Israel’s current actions – indeed its actions since 1948 – are based on three core drum-beat principles; it has a right to exist; it has the most moral Armed Forces in the world; and it is surrounded by enemies intent on its destruction, But there is a fourth ‘truth’, never acknowledged by Mark Regev or other spokespersons, that Israel itself caused all of the current conflict decades ago by taking more land than the UN allotted to it in 1948 (1), and driving out the indigenous population (2), Then taking yet more land when it occupied the West Bank in 1967 (3).
However, owing to lobbying by AIPAC, BICOM and the main Parties’ Friends of Israel groupings, these root causes are never discussed, Current dialogue remains anchored to the three principles of self defence and so on, thus ensuring that the actual causes for the current situation are kept firmly off the media and social media agenda, In other words keeping the world focussed on the ‘here and now’ rather than the original causes.
Unusually, it took an old soldier to say what these causes are, on a recent phone-in to Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show, After the usual predictable pro and anti-Israeli calls, he had his say, He had served in Palestine after WW2 and remembered, he said, how Jewish/Zionist terrorists assassinated, bombed and hanged UK Service personnel, booby-trapping their bodies, The ex-Soldier stated that the root cause of all of what has happened since the British pulled out was not Palestinian terrorism – but Zionistic land and water grabbing, I sat up and listened more keenly.
The old soldier had certainly done his history homework, He pointed out how Jew and Muslim lived relatively peacefully together in Palestine for hundreds of years – until the Zionists grabbed the agenda in the early 20th Century, He had a point, The UN mandate allotted fair shares of land between Jew and Arab in the late 1940s, But after the Arab League rejected the proposal, Israel seized far more land than was originally allotted to it, And decades before the onset of Qassam rockets or suicide bombers, Israel took more land in the 1967 War by occupying the West Bank.
This, said the old soldier, was the root cause of all the current issues – not Hamas rockets or Al Aqsa Brigade ‘martyrs’ – but Israel taking more than its fair share of land in 1948, expelling the indigenous population then denying them a right to return to their former homes and villages, then doing it all again 1967.
As long as these root causes – the events of 1948 and 1967 – are not addressed, the Israeli Defence Forces will, many argue, keep breeding future Arab generations of those who just want their homes, their land, and their lives back.
The problem is that if these root causes are never spoken of, the chances of achieving a sustainable peace in the region are virtually zero, If they were discussed, it would undermine all the Knesset and pro-Israeli lobby arguments in one fell swoop, More positively, it could also give real incentives to those who refuse to negotiate and bring all parties back to the table, If there was some way of getting the Quartet, the EU and even Israel itself to address these original root causes, and if social media could galvanise the collective conscience and lead the rest of us to remember, then future peace talks might have an outside chance of starting on a fair and level playing field.
1 Cragg, Kenneth. Palestine. The Prize and Price of Zion. Cassel, 1997. ISBN 978-0-304-70075-2. Pages 57, 116
Kerry Hutchinson, 24th July 2014, http://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-gaza-can-anyone-recall-the-root-causes-41812.html
* Kerry Hutchinson is a Party member and writer for ‘The Middle East’ monthly publication. He has worked in the West Bank with Israeli humanitarian NGOs.