Yakov Marks

Nackba or The Catastrophe of Losers

“One of the characteristics of the Palestinian national movement has been the Palestinians’ view of themselves as perpetual victims of others: Ottoman Turks, British officials, Zionists, Americans – and never to appreciate that they are, at least in large part, victims of their own mistakes and iniquities.” –  Benny Morris

Life during the mandate before the 1948 war:

“There were no major tensions with the Jews and Arabs before 1948. We didn’t feel frightened by them, yet. I was at an age that couldn’t completely judge the situation, but I remember how my family spoke about [the Jews] and it didn’t seem like there was any hatred.” George Agha Janian.

“Life before 1948 was good, except for the British. All the problems are because of them.” All the support and supplies to the Zionists were possible because of the British.” “Before 1948, the relationship with the Jews was decent. There was an uprising before I could remember, but nonetheless the relationship between Arabs and Jews was alright. It was the English who really played with us all.” Mohammed Himmo.

The fundamental issue behind the “Nachba”, Arabic for “Catastrophe”, is the presentation of false narratives that stand in contrast to the findings of historical fact. Arab sources continuously refuse to admit their guilt for the refugee problem and their total embarrassment at their crushing defeat at the hands of the “Dhimmi” Jews.

Excuses For “Loss”:

Khaireddine Abuljebain, 90, born in Jaffa, Palestine. Currently residing in Kuwait:

“Of course, the Zionist forces had superior weaponry because the British occupation forces went after Arabs who had weapons and did not touch the Zionists. If an Arab had a rifle with three bullets, he would have been condemned.” “Unfortunately, we, the Palestinians, were not sufficiently armed.”

George Agha Janian, 77, born in Haifa, Palestine. Currently residing in Brummana, Lebanon:

“We all thought this would be temporary. We only realized that all hope was lost after the Arab armies went in to Palestine and were broken.”

In an interview during the “Nacbah Day” ceremonies on may 15th, 2013 a Bedouin Arab refugee living in the Qalandiya UNWRA camp since 1948 is interviewed by the “Falestinian Authority” Television and states that the Jordanian army told the residents of the village of Bir Ma’im to flee since, according to him, “there was going to be a battles and we would be defeated.” They told us; “Leave. In two hours we will liberate it and you can return!” “We left only with our clothes, we didn’t take anything.because we were supposed to return after two hours Why carry anything?” “We’re still waiting for those two hours this day!”

The Arabs, and their legions of duped lackeys, continue to fabricate and construe historical factual records to simply lie and make excuses for their defeat. What is truly amazing is that until today each Arab country that invaded the Mandated Territory has created abundant excuses for not absorbing the victims of their mistake, the “Palestinian” refugees. Instead they have allowed the countries of the world, through UNWRA, to foot the bill for their upkeep in the only refugee camps, on the planet, where the inhabitants of the camps are the grandchildren of the original refugees. No other refugee group in history has been given this special deal.

In the end result of the 1948 conflict it was quite obvious, that the Arab rulers of the Arab League countries totally underestimated the will power of the Jewish people of the fledgling State of Israel. The Arab rulers thought they were heading towards an easy victory that would quietly quell  post-World War II domestic unrest within Arab lands and – perhaps – gain themselves more territory. However when the reality of their error became known to them and that they were mistaken. They attempted to ignore the suffering that they had imposed upon their own brethren, the “Falestinian” refugees. Here are two examples:

Khaireddine Abuljebain, 90, born in Jaffa; “As a journalist, I was immediately seen by other Egyptian journalists who wanted to know what was going on in Palestine. And then the Egyptian military imprisoned me. I did not know why. I was confused and surprised. I was freed with the help of friends in Egypt. In order to liberate the rest of my family, who were imprisoned as well, I had to sign off on paper work and pay bribes. And that is how we became refugees in Cairo.”

