LETTERS FROM PALESTINE
Overview of the Conflicts in Palestine and Israel
19 September 2004
It occurred to me that while some of you have a
favorite olive tree in the West Bank, others might
have trouble finding Palestine on a map. So here is a
brief summary of the conflicts that I hope might clear
some things up. It is a very complicated story, and
everyone has his own version. I encourage you to seek
out other accounts. This is the story as well as I
Here are a couple of maps of the West Bank and Gaza in
relation to Israel, for reference:
A Jewish Viennese journalist named Theodore Herzl was
a witness the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe in the
late 1800s. Herzl concluded that the only solution to
the Jewish problem was the mass exodus of Jews from
their places of residence. Originally he wrote that
it didn't matter where Jews went, but eventually he
decided that a national home in Palestine was the
He published a pamphlet, The Jewish State, in 1896,
but Zionism was not his idea alone. Zionism came in
outline form to European Jewry during Herzl’s early
years. It was given its name in 1885 by Nathan
Birbaum, a Viennese Jewish writer. Its aim was a
national revival of the Jewish people in its ancestral
home, and Zion was one of the biblical names for
Although others had suggested solutions to
anti-Semitism, Herzl was the first to call for
immediate political action. Jewish reaction to his
plan was mixed. Many Jews rejected it as too extreme,
but some responded with enthusiasm and asked him to
head what was to become the Zionist movement.
He convened the first Zionist Congress in Basle,
Switzerland, August 29-31, 1897. The congress adopted
the Basle Program and established the World Zionist
Organization to help create the economic foundation
for the proposed Jewish state. Herzl was elected
president of the organization and chaired the first
six Zionist congresses. He spent much of his time in
his remaining years meeting with world leaders, both
Jewish and non-Jewish, trying to enlist financial and
political support for his dream of a Jewish state. He
died in 1904 before his dream could become reality.
Nevertheless, Herzl left an enduring legacy in that he
established two guiding principles of policy that
persist in Zionism to this day: non-recognition of a
Palestinian national entity and forming alliances with
great powers external to the Middle East. Initially,
that meant The British Empire.
A Russian named Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952) moved to
London in 1904 and became active in Zionist affairs.
Zionism was not a cohesive element early on. A
political wing followed in Herzl's footsteps by
seeking great power support; a practical wing believed
that Jewish immigration, land acquisition, and
settlement in Palestine was the right path. Weizmann
resolved the differences by adopting both policies.
Great power support and settlement in Arab lands
became the hallmarks of Zionism, and they continue in
During the First World War, British policy became
gradually committed to Weizmann's idea of establishing
a Jewish home in Palestine (Eretz Israel). After
discussions in the British Cabinet, and consultation
with Zionist leaders, the decision was made known in
the form of a letter by Arthur James Lord Balfour to
Lord Rothschild in 1917. The letter, known as the
Balfour Declaration, represented the first political
recognition of Zionist aims by a Great Power. This
success set the tone of future Zionist diplomacy.
An ardent Zionist named Jabotinsky, however, warned
his more radical fellows how difficult it would be to
subdue the Palestinians: "To think that the Arabs
will voluntarily consent to the realization of Zionism
in return for the cultural and economic benefits we
can bestow on them is infantile. This childish
fantasy of our ‘Arabo-philes’ comes from some kind of
contempt for the Arab people, of some kind of
unfounded view of this race as a rabble ready to be
bribed in order to sell out their homeland for a
Along came World War II and the Holocaust, which swung
a horribly guilty world opinion heavily in favor of
some kind of major reparation for Jews. Conveniently
enough, most Europeans were Christians and had read
the Bible, or at least been told a fair summary of it.
