Posts Tagged ‘Land Seizures’

Jared Kushner’s Worthless Peace Deal for the Palestinians

July 9, 2018

Jared Kushner is proving to be every bit a bumptious, arrogrant braggart as his father-in-law, Donald Trump. Trump boasts that every deal or bill he’s going to pass will be absolutely wonderful, pushing them in the most superlative tones. So did Kushner about two weeks ago, when he declared that he was going to make a peace deal with the Palestinians. This was going to be great for the Israelis, and great for the Palestinians. He was not, however, going to spoil it by including the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, in the negotiations.

I don’t know what kind of deal he finalised, but I doubt is has any value to the Palestinians themselves. If memory serves me right, Kushner is one of the leaders of the Jewish National Fund in America. This is the Israeli organisation, which owns 97 per cent of the land in Israel, which is very much reserved for Israelis and definitely not for Palestinians.

And even if he isn’t connected to that organisation, Kushner is a real estate developer in Israel, who specialises in buying up Palestinian land and developing Israeli settlements, businesses and homes in the Occupied Territories.

The last peace deal the Israelis made with the Palestinians in the 1990s, according to Joe Sacco’s Palestine, did precious little to benefit the Palestinians. They were given an independent authority, but the occupation and its brutalities and injustices continued, as did the constrution and expansion of the illegal settlements. Kushner’s peace deal sounds exactly the same, with the exception that he doesn’t trust the Palestinian leader himself to agree to it. Perhaps the real reason he want to cut Abbas out of the negotiations was because the Palestinian leader may have been a bit too wise to what Kushner would try.

This looks like another insubstantial peace process, where Kushner, America and the Israelis will offer scraps or tokens, while making sure that the indigenous people of Israel will continue to have their lands seized, their schools closed, their homes bulldozed, water fouled, and themselves shot and persecuted as part of the Israelis’ long campaign of ethnic cleansing against them.

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Review: Joe Sacco’s ‘Palestine’

May 12, 2018

(London: Jonathan Cape 2001)

This is one of the classics of the graphic novel. Joe Sacco is an American journalist. He spent two months with the Palestinians in late 1991 and early 1992 in Gaza and the West Bank during the time of the first Intifada. He wrote and drew Palestine after his return to the US, basing it on his notes, publishing it as a nine-part comic strip. These were later collected into a single volume to form the graphic novel. The book also has a kind of introduction, ‘Homage to Joe Sacco’, from Edward Said, the author of Orientalism, critic of western imperialism and attitudes to the Arabs, and himself a Palestinian.

This is precisely the type of book the Israel lobby does not want people to read. Not BICOM, not the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which was set up because Gideon Falter, its founder, was worried about British attitudes becoming more hostile to Israel after the blockade of Gaza, not the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly Paole Zion and the companion party to the Israeli Labor Party, not the various ‘Friends of Israel’ societies in the political parties, Tories and Labour, nor the Jewish Leadership Council and definitely not the Board of Deputies of British Jews. All of them shout ‘anti-Semitism’ at anyone who dares to publish anything critical of Israel, or show the barbarity with which it treats the Palestinians.

The book shows Sacco’s experiences as he goes around Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, talking to both Palestinians and Israelis, meeting them, entering their homes, and listening to their stories. He starts the book in Cairo, the beginning of his journey to Israel, and to which he returns at his departure. During his time there, he visits the Vale of Kidron, the Arab quarter of Old Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza strip, as it then was, Balata, another refugee camp on the West Bank, Nablus, the town of Gaza itself, and finally Tel Aviv.

It’s not an easy read. This is an occupied country during deep unrest, and the threat of violence and arbitrary arrest and detention without trial is every where. There are patrols of soldiers, demonstrations, explosions and stone throwing. And he shows, with quotes, the contemptuous, lofty and hostile attitude the early Zionists and Lord Balfour had for the indigenous population. He quotes Balfour as saying

‘Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit this ancient land. We do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the inhabitants’.

