By Ilan Pappe
It all started with Homa and Migdal, the Hebrew words for wall and watchtower.
It is quite possible that the first theorists and leaders of the Zionist movement, in late 19th century Europe, believed, or hoped, that Palestine was a virgin land and that, if there were people there, they were rootless nomadic tribes who did not own land.
If that had been the case, the Jewish refugees who settled in this virgin land would undoubtedly have been able to build a prosperous society and perhaps have found a way to live in peace with the Arab world.
Sadly we know that many of the early architects of Zionism were well aware that Palestine was not a land without inhabitants.
The architects of Zionism were, like all Europeans, too racist to realize that Palestinian society was very advanced for the time, with an educated and politicized urban elite and a rural community living in peace in a true system of coexistence and of solidarity.
Palestinian society was on the threshold of modernity – like so many other societies in the region; it was a blend of traditional heritage and new ideas that was perfecting their national identity and their vision of freedom and independence in the land they had inhabited for centuries.
Zionists certainly knew that Palestine was the land of the Palestinians, but they perceived the indigenous population as a demographic obstacle that had to be removed for the Zionist project of building a Jewish state in Palestine to succeed.
This is how the Zionist expression “the Palestinian question” or “the Palestinian problem” entered the global political lexicon.
In the eyes of Zionist leaders, this “problem” could only be solved by displacing Palestinians and replacing them with Jewish immigrants.
Furthermore, Palestine was to be wrested from the Arab world and become an outpost in the service of Western imperialism and colonialism’s plan to take over the entire Middle East.
It all started with Homa and Migdal – the Hebrew words for wall and watchtower.
Walls and watchtowers
These two elements were considered the most important landmarks of the “return” of the Jews to a supposedly empty land, and they are still present in every Zionist colony until today.
At the time, Palestinian villages had no walls or watchtowers, and they still don’t have them today.
People came and went freely, enjoying the views of the villages along the road, as well as the food and water available to every passerby.
Zionist colonies, on the other hand, religiously guarded their orchards and fields and considered anyone who touched them thieves and terrorists.
Therefore, from the beginning, they did not build normal human settlements, but strongholds with walls and watchtowers, thus blurring the difference between civilians and soldiers in towns, villages and villages. settler outposts.
For a short time, the Zionist colonies received the support of socialist and communist movements around the world, simply because communism was being experimented there as fanatically as in vain.
The nature of these settlements, however, is an indicator of what Zionism meant to the land and its people from its inception.
Anyone who arrived as a Zionist, expecting to find a land empty of inhabitants or determined to empty the land of its inhabitants, was enlisted in a military society of settlers, whose dream of the virgin land could only be realized by sheer force. and simple.
The indigenous population declined the offer to “disappear”*, as expressed by Theodore Herzl.
Despite the immense disappointment caused by the British betrayal of their promise to respect the right to self-determination of all Arab peoples, the Palestinians still hoped that the Empire would protect them from the Zionist project of population replacement and displacement.
By the 1930s, Palestinian community leaders realized that this would not be the case. They therefore rebelled, before being brutally crushed by the Empire which was supposed to protect them, in accordance with the “mandate” it had received from the League of Nations.
The Empire also stood idly by when the settler movement carried out a massive ethnic cleansing operation in 1948, which resulted in the expulsion of half the indigenous population in the Nakba (catastrophe).
After the Nakba, however, Palestine was still full of Palestinians, and those who were expelled refused to take on another identity and fought for their return, as they still do today.
Zionists do not want to give up on their “dream”
The Palestinians who remained in historic Palestine continue to demonstrate through their presence that the land is not empty and that the settlers are obliged to use force to achieve their goal of transforming an Arab, Muslim and Christian Palestine into a Palestinian European Jewry.
With each passing year, the colonial state must use more force to realize this European dream at the expense of the Palestinian people.
In 2020, it will be a hundred years since attempts were made to implement, by force, the utopian project consisting of transforming a “virgin land” into a Jewish entity. Furthermore, for democratic and theocratic reasons, there appears to be no Jewish consensus on this very project.
Billions upon billions of American taxpayer money have been and still are needed to sustain the dream of the empty land of Palestine – and the relentless Zionist quest to realize it.
An unprecedented assortment of violent and merciless means had to be used daily against Palestinians, their villages and towns, or the entire Gaza Strip, in order to keep this dream alive.
The human cost paid by the Palestinians for this doomed project was enormous, amounting to approximately 100,000 people to date.
The number of Palestinian women, men and children injured and traumatized is so high that no Palestinian family is spared.
The Palestinian nation – whose members contributed brilliantly to the economy and culture of the countries of the Arab world – has been fragmented and prevented from realizing its incredible development potential.
It is in this context that the genocidal policy that Israel is implementing today in Gaza and the unprecedented campaign of assassinations in the West Bank take place.
The only “democracy”?
These tragic events always raise the same question: how does it not shock the West and the global North that “the only democracy in the Middle East” plans to keep millions of Palestinians in oppression?
And perhaps more importantly, how can so many supporters of Israel and Israeli Jews believe that it is possible to implement such a project in the 21st century?
The truth is, none of this can last.
The problem is that the disintegration of this project will undoubtedly be a long, very bloody process, the main victims of which will be the Palestinians.
It is also not certain that the Palestinians will be ready to take over, as a united liberation movement, when the Zionist project is shattered. Will they be able to shake off the feeling of defeat and rebuild their homeland into a country free and open to all?
Personally, I have great confidence in the young Palestinian generation and I think they will be capable of it.
This last phase could be less violent; and it would certainly be more constructive and more productive for both societies, that of the settlers and that of the colonized, if the region and the world intervened now; what if nations stopped exacerbating the anger and resentment of millions by claiming that implementing a century-old project – to empty a land of its indigenous people by force – is the mark of a enlightened democracy and a civilized society.
If that happened, Americans might stop asking “Why do they hate us?” »
And Jews around the world would not be forced to protect Jewish racism by brandishing the weapon of anti-Semitism and revisionism.
Hopefully, even Christian Zionists would return to the basic human precepts upheld by Christianity and join the coalition to end the destruction of Palestine and its people.
Multinational corporations, security companies and military industries will obviously not join a coalition that opposes the plan to empty the land of its Palestinian inhabitants. However, they could be fought effectively.
Only one thing is necessary, and that is for us, the ordinary people who still believe in morality and justice, we who are the last beacons in this era of darkness, to decide to put an end to the Zionist project of emptying Palestine. of its indigenous inhabitants, to open a new era and build a better world for all its inhabitants.
* Spirited away in English
The Palestine Chronicle – Translation: Chronicle of Palestine – Dominique Muselet