World Socialist Web Site – November 3, 2023

Israel strikes Jabaliya refugee camp for third day running as war crimes pile up in Gaza

By Jordan Shilton

The Israeli regime is carrying out horrendous war crimes on a daily basis, with Thursday marking the third day in a row that the Jabaliya refugee camp was struck. As the official death toll among Palestinian civilians surpassed 9,000, the Israel Defence Forces also reportedly struck four schools within 24 hours and is preparing a horrific massacre of civilians in Gaza City.

The latest attack on Jabaliya, where over 195 were confirmed dead in two previous strikes Tuesday and Wednesday, hit a school used by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) as a shelter. At least 20 people were killed in the bombardment, according to UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini. Schools were also struck by the IDF in the Beach refugee camp in northern Gaza, killing one child, and the Al-Bureij refugee camp, killing two people and injuring 31.

The locations struck by Israel are hosting some 20,000 displaced civilians, the UNRWA reported. Underscoring the systematic targeting of infrastructure designed to provide humanitarian support for the civilian population, the UNRWA wrote, “Since the start of the war on 7 October, nearly 50 UNRWA buildings and assets have been impacted, with some being directly hit. Like today’s, this includes UNRWA buildings used as shelters where UNRWA is currently hosting around 700,000 people. Twenty-five of these shelters are in northern Gaza, hosting 112,000 people.”

A brutal slaughter of thousands of civilians is looming in Gaza City, which the Israeli military claims to have “encircled” as part of its ground offensive. Al Jazeera journalist Youmna ElSayed, reporting from the city, noted that one of the main escape routes to the south is entirely blocked, while another is being closed off. “Many civilian cars have been shot at as they’re trying to evacuate from the north of Gaza or from Gaza City to the south,” she said.

“There are thousands of people who had returned to the northern Strip and to Gaza City itself, and there are thousands that did not evacuate.

“We saw at the Jabaliya camp, as it has been bombarded over three days, how many people were still in their homes. We’re talking about huge numbers.”

Speaking from the city’s Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Marwan Abusada described the conditions as “beyond catastrophic.” “The corridors are full of injured people,” he continued. “The ER rooms are beyond full. We have zero capacity to treat all the injured people.

“The high number of displaced people are no longer sheltering in the courtyard of the hospital but are now inside the hospital, including in the corridors. There is a high chance of infectious diseases spreading between patients and those displaced.”

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs confirmed that the Israeli military advance in northern Gaza “is impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid to about 300,000 displaced people.” A separate group of UN experts issued a statement warning that the Palestinian people face “a grave threat of genocide.”

Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari dismissed any talk of a ceasefire to allow the thousands of civilians to depart Gaza City, asserting that this is “not on the table.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that no fuel shipments will be allowed into the Gaza Strip as part of the trickle of aid trucks crossing the Rafah entry point from Egypt. At least 16 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals have stopped operating due to a lack of fuel, with the remainder running on low supplies. Al-Shifa and the Indonesian Hospital are reportedly at risk of imminent collapse as their generators run out of fuel.

Bakeries have also been directly targeted, contributing to the shortage of food. Al Jazeera reported Thursday that five bakeries have been directly targeted across Gaza in air strikes, while another eight suffered so much damage in nearby strikes that they are now out of service.

Under these conditions, the report that US secretary of State Anthony Blinken will seek to achieve “humanitarian pauses” of a few hours in the fighting during his trip Friday to Israel is akin to providing morphine to a dying patient. The few additional aid trucks that would reach Gaza during these brief windows of respite would still be prevented from transporting fuel, furthering the total collapse of any medical care in the enclave. Moreover, the Israeli regime demonstrates every day its utter disregard for any limits on its genocidal savagery, which would continue after any “pause” orchestrated by Blinken.

In a cynical statement Thursday, Blinken performed the necessary hand-wringing by noting that civilians are “bearing the brunt” of attacks by the IDF. However, he hastened to stress, “Israel has not only the right but the obligation to defend itself and also to take steps to try to ensure that this never happens again.”

Blinken claimed that the “pauses” would allow aid to reach Gaza and hostages taken by Hamas on 7 October to be freed. In reality, Israel’s savage onslaught is showing almost as little concern for the lives of the hostages—who are most likely being held in Hamas’ underground tunnel network—as for the Palestinian population. According to the IDF, soldiers will not enter Hamas tunnels but will use robots and explosive devices to collapse and destroy them. A senior army commander said, “It will become a death zone.”

Underlining US imperialism’s attitude to the genocide in Gaza, White House spokespersons made clear Thursday that the Biden administration remains opposed to calling for a “ceasefire.” There is bipartisan backing for the provision of over $14 billion in additional military aid to Israel. The European imperialist powers are no less enthusiastic. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called Netanyahu Wednesday following the Jabaliya massacre to reaffirm Berlin’s “unwavering” support for Israel, while at home the German government is criminalizing protests against the genocide. France announced the dispatch of a second warship to the region Thursday, citing the threadbare pretext of providing additional medical care to Gaza residents.

