Times of Israel publishes, promptly deletes piece calling for ‘obliteration of Palestine’
The inflammatory post is indicative of increasing calls in Israeli society to repeat the massacres and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians seen during the ‘Nakba’ 75 years ago
By News Desk- May 20 2023
On 18 May, the Times of Israel newspaper published a blog post advocating that Palestine “be obliterated.” The post was subsequently deleted, but nonetheless remains an indication of a growing incitement of violence against Palestinians both among Israelis and the Jewish state’s supporters abroad.
“In order to right a wrong, in order to make peace and move forward, Palestine must be obliterated. It is an afront to society, morality, humanity. It represents lies and antisemitism, oppression and terror. Nothing more,” wrote Jeffrey Camras, a Jewish American living in Chicago, Illinois, who lived for a time in Israel as an adult.
After acknowledging the millions of Palestinian refugees scattered in camps throughout Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan following Israel’s establishment in 1948, Camras writes further: “How to say this simply. They lost! They don’t get to dictate any terms. What world do we live in that every country throughout history has established its borders and conquered land through war, and we collectively decide we don’t do this anymore with Israel in 1948?”
Camras also suggests in his opinion piece that Israel “Conquer remaining biblical lands in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Do this diplomatically or militarily. Do not be weak with your enemies. Expel anyone who does not accept Hashem’s Sovereignty, which recognition of Jewish sovereignty is the litmus test.”
Camras is thereby repudiating the lessons learned by the international community following World War II, when Adolf Hitler and the Nazi leadership sought to conquer parts of Czechoslovakia and Poland under the pretext of creating a Greater Germany.
Nazi ethnic nationalist ideology argued that all the lands where ethnic Germans had historically lived were connected to the German nation through “blood and soil,” and therefore the Nazi government had the right to conquer these lands.
Following the Soviet-led defeat of the Nazis in 1945, and in an effort to prevent the type of killing and bloodshed caused by the war in the future — including the Nazi murder of millions of Jews in the Holocaust — the UN charter adopted the principle that annexation and territorial conquest through violence are forbidden and illegal under international law.
However, history was quickly repeated, as the Zionist movement sought to conquer the land needed to establish the state of Israel, including by ethnically cleansing the indigenous Palestinian population, whose individual rights to life and property should have been protected under the UN charter.
Starting in 1947, pre-state militias of the Zionist movement initiated a policy of “transfer” to forcibly expel some 750,000 Palestinians from their homes.
This process of ethnic cleansing, known by Palestinians as the Catastrophe, or Nakba, not only allowed Zionist leaders to acquire the territory necessary for the creation of a new state, but also to rid themselves of the unwanted indigenous Muslim and Christian population and establish a Jewish majority in their place.
As Israeli historian Benny Morris has shown, the transfer campaign was not only deliberate but accompanied by many massacres and rapes at the hands of Zionist militias.
In his Times of Israel blog post, Jeffrey Camras himself acknowledges the indigenous status of Palestinian Christians and Muslims, noting that “buried deep in Palestine are the descendants of Jews who either converted to Islam or Christianity, or were forced to convert to Islam and Christianity.”
He then suggests that these Palestinians could be converted back to Judaism.
Before Benny Morris published his findings, Israeli historians often claimed that no such deliberate ethnic cleansing campaign had taken place and that Palestinians had voluntarily left their homes when fighting broke out between the pre-state Zionist militias and neighboring Arab armies in 1948.
By leaving their homes, the majority of Palestinians became refugees in neighboring Arab countries, the West Bank (then under Jordanian control), and Gaza (then under Egyptian control).
When Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza during the Six Day War in 1967, the Israeli military was not able to carry out a similar mass transfer campaign to expel the remaining indigenous Palestinian population. Instead, both the West Bank and Gaza were placed under Israeli military occupation and Palestinians were denied basic civic rights.
Israel’s conquest of Palestinian territory in 1967 was condemned by the UN, which passed Resolution 242, demanding Israel withdraw its military from territories conquered during the recent conflict, while emphasizing “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,” in line with the UN Charter.
Since that time, a slow motion campaign of ethnic cleansing and apartheid has continued, as more and more Palestinian land has gradually been confiscated by Israeli military authorities to pave the way for the illegal expansion of settlements to house new Jewish immigrants, including many from Russia and the US, such as Camras himself.
Calls for the Israeli government to not only confiscate and colonize Palestinian land now under Israeli military occupation, but to formally annex these territories as well, have increased in the past year, especially as settler advocates Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir have gained power in the Israeli government following Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent return as prime minister.
The Israeli Policy Forum noted in January of this year that “Rather than packaging their one-state ideology in the language of democracy and human rights or at least paying lip service to those values, Smotrich and Ben Gvir openly disregard them. Smotrich’s substantive policy plans for the West Bank to erase bureaucratic distinctions between settlements and sovereign Israel are coupled with Ben Gvir’s populist sloganeering, employing and encouraging racist chants and dog whistles like ‘may your village burn,’ or ‘death to terrorists’ in lieu of ‘death to Arabs.’”
Further, “their proposals include loyalty oaths, deportation of ‘disloyal’ residents and citizens, and changing the rules of engagement to remove any restriction on the use of lethal force against Palestinian protestors.”