Palestine: The Biggest Prison on Earth – A History of the Occupied Territories

The history of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is continued with Ilan Pappe’s recent work, The Biggest Prison on Earth. For those who have read Pappe’s earlier histories, it is clear the original Zionists recognized the existence of the Palestinian population and the resistance most likely to rise from it. Also recognized are the actions taken throughout the occupation and settlement that the Jewish settlers were intent on marginalizing, displacing, and cleansing as much of Palestine as they could of its residents.

The revelation in this continuation of the history is the high degree to which these policies were officially planned and ready for action starting up to four years before the 1967 six day pre-emptive war against the Arab states. The details of control, the laws and institutions necessary to contain the Palestinian population and to try and force it into exile were developed before the war started – and implemented immediately afterward. These rules and regulations essentially made all occupied areas into large open air prisons.

Pappe argues that the term “occupation” is invalid for two main reasons: first, it is not a temporary situation; and it denies 80 per cent of the Palestinian Mandate. I understood the latter to recognize that in reality all of the British controlled Mandate is occupied by Jewish settlers. Israel is in its entirety a colonial settler society and not an occupying power: it is permanent and it practices ethnic cleansing.

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