One especially barbaric aspect of the Israeli regime’s onslaught on Gaza that has gone almost entirely unmentioned by the imperialist powers is its deliberate targeting of journalists. Mohammed Abu Hatab, a correspondent with Palestine TV, became the 30th Palestinian media worker to be killed since Israel’s bombardment began. According to a colleague, Hatab was killed in an air strike on his home in Khan Younis when he returned from work to check on his family.

A systematic witch-hunt on journalists in the Gaza Strip is being whipped up in the Israeli media. The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday that it had identified “around five dozen individuals associated with Hamas” who “are often seen sporting blue press vests and helmets” and have been “waging a propaganda campaign against Israel on various social media platforms.” Echoing Israeli military propaganda, the newspaper continued that they have “found refuge in Al-Shifa Hospital, which the IDF recently disclosed serves as a Hamas command and control centre.” The implication is clear: the targeted killing of further journalists will be justified as a blow against “Hamas terrorists.”

The IDF’s genocidal onslaught on Gaza over the past three-and-a-half weeks has gone hand-in-hand with a dramatic escalation of violence by the military and far-right settler gangs in the occupied West Bank. Military raids on Wednesday night led to the detention of 49 Palestinians, bringing the total taken into custody in the West Bank since 7 October to more than 1,200.

After clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers led to the fatal shooting of an Israeli reservist Thursday morning, a gang of settler thugs descended on the Palestinian village of Deir Sharaf, where they torched cars and shops, and threw rocks at Palestinian residences. Israeli security forces killed three Palestinians in the West Bank Thursday, bringing the death toll there since 7 October to at least 135.

Fighting also intensified on the Lebanese border Thursday, where Hizbollah claimed it had fired at 19 IDF targets. Hamas’ Lebanese wing also claimed responsibility for a rocket barrage on the northern city of Kiryat Shmona, where two people were injured. The Israeli military responded by striking a series of positions in southern Lebanon. 

Global Research – November 1, 2023

Official “Secret” Israeli Document Revealed: Expel All Palestinians from Gaza, Israeli Intelligence Ministry

An Intelligence Ministry document revealed by Local Call and +972 shows how the idea of population transfer to the Sinai is reaching official discussions

By Yuval Abraham 

The Israeli Ministry of Intelligence is recommending the forcible and permanent transfer of the Gaza Strip’s 2.2 million Palestinian residents to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, according to an official document revealed in full for the first time by +972’s partner site Local Call yesterday.

The 10-page document, dated Oct. 13, 2023, bears the logo of the Intelligence Ministry — a small governmental body that produces policy research and shares its proposals with intelligence agencies, the army, and other ministries. It assesses three options regarding the future of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in the framework of the current war, and recommends a full population transfer as its preferred course of action. It also calls on Israel to enlist the international community in support of this endeavor. The document, whose authenticity was confirmed by the ministry, has been translated into English in full here on +972.

The existence of the document does not necessarily indicate that its recommendations are being considered by Israel’s defense establishment. Despite its name, the Intelligence Ministry is not directly responsible for any intelligence body, but rather independently prepares studies and policy papers that are distributed to the Israeli government and security agencies for review, but are not binding. The ministry’s annual budget is NIS 25 million and its influence is considered relatively small. It is currently headed by Gila Gamliel, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party.

However, the fact that an Israeli government ministry has prepared such a detailed proposal amid a large-scale military offensive on the Gaza Strip, following Hamas’ deadly assault and massacres in southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7, reflects how the idea of forced population transfer is being raised to the level of official policy discussions. Fears of such plans — which would constitute a serious war crime under international law — have grown in recent weeks, especially after the Israeli army ordered about 1 million Palestinians to evacuate the northern Gaza Strip ahead of escalating bombardment and incremental ground incursions.

The document recommends that Israel act to “evacuate the civilian population to Sinai” during the war; establish tent cities and later more permanent cities in the northern Sinai that will absorb the expelled population; and then create “a sterile zone of several kilometers … within Egypt, and [prevent] the return of the population to activities/residences near the border with Israel.” At the same time, governments around the world, led by the United States, must be mobilized to implement the move.

A source in the Intelligence Ministry confirmed to Local Call/+972 that the document was authentic, that it was distributed to the defense establishment by the ministry’s policy division, and “was not supposed to reach the media.”

‘Make It Clear There Is No Hope of Returning’

The document unequivocally and explicitly recommends transferring Palestinian civilians from Gaza as the desired outcome of the war. The existence of the plan was first reported last week in the Israeli business newspaper Calcalist, and the full text of the document is published and translated here [see Annex below for the full document].

The transfer plan is divided into several stages.

In the first stage, action must be taken so that the population of Gaza “evacuates south,” while the air strikes focus on the northern Gaza Strip.

In the second stage, a ground incursion into Gaza will begin, leading to the occupation of the entire Strip from north to south, and the “cleansing of the underground bunkers of Hamas fighters.”

