Ben-Gurion was speaking at a cabinet meeting on abolishing the death penalty. Jewish-Arab tensions were high following the 1948 War of Independence, and there was also a problem with infiltrators: Arab refugees seeking to return to the homes and fields they left during the war. Consequently, Jewish murders of Arabs had proliferated, and some ministers considered the death penalty necessary to solve this problem.
The cabinet discussion of 66 years ago is particularly interesting in light of this week’s very different cabinet discussion about a soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian terrorist in Hebron after he no longer posed a threat.
“In general, those who have guns use them,” Ben-Gurion asserted, adding that some Israelis “think Jews are people but Arabs aren’t, so you can do anything to them. And some think it’s a mitzvah to kill Arabs, and that everything the government says against murdering Arabs isn’t serious, that it’s just a pretense that killing Arabs is forbidden, but in fact, it’s a blessing because there will be fewer Arabs here. As long as they think that, the murders won’t stop.”
Ben-Gurion said he, too, would prefer fewer Arabs, but not at the price of murder. “Abolishing the death penalty will increase bloodshed,” he warned, especially between Jews and Arabs. “Soon, we won’t be able to show our faces to the world. Jews meet an Arab and murder him.”
The cabinet first discussed abolishing the death penalty – a legacy of the British Mandate – in July 1949, at the urging of Justice Minister Pinhas Rosen. Ben-Gurion was dubious even then. He said he would support the bill, but was almost certain the death penalty would ultimately be reinstated, because abolishing it “will lead to a proliferation of murders.” After intense debate, the cabinet agreed to abolish the death sentence except for treason during a state of emergency.
The bill then went to the Knesset, where the Constitution Committee held lengthy deliberations. A year later, Rosen presented the cabinet with a problem: Seven prisoners were on death row, but their executions were being delayed until the Knesset made up its mind about the death penalty.
As the cabinet discussed this issue, Ben-Gurion stunned his colleagues by saying he no longer supported abolishing the death penalty, primarily due to an increase in killings of Arabs by Jewish soldiers.
Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett, who in 1949 had supported abolishing the death penalty on the grounds that “Human society must aspire to a moral level at which it’s forbidden to take human life,” also unexpectedly reversed himself at this meeting.
“With great regret I’ve become convinced that abolishing the death penalty is inconceivable,” he announced, noting that even countries “which are immeasurably more humane than we are – I’ve spent years there and I live here – maintain the death penalty.”
The main reason for his U-turn, however, was “the crimes that have happened and are happening week after week, especially in the army,” including some that weren’t public knowledge. Sociopaths might not be deterred by the death penalty, Sharett admitted, “but that Jewish chap who kills two Arabs he met on the road, I’m not willing to say, without trying it first, that he’s a killer by nature and won’t fear the death penalty.”
Some Jews, Sharett said, think “every Arab is a dog, a wild dog that it’s a mitzvah to kill.” And “to save them from killing human beings, it’s a mitzvah to have the death penalty here. As long as we don’t have it, these murders will continue, and we’ll be held accountable, and it will create moral corruption here.
“I’ve giving a speech of repentance and confession here,” he continued. “I’ve learned from experience that in this country, the death penalty is necessary… We made a mistake when we stopped hanging… If all the crimes committed in this country were reported, terror would grip the public and lynchings would start. I’d shoot a Jewish chap who wanted to shoot an Arab passerby if that were the way to save him.”
Sharett then described one case in which three Arabs were killed and a fourth saved only because a Jew threw him into a hut, and another case in which two Indian Jews were almost killed by fellow Jews who thought they were Arabs until they shouted “Israel.”
Minister Dov Yosef backed Ben-Gurion and Sharett. “In principle, I’ve opposed hanging as a penalty all my life, but unfortunately, in this country and today’s situation,” it’s needed, he said.
Minister Haim-Moshe Shapira concurred, saying he was especially horrified by group killings. He cited one in which “eight soldiers were present at the time of the murder. Surely they didn’t all murder, but they were all present at the time of the crime and not one member of this group stopped the crime.”
“There have been worse cases,” Ben-Gurion responded.
Ministers Golda Myerson (later Meir) and David Remez, in contrast, remained opposed to the death penalty, but agreed that much more must be done to prevent crimes against Arabs.
In the end, the death penalty was abolished – but only three years later, in 1954.
Top photo: David Ben-Gurion at his home in Sde Boker in 1968.
