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Friday, September 28, 2012

The Victimization of Refugee Women


During and after an internal or interstate armed conflict, refugees are inevitably produced. The world’s refugee population continues to increase with the escalation of state actors and paramilitary groups all struggling for resource hegemony and military and economic dominance. People who become displaced and seek refuge from these conflicts are victims known as refugees. While refugees are victims of conflicts, their refugee status can further victimize them.
            The victimization of displaced persons is most common for refugee women and children, especially young girls. In refugee camps, women face a very different threat than men. Women face the threat of sexual violence. Therefore, women require specific forms of protection that are “both physical and legal” (Karame, 2002, p. 118). Since refugee women and children are more vulnerable to additional victimization, some questions need to be raised as to why they are more vulnerable than refugee adult males and what can be done to prevent additional victimization during and after armed conflicts. Because of physical, religious, and cultural factors, “women are disproportionately affected” (Wilson, 2004, p. 549) as refugees. Many times help is not received for refugee women, because they see overcrowded camps as dangerous. Many refugee women are also ashamed to ask for help due to cultural stigmas (UNIFEM, 2002, p. 47).
            Societies in which females are discriminated against are more likely to suffer from gender based violence during and after a conflict (Leatherman, 2011, p.4). Refugee women are victimized by gender specific violence among state and non-state actors in armed conflict and aid workers in refugee camps and the country of asylum. For many refugee women, there are few safe places to seek refuge, especially when they are not protected by an adult male relative. Refugee women are also victimized by state policies. Since the majority of those in authority are adult males, creating protection legislation for refugees has historically lacked a gender perspective. Therefore, state policies are not geared toward providing refugee women with the special requirements they need so that refugee women are not further victimized by their status.
            Since “women and children compromise almost three-fourths of refugees worldwide” (Levy, 2008, p. 200) it is imperative that progress be made in dealing with gender sensitive issues among refugee communities. Although women and children in refugee communities have traditionally made up the majority, their majority was not formally recognized as a problem until recently. Since the victimization of refugee women has gained official recognition by the international community, much progress has been made in finding solutions to alleviate additional victimization for refugee women.
            In many refugee communities, such as Afghan refugees in Iran, women take on the responsibility of educator. Afghan women in Iran organized their homes into unofficial schools (Chatty, 2010, p. 139). Most of these schools are for girls, who like many non-Western refugee females, have found little opportunities for education in their countries of asylum. Historically, women in most parts of the world have not been as educated as men due to culture and social discrimination. Women are therefore more likely to be heavily dependent on their male relatives for reading, writing, and other skills developed from education (Levy, 2008, p.195). This can make the refugee experience even more problematic for women.
             Like the need for Afghan refugee all-girl schools, the need was equally great for Sahrawi refugees. In a predominately female Sahrawi refugee camp, known as the February 27th camp, two all-girl schools were set up between 1978 and 1989 (Chatty, 2010 p. 55). The creation of the schools relieved refugee women from having to take on the role of sole educator, which meant better education for girls and less hardship for Sahrawi women. Prior to the opening of the schools, girls were educated in the refugee camp in a similar organizational structure used by Afghan refugee women in Iran.
             Columbia, like many African and Central Asian countries, is experiencing an increase in the population of refugee women within its slum communities. The difference between the domestic policies of Columbia and other countries, like Iran, is that Columbia’s domestic policies further victimize refugee women by increasing the difficulty of displaced women to move into slums, in order to seek refuge, and gain access to government employment (Vlachovia & Biason, 2005, p. 170). Columbia also refuses to provide aid to its displaced citizens, unless they can show legal documents proving their citizenship (Vlachovia & Biason, 2005, p. 178).
             These type of state policies further  victimize women by coercing them to seek refuge and aid from a non-governmental organization (NGO). Many refugee women have difficulty gaining access to their identification papers because some cultures place husbands and fathers in charge of maintaining family documents. Since becoming a refugee often happens without warning, people do not always have the ability to prepare their personal documents when seeking refuge is the primary concern.
             Women and men experience traumatic events with significant difference. A study found that women were four-hundred percent more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than men (Wilson & Drozdek, 2004, p. 550). Other studies found that refugee women are also more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and suicide than refugee men (Wilson & Drozdek, 2004, p. 551). A woman’s “physical and mental health” are much more likely to deteriorate during “prolonged stays in refugee camps” in non-Western countries (Wilson & Drozdek, 2004, p. 554). This can be attributed to factors such as the inadequate care in non-Western camps and that women, in non-Western countries, hold more social and family responsibilities than those in Western countries.
             Refugee women have a very difficult time readjusting to their regular life, and an even more difficult time adjusting if those women are also forced to assimilate to an alien culture. Many refugee women struggle with feeling secure in their surroundings and doubt they will ever feel safe again (Pulvirenti & Mason, 2011, p. 46). PTSD among refugee women is an issue not generally emphasized. Because of this, there are very few care-providers trained to deal with the millions of refugee women suffering from PTSD.
             While men often undergo sexual violence as a means of humiliation, it is most common among women. Sexual violence towards refugee women takes on many different forms, such as: genital mutilation, rape, forced miscarriage, pregnancy, and verbal abuse. As many as 80% of female refugees who have accepted treatment for violence “had been sexually tortured” (Veer, 1992, p. 232). Afghan women make up the largest percentage of refugees in the world today. Most of them live in Pakistan and Iran (Leatherman, 2011, p. 42). Many of these Afghan women become victims of abduction for prostitution and forced marriage (Leatherman, 2011, p. 53).
            Sexual violence towards women in time of conflict passes through all barriers of time, place, and culture. In Nazi Germany some women were used as sex slaves for the pleasure of both Nazi soldiers and concentration camp prisoners. It was believed that camp prisoners would increase productivity if they had access to brothels (Leatherman, 2011, p. 52). Sexual violence against refugee women is often used as “a tool or strategy of war” (Leatherman, 2011, p. 9). Unfortunately, it is often used to humiliate an enemy, as retribution, and as cause for conflict escalation (Leatherman, 2011, p. 9).  Although sexual violence against refugee women is pervasive, some progress has been made. In 1996 a European Parliament Resolution recognized that the use of sexual violence “as a weapon of war” is “a form of torture” (Feller, 2002, p. 43).
            Another weapon of war being used is death by virus. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been used as a weapon of war against refugee women in Rwanda and the Congo region. The use of HIV as a weapon of war chiefly affects the female population. It is used with the hope of the disease spreading to their husbands and the community. This “weapon” has been used as a form of genocide in some African refugee camps (UNIFEM, 2002, p. 48).
Yet, even in the supposed security of refugee camps, women are still faced with the possibility of sexual violence. For example, in the refugee camps of Sierra Leone and Sudan, refugee women are at risk of victimization if they are not accompanied by a male relative. The possibility of armed conflict spilling over into refugee camps, where security is often lax, increases victimization of female refugees. Such was the case at an internal displaced persons camp in Darfur, Sudan (Leatherman, 2011, p. 102-103).
          Refugee women in camps and conflict zones also face victimization by those who are sent to protect them, the peace-keepers and aid workers. Some of the men sent to protect the most vulnerable persons use their power of position to receive sexual favors. Such was the case in a study performed by Save the Children, an international NGO. The study “found a systematic pattern of sexual abuse and exploitation of children as young as 6 years of age” (Leatherman, 2011, p. 104-105).
            Refugee women who have undergone sexual violence are likely to suffer from a number of short-term and long-term physical and psychological problems. Physiological problems can range from anxiety and guilt to depression and delusion. The psychological effects of sexual violence depend on the severity of the crime and the culture in which the victim belongs. Some cultures will ostracize victims, leading to further victimization; while other cultures will embrace the victim. Physical effects of sexual violence can be as mild as headaches, or as severe as the inability of reproduction (Veer, 1992, p. 232-233).
            Since women make up the majority of the adult population of refugee camps, and often take on the role of primary family in refugee camps, their security should be viewed as security for the entire camp (Karame, 2002, p. 116). This is why the international community has recently given attention to the victimization of refugee women.
             The turning point for refugee women was in 1985, at a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) conference in Nairobi, Kenya. At the conference, the UNHCR formally recognized that the majority of refugees are females, a noteworthy starting point for refugee rights groups around the world. The conference also housed hundreds of NGOs that had come to hold workshops and seminars on the status of refugee women (Baines, 2002, p. 63). After the Nairobi conference, the late 1980s saw significant progress in awareness for refugee women; as NGOs from around the world, many having met at the Nairobi conference, began to collaborate and disseminate their research. These NGOs included prominent groups like International Working Group on Refugee Women (IWGRW), Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children (WCRWC), and Refugee Women in Development (Ref/WID) (Baines, 2002, p. 65-66). In recent years, some NGOs supporting human rights and gender equality, like IWGRW, have made it their mission to hold states responsible for providing sufficient care to refugee women (Baines, 2002, p. 64).
             The first step to ensuring that refugee and displaced women are protected from gender- based threats and discrimination is to have larger institutions formally recognized that these problems exist. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been working on resolutions to help the situation. Specificlly, Resolution 1325 recognizes these problems, and goes a step further by urging member nations to follow the solutions provided within the resolution (UNIFEM, 2002, p. 44). Prior to Resolution 1325 being ratified in 2000, the biggest problem in identifying the victimization of refugee women was the fact that in 1951 there were no female dignitaries selected to help write the Refugee Convention for UNHCR. The fact that that women did not help write the Refugee Convention meant that the document lacked gender perspective.
             However, norms throughout the world have changed since 1951, and women are now helping to shape refugee policy. Important steps for creating solutions to alleviate victimization of refugee women can be seen throughout Resolution 1325. Resolution 1325 expresses and emphasizes that women make up the majority of displaced persons, and that actors in a conflict must have women in roles of providing refuge and aid to refugee women and girls, so that their gender-specific needs will be taken into account (UNSCR 1325, 2000, p. 96). Resolution 1325 also urges nations to expand funding for programs dealing with gender-senstive issues that arise among the refugee population (UNSCR 1325, 2000, p. 97). Furthermore, the resolution suggests that member nations “adopt a gender perspective” when addressing refugee issues (UNSCR 1325, 2000, p. 98). The ability to apply a gender perspective to refugee legislation can only be achieved if more women take on the roles of asylum and aid facilitators.
          However, UNHCR has limited means by which it can operate. The institution cannot make a state enforce actions to assist refugee women; it can only pressure states and provide assistance to those states accepting refugee women. One refugee woman, showing frustration and concern about her status, is quoted by UNHCR as saying, “We are second-class citizens when it comes to food, water and shelter distribution. We remain the world’s invisible refugees” (Vlachova & Biason, 2005, p. 173). NGOs and human rights activists must continue to pressure the governments of the world to create more safety nets for refugee women, so that no refugee is invisible. 
Primary Source:
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) (S/RES/1325(2000)). (2002). Refugee Survey Quarterly21(1), 96-99.

