Wednesday, May 18, 2016

REDFLAG: A Palestinian love story too much for Zionists to bear

Dear friends,
please find below my latest article for Red Flag on the recent Zionist and Liberal Party attempt to have Palestinian playwright, Samah Sabawi's play banned from inclusion in the Victorian Education Certificate Drama List.

If you are in Melbourne, I highly recommend you take the opportunity to see the play for yourself. It is currently being staged in Melbourne at La Mama Theatre. You can get your tickets here if you would like to check it out (click here)   The play will also run in Sydney and Adelaide.

In solidarity, Kim

A Palestinian love story too much for Zionists to bear

Tales of a city by the sea, a play depicting a love story in Gaza, has come under attack from the Victorian Liberal Party and Zionist organisations.

They have demanded it be withdrawn from this year’s Victorian Education Certificate (VCE) drama list, which is studied by more than 1,300 senior high school students.

The play, written by Palestinian poet Samah Sabawi, is one of 16 included in this year’s curriculum.

Set against the backdrop of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s brutal 22-day assault on Gaza in 2008-09, the play tells the story of Palestinians living under occupation, siege and bombardment. However, according to Dvir Abramovich, the chair of B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Sabawi’s love story portrays Israel as a “blood-thirsty, evil war-machine”.

On 9 May, the Victorian Liberals also called for the play to be banned. The Liberal MP for Kew, Tim Smith, demanded to know why “an anti-Israel play is being taught to our children”. Smith, who had the backing of party leader Matthew Guy, repeated – word for word – Abramovich’s claim that the play portrayed Israel as “a blood-thirsty, evil war-machine”. Smith was joined in his attack by MPs David Morris and David Southwick.

However, when Liberal MPs were questioned in parliament if they had bothered to read or see A tale of a city by the sea before forming their opinions of it, their response was stone cold silence.

The following day, in a post on his official Facebook page, Smith went further, labelling the play “anti-Semitic”. He provided no evidence to back this allegation.

Education minister James Merlino rejected calls for the play to be taken off the syllabus.

Sabawi has rejected both Zionist and Liberal Party claims, asking “Do we need to tell an Israeli love story every time we tell a Palestinian one?” In a statement issued on 9 May, Sabawi pointed out that that the play was being opposed by “interest groups who failed to see the world outside their ideological filters”, and that it was impossible to “write about ordinary lives in Gaza without writing about the Palestinian people’s daily struggle for normalcy in a war zone”.

The campaign against Sabawi’s play is not the first time that the Zionist lobby in Australia has called for the censorship and banning of theatre works that diverge from the Zionist narrative about the Israel-Palestine conflict.

In 2009 and 2010, Zionist organisations in Melbourne and Perth staged protests against the performance of British playwright Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish children, written in the immediate aftermath of Operation Cast Lead.

In both instances, the Zionist opponents of Sabawi and Churchill’s theatre pieces had not bothered to read or see the plays before deeming them “offensive” “racist” or “anti-Semitic”.
The real offence caused by both plays is that they humanise the Palestinian experience under Israeli occupation, siege and apartheid.

Both Sabawi’s and Churchill’s lovingly crafted plays pack a punch precisely because they depict Palestinians as ordinary human beings, who love, cry, dream, get angry, feel joy and mourn – just like the rest of us. Sabawi’s play in particular not only exposes the deplorable conditions faced by Palestinians but also reveals that love and hope can exist even in the most oppressive environments.

The attack on Sabawi’s play is not an isolated incident, but part of the broader campaign by the Israeli state and its supporters to demonise Palestine solidarity activism and censor anything that sheds light on the situation faced by Palestinians.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Plan Dalet & Nakba By The Numbers

Dear friends,
the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) has published a range of facts sheets and videos on the Palestinian struggle.  They recently issued a new video called Nabka by the Numbers looking at the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. This builds on the iinfographic they released last year. 

In 2013, IMEU also issued a fact sheet on Plan Dalet, the Zionist plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.  Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, has written extensively on the plan in his book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine which was published several years ago.