Zionist Bombing In Jerusalem 1946
This clip is from episode one of a British-made documentary from 2002 titled ‘The Age Of Terror’, and examines the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22nd July 1946 by Zionist-Jewish terrorists, in which the south wing of the hotel, then occupied by British civil-military authorities, was bombed killing ninety-one people. Twenty-eight of the victims were British, forty-one Arabic, while seventeen were Jewish.
The Zionist terrorists who carried-out the attack were known as the Irgun, and were led by a future prime minister of Israel, Menachem Begin. The King David Hotel bombing was an act of terrorism that is widely-considered to be the first real incidence of 20th century terrorism. It is most significant indeed that the narrator – British actor Sir Ian McKellen – unequivocally states that Jews were the first terrorists of the 20th century. Sir Ian also states that terrorists of the future learned from the example set by Zionist Jews in 1946. He is correct on both points. That Jews invented modern-day terrorism is an indisputable fact. The Zionist state of Israel is the mother of terrorism as we know it.
It is somewhat ironic, although not at all surprising, that an Israeli should also be the architect of the ‘war on terror’. His name? Benjamin Netanyahu, another who has held office as prime minister of Israel. And also it is important to take a note of the dress code of the terrorists? If all failed on the day who would shoulder the blame of the attack on the innocent people? The Muslim Arabs no less, now can we draw comparisons to the same type of attack on civilians over half a century on. You decide!
Armed Jewish underground organization, founded in 1931 by a group of Haganah commanders, who left the Haganah in protest against its defense charter. In April 1937, during the Arab riots, the organization split—about half its members returned to the Haganah. The rest formed a new Irgun Zeva’i Le’umi (abbr. Etzel), which was ideologically linked with the Revisionist Movement and accepted the authority of its leader, Vladimir Jabotinsky.
Etzel rejected the “restraint” policy of the Haganah and carried out armed reprisals against Arabs, which were condemned by the Jewish Agency. Many of its members were arrested by the British authorities; one of them, Shlomo Ben Yosef, was hanged for shooting an Arab bus. After the publication of the White Paper in May 1939, Etzel directed its activities against the British Mandatory autorities.
At the outbreak of World War II, the organization declared a truce, which led to a second split (see Lohamei Herut Yisrael). Etzel members joined the British Army’s Palestinian units and later the Jewish Brigade.
From 1943 Etzel was headed by Menachem Begin. In February 1944, Etzel declared war against the British administration. It attacked and blew up government offices, military installations and police stations. The Jewish Agency and the Haganah moved against the Etzel in a campaign nicknamed the Sezon. Etzel joined the Jewish Resistance Movement and after its disintegration in August 1946, Etzel continued attacks on British military and government objectives.
In April 1947, four members of the organization were hanged in Acre prison. In May 1947, Etzel broke into the fortress at Acre and freed 41 prisoners. In July 1947, when 3 other Etzel members were executed, the I.Z.L. hanged two British sergeants.
After the Declaration of Independence, the Etzel high command offered to disband the organization and integrate its members into the army of the new Jewish state. Full integration was achieved in September 1948.
Sources:The Pedagogic Center, The Department for Jewish Zionist Education, The Jewish Agency for Israel, (c) 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, Director: Dr. Motti Friedman, Webmaster: Esther Carciente
Zionist Massacres against Palestinians:
Palestine Times: March 1993
The following list of massacres is by no means exhausive, but they reflect the nature of the Zionist occupation of Palestine and show that massacres and expulsions were not aberrations that happen in any war, but organized atrocities with only one aim, that is to have a Zionist state which is ‘goyim rein’
List of Massacres committed by Zionists against Palestinians:
13 December 1947: men of the Arab village of Yehiday (near Petah Tekva, the first Zionist settlement to be established) met at the local coffee house when they saw a British Army patrol enter the village, they were reassured espeically that Jewish terrorists had murdered 12 Palestinians the previous day. The four cars stopped in front of the cafe house and out stepped men dressed in khaki uniforms and steel helmets. However, it soon became apparent that they had not come to protect the villagers. With machine guns they sprayed bullets into the crowd gathered in the coffee house. Some of the invaders placed bombs next to Arab homes while other disguised terrorists tossed grenades at civilians. For a while it seemed as if the villagers would be annihilated but soon a real British patrol arrived to foil the well organized killing raid. The death toll of 7 Arab civilans could have been much higher. Earlier the same day 6 Arabs were killed and 23 wounded when home made bombs were tossed at a crowd of Arabs standing near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. In Jaffa another bomb killed six more Arabs and injured 40.
