israel colonized Palestine. There is no transcript accompanying this video. However, below the video are my notes covering the entire video, jotted down as I watched the sorrowful tale unfold.


The Empire Files: How Palestine Became Colonized  by Abby Martin, The Real News Network, September 29, 2016

From the early settlements, the Nakba, and to the conquest of the West Bank, Abby Martin reveals the roots of the so-called “Israel-Palestine conflict”

MY NOTES (presented in order of the video timeline)

00:00-01:18Palestine, one of the biggest human rights disasters on the planet

  • Abby Martin refers to the two weeks she spent travelling in the West Bank and Palestine
  • Witnessed one of the biggest human rights disasters on the planet
  • Brutal and growing military occupation
  • Occupeation thrives on US sponsorship
  • Soon to be strengthened even more by another $39 billion in US tax dollars
  • It’s a reality never taught in school
  • Israel portrays itself as fun, peace-loving country living under threat of genocide from Muslims
  • Side we saw was very, very different
  • Truth is much clearer
  • Must first go back and show the real history of how things got to where they are today

01:18-02:15Palestine had a distinct cultural identity even when part of the Ottoman Empire

  • The famous map shows Palestinian loss of land from 1946 to 2000
  • Why have the borders changed so dramatically?
  • Each phase are central pieces to a puzzle that we’re told are just too complicated
  • How did the original borders of Palestine form from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea?
  • Countries of the Middle East – Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Iraq once were part of the Ottoman Empire
  • 500,000 people populated Ottoman Palestine, 75% Muslim, 20% Christian, 5% Jewish, nearly 100% Arab
  • Its cities, especially Jerusalem, were hives of Arab art and culture
  • Palestine had a distinct cultural identity
  • But plans for that land were being made elsewhere in the world

02:15-04:50The origin and early rise of Zionism

  • By late 1800s Palestine was already a target for colonization
  • In US, Europe and Russia, anti-Semitism was a growing force
  • Mob killings of Jews were routine
  • In this climate of terror began what is known Zionism: the belief in an exclusively Jewish state
  • From its founding through the first half of the 20th century the Zionists were a small minority among Jewish people
  • Ideology rejected among religious and secular Jewish people
  • They agreed anti-Semitism was a threat but they also agreed it should be met in their own countries
  • Many held that emigrating to a central land would be acquiescing to anti-Semites
  • Nevertheless, Zionism became a fervent political movement led by Theodor Hertzl an Austrian atheist
  • Zionists claimed a right to a “Greater Israel” which included all of Palestine, and part of today’s Lebanon, Jordan. Syria, Iraq and Egypt
  • Their right to this land based on the ancient Biblical kingdoms of the Old Testament, which disappeared 600 years before the birth of Jesus
  • Hertzl lobbied those in power who might be sympathetic to his project
  • Hertzl wrote: “If it is God’s will that we return to our historic fatherland, we should like to do so as representatives of Western civilization and bring cleanliness, order and well-established customs… to this plague-ridden, blighted corner of the Orient.”
  • Early Zionists promised to make Palestine a “vanguard against barbarism” a.k.a. an extension of Western militarism; and build highways of the civilized peoples, a.k.a. trade for European millionaires
  • The center of the campaign for the creation of Israel was the slogan “A land without a people for a people without a land”
  • The assertion that there were no people in Palestine prior to Zionists became the keystone of their policy
  • They were always very well aware there were people there
  • “Palestine is not so much occupied by the Arabs as overrun by them” – Israel Zangwill
  • From its inception, political Zionism was not only a plan for colonization and expansion but one of expulsion of the land’s indigenous inhabitants

04:51-11:05Zionists begin purchasing Palestinian land in 1882: From 1920 to 1939 the settler population rose from 10 to 30 percent and there was no confusion about what they were there to do

