The Gulf War, Israel and the Palestinians

by Janey Stone • Published 14 April 2020

He is a cruel dictator, but the US is after him because he stood up against its hegemony. Otherwise he might have emerged as Washington’s favorite leader in the region.

– A Palestinian who lived in Kuwait for more than 25 years[1]

I remarked to an intelligent and humane Jewish friend that “territories” sounded a bit like “colonies”. “But they are,” he responded.

– Australian journalist[2]

Although Israel and America insisted there was no connection between the Palestinian struggle and the Gulf War, many anti-war activists felt instinctively that there was a link, and rightly sympathised with the Palestinians. This article will explain the nature of that link. I will show how Zionism (the movement that created the Israeli state) and its impact on the Palestinians fits into the framework of imperialist control of the region.[3] Then I will discuss Israel’s role in the war and the political implications for Palestinians.

Zionism and imperialism

Listening to a radio report of a Jewish prayer meeting during the war, I heard the congregation singing, not a religious song, but the Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem. This illustrates a typical Zionist myth: that supporting Israel and being Jewish are identical. The Zionists blur the distinction between Judaism and Zionism to make it difficult for non-Jews to criticise. So we must begin by understanding what Zionism actually is.

Modern Zionism developed amidst the anti-Semitism and pogroms of late nineteenth century Russia. Jews were being scapegoated by tsarist officials, who hoped to divert the eyes of the non-Jewish populace away from their own poverty and misery.

There are two possible political responses to racial oppression. You can see it as the product of social conditions, and therefore changeable. The conclusion would be to fight against oppression. Or you can decide that racism is inherent in human nature and you can do nothing about it. Zionists adopted this second approach, arguing that anti-Semitism was inevitable.

Theodore Herzl, the father of Zionism, wrote about his “freer” attitude to anti-Semitism which he began “to understand historically and pardon [emphasis added]… Above all I recognised the emptiness and futility of trying to combat anti-Semitism”.[4] By this logic, the answer for Jews is to leave the countries where they live, and go to a country of their own.[5] This theme still runs through Zionism. A recent article on anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union from the Australian Jewish News asserts: “For Soviet Jews today, there’s only one answer to these fears: to leave”.[6]

Clearly this is a political argument which Jews or non-Jews can support or oppose.[7] To oppose it is not anti-Semitic, and being Jewish does not oblige you to support it. In fact Zionism had only minority support in the Jewish community until after the Second World War. Many Jews in tsarist Russia and Poland fought back against anti-Semitism, and large numbers joined socialist organisations including the Jewish Bund. Others, ignoring political considerations, fled tsarist oppression to settle in England or the USA. The association with Palestine remained largely religious – very few migrated there.

After the war this changed, but the Zionists knew states are not easily established. They had long realised they needed the support of a colonial power to create a Jewish state. Although Zionism sometimes claims to be a national liberation movement, it has never had anything in common with the struggles of oppressed nationalities. Instead, from the beginning there was an open association with imperialism.

In the early days the arguments were blatant, the proposed relationship a simple one. Herzl stated that Zionism was in essence “a colonial idea”.[8] A Jewish state in Palestine would be a “rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilisation as opposed to barbarism”.[9] He sought ties to colonialism even before a location was found for the new state, canvassing options with the Russian tsar, the German Kaiser and the Turkish sultan, and seeking assistance from Cecil Rhodes. Sites in Uganda and even Australia (the Kimberleys) were considered.

Eventually the Zionists settled on Palestine, and on the British as prospective backers. They also started to use more modern imperialist arguments. Chaim Weitzmann, the leading Zionist after Herzl, proposed to the British in 1914 that a Jewish state in Palestine would be “an effective guard for the Suez Canal”.[10] The canal was increasingly vital because of the importance of oil. As British historian Hugh Thomas commented:

Ever since Churchill converted the navy to the use of oil in 1911, British politicians have seemed to have a feeling about oil supplies comparable to the fear of castration.[11]

The imperialists did not automatically decide to rely on the Zionist movement. Before the Second World War they were more inclined to work through the local Arab ruling classes. They encouraged Jewish colonisation in Palestine partly as a divide-and-rule measure. Nevertheless, their acquiescence in the Zionist project was of decisive importance. The secret Balfour Declaration proclaimed support for an eventual Jewish State, and its author said in 1919 that the wishes of the Arabs were irrelevant: “In Palestine we do not propose to even go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants”.[12]

Zionism and the Palestinians

The Zionist colonisation of Palestine created a colonial settler state with similarities to others such as South Africa and Australia. During the 1920s and 1930s the Zionists, most of them from Europe, began colonising Palestine under the slogan, “A land without people to a people without land”. Unfortunately they had a problem: there were people there.

Colonial settler states have a characteristic dynamic: the colonists build a state on other people’s land, then to hold onto it they need a greater military capability than they can supply themselves. The implications were spelt out by a leading Zionist of the 1930s, Vladimir Jabotinsky, who spoke of

the iron law of every colonizing movement, a law which knows of no exception… If you wish to colonise a land in which people are already living, you must provide a garrison for the land or find some rich man or benefactor who will maintain a garrison on your behalf…or else give up your colonization, for without an armed force which will render physically impossible any attempt to destroy or prevent this colonization, colonization is impossible… A voluntary reconciliation with the Arabs is out of the question either now or in the future.[13]

Thus neither the ties to imperialism nor the hostility to Arabs are incidental features which Zionism can drop if Israelis choose to do so. They are integral to the whole Zionist project.

What was to be done with the Arabs? The head of the Jewish Agency answered bluntly: “There is no other way but to transfer all of them; not one village not one tribe should be left behind”.[14] The first prime minister of Israel, Ben Gurion, promised his constituency: “We shall do everything possible to ensure they never return”.[15]

Ben Gurion said this in 1948, following the partition of Palestine by the United Nations, the withdrawal of the British and the subsequent war between the Zionists and armies from Arab states, during which three-quarters of a million Palestinians were driven out. The Zionist settlers had been only a third of the pre-partition population and owned under 10 percent of the land, but they ended up with three-quarters of what had been British mandate Palestine, including half the citrus groves, 90 percent of the olive groves, and 10,000 shops.

