Born in 1886 as David Green (Gruen) in Plonsk, Poland. He is considered one of the three founding figures of Zionism beside Chaim Weizmann and Herzl. Ben Gurion was the major factor behind Yishuv's (a term that refers to the Jews in Palestine prior to 1948) military power and is considered as the founder of the State of Israel. At an early stage, he developed a passion for socialism and Zionism, and in 1906 he immigrated to Palestine. From 1921-1935, he served as the secretary general of the Histadrut, the General Federation of Labor in Palestine, and in 1935 he was elected the chairman of the Jewish Agency which he held until 1948. From 1948 until his retirement in 1963, except for a brief interval in the early 1950s, Ben-Gurion served as Israel's Prime Minister and its Minister of Defense. Ben Gurion displayed a great aptitude for learning languages. In addition to his native Yiddish-Hebrew, he also learned Turkish, English, Russian, French, German, and later in life Spanish and ancient Greek. Ironically, he never bothered to learn the language of the people amongst whom he lived almost his entire life, Arabic.
Palestinians and Israeli often judge Ben-Gurion based on how he had hurt/served their interests. Palestinians see Ben-Gurion as a cruel, insensitive, and a racist individual since he was the primary force behind their dispossession. On the other hand, many Jews, Zionists, and most Western people see him as the savior of the "Jewish people" who was the primary force behind the creation of the "Jewish state".
Zionism, as any other ideology, required leaders who were astute, articulate, and charismatic to formulate its vision, and in that regard, Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann played the major roles. On the other hand, ideology on its own would become just an idea without the charismatic leaders who could implement its vision, and in that regard Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett played the major roles. After the implementation of the ideology, a new leadership must evolve to manage what has been created, otherwise it would stay stuck in the implementation phase. This is exactly one of the major problems Israelis face, they are stuck in Zionism's implementation phase, and rarely they have produced pragmatic leaders who can get their society to evolve to the next phase. Whenever Israel was able to develop pragmatic leaders (such as Moshe Sharett, Levy Eshkol, and even Moshe Dayan) who were capable of carrying it to the next phase, they were often branded as "appeasers", "cowards", and "naive". In a nutshell, Israel has been missing the Israeli version of France's Charles de Gaulle.
Based on our research, we can show that Ben-Gurion's personality was drastically transformed over the years, which can be broken down into three major phases as follows:
- Idealism Phase: This phase started from the time he immigrated to Palestine and ended just before the Nazis rose to power in Germany in 1933. During this phase, Ben-Gurion is credited in building the Histadrut from the ground up as an effective political, military, financial, educational, and social organization that had roots in all sectors, almost a "Jewish state" before May 14th, 1948. During this phase, he made a lot of assumptions, many of which turned to be wrong. For example:
- He saw Zionism as just, and thought that Palestinians and the neighboring Arab states would benefit from Zionism, and that therefore, they would welcome the new Jewish immigrants.
- He envisioned that Jews from all over the world would immigrate to Palestine in great numbers, and that over time they would become a majority or a fact on the ground.
- He did not think that Palestinians had any collective rights whatsoever, such as the right of self-determination. He did not believe that they had any sense of nationalism, therefore, they could be ignored. Sometimes he argued that even if Palestinian nationalism did exist, that it could be bought or bribed.
- He contemplated Palestinian "transfer", where the use of force would not be necessary. He envisioned that Palestinians could be enticed to leaving their country in favor of the new Jewish immigrants.
- He did not envision Europe's Jews would die so quickly, and in such big numbers.
- Transformation Phase: This phase dominated most of the 1930s and early 1940s, when Ben-Gurion started to confront events that contradicted many of his earlier assumptions. From the quotes below, you will see how he struggled to transform himself, from an idealist to realist. The primary wrong assumptions that caused him extreme discomfort were:
- He felt that the sword was hanging over Europe's Jewish citizens, which forced him to re-examine many of his earlier assumptions.
- Jews could not become a majority without infringing Palestinian rights.
- Zionists were the primary force behind the maturing of the Palestinian national movement. This became evident when the first popular Palestinian uprising took place between 1936-1939.
- Palestinian national movement could not be bought, but it could be curbed.
In other words, he became a believer of Ze'ev Jabotinsky's famous doctrine, that of the IRON WALL doctrine. When Jabotinsky first came out with his famous doctrine in 1923, Ben-Gurion exploited its racist and inhuman nature to score political points against Jabotinsky (similarly, Deir Yassin's massacre had been used demonize the Herut and Likud parties in spite of Haganah's role in the atrocity, click here for details).
Although he passionately despised Jabotinsky (actually, when Ben-Gurion was the Prime Minister, he had refused to let his remains to be reburied in the "Jewish state"), the evidence shows that Ben-Gurion was one of his major silent admirers.
During this phase, Ben-Gurion is credited with restraining the Haganah in its actions against the Palestinian resistance during the 1st Intifada. Actually, he demanded that the Yishuv play a low key, for almost three years, despite of Jabotinsky's stinging criticisms. This policy was completely reversed during the next phase, where Ben-Gurion transformed himself into a hawk.
- Implementation Phase: This phase started soon after WWII ended, and shaped his way of thinking all the way until the early 1960s. During this phase, Ben-Gurion felt guilty for what happened during the holocaust (as Menachem Begin did), and in a way also felt responsible. It agonized him that Jews could be led to the gas chambers without fighting back. This fact drastically changed him, and as a result he became cruel, insensitive, inflexible, undiplomatic, and quick to use force to send a message, especially to the neighboring Arab states. While self-restraint had been his motto during the First Palestinian Intifada between 1936-1939, he now became the complete opposite. As it will be proved from the quotes below, there are ample evidence to show how Ben-Gurion was the primary force behind the collective dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people during the 1948 war.
Finally, it should be pointed out that Ben-Gurion's transformation was one of his major assets. However, he never admitted the transformation had happened, and he never credited the Israeli political Right for shaping Israeli politics (regardless if their policies were right or wrong). He was able to change course almost immediately when proven wrong. The questions which beg to be asked are:
- What if the holocaust had not happened?
- In which direction would Ben-Gurion and Weizmann have directed the Zionist Movement?
- More About Ben-Gurion and 'Transfer' by Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons
In describing the following encounter, Shabtai Teveth (one of Ben-Gurion's official biographers) briefly summarized Ben-Gurion's relations with the Palestinian Arabs, Teveth stated:
"Four days after the constituent meeting, on October 8, 1906, the ten members of the platform committee met in an Arab hostel in Ramleh. For THREE DAYS they sat on stools debating, and at night they slept on mats. An Arab boy brought them coffee in small cups. They left the hostel only to grab an occasional bite in the marketplace. On the first evening, they stole three hours to tour the marketplace of Ramleh and the ruins of the nearby fortress. Ben-Gurion remarked only on the buildings, ruins, and scenery. He gave no thought to the [Palestinian] Arabs, their problems, their social conditions, or their cultural life. Nor had he yet acquainted himself with the Jewish community in Palestine [which was mostly non-Zionist Orthodox Jews prior to 1920]. In all of Palestine there were [in 1906] 700,000 inhabitants, only 55,000 of whom were Jews, and only 550 of these were [Zionists] pioneers." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 9-10)
This attitude of ignoring the political rights of the Palestinian people was (and still is) the rule among most Zionists. According to Ben-Gurion's biographer, it's not only that Palestinians were the majority in their homeland as early as 1906, it also should be noted that:
The majority of Palestine's Jews were not citizens of the country, but guests from Tsarist Russia.
The Jews in Palestinian were mostly Orthodox Jews who made up 7.8% of the total population.
At the time, the majority of Orthodox Jews were non-Zionist. Actually, the majority were anti-Zionist.
Zionist pioneers were almost absent in Palestine as of 1906, and constituted only 1% of the total Jewish population in Palestine.
As early as 1914, Ben-Gurion admitted secretly that Palestinian nationalism existed, at least among the working masses. He explained that Palestinians' hatred of Zionism was based on their fear of being dispossessed. Ben-Gurion analyzed this hatred and stated:
"this hatred originates with the [Palestinian] Arab workers in Jewish settlements. Like any worker, the [Palestinian] Arab worker detests his taskmaster and exploiter. But because this class conflict overlaps a national difference between farmers and workers, this hatred takes a national form. Indeed, the national overwhelms the class aspect of the conflict in the minds of the [Palestinian] Arab working masses, and inflames an intense hatred toward the Jews." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 18-19)
By the turn of the 20th century, Ben-Gurion advocated exclusively Jewish labor (Avodah Ivrit) in Jewish businesses. He explained why a Jewish laborer should earn a higher salary because:
"[he was] more intelligent and diligent" than the Arab. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 12-13)
What if the average Christian American was more "intelligent and diligent" than his Jewish American, would that justify discrimination in the work force? How could the question of whether someone was more "intelligent and diligent" or not be measured in a fair and a balanced way?
From the beginning, Zionists advocated a "Jewish State" not just in Palestine, but also in Jordan, southern Lebanon, and the Golan Heights as well. In 1918 Ben-Gurion described the future "Jewish state's" frontiers in details as follows:
"to the north, the Litani river [in southern Lebanon], to the northeast, the Wadi 'Owja, twenty miles south of Damascus; the southern border will be mobile and pushed into Sinai at least up to Wadi al-'Arish; and to the east, the Syrian Desert, including the furthest edge of Transjordan" (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 87) Click here to view the "Greater Israel" map that was submitted by the Zionists to the peace conference after WWI.
In an article published by Ben-Gurion in 1918, titled "The Rights of the Jews and others in Palestine," he conceded that the Palestinian Arabs have the same rights as Jews. He explained that Palestinians had these rights since they had inhabited the land "for hundreds of years". He stated in the article:
"Palestine is not an empty country . . . on no account must we injure the rights of the inhabitants." Ben-Gurion often returned to this point, emphasizing that Palestinian Arabs had "the full right" to an independent economic, cultural, and communal life, but not political. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 37-38)
But Ben-Gurion set limits. The Palestinian people were incapable by themselves of developing Palestine, and they had no right to stand in the way of the Jews. He argued in 1918, that Jews' rights sprang not only from the past, but also from the future. In 1924 he declared:
"We do not recognize the right of the [Palestinian] Arabs to rule the country, since Palestine is still undeveloped and awaits its builders." In 1928 he pronounced that "the [Palestinian] Arabs have no right to close the country to us [Jews]. What right do they have to the Negev desert, which is uninhabited?"; and in 1930, "The [Palestinian] Arabs have no right to the Jordan river, and no right to prevent the construction of a power plant [by a Jewish concern]. They have a right only to that which they have created and to their homes." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 38)
In other words, the Palestinian people are entitled to no political rights whatsoever, and if they have any rights at all, these rights are confined to their places of residence. Ironically, this statement was written when the Palestinian people constituted 85% of Palestine's population, and owned and operated over 97% of its lands!
As WWI was ending, Ben-Gurion went on to draw a map of the "Jewish state" to be. This map clearly excluded Damascus (although it was part of Biblical "Eretz Yisrael"), and limited the "Jewish state's" future northern borders to 20 km south of the Syrian Capital. He rationalized this decision as follows:
"It is unthinkable that the Jewish state, in our day and age, could include the city of Damascus. . . . This is a large Arab city, and one of the four centers of Islam. The Jewish community there is small. The Arabs will never allow Damascus, their pride, to come under Jewish control, and there can be no doubt that the English, even were it in their power, would agree to such a thing." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 34)
If these are all sound reasons to exclude Damascus from being under Jewish control, then what makes Zionists think that occupied Jerusalem is any different? Although Damascus was never occupied by the Christian Crusaders, Jerusalem was occupied and pillaged, and to liberate it almost a million Muslim and Arab were martyred! Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims often wonder where the Zionist Jews were when their "Promised Land" needed them during the Crusaders' genocide!