Concurrently with the re-occupation of Gaza, Palestinian civilians will be moved into Egyptian territory, and not be allowed to return. “It is important to leave the travel routes to the south open to enable the evacuation of the civilian population toward Rafah,” the document states.

According to an official in the Intelligence Ministry, the ministry’s personnel stand behind these recommendations. The source stressed that the ministry’s research is “not based on military intelligence” and serves only as a basis for discussions within the government.

The document proposes promoting a campaign targeting Palestinian civilians in Gaza that will “motivate them to accept this plan” and lead them to give up their land. “The messages should revolve around the loss of land, making it clear that there is no hope of returning to the territories Israel will soon occupy, whether or not that is true. The image needs to be, ‘Allah made sure you lose this land because of Hamas’ leadership — there is no choice but to move to another place with the assistance of your Muslim brothers,’” the document reads.

In addition, the document encourages the government to lead a public campaign in the Western world to promote the transfer plan “in a way that does not incite or vilify Israel.” This would be done by presenting the expulsion of Gaza’s population as a humanitarian necessity to win over international support, by arguing that relocation will lead to “fewer casualties among the civilian population compared to the expected casualties if the population remains.”

The document also says that the United States should be enlisted in the process to exert pressure on Egypt to absorb the Palestinian residents of Gaza, and that other European countries — particularly Greece and Spain — as well as Canada should help absorb and settle the Palestinian refugees. The Ministry of Intelligence said the document was not yet formally distributed to U.S. officials, but only to the Israeli government and security agencies.

A Wider Policy Discussion

Last week, the Misgav Institute, a right-wing think tank headed by Meir Ben-Shabbat, a close associate of Prime Minister Netanyahu and a former head of Israel’s National Security Council, published a position paper that similarly called for the forced transfer of Gaza’s population to the Sinai. The institute recently deleted the post from Twitter and from its website after drawing strong international censure.

The deleted study was written by Amir Weitmann, a Likud activist and, according to sources familiar with him, a close associate of Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel. Last week, on a Facebook page named “The Plan to Rehabilitate Gaza in Egypt,” Weitmann interviewed Likud MK Ariel Kallner, who told him that “the solution you propose, to move the population to Egypt, is a logical and necessary solution.”

This is not the only connection between the Likud, the Ministry of Intelligence, and the right-wing think tank. About a month ago, the Ministry of Intelligence pledged to transfer about NIS 1 million from its budget to the Misgav Institute to conduct research on Arab countries. If the Misgav Institute was somehow involved in drafting the ministry’s Gaza transfer recommendations, its logo, at least, does not appear on the document.


Sources in the Ministry of Intelligence said that the Gaza report was an independent study conducted by the ministry’s policy division, without the cooperation of an external party, but they did confirm that the ministry had recently begun working with the Misgav Institute, stressing that the government body works with various research groups with diverse political agendas. The Misgav Institute has not yet responded to queries for this article.

In addition, the Intelligence Ministry’s document was first leaked in a small internal WhatsApp group of right-wing activists who, together with Likud advocate Whiteman, promote the reestablishment of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and the transfer of Palestinians living there.

According to one of these activists, the Intelligence Ministry document reached them through the mediation of a “Likud source,” and its public distribution is related to an attempt to find out whether “the Israeli public is ready to accept ideas of transfer from Gaza.”

The Preferred Option

The chances of fully implementing such a plan, which would amount to the total ethnic cleansing of the Gaza Strip, are negligible in many respects.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has declared that he strongly opposes opening the Rafah Crossing to absorb the Palestinian population from Gaza.

He argued that the displacement of Palestinians to the Sinai would threaten Israeli peace with Egypt, and warned that it would lead to Palestinians using Egyptian territory as a base to continue armed confrontations with Israel. A similar plan has been presented in the past by Israeli officials, and until now, it too had not matured into a serious policy discussion.

Moreover, after weeks of reports that the United States was attempting to raise the possibility of moving Palestinians to Egypt as part of a “humanitarian corridor,” U.S. President Joe Biden asserted yesterday that he and Sisi were committed to “ensuring that Palestinians in Gaza are not displaced to Egypt or any other nation.”

The Intelligence Ministry document states that Egypt will have an “obligation under international law to allow the passage of the population,” and that the United States can contribute to the process by “exerting pressure on Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to contribute to the initiative, either with resources or with the absorption of displaced persons.” It also proposes conducting a dedicated public campaign aimed at the Arab world, with a “focus on the message of assisting the Palestinian brothers and rehabilitating them, even at the price of a tone that rebukes or even harms Israel.”

Finally, the document notes that the “large-scale migration” of non-combatants from combat zones is a “natural and sought-after outcome” that has also occurred in Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine, concluding that only the expulsion of the Palestinian population will constitute “an appropriate response [that] will enable the creation of significant deterrence in the entire region.”

