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SAID, Edward

The Question of Palestine - 1979

With sentiments bordering on pure disgust, I must note here that not a single U .S. newspaper carried the following interview with General Gur, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army:

Q-Is it true (during the March 1978 Israeli invasion of Lebanon] that you bombarded agglomerations (of people] without distinction?

A-I am not one of those people who have a selective memory. Do you think that I pretend not to know what we have done all these years? What did we do the entire length of the Suez Canal? A million and a half refugees! Really: where do you live? ... We bombarded Ismailia, Suez, -Port Said, and Port Fuad. A million and a half refugees ... Since when has the population of South Lebanon become so sacred? They knew perfectly well what the terrorists were doing. After the massacre at Avivim, I had four villages in South Lebanon bombed without authorization.

Q-Without making distinctions between civilians and non civilians?

A-What distinction? What had the inhabitants of Irbid [a large town in northern Jordan, principally Palestinian in population] done to deserve bombing by us?

Q-But military communiques always spoke of returning fire and of counterstrikes against terrorist objectives.

A-Please be serious. Did you not know that the entire valley of the Jordan had been emptied of its inhabitants as a result of the war of attrition?

Q-Then you claim that the population ought to be punished?

A-Of course, and I have never had any doubt about that

I think it is a simple fact that most Americans who feel they must declare their support for Israel as a state have no idea that the Palestinians lived where Israel now is, and are refugees not because they are anti-Semites, but because the Zionists simply kicked many of them out. The Zionist movement, aided by European imperialists and orientalist scholars, crafted and won acceptance for its own, singular view of history. It was an exclusionary worldview, one in which the (Palestinian) Arabs barely occupied the periphery or, more often, no ground at all.

Two things are certain, the Jews of Israel will remain; the Palestinians will also remain. To say much more than that with assurance is a foolish risk.

Zionism has served the no doubt justified ends of Jewish tradition, saving the Jews as a people from homelessness and anti-Semitism and restoring them to nationhood for Jews after 1948, Israel not only realized their political and spiritual hopes, it continued to be a beacon of opportunity guiding those of them still living in Diaspora, and keeping those who lived in former Palestine on the frontier of Jewish development and self-realization.