Ben Gurion thought it would be simple to expel the Palestinians, because he felt they had no real attachment to their homeland. He wrote that the Palestinian ‘is equally at ease whether in Jordan, Lebanon or a variety of other places’. With the approach of war, he made it clear their expulsion was going to be through military force: ‘In each attack a decisive blow should be struck, resulting in the destruction of homes and the expulsion of the population.’ When that was done, ‘Palestinian Arabs have only one role – to flee’. He also quotes Golda Meir, who stated that a Palestinian people, defining itself as a Palestinian people, did not exist, and ‘we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They do not exist’. 400 Palestinian villages were razed in the war marking the birth of Israel. Meir’s lie – that the Palestinians don’t exist as a people – is still repeated by Republican and pro-Israel bloggers. Golda Meir was also concerned about the Palestinian population outstripping that of the Israelis, another issue that is still very alive today.

His hosts are polite, welcoming him into their homes, and plying him with tea. But occasionally there is an outburst from one of them, when he’s asked what the point of him being there, of them talking to him, is. Because other journalists have been there too, and they’ve talked to them, and nothing has happened, nothing has changed. They also talk to him about the other factions, and of the peace process. In a separate text at the beginning of the book, he states that, while the peace process set up the Palestinian authority and gave them a government, it changed nothing for ordinary Palestinians, and the occupation and theft of land by the Israelis still goes on.

He also reveals that the Israelis appropriate 2/3 of the land in the West Bank for their own us, which includes the establishment of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. And the governments gives Israelis plenty of incentives to move to them. They’re given a government grant if they do, lower interest rates on loan, the housing itself is cheaper than in Israel, and an income tax rate of 7 per cent. The settlers themselves can be extremely aggressive. Sacco’s hosts tell them about incidents where settlers have come into Palestinian villages, smashing windows and demanding that the owners come out. Of people shot by them, and the trivial sentences given to the settlers guilty of this. They’re given jail sentences of a few months. If they’re convicted in the first place. Palestinians who shoot and kill Israelis are jailed for years. Some lavish homes do exist in Palestine, occupied by Arabs, but most live in very bare houses, often with leaking roofs, which are vulnerable to storms.

His cartoons show what his Palestinian hosts tell him it’s like in prison camps like Ansar III, with crowds of prisoners crammed into small, bare rooms with no heat and poor ventilation. There are also few eating utensils, to the various political factions in the camp – Fateh, Hamas, Popular Front, organise meal times so that everyone gets a turn with the cup and plate to eat and drink. Several of the people he talks to were arrested simply on suspicion. Israeli law allowed them to be held without charge while evidence was compiled, with his captors returning to court over and over again to request a few more days more, until the judge finally listens to their lawyer, has the procedure stopped and the prisoner released. He also shows how the prisoners were tortured through beatings, being forced to stand for hours with bags over their heads, a process permitted under Israel law. A judge ruled that torture could not be used, but what methods were to replace them were kept secret. So many Palestinians have been incarcerated, that a green identity card showing a man has been in jail is a matter of pride. And not to have been to prison correspondingly is a mark of shame.

He talks about how the Israelis have a deliberate policy of not allowing the Palestinians to industrialise, so that they compete with the Israel. The State has also put obstacles in place to prevent Palestinian farmers competing with Israelis. They also deliberately uproot the olive trees many Palestinians grow to support themselves. The Israelis also appropriate most of the water, and dig deeper wells, so that the Palestinians have a much poorer water supply and their own wells are becoming increasingly saline. As a result, unemployment in Gaza was at 40 per cent. And Sacco himself was approached several times by Palestinians, hoping he could do something so that they could leave and go abroad to study or find work.

He describes a school, without electricity, as well as a school for the deaf, which is supported through volunteers and whose staff complain of their lack of training for dealing with people with disabilities. He also hears and illustrates the story of one Palestinian woman, whose son was shot by Israeli soldiers, but was prevented from taking him directly to hospital. Instead she was ordered to go hither and thither, where she was told a helicopter was waiting to take her and the boy. When she gets there, there is no helicopter. She eventually takes him to the hospital herself in a car, by which time it’s too late and the lad dies.

The book also shows the mass of roadblocks and the permit system which Palestinians have to go through to go to Israel. At the same time, Israelis are simply allowed to whiz through in their separate lanes.

Sacco also doesn’t shy away from showing the negative side of Palestine – the anti-Semitism, and particularly infamous murders, like the killing of Klinghoffer aboard the Achille Lauro, and the massacre of the Israeli Olympic team by the terrorist group Black September. This can turn into support for the murder of Israeli civilians. There’s also a chapter on the plight of Palestinian women, This is a society where women are still very much treated as inferiors and subordinates, where honour killings are carried out as the punishment for female adultery. It is also a society where collaborators are murdered, and those, who belong to the wrong faction may also be shot and killed.

