Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Monday 27 June 2011

"Get Out So That We Can Get In": How the Arabs (not Israel) caused the refugee problem

According to blogger Richard Millett, reporting on a meeting held at Westminster under the auspices of the London-based Palestine Return Centre, our old friend Lib Dem life peer Baroness Tonge
"finished [her] talk by describing her dream that one day all the Palestinian refugees will unite and march together to claim back their homeland. She said it would be impossible for Israel to kill all of them."
Voices, often raised hysterically, at other pro-Palestinian meetings hither and thither can also be heard advocating the return of the "refugees" - an occurrence that would, it goes without saying, destroy Israel by demography.  Just look at the two BBC programme videos on my Thursday post to witness such sentiments, which of course are symptomatic of the widespread - and perhaps in many instances wilfull - ignorance of the history of Israel and the Palestinian Arabs that characterises much of what passes for debate in the West on the issue of "Israel/Palestine".  Take a look, too, at my Saturday evening post, and Sylvia Hale's contention that the refugees were "expelled" from Israel, which must accord them the "right of return".

All this goes to show how brilliantly the anti-Israel propaganda machine has been in hijacking the historical narrative, and, conversely, how abysmal Israel's hasbara efforts have been on the question of the Nakba and the Palestinian Arab refugees.

Moreover, it was reported last week (several anti-Israel blogs have picked this up but I don't want to increase their traffic by linking to them), Hamas, blaming the plight of the refugees on the United Nations for Partition and subsequent inaction, has urged  the "refugees to stick to their demands of return and compensation and organize rallies year-round and not to be content with Nakba and Naksa days only."

It's difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Israelis have colluded in their own nightmare in this regard by acquiescing in the new-fangled label "Palestinians" for those previously known simply as Arabs.

For in so doing the Israelis unwittingly conceded the historical narrative to Arafat and his mates - the Israelis foolishly bolstered the fiction (now believed by so many ordinary men and women around the world) that there was a sovereign Arab people called "Palestinians" whose land was stolen from them.

Here's one of the Mandate-era posters by the oleh Franz Krausz that seems so far to have escaped  being snatched for propaganda purposes by those Israel-bashers who use the others as symbols of the Arab cause.

How correct, surely, is Israeli blogger Michelle Cohen's observation that:

'The biggest mistake Israelis make, is agreeing to call regional Arabs "Palestinians." 
It is exactly the same as supplying Arabs with ammunition with which to delegitimise Israel.  It is exactly like saying, "We agree with you — you were here first, this is your land and we stole it."
This is the Arab narrative anyway and we, as Israelis, are justifying this claim by agreeing to call regional Arabs by the name they have stolen.  If we wish to be taken seriously by the "international community", it is high time and highly recommended that we go back to calling "Palestinians" Arabs and make certain our voices are heard across the land, in Government, in Media and around the world.'
The historical reality is, despite Baroness Tonge, Ms Hale, and their ilk, and despite Arab denials, that the vast majority of the Arabs who fled in 1948 did so at the behest of their leaders, and that had those leaders not declared war on Israel with the aim of annihilating the fledgling state, there would have been no refugee problem.  Furthermore, as the pro-Palestinian activist should be well aware, the refugees were urged by the Jews of Eretz Israel to remain, and the fact that only one-fifth of the refugees were resettled in Arab lands was due to the Arabs' deliberate policy of using the refugees as pawns in their conflict with the Zionist Entity.

