The state of Israel celebrated its 75th anniversary on April 25th. This comes after weeks of protests in which hundreds of thousands of Israelis opposed the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu. The movement has angrily opposed the conduct of the Israeli government, as Netanyahu has attempted a power grab by trying to pass a law that would allow the parliament where he has a majority to overturn decisions of the Supreme Court. But the problem of Israeli conduct goes much deeper. Israel is a colonizing state and its whole history is linked to the oppression of the Palestinian people who lived there before 1948. The 75th anniversary of Israel is nothing to celebrate! Israel is a disaster for the Palestinians, for the Middle East, and even for its own inhabitants.
The state of Israel was born in 1948. For decades prior to its creation, Jewish nationalists, known as Zionists, had organized the immigration of hundreds of thousands Jewish people to Palestine to colonize it and create a Jewish state. These nationalists were not a majority of the Jewish people, nor did they represent the majority’s aspirations and goals. The Zionist movement collaborated with the British empire to help the British govern and control Palestine, which had been under British control since the end of World War I.
In 1948, the British withdrew from the Middle East as well as other parts of their empire. They had won the war but lost much of their military resources. The Zionist movement took advantage of this moment to launch a campaign to change Palestine from a Palestinian-Arab territory to a Jewish state. Zionist military forces instituted what they called Plan D, an organized campaign of terrorist violence to destroy Palestinian villages with the goal of forcing the Palestinians to flee – a planned campaign of ethnic cleansing. By the end of the 1948 war, a million Palestinians had become refugees, and the new state of Israel controlled 77 percent of the former territory of Palestine.
For Israel, the 1948 war is known as the War of Independence but for Palestinians it is called the “Nakba” or “Disaster.” This day, April 25th, is one to mourn. The State of Israel was born in blood and caused the expulsion of a million people from their homes. It was the beginning of decades of oppression, with military occupation and ongoing suffering for the Palestinian people. Today’s rulers of Israel were raised as generals, as colonizers, and they embrace the ideology of ethnic cleansing. It should come as no surprise that they are turning towards authoritarian control to further their goals, in spite of what many Israelis want. This year, 75 years after the creation of Israel, there is nothing worth celebrating and every reason to condemn the Israeli state’s decades of oppression of the Palestinian people.