A few months before the peace conference convened at Versailles in 1919 and after WWI ended, Ben-Gurion envisioned future Jewish and Palestinian Arab relations as follows:
"Everybody sees the problem in the relations between the Jews and the [Palestinian] Arabs. But not everybody sees that there's no solution to it. There is no solution! . . . The conflict between the interests of the Jews and the interests of the [Palestinian] Arabs in Palestine cannot be resolved by sophisms. I don't know any Arabs who would agree to Palestine being ours---even if we learn Arabic . . .and I have no need to learn Arabic. On the other hand, I don't see why 'Mustafa' should learn Hebrew. . . . There's a national question here. We want the country to be ours. The Arabs want the country to be theirs." (One Palestine Complete, p. 116)
As WWI was winding down, Ben-Gurion clearly stated that Zionism's ultimate objective is to make Palestine (inclusive of Trans-Jordan) a land with a Jewish majority. He stated in November 1917:
"Within then the next twenty years, we must have a Jewish majority in Palestine." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 43)
From the start, Ben-Gurion wanted to segregate Arab and Jewish societies in all sectors. For example, Jews in Palestine had their separate economical, social, health, educational, media, and political sectors that were opened to Jews only. The segregation of Palestine's society was nurtured by the Zionists to make it easier to partition the country when the "appropriate" time comes. In that regards, he stated in the 1920s:
"The assets of the Jewish National Home must be created exclusively through our own work, for only the product of the Hebrew labor can serve as the national estate." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 66)
Similarly, he stated in the early 1920s:
"Without Hebrew labor there is no way to absorb the Jewish masses. Without Hebrew labor, there will be no Jewish economy; without Hebrew labor, there will be no [Jewish] homeland. And anyone who does anything counter to the principle of Hebrew labor harms the most precious asset we have for fulfilling Zionism." (One Palestine Complete, p. 288)
Early on, Ben-Gurion envisioned that Zionism would not be in conflict with Palestinian Arab rights. He stated in 1925:
"I am unwilling to forego even one percent of Zionism for 'peace'---yet I do not want Zionism to infringe upon even one percent of legitimate [Palestinian] Arab rights" (Shabtai Teveth, p. 70)
As the Nazis rose to power in Germany in the early 1930s, the need to save European Jewry became more acute. Ben-Gurion then recognized that Zionism could not be realized without infringing Palestinian rights. The shift in Ben Gurion's opinion becomes clearer as you examine more quotes, especially the ones dated 1930 and onwards. It should be noted that the Palestinian people were a 2/3 majority of the population of Palestine as of 1946, click here for a map illustration. Ironically, the demographic picture persists to this date, but with one exception. 65% of the Palestinian people are dispossessed refugees who live outside Palestine, mostly living in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
As the first popular response against the Balfour Declaration (in which Britain promised the Zionists to turn Palestine to a "Jewish National Home"), Palestinians organized their first commercial strike in 1922. Ben-Gurion acknowledged privately that a Palestinian national movement was evolving. He wrote in his diary:
"The success of the [Palestinian] Arabs in organizing the closure of shops shows that we are dealing here with a national movement. For the [Palestinian] Arabs, this is an important education step." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 80)
Similarly in 1929, he also wrote of the Palestinian political national movement:
"It's true that the Arab national movement has no positive content. The leaders of the movement are unconcerned with betterment of the people and provision of their essential needs. They do not aid the fellah; to the contrary, the leaders suck his blood, and exploit the popular awakening for private gain. But we err if we measure the [Palestinian] Arabs and their movement by our standards. Every people is worthy of its national movement. The obvious characteristic of a political movement is that it knows how to mobilize the masses. From this prospective there is no doubt that we are facing a political movement, and we should not underestimate it."
"A national movement mobilizes masses, and that is the main thing. The [Palestinian] Arab is not one of revival, and its moral value is dubious. But in a political sense, this is a national movement." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 83)
When it was proposed that the Jews in Palestine organize an army and seize power in November 1929, Ben-Gurion offered these objections, first,
"The world will not permit the Jewish people to seize the state as a spoil, by force." Second the Jewish people did not have the means to do so. And third and most important, it would be immoral, and the Jews of the world would never by this immoral cause. "We would then be unable to awaken the necessary forces for building the country among thousands of young people. We would not be able to secure necessary means from the Jewish people, and the moral and the political sustenance of the enlightened world. . . . Our conscience must be clean . . . and so we must endorse the premise in relation to the [Palestinian] Arabs: The [Palestinian] Arabs have full rights as citizens of the country, but they do not have the right of ownership over it." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 97)
Similarly in 1928, Ben-Gurion stated that there is no contradiction between Zionist and Arab aspirations. He stated that Zionism stands for absolute justice for both parties. He explained that:
"our sense of morality forbids us to deny the right of a single [Palestinian] Arab child, even though by such denial we might attain all that we seek." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 159)
It is not only that Ben-Gurion was 100% wrong with his earlier assessments, but also:
The world permitted the "Jewish state" to occupy and seize by force the spoils of war.
After the holocaust, most Jews (along with the whole Western World) supported the "Jewish state" regardless of whether it was moral or immoral. This support was successful because of an effective propaganda campaign that carefully exploited the tragedy of the holocaust.
As of 1929, the Palestinian people owned and operated over 96% of Palestine's lands, and as of 1946 they owned 93% of the country, click here for a map illustration.
The mass majority of the Palestinian children, if not all, are even today denied their basic human rights because Zionism had to "attain all that it seeks."
Prior to 1928-1929, we find no evidence that Ben-Gurion intended to dispossess and to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people. However, everything changed as the sword hung over the German and Polish Jews in the mid 1930s. Ben-Gurion abandoned the goal of achieving peace with Palestinians in favor of increasing Jewish immigration. As the number of Jews in Palestine doubled between 1930-1936, the Palestinian people feared future dispossession and displacement. This fear triggered the First popular Intifada between 1936-1939, examine the following few quotes for more details. According to Ben-Gurion, the survival of the European Jewry was in question, and he looked at the matter as a life or death one for Zionism (and maybe for the "Jewish people" as well). For example, he stated in the early 1930's:
"If Zionism returns to be what it was ten or fifteen years ago--with Jews entering the country one by one-- then the issue of Palestine is liable to be dropped from the Jewish people's agenda. The Jews of Germany must be gotten out of there, and if it's impossible to bring them to Palestine, then they will go somewhere less, and Palestine will become the hobby of enthusiasts."
"If Zionism over the coming years does not provide an answer to the calamity which has befallen the Jewish people, then it will disappear from the Jewish stage." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 154)
The concept of a "Jewish Majority" in Palestine is one of Zionism's major pillars. This point was eloquently articulated by Ben-Gurion when he stated in 1929:
"A Jewish majority is not Zionism's last station, but it is a very important station on the route to Zionism's political triumph. It will give our security and presence a sound foundation, and allow us to concentrate masses of Jews in this country and the region." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 103)
In the context of the 1929 disturbance, Ben Gurion spoke of the emerging Palestinian nationalism, and the main goal of Zionism (where Palestine's population becomes a "Jewish majority") to the secretariat of the major Zionist groupings. He said:
"The debate as to whether or not an Arab national movement exists is a pointless verbal exercise; the main thing for us is that the movement attracts the masses. We do not regard it as a resurgence movement and its moral worth is dubious. But politically speaking it is a national movement . . . . The Arab must not and cannot be a Zionist. He could never wish the Jews to become a majority. This is the true antagonism between us and the Arabs. We both want to be the majority." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 18)
Since Jews in Palestine (Yishuv) could not become a majority as of 1948 (click here for Palestine's demographic map as of 1946), Zionists resorted to compulsory population transfer (Ethnic Cleansing) to solve what they referred to as the "Arab demographic problem". To hide their basic goals and intentions, they have concocted the myth that Palestinians left their homes, farms, and businesses on the orders of their leaders, click here to read our response to this argument.
Finally, Ben-Gurion admitted the mistake of trying to buy off the Palestinian national movement. In the early 1930s, he stated during a Mapai forum:
"We have erred for ten years now . . . the crux is not cooperation with the English, but with the [Palestinian] Arabs." By this he meant not merely a relationship of friendship and mutual aid, but political cooperation, which he called the "cornerstone" of the "Arab-Jewish-English rule in Palestine. Let's not deceive ourselves and think that when we approach the [Palestinian] Arabs and tell them 'We'll build schools and better your economic conditions,' that we have succeeded. Let's not think that the [Palestinian] Arabs by nature are different from us." In the heat of the argument, Ben-Gurion said to one of his critics and asked: "Do you think that, by extending economic favors to the [Palestinian] Arabs, you can make them forget their political rights in Palestine?" Did Mapai believe that by aiding the Palestinian Arabs to secure decent housing and grow bumper crops they could persuade the Palestinian Arabs to regard themselves "as complete strangers in the land which is theirs?" (Shabtai Teveth, p. 114)
As the numbers of Jews in Palestine (the Yishuv) doubled between 1931-1935, Palestinians feared future dispossession and displacement. In opposition to this, the Palestinian national movement was becoming more vocal and organized, which surprised Ben-Gurion. In his opinion, Palestinian demonstrations represented a "turning point" important enough to warrant Zionists' concern. He told his Mapai comrades:
". . . they [referring to Palestinians] showed new power and remarkable discipline. Many of them were killed . . . this time not murderers and rioters, but political demonstrators. Despite the tremendous unrest, the order not to harm Jews was obeyed. This shows exceptional political discipline. There is no doubt that these events will leave a profound imprint on the [Palestinian] Arab movement. This time we have seen a political movement which must evoke the respect of the world. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 126)
Ironically, often Zionists claim that Palestinian nationalism never existed as a justification for denying them the right of self determination. On the other hand, as we have seen in the previous quote, Palestinian nationalism was alive and well as early as 1936, click here if you wish to learn more about this subject.
When Ben-Gurion heard of the Passfield White Paper in 1931 (which proposed halting the implementation of the Balfour Declaration), he was furious with "these cowardly traitors" who were responsible for the proposed new policy. He stated:
"England is a great power, the greatest empire. But to shatter even the largest stones on earth, it takes only a small quantity of explosive powder. Such powder packs tremendous force. If the creative force within us is capable of stopping this EVIL EMPIRE, then the explosive force will ignite, and we will topple this blood-stained imperium. . . . We will be those who take this war upon ourselves and beware thee, British Empire!" (Shabtai Teveth, p. 111) Ben-Gurion called on his colleagues to "prepare for a long and difficult road, if we are left with no alternatives, a road of alliance with the Arabs against these despicable powers." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 112)
Although the British Government nullified the Passfield White Paper soon after, and the alliance between Great Britain and the Zionists continued to flourish until 1945, Ben-Gurion (who commanded the Haganah), Yitzhak Shamir (who commanded the Stern Gang), and Menachem Begin (who commanded the Irgun Gang) all joined forces to wage a war of terror against the British forces in Palestine and the Palestinian people between 1945-1947. Similarly, we predict that when Israel's alliance with the United States outlives its usefulness (especially when the American people recognize that supporting Israel, right or wrong, would not be in their national interests), then the American people will come face to face with a tyrant whom they have armed, financed, and trained. Now Israel has several hundred A-Bombs, and bulling it may not be an option! Time will tell if this "holy alliance" will last and won't collide with America's strategic national interests in the Middle East! In such a case, we wonder how America might react?
