As we watch the most recent events unfolding in the Middle East, we watch the dismantling of Palestine. We are looking at a battle of biblical proportions and that is due to the fact that religion has been used as a keystone of the perception built around what is happening. Ezekiel 38 (KJV) has been one of the passages from the Bible used as a reason for the unrest in the area. When the cause of destruction is framed in the context of “the will of God” there are few believers who would dare intervene for fear of retribution from an omnipotent deity, many who cheer it on as a sign of the word of God coming to fruition and herald that the Second Coming is drawing nigh. But there is an easy to find, if complicated and convoluted to keep track of, human reason for the disastrous state we find ourselves in today: imperialism.
Correspondent @sharifkouddous, speaking from Gaza City, describes Israel's military dropping tear gas on Palestinians from drones & firing fragmentation bullets which break apart on impact: "They have seen injuries with fist-sized holes in the exit wounds" https://t.co/qWdIrROzyR pic.twitter.com/YUqCsniGFu
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) May 14, 2018
I sit here seething in rage, sobbing in overwhelming sorrow, and drowning in profound helplessness. I watch, with horror-stricken eyes, centuries of history and greed devoid and detached from human emotion casually taking and destroying lives. I can’t help but see the commonality of the racism and xenophobia that is built into the foundation of this country as they continue to spread like an infectious disease with its bloody gore and glory in America, but this isn’t about America. This is about the hubris of the “might makes right” ideology of imperialism. The far-reaching and enduring effects of the rich and their empire building that seek to remake the world to fit their whims. A deeply embedded callousness that has infected the minds of ordinary people, brainwashed by religious zealotry and blind patriotism that helps the Empire continue its godless trek. I watched propaganda carefully crafted to victim blame sold as news and, worst of all, as a reason.
Nikki “Bless your heart” Haley, sitting on her throne of First World privilege that cloaks the brutal truth behind a façade of purity and righteousness, defended slaughter as a necessary reaction brought on by the very people suffering and being framed as unreasonable, savage terrorists who caused their own destruction.
After her southern-accented words were done and it came time to hear Palestine speak she strolled out of the room. You may wonder why I mention her accent. It’s all part of the game. She embodies all that we are told through colonialism that is good, honorable, and pure, the Southern Belle. Her dark hair, a mark of her intelligence that doesn’t come along with blond hair. The pump has been primed for these unspoken cues for centuries.
But what we aren’t talking about is WHY those people are willing to continue to fight a David vs. Goliath battle, when they know they are outgunned and seen as villains. The Palestinian people have been pushed out of their homeland and have endured incalculable losses. Walled away from their family, friends, livelihoods, homes, and properties, the Palestinians face an impossible decision unless they can make it back into Israel.
“The Palestinian side of the holy city had previously been exempt from the Absentees’ Property Law, brought in after the 1948 war to allow arriving Israelis to move into abandoned homes.
But now Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that it can be applied to East Jerusalem, effectively allowing the state to take control of property whose owners live in the West Bank or Gaza.”
Visualize being forced out of your home and forcibly relocated and separated from family and friends, then told that if you can’t make it back to your home, you will lose it to the invaders. When you try to make it back, snipers train their guns on you. In your desperation and fury, you throw a rock and your leg is obliterated by a bullet. Visualize watching that happen to your neighbors, your siblings, your parents, your children. Then to be called a criminal for taking a stand against what you know is inherently wrong. Your future decided in a room far removed from your anguish by people who are looking for the most expedient way to get to oil reserves or to block other rich, megalomaniacal countries from getting to them.
— Charlie (@creature4hire) May 18, 2018
Imagine being separated from family and not knowing what was happening to them on the other side of that wall that is manned by snipers and covered in barbed wire. When Ferrari Sheppard visited Palestine in 2014 his account of what he experienced and witnessed didn’t match up with the widely accepted mainstream media (MSM) version of the situation.
“Since the second Oslo Accords in 1995, the Israeli government has asserted, and the international community has accepted, the notion that “Area-A” is under PA control, but on the ground, the PA acts as a subcontracted enforcer to the Israeli occupiers.”
But to understand how this all played out we have to go back to 1915 and the correspondence between Sharif Hussein of Mecca and Sir Henry McMahon from July 1915 – March 1916. McMahon was seeking Arab support against the Ottoman Empire and the offer of an alliance from the Arabs played perfectly into this plan and is often referred to as The McMahon Promise. Amid the exchange, the fourth letter, dated October 24, 1915, is of particular interest as it lists what McMahon was interpreted to have conceded to the Arabs in exchange for their help against the Ottoman Empire.
