Sunday, May 10, 2020 — The Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad/PCPA held a lecture titled, "150 Years into the Zionist Settlement Project: New Documents and Information,” provided by Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, head of PCPA’s General Assembly.
Via Zoom, the Palestinian historian Dr. Salman Abu Sittah discussed the Zionist Occupation of Palestine before and after Nakba/Catastrophe, summing up the stages of occupation in the first part of the lecture, while he highlighted the wars aimed at subjecting the Palestinian people in the second and provided a briefing on the Palestinian cause and Palestinians’ current reality in the third and final part, concluding with a message to all Palestinians, urging them to play the role they are assigned by virtue of the Palestinian cause.
Pointing out that it has been 150 years since Israel had first occupied Palestine, Abu Sitta stated that 72 years led up to Nakba, including preparations for the occupation, and a similar period followed it, over which the occupation went through various stages.
“During the first stage, starting around 1871 up to 1877, Britain deployed a survey expedition to Palestine, which resulted in 26 maps and 10 folders, listing its villages, cities, al-Quds, its population and all that is in Palestine. Next, in 1897, the Zionist Conference was held in Basel, Switzerland. This aimed at founding a Jewish state, which they planned to be in eastern Africa or Argentina, till they communicated with Britain and headed to Palestine in 1905,” Abu Sitta explained.
He added, “The second stage hailed the ominous Balfour Declaration, which promised to create in Palestine a national homeland for the Jews. The third stage, however, is the 1936’s revolution, extending up to 1983, which was only normal given the British mandate. At this stage, the Jews managed to flock into Palestine in large numbers, constituting up to 30% of the total population, which urged Palestinians to revolt against these settlers.”
Abu Sitta pointed out that Britain’s role was not limited to allowing Jewish settlers’ access to Palestine at this stage, but rather “it destroyed the Palestinian people on the 1936’s revolution. All that we hear now of Israeli crimes was initiated by Britain, beginning with air raids on villages and destroying them, which happened for the first time in Palestine back then, as well as collective punishment by seizing an entire village because it revolted against British injustice. Britain killed, wounded and imprisoned tens of thousands, disbanded parties, detained their leaders and exiled them.”
“1939 is the year of Nakba that Britain made because the Palestinian community in Palestine at that time became destroyed, unable to defend itself. It became an easy prey for Zionism, which was waiting for this opportunity and attacked Palestine after World War.”
The fourth stage, nonetheless, which is Nakba, Abu Sitta describes as “having no liking in the history of humanity. People were displaced out of 560 villages and cities through organized operations, carried out by nine legions, encompassing over 120 000 soldiers. The legions embarked on 31 military offensives from the north, the south and the center, at a time marked with UN and the Telegraph.”
He added, “In the wake on Nakba, the Zionists were not satisfied with 78% of Palestine’s area, taking over the rest of Palestine in 1967, occupying also parts of Syria’s Golan Heights and Sinai. A few years later, they occupied a number of positions in south Lebanon.”
According to Abu Sitta, “[the sixth stage] was Oslo, the greatest catastrophe to inflict the Palestinian cause since the Balfour Declaration, which it actually surpass. It brought the victim and the land’s absorber on the same table, as if the occupier was a partner in owning the land. Consequently, the Palestinian cause was turned into a discussion over 20% of Palestine and how it should be distributed on real owners, they said.”
The historian believes this stage to be the most dangerous to the Palestinian people, “because the Palestinian party trapped the rest of the Palestinian people in a dilemma, since what was signed was obliging till it is refuted by the Palestinian people, the thing that must happen.”
The last stage, according to Abu Sitta,” is Israel’s declaration of the success of all its occupation and invasion operations. In July 2018, it clearly declared that Palestine is Israel, and that Israel is the country of the Jewish people—they are called a people and they are not. This meant that Palestine does not exist and its people also are nonexistent, accordingly, there is no room to discuss or negotiate, as Israel perceives.”
