Common Grounds

Our Wednesday News Analysis | Israel was built on burned Palestinian villages

March 15, 2023

By Abraham A. van Kempen

Our Wednesday News Analysis | Israel was built on burned Palestinian villages

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli settlers went on a rampage in the West Bank town of Huwara on February 27, 2023 [Hisham K K Abu Shaqra/Anadolu Agency]


Source: Al Jazeera


By Yara Hawari
Published March 14, 2023


What happened in Huwara was neither new nor out of the ordinary.



"One does not have to dig that deep to discover that the burning of Palestinian villages is not a new tactic in the Zionist playbook, rather it is a core feature.


In 1948, the year of the Nakba, over 450 Palestinian villages and towns were wiped from the map by Zionist militias and 800,000 Palestinians were forced into exile as a result. Indeed massacres such as the one in Deir Yassin and Tantura remain etched in Palestinian collective memories.


Today, some of the Israeli regime’s most important landmarks sit where Palestinian localities once stood, from Tel Aviv University to Ben Gurion airport."


Earlier this month, Israeli settlers set ablaze the Palestinian town of Huwara, near Nablus, in what many described as a pogrom. Sameh Aqtesh, a 37-year-old Palestinian father of five, was shot dead, dozens were injured and many homes and businesses were vandalised. Since then, there have been subsequent attacks on the town and neighboring areas.


The Western media has taken an interest, but it framed what happened in Huwara as tit for tat between Palestinians and Israeli settlers. As a result, the coverage of the pogrom in the West ignored not only months of escalating settler violence but also the reality of Zionist settler colonialism.


So-called liberal Zionists and Israelis who consider themselves on the left of the political spectrum also showed an interest in Huwara. Since the pogrom, dozens of Israeli activists descended on the town to demonstrate. A small minority among the tens of thousands of Israelis attending the “pro-democracy” protests against the coalition government’s judicial reform plans have also raised anti-occupation slogans in the wake of the attack on Huwara. Others have taken to writing publicly about the shamefulness of what took place, claiming that at this moment “to love Israel is to denounce it”. “This is of concern to Jewry all over the world,” said British Jewish historian Simon Schama. “It’s absolutely, utterly horrifying.” Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence – “a noble document, which promised equal civil rights to all religious and ethnic groups” – had disintegrated, he said...


Read more: Israel was built on burned Palestinian villages





Yuval Noah Harari speaks at a protest against the Israeli government's planned judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv, March 4, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Source: The Times of Israel


By Yuval Noah Harari
Published March 6, 2023



"In other democracies, the government’s power is checked and minority rights are protected through mechanisms like a constitution, an independent Supreme Court, a federal system, and recognition of international tribunals.


The proposed new Israeli regime will include no such mechanism."


As we celebrate Purim this week, it is a good opportunity to reflect on Jewish history, and on its connection to present events in Israel. For 2,000 years the Jewish people had a noble mission: to teach humanity a lesson about the importance of minority rights. Everywhere Jews lived – in the Persian Empire, in Morocco, in Poland or in the USA – Jews were the champions of minority rights.


They didn’t have to write books about it or give speeches about it, because their very existence was a lesson that minorities have rights. In countries where 99% of people were Muslims or Christians, a small Jewish minority told the neighbors every day: “People who think and behave differently are also entitled to live here. It is ok to be different, even though we are a minority”.


When 99% celebrated Christmas, the Jews celebrated Hanukkah. While 99% fasted on Ramadan, the Jews fasted on Yom Kippur; 99% went to the mosque, the Jews went to the synagogue; 99% ate pork – and the Jews ate knaidel. Every time Jews said no to pork and yes to knaidel, it was a lesson to the neighboring Cossacks: “The minority has rights, too. Even though there are more of you than of us, we are still allowed to eat what we want, and you shouldn’t tell us how to live”.


It was a very difficult lesson to teach. The pupils just wouldn’t listen. Christian priests, Muslim imams, and extreme nationalists from Hungary to Iran repeatedly screamed at the Jews: “But we are the majority! You are the minority! You have to do what we say!” And the Jews calmly replied: “True, you are the majority and we are the minority, but the minority has rights too. We are allowed to think and act differently from you, and you should respect that”...


Read more: They’ve forgotten what it means to be Jewish





Israeli forces take security measures after raid the city of Nablus in the north of the West Bank on March 12, 2023. 3 Palestinians were killed in the raid. [Nedal Eshtayah - Anadolu Agency]

Source: Middle East Monitor


By Dr Mohammad Makram Balawi
Published March 13, 2023



"The damage was so great that some Israelis sympathised with victims and denounced the actions of the settlers.


One general called it a "pogrom", which is an emotive word for a Jew to use.


European diplomats flocked to the village
to meet the people and express their solidarity.


They too condemned the settlers' crimes.



Where and when does history begin? And who decides? This is a crucial point when it comes to the conflict in Palestine due to the conflicting narratives. The mainstream media, for example, opt for the narrative in which "a Palestinian gunman shot two Israeli brothers in the Palestinian village of Huwara," whereas the Palestinian narrative is that, "After the Israeli army killed 11 Palestinians in the neighboring city of Nablus, a member of a Palestinian resistance group opened fire at two members of the armed forces who lived in an illegal Jewish settlement and happened to be brothers." According to Israeli media outlets, the two Israeli settlers were a sailor, while the other planned to serve as a combat soldier in the Israeli army.


Since the early 1990s, Israeli academics and security officials have issued warnings to the government about the destructive role of heavily-armed illegal settlers, not only to the Palestinians, but most importantly — from the Israeli government point of view — also to the authority of the Israeli occupation government in the West Bank. Israel, though, chose not to act and in many cases has provided settlers with arms as well as legal and political cover.


Armed settlers attacked the Palestinian village of Huwara near Nablus on 26 February, burning houses, shops and cars, and attacking the local residents. The damage was so great that some Israelis sympathised with victims and denounced the actions of the settlers. One general called it a "pogrom", which is an emotive word for a Jew to use. European diplomats flocked to the village to meet the people and express their solidarity. They too condemned the settlers' crimes.


Read more: The Zionist state and Zionist militancy


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