At the beginning of the exchange it is clear what Hussein’s objective was in writing McMahon:
“Whereas the whole of the Arab nation without any exception have decided in these last years to accomplish their freedom, and grasp the reins of their administration both in theory and practice; and whereas they have found and felt that it is in the interest of the Government of Great Britain to support them and aid them in the attainment of their firm and lawful intentions…”
From reading the translations of letters, it would appear that an agreement was reached and the parties involved were satisfied with the outcome of the correspondence. But a few short months later after the end of these covert missives, the conditions would change and we are still dealing with the fallout of those changes. While this correspondence was going on another secret set of correspondences dealing with the layout and control of the region transpired from November 1915 – May 1916 among France, Russia, Britain (yes, the same Great Britain above), and Italy.
In May 1916, the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement was drawn up by Mark Sykes and François Picot. The boundaries that they set for the Middle East remain to this day and are sometimes blamed for the volatility in the region by Arabs. This agreement remained a secret until it was uncovered by the Bolsheviks and published in the Izvestia newspaper by Leon Trotsky on November 24, 1917.
This brings us to the Balfour Declaration. In a letter to Baron Walter Rothschild written by British Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, Great Britain decided to set up a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine in an attempt to gain Jewish allies. The declaration specified:
“nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
This clause made it fall short of the expectations of Zionists of the time. Nevertheless, the League of Nations accepted the declaration on July 24, 1922, and gave Great Britan temporary administrative control of Palestine. In 1939, Britain reneged on the declaration with the MacDonald White Paper, which incidentally, was part of new policies of the day that hindered European Jews from escaping Nazi terror before and during the Holocaust. The idea of partitioning the Mandate for Palestine was recommended in the Peel Commission Report of 1937.
“The Jews understood that, if the experiment of establishing a Jewish National Home succeeded and a sufficient number of Jews went to Palestine, the National Home might develop in course of time into a Jewish State.”
“The Mandate itself is mainly concerned with specific obligations of equal weight–positive obligations as to the establishment of the National Home, negative obligations as to safeguarding the rights of the Arabs.”
That was abandoned in favor of creating an independent Palestine governed by Palestinian Arabs and Jews in proportion to their numbers in the population by 1949.
As we can see, the objective was never about protecting any peoples, Arab nor Jew; it was what was most expedient for the British Empire at the time. Imperialism is only good for a few things, genocide, displacing indigenous peoples, and monetary gains for the Empire.
Here we must back up to November 29, 1947, when the United Nations created two separate states for Palestine and Israel. A move which was another match thrown on the tinderbox situation. The U.N. in its infancy may have made a terrible situation worse.
“The walkout of the Arab delegates was taken as a clear indication that the Palestinian Arabs would have nothing to do with the Assembly’s decision. The British have emphasized repeatedly that British troops could not be used to impose a settlement not acceptable to both Jews and Arabs, and the partition plan does not provide outside military force to keep order. Instead, it provides for the establishment of armed militia by the two nascent states to keep internal order.” – NYT
David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, when the fickle nature of Britain saw them now supporting Arabs over the Jews, went into action to encourage Jews to stand against England. He built a strong defense and was instrumental in the expansion and growth of the Jewish nation in Palestine. A nation that was fortified by the influx, legally and illegally, of Jews into Palestine and strong enough to precipitate an attack on Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948. This is the beginning of a full-on Occupation of Palestine by Israel.
“In the dynamics of Occupation, the indigenous Palestinian
population is subject both to management and gradual elimination.1“
What followed was Nakba Day. Nakba Day, or “Day of Catastrophe,” is the day after Israel declared its Independence, May 14, 1949, on land that had been given to Palestine in the earlier Mandates. The recent move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem gives weight to Israel’s claim on it as its capital and strips the claim away from Palestine. That this happened on this day of remembrance is no coincidence. It was salt ground into an old festering wound and meant to antagonize Palestinians.
A few days before the ceremonial move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Palestinians living within the borders of now Israel were being forcefully evicted from their homeland though it was reported by Israeli news outlets as an agreement:
“Israeli media outlets reported this morning that residents of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, threatened with Israeli demolition and forced displacement, signed an agreement with Israeli authorities “of their own accord” to leave their homes and move to the town of Hura.” – Adalah.org
In order for a comprehensive discussion in hopes of understanding the plight of the Palestinians the truth of history must be told and re-told as its obvious absence from MSM discussions of the situation have made villains of the victims of Imperialism and its decades of deceit and bloody gains from claiming of the region in backroom deals must sit front and center. We must not ignore the repetition we see of the effects of Imperialism on every continent it has touched. The genocides, the opportunistic nature of the constantly changing alliances for the financial gain of Warhawks looking to take full control of all of the Earth’s resources with the sole intention of exploiting those who need those resources. This is not a “Holy War” it is yet another example of Colonial ideology and its inevitable deadly outcomes.
1David Lloyd (2012) Settler Colonialism and the State of Exception: The Example of Palestine/Israel, Settler Colonial Studies, 2:1, 59-80, DOI:10.1080/2201473X.2012.10648826
Editor’s note: After publication, the article was edited to clarify the point regarding the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.