Guardian interviewee casually suggests Israel is attempting to ethnically cleanse Palestinians


The Guardian posted a video on Oct. 9 of a recent interview with a Palestinian Arab named Raja Shehadeh.  (The video post was edited and produced by the Guardian’s  and ).

Here’s the Guardian’s brief introduction.

“Palestinian writer and lawyer Raja Shehadeh talks about his experience of growing up in the West Bank. Shehadeh discusses the day-to-day hardships of living under Israeli occupation and reflects on episodes from his journal Occupation Diaries.”

On video, Shehadeh displays a calm, reserved, and ‘contemplative’ nature.

However, as we learn from a Guardian review of his book on Aug. 4, the placid facade hides a man embittered by “…the Israeli occupation, the illegal settlements that dot his beloved Palestinian landscape… and the failure of Israel‘s allies and donors to prevent the discrimination against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.”

(Shehadeh is also the former director of Al-Haq, a radical Palestinian NGO which characterizes Palestinian terror activities as legitimate “resistance” and is currently led by Shawan Jabarin, a Palestinian with alleged ties to the murderous PFLP terrorist group.)

Most of the Guardian video interview shows Shehadeh lamenting over the wonderful life he, and his fellow Palestinian Arabs, lost after “the Israeli occupation”.  (The author is evidently referring to the period of time prior to June 1967, when the land – named ‘Palestina‘ by the Romans in the year 135 – had been in the hands of Jordan, 1949-1967, the British, 1923-1948, the Ottoman-Turkish Empire, for four hundreds years prior to 1923, etc.)

While most of Shehadeh’s selective history of the region is not noteworthy, at around the 3:00 mark of the video he makes the following claim about Israeli intentions.

“One of the most important objectives of the occupation is to empty the land of Palestinians.”

The charge of “ethnic cleansing” to characterize Israeli policy is nearly a banality at ‘Comment is Free’, but the ubiquitous nature of such a patently false allegation doesn’t make it any less reprehensible.

The facts are actually quite simple: The Palestinian population in the West Bank increased from 462,000 in 1948 to 2.38 million in 2005. In Gaza, the population increased from 82,000 in 1948 to 1.37 million during that same period.

Regarding Jerusalem, the Muslim population of the city increased roughly 5 fold from 1967 (when Israel unified the city) to 2009, from 58,000 to over 278,000, while the Jewish population increased only by a factor of only 2.8, from 196,000 t0 480,000.

Shehadeh’s belief that Israel is attempting to “empty the land of Palestinians” – like most political articles of faith – is not based on evidence.

Alternately, it would be fair to cheekily observe that if Israelis have been trying to expel the Arab population from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, they’ve certainly been doing a bloody awful job at it.

33 comments on “Guardian interviewee casually suggests Israel is attempting to ethnically cleanse Palestinians

  1. As with anything else in this convoluted conflict, the meaning of the words ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘apartheid’ and ‘genocide’ are completely irrelevant to the ‘anti-Zionist’ crowd.

  2. You’ve used this false logic several times before, Adam. The fact that the Palestinian population has increased is quite consistent with Israeli policies aimed at keeping it as low as possible and ‘encouraging emigration’.

    Some quotes from Moshe Dayan, taken from Benny Morris’ ‘Righteous Victims’ give some flavour of Israeli thinking:

    “we must understand the motives and causes of the continued emigration of the [Palestinian] Arabs, from both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and not to undermine these causes after all, we want to create a new map.” (p. 338)

    “We want [Palestinian] emigration, we want a normal standard of living, we want to encourage emigration according to a selective program.” (p. 338)

    “The proposed policy [of raising the level of public service in the occupied territories] may clash with our intention to encourage emigration from both [Gaza] Strip and Judea and Samaria. Anyone who has practical ideas or proposal to encourage emigration—-let him speak up. No idea or proposal is to be dismissed out of hand.” (p. 339)

  3. So sencar perhaps you can explain how this works?

    “The fact that the Palestinian population has increased is quite consistent with Israeli policies aimed at keeping it as low as possible and ‘encouraging emigration’.”

