based on extracts from “BIG LIES: Demolishing The Myths of the Propaganda War Against Israel” (2005) by DAVID MEIR-LEVI, with updates by Steve Lieblich:
1. THE REFUGEE QUESTION
The Arab version of the tragic fate of Arab refugees who fled from the Palestine Mandate before and during the 1948 war and from Israel immediately after the war, has so thoroughly dominated the discourse about the Israel-Arab conflict, that for some, it is almost a given that the creation of the State of Israel caused the flight of half a million Arab refugees; and that Israel caused the problem and thus Israel must solve the problem.
This assertion, although canonized by the anti-Israel propaganda which makes it the core of its narratives of the Middle East conflict, is unequivocally and totally false.
Origins of the Problem
Arab leaders persecuted their Jewish population in Palestine from the 1920s, and launched a relentless campaign, against the interests of their own people, to obliterate the Jewish national revival …before any “occupation” and even before the establishment of the State of Israel. They flatly rejected the restoration of the Jewish homeland as mandated by the League of Nations after World War 1.
The State of Israel was not created out of Palestinian lands. It was created out of the Ottoman Empire, ruled for four hundred years by the Turks who lost it when they were defeated in World War I.
There were no “Palestinian” lands at the time because there were no people claiming to be Palestinians. There were Arabs who lived in the region of Palestine who considered themselves Syrians. It was only after World War I that the present states of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq were also created – and also created artificially out of the Turkish Empire by the British and French victors.
Jordan was created on about 80 percent of the Palestine Mandate, which was originally designated by the League of Nations for the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland. Since then, Jews have been prohibited from owning property there. Two-thirds of its citizens are Palestinian Arabs, but it is ruled by a Hashemite monarchy.
Even after Jordan was created from 80% of the British Mandate of Palestine, the Arabs rejected the 1937 Peel Commission proposal to partition the remaining 20%.
In 1947, the UN partition plan recommended the creation of two states on the remaining 20 percent of the Palestine Mandate: the State of Israel for the Jews, and another state for the Arabs. The Arabs rejected their state, and launched a war against Israel. This is the primal cause of the Arab refugee problem.
In 1947, the UN partition would have created an even larger Arab state. If not for the Arabs' violent attempt to abort the partition, there would have been no war and there would now be a Palestinian state over 60 years old.
The Arab refugees were about 600,000 people who lost their homes because of the war that the Arab states started. The Arab states - dictatorships all - did not want a non-Arab state in the Middle East. The rulers of eight Arab countries whose populations vastly outnumbered the Jewish settlers in the Turkish Empire, initiated the war with simultaneous invasions of the newly-created state of Israel on three fronts.
Nascent Israel begged for peace and offered friendship and cooperation to its neighbors. The Arab dictators rejected this offer and answered it with a war of annihilation against the Jews. The war failed. But the state of war has continued uninterruptedly because of the failure of the Arab states –Saudi Arabia and Iraq in particular – to sign a peace treaty with Israel. To this day, the Arab states and the Palestinians refer to the failure of their aggression and the survival of Israel as an-Nakba – the catastrophe.
Had there been no Arab aggression, no war, and no invasion by Arab armies whose intent was overtly genocidal, not only would there have been no Arab refugees, but there would have been a state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza since 1948.
Israel actually offered to return land it had acquired while defending itself against the Arab aggression in exchange for a formal peace. It made this offer during the Rhodes Armistice talks and Lausanne conference in 1949. The Arab rulers refused the land because they wanted to maintain a state of war in order to destroy the Jewish state.
Had Israel’s offer been accepted, there could have been prompt and just resolution to all the problems that have afflicted the region since. The only problem that wouldn’t have been resolved to the satisfaction of the Arabs was their desire to obliterate the state of Israel.
From 1948 to 1967, Israel did not control the West Bank and Gaza. The Arab nations could have created an independent Palestinian state there, but did not. Instead of peace and reconciliation, they chose rejection and global terrorism.
The Arabs also rejected the offer of Palestinian autonomy in the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace negotiations. They scuttled the Oslo process that began in 1993 leading toward the creation of a Palestinian state, by violating their commitments. In 2000 and 2008, they also rejected offers to create a Palestinian state.