It was a compelling story that, unfortunately, did
not record the intervening time or include the
Palestinians. The phrase the Zionists used over and
over was, "We are a people without a land, and
Palestine is a land without a people." Apparently,
well over a million Palestinians didn't count as
Britain was tired of its unruly mandate in Palestine
anyway, drained by an Arab revolt in 1936 (by those
non-existent Palestinians, no doubt) and the Balfour
Declaration had already been signed. The Zionists had
the world's ear, and the Arab world had been carved up
by the great powers. Britain had promised Palestine
to both the Arabs and the Jews, but no matter. They
turned the whole mess over to the UN.
According to Thomas Friedman in his book From Beirut
"Israel’s high profile in the media is not only the
result of the West looking in but also the result of
Israel reaching out—sometimes frantically—to grab the
world by the throat. From the day Israel was born as
a nation, its leaders have invited, and even at times
demanded, that the world take heed of its uniqueness
and judge it with a different yardstick from other
The UN Partition Plan, passed in November of 1947,
gave 55% of Palestine to the Jews and 45% to the
Palestinians. The Jews owned less than 10% of the
land, and in the land they were going to be given by
the UN, they only had a slim majority (58% vs. 42%)
over the Palestinians.
No one is more aware of this than Israeli statesman
Abba Eban, who, in 1947, had the difficult task of
presenting the Jewish people’s claim for statehood
before the United Nations, which was then considering
the idea of partitioning Palestine.
‘It was not easy to make our case,’ recalled Eban.
‘The entire region rejected us. We were forming a
state for people who were not yet here. And we were
not a majority in our country. We had to seize the
ears of the world. We could not just rely on pure
juridical arguments. We could not argue like Ghana.
We had to make ourselves exceptional. So we based our
claim on the exceptionality of Israel, in terms of the
affliction suffered by its people, and in terms of our
historical and spiritual lineage. We knew we were
basically appealing to a Christian world for whom the
biblical story was familiar and attractive, and we
played it to the hilt. We are still the victims of
our own rhapsodic rhetoric, and our rhapsodic defense.
[But] we chose the line. We chose to emphasize at
the beginning of our statehood that Israel would
represent the ancient Jewish morality. Some Israelis
now complain about being judged by a different
standard [from other countries in the Middle East].
But the world is only comparing us to the standard we
set for ourselves. You can’t go out and declare that
we are the descendants of kings and prophets and then
come and say, ‘Why does the world demand that we
behave differently from Syria?’’"
Those 42% Palestinians said, "Why should these
newcomer immigrants have dominion over me and our land
all of a sudden?" And the rest of the Arab world
said, "Why are you giving away land that isn't yours?
We don't want to be another colony for you. You've
used us and lied to us and brutalized us enough."
As for the Zionists, future Israeli Prime Minister
Menachem Begin had this to say the day after the UN
vote to partition Palestine:
"The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never
be recognized... Jerusalem was and will forever be our
capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people
of Israel. All of it. And forever."
The Jews managed to amass vast sums of money from
wealthy Jews around the world, especially American
Jews, and with this money they purchased a formidable
armory. The Arabs leaders were badly organized, had
outdated equipment, and were too busy entrenching
themselves in their new roles as puppet governors to
fight as hard or as well as they should. The
Palestinians were mostly farmers and shopkeepers.
The War of 1948
The Jews largely believed that they were
fighting either for their survival (often equating
Arabs with Nazis), for their God given rights to the
land, or for both. They fought hard and they fought
Outrages occurred on both sides, as they tend to do in
war. Jewish forces committed terrorism against their
British overlords in order to convince them to leave.
The most famous was the King David Hotel bombing in
July of 1946, in which 91 people were killed (among
them 15 Jews). On February 22, 1948, four trucks
exploded on Ben Yehuda Street, killing around 50 Jews,
an attack which took place with apparent British
complicity. In April of 1948, the massacre at Deir
Yassin, in which over 100 Palestinian villagers, men,
women, and children were systematically murdered by
Israeli forces, terrorized many more villages into
When the dust cleared in 1948, Jews had control of 78%
of Palestine, while Jordan had control over the West
Bank, and Egypt had control over Gaza. It was
treacherous of the Jordanian and Egyptian governments
to seize Palestinian land, but they largely allowed
the Palestinians to live there in their normal way.