18 December 1947: Two carloads of Haganah terrorists drove through the village of Khisas (on the Lebanese Syrian border) firing machine guns and throwing grenades. 10 Arab civilians were killed in the raid.
19 December 1947: 5 Arab children were murdered when Jewish terrorists blew up the house of the village Mukhtar.
AL-SHEIKH VILLAGE MASSACRE
1 January 1948: On that night around two hundred Zionists armed with hand grenades and machine guns sneaked into a small village called al-Shaikh village (5 km South East of Haifa). The attackers came through the southern hills (most possibly from Nisher Jewish settlement wich lies about 5 km south of the village). They attacked the houses on the edges of the village with hand-grenades and finished off with machine-guns killing around 40 of the Palestinians inhibitants of the village, mostly women and children.
DEIR YASSIN MASSACRE
9-10 April 1948: The massacre that became the symbol of Zionist aggression against the Palestinians as well as Zionist treachery. The Mukhtar of the village had agreed with the Zionists to provide information on the movement of strangers in the area as well as other intelligence provided their village is spared. The Zionists were not to keep their side of the promise. In an operation which was called Operation Unity, the Haganah co-operated with the Irgun and the Stern Gang in this operation. At 4:30 am on Friday 9th April 1948 surrounded the village which was overlooked by two Jewish settlements, Givat Shaul and Montefiore. For two days Zionist terrorists killed men women and children, raped women and stole their jewellery. A chilling account of the massacre is given by a Red Cross doctor who arrived at the village on the second day and saw himself – the mopping up – as one of the terrorists put it to him. He says that the “mopping up” had been done with machine guns, then grenades and finished of with knives. Women’s bellies were cut open and babies were butchered inthe hands of their helpless mothers. Around 250 people were murdered in cold blood. Of them 25 pregnant women were bayoneted in the abdomen while still alive. 52 children were maimed under the eyes of their own mothers, and they were slain and their heads cut off. The Jewish Agency and the commander of the British ground troops knew of the massacre while it was going on, however, no one intervened to stop it.
NASER AL-DIN MASSACRE
13-14 April 1948: A contingent of Lehi and Irgun entered this village (near Tiberias) entered the village on the night of 13 April dressed as Arab fighters. Upon their entrance to the village the people went out to greet them, the terrorists met them with fire, killing every single one of them. Only 40 people survived. All the houses of the village were raised to the ground.
BEIT DARAS MASSACRE
21 May 1948: After a number of failed attempts to occupy this village, the Zionists mobilized a large contingent and surrounded the village. The people of Beit Daras decided that women and children should leave. As women and children left the village they were met by the Zionist army who massacred them despite the fact that they could see they were women and children fleeing the fighting.
THE DAHMASH MOSQUE MASSACRE
11 July 1948: After the Israeli 89th Commando Battalion lead by Moshe Dayan occupied Lydda, the Israelis told Arabs through loudspeakers that if they went into a certain mosque they would be safe. In retaliation for a hand grenade attack after the surrender that killed several Israeli soldiers, 80-100 Palestinians were massacred in the mosque, their bodies lay decomposing for 10 days in the mid-summer heat. The mosque still stands abandoned today. This massacre spread fear and panic among the Arab population of Lydda and Ramle, who were then ordered to march out of these towns after they were stripped of all personal belonging by Israeli soldiers. Yitzhak Rabin, Brigade Commander then says: “There was no way of avoiding the use of force and warning shots in order to make the inhabitants march ten to fifteen miles to the point where they met up with the legion.” Most of the 60,000 inhabitants of Lydda and Ramble came to refugee camps near Ramallah, around 350 lost their lives on the way through dehydration and son stroke. Many survived by drinking their own urine. The conditions in the refugee camps were to claim more lives.
29 October 1948: The following is the testimony of a Jewish soldier who participated in the occupation of the village of Dawayma (in the Haifa subdistrict): “…They killed between 80 to 100 Arab men women and children. To kill children they factured their heads with sticks. There was not one home left without corpses …. One commander ordered a soldier to bring two women into a building he was about to blow up… Another soldier prided himself on having raped an Arab women before shooting her to death…” The massacre was perpetrated by the 89th Battalion, the authors of Lydda massacre.
