Book Review: Dissecting Israel’s Big Lie(s) “The Hundred Years War on Palestine” By Rashid Khalidi

by Marty Goodman, published on Socialist Action, January 5, 2023

Book Review: “The Hundred Years War on Palestine,” A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance 1917-1921 by Rashid Khalidi, Picador 2020

There were no such thing as Palestinians…they did not exist. ” Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, 1969.

I was raised in a working-class Jewish home in South Florida during the 1950s and 60s. Like other Jews that I knew I was terrified at what seemed to be a sea of Jew-hating Arabs threatening poor peaceful Israel. But the writings of the iconic left journalist I.F. Stone (I.F. Stone’s Weekly) on Israel helped shake me out of my deep sleep. In delving deeper into Israel’s bloody record – difficult to obtain in those days – I discovered that the Zionist propaganda that I was raised on was all bullshit.

Today, thankfully, more resources in English are available. Rashid Khalidi’s 2020 “The Hundred Year’s War on Palestine” makes an extraordinary contribution to a growing list of honest literature about Zionism. It provides invaluable background material to the current Zionist genocide in Palestine.

The 1917 Balfour Declaration

Khalidi begins with imperial Britain’s 1917 Balfour Declaration, proposed by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in consultation with a central leader of the Zionist community, Lionel Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild.

The declaration proposed ceding Britain’s Palestine Mandate [colony] to Jews living in Palestine, then only six percent of the population. 90 percent of the region was Arab. The basic idea was to in time establish a Jewish-led British colony in Palestine, aimed at defending British interests in the region.

Khalidi takes us back to when his great-great-great uncle, Yusef Diya, an accomplished Muslim scholar and mayor of Jerusalem, corresponded with Zionism’s founder, the Viennese journalist, Theodore Herzl, sometime after Zionism’s first two conferences in 1897 and 1898. In his letters to the elder Khalidi, Hertzl ignored the existence of the Palestinian people and their culture.

The 1917 Balfour Declaration, proposed granting a disproportionate amount of Palestinian land to Jews, even though Jews, Christians and Moslems lived in Palestine for the most part amiably for centuries despite important Arab strikes in the 1920’s and 1930’s against Zionist encroachments.

Rapid growth in the immigrant Jewish population took place during the Nazi era due, in part, to immigration restrictions enforced by the US Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration against Jewish refugees fleeing the holocaust and desiring to enter the US. By the time a declining British imperialism handed over Palestine to the UN in 1947 for partition in 1948, the Jewish population represented just 17 percent (as of 1937), yet 56 percent of Palestine was ceded to the Jewish population.

US finances Zionist Israel

Since its inception in 1948, the US has bankrolled Israel, with $260 billion taxpayers’ dollars, $3.8 billion in 2023 alone, not counting the additional $10 billion in US arms going toward backing the atrocities in Gaza today. Since inception, the Zionist nightmare has been equally the stepchild of the Democratic and Republican parties.

The author takes us through Israel’s criminal expulsion of at least 720,000 indigenous Palestinians, some 80 percent of the Palestinian population. They were driven from their homes during the first few founding years of the Zionist state when the Arab masses of the region resisted the UN-imposed colonial venture. Tens of thousands more were killed. Many families in today’s beleaguered Gaza are related to those expelled by the various terrorist Zionist groups. Palestinians termed the expulsion, the “Nakba” or “catastrophe.”

Racist expulsions

From the get go, Khalidi points out, Zionism’s founder, Theodore Hertzl, intended the racist expulsion of Palestinians when he wrote in his diary his project to “spirit” Palestinians “discretely” across the borders.

Or, as Sir Ronald Storrs, the first British Military Governor of Jerusalem, 1920-1926, urged, Palestine under Jewish control should become an, “Ulster in a sea of Arabism,” i.e. akin to the heavily-settled British Protestant Irish province.