In the course of the war, Israel drove around 800,000
Palestinians off the land they controlled, and they
destroyed around 400 Palestinian villages completely.
This was the beginning of the largest and most
protracted refugee problem in modern history. Their
numbers now in the millions, many Palestinian refugees
have been living in camps and shantytowns in the West
Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, and Lebanon for more than
"Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab
villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab
villages, and I do not blame you because geography
books no longer exist. Not only do the books not
exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal
arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the
place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of
Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal
al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this
country that did not have a former Arab population."
UN General Assembly Resolution 194 was adopted on 11th
December 1948. It provides the legal foundation for
the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their
stolen land in Israel. Israel ignored it and
continues to do so. A Jewish-dominated state was and
is more important to them than the rights of 800,000
(and now many millions of) people.
In June of 1967, Israel pre-emptively attacked almost
all of its neighbors, saying they had intelligence
that the neighbors had planned to attack them. In
only six days, Israel won control over the West Bank,
Gaza, the Sinai of Egypt, and Syria's Golan Heights,
proving itself to be the sole superpower of the
~David Ben Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel,
quoted in The Jewish Paradox, by Nahum Goldmann,
Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978, p. 99.
In November of 1967, just after the war ended, the UN
passed Resolution 242 unanimously. It is the legal
foundation for the Middle East peace process. It
calls on Israel to withdraw its military and civilian
presence from all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip,
and East Jerusalem in accordance with applicable
international laws. Needless to say, Israel did not
and does not comply.
Egypt got the Sinai back when it formally recognized
and supported Israel. The Egyptian president kissed
the Israeli prime minister and everyone conveniently
forgot about the refugee problem, the original sin of
Israeli ethnic cleansing, the issue of the occupied
West Bank and Gaza, and the UN resolutions which
affirmed the rights of Palestinians to the West Bank
and Gaza and for the refugees created in 1948 to
return to their homeland.
With a few hefty checks from the U.S., Jordan also
recognized and vowed to protect Israel. Syria remains
intransigent on the issue, and the US remains hostile
to Syria. Lebanon... I'll skip Lebanon. I'll just
say Lebanon didn't get all its territory back from
Israel until the year 2000, and not on any good terms.
Things were bad in the West Bank and Gaza for a long
time, with the population not given the right to vote
or equal protection or benefits under Israeli law.
They were treated like second-class citizens and a
cheap and docile labor pool and had no control over
their destinies. They were being absorbed into Israel
without being given any rights, and Israel was
building large prefabricated cities called settlements
inside Palestinian land, further restricting their
movement, confiscating their land, and causing them to
live in fear of these heavily-armed intruders.
Israel was getting away with its racist system for a
long time, hoping the Palestinians would simply remain
in their submerged status indefinitely as a non-people
while Israel slowly annexed their land. But finally
in 1987, the Palestinian population collectively rose
up in non-violent protest. Enough. They wanted
rights or they wanted a state. Israel responded by
killing about 300 Palestinians and injuring and
But the damage had been done. Israel woke up and
realized they had neighbors who had their own identity
and their own wishes.
Thomas Friedman again:
“The West Bankers and Gazans were no longer whining
about this or that Israeli arrest of house demolition;
they were going out and literally daring the Israelis
to arrest them, or shoot them, by the hundreds. They
were no longer waiting for others to save them;
rather, they were taking responsibility for saving
themselves—not as individuals, but as a community.
The fact that in the early stage of the uprising
masses of Palestinians took to the streets meant that
Israel could no longer control these 1.7 million
people with a few hundred border policemen and Shin
Bet agents. It required whole battalions of the
Israeli army—thousands of men around the clock—and
this led to thousands of public confrontations.
