‘Palestinians were forcibly evicted by the Jews in 1948’: Fact or fiction?

On any number of social media outlets, you will read many false and biased versions to answers to this question written by apologists for Palestinians and by Arabs themselves desperate to play the victim and vilify Israel.

On November 29, 1947, the UN voted into existence two new states: one called Israel for the Jews, and one for the Arabs, which never came into existence and never received a name. What happened?

Why was Israel born while its partition counterpart was aborted?

This is a crucial question because of the Palestinians’ success in propounding the notion that there was no state for the Arabs of British Mandatory Palestine in 1948 solely because of the animosity of the Jews, who heartlessly stole their land in war.

When the fighting was over, approximately 700,000 Arabs had fled. The question is “why”!!

The assertion that Israel caused the refugees to flee is a favourite hymn of most who flood the social media pages with opinions formed in basements and kitchens.

The facts, of course, are quite different and saying otherwise is nothing but a malicious myth successfully foisted upon the world for political gain by the very Arab states and leaders who were instrumental in causing the refugee problem in the first place……

Read on.

When the Arabs rejected the Peel commission’s recommendation for partition and the subsequent UN endorsement of that recommendation, between August-October of 1947, months before the UN partition plan would come into effect, it was clear that there would be war no matter what course of action the UN took.

In anticipation of this war, many of the well-to-do Arabs (about 85,000 of them) of the Western Galilee, from Haifa to Acco and villages in between, closed down their houses and went to Beirut or Damascus, where, with their wealth and connections, they could wait for the end of hostilities in safety. This happened between August-October 1947. They thought that once the war was over (no one imagined that Israel could win), they would come back to their homes.

In the Galilee, around November 1947, some 100,000 of the Arab peasantry fled as well, following their leaders’ example. Lacking the effendis’ money and connections, many of the fellahin simply walked with whatever they could carry to Lebanon or Syria.

At this point, neither Israel nor the Arab states were encouraging, frightening, or ordering these masses to flee. The war had not yet even begun.

From December 1947 full hostilities between the Jews and the Arabs erupted even though the Mandate was still in effect.

Anyway, with the termination of British control and the declaration of the State of Israel (14th May 1948), and freed from British obstruction, seven Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco) invaded at once.

When the war ended, some 700, 000 Arabs had fled.

Some anecdotal Arab accounts offered a candid explanation as to why they fled: “We feared that they would do to us what we would have done to them had we won.”

Considering the massacres of Jews by Arabs in Hebron, Gush Etzion, and the Jerusalem Jewish Quarter, it is understandable that the Arabs would project their own bloody fantasies onto Israel.

To the best of my knowledge, it was only in Ramle and Lod that Arab residents were forced to leave because

  1. They opened a hot war against the Hagana and
  2. They actively threatened strategically important sites and roads, particularly the approach to Jerusalem.

In other areas such as Yafo, kibbutzim in parts of the Galil and the hill country, and parts of West Jerusalem, in large part, the Jews adopted scare tactics in these areas because the Arab press and political elite were persistent in their messaging that this was to be a war of annihilation.

Thus, Israel was fighting not a war of independence, but one of survival.

However, lest the haters claim otherwise, in Haifa for example, the senior Jewish official there as well as the Hagana’s high command, drove through the Arab section of the city with a loudspeaker on April 26, 1948 (the State of Israel had STILL not been declared!!!), calling out in Arabic to the residents of his city to remain on their land and in their homes. A communique issued by the Haifa headquarters of the British police noted, “Every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab populace to stay and carry on with their normal lives, to get their shops and businesses open and to be assured that their lives and interests will be safe.” (see point 4 below)

For their part, Arab leaders of the paramilitary forces, and the forces of Syria, were blunt in their announcements that they wanted Arabs to leave these areas so that the Arab armies would have a clear field in which to initiate their genocide of the Jews.

In the words of the Nuri Said, Iraqi Prime Minister, “We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in (he estimated it would take 6-8 weeks to wipe out the Jews). The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down.”

In 1953, the Jordanian newspaper Al Urdun wrote, “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 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 properties to the enemy.”

Nothing like hearing it from the horse’s mouth…….

Other than that:

  1. Israel employed defensive actions to hold the territory assigned to it by the United Nations. Against 7 Arab armies explicitly promising a genocide.
  2. As mentioned above, part of that defensive action included driving Arab civilians from their homes in a few Arab villages located at strategically important sites or sitting upon major arteries, especially the road to Jerusalem.
  3. The above Hagana actions were both legal and commonplace in war since time immemorial (Muhammad is praised for doing the same thing to Jewish villages near Mecca before he besieged it).
  4. The REAL cause of the refugees’ flight was the Arab invasion. Had there been no war, there would have been no refugees. This is evidenced by peaceful Arabs who stayed in Israel and became citizens of Israel and who prospered (approximately 170,000 in 1949, now in excess of 2,000,000).

Today, Arab Israelis serve as members of parliament (the Knesset), faculty in universities, highly educated professionals in just about every field of endeavour, and enjoy a standard of living, political and personal freedom, and economic opportunity unparalleled anywhere in the Arab world.

Arab “Palestine” and the notion of “palestinianism”  and its (now) 7 million “refugees” is nowt but the Arab-Israeli conflict by its current name and a rallying call to closet non-Muslim and/or Arab anti-semites to profess public hatred of Jews and Israel which 21st century mores generally proscribe.

As Isa Blagden (The Crown of Life, 1869) stated, ” If a lie is only printed often enough it becomes a quasi-truth and if such a truth is repeated often enough, it becomes an article of belief, a dogma and men will die for it.”

About the Author
Alan Meyer is a retired educator with an interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict, photography and Australian road trips.
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