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Not content with wiping Palestine off the map, Israel has done the same to part of Syria too

The border between Israeli occupied Golan Heights and Syria [Eviatar Bach/Wikipedia]
The border between Israeli occupied Golan Heights and Syria [Eviatar Bach/Wikipedia]

For several years, throughout the height of Israel’s anti-Iran war-mongering and propaganda, we were told that a nuclear Iran threatened to wipe the Zionist state “off the map”. In fact, this claim was based on a mistranslated statement by the then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What he had actually called for was for Israel’s political regime to “vanish from the page of time” in a similar fashion to the Soviet Union or the South African apartheid regime.

As with so much Israeli propaganda, this was yet another case of a psychological phenomenon known as projection. This is where an aggressor projects onto their victim the aggressor’s own crimes.

Subconsciously, the aggressor knows that what they did to the victim was wrong, but must justify or deny the crime in order to live with themselves. They then live in fear that the crimes they have committed will be revisited upon themselves in revenge. They then convince themselves that the victim deserved the crime all along because of this imagined revisitation.

In the case of Israel this is invoked regularly as propagandists ramp up fears that Israel’s enemies want to “wipe Israel off the map” or “push the Jews into the sea”. In both cases, these sentiments are based on fabricated and/or mistranslated reports.

The historical record shows beyond doubt that it is Israel which has, in reality, wiped an entire country off the map: Palestine. And it is Israel which pushed Palestinian refugees into the sea during the 1947-48 Nakba, the appalling ethnic cleansing before, during and after the establishment of the state of Israel on Palestinian land. This was done, quite literally, as Ilan Pappé recounts in his seminal book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine; Palestinian refugees were actually pushed into the sea while fleeing for their lives. Some escaped by boat to Lebanon, hoping to return when the fighting died down.

Palestine no longer appears on English-language maps, whereas it did before 1948. In its place is “Israel”, sometimes with vague dotted lines around the West Bank and/or Gaza Strip, with the status of those particular occupied territories remaining vague and undefined.

More to the point, the Zionist militias that ante-dated the Israeli army mostly succeeded in the goal of creating a Jewish majority state in a country — Palestine — which was overwhelmingly not Jewish. They did this by driving 750,000 people into exile at the barrel of a gun and under fear of being massacred (as many were).

Today millions of Palestinians, the descendants of those 750,000, still live in exile in refugee camps which have become established concrete facts on the ground, and the wider diaspora. Yet the desire for the implementation of the legitimate right of the refugees to return remains one of the few points of almost unanimous consensus in the divided Palestinian body politic.

Moreover, there is a less well known ethnic cleansing for which Israel is responsible, one that came in the wake of its 1967 war of aggression against surrounding Arab countries. Not content with wiping Palestine off the map, Israel has done the same to that part of south-western Syria known as the Golan Heights.

Following Israel’s illegal conquest and occupation of that territory in 1967, more than 125,000 native Syrians were either forcibly removed from their homes, or compelled to flee by the threat of war. Israel then set about to systematically destroy hundreds of Syrian villages to make the prospect of those Syrians returning to their land highly unlikely. Israeli settlements built for its Jewish colonists have been built on the ruins of the destroyed villages. Sometimes these were cynically named after the village that had been literally wiped off the map, and given Hebraic names.

At the end of last year Israel announced that it was using the cover of the war in Syria to expand the settlement of Katzrin. That particular settlement was built on the land of Qasrin, a former Syrian village long since demolished by the Israelis.

New research released by Syrian Golan human rights group Al-Marsad shows that the number of villages destroyed by Israel in this way was greater than originally thought. Up until this month, it was believed that Israel had destroyed between 240 and 260, but the new research shows that the true number was much higher, with 340 villages and farms wiped off the map. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it, but this is no propagandist rhetoric. This has happened, and Israel has done it.

The now-corrected discrepancy seems to be down to various factors, including inaccurate maps and Israel’s non-recognition of the demilitarised zone in the Golan between Syrian and Israeli armed forces.

