Israel Guilty of Apartheid, Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians: UN Rapporteur

(By César Chelala)

Richard Falk, United Nations rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories accused Israel last week of “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians. Speaking at a press conference, he said that Israeli policies bore “unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”

“Every increment of enlarging the settlements or every incident of house demolition is a way of worsening the situation confronting the Palestinian people and reducing what prospects they might have as the outcome of supposed peace negotiations,” he added. Falk is an American who is Jewish, is an international law expert and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University in the US.

According to Falk, more than 11,000 Palestinians had lost their right to live in Jerusalem since 1966 due to Israel imposing residence laws favoring Jews. At the same time, the Israeli government was revoking Palestinian residence permits. “The 11,000 is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said, “because many more are faced with possible challenges to their residence rights.”

Falk’s comments lend support to similar statements done in the past regarding Israeli actions towards the Palestinians. In 2006, Ilan Pappé, an Israeli historian and social activist who is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, wrote a book called “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

In that book, Pappé states that the 1948 Palestinian exodus was a planned cleansing of Palestine that was carried out by the Zionist movement leaders, mainly David Ben-Gurion and his associates. The process was carried out through the systematic expulsion of Arabs from about 500 villages, complemented by terrorist attacks executed mainly by members of the Irgun and the Haganah troops acting against the civilian population.

Pappé based his assumptions on the Plan Dalet and on village files as a proof of the planned expulsions. Although the purpose of the plan has been amply debated, it seems that the plan was a set of guidelines whose purpose was to take control of the territory of the Jewish state and to defend its borders and its people, including the Jewish population outside its borders as a precaution against an expected invasion by Arab armies.

Predictably, the book caused an uproar. Benny Morris, an Israeli professor of History in the Middle East Studies department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, wrote, “At best, Ilan Pappé must be one of the world’s sloppiest historians: at worst, one of the most dishonest. In truth, he probably merits a place somewhere between the two.”

Morris himself stated, however, “In retrospect, it is clear that what occurred in 1948 in Palestine was a variety of ethnic cleansing of Arab areas by Jews. It is impossible to say how many of the 700,000 or so Palestinians who became refugees in 1948 were physically expelled, as distinct from simply fleeing a combat zone.”

Not everybody was equally critical of Pappé, though. Stephen Howe, professor of the history of colonialism at Bristol University, said that Pappé’s book was an often compelling mixture of historical argument and politico-moral tract. According to Howe, although Pappé’s book might not be the last word on the events of 1948, it still is “a major intervention in an argument that will, and must, continue.”

And it does continue. In November 2013, more than 50 public figures in Britain wrote a letter opposing an Israeli plan to forcibly remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their historic desert land –an act that critics considered ethnic cleansing. The eviction and destruction of approximately 35 villages in the Negev desert, claims the letter, “will mean the forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation.”

Writing in Save Canada Post in 2010, Suzanne Weiss, a Holocaust survivor stated, “I am a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust, the Nazis' mass murder of Europe's Jews. The tragic experience of my family and community under Hitler makes me alert to the suffering of other peoples denied their human rights today — including the Palestinians. True, Hitler's Holocaust was unique. The Palestinians are victims of ethnic cleansing and apartheid. Hitler started with that, but went on to extermination. In my family's city in Poland, Piotrkow, 99 per cent of the Jews perished. Yet for me, the Israeli government's actions toward the Palestinians awaken horrific memories of my family's experiences under Hitlerism: the inhuman walls, the checkpoints, the daily humiliations, killings, diseases, the systematic deprivation. There's no escaping the fact that Israel has occupied the entire country of Palestine, and taken most of the land, while the Palestinians have been expelled, walled off, and deprived of human rights and human dignity.” . . .

Mirrored from


Richard Falk’s Final Word on Palestine

10 Responses

  1. Putting aside from the predictable, knee-jerk, “self-hating Jew,” responses to Falk, the record of Israeli actions since 48 and especially 67, is crystal clear.

    Bluster, terrific PR firms, domination of US policy, and insistence in general, can accomplish an enormous amount. But unless Israel can wipe out the evidence of its behavior, demonstrated consistently over the years , it hasn’t a leg to stand on.

    Israel is left to do what we now see: delay, deflect, distract, otherwise change the subject or counter-attack. The latest tactic: Try to manipulate the remaining Palestinians into recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, as a transparent attempt to get them to forfeit any rights they may have retained, thereby putting themselves in a position of being expelled outright. Chutzpah indeed.