They used legal and extra-legal methods to drive out and expropriate the Arabs. Said one old Jewish settler: “Some were driven out by force of arms; others were made to leave by deceit, lying and false promises”.[16] Old laws were invoked and new ones passed to take over Arab property. There were military attacks on Arab residential populations in Haifa, Lydda and Ramleh. Most notorious was the massacre of 250 people by the terrorist Stern Gang in the northern village of Deir Yassin. Menachim Begin, later Israeli prime minister, was associated with this organisation and in 1960 defended the attack. “The massacre”, he said, “was not only justified but there would not have been a state of Israel without the victory [sic] at Deir Yassin”.[17]

Israel, war and the USA

In the post war period, Britain was in decline and the Zionists turned to America. The editor of a leading Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, proposed in 1951 that Israel should become a “watchdog” for the USA, whose task was to punish “neighbouring states whose discourtesy towards the West went beyond the bounds of the permissible”.[18] But watchdogs sometimes strain at the leash. Israel is not just a tool of the imperialists, but a state with its own priorities and strategic interests. These do not always coincide with those of the great powers, for whom Israel is only one of several client states in the region, although a centrally important one. Israel is more aggressive and hawkishly pro-imperialist than its masters. Ben Gurion set the tone early on: “To maintain the status quo will not do. We have to set up a dynamic state bent on expansion”.[19]

Ariel Sharon, an ex-general who has held several important cabinet positions in the Israeli government, elaborated further in 1981:

We should expand the sphere of security and strategic interests of Israel so that in the 80s it shall include states such as Turkey, Iran and Pakistan and regions such as the Persian Gulf and Africa – mainly north and central Africa.[20]

So much for Israel seeking peace within secure borders! And Sharon’s sentiments are widely shared. Naomi Stopler, who works for the agency that brings settlers to Israel, said in 1982: “Our borders are so small. What are we supposed to do, wait until we are attacked? Don’t we have the right to defend ourselves?”[21]

That Israeli strategic thinking has always been expansionist was confirmed by a book published in 1980, based on the diaries of Moshe Sharett, long a leading Israeli politician. It revealed how many wars have derived from strategies mapped out in the early 1950s.[22] For example Israeli plans for a war against Egypt, aimed at the conquest of Gaza and the Sinai, were laid in 1953, a year before Nasser took power in Egypt. It was agreed, the introduction says, “that the international conditions for such a war would mature within a period of about three years”.

In 1956 Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal. This not only threatened Western oil supplies, but might have inspired nationalist feelings in the region. Israeli, British and French troops seized the Canal, though they were ultimately forced to withdraw by the United States which did not share their strategic objectives.

The diary also indicates that the occupation of the Gaza and the West Bank was planned in the early fifties. Israel acted on these plans and occupied the territories in the 1967 war, along with Sinai, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, winning fulsome praise from the US State Department:

Israel has probably done more for the US in the Middle East in relation to money and effort invested than any of our so-called allies and friends elsewhere around the world since the end of the second world war… Here the Israelis won the war single-handedly, have taken us off the hook and have served our interests as well as theirs [emphasis in original].[23]

The 1982 invasion of Lebanon was ostensibly aimed at ending the threat to Israel from the PLO. But Sharett’s diary documents how in 1954 Ben Gurion had planned to “Christianise” Lebanon, with detailed blueprints for partition and subordination to Israel. When it did happen, the invasion of Lebanon involved mass bombing of civilian populations, the use of phosphorus bombs, and massacres in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. US President Reagan made critical statements but did nothing to restrain Israel.

Israel and the Palestinians prior to the Gulf War

As a result of this expansionism, Israel’s is a war economy, where the military dominates politics. It is the fourth-strongest military power in the world and the largest on a per capita basis, spending more on “defence” than any other country.[24] This military power is not only pointed outwards at the surrounding Arab countries, but also inwards.

“We got a nice dowry in the six-day war, but unfortunately the bride came with it”, said former prime minister Levi Eshkol.[25] The “bride” was of course the one and a half million Palestinians living in the territories occupied in 1967. That population has lived since then under military control, except for Jerusalem which has been annexed outright. (The Golan was placed under Israeli law but not technically annexed). The “civil administration” on the West Bank is subordinate to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), who control economic and political life. Gaza is under direct military rule. Within the occupied territories, the Palestinians have virtually no political, social or trade union rights.

Land has been seized and new settlements built, in defiance of international law. Israel exerts increasingly tight control over water, affecting not only the local population, but also neighbouring countries. Traditional economic activities such as citrus production and fishing have been severely restricted. As a result, thousands of Palestinians have been forced to travel daily to Israel do unskilled work, in a pattern reminiscent of blacks in South Africa. While forced to make payments to the Israeli trade union organisation, the Histadrut, they receive neither trade union representation nor welfare benefits.

The military has suppressed political expression since 1967. Universities and schools are repeatedly closed. Activists are deported and many thousands imprisoned without trial in virtual concentration camps in the Negev desert, where they face torture and brutality. In a tactic which is outrageous even by Israeli standards, the authorities demolish the houses of relatives of people merely suspected of oppositional activity. Attacks on the mass of the civilian population occur at intervals, when entire towns are placed under curfew. The curfew during the Gulf War simply extended a long standing practice aimed at total control of the population.

These outrages persist despite international criticism and condemnation. The United Nations has passed resolutions every year since the occupation. During the Gulf crisis, while the US was forcing through UN backing for the war, it was simultaneously watering down a resolution about repression in occupied Palestine.[26] America’s determination to “liberate” occupied Kuwait contrasts starkly with its attitude to the Palestinians.

In fact, Washington actively supports Israel and its actions. Half of all its foreign aid goes to Israel, and 70 percent of it in grants which do not have to be repaid. Unlike third world countries bearing a heavy debt servicing burden, Israel enjoys a net inflow of funds. Between 1948 and 1983, the US gave Israel more than $25 billion. Still it was a bargain: as President Nixon said, “Israel costs the US less than the Sixth Fleet”.[27]

It is not surprising that these are central issues for all Arabs. They have seen a colonial settler state established in the region with its own strategic interests, but also acting as an imperialist watchdog. It repeatedly declares that its strategic interests extend throughout the region. It is extremely. powerful militarily, expansionist and aggressive. It has not only conventional arms, but also terrible weapons such as phosphorus bombs and cluster bombs which it was prepared to use in Lebanon. In addition it is well known that Israel has nuclear weapons.

Israel has repeatedly attacked civilian populations, bombing refugee camps in Lebanon, blanket bombing the cities of Tyre and Beirut and overseeing the massacres of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut. It has expropriated a million and a half Palestinians who are now living in refugee camps, as migrant workers, or under occupation. There is discrimination towards those Arabs who became Israeli citizens, and increasing repression towards those in the occupied territories.

Meanwhile Israel blocks every effort to seriously promote a settlement. Supposedly they adhere to the Camp David “peace process”. But every stage of the Camp David process has brought war. For example, the return of Sinai to Egypt meant Israel’s southern flank was covered from attack and thus laid the basis for the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

So there is not just a link between the Gulf war and the Palestinian issue. Israel and Zionism have played a central role in strengthening imperialism in the region, and the plight of the Palestinians is a constant reminder. It cannot be separated from the other actions of the imperialists.

The politics of “restraint”

“When I use a word”, Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “It means just what I choose it to mean.”[28]

The Israelis are acutely aware of this linkage. Of course they stridently deny it in official statements. But long before any scuds fell, the Zionists were openly discussing amongst themselves their regional concerns including their long term interest in Iraq. Uri Benziman, the chief political commentator of Ha’aretz, said in August 1990:

Israel has well-defined objectives to be achieved as a consequence of the Gulf crisis but it is afraid to state them explicitly lest it be seen to be pursuing them. Israel’s paramount concern is that the Gulf crisis ends with the downfall of Saddam Hussein, the destruction of Iraq’s conventional warfare capacity, heavy damage to Iraq’s economic infrastructure and the destruction of the Iraqi army.[29]

Hirsh Goodman, the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Report, wrote:

For two decades we have watched Saddam and prepared the means to act against him. We can do so with pinpoint accuracy and with devastating efficiency. We have honed our response by investing heavily in intelligence-gathering – and in new-generation weapons designed specifically to hit the targets that now concern us.

