AbuZayd Airbrushes History

Karen AbuZayd’s recent piece on CiF offered nothing new. It is in fact uncannily similar to another CiF article which the outgoing Commissioner General of UNWRA wrote almost a year ago to the day.
U.S. born Ms. AbuZayd is the holder of an MA in Islamic Studies and yet for a scholar, seems to have quite a remarkable penchant for distorting history and presenting the Middle East situation from an exclusively one-sided point of view.

“Just two decades later, the six-day war generated another spasm of violence and forced displacement, culminating in the occupation of Palestinian territory.”

No mention of the causes of that war being multi-frontal Arab aggression, and a convenient side-stepping of the fact that the territories which at the end of that war came into Israeli hands had previously been under Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian rule – not Palestinian.

“Yet the approach has been, at best, to equivocate over the minutiae of the occupation – a checkpoint here, a bag of cement there – or, at worst, to look the other way.”

No recognition of the fact that Israel’s current government has dismantled the vast majority of checkpoints in the past few months, and of course no reference to the reason they were put up in the first place – all mention of Palestinian terror is conveniently airbrushed from Ms. AbuZayd’s account of Middle East history.

“Failing to engage with the refugee issue and consciously shunting it to one side has served only to disavow the refugees’ significance as a constituency with a prominent stake in delivering and sustaining peace.”

The very establishment and continued maintenance of UNWRA as the sole agency of its kind would seem to negate any claims of ‘failure to engage’, and of course Ms. AbuZayd makes no mention of the failure of the UN to put pressure on Arab nations to grant full and equal citizenship to the Palestinian refugees in their countries any time in the past 60 years.
This one-sided and distorted view of the situation in the Middle East as presented by UNWRA’s Commissioner General was bound to play to the gallery of CiF commentators – it is exactly the kind of bread and butter upon which they thrive.
The pushers of the myth of ‘ethnic cleansing’ were out in force including, I am sorry to say, one apparently very deluded Israeli.

8 Dec 2009, 8:40AM
The concrete way to help both Palestinians and Israelis out of the existing colonial impasse is stop allowing dispossession and oppression to be profitable. Boycott Divestment and sanctions of Israel and Israeli goods and institutions will give Israelis an incentive to choose democracy and peace rather than continuing to rely on military might and “deterrence” to allow us to live on on stolen land while denying the right of return to it’s owners.
The Absentee Property Law was passed by the Israeli parliament in 1950 and applies to all ?immovable and movable property, monies, goodwill [for example, in a bank, business] and any right(s)? in property belonging to anyone who was not present, as a result of being either in another country or outside of Israeli controlled areas, during the period between 29 November 1947 and 19 May 1948.
No due process, including notice to the landowners, procedure for objections, nor any compensation, is required in order to implement the transfer of ?absentee? properties to the State of Israel. This means that absentee landowners can lose their land without even being aware of it. The Absentee Property Law remains in effect until the end of the period of the State of Emergency, which has been continually renewed by every Israeli government to this day.
This means that Israel as we know it will cease to exists in a state of peace and is forced to maintain it’s current state of constant war /emergency.
The Use of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions is a nonviolent way of helping Israel get of the war path. It is also the only way for the international community to end it’s complicity with the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.
From an Israeli that needs your help to insure a safe future for my children.
Neta Golan Kamal

8 Dec 2009, 9:02AM
well said, Dr. Abu Zayd. You make me proud of having worked for the UN.
As always, the Israeli firsters claim the dispossession of Palestinians is justified by the dispossession of Jews, and worse, of course, during the Holocaust and in the aftermath of the creation of the state of Israel.
When one condemns the slaughter in Gaza, one is reminded that Britain and the UK have done worse in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I wonder when the Israeli firsters will realize that few, if any, on this thread justify what has been done to Jews over the centuries in Europe or condone what is done by the West. But that does not change the fact that Israel is built, and continues to be built, on the denial of human rights to Palestinians. And this is what Dr. Abu Zayd is talking about.
On the specific facts of the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries after 1949, I would be happy to be informed. However, there is historical evidence than in some countries (Iraq being one), Mossad stoked fears in order to persuade Jews to leave for Israel that, thanks to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine just completed, was comparatively empty. An excerpt from a comment to Shamash’ book, “Leaving Paradise” on — I believe — the LRB
“For Richard Armstrong and NEAT, the uprooting of the Middle East?s most ancient Jewish community was not a mere business transaction: it was a mission. Armstrong was really Shlomo (né Selim) Hillel, an Iraqi-born Mossad agent; NEAT was secretly owned by the Jewish Agency; and Israel, not Cyprus, was the refugees? ultimate destination. “

