The Israeli assault upon Palestinian culture began immediately in 1948 with the destruction or renaming of every Palestinian community. Evidence of villages destroyed was concealed to deny their previous existence. Within those renamed and repopulated with Jewish immigrants, each street was also renamed, replacing Arabic with Hebrew names.
As Haganah founder Moshe Dayan stated in a 1969 Ha’aretz interview, "Jewish villages were built in place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages…because geography books no longer exist…There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population." To this day, dozens of Palestinian villages within Israel are not shown on official maps, and these villages receive no public services.
That same year, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir asked, "How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to," and later stated in the Sunday Times, "There is no such thing as a Palestinian people…It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist." If sincere, this denial rises to the level of psychotic delusion in the effort to escape guilt and accountability.
To this day, Israelis refer to Palestinians as generic "Arabs" and refuse to recognize the distinct Palestinian culture and sense of place held by the people they control, occupy and repress. This attitude has been fundamental to the Zionist worldview from the beginning, which has always envisioned "transfer" of the indigenous Palestinians to other "Arab" states as if the homes, properties, communities and cultures of all Arab peoples are indistinguishable and irrelevant.
In developing its system of parks and historical sites, Israel covered the remains of many destroyed Palestinian villages with state-owned park property using non-native flora such as pine trees (thus transforming even the natural environment familiar to Palestinians) and have acknowledged no previous Arab existence among their many historical markers.
Before Israel, Palestine had a well-developed agrarian economy built around their ancient olive groves, and the olive tree remains Palestine’s symbol of resilience and resistance to cultural obliteration. Israel has attacked this centerpiece of Palestinian cultural identity by ruthlessly destroying - or uprooting for transfer to Israel - over a million olive and fruit trees.
Although Zionists themselves were the immigrants and invaders, they referred to the Arab inhabitants of Palestine as "aliens."
Worse, many Zionist leaders completely dehumanize the Palestinians. In 1982, former head of the Irgun terrorist group and then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin described the Palestinians as "beasts walking on two legs." In 1988, former head of the LEHI terrorist group and then Prime Minister Yizhak Shamir threatened that the Palestinians "would be crushed like grasshoppers... heads smashed against the boulders and walls." Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000 described the Palestinians as "like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more."
Zionist historian Benny Morris, despite having discovered the ugly truth about Israel's beginnings in the declassified archives, opined that Ben-Gurion's mistake was not completing the job, and justified the "security" wall, saying, "Something like a cage has to be built for them...There is a wild animal out there that has to be locked up one way or another." He describes Palestinians as "barbarians" and Palestinian society as "in the state of being a serial killer." The network of Jewish-only roads have fragmented Palestinian society in the West Bank, isolating Palestinians from their families, friends, and community institutions such as clinics, hospitals, mosques, churches, schools and universities. Some 500 checkpoints through which residents of occupied Palestine must pass to go nearly anywhere have severely disrupted the Palestinian economy and prevent timely access to traditional events, religious observances, and sources of livelihood.
Adding insult to injury, like most colonial occupiers, Israelis have hijacked many elements of Palestinian culture such as foods and recipes which they then claim as their own native cuisine. Most recently, Israel's UN mission is seeking to outlaw use of the term Nakba. This would be equivalent to Jewish excision of the word Holocaust from their vocabulary. Palestinians within Israel are denied control of their own schools, and Israel is proposing that the word Nakba be prohibited in their curricula.
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