Al-Naqba: The Palestinian Catastrophe Episode 1 (1799-1936)
Al Jazeera (2013)
This is the most comprehensive documentary of the Zionist movement I’ve ever watched. The cinematography is incredibly beautiful and moving and includes scarce footage of vibrant pre-World War II Palestine.
I continue to be surprised by all the important events Western accounts leave out regarding the history of Zionism. Contrary to Western belief, the Jewish colonization of Israel didn’t began in 1916 with the infamous Sykes-Picot agreement, but with Napoleon’s 1799 proposal to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine under French protection.
In 1840, when the British Foreign office tried to persuade the Sultan of the Ottoman empire to open Palestine to Jewish immigration, there were only 3,000 Jews in Palestine.
In the 1880s, as the power of the Ottoman empire started to decline, French banking magnate Baron de Rothschild openly campaigned to expand Jewish immigration, spending 40 million francs on the establishment of Jewish settlements in Palestine. The term Zionism* was first coined in 1885, with the first Zionist conference held in Basel Switzerland in 1906.
In 1907, as western Europe actively worked to usurp Ottoman colonies, the British Foreign Office called for the creation of a buffer state in the Arab-dominated Middle East – one that would be friendly to Europeans and hostile to Arabs.
The same year, 40,000 Palestinian farmers were forced off their lands by Jewish immigrants from Europe and Yemen.
By the close of World War I, when Palestine became a British protectorate, there were 50,000 Jews in Israel, 100,000 Arab Christians and 400,000 Arab Muslims.
In 1922, when the League of Nations charged Britain with preparing for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, it was opposed by US president Woodrow Wilson.
During the 1920s, Jewish immigration continued to increase, accompanied by increasing confiscation of Arab lands. Between 1922-25, 33,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine. Between 1925-1930, the country was flooded by an additional 175,000 immigrants.
Palestine’s ruler, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, approached the issue of Jewish immigration by trying to curry favor with the British colonizers. In contrast Arab (both Muslim and Christian) farmers who were being displaced began organizing and protesting Jewish immigration from 1925 on. The initially peaceful protests were brutally and barbarically suppressed by British troops, in the same fashion as India’s independence movement. Hundreds of protestors were jailed, executed or forcibly exiled.
As Jewish immigration continued to increase (42,000 in 1934 and 62,000 in 1935, The al-Qassam movement, which called for violent revolution to expel the British, launched a six-month Palestine-wide general strike in 1936.
*An international movement calling for the establishment of a majority Jewish state in Palestine via forced displacement of its Arab occupants.