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The Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestine Essay

1622 words - 6 pages

Israel successfully fought off the pan-Arab army while other Israeli combatants terrorized and depopulated the countryside. Ilan Pappe termed the depopulation of Palestinians as “ethnic cleansing” but can this phrase be properly used when discussing the events of 1947-1948? To answer this question one must determine if there is a well-established definition of the phrase ‘ethnic cleansing’ and also establish that this was the intent of the Zionists, both initially and subsequently. This can be determined by examining Zionist policy and action previous to the U.N partition plan and after, which will demonstrate that the term is appropriately applied to the situation by Pappe.
The United Nations defines ethnic cleansing as; “The systematic expulsion of a group of people from an area because of their ethnic, racial or religious identity (ethnic cleansing), war crimes (attacks on non-combatants or civilian buildings and areas) and crimes against humanity (systematic and widespread violations such as murder, rape and torture of civilians)” (United Nations). This is the definition that Ilan Pape is using to expose the atrocities that the Zionists committed during the formation of Israel. Pape used this term because it encompasses exactly the actions being carried out against the, mostly, non-combatant local populations. The term “etnicheskoye chish cheniye,” or ethnic cleansing, is first used in 1988 by Russia to describe the events of the Nagorno-Karabakh war (New York Times). During this conflict the Central Committee of the Armenian SSR Communist Party approved a plan for violent expulsion of the ethnic Azeris from the territory of the republic, where people were terrorized and forced to leave. In all over 800,000 Azeris became refugees because of the conflict. These tactics are grossly similar to the tactics used by the Israelis in 1948 to expel the local Arab population. The first English use of the phrase was used by Donald Forbes, a Reuters reporter, who was quoting Croatia's Supreme Council: "The aim of this expulsion is obviously the ethnic cleansing of the critical areas . . . to be annexed to Serbia" (New York Times). The phrase is used later to define events in Serbia where Slobodan Milosevic, known as the Butcher of the Balkans, would level cities, mass murder, and rape the local populations of Croatians which created 2 million refugees (CNN). Again, the tactics are all too similar to those used by Israel to drive out the Arab peoples. Moreover, the term is used today describe most cases of expulsion, imprisonment, or killing of an ethnic minority by a dominant majority. It doesn’t matter what definition you use or what other historical examples you use to define the phrase because it doesn’t change the main purpose of Pappe’s book, which is, to demonstrate that the Arabs were forcibly removed from Palestine using violent and non-violent means (Pappe 2).
Pappe documents the events that led to the mass expulsion of...

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