The book was written 27 years ago, but nothing really seems to have changed since then. The illegal settlements are still there and expanding. Settlers are still seizing Palestinian homes and property, the apartheid separating Israelis from Palestinians is still in place, unemployment is still high, and Palestinians are still being treated as foreigners, refugees and second-class citizens on their own land.

However, some attitudes are changing. The Israeli liberals Sacco talks to only support the Palestinians up to a point. When pressed, some of them will say that Israel should keep the Occupied Territories, because they seized them in war. Or that they need to keep them for security reasons. But an increasing number of young Jews in America and elsewhere are appalled at the continuing maltreatment of the Palestinians and are becoming increasingly critical and hostile to Israel because of this. And there have also grown up major opposition groups like the human rights organisation B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence in Israel.

The Israeli state and its lobby and supporters in this country and others are increasingly scared. It’s why they’re trying to pass laws to criminalise the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in America, and to outlaw criticism of Israel in this country through tortuous definitions of anti-Semitism that are stretched to include it. It’s why they’re smearing, with the connivance of the right-wing media, the Blairites in the Labour party, and the Conservatives, decent people, who have fought racism and anti-Semitism, as anti-Semites.

Very long, detailed books have been written about Israel’s brutal treatment, dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Sacco’s Palestine presenting this as graphic novel, is an example of how comics can also be serious literature, tackling a difficult subject with both narrative and artistic skill and style. I’ve mentioned on this blog before the alternative comics that were also published from the ’60s to the 1980s/1990s on political topics, including the Israeli maltreatment of Palestinians in Pat Mills’ Crisis. Palestine is very much in that tradition, and in 1996 won the American Book Award.

Israeli Labour Party Severs Ties with Corbyn to Complete Indifference

April 11, 2018

Mike has also put up a piece today commenting on a report in Jewish News Online that Avi Gabbay, the head of the Israeli Labour Party, has broken off links between his party and the British Labour party because of Corbyn’s supposed hostility to the Jewish community, anti-Semitism and his attacks on Israel’s government and security forces, in which the government and opposition in Israel are one. As Mike points out, this is just rubbish. Corbyn has always actively campaigned against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, and his supporters include many Jews and Jewish organisations. Nor is he against Israel. He is just against the Israeli state’s persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Which is what Gabbay is really against. Gabbay is fully behind the dispossession of the Palestinians, and has described the illegal settlements built on land seized from the indigenous Arab inhabitants as ‘the beautiful and devoted face of Zionism’ and sworn that an Israeli Labour government would never include Arab members of the Knesset. He’s a nasty, virulent racist, and I dare say most people would probably think the Labour party was better off not having anything to do with him or the party he leads.

Labour Friends of Israel, however, see things very differently. They were complaining that Corbyn has never responded to their requests for a meeting, or gone with them to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. They have also said that Gabbay’s decision will not affect the Labour Friends of Israel, which will still continue to have ties with the Israeli party.

Mike in the title to his article about this states clearly that no-one’s actually bothered. Martin Odoni, one of the great commenters on Mike’s blog, has said that he believes that 99 per cent of the people in the Labour party probably don’t know that there is an Israeli Labour party, or that it’s linked to Britain’s, and probably don’t care either. Other commenters have also expressed their disappointment with the Israeli Labour party. They’d hoped for something better from it, but while there are some good people in it, it’s as pro-War, neoliberal and corrupt. Joe Sucksmith, another commenter, said that the Israeli Labour Party is institutionally racist and that Corbyn should cut ties with them. The only Israeli parties Corbyn should establish links to should be those dedicated to stopping the building of the illegal settlements, and allowing the Palestinians to return to their ancestral homelands. Both of these are demanded by UN resolutions.

In fact, a look at Tony Greenstein’s websites and discussion of the history of the Israeli Labour Party shows that historically, under Golda Meir and David Ben-Gurion, the party was as determined to massacre and ethnically cleanse Israel of the Palestinians as the right-wing parties. Rather than being a mark of shame, it could be said that Gabbay’s decision to cut ties with the Labour party is actually a good thing, as it means that genuine British anti-racists and opponents of anti-Semitism aren’t members of a party with links to the Israeli Labour Party and its policies of land seizure, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

As for no-one being bothered, I’ve seen little coverage of this in the I. It wasn’t completely ignored, but was the subject of only a tiny paragraph on page 2. So not exactly a major issue for the I then, although I don’t doubt that the Tory press will try to inflate this into a major crisis later on.