Ben-Gurion had strange ideas to justify why Jews have the right to settle in Palestine. He explained that the right of the Jews to Palestine rested on their capacity for developing its resources. He declared in 1930:
"We do not recognize any form of absolute ownership over any country. Any group of diligent persons, every industrious people, is entitled to enjoy the fruits of labor, and do with its talents as it pleases. it has no right to prevent others from doing the same, or to close the doors leading to nature's gifts in the faces of others. The five million inhabitants of Australia have no right to close the gates of their continent--which they alone cannot fully exploit-- and so exclude the masses of desperate people seeking a new place to work. This is the principle behind the right of free migration, championed by international socialism." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 37)
If this argument is sound for Jews to settle Palestine against the wishes of its indigenous population, why isn't it a good argument for Germans, Italians, and Palestinian refugees to immigrate and settle Israel? It's worth noting that over 85% of Israelis live in under 14% of the land and that Israel has the highest ratio of urban dwellers in the world, click here for a graph illustration.
On May 27, 1931, Ben-Gurion recognized the role Zionism played in maturing the Palestinian national movement. He explained that the "Arab question" is a
"tragic question of fate" that arose only as a consequence of Zionism, and so was a "question of Zionist fulfillment in the light of Arab reality." In other words, this was a Zionist rather than an Arab question, posed to Zionists who were perplexed about how they could fulfill their aspirations in a land already inhabited by a Palestinian Arab majority. (Shabtai Teveth, p. xii, Preface)
Ben-Gurion had set down the principal policy for Zionism with the British and the Palestinian people. He stated in January 1930:
"Zionist policy must be in agreement with the English and the [Palestinian] Arabs. . . [However,] without an agreement with the English, there is no point in talking about an agreement with the [Palestinian] Arabs, as long as we are not a majority." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 126)
To bring the maximum number of Jews to Palestine, Ben-Gurion was prepared to collaborate with the devil (the father of all evildoers). He stated in 1931 that he was prepared to:
"sup with the devil," so he hardly would have shunned a tactic of dissimulation for moral reasons. (Shabtai Teveth, p. xiii, Preface)
In a book Ben-Gurion published in 1931 (titled: We and Our Neighbors), he admitted that Palestinian Arabs had the same rights as Jews to exist in Palestine. He stated:
"The Arab community in Palestine is an organic, inseparable part of the landscape. It is embedded in the country. The [Palestinian] Arabs work the land, and will remain." Ben-Gurion even held that the Palestinian Arabs had full rights in Palestine, "since the only right by which a people can claim to possess a land indefinitely is the right conferred by willingness to work." They had the same opportunity to establish that right as the Zionists did. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 5-6)
When Hitler rose to power in 1933, Ben-Gurion predicted a world war. This war might threaten not only the Jewish citizens of Europe, but also the Yishuv as well. The sense of responsibility loosened his tongue, and he began to say things in public that he had kept to himself in the past. He no longer offered convoluted explanations for the Palestinian Arab resistance against Jews and British occupation. He stated in 1938:
"Almost every [Palestinian] Arab" opposed Zionism, "because he is an Arab, because he is a Muslim, because he dislikes foreigners, and because we are hateful to him in every way." The conflict had lasted thirty years, and was liable "to continue for perhaps hundreds more." This was a "real war, a war of life or death."( Shabtai Teveth, p. 184)
As European Jewry's immigration doubled the number of Jews in Palestine, Yishuv , between 1931-1935, Chancellor Judah Leon Magnes (the president of the Hebrew University who favored a bi-national state) asked Ben-Gurion to make concessions to Palestinians over Jewish immigration. Ben-Gurion explicitly told Magnes in 1935:
"The difference between me and you is that you are ready to sacrifice immigration for peace, while I am not, though peace is dear to me. And even if I was prepared to make concession, the Jews of Poland and Germany would not be, because they have no other option. For them immigration comes before peace." Ben-Gurion left no doubt that he identified, heart and soul, with this ordering of priorities. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 159)
Ben-Gurion was impressed with Izz al-Din al-Kassam's heroism in the mid 1930s, and he predicted Kassam's example would have a far-reaching effect on the Palestinian national movement. Ben-Gurion stated two weeks after Kassam's fateful battle with the British occupation nearby Ya'bad-Jinin:
"This is the event's importance. We would have educated our youth without Tel-Hai [an encounter with Palestinians in the Galilee in the early 1920s], because we have other important values, but the [Palestinian] Arab organizers have had less to work with. The [Palestinian] Arabs have no respect for any leader. They know that every single one is prepared to sell out the Arab people for his personal gain, and so the Arabs have no self-esteem. Now, for the first time, the [Palestinian] Arabs have seen someone offer his life for the cause. This will give the [Palestinian] Arabs the moral strength which they lack."
Ben-Gurion also stressed that
"this is not Nashashibi and not the Mufti. This is not the motivation out of career or greed. In Shaykh Qassam, we have a fanatic figure prepared to sacrifice his life in martyrdom. Now there are not one but dozens, hundreds, if not thousands like him. And the Arab people stand behind them." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 126)
During the early stages of the First Palestinian Intifada in 1936, Ben-Gurion was not free of ambivalence toward the Palestinian Arabs. He stated:
"I never felt hatred of the Arabs and none of their actions ever awakened vengeful emotions in me." On the other hand, he felt that Jaffa should be defaced: "The destruction of Jaffa, the city and the port, will happen and it will be for the best. This city, which grew fat on Jewish immigration and settlement, is asking for destruction when it swings a hatchet over the heads of its builders and benefactors. When Jaffa falls into hell I will not be among the mourners." (One Palestine Complete, p. 383)
On April 16, 1936, Ben-Gurion informed the Mapai party that no understanding could be reached with the Palestinian people until they reach one with the British. He explained that:
". . . . there is no chance for an understanding with the [Palestinian] Arabs unless we first reach an understanding with the British, by which we will come a preponderant force in Palestine. What can drive the [Palestinian] Arabs to a mutual understanding with us? . . . Facts [meaning achieving Jewish majority through immigration and increased military strength] Only after we manage to establish a great Jewish fact in this country . . . only then will the precondition for discussion with the [Palestinian] Arabs be met." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 155)
In the mid-1930s, Ben-Gurion met George Antonius (an advisor to al-Mufti, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who was one of the few Palestinians whom Ben-Gurion had contacts with), and suggested that Palestinians should help the Zionists to expand the borders of their future "Jewish state" to include areas under French control, such as southern Lebanon and the Golan Heights. In response, Mr. Antonius burst laughing and answered:
According to Ben-Gurion, Antonius had complained about Zionists who "want to bring to Palestine the largest number of Jews possible, without taking [the Palestinian] Arabs into consideration at all. With this type," said Antonius, "it is impossible to come to an understanding. They want a 100% Jewish state, and the [Palestinian] Arabs will remain in their shadow." By the end of their talk, Antonius could, with reason, conclude that Ben-Gurion belonged precisely to this category of Zionists. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 163)
According to Ben-Gurion, Palestine was a "matter of life and death" for the Jews. "Even pogroms in Germany or Poland, and in Palestine, we prefer the pogroms here." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 163)
Before the 1931-1932, Ben-Gurion had once viewed Zionism as a just ideology. As the Nazis rose to power in Germany in 1933, he started to lower his moral sight, according to him "these days it is not right but might which prevails". In April 1936, Ben-Gurion concluded that no people on earth determined its relations with other peoples by abstract moral calculations of justice. He stated that :
"There is only one thing that everyone accepts, Arabs and non-Arabs alike: facts." The Arabs would not make peace with the Jews "out of sentiment for justice," but because such a peace at some point would become worthwhile and advantageous. A Jewish state would encourage peace, because with it the Jew would "become a force, and the Arabs respect force." Ben-Gurion explained to the Mapai party "these days it is not right but might which prevails. It is more important to have force than justice on one's side." In a period of "power politics , the powers that become hard of hearing, and respond only to the roar of cannons. And the Jews in the Diaspora have no cannons." In order to survive in this evil world, the Jewish people needed cannons more than justice. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 191)
This racist and belligerent remark, about Arabs being respectful of force, became a radioactive cancer that infected all sectors of the Israeli society. Ironically, many Arabs respond to this form of racism with their own version of racism, meaning that "Israelis respect the language of force" as well, click here to read our response to these racist arguments.
After Ben-Gurion's encounter with George Antonius in May 1936, he was willing to concede the existence of a conflict between Palestinian and Jewish nationalisms for the first time. He stated in public that:
"There is a conflict, a great conflict." not in the economic but the political realm. "There is fundamental conflict. We and they want the same thing: We both want Palestine. And that is the fundamental conflict." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 166)
"I now say something which contradicts the theory which I once had on this question. At one time, I thought an agreement [with Palestinians] was possible." Ben-Gurion attached some reservation to this statement. A settlement might be possible between both peoples in the widest sense, between the entire "Jewish people" and the entire Arab people. But such an agreement could be achieved "once they despair of preventing a Jewish Palestine." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 171)
This statement signaled a shift in Ben-Gurion's mind set. Ironically, his conclusion is in complete agreement with Ze'ev Jabotinsky's IRON WALL doctrine. When Jabotinsky first published his famous doctrine in the early 1920s, Ben-Gurion and other Zionists in the Labor movement branded him as a "racist". As the previous quote demonstrates, Ben-Gurion finally recognized that Zionism had to rely on the IRON WALL doctrine for it to become a reality. Unfortunately for the Palestinian people, according to Ben-Gurion this was a matter of "life or death" for Zionism and Jews.