The time has come to use them. [Israel] is a regional superpower. Its army has been built on the assumption that it would have to fight Iraq, the Syrians, the Jordanians all alone. It can now fight Iraq as an integral part of a world alliance…we can cause heavy damage that will reduce the risk to Israel and benefit the allies as well.[30]

As usual, Israel managed to both advance the interests of imperialism and pursue its own goals. Its dominating concern was the settlement that would follow the war. It was clear as never before that while the US wants a strong Israel, they are only one of several client states in the region. For Tel Aviv this is a time of great opportunity but also great risk.

Israel badly wanted the war. Before it started, the main fear was that it might not happen. “You could almost hear the exhalation of Israeli breath as the allied bombers took off,” said one journalist, quoting a friend’s comment: “That Bush has attacked is a miracle for Israel”.[31]

The fate of Kuwait did not concern Tel Aviv. As another Israeli journalist put it:

Kuwait is not the issue and it never was. The real problem is the morally insane and obscenely overarmed nation of Iraq… [The allies] must insist on total destruction of the regime in Baghdad, at whatever cost to the citizens who support it and fight for it. They must make unconditional surrender their non-negotiable demand… This is something that can only be accomplished by total war. The allied forces, in this struggle, are morally justified in using whatever means they have to do the job.[32]

The Zionists would fight for their interests to the last Iraqi, and were apparently calling for the use of nuclear weapons. But in spite of this warmongering, a whole new Zionist myth began to take shape – that Israel showed extraordinary restraint in the face of great provocation. Supposedly they stayed out of the conflict so as not to jeopardise the precarious alliance with Syria and Egypt. But there was no altruism at all in Israel’s actions. By not engaging directly in the conflict they avoided the bodybag syndrome, at the same time reaping the political benefits, and stocking up a “debt” to be repaid after the war.

Footage of scud-damaged apartments was used to re-establish another myth – that Israel is valiant little David confronted by fanatical Arab Goliaths. The value of such myths was underlined by a Zionist fundraiser after the 1967 war: “When the blood flows, money flows”.[33]

More than money flowed this time. Before the war, Israel had come under international pressure as a result of its treatment of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. “Restraint” took the heat off. The EEC dropped sanctions it had imposed on Israel a year earlier. Scientific and industrial co-operation was to be restored. France and Belgium moved rapidly to improve relations, with Belgium participating in a fund to help the absorption of Soviet Jews in Israel. Germany delivered war materiel, and planned financial aid and investment programs. Israel began to tot up war-related bills, hoping to claim up to $3 billion from the US, and lobbied for US support for its position on the Palestinians. The presence of the US forces in Israel also helped.[34]

lsi Leibler, leading Australian Zionist and vice-president of the World Jewish Congress, wrote in February from Israel: “Politically, militarily and in the long term…economically, Israel today is in the best position it has been in since 1967”.[35] David Levy, an Israeli minister, said Israel’s diplomatic position “has never been better”.[36]

So, despite reports of the Israeli military’s “itchy fingers” and public sabre-rattling by Ariel Sharon and others in the Israeli cabinet, it was clear that Israel had most to gain from not joining in the war. There never was an actual cabinet vote on whether to retaliate or not. And why should there have been? The 80 percent of the Israeli population who were against taking action were of very sanguine mood. Many felt “a divine force or some other element of providence is watching over them”.[37]

No restraint in the territories

The Palestinians in the occupied territories, on the other hand, felt very much alone. They were trapped in their homes for a seven week-long total curfew of the West Bank and Gaza, during which people were only allowed out briefly about twice a week to buy food. During this time, regulations restricting army use of live ammunition and shoot-to-kill orders – seldom adhered to in any case –were lifted. One woman was shot by the army while feeding her baby on a balcony.[38]

People were unable to earn money or tend crops, with banking curtailed and limited medical care, and some were reportedly reduced to eating mice.[39] A co-ordinating committee of non-government organisations noted that “the term curfew does not adequately describe the reality of what is, in effect, the imprisonment of over 1.7 million Palestinians.” They said that agriculture was the worst affected but no sector had been untouched. ‘‘The curfew resulted in the total breakdown of the normal patterns of both social and economic interaction.”[40]

Worst hit was Gaza, where the curfew was lifted for only two hours every five to six days. Even then only women were allowed into the streets. Since most shops are run by men, they weren’t open. The women had to search for the homes of the shopkeepers, hoping they were selling produce there.[41]

The government distributed gas masks to all Israeli citizens, but not to the Arab inhabitants of the occupied territories. When the court ordered distribution after the outbreak of war, the authorities made excuses: that they didn’t have enough, that the ones they had were defective, or that the curfew made distribution difficult. But the curfew didn’t stop the collection of taxes![42]

The gas masks were only part of the story. Before the war started, Israel’s Arabic language TV delayed for two months a program on protection from chemical weapons. When Palestinian doctors tried to stock up on medications such as atropine, they found the Israeli army had withdrawn them completely from the market. Emergency workers such as medical personnel were supposed to be exempt from the curfew, but Israeli military prevented many from functioning. There were no air-raid sirens for West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinians, and the radio was notoriously late in issuing warnings, so most Palestinians had no warning of attacks.[43]

Worst off were the thousands of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons and detention camps, who had no sealed rooms or gas masks. Eighty-eight percent of them are held in or near Israeli military installations, likely targets of attack. So much for outrage over “human shields”![44]

Thousands of alleged political activists were arrested, including 350 from the Gaza-based Islamic fundamentalist organisation Hamas, who were accused of “terrorism”.[45] This is now a code word for anyone who opposes the Zionist regime. During the seven weeks of the war the Israeli army and Jewish settlers also killed at least five Arabs, but of course this got far less publicity than the two Israelis killed by scuds.

Talk of mass expulsions was in the air. One Israeli MP, citing high-ranking sources, charged that the government was preparing to deport at least 1,200 Palestinians, including political figures, writers, journalists and others thought to be the “nerve centre” of the Intifada. Peace Now revealed plans for army units staffed by settlers to carry out a mass expulsion of West Bank Palestinians. Reportedly the information came from within the settler community. In addition it was widely believed the Israelis were planning more massive use of weapons against the population, including chemical weapons.[46]

Such talk made Palestinians feel more vulnerable. Would they see a repeat of the mass expulsions of 1947-48? Palestinian leader Feisal Husseini explained that, even if Israel stopped short of that, the leaks and rumours could still be aimed at the same result: “Maybe they are not going to kill anyone…[or] use chemical weapons. But they will try to put out these rumours to push the Palestinians out”.[47]

The Israeli left

Did the Israeli left counter the right wing mood, and did the peace movement offer an alternative to the warmongers? Those who have placed their hopes in the left and the peace movement in recent years must now be badly shaken, for these forces were among the most vocal supporters of the war, calling for the destruction of Saddam Hussein and attacking the PLO.