As for the Labour Friends of Israel claiming that Gabbay’s decision doesn’t affect them, well, yes, it does, whether they like it or not. By retaining links with Gabbay’s outfit, they have become a group inside the Labour party hostile to its leader, and with links to an outside, hostile party. As have the Jewish Labour Movement. Formerly Paole Zion, the Jewish Labour Movement has said in its constitution that it is the sister party to the Israeli Labour Party. This makes their relationship to the Labour party and its membership as a whole very problematic, especially if they continue to try to undermine Corbyn’s supporters by smearing them as anti-Semites and seeking to get them expelled.

Mike also quotes Tom Pride, of Pride’s Purge, who also points out that while anti-Semitism certainly exists, and must be taken seriously, the real anti-Semites are generally right-wing. They despise Corbyn, the Labour Party and the left in general, and love Katie Hopkins, Nigel Farage, Brexit and Trump, as well as the Daily Mail. Oh yes, and they also hate Blacks and Muslims as much as they hate Jews. In my experience, this is absolutely true. You only have to look at the letters pages in the right-wing press, and the comments section for videos about race and immigration on YouTube. The racist readers of the Daily Heil hate Labour, because they see it as the party of unlimited coloured immigration. More specifically, they believe the allegation of a former British civil servant that Blair was determined to increase non-white immigration in order to change Britain demographically and rub the Tories’ faces in a new, multicultural Britain. This civil servant is the only person, who has made this claim, but it was repeated by the Heil and rest of the Tory press, and believed by very many of its readers.

Mike’s article also includes a Tweet from Chelley Ryan, which includes a video with a Jewish lady talking about the issues of anti-Semitism and the anti-Semitism smears under the hashtag #wrongkindofjew. This lady’s family comes from Vienna, and her mother’s family were nearly all butchered by the Nazis. She herself was a member of the Labour party up to the Iraq invasion, when she could no longer be a member. She rejoined as a supporter with the election of Jeremy Corbyn. She has many Jewish friends, with whom she discusses these issues. She states that while she doesn’t say that there isn’t any anti-Semitism in the Labour party, she hasn’t seen it or been subject to it. As for the anti-Semitism smears, she makes three points:

1. It’s a distraction from Israel’s horrific persecution of the Palestinians. This week, 15 unarmed protesters were shot by the IDF.
2. It’s also a distraction from the greater racism in the Tories, for example, Boris Johnson and his vile comments about ‘grinning picaninnies’.
3. It’s also about the forthcoming elections, and the determination of the Blairites to undermine Corbyn so that they can return to power. She also points out that many members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the other Jewish organisations making the accusations of anti-Semitism are Tories. She is also afraid that the appropriation of anti-Semitism by the right will backfire. But unfortunately, it won’t backfire on the right, but on the Jews generally. She has a point. Other people have also warned that the use of allegations of anti-Semitism purely as a political smear is dangerous, because it devalues anti-Semitism, to the point that people may become indifferent to real abuse or brutalisation of Jews, simply for being Jews.

Other Jewish members of the Labour party and Jewish Labour groups have said the same, or similar things. They also have a right to be heard in this debate. But the Thatcherite political establishment – the Tories, press and the Blairites in the Labour party – are determined to make sure that they aren’t. Like Jewdas, they’re ‘the wrong kinds of Jews’.

Ex-Mossad Chiefs Claim Netanyahu Danger to Israel as Jewish State

April 3, 2018

Here’s another snippet of information, which might help to explain the latest vicious anti-Semitism smears against the Labour left and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Binyamin Netanyahu is mired in a massive corruption scandal in Israel, so massive that it’s starting to worry their security establishment. Last Wednesday, the I reported that two former Mossad chiefs had stated that the corruption was so great that it was a threat to Israel itself. One of them said that Netanyahu had been neglecting finding a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem. This would end with the Palestinians becoming citizens of Israel, which would destroy the country’s character as a Jewish ethno-state.