  • Much of historic Palestine was semi-feudal with farmers living and working on land owned by wealthy absent landlords in Syria and Jordan
  • Zionist settlers began purchasing this land in 1882
  • Despite Jews, Christians and Muslims living in relative harmony for thousands of years there was a spread of immediate tension and conflict
  • The Zionist project was off to a slow start, World War I presented an opportunity
  • Hertzl and his partners knew the victors would be slicing up the colonies, which included Palestine
  • Aristocrats from Great Britain, France and Russia secretly carved up the Middle East
  • The infamous Sykes-Picot agreement drew new borders creating Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the first formal borders of Palestine
  • The British gained control of Palestine in 1920
  • The Zionists movement had won a major step
  • A small group of British lords had issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917 making it much easier for well-funded settlement projects to take more Palestinian land
  • Zionists aimed for a homeland in all of Greater Israel without indigenous Arabs
  • In 1919 a US envoy reported: “The Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine
  • Jewish settlers had now become 10 percent of the population, growing with large donations from Western tycoons
  • The settlements had already created a refugee crisis
  • With this new backing, the colonial project picked up its pace purchasing even larger chunks of land form the absent feudal landlords, creating small pockets of territory
  • David Ben-Gurion, the leader of the settlement movement, would become Israel’s first prime minister
  • About the early days, Ben-Gurion said: “We were not just working – we were conquering, conquering, conquering land. We were a company of conquistadors.”
  • From 1920 to 1939 the settler population rose from 10 to 30 percent and there was no confusion about what they were there to do
  • As Ben-Gurion himself said: “We must expel the Arabs and take their places.
  • Throughout these years Palestinians launched several attacks on the encroaching settlements. Big clashes grew deadly killing many on both sides, but Arab widely disproportionate deaths were about to begin
  • In 1936, Palestinians launched a mass general strike, which held strong for six months
  • The British occupiers declared martial law and recruited Zionist fighters to join them in raiding Palestinian villages. Scores of dissidents were executed
  • An armed uprising against British rule ensued
  • British and Zionists retaliated by blowing up thousands of Palestinian homes
  • The uprising was drowned in blood by 1939 by the British – leaving 5,000 Palestinians dead, along with 300 settlers and 250 British soldiers
  • An outcome of this battle was the Zionist’s formation of an armed forces, trained and armed by the British
  • The Irgun also emerged as a hardline terrorist organization, famously carrying out a 1946 bombing attack on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, murdering 91 people including 17 Jews; Menachem Begin, one of its commanders, would later become prime minister
  • Albert Einstein and other Jewish academics published a letter in the New York Times which described Begin’s movement as “a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties.”
  • The goal of Zionist’s army and Irgun terrorist wing remained clear as expressed in this 1940 statement: “There is no room for both people in this country… and there is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to neighbouring countries, to transfer them all…. We must not leave a single village, a single tribe.”
  • The horror of the Holocaust greatly popularized the fringe idea of the Zionists
  • Finally, in 1947, the Zionist’s 70-year-long lobbying campaign to be granted a formal state was achieved
  • The British turned its colony over to the UN which cut it into pieces, creating a Jewish state of Israel, gifted with 55% of Palestinian land
  • Palestine was cut into three separate parts: the West Bank and Gaza – the third part, Jerusalem, was declared a UN international zone

11:05-17:20The 1948 war – Israel ethnically cleanse 500 Palestinian villages, expel 800,000, brutally murder thousands of men, women, and children, conquer 78% of Palestine, and refuse to honour UN right of return resolution

  • There was a problem for the Zionists: their new state was 40% Arab, which was unacceptable to Ben-Gurion and other Israeli leaders: “There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60%
  • Plopping a European settler state on top of an Arab country, while excluding the native population from the discussion and decision, sparked outrage throughout the Arab world
  • Resistance to it escalated into war. In 1948 Israel launched Plan Dalet which targeted the most passive, peaceful communities so that all Palestinians would flee. The 1948 Palestinian exodus of 800,000, who either fled or were expelled from their homes is referred to as the Nakba (catastrophe).
    • The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948 when Zionist military groups attacked the Arab village of 600, brutally murdering 200 — men, women and children.
      • A Red Cross official described the scene this way: “Here the ‘cleaning up’ had been done with machine guns, then hand grenades. It had been finished off with knives.
    • 12 days later an Israeli force bombed and raided the heavily populated city of Haifa while Israeli forces sadistically broadcast horror recordings over loudspeakers of Arab women wailing and messages like: “Flee for your lives. The Jews are using poison gas and nuclear weapons.”
    • In Abu Shusha, Israeli forces attacked and occupied the village, raping women and hacking to death with axes others who remained: death toll ~110.
    • In the Al-Dawayima massacre on October 28 the death toll was 450, another 250 missing.
    • In the Saliha massacre, 150+ were killed, many of whom were brought together and gunned down. Dead bodies were bull-dozed into a mosque and blown up.
    • Lydda experienced one of the bloodiest of the massacres where soldier indiscriminately killed every civilian in sight after gunshots were allegedly fired from a nearby mosque. Death toll: 250-500 killed in 20 minutes.
  • In each of the above villages the Arab population left in its entirety, which is precisely what the Israelis set out to achieve.
  • It would be an exaggeration to claim that great numbers were massacred. But just enough were killed, or roughly handled, to make sure that all the civilian population took flight” – a British General
  • Where did they come by such a measure of cruelty, like Nazis? … Is there no more humane way of expelling the inhabitants than such methods.” – senior Israeli officer
  • Nearly 800,000 fled their homes in a barrage of violence, forced into other countries and refugee camps.
  • 500 Palestinian villages were ethnically cleansed
  • Israeli war hero Moshe Dayan said: “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because the geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.
  • [For more details on Israeli brutality during the 1948 war see Killings and massacres during the 1948 Palestine war]
  • In this brutal rampage, the Israeli military had seized half of the territory that had been allotted to the Palestinians.
  • By the end of 1948, Zionists had conquered 78% of Palestine. Palestinians were left with only 22%
  • While some of the Palestinian resistance carried out with their own attacks on civilians during war, nothing compared to the scale of Israeli crimes during the Nakba
  • As Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe alleged: These acts took place in the context of an ethnic cleansing that “Carried with it atrocious acts of mass killing and butchering of thousands of Palestinians [who] were killed ruthlessly and savagely by Israeli troops of all backgrounds, ranks and ages.
  • This violent expulsion of nearly a million people was so outrageous that it forced the UN to respond, issuing a resolution ordering Israel to allow all 800,000 Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
  • Land ownership of the Palestinians plummeted. Before 1948 Palestinians owned 90% of the land. Four years later they owned only 3%.
  • Israel’s excuse for refusing to honour the UN resolution is that the Palestinians left voluntarily
  • For those who remain inside the borders of Israel, the new regime codified into law the superiority of Jewish settlers
  • Israel legalized the theft of Palestinian homes and land, limited political participation and implemented a separate set of rights. Arab areas were occupied by the military and subjected to curfews. Many were arbitrarily arrested and deported.

