Statehood and Expulsion — 1948

What was the Arab reaction to the announcement of the creation of the state of Israel?

"The armies of the Arab states entered the war immediately after the State of Israel was founded in May. Fighting continued, almost all of it within the territory assigned to the Palestinian state...About 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled in the 1948 conflict." Noam Chomsky, "The Fateful Triangle."

Was the part of Palestine assigned to a Jewish state in mortal danger from the Arab armies?

"The Arab League hastily called for its member countries to send regular army troops into Palestine. They were ordered to secure only the sections of Palestine given to the Arabs under the partition plan. But these regular armies were ill equipped and lacked any central command to coordinate their efforts...[Jordan's King Abdullah] promised [the Israelis and the British] that his troops, the Arab Legion, the only real fighting force among the Arab armies, would avoid fighting with Jewish settlements...Yet Western historians record this as the moment when the young state of Israel fought off "the overwhelming hordes' of five Arab countries. In reality, the Israeli offensive against the Palestinians intensified." "Our Roots Are Still Alive," by the Peoples Press Palestine Book Project.

Ethnic cleansing of the Arab population of Palestine

"Joseph Weitz was the director of the Jewish National Land Fund...On December 19, 1940, he wrote: 'It must be clear that there is no room for both peoples in this country...The Zionist enterprise so far...has been fine and good in its own time, and could do with 'land buying' - but this will not bring about the State of Israel; that must come all at once, in the manner of a Salvation (this is the secret of the Messianic idea); and there is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, to transfer them all; except maybe for Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem, we must not leave a single village, not a single tribe'...There were literally hundreds of such statements made by Zionists." Edward Said, "The Question of Palestine."

Ethnic cleansing - continued

"Following the outbreak of 1936, no mainstream (Zionist) leader was able to conceive of future coexistence without a clear physical separation between the two peoples - achievable only by transfer and expulsion. Publicly they all continued to speak of coexistence and to attribute the violence to a small minority of zealots and agitators. But this was merely a public pose..Ben Gurion summed up: 'With compulsory transfer we (would) have a vast area (for settlement)...I support compulsory transfer. I don't see anything immoral in it,'" Israel historian, Benny Morris, "Righteous Victims."

Ethnic cleansing - continued

"Ben-Gurion clearly wanted as few Arabs as possible to remain in the Jewish state. He hoped to see them flee. He said as much to his colleagues and aides in meetings in August, September and October [1948]. But no [general] expulsion policy was ever enunciated and Ben-Gurion always refrained from issuing clear or written expulsion orders; he preferred that his generals 'understand' what he wanted done. He wished to avoid going down in history as the 'great expeller' and he did not want the Israeli government to be implicated in a morally questionable policy...But while there was no 'expulsion policy', the July and October [1948] offensives were characterized by far more expulsions and, indeed, brutality towards Arab civilians than the first half of the war." Benny Morris, "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949"

Didn't the Palestinians leave their homes voluntarily during the 1948 war?

"Israeli propaganda has largely relinquished the claim that the Palestinian exodus of 1948 was 'self-inspired'. Official circles implicitly concede that the Arab population fled as a result of Israeli action - whether directly, as in the case of Lydda and Ramleh, or indirectly, due to the panic that and similar actions (the Deir Yassin massacre) inspired in Arab population centers throughout Palestine. However, even though the historical record has been grudgingly set straight, the Israeli establishment still refused to accept moral or political responsibility for the refugee problem it- or its predecessors - actively created." Peretz Kidron, quoted in "Blaming the Victims," ed. Said and Hitchens.

Arab orders to evacuate non-existent

"The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) monitored all Middle Eastern broadcasts throughout 1948. The records, and companion ones by a United States monitoring unit, can be seen at the British Museum. There was not a single order or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine, from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine, in 1948. There is a repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put."Erskine Childers, British researcher, quoted in Sami Hadawi, "Bitter Harvest."

Ethnic cleansing- continued

"That Ben-Gurion's ultimate aim was to evacuate as much of the Arab population as possible from the Jewish state can hardly be doubted, if only from the variety of means he employed to achieve his purpose...most decisively, the destruction of whole villages and the eviction of their inhabitants...even [if] they had not participated in the war and had stayed in Israel hoping to live in peace and equality, as promised in the Declaration of Independence." Israeli author, Simha Flapan, "The Birth of Israel."