That in itself shows the racism at the heart of the Israeli state. Israel was founded as the Jewish state, and the Law of Return states that Jews anywhere in the world may immigrate to Israel. But such freedom of movement does not extend to the Palestinians displaced by the emergence of Israel and its massacres in 1948. Displaced Palestinians have repeatedly asked to be able to return to their former homelands, only to be told very firmly ‘No’. The reason? It would destroy Israel as a Jewish state. That’s what they’ve been told, repeatedly. Jewish supporters of the Palestinian’s struggle for equality and freedom are very critical about this. You can find pictures of them with Palestinian friends, making the point that its ridiculous that they can go to a state they’ve never seen or had any connection to, while the country’s indigenous people are forbidden from entering the country from which they or their parents were expelled.

And it’s because Israel is an ethno-state intended for one racial group only, that the White Supremacists in the Alt Right admire it. Richard Spencer, the leader and founder of the Alt Right, has declared himself to be a ‘White Zionist’ and stated in interviews that he views Israel as the model for the White ethno-state he and his fellow Nazis wish to create in the USA, cleansed of Asians, Latins and Black people, of course.

The two state solution to the problem of Palestinians, as far as I can tell, seems to be just verbiage. It’s just propaganda. It sounds nice and liberal, but in practice while the Israelis are talking about it, the Israeli state and its settlers are seizing more land from the Palestinians, and continuing with their policies of making like intolerable for the country’s indigenous Arabs in the hope that they’ll leave. It’s ideological camouflage designed to act as a fig leaf to cover the reality of persecution and ethnic cleansing.

The comments from the Mossad chief show that he, at least, and no doubt many others senior members of the Israeli military and political establishment are worried that Netanyahu’s corruption will undo the decades-long project of creating an ethnically uniform Jewish state. And over here, the Israel lobby hate and despise Jeremy Corbyn, not because he is an anti-Semite or is an opponent of Israel – he isn’t – but because he genuinely supports the Palestinians. It therefore seems to me that there’s now a powerful feeling of vulnerability amongst the Israel lobby. And so they’ve returned to libelling and smearing decent, anti-racist people, including self-respecting Jews, as anti-Semites in order to protect Israel from criticism and try and preserve it as an exclusively Jewish state.

What You Didn’t See at the Zionist Anti-Corbyn Rally

March 29, 2018

The papers and TV news were naturally full of the anti-Corbyn rally organised by the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies of British Jews. They claim Corbyn is an anti-Semite and sides with anti-Semites in the Labour party. As I’ve blogged about countless times before, this is vile rubbish. Corbyn and his supporters aren’t. The real reason they were protesting is that he wants a just settlement with Palestinians which will stop the ethnic cleansing and the theft of their land. But this is too much for the racial nationalists of the Israel lobby, who are driven into a sanctimonious, self-righteous fury if anyone dares to mention how racist Israel is, or reports the brutality it metes out to the Palestinians and other Arabs.

Amongst the piccies of the pro-Israel racists and hypocrites all decrying Corbyn in the I newspaper was this little photo below.

It’s of a group from Labour Against the Witch Hunt. The I never commented on them, which seems to me to indicate that they either didn’t know who they were, and thought they were another group of anti-Corbyn protesters. Or the I knew full well who they were, but were afraid to point them out in case they too were smeared as anti-Semites simply for reporting them.

Labour Against the Witch Hunt very definitely aren’t connected to the Israel lobby, and the British mouthpieces like the Jewish Leadership Council. They directly opposed to them. They’re for all the Labour members, that have been wrongly expelled, suspended or smeared as anti-Semites. As I’ve stated repeatedly, these people include self-respecting, secular and Torah observant Jews and genuinely anti-racist gentiles. Many of these people, Jews and gentiles, have been attacked by real Nazis for trying to combat racism and anti-Semitism. And the Jews smeared are often people, who have suffered anti-Semitic abuse and assault. And I have no doubt that many of them did have family members butchered in the obscenity of the Holocaust.

But they are not going to get coverage from the press, the Beeb and the other TV channels. Because these are all biased towards the Tories, or else back the Blairites, who are deeply enmeshed in the Israel lobby. And the power of the Israel lobby is too strong for many editors. These bigots are so arrogant, that they even claimed respected BBC jouros like Jeremy Bowen and Orla Guerin were anti-Semitic, simply because they dared to report Israeli atrocities during the invasion of Lebanon. And when Jonathan Dimbleby criticised these smears, he too was investigated for anti-Semitism.

Corbyn isn’t an anti-Semite, and this isn’t about anti-Semitism. This is about the Israel lobby using it as a weapon to get rid of a Labour leader they hate and fear, backed by a craven, mendacious and deeply compromised press. It’s long past the time it was stopped.

Israel’s Ethnic Cleansing of the Palestinians and the Italian Fascist Colonisation of Libya

March 5, 2018

Yesterday I put up a piece showing the parallels between Israel’s seven decades long campaign of violence, dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians and the Nazis’ annexation of Poland during the War, and their ethnic cleansing of the Poles and attempts to found German colonies in the cleansed regions.

I’ve no doubt that this comparison between the Nazis and Poland, what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, will be extremely unpalatable to the Israel lobby, who object that it is hurtful and anti-Semitic to compare them to the Nazis, the Jews’ mortal enemies. But however unpleasant and disturbing these comparisons are, they are there. And as the anti-PC right like to say, hurt feelings are no reason for covering up the facts or trying to shut down honest debate.

There is also another Fascist parallel to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, their campaign of colonisation through expanding, illegal Israeli settlements and the harassment and violence against the Palestinians themselves, and the seizure and destruction of their homes and property. It’s the Italian Fascist colonisation of Libya during the Second World War.

Italy had been trying to establish an empire in North Africa before Mussolini seized power, but had little success. Indeed, one Italian government fell because they were defeated in battle by indigenous African resistance forces. This was a massive humiliation for a European country, which considered themselves racially superior to the people over whom they sought to rule. Nevertheless, Italy continued to press for an empire, and the project was revived by Mussolini and the Fascists, who saw themselves as restoring the old Roman Empire. A brief description of the Italian Fascist occupation and colonisation of Libya is given in the article ‘Libya (Tripolitania and Cyrenaica)’ in Philip V. Cannistraro, ed. Historical Dictionary of Fascist Italy (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press 1982).

This states

The Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica became Italian possessions at the conclusion of the Italo-Turkish War of 1911-12. Patriotic rhetoric and a sensational newspaper campaign had described Libya as a ‘terra promessa’ (promised land) for Italy’s emigrants who were forced to settle in foreign lands. Italians soon found that they had acquired sovereignty over two vast desert territories, totally lacking in natural resources and thinly populated by a hostile Muslim population-scarcely an emigrant’s paradise. Nevertheless, for nearly thirty years, until the defeat of the Axis marked the end of Italian rule, Italy worked to create a “fourth shore” (to add to Italy’s Tyrrhenian, Adriatic, and Sicilian shores), a single colony, along the lines of Algeria, that would become an integral part of the mother country and would provide opportunities for emigrants to settle as small landowners.

Following the initial conquest, Liberal regimes, preoccupied with World War I and then with Italy’s postwar domestic crisis, made little attempt to establish control over the entire territory or to undertake colonisation. When the Fascists came to power in 1922, they embarked immediately on a campaign of military conquest. The repression took nearly a decade. Although Tripolitania was peaceful by 1924, the Sanusi-led rebellion in Cyrenaica lasted until 1931 and was particularly ferocious. According to official Italian figures, the population of Cyrenaica declined from two hundred twenty-five thousand in 1928 to on hundred forty-two thousand in 1931. Moreover, the livestock, the chief means of livelihood of the indigenous population, was decimated.

Under the governorship of Count Giuseppe Vulpi between July 1921 and July 1925, General Emilio De Bono between July 1925 and December 1928, and Marshal Pietro Badoglio between January 1929 and December 1933, the Italians experimented with various programs of land grants and subsidies to attract investors and colonists. Despite ever larger subsidies and increasing government regulation, the results remained unsatisfactory. Large plantations (devoted to almonds, olives and vineyards), worked by Italian labour, developed instead of a small landholders paradise.

During the last half dozen years of Italian rule, however, the outlines of a “fourth shore” began to emerge. Thanks to peaceful internal conditions, the eagerness of the Fascist regime to finance the colony’s development, and the personal energy and influence of the flamboyant Italo Balbo, governor from 1934 to 1940, the colony flourished. Colonisation companies, financed by the government and by social welfare organisations, were entrusted with programs of intensive land settlement. Balbo himself presided over two mass migrations of colonists (twenty thousand in October 1938 and an additional ten thousand a year later) chosen primarily from the Po Valley and the Veneto. Communications improved vastly with the completion of a 1,800-kilometer border-to-border highway inaugurated in 1937. Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were united administratively into one territory known as Libya with a single governor located in Tripoli. Socially and culturally the coastal regions became an extension of Italy, as tourists flocked to special events such as car races and air rallies or to visit the newly excavated archaeological sites of Sabratha and Leptis Magna. By 1939 the transformation was given legal recognition when the four coastal provinces of Tripoli, Misurata, Benghazi, and Derna were incorporated into the kingdom of Italy.