The document presents two other options regarding what to do with the residents of Gaza the day after the war. The first is to allow the Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by the Fatah party in the occupied West Bank, to rule Gaza under Israeli auspices. The second is to cultivate another “local Arab authority” as an alternative to Hamas. Both options, the document claims, are undesirable for Israel from a strategic and security perspective, and will not provide a sufficient message of deterrence, especially to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The authors of the study also noted that bringing the PA into Gaza was the most dangerous option of the three, because it could lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“The division between the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria and Gaza is one of the main obstacles today preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state. It is inconceivable that the outcome of this attack [Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacres] will be an unprecedented victory for the Palestinian national movement and a path to the creation of a Palestinian state,” the document said.

The document further argues that a model of Israeli military rule and PA civilian rule, as exists in the West Bank, is likely to fail in Gaza.

“There is no way to maintain an effective military occupation in Gaza only on the basis of military presence without [Israeli] settlements, and within a short time there will be internal Israeli and international pressure for withdrawal.”

The authors added that in such a situation, the State of Israel “will be considered a colonial power with an occupying army — similar to the current situation in Judea and Samaria, but even worse.” They noted that the PA has low legitimacy among the Palestinian public, and that based on Israel’s previous experience of handing over control of Gaza to the PA and Hamas’ eventual takeover, Israel should not “repeat the same mistake that led to the current situation.”

The other option, the formation of a local Arab leadership to replace Hamas, is undesirable according to the document, because there are no local opposition movements to Hamas and a new leadership is liable to be more radical. “The most plausible scenario is … not an ideological shift but rather the emergence of new, possibly even more extreme, Islamist movements,” it said. The authors mention the necessity of “creating ideological change” in the Palestinian population through a process of what it likens to “de-Nazification,” requiring Israel to “dictate the school curricula and enforce its use for an entire generation.”

Finally, the document argued that if Gaza’s population remained in the strip, there would be “many Arab casualties” during the anticipated re-occupation of the territory, which would damage Israel’s international image even more than expelling the population. For all these reasons, the Ministry of Intelligence’s recommendation is to promote the permanent transfer of all Palestinian civilians from Gaza to the Sinai.

The Defense Ministry, the army spokesperson’s office, and the Misgav Institute did not yet respond to +972’s requests for comment by the time of this article’s publication. Any responses received will be added here. *

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Yuval Abraham is a journalist and activist based in Jerusalem.

Countercurrent – November 3, 2023

‘Turning Gaza into Ashes’: Israeli Hasbara vs the World

 by Dr Ramzy Baroud

Gaza has changed the political equation in Palestine. 

Moreover, the repercussions of this devastating war are likely to alter the political equation in the entire Middle East and to re-center Palestine as the world’s most urgent political crisis for years to come. 

Since theᅠestablishment of Israel, facilitated by Britain and protected by the United States and other Western countries, the priorities have been entirely Israeli. 

‘Israeli security’, Israel’s ‘military edge’, ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’, and much more, have defined the West’s political discourse on the Israeli occupation and apartheid in Palestine. 

This bizarre US-western understanding of the so-called conflict, that an oppressor has ‘rights’ over the oppressed, has enabled Israel to maintain a military occupation over Palestinian Territories that hasᅠlasted for over 56 years.

It has also empowered Israel to neglect the roots of this ‘conflict’, namely the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, and the long-deniedᅠRight of Return for Palestinian refugees.

Within this context, every Palestinian-Arab overture for peace was rejected, even the supposed ‘peace process’, namely theᅠOslo Accords, turned into an opportunity for Tel Aviv to entrench its military occupation, expand its settlements and to corral Palestinians in Bantustan-like spaces, humiliated and racially segregated.

Some Palestinians, whether enticed by American handouts or shattered by a lingering sense of defeat, lined up to receive the dividends of the US-Israeli peace – pitiful crumbs of false prestige, empty titles and limited power, granted and denied by Israel itself.

However, the Israeli war on Gaza is already changing much of this painful status quo.

Israel’s constantᅠemphasis that its deadly war is against Hamas, against ‘terror’, against Islamic fundamentalism, and all the rest, may have convinced those who are ready to accept the Israeli version of events at face value. 

But as the bodies of thousands of Palestinian civilians, thousands of whom are children, beganᅠpiling up at Gaza hospitals’ morgues and, tragically in the streets, the narrative began changing. 

The pulverized bodies of Palestinian children, of whole families perished together, stand witness to the brutality of Israel, to the immoral support of its allies, to the inhumanity of an international order that rewards the murderer and reprimands the victim. 

Of all the biased statements made by US President Joe Biden, the one where heᅠsuggested that Palestinians are lying about counting their own dead was perhaps the most inhumane. 

Washington may not realize this yet, but the repercussions of its unconditional support for Israel will prove to be disastrous in the future, especially in a region that is fed up with war, hegemony, double standards, sectarian divisions and endless conflict.

But the greatest impact will be felt in Israel itself. 

When Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, gave a powerfully emotionalᅠspeech on October 26, he could not hold back tears. International delegations at the UN General Assembly clapped non-stop, reflecting the growing support for Palestine, not only at the UN, but in hundreds of cities and towns, and in countless street corners around the world. 

When the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, who had spearheaded much of the lies communicated by Tel Aviv, especially in the early days of the war, delivered his talk, not a single person clapped. 

