On social media and in the mainstream press we are constantly reminded that the current conflict in Gaza started on 7th October. This is not just a typographical error, it is a deliberate attempt to whitewash the history of Palestine and the imposition of the Israeli state by European powers following World War Two.

The earliest map I could find was this one (see image) which dates from 1848. It should be noted however that the state of Palestine did not actually exist at this time. During the nineteenth century as European colonialists, specifically British, German and Dutch, sought to carve up the world for themselves, boundaries were far more fluid than they are today. Conquest was the main reason a lot of boundaries came into existence, and conquest remains the colonialists’ main weapon for expanding their own territory.

Of course, if one state is expanding, it infers another is becoming smaller. Though it is not clear that the notion of a state existed in all cultures prior to Europeanisation. What is certainly clear is that for white Europeans the inhabitants of these lands were at best a nuisance to be cleared, at worst inferior beings to be enslaved. Either way, the history of Europe, and by extension America, is one of genocidal conquest, mass murder and slavery. This is the culture many want to defend.

In 1922 Palestine was one of many territories placed under UK ‘administration’ by the forerunner of the United Nations, the League of Nations. Whilst most of these nations eventually became independent states, Palestine remained under the jurisdiction of the British.

The so-called British mandate incorporated the Balfour declaration of 1917 for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. The point to note here is that the Palestinian people living on those lands were not consulted about their homeland at all. From these early colonial origins come the appalling treatment of native Palestinians and the origins of the resistance to colonial rule.

As is widely known Israel, as a state, did not come into being until after the Second World War. As is also widely known, European Jews were subjected to the most horrific treatment by the white supremacists of the German Nazi Party. For many there is a direct comparison between German Nazism and Israeli Zionism. As tempting as this comparison might be, the fact is that not every genocidal act is committed by Nazis. Indeed, the philosophy of the Nazi Party and the tenets of the fascism they promoted have significant differences to the way in which Zionism is currently being promoted in Israel.

Specifically, fascism as a philosophy is founded on the subjugation of the entire state to the party. Whilst often emerging from democratic systems, fascist states are inevitably one-party states. Moreover, fascist states, whilst certainly authoritarian, nationalistic and militaristic, tend to coalesce around a dominant leader, or father figure. Whatever kind of state Israel has grown into, the fact is that, if you are a Palestinian in any territories they control, you are a second class citizen at best.

In 1948, at the dawn of the founding of Israel, there were only 630,000 Jews in Palestine. They were outnumbered 2:1 by Muslims. By 2023 there were 7.2 million Jews in Israel. Jews are now 75% of the population and they now outnumber Muslims by 7:2.

These numbers, remarkable as the product of a manufactured catastrophe (or nakba as it translates in Arabic), give some indication of the way the war on Palestinians has succeeded over the past 70+ years. 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly removed from their homes to make way for the Israeli state.

In 1950 that state agreed the Law of Return. This gave the right to any person with any kind of Jewish heritage to settle in Israel. Since then millions have taken up that offer, arriving in Israel and settling on land previously belonging to Palestinian families. The latest figures, from 2023, show that some 45,000 did so. The majority from Russia, Ukraine and the USA. Whilst the Jewish populations are small in Russia and Ukraine, there are 6.3 million people in the USA who can claim Jewish heritage, and as such Israeli citizenship.

Jewish people are brought up to be aware of the Holocaust as the pivotal event in the history of their religion. It is taught extensively in their schools and it is a widespread belief amongst Jewish people that they must be forever vigilant against this happening again. Whilst this is understandable, it does mean that some Jewish people are forever casting themselves as victims and also that Zionists, a sub-population of Jews, have been able to weaponise antisemitism against those who do not accept the legitimacy of Israel. 

There are no hard and fast statistics on the proportion of Jews who are Zionists, but recent surveys suggest that between 75 and 80% of Jews living in the UK and the USA have a strong attachment to Israel.

