Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today you are witnessing the political and frequently the physical genocide of a people. You are witnessing this hideous crime on your TV screens. You are not reading about it in history books or seeing it in an old war movie. None of us can today claim that he did not know. Silence means being an accomplice to the crime.
This is the bitter reality today. What makes it more so is that the heinous war crimes against the Palestinian people have been carried out non-stop for the last 56 years, since Israel was established on the ruins of Palestine in 1948, and is likely to continue for years to come.
Never before in modern history has a foreign immigrant minority descended upon the national majority, as in Palestine, armed with the money, weapons and political clout of the West, attacked the People of Palestine, emptied the country of its people, destroyed its urban and rural landscape, obliterated its culture, history and identity and claimed this crime to be a divine intervention and a victory for civilization.
Yet this is what precisely has happened. The fog of false propaganda and misinformation has now been lifted slowly. No body can now deny the power of facts. Here are maps which tell you the real story.
This is the ninetieth year in our struggle for freedom and peaceful life in our homeland. In 1916, two European colonial diplomats, the British Mark Sykes and the French Georges Picot conspired to enslave the Arab people after winning the war in alliance with the Arabs against the Ottoman rule. While the Allies’ planes were dropping leaflets expressing devotion to the Arab quest for freedom and democracy, Sykes and Picot charted on a map lines dividing of the territorial spoils of war.
A latent European colonial enterprise came into the fray. The Zionist leader, Weizmann extracted a fateful letter from the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour, in November 1917 addressed to a Jewish millionaire, Lord Rothschild. None of the three conspiring Europeans lived in Palestine or had a legitimate presence in Palestine. The British army then had barely crossed the border of Palestine.
Balfour declaration was a false promise of those who did not own to those who had no title behind the back of the rightful owner. Thus began a relentless Western war against the Palestinian people, now in its ninetieth year.
Balfour was fully aware of what he was doing. True to his colonial heritage, he said in 1918.
For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country... Zionism is] of far profounder impact than the desires and prejudices [not the rights] of the Arabs who inhabit this ancient land... He said the Arabs are “wholly barbarous, undeveloped and unorganized black tribes”.
The British Mandate ruled Palestine from 1920 to 1948 with the irreconcilable objectives of preparing the Palestinians for free democratic government and building a ‘national home’ for Jews in Palestine.
Nine decades before George Bush came up with his campaign for democracy for the whole world, the Palestinians started their campaign for democracy. When they petitioned, agitated and revolted for their cause, Churchill, the Colonial Secretary, told them in 1921,
Step by step we shall develop representative institutions leading to full self-government but our children’s children will have passed away before that is accomplished.
They are still waiting. They have not given up.
In his five-year tenure (1920-1925), the Zionist first British High Commissioner of Palestine, Herbert Samuel, laid the foundations for the state of Israel.
Hebrew was introduced as an official language, separate Jewish institutions for banking, education, labour, water and energy were formed. A pseudo government and an embryonic army were established. What was left was to import citizens for the new state, hence the drive for Jewish immigration.
By 1948, with the collusion of the British Mandate, The Zionists failed to acquire, even by money, Zionist-inspired laws and economic pressure, more than 5.5% of the land of Palestine. But they succeeded in increasing the Jewish population from 9% to 30% of the total population and they trained an army of 120,000, or 20% of the Jewish immigrant population. (Compare this with a normal country, where the army makes up 1-2% of the population). This Zionist army was ready to bounce on Palestine.
It is often said in the standard Israeli narrative that, at the end of the Mandate, the Palestinians refused to accept the Partition Plan of Palestine, while the Jews accepted it. This narrative deliberately omits and distorts key facts.
How can the Palestinians accept to give away sovereignty over 54% of their country to Jewish European immigrants who controlled only 5.5% of Palestine, many of whom had just waded into their shores under the cover of darkness from a smuggler’s ship?
In the would-be Jewish state, 457 Palestinian towns and villages suddenly found themselves under the rule of foreign immigrants. The Palestinians comprised about half of the total population of this new state.
