The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, a book review and commentary


From the time of modern Israel’s birth in 1948, the message from Israel to the world was a simple one: For the first time in over a thousand years, Jews have a home where they can live free of the pogroms and other horrors they have suffered for so long. What was not public was the terror the Zionists inflicted upon Palestine’s indigenous population which, from the beginning, was the Zionist’s main goal. “A land without a people for a people without a land” was their mantra. There was one problem: Millions of Palestinians lived there in cities, villages and farms. What to do? Eradicate them.

“Over more than seven decades of occupation,” writer and scholar Jeremy Salt wrote in a recent article in The Palestine Chronicle, “the Palestinians have had their lives taken from them. They have had their homes taken from them.  They have had the possessions in these homes taken from them, down to the furniture, the carpets, the books and their children’s toys. They have had their right to be buried in the land of their ancestors taken from them.  They have had their history and culture taken from them. They have had their mosques taken from them.  They have had their orchards and gardens taken from them.  They have had their olive trees taken from them.  They have had their wheat fields and orange groves taken from them.  They have had their rivers, streams and seas taken from them.  They have had their collective rights taken from them. They have had the public buildings, roads and bridges built by their forefathers taken from them.  They have had almost everything taken from them and if anything is certain it is that in years to come more will be taken from what little remains.  They have been left with nothing to defend themselves but knives, scissors and, if the accusations of their oppressors are true, boxes of matches or cigarette lighters.”

Historian Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine is not easy reading, and it shouldn’t be. Often nightmarish in its details and the cynicism and brutality of its leadership, the picture that emerges is of a dysfunctional and abusive nation that treats the indigenous Palestinians with contempt. Land thefts, murders, rapes that are justified by rabbis (a rabbi advised some soldiers that it was acceptable to rape a Palestinian woman), bulldozing a house on top of an elderly man and killing him, and shooting children on the way home from school. It’s been this way from the beginning, with the Zionist forces attacking villages and slaughtering hundreds of men, women and children until 800,000 of them fled for their lives into Syria and Jordan. Are any of them safe? Pappe says no. “The Palestinians of Israel,” who are by law called Arabs, “may also be targeted in the future. 68% of the Israeli Jews expressed heir wish in a recent poll, to see them ‘transferred’.”

“The problem with Israel,” he says, “ was never its Jewishness . . . it is its ethnic Zionist character,” which is committed to cleansing all of Palestine of Palestinians. Recently, Naftali Bennett, the Israeli Minister of Education, proclaimed that he will establish hundreds of new settler towns in the West Bank so that Palestinians have nowhere to live. Israel resembles Hitler’s Germany, with Prime Minister Netanyahu playing the leading role. Ironic, isn’t it, how well the Zionist’s philosophy mirrors Hitler’s.


About gwpj

Originally from Seattle, I now live in Sapporo, Japan, where I write, explore this city, read widely, and ask questions about things that i see as important. I'm also an author, with three novels published ("The Old Man and The Monkey", "Grandfather and The Raven", and "Bear: a story about a boy and his unusual dog"). For more information about my writing, drop by my website, at
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2 Responses to The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, a book review and commentary

  1. Kate says:

    I have been looking into Ilan Pappe lately because pro-Israelis seem to really mock him. I found this video that actually does an impressive job of discrediting his book “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”….No longer sure what to think!!

    • gwpj says:

      Thanks for sharing the link to the video, Kate, which I have just finished watching. It’s a fine example of Israeli propaganda response to Pappe’s book, which is to attack the author, not mention the role the Zionists played (and still play) in persecuting Palestinians, including those who live in Israel, who are not allowed to call themselves Palestinian, as by law they are defined as Arabs. Why? Israel is now able to say “there are no Palestinians in Israel, though we do have Arabs.” The underlying message of the video is that Pappe is attacking Jews, and is a “self-hating” Jew. The video also fails to mention that around 500,000 Palestinians did flee Palestine for neighboring countries, where they continue to live in refugee camps, and are legally barred from entering Israel. There are many other sources that support Pappe, including Jewish ones like Chicago rabbi Brant Rosen.

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