Over no issue was the conflict so severe as the question of immigration. On the same subject, he also stated:
"Arab leaders see no value in the economic dimension of the country's development, and while they will concede that our immigration has brought material blessings to Palestine [where exclusively Jewish labor was always the rule], they nevertheless contend---and from the [Palestinian] Arab point of view, they are right-- that they want neither the honey nor the bee sting." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 166)
As the First Palestinian Intifada was erupting in 1936, many Zionists complained that the British Mandate was not doing enough to combat Palestinian resistance (which often was referred to as "terror") to the British Mandate. In that regard, Ben-Gurion argued that:
"no government in the world can prevent individual terror. . . when a people is fighting for its land, it is not easy to prevent such acts." Nor did he criticize the British display of leniency: "I see why the government feels the need to show leniency towards the [Palestinian] Arabs . . . it is not easy to suppress a popular movement strictly by the use of force." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 166)
In rare situations, Ben-Gurion EMPATHIZED with the Palestinian people. He stated in a letter to Moshe Sharett in 1937:
"Were I an Arab, and Arab with nationalist political consciousness . . . I would rise up against an immigration liable in the future to hand the country and all of its [Palestinian] Arab inhabitants over to Jewish rule. What [Palestinian] Arab cannot do his math and understand what [Jewish] immigration at the rate of 60,000 a year means a Jewish state in all of Palestine." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 171-172)
Ben-Gurion also clearly stated that it was the Zionists who were the aggressors, at least from the political point of view. He stated in the contexts of the First Palestinian Intifada in 1938, :
"When we say that the Arabs are the aggressors and we defend ourselves ---- that is only half the truth. As regards our security and life we defend ourselves. . . . But the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict, which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves." (Righteous Victims, p. 652)
Ben-Gurion stated how Zionists should be self-reliant in response to the Palestinian commercial strike, which was the prelude to the First Palestinian Intifada in 1936. He stated:
"The first and principal lesson of these disturbances. . . is that we must free ourselves from all economic dependence on the [Palestinian] Arabs. . . We must not find ourselves in situation where our enemies are in a position to starve us, to block our access to the sea, to deny us gravel and stones for construction." (Righteous Victims, p. 130)
Soon after the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1936, Ben-Gurion explained the reasons why Palestinians feared Zionism. He stated in a meeting with his Mapai party:
"The Arabs fear of our power is intensifying, [Palestinians] see exactly the opposite of what we see. It doesn't matter whether or not their view is correct.... They see [Jewish] immigration on a giant scale .... they see the Jews fortify themselves economically .. They see the best lands passing into our hands. They see England identify with Zionism. ..... [Arabs are] fighting dispossession ... The fear is not of losing land, but of losing the homeland of the Arab people, which others want to turn it into the homeland of the Jewish people. There is a fundamental conflict. We and they want the same thing: We both want Palestine ..... By our very presence and progress here, [we] have matured the [Arab] movement." (Righteous Victims, p. 136 & Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 18)
On the other hand, he denied the Palestinian any political rights. As a justification, he stated:
"There is no conflict between Jewish and Arab nationalism because the Jewish nation is not in Palestine and the Palestinians are not a nation." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 19)
Ben Gurion advocated exclusively Jewish labor in Jewish run enterprises. He stated in 1936:
"If we want Hebrew redemption 100%, then we must have 100% Hebrew settlement, a 100% Hebrew farm, and 100% Hebrew port." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 24)
Ben-Gurion emphasized that Zionism should seek peace with Palestinians ONLY as means to realize Zionism, not as an ultimate goal. He explained the policy in 1937 as follows:
"We do not seek an agreement with the [Palestinian] Arabs in order to secure the peace. Of course we regard peace as an essential thing. It is impossible to build up the country in a state of permanent warfare. But peace for us is a mean, and not an end. The end is the fulfillment of Zionism in its maximum scope. Only for this reason do we need peace, and do we need an agreement." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 168)
On July 29, 1937, Ben-Gurion stated to the World Convention of Ihud Po'alei Tzion in Zurich that Maronite ruled Lebanon would serve the Christian minority better if it allied itself with the future "Jewish state." He said:
"Having Lebanon as a neighbor ensures the Jewish state of a faithful ally from the first day of its establishment. It is not, also, unavoidable that across the northern side of the Jewish state border in southern Lebanon the first possibility of our expansion will come up through agreement, in good will, with our neighbors who need us." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 88)
In February 1937, Ben-Gurion was on the BRINK of a far reaching conclusion, that the Arabs of Palestine were a separate people, distinct from other Arabs and deserving of self-determination. He stated:
"The right which the Arabs in Palestine have is one due to the inhabitants of any country . . . because they live here, and not because they are Arabs . . . The Arab inhabitants of Palestine should enjoy all the rights of citizens and all political rights, not only as individuals, but as a national community, just like the Jews." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 170)
Ben-Gurion predicted a decisive war in which the neighboring Arab countries would come to aid Palestinians. He said in 1937 :
"It is very possible that the Arabs of the neighboring countries will come to their aid against us. But our strength will exceed theirs. Not only because we will be better organized and equipped , but because behind us there stands a still larger force, superior in quality and quantity .... the whole younger generation [ from Europe and America]". (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 66)
Ben-Gurion commented on the proposed Peel Commission Partition plan as follows in 1937:
"We must EXPEL ARABS and take their places .... and, if we have to use force-not to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan, but to guarantee our own right to settle in those places-then we have force at our disposal." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 66). Note the premeditated plan to ethnically cleanse the Negev and Transjordan which were not allocated to the Jewish State by the Peel Commission, click here to view a map illustrating the areas allocated to the "Jewish State" by the Peel Commission in 1937.
On July 12, 1937, David Ben-Gurion wrote in his diary explaining the benefits of the compulsory population transfer (which was proposed by the British Peel Commission):
"The compulsory transfer of the [Palestinian] Arabs from the valleys of the proposed Jewish state could give us something which we never had, even when we stood on our own during the days of the first and second Temples. . . We are given an opportunity which we never dared to dream of in our wildest imaginings. This is MORE than a state, government and sovereignty----this is national consolidation in a free homeland." (Righteous Victims, p. 142)
Similarly on August 7, 1937 he also stated to the Zionist Assembly during their debate on the Peel Commission:
". . . In many parts of the country new settlement will not be possible without transferring the [Palestinian] Arab fellahin. . . it is important that this plan comes from the [British Peel] Commission and not from us. . . . Jewish power, which grows steadily, will also increase our possibilities to carry out the transfer on a large scale. You must remember, that this system embodies an important humane and Zionist idea, to transfer parts of a people to their country and to settle empty lands. We believe that this action will also bring us closer to an agreement with the Arabs." (Righteous Victims, p. 143)
On the same subject, David Ben-Gurion wrote in 1937:
"With compulsory transfer we [would] have a vast area [for settlement] .... I support compulsory transfer. I don't see anything immoral in it." (Righteous Victims, p. 144)
And in 1938, he also wrote:
"With compulsory transfer we [would] have vast areas .... I support compulsory [population] transfer. I do not see anything immoral in it. But compulsory transfer could only be carried out by England .... Had its implementation been dependent merely on our proposal I would have proposed; but this would be dangerous to propose when the British government has disassociated itself from compulsory transfer. .... But this question should not be removed from the agenda because it is central question. There are two issues here : 1) sovereignty and 2) the removal of a certain number of Arabs, and we must insist on both of them." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, 117)
In August 1937, the 20th Zionist Congress rejected the Peel Commission proposed partition plan because the area allotted to the "Jewish state" was smaller than expected. On the other hand, the concept of partitioning Palestine into two states was accepted as a launching pad for future Zionist expansions, and to secure unlimited Jewish immigrations. In September 1938, Ben-Gurion explained why he advocated partitioning the country NOW, and to accept the Peel Commission's proposal:
"The ONLY reason that we agreed to discuss the [Peel commission proposed] partition plan," Ben-Gurion wrote Moshe Sharett, "is mass immigration. Not in the future, and not according to abstract formula, but large immigration now." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 184)
And in October 1938, he wrote to his children that :
"I don't regard a state in part of Palestine as the final aim of Zionism, but as a mean toward that aim." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 188)
In September 1937, he stated to a group of American Jewish labor leaders in New York:
"the borders [of the Jewish state] will not be fixed for eternity." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 188)
On July 30, 1937 Yosef Bankover, a founding member and leader of Kibbutz Hameuhad movement and a member of Haganah's regional command of the coastal and central districts, stated that Ben-Gurion would accept the proposed Peel Commission partition plan under two conditions: 1) unlimited Jewish immigration 2) Compulsory population transfer for Palestinians. He stated that :
"Ben-Gurion said yesterday that he was prepared to accept the [Peel partition] proposal of the Royal commission but on two conditions: [Jewish] sovereignty and compulsory transfer ..... As for the compulsory transfer-- as a member of Kibbutz Ramat Hakovsh [founded in 1932 in central Palestine] I would be very pleased if it would be possible to be rid of the pleasant neighborliness of the people of Miski, Tirah, and Qalqilyah." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 70)
Similarly, he also stated to his son Amos in October 1937 that a "Jewish state" in part of Palestine was:
"not the end, but only the beginning." Its establishment would give a "powerful boost to our historic efforts to redeem the country in its entirety." For the "Jewish state" would have "outstanding army-- I have no doubt that our army will be among the world's outstanding--and so I am certain that we won't be constrained from settling in the rest of the country, either by mutual agreement and understanding with our Arab neighbors, or by some other way. . . . . I still believe . . . . that after we become numerous and strong, the Arabs will understand that it is best for them to strike an alliance with us, and to benefit from our help, providing they allow us by their good will to settle in all parts of Palestine." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 188, The Complete Translated Letter translated by IPS and here is the original in Hebrew)
Regarding settling the Negev desert, which was allotted to the Palestinian state according to the Peel Commission, Ben-Gurion stated:
"It is very possible that in exchange for our financial, military, organizational and scientific assistance, the [Palestinian] Arabs will agree that we develop and build the Negev [which as of 2002, the Negev is still mostly populated by Palestinian-Israeli citizens]. It is also possible that they won't agree. No people always behaves according to logic, common sense, and best interests." If the Palestinian Arabs "act according to sterile nationalist emotion," and reject the idea of Jewish settlement, preferring that the Negev remain barren, then the Jewish army would act. "Because we cannot stand to see large areas of unsettled land capable of absorbing thousands of Jews remain empty, or to see Jews not return to their country because the [Palestinian] Arabs say that there is not enough room for them and us." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 188-189) It is worth noting that the Negev is still a barren desert, and under populated by Israeli Jews.
During a lecture in Tel-Aviv in front of Mapai activists in 1938, Ben-Gurion divided the realization of the "historic aim of the Jewish state" into two stages. The first stage, which would last ten to fifteen years, he called "the period of building and laying foundations." This would prepare the state for the second stage, "the period of expansion." The goal of both stages was the "gathering of the exiles in all of Palestine." And so "from the moment the state is established, it must calculate its actions with an eye toward this distant goal."
When Zionists were debating the Peel Commission's partition plan, Ben-Gurion advised his colleges to accept the concept of partitioning ONLY as a first stage of a complete conquest. He stated in 1937:
"Just as I do not see the proposed Jewish state as a final solution to the problems of the Jewish people, so I do now see partition as the final solution of the Palestine question. Those who reject partition are right in their claim that this country cannot be partitioned because it constitute one unit, not only from a historical point of view but also from that of nature and economy" (emphasis added). (Simha Flapan, p. 22)
and while addressing the Zionist executive, he again emphasized the tactical nature of his support for partition and his assumption that:
"after the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the [Jewish] state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of the Palestine" (emphasis added). (Simha Flapan, p. 22)
Similarly he also stated:
"The acceptance of partition does not commit us to renounce Transjordan. One does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today--but the boundaries of the Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them." By 1949 Ben-Gurion had proved that he was as good as his word. (Simha Flapan, p. 52-53)
And regarding the Peel Commission, he also stated on June 9, 1937:
"In my opinion we must insist on the Peel Commission proposal, which sees in the transfer the only solution to this problem. And I have now to say that it is worthwhile that the Jewish people should bear GREATEST material sacrifices in order to ensure the success of transfer." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 70)
And on July 12, 1937 he also wrote how Zionists should insist on implementing the proposed compulsory population transfer, which was suggested earlier by the British Peel Commission. He said:
"the compulsory transfer of the [Palestinian] Arabs from the valleys of the projected Jewish state . . . . we have to stick to this conclusion the same way we grabbed at the Zionism itself." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 70)
David Ben-Gurion explained how compulsory population transfer could be implemented. He said in 1937:
".... because we will not be able to countenance large uninhabited areas absorb tens of thousands of Jews remaining empty .... And if we have to use force we shall use it without hesitation -- but only if we have no choice. We do not want and do not need to expel Arabs and take their places. Our whole desire is based on the assumption --- which has been corroborated in the course of all our activity in the country -- that there is enough room for us and the Arabs in the country and that if we have to use force - not in order to dispossess the Arabs from the Negev or Transjordan but in order to assure ourselves of the right, which is our due to settle there- then we have the force." (Righteous Victims, p. 142)
In 1938, Ben Gurion made it clear of his support for the establishment of a Jewish state on parts of Palestine ONLY as an intermediary stage, he wrote:
"[I am] satisfied with part of the country, but on the basis of the assumption that after we build up a strong force following the establishment of the state--we will abolish the partition of the country and we will expand to the whole Land of Israel." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 107, One Palestine Complete, p. 403)
He also stated that Arabs would come to terms with Zionism only when faced with a fait accompli. He said:
"This is only a stage in the realization of Zionism and it should prepare the ground for our expansion throughout the whole country through Jewish-Arab agreement .... the state, however, must enforce order and security and it will do this not by mobilizing and preaching 'sermons on the mount' but by the machine-guns, which we will need." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 108)
Ben-Gurion emphasized that the acceptance of the Peel Commission would not imply static borders for the future "Jewish state". In a letter Ben-Gurion sent to his son in 1937, he wrote:
"No Zionist can forgo the smallest portion of the Land Of Israel. [A] Jewish state in part [of Palestine] is not an end, but a beginning ..... Our possession is important not only for itself ... through this we increase our power, and every increase in power facilitates getting hold of the country in its entirety. Establishing a [small] state .... will serve as a very potent lever in our historical effort to redeem the whole country." (Righteous Victims, p. 138)
Ben-Gurion explained how the Palestinian Arab citizens of the Jewish state might be treated:
As Ben-Gurion explained, the advantage of the [Palestinian] Arabs having Arab citizenship was that in the event of hostilities, their legal status would be that of resident aliens, and they therefore "could be expelled" from the Jewish state for potential disloyalty. With Israeli citizenship, on the other hand, "it would only be possible to imprison them, and it would be better to expel them than to imprison them." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 176)
Despite all the EXPANSIONIST Zionist policies, many Israelis and Zionists wonder why Arabs rejected UN GA proposed partition for Palestine in 1947? Click here to read our detailed response to this Israeli frequently asked question.