    My Question, alluded to by Falk as well: why are there even Peace Talks at all, when there is no good faith and they are simply being used as a tactic to support what is nothing more than a kinder and gentler, PR-sensitive, pogram on the part of Israel?

  2. Your respondents are blind to the wars,terrorist attacks and constant hatred directed at Israel by their Arab neighbors..these problems they so deplore did not happen in a vacuum

    • hmm…I am not blind to those things at all. (Haven’t read the Rapporteur report, so not commenting on it.) The wars are over (they did not happen in a vacuum either), suicide attacks inside Israel are all but non existant these days, the main danger in rockets coming out of Gaza is that some day one might actually reach its goal, but the Iron Dome would knock it out. I think Israelis are just as good at hating Arabs as Arabs are at hating Israelis. Israel is premier power in the region. It comes from a position of vastly superior strength to the Palestinians. No Arab army is going to invade Israel. Israel won. But it won’t make peace. On the other hand, Palestinians are some of the most educated people in Arab countries. The combination of Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs and skilled labor would set a rocket underneath both economies. Isolating itself is the real existential threat to Israel

  3. My attitude has changed considerably since the days when I had a “Save Russian Jews” bumper sticker on my car.
    I realize now that I was wrong to promote that.
    “Not quite as bad as the Nazis” isn’t a tag that inspires trust.
    Calling Israel a “Jewish” state is slanderous to Jews who worked for civil rights in the US. Didn’t at least one Jew wind up murdered and buried in a dam in Mississippi for trying to register Blacks to vote?
    These good people who selflessly gave for the betterment of others, shudder as their fellows descend into barbarity.

  4. In July 1948, Ben Gurion gave orders “for the operations in Lydda and Ramleh: ‘Expel them!’ he told Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin — a section censored out of Rabin’s memoirs, but published thirty years later in the New York Times.”

    During the war “Zionist forces committed abuses so terrible that David Ben-Gurion…declared himself ‘shocked by the deeds that have reached my ears.’ In the town of Jish, in the Galilee, Israeli soldiers pillaged Arab houses, and when the residents protested, took them to a remote location and shot them dead”. According to the Israeli historian Benny Morris, “the Jews committed far more atrocities than the Arabs and killed far more civilians and PoWs in deliberate acts of brutality in the course of 1948″
    link to

    • Lydda was the hometown of George Habash. His sister was ill and died the night the Jewish terror gang members came to expel Arab residents at gunpoint . Habash’s family would walk for three days without food or water before they could reach Arab lines. He would blame his sister’s death on the forced expulsion.

      Habash would later graduate first in his medical school class at American University, but later committed his talents to leading the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

      It was not coincidence that many of the leaders on both sides of the 1940s-era conflict remained top governing figures within their respective communities almost up until the present.

      Yitzhak Rabin is currently Israel’s president. Yigal Allon had become deputy prime minister of Israel in the 1970s and had a friendship with President Nixon.

      Militia leaders such as Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir actually wanted to promote publicly massacres of Arab villages so that there would be voluntary evacuation of other Palestinian villages without any fight and therefore preserve Jewish fighters from combat casualties.

      At the end of the War of Independence the “respectable” Haganah and Palmach militias were incorporated into the Israel Defense Forces, however the terror gang members of the Irgun and Lehi were absorbed into the Mossad intelligence agency. Shamir, for example, entered service in the Mossad where he had a long career in intelligence.

  5. In November 2013, more than 50 public figures in Britain wrote a letter opposing an Israeli plan to forcibly remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their historic desert land –an act that critics considered ethnic cleansing

    Well, how else can one consider such a “resettlement” policy?

    Anyone remember the theatricals dutifully reported in the media when the state resettled a few thousand settlers from the Gaza strip (who tried to hold on to a third of that strategically unimportant area while fencing in a million and a half Palestinians into the remainder) ferrying them into subsidized housing in the occupied West Bank, which happened to have much higher strategic value? Remember the drama, the splitting of political parties?

    Now a much bigger number of people already have their houses demolished regularly after all mainstream parties have signed off on their mass expulsion and forced urbanization projects reminiscent of the rounding up of Indigenous people into reservations in the US, Canada, Australia are gearing up. For some reason, this time it the land that people are living on right now (and have been for a very long time) happens to be strategically important whereas compensation will be cosmetic.

    We dutifully report that critics have suggested that this may not be a very nice policy. Israeli officials have not returned our queries. What is truth?

    It is remarkable how quickly even comparatively critical journalism succumbs to the “he said, she said” formula.

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