One of the first was Yossi Sarid, a member of the Knesset (parliament) representing the Citizens Rights Movement, and for years an advocate of negotiations with the PLO. When PLO leaders showed sympathy for Iraq, he wrote that if the Palestinians wanted to resume talks, they should now “chase after me”. In November he demanded the Iraqi military infrastructure be crushed. In February he told the Palestinians: “Don’t look for me any more”, and called Yasser Arafat a “clownish, fettered apprentice”. Sarid added that if anybody wanted to throw him out of the Israeli peace camp for holding such views, they would be welcome to try. But the problem was that you could not throw out the majority.[48]

Another member of the peace movement mainstream said in December that the US should smash Iraq’s military capacity “in a way that prevents their being rebuilt in the next 20 years”, and suggested that “that the United States, France, [the] Soviet Union…should take the primary military risks, rather than Israel”.[49]

Well-known intellectuals including Amos Oz and AB Yehoshua, associated with the Centre for Peace in the Middle East, issued a strong statement opposing the anti-war demonstrations in Europe and other countries, supporting the allied forces and calling for “the elimination of the genocidal Iraq regime as an essential condition toward achieving peace in the Middle East”.[50] Speaking on the ABC radio program Background Briefing, Oz said that he still supported negotiations, but the Palestinian national movement was one of the most fanatic and extremist in this century. Peace would be between enemies, not friends.[51]

Labor Party “dove” and Peace Now spokesperson Yael Dayan, together with other activists, held a special news conference in January to “dissociate themselves” from the international anti-war movement.[52] Another Peace Now spokesperson, General Mordechai Bar-On, supported “the Israeli resolve not to tolerate the entrance of any Iraqi forces into the Kingdom of Jordan”.[53] In other words, some in the peace movement would contemplate Israeli military intervention in Jordan. So much for the argument that the West Bank is Israel’s “buffer”. Members of the Labor Party, and others supposedly to its left, also advocated “separation”, or the idea that Palestinians from the occupied territories not be allowed inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders.[54]

Shulamit Aloni, a member of the Knesset for Citizens Rights, acknowledged the failure of the peace camp: “Has the Israeli left done anything for the [Palestinians]? The Israeli left is a loyal part of the Israeli government…we were the fig leaf of Israeli democracy”.[55]

Not everyone joined the rush to the right. Some, particularly those who worked actively with Palestinians, stood against the stream. Some tried to get food and medicine into the occupied territories. The Committee to Prevent a Gulf War demonstrated in solidarity with the January 26 march in Washington.[56] But they did not set the tone on the left.

Long time Israeli socialist and anti-Zionist Michel Warschawski explains that rather than seeing their role as oppositional, the Zionist left regards national unity as basic. Throughout their history, they have seen “the lack of national consensus as a disease, as a temporary phenomenon which they expect to end.” They look at everything “only from the point of view of Israel”, whereas the Gulf war could only be understood globally.[57]

Almost the entire Israeli “left” accepts and defends the Zionist state. But this state can only exist at the expense of the Arabs, on land stolen from them, and so it is forever in conflict with them. In this conflict the Zionist “left” inevitably backs Tel Aviv. Thus their response to the Gulf War was predictable, as Warschawski’s small group pointed out in an open letter:

The fact is, you do love wars – ’’unavoidable wars” of course… And more than anything you love the feeling of national fraternity which characterises the period of preparation for war… You wanted something to happen so that you could return to the warm embrace of the consensus and feel anguish. Once again, “shooting and crying”.[58]

The Palestinians after the war

The re-conquest of Kuwait was no liberation for the estimated 400,000 Palestinians living there. Despite warnings from all sides, including the British ambassador, nobody intervened to stop the Kuwaitis from beating and abducting Palestinians. Hundreds of young men were kidnapped from their homes and taken away in car boots. When the mother of one asked for help from a Kuwaiti policeman, he spat at her “because I am a Palestinian”.[59] On 3 March, Kuwaiti forces drove into the Palestinian Hwali district, shooting into the air, ordering Palestinians to close their shops and beating anyone they could seize. Nearby US troops did nothing.[60]

In another incident. journalists intervened to stop Kuwaiti soldiers beating a Palestinian boy on a bicycle. When asked why he allowed this, a watching American officer replied, “This is martial law , boy. Fuck off”.[61]

The attackers claimed they were rooting out collaborators, yet the Kuwaitis themselves admit that only a small proportion of Palestinians assisted the Iraqis. As one woman said, the Palestinian community was terrified because no distinction was made between supporters of Iraq and others. “The Kuwaitis seem out for blood. It is very scary”.[62]

The fate of Palestinian workers in the Gulf states is very uncertain. They have been expelled from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Kuwaitis have said they will not be allowed to return to their oil fields and only limited numbers of those who took refuge in Jordan will be allowed to return. It seems highly unlikely that the 500,000 Palestinians in Iraq will all be able to find jobs.[63]

Some will be able to go back to the West Bank or Gaza, but the end of the Gulf War left the occupied territories with mountainous problems and greatly reduced resources. Forty to fifty thousand families were dependent on breadwinners living in Kuwait and other parts of the Gulf. Remittances and assistance from abroad, mainly the Gulf states, contributed about a third of the territories’ GNP (over $US450 million a year). Savings will also be lost. Meanwhile the Arab allies of the US have slashed support for Palestinian schools, hospitals and factories in the occupied territories, which are in increased difficulties following the seven-week curfew.[64]

Politically, the Palestinians are also in dire straits. The PLO and Yasser Arafat are facing an unparalleled onslaught, ostensibly due to Arafat’s support for Iraq. As well as governments and political commentators in the West, and of course Israel, their erstwhile supporters among the moderate Arab regimes have joined in the attacks. Actually, neither the PLO nor Arafat supported Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. They always favoured the withdrawal of Western and Iraqi troops, followed by an “Arab solution” to the Kuwait-Iraq conflict.[65] But in Washington’s eyes, nothing but unquestioning support for the war was acceptable. “They took a bet,” said Bush, “and the guy bet wrong”.[66]

Even prior to the Gulf crisis, relations with Egypt were poor. By February, an Egyptian official was saying, “As far as we are concerned Arafat is finished. The question is whether the Palestinians are finished as well”.[67]

During the war, the PLO lost its financial aid from the moderate Arab states and is unlikely to get it back in the near future. At a March meeting, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and a number of Gulf States discussed how to “pick up the pieces” following the war. They pointedly omitted to mention the PLO, a major break with past practice.[68] In April the Gulf Co-operation Council, long the PLO’s main financial backers, suspended support worth billions of dollars. “No forgiveness, no forgetting,” said the general secretary.[69]

The Soviets excluded the PLO from their diplomatic efforts. The EEC banned official contact with Arafat and the US looked for ways to by-pass him. Secretary of State Baker said his Arab allies “have some ideas with respect to whether or not he may or may not have some future utility”.[70] The Socialist International meeting in March omitted reference to both the PLO and to a Palestinian state for the first time in almost 20 years.[71]

Australian politicians followed suit. In February, Gareth Evans announced that relations with the PLO were to be downgraded. Senator Ray said the Palestinians had to “find themselves new more moderate and realistic representatives”.[72] “You have to distinguish between the Palestinians and the PLO”, said Bob Hawke, who went on to attack the “totally misguided and unacceptable activity of the leadership of the PLO”.[73]

There is no doubt that the Palestinians still regard the PLO as representing their national aspirations. If anything the PLO’s stature may have increased because its position closely matched popular sentiment.[74] But most commentators agree the PLO were among the main losers of the war. While details are not yet available, it is clear that there is currently much internal debate inside the organisation.