The tragedy of the European Jewry eventually strengthened the Yishuv in an unexpected way. In August 1937, Ben-Gurion noted that:
"Jewish suffering is also a political factor, and whoever says that Hitler diminished our strength, is not telling the truth." In one of history's crueler ironies, those words proved prophetic. Millions of Jews did not storm the beaches of Palestine, for they could not rise from the ashes of the death camps. But the Holocaust--they zenith of Jewish agony-- became the same "political force" of which Ben-Gurion spoke before he even imagined the systematic destruction of European Jewry. After the war, the Holocaust was a powerfully influential factor in turning world public in Zionism's favor, and was the decisive factor in defeating the policy of the British 1939 White Paper (which called for a united bi-national Palestinian state no later than 1949 and the cessation of Jewish immigration). Guilt, sorrow, and remorse---what might be called the collective conscience of humanity--led many nations (referring to 1947 UN proposed partition plan) finally to grant survivors, that which might have saved the many victims: a "Jewish state." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 196)
These comments by Ben-Gurion and his biographer (Shabtai Teveth) are a powerful reminder to the Christian West that Palestinians have been crucified for their sins. As the Gestapo slaughtered Europe's Jewish citizens, their fellow Christian European neighbors watched and aided the instruments of death in gassing and burning the Jews of Europe. The holocaust atrocity generated a collective sense of guilt in the Western World which has blinded them to the suffering that came upon the Palestinian people. It should be noted that the great majority of the Palestinian people, almost 10 million people, have been dispossessed and ethnically cleansed from their homes, farms and businesses. From the Palestinians points of view, the Western World has created two problems if not more:
The first was the destruction of most of Europe's Jewish community, and
The second is aiding in the collective dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.
Ironically, the so called "civilized world" have pitted two innocent people into a constant state of war for generations to come. And instead of solving one problem, they have created many!
Ben Gurion wrote twenty years after the 20th Zionists Congress, which rejected the Peel Commission partition plan in 1937, and contemplated how many Jews might have been saved, if the Peel Commission's Plan had been adopted. He wrote in 1958:
"Had partition been carried out, the history of our people would have been different and six million Jews in Europe would not have been killed---most of them would be in Israel" (One Palestine Complete, p. 414).
A month after the Nazi pogrom against Germany's Jews, famously known as Kristallnacht, Ben-Gurion provided an interesting mathematical formula for saving German Jewish kids. He stated in December 1938:
"If I knew it was possible to save all [Jewish] children of Germany by their transfer to England and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz-Yisrael, I would choose the latter----because we are faced not only with the accounting of these [Jewish] children but also with the historical accounting of the Jewish People." (Righteous Victims, p. 162, The Complete Translated Letter translated by IPS and here is the original in Hebrew))
Similarly, Ben-Gurion provided another interesting mathematical formula. During the First Palestinian Intifada in 1936, Ben Gurion devised a scheme to increase Jewish immigration to Palestine. He proposed that the Jewish Agency would receive 1,000 additional immigration permits for every Jew killed by Palestinians. He calculated that such a scheme would be much more efficient than troops deployment and collective punishment, such as house demolition and arbitrary arrests. He thought this was a "fantastic idea" and laid out its advantages as follows:
"There is no more convenient and effective means of tying the terrorists hands. It is easier than maintaining ten battalions and demolishing houses and pursuing gangs in the mountains. This method will work automatically." Moshe Sharett passed the idea on to the Wauchope; the high British Commission in Palestine who said politely that he would think about it. (One Palestine Complete, p. 426)
And in December 1942, he also commented on the holocaust:
"The catastrophe of European Jewry is not, in a direct manner, my business. . . . The destruction of the European Jewry is the death-knell of Zionism." (Righteous Victims, p. 162-163)
Ben-Gurion eloquently articulated the fundamental goals of Zionism to Auni Abdul Hadi, a prominent Palestinian politician before 1948, as the following:
"Our ultimate goal is the independence of the Jewish people in Palestine, on both sides of the Jordan, not as a minority but as a community of several million. In my opinion, it is possible to create over a period of forty years, if Transjordan was included, a community of four million Jews in addition to an Arab community of two million." (Israel: A History, p. 74)
and he also added:
"we did not wish the [Palestinian] Arabs to 'sacrifice' Palestine. The Palestinian Arabs would not be sacrificed so that Zionism be realized. According to our conception of Zionism, we were neither desirous nor capable of building our future in Palestine at the expense of the [Palestinian] Arab." (Israel: A History, p. 75)
Soon before the British announced the 1939 White Paper, Ben Gurion believed that the Zionist interests would be best served if the Palestinian Arabs were represented by al-Hajj Amin's men. He said:
"It will be much easier for us to counter their claim," he explained. "We can say that they stand for terrorism and represent only small part of the Arab population. A broad delegation [to London] including 'moderates' [such Nashashibi's Istiqlal party] will display the Arab public's general resistance to the Jews." (One Palestine Complete, p. 437)
Soon after the Biltmore conference in New York in May 1942, Ben-Gurion reiterated his commitment for a "Jewish state" in all of historic Palestine. He explained in a meeting of Histadrut Counsel:
"this is why we formulated our demand not as a Jewish state in Palestine but Palestine as a Jewish state" (emphasis add), and he advised "not to identify the Biltmore Program with a Jewish state in part of Palestine." (Simha Flapan, p. 23-24)
In May 1944 (during a closed deliberation) Ben-Gurion continued to express, without restraint, his conviction that transferring the Palestinian Arabs was inherent in the very conception of Zionism. He said:
"Zionism is a TRANSFER of the Jews. Regarding the TRANSFER of the [Palestinian] Arabs this is much easier than any other TRANSFER. There are Arab states in the vicinity . . . . and it is clear that if the [Palestinian] Arabs are removed [to these states] this will improve their condition and not the contrary." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 159)
Ben-Gurion became obsessed about "transferring" the Palestinian Arabs out of Palestine, and he started to contemplate the mechanics and potential problems that could arise if "transfer" was to be implemented. Ben-Gurion contemplated the "Arab Question" in "Eretz Yisrael" and wrote:
"We have to examine, first, if this transfer is practical, and secondly, if it is necessary. It is impossible to imagine general evacuation without compulsion, and brutal compulsion, There are of course sections of the non-Jewish population of the Land of Israel which will not resist transfer under adequate conditions to certain neighboring countries, such as the Druze, a number of Bedouin tribes in the Jordan Valley and the south, the Circassians and perhaps even the Metwalis [the Sh'ite of the Galilee]. But it would be very difficult to bring about resettlement of other sections of the [Palestinian] Arab populations such as the fellahin and the urban populations in neighboring Arab countries by transferring them voluntarily, whatever economic inducements are offered to them." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians. 129)
Similarly, he also added
"The possibility of large-scale transfer of a population by force was demonstrated, when the Greeks and the Turks were transferred [after WW I]. In the present war [referring to WW II] the idea of transferring a population is gaining more sympathy as a practical and the most secure means of solving the dangerous and painful problem of national minorities. The war has already brought the resettlement of many people eastern and southern Europe, and in the plans for the postwar settlements the idea of a large-scale population transfer in central, eastern, and southern Europe increasingly occupies a respectable place." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians. 129)
Ben-Gurion resorted to demonizing Arabs by comparing them to Nazis, which is a common tactic by Israelis and Zionists to exploit the feelings of sympathizers in the West with those who suffered in the Holocaust and the feelings of many Jewish communities. On August 8, 1947, he told the Zionist Actions Committee in Zurich:
"The aim of the Arab attacks on Zionism is not robbery, terror, or stopping the growth of the Zionist enterprise, but the total destruction of the Yishuv [Palestinian Jewish community prior to May 1948]. It is not political adversaries who will stand before us, but the pupils and teachers of Hitler, who claim there is only one way to solve the Jewish question, one way only--- total annihilation." (Simha Flapan, p. 98)
Soon after the U.N. Proposed Partitioning Palestinian in November 1947, Ben-Gurion urged his party to accept the partition because it would never be final, and the borders of the future "Jewish state" would never be static. He said:
To evacuate as many Palestinian Arabs from Palestine as possible, Ben-Gurion explained that their strategic objective was to destroy the urban Palestinian population since it was the most organized. He articulated this plan in his diary on December 11, 1947:
"Arabs are fleeing from Jaffa and Haifa. Bedouin are fleeing from the Sharon. Most are seeking [to join up]with members of their family. Villagers are returning to their villages. Leaders are also in flight, most of them are taking their families to Nablus, Nazareth. The Bedouins are moving to Arab areas. According to our 'friends' [advisors], every response to our dealing a hard blow at the [Palestinian] Arabs with many casualties is a blessing. This will increase the Arabs' fear and external help for the Arabs will be ineffective. To what extent will stopping transportation cramp the Arabs? The fellahin [peasants] won't suffer, but city dwellers will. The country dwellers don't want to join the disturbances, unless dragged in by force. A vigorous response will strengthen the refusal of the peasants to participate in the battle. Josh Palmon [an advisor to Ben-Gurion on Arab affairs] thinks that Haifa and Jaffa will be evacuated [by the Palestinians] because of hunger. There was almost famine in Jaffa during the disturbances of 1936-1939." (Simha Flapan, p. 90-91)
And in a letter to Moshe Sharett, Ben-Gurion explained how the urban Palestinian population is economically vulnerable and suitable for collapse . He observed that:
"the important difference with [1st Intifada of] 1937 is the increased vulnerability of the [Palestinian] urban economy. Haifa and Jaffa are at our mercy. We can starve them out. Motorized transport, which has also become an important factor in their life, is to a large extent at our mercy." (Simha Flapan, p. 91)
Similarly, he pointed out that the Zionist's strategic objective is to crush the urban communities which that would signal the collapse of the rural population. He stated
"The strategic objective [of the Jewish forces] was to destroy the urban communities, which were the most organized and politically conscious sections of the Palestinian people. This was not done by house-to-house fighting inside the cities and towns, but by the conquest and destruction of the rural areas surrounding most of the towns. This technique led to the collapse and surrender of Haifa, Jaffa, Tiberias, Safed, Acre, Beit-Shan, Lydda, Ramleh, Majdal, and Beersheba. Deprived of transportation, food, and raw materials, the urban communities underwent a process of disintegration, chaos, and hunger, which forced them to surrender." (Simha Flapan, p. 92-93)
On December 19, 1947, Ben Gurion advised the Haganah on the rules of engagement with the Palestinian population. He stated:
"we adopt the system of aggressive defense; with every Arab attack we must respond with a decisive blow: the destruction of the place or the expulsion of the residents along with the seizure of the place." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 176-177 and Israel: A History, p. 156)
Ben-Gurion was both happy and sad when the U.N. voted to Partition Palestine into two states, Palestinian and Jewish. He was happy because "finally" Jews could have a "country" of their own. On the other hand, he was sad because they have "lost" almost half of Palestine, and because they would have to contend with a sizable Palestinian minority, well over 45% of the total population. In the following few quotes, you will see how he also stated that a "Jewish state" cannot survive being 60% Jewish; implying that something ought to be done to remedy the so called "Arab demographic problem". He stated on November 30, 1947:
"In my heart, there was joy mixed with sadness: joy that the nations at last acknowledged that we are a nation with a state, and sadness that we lost half of the country, Judea and Samaria, and , in addition, that we [would] have [in our state] 400,000 [Palestinian] Arabs." (Righteous Victims, p. 190)
While addressing the Central Committee of the Histadrut on December 30, 1947, Ben-Gurion stated:
"In the area allocated to the Jewish State there are not more than 520,000 Jews and about 350,000 non-Jews, mostly Arabs. Together with the Jews of Jerusalem, the total population of the Jewish State at the time of its establishment, will be about one million, including almost 40% non-Jews. such a [population] composition does not provide a stable basis for a Jewish State. This [demographic] fact must be viewed in all its clarity and acuteness. With such a [population] composition, there cannot even be absolute certainty that control will remain in the hands of the Jewish majority .... There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60%." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 176)
According to Sefer Toldot Ha-Haganah, the official history of the Haganah, it clearly stated how Palestinian villages and population should be dealt with. It stated:
"[Palestinian Arab] villages inside the Jewish state that resist 'should be destroyed .... and their inhabitants expelled beyond the borders of the Jewish state.' Meanwhile, 'Palestinian residents of the urban quarters which dominate access to or egress from towns should be expelled beyond the borders of the Jewish state in the event of their resistance.' " (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 178)
Speaking of the fate of European Jewry to the UN Special Committee On Palestine (UNSCO) in 1947, Ben-Gurion noted that in recent Gallup Poll taken in the American Zone of Germany, 14 percent of the Germans questioned had condemned Hitler's massacre of the Jews, 26 percent had been "neutral", and 60 percent had approved the killings. Ben-Gurion exploited German anti-Semitism and said:
"The Jews do not want to stay where they are. They want to regain their human dignity, their homeland, they want reunion with their kin in Palestine after having lost their dearest relations. To them the countries of their birth are a graveyard of their people. They do not wish to return there and they cannot." (Israel: A History, p. 147).
