Letters to the Editor

In support of Palestinians “armed resistance”

November 17, 2023 Edition

Mr. Westcott has so twisted the actual history of the blood-soaked land of Palestine as to present us with a fictional document. This aspect must be addressed such that public understanding is based upon the actual happenings leading up to the horrific events of October 7 and subsequent. All events involving civilian populations, be they Israeli or Palestinian, are war crimes which must be prosecuted.

Yes, Palestine is the historic home of people of the Jewish faith. Remarkably, Palestine is also the historic home for the Christian faith and the Muslim faith. The importance of this fact was the basis for the United Nations, in 1947, establishing Jerusalem as an international city under their jurisdiction so as to be hospitable and respectful of all religions.

Some people of the Jewish faith revert back to biblical times and claim the Jewish nation has a unique right to possession in the 21st century of Judea and Samaria. However, ownership of the lands of Palestine, where Christian Crusaders fought Islamic leaders for the Holy Land, has changed many times in the intervening years.

Current history has Palestine being under the rule of the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the twentieth century. A rule wherein the Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other minor religions lived in relative peace. Following WWI, the United Kingdom took control of Palestine and portions of the Middle East. The British received cooperation from the local Arab tribes in the war against the Turks. This cooperation was based upon a British promise the Arabs would become masters of their own homelands.

Major antisemitic beliefs and actions plagued Europe, Russia, and North America in the late 1800’s and into the 1900’s which gave birth to the ideology of Zionism. Zionism, a desire for a homeland for the Jewish people where they could feel safe from government actions, was based upon the then prevalent concepts of colonialism held by the European powers. In 1917, the United Kingdom, through the Balfour Declaration, promised a homeland in the Middle East for people of the Jewish faith while “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” The Hungarian Jewish author Arthur Koestler wrote about the Balfour Declaration “one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.”

Spurred on by the Nazi Holocaust’s infamous slaughter of millions of people simply because they adhered to the Jewish faith, a homeland for the Jewish people became much more necessary. Such a homeland provides Jews everywhere in the world the opportunity to escape from overwhelming antisemitism. A lifetime ‘insurance policy’ for each and every family.

Consistent with the writings of historians such as Professor Ilan Pappe, British Mandate Palestine was rocked by violent actions commencing in the mid 1930’s by Zionist militias which battled the British army and terrorized local Arabs by such means as the bombing of the Haifa market in June 1938. When Britain withdrew from Palestine, after the Irgun bombed the King David Hotel housing the British administration, and passed control to the newly formed United Nations, the Zionist militias commenced a program of ethnic cleansing known as the Nakba wherein over 750,000 Palestinians were exiled from that part of Palestine claimed as the early Israel. The massacres of the Arab communities of Saliha, Deir Yassin, Lydda, Abu Shusha and Al-Dawayima, were met with massacres in the Jewish communities of the Haifa Oli Refinery, Kfar Etzion, and the Hadassah medical convoy. None of these crimes against humanity can be accepted.

The militias were subsequently consolidated into the Israel Defence Force and their commanders became the early Prime Ministers of Israel. As early as March 1948, Israel established a Committee for Abandoned Arab Property and began working on transferring such properties to Jewish use. By 1950, a full legal mechanism was prepared and passed in the form of the Absentees’ Property Law. This law enabled Israel to expropriate thousands of Palestinian movable and immovable properties (including land, homes, assets, businesses, and more) in what became West Jerusalem and the rest of the 1948 territories. These properties belonged to Palestinians who were forcibly expelled or who fled to safety during the 1948 War taking refuge in East Jerusalem, the rest of the West Bank, Jordan, or elsewhere. Israel refused and continues to not allow any of the refugees the right, under international law, to return to any portion of Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories. When residents of Gaza held their weekly Great March of Return demonstrations, the Israeli Defence Force responded by placing, on the Israeli side of the security fence, snipers who killed or maimed hundreds of people with special targets of medical personnel and media representatives.

During the period of massacres by Zionist militias and the forcible expulsion of the Palestinians, the neighbouring Arab states intervened militarily and were defeated by the combined action of the Zionist militias.