It was not Israel that caused the Arab refugee problem, nor Israel that obstructed its solution. On the contrary, the Arab refugee problem was the direct result of the aggression by the Arab states, and their refusal after failing to obliterate Israel to sign a formal peace, or to take care of the Arab refugees who remained outside Israel’s borders.
The Jewish Refugees
There were other refugees from the Arab-Israeli conflict that everyone on the Arab side of the argument chooses conveniently to forget. Between 1949 and 1954, about 800,000 Jews were forced to flee from the Arab and Muslim lands where they had lived for hundreds and even thousands of years – from Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and Iran, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and other Muslim countries. These Jews were peaceful citizens of their Arab countries and in no way a hostile population. Nonetheless, they were forced at gun-point to flee with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The only reason for their expulsion was revenge against the Jewish citizenry of Arab countries for the shame of the Arab defeat in their war of aggression. Most of these Jewish refugees came to Israel, where they were integrated into normalcy by the tiny fledgling Jewish state. The Arab states (and later the PLO) refused to do this for the Arab refugees because they preferred to keep them an aggrieved constituency for their war against Israel.
Some observers have suggested that the dual refugee situation should be understood as a “population exchange” – Arabs fled to Arab countries as Jews fled to the Jewish country, both as a result of the 1948 war, both under conditions which their side regards as forced evacuations. On the other hand, no one on the Arab side has suggested the obvious: if Jewish refugees were resettled on land vacated by fleeing Arabs, why not resettle Arab refugees on the lands of Jews who were forced to flee the Arab countries. One reason no one has suggested this is that no Arab state will even now allow Arab refugees to become citizens.
Taking into account the Jewish refugees’ assets that were confiscated when they fled from Arab and Muslim lands, one can conclude that the Jews have already paid massive “reparations” to the Arabs whether warranted or not. The property and belongings of the Jewish refugees, confiscated by the Arab governments, has been conservatively estimated at about $2.5 billion in 1948 dollars. Invest that money at a modest 6.5% over 57 years and you have today a sum of $80 billion, which the Arab and Muslim governments of the lands from which the Jews were expelled could apply to the benefit of the Arab refugees. That sum is quite sufficient for reparations to Arab refugees. There is no way of accurately assessing the value of Arab property left in Israel’s control; but there are no estimates as high as a 1948 value of $2,500,000,000. So, hypothetically, the Arab side has already gotten the better end of the deal.
Another irony must be considered in the context of the refugee issue. Israel handled its Jewish refugee problem by devoting massive resources to the education and integration of the Jewish refugee population into its society. These refugees never became a burden on the world, never needed the assistance of the United Nations, and never had their civil and human rights denied by their new host country. Instead, despite great hardship, early discrimination, difficult adjustments and initial privations, they and their offspring have become productive citizens of the Middle East’s only democracy, and substantive contributors to one of the most technologically and socially advanced countries in the world.
During the many wars of the 20th century, tens of millions of refugees were created.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on December 14, 1950 to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. In more than five decades, the agency has helped an estimated 50 million refugees to restart their lives (25 million refugees of World War 2, and another 25 million since). Today, the UNHCR in more than 110 countries continues to help over 30 million refugees.
The only refugees for whom resettlement is not even attempted, are the Arabs refugees of the 1948 Arab-Israel war, whom the Arab states and the Palestinian Authority have kept in refugee camps.
The fate of the Arab refugees has been the diametric opposite of Israel’s pro-active approach to the problem of Jewish refugees, and the UNHCR’s approach to all other refugees, except the Arabs refugees of Palestine.
Arab leadership has purposely kept their Palestinian brethren in refugee slums, with their misery perpetuated by Machiavellian rulers to be used as a propaganda weapon against Israel and against the West.
The Palestinian refugees in Gaza were forced there in 1948 not by Israel but by the Egyptians, kept there under guard, shot if they tried to leave, and never given Egyptian citizenship or Egyptian passports. (These facts are recorded by Yasir Arafat himself in his authorized biography by Alan Hart, Arafat: Terrorist or Peace Maker? 1982).
Refugees in Lebanon were kept under similar but less draconian repression. They were barred by law from almost 70 professions, not granted citizenship, and not allowed to travel. Only in Jordan were the refugees granted citizenship.