Whilst hatred of Jews certainly predates Hitler, the Nazis took it to new levels. Unfortunately, hatred of Jews does still continue amongst right-wing groups and individuals looking for easy targets.

However, as with the famous Battle of Cable Street, the left have famously stood shoulder to shoulder with Jewish people against fascism. And it should not be forgotten that socialists were among the first victims of the Nazis concentration camps as they sought to extinguish all opposition to their power.

In 2018 the Israelis passed the Jewish Nation-State Law, which defined Israel as an exclusive Jewish state by making it the law that “the right to exercise national self-determination” in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people.” In other words, Israel is Jewish and exclusively Jewish. No other peoples, specifically Palestinians, can exercise national self-determination on those lands. 

It is this law which has been roundly condemned as ‘apartheid’. In February 2022 Amnesty International concluded: “Laws, policies and practices which are intended to maintain a cruel system of control over Palestinians, have left them fragmented geographically and politically, frequently impoverished, and in a constant state of fear and insecurity.”

There are currently 8.5 million Jews who do not live in Israel. Any one of them could enter Israel tomorrow and claim full citizenship. Yet the 2 million Palestinians living in what is now called Israel have only second class citizenship. For those living in the occupied territories it was far worse even prior to October. 219 Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops in 2018, 149 in 2019, 279 in 2021 and 215 in 2022. This is routine sub-judicial murder against a subjugated and occupied population. 

Hamas emerged during the first intifada (which literally means ‘shaking off’) in 1987 as a response to an Israeli truck ramming a car at a checkpoint and killing 4 Palestinians. In 2006, in elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hamas won 45% of the vote and 74 of the 132 seats. The Israelis were distraught. “If they have really taken over the administration, we are facing an absolutely hopeless situation from a political point of view,” former foreign minister Silvan Shalom told army radio. 

In 2008 Vanity Fair reported that President George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were so dismayed by the success of Hamas in democratic elections that they green lighted a plot to overthrow the elected government and replace them with the far more pliable Fatah party. The Americans funded this plot to the tune of $1.27 billion. 

Their plot having failed, in 1997 the US declared Hamas a terrorist organisation. It was not until 2021 that the UK followed suit and it is now an offence, liable to up to 14 years in jail, to invite support for Hamas or wear clothing which could be seen to support the group.

Since October 7th almost 37,000 Palestinians are known to have been killed by an Israeli assault that the International Court of Justice described as “plausibly a genocide”. The Israelis continue with impunity despite being told by the ICJ to cease from undertaking acts which could be interpreted as genocide. They have steadfastly refused to abide by international law, not just since October 7th but since 1967 when they first illegally occupied Gaza and the West Bank.

Recently 143 out of 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly voted in favour of a Palestinian bid for full UN membership. More and more countries have seen through the Israeli justification for their genocidal acts. They can continue for only one reason: they maintain the support of the USA who continually block attempts to prevent these murderous acts. In which they are supported by just one other nation: Great Britain.

The harsh treatment of Jewish people by German Nazis is not a justification for stealing the land of other peoples. It is not clear how many Israeli settlers in 1948 were survivors of the Holocaust, or how many went to America instead. 

The figures for Israel however make quite interesting reading. In 1947 there were 630,000 Jews and 1,324,000 Palestinians. One year later there were 716,700 Jews, an increase of only 86,700, but only 156,000 Palestinians, a decrease of over 1 million. 

There were at this time 3,779,300 Jews in Europe. America had an increase of just 300,000 from its pre-war figures. All this suggests that the idea that Israel was a refuge for Jews running from Europe is a myth. Most stayed, and, for those who left, far more ended up in America than Israel.

Meanwhile those figures show very clearly the devastation wrought upon Palestinians by the nascent Israeli state. It is surely time for the world to realise that it is the Palestinians who have been the victims here. Whatever victimhood the Jewish people have had, and nobody should deny the evil inherent in the Holocaust, does not and cannot justify the treatment of the Palestinian people whose land they stole.

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