• The Palestinians who didn’t flee during the #Nakba
    Historian #Adel_Manna tells the story of the 120,000 Palestinians who remained in Israel in 1948 while 750,000 were driven out

    Did Prime Minister David #Ben-Gurion pursue a policy or issue an order aimed at getting rid of the Muslims?

    “I am not looking for a directive or a document bearing Ben-Gurion’s signature. He addressed the subject often, and I quote his statements in the book. For example, on September 26, 1948, he declared, ‘Only one task remains for the Arabs in the Land of Israel: to flee.’ The Israeli leadership understood and also concurred that, for the Jewish state, the fewer Arabs the better. The subject was mooted already in the late 1930s. Yosef Weitz, a senior official of the Jewish National Fund, supported extensive expulsion of Arabs and advocated a population transfer. The IDF commanders at different levels knew what the leadership wanted and acted accordingly. Massacres were not perpetrated everywhere. When you shell a village or a city neighborhood, the residents flee. In the first half of 1948, at least, they believed they would be able to return. When the fighting in Haifa ended, many residents tried to return from Acre in boats, but the Haganah blocked them.”

    Does your study confirm, or prove, that ethnic cleansing took place?

    “The book’s goal is not to prove whether ethnic cleansing occurred. My disagreement with [the review of my book in Haaretz by] #Benny_Morris did not revolve around the question of ‘whether ethnic cleansing took place or not,’ but deals with the question of whether the leadership did or did not make a decision in a particular meeting to implement a policy of ethnic cleansing.” In this connection, Manna quotes Daniel Blatman’s response (Haaretz, Aug. 4) to a review of his book by Morris (Haaretz, July 29). One might think from Morris’ book, Blatman noted, that “when Ratko Mladic decided to slaughter over 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995, he made his orders public.”

    Indeed, Manna points out, “The first historian who uncovered the fact that ethnic cleansing occurred and that there were also cases of massacre, rape and expulsion was Benny Morris. He reached the conclusion that there was no [official] policy, in light of the fact that no authoritative archival documentation exists. In one village, they decided a certain way and in another, differently. Still, there is a pattern: The soldiers perpetrated another massacre and carried out another expulsion, and another #massacre and another expulsion, and no one was brought to trial. If there was no policy, why weren’t these war criminals tried?”

  • On pourrait ré-intitulé l’article “L’Arabe dans l’imaginaire israélien...”
    Ben-Gurion in 1951: Until a Jewish Soldier Is Hanged for Murdering “Arabs, Murder Won’t End
    Israel’s first prime minister argued that only the death penalty would deter Jews from gratuitous killing of Arabs.”


    “I’m not the justice minister, I’m not the police minister and I don’t know all criminal acts committed here, but as defense minister I know some of the crimes, and I must say the situation is frightening in two areas: 1) acts of murder and 2) acts of rape.” So declared Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion in 1951 before dropping a bombshell: “People in the [General] Staff tell me, and it’s my view as well, that until a Jewish soldier is hanged for murdering Arabs, these acts of murder won’t end.”

    Ben-Gurion was speaking at a cabinet meeting on abolishing the death penalty. Jewish-Arab tensions were high following the 1948 War of Independence, and there was also a problem with infiltrators: Arab refugees seeking to return to the homes and fields they left during the war. Consequently, Jewish murders of Arabs had proliferated, and some ministers considered the death penalty necessary to solve this problem.

    The cabinet discussion of 66 years ago is particularly interesting in light of this week’s very different cabinet discussion about a soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian terrorist in Hebron after he no longer posed a threat.

    “In general, those who have guns use them,” Ben-Gurion asserted, adding that some Israelis “think Jews are people but Arabs aren’t, so you can do anything to them. And some think it’s a mitzvah to kill Arabs, and that everything the government says against murdering Arabs isn’t serious, that it’s just a pretense that killing Arabs is forbidden, but in fact, it’s a blessing because there will be fewer Arabs here. As long as they think that, the murders won’t stop.”

    Ben-Gurion said he, too, would prefer fewer Arabs, but not at the price of murder. “Abolishing the death penalty will increase bloodshed,” he warned, especially between Jews and Arabs. “Soon, we won’t be able to show our faces to the world. Jews meet an Arab and murder him.”

    The cabinet first discussed abolishing the death penalty – a legacy of the British Mandate – in July 1949, at the urging of Justice Minister Pinhas Rosen. Ben-Gurion was dubious even then. He said he would support the bill, but was almost certain the death penalty would ultimately be reinstated, because abolishing it “will lead to a proliferation of murders.” After intense debate, the cabinet agreed to abolish the death sentence except for treason during a state of emergency.
    The bill then went to the Knesset, where the Constitution Committee held lengthy deliberations. A year later, Rosen presented the cabinet with a problem: Seven prisoners were on death row, but their executions were being delayed until the Knesset made up its mind about the death penalty.

    As the cabinet discussed this issue, Ben-Gurion stunned his colleagues by saying he no longer supported abolishing the death penalty, primarily due to an increase in killings of Arabs by Jewish soldiers.

    Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett, who in 1949 had supported abolishing the death penalty on the grounds that “Human society must aspire to a moral level at which it’s forbidden to take human life,” also unexpectedly reversed himself at this meeting.

    “With great regret I’ve become convinced that abolishing the death penalty is inconceivable,” he announced, noting that even countries “which are immeasurably more humane than we are – I’ve spent years there and I live here – maintain the death penalty.”

    The main reason for his U-turn, however, was “the crimes that have happened and are happening week after week, especially in the army,” including some that weren’t public knowledge. Sociopaths might not be deterred by the death penalty, Sharett admitted, “but that Jewish chap who kills two Arabs he met on the road, I’m not willing to say, without trying it first, that he’s a killer by nature and won’t fear the death penalty.”

    Some Jews, Sharett said, think “every Arab is a dog, a wild dog that it’s a mitzvah to kill.” And “to save them from killing human beings, it’s a mitzvah to have the death penalty here. As long as we don’t have it, these murders will continue, and we’ll be held accountable, and it will create moral corruption here.

    “I’ve giving a speech of repentance and confession here,” he continued. “I’ve learned from experience that in this country, the death penalty is necessary ... We made a mistake when we stopped hanging ... If all the crimes committed in this country were reported, terror would grip the public and lynchings would start. I’d shoot a Jewish chap who wanted to shoot an Arab passerby if that were the way to save him.”

    Sharett then described one case in which three Arabs were killed and a fourth saved only because a Jew threw him into a hut, and another case in which two Indian Jews were almost killed by fellow Jews who thought they were Arabs until they shouted “Israel.”

    Minister Dov Yosef backed Ben-Gurion and Sharett. “In principle, I’ve opposed hanging as a penalty all my life, but unfortunately, in this country and today’s situation,” it’s needed, he said.

    Minister Haim-Moshe Shapira concurred, saying he was especially horrified by group killings. He cited one in which “eight soldiers were present at the time of the murder. Surely they didn’t all murder, but they were all present at the time of the crime and not one member of this group stopped the crime.”

    “There have been worse cases,” Ben-Gurion responded.

    Ministers Golda Myerson (later Meir) and David Remez, in contrast, remained opposed to the death penalty, but agreed that much more must be done to prevent crimes against Arabs.
    In the end, the death penalty was abolished – but only three years later, in 1954.

    Gidi Weitz
    Haaretz Contributor

    #Israel #Palestine #Ben-Gurion #Arabs #Jews #Killings #Murder #death #History