In the first year of the uprising, the army arrested
nearly 20,000 Palestinians, killed more than 300, and
injured between 3,500 and 20,000, depending on whose
figures one trusts. (During the same period only 11
Israeli soldiers and civilians died at the hands of
the Palestinians, while some 1,100 were injured.)
I once met a strapping, muscle-bound twenty-year-old
Palestinian man in the Kalandia refugee camp by the
name of Jameel. With his physique, he would have been
an elite commando in any Palestinian army. But when I
asked him whether he was trying to hurt Israelis when
he threw a stone, he answered in a way that made me
realize how much the stone was really meant for
him—meant to liberate him from his own sense of
impotence and humiliation.
‘A woman is being raped,’ said Jameel, ‘and while she
is being raped she uses her nails to scratch the body
of the rapist. Is that violence? We have been raped
for years, but instead of our brothers helping us,
they stood around and watched.’
And now that you have taken your destiny into your own
‘The wounds of the rape are starting to heal,’ he
said. ‘The woman is combing her hair and looking in
the mirror again.’”
“Abu Laila, one of the leaders of the uprising in the
Kalandia refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, told me one
night in an almost dreamlike voice of the raw hurt he
was expressing by taking stone in hand against the
Israelis. ‘When I throw a stone, I feel there is a
movie going on in my head. And it is showing all the
pain, all the time that I spent in prison, all the
times the Israelis asked me for my identity card, all
the insults Israeli soldiers said to me. I see all
the times the soldiers beat me, and beat my parents.
That is what I feel when I throw a stone.”
Thomas Friedman said the following about Israel’s
response to the First Intifada:
“I was at a dinner party in Herzliya in the summer of
1988 and was seated next to one of the most senior
Labor Party Cabinet ministers—a man deeply involved in
security matters. We talked about the usual
things—America, the economy, the Arabs—before I asked
him what kind of moral challenge the Intifada was
posing to the Israeli army. The Labor Minister was
eating some lamb at the time. He stopped chewing,
turned to me with a piece of lamb on his fork, and
said straightaway, ‘If you ask me, the sooner the
Palestinians return to terrorism, the better it will
be for us.’”
As for the commanders in the field:
“The abundance of reporters in Israel... clearly
curtailed the amount of force Israel could use against
Palestinians. An Israeli colonel in the West Bank was
quite explicit when I asked him about the deterrent
effect television has had on his treatment of West
Bankers and Gazans.
So, their backs against the wall, with Palestinians
quickly claiming the moral high ground with their
Gandhi-style non-violent civil disobedience, and with
Israel embarrassed to keep cracking down on them with
deadly force, Israel agreed to begin the Oslo Peace
‘I used to be stationed in south Lebanon,’ said the
colonel, ‘and in south Lebanon there is nothing
between you and God Almighty. The only question you
ask yourself when you are going to blow up someone’s
house is whether to use 50 kilos of dynamite or 25
kilos. Here in the West Bank you have to explain
every little move you make to ten different people.’
A senior Israeli commander in the West Bank said that
he told his men specifically, ‘Do not beat anyone if
you see a television camera. If you are already
beating someone and you see a camera, stop. If you
see someone else beating someone and you see a camera,
stop him.’ The same officer told me, ‘Look, when my
soldiers are involved in something not so kosher with
Palestinians in a village, and television is not
around, I can live with it. I may not like what they
did, but I can live with it. But if television is
there, I cannot live with it. Not at all.’”
The Oslo Peace Process
But after 13 years of halting talks and so-called
Generous Offers, things had not gotten any better, and
in fact had gotten worse. Nothing concrete or fair
was offered the Palestinians, and Israel continued to
build more settlements and checkpoints deep inside
Palestinian land, making independence and freedom less
and less feasible for the Palestinians. At the same
time Israel increased their military capabilities to
an alarming degree. The Palestinians were held at
arms’ length with false promises while Israel kept on
preparing for... what?