    What is the logic behind increasing the numbers to keep the numbers as low as possible?

    Your views sencar, not trumpeting and reciting the words of others by using selective quotes.

  4. “What is the logic behind increasing the numbers to keep the numbers as low as possible?”

    I’ll spell it out, Gerald:

    Israel can’t stop people having children (yet?), so they have no absolute control over population numbers.

    Nevertheless they have taken numerous steps to support a policy of “keeping [the Palestinian population] as low as possible and ‘encouraging emigration’.”

    This policy has been ineffective in terms of overall numbers but has been the cause of much misery to individuals and families.

    I chose Dayan quotes because he was typically indiscreet and prepared to say the unsayable. However there is a vast amount of other evidence in support of my case. If you are prepared to do some work on making the opposing argument I’ll provide you with some, but I can’t be bothered if you’re just going to snipe from the sidelines.

    • sencar I asked you a question in a civil manner, I would appreciate a civil answer.
      Your claim was,
      “The fact that the Palestinian population has increased is quite consistent with Israeli policies aimed at keeping it as low as possible and ‘encouraging emigration’.”

      How is an increase in the Palestinian population consistent with Israeli policies aimed at keeping it low as you claim?

      • You don’t seem to understand English, Gerald. I may have a policy to make myself a millionaire; unfortunately any such policy has been unsuccessful in my case. Similarly Israel has striven over many years to restrict the Palestinian population. It has succeeded at the margins by dint of making life a misery for many people but the overall population has still risen.

        • sencar are you going to answer the question, or at least attempt an answer, or try to cover up your lack of an answer by insults and diversion?

          You wrote;
          “The fact that the Palestinian population has increased is quite consistent with Israeli policies aimed at keeping it as low as possible and ‘encouraging emigration’.”

          How is an increase in the Palestinian population consistent with Israeli policies aimed at keeping it low?

          • I’ve really don’t get what you are on about, Gerald. If Israeli attempts to reduce the Palestinian population in territories they control are unsuccessful, then of course the existence of the policy is consistent with population increase. The British government has policies to promote growth and reduce the deficit; unfortunately they don’t seem to be working either….

            • “I’ve really don’t get what you are on about, Gerald.”
              sencar English I understand but not gibberish

              “If Israeli attempts to reduce the Palestinian population in territories they control are unsuccessful, then of course the existence of the policy is consistent with population increase.”
              sencar No.
              Not consistent at all. To save further wear and tear on my thumbs and patience go and buy a Dictionary, or if you already have one open it and read it.
              Your comprehension of the English language is as sadly lacking as your comprehension of the situation in Israel.

        • “Israel has striven over many years to restrict the Palestinian population. It has succeeded at the margins by dint of making life a misery for many people but the overall population has still risen.”

          Gee wiz, sencar, could you be just a little more vague?

          What does “succeeded at the margins” mean?
          Where do you get your information about the relationship between “misery” and birthrates?
          It seems to go against what the rest us of know.

        • “You don’t seem to understand English, Gerald.”

          Really? He writes it well enough, and his thoughts are well-organized and well-reasoned. You on the other hand…

        • How on earth has Israel attempted to restrict the Palestinian population. Indeed if you mean refusing the “return” of 4 million “refugees” – perhaps you would prefer the reverse strategy of displacing the Jews? But if you mean interfering in marital relations, or failing providing adequate health care, I think you would be laughed out of court with such a preposterous notion. Even if a quote or two or five supports such a notion, it simply does not affect the benefits experienced daily by millions of people; Jew and Arab

          PS: Instead of pushing a lousy argument, I’d be more interested in your “policy” on how to become a millionaire!

    • If the dramatic INCREASE in pal population since 1948 can still be evidence of Israeli ethnic cleansing, then what term would you use to characterize the nearly complete extinction of Jews in Arab lands since 1948? Just wondering

      • Don’t hold your breath waiting for an answer, except possibly for one that explains it all as another “Zionist scheme.”