Secondary Sources:
Baines, E. K. (2002). Becoming Visible: Transnational Advocacy and the UN Policy on Refugee Women, 1980‐1990. Refugee Survey Quarterly21(1), 60-77.
Chatty, D. (2010). Deterritorialized Youth: Sahrawi and Afghan refugees at the margins of the Middle East. New York, NY: Berghahn Books.
Feller, E. (2002). Rape is a War Crime. How to Support the Survivors? Lessons from Bosnia ‐ Strategies for Kosovo. Refugee Survey Quarterly21(1), 35-43.
Karame, K. (2002). Preface and Executive Summary on “Improving the Security of Refugee and Displaced Women”. Refugee Survey Quarterly21(1), 116-124.
Leatherman, J. (2011). Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict. Cambridge, England: Polity Press.
Levy, B. S., & Sidel, V. W. (2008). War and public health. (Second ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press, USA.
Pulvirenti, M., & Mason, G. (2011). Resilience and Survival: Refugee Women and Violence. Current Issues in Criminal Justice 23 (1), 37-52.
United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM. (2002). Women, Peace and Security Progress on UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Refugee Survey Quarterly21(1), 44-49.
Veer, G. V. D. (1992). Counselling and Therapy with Refugees: Psychological Problems of Victims of War, Torture, and Repression. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Vlachova, M., & Biason, L. (2005). Women in an Insecure World: Violence against Women: Facts, Figures and Analysis. Geneva, Switzerland: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).
Wilson, J. P., & Drozdek, B. (2004). Broken SpiritsThe Treatment of Traumatized Asylum Seekers, Refugees, War and Torture Victims. New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.

My reivew of: Children Of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America


Rosenberg, Tina. Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America. New York, NY: Penguin (Non-Classics), 1992.
Tina Rosenburg has won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as a non-fiction author and as a journalist. She graduated from Northwestern University with both a B.S. and a M.S. She has written for papers and magazines such as Harper’sThe Washington PostThe New York Times Magazine, and many others. Her non-fiction works include Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America, The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism, and her latest book, Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World. With Rosenburg’s MacArthur Fellowship award, she was able to travel throughout Latin America and report both the violence throughout South American nations and her own experience recording the violence. Rosenburg is currently serving in the World Policy Institute as a senior fellow.[1]
In Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America, Rosenburg’s thesis is that whether or not a military junta or a democratic republic runs a state, a state cannot function properly unless that state respects its citizens and the citizens respect the state. If there is no respect for state or citizenry then there is a breakdown in society. Street violence and or state-sponsored violence become the norm of states that suffer from this social breakdown. This work is divided into seven chapters.
The first chapter is where Rosenburg lays out her underlying thesis. The following six chapters are divided by country. Each Latin American country receives its own special analysis on why and when violence became the social norm for that country. In each chapter, Rosenburg tries to maintain a list of influential characters, the movers and shakers of each particular country. Rosenburg does this well by giving a thorough study of each chapter’s main characters, and the impact that those characters play in the social breakdown of their own country.
The style Rosenburg used to write Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America wasn’t as journalistic as it was personal. Each chapter read like a diary entry rather than one of Rosenburg’s column pieces. The style Rosenburg used for Children of Cain reminded me the similar writing styles used by journalist authors such as Robert Fisk and Stephen Kinzer. Throughout the book, Rosenburg’s consistent emphasis was what made each country accept violence as a social norm. Rosenburg exemplified this very well by giving descriptive histories of national revolutions and counter-revolutions, testimonies by government officials, and testimonies by members of the popular leftist movements, and those who had been caught in the middle. Rosenburg emphasized that in Latin America violent acts of revenge or rebellion resulted in more violence; a cycle which lasted for decades in the countries Rosenburg explored while writing Children of Cain.
The way Rosenburg organized Children of Cain was enjoyable and easy to comprehend. Each chapter felt as if it had been a repeat of a previous chapter, but with the names, dates, and places changed. The organization of this work is great; because it gives its readers who are interested in one or two case studies the opportunity to read those studies in whole, rather than flipping around throughout the book. The only problem with the way Rosenburg organized her work was the lack of linkage from one chapter to the next. Certainly there was a linkage of the violence and instability, but Rosenburg failed to link one country to another in their shared institutions of violence. Many countries which Rosenburg discusses did in fact share fear tactics, disappearances, assassinations, and general death threats. Rosenburg does not touch on what role this had in the spread of violent acts from one country to another. However, she could have skipped over this supposed linkage because it may have played no role at all.
The author consulted many sources, too many to list. Roseburg interviews everyone from people in the poverty stricken slums of Columbia to former political prisoners in Argentina. One source in particular that I found to be useful in exemplifying Argentina’s Dirty War was a document that Rosenburg came across. The document is a brief testimony of a member of Task Force 3.3.2. The massive collection of sources that Rosenburg uses has helped to shape the history of Latin America in a light so rarely seen in such violent graphic detail.
Rosenburg set out to explore why Latin America had become as violent as it was and if there were any similarities to the violence each country experienced. Rosenburg answered her curiosity of Latin American violence by proving that an overall disregard for the state and human rights was a root cause of the cycle of violence in all of the countries explored, except for Nicaragua. Nicaragua is an exception to the cycle of violence because of the extensive external role played by the United States. None of what Rosenburg had to say in Children of Cain has conflicted with any other works I have read by Noam Chomsky, Greg Grandin, Walter LaFeber, or Stephen Kinzer.
In conclusion, Rosenburg’s Children of Cain is an excellent source of investigative journalism on a broad scale. I would highly recommend this work to anyone interested in studying the causes of the epidemic of violence in Latin America throughout the 1970s and 80s. This work would be useful to students studying modern Latin America.
[1] “The 1996 Pulitzer Prize Winners General Nonfiction,” Pulitzer.org, http://www.pulitzer.org/biography/1996-General-Nonfiction (accessed October 24, 2011).