The transformation of Libya, however, was very costly to the mother country. The colony never came close to self-sufficiency and remained heavily dependent on subsidies from Italy. Nor were the Italians successful in dealing with the indigenous Libyans, on whom they depended for labour. By 1940 the Italian population numbered about one hundred and ten thousand in contrast to a Libyan population of eight hundred thousand. The failure of a “separate but equal ” policy became clear when World War II broke out. Many Libyans rallied ot the Sanusi banner once again (in alliance with the British), and the Libyans rejected any claims for even a limited period of postwar Italian trusteeship over Tripolitania. Nevertheless, a sizeable Italian colony remained in Tripoli until its final expulsion in 1970. (Pp.305-7).

When Blair, Sarko, Killary and the rest were demanding Colonel Gadaffy’s overthrow a few years ago, one Tory MP put his head up to say that the Libyan dictator deserved it, because he was anti-Semitic. The MP’s father was Italian Jewish, and was one of those, who’d been expelled. It’s possible that anti-Semitism was a factor in his father’s expulsion, as there is a very strong current of it in the Middle East. But it’s far more likely that the man was expelled because he was Italian, and therefore one of the country’s hated colonial overlords.

I realise that the parallels between the Nazi occupation of Poland, the Italian Fascist colonisation of Libya and Israel’s own persecution and colonisation of Palestinian territory aren’t exact. Nazism and Fascism were both anti-democratic dictatorships. Israel is a multiparty democracy, and there are Arab members of the Knesset, as well as a separate Palestinian authority.

But Israel was born through the massacre of the indigenous Arab population, and has imposed a system of apartheid on those who remain, most similar to the former White South Africa, and presumably something like the “separate but equal” policy implemented by the Italian Fascists in Libya. While making noises about finding a two-state solution to the problem of Palestinian statehood and equal rights, Israeli policy appears instead to be to encourage the further expansion of their settlements in the Occupied Territories, intimidation of the indigenous Palestinians through aggressive policing and military action, and the seizure of Palestinian land and homes, as well as the destruction of Arab property, by militant settler groups. All while running schemes to encourage more Jewish and Israeli emigration to these areas. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, runs a business financing and building such settlements.

The comparison between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians can be pushed too far, but it is still there. And libelling those, who point it out as ‘anti-Semitic’ is no argument or defence against it. The truth often hurts, but honesty requires that history should be squarely faced and the horrors of the past and present confronted.

Israel Is Doing to the Palestinians What the Nazis Did to the Poles

March 4, 2018

One of the methods the Israel lobby uses to silence comparisons between their decades long maltreatment and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the Nazis’ persecution of the Jewish people, culminating in the Shoah – the Holocaust – to proclaim very loudly that such comparisons are hurtful and particularly offensive to them as Jews, the Nazis’ victims. This doesn’t mean that the comparisons aren’t there. Critics of Israel have pointed out that Israel’s policies towards the Arabs certainly does resemble the Nazi persecution of the Jews up until 1942, when Hitler and the rest of his murderous gang decided on the infamous ‘Final Solution’. The Conservatives and other, self-proclaimed opponents of ‘Political correctness’ have made it very clear that hurt feelings should not be used to silence plain speaking and honest debate. This is true, although by plain speaking it usually means standing up for the type of people, who see nothing wrong with using racist epithets and making very racist remarks about Blacks, Asians and any other ethnic groups they don’t like. See the mouthings of the Daily Mail on this issue for further information.

But the Jews weren’t the only people the Nazis regarded as subhuman. They also despised the Slavonic peoples of Eastern Europe. Hitler made it very clear that in his invasion of Poland, Ukraine and Russia, he was merely continuing the medieval ‘Drang Nach Osten’, or ‘Drive/ Penetration to the East’ of the German medieval kings to conquer the Slav tribes. Prussia was one such state to be Germanised through conquest during the Middle Ages. The Pruzzi, from whom the German state took its name, were a Baltic tribe, and the area was also occupied by the Wends, a Slav people, whose language still survives today around the town of Cotbus in the former East Germany. They also waged war against the Poles. This finally ended with the collapse of Poland in the 17th century, and its annexation by Prussia, Austria and the Russian Empire.