With slight modification, Ben-Gurion's description eloquently articulate the plight of 10 million dispossessed and occupied Palestinians.
Soon after the UN voted to partition Palestine in November 1947, American support for Partition was diminishing and on March 19, 1948 the U.S. representative at the UN, Warren Austin, announced that partition was no longer possible. Ben-Gurion responded to the idea of a UN trusteeship in a press conference in Tel-Aviv as follows:
"It is we who will decide the fate of Palestine. We cannot agree to any sort of Trusteeship, permanent or temporary. The Jewish State exists because we defend it." (Israel: A History, p. 165)
Ben-Gurion envisioned the "Jewish state" as a modern day Sparta. He stated on January 8, 1948:
Ben-Gurion was told on February 7, 1948 that "Jews have no land in the Jerusalem corridor", he arrogantly replied:
"The war will GIVE us the land. The concept of 'ours' and 'not ours' are ONLY CONCEPTS for peacetime, and during war they lose all their meaning." (Benny Morris, p. 170 & Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 180)
In a similar vein, Ben-Gurion asked Yosef Weitz in early February 1948 whether the Jewish National Fund (JNF) was ready to buy "from him" land at 25 Palestinian Pounds per dunam. Weitz replied:
"if the land is Arab [owned] and we will receive the deed of property and possession - then we will buy. Then he [ i.e., Ben-Gurion] laughed and said: DEED of property - no possession-yes."
The next day, Weitz and Granovsky lunched with Ben-Gurion. who restated his:
"plan . . . Our army will conquer the Negev, will take the land into its hands and will sell it to the JNF at 20-25 Palestinian pounds per dunam. And there is a source . . . of millions [of pounds]. Granovsky responded jokingly that we are NOT LIVING in the Middle Ages and the army does not steal land. After the war the bedouins [of the Negev] will return to their place---if they leave at all-- and will get [back] their land."
A week later, Ben-Gurion suggested to Weitz that he divest himself of:
"conventional notions . . . In the Negev we will not buy land. We will conquer it. You are forgetting that we are at war." (Benny Morris, p. 170)
It is not only that Ben-Gurion envisioned war as an instrument to change the demographics picture in favor of the Jewish minority, he also envisioned war as a tool to dispossess Palestinians and raise "millions" of pounds in capital.
Ben-Gurion was enchanted that Jerusalem's neighboring Palestinian communities had been emptied. He stated to the Mapai Council on February 8, 1948:
"From your entry into Jerusalem, through Lifta, Romema [East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood]. . . there are no [Palestinian] Arab. One hundred percent Jews. Since Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, it has not been Jewish as it is now. In many [Palestinian] Arab neighborhoods in the west one sees not a single [Palestinian] Arab. I do not assume that this will change. . . . What had happened in Jerusalem. . . . is likely to happen in many parts of the country. . . in the six, eight, or ten months of the campaign there will certainly be great changes in the composition of the population in the country." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 180-181)
From political and organization points of view, it was clear to Ben-Gurion that Palestinian society had been decapitated, especially after the First Intifada between 1936-1939. In a letter sent on March 14, 1948 to Moshe Sharett, he stated:
On April 8-9 1948 Ben Gurion told Mishmar Ha'emek representatives to burn and destroy the neighboring villages. He said:
In a speech addressing the Zionist Action Committee on April 6, 1948, Ben-Gurion clearly stated that war could be used as an instrument to solve the so called "Arab demographic problem". He stated:
"[They] said it was imperative to expel the Arabs [in the area] and to burn the villages. For me, the matter was very difficult. [But] they said that they were not sure [the kibbutz could continue to exist] if the villages remained intact and [if] the Arab inhabitants were not expelled, for they [i.e. the Palestinian Arabs villagers] would [later] attack them [i.e. Mishmar Ha'emek]." (Benny Morris, p. 116)
"They [Mishmar Ha'emek people] faced a cruel reality ... [and] saw that there was [only] one way and that was to expel the Arab villagers and burn the villages. And they did this. And they were the first to do this." (Benny Morris, p. 116)
"We will not be able to win the war if we do not, during the war, populate upper and lower, eastern and western Galilee, the Negev and Jerusalem area, even if only in an artificial way, in a military way. . . . I believe that war will also bring in its wake a great change in the distribution of [Palestinian] Arab population." (Benny Morris, p. 181 & Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 181)
According to Ben-Gurion's biographer, Micheal Bar-Zohar, the dispatching of Golda Meir to Haifa soon after its occupation was nothing but a political and tactical ploy. Zohar wrote:,
"The appeals to the Arabs [of Haifa] to stay, Golda's mission, and other similar gestures were the result of political considerations, but they did not reflect [Ben-Gurion's] basic stand. In internal discussions, in instructions to his people, the 'old man' demonstrated a clear stand: it was better that the smallest possible number of [Palestinian] Arabs remain with in the [Jewish] state." (Simha Flapan, p. 84)
Soon after Haifa's collapse and the flight of its Palestinian inhabitants in late April 1948, Ben-Gurion was shocked when he visited the city. He stated that Haifa was like:
"a dead city, a corpse city," he noted in his journal, a "horrifying and fantastic sight." But there too the advantages were clear: "What happened in Haifa can happen in other part of the country if we will hold out . . . it may be that in the next six or eight months of the campaign, there will be great changes in the country, and not all to our detriment. Certainly, there will be great changes in the composition of the population of the country." (Simha Flapan, p. 99)
During the same visit to Haifa, Ben-Gurion was told that Abba Khoushi, a labor leader and an official in the Haifa's City Hall, was trying to persuade Palestinians city to stay. Ben-Gurion reportedly said:
"Doesn't he have anything more important to do?" (Benny Morris, p. 328)
In early May 1948, Ben-Gurion approved establishing the "Transfer Committee" to oversee:
"the cleaning up [nikui in Hebrew] of the [Palestinian] Arab settlements, cultivation of [Arab] fields and their settlement [by Jews], and the creation of labor battalion carry out this work." (Benny Morris, p. 137)
As often was Ben-Gurion's behavior, he did not clearly state his intention of destroying villages or expelling the Palestinian population. He always danced around the issue, and gave clear hand gestures that implied the obvious, as once described by Yetzhak Rabbin soon after Lydda's and Ramla's occupation, click here for further details. Keep in mind that documents pertaining to expulsion or "transfer", destruction of villages, and other war crimes are still classified in Israel.
As for nascent Israel’s “Davidian” status vis-a vis the Goliath of the “invading” Arab states, Ben Gurion provides eloquent testimony on it in his War Diary. Thus, on 24 May 1948, less than ten days after the Arab armies had entered those parts of Palestine allocated to the Arab state under the partition plan to preempt the advancing Jewish forces, David Ben-Gurion wrote :
Maklef [Carmeli brigade] should receive reinforcements. His job is to occupy South Lebanon after bombing Tyre, Sidon and Beirut from the air. We will also shell Beirut from the sea. Yigal [Alon] should hit Syria [Syrian army] at [Mishmar Haemek] from the East and the North. Our airforce must bomb and destroy Amman. The weak link in the Arab coalition is Lebanon because Muslim authority there is artificial, and easy to undermine. We must establish a Christian state with the Litani River as its southern border (5). We will form an alliance with it.
Once we destroy the power of the Arab Legion [the army of Trans-Jordan] we will destroy Tran-Jordan and Syria will then fall. If Egypt dares to continue fighting, we will bomb Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo. This is how we shall end this war and wind up our ancestors’ accounts with Egypt, Ashur and Aram…. ( David Ben-Gurion Yoman Hamilhimah Malhimet Hatzm’ut 1947-1949 (War Diary; War of Independence 1947-1949), eds)
Ben-Gurion concluded that Arab hostility to Zionism is irreversible, which justified not running after peace with the Arabs. During the early years of the "Jewish state," he stated:
"The Arabs cannot accept the existence of Israel. Those who accept it are not normal. The best solution for the [Palestinian] Arabs in Israel is to go and live in the Arab states---in the framework of a peace treaty or transfer." (Simha Flapan, p. 99)
If this statement is remotely true, both communities are doomed, and death and destruction would become part of their day to day life. After five decades of a constant state of war, often the people on both sides wonder if this life worth living?
On June 16, 1948, Ben-Gurion stated in a speech to the Israeli provisional government that:
"Three things happened up to now: a) the invasion of the regular armies of the Arab states, b) our ability to withstand these regular armies, and c) the flight of the [Palestinian] Arabs. I was not surprised by any of them." (Simha Flapan, p. 88)
Although an important document dating July 16, 1948 is still classified by the Israeli censorship, there is enough information to indicate the link in Ben-Gurion's mind between the concept of "transfer" and war. It was at the time that Ben-Gurion stated that he:
"was not surprised" at the Arab exodus and that "we should prevent Arab return at any cost." He also cited once again the Turkish-Greek war crime as an "example" in which the Turks "expelled the Greeks from Anatolia." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 191-192)
It is extremely ironic to point out that this is the SECOND time in history when Turks are cited as an "example" to justify perpetrating WAR CRIMES. The first was used by the earliest Zionist leaders (such as Chaim Weizmann, Ben-Gurion, and Moshe Sharett), and the second was used by Hitler when he cited the Turkish genocide of 1.5 million Armenians (during WW I) as a precedent for the holocaust, click here if you wish to learn more about the Armenian genocide.
"After attacking Lydda [later called Lod] and then Ramla, .... What would they do with the 50,000 civilians living in the two cities ..... Not even Ben-Gurion could offer a solution .... and during the discussion at operation headquarters, he [Ben-Gurion] remained silent, as was his habit in such situations. Clearly, we could not leave [Lydda's] hostile and armed populace in our rear, where it could endangered the supply route [to the troops who were] advancing eastward.