Senior Fatah Central Committee member Sakher Habash succinctly explained the reason for the calculated refusal of the Arab rulers including the Palestinian rulers to help the Palestinian refugees to return to normal lives. During a 1998 lecture at Shechem’s An-Najah University, Habash said:
“To us, the refugee issue is the winning card which means the end of the Israeli state.”
In other words, war, terrorism, diplomatic isolation of Israel, world-wide PR campaigns to demonize Israel all may fail (and most have, so far); but as long as this last trump card is still alive, hope for the destruction of Israel still pulses in the hearts of Arab revanchists.
Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948 and are still alive have no legal right to return to Israel, because the Arab leadership representing them (Arab nations until 1993, and since then the Palestinian Authority) are still, de jure and de facto, at war with Israel; and these refugees, therefore, are still potential hostiles. International law does not require a country at war to commit suicide by allowing the entry of hundreds of thousands of a potentially hostile population. In the context of a peace treaty, in 1949, the Arab refugees could have taken advantage of Israel’s offer; but their leadership refused.
Of course the present Palestinian claim of a “Right of Return” is accompanied by the claim that there are not the original 600,000 refugees (minus those who have died in the interim) but over 5 million.
As distinct from the UNHCR definition of refugee, under the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA)'s operational definition, “Palestine refugees” are persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. UNRWA's definition of a refugee also covers the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948. The number of registered Palestine refugees has subsequently grown from over 500,000 in 1950 to more 5 million in 2007, and continues to rise due to natural population growth.
A Summary of The Salient Facts
The protracted Arab refugee crisis is an artificial crisis maintained for decades by Arab rulers in order to exploit their own people’s suffering -- to create a “poster child” for Palestinian victim-hood; a staging ground for anti-Israel propaganda; a training center for Arab terrorists; and a trump card for the anti-Israel jihad when all else (war, terrorism, international diplomacy) fails.
“Haq el-Auda,” the claimed “right of return,” for Palestinian Arabs to return their homes that have been part of Israel since 1948 is a sham.
Sixty years ago there were nearly a million Jews in the Arab states of the Middle East: honest hard-working citizenry contributing to the culture and economy of their countries of domicile. Today, there are almost no Jews in the Arab countries of the Middle East, and racist apartheid laws prohibit even Jewish tourists from entering some Arab countries.
In Israel, on the other hand, the Arabs who did not flee numbered about 170,000 in 1949; and now number more than 1,400,000. They have representatives in the Israeli Parliament, judges sitting on the Israeli courts and on the Israeli Supreme Court benches, and PhD’s and tenured professors teaching in Israeli colleges and universities. They are a population that enjoys more freedom, education, and economic opportunity than do any comparable Arab populations anywhere in the Arab world.
The Arab rulers caused the Arab refugee problem in 1948 by their war of aggression against the infant state of Israel; the Arab rulers have since maintained the Arab refugee population and denied it any possibility of normal life in Arab countries in order to use the suffering they themselves have caused, as a weapon in their unending war against Israel.
During all these decades the refugee camps and their Arab exploiters have been funded by billions of dollars from the oil-rich Arab nations and the international community.
2. THE EIGHT STAGES OF THE CREATION OF THE PROBLEM
The flight of Arabs from what would soon become Israel took place in eight stages:
One. As early as the Fall of 1947, months before the UN partition plan of November 29, 1947, it was clear that there would be a war no matter how the partition lines were drawn. In anticipation of this war, many of the well-to-do Arabs (the effendi) of Western Galilee, from Haifa to Acco and villages in between, closed down their houses and went to Beirut or Damascus. With their wealth and connections, they could wait out the war in safety. No one imagined the infant state of Israel could win a war with the Arab states. The Arabs who left thought that they would be out of the way of danger, and when the war was over they would come back to their homes. Current estimates by objective observers (Conor Cruise O’Brien, in his book The Siege, being perhaps the most objective) is that about 70,000 fled.