Thursday, September 20, 2012



















This is my books collection

My review of: The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution


C.L.R. James was a black historian who emphasized his work on Afro-nationalism. James was an avid Marxist. In 1901 James was born in Trinidad, where he witnessed firsthand how racial segregation, popular resentment, and wealth inequality played a role in determining the fate of most Caribbean blacks. In his twenties, James set out to become an author. He quickly became highly successful in Marxist circles throughout Europe and the Caribbean. He wrote numerous articles, pamphlets and books on the plight of the African diaspora, analysis on Marxist unity and division, and Western colonialism throughout Africa and the Americas. In 1983 the C.L.R. James Institute was founded.1James’ most important work on Afro-nationalism is The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution.

In The Black Jacobins, James’ thesis is that the Haitian revolution was the only victorious slave rebellion. James argues his thesis by outlining the underlying causes of why the slave rebellion was successful. The slave population on Hispaniola compared to the white population was significantly larger; and the slaves in Hispaniola were treated as expendable merchandise, because of the extremely high yielding cash-crops such as sugar and tobacco. There was also a large second class population in Hispaniola, which consisted of over one-hundred and twenty shades of race. This second class was known as mulattoes, a land owning and literate class of oppressed mixed race people.

The white French government in San Domingo marginalized these mulattoes by denying the mulattoes rights and votes in the National Assembly. James argues that the fall of the Bastille played just as major of a role in the Haitian revolution as it did for the French Revolution. Afro-nationalism and the revolts which it inspired had been suppressed for over one-hundred and fifty years throughout Hispaniola. However, news of the success of overtaking the Bastille was the spark which ignited a general unity between mulattoes and slaves. This unity and over one-hundred and fifty years of resentment towards European whites in Hispaniola caused an unstoppable force which was the Haitian revolution, a revolution which was marked by bloodshed no less great than its contemporary in France.

James’ writing style flowed evenly throughout the book. James was chronological and did not fail to point out the significance of the experiences that Toussaint L’Ouverture had lived through. The style that James used was storytelling and at times journalistic. In the book, James repeatedly emphasized the nature of hostile resentment and raw anger that the slaves and mulattoes used to feed their revolutionary fervor. Many times this anger resulted in some of the most inhumane violence towards ethnic Europeans, whether or not they were innocent of encouraging slavery or general disfranchisement of the mulattoes. James organized this book chronologically, starting with the unchecked brutality of overseer and slave which lasted for no less than one-hundred years. The book’s organization makes it simple for one to read sections and understand each section as a single piece within the story. The organization is perfect for flipping through the chapters and finding what one is looking for, rather than flipping back and forth throughout an unorganized book.

James consulted a number of primary sources from French, British, and San Domingo archives. The sources from these archives mainly consist of official correspondence between government officials and laws and proposed legislation. James also consulted primary sources from private collections from clubs and museums throughout the world.

James set out to explain why the Haitian revolution, led by L’Ouverture and influenced by revenge and resentment, was the most successful of any slave rebellion. James also set out to explain how the wealth inequality served to frame the injustice of San Domingo society. On page 46, James states that “And yet it was this very prosperity which would lead to the revolution”. In that quote, James is referring to the commoditization of the slaves and the immense wealth slaves produced. The more wealth that was produced, the less humane slaves were treated. James also set out to explain that the Haitian revolution set a precedent for other revolutions and revolts throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

James argues his thesis well by exemplifying numerous injustices and barbaric acts committed by the whites, which in turn caused an unforgettable and unforgivable sentiment in the slave and mulatto communities. Nothing I have read on the Haitian revolution compares to The Black Jacobins. James was one of the few leading Marxist scholars who intensely wrote about Afro-nationalism, with emphasis on the Caribbean black communities and native black Africans living in diaspora.

The Black Jacobins is an essential historical work to understanding the Haitian revolution in comparison to the French Revolution and future slave revolutions. Students who have studied French Revolution may touch on its impact in Hispaniola, which makes The Black Jacobins all the more essential of a guide to understanding, in-depth, how the two revolutions relate. This book should be suggested to anyone interested in the foundation of Afro-nationalism or Caribbean revolutions.

1  Anna Grimshaw, “C.L.R. James: A Revolutionary Vision For the 20th Century,” Marxists.org, http://www.marxists.org/archive/james-clr/biograph.htm (accessed October 26, 2011).


James, C.L.R. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. 2 ed. New York: Vintage, 1989.    

United States Policy Towards Sandinista Nicaragua.


The policy of the United States towards the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua consisted of political and economic destabilization measures in order to create regime change. The destabilization policy was structured in two forms. The first was militarized aggression which came in the form of the counter-revolutionary forces, or contra, and Central Intelligence Agency agents and paid mercenaries. The second was economic war through the use of sanctions and United States organized loan blockades. The state the United States tried to destabilized was a Marxist-Nationalist regime known as the Sandinista National Liberation front, or Sandinistas as they are commonly known.

The Sandinistas were made up of Nicaraguan revolutionaries who came from a diverse background of race and socioeconomic class. The Sandinista movement was officially organized in 1961 and idealized itself after the Sandino Rebellion against the United States Marines from 1927 to 1933. The Sandinistas were opposed to United States imperialism and the oppressive regimes of the Somoza dynasty. Anastasio Somoza, one of the last Washington backed dictators in Central America, was the de facto president of Nicaragua throughout the last twelve years of the Nicaraguan revolution. Since the 1930s, Somoza’s aristocratic family had long held political, military, and economic power in Nicaragua. The Somoza dynasty was propped up by both United States corporate interests and United States military and economic aid. United States corporations and intervention was seen as an imperialist threat by many Nicaraguans, who had lost their land, were predominately poor, and made up the country’s majority.


The relationship between Washington and the Somoza family is long and complex. The two parties exploited each other for different reasons. Washington needed a strongman to keep Latin America’s leftists in check, while the Somoza family needed support to keep their neo-monarchy from being deposed by millions of their disaffected and resentful citizens. Anastasio Somoza Garcia, father of Anastasio Somoza Debayle, was the first of the Somoza family to rule Nicaragua. Somoza held office from 1936 to 1956. His greatest benefit to the United States was his position against Nicaraguan peasants and indigenous communists. Washington policy makers knew that they would not be able to fight communism in Latin America without the strongman Somoza.[1] During the Cold War, the Somoza dynasty was viewed, by Washington to be an asset in the struggle to contain communism from popularizing throughout Latin America.[2] The same Washington policy would be used fifteen years later with Somoza Garcia’s youngest legitimate son, Somoza Debayle. Somoza Garcia’s overly enthusiastic support for oppressing Latin America’s anti-communist activities, notably in Guatemala, was met with discouragement by Washington. However, the CIA championed Somoza’s cause.[3]

Meanwhile, disaffected youth were propagating Marxism and Nationalism throughout Nicaragua. Their struggle took on a revolutionary identity supported by an experience of fighting for liberation from a totalitarian regime, propped up by United States dollars. After nearly two decades of struggle, in the form of guerrilla insurgency, the Sandinistas were able to oust president Somoza from power. After the Sandinista government was securely in place by 1980, President Jimmy Carter tried to show the Sandinistas that the United States was willing to accept the outcome of the Nicaraguan revolution. Carter issued aid to show his support and was ready to continue diplomatic relations, so long as the Sandinistas would live up to United States approved economic standards, a policy that Sandinistas would not accept.[4] The United States viewed the new Sandinista government as a communist threat to the whole Western Hemisphere, and would have to be dealt with for eleven years under three American presidents.

In Nicaragua, the Catholic Church was just as influential as the Somoza family, the United States, and the Sandinistas. The church did not ally with the big three players in Nicaraguan politics. The church was critical of all three, but favored a Sandinista role in government, because of the widespread popularity of the Sandinistas. One of those critical voices came from Fernando Cardenal, a Jesuit priest who attributed the death and oppression during 1979 to President Carter’s support of Somoza. Fernando Cardenal accused Carter of hypocrisy and stated that “Carter’s human rights is simply moral, ethical and Christian, but he doesn’t follow through.”[5]

Jimmy Carter would be the first president to come to terms with a noncompliant Nicaragua. Carter’s policy towards the new Sandinista regime was passive at first. Carter intended to continue to send aid to Nicaragua so long as the Sandinistas fell back into line, but the Sandinistas refused to obey their northern neighbor who had bankrolled the Somoza dynasty. Carter made the decision to cut aid to Nicaragua in 1981 when his administration was informed that Sandinistas were aiding a leftist resistance faction in El Salvador.[6] Early Sandinista policy to El Salvador’s revolutionary communist movement was one which differed little from the way the United States aided and abetted armed resistance movements in other countries. Sandinistas showed solidarity to the Salvadoran communists by offering aid. Policies such as this sparked fears, of the communist domino theory, in Washington.[7]

Weeks after Carter cut aid to Nicaragua, the USSR, Libya, and Cuba began offering much needed assistance in the form of loans and wheat. In a sense, Carter pushed the poverty stricken country to the communist camp. Carter’s policy was counterproductive in the short-term, because Nicaragua strayed further away from Washington.[8] Another policy Carter had towards Nicaragua was to support opposition figures such as Jose Francisco Cardenal. Jose Cardenal was a leading figure in Nicaragua’s bourgeoisie class and would go on to lead paramilitary groups against the Sandinista government. Unlike President Ronald Reagan, Carter did not have a policy of directly funding armed resistance groups. However, Carter did approve of the CIA funding Jose Cardenal’s democratic activities, such as forming political parties.[9]

One December 1, 1981, President Ronald Reagan declared a secret war on Nicaragua. In his secret declaration Reagan stated that his administration will “Support and conduct… paramilitary operations against” the Latin American country.[10] Reagan’s actions towards Nicaragua exemplified his doctrine of spreading democracy and American values, even if it meant supporting state terrorism. Reagan went on to state that covert operations to destabilize Nicaragua “is important to the national security of the United States…”[11] However, spreading democracy is exactly what the Sandinistas did when they held Nicaragua’s first free elections in 1984 and won the popular vote.

