[link to www.brushtail.com.au
24 July 2006
Old Possum, Joadja and I went in to the city for the big demonstration against the Israeli attacks on Gaza and Lebanon. It was the biggest demonstration Sydney had seen since before the invasion of Iraq.
“By a strange coincidence, today is the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the King David hotel in Jerusalem”, Old Possum remarked, as we waited at Town Hall Square for the march to kick off. “While their air force is unleashing hell in Lebanon, Israelis are dancing on the graves of 92 people killed by the Irgun terrorist organization on 22 July 1946”.
“I read in the Times On Line that the British Government has objected to the Zionists celebrating the event and putting a plaque at the spot”, I said. “They had a conference to mark the anniversary and tied themselves in semantic knots trying to find a difference between ‘resistance’ and ‘terror’. In the end, they decided they had been ‘freedom fighters’ while the Arabs were always ‘terrorists’”.
“What’s the story of the bombing?” Joadja asked.
Old Possum leaned on his walking stick and raised his voice a decibel or two above the din: “The Hotel was the headquarters for the secretariat of the British Mandate in Palestine. The military command was also based there. The Irgun team entered the hotel posing as Arabs delivering milk. The explosive charges were in milk churns, set to go off after half an hour. A warning call was made to the hotel and to the nearby French consulate, but it was never acted on by the British, probably because their guards detected the bombers and there was a running gunfight with them as they were leaving, during which the terrorists set off an explosive device in the street outside the hotel.
“The warning call spoke only of an ‘explosive device’, so in the confusion, the authorities probably thought the attack had been foiled. Then the real bomb went off, destroying a whole wing of the hotel. As British military engineers rushed there with heavy lifting gear to rescue survivors they were impeded by Zionist roadblocks and stoned and booed by crowds of Jews. As well as Britons, Arabs, Armenians, Greeks and 15 Jews were killed.”
“Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the event.”
“Who ordered the bombing?”
“The story goes that David Ben Gurion, the chief Zionist honcho originally suggested it, but he got cold feet. Moshe Sneh, the leader of Haganah, the Zionist military command, decided to go ahead and told Menachem Begin to carry it out.”
“So what was it supposed to achieve? The British Mandate had already encouraged hundreds of thousands of Jews to settle in Palestine.”
“Yeah, after driving the Turks out in World War I, the British government decided unilaterally, to establish what it called a ‘National Home for the Jewish people’ in Palestine, over which they had gained a League of Nations mandate to shepherd the country towards self-government. Of course there was a slippery little formulation about it being ‘clearly understood’ that the decision wouldn’t prejudice the civil and religious rights of the original non-Jewish communities, who weren’t consulted about the idea. Somehow, the hapless British officials and soldiers trying to make the Mandate work were supposed to reconcile the hopes and rights of the native Palestinians with the implacable thrusting ambition of the Zionist immigrants.
“But in the ten years before the hotel bombing, around 378,000 Jews had migrated to Palestine. In 1946, the native Palestinian population was about 1.3 million. Over that short period Jewish immigrants suddenly made up something like a third of the population! Compare that to Australia. Our population isn’t yet 21 million. Over recent years the migrant intake has been less than half a per cent of the existing population in any year! The redneck nutters would really have something to screech about if Australia had copped the massive influx the Palestinians faced. An equivalent rate of immigration would be six million people coming here since 1996.
“But none of this satisfied the Zionists. By that stage they were hell-bent on driving the natives out of the place and setting up an exclusively Jewish state. And that’s what they preceded to do. The King David Hotel bombing was about clearing the Mandate out of the way. The British public was outraged, but the politicians realised they’d created a monster they couldn’t control and they decided it was time to go.
“In April 1948, Begin’s Irgun, another Zionist group, the Stern Gang and members of the mainstream Haganah, followed up the hotel bombing by massacring 254 Palestinians from the village of Deir Yassin. The aim was to terrorise Palestinians into flight. And that worked too. By the time it was over they’d depopulated over 400 towns and villages and driven 700,000 people from their lands and businesses.”
“So now, any Jew, born anywhere in the world, has the ‘right to return’ to Israel, but no Palestinian does”.
Just then, they announced it was time to march, and we shuffled out onto George Street.