In the formation of the country of Israel, the restriction of the Balfour Declaration was ignored. During the development of the State of Israel, governance has expanded such that international human rights organizations, as well as many Israeli Jewish organizations, declared Israel to be an apartheid state within which the Arabs are the oppressed people.

The State of Israel now occupies the entirety of the lands set aside as a Jewish homeland as well as lands set aside for the Palestinians and the city of Jerusalem which was to be an international city under the jurisdiction of the United Nations. Those of the Christian faith are routinely assaulted in the streets of Jerusalem and the Israeli military sporadically blocks access to sites of Christian worship during Christian holy days. The Muslim Al Aqsa Mosque has been invaded by Israeli military and by Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements in the West Bank.

International law allows residents of a territory under military occupation to undertake armed resistance. This is similar to that which took place in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands during WWII. Civilians are to be kept safe during such actions. Many Arab groups have taken up arms against the Israeli military. As well, many Arab civilians have attacked Israeli military and Israeli civilians since 1948. Regrettably, the Israeli response, similar to that taking place in Gaza, has not kept civilians safe. In fact, there is evidence and eyewitness statements documented by Max Blumenthal and others that the Israeli military overlooked civilians during their October 8 counterattack against Hamas resulting in the deaths of many Israelis. Equally, there is evidence youth from Gaza, but not part of Hamas, also took advantage of the breaks in the fence to go into Israel on plundering missions.

The proper response of Israel would have been to launch an action against Hamas in the International Criminal Court to bring the perpetrators to appropriate justice. Such action would include indictments against the non-Hamas Arab individuals who participated in the attack on Israel. Israel, however, similar to the United States has not signed on to the protocol establishing the International Criminal Court although there is no obstacle to prevent them from taking an issue to the Court. Equally, there is no obstacle to the Court having jurisdiction over any war crimes committed by Israel.

As a specific response to Mr. Westcott’s assertions regarding a German lady, recent DNS evidence from Israel indicates the individual was killed at the scene of the music festival before her body was taken by Hamas. Both the murder and the act of indignity to a human body are crimes which must be investigated by the International Criminal Court and the perpetrators brought to justice. And no babies were beheaded as this story was put out by a right-wing Jewish settler and has been debunked.

Perhaps the most hopeful sign is the recent visit to the Rafah Crossing by the International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC and his indication he will be investigating and bringing justice to play over this conflict.

Perhaps the least hopeful sign is the statement by Israeli member of the Knesset and Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu’s suggestion to drop a nuclear bomb on Gaza.

With a more appropriate lens on the situation in Gaza, the protests calling for a ceasefire, return of the hostages (the taking of which is a crime against humanity), and lifting of the military occupation are seen as being a strong stand for humanity. Those organizing the local protests include native Newfoundlanders, Canadians now living in Newfoundland, Palestinians unable to exercise the international law with respect to return home, and students at Memorial University.

Both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories lie between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The lifting of the military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza and the dismantling of the Apartheid regime in Israel will deliver a free Palestine.

W. T. Beckett,
St. John’s

Editor’s Note: The contributor portrays the terrorism that occurred in Palestine over the past century as being exclusively directed at Arabs by Jews. This is a grossly inaccurate depiction of what actually happened. The terrorism was conducted both ways, with Arabs killing and terrorizing Jews long before the Nakba and the establishment of the State of Israel, and continues to this day, including through the routine firing of rockets into Israel from Gaza. Perhaps if the Arab Palestinians had accepted the opportunity that was offered to them by the United Nations to negotiate a two-state solution, the Nakba may not have transpired the way it did. Unfortunately, the Arab Palestinians wanted all of Palestine and rejected overtures from the United Nations to work out a shared, peaceful solution. As for Mr. Beckett’s contention that some of the atrocities committed by the Hamas terrorists against Israelis and foreign nationals on October 7 have been “debunked,” it must be asked, debunked by who? If anything, the evidence of the atrocities has increased and has been widely reported by respected conventional international media. The misery that has enveloped Gaza these past five weeks has been heartbreaking, but entirely caused by Hamas’ terrorist attack of October 7. The war could end immediately if the Hamas and other terrorists came out of the tunnels and hidey holes they have strategically placed under apartment blocks, schools, hospitals and UN facilities using western aid that was meant for humanitarian purposes.

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