In 1981 the United States began to arm and organize a counter revolutionary campaign to overthrow the Sandinistas. The counter revolutionary force is commonly called the contra. The contra was not made up of a single paramilitary group, but rather loosely collective factions of paramilitary groups. The contras were made up of Somoza’s former National Guard. They were stationed on the border of Nicaragua on the Honduras side, although some of them held secret locations within Nicaragua. By being stationed in Honduras, a country allied to the United States and a supposedly neutral country, the contras were able to safely operate their campaign.[12] By 1983, the contras were able to secure at least $100 million for their campaign to destabilize Nicaragua.[13]

Many of the contras were trained in Honduras, by agents of the United States, and in the United States.[14] The contra forces who trained in the United States were most likely trained in Florida, where the leading bourgeoisie Nicaraguans lived in exile, and in the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. The School of the Americas has a long history of training Latin American police and paramilitary groups, who have known to become the leading members of organized death squads in Columbia, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

From 1982 to 1990 contra cross border raids into Nicaragua caused tens of thousands of Nicaraguans to voluntarily flee and sometimes have their entire villages uprooted and transferred to a more secure location away from the Honduras border. Thousands of innocent women and children were killed, raped, and sometimes taken hostage during these raids. Contra forces razed farms and villages by setting them ablaze and destroyed agricultural equipment. Farming became a national priority and thousands of inexperienced youth were encouraged to show support by volunteering to lend their time as farm hands.

One example of the devastation caused by the contra terrorist attacks was the disruption of the 1985 coffee harvest. The coffee harvest was disrupted due to continual unannounced attacks on non-combative state and cooperative farms, many of which were being farmed by a largely student population. Contra forces attacked trucks and farmers in order to keep Nicaragua from capitalizing on one of its main exports. The 1985 coffee harvest attacks succeeded in costing Nicaragua at least a fourth of the harvest.[15]

When contras were not believed to be capable of executing operations more complex than terrorizing peasant farmers the CIA, sometimes directly backed by the United States Military, did the heavy lifting. Between 1983 and 1984 the United States Special Operations Forces, CIA and CIA paid mercenaries were given a more decisive role in destabilizing Nicaragua. Their role consisted of destroying and disabling refineries, bridges, and harbors. These operations were accredited to the contras in order for the United States to not look as involved as it really was.[16] One joint operation in particular, between CIA paid mercenaries and the United States Military, caused damaging relations between Nicaragua and those nations continuing to trade with it. The joint operation consisted of mining Nicaraguan ports in order to deter trade. Ships from the USSR and four other nations were damaged.[17]

In 1986, the contras were approved by the United States Congress to receive an additional $100 million to the money they had already been receiving from the CIA. Around this same time the contras were further supplied by the United States with the most “advanced anti-aircraft technology” in the region.[18] The surface to air missiles dealt a serious blow to the ability of the National Army of Nicaragua to defend its borders from the United States backed insurgency. From 1986 to 1988, the contra war cost the Sandinista government 55% of its budget. The amount of resources committed to defend Nicaragua from contra and CIA terrorism made it impossible for any economic growth in Nicaragua.[19]

The United States also placed harsh sanctions on Nicaragua in order to deprive the country of everything from medical supplied and food, to industrial equipment and foreign loans. One policy that the Reagan administration administered was to fiscally starve out Nicaraguans until they saw the error of their ways and fall back into line. One example of the fiscal starvation policy was the 90% decrease of sugar the United States imported from Nicaragua.[20] The reduction of Nicaragua’s sugar quota was unexpected but not a total shock to the Sandinistas. Reagan’s policy of placing complex sanctions on Nicaragua also became costly to many consumers in the United States. Reagan’s policy toward Nicaragua was able to win another small battle which further starved Nicaraguans and their economy. Between 1981 and 1982, Reagan conservatives were able to gain the support of the totalitarian military regimes of Argentina and Chile in order to kill a small loan request from Nicaragua to the Inter-American Development Bank. The loan was going to be used to purchase “50 fishing boats to replace the Somoza-owned fleet”, which left after Somoza fled the country with much of the treasury.[21]

The United States deterred private investment in Nicaragua by downgrading its credit rating. The Reagan administration had no real reason for this action, because Nicaragua had been paying off its debts on time.[22] Reagan further attempted to crush Nicaragua’s fragile agricultural economy by swaying the World Bank. The World Bank, an institution heavily influenced by the United States, followed the Reagan line of deterring investment. The United States was so influential in the World Bank that no loans to Nicaragua could even be considered because of the amount of votes the United States held within the bank.[23]

The Reagan policy towards the Nicaraguan elections in 1984 was to encourage opposition figures to boycott the elections, and to encourage opposition figures to submit a list of impossible demands in order to run in the elections. The policy of boycotting the elections worked to Washington’s benefit by legitimizing Sandinista rule. By keeping opposition figures out of the election and legitimizing the Sandinista government, Washington could continue its Cold War crusade against Nicaragua. Reagan’s election policy sent perplexing signals to opposition figures in Nicaragua, which caused some figures to boycott the elections while others became critical of Reagan’s policies.[24]

When George W. H. Bush came into office, he did not want to risk his administration getting caught up in a situation similar to his predecessor. Reagan had been getting caught up in a seemingly endless war which escalated in the media due to the Iran-Contra scandal. Bush stopped funding the contras and agreed to disarm them after having a cease-fire in 1988.[25] However, Bush’s policy of isolating Nicaragua followed up where Reagan’s policy left off. Although the Reagan administration was not able to create regime change in Nicaragua quick enough, the Bush administration succeeded where Reagan could not. For the first year of Bush’s presidency the only thing the Bush administration did was continue Reagan’s policy of economic sanctions and wait for the outcome. Bush had to wait only two years when a second round of free elections came in 1990. This second round of elections was more favorable to Washington and the embargo ended along with funding for the contras. Although the Sandinistas did not win the popular vote they still had support of 40% of the country.[26] Bush knew that the Reagan policy of regime change in Nicaragua could not continue through the highly controversial funding of the contras. The Bush administration looked to a less hostile path of regime change in Nicaragua. Bush policy planners believed that elections would prove more beneficial to their cause. The goal of the elections, from Washington’s point of view, was to “preoccupy the Sandinistas”, and encourage internal opposition.[27]

The 1990 elections did not solve Nicaragua’s problems, but the elections did end Washington hostility towards Nicaragua. Historian Philip J. Williams argues that the elections were a setback for democratization in Nicaragua. He states that “maintaining liberal democracy may block progress toward the construction of popular democracy”, because “liberal democracy tends to freeze into place the political and economic status quo, thereby limiting the opportunities for meaningful participation.”[28]

In conclusion, contra attacks alone were not the sole cause of the Sandinista regime failure. Repressive economic sanctions together with relentless guerrilla terrorist attacks ultimately led to a second round of free elections in 1990, in which the Sandinistas could not maintain their popularity.[29] After years of civil war with the Somoza regime and fighting a terrorist insurgency, most Nicaraguans were ready to accept defeat if it meant that they could live a more peaceful and prosperous life. Between the terrorist actions of the contras and unyielding sanctions, many Nicaraguans started to oppose the actions of the Sandinista government. However, not all of their decent was organic; some of it was manufactured by the CIA. As dissent spread and opposition to the Sandinistas grew more popular, the Sandinista government practiced censorship and brutal crackdowns which only made them more unpopular. The United States policy towards Nicaragua succeeded and a pro-United States president was elected in 1990.