Three years of the Intifada saw 875 dead, 93,000 injured and 75,000 arrested, 1,400 without any trial.[75] Meanwhile the PLO made substantial concessions in accepting Israel’s right to exist, making explicit longstanding de-facto strategy of creating a limited Palestinian state alongside Israel. Its hopes that this would win over ruling class public opinion in the West, and induce Israel to negotiate a settlement, were proved entirely illusory. There can be no peace in Palestine without the destruction of the Zionist state, yet the PLO strategy ensured that the political dynamic of the uprising was not directed to that end.[76]

Many Palestinians are now frustrated because, despite the sacrifices, their cause seems to be going nowhere. Before the Gulf war this sentiment boosted support for the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas. As Al Fajr explained, “Hamas gained most when the PLO failed to deliver after all the concessions… [They were] challenging the PLO to produce any tangible gains as a result of these concessions”.[77]

The same circumstances led many to pin their hopes on Saddam Hussein. “Maybe by war the world will understand that there is something very wrong in the area”, said a student from Balata refugee camp. “There is nothing for us to lose.”[78] A Palestinian journalist commented: “It was not dislike for Arafat which led one young Palestinian to say…that Saddam Hussein was 60 times better than Yasser Arafat. It was…the long wait for a credible Arab stand against Israel”.[79]

The PLO did not make a mistake in opposing the US alliance. It reflected the will of the Palestinian people. As one of their supporters said, “the PLO was pitted between possible economic advantage on one side or standing against US intervention. If we had not stood clearly against the United States, the organisation would have been torn apart morally, politically and ideologically”.[80] In taking a principled position, the PLO may have lost much support from the Arab rulers, but they have retained legitimacy among the masses.

The Baker ‘‘initiative’’

Washington’s post-war diplomatic push was superficially impressive, with the Secretary of State’s whirlwind tours through the Middle East and talk of a “window of opportunity”. But as the British Guardian commented, “the twin tracks of policy have yet to make a firm mark in the sand”.[81] Like the Camp David “peace process”, the current discussions will drag on for months or even years.

The “two tracks” are Israel’s relations with the Arab countries (it is still technically at war with all but Egypt) and the question of settling with the Palestinians. Although the US is peddling this as a new approach, it is really a warmed over version of the so-called Shamir plan of 1989. It accords completely with Israel’s position – government to government bilateral deals with the Arab countries, and the Palestinian issue relegated to essentially a refugee problem.

The US needs to appear to be solving these issues in order to placate the Saudis and other Arab regimes, but it shows no inclination to put real pressure on the Israelis, and Shamir appears totally intransigent. Far from moving towards territorial compromise, Tel Aviv is digging itself in on the West Bank. There are plans for up to 20,000 more settlers.[82] These are likely to be relocated urban slum dwellers, who will be relinquishing their existing dwellings to Soviet Jews. Shamir has repeatedly refused to negotiate the return of any of the territories occupied in 1967. His appointment to the ministry of the extreme right winger Rehavam Ze’evi has underlined his position. Ze’evi advocates “transfer” (expulsion) of the population of the occupied territories to neighbouring Arab countries.

Ze’evi also talks about defending the “Land of Israel” (Eretz Israel). This old Zionist expression does not mean the existing state, but can refer to Jordan, parts of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and even Iraq.

When Ze’evi joined the government, liberals and even some members of Shamir’s own Likud party were horrified, saying that despite Shamir’s disavowals, this step legitimated the idea of “transfer”.[83] The British Guardian wailed that this contradicts “the very ethic of the Jewish state”.[84] But in reality it is part of a pattern. Back in August, the Israeli paper Ha’aretz reported that “a member of [Shamir’s] entourage said that if Israel…is dragged into a war, and if the Palestinians in the territories are in the process emboldened enough to cause us problems, they will find themselves outside Israel’s borders”.[85] Two weeks later, another Israel journalist wrote:

While talking to Israeli right-wing politicians, it is easy to detect their fervent hope that the present crisis in the Gulf will not be solved by peaceful means. They hope that if an Iraqi aggression drives us to a war, all options will be open, including the establishment of a Palestinian state of sorts in Jordan.[86]

In November, Shamir himself made what the Israeli press called the “most extremist declaration by an Israeli prime minister since 1948”. He told Likud politicians his government was committed to the ideal of a state of Israel extending from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.[87]

Shamir appointed Ze’evi to strengthen his post-war bargaining position and send a message to the Arab world and the US: Israel remains implacably opposed to trading land for peace. Nonetheless, appearances can deceive. A comparison with the return of Sinai to Egypt in 1982 is enlightening. Settlers continued to move there until very close to return of the land. Shamir himself (not then prime minister) opposed the settlement. Tel Aviv may be playing the same game now. If Israel finally agrees to cede territory, it would be handy for there to be strong opposition, so that it appears a great sacrifice is being made.

It is highly unlikely that Israel will return the West Bank to Jordan or accept an autonomous Palestinian state there. But some form of Camp David-type settlement is possible with Syria (which has already made overtures), involving Golan and possibly southern Lebanon. Just as the return of Sinai to Egypt paved the way for the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, such a deal with Syria could free Israel to implement her cherished dream – turn Jordan into a Palestinian state and “voluntarily” transfer the populations of the occupied territories there. There is much talk about Jordan’s political and economic instability, and King Hussein has been repeatedly attacked for his failure to support the allies. He would be a handy scapegoat.

The argument that Jordan is Palestine seems to be gaining ground among Western and Arab politicians. A British columnist wrote:

When the Palestinians say they want a homeland, it’s a bit like Elizabeth Taylor saying she wants a husband – because it invariably means someone else’s. Of course, they’ve got their own – Jordan.[88]

The Israeli cabinet certainly favours the Jordan-is-Palestine “solution”, but the Syrian deal is still highly controversial. One minister told a pro-Israeli audience in Washington that Israel was prepared to negotiate with Syria on all issues including territory. Although Shamir later denied this, Olmert, a member of Shamir’s Likud bloc, had made it clear that he was speaking on behalf of the prime minister.[89]

However, Israel intends any such process to take a long time. Firstly it insists on dealing not with the PLO but with “proper Palestinian representatives”.[90] Of course actual representatives of popular sentiment are readily available. As the well-known American Palestinian Edward Said recently commented, “Everyone knows exactly who representative Palestinians are”.[91] But this is not what the Israelis have in mind. They want someone who will do a deal with them. “A Palestinian partner who will negotiate with us must be found”, said Shamir in early April. “It is absolutely necessary to find or create such a group.”[92] Frequent complaints that Palestinian leaders are too strongly influenced by “the street” indicate they are looking for someone who can impose a settlement against the wishes of the masses. Arafat’s main fault (apart from his support of Iraq) was “that he hasn’t really led, but has followed the whims and caprices of his people”.[93]

Given these objectives, it might seem odd that the Israeli government has been attacking prominent moderates. In November they arrested the head of the Arab Journalists Association and a noted lawyer. These were not anonymous underground figures, but men recognised for engaging in dialogue with Israelis. They had spoken in kibbutzim, universities, party clubs and private homes. One had even been invited by the Israeli army to lecture officers on Palestinian nationalism. They were well known to favour compromise. Their reward was administrative detention without trial.[94]

During the war an even more prominent moderate, Sari Nusseibeh, was detained without trial, on suspicion of passing information to the Iraqis. Even the New York Times couldn’t swallow this, saying it was “a spy scare that smells”.[95] The US State Department, the British Foreign Office and even many Zionists argued that if there was evidence against him he should be put on trial.[96] When the ground war started, police raided the East Jerusalem offices of Palestinian activist Faisal Husseini, seizing large quantities of equipment. The premises were sealed until July 1991.[97] This despite the fact that Jerusalem, having been annexed by Israel, was not under curfew.

