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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

December 07, 2002

The Numbers Tell The Story: The Myth of Zionist Colonialism

The following, a lesson in history, puts the lie to the notion that Israel was created out of land occupied by Palestinians, who were forced to flee in order for the newly UN sanctioned state to become a reality.
One of the most powerful and widespread arguments against Zionism and the State of Israel has been the claim that Jewish settlement in Palestine led directly to the displacement and exploitation of the land`s long-established Arab population. In 1939, on the eve of the Holocaust and at the height of British attempts to divide the region into separate Arab and Jewish states, Jamal Husayni, spokesman for the effective government of Palestinian Arabs, forcefully raised this very argument against the Jewish national home:

``Is it in any way just, that the Arabs, who have lived on this land uninterruptedly for 1300 years, and whose lives are rooted in its soil, should be dispossessed by force, should be pushed aside, and should be blackmailed to enable the Zionist Jews to fashion a Jewish National Home on this land? That`s the problem...``

This was also the claim made by five Arab states to justify war against the State of Israel in 1948, just one day after it had declared its independence. According to this view, Jews had been absent from the land of Israel for too long to claim their right to return. In their absence, another group of people had come to occupy the land, and thus the Zionist movement could succeed only at this people`s expense. The West, embarrassed by the horrors of the Holocaust, had founded the State of Israel to clear its conscience, and the Arab residents of Palestine were forced to pay the price. The creation of the Jewish state was thus an outrage, according to this argument, because the very settlement of the land by Jews was illegitimate.

Yet the argument rests on an inaccurate description of the country`s history; namely, a mischaracterization of the demographics of Palestine before 1948.
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