Ben-Gurion would repeat the question: What is to be done with the population?, waving his hand in a gesture which said: Drive them out! [garesh otem in Hebrew]. 'Driving out' is a term with a harsh ring, .... Psychologically, this was on of the most difficult actions we undertook". (Soldier Of Peace, p. 140-141 & Benny Morris, p. 207) .
Later, Rabin underlined the cruelty of the operation as mirrored in the reaction of his soldiers. He stated during an interview (which is still censored in Israeli publications to this day) with David Shipler from the New York Times on October 22, 1979:
"Great Suffering was inflicted upon the men taking part in the eviction action. [They] included youth-movement graduates who had been inculcated with values such as international brotherhood and humaneness. The eviction action went beyond the concepts they were used to. There were some fellows who refused to take part. . . Prolonged propaganda activities were required after the action . . . to explain why we were obliged to undertake such a harsh and cruel action." (Simha Flapan, p. 101)
Just before the 1948 war, the residents of the twin cities, Lydda and al-Ramla, constituted almost 20% of the total urban population in central Palestine, inclusive of Tel-Aviv. Currently, the former residents and their descendents number at least a half a million, who mostly live in deplorable refugee camps in and around Amman (Jordan) and Ramallah (the occupied West Bank). According to Rabin, the decision to ethnically cleanse the twin cities was an agonizing decision, however, his guilty conscience did not stop him from placing a similar order against three nearby villages ('Imwas, Yalu, and Bayt Nuba ) 19 years later. The exodus from Lydda and al- Ramla was portrayed firsthand by Ismail Shammout, the renowned Palestinians artist from Lydda itself, click here to view his exodus gallery. To learn more about the ethnic cleansing of Lydda and al-Ramla (based on declassified Israeli archives), we suggest clicking here as well .
On June 16, 1948, there were calls by members of the MAPAM party for the return of Jaffa's "peace minded" Palestinian refugees, and in response, Ben-Gurion stated during a Cabinet meeting:
"I do not accept the version [i.e. policy] that [we] should encourage their return. . . I believe we should prevent their return . . . We must settle Jaffa, Jaffa will become a Jewish city. . . . The return of [Palestinian] Arabs to Jaffa [would be] not just foolish." If the [Palestinian] Arabs were allowed to return, to Jaffa and elsewhere, " and the war is renewed, our chances of ending the war as we wish to end it will be reduced. . . . Meanwhile, we must prevent at all costs their return," he said, and, leaving no doubt in the ministers' minds about his views on the ultimate fate of the [Palestinian] refugees, he added: "I will be for them not returning after the war." (Benny Morris, p. 141 & 1949, The First Israelis, p. 75)
When Ezra Danin, a Cabinet member, proposed installing a puppet Palestinian Government in the Triangle area (northwest of the occupied West Bank), Ben-Gurion had impatiently declared on October 21, 1948 that Palestinians in Israel were good for one thing, running away. He said:
"The Arabs of the land of Israel [ Palestinians] have only one function left to them -- to run away." (Benny Morris, p. 218)
With no emotions, ten days later, while Ben-Gurion was on a tour of the Galilee, he describes Palestinian exodus in his diary as follows:
"and many more still will flee." (Benny Morris, p. 218)
On September 26, 1948, he proposed to the Israeli provisional government that Israel should attack the West Bank. Again, he had reiterated how a war could be used as an instrument to "transfer" population, and he used Lydda's and Ramla's occupation and the subsequent expulsion of their population as a precedent. According to a detailed plan of the operation recorded in his diary, Israeli forces would take:
"Bethlehem, and Hebron, where there are about a hundred thousand [Palestinian] Arabs. I assume that most of the Arabs of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron would flee, like the [Palestinian] Arabs of Lydda, Jaffa, Tiberias, and Safad, and we will control the whole breadth of the country up to the Jordan." In another entry he writes: "It is not impossible . . . that we will be able to conquer the way to the Negev, Eilat, and the Dead Sea, and to secure the Negev for ourselves; also to broaden the corridor to Jerusalem, from north to south; to liberate the rest of Jerusalem and to take the Old City; to seize all of central and western Galilee and to expand the borders of the state in all directions" (emphasis added). (Simha Flapan, p. 48 & 1949, The First Israelis, p. 14)
Ironically, when Chaim Laskov proposed the occupation of most of the West Bank in July 1958, Ben-Gurion objected because in his opinion Palestinians have learned that lesson already, simply put they won't run away. He wrote in his diary:
"This time the [Palestinian] Arabs on the West Bank will not run away!," meaning if the Palestinians would flee as a result of war (as what already happened during the 1948 war), he would not mind the occupation and annexation of the West Bank. (Iron Wall, p. 200)
During a meeting for the Mapai party center on July 24, 1948, Ben-Gurion clearly stated his thoughts and attitude towards the Palestinian Arabs, especially in the light of their behavior and flight during the war. He said:
Ben-Gurion "had a dream" to annex southern Lebanon to the "Jewish state", and to establish a Christian state north of the Litani River. At the beginning of the 1948 war, he stated:
"Meanwhile, [a return of Palestinian refugees] is out of the question until we sit together beside a [peace conference] table . . . and they will respect us to the degree that we respect them and I doubt whether they deserve respect as we do. Because, nevertheless, we did not flee en masse, [And] so far no Arab Einstein has risen and [they] have not created what we have built in this country and [they] have not fought as we are fighting . . . we are dealing here with a collective murderer." (Benny Morris, p. 331)
So in Ben-Gurion's opinion, the absence of an Arab Einstein, the fleeing of Palestinian Arabs during war, and not fighting are good reasons for not respecting Palestinians' rights? It also could be argued that the Christian Crusaders, like Jewish Zionists, had said similar things about Muslims and Arabs. However, after 200 years of Crusaders' occupation, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, Arabs produced their versions of Einstein (in Cordoba, Seville, Cairo, Toledo, Baghdad, ... etc.), and fought well under Saladin's command. Along with the subsequent Mongol and Tartar invasions, the Crusade genocide became a sad footnote in the human history. If history is to be used as an example, then it's too early to write off Arabs only after five decades of ethnic cleansing and dispossession.
'The Muslims rule of Lebanon is artificial and easily undermined. A Christian state ought to be set up whose southern borders would be Litani River. Then we'll form an alliance with it." In the coming years he repeated this idea, and according to Moshe Sharett, Moshe Dayan (who was Israeli's chief of staff in the early 1950s) responded favorably to this idea and who according to Sharett said: "In his [Dayan] view, all we need to do is to find a Christian Lebanese officer, perhaps no higher than a captain, and win him over or buy him with money, so that he would declare himself the savior of Maronite population. Then the Israel army would enter Lebanon, occupy the territory in question and establish a Christian government which would form an alliance with Israel." Sharett himself considered this an "awful" idea. (1949, The First Israelis, p. 10 & Righteous Victims, p. 497)
What's ironic that this "awful" idea was precisely executed thirty later by Manahem Bagin and Ariel Sharon during the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon between 1982-2000.
Ben-Gurion recognized that Palestinian nationalism created the very danger he was most afraid of. He knew that the victory in 1948 was achieved not because the Israeli Army was more heroic but because the Arab armies were corrupt and the Arab world was divided. He became obsessed with the fear that a charismatic leader would modernize Arab education, and their economies, and unite all the Arab states. He wrote on November 11, 1948:
"The Arab people have been beaten by us. Will they forget it quickly? Seven hundred thousand people beat 30 million. Will they forget this offense? It can be assumed that they have a sense of honor. We will make peace efforts, but two sides are necessary for peace. Is there any security that they will not want to take revenge? Let us recognize the truth: we won not because we performed wonders, but because the Arab army is rotten. Must this rottenness persist forever? The situation in the world beckons towards revenge: there are two blocs; there is fear of world war. This tempts anyone with grievance. We will always require a superior defensive capability." (Simha Flapan, p. 238)
Ben-Gurion clearly stated Zionism's major objective, which is a "Jewish Majority" facilitated by mass Jewish immigration. In April 1949, he stated peace is a secondary priority to the "Jewish state". He explained as follows:
"The main thing is the absorption of the immigrants. . . for many years, until. . . . a regime takes hold in the [Arab] world that does not threaten our existence. . . . The state's fate is dependent upon 'Aliyah [Jewish immigration to Palestine]. . . 'Aliyah must determine our policy in negotiations." (Righteous Victims, p. 263)
He reiterated the last point again in May 1949 as well. He stated:
"Egypt is the only state among the Arab countries that constitutes a real state and is forging a people inside it. It is a big state. If we could arrive at the conclusion of peace with---it would be a tremendous conquest for us. . . . But in general we need not regret too much that the Arabs refuse to make peace with us." (Iron Wall, p. 52)
Similarly, Ben-Gurion told an American Journalist that the Jewish state is in no hurry for peace. He stated in July 1949:
"I am not in a hurry, I can wait ten years. We are under no pressure whatsoever." (Righteous Victims, p. 263)
Ben-Gurion recognized that peace with Israel's neighbors would come on the expense of Israel "giving up" land, and for Israel to "allow" the return of some Palestinian refugees. The cost for peace was too much for him to bear. In a cable sent to Moshe Sharett in the early 1950s, regarding the peace negotiations with King Farouk of Egypt, he clearly stated that Israel is ready for a peace treaty with Egypt in return for peace, no more. He wrote:
"Israel will not discuss a peace involving the concession of any piece of territory. The neighboring states do not deserve an inch of Israel's land. . . . We are ready for exchange for peace." (Righteous Victims, p. 265)
When Yosef Weitz (a Jewish National Fund official) proposed solving the Palestinian "refugees problem" by compensating the refugees for their lost properties in the "Jewish state". According to Weitz, Ben-Gurion responded as follows:
"In his opinion, time will cure all, and all will be forgotten." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 31)
Soon after negotiating the Armistice agreement between Israel and Egypt, Ben-Gurion noted in his diary:
"Abba Eban [Israeli Foreign Ministry official] came. He sees no point in chasing after peace. The armistice agreement is sufficient for us. If we chase after peace the Arabs will demand a price: either territory, return of refugees, or both. It's best to wait a few years." The Prime Minister noted these words without making any comments of his own. (1949, The First Israelis, p. 34)
When Pinhas Rozen (Israel's first Justice Minister) demanded that Israel's Declaration of Independence should cite the country's borders. Ben-Gurion objected, and both exchanged the following points:
ROZEN: "There's the question of the borders, and it cannot be ignored."
BEN-GURION: "Anything is possible. If we decide here that there's to be no mention of borders, then we won't mention them. Nothing is a priori [imperative]."
ROZEN: "It's not a priori, but it is a legal issue."
BEN-GURION: "The law is whatever people determine it to be." (1949, The First Israelis, p. xviii)
Ben-Gurion clearly never believed in static borders, but dynamic ones as described in the Bible. He stated during a discussion with his aides:
"Before the founding of the state, on the eve of its creation, our main interests was self-defense. To a large extent, the creation of the state was an act of self-defense. . . . Many think that we're still at the same stage. But now the issue at hand is conquest, not self-defense. As for setting the borders--- it's an open-ended matter. In the Bible as well as in our history, there all kinds of definitions of the country's borders, so there's no real limit. Bo border is absolute. If it's a desert--- it could just as well be the other side. If it's sea, it could also be across the sea. The world has always been this way. Only the terms have changed. If they should find a way of reaching other stars, well then, perhaps the whole earth will no longer suffice." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 6)
It has been customary among all Zionists leaders to use the Bible to justify perpetrating WAR CRIMES. Regardless of the methods used to build the "Jewish state", the quote above is a classical example how the Bible is used to achieve political objectives.
