May 15, 1948, is known worldwide as day the state of Israel was created. But that date is commemorated by the Palestinians as the beginning of al-Nakba, or “the Catastrophe,” the beginning of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland.
Actually, the process of forcing Palestinians out of their homes and into exile began after the United Nations partitioned Palestine in November 1947. From that time, until an armistice was signed on Jan. 1, 1949, Jewish militias and terrorist groups killed 13,000 Palestinian, forced 750,000 – more than half the Palestinian population -- into exile and permanent refugee status, and depopulated and/or destroyed more than 500 villages. The Nakba continues today as a result of Israeli occupation policies that are intent on forcing Palestinians to leave Palestine.
Intifada is an Arabic word derived from a verb meaning "to shake off," and is the term used to describe the two major uprisings against Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The first Intifada erupted in late 1987, after an Israeli truck rammed into a line of Palestinian workers waiting to return to the Gaza Strip, killing four, and prompting spontaneous demonstrations. The second intifada, which started in September 2000, was triggered by a visit to Al Aqsa mosque compound by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and about 1,000 Israeli police.
In 1967, Israel captured the remainder of Palestine. From June 5-10, 1967, Israeli forces launched a highly successful surprise attack on Egypt, entirely routing its air force in a matter of hours. Within days, Israel occupied the final 22 percent of Palestine that had eluded it in 1948 – the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel also captured the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights in Syria. Palestinians refer to this war as ‘The Naksa,’ or setback. In addition to the scores who were killed, an additional 350,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes and into permanent refugee status.
The history of contemporary Palestine includes many key documents that had major impacts on the destiny that befell the Holy Land. Among them are:
- The Husain-McMahon Letters 1915: An exchange of letters between Husain bin Ali, of Mecca, and Sir Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Cairo, during World War I discussed the future political status of lands controlled by the Ottoman Empire.
- The Sykes-Picot Agreement 1916: The Sykes Picot agreement separated the Middle East and split the Arab area into zones of British and French influence that would prevent full independence.
- Balfour Declaration 1917: A letter written by Lord Balfour to the head of the Zionist World Organization gives British approval for the creation of Jewish national home in Palestine.
- League of Nations, Mandates Palestine 1937: With the consent of the League of Nations in September 1922, Britain divided the Mandate territory into two administrative areas, Palestine, under direct British rule, and autonomous Transjordan, under the rule of the Hashemite family from Hijaz.
- Plan Dalet 1947: Plan Dalet was the guidebook the Zionist organization gave to the Jewish paramilitary group, the Haganah, in 1947 that detailed the Zionist’s military plans for the conquest of Palestine.
The British Mandate
The British Mandate became effective in September 1923. The Balfour Declaration was included in the document regulating the Mandate: The British government was to help facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.
The Mandate was supposed to have been created as a tool to protect the interests of the indigenous population – the Palestinians. But the fact that the Balfour Declaration was included in the Mandate document calls into question the validity of the mandate itself. How could the rights of the indigenous population be respected and protected when the same document calling for that also gives Britain the authority to facilitate the creation of a national home for the Jews?
The Zionist Organization under the leadership of its president Dr. Chaim Weizmann helped draft the Mandate document and insisted that the phrase “Recognizing the historic rights of the Jews to Palestine,” be included in the preamble. Lord George Curzon contested this phrase and it was changed to “historical connection.”
“’Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word…it would be this: ‘At Basel, I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today  I would be answered by universal laughter. If not in 5 years, then certainly in 50. Everyone will know it’ “. Theodor Herzl Diaries 1897
“Herzl missed his goal by only 1 year.
“Zionism emerged as a national movement in Eastern Europe in the 1880’s. Its founder, Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), a Hungarian Jew, dreamed of establishing a Jewish State in the land of Palestine, a dream which was to be realized through colonization and land acquisition. According to Zionist archives, the leadership of early Zionism believed that the native population of Palestine, as a result of this colonization, would simply ‘fold their tents and slip away” or, if they resisted, they would be “spirited across the borders.’”
~ 1948: Lest We Forget (www.1948.org.uk)
For decades, numerous plans have been put forward to achieve ‘peace’ between the Palestinians and Israel. None of them has worked, mostly because time and again, Israel has proven it does not want peace. Political Zionism calls for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland, and Israeli occupation policies, which are illegal, discriminatory and inhumane, are geared toward ridding Palestine of its indigenous population.
Perhaps the best well-known attempt at peace has been the Oslo Peace Accords, signed in 1993. They were supposed to have resulted in a sovereign Palestinian state by 1998. Instead, a 20-year ‘peace process’ ensued. During this time, Israel has built more settlements on Palestinian land on the West Bank; constructed the Apartheid Wall, imprisoned at one time or another at least 20 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and enforced a total siege on Gaza that has plunged the area into a humanitarian crisis.