They did not like it. Neither did Ben Gurion, for different reasons. In 1948, Ben Gurion proceeded to expel his Palestinian citizens even before Israel was declared and he went on, not only to conquer 54%, but 78% of Palestine and expel its population. Al Nakba was born.
Zionists, now called Israelis, conquered 774 Palestinian towns and villages, depopulated totally 675 of them, while 99 remained under brutal military rule for 16 years to be replaced by second class citizen status.
It was the largest planned and foreign-supported ethnic cleaning in modern history. Never before in modern history has a foreign minority descended upon the national majority of a country as in Palestine, depopulated its inhabitants, confiscated its land, property and records in the largest land robbery since WWII, destroyed its historical and religious landscape and obliterated its identity and history and called this crime as a victory for civilization and a divine intervention.
These who missed al Nakba of 1948 can see it re-enacted every day on their TV screens, albeit in different forms and under different pretexts.
Today the Palestinian population is about 10 million (9.650). Two thirds are refugees, the largest ratio among any people in the world. If you add those displaced in 1967, fully three quarters of the Palestinians are deprived of the normal human right to live at home. The remainder live under Israeli occupation, the longest and most brutal occupation in modern times.
You are the children and grandchildren of those refugees. You are fighting for the same cause: The right to return home. You have not sailed to Poland and Russia. Your adversaries sailed to your shores. You did not conquer, plunder and expel. Others did it to you.
Israel has waged 5 major wars, hundreds of raids by air, land and sea against the Palestinian people for exactly 21,412 days today. But Palestinians are still standing tall. They never surrendered.
In the last 6 years since the second intifada, 3,500 Palestinians were killed, over 9,000 are prisoners at present, but 40% of all adult male population have been imprisoned at one time by the Israeli occupation forces.
In what the author and film director, John Pilger, calls ‘a war on children’, seven hundred children were killed by Israeli occupation forces since 2000. This is not to mention Mohamed al Durra killed in his father’s lap or Huda Ghalia, the child who lost all her family on a Gaza beach.
Ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity according the sixth principle of the Nuremberg Charter and the 1998 Statute of Rome. Collective punishment is contrary to Geneva Conventions. The International Court of Justice, the highest legal body in the world, in a landmark Advisory Opinion of July 2004, decreed that the Apartheid wall is illegal and Israel’s brutal occupation is illegal.
The famous UN resolution 194, calling for the refugees’ return has been affirmed by the UN over 130 times. It has been supported by all Human Rights Conventions. The majority of the people in the world support the Palestinian rights. Why then are they not implemented? Why do Palestinians continue to suffer?
I submit to you that a campaign of genocide has been waged against the Palestinian people, a genocide of killing, a genocide of elimination, a genocide of exile and banishment, a genocide of decapitating people by assassinating their leaders, a genocide of starvation, a genocide of slow death by cutting sources of food, water and medicine, a genocide of civilized life by destroying schools, universities and hospitals, a genocide of oblivion by destroying the national identity and denying the right for citizenship and nationality.
Israel has done that and more. It is the raison d’etre of Israel. Ben Gurion said that the destruction of Palestine is a pre-condition for the foundation of Israel.
We know all that. We also know that Israel could not have done that without the massive military, financial and political support of the US Administration. You live here and you know this better than me. You only need to read the report by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, well-known scholars, not particularly pro-Arab, on the influence of Israel Lobby on US foreign policy and the damage it does to US interests.
While US foreign policy is openly and unashamedly biased in favour of Israel, Europe, The original colonial power, continues to play the same role it did in 1916. Europe gives conditional aid to Palestinians. It tells them: if you accept Israeli occupation and drop your rights, we will give enough aid to keep you alive. If you do not, we will let your starve. We will also not let anybody else help you. Deliberate starvation of a people is a crime against humanity. Yes this is what the hypocritical European politicians publicly declare.
The conditional aid they give to Palestinians is in effect financing the occupation. Israel, the Occupying Power, is obliged under the 4th Geneva Convention and generally Humanitarian Law to pay for all services needed for the occupied people. Europe relieves Israel from this burden and let it free to conduct its brutal occupation.