[1] Paul Coe Clark, The United States and Somoza, 1933-1956: a Revisionist Look (Westport, CT.: Praeger Publishers, 1992), 140.
[2] Knut Walter, The Regime of Anastasio Somoza, 1936-1956 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1993), 240.
[3] Michael D. Gambone, Eisenhower, Somoza, and the Cold War in Nicaragua, 1953-1961 (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1997), 89.
[4] Phil Ryan, The Fall and Rise of the Market in Sandinista Nicaragua (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1996), 124.
[5] Bernard Diederich, Somoza & the Legacy of U. S. Involvement in Central America (New York: Marcus Wiener, 1989), 236.
[6] William M Leograde, “Making the Economy Scream: Us Economic Sanctions Against Sandinista Nicaragua,” Third World Quarterly 17, no. 2 (June, 1996): 330.
[7] Ryan, The Fall and Rise of the Market in Sandinista Nicaragua, 10.
[8]Leograde, “Making the Economy Scream”, 331.
[9] Robert Kagan, A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990 (New York: Free Press, 1996), 152.
[10] President Ronald Reagan, NSC/ICS 33340, Support and conduct…, 1 Dec. 1981, National Security Archive.
[11] Reagan, NSC/ICS 33340
[12] Carlos M. Vilas, The Sandinista Revolution: National Liberation and Social Transformation in Central America (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1986), 163.
[13] Vilas, The Sandinista Revolution, 152.
[14] Vilas, The Sandinista Revolution, 261.
[15] Leograde, “Making the Economy Scream”, 341.
[16] Leograde, “Making the Economy Scream”, 340-41.
[17] Leograde, “Making the Economy Scream”, 341.
[18] Ryan, The Fall and Rise of the Market in Sandinista Nicaragua, 199.
[19] Leograde, “Making the Economy Scream”, 342.
[20] Leograde, “Making the Economy Scream”, 337.
[21] Leograde, “Making the Economy Scream”, 333.
[22] Leograde, “Making the Economy Scream”, 332.
[23] Leograde, “Making the Economy Scream”, 336.
[24] Philip J Williams, “Elections and Democratization in Nicaragua: The 1990 Elections in Perspective,”Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 32, no. 4 (Winter, 1990): 16-17.
[25] Kagan, A Twilight Struggle. 625.
[26] Leograde, “Making the Economy Scream”, 343.
[27] Kagan, A Twilight Struggle. 637.
[28] Williams, “Elections and Democratization in Nicaragua”, 15.
[29] Leograde, “Making the Economy Scream”, 329.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

another book review : Noam Chomsky. Middle East Illusions. Lanham, MD, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2004. 299 pp.


Noam Chomsky’s Middle East Illusions is a collection of works from both the Cold War era and post-Cold War era. The combination of these works allows the reader to experience the development of events and the feelings of diplomatic hostility and distrust between the Western super powers and the nationalist movements throughout Middle East. The events and people throughout Middle East Illusionsjump around several times, which is typical of Chomsky’s works. One should have some background knowledge of United States foreign policy and modern Middle East history to appreciate how Chomsky relates policies of the past to events of the present.

The first five chapters are essays written from 1968-73. These chapters mainly deal with Israel’s position in the Middle East. Chomsky places Israel on the pedestal of shame for human rights abuses, but Israel is not alone in these chapters. The United States is there too, but only behind Israel with the Cold War interventionist prodding stick of mutual support, aid, and subjective sympathy. During the era of Arab nationalism and communist subversion, Israel gains the favorite child status in the hearts and minds of those controlling United States foreign policy. In the first five chapters, Chomsky emphasizes the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian problem viewed from both the Western and the Eastern popular opinion.

Chomsky argues that, during the Cold War, the traditional Western view was that Israel was the beacon of democracy, and more importantly, stability, in the Middle East. Israel was to be relied upon to keep Soviet supported Arab nationalism in check, while being funded and directed by its paternal sustainer, the United States. Though, not all Arab nationalist movements were directly supported by the Soviets. Many of these nationalist movements, as Chomsky points out, were in response to Western supported oppressive regimes. The function of such Western supported puppet-like regimes was to insure stability for the business interests, primarily petro related industries, in the region.

In his first five chapters, Chomsky presents the inconsistency of United States policy goals throughout the Middle East. The primary goal was to create stability for foreign investment, but the means of fulfilling stability came at the cost of freedom and democracy, a goal popular American opinion idealizes, for most living under Western led regimes. However, there was one significant consistent policy towards the Middle East during this era, and that was the unalterable support of Israel. When dealing with internal dissent, Israel acted in ways similar to those of its neighbors. Israel did not yet have to rely so much on its Washington based Zionist lobby, the way it relies upon it today. Under considerably less Israeli pressure during the Cold War, the United States wholly supported the Israeli beacon of democracy and Westernization of region.

The Israeli oppression of its citizen Arab residents and the Arab residents of the territories Israel occupies received mixed reviews in Washington. Chomsky claims that many in Washington praised Israel for defending its boarders from Palestinian insurrection, while others condemned Israel’s domineering actions towards the occupied territories. However, those condemnations were short lived and, as Chomsky argues, only served to appease international, primarily Arab, opinion. Chomsky sums up the United States policy towards Israel and its neighbors by stating as long as oil was flowing as cheap as possible then the status quo should not be contested.

Chomsky goes on to argue that the non-Western view of the Middle East during this Cold War era was that Western hegemonic powers, led by the United States and its lesser companions, the British, were disrupting the post anti-colonial struggles for independence and sovereignty. Israel is seen as the focal point of this Western intervention and neocolonialism in the region. Each time Israel succeeded in gaining more territory, expanding its buffer zones, or influencing its neighbor’s policies, it was seen as another victory for Western intervention in the region. Chomsky emphasizes that the growing list of Israeli human rights abuses and the United States supported Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories was the largest propaganda tool used against the West during this period of the Cold War era.

The second half of the book, chapters six to nine, deal with issues concerning the years 1997-2002. These chapters focus more on United States’ economic and military hegemony in the region and less on Israel. These later chapters give a stark comparison to the earlier ones which dealt with Cold War issues. Since the earlier chapters had been published three decades ago, one would think that the end of the Cold War would lessen the Western interference in the Middle East. However, as Chomsky argues, during the Cold War era the necessity for intervention to combat nationalist and communist subversion in the Middle East was merely an illusion. With or without the Soviet involvement in the region, the United States was determined to dominate the Middle East and exploit the region’s oil, the world’s greatest prize.

One central point that Chomsky makes is the significance of the Open Door and Free Trade policies throughout the Middle East. He concludes that the United States’ policy maintains that the doors to free trade should remain open, so long as those interests who pass through those doors do not question the political status quo. Moreover, Chomsky argues that, since World War II, the Monroe Doctrine has gradually extended to the Middle East, if not most of the world, displacing the former leading Western interventionists, France and Britain. Chomsky asserts that the dominance of the world’s only super power in the Middle East has led nations in this region to follow one of two choices, neither of which is attainable without the cost of freedom and democracy. The first, more widely accepted but unpopular choice, is to fall in line with the United States’ version of free trade and stability, in order to create secure markets for foreign investments. The second choice is the complete opposite of the first. The second choice affirms that opposition and defiance of United States hegemony results in sanctions, costly trade barriers, and lasting condemnation.

The last chapters demonstrate Israel’s new role in the Middle East in this post-Cold War era. Israel still holds the favorite child status but has been placed upon a more prominent pedestal of shame. This time the pedestal of shame has gained world-wide attention and condemnation. Though, because Israel still has the favorite child status, most nations continue to trade with Israel and are not faced with dealing with the roadblock of sanctions, which other noncompliant nations undergo. The pressure that the United States exerts over Israel and that which Israel exerts over the United States has changed since Chomsky published his Cold War era chapters. The United States continues to condemn Israel’s human rights violations, but not without repentance shortly after. To the United States, Israel has become less important in the Middle East than it once was during its pristine status as a Cold War warrior. The result is a more powerful Zionist lobby in Washington, which uses threats of anti-Semitic name calling and the sway of corporate campaign funding and support. Though, one thing hasn’t changed in the last three decades, and that is Israel’s unflinching grip on the Palestinians, which the United States continues to condemn and support at the same time.

In conclusion, Chomsky’s Middle East Illusions falls in line with his other works, by condemning human rights abuses and being equally objective of the interests of all nations. Middle East Illusions is a demanding read for those unfamiliar with the United States polices in the Middle East and Israeli’s policies towards Palestinians and its neighboring nations. Chomsky leaves the reader with prospects of a new democratic and prosperous Middle East, though, only if the United States is able to radically change its harmful policies towards the region, and more importantly towards Israel.