Mohammed Himmo, 89, born in Jaffa. Currently residing near the UNWRA Sabra refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon:

I remember my mother was very worried because my brother had gone the opposite direction towards Egypt. To find him, I hopped on a boat, named Serena, in Beirut and headed to Port Said, Egypt. Every person who was Egyptian was allowed to pass. Those who had Palestinian identification papers were immediately taken to prison. The blankets were filthy with insects. We paid extra for food and for the guards to get us new clothing. But sometimes they would simply just take the money and not give us anything back. I’m still waiting, you know, more than 65 years later, for those new clothes.”

I was in prison for about a month, and then [the Egyptians] took us for military training and finally to Palestine in order to fight [the Zionist forces].At that time, I simply didn’t believe they cared about us or the liberation of Palestine. [The Egyptians] treated us horribly as if we were the enemy.

Tomorrow, if they implement the right of return I would definitely return to Palestine. It is my country. Here in Lebanon, I am not allowed to do anything. Everything is restricted. How am I to live? But even if life in Lebanon is good, life in Jaffa was a thousand times better.

The 1948 War

In the first phase of the war, lasting from November 29, 1947, until April 1, 1948, the Palestinian Arabs took the offensive, with help from volunteers from neighboring countries. The Jews suffered severe casualties and passage along most of their major roadways was disrupted. The first large-scale assaults began on January 9, 1948, when approximately 1,000 Arabs attacked Jewish communities in northern Palestine. By February, the British said so many Arabs had infiltrated they lacked the forces to run them back.

Me and my family began our resistance operations at around 1946, getting involved in skirmishes or tit-for-tat kidnappings. The British would grab a person from the Jewish forces and gave him to the Arabs, and vice verse, just to heat up the conflict.” relates Mohammed Himmo. “We really felt that we couldn’t do much against the Zionists because they were backed by the British. The British had great experience bombing neighborhoods prior to 1948. Oh, they bombed a lot of places.

The UN Palestine Commission, which was never permitted by the Arabs or British to go to Palestine to implement the resolution, blamed the Arabs for the violence.  The Commission reported to the Security Council on February 16, 1948, that “powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein.” The Arabs were blunt in taking responsibility for the war. Jamal Husseini told the Security Council on April 16, 1948: “The representative of the Jewish Agency told us yesterday that they were not the attackers, that the Arabs had begun the fighting. We did not deny this. We told the whole world that we were going to fight.

According to the Arabs their defeat was because the Zionist forces were -” Vastly superior to Palestinian and Arab military capabilities“.

Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jews could not legally purchase weaponry of any kind from registered arms manufacturers nor could they manufacture or store arms and munitions in the British Controlled Mandated area. What arms the Jews possessed were those smuggled in, principally from Czechoslovakia. In May 1948, the fledgling Israeli army, primarily the Hagannah, had no heavy machine guns, artillery, armored vehicles, anti-tank or anti-aircraft weapons, nor military aircraft or tanks. They had no support vehicles, no basic supplies whatsoever. Its air force consisted of nine obsolete planes. The “Hagannah” supposedly had around 60,000 trained fighters, but only 18,900 were fully mobilized, armed and prepared for war. Before the arrival of arms shipments from Czechoslovakia as part of Operation Balak, there was roughly one weapon for every three fighters, and even the Palmach could arm only two out of every three of its active members.

According to Collins and LaPierre, by April 1948, the Hagannah had managed to accumulate only about 20,000 rifles and Sten guns for the 35,000 soldiers who existed on paper. Following Israeli independence, the Israelis managed to built three Sherman tanks from scrap-heap material found in abandoned British ordnance depots. On June 29, 1948, the day before the last British troops left Haifa, two British soldiers sympathetic to the Israelis stole two Cromwell tanks from an arms depot in the Haifa port area, smashing them through the unguarded gates, and joined the IDF with the tanks. These two tanks would form the basis of the Israeli Armored Corps. The Jewish Underground government “The Yishuv” had managed to clandestinely amass arms, military equipment and other supplies abroad ready for transfer. The Hagannah readied twelve cargo ships throughout European ports to transfer this equipment, which would set sail as soon as the British blockade was lifted with the expiration of the Mandate.

