Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Why the people of Palestine hate Israel

Adam Stevens (Write Back, July 11) quotes liberally from the Hamas Charter to demonstrate its antagonism to Israel.

It is worth recalling how this antagonism to Israel by Hamas, and by Palestinians in general, came about.

A hundred years ago, Jews made up about 5% of the population of Palestine and the area was relatively conflict free. The conflict, with which we are familiar today, is the product of the Zionist movement to establish a homeland for Jews in Palestine, which began in Europe in the late 19th century.

This was made a practical possibility by the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which Britain declared its support for ‘the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people’.

Over the next 30 years, while Britain ruled Palestine, Jewish colonisation brought the Jewish population up to about 30% of the total and, understandably, provoked the antagonism of the indigenous Arab population.

In 1948, the Zionist movement established the Jewish state of Israel in 78% of Palestine, even though at the time Jews made up only about a third of the population of Palestine as a whole and owned a mere 6% of the land.

To ensure that Jews were predominant in the new Jewish state, nearly all the Arabs — around 750,000 — were expelled from it into the rest of Palestine and the surrounding Arab states, where they and their descendants live today.

Over 500 Arab villages were emptied of their population and most of them destroyed so that those expelled had no homes to return to.

The Zionist project didn’t stop there. Since 1967, Israel has occupied the rest of mandate Palestine — the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem — and continued its colonising mission in these areas.

Today, there are nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers on confiscated Arab land in the Occupied Territories.

This may go some way to explain the antagonism that Palestinians feel towards Israel.

David Morrison

Belfast

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