The immediate causes of the diaspora of Arab Palestinians in 1948


(If you think my argument is wrong or if you have anything to add to it then please comment)
 From 1947 to 1949 an estimated 750,000 Arab Palestinians fled Palestine. The exodus of Arab Palestinians led to the largest diaspora in modern Middle Eastern history. The causes of the exodus are many and continue to be redefined as governments open their document archives to researchers. Though there are many prior and immediate causes which led to the Palestinian diaspora, some causes are more significant than others. In studying the significant causes one is able to understand that the exodus did not take place in voluntary circumstances. The diaspora of Arab Palestinians can be traced back to three immediate causes: United Nations Resolution 181, a plan of partition for British Mandate Palestine; the implementation of Plan Dalet, a master plan for occupying land and expelling its inhabitants; and a complex policy of property confiscation through the use of absentee laws, created by Jews who favored the creation of a wholly Jewish state in what use to be Israel. The idea of the creation of Israel as a homeland for the Jews is known as Zionism.
An estimated eighty-four percent of Palestinian refugees left their homes directly due to the turmoil created by the Haganah, a paramilitary force which would become the Israel Defense Force after just after Israel declared independence in May 1948, and its allied terrorist factions.[1] The Palestinians who fled the war of independence for Israel and the Nakba or catastrophe for Palestine, were made to be permanent refugees throughout the world. The Nakba was not felt in the same manner by all Arab Palestinians. The Nakba affected social classes and locales differently depending on the practice and severity of expulsion methods.[2] Not only did the first Arab-Israeli conflict cause an exodus of Palestinians but the conflict also resulted in those Palestinian refugees not being able to return home and claim what they had left behind.
                After the end of the Second World War the British could not maintain their burdensome mandate over Palestine, so they asked the United Nations General Assembly to create a plan for taking over British Mandate Palestine. UN Resolution 181, the plan of partition for British Mandate Palestine, was the first immediate cause of the exodus of Arabs throughout British Mandate Palestine.[3] UN Resolution 181 was designed to unequally separate Palestine into two states for the Jewish and Arab populations. The partition plan, signed by a two-thirds majority in the UN General Assembly, was also the preliminary cause for the Arab-Israeli war in 1948.[4] The two-thirds majority in favor of the plan was made up of western nations which usually had financial incentives favoring the partition of Palestine. The countries opposing the plan were all of the Muslim nations represented in the UN but also included Cuba, Greece, and India, which had a significant Muslim population.[5]
The partition plan called for basic human and civil rights throughout the two states of Israel and Palestine.[6] Neither of those rights was ensured for Arabs in Israel in 1948 and 1949. The partition plan declared that property abandoned by the Arab Palestinians was to be expropriated only if the Israeli authorities could pay compensation to the owners.[7] The exchange system of compensation for land expropriation never happened because of the following first Arab-Israeli conflict. The plan called for handing over the majority of land, fifty-five percent, to a thirty-seven percent Jewish minority.[8] The discriminatory land expropriation proposal ensured inequality and displacement of people throughout Palestine. Many Arab Palestinians were angry and fearful of the partition plan. It called for just over fifty percent of Palestine to be given to the Zionist Jews who owned under ten percent of the land which they would receive.[9] Since Jerusalem could not be equally split between the Arabs and Jews without a fair compromise the partition plan was going to have the city fall under international control.[10]
                The UN General Assembly stated in the partition plan that the British should evacuate Palestine and hand over their administration powers to the UN by August of 1948.[11] Between early December 1947 and January 1948 underground Zionist terrorist groups, such as the Stern Gang, set off bombs within crowds in densely populated Jerusalem.[12] Early acts of aggression such as terrorism sparked the first wave of Palestinians to leave their homes. The first refugees who left were not village farmers or farm-hands; they were the wealthier Arab Palestinians living within the metropolis areas such as Haifa and Jaffa.[13] About half of the Arab Palestinian population had settled in cities by 1948.[14] Before the official end of the British mandate no less than 100,000 Arabs had fled Palestine during the beginning of the civil war between Arabs and Zionist Jews over British Mandate Palestine.[15] By the time the British had evacuated from Palestine, an estimated 300,000 Arabs left their homes to seek safety from the civil war and the atrocities that were being committed by Zionist terrorist gangs such as the Jewish Stern Gang.[16]
In early 1948 Warren Austin, a United States representative to the UN, realized that the escalation of violence would no longer allow for the execution of the partition plan.[17] As the division in communities grew deeper throughout Palestine, as a result of the inequality in the partition plan, and Zionist terrorism escalated, the British could not afford to stay until August and decided on an early exit.[18] As violence increased, the British left Palestine in May of 1948 leaving the UN to attempt to execute its partition plan.[19] Because of the escalating violence the UN sent Count Folke Bernadotte, a UN mediator, in order to reform the partition of Palestine.
                Due to the internal failures in organized support for Arabs in Palestine and divisions of local Arab politicians in Palestine, the neighboring nations took upon themselves the responsibility to intervene in the civil war.[20] By the time of the Arab intervention many refugees had been dispersed throughout Palestine and its neighboring nations. Arab nations did not expect such a large influx of refugees and were not ready to handle the exodus.[21] The Arab nations assumed that an Arab led intervention in the civil war would end both the violence and the exodus of Arab Palestinians.
                Fear tactics, such as shelling densely populated Arab city centers where no regular or irregular forces were stationed, were used to create a feeling of uncertainty throughout the country.[22] Many similar terrorist tactics were used before the British had evacuated. Zionist sponsored terrorism marked the beginning of tragedy for the Arab Palestinians.
                The civil war escelated after the British left Palestine in May 1948 , earlier than anticipated by any of the parties involved. The Palestinians who could afford to leave before the height of the war had already done so.[23] Five days after the British had officially evacuated themselves from Palestine a member of the popular Jewish National Fund, Yosef Weitz, wrote that the exodus of Arab Palestinian refugees had led to a territorial revolution and that Israel had the right to lay claim to the abandoned land.[24]
                Since the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine was the pinnacle of Zionist policy, it was in the best interest of the Zionists to form a governmental body as quickly as possible. The Zionists believed that Britain would be a burden and an aggressor to the creation of a Jewish state. The Arab Palestinians felt that the British would be protecting Palestine from division. Because of this the Zionists had been ready to claim their portion of Palestine as quickly as possible. They had a government set up and in place one month after the British had been evacuated from Palestine. The Arabs, on the other hand, were still deeply divided and were not ready for the unexpectedly quick departure of their British protectors. This gave a significant advantage to the Zionist policy of reclaiming a land which they believed was inherently theirs.[25]
                The second immediate cause of the Arab Palestinian diaspora was the implementation of Plan Dalet. David Ben-Gurion, a founder of Plan Dalet, was the foremost significant founder of Israel and its leading foreign and domestic policy maker. Plan Dalet was a plan of operation used to expel populations, occupy and destroy villages, and defend the newly created state of Israel from external and internal security threats. Before the establishment of Plan Dalet, Ben-Gurion’s advice to expel Arabs and destroy Arab villages was a clear sign of how Plan Dalet was to be implemented.[26]
Months before Plan Dalet had been released in the spring of 1948, Ben-Gurion ordered outright expulsion of Arabs and wholesale destruction of their villages in response to undefined resistance to Jewish occupation.[27] The final solution to the Arab problem in Palestine was ethnic cleansing. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine was on Ben-Gurion’s mind as early as 1937.[28] Ben-Gurion was not alone in his solution to the Arab problem. Many of the founders of Israel such as the first President of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, had adopted the idea of population transfer in order to cleanse Israel of its native population.[29] The hostile and racist policies of the Zionists during the civil war are transparent enough in Israeli legislation that Arabs living within the borders of Israel were viewed as a potential threat to national security.[30]
                Plan Dalet epitomizes the thinking of early Zionist founders. Plan Dalet created a basis to which Arabs in Palestine were to be, under law of Israel’s paramilitary organization, legally transferred out of Haganah occupied villages. When the Jewish state declared independence on May 14th, 1948, there was a celebratory atmosphere felt by the Zionist disciples of Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism who popularized the idea of indigenous population transfer.[31] The implementation of Plan Dalet rendered it impossible for the partition plan’s proposal of the creation of an Arab state in Palestine. One historian, Rosemary Sayigh, argues that the prevention of “an Arab Palestine” was the very reason that Plan Dalet was created.[32]
