The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine - Synopsis

Synopsis

According to Ilan Pappé, the 1948 Palestinian exodus consisted of the forced relocation of close to 800,000 Palestinians. This was more than half of the Palestinian population at that time. It also involved the destruction of 531 Palestinian villages, and the emptying of 11 entire Palestinian urban neighborhoods. The event is referred to, by Palestinians, as the Nakba, the catastrophe. The thesis that Pappé presents is that the Nakba was a calculated and intentionally executed ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Zionist Israelis. He states, with emphasis, that there is no room for ambivalence in this matter. His references include Zionist quotations and writings, military and political archives, and the diaries of David Ben-Gurion. His intent is also to explore how the denial of the Nakba has been so successful for so long. His views are in direct opposition to mainstream Israeli versions of the relocation, which claim that the relocation was 'voluntary'.

In his preface, Ilan Pappé says, 'such a painful journey into the past is the only way forward if we want to create a better future for us all.' Pappé states that the ethnic cleansing idea was first expressed in early Zionist writings. For example, in 1917, Leo Motzkin stated 'the colonization of Palestine has to go in two directions, Jewish settlement…and the resettlement of the Arabs.' In 1938 Ben-Gurion stated, 'I am for compulsory transfer; I do not see anything immoral in it.' Then in 1948, according to Ilan Pappé, the ethnic cleansing was implemented by Ben-Gurion, Yigael Yadin, Moshe Dayan, Yigal Allon, Yitzhak Sadeh, Moshe Kalman, Moshe Camel, Yitzak Rabin, Shimon Avidan, Rehavam Zeevi, Yitzhak Pundak, and others. The ideological drivers of the campaign were Ben-Gurion's close advisers whom Ilan Pappé calls the 'Consultancy group'. The implementers were officers who led attacks executed by the Haganah (an Israeli militia) and the Irgun (another Israeli militia), the Stern Gang (another Israeli militia), and the Israeli Defense Force. The details of the "ethnic cleansing strategy" are fully described in an Israeli military/government document entitled Plan Dalet. Plan Dalet, according to Pappé, spells out, in writing, the clear directives of the operation. It included 'bombarding villages…setting fire to homes, properties and goods, expulsion, demolition and planting mines among the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning.' Pappe catalogues actions such as poisoning of the water supply of Acre with typhoid, numerous cases of rape, atrocities, and dozens of massacres.

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