      • “what term would you use to characterize the nearly complete extinction of Jews in Arab lands since 1948? ”

        I don’t have a single term since the phenomenon of Jewish emigration from Arab lands is a complex one. Some left willingly as Zionists. Some were badgered into leaving by Zionist recruiters. Some left in fear folowing pogroms (and penalties imposed by their governments). It is significant, however, that this last group only reached significant numbers after 1948 when anti-Zionist feeling escalated in Arab countries for obvious reasons. There is disputed evidence, as Im sure you know, that many Iraqi Jews left as a result of a bombing campaign by Zionist agents.

        I found yesterday’s Haaretz article on the subject enlightening:

        http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/the-rights-of-jewish-refugees.premium-1.468795

        • So according to sencar, “the phenomenon of Jewish emigration from Arab lands is a complex one” and therefore cannot be defined by a single term. Yet the INCREASE in Arab population is clearly an example of ethnic cleansing by the Zionists.

          Hmm. Logic and clarity not your strong point, sencar.

          • Funnily enough, Labenal, i didn’t use the term ‘ethnic cleansing’, and I think you’ll find my logic makes a little more sense than your wordplay.

            • The article is about a claim that Israel is guilty of a policy of “ethnic cleansing”. Adam refers to the fact that Arab population is actually rising as a rebuttal. You accuse him of using “false logic” by mentioning this fact, and present him with “evidence” of Israeli desire to “encourage emigration” of Arabs.

              No – you never actually used the term “ethnic cleansing”, but I hope you can see why I understood you to support the allegation.

              It is, by the way, not me who is guilty of “wordplay”, as I believe I demonstrated in the above post.

        • “It is significant, however, that this last group only reached significant numbers after 1948 when anti-Zionist feeling escalated in Arab countries for obvious reasons.”
          Obvious reasons? You explain this in rather neutral terms for what amounts to particularly ugly bigotry.

    • “Israel can’t stop people having children (yet?)”
      sencar, did you forget your meds today?

      “I chose Dayan quotes because he was typically indiscreet and prepared to say the unsayable.” Say the unsayable? Are you now channeling Gunter Grass from your padded cell?

    • Israel can’t stop people having children (yet?)

      First you try – and fail – to support the silly notion that Israel is trying to empty the land of Palestinians.
      And then you suggest there are plans for sterilisation??

      • “(Shehadeh is also the former director of Al-Haq, a radical Palestinian NGO which characterizes Palestinian terror activities as legitimate “resistance” and is currently led by Shawan Jabarin, a Palestinian with alleged ties to the murderous PFLP terrorist group.)”

        As usual, the Guardian was extremely selective in presenting this person’s bio for its readers “Palestinian writer and lawyer Raja Shehadeh”.

        I think it is pretty fair to say that when one sees the word “haq” in connection with the Palestinians, the last thing that should spring to mind is the word “truth” – as with Pravda – and with George Galloway:

        http://cifwatch.com/2012/09/04/former-guardian-darling-george-galloway-haqs-the-arabs-a-chainik/

  5. One guy says the pals are being shot and executed the next guy says they have a high birth rate, just high enough, this controlled by the elders, to make life unpleasant in order to leave. Aza has one of the highest birth rates on the planet. I guess the anti Semites have all possible doors covered and are prepared for anything. I guess this is what finkelstein calls a cult. Butler would understand, her logic is similar.

  6. 70 percent of the arab population were ethnically cleansed in 1946-8 and their villages razed to the ground.

    How do we know? The British Mandate, being officious, kept censuses.

    And the villages, how do we know? The British Mandate, being officious, published regular gazetteers. These listed EVERY village in the country with exact map references and their population and occupation. Go to those map references and see for yourself. Nothing remains but the outlines of what were houses hidden among the scrub and long grass. Most of the stones from these houses were moved half a mile or so away to build new Israeli villages. Just as Serbia tried to hide its ethnic cleansing so did Israel.

    Have a look at the book “All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948″ by Walid Khalidi.