I once said to some European diplomats: Do you not have the courage at least to recover the cost of hospitals you built and Israel destroyed? He could not answer.
The monumental verdict by the International Court of Justice of 9th July 2004 and its subsequent endorsement by the UN did not cause any western power to move Nato forces, apply sanctions or economic blockade, not even make a strong protest, against Israel’s violation of international law, as they have done with ferocity in innumerable other cases.
Outside the UN resolutions, western powers have proposed over two dozen schemes for the so called “peace in the Middle East” since Israel was conditionally admitted to the UN in 1949.
As an exercise, I went through all those schemes. Not one of them, not one, forces Israel to implement International Law. They all require Palestinians to drop all or most of their rights, under the rubric of “realism” and ask them to legitimize Israel’s violation of International Law.
Take the Right of Return. It is enshrined in International Law and affirmed repeatedly, particularly for the Palestinian refugees. It has been implemented in Kosova, Bosnia, East Timor, Ruwanda, Guatemala, Abkhazia, Afghanistan and Iraq. But not in Palestine. Why?
The response we here from sympathetic Europeans: it is not realistic, it is not feasible, there is no room, villages are destroyed, no where to return to... etc.
What if this is true? This is like saying: If you intend to kill or steal, you will be punished. But if you successfully kill and steal, you are forgiven for the crime and what you steal is yours. There is no moral, legal or even political logic behind that.
But it is not true. Such Zionist myths have been demystified long ago. We have shown that:
- The land of the refugees, which is 93% of Israel, is inhabited by 1.5% of Israeli Jews, largely in the Kibbutz, which is financially and politically bankrupt. The Kibbutz share the refugees’ land with the army for its expansionist and occupation campaigns.
- 90% of the village sites are still vacant, 7% are partially built-over, and only 3% are totally built over in Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem.
- The total number of Russian immigrants is equal to all registered refugees in Lebanon and Gaza. If Israel wanted peace, refugees could have returned. Instead, new conflict is created and the racist Sharansky and Lieberman became new Israel’s leaders.
- 97% of refugees are located within 100 km from their homes and 50% are within 40 km, a mere bus ride. Many can see their houses but they cannot get there.
- Gaza population density is 6,000 persons/km2 while their land, a few kilometers away, is empty, at 6 rural Jews/km2. All the rural Jews in half of Israel, from Ramleh to Um Rashrash (Eilat) are less in number than a single refugee camp in Gaza.
We could go on and on. This was published in books and atlases. The facts were never disputed by Israelis.
This presentation before you reveals very clearly several facts:
First, the Palestinians have been the subject of the largest, longest, well planned and executed ethnic cleansing operation of modern history, still operating today.
Second, the international law and human rights are solidly and consistently behind the Palestinians.
Third, there is no legal, ethical, geographic, demographic or economic reason why justice should not be made, international law applied and the Palestinians return home to live free on their land.
Yes. There is no reason, except one: the racist policies of Israel, entrenched in its institutions and laws, in a manner which makes South Africa’s Apartheid like an amateur’s job.
Fourth, the refugees returned home in Kosova, Bosnia, East Timor, Rwanda, Guatemala, Abkhazia, Afghanistan and Iraq. They returned everywhere, on the strength of international law, enforced at times by the Security Council and even NATO soldiers. Everywhere except Palestine. Why? Because the US supports Israel unconditionally. US vetoes resolutions against Israel enforcing international law. US supplies Israel with the latest arms and weapons. US provided Israel with $155 billion of aid so far. US Congress passes resolutions in favour of Israel, even those detrimental to US interests.
Fifth and last, in spite of all this brutal oppression and arrogant power directed against defenseless population, the Israeli enterprise is doomed to failure. Palestinians did not surrender and never will. Free and informed people all over the world support the Palestinians. The twenty-first century cannot tolerate yet again the horrors of ethnic cleansing, racism, Apartheid and occupation.
There is only one way to peace. That is justice. Justice means international law. Justice means returning home. And justice is what the Palestinians will get, however long it takes.