Two. These refugees caused a sudden absence of political and social leadership among the Arabs of Galilee, and thus as the hostilities developed in the winter of 1947, many of the Arab peasantry (Felahin) fled as well, following their leaders’ example. They lacked the money and connections to make a comfortable trip out of the way of danger, as their effendi had done. So many of them simply walked with whatever they could carry to Lebanon or Syria. Their leadership had fled, which led them to assume that things must be pretty bad, so they figured they had better leave too. They too were sure, based upon documentation from Arab press at the time, that when the war was over and the Jews were all dead or driven from Israel, they would come back to their homes.
There are no solid numbers for this exodus, but estimates range around 100,000 people. There were so many exiting that the Arab states had a special conference in Beirut to decide how to handle all the Arabs that were pouring across the borders. They set up special camps, later to be known as refugee camps.These Arabs were fleeing of their own free will. No one, neither Israel nor Arab states, were encouraging, frightening, or ordering them to do so. The war had not yet even begun.
Three. After November 29, 1947, warfare between the Israeli Haganah and para-military Arab volunteers numbering in the tens of thousands began in earnest. The Arab press and public speeches made it clear that this was to be a war of annihilation like those of the great Mongol hordes killing all in their path. The Jews would be either dead or out. Israel was fighting not a war of independence, but a war of survival.
In order to defend some areas where Jews were completely surrounded by Arabs (like the Jews of Jaffa, Jewish villages or kibbutzim in parts of Galilee and the central hill country, and in Jerusalem), the Haganah adopted scare-tactics that were intended to strike terror into the Arab population of those areas, so that they would retreat to safer ground. Then, it would be possible for the Haganah to defend those Jews who would otherwise be inaccessible and thus vulnerable to genocidal Arab intentions.
Many Arabs in parts of western Galilee, Jaffa, and parts of western Jerusalem, fled because of tactics such as rumors that a huge Jewish army from the West was about to land on the coast, hand-grenades thrown on front porches of homes, jeeps driving by and firing machine guns into the walls or fences of houses, rumors circulated by Arabic-speaking Jews that the Haganah was far bigger than it really was and was on the verge of surfacing with a massive Jewish army, etc.
Here it is important to note that Jews were responsible in this part of the Arab flight. But it was not because they wanted to ethnically cleanse the country, or to wipe out the Arabs. It was because they knew that outnumbered Jews, undefended in Arab enclaves would be slaughtered (as in fact was the case of Jews in the Gush Etzion villages and in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem, and as had happened in Hebron in 1929). It was the exigency of their fighting a war of survival against a bigger and better armed enemy that drove them to the tactics described above.
It is also important not to forget these facts: Had the Arab leadership accepted the UN partition plan, there would have been a state of Palestine since November 29, 1947, for the Arabs, alongside of Israel.
Had the Arab armies not invaded, there would have been no refugee problem. Keeping in mind these two facts, it is clear that the total onus of culpability for the start of the refugee problem rests squarely and solely upon the Arab states that invaded, in clear disregard for the UN resolution 181 and international law.
Four. Arab leadership from among the para-military forces and the forces of Syria were vociferous in their announcements that they wanted Arabs to leave so that the armies would have a clear field in which to perpetrate their genocide of the Jews. When the war was over and the Jews were driven out or killed, the Arab residents could come back and have both their own lands and those of the Jews.
We cannot know how many Arabs fled because of these announcements; but since a number of Arab spokespersons after the war admitted to having done this, and wrung their hands publicly in painful repentance of having created the refugee problem, it is clear that the Arab leadership’s own message to many Arabs in the area was a major
factor in the Arab flight.
It is also important to point out at this time that there were a number of cases where Jewish leaders got out in public and pleaded with Arabs not to leave. The mayor of Haifa is the best example of this. At the risk of his own life, he drove through the Arab section of Haifa with a loudspeaker on his jeep, and in Arabic called out to the residents of his city to disregard the Arab propaganda.
Nonetheless, tens of thousands fled. The incredulous British officers who witnessed this, documented it in a variety of sources. Those Arabs who stayed were unharmed and became citizens of Israel.
The British also documented for the world a similar phenomenon in Tiberius (a town in which the Arab population vastly outnumbered the Jewish). The Arabs quite literally chose to leave even though they were under no direct threat from the Jews and asked the British to assist them. Tens of thousands left under British guard, while the Jews, both civilian and Haganah, looked on. In a slightly different twist, the Arabs of Safed (Tzefat) fled before the Haganah attack, even though the Arab forces in Safed outnumbered the Jews about 10 to one.