    Or stick your heads in the sand and sing lalalalalala.

    Your choice.

    • Alex. Nobody denies that there was a transfer of population during the period when Israel established her independence, as there is routinely when wars occur. And yes, I am sure that at that time, it was thought of as desirable – by BOTH sides – that Jews move to “Jewish” areas, and Arabs to those areas not ruled by Jews. That – I suppose, could be classed as “ethnic cleansing”, but I repeat that this was almost certainly seen as a desirable outcome by people on BOTH sides of the conflict at that time.

      What Shehadeh (and, laughably, sencar) have tried to claim is that Israel is CURRENTLY engaged in a systematic policy of cleansing the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean of Arabs. This claim bears no relation to reality (see above).

      Any comments – or will you simply stick your head in the sand and sing lalalalala?

    • I found a interesting review.

      “This book is extremely misleading. In sections respectively labeled “occupation” and “depopulation, he lists and describes 418 villages, implying that in 1948, Israel forced Arabs from their homes and villages at gunpoint. At that time, however, thousands of ruins, abandoned during the Ottoman era, remained dotting Israel’s countryside, according to Moshe Brawer’s 1994 Israel Affairs review of the work.

      Four years before Israel’s War of Independence, a detailed study based on British Survey of Palestine maps listed 2,077 abandoned rural villages, hamlets and smaller sites–against only 1,274 inhabited Arab, Jewish and other villages and hamlets, some of them temporary.

      Furthermore, Dr. Robinson’s 1841 book, Journal of Travels in the Year 1838 and H.B. Tristram’s 633-page Land of Israel (1865), detail earthquakes, droughts, conscriptions, onerous taxes, internal wars, thievery, malaria, cholera and other epidemics that depopulated much of Israel long before 1880, when the first wave of Jewish immigration began. It’s disturbing that a work touted as a great academic achievement includes none of these facts.

      Khalidi also omits the commonality of Ottoman depopulation programs. In Chio (Greece), Damascus, Hasbeiya and Aleppo, non-Muslims were slaughtered in 1822, 1858, 1859 and 1860. In southern Syria (as it was then called), the Turks conscripted all available youths and extorted “annual tax of several piastres for every fruit-tree from the very year it is planted,” according to Tristram, even for olive trees that took 40 years to produce fruit. He and Robinson found Israel barren and empty, its villages poor–and frequently abandoned. In Tiberias, “almost exclusively a Jewish town,” the Muslim quarter was in 1865 “almost wholly in ruins, having been overthrown in the great earthquake of 1837.”

      A true academic masterpiece would have at least referred to prior devastation and justified the conclusions made in spite of it. Khalidi fails this test, failing to remark (as well) that Schwobel in 1904 found, against 329 inhabited rural Galilee areas, some 460 ruined villages and hamlets. Finally, Khalidi misses another study, which determined that Ottoman rule brought devastation and abandonment to at least 50% of Hebron area villages and hamlets, 26-27% near Tulkarem and Nablus and 85% in Lower eastern Galilee and the central Jordan Valley.

      The missing long-term perspective is bad enough, but equally disappointing is Khalidi’s avoidance of the benefits that Arab labor derived from three decades of British administration (1918-48) and Jewish immigration, which together brought law, order, vital services, economic investment and modernization to the land. From 1922 to 1947, Jewish agricultural settlements increased coastal plain citrus groves 971%, to 75,000 acres. No mention of that, or of the masses of workers these groves attracted from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Arabia–according to Arthur Ruppin, Bill Farrell, Justin McCarthy, Yehoshua Porath, Alexander Schlolch, Neville Mandel, Vital Cuinet and official Ottoman data. This is a significant omission since workers lived in temporary shacks on land they didn’t own, and in 1948 abandonned them precisely because they were not permanent.

      Topping that is the failure to improve upon Arif al-Arif’s 1950s historical-political study and personal archives. Alas, Khalidi’s long, virulently anti-Israel introduction is followed by 418 sadly inaccurate surveys with only rough sketch-maps and photographs as backup. Although he lists each area’s geographical attributes, history, distance from district capital, average elevation, land ownership, use, population and dwellings in 1931 and 1944, the blurred photographs could have been taken almost anywhere, including current-day West Bank villages.