In the past a few years, Abu Sitta explained, the occupation had waged wars in an attempt to control the land and uproot the Palestinian people. It failed. Contrastingly, this long history was a victory to the Palestinian people and a mark of honor because it continues to demand its right, one generation after the other.
In the second part of the lecture, Abu Sitta talked about the goal of "Israel" since its occupation of Palestine as of Nakba, which is "to take legitimacy from the Palestinian people and this never happened. Accordingly, Israel launched 10 types of wars against us to realize this goal.”
And these wars, 10 in number according to Abu Sitta, are “the war of military power, via which it controlled Palestine, and the war to silence the victim's voice, when massacres took place in the era of Telegraph and New York Times, which never reported them, preventing the victim's voice from reaching the West. The third war, a political one, was waged by the colonialist western group, by abolishing all international laws that criminalize Israel and support our right, as Israel has obliterated our geography by removing original names from the map and replacing them with names of their own.”
"The fifth war was a historical one, through which they deny our existence, saying that since the time of Christ, two thousand years ago, to the First World War when Albert Samuel came, there was no history of Palestine and there were no Palestinians. It was an empty land waiting for their return, and they were absent from it for two thousand years. Now, they have decided to return home, as they put it,” Abu Sitta added.
Commenting on this note, Abu Sitta said, "Of course, this history has been obliterated. It is a joke that can only fool those whose minds they control in the West. We have all the names, and our history exists. Our villages’ Palestinian names have been registered by Bishop Eusebius, namely 17 centuries ago, and they are the same names we have today.”
Abu Sitta considered that the sixth war is heritage-based, by destroying, canceling and demolishing any historical trace of the Palestinian people in Palestine, which is being doomed to die by the Occupation. Explaining this, he added: “I unearthed a truth years ago. In 1948, when they displaced the residents of 560 Palestinian villages and cities, they began to systematically destroy villages, accompanied by an excavation team. If they found a stone that would benefit them, they would keep; if not the whole house would be demolished. We have maps telling how they destroyed. They actually sabotages all Arabic, Islamic and Palestinian ruins, when they failed their goals. They did not find a lot of things. So far, there is no firm evidence to confirm their myth.”
As for the seventh war, it is a religious and racist war. They “recruited their holy books by saying that this is a gift from God, the Almighty, only to the Jews. They added that their absence for two thousand years was an emergency that has no effect on ownership. Accordingly, they are one people, with the same genes that spread over the planet, which now has come to claim the property back.” To wage this war, Abu Sittah said, they are being helped by a large group of American Christians, numbering 60 million— the evangelist.
He added: "It is not just a religious war, but a racist war. They say that every Jew in the world, German, Indian, and African and so on, belongs to a single constituent. They say that the Jews are a distinct constituent and a chosen people. Therefore, they have the right to take what they want.”
Abu Sitta pointed out that the eighth war is the one waged against the Palestinians, which is "a war to discredit and demonize the Palestinian, when you defend your land and your country. This is sacred and is present in all international laws, but we are called terrorists. The stranger thing is that this demonization is done by senior officials of the United Nations, who talk about legal facts, for denigrating the Palestinians, makes the Palestinians hated in the West because they are the aggressors and the criminals who are fighting safe and peaceful people.”
is the ninth war, Abu Sitta stated, adding that by using the law, “they are fighting us legally in other countries. For example, in America local laws have been passed that everyone who helps Palestine is to be punished. In Germany, they have passed definite laws which criminalize Palestinians’ demand of their right to Palestine. This war was successful only in countries where Zionism controls the governments.”
Concluding with the 10th war, Abu Sitta referred to "the economic war, which is long-lasting because it started with the Jewish National Fund, in which Jews poured money to try to purchase lands under the reign of Albert Samuel to be the headquarters of the colonies. These purchases, even under the British collusion, did not amount to 6% of Palestine’s area, most of it was sold by Syrian and Lebanese owners, whom the Jews convinced that Palestine had become another country and that entry to it had become difficult, so it is better for them to sell their land.”
Related to this, Abu Sitta addressed the saying, "The Palestinian has sold his land."