8 Dec 2009, 11:52AM
One should try to be clear, this is a very complex and emotional issue.
1) the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948 and 1967, and even now in East Jerusalem is a despicable act;
2) Arab states could have done more to integrate Palestinian refugees. In Lebanon Palestinians are not granted citizenship though some have lived there for now three generations. Whatever their reasons for doing it, it is morally wrong. Palestinians have been used as pawns. Since most Arab rulers are now on the payroll of the USA, it is perhaps for a psychoanalyst to explain why;
3) from my — limited –reading on this issue, I gather that the situation of Jewsin the Ottoman Empire and in the trusteeships that replaced it worsened in parallel to the takeover of Palestine by Zionist colonizers and worsened dramatically after the birth of the State of Israel. Naturally, these conditions encouraged many to leave the newly independent Arab countries. It is also true, however, that this move was encouraged by the Israeli government that wanted to fill a country it had emptied through ethnic cleansing. The historical evidence on this, at least in the case of Iraq is clear.

8 Dec 2009, 12:36PM
The expulsion of Palestinian Arabs in the 1948 War was principally due to deliberate military and terrorist action ordered by Israeli leaders. It was ethnic cleansing on a grand scale by ethnic-religious extremists. The Jews took the land, the homes, the businesses, the buildings, declined to pay one penny in compensation and refused to let the rightful owners return.
They have gone on to try to take the rest of the Palestinian land on the West Bank by settlement, military control, expulsion and home demolition – the same land-grab aim by equally lawless means.
The world doesn’t usually turn a blind eye to this sort of national crime. We didn’t against the equally dangerous Serb ethnic-nationalist extremists in Bosnia and Kosovo. At least some of the ethnic cleansing ringleaders of Sudan and Rwanda have been jailed by the International Criminal Court. Why is Israel the exceptional rogue state that always gets away with it?
The problem of the Palestinian refugees and their descendants has to solved.
* Those still alive who were born in Israel – not so many now, maybe 100,000 – should be permitted to return and Israel must be forced to comply and house them at pistol-point.
* The remainder must be financially compensated for their loss by the State of Israel. The great Jewish lobby that has the US Congress in a stranglehold can play a useful part (for a change) by throwing some US dollars at the colossal fund that will be needed.
* The illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank – ALL Jewish settlements there are illegal, because an occupying army cannot lawfully settle its own people on occupied territory – have to be vacated and turned over to refugees from the camps. Israel will of course never give up ANYTHING involving free land and profit, their new idols, so concerted international pressure and resolve will be required.
We all need to resolve that this refugee issue has been around way too long and needs tackled determinedly on a finite timescale. All refugees should be rehoused or paid financial compensation in lieu within 5 years, not a minute longer. The current inertia is an international stain that demeans us all.

So now we know: even the Jewish refugees from Arab lands are the product of Israeli policy according to the above commentators. From accusations of ethnic cleansing it is a very short step to the dehumanisation of all Israelis as greedy, inhumane, and even ‘the cancer of the Middle East’. Cancer, of course, being something which must be eradicated.

8 Dec 2009, 9:15AM
Of course pushingupdaisies wants other states to “absorb” Palestinians; he wants them anywhere but in their own land.
Which can then be given to settlers.
The problem is Zionist greed; greed for other peoples’ land, at any cost . It’s what led to Operation Broom in 1948 and to all the outrages of recent years committed by the Israeli state.

8 Dec 2009, 8:46AM
There is no point in having the refugees return until the Israelis act humanely and grant equal rights to all residents of historic Palestine disregarding any religious or racial differences.

8 Dec 2009, 1:05PM
“There never was a Palestinian state. No capital. No Prime Minister, President or Supreme Leader. Prior to 1948 the entire region was part of the British Mandate of Palestine. Before that it was part of the Ottoman Empire for around 400 years. “
Just like there was no such thing as the state of Israel prior to 1948. It was and is a purely Zionist invention, based on some myths about Judea and Samaria and an empty land waiting to be populated by people in black robes – all nonsense written down in a very, very old book.
Some very powerful and wealthy allies in the West ensured they got their way in the end. Thus was born the cancer of the Middle East.

Denial of the historic Jewish connection to the region is also a well-used tactic by old hands at CiF.

8 Dec 2009, 2:57PM
The point being that 40 years from now, any Palestinian ‘claiming’ to have been expelled from his ancestral hope is going to be in serious difficulties.
More or less problems than a Jew with no proveable connection to the land? Ah, of course – 2000 years ago! What is 60 years and four generations compared to that outrageous claim?

And when trobes1 tried to counter another one of Matzpen’s posts, trobes1 met the fate of many a pro-Israel poster and had his or her comment deleted:

8 Dec 2009, 4:49PM
@Metzpen : And since then there have been generations of Israeli Jews sacrificed to this conflict, to an eternal war created by Zionism, perpetuated by its rapacity and the false pride of a “diaspora” more than willing to fight the Arabs to the last Israeli.
Anyone looking at the Israel know what rot that is and it is the other way around.
600 Palestinian prisoners for one Gilad Shalit does not signify the will to die to the last Israeli.
Providing suitable bomb shelters does not signify the will to die to the last Israeli.
Nuclear weapons not deployed does not signify the will to die to the last Israeli.
Every dead Israeli mourned by their people
Suicide bombers does signify a wiliness for Palestinians to kill every Israeli until Israel no longer exists and caring nothing for themselves
Tunnels to bring in bombs rather than food does signify a wiliness for Palestinians to kill Israelis to the last one and care nothing for themselves.
Cartoon mouse teaching the children to hate does signify a wiliness for Palestinians to kill Israelis to the last one.
Every dead Palestinians glorified by their people.
When the Jews of Ethiopia were in trouble Israel helped get them out. Did they let them die or live in squalor like the surrounding brothers of the Palestinians allow Palestinians to do when the Arabs en mass have the oil?
And yet it is the Palestinians who are in squalid refugee camps for 60 years blaming Israel rather than looking inwards to themselves or their so-called friends.

And finally Nazi references in the tried and trusted form of comparing Gaza to a concentration camp whilst trying to pretend not to, also appeared:

8 Dec 2009, 12:19PM
Of course. Please keep on saying it.
Some people are offended when Gaza is described as a concentration camp.
But Hitler did not invent concentration camps – only death camps. No, concentration camps were invented by Kitchener during the Boer War, when inconvenient people were herded into the smallest possible space, ignored and left to die. Let’s get rid of them.

We may be forgiven for presuming that this last comment will not shock Ms. AbuZayd too much if we take into account her own reaction earlier this year to a question from a French journalist about the Hamas opposition to the inclusion of the Holocaust in the Gaza school curriculum, when she stated

“but they are worried about their own children having to learn about the Holocaust while they just came through this horrible war in January, when there were so many of their rights, in fact all their rights of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are violated. Palestinians [do not enjoy any] of their rights, especially in the Occupied Territories. That is why people are asking questions…”

Ms. AbuZayd’s airbrushing of history goes down very well at CiF; it is exactly the sort of material which encourages the kind of one-sided view so prevalent on that site, but more seriously, it also fosters the dehumanisation of an entire nation, and that is something to which neither the Guardian or a UN official should be party.

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