In addition to this on December 5, 1947, the U.S. imposed an arms embargo on the region because the anti-Semites within the US State Department did not want to provide the Jews with the means to defend themselves. They saw the embargo as a means of obstructing partition and allowing the Arabs the ability to win. Undersecretary of State Robert Lovett gave the lame excuse that, “the Arabs might use arms of U.S. origin against Jews, or Jews might use them against Arabs.”  Consequently, on December 5, 1947, the U.S. imposed an arms embargo on the region.

On the other hand the members of the Arab League who were legal nations could legally, as financially based entities, openly purchase weaponry from arms manufacturers. Jordan’s Arab Legion was armed and trained by the British, and led by a British officer. Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb,known as Glubb Pasha, led and trained Transjordan’s Arab Legion between 1939 and 1956 as its commanding general.

During the Israeli War of Independence in1948, the Arab Legion was considered by many sources to have been the strongest Arab army involved in the war. Upon the final withdrawal of British forces from the Mandated Territories in May of 1948, Glubb Pasha led the Arab Legion across the River Jordan to conquer and occupy the West Bank and Jerusalem. Glubb remained in charge of the Arab Legion as they controlled the area of the Mandated Territory that had been slated to be given to the Arabs in the “Partition Plan”. The area became known as the “West Bank”, following the 1949 Rhodes Armistice agreement of March 1949. Glubb Pasha remained the commander of the Arab Legion until 1 March 1956, when King Hussein dismissed him.

The Egyptians and Iraqis were armed and purchased weapons from England. At the end of 1948, and beginning of 1949, British RAF planes flew with Egyptian squadrons over the Israel-Egypt border. The Syrians and the Lebanese were armed and purchased weapons from their ex-colonial masters the French.

The Arab league forces that were used to invade the Mandated Area of Palestine in 1948 included;

  • Egypt: 10,000 initially, rising to 20,000 under the command of Maj. Gen. Ahmed Ali al-Mwawi. This force consisted of five infantry battalions, one armored battalion equipped with British Light Tank Mk VI and Matilda tanks, one battalion of sixteen 25-pounder guns, a battalion of eight 6-pounder guns and one medium-machine-gun battalion with supporting troops.
  • Iraq: Initially the Iraqis committed around 3,000 men to the war effort, including four infantry brigades, one armored battalion and support personnel. These forces were to operate under Jordanian guidance.
  • Syria: Syria had 12,000 soldiers at the beginning of the 1948 War, grouped into three infantry brigades and an armored force of approximately battalion size. The Syrian Air Force had fifty planes, the 10 newest of which were World War II–generation models.
  • Transjordan: Jordan’s Arab Legion was considered the most effective Arab force. Armed, trained and commanded by British officers, this 8,000–12,000 strong force was organized in four infantry/mechanized regiments supported by some 40 artillery pieces and 75 armored cars.
  • Lebanon: a token force of 1,000 was committed to the invasion. It crossed into the northern Galilee and was repulsed by Israeli forces.
  • Saudi Arabia: 800–1,200 (Under Egyptian command)
  • Sudan sent six companies of regular troops to fight alongside the Egyptians.
  • Yemen: 300
  • The Arab Liberation Army: 3,500–6,000. was an army of volunteers from Arab countries led by Fawzi al-Qawuqji. Its ranks included mainly Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians and a few hundreds of Iraqis, Transjordanians, Muslim Brothers from Egypt and Circassians. There were also a few Yugoslavians ex members of the SS division, German Ex-Nazis, Turks and British deserters.

So to say that the joint armies of the Arab League Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq that invaded the Jewish state had in-superior military capabilities is nothing other than a weak excuse for their defeat and a blatant lie.Measured by firepower and military equipment at the outset of war the Arabs were by far superior to the Israelis. Simply check the data offered on the internet. What caused the war to turn in Israel’s favor and their eventual defeat was lack of co-ordination and internal strife between the Arab governments.

The advisors to President Shukri al-Qawatli and King Farouq, for example, were telling them that this will be a piece of cake for the Syrians and Egyptians [respectively],” Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst and author.