The Israeli narrative had clearly crumbled, crashing to a thousand pieces. Indeed, Israel has never been so isolated. This is definitely not the ‘New Middle East’ that Netanyahu hadᅠprophesied in his UNGA talk on September 22.

Unable to fathom how the initial sympathy with Israel quickly turned into outright disdain, Israel resorted to old tactics.

On October 25, Erdanᅠdemanded the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to resign for being “unfit to lead the UN”. Guterres’ supposedly unforgivable crime is suggesting that “the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum”.

As far as Israel and its American benefactors are concerned, no context is allowed to taint the perfect image that Israel has created for its genocide in Gaza. In this perfect Israeli world, no one is allowed to speak of military occupation, of siege, of the lack of political prospect, of the absence of a just peace for Palestinians. 

Even though Amnesty International has said in itsᅠstatement that both sides had committed “serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes”, Israel still attacked it, accusing the group of being ‘anti-Semitic’. 

Because, in Israel’s thinking, even the world’s leading international human rights group is not permitted to contextualize the atrocities in Gaza or dare suggest that one of the “root causes” of the conflict was “Israel’s system of apartheid imposed on all Palestinians”. 

Israel is no longer all-powerful, as it wants us to believe.  Recent events have proven that Israel’s ‘invincible army’ – a brand that allowed Israel toᅠbecome, as of 2022, the world’s tenth-largest international military exporter – turned out to be a paper tiger.  

This is what is infuriating Israel the most. “Muslims are not afraid of us anymore,”ᅠsaid former Knesset member, Moshe Feiglin, in an interview with Arutz Sheva-Israel National News. To restore this fear, the Israeli extremist politician has called for burning “Gaza to ashes immediately”.

But nothing will turn Gaza into ashes, even if the over 12,000 tons of explosivesᅠdropped on the Strip in the first two weeks of war have alreadyᅠincinerated at least 45 percent of the housing units in the Strip, according to the UN’s humanitarian office. 

Gaza will not die because it is a powerful idea that is deeply entrenched within the hearts and minds of every Arab, of every Muslim and millions of people around the world.

This new idea is challenging the long-held belief that the world needs to cater to Israel’s priorities, security, selfish definitions of peace and all other illusions. 

The discussion should now return to where it should have always been – the priorities of the oppressed not the oppressor.

It is time that we speak about Palestinian rights, Palestinian security and the Palestinian people’s right, in fact obligation, to defend themselves. 

It is time for us to speak about justice – real justice – the outcome of which is non-negotiable: equality, full political rights, freedom and the right of return.

Gaza has told us all of this, and much more. And it is time for us to listen.  

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is

Countercurrent – November 3, 2023

The Historical Background of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (up to 1914)

by Dr Vladislav B Sotirovic

The historical background of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict goes back to 1917 (the Balfour Declaration) and the establishment of the British protectorate over Palestine (the Palestine Mandate) after WWI with its provision for a national home for the Jews, although formally not to be at the expense of the local inhabitants – the Palestinians. Nevertheless, it became in practice the focal problem to keep an appropriate balance between these stipulations to be acceptable to both sides – the Jews and the Palestinians.

The people and the land

Since the time of the Enlightenment followed by Romanticism, in Western Europe emerged a new trend of group identification of the people as ethnic or ethnocultural nations different from the previous feudal trends from the Middle Ages based on religion, state borders, or social strata belonging.[1] In the course of time, a new trend of people’s identification as a product of the capitalistic system of production and social order became applied across the globe following the process of capitalistic globalization.[2] As a direct consequence of such development of the group identities, the newly understood nations, especially in the areas under colonial foreign rule, started to demand their national rights but among them, the most important demand was the right to self-rule in a nation-state of their own. In other words, the ethnic or ethnic-confessional groups under foreign oppression demanded the rights of self-determination and political sovereignty.[3]

Since around 1900, both the Jews and the Arab-Palestinians became involved in the process of developing ethnonational consciousness and mobilizing their nations for the sake of achieving national-political goals. However, one of the focal differences between them in regard to the creation of a nation-state of their own was that the Jews have been spread out across the world (a diaspora) since the fall of Jerusalem and Judea in the 1st century AD[4] while, in contrast, the Palestinians were concentrated in one place – Palestine. From the very end of the 19th century, a newly formed Th. Herzl’s Zionist movement had a task to identify land where the Jewish people could immigrate and settle to create their own nation-state. For Theodor Benjamin Zeev Herzl (1860‒1904),[5] Palestine was historically logical as an optimal land for the Jewish immigrants as it was the land of the Jewish states in the Antique.[6] It was, however, an old idea, and Th. Herzl in his book pamphlet (Der Judenstaat) which became the Bible of the Zionist movement was the first to analyze the conditions of the Jews in their assumed “native” land and call for the establishment of a nation-state of the Jews in order to solve the Jewish Question in Europe or better to say to beat traditional European anti-Semitism and modern tendency of the Jewish assimilation. Nonetheless, the focal problem was to somehow convince the Europeans that the Jews had the right to this land even after 2.000 years of emigration in the diaspora around the world.  