On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon entered the
holiest Islamic site in Palestine, the Al-Aqsa Mosque,
with an armed garrison.
Ariel Sharon is a known war criminal who was forced to
resign from the Israeli government in disgrace in 1983
for his responsibility in several massacres of
innocent Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, including
the Sabra, Chatila, and Qana atrocities. He was
summoned to Belgium in 2001 to appear before a court
on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity,
but he didn’t show. Sharon gradually climbed back up
into favor, especially with the more extreme elements
of Israel, and not long after the Al-Aqsa stunt he was
elected Prime Minister.
Palestinians were outraged by this spit in the face
after all they had already gone through, and they
protested mostly peacefully except for the boys who
took up rocks, as they tend to do.
Israel’s response was deadly and out of proportion.
During the first two weeks of the conflict, which
became known as the Second Intifada, from September 29
until October 12, 2000, B'Tselem (an Israeli human
rights group, btselem.org) reported 14 Palestinian
security servicemen and 54 Palestinian civilians
killed, including 15 children under 18.
In the same period, 2 Israeli civilians and 5 Israeli
soldiers were killed.
In five months Israel had killed 84 Palestinian
children under 18 alone, and at least 300 adults.
Towns were invaded, people were injured, terrified,
arrested, humiliated. Desperate or crazy or outraged
or fed-up Palestinians, seeing that the world was
standing by and allowing this outrage, started on the
morally devastating guerrilla tactic of suicide
bombing civilians. The first suicide bombing in
Israel took place in March of 2001, six months after
the Intifada began, according to Reuters.
Palestinians had no tanks, no jet planes, no
helicopters, nothing but their bodies and their lives
and their despair to fight with. It was the only card
they had, and they played it. Israel responded with
more devastating force. Things spiraled down and
The tactic all along among the hardcore Zionists has
been to get the Palestinians to exit the premises, go
to Jordan, and give Israel to the Jews. Nevermind
that nearly 40% of the Jewish population of Israel is
recent immigrants from Russia, Ethiopia, etc., many of
whom have been lied to about the economic and
political conditions in Israel to get them to come and
be a ‘fact on the ground’, i.e. another Jew to
legitimize the notion of a Jewish state. (If it
weren't for these immigrants, Palestinians would have
a clear majority over Jews in Israel and the Occupied
One method of getting rid of Palestinians slowly
enough not to arouse world anger all at once is to
make their lives unlivable. Take away their
livelihoods, their access to education and to each
other, split up families, separate people from their
land, split up neighborhoods, and make it impossible
for Palestinians ever to be able to fight for their
rights again. Many will find the situation unbearable
and leave. (Many already have.) Others will stay and
be made destitute, marginalized, trapped, humiliated,
Enter the Hafrada Wall. The Israelis claim the Wall
they are building between themselves and the
Palestinians is for security (security from responses
they provoked). But it is not being built on the
border between Israel and Palestine. It is being
built in and around Palestinian cities deep inside
West Bank territory. It cuts the region into several
self-contained prisons with gates controlled by the
Sometimes the Wall circles a town completely,
sometimes it runs between towns and their land, making
it impossible for farmers to work. Sometimes it cuts
right into the heart of Palestine to surround
settlements (Jewish towns built illegally inside the
West Bank and Gaza which are used as military bases,
steal land, control water resources, and house armed
ideological settlers) and include them in the land
Israel is unilaterally, illegally annexing from the
West bank. Sometimes the Wall runs down the middle of
roads, splitting neighborhoods in two and making
transportation difficult or impossible. It ruins
lives with incredible effectiveness.
Basically it's half land-grab, half collective racist
imprisonment of a population, and a case of ethnic
cleansing if they do manage to make the Palestinians
leave. (Or a brutal form of Apartheid if the
Palestinians stay in their prisons.) It was found to
be illegal by the International Court of Justice, but
Israel doesn't recognize or follow international law
and hasn't since its foundation.
