For those who missed it, PA Prexy Mahmud Abbas, in his plea for recognition of a unilaterally-declared Palestinian state, engaged in a little bit of historical revising (and by that, I mean a lot of historical dishonesty). He began with a little personal family history:
SIXTY-THREE years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in the Galilean city of Safed and flee with his family to Syria.
All very moving and all, certainly more compelling than the account he gave a few years back:
“People were motivated to run away… They feared retribution from Zionist terrorist organizations – particularly from the Safed ones. Those of us from Safed especially feared that the Jews harbored old desires to avenge what happened during the 1929 uprising…. They realized the balance of forces was shifting and therefore the whole town was abandoned on the basis of this rationale – saving our lives and our belongings.”
Now, Jewdar recognizes that “forced” is somewhat vague. One might argue that he was forced by war, or forced by circumstance, or even that Abbas, at 13, was “forced” by his parents to leave Safed, so the Times Op-ed claim was not technically dishonest, but there does seem to be an implication that he was “forced” by the Israelis. Still, as the son of a refugee, Jewdar is inclined to be generous in such matters. More serious, however, is what he says a little further on:
It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued.
Now, granted, Jewdar never did go on and get the PhD, but still, if memory serves us right, things happened a little differently back in 1947. Yes, the UN voted to partition the Mandate of Palestine, at which point Arab attacks against Jews in Palestine began (specifically, the first attack occurred the day after the vote, on a bus full of Jews near Tel-Aviv). The Arab states didn’t intervene to prevent expulsions, as Abbas, suggests, but had been preparing for an invasion of the Jewish areas even before the UN vote.
Jewdar recognizes that the Arabs either in or out of Palestine had no obligation to accept partition. But the point is that they were the ones who rejected it. Had they not done so, two states would have been established; one an Arab state with almost no Jews in it, the other, a Jewish state with a bare Jewish majority (about 55% to 45%). That balance would have shifted as refugees came in from Europe and perhaps immigrants from elsewhere, but the bottom line is that Abbas perpetuates the myth that the Palestinian refugee problem was a direct result of the creation of Israel. It was not.
Whatever crimes Israel or Israeli forces committed, the Palestinian refugee problem wasn’t a result of Israel’s creation; it was a result of the war that came from the Arab rejection of Israel’s creation. It may very well be that plenty of Zionists would have liked to have expelled Arabs from the Jewish state; but without the war, that wouldn’t have happened, and those Arabs would have remained in their homes, with the rights of “full and equal citizenship” offered them in the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
As for what happened afterwards, Abbas seems to have forgotten that at no point from 1948 to 1967 did Israel in any way prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank or Gaza; he seems have left out those 19 years in which the area in which he wants to establish a Palestinian state were ruled by those friendly Arab regimes. Apparently, after the “intervention,” they forgot why they came. Abbas may have gotten his PhD in History, but work like this reminds Jewdar why Oriental College in Moscow was considered a party school.
This, of course is all water under the bridge, and Jewdar as a rule does not find it productive to argue about what was. But one thing in Abbas’s op-ed piece did strike us as useful (though we’re sure no one on the Israeli side will be smart enough to pick up on it). Abbas has seemed to accept that the 1947 UN Resolution justifies the creation of a Palestinian state. Of course, what he failed to mention is that the very same resolution didn’t just call for the establishment of another state, it called for the establishment of a “Jewish state.” As some readers might recall, recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state” is precisely what Abbas refused to do as recently as last year.
Wouldn’t it be great if someone on the Israeli side of things called him on it, and said Israel is ready to begin negotiations based on the principles of the UN resolution – which Abbas has now accepted – that a Jewish state has a right to exist in what Abbas calls “Palestine?”
Thank you, thank you, thank you. If only your response to the Op-Ed could reach as many people as the Op-Ed itself. I’ll do my part by sharing, though.
Hey Jewdar, a cogent defense similar to those you published while at UW. Yasher Koach.
Joshua Bernstein (from Hillel Academy back in the day)
thankfully no one is crazy enough or stupid enough to give jews their own state
Please note that most of the refugees were called by the Arabs leader to join them in fighting the Jews and then coming back victorious. This means the most of the refugees left on their own to join the Arab forces fighting the Jews in the Israeli Independence war of 1948. When the war ended these people were left outside Israel. Therefore, most of these people in the refugee camps are not refugees at all but are enemies of Israel who left Israel on their own in order to join the forces against Israel. Also please note that logic does not work here at all because the Arabs have a majority in the UN for anything. In addition we need to fight other Jews like J-Street and associates who are clearly against Israel for reason that baffles even very experience psychiatrist.
Speaking of “a lot of historical dishonesty,” this piece is full of it.
“If memory serves us right,” pleads the author, “things happened a little differently back in 1947.” We’re ill-served here.
As everyone here doubtless knows, the Irgun was conducting a terror campaign (complete with civilian-targeted bombings and eventually, ethnic cleansing of Arab villages) designed to drive Arab residents of Mandate Palestine out of the area to make things “safe” for Jewish settlers to establish sovereignty over formerly Arab-controlled territory (see “Lebensraum”). In fact, these were the explicit goals of Plan Daled and Operation Nachshon, which were carried out in 1947-48.
Was this an “expulsion” by government decree? No, because the Irgun wasn’t a government, but certainly the Arabs in their path were given the choice of flight or death. And, as intended, word of things like the Deir Yassin massacre spread throughout the Arab community.
As a fellow child of refugees, I think you’d be able to understand that even though some Jews were free to have stayed in their home countries throughout the Holocaust, most of those people died there. Can you blame some Arabs for not wanting to stick around to see how it all turned out?
Waletzky’s account is full of dishonesty. Where is the mention of the civilian-targeted bombings by the Arabs?
To D. J. Waletzky about “historical dishonesty” please note DJ, that the Irgun was a small group and was strong in the big cities and not in small villages throughout Israel. The fact that you miss is that the Moslem leaders actually made a call to all the Arabs in Israel to get out of Israel and join forces with them in attacking the Jewish population in Israel. Therefore many of the Arabs in Israel went out of Israel in hope of coming victorious but that did not work for them as you can see. The Deir Yassin incident was an isolated case and it is not clear what exactly has happened there so I am not sure why you call it a “massacre”. On the other hand the Arabs killed more Jews then were killed in Deir Yassin but for some reason it is not called “massacre” as you call it. Since you know so much about it and we talk about “historical dishonesty” maybe you will be kind enough to explain your own historical dishonesty.