Leaders of the Arab League claimed to be fighting for Palestine, when in actuality they were engaged in a war of interests in which the warring parties had different agendas and often with conflicting goals. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Amin al-Husayni opposed both the 1947 UN Partition Plan and King Abdullah’s designs to annex the Arab part of British Mandatory Palestine to Jordan, and, failing to gain command of the ‘Arab rescue army’ (jaysh al-inqadh al-‘arabi) formed under the aegis of the Arab League, formed his own militia, al-jihad al-muqaddas.

The most notable rivalry was between the Jordanians, with their British-officered Arab Legion and King Abdullah’s ambitions for a Greater Syria, and the Egyptians, with King Farouk’s ambition to lead the Arab World, backed to some degree by the League of Arab States and by the former mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini.

The Arab rivals of Transjordan’s King Abdullah spoke of a secret deal that was made between him and Golda Meyerson (Meir), where the Jews supposedly offered the king control over the “West Bank” and Eastern Jerusalem.

According to an Iraqi-born British/Israeli historian Avi Shlaim,  who put forward critical interpretations of the history of Zionism and Israel. He claims that there were negotiations and understandings between the Jewish Agency and King Abdullah:

Abdullah was prepared to compromise the Arab claim to the whole of Palestine as long as he could acquire part of Palestine for himself. ‘The internecine struggles of the Arabs,’ reported Glubb, ‘are more in the minds of Arab politicians than the struggle against the Jews. Azzam Pasha, the mufti and the Syrian government would sooner see the Jews get the whole of Palestine than that King Abdullah should benefit.’ (p. 96)

Yoav Gelber wrote in his book “The Israeli-Arab War of 1948 : The Collusion That Never Was”:

Shlaim’s conjecture of a deliberate and pre-meditated anti-Palestinian “collusion” does not stand up to a critical examination. The documentary evidence on the development of contacts between Israel and Jordan before, during and after the war unequivocally refutes Shlaim’s conclusions. If there was any collusion against the Palestinians in 1948, it was not concocted by Israel and Abdullah but rather, by Britain and Transjordan. The outcomes reveal that the British acquiescence to a Transjordanian takeover of Arab Palestine was merely a choice by default rather than a plot.

Furthermore the historical fact that severe fighting took place in Kfar Etzion (May 1948), Jerusalem and Latrun (May-July 1948) seems to disapprove Shlaim and the Arab detractors for the failure of the Arab Armies of the Arab League defeat the fledging Jewish army.

According to the Arab narrative;

Israeli forces had already expelled the Palestinian inhabitants of 220 villages and conquered about 13 percent of Palestine, according to the “Zionists’ premeditated plan to ethnically cleanse the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine

In actuality the Arab World made clear its intention of destroying the Jewish state.

The Arabs have taken into their own hands, the Final Solution of the Jewish problem. The problem will be solved only in blood and fire. The Jews will be driven out.” Jamal Al-Husayni as vice-chairman of the Arab Higher Committee [AHC]


It does not matter how many [Jews] there are. We will sweep them into the sea.”  “It will be a war of annihilation. It will be a momentous massacre in history that will be talked about like the massacres of the Mongols or the Crusades.” Abd Al-Rahman Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League.

Fawzi al-Qawuqji, commander of the Arab Liberation Army (ALA), told the Al-Ahram newspaper on March 9, 1948 that the ALA was fighting for; “the defeat of the partition and the annihilation of the Zionists.

On March 10, 1948 The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Amin al-Husayni told the Jaffa daily “Al Sarih” that preventing partition was not enough, and that they “…would continue fighting until the Zionists were annihilated and the whole of Palestine became a purely Arab state.

The virulent racist, expulsionist, and annihilationist sentiments expressed by Arabs in newspapers and on the radio together with the prospect of war. Induced tens of thousands of Arabs, including most of the Arab elite, to flee Palestine. The intensification of the fighting, as the expiration of the mandate approached, along with circulation of rumors of both actual and fictitious Jewish attacks on Arab villages, further accelerated the flow of refugees. Before the war itself had really begun, around 175.000 Arabs had already left Palestine. Before the deadline of the anticipated withdrawal of British Forces Arab gangs had begun attacking Jewish communities all over Palestine.