Why target leading moderates? This might seem like an aberration but it is consistent with past practice. The village of Deir Yassin had been selected for a brutal massacre in 1948 precisely because its inhabitants were friendly to the Jewish settlers. The Zionists did not want friendship with the Arabs, they wanted to drive them out, so they attacked the moderates.[98] Similarly, one reason for the 1982 invasion of Lebanon was that the PLO was moving away from guerrilla actions and towards diplomacy and negotiations. This was the last thing the Israelis wanted. Their excuse for refusing to talk to the PLO would have been undercut.[99]

As pressure for a settlement grows today, Israel is determined more than ever that it will be on its terms. If they eliminate the moderates they can continue to offer negotiations, safe in the knowledge that no-one can accept. Similarly, the US can appear to act as mediators while the famous window is open. But Bush is looking for “incremental progress” rather than major breakthroughs, and even the preliminary talks could go on for some time.[100] It took five years from the 1973 war to the signing of the Camp David treaty, and another four years before Sinai was returned to Egypt. Don’t hold your breath now.

The Intifada and the war

Throughout the Gulf crisis, the popular uprising made its presence felt at every opportunity. In the days before the imposition of the curfew (two days before the war started), there was a sharp increase in the number of incidents. On 15 January an estimated 198 people were shot and injured. The previous two days, hundreds of Palestinian women held sit-ins in Red Cross and other offices in Bethlehem, Gaza City and Nablus.[101] Whenever the curfew was lifted even partially, stonings, graffiti and protest demonstrations immediately resumed. Four days after the outbreak of war, young people threw stones at soldiers in Hebron, and in Nablus they demonstrated in the streets shouting support for Saddam Hussein. There were also demonstrations while Israelis were issuing gas masks.[102]

There were reports of Palestinians taking to the roof-tops to cheer the scuds. “We’re not bloodthirsty,” said an educator. “It is simply that for the first time somebody is hitting back.”[103] Journalist Rami Khoury put it even more simply: “We don’t feel happy, we feel equal”.[104] In East Jerusalem, which was not under curfew, instructions from the Intifada leadership continued to be carried out. Merchants closed their shops at 1pm each day. Patrolling Israeli police were stoned by Arabs, and fired plastic bullets into the air. An Egyptian embassy car was set on fire.[105]

In mid-February there was a wave of protests in the occupied territories and inside Israel itself, with clashes in several towns. The slogan “Death to Bush” appeared in a Druze village on the Golan Heights. Graffiti and Iraqi and Palestinian flags appeared in towns inside Israel. Arab children were arrested for stonings in Acre. Such actions inside the so-called Green Line had not been common in the past, but during the Gulf War, hatred of the US expressed itself in a similar way among Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line. An Israeli Arab in the town of Tayibeh told Israeli television that, of course, everyone in town supported Saddam Hussein.[106]

The end of the war has brought yet another wave of struggle. In Gaza at least 76 Palestinians were injured in one day of clashes with soldiers in a number of refugee camps. Demonstrations continued in the northern West Bank town of Tulkarem at a pace one person described as “like the peak of the intifada”. The army placed several towns under 24-hour curfew because of protest actions.[107]

The celebration of Land Day on 30 March produced large scale demonstrations inside Israel. A group of 300 protesters in the community of Oum-el-Fahem shouted: “The PLO is our sole representative. Our land belongs to us; Shamir, whether you want it or not, the Palestinian state is already functioning”.[108] Police moved into Israeli Arab villages, and the army sealed off the occupied territories and placed Gaza and many West Bank towns under curfew in an attempt to stifle protests.

The entire West Bank and Gaza Strip remain under night-time curfew (5pm to 6am) at the time of writing, weeks after the end of the war. Following several stabbings of Israelis by Palestinians, the police minister recently urged police and security officers to “shoot to kill” Arabs who threatened to attack Israeli citizens.[109]

On 31 March Israel approved even greater restrictions on the movement of Arabs from the occupied territories.[110] Only those with a permit from the military were allowed into Israel, which will halve the number who can work there. Also restricted were those had been arrested (not convicted) for “security violations” such as stone-throwing. Officials also refuse permits to people if they have relatives in jail or if they are young. The committee of non-government bodies called this a “pass system”, comparing it to South African apartheid. As a result of these and other restrictions, unemployment in the territories reached 50 percent.[111]

Other measures introduced include increased punishments such as demolition of homes and deportations of alleged militants.

For right wingers like Rehavam Ze’evi, it wasn’t enough: curfews, deportations and temporary closures of the territories were the “equivalent of treating cancer with aspirin”. The right wingers demanded that the 1.75 million Palestinians in the occupied areas be permanently barred from entering Israel, and called for deportation of all Arab “murderers and inciters” with their families, including the entire leadership in East Jerusalem. They also wanted to ban all political gatherings of Palestinians, close Palestinian newspapers in East Jerusalem, and review the army’s rules of engagement, apparently with a view to allowing even harsher measures.[112]


The link should now be clear: the fate of the Palestinians is bound up with the fate of the Arab masses, oppressed by imperialism and facing the continual menace of Israeli expansionism. Therefore it was entirely logical that the Palestinians would oppose the US-led invasion forces in the Gulf, that Israel would back them, and that Iraq’s defeat has meant new hardships for the people of the occupied territories.

And because the link exists, certain conclusions inevitably follow. Anti-war movements cannot put the Palestine issue in the “too hard” basket. It is too basic for that. There will be no hope of bringing peace to the planet while Zionism and its imperialist backers remain to wreak havoc on the peoples of the Middle East.

[1] Lamis Andoni, “Jordan suffers US ire for not backing war plans”, Guardian Weekly, 16 January 1991.

[2] James Murray, “Where hatred is a way of life”, The Australian, 6 February 1991.

[3] The historical summary which follows is readily available from a number of sources and so is not documented in detail. Two good short works are Our roots are still alive, People’s Press, San Francisco, 1977 [available at] and John Rose, Israel: the Hijack State, Socialist Workers Party, London, 1986 [available at].

[4] The Diaries of Theodor Herzl, p6, quoted in Our roots, p21.

[5] In fact Zionists often suggest anti-Semitism is a good thing. Two examples: “Anti-Semitism has a certain role to play in preserving Jews and Jewishness…too much or too little is not welcome but in reasonable amounts it is. It reminds the Jews who they are and forces them to stick to their people and remain loyal to their ancient homeland.” Dr Gevaryahu, Yediot Aharanot, 29 May 1964, quoted in ISO, “Zionism and anti-Semitism”, Free Palestine, No. 21, November/December 1982. “It is of course not customary to talk about it in public, but many of us felt a tiny bit of joy when we read newspaper reports of the swastika epidemic in Europe in 1960…because Zionism said…that this is the way things are. This is what has to be as long as Jews live among gentiles.” Uri Harary, Yediot Aharanot, 9 February 1969, quoted in ISO, “Zionism and anti-Semitism”.