                According to Plan Dalet, any village which had been “difficult to control,” a term left undefined in Plan Dalet, was to be destroyed through the use of arson or bombs.[33] The execution of the plan, in regards to what was considered enemy bases, had affected just about all Arab villages in Palestine.[34] Because of this loosely defined policy in Plan Dalet any Arab village could have been considered an enemy base. By the end of the conflict in early 1949 the Zionist forces had systematically destroyed about 400 Arab villages throughout Palestine.[35] Brigade commanders of the Haganah were given permission, by Plan Dalet, to use discretion as to how to occupy each Arab village and what to do with each Arab village following its occupation.[36] Many brigade commanders chose to destroy the villages. This created even more fear among neighboring villages, of which many took flight.
                Throughout Plan Dalet there are a number of references for expulsion of village residents. Any village which resisted the occupation by Haganah forces was to be wholly expelled.[37] Eliahu Sasson, a member of the population Transfer Committee, summed up orders from Yigal Allon, a Haganah commander, in reference to expelling Arab communities in Palestine, by stating that “we need to harm them without mercy, women and children included,” and “there is no need to distinguish between guilty and not guilty”.[38] Plan Dalet gave the excuse to the Haganah to occupy nearly all territories within and near the undefined borders of the Jewish state.[39]
Haifa, a large seaport with a mixed Arab and Jewish population prior to the expulsion and experience of Plan Dalet, now has a mostly Jewish population. When Haganah forces entered the city they were given the normal orders to destroy the Arab quarters by using explosives, as called for in Plan Dalet. In addition, the forces were also given an order by brigade commander, Mordechai Meklef, to “Kill any Arab you encounter.”[40] Haifa’s Arab population was subject to psychological warfare in the same manner which many other Arab cities and villages had experienced. Loudspeakers were used to cause panic in Haifa by blaring messages insisting that Arab families should “leave before it was too late.”[41] It can be argued whether or not this fear tactic should be classified as a means of forced expulsion or simply as a safety warning. Either way, the loudspeaker tactic caused people to take flight and it was used often.
 Many Jewish concentration camp survivors came to Palestine in order to create a new nation from a nation which had already existed.[42] By creating the Jewish nation they were creating a system of ethnic cleansing similar to what they had experienced in Europe. Jewish occupation of Arab villages throughout Palestine was brutal and often resulted in murder of civilians and sometimes massacres. Wholesale genocide took place not just in villages, where major massacres were unfolding, but also on the roads connecting villages. Some soldiers were intent on killing the next generation of Arab males by murdering male babies.[43] In Bayt’Affa, the Israeli soldiers intimidated villagers by slaughtering ten civilians who “were just in the way”.[44] The occurrence of intimidation in freshly occupied villages by killing villagers was not a rare or infrequent occurrence. Routine killings, such as the killings in Qula Palestine where civilians were slaughtered, were common during the occupations.[45]
 The massacre of unarmed civilians at Deir Yassin became one of the most widely known atrocities to take place in Palestine in 1948.[46] After the massacre, the mention of Dier Yassin struck fear into the Arab population throughout Palestine.[47] The soldiers who slaughtered the nearly 200 civilian villagers stated that they had orders sanctioned straight from the Haganah to carry out such operations.[48] Nakba historian Ilan Pappe quotes one eye witness of the massacre as saying, “They took us out one after the other; shot an old man and when his daughters [sic] cried, she was shot too. Then they called my brother Muhammad, and shot him in front of us, and when my mother yelled, bending over with him-carrying my little sister Hudra in her hands, still breastfeeding her-they shot her too.”[49] The massacre at Dier Yassin, as Rosemary Sayigh points out, was “part of a systematic campaign” to create fear and panic throughout Palestine and “force them to give up resistance.”[50] Um Jabr Wishah and her family, like other refugees, had feared returning home due to the widely known massacre at Deir Yassin.[51]
Forced expulsion by means of psychological operations, such as spreading rumors of massacres like the one in Dier Yassin Palestine, and by gunpoint were the root causes of the majority of Arab Palestinians to flee their homes.[52] Night time raids on civilian villages were another part of the psychological warfare. It was a common practice of the Zionist paramilitary forces to attack and occupy villages in the middle of the night. Many refugees remember their forced expulsion in the middle of the night and then being shipped out to refugee camps outside of the Israeli borders.[53] Because of the ensuing chaos of night time raids many Arab Palestinians were not able to communicate with family members and were sometimes split up and sent to different refugee camps.
Some villagers were able to leave their homes and flee to neighboring villages, which were assumed to be safe, only to become refugees of those same villages as well as their own.[54] For some, like Um Jabr Wishah, the process of expulsion and resettlement was repeated multiple times.[55] Um Jabr Wishah, a former resident of Palestine, witnessed, like many others, the fear tactics used by the Israeli soldiers in order to displace and terrorize Arab villagers.[56] In a move to save both loved ones and property some Arab families divided themselves by having some family members stay with the property and others members, primarily children, sent to safer regions such as Lebanon.[57]
Many Arab Palestinians left their homes believing they would be allowed to return. In fact, many thought the conflict would be short and that they would return home in days or weeks.[58] The lower class of Palestinians followed the same actions taken early by their wealthier compatriots by leaving during hostilities to other regions of Palestine or neighboring countries.[59] Peasant villagers, like farmers, fled their land with little more than the clothes on their backs.[60] As the number of refugees increased to nearly half of the population of Palestine, Arab authorities in neighboring nations tried to intervene in the crisis. Many Arabs throughout Palestine were urged by their compatriots not to flee.[61] Some Arab Palestinian national community organizations, such as the National Committee, tried to convince the population not to abandon their villages and cities.[62]
Most of the massacres that took place in occupied villages occurred following a pattern. The pattern, as the prominent Israeli history Benny Morris describes it, usually started with the different Jewish forces entering a village and immediately killing a number of unarmed males. This process promoted fear and panic in the inhabitants of the occupied village and caused many villagers to flee to nearby Arab villages.[63] In Gaza in Crisis, authors Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe argue similarly to Morris in reference to the way occupation and expulsion took place. Chomsky and Pappe add that “Villages were surrounded on three flanks, and the forth one was open for flight and evacuation.”[64] The two authors then state that massacres were intended for residents who did not use the forth flank to flee.
In the villages of Balad al-Sheikh and Hawassa Plan Dalet was fully executed. In Balad al-Sheikh and Hawassa men, including males who were old enough to be considered men by the Haganah forces, were systematically executed. The massacre was part of the Zionist agenda to rid Palestine of non-Jews by ethnic cleansing.[65] In reference to how to deal with Arab problem in Palestine, Ben-Gurion used the words “’clean’ and ‘empty.’” [66] Any resistance to occupation was met by punishment for all Arabs. An order coming from General Moshe Carmel, of the Haganah, clearly stated that Haganah soldiers were to expel Arabs from conquered areas.[67] One high ranking Zionist policy maker, Ya’akov Meridor, ordered that soldiers were to drive Arabs out of their villages and keep those refugees from returning home.[68]
Indiscriminate bombing of civilians areas was another tactic to expel Arabs. People from the village of Barbara fled after the Israeli air force dropped a bomb in the center of the village.[69] No amount of force was too much in order to expel Arabs from their homes. In describing one tactic the Haganah used to inspire fear in order to cause the exodus Walid Khalidi quotes Yigal Allon of the Haganah forces as saying,
"I gathered all of the Jewish Mukhtars, who have contact with Arabs in different villages, and asked them to whisper in the ears of some Arabs, that a great Jewish reinforcement has arrived in Galilee and that it is going to burn all of the villages of the Hulah. They should suggest to these Arabs, as their friends, to escape while there is still time. And the rumor spread in all areas of the Huleg that it is time to flee. The flight numbered myriads."[70]
 The towns of Lydda and Ramlah were located inside of the partition plan’s proposed Israeli border, which meant that the towns, because of their Arab inhabitants, were deemed security threats to Israel. The Haganah duly expelled the populations of Lydda and Ramlah. In the case of Ramlah the Haganah went as far as to provide transportation for the inhabitants, which made for a quicker expulsion of the native inhabitants.[71] In both towns there were also massacres immediately following the occupation which totaled about 250 Arabs between the two towns.[72] Both towns are examples of how Zionist expulsion policies were executed.
