Scribblings: Passports, delusions and ethnic cleansing dreams
Jan 25, 2024 | Tzvi Fleischer
Every Israeli “has a second nationality and has his bag ready,” Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech in Lebanon on January 3. “Reverse [Jewish] migration has begun, hundreds of thousands” have already left, he said. “If you are an Israeli with an American passport, go to America, with a British passport, go to England, with a French passport go to France… You Israelis have only this future, the land of Palestine from the sea to the river will be for Palestinians only.”
This statement is a perfect encapsulation of both the “grand strategy” behind the multi-front war on Israel by the Iranian-led “resistance axis” – Hezbollah and Hamas are both key members – and of their intentions towards Israel’s seven million Jews.
Nasrallah, the Iranian leadership and the heads of Hamas really do believe that Israel is not a real country, but some sort of “forward base of imperialism;” that Israelis are not really a people, but just a bunch of bloodthirsty, cowardly and soft foreign imperialists with absolutely no local roots, ready and able to leave whenever things get a bit rough. Therefore, a bit of pressure from the authentic, brave, self-sacrificing and deeply rooted local people will make them all leave.
Israel, for all its ostensible military power, is a fake country and thus is like a “spider’s web”, easily brushed aside, in the words of a famous speech Nasrallah gave in 2000. All the “resistance forces” have to do is keep up the pressure.
This is the main justification also used by Nasrallah’s patron, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for his repeated predictions that Israel will not exist in another 25 years.
Hamas also says the same sort of thing. Hamas Political Bureau member Osama Hamdan was asked in an interview with Lebanese TV on Oct. 11 if plans to throw Israel into the sea were not unrealistic and he said, “I am not talking about throwing Israel into the sea. In the past few days, the Israelis wrote in their media: ‘What is the point in having a country when all its citizens have passports of the countries they have come from?’ Let them return to where they came from. We don’t want to throw anyone into the sea. Let them return to where they came from. We will help them go there safely.”
Of course, the premise of the Nasrallah/Hamdan claim is indisputably false – only 10%-20% of Israeli Jews have second passports, and the overwhelming majority were born in Israel and have never lived anywhere else. The resistance “grand strategy” is simply delusional, based on certain beliefs about Israelis that are matters of faith, and thus cannot be questioned, but are simply not true. But the delusional basis of this belief does not stop it from leading to horrific crimes – like October 7.
Note also that Nasrallah and Hamdan pull the blanket out from under Western apologists who insist the long-standing Palestinian slogan “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” is not a call for ethnic cleansing, but for a unified democratic state with equality for all. Nasrallah makes it very clear it absolutely is a call for ethnic cleansing. “From the sea to the river will be for Palestinians only” he says, meaning all of Israel’s more than seven million Jews – many of whose ancestors have been in the area since time immemorial – will have to leave or be expelled.
Similarly, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh followed up October 7 with a message demanding all Zionists “Get out of our land… We do not want to see you on this land. This land is ours, Jerusalem is ours, everything is ours.”
Worse still, this belief in ethnic cleansing the “foreign colonialist” Jews out of all of Palestine is not confined to the Islamist extremists of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iranian regime. Sadly, it has deep roots in Palestinian nationalism. The father of Palestinian nationalism was Haj Amin al-Husseini, who not only demanded the Jews leave all of Palestine, but also became an ally and paid employee of Nazi Germany as it was carrying out its “final solution” to the “Jewish problem” in Europe. He openly advocated for the Nazis to invade British-mandate Palestine and extend their “final solution” to all the Jews living there.
In the 1960s, the secular PLO also advocated ethnically cleansing Israel of Jews. Its Charter – written in 1964 before Israel ever took control of the West Bank and Gaza – demanded a “secular, democratic state in all of Palestine” – the outcome that apologists claim is the real meaning of the “River to the Sea” chant. But that Charter also had a clause – still operative today since it was never legally repealed – demanding all “Zionists”, defined as Jews who had not lived in the area in 1917, be expelled.
As academic Michael Mandelbaum notes in this edition, the root of most of the tragedy suffered in recent decades by both Israelis and Palestinians is the fact that Palestinian nationalism is “the only one of the many nationalist movements that have appeared since the nineteenth century that has as its aim not the creation of its own nation-state but rather the destruction of the state of another people.” Actually, the situation is even worse than that. Many Palestinian nationalists – religious or secular – demand not only Israel’s destruction but the ethnic cleansing of all its Jews as an absolutely essential precondition for the “liberation” of Palestinians.
These ugly longings are supported by myths and lies about Israeli Jews – such as the assertion that all Israelis are European foreigners with second passports ready to leave for the mythical native countries they do not have.
It should be obvious that peace will never be possible until and unless both these delusional beliefs, and the ugly ideology they support, change.