Wherever Arabs chose to stay, they were unharmed and later became citizens of Israel.
There have been a number of essays written by later historians contesting the truth of the assertion that Arab leaders told their people to flee. But Conor Cruise O’Brien’s The Siege and Mitchell Bard’s Myths and Facts of the Middle East Conflict offer irrefutable proof of the existence of such pronouncements.
Five. Deir Yassin: The events that took place at Deir Yassin are still hotly disputed. But by their own admission, Arab leadership today acknowledges that the lies created by the Arabs about the fictitious “massacre” were concocted in order to shame the Arab armies into fighting against the Jews, frighten the Arabs, and encourage them to flee.The village sits near Jerusalem, overlooking the road from Tel Aviv. Jewish Jerusalem was under siege, and its only lifeline was this one road to Tel Aviv. A contingent of Iraqi troops had entered Deir Yassin on March 13, 1948. Some sources suggest that they were asked to leave. Apparently they did not, since their armed bodies were numerous among the dead after the battle. It was obvious that they were going to try to cut off that road. Doing so would spell the end of Jewish Jerusalem. So on April 9, 1948, a contingent of the Irgun (a para-military splinter group) entered the village. This operation was completely legitimate in the context of rules of engagement, since the Iraqi presence made the village a legal military objective.
Their intent, to capture the village and drive out the Iraqis, was completely clear from the onset, because they entered with a jeep and loudspeaker telling the civilian population to flee the village.
Unfortunately, this jeep slid into a ditch, so some of the villagers may not have heard the message; however, many did and fled before the Irgun got to the village. Rather than surround the village and prevent their escape, the Irgun left several routes open for the civilians to flee, which hundreds of villagers used. However, the Iraqis had disguised themselves as women -- it is easy to hide weapons beneath the flowing robes of the burqa -- and had hidden themselves among women and children in the village. So, when the Irgun fighters entered, they encountered fire from “women!”
When the Irgun fighters fired back, they killed innocent women because the Iraqis were dressed like women and hiding behind them. After suffering more than 40 percent casualties to their forces, the Irgun succeeded in killing or capturing the Iraqis. Then, while they were in a group, still dressed as women, having surrendered and agreed to be taken prisoner, some of the Iraqis opened fire again with weapons concealed beneath their women’s clothing. Irgun fighters were caught off guard, more were killed, and others opened fire into the group. Iraqis who had indeed surrendered were killed along with those who had only pretended to surrender and had then opened fire.
When the Haganah arrived they found the dead women and other civilians and thus incorrectly accused the Irgun of murder and massacre. But the Red Cross, which was called in to assist the wounded and civilians, found no evidence of a massacre. In fact, even the most recent review of the evidence (July 1999), by Arab scholars at Beir-Zayyit university in Ramallah, indicates that there was no massacre, but rather a military conflict in which civilians were killed in the crossfire. The total Arab dead, including the Iraqi soldiers, according to the Beir Zayyit calculation, was 107.
So where did the idea of a massacre come from? The same Arab sources that confess to having urged the Arabs to flee have also acknowledged that Arab spokespersons at the time cynically exaggerated the casualties of the Deir Yassin battle, making up stories of gang rape, brutalizing of pregnant women, killing unborn children cut from their mothers’ wombs by blood-thirsty Jews, and massive murders with bodies thrown into a nearby quarry. The same Arab sources admit that their purpose in these lies was to shame the Arab nations into entering the conflict with greater alacrity, so that the Jews would be destroyed by the overwhelming numbers of Arab invaders.
The plan backfired. As a result of this propaganda, Arab civilians panicked and fled by the tens of thousands. This was confirmed in the 1993 PBS documentary called The Fifty Years of War in which Deir Yassin survivors were interviewed. They testified that they had begged Dr. Hussein Khalidi, director of Voice of Palestine (the Palestinian radio station in East Jerusalem) to edit out the lies and fabrications of atrocities that never happened. He told them: “We must capitalize on this great opportunity!”