On 2 October 1947 the Va'ad Leumi, the National Council or Assembly of Palestinian Jewry, stated:
"The Jewish People extends the hand of sincere friendship and brotherhood to the Arab peoples and calls them to cooperate as free and equal allies for the sake of peace and progress, for the benefit of their respective countries."
On 3 December that same year the Va'ad issued an appeal:
"Arabs!  The National Council of Jews in Palestine sends you words of peace and calls on you not to follow those who invite you to riots and bloodshed.  The Jews plan to build their state...with complete cooperation and friendship.  They have no interest in destruction, but in construction.  The Jewish effort developed and enriched all of the country in the past - and it will continue to be in the future a perpetual source of blessing to Jews and Arabs alike.... Remove the inciters from your public forums and take the hand which is stretched out before you in peace."
On 12 April 1948 the Zionist General Council  declared:
"At this hour, when bloodshed and strife have been forced upon us, we turn to the Arabs in the Jewish state, and to nour neighbours on adjacent territories, with an appeal for brotherhood and peace."
Israel's Proclamation of Independence made by Ben-Gurion on 14 May 1948 similarly stated:
"In the midst of wanton aggression, we yet call upon the Arab inhabitants of the state of Israel to return to the ways of peace, and to play their part in the development of the state with full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its bodies and institutions, provisional and permanent."
The Lebanese newspaper Sadar al Janub (16 August 1948) carried information from the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Galilee, Syrian-born George Selim Hakim:
'The refugees had long been confident that their absence from Palestine would not last long, that they would return within a few days, within a week or two.  Their leaders had promised them that the Arab armies would crush the Zionist "gangs" very quickly and that there was no need for panic or fear of a long exile.'
 And then we have such documentation as the following:
"The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of the act of the Arab states in opposing partition and the Jewish state.  The Arab states agreed upon this policy unanimously and they must share in the solution of the problem." (Emile Ghoury, Secretary of the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, in an interview with the Beirut Telegraph, 6 September 1948)
"[T]he Jewish authorities, who were now in complete control in Haifa (save for limited districts still held by the British troops), urged all Arabs to remain in Haifa and guaranteed them protection and security.  As far as I know, most of the British civilian residents whose advice was asked by Arab friends told the latter that they would be wise to stay. However, of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa, not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained.  Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight.  There is but little doubt that the most potent of these factors were [sic] the announcements made over the air by the Arab Higher Executive, urging all Arabs in Haifa to quit.... It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades."  (The Economist, London, 2 October 1948)
"The Arab states which had encouraged the Palestinian Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the wayof the Arab invasion armies, have failed to keep their promise to help those refugees."  (Jordanian daily Falastin, 19 February 1949)
"The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab people that the occupation of Palestine and of Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade... He pointed out that they were already on the frontiers and that all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw the Jews into the Mediterranean... Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes and property and to stay temporarily in neighbouring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading armies mow them down."  (Habib Issa, editor of New York-based Lebanese newspaper Al Hoda, 8 June 1951)
"Who brought the Palestinians to Lebanon as refugees, suffering now from the malign attitude of newspapers and communal leaders, who have neither honour nor conscience?  Who brought them over in dire straits and penniless, after they lost their honour?  The Arab states, and Lebanese amongst them, did it." (Beirut Muslim weekly Kul-Shay, 19 August 1951)
"For the flight and fall of the other villages it is our leaders who are responsible because of their dissemination of rumours exaggerating Jewish crimes and describing them as atrocities in order to inflame the Arabs... By spreading rumours of Jewish atrocities, killings of women and children, etc, they instilled fear and terror in the hearts of the Arabs in Palestine until they fled leaving their homes and property to the enemy."  (Jordanian daily Al Urdun, 9 April 1953).
 'We were masters in our land, happy with our lot ... but overnight everything changed.  The Arab government told us "Get out so that we can get in" - so we got out but they [the Arab government] did not get in.'  (Jordanian journal Ad-Difaa, 6 September 1954)
"All of a sudden the people of Jaffa began to evacuate their towns, abandoning it in the middle of a fight, even before its climax... I now see that we fought only half-heartedly... Our many quarrels kept us too busy.  We left the country of our own free will believing we were going on a short visit, a trip and soon we would return as if nohing had happened  and as if there had never been a war."  (Mahmoud Seif ed-Din Irani, With The People, Amman, 1956)
"As early as the first months of 1948 the Arab League issued orders exhorting the people to seek temporary refuge in the neighbouring countries, later to return to their abodes in the wake of the victorious Arab armies and obtain their share of abandoned Jewish properties." (Bulletin of the Research Group of European Migration Problems, January 1957, The Hague, pp. 10-11)
'The Arabs' eyes were blinded and their brains clogged.  They were confused by promises and deluded by their leaders.  The Palestinian Arabs were ignorant and easily led astray.  They were short-sighted and unthinking and subjected to  gangster leadership...which herded them like docile sheep... Many left temporarily, they thought, to await the passing of the storm... The leaders rattled their sabres, delivered fiery speeches and wrote stirring articles.  Iraq's Prime Minister had thundered "We shall smash the country with our guns and destroy and obliterate every place the Jews will seek shelter in.  The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down." (Nimr Al-Harawi, former commander of the paramilitary al-Najjada youth organisation in Palestine, Sir am Nakba: The Secret Behind The Disaster, Nazareth, 1955)
"The 15th of May 1948 arrived... On that very day the Mufti of Jerusalem appealed to the Arabs of Palestine to leave the country, because the Arab armies were about to enter and fight in their stead." (Cairo daily Akhbar el Yom, 12 October 1963)
 (My source for all the quotations in italics is Chapter Three of Isi Leibler's The Case for Israel, a fact-packed paperback published in 1972 by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, of which Mr Leibler was President for many years before making aliya in 1999.)

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