      There are also blatant inaccuracies. Khalidi calls Fardisiya and Khirbat al-Buri villages. In 1945, Fardisiya (2.5 kilometres south of Tulkarem) had 20 inhabitants who owned less than 20 acres and four small buildings. This was a village? Furthermore, Fardisyia was not conquered, but was ceded to Israel under the 1949 armistice. For Khirbat al-Burj, 34 kilometres south of Haifa, Khalidi lists no population, but states that residents owned less than 4 acres. Air photos show two stone buildings and some hovels. Again, a village?

      In 1948, there were early 1940s British Royal Air Force photos showing sizes and numbers of houses, cultivated lands and villages. Israel supplemented these that year with high quality air photos of most rural areas involved in the war. The British Survey of Palestine included many detailed maps of villages later devastated. Until 1947, village headmen often kept population, economic and special event data in village notebooks. Israeli academics have also contributed substantial scholarship. But Khalidi did not consult any of the available data, including material declassified in the 1980s. He simply labeled these items “not available.”

      Worse, Khalidi employs the flawed Mandate government Village Statistics 1945–which reflects exaggerations by which headmen enhanced government food rations. He also relies on a Beirut reproduction, whose editor further embellished the initial over-counts. The original categorized land ownership as “Arab, Jewish or others.” Beirut editor Sami Hadawi disingenuously shifted all non-Jewish land–including churches, monasteries, institutions and organizations–to Arabs. Khalidi unreservedly repeats this deception, Brawer reports.

      And finally, Khalidi omits or grossly misrepresents war-related factors that contributed to 1948 depopulation. He often reproduces portions of Israeli reports–out of context–solely to lay blame on Israel. He nowhere mentions Arab villagers’ major war contributions, or the locations of villages relative to their grueling, months-long assault on Israel’s roads.

      If the evidence was so overwhelming, why couldn’t Khalidi obtain first-hand material from villagers who lived through these events?”

      by

      Alyssa A. Lappen

  7. Thankyou for your measured response. A pleasant surprise.

    In answer to your question, it’s more subtle now. Palestinians are harrased off their land by settlers who attack then and cut down their olive trees. Any normal movement in these territories are restricted unjustifiably by random roadblocks. The wall encroaches on Palestinian land not on the border. Soldiers turn a blind eye to attacks on Palestinians and even join in on occasions. The creation of de-facto Bantustans while acting like the school bully who says “wasn’t me Sir!” At least south africa had enough honesty to call their ethnic cleansing ‘Apartheid’.

    So, yes. There is still ethnic cleansing in Palestine today.

    • No – none of the allegations you raise even come close to ethnic cleansing. I dispute the allegations you make in the terms you make them (but this is not my main point now, so I won’t go into detail). Even if, however, they were all true as you have put them, they would amount to ill-treatment, discrimination, possibly even persecution, but they bear no relation at all to the deliberate, systematic and forced removal of all people of a particular ethnicity from a country or region.- which is what most people understand the meaning of “ethnic cleansing” to be.

  8. Any normal movement in these territories are restricted unjustifiably by random roadblocks.

    Suicide bombings and terror attacks against Jews naturally don’t qualify as justifiable.

    The wall encroaches on Palestinian land not on the border.

    The barrier is built where it is the most effective. BTW Which border?

    Soldiers turn a blind eye to attacks on Palestinians and even join in on occasions.

    Why not smear the Jews with unsubstantiated accusations?

    At least south africa had enough honesty to call their ethnic cleansing ‘Apartheid’

    Yes Alex and Nazi Germany had enough honesty to call their hate of the Jews anti-semitism and didn’t play the anti-Israel card like you.

    So, yes. There is still ethnic cleansing in Palestine today.

    This ethnic cleansing must be very ineffective taking into account the increase of the Palestinian population

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