in solidarity, Kim



65th Anniversary of the Adoption of Plan Dalet

March 08, 2013 IMEU

65th Anniversary of the Adoption of Plan Dalet


"Transfer" in Zionist Thinking

  • From the earliest days of modern political Zionism, its advocates grappled with the problem of creating a Jewish majority state in a part of the world where Palestinian Arabs were the overwhelming majority of the population. For many, the solution became known as "transfer," a euphemism for ethnic cleansing.
  • As far back as 1895, the father of modern political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, wrote: "We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country... expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly."
  • By August 1937, "transfer" was a major subject of discussion at the Twentieth Zionist Congress in Zurich, Switzerland. Alluding to the systematic dispossession of Palestinian peasants (fellahin) that Zionist organizations had been engaged in for years, David Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel's first prime minister in 1948, stated:
    "You are no doubt aware of the [Jewish National Fund's] activity in this respect. Now a transfer of a completely different scope will have to be carried out. In many parts of the country new settlement will not be possible without transferring the Arab fellahin." He concluded: "Jewish power [in Palestine], which grows steadily, will also increase our possibilities to carry out this transfer on a large scale."
  • In June 1938, Ben-Gurion told a meeting of the Jewish Agency: "I support compulsory transfer. I don't see anything immoral in it."
  • In December 1940, Joseph Weitz, director of the Jewish National Fund's Lands Department, which was tasked with acquiring land for the Zionist enterprise in Palestine, wrote in his diary:
    There is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, and to transfer all of them, save perhaps for [the Arabs of] Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem. Not one village must be left, not one [bedouin] tribe. And only after this transfer will the country be able to absorb millions of our brothers and the Jewish problem will cease to exist. There is no other solution.

Details of Plan Dalet

  • On March 10, 1948, Zionist political and military leaders, including Ben-Gurion, met in Tel Aviv and formally adopted Plan Dalet (or Plan D). The operational military orders specified which Palestinian population centers should be targeted and laid out in detail a blueprint for their forcible depopulation and destruction. It called for: 
    Mounting operations against enemy population centers located inside or near our defensive system in order to prevent them from being used as bases by an active armed force. These operations can be divided into the following categories:
    Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those population centers which are difficult to control continuously
    Mounting search and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the village and conducting a search inside it. In the event of resistance, the armed force must be destroyed and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state.
  • The Haganah (soon to be Israeli army) launched military operations under Plan Dalet at the beginning of April 1948. Although attacks by Zionist forces against Palestinian population centers actually began a few days after the UN Partition Plan was passed on November 29, 1947, with the adoption of Plan Dalet expulsions accelerated and became systematic, marking a new phase in the conflict in which Zionist and then Israeli forces went on "the offensive," in the words of Israeli historian Benny Morris.
  • Following Israel's establishment on May 14, 1948, the new Israeli government set up an unofficial body, the "Transfer Committee," to oversee the destruction of Palestinian towns and villages or their repopulation with Jews, and to prevent displaced Palestinians from returning to their homes. In a report presented to Ben-Gurion in June 1948, the three-man committee, which included the JNF's Weitz, called for the "destruction of villages as much as possible during military operations."


  • By the time the state of Israel was declared on May 14, 1948, more than 200 Palestinian villages had already been emptied as people fled in fear or were forcibly expelled by Zionist forces, and approximately 175,000 Palestinians had been made refugees. By 1949, at least 750,000 Palestinians had been made refugees, losing their land, homes and other belongings in what became known as the "Nakba" ("catastrophe"). Their flight was accelerated by massacres such as the one that took place on April 9, 1948, at Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, where approximately 100 Palestinian men, women, and children were murdered by Zionist paramilitaries. Today, refugees displaced during Israel's creation and their descendants number approximately 7.1 million people.
  • Some 400 Palestinian towns and villages, including vibrant urban centers, were systematically destroyed or taken over by Israeli Jews. Most of them were demolished to prevent the return of their Palestinian residents, now refugees outside of what would become Israel's internationally recognized borders, or internally displaced inside of them.
  • Only about 150,000 Palestinians remained inside what became Israel, many of them internally displaced people. Although they were granted Israeli citizenship, they were governed by Israeli military rule until 1966, had most of their land taken from them, and continue to suffer widespread, systematic discrimination today.

Controversy Surrounding Plan Dalet

  • Over the years, Plan Dalet has been the subject of controversy, with some Israelis and their supporters claiming that it was not in fact a blueprint for expulsion or ethnic cleansing.
  • Benny Morris, one of the leading so-called "new historians" of Israel, wrote in his landmark work The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem: 1947-1949, that Plan Dalet was "a strategic-ideological anchor and basis for expulsions by front, district, brigade and battalion commanders" providing "post facto a formal persuasive covering note to explain their actions." Morris, a right-wing Zionist ideologically who has at times himself denied there was a premeditated plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, noted that from the beginning of April 1948, there were "Clear traces of an expulsion policy on both national and local levels with respect to certain key districts and localities and a general 'atmosphere of transfer' are detectable in statements made by Zionist officials and officers."
  • In his memoirs, which were censored by the Israeli military but leaked to The New York Times in 1979, the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin recalled a conversation he had in July 1948 with Ben-Gurion, when Rabin was an officer in the Israeli army, regarding the fate of more than 50,000 Palestinian residents of the cities of Lydda and Ramleh. Rabin wrote:
    "We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. [Yigal] Allon repeated his question, 'What is to be done with the Palestinian population?' Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said 'Drive them out!'" Rabin added, "I agreed that it was essential to drive the inhabitants out."

Further Reading