Elsewhere, in Herzel’s personal diary the Zionist leader was blunt in his vision of ethnic cleansing, openly calling for the “expropriation and the removal of the poor” in Palestine.

Israeli’s multiple wars following 1948

The U.S. and Stalin’s Soviet Union, – by then well past the revolutionary spirit of Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky – were the first two nations to recognize Israel, both giving military support to the Zionist project.

Zionist pseudo-histories portrayed the ensuing Israeli wars through the decades against Arab states resisting Zionist colonial rule as beleaguered Jews resisting anti-Semitic Arab masses. These included the 1956 Suez Canal war with Egypt, the Six-Day War 1967, after being given a US green light, and the Yom Kipper 1973 war, also receiving a back-channel US support.

In the US the pro-Israel media frenzy that accompanied each war warned that the armies of the Arab countries greatly outnumbered the beleaguered Israeli forces. Khalidi aptly counters this narrative demonstrating that Israel maintained one of the largest armies in the world, backed by massive US military support, including state-of-the-art weapons. The Zionist war machine today includes advanced US-supplied F-16 fighter jets. Gaza has no air force, not to mention a navy.

Zionism’s “Manifest Destiny”

Khalidi correctly recognizes – as can be seen in the rants of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – that the racist underpinnings of Zionism bear a striking similarity to “Manifest Destiny,” the repugnant US racist credo that claimed white European superiority over Native Americans, Latin American nations and Caribbean peoples. Khalidi draws a direct parallel between Zionist rhetoric and Hitler’s mystical Nazi precepts of “blood and soil,” quite prevalent in Europe during the interwar years when Zionist ideology was being shaped…. a chilling reminder to all those who challenge Israel’s frequently proclaimed God-given right to every grain of sand in historic Palestine.

The author describes how Zionist immigration and land acquisition was relatively slow after WWI but sharply increased with the Jewish exodus from the anti-Semitic horrors of European fascism. Driven by Zionist messianism, from which a powerful popular current was masked as a pseudo-Socialism, i.e. “labor Zionism,” it was not the first time that “reform socialism” was combined with racism, e.g., the Fabian socialists of the early 20th century.

Palestinian displacement geared into overdrive, their homes usually destroyed and towns renamed so that the original inhabitants would never return. In a particularly horrific Zionist massacre paramilitary forces like the Haganah and the Irgun slaughtered one hundred Palestinians, women, children and seniors on April 19, 1948 in the Palestinian village of Dayr Yasin – their bodies dumped into a well.  (See also, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” by Ilan Pappe, Oneworld publications, 2006)

From Israel’s inception, Zionist laws severely restricted or banned land sale to Arabs and formalized land seizures of private and collective Arab land. The hiring of Arab workers was similarly banned or severely restricted. The “right of return,” to their historic homelands for all dispossessed Palestinians was similarly banned. Yet all Jews were welcome.

The evolution of the PLO

Khalidi traces the political spiral of the once quasi-leftist Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), formed in 1964 as a Palestinian anti-colonial, national liberation organization that from its formation rejected any legitimacy to the Zionist colonial apartheid Israeli state.

In 1969, however, the PLO dramatically altered this view and advocated a “one state” solution, the formation of a “Democratic, Secular Palestine” where all peoples would live together as equals in a single nation regardless of national origin, religion, etc. This was qualified only with the proposition that dispossessed Palestinians scattered across the region in squalid refuges camps, had the right to return to their homeland. The PLO’s new view still rejected the UN-imposed partition as well as any formal recognition of the Zionist entity, not to mention Zionism’s subsequent occupation of some 80 percent of historic Palestine. The PLO’s new position was significantly based on Israel’s promotion over the previous decades of massive immigration of Jews from other lands.