Here is a map of the Wall, with current and proposed
Here's an alternative and fairly balanced brief
history of the conflicts.
An article about American support for the Jewish
For a hint of the degree to which Israel controls the
media discourse, thus convincing an astonishing number
of people that Palestinians are simply terrorists who
hate Jews for no reason, check out camera.org,
honestreporting.com, and the following vignette by
“The speed with which Israelis would move to correct
mistakes I made in The New York Times was measured not
in days but in hours and minutes. After the Israeli
government was formed following the July 1984
elections, my soft-spoken assistant, Moshe Brilliant,
dictated by telephone to New York the list of new
Cabinet ministers, which was released late at night
and close to deadline. Moshe began with the Prime
Minister and then read the names of the other new
ministers over the telephone. When he got to the
Minister of Religious Affairs, he said, ‘veteran
National Religious Party leader Yosef Burg...’
Friedman again (I happen to have a list of quotes from
his book on hand):
Well, the person taking dictation in New York heard
‘Bedouin’ instead of ‘veteran.’ Sure enough, the
Cabinet list was published and it read, ‘Bedouin
National Religious Party leader Yosef Burg.’
Considering that Burg was an Orthodox Jew, a bigger
mistake would be difficult to make. The first edition
of The New York Times hits the streets about 11:00
p.m. At 11:01 p.m. someone called Burg in Israel, and
at 11:02 p.m. he or one of his staff called the Times.
By 11:03 p.m. the Cabinet list had been corrected for
"In recent years many Israelis could be heard wishing
for the day when their country might be reported on
like Norway, or even Syria. They cite the famous
saying by the French philosopher Montesquieu: ‘Happy
the people whose annals are blank in history books.’
A year after the Intifada began, there were signs that
their dreams were beginning to come true—that stories
of Isaraeli troops shooting a three-year-old
Palestinian boy, while dispersing a demonstration of
ten- and eleven-year-old Palestinian children, were
becoming boring to the West and worth only a small
mention in the newspaper. The audience in the West
seemed to be starting to lose interest in the
misbehavior of Israeli Jews. If I were Israeli I
would think twice before celebrating this newfound
anonymity. When Israeli repression is no longer
viewed as news, it means that the West no longer
expects anything exceptional of Israel and Israel no
longer expects anything exceptional of itself. That
can only be a sign that something very essential in
Israel’s character and the character of the Jewish
people has died."
If there will ever be peace, both sides must
acknowledge the wrongs they have done and talk to each
other as equals. People from both sides, especially
the leaders, should meet children from the other side.
We're all human and we all want security. Nobody is
offering it right now, though.
If the international community doesn't step in, Israel
can squeeze the Palestinians right down to suicide or
submission, putting their own civilians in danger all
the way and creating an unbearably dark chapter in
world history. My friends here, and all Palestinians
and Israelis, deserve better than that.
There's much more to it, but this is a start.
Comments, revisions, and corrections are welcome, as
Also, if you prefer to check the Palestine Letters
page on my website instead of getting my long-ass
emails in your inbox, just let me know.
Some quotations from past and current Prime Ministers
David Ben Gurion, 1949 - 1954, 1955 - 1963
"We must expel Arabs and take their places."
~1937, Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, Oxford
University Press, 1985.
"We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land
confiscation, and the cutting of all social services
to rid the Galilee of its Arab population."
~May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion,
A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York
"There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler,
Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one
thing: we have come and we have stolen their country.
Why would they accept that?"
~Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif
(The Jewish Paradox), pp. 121-122.
"Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves...
politically we are the aggressors and they defend
themselves... The country is theirs, because they
inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle
down, and in their view we want to take away from them
~quoted on pp 91-2 of Chomsky's Fateful Triangle,
which appears in Simha Flapan's "Zionism and the
Palestinians pp 141-2 citing a 1938 speech.