However, what was Th. Herzel’s Eretz Yisrael in reality? For all Zionists and the majority of Jews, it was the Promised Land of milk and honey but in reality, the Promised Land was a barren, rocky, and obscure Ottoman province since 1517 settled by the Muslim Arabs as a clear majority population. On this narrow strip of land of East Mediterranean, the Jews and the Arab Palestinians lived side by side and at the time of the First Zionist Congress (Basel, Switzerland, August 29−31st, 1897) there were some 400.000 Arabs and some 50.000 Jews.[7] Most of those Palestinian Jews have been bigot Orthodox[8] who entirely depended on their existence on charitable offerings of different Jewish societies in Europe which have been distributed to them by the communal organizations set up mainly for that purpose.


Palestine is a historic land in the Middle East on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea between the River of Jordan and the Mediterranean seacoast. Palestine is called the Holy Land by the Jews, Christians, and Muslims because of its spiritual links with Judaism, Christianity as well as Islam.

The land experienced many changes and lordships in history followed by changes of frontiers and its political status. For each of the regional denominations, Palestine contains several sacred places. In the so-called biblical times, on the territory of Palestine, the Kingdoms of Israel and Judea existed until the Roman occupation in the 1st century AD. The final wave of Jewish expulsion to the diaspora from Palestine started after the abortive uprising of Bar Kochba in 132−135. Up to the emergence of Islam, Palestine historically was controlled by the Ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, the Roman Empire, and finally by the Byzantine Empire (the East Roman Empire) alongside the periods of the independence of the Jewish kingdoms.

The land became occupied by the Muslim Arabians in 634 AD. Since then, Palestine has been populated by a majority of Arabs, although it remained a central reference point to the Jewish people in the diaspora as their “Land of Israel” or Eretz Yisrael. Palestine remained under Muslim rule up to WWI, being part of the Ottoman Empire (1516−1917), when combined the Ottoman and German armies became defeated by the Brits at Megiddo, except for the time during the West European Crusades from 1098 to 1197.[9] The term Palestine was used as the official political title for the land westward of the Jordan River mandated in the interwar and post-WWII period to the United Kingdom (from 1920 up to 1947).

However, after 1948, the term Palestine continues to be used, but now in order to identify rather a geographical than a political entity. It is used today, particularly in the context of the struggle over the land and political rights of Palestinian Arabs displaced since Israel became established (May 14th, 1948).[10]

The Jewish migrations to Palestine in 1882−1914

As a consequence of renewed pogroms in East Europe in 1881, the first wave of Jewish immigration into Palestine started in 1882 followed by another wave before WWI from 1904 to 1914.[11] The immigration of the Jewish settlers was encouraged by the 1917 Balfour Declaration, and very much intensified since May 1948 when the Zionist State of Israel was proclaimed and established.

There were historically two types of motives for the Jews to come to Eretz Yisrael (In Hebrew, the “Land of Israel”):

The traditional motive was prayer and study, followed by death and burial in the holy soil.

Later, since the mid-19th century, a new type of Jew being secular and in many cases idealistic began to arrive in Palestine but many of them have been driven from their native lands by anti-Semitic persecution.[12]       

In 1882 there was the first organized wave of European Jewish immigration to Palestine. Since the 1897 First World Zionist Congress in Basel, there was an inflow of European Jews into Palestine especially during the British Mandate time followed by the British-allowed policy of land-buying by the Jewish Agency which was, in fact, indirect preparation for the creation of the Jewish nation-state – Israel.[13] In other words, such a policy was designed to alienate land from the Palestinians, stipulating that it could not be in the Arab hands.

Even before the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Th. Herzl tried to recruit prosperous and rich Jews (like the Rothschild family) to finance his plan of the Jewish emigration and colonization of Palestine but finally failed in his attempt. Th. Herzl decided to turn to the little men – hence his decision to convene the 1897 Basel Congress where according to his diary, he founded the Jewish state. After the congress, he did not waste time in turning his political program into reality but at the same time, he strongly disagreed with the idea of peaceful settlement in Palestine, or according to his own words “gradual Jewish infiltration”, which, in fact, already started even before the Zionist meeting in Basel.