He added that “neither 6 nor 10% would have played a significant role in the occupation of Palestine by Zionism, why? Because the Jews had property in Cairo, Paris and London. It is a much higher percentage than this. So, this percentage is not the essence, and the real essence is that they brought 120 thousand trained soldiers from the World War besides the Haganah. They organized them into an offensive war on Palestine, which ended in its occupation.”
Abu Sitta said that this economic war is still valid in the West Bank. It is a war to starve people, such as the blockade that has been imposed on Gaza Strip for 13 years.
Summing up this part of the lecture, Abu Sitta said: "Ten wars waged against us by Israel are a precedent unparalleled in history. Another unparalleled precedent in history, however, is that we are still firm. In 1948, we amounted to a million; today, we amount to 13 million, half of those are either refugees or under Israeli occupation. By 2030, we will be 18 million, we must return to our land and we must claim it back.”
The third part of the lecture, nonetheless, was dedicated to the current reality of the Palestinian cause and the circumstances involving Palestine, beginning with the state of global solidarity with the Palestinian cause, peoples around the world, especially youth communities, given the impact of electronic communication that limited the Occupation's ability to falsify facts.
Abu Sitta highlighted the positions of the Western colonial governments, including Britain and its Conservative government, saying: “It is the embodiment of Balfour today. Theresa May, the former Prime Minister, has said, a while ago, that she was proud they had passed the Balfour Declaration. They are against us.”
Abu Sitta also explained the Arab reality, especially on the level of the people. He said, "The Arab people have their heart and their voice with us, if their voice was allowed to speak or work, but they are not allowed to speak or work. Unfortunately, we note that many Arab countries are showing signs of negligence concerning the Palestinian cause. I think the people in these countries will not accept that, and that this situation would only be a passing distress.”
Abu Sitaa, moreover, stressed the achievement of the Palestinian people in 1964, saying "We (now) are a people whose name is the Palestinian people, and whose land is the land of Palestine from Ras al-Naqurah to Umm al-Rashrash and from Rafah to Jordan River. This is us and this is our homeland. The first National Council was established to this end, to liberate Palestine and return to it. All those who were elected to implement the National Charter, it was their duty in the PLO to abide by this role.”
“With Oslo, people were included who had no role in the previous national history in an honorable way. Now they have dwarfed all this and have become part of the Israeli Occupation in the West Bank. I say this because Gaza is outside this range and the Palestinians of 1948, as well as half of the Palestinians abroad, who did not accept that. Thus, how could we place the leaders of the Palestinian action in this position and accept it? We cannot accept,” he added.
At the end of the lecture, Abu Sitta called on all the Palestinian people, inside and abroad, to do their mission, and renewed his demanded, repeatedly stated by the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad, “The election of a new National Council, from which a new Palestinian leadership will emerge as a clean group, worth to be trusted by 13 million Palestinians.”
Explaining the role required from the group, he said: "Its role [relates to the fact that] we the people of Palestine have the right to return to it and the right to its freedom. Any other thing is rejected and is unacceptable, and everyone who seeks it or abandons or neglects the initial right or is accused of this is banished and will be subject to trial.”
Abu Sittah appealed to all Palestinians to fulfill their duty and right to representation, adding that it is the obligation of every Palestinian to work for it and raise the voice demanding it, to “completely clean the Palestinian house with a democratic broom.”
"The silence of any of us, or complaint, has no value, for this does not make history or geography. Therefore, the silence of some of us is an aid to the Zionist enemy, and whoever follows its plan. To this, I would say that homeland is our purpose, and homeland is Palestine,” he stressed.
Abu Sitta concluded the lecture, saying that “seeking a state and its recognition is a political and patriotic act, and it is not part of the international law, but the result of the time when the country is liberated and people are back in it, which accumulates to electing them a state. So, the trade-off between our right to Palestine or a state or even a miniature state may be lost in the crumbs of the Jordan River. This is improper, unethical, and unpatriotic.”