Injustice underlies state of Israel

Few seem to want to grapple with the reality that underlying the Middle East conflict is a terrible injustice in which the West was an accomplice to Zionist barbarism. Acknowledgement of this reality is obstructed by the inevitable retort that any questioning of the legitimacy of the state of Israel represents support for terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism and/or anti-Semitism. The facts don't matter.


The facts are these. When the state of Israel was established in 1948, Palestinian Arabs constituted 67 per cent of the population and owned 90 per cent of the land. In the war that accompanied the establishment of the state, over three-quarters of a million Arabs were driven from their homes into refugee camps in Jordan and Egypt, their lands taken over by the immigrant Jewish population.

Everything else flows from this basic injustice, which was prompted by the Balfour Declaration of 1914, in which the British promised the Zionist leadership to support the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine (at the time there were 600,000 Arabs in Palestine, living uneasily beside a rising Jewish population of 80,000) and which was underpinned from the beginning by American sponsorship – in the 1946 mid-term US elections, the Jewish vote emerged as a decisive element.

All attempts since 1948 to undo the flagrant injustice of this occupation and colonisation have been characterised as anti-Semitic, a continuation of Hitler's Holocaust by other means and such like.

That crime against the Palestinian people has been at the root of all the conflict in the Middle East since. There have been successive Arab wars waged against Israel, all hopelessly unsuccessful because of the massive economic and military support bestowed on Israel by the US and because of the largely uncritical diplomatic support afforded Israel by Europe – initially even the Soviet Union supported the Jewish colonisation and the usurpation of the Arab natives in 1948. The presence of huge, violent, unstable, destitute enclaves of Palestinian refugees in Egypt (at first), Jordan and Lebanon, has had a destabilising effect on these states. The extension of the Jewish state beyond the 1948 borders into Gaza and the West Bank has been an exacerbation – this occurred in the course of the 1967 war waged by Egypt, Syria and Jordan against Israel, a war which Israel, backed by America, won decisively, as it won the Six Day War in 1973.

The passage of time has changed the moral argument. No longer can most of the Jewish population be regarded as colonisers. They are natives, as are the Palestinians, and this has evolved rights and entitlements for them too. Given that, a two-state solution has been perceived as an acceptable pragmatic settlement, if not in accord with the demands of justice (that surely would demand the creation of a single state in which the Jewish population would be in a minority). But the two-state "solution" has not materialised, primarily because of opposition from irredentist elements within Israel – even Israeli "moderates" refuse to countenance a reversion of the borders of the Israeli state to the pre-1967 position and a withdrawal of the Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Nevertheless, some such messy outcome has seemed the most promising resolution to the conflict, but it hasn't happened because of Israeli intransigence, (over borders, including east Jerusalem, the settlements and the right of Palestinian refugees to return) as well as persisting Arab resentment over the underlying injustice. Israeli intransigence that is, underwritten by the Americans.

But without a resolution, not alone is there going to be continued slaughter in that part of the world, but also festering alienation within the Muslim world, which sees the West in conspiracy with Zionism to belittle them and perpetrate an injustice that cries out for remedy.

vincent browne