At that time, Palestine as an Ottoman province did not constitute a single political-administrative unit. The northern districts have been parts of the province of Beirut, and the district of Jerusalem was under the direct authority of the central Ottoman government in Istanbul because of the international significance of the city of Jerusalem and the town of Bethlehem as religious centers equally important for Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.[14] A vast majority of the Arabs either Muslims or Christians have been living in several hundred villages in a rural environment. Concerning the town settlers of Arab origin, the two biggest of them were Jaffa and Nablus together with Jerusalem as economically the most prosperous urban settlements.[15]

Until WWI, the biggest number of Palestinian Jews was living in four urban settlements of the most important religious significance to them: Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed, and Tiberias. They have been followers of traditional, Orthodox religious practices spending much time studying religious texts and depending on the charity of world Jewry for survival.[16] It has to be noticed that their attachment to Eretz Yisrael was much more religious than of national character and they were not either involved in or supportive of Th. Herzl’s Zionist movement emerged in Europe and was, in fact, brought to Palestine by the Jewish immigrants after 1897. However, most of the Jewish immigrants to Palestine after 1897 who emigrated from Europe have lived of secular type of life having commitments to the secular goals to create and maintain a modern Jewish nation based on the European standards of the time and to establish an independent Jewish state – modern Israel but not to re-establish a biblical one. During the first year of WWI, the total number of Jews in Palestine reached some 60.000 of whom some 36.000 were settlers since 1897. On the other hand, the total number of the Arab population in Palestine in 1914 was some 683.000.

The second wave of Jewish immigration to Palestine (1904−1914) had many intellectuals and middle-class Jews but the majority of those immigrants have been driven less by a vision of a new state than by the hope of having a new life, free of pogroms and persecutions.


[1] About the ethnicity, national identity and nationalism, see in [John Hutchinson, Anthony D. Smith (eds.), Nationalism, Oxford Readers, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 1994; Montserrat Guibernau, John Rex (eds.), The Ethnicity Reader: Nationalism, Multiculturalism and Migration, Malden, MA: Polity Press, 1997]. 

[2] About globalization, see in [Frank J. Lechner, John Boli (eds.), The Globalization Reader, Fifth Edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2014].

[3] In the science of politics, self-determination as an idea emerged out of the 18th-century concern for freedom and the primacy of the individual will. In principle, it can be applied to any kind of group of people for whom a collective will is to be considered. However, in the next century, the right to self-determination is understood exclusively to nations but not, for instance, to the national minorities of confessional groups as such. National self-determination was the principle applied by the US’s President Woodrow Wilson to break three empires after WWI. It is included in the 1945 Charter of OUN, in the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence of Colonial Countries and Peoples, and in the 1970 Declaration of the Principles of International Law. However, self-determination, as taken to its most vicious extremes, leads in practice to phenomena as, for instance, “ethnic cleansing” that was recently in the 1990s practiced, for example, against the Serbs in neo-Nazifascist Croatia of Dr. Franjo Tuđman or in NATO’s occupied Kosovo-Metochia after the 1998−1999 Kosovo War. In short, self-determination is the right of groups in political sciences to chose their own destiny and to govern themselves not necessary in their own independent state [Richard W. Mansbach, Kirsten L. Taylor, Introduction to Global Politics, London−New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2012, 583].

Sovereignty is the claim to have the ultimate political authority or to be subject to no higher power concerning the making and executing of political decisions. In the system of international relations (the IR), sovereignty is the claim by the state to full self-government, and the mutual recognition of claims to sovereignty is the foundation of the international community. In short, sovereignty is a status of legal autonomy that is enjoyed by states and consequently, their Governments have exclusive authority within their borders and enjoy the rights of membership of the international political community [Jeffrey Haynes, Peter Hough, Shahin Malik, Lloyd Pettiford, World Politics, New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2011, 714].  

[4] About the fall of Jerusalem, see in [Josephus, The Fall of Jerusalem, London, England: Penguin Books, 1999]. Josephus Flavius (born as Joseph ben Matthias, c. 37−c. 100) was a Jewish historian, Pharisee and General in the Roman army. He was a leader of the Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire in 66 AD and was captured in 67. His life was spared when he prophesied that Vespasian would become an Emperor. Subsequently, Josephus received Roman citizenship and a pension. He is today well-known as a historian who wrote the Jewish War as an eyewitness account of the historical events leading up to the rebellion. Another of his historiographic work was Antiquities of the Jews – history since the Creation up to 66 AD.

There were two Jewish rebellions against the Roman power which inspired Jewish diaspora from Palestine: in 66−73; and in 132−135 [Џон Бордман, Џаспер Грифин, Озвин Мари (приредили), Оксфордска историја Грчке и хеленистичког света, Београд: CLIO, 1999, 541−542].

[5] He was born on May 2nd, 1860 in Pest in the Austrian Empire at that time and was given the Hebrew name Binyamin Ze’ev, along with the Hungarian Magyar Tivadar and the German Theodor. In Pest, Th. Herzl attended the Jewish parochial school, where he became acquainted with some biblical Hebrew and religious studies. In 1878, he moved to Vienna where he was studying law at the university and later working for the Ministry of Justice. In 1897, Th. Herzl published his famous book Der Judenstaat, just a year before he convened the First Zionist Congress in Basle in Switzerland. In this book in a form of a political pamphlet, he wrote that: “The idea which I have developed in this pamphlet is a very old one: it is the restoration of the Jewish state” [Extracts from Theodor Herzl’s The Jewish State, Walter Laqueur, Barry Rubin (eds.), The Israel-Arab Reader, London, 1995, 6]. According to him, the borders of Israel as Judenstaat had to be between the River of Nile in Egypt and the River of the Euphrates in Iraq.  