William Riley, a UN official in 1949, pressed Israel hard to react favorably to the Syrian proposal to absorb almost half of the Palestinian refugees. In response, Ben-Gurion wrote:
"Riley [the UN official] spoke to Rozen [Israeli Foreign Ministry official]. [Husnei] Zaim [Syria's president] wants to develop Syria and accept 300,000 [Palestinian] refugees. Riley asks if we would agree to sign an armistice agreement now, on the basis of the existing situation. Rozen replied that our answer was negative." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 16)
As Ben-Gurion stated in the early 1950s: "when peace comes, we shall not run."
When Israel signed the armistice agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, Ben-Gurion stated:
"The November 29[, 1947 U.N.] decision had given the Jewish state 14,920,000 dunums; now we have 20,662,000 dunums in our control. While the UN has not yet recognized our borders, Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, and Lebanon have done so." (Simha Flapan, p. 49)
In other words, Israel managed to expand its borders 38% more than the area allotted to the "Jewish state" by 1947 UN GA partition plan. It should be noted that 60% of the Israelis soldiers were killed in action, were killed in offensive actions in the areas conquered beyond areas allotted by the UN to the "Jewish state." (Simha Flapan, p. 198-199)
When Truman, the American President between 1944-1952, demanded that the Arabs be compensated for the loss of territories, which had not been assigned to the "Jewish state" by the UN Partition Resolution, Ben-Gurion wrote:
"The State of Israel was not established as a consequence of the UN Resolution. Neither America nor any other country saw the Resolution through, nor did they stop Arab countries (and the British mandatory government) from declaring total war on us in violation of UN Resolution [click here to read our response to this myth]. America did not raise a finger to save us, and moreover, imposed an arms embargo, and had we been destroyed they would not have resurrected us. Those boundaries determined in the UN Resolution were based on peace accords, the validity of international law, and the Arabs' acceptance of them. But the Arabs rejected it. There are no refugees---there are fighters who sought to destroy us, root and branch. The Arab states came at their request, and they still refuse to make peace or to recognize us, and are openly threatening revenge. Shall we bring back the [Palestinian] refugees so that they can exterminate us for the second time [click here to read our response to this myth], or should we ask America to take pity on us and send an army to protect us? America is immense. We are a tiny and helpless nation. We could not withstand American might, but our self-preservation is more important to us than obedience to America. The rebuke and the threatening style [of Truman's letter] are incomprehensible." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 35-36)
Ben-Gurion was dismayed with the large "mass robbery" of Palestinian properties by the citizens of the "Jewish state". He said in a Cabinet meeting:
"The only thing that surprise me, and surprised me bitterly, was the discovery of such moral failings among us [Jews], which I had never suspected. I mean the mass robbery in which all parts of [the Jewish] population participated." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 69)
During the 1948 war, the Military Governor of Jerusalem, Dov Yosef, wrote Ben-Gurion describing the "looting" of Palestinian properties:
"The looting is spreading once again. ...I cannot verify all the reports which reach me, but I get the distinct impression that the commanders are not over-eager to catch and punish the thieves. ...I receive complaints every day. By way of example, I enclose a copy of a letter I received from the manager of the Notre Dame de France (a monastery). Behavior like this in a monastery can cause quite serious harm to us. I've done my best to put a stop to the thefts there, which are all done by soldiers, since civilians are not permitted to enter the place. But as you can see from this letter, these acts are continuing. I am powerless." Ben-Gurion promised he would discuss with Moshe Dayan the possible measures to be adopted in order to put an end to the robbery. The subject troubled him greatly. Prior to the occupation of Nazareth he ordered Yadin to "use submachine guns on the soldiers if he saw any attempt at robbery." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 70)
During the course of 1948 war, Ben-Gurion ordered an inspection of all the kibbutzim and moshavim (collaborative villages) of Lower and Upper Galilee for an inventory of their livestock, and to tally Palestinians' livestock. He wrote:
"flocks [of cattle and abandoned sheep], and other property 'taken' from the Arab villages during the war and after; crops, furniture and all other objects, were to be presented to the Minister of Defense." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 74)
Like most of the earliest Zionist leaders, Ben Gurion promoted Jewish immigration to Palestine primarily to achieve national security for the "Jewish state". In 1949, he defined the interests of the "Jewish state" as follows:
"The main thing is the absorption of immigrants. This embodies all historical needs of the state." He later explained why immigration could strengthen Israel's security better than anything else. "We might have captured the West Bank, the Golan [Heights], but those conquests would not have reinforced our security as much as immigration. Doubling and tripling the number of immigrants gives us more and more strength. . . . That is the most important thing above all else." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 96)
Ben Gurion stated that Zionism was largely a movement of Western Jews, specifically from Europe and America. In his opinion, the Jews of Europe were:
"the leading candidates for citizenship in the State of Israel. Hitler, more than he hurt the Jewish people, whom he knew and detested, hurt the Jewish State, whose coming he did not foresee. He destroyed the substance, the main and essential building force of the [Jewish] state. The state arose and did not find the nation which had waited for it." In the absence of the European Jews, the state of Israel had to bring in Jews from Arab countries. Ben Gurion compared them with the Africans who were brought in as slaves to America. (1949, The First Israelis, p. 157)
In 1949, Ben Gurion stated that North African Jews might overcome their "savage" life and become intellects. He said:
"Even the immigrant of North Africa, who looks like a savage, who has never read a book in his life, not even a religious one, and doesn't even know how to say his prayers, either wittingly or unwittingly has behind him a spiritual heritage of thousands of years. . . ." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 157)
And in one session of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Ben-Gurion referred to the Moroccan Jews as "savages," but hastily added that they were no different from other Jews as the Polish ones. He said:
"They tell me that there are thieves among them. I am a Polish Jew, and I doubt if there is any Jewish community which has more thieves among them. I am doubtful if there is any Jewish community which has more thieves in it than the Polish ones." A few years later Ben-Gurion wrote to Justice Moshe Estzioni: "An Ashkenazi gangster, thief, pimp, or murderer will not gain the sympathy of the Ashkenazi community (if there is such a thing), nor will he expect it. But in such a primitive community as the Moroccans'---such a thing is possible. . . . " (1949, The First Israelis, p. 157)
In 1949, Ben Gurion was not free of ambivalence in his attitude towards the Yemenite Jewish immigrants. In a letter to Yigael Yadin, the first Israeli Chief of Staff, Ben Gurion wrote:
"This tribe is in some ways more easily absorbed, both culturally and economically, than any other. It is hardworking, it is not attracted by city life, it has---or at least, the male part has-- a good grounding in Hebrew and the Jewish heritage. Yet in other ways it may be the most problematic of all. It is two thousands years behind us [European cultured Jews], perhaps even more. It lacks the most basic primary concepts of civilization (as distinct from culture). Its attitude toward women and children is primitive. Its physical condition poor. Its bodily strength is depleted and it does not have the minimal notions of hygiene. For thousands of years it lived in one of the most benighted and impoverished lands, under a rule even more backward than an ordinary feudal and theocratic regime. The passage from there to Israel has been profound human revolution, not a superficial, political one. All it human values need to changed from the ground." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 186-187) It is worth noting how Ben Gurion referred to the Yemenite Jews by "it".
When Moshe Sharett objected to Ben-Gurion's belligerent attitude towards Egypt in 1954, Ben-Gurion said to the Cabinet secretary Ze'ef Sharef:
"He is raising a generation of cowards. I will not let him . . . . I will not let him. This will be a fighting generation" (Iron Wall, p. 124)
Later, the Israeli army raided Gaza city (under the command of Ariel Sharon), which resulted in the killing and injuring of 74 Egyptian soldiers.
Along with Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Dayan, and Ariel Sharon, Ben-Gurion was obsessed with toppling neighboring Arab regimes. He stated in 1954:
"[Nasser must be taught a lesson, thundered, either] to carry out his duties or to be toppled. It is definitely possible to topple him, and it is even a mitzvah [a sacred obligation] to do so. Who is he anyway, this Nasser-Shmasser." (Iron Wall, p. 124)
This belligerence toward Egypt led to the tri-partite assault (Israel, British, and French) on Egypt in 1956, which was triggered after Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal.
Ben-Gurion was very pleased to know that Britain and France were anxious to topple Nasser of Egypt as well. In that regards he said in October 1955:
"This is a unique opportunity that two not so small powers will try to topple Nasser, and we shall not stand alone against him while he becomes stronger and conquers all the Arab countries. . . . and maybe the whole situation in the Middle East will change according to my plan." (Iron Wall, p. 174)
Read the next quote to get an idea of Ben-Gurion's grand plan which included occupying southern Lebanon and sharing Jordan with Iraq. Where are Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle to read this quote?
It's not only that Ben-Gurion looked at the Bible (inspect the following two quotes carefully) to justify the usurpation and occupation of the Sinai peninsula, he also envisioned a great enterprise to exploit Sinai's natural resources as well. He stated in October 1955:
"I told him [French PM, Guy Mollet] about the discovery of oil in the southern and western Sinai, and that it would be good to TEAR this peninsula from Egypt because it did not belong to her; rather it was the English who stole it from the Turks when they believed that Egypt was in their pocket. I suggested laying down a pipeline from Sinai to Haifa to REFINE THE OIL, and Mollet [French PM] showed interest in the suggestion." (Iron Wall, p. 175)
In a cable sent to the 7th brigade following the occupation of Sharm al-Sheikh in Sinai, Ben-Gurion wrote on October 29 1956:
"Yotvata, or Tiran, which until fourteen hundred years ago was part of the independent Jewish state, we will revert to being part of the third kingdom of Israel." In his speech to the Israeli Knesset on November 7, 1956 he hinted that Israel planned to annex the entire Sinai peninsula as well as the Straits of Tiran (the southeastern tip of the Sinai peninsula on the Asian side)"(Iron Wall, p. 179).
It is not the first time, nor the last time, that an Israeli leader will use the Bible to justify war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and occupation.
Ben-Gurion told Nahum Goldman (one of the prominent Zionists leaders) before he died:
"I don't understand your optimism.," Ben-Gurion declared. "Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it's true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So it's simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipes us out".
I was stunned by this pessimism, but he went on:
"I will be seventy years old soon. Well, Nahum, if you asked me whether I shall die and be buried in a Jewish state I would tell you Yes; in ten years, fifteen years, I believe there will still be a Jewish state. But ask me whether my son Amos, who will be fifty at the end of this year, has a chance of dying and being buried in a Jewish state, and I would answer: fifty-fifty."
"But how can you sleep with that prospect in mind," I broke in, "and be Prime Minister of Israel too?"
Who says I sleep? he answered simply. (The Jewish Paradox by Nahum Goldman, p. 99)
Ben-Gurion was correct about many things: Thieves do not sleep well; usually they're afraid of retribution. This is exactly how the average Israeli feels. However, Palestinians and Arabs may disappoint him about couple of things:
It has been three generation since Nakba, and Palestinians still hold on to their looted homes' keys (inside Israel) more than ever.
He will be amazed how many Zionist Arabs (several Palestinian leaders among them) are ready to sell Palestinian rights so they can retain their positions of power and financial gains.
Any person around the world has the right to defend his home and family, however, in the West a Palestinian does not have that right despite that his home was stolen by Holocaust survivals. Westerners (especially Europeans) for centuries took turns gang raping their Jewish citizens, and their guilty conscious burns them from the inside. This guilty conscious is the reason why the West covers up Israeli war crimes and continues to paints Israeli apartheid as "the only democracy in the Middle East". Somebody has to pay for their crimes against their European Jews so long it is not a Westerner who pays the price. History will tell that not only they have wronged Palestinians by making them pay for their crimes, but also they have wronged their Jewish citizens twice: Once for the many Holocausts they have committed against their Jewish citizens, and the second for locking them into an endless conflict with stubborn Arabs who would not sell their rights.