The Oslo Accords

With the Oslo Accords of 1993, however, the PLO dropped its advocacy of a Democratic, Secular Palestine and formally recognized Israel in return for sham control of  “Palestinian” territory in the West Bank Gaza and East Jerusalem. Influential Palestinian intellectual Edward Said was a singularly brave critic at that time who – like Khalidi – passionately railed against the PLO leadership’s capitulation to Israel and US president William Clinton. Historic Palestine was reduced even further by the Zionists into a patchwork of humiliating “Bantustans” similar to the Blacks only “mini-states” that were formed under racist, colonial apartheid South African regime.

Preceding Oslo was the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty signed between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat and US President Jimmy Carter. Egypt’s participation was a massive betrayal of an already tenuous Arab unity. Zionist cynic, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, bragged that he purposefully dragged out “peace” negotiations to “vastly increase the number of Jewish settlers in Israeli-occupied territory.”

And now Gaza in 2023.

Described as an “open air prison” even by Conservative former UK Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010, today’s ever-deepening Zionist genocide has been used by Israel as a testing ground for its ghoulish military technology, including the use of monstrous US-supplied 2,000-pound [and now 5,000 pound] bunker-busting bombs, the largest existing non-nuclear explosive, previously dropped by Israel on Lebanese civilians in 1982.

The 1982 massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Lebanese fascists, called Phalangists (named after fascist forces in Spain), where more than 1,300 men, women and children were killed with the direct aid and complicity of Tel Aviv, was documented in official Israeli hearings. Yet no penalties were imposed on Israeli’s army brass or the Menachem Began government.

Zionists attack Lebanon

The Israeli attacks on Lebanon, where the PLO was headquartered, received the green light from US President Ronald Reagan. Some 15,000 Lebanese were killed, mainly civilians. The war led to the growth of the powerful Hezbollah Muslim force in Lebanon.

But the PLO was compelled to leave Lebanon in 1982, moving its headquarters to Tunisia in North Africa. In 1988, the PLO retreated further during first Intifada rebellion (1987-93), adopting a “two-state solution” in the framework of the post-1967 war, that is, with Israel now occupying 78 percent of historic Palestine.

The Intifada movements

When Israeli onslaughts on Gazans increased after the humiliating Zionist-PLO-negotiated 1993 Oslo Accords a series of periodic street rebellions, called Intifadas ensued over the years. These took the form of bottom-up independent movements, with women often taking an active role. Intifada I began relatively peacefully, with mostly Palestinian youths hurling stones at the massively armed Israeli military.

During Intifada I the supposedly “liberal” Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, later Israel’s Prime Minister (1974-77, 1987-95), lionized in Zionist circles as a peacemaker, gave orders in 1988 for Israeli soldiers to use “force, might and beatings.”

Khalidi recounts, “His ‘iron fist’ policy was carried out through the explicit practice of breaking demonstrators’ arms and legs and cracking skulls.” “Break bones” were Rabin’s instructions. The next outbreak of the rebellion was Intifada II (2000-2005), which resulted in the death of more than 5,000 Palestinians and some 1,400 Israelis.

Three other wars preceded the current war in Gaza: Operation Cast Lead, 2008-2009, began when an Israeli army vehicle struck a truck killing four Palestinians. In that bloodbath, 1,422 Palestinians died compared to 175 Israelis. The 8 to 1 kill ratio was typical Khalidi notes, but little mentioned in the US.

Other wars preceded the current Gaza bloodbath were Operation Pillar of Defense, 2012 and the 2014 Operation Protective Edge. The last shocked the world when a video was aired of Israeli soldiers laughing as they killed or maimed Palestinians who vainly attempted to escape.

The Occupied Territories

The Oslo-established Occupied Territories of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Khalidi writes, remain isolated economically from the world, without free movement to work in Israel and encircled by the Israeli army, which protects and enables thousands of illegal settlers on seized Palestinian land, especially in the West Bank. Unemployment in Gaza, Khalidi noted in 2020 was 45 percent, among the world’s highest.

In the West Bank a notoriously corrupt PLO government played cop for Israel, following the Oslo Accords, suppressing Palestinian militants. There are some 700,000 illegal settlers living in the occupied West Bank today.

