Dr Carly Beckerman-Boys’s review of Ahron Bregman’s latest work ‘Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories’ might provide enough motivation for the reader to turn their attention to what is a diplomatic history. However, while Bregman’s access to classified sources alone might make the effort worthwhile, the reviewer’s contention that the reader might “feel a little let down by the diplomatic focus” of Bregman’s analysis tells us not to expect any useful contribution to our understanding Israel’s “Realpolitik”. Israel ignored Washington, Israel rode roughshod over the Palestinians, Israel did what it was always going to do, and Israel was never going to leave the path of ethnic cleansing. Therefore, what genuinely worthwhile revelations will a diplomatic history, albeit one which has exclusive access to primary material, provide? After all, a focus, which concludes with the thesis that Israel missed “crucial opportunities to resolve the conflict”, would appear to neglect the fact that a genuine diplomatic solution is not something that any Israeli government has ever been willing to consider. Moreover, Beckerman-Boys would appear to imply as much when she mentions that unconventional tactics such as the Dahiya Doctrine and policies aimed at decreasing Palestinian fertility are given no place in the Bregman’s book. In other words, while Bregman’s “revelations” might be of some interest to the diplomatic Historian, we only have to look at the facts on the ground to realise that no diplomacy was ever going to interfere with the Zionist agenda of controlling the whole of historical Palestine. That is why, it might be appropriate to discuss the two “unconventional tactics” mentioned by Beckerman-Boys and put these into a wider perspective.
Of course, “decreasing Palestinian fertility” would in the longer term be one effective measure to ensure that the Jewish population would remain in the ascendency in what was once mandate Palestine. However,while it is very probable that the Zionist state is “exploring ways to “lower the birthrate” of Palestinian Bedouins” and while there is also some evidence to suggest that similar measures were to be applied to the Palestinian population as whole, it remains very probable that this is no longer seen as the preferred and sustainable wider option by the Israeli government. Indeed, since a US Department of State report some ten years ago stated that the Palestinian population in Israel and the occupied territories exceeded 5.3 million, while the Jewish population stood at 5.2 million, it is difficult to see how it can be. Furthermore, even if there are “new Palestinian generations (who) are defying tradition and leaning toward limiting the number of children they have” there will be no real reversal of this trend. For the ethnic cleansing of Palestine to continue apace other, more practical solutions are required.
One such “practical solution” is embodied in the idea of land swaps with the Palestinians which will take place after any final settlement. These land swaps will ensure that not only the major settlements in the West Bank are retained, but also that the country’s Jewish population will be bolstered through the implementation of a proposal whereby most of “The Triangle” area and its some 300,000 Arab Israeli citizens would become part of a new Palestinian state. This population transfer would effectively reduce the percentage of Israeli Arabs from 20% to 12%. Jonathan Cook’s ‘Blood and Religion’ and Ilan Pappe’s ‘The Forgotten Palestinians’ provide excellent background reading into an approach that is effectively a continuation of the ethnic cleansing which began in 1948 and both authors further inform us that the 12% Arabs who remain in the country will have to pledge loyalty to that oxymoron, “Israel as a Jewish and a democratic state”. Indeed, this citizenship law is already in place and while at the moment it only applies to non-Jews who want to become citizens, it could and, most probably, will be extended to all Arabs who want to remain Israeli citizens. It is not difficult to deduce that the non-Jewish 12% will be allowed to remain as unwelcome guests, but the ethnic cleansing that was started in 1948 would de facto be completed, and when it is we can only speculate on the long-term fate of those unwelcome guests.
Of course, before the final settlement can be drawn up all resistance has to be broken. At the end of ‘Operation Cast Lead’ Jonathan Cook, on the 20 January 2009, pointed out that “the general devastation, far from being unfortunate collateral damage, has been the offensive’s unstated goal. Israel has sought the political, as well as military, emasculation of Hamas through the widespread destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure and economy.” This was in fact in line with the “Dahiya Doctrine,” which is named after a suburb of Beirut that was almost leveled during Israel’s attack on Lebanon in summer 2006. It is a military strategy which targets civilians and civilian infrastructure, and which aims at breaking all resistance. It is unlikely to be successful in the Lebanese situation for reasons which can be deduced from why it might just be successful in the context of the Palestinian resistance. Jonathan Cook wrote on the 27 October 2014, about two months after Israel’s so-called ‘Operation Protective Edge’, : “It is astonishing that the reconstruction of Gaza, bombed into the Stone Age according to the explicit goals of an Israeli military doctrine known as “Dahiya”, has tentatively only just begun two months after the end of the fighting”. However, he didn’t leave us hanging there and quickly went on to say why this was so by adding, “The reason for the hold-up is, as ever, Israel’s “security needs”. Gaza can be rebuilt but only to the precise specifications laid down by Israeli officials.” In other words, not only is it imperative that the Palestinians moral is broken, but they are also to be deprived of any means to resist. Palestinians’ basic needs and the right to defend themselves are to be sacrificed for the right of the oxymoron “Jewish Democracy” to define its own borders.
Finally, Bregman’s access to classified sources might provide an interesting read. However, there isn’t any real diplomacy in this history of ethnic cleansing, or at least certainly not a diplomacy that is indicative of any compromise. The diplomatic smoke screens put up by the Zionist state are best summed up by Avi Schlaim’s comment on the Oslo Accords from 1993 when he asserts that they were “worse than a charade: it provided Israel with just the cover it was looking for to continue to pursue with impunity its illegal and aggressive colonial project on the West Bank.” New sources might be interesting, but if here is any usefulness in studying the diplomatic history that accompanies the tragedy of a people losing their land, it is only from the perspective of looking at how it facilitated us getting to the point where the complete ethnic cleansing of Palestine has almost become a reality.