The deliberate destruction of Arab villages to prevent return of Palestinians

"During May [1948] ideas about how to consolidate and give permanence to the Palestinian exile began to crystallize, and the destruction of villages was immediately perceived as a primary means of achieving this aim...[Even earlier,] On 10 April, Haganah units took Abu Shusha... The village was destroyed that night... Khulda was leveled by Jewish bulldozers on 20 April... Abu Zureiq was completely demolished... Al Mansi and An Naghnaghiya, to the southeast, were also leveled. . .By mid-1949, the majority of [the 350 depopulated Arab villages] were either completely or partly in ruins and uninhabitable." Benny Morris, "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949.

After the fighting was over, why didn't the Palestinians return to their homes?

"The first UN General Assembly resolution--Number 194- affirming the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property, was passed on December 11, 1948. It has been repassed no less than twenty-eight times since that first date. Whereas the moral and political right of a person to return to his place of uninterrupted residence is acknowledged everywhere, Israel has negated the possibility of return... [and] systematically and juridically made it impossible, on any grounds whatever, for the Arab Palestinian to return, be compensated for his property, or live in Israel as a citizen equal before the law with a Jewish Israeli." Edward Said, "The Question of Palestine."

Is there any justification for this expropriation of land?

"The fact that the Arabs fled in terror, because of real fear of a repetition of the 1948 Zionist massacres, is no reason for denying them their homes, fields and livelihoods. Civilians caught in an area of military activity generally panic. But they have always been able to return to their homes when the danger subsides. Military conquest does not abolish private rights to property; nor does it entitle the victor to confiscate the homes, property and personal belongings of the noncombatant civilian population. The seizure of Arab property by the Israelis was an outrage."Sami Hadawi, "Bitter Harvest."

How about the negotiations after the 1948-1949 wars?

"[At Lausanne,] Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinians were trying to save by negotiations what they had lost in the war--a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Israel, however... [preferred] tenuous armistice agreements to a definite peace that would involve territorial concessions and the repatriation of even a token number of refugees. The refusal to recognize the Palestinians' right to self-determination and statehood proved over the years to be the main source of the turbulence, violence, and bloodshed that came to pass." Israeli author, Simha Flapan, "The Birth Of Israel."

Israel admitted to UN but then reneged on the conditions under which it was admitted

"The [Lausanne] conference officially opened on 27 April 1949. On 12 May the [UN's] Palestine Conciliation ,Committee reaped its only success when it induced the parties to sign a joint protocol on the framework for a comprehensive peace. . Israel for the first time accepted the principle of repatriation [of the Arab refugees] and the internationalization of Jerusalem. . .[but] they did so as a mere exercise in public relations aimed at strengthening Israel's international image...Walter Eytan, the head of the Israeli delegation, [stated]..'My main purpose was to begin to undermine the protocol of 12 May, which we had signed only under duress of our struggle for admission to the U.N. Refusal to sign would...have immediately been reported to the Secretary-General and the various governments.'" Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, "The Making of the Arab-Israel Conflict, 1947-1951."

Israeli admission to the U.N.- continued

"The Preamble of this resolution of admission included a safeguarding clause as follows: 'Recalling its resolution of 29 November 1947 (on partition) and 11 December 1948 (on reparation and compensation), and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the representative of the Government of Israel before the ad hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions, the General Assembly...decides to admit Israel into membership in the United Nations.'

"Here, it must be observed, is a condition and an undertaking to implement the resolutions mentioned. There was no question of such implementation being conditioned on the conclusion of peace on Israeli terms as the Israelis later claimed to justify their non-compliance." Sami Hadawi, "Bitter Harvest."

What was the fate of the Palestinians who had now become refugees?

"The winter of 1949, the first winter of exile for more than seven hundred fifty thousand Palestinians, was cold and hard...Families huddled in caves, abandoned huts, or makeshift tents...Many of the starving were only miles away from their own vegetable gardens and orchards in occupied Palestine - the new state of Israel...At the end of 1949 the United Nations finally acted. It set up the United Nations Relief and Works Administration (UNRWA) to take over sixty refugee camps from voluntary agencies. It managed to keep people alive, but only barely.""Our Roots Are Still Alive" by The Peoples Press Palestine Book Project.

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