Hitler’s plan for the conquered eastern European territories was to establish a series of German colonies in areas seized from the indigenous peoples. In those areas free of colonisation, the Slav peoples were to be reduced to an uneducated, peasant class, who would provide their German masters with foodstuffs.

D.G. Williamson, in his book The Third Reich (Harlow: Longman 1982) writes

Hitler’s primary aim in eastern Europe was to found a series of new German colonies. In the former Polish territory, which had been annexed by the Reich in 1939 a start was made in resettling German refugees from the Baltic States and eastern Poland, which had reverted to Russian rule in 1939-40. By 1943 the RKFDV had expelled about a million Jews and Poles and brought in roughly the equivalent number of ethnic Germans, of whom only about half were settled on the land. The remainder spent the war in refugee camps. Hitler wished to reduce the Polish population to a semi-illiterate mass whose main function would be to serve the interests of Greater Germany, and to allow the economy to deteriorate into what he called ‘the Polish chaos’. (p. 63).

Further information on the Nazi ethnic cleansing and enslavement of the Poles is provided by Norman Davies in his book, Heart of Europe: A Short History of Poland (Oxford: OUP 1984). He writes

As a result of the September Campaign, the whole of Poland passed under the occupation of Nazi and of Soviet forces. the Polish government and High Command took refuge in Romania, and on 30th September, a new Government was constituted abroad under General Sikorski, first in France, and later in England. On the western side of the Nazi-Soviet demarcation line along the Bug and the San, the Germans established a ‘General Government’ with its headquarters in Cracow. May districts of pre-war Poland, including Suwalki, West Prussia, Wielkopolska, and Upper Silesia, were directly incorporated into the Reich. (P. 65).

According to the outlines of the Generalplan-Ost, the Nazi aimed to redistribute the entire population between the Oder and the Dneiper. German settler were to be introduce by the million. the Poles were destined either for Germanisation where suitable, or for expulsion beyond the Urals. The residual Slavs were to be turned into a pool of half-educated slave labourers. Inferior or useless human beings-Jews, gypsies, recalcitrant prisoners of war, imbeciles and invalids-were to be eliminated….

German resettlement schemes were already under way in West Prussia,, where 750,000 Polish peasants had ben expelled to make way for Germans transferred from the Baltic States. Now the same methods began to be applied in central Poland, notably in the region of Zamosc. In 1942-3, over 300 villages were cleared in this region alone. There remained 400 villages intact simply because the SS could not spare the manpower to clear them. The evictions were attended by unspeakable burnings, beatings and butchery. The well-known fate of the one Bohemian village of Lidice, where 143 men were murdered by a Nazi reprisal order, was visited on Poland not once, but hundreds of times over.
(Pp. 69-70).

Map of Nazi occupied Poland, from Davies’ Heart of Europe, page.69.

Okay, there are some major differences between the Israeli ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, like the Nazis and the Nazi occupation of Poland, quite apart from the fact that they haven’t set up death camps to murder them as they did to Polish Jews. The Israelis aren’t interested in retaining the Palestinians as an enslaved peasant class. They just want to expel them. But this has been done through massacre, land seizures and horrific persecution. And Gaza has been compared to a wartime Jewish ghetto.

I am in no doubt that such comparisons will be just as unpalatable to the Zionist lobby in this country, as the comparisons to the Nazi persecution of the Jews before 1942 and the ‘Final Solution’ are. But that does not mean that they aren’t there, and valid.

The truth often hurts, but real history, not propaganda, is about facing up to them, to explain and explore history and recognise what really happened in the past. Not to purvey cosy, patriotic myths about what we’d like to believe happened. This applies to everyone, regardless of nationality, religious creed or race.

Screaming that the comparisons between the Nazi occupation of Poland and the ethnic cleansing and enslavement of its people, or claims that such comparisons must be anti-Semitic aren’t arguments. It’s just more libel and abuse. It’s time for Israel’s supporters to wake up to the facts, and stop their support for Israeli imperialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.