The flight of Arabs had begun many months before Deir Yassin. So Deir Yassin cannot account for those hundreds of thousands of Arabs who sought refuge prior to April 9, 1948. Moreover, while current Arab propaganda asserts that Deir Yassin was one of many examples of Jewish massacre and slaughter, there is not one other documented example of any such behavior by the Jews. By any standard, Deir Yassin was not an example, but an exception.
In sum, it was not what happened at Deir Yassin that caused the flight of tens of thousands of Arabs; it was the lies invented by the Arab High Command and Dr. Hussein Khalidi of the “Voice of Palestine” radio news channel that caused the panic. One can hardly blame Israel for that.
Moreover, we have information from a famous source, Yassir Arafat himself (his authorized biography, by Alan Hart, Arafat: Terrorist or Peace Maker) that the Deir Yassin lies were spread “like a red flag in front of a bull” by the Egyptians. Then, having terrorized them with these stories, the Egyptians proceeded to disarm the Arabs of the area and herd them into detention camps in Gaza (today’s Gaza refugee camps). Why did the Egyptians do this? According to Arafat, it was to get the Arabs out of the area because the Egyptians wanted a free hand to wage their war. Egypt had every intention of conquering the Negev and southern part of the coastal plain. They wanted no interference from the local Arabs.
Deir Yassin was not a massacre; nothing even vaguely akin to what the Jews are accused of ever happened. We don’t know how many Arabs fled as a result of the Arab propaganda over Deir Yassin. Several hundred thousand is a good estimate. Most of them ended up in the Egyptian detention camps in Gaza.
Six. Besides Deir Yassin, there are two other incidents in which Arab refugees are said to have fled because of Israeli army actions: Lydda and Ramle. Both villages sat astride the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. As the siege on Jerusalem tightened, the Israeli forces knew that in order to save the Jews of west Jerusalem from defeat and possible annihilation, they had to keep that road open. So one night they entered both villages and forcibly drove out the Arab residents. They rousted them from bed and sent them walking across the fields to the area that was under Jordanian control some kilometers away. None were killed. There was no massacre, but they were driven out. On the other hand, they were driven out because their villages sat astride the road to Jerusalem, and the only way to guarantee the survival of 150,000 Jews in Jerusalem was to control this one road.
Seven. By May 15, 1948, the British had evacuated their forces from all of British Mandatory Palestine, and the Haganah, which now became the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), had a free hand. The Arab countries also had a free hand in attacking, and attack they did. Armies from eight Arab dictatorships poured into the area from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt (volunteers and soldiers from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Morocco came too). They outnumbered the IDF about five to one. For the next month or so the Israelis were fighting a terribly difficult defensive war and were just barely able to keep the invaders out. There were about 63,000 IDF volunteers, but weapons for only 22,000.
In June 1948 the UN imposed a cease-fire. By July when the Arabs re-initiated hostilities, the Israelis had been able to use the cease-fire to import arms and planes from Russia and Germany via Czechoslovakia. Now better armed, the IDF numbered 65,000 and the odds were reduced to about 2 to 1. Those were good odds for the determined Jewish fighters.
When the fighting resumed in July, the IDF went on the offensive and succeeded in driving the Arab armies out of both the Jewish areas and large parts of the areas that the UN had intended to be the Palestinian state (western Galilee, and southern coastal plain north of Gaza). When this offensive began, more Arabs fled. As noted above, the Arabs who stayed were not harmed and became citizens of Israel.
Contrary to revisionist Arab propaganda, there was never any intent to massacre Arabs, although the Arabs clearly intended to massacre the Jews. Many civilians died in the cross fire, and the overwhelming majority of Arabs who fled did so needlessly, at their own initiative, or because of the Arab leadership that lied and intimidated them. In at least two specific cases a few Arabs were driven out by the IDF as a defensive measure. It was not part of any plan to ethnically cleanse the land or massacre the Arabs. These accusations are all part of a new and mendacious revisionism aimed at exonerating the Arabs from their culpability as aggressors and from their role in creating the Arab Refugee problem. Their agenda is to transfer the guilt from themselves – where it belongs -- to Israel.