According to Arab sources nearly a “million” Palestinians would become refugees, and more than 400 cities, towns, and villages were destroyed. In truth the collapse of one village often led to the flight of near-by or surrounding villages.

Often, the fall of villages harmed morale in neighboring towns (vide Khirbet Nasir ad Din and Arab Tiberias). Similarly, the fall of the towns—Tiberias, Haifa, Jaffa, Beisan, Safed—and the flight of their population generated panic in the surrounding hinterlands: after Haifa, came flight from Balad al Sheikh, and Hawassa; after Jaffa, Salama, Kheiriya and Yazur; after Safed, Dhahiriya Tahta, Sammu’I and Meirun. For decades the villagers had looked to the towns for leadership; now they followed them into exile.” ( Benny Morris -“The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, Revisited,” 2004, p. 591).

 On fleeing:


By nightfall, as the whole family gathered, we had heated discussions about whether or not we wanted to stay in Jaffa. A lot of us did not want to leave, but it was a very difficult situation. The final decision was that some of us would leave. My mother, my fiancée, my cousins, and I decided to leave.” On April 26, 1948, we got on a truck and headed to Egypt. My father, and other family members, decided to leave by sea because there was heavy rain and the Israelis were blocking the roads. Why Egypt? Because it was the closest neighboring country and we already had some family there. We arrived in Gaza, desperate and afraid. Why desperate and afraid? Because there was a Zionist colony along the way that was shooting wildly at anyone fleeing.

We arrived in Gaza after a day’s travel. We found thousands of refugees in Gaza, from many parts of the country, and who had escaped massive military attacks by the Zionists.Khaireddine Abuljebain.

About The Arab League Armies:

“Let me be honest. The Arab armies called themselves the rescuers in 1948. That was a complete lie.

They didn’t let us do anything. In our area, there was an Iraqi and a Turkish commander who planned operations and we would implement them. When the Zionists attacked an area to occupy it, we begged those commanders to do something and they wouldn’t move a finger.Mohammed Himmo

One of the stories ignored in the narrative of the “Nachba” is the “Ethnic Cleansing” of Jews from lands purchased long before and during the Mandate period in what is called today the “West Bank”. (Titled land which is now resettled by descendants of Jews who were expelled)

Apologists for the Arabs who scream to the world the fallacy of “Deir Yassin” consistently fail to mention that on May 4, 1948 an Arab Legion armored column attacked the Etzion bloc and about 40 of the defenders were killed and wounded in their repulse of the attack. That on May 12, 1948, BEFORE the British left, the 6th Battalion of the Jordanian Arab Legion and thousands of local militia surrounded the Bloc and attacked again. This time according to Colonel Abdullah el-Tal, commander of the Jordanian Arab Legion;

“Seeing the hopelessness of their situation, the 133 defenders (men and women) sought to surrender. Suddenly a mix of either militiamen and/or Legion soldiers arrived on the scene and began shouting “Deir Yassin!” they fired with Sten sub-machine guns and blanketed the prisoners with gunfire slaughtering all but four of the 133 prisoners.”

In the battle of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, for example, the Jordanian Arab Legion had blanketed the Quarter with an indiscriminate barrage of more than 10,000 artillery and mortar shells, reducing it to rubble. With only 36 of the original 300 defenders remaining, starving and out of ammunition, they surrendered on May 28. The inhabitants of the Quarter were then expelled, all buildings and dwellings were razed, the Hurva synagogue and 33 other houses of worship were destroyed, and the venerated cemetery on the Mount of Olives was desecrated.

“…The operations of calculated destruction were set in motion…. I knew that the Jewish Quarter was densely populated with Jews who caused their fighters a good deal of interference and difficulty…. I embarked, therefore, on the shelling of the Quarter with mortars, creating harassment and destruction…. Only four days after our entry into Jerusalem the Jewish Quarter had become their graveyard. Death and destruction reigned over it….”

