foreign diplomat recently asked me to explain why the Arabs sympathise with Palestinian terrorism. I was forced to point out a few truths. The Jewish state was built on systematic terrorism practised by Zionist gangs in Palestine. The leaders of the gangs went on to become Israeli heads of state and ministers. The notorious Irgun Zvai Leumi was led by the Polish immigrant Menachem Begin; and Yitzhak Shamir, who came from Belarus, was a leader of the equally criminal Lehi, aka Stern Gang. These and others were preceded by the Haganah which began in the 1920s. They were responsible for a chain of massacres in the 1940s, most notably the massacre of Deir Yassin. The inhabitants of that village were told to stay in their homes. Then the Haganah, aided by the Irgun and Stern Gang, went from house to house, ruthlessly murdering everyone inside. The village was erased from the map and the Jewish town of Kfar Shaul replaced it.
It was one of the most coldly calculated acts of terror in modern history. During that bloodbath, the Irgun seized 250 children, women, and elderly, then slaughtered the children, stabbed pregnant women in their bellies, raped girls, dismembered the bodies of their victims and threw them in the village well, all in front of the children’s parents. So unfolded the plan to terrorise the indigenous population into fleeing their land so it could be taken over by Jewish immigrants. Twelve days later, Haifa witnessed a similar massacre. Qazaza, Sa’sa’, Salama, Beir Adas, Nasr Al-Din, Acre, Lod, Ramla, Beir Saba and Western Galilee experienced similar horrors. What official narratives overlook is that the Arab offensive against the Zionist entity in 1948 was in response to the atrocities perpetrated by the Jewish terrorist gangs whose descendants are, today, committing genocide in Gaza.
I also had to remind my diplomatic interlocutor that the Irgun was responsible for the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing Arabs and foreigners, including some citizens of that diplomat’s country. Lord Moyne, the British minister of state in the Middle East, was assassinated by the Lehi (Stern Gang) in Cairo in 1944. Shamir, at the time, said that terrorism was a legitimate means to fight the occupier. When you look back at history, you’ll find that it was the Jewish Zionists who introduced terrorism into heretofore safe Palestine. Terrorism in Palestine is Israeli in origin because it is an integral part of the creed of a Zionist state.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 30 November, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly