We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand, we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood.
– Gamal Abdel Nasser, president of Egypt, March 8, 1965
This chilling declaration of genocidal intent by the leader of the largest Arab nation, over two years before any Israeli presence in the “occupied territories,” was not an isolated aberration.
Quite the contrary, it was typical of a pervasive Judeo-phobic frenzy that prevailed throughout the Arab world, well before the notions of “occupation” and “settlements” — the current buzzwords for rallying anti-Israeli sentiment — had any meaning.
Recalling recalcitrant realities
Thus on May 18, 1967, following the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping forces in Sinai, in compliance with Egyptian demands, the Cairo-based radio station Voice of the Arabs blared:
“As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more.... The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.”
Two days later, Gen. Hafez Assad, then-Syrian minister of defense, and later president, boasted: “Our forces are now entirely ready.... The time has come to enter a battle of annihilation.”
On May 27, Nasser reiterated his murderous goal: “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight.”
And four days before the outbreak of war, on June 1, Iraqi President Abdul Rahman Ali — later assassinated by Saddam Hussein — threatened:
“The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified... Our goal is clear – to wipe Israel off the map.”
The Jordanian factor and the Palestinian element
The mood on the Jordanian front and among the Palestinians, together with their Arab “patrons,” was strikingly similar.
Nasser on November 18, 1965: “Our aim is the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people. In other words, we aim at the destruction of the State of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel.”
Jordan’s King Hussein, apparently impressed by this bluster, entered into a military pact with Egypt on May 30, 1967 — despite bitter acrimony between Nasser and himself. He declared:
“All of the Arab armies now surround Israel. The UAR [Egypt], Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Lebanon, Algeria, Sudan and Kuwait.... There is no difference between one Arab people and another, no difference between one Arab army and another.”
At the time, the entire “West Bank” and Gaza, territories now claimed for the establishment of a Palestinian state as the alleged sine non qua for peace — were under Arab control. Nasser ruled Gaza, Hussein the “West Bank.” Yet neither undertook the slightest initiative to initiate any self-governing Palestinian entity in these territories.
(What is even more astounding, as we shall see later, is that the Palestinians themselves eschewed any aspirations of sovereignty over the “West Bank” and Gaza, which seem to have been totally irrelevant to “full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people” in the eyes of both the Palestinians and of the wider Arab world — MS.)
The rhetoric from Palestinian leaders was no less bellicose.
On May 27, Ahmad Shukeiri, Yasser Arafat’s predecessor as chairman of the PLO, gloated:
“D Day is approaching. The Arabs have waited 19 years for this and will not flinch from the war of liberation.”
And a few days later, on June 1, in a somewhat premature flush of triumph, he crowed:
“This is a fight for the homeland – it is either us or the Israelis. There is no middle road. The Jews of Palestine will have to leave. We will facilitate their departure to their former homes. Any of the old Palestine Jewish population who survive may stay, but it is my impression that none of them will survive.... We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants and as for the survivors — if there are any — the boats are ready to deport them.”
As the Arab armies massed against it, Israel began to brace itself for the coming war — preparing mass graves in Tel Aviv and other cities in anticipation of heavy civilian causalities.
‘Liberation’ equals ‘annihilation’
Shukeiri’s use of the words “liberation” and “homeland” is revealing. They clearly did not apply to the “West Bank” or the Gaza Strip, since both were under Arab rule and certainly not considered the “homeland” towards which Palestinian “liberation” efforts were directed.
The true significance of these terms emerges with stark clarity from the text of the original version of the Palestinian National Charter — formulated in 1964.
Article 16 states: “The liberation of Palestine... [is] necessitated by the demands of selfdefense” and “the Palestinian people look forward to [international] support... in restoring the legitimate situation to Palestine... and enabling its people to exercise national sovereignty and freedom.”
But Article 24 stipulates precisely what is not included in the “homeland” of “Palestine” and where sovereignty is not to be exercised. Indeed, it unequivocally forswears Palestinian claims to “any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Gaza.”
It is difficult to imagine a more authoritative source for exposing as bogus the Palestinian claim that the “West Bank” and Gaza comprise their “ancient homeland.”
Indeed, even within the pre-1967 lines, long before the alleged “root causes of the conflict” — “occupation” and “settlements” — were part of the discourse, much less facts on the ground, Israel was condemned as a colonial, fascist, expansionist power.
According to Article 19: “Zionism is a colonialist movement in its inception, aggressive and expansionist in its goal, racist in its configurations, and fascist in its means and aims. Israel, in its capacity as the spearhead of this destructive movement and as the pillar of colonialism, is a permanent source of tension and turmoil in the Middle East.”
The implication is clear. To remove enduring “tension and turmoil” in the region, their “source” — Israel — must be removed.
Accordingly, we must conclude that the only conceivable “plain-English” translation for the ‘liberation of the homeland” must be the “annihilation of Israel.”