“As the dawn of Friday, May 28, 1948, was about to break, the Jewish Quarter emerged convulsed in a black cloud – a cloud of death and agony…For the first time in 1,000 years not a single Jew remains in the Jewish Quarter. Not a single building remains intact. This makes the Jews’ return here impossible.” Colonel Abdullah el-Tal, commander of the Jordanian Arab Legion

Abba Eban speaking to the UN after the cease-fire of the Six Day War and the Liberation of the Old City in 1968 said:

“… a shocking picture was unfolded of the results of this policy of wanton vandalism, desecration and violation perpetrated during the period of Jordanian occupation from 1948 onwards. In the Jewish Quarter all but one of the thirty-five Jewish houses of worship that graced the Old City of Jerusalem were found to have been wantonly destroyed. The synagogues had been razed or pillaged and stripped and their interiors used as hen-houses and stables.

In the ancient historic Jewish graveyard on the Mount of Olives, tens of thousands of tombstones had been torn up, broken into pieces or used as flagstones, steps and building materials in Jordanian military installations and civilian constructions. Large areas of the cemetery had been leveled and converted into parking places and petrol-filling stations.”

With the pan-Arab invasion on May 15, Arab armies looted and razed not only all of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City but the Jewish settlements: Beit Ha’Arava, Neve Ya’akov, ‘Atarot, Masada, Sha’ar Hagolan, Yad Mordechai, Nitzanum, and Kfar Darom.  All the Jewish inhabitants had either fled, or had been expelled when they fell into Arab hands. Few make note that “If” the circumstances, had been different and the Arabs had won the (Jewish) population would have been slaughtered –since as seen in the Holocaust there is no where on this planet were Jews may flee to.

At the conclusion of the 1949 Rhodes Armistice agreement Israel was finally able to open her doors to all those displaced remnants of European Jewry who had no homes to return to. In addition to the European Jewish refugees, some 900,000 Jews in Arab lands experienced pogroms, loss livelihoods lands and ‎property, were evicted and made into “refugees” without UNWRA assistance and ‎resettled in Mabarrot aka “Development Towns”.

In stark contrast to Israel’s reception and absorption of over a million Jewish refugees. The combined 22 Arab countries – with their far greater capacity for absorption – made no effort whatsoever of integrating the roughly 720.000 Palestinian Arab refugees. To the contrary, they have been left stateless with no rights as pawns in refugee camps until this moment. They serve the “Falestinian Leadership” as political tools in the ongoing fight against Israel. The Falestinians manipulate the sympathy of the world by picturing themselves as the ‘innocent’ victims. Yet in truth they were the aggressors – and dispossession was the price they paid for their aggression. Their hatred is focused by their leaders towards the Jews and Israel and not at their leaders who grow wealthy from the millions in Aid money poured into the Falestinian Authority coffers.

Had the Arabs simply accepted the 1947 UN Partition Resolution and, refrained from violence. They could have had a country of their own Those who stayed have gone on with their lives as loyal Israeli citizens. As stated openly in the Israeli Declaration of Independence:

“We appeal – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the up building of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.”

Israel emerged from the 1948 War with a 160,000-strong Arab minority (alongside 700,000 Jews) – a fact that tends to undermine the charge that there was a blanket policy of “ethnic cleansing” of Arabs.

About the Author
Yakov Marks arrived in Israel in 1974 from B'ham Al. USA as a volunteer on Kibbutz Ashdot Yakov. Yakov was a member of a Garin for Kibbutz Ketura in 1975 but moved to be a single soldier in Ma'alot in 1976, where he resides until today. He served in the IDF as a combat medic in regular service and as a reservist from 1976 through 2000. Yakov is married to Rena B. (formerly of Far Rockaway NY) and he is the father of six children and he is the proud grandfather of Ori Meir and Tehilah. Yakov was a teacher of English and History in local High Schools for many years. He has been active in Israeli politics as a member of the Labor Party since 1975 and is a member of Yitzhak Rabin's z"l forum in the party.