[6] Present-day Israel (est. 1948) is the third independent state of the Jews in Palestine. The biblical Kanaan was a tiny strip of land some 130 km of length between the Jordan River, Mt. Tiber, East Mediterranean littoral, and the Gaza Strip [Giedrius Drukteinis (sudarytojas), Izraelis: Žydų valstybė, Vilnius: Sofoklis, 2017, 13].  

[7] Ahron Bregman, A History of Israel, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, 7.

[8] The Orthodox Judaism is teaching that the Torah (the five books of Moses) contains all the divine revelation that the Jews as a chosen people require. In the case of Orthodox Judaism, all religious practices are strictly observed. When it is required the interpretations of Torah, references are made to the Talmud. The followers of Orthodox Judaism are practicing strict separation of women from men in the synagogues during the worshiping. In Israel, exists only an Orthodox rabbinate. While a majority of the Orthodox Jews support the Zionist movement, however, they deplore the secular origins of it and the fact that Israel is not a fully religious state. The Orthodox Jews recognize one as a Jew only in two possible cases: 1) if he/she mother is a Jew; or 2) the person undergoes an arduous process of conversion. For the Orthodox Jews, it is prohibited to cut the beard, which probably originated in a wish to be distinguished from unbelievers. About Jewish history and religion, see more in [Дејвид Џ. Голдберг, Џон Д. Рејнер, Јевреји: Историја и религија, Београд: CLIO, 2003]. The Israeli Law of Return that is governing Jewish emigration back to Israel accepts all those with a Jewish grandmother as potential citizens of Israel. Alongside with the Orthodox Judaism exist Liberal Judaism and Reform Judaism.    

[9] [Geoffrey Barraclough (ed.), The Times Atlas of World History, Revised Edition, Maplewood, New Jersey: Hammond, 1986].

[10] About the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by the Israeli authority, see in [Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oxford, England: Oneworld Publications, 2007]. About the general history of the Jews, see in [Дејвид Џ. Голдберг, Џон Д. Рејнер, Јевреји: Историја и религија, Београд: CLIO, 2003]. 

[11] The term pogrom from a very general point of view is used to describe organized massacres of Jews in the 20th century but especially during WWII in the Nazi-run concentration camps during the Holocaust.

[12] Originally, according to Th. Herzl, the “Land of Israel” was from the River of Euphrates in Iraq to the River of Nile in Egypt that is visually symbolized on the flag of the Zionist movement – today the state flag of the Zionist Israel (the David Star between two rivers).

[13] However, overwhelming of those Jewish emigrants came from Central and East Europe as well as from the Russian Empire. About the Jews in Central and East Europe, see in [Jurgita Šiaučiunaitė-Verbickienė, Larisa Lempertienė, Central and East European Jews at the Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Vilnius: The Centre for Studies of the Culture and History of East European Jews, 2006]. About the Jews in Russia, see in [Т. Б. ГейликманИстория Евреев в России, Москва, URSS, 2015].

[14] The 1878 Ottoman census claims some 463.000 inhabitants of Jerusalem.

[15] The Ottoman population in 1884 was composed of 17.143.859 of which some 73.4% were Muslims [Reinhard Schulze, A Modern History of the Islamic World, London‒New York: I.B.Tauris Publishers, 1995, 22].

[16] Since the mid-18th century till WWII, Vilnius was known as “Jerusalem of the North” and was a center of Rabbinic Judaism and Jewish studies. Almost half of the city populations have been the Jews but according to Israeli Cohen, journalist, and writer who visited Vilnius just before the beginning of WWII, around 75% of Vilnius’ Jews were dependent on the support of charitable and philanthropic organizations or private benefactors [Israeli Cohen, Vilna, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1943, 334]. In Jewish St. in the Old Town of Vilnius, it was established in 1892 the biggest Judaica library in the world – the Strashun Library (or the Jewish Library of Vilnius) by founder Mattityahu Strashun (1817−1885). The library was gone in 1944 as a consequence of the fight between the Germans and the Red Army. The Library collection reached 22.000 items by 1935 [Aelita Ambrulevičiūtė, Gintė Konstantinavičiūtė, Giedrė Polkaitė-Petkevičienė (compilers and authors), Houses that Talk: Everyday Life in Žydų Street in the 19th−20th, Century (up to 1940), Vilnius: Aukso žuvys, 2018, 97−100]. Vilnius up to WWII had and famous Great Synagogue. A well-known and respected Gaon of Vilnius – Elijah ben Salomon spent all of his life in Vilnius (1720−1797).

The importance of the Jewish Vilnius for the Zionist movement can be seen from the fact that the Zionist leader Th. Herzl visited Vilnius in 1903 when the Jewish representatives met him in the building of the Supreme Rabbi Board House of the Great Vilnius Synagogue [Tomas Venclova, Vilnius City Guide, Vilnius: R. Paknio leidykla, 2018, 122].

Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic, Ex-University Professor, Research Fellow at Centre for Geostrategic Studies, Belgrade, Serbia

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