7 Febraury 1951: Israeli soldiers corssed the armistice line to this village (5 km from Jerusalem) and blew up the houses of the Mukhtar and his neighbors. 10 were killed (2 elderly men, 3 woemen and 5 children) and 8 were wounded.
14 October 1953: 9:30 pm about 700 regular Israeli troops attacked the border Jordanian village of Kibya, north west of Jerusalem. Using mortars, machine guns, rifles and explosives they blew up 42 houses, the local schools and the mosque. Every man woman and child found by these ciminals was killed. 75 innocent villagers were murdered in cold blood. The raids were ordered by Ariel Sharon.
KAFR QASEM MASSACRE
29 October 1956: Israeli frontier guards started at 4 pm what they called a tour of the Triangle Villages. They told the Mukhtars of those villages that the curfew from that day onwards was to start from 5 pm instead of 6 pm. They reached Kafr Qasem around 4:45 and informed the Mukhtar protested that there are about 400 villagers working outside the village and there is not enough time to inform them of the new times. An officer assured him that they will be taken care of. Then the guards waited at the entrance to the village. 43 Kafr Qasem inhabitants were massacred in cold blood by the army as they returned from work, their crime was violating a curfew they did not know about. On the northern entrance of the village 3 were killed and 2 were killed inside of the village. Amongst the dead were men, women, and children. Lutanat Danhan was touring the area in his jeep reporting the massacre, on his wireless he said “minus 15 Arabs” after a while his message on the radio to his H.Q. was “it is difficult to count”.
13 November 1966: Israeli forces raided this village, destroyed 125 houses, the village clinic and school as well as 15 houses in a neighbouring village. 18 people were killed and 54 wounded.
THE SABRA AND SHATILA MASSACRE
15-18 September 1982: After the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon Phalangist puppets of the Israelis massacred over 3000 Palestinian men, women and children under the watchful eyes of the Israeli army. A body count by the International Committee of the Red Cross revealed 2750 dead, the real figure is thought to be much higher and may never be known.
OYON QARA MASSACRE (RISHON LEZION:
20 May 1990: An Israeli soldier lined up Palestinian laborers and murdered seven of them with a sub-machine gun. 13 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in subsequent demonstrations at the massacre.
AL-AQSA MOSQUE MASSACRE
8 October 1990: Israeli police opened fire on worshipers in al-Aqsa mosque killing 22 people.
THE IBRAHIMI MOSQUE MASSACRE
25 February 1994: A Jewish terrorist, from Keryat Arba’ settlement massacred 50 worshipers in the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil (Hebron) and wounded about 200. Later massive demonstrations took to the streets of Palestine and the Zionist army responded by live ammunitions, killing 23 and wounding hundreds more. Reports indicate there were 3 Jewish settler gunners, not only one.
THE JABALIA MASSACRE
28 March 1994: A Jewish undercover police opened fire on Palestinian activists brutally killing 6 and injuring 49. Some of the wounded activists were taken out of their cars and shot in their heads to death.
ERETZ CHECKPOINT MASSACRE
17 July 1994: Palestinian sources reported that the occupation forces had committed Sunday morning a disgusting massacre against Palestinian workers at Eretz Checkpoint. Eyewitnesses and Israeli sources reported that 11 Palestinians have been shot dead and 200 injured. Israeli sources also reported that 21 Israeli soldiers including 1 settler were injured. Two soldiers were shot by bullets, one died. As reported by Palestinian and Israeli sources, the scene was described as a war zone which lasted for 6 hours. Four Israeli tanks and helicopters were brought by the occupation forces, while a number of settlers took part firing at Palestinians. Protests had spread all over the Occupied Territories. In Gaza, Palestinians raised black flags and called for revenge. In Ramallah, shops closed while several clashes were reported. Several clashes were reported at Hebron University yesterday, and today two Palestinians were shot in Hebron.
These are just some of the massacres committed against the Palestinians by the Zionists. If the raids on southern Lebanon old and new were to be taken account the true magnitude of Zionist crimes against humanity could start to emerge. If one were to go into the gruesome details of the atrocities committed in 1948 the “mopping up operations”, the deliberate humiliation and massacre of Arabs and the desecration of the holy places of both Muslim and Christian as well as the looting of these holy places and personal property by the Israeli army and settlers, one might just start to appreciate what Zionism is all about.
Quotes from the Jewish Bible, the Torah:
“Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:
And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it”Numbers 33:52,53
“And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.”