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Herb Rothschild Jr.: An unbroken tradition of land theft

In April, on the eve of the first 2019 election in Israel, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex portions of the West Bank. He was trailing in the polls because he’s facing indictments for fraud, bribery and breach of trust. His strategy paid off. His Likud Party won enough seats in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) to tie his main challenger, former general Benny Ganz, leader of the Blue and White party. Netanyahu, however, failed to assemble a majority coalition, so a second election was held last month. The outcome was much the same.

After Netanyahu’s pledge of annexation, the Christian Science Monitor commented about the impending election, “More clearly than ever before, (Israeli voters) are being presented with a choice between keeping alive the possibility of a two-state solution to solve the century long Israeli-Palestinian conflict or bidding it farewell.” But the voters didn’t perceive it that way, because Ganz didn’t present the voters such a choice. Indeed, the only significant opposition to annexation was voiced by Commanders for Israel’s Security, a nonpartisan body of nearly 300 retired senior officers, who asserted that it would bring about the collapse of security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and strengthen terrorist organizations. Netanyahu waved away their concerns.

Those familiar with the history of Zionism know that Netanyahu is merely pursuing the goal of occupying all of Eretz Israel (God’s so-called original land grant to the Hebrews) that was first enunciated by Theodore Hertzl, the founder of modern Zionism, and repeatedly affirmed by Zionist leaders. I devote the rest of this column to a sample of their statements.

“[We Zionists will] spirit the penniless population across the border [of the Jewish state] by denying it employment ... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.” Diary of Theodore Herzl, entry dated June 12, 1895.

“The Islamic soul must be broomed [ethnically cleansed] out of Eretz-Yisrael.” Also, “There is no choice: the Arabs must make room for the Jews of Eretz Israel. If it was possible to transfer the Baltic peoples, it is also possible to move the Palestinian Arabs.” Ze’ev Jabotinsky, spiritual father of the Likud Party, in a letter dated November 1939 to a Revisionist colleague in the U.S.

“There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighboring countries, all of them.” Also, “Not one village, not one [Arab] tribe should be left.” Diary entries of Yosef Weitz, director of the Transfer Committee Israel created in 1948, the year of its founding.

“The compulsory transfer of the Arabs ... could give us something which we never had [even in Biblical times].” Also, “With compulsory transfer we will have a vast area ... I support compulsory transfer. I don’t see anything immoral in it.” David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel, quoted in Benny Morris, “Righteous Victims: A history of the Zionist-Arab conflict, 1881-1999.”

“It is not as though there was a Palestinian people ... and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them ... they did not exist.” Golda Meir, prime minister of Israel 1969-1974, quoted in The Washington Post, June 16, 1969.

“There is no Zionism, colonization, or Jewish state without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.” Ariel Sharon, prime minister of Israel 2001-2006, quoted in the New York Times, 1998.

Herb Rothschild’s column appears in the Ashland Tidings every Saturday.