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Yasser Arafat may have lost some of his personal political clout of late, but the political movement he began – demanding justice for Palestinian Arabs expelled from their homes in 1948 – remains as strong as ever.
There’s just one problem. There’s not the slightest historical evidence to suggest Arabs were expelled in significant numbers – certainly not by Jews.
I know this statement is going to be met with gasps, guffaws and gnashing of teeth. Nevertheless, let me defend it, not with my own words, not with the words of Jews and Israelis, but with the words of Arabs closer to the time of the events.
- “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 agree 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 Sept. 6, 1948.
- “The Arab state which had encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies, have failed to keep their promise to help these refugees.”
– The Jordanian daily newspaper Falastin, Feb. 19, 1949.
- “Who brought the Palestinians to Lebanon as refugees, suffering now from the malign attitude of newspapers and communal leaders, who have neither honor nor conscience? Who brought them over in dire straits and penniless, after they lost their honor? The Arab states, and Lebanon amongst them, did it.”
– The Beirut Muslim weekly Kul-Shay, Aug. 19, 1951.
- “The 15th May, 1948, arrived … On that 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.”
– The Cairo daily Akhbar el Yom, Oct. 12, 1963.
- “For the flight and fall of the other villages it is our leaders who are responsible because of their dissemination of rumors exaggerating Jewish crimes and describing them as atrocities in order to inflame the Arabs … By spreading rumors 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 properties to the enemy.”
– The Jordanian daily newspaper Al Urdun, April 9, 1953.
I could go on and on and on with this forgotten – or deliberately obscured – history. But you get the point. There was no Jewish conspiracy to chase Arabs out of their homes in 1948. It never happened. There are, instead, plenty of historical records showing the Jews pleading with their Arab neighbors to stay and live in peace and harmony. Yet, despite the clear, unambiguous words of the Arab observers at the time, history has been successfully rewritten to turn the Jews into the bad guys.
The truth is that 68 percent of the Arab Palestinians who left in 1948 – perhaps 300,000 to 400,000 of them – never saw an Israeli soldier.
Even more importantly, the revised history has given the guilty a free ride. The Arab states that initiated the hostilities have never accepted responsibility – despite their enormous wealth and their ability to assimilate tens of millions of refugees in their largely under-populated nations. And other states have failed to hold them accountable.
It’s bad enough the Arab states created a small nation of refugees by their actions. It’s worse that they have successfully blamed that international crime on the Jews.
Today, of course, this cruel charade continues. The suffering of millions of Arabs is perpetuated only for political purposes by the Arab states. They are merely pawns in the war to destroy Israel.
There were some 100 million refugees around the world following World War II. The Palestinian Arab group is the only one in the world not absorbed or integrated into their own people’s lands. Since then, millions of Jewish refugees from around the world have been absorbed in the tiny nation of Israel.
It makes no sense to expect that same tiny Jewish state to solve a refugee crisis it did not create.