17:20-19:52 – 1951 to 1967 — Despite Zionist’s malicious deception targeting the US, Washington recognizes Israel’s value as an ally and becomes its main military financier

  • After the 1948 war Jews in Arab countries were targeted by a rash of anti-Semitic violence
  • From 1951 to 1952 there was a series of bombings in Baghdad, Iraq against synagogues and other Jewish targets causing dozens of casualties
  • A group called the Zionist Underground was found responsible by the pro-Western Iraqi government
  • This was confirmed by former CIA officer Wilbur Crane Eveland writing: “In an attempt to portray the Iraqis as anti-American and to terrorize the Jews, the Zionist planted bombs in the US Information Service library and in the synagogues. Soon leaflets began to appear urging Jews to flee to Israel. Most of the world believed reports that Arab terrorism had motivated the flight of the Iraqi Jews whom the Zionists had ‘rescued’ really just in order to increase Israel’s Jewish population.
  • In 1954, a similar operation was carried out by the Israeli government itself, this time for regional ambitions in Egypt. They orchestrated a number of bombings on US and civilian British targets, planning to blame Arabs and communists.
  • Throughout the 1950s Israeli military power had grown quite formidable armed primarily by France. They dutifully used these weapons to aid British and French imperialism, including the invasion of Egypt to try to topple president Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1956
  • As Israel ran away in defeat like a petulant child it demolished any building it could along the way.
  • This earned the eye of the US Empire recognizing Israel’s value against nationalism like Nasser’s, the US became its main military financier and pledged its own military to protect Israel.
  • By 1967 Israel was a far stronger military machine with monstrous American forces standing behind it.
  • But even Israel’s main ally was not safe from its brutal belligerence. That year, unmarked Israeli war planes and torpedo boats aggressively attacked a US navy ship in International waters off the coast of Egypt. The relentless barrage on the USS Liberty, which had an American flag raised last for two hours. 34 were killed, 174 wounded.
  • According to an NSA report US officials believed it was impossible for this to be a mistake, and that Israel intended to sink their ship and blame it on Egypt to goad the US into invading.

19:52-22:11 – The Six-Day War, June 5-10, 1967 – another round of unimaginable Israeli brutality, surprise attacks on Egypt, Syria and Jordan and an invasion of what remained of Palestine. Hundreds of more settlements have since chewed holes in the map, reducing actual Palestinian land mass to almost nothing.

  • The attack on the Liberty was part of another ambitious land grab by Israel in what became known as the Six-Day War, the next chapter of Zionist expansion.  Israel launched surprise attacks on Egypt, Syria and Jordan and invaded what remained of Palestine. The official justification for this attack was one of preemption – that Israel was on the verge of being attacked en masse by the Arab countries surrounding them. Many Israeli official acknowledge that it was just propaganda.
  • According to Israeli commander Peled: “The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967, and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only a bluff.”
  • In less than a week, close to 40,000 Arabs were killed, many of them civilians in crowded cities that were firebombed and overrun by Israeli tanks. In contrast, 800 Israeli soldiers were killed, along with 20 civilians.
  • At the end of those six days a new map emerged, closer to the Greater Israel that the Zionists had always dreamed about. They conquered the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, the Golan Heights of Syria and the rest of Palestine.
  • Another 300,000 Palestinians were made refugees, some for a second time.
  • While the Sinai was returned to Egypt, the territory that Israeli seized in the war remains under their control today.
  • The map shows the existence of Palestinian territory, all of it still subject to Israeli military occupation and law.
  • Hundreds of more Israeli settlements have chewed holes in the map, reducing actual Palestinian land mass to almost nothing.
  • While the occupation is presented as a security measure, it is the same expansion conquest that has marked the last century.
  • In the face of unimaginable brutality, all of these years the Palestinian people have carried out their most powerful tools of resistance — continuing to exist, keeping their roots firmly planted in the land. That remarkable resilience will never die.

Special thanks to Richard Becker and his book: Palestine, Israel and the US Empire, reviewed here: Richard Becker Dispels Myths About Israel in Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire


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