The expulsion alone was not enough to cause the diaspora of Palestinians. The third and final immediate cause of the Palestinian diaspora was the Zionist policies created in order to keep Palestinian refugees from returning home. The policies were racist and similar to apartheid laws which were used throughout South Africa. One of these policies was the destruction of villages and the mining of their ruins.[73] This policy ensured that the displaced Palestinians would remain permanent refugees with no homes to return to. As the new state of Israel continued to expand its undefined borders in 1948 and through early 1949 it systematically destroyed an estimated ninety-two percent of Arab Palestinian villages.[74]
Palestinian immovable property like agricultural land, which was rarely destroyed by the Zionist soldiers, was absorbed by Israel. This act of incorporating occupied land meant that the original owners would, under Israeli law, no longer have ownership rights to the land. Not only was the land stolen but the refugees were no longer allowed to purchase their stolen land from Israel. Under Israeli law the only people who were legally allowed to own and settle the stolen land had to be Jewish.[75] Another policy to keep refugees from returning home was the resettlement of abandoned Arab property. The few villages which were not destroyed by the Zionist occupation forces were quickly resettled with Jewish immigrants coming from displaced persons camps throughout Europe.[76] The policy was titled Abandoned Areas Ordinance. The ordinance had such a broad definition of absentee property that any land which was abandoned by the Arab Palestinians could fall under new ownership by the state of Israel.[77]
The diaspora of Arab Palestinians did not end in 1948, though 1948 was the year that the highest percentage of Arab Palestinians were expelled from their homes. The process of expelling entire villages and creating more refugees went on through 1949. In 1949 an area known as the Little Triange, consisting of many Arab villages in central and southern Palestine, had been occupied and its inhabitants expelled just as many Palestinians continue to be expelled today.[78] Since the war of 1948, Israel has tried to methodically erase significant historical evidence of Palestinian history. Many villages like Qula have been renamed or turned into man-made forests in order to cover the remains of Arab villages.[79] Dier Yassin’s cemetary, where many of those were who were massacred were buried, has been razed by bulldozers in order to link together the increasing number of illegal Jewish settlements on occupied Palestine.[80] Refugees still hold on to their house keys in the hope that they may one day be able to return home.[81] The keys are not just keys to abandoned homes, but they are symbolic as the key to a Palestinian homeland.
This paper has revealed that the immediate causes which created the diaspora were not voluntary on the part of the Arab Palestinians. UN Resolution 181 was demonstrated to be the cause of fear and uncertainty which led to Arab Palestinians fleeing British Mandate Palestine and the first Arab-Israeli conflict. Plan Dalet has been explored and the analysis proved that expulsion was practiced and predetermined. The final immediate cause was the steps taken to ensure that refugees were not able to return home. This was exemplified by the apartheid policy of creating the absentee laws.
[1] Simha Flapan, “The Palestinian Exodus of 1948,” Journal of Palestinian Studies 16, no. 4 (Summer 1987): 8.
[2] Ahmad H. Sa'di and Lila Abu-Lughod, eds., Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory (Cultures of History) (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 136.
[3] Nur Masalha, The Politics of Denial: Israel and the Palestinian Refugee Problem (Sterling, VA: Pluto Press, 2003), 26.
[4] Flapan, “The Palestinian Exodus of 1948,” 3.
[5] Ami Isseroff, “United Nations Resolution 181 (ii) November 29, 1947,” MidEastWeb GateWay, http://www.mideastweb.org/181.htm (accessed March 27, 2011).
[6] Ami Isseroff, “United Nations Resolution 181 (ii) November 29, 1947,” MidEastWeb GateWay, http://www.mideastweb.org/181.htm (accessed March 27, 2011).
[7] Michael R. Fischbach, Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Institute for Palestine Studies Series) (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 81.
[8]Benny Morris, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008), 65.
[9] Walid Khalidi, “Master Plan For the Conquest of Palestine.,” Journal of Palestine Studies 18, no. 1 (Autumn 1988): 12.
[10] Ami Isseroff, “United Nations Resolution 181 (ii) November 29, 1947,” MidEastWeb GateWay, http://www.mideastweb.org/181.htm (accessed March 27, 2011).
[11] Ami Isseroff, “United Nations Resolution 181 (ii) November 29, 1947,” MidEastWeb GateWay, http://www.mideastweb.org/181.htm (accessed March 27, 2011).
[12] Ilan Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951 (New York: I. B. Tauris, 2001), 76.
[13] Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim, eds., The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948 (Cambridge Middle East Studies), 2 ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 86.
[14] Sa'di and Abu-Lughod, eds., Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, 77.
[15] Fischbach, Records of Dispossession, 2.
[16] Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (Updated Edition) (South End Press Classics Series), 2 Upd Sub ed. (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1999), 96.
[17] Efrim Karsh, The Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Palestine War 1948. (Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2009), 42.
[18] Morris, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War, 36.
[19] Karsh, The Arab-Israeli Conflict, 57.
[20] Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 60.
[21] Karsh, The Arab-Israeli Conflict, 90.
[22] Khalidi, “Master Plan For the Conquest of Palestine.,” 14.
[23] Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 88.
[24] Fischbach, Records of Dispossession, 7.
[25] Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 54.
[26] Flapan, “The Palestinian Exodus of 1948,” 8.
[27] Masalha, The Politics of Denial, 19.
[28] Masalha, The Politics of Denial, 18.
[29] Masalha, The Politics of Denial, 20.
[30] Flapan, “The Palestinian Exodus of 1948,” 19.
[31] Khalidi, “Master Plan For the Conquest of Palestine.,” 9.
[32] Rosemary Sayigh, The Palestinians: From Peasants to Revolutionaries (London: Zed Books Ltd, 1991), 73.
[33] Khalidi, “Master Plan For the Conquest of Palestine.,” 29.
[34] Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 92.
[35] Fischbach, Records of Dispossession, 4.
[36] Sa'di and Abu-Lughod, eds., Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, 293.
[37] Khalidi, “Master Plan For the Conquest of Palestine.,” 29.
[38] As quoted by Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications, 2007), 69.
[39] Sa'di and Abu-Lughod, eds., Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, 292.
[40] Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 95.
[41] Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 95.
[42] Sa'di and Abu-Lughod, eds., Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, 310.
[43] Um Jabr Wishah, “The 1948 War and Its Aftermath,” Journal of Palestine Studies 35, no. 4 (Summer 2006): 56.
[44] Wishah, “The 1948 War and Its Aftermath,” 56.
[45] Sa'di and Abu-Lughod, eds., Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, 34.
[46] Masalha, The Politics of Denial, 32-33.
[47] Flapan, “The Palestinian Exodus of 1948,” 10.
[48] Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 85.
[49] Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 90.
[50] Sayigh, The Palestinians, 75.
[51] Wishah, “The 1948 War and Its Aftermath,” 56.
[52] Masalha, The Politics of Denial, 29.
[53] Tanya Reinhart, Israel-Palestine How to End the War of 1948., 2nd ed. (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2006), 261.
[54] Nadia Latif, “Making Refugees,” CR: The New Centennial Review 8, no. 2 (Fall 2008): 254.
[55] Wishah, “The 1948 War and Its Aftermath,” 59.
[56] Wishah, “The 1948 War and Its Aftermath,” 55.
[57] Sayigh, The Palestinians, 85.
[58] Um Jabr Wishah, “The 1948 War and Its Aftermath,” Journal of Palestine Studies 35, no. 4 (Summer 2006): 57.
[59] Karsh, The Arab-Israeli Conflict, 89.
[60] Latif, “Making Refugees,” 254.
[61] Khalidi, “Master Plan For the Conquest of Palestine.,” 6.
[62] Sa'di and Abu-Lughod, eds., Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, 90.
[63] Rogan and Shlaim, eds., The War for Palestine, 55.
[64] Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel's War Against the Palestinians, Original ed. (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2010), 61.
[65] Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 81.
[66] Rogan and Shlaim, eds., The War for Palestine, 99.
[67] Rogan and Shlaim, eds., The War for Palestine, 51.
[68] Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle, 237.
[69] Wishah, “The 1948 War and Its Aftermath,” 58.
[70] Khalidi, “Master Plan For the Conquest of Palestine.,” 18-19.
[71] Flapan, “The Palestinian Exodus of 1948,” 14.
[72] Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 154.
[73] Masalha, The Politics of Denial, 39.
[74] Sa'di and Abu-Lughod, eds., Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, 55.
[75] Noam Chomsky, Middle East Illusions: Including Peace in the Middle East? Reflections On Justice and Nationhood (Oxford, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003), 14.
[76] Fischbach, Records of Dispossession, 69-70.
[77] Fischbach, Records of Dispossession, 19.
[78] Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 190-191.
[79] Sa'di and Abu-Lughod, eds., Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, 42.
[80] Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle, 166.
[81] Sa'di and Abu-Lughod, eds., Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, 13.

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