[6] Natan Sharansky, “Soviets turn Israelis”, Australian Jewish News, 25 January 1991.

[7] Zionists make much less fuss about support from non-Jews than they do about opposition. Consider the role of Bob Hawke and others in supporting Zionism in Australia.

[8] Quoted in Our Roots, p24.

[9] Among themselves, Zionists still talk this way. A recent example: “Militant Islam has been the enemy of Western values and civilised behaviour… The allied campaign is the campaign of the civilised world against an evil enemy.” Ze’ev Chafets, “In the face of real evil”, Australian Jewish News 1 February 1991.

[10] Letter to the Manchester Guardian, November 1914, quoted in Our Roots, p29.

[11] Quoted in Anthony Sampson, The Seven Sisters, Viking, London, 1975, p77.

[12] Memorandum by Lord Balfour, Foreign Office, quoted in John Rose, Israel: the Hijack State, p32.

[13] Vladimir Jabotinsky, The Iron Law, Selected Writings (South Africa) p26, quoted in Lenni Brenner, “The genesis of Menachim Begin”, American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism, Report No 44, supplement, October, 1982.

[14] Joseph Weitz, Diaries and letters to the children, Tel Aviv, 1965, p181, quoted in Our roots, p50.

[15] David Ben Gurion, 1 July 1948, quoted in Our roots, p78.

[16] Nathan Chofshi, “The bitter truth about the refugees”, Jewish Newsletter, New York, 9 February 1959, quoted in Our roots, p75.

[17] Menachim Begin, Jewish Newsletter, 3 October 1960, quoted in A people dispossessed, Palestinian Human Rights Campaign, Carlton South, 1982.

[18] Ha’aretz, 30 September 1951, quoted in John Rose, Israel: the Hijack State, p15.

[19] David Ben Gurion, Destiny and Rebirth of Israel, p419, quoted in Our roots, p95.

[20] Text of a speech to Tel Aviv University Strategic Studies Centre, December 1981, quoted by Uri Avneri, Haolam Hazeh, 15 September 1982, translated by Israel Shahak.

[21] Quoted in Jonathan Spivak, “The eve of Sinai pullout, Israel grows pugnacious”, Wall Street Journal, 19 April 1982. Reprinted in American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism, Report No. 43, June 1982.

[22] Livia Rokach, Israel’s Sacred Terrorism, Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc, Belmont, Massachusetts, 1980. Israel Shahak notes that the “necessity” of war with Egypt was explained to him and others a year before the 1956 war, as well as the necessity of conquering “the rest of Western Palestine when we shall have the opportunity”, in the years 1965-67. (Notes to his translations from the Israeli press, Jerusalem, 17 June 1982). It is well established that Israel initiated the 1956 and 1967 wars. Here is one acknowledgement from Michael Kleiner, a member of the Israeli parliament: “And wasn’t the Suez war an initiated war as well? And the Six Day War wasn’t initiated? The opposition then knew that the military spokesman’s announcement that our radar had detected Egyptian planes and ships, and that the Israeli Army is driving away the invaders, was said for the sake of world opinion only, that it was a lie. Everyone knew that it was we who opened the war”. Dorit Gefen, Al Hamishmar, Hotam, 9 July 1982 (translated by Israel Shahak).

[23] US News and World Report, 19 June 1967, quoted in Our roots, p95.

[24] International Institute for Strategic Studies ranking, cited in John Rose, Israel: the Hijack State, p14.

[25] Quoted in Chaim Bermant, “The bride came with the dowry”, Australian Jewish News, 29 March 1991.

[26] Phyllis Bennis, “Palestine vote is US hostage”, The Guardian, 26 December 1991.

[27] Quoted in Israel – A racist state, Socialist Workers Party, London, 1979.

[28] Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-glass, chapter 6.

[29] Israel Shahak, “Israel’s strategic aims in the Gulf crisis”, Middle East International, No. 386, 26 October 1990, p16.

[30] Hirsh Goodman, “The dangers of fighting yesterday’s war”, Australian Jewish News, 25 January 1991.

[31] James Buchan, “Hoodwinking the world with restraint”, The Australian, 18 February 1991.

[32] Ze’ev Chafets, “In the face of real evil”, Australian Jewish News, 1 February 1991.

[33] Gottlieb Hammer, vice chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, 1967, quoted in Our roots, p116.

[34] Lachlan Shaw, The Age, 28 January 1991; Yossi Lempkowicz, “Europe changes its line”, Australian Jewish News, 1 February 1991; Editorial, “Evenhandedness not a policy”, Australian Jewish News, 15 February 1991; James Buchan, “Hoodwinking the world with restraint”, The Australian, 18 February 1991; Bryan Boswell, “Anti-gas system is unveiled”, The Australian, 19 February 1991.

[35] Isi Leibler, “A view from the front”, Australian Jewish News, 15 February 1991.

[36] James Buchan, “Hoodwinking the world with restraint”.

[37] Hugh Orgel, “Israel ‘itching’ to strike”, Australian Jewish News, 8 February 1991; Bryan Boswell, “Restraint policy threat to Shamir”, The Australian, 13 February 1991; James Buchan, “Hoodwinking the world with restraint”; lsi Leibler, “A view from the front”.

[38] Neil Corbin, “Reckoning for Palestine: ‘We will not be pushed from our homeland’”, The Guardian, 23 January 1991. Interview with Ali Kazak, PLO representative in Australia, cited in Janey Stone, “The myth of Israel’s restraint”, The Socialist, 15 February 1991.

[39] Bryan Boswell, “A mouse – that’s all I have to eat”, The Australian, 6 February 1991.

[40] Neil Corbin, “Prisoners of war: Palestinians still face curfew”, The Guardian, 13 February 1991.

[41] “Gaza curfew toughest”, AI-Fajr, 4 February 1991.

[42] “Army collecting taxes during curfew”, AI-Fajr, 4 February 1991.

[43] Neil Corbin, “Reckoning for Palestine”; Neil Corbin, “Palestinians fear Israel’s price for restraint”, The Guardian, 30 January 1991.

[44] Neil Corbin, “Palestinians fear Israel’s price for restraint”.

[45] “350 Hamas activists arrested”, The Age, 12 February 1991.

[46] Neil Corbin, “Reckoning for Palestine”.

[47] ibid.

[48] Sam Lipski, “Israel’s left: mugged by reality”, Australian Jewish News, 1 March 1991; Ziad Abu Amr, “The Gulf crisis: a Palestinian perspective”, AI-Fajr, 14 January 1991; Interview with Michel Warschawski, AI-Fajr, 11 February 1991.

[49] Elissa Sampson, “Iraqi scud attacks stymie Jewish anti-war movement”, The Guardian, 13 January 1991.

[50] Statement issued by International Centre for Peace in the Middle East, reprinted in the Australian Jewish News, 8 February 1991.

[51] Interview by Stan Corrie, printed in Australian Jewish News, 8 March 1991.