A new map published by Al-Marsad provides a stark illustration of how extensive Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Golan Heights has been. The green dots representing the destroyed villages cover the map along the length and breadth of the territory. Only a few Syrian villages remain there now, in the north near the demilitarised zone.

Nevertheless, despite Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Syrians, the Golan Heights was and remains Syrian. The Israeli occupation of Syrian territory must end immediately, just as the occupation of Palestine must end.

ArticleInquiryIsraelMiddle EastOpinionPalestineSyria
  • Fasdunkle

    You get paid for this drivel?

    • Kyle Renner

      Got a problem with facts?

      Don’t answer that– I know you do. You hasbara-spewing types really hate facts when they come to Palestine, Lebanon, the Golan.

  • Ken Kelso

    Golan belongs to Israel.
    A good history lesson.

    The Golan Hights – Historical Rights and Legitimacy .
    MONDAY, JUNE 2, 2008

    The Golan is where the tribes of Dan and Menashe settled, and Israeli kings ranging from Saul to Herod ruled there. The Golan saw consecutive Jewish settlement for 800 years; 300 Jewish communities from the time of the Mishna and Talmud were discovered there, along with the remnants of 27 synagogues. Later, 1,000 years of desolation followed, until the Jews returned. In the 16th century, the Ottoman Turks came in control of the area and remained so until the end of World War I.

    The Golan belongs to Israel because it is the estate of the Jews forefathers and not only by the power of occupation in a defensive war against an aggressor, like America in Texas and Polandand former German territories.

    Syria controlled the Golan for only 21 years, half the period it has been under Israeli rule. Almost half of its territory has been purchased by Rothschild and later robbed by the Syrian government. Jews settled in the Golan as early as 1886 (long before the Syrian Arab Republic existed) but they were expelled, massacred, or fled because of malaria.

    In 1886, the Jewish B’nei Yehuda society of Safed purchased a plot of land four kilometers north of the present-day religious moshav of Keshet, but the community, named Ramataniya, failed one year later. In 1887, the society purchased lands between the modern-day Bene Yehuda and Kibbutz Ein Gev. This community survived until 1920, when two of its last members were murdered in the anti-Jewish riots which erupted in the spring of that year. In 1891, Baron Rothschild purchased approximately 18,000 acres (73 km²) of land in the Hauran, about 15 km east of modern Ramat Hamagshimim. Immigrants of the First Aliyah (1881–1903) established five small communities on this land, but were forced to leave by the Ottomans in 1898. The lands were farmed until 1947 by the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PICA) and the Jewish Colonization Association, when they were seized by the Syrian army.

    According to the Agreement of San Remo,(April 1920) The mandate for Palestine comprises an area incorporating what is now the entire state of Israel, including the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. The mandate specifically states that a national homeland for the Jewish people should be established in Palestine, but that the rights of non-Jews should be protected. In 1923, Britain ceded the Golan Heights (1,176 square kilometers of the Palestine Mandate) to the French Mandate of Syria, in spite of the specifications of the San Remo agreements and the Mandate for Palestine which was conferred on Britain in 1922 by The League of Nations. Jews were also barred from living there. Jewish settlers on the Golan Heights were forced to abandon their homes and relocate inside the westerb area of the British Mandate.

    Claims that the Golan is Syrian land has no geographic or historical basis. All theese evens should be known before we talk about strategy and security.

    And the situation today?

    A poll found that 48% of the public said they would refuse an order to evacuate the Golan. This strengthen the Golan loyalists, and it appears to undermine Israel’s right to hand over parts of the country to other states.

    With the exception of Stalinist Russia, states only expelled the populations of enemies defeated in war, rather than their own citizens. And just like depriving a person of his rights and freedoms is forbidden, “cleansing” the Golan off Jews would not only be a national sin, but also a crime against humanity, which allows for the right to resist. Should Golan leaders not internalize this, the Gush Katif tragedy shall repeat.