With the erosion of the PLO’s once militant stance the Islamist Hamas was elected in 2006 in Gaza, out of frustration with the PLO, although the author notes that Hamas ran on a “moderate” election platform as compared to its past Islamic fundamentalism.

Palestine today: Some conclusions

The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and B’Stelem, an Israeli human rights organization, along with members of the US Congress and many human rights advocates world-wide have labeled Israel an “apartheid” society. Yet, the common perception in the US has been of a David versus a Jew-hating Goliath of Arabism. But this US-hyped Zionist thesis was a lie destined not to endure forever. Khalidi meticulously refutes the inescapable Zionist nonsense that Israel could be both “Jewish and democratic.”  He has given us a mighty tool in exposing and defeating the racist lies of Zionism. The entire movement for justice in Palestine is in his debt. And as he predicted, the times are changing.

US public support for Zionism declines

As reported in “Axios,” a November 2023 US poll recorded what may become a seismic shift in US popular perceptions of Israel and Palestine, “Among voters between the ages of 18 and 34, a majority said their sympathies lie more with the Palestinians, which is up from 26 percent in October. Those with more sympathy for Israelis fell from 41 percent in October to 29 percent. Among Democrats, 41 percent said they sympathized more with Palestinians while sympathy for Israelis fell 14 percentage points. Among older people support for Israel, while declining, is greater than among today’s youth, albeit the later has in great part pioneered a new wave of radicalism that runs deep in US society.

Palestine inspires the world

Despite the PLO’s retreat from its original demands and goals, today recognizing apartheid Israel and accepting the Oslo Accords, the tenacious fighting spirit of the Palestinian people in the face of Zionism’s monstrous genocide, has inspired people everywhere to resist oppression. Indeed, the worldwide mass mobilizations in solidarity with Palestine demanding an immediate and permanent ceasefire and often proclaiming “Free Palestine from the River to the Sea!!” often in the millions and simultaneous in several countries, inform us that the hearts and minds of the world’s people are ablaze with admiration for today’s beleaguered Palestinian masses. I found one particular demonstration banner more than inspiring, if not the politics of a bright future ahead for all humanity, “Palestine Palestine Don’t You Cry! We Will Never Let You Die!

This stands in sharp contrast to the disgusting politics and immorality of US capitalism’s twin parties of endless wars and exploitation of the world’s poor and oppressed AND the broad US working class itself.

A revolutionary working-class socialist strategy aimed at building a democratic united front mass movement is the best hope of ending Israel’s siege on Gaza and uniting millions in a break with Zionism, capitalism and imperialism. Solidarity actions with Palestine, be it in mass demonstrations or labor strikes aimed at crippling the Zionist murder machine, are urgently needed. We unite with all who wish to end the carnage in Palestine in mass democratic movements, i.e., the youth, the oppressed communities, LGBTQI, the labor movement – all working people. Stay in the streets!

Socialist Action demands:

For a Permanent CEASEFIRE NOW! Stop the Zionist Genocide!

• End all US Aid to Zionist, Apartheid Israel!

• For Ongoing US and Worldwide United Front Mass Mobilizations to Stop the Zionist Genocide and in Solidarity With the Palestinian Masses!

• Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Zionist Israel! (BDS)

• For a Democratic, Secular Palestine With The Right Of Return Of All Dispossessed Palestinians!a

• For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East!

Join us! 

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One comment

  1. Are you familiar with the work of Dr. Robert Faurisson, Ernst Zundel, Germar Rudolf, on the impossibility that any human gas chambers existed in any occupied National Socialist German territory during WWII? Zyklon B was manufactured at Auschwitz to kill lice. I, personally interviewed #88 at Auschwitz, Sigmund S(???) one/one for 3 hours, his not knowing I was a hTruther. This occured in 1995 NYC. Would you like our picture?

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