Proof that Israel never set out to ethnically cleanse the Arabs of Palestine is to be seen in the following facts:
- the complete absence of any coverage in any world press, including the Arab press and the openly hostile western press in regard to any such actions by Israel;
- the complete absence of these accusations from any Arab spokespersons during that time, even at the very height of the flight (post-Deir Yassin), and for many years thereafter; and 3) The fate of the Arabs who stayed: They became Israeli citizens and enjoy more freedom, democracy, political representation, high standard of living better education, and economic opportunities, than many Arabs anywhere in the Arab world today.
Finally, after the February 1949 cease-fire that signaled the end of the war, there was still a continued flight by tens of thousands of Arabs. The Jews did absolutely nothing to encourage or force this flight.
Eight. During the Rhodes armistice talks in February 1949, Israel offered to return to the Arabs the lands it now occupied as a result of the war and that were originally meant to be part of the Palestinian state if the Arabs would sign a peace treaty. This would have allowed hundreds of thousands of refugees to return to their homes. But the Arabs rejected the offer because, as they themselves admitted, they were about to mount a new offensive. They had lost round one but they were hoping for more and more rounds until the Arabs achieved victory. Their new offensive took the form of 9000 terrorist attacks by the fedayeen mostly from Egypt that were perpetrated against Israel from 1949 to 1956.
At the Lausanne conference which took place from August to September 1949, Israel offered to repatriate 100,000 refugees even without a peace treaty. But the Arab states rejected the offer because to accept it would involve a tacit recognition of the state of Israel.
In other words, despite Israel’s offers of repatriation, the Arabs insisted on keeping the Arab refugees in squalor and suffering. Arab spokespersons in Syria and Egypt were quoted in their newspapers as saying: We will keep the refugees in their camps until the flag of Palestine flies over all of the land. They will go back home only as victors, on the graves and corpses of the Jews.
Moreover, as some Arabs were candid enough to announce in public, the refugee problem would serve as “a festering sore on the backside of Europe,” as moral leverage to be used against Israel in order to win the emotional support of the West against Israel.
The Arab refugee problem was created by the belligerent Arab dictators who defied the UN, invaded Israel, encouraged the Arabs to flee, and then purposely kept the Arab refugees in a state of wretched poverty for propaganda purposes. Israel’s role in creating the refugee problem was a relatively minor one restricted to legitimate military contexts. It tried to reverse these after the war, but was rebuffed by the Arab states.
The refugee problem was then intentionally perpetuated by the Arab states through their refusal to abide by the UN resolutions and the Geneva convention, their refusal to integrate any refugees into under-populated Arab countries, their refusal to enter into peace negotiations with Israel, and their refusal to countenance any steps toward resolution by Israel or others.
By perpetuating the refugee problem, the Arab leaders sought to gain pseudo-moral leverage against Europe and Israel, to keep a “festering human sore” in the forefront of their propaganda war against Israel, and to use the issue as a political weapon against Israel.
As late as 1979, when Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel, the Egyptians refused to deal with the refugee issue in the Gaza strip and instead ceded all of the Gaza strip to Israel. A similar pattern was established in Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel. Jordan had integrated thousands of Palestinians into its economy and did not see any need or responsibility to deal with the disposition of those on the
The abuses, exaggerations, lies, and distortions perpetrated by Arab governments, by the UN Refugee Agency, and the refugee spokespersons made it impossible, even back in 1949, to identify a bona fide refugee populace.
In 1967, the Arab states again launched an aggressive war against Israel and as a result Israel became the governing authority in the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, and in the West Bank.
Under Israeli rule from 1967 to 1992, The Palestinian population of the West Bank experienced the highest standard of living of any Arab country with the exception of the oil states. The same is true of Arab Israelis. The Arab population of the West Bank and Gaza has tripled since June 1967!
By contrast, since the transfer of authority in the West Bank to the PLO in 1993, the condition of the Palestinian population under the Palestinian Authority has declined precipitously. The standard of living of the West Bank Palestinians has eroded, and GDP is one-tenth of what it was under Israeli control. This is due to the mis-appropriation of more than $5.2 billion by the rule of the Palestinian Authority into the personal accounts of Arafat and his lieutenants for weapons stock-piling, neglect of the infrastructure, and due to the continuous terror war, against which Israel must exercise defensive controls and deterrents.
Justice for Jewish and Arab refugees could have been part of a peace settlement if the Arab states had been willing. Today, solutions are possible, but only if the Palestinian Authority will stop its new war of terror.