Thursday, March 11, 2010
(Palestinian refugees in Haifa waiting to be ferried out of the city 1948)
In the city of Haifa, Zionist plans to create an Arab-free land through the expulsions of 1948 did not entirely succeed; the nature of the city is still ambiguous despite the deaths and destruction
PALESTINE’S PAST REMEMBERED
A Very Good Piece
By Ilan Pappe
Le Monde diplomatique - March 10, 2010
"....In inner circles Ben Gurion spoke very differently. At the beginning of the month, at a special meeting of the secretariat of MAPAI (the leading party), he listed proudly the names of the Palestinian villages already occupied by the Hagana and the other Jewish paramilitary groups. In a long speech, he explained that the next objectives of the military effort would be Haifa and Jaffa. In his words, these principal urban centres were "islands" in the midst of a Jewish sea. They were not islands, and calling them that diminished their spatial span; they encompassed more than 100,000 people, and many thousands more lived in their hinterlands. The process I call "urbicide" (destruction of urban space and expulsion of its residents), happened that April and ended with the forced departure of more than 200,000 Palestinians from their homes up and down the land. Another 70,000 urban Palestinians were expelled from Ramallah and Lydda in July 1948.....
The events of 1948 are a point on a continuum which began in 1882 and has lasted to this day: the translation of these pragmatic ideas into real policies has meant that the Palestinians of Haifa did not only experience the expulsion of 1948, but remain under threat of another ethnic cleansing should they be deemed to endanger the demographic majority of Jews in Israel, or should they over-identify with Palestinian nationalism that refuses to accept the Jewish state.
The past does not only send messages of doom and fear. The social texture of Haifa today is proof that the pragmatic polices did not work fully everywhere. Haifa maintains a Palestinian population and Arab features not because the Zionist movement did not wish to erase both the people and the nature of the city, but because of the resilience of those Palestinians who stayed on and those who joined them later from the Galilee. There is today a small community whose presence is growing. This is not the mixed town of Haifa at the time of the Mandate, but it is also not the purely Jewish city that Ben Gurion had desired."