[52] Elissa Sampson, “Iraqi scud attacks stymie Jewish anti-war movement”.

[53] ibid.

[54] ibid.

[55] Quoted in Ziad Abu Amr, “The Gulf crisis”.

[56] Elissa Sampson, “Iraqi scud attacks stymie Jewish anti-war movement”.

[57] Interview with Michel Warschawski, director of the Alternative Information Centre, AI-Fajr, 11 February 1991. All Zionists, including non-Jews and non-leftists, share this approach – that Israel comes first. Consider Bob Hawke, opening a new Jewish school in Melbourne in March: “While Palestinian rights and the security of Lebanon are important, I understand and share the concern that the integrity and security of Israel must be central.”, Australian Jewish News, 29 March 1991.

[58] Michel Warschawski, “The new order and the intifada”, International Viewpoint, No. 203, 1 April 1991.

[59] Robert Fisk, “Anarchy edges closer into Kuwait City”, The Age, 5 March 1991.

[60] ibid.

[61] ibid.

[62] Lin Jenkins, “Kuwaitis round up 400 Palestinians at gun point”, The Australian, 5 March 1991.

[63] Bryan Boswell, “PLO shaping up as conflict’s biggest loser”, The Australian, 18 February 1991.

[64] Phyllis Bennis, “War opens grim new chapter in Palestinian history”, The Guardian, 30 January 1991; Neil Corbin, “Curfew causes powder keg in West Bank”, The Guardian, 6 March 1991.

[65] Neil Corbin, “Occupied land in spotlight as bargaining begins”, The Guardian, 13 March 1991.

[66] “Still dodging the issue”, Guardian Weekly, 17 March 1991. The Zionist press has been full of gleefully offensive abuse of Arafat and Palestinians. One example, (not the worst): Palestinians are, “one is often told, the most intelligent of all the Arabs, which makes one wonder what the most stupid can be like”. Their main fault it seems is to always back losers and to follow Yasser Arafat, a “podgy little nincompoop”; Chaim Bermant, “Last act of Palestinian Losers’ Organisation”, Australian Jewish News, 22 March 1991.

[67] Glenn Frankel, “Arab allies propose new defense economic arrangements”, Guardian Weekly, 24 February 1991.

[68] ibid.

[69] “Vengeful states cut Palestinian, Jordan aid”, The Australian, 1 April 1991.

[70] Peter Stephens, “PLO faces exclusion from Mid-East peace talks”, The Age, 5 March 1991.

[71] “Socialists moderate views on Middle East”, Australian Jewish News, 22 March 1991.

[72] Bernard Freedman, “Government cuts PLO link”, Australian Jewish News, 15 February 1991.

[73] Bernard Freedman, “Hawke splits PLO and Palestinians”, Australian Jewish News, 8 March 1991.

[74] Neil Corbin, “Occupied land in spotlight as bargaining begins”.

[75] Hugh Orgel, “Israel is holding 1400 without trial”, Australian Jewish News, 1 January 1991.

[76] At the time of writing. the internal debate going on inside the PLO was not yet clear enough to discuss. There was no space in this article to discuss PLO strategy in detail. An analysis. including a detailed critique of the “mini-state” strategy. is provided in Phil Marshall, Intifada: Zionism, imperialism and Palestinian resistance, Bookmarks, London 1989.

[77] Ziad Abu Amr, “The Gulf crisis”.

[78] Quoted in Steve Sozby, “The Gulf war: end of an era. beginning of a new role”, AI-Fajr, 21 January 1991.

[79] Ziad Abu Amr, “The Gulf crisis”.

[80] Quoted in Phyllis Bennis, “War opens grim new chapter in Palestinian history”.

[81] “Still dodging the issue”, Guardian Weekly, 17 March 1991.

[82] Gil Sedan, “Row erupts again on Soviet Jews and territories”, Australian Jewish News, 15 March 1991; Jackson Diehl, “10,000 homes for immigrants planned in occupied lands”, Guardian Weekly, 17 March 1991; “Sharon using housing as a weapon”, The Australian, 21 March 1991.

[83] David Landau, “Right-wing minister facing opposition”, Australian Jewish News, 8 February 1991.

[84] Richard Cohen, “Even hard liners shudder at Mr Shamir’s latest trick”, Guardian Weekly, 17 February 1991.

[85] Uri Benziman, Ha’aretz, 17 August 1990, quoted in Neil Corbin, “Reckoning for Palestine”.

[86] Shalom Yerushalmi, Kol Ha’ir, 31 August 1990, quoted in Neil Corbin, “Reckoning for Palestine”.

[87] Haim Baram, quoted in Neil Corbin, “Reckoning for Palestine”.

[88] Vic Alhadeff, “‘Jordan is Palestine’ group winning world wide support”, Australian Jewish News, 5 April 1991.

[89] David Landau, “Shamir: It’s no go on Golan”; Howard Rosenberg, “Israel ready to talk to Syria about Golan”, Australian Jewish News, 22 March 1991.

[90] Howard Rosenberg, “Israel ready to talk to Syria about Golan”.

[91] Edward Said, “Palestinians the victims of a sadistic hypocrisy”, Guardian Weekly, 31 March 1991.

[92] “Israel must negotiate but not with PLO – Shamir”, The Australian, 1 April 1991.

[93] Chaim Bermant, “Last act of Palestinian losers organisation”, Australian Jewish News, 22 March 1991.

[94] Danny Rubinstein, “Arrested for moderation”, Ha’aretz, 28 November 1991.

[95] “Rough justice in Israel”, reprinted in the Guardian Weekly, 10 February 1991.

[96] “Palestinian activist Sari Nuseibeh says his detention is political”, AI-Fajr, 4 February 1991; Chaim Bermant, “Uncle Yitzhak’s family unit”, Australian Jewish News, 22 March 1991.

[97] Hugh Orgel, “Israel is holding 1400 without trial”.

[98] Christopher Sykes, Crossroads to Israel, 1968, p416; cited in Our roots, p70.

[99] Danny Rubenstein, New York Times, 14 September 1982.

[100] “US expects slow peace process in Mid-East”, The Age, 27 March 1991.

[101] “Intifada update”, AI Fajr, 21 January 1991.

[102] Gil Sedan, “Palestinians cheer on the scuds”, Australian Jewish News, 25 January 1991.

[103] “So what if Iraqi missiles fall on the West Bank?”, Al-Fajr, 4 February 1991.

[104] ibid.

[105] Bryan Boswell, “Gas masks signal Jerusalem’s demarcation line”, The Australian, 5 February 1991; Bryan Boswell, “Tight curfew fails to quell Palestinian desire for self-rule”, The Australian, 20 February 1991.

[106] Ze’ev Chafets, “Just me and my radio…”, Australian Jewish News, 8 February 1991.

[107] Neil Corbin, “Despair deepens in Palestine”, The Guardian, 20 March 1991.

[108] “Israel must negotiate but not with PLO – Shamir”.

[109] Paul Adams, “Israeli police told to shoot to kill”, The Australian, 28 March 1991.

[110] Jackson Diehl, “Palestinians face new clampdown”, The Age, 2 April 1991.

[111] ibid.

[112] Gil Sedan, “Israel deports four PLO terrorists for more assaults”, Australian Jewish News, 29 March 1991.

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