"If I knew that it was possible to save all the
children of Germany by transporting them to England,
and only half by transferring them to the Land of
Israel, I would choose the latter, for before us lies
not only the numbers of these children but the
historical reckoning of the people of Israel."
~Quoted on pp 855-56 in Shabtai Teveth's
Ben-Gurion in a slightly different translation.
Golda Meir, 1969 - 1974
"There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It
is not as if we came and threw them out and took their
country. They didn't exist."
~statement to The Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969.
"How can we return the occupied territories? There is
nobody to return them to."
"Any one who speaks in favor of bringing the Arab
refugees back must also say how he expects to take the
responsibility for it, if he is interested in the
state of Israel. It is better that things are stated
clearly and plainly: We shall not let this happen."
~1961, in a speech to the Knesset, reported in
Ner, October 1961
"This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise
made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it
to account for its legitimacy."
~Le Monde, 15 October, 1971
Yitzhak Rabin, 1974 - 1977, 1992 - 1995
"We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon
repeated his question, What is to be done with the
Palestinian population?' Ben-Gurion waved his hand in
a gesture which said 'Drive them out!"
~leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs,
published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.
"[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or
20 years conditions which would attract natural and
voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza
Strip and the west Bank to Jordan. To achieve this we
have to come to agreement with King Hussein and not
with Yasser Arafat."
~Rabin, a "Prince of Peace" by Clinton 's
standards, explaining his method of ethnically
cleansing the occupied land without stirring a world
outcry, quoted in David Shipler in the New York Times,
04/04/1983 citing Meir Cohen's remarks to the
Knesset's foreign affairs and defense committee on
Menachem Begin, 1977 - 1983
"[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs."
~speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk,
"Begin and the 'Beasts,"' New Statesman, June 25,
Yizhak Shamir, 1983 - 1984, 1986 - 1992
"The past leaders of our movement left us a clear
message to keep Eretz Israel from the Sea to the River
Jordan for future generations, for the mass aliya
(Jewish immigration), and for the Jewish people, all
of whom will be gathered into this country."
~at a Tel Aviv memorial service for former Likud
leaders, November 1990. Jerusalem Domestic Radio
"The settlement of the Land of Israel is the essence
of Zionism. Without settlement, we will not fulfill
Zionism. It's that simple."
"(The Palestinians) would be crushed like
grasshoppers... heads smashed against the boulders and
~in a speech to Jewish settlers, New York Times,
April 1, 1988
Benjamin Netanyahu, 1996 - 1999
"Israel should have exploited the repression of the
demonstrations in China, when world attention focused
on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among
the Arabs of the territories."
~Speaking to students at Bar Ilan University, from
the Israeli journal Hotam, November 24, 1989.
Ehud Barak, 1999 - 2001
"The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you
give them meat, they want more..."
~August 28, 2000. Reported in the Jerusalem Post
August 30, 2000
"If we thought that instead of 200 Palestinian
fatalities, 2,000 dead would put an end to the
fighting at a stroke, we would use much more force..."
~quoted in Associated Press, November 16, 2000.
"I would have joined a terrorist organization."
~his response to Gideon Levy, a columnist for the
Ha'aretz newspaper, when Barak was asked what he would
have done if he had been born a Palestinian.
Ariel Sharon, 2001-present
"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to
public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain
number of facts that are forgotten with time. The
first of these is that there is no Zionism,
colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction
of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands."
~addressing a meeting of militants from the
extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse,
November 15, 1998.
"Everybody has to move, run and grab as many
(Palestinian) hilltops as they can to enlarge the
(Jewish) settlements because everything we take now
will stay ours...Everything we don't grab will go to
~addressing a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence
France Presse, Nov. 15, 1998.
"Every time we do something you tell me America will
do this and will do that... I want to tell you
something very clear: Don't worry about American
pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control
America, and the Americans know it."
~October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on
Kol Yisrael radio.
"Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but
certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish
people and the State of Israel on trial."
~25 March, 2001 quoted in BBC News Online