Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ten Distortions About the So-Called "Nakba"

These ten distortions appeared on the website of The Institute For Middle East Understanding.

The last word in its name should be prefixed with "mis."

Their page contains a photo with the caption "Palestinian women walk through the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon in 1951." The article contains no explanation of why the Arabs have forced these people, and their descendants, to live in refugee camps for sixty years rather than absorbing them into their new homelands and allowing them to live normal lives.

Ten "facts" about the Nakba

IMEU, May 1, 2008

1. The Nakba is a root cause of the Israeli/Palestinian problem.

[The "Nakba" was one of the results of the Arab invation of Israel on the day that democracy was established. In other words, it is the Arab-Israeli conflict, of which the more recent conflict between the Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis is a part, which was the root cause of the "Nakba," not the other way around.]

It is marked on May 15, the day after Israel declared its independence in 1948.

2. This traumatic event created the Palestinian refugee crisis.

[The Arab invasion created two refugee crises. The Arabs perpetuated the suffering of their refugees in order to use those refugees as fodder in their war to destroy Israel; the Israelis treated their refugees like people, absorbing them and helping them rebuild their lives.]

By the end of 1948, two-thirds of the Palestinian population was exiled. It is estimated that more than 50% were driven out under direct military assault. Others fled as news spread of massacres committed by Jewish militias in Palestinian villages like Deir Yassin and Tantura.

[The vast majority simply left because of the violence and chaos created by the Arab invasion and war, many at the behest of their own brethren.]

3. Jewish leaders saw "transfer" as an important step in the establishment of Israel.

Jewish leaders spoke openly of the need to use military clashes to expel as many Palestinians as possible before other Arab countries could come to their defense. The Haganah militia's Plan Dalet was the blueprint for this ethnic cleansing. Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, said "We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population." (See what other leading Israelis have said about transfer.)

[Were it not for the war started by the Arabs, there would not have been a single Arab refugee.

Plan Dalet involved measures necessary for defending against the Arab invaders; it had nothing to do with ethnic cleansing.

The ceasefire left hundreds of thousands of Arabs in Israel, where they were given citizenship; it left no Jews in the areas of Palestine conquered by the Arabs.]

4. Hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed.

Jewish forces depopulated more than 450 Palestinian towns and villages, most of which were demolished.

[When Arabs left and it became clear there was not going to be peace and they weren't going to be returning, there was no point in wasting the abandoned areas.]

5. Palestinian property and belongings were simply taken.

The newly-established Israeli government confiscated refugee land and properties without respect to Palestinian rights or desires to return to their homes.

Israeli historian Tom Segev reported that: "Entire cities and hundreds of villages left empty were repopulated with new [Jewish] immigrants... Free people - Arabs - had gone into exile and become destitute refugees; destitute refugees - Jews - took the exiles' places in the first step in their lives as free people. One group [Palestinians] lost all they had while the other [Jews] found everything they needed - tables, chairs, closets, pots, pans, plates, sometimes clothes, family albums, books radios, pets....

[To this day, the abandoned property is held in trust, in contrast to the property of Jews forced out of their homes in Arab countries; that property was simply stolen.]

6. Some Palestinians stayed in what became Israel.

While most Palestinians were driven out, some remained in what became Israel. Although citizens of the new state, they were subject to Israeli military rule until 1966. Today, Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise nearly 20 percent of Israel's population. They have the right to vote and run for office, but more than 20 Israeli laws explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews. Nearly one-quarter of Israel's Palestinians are "internally displaced" persons, unable to return to the homes and lands that were taken from them.

[Despite the fact that many of them sympathize with Israel's enemies and even Arab Knesset ministers have acted treasonously, Israel's Arab citizens have equal rights.]

7. There are still millions of Palestinian refugees dispersed around the world.

Today, there are 4.4 million Palestinian refugees registered as such with the United Nations, and at least another estimated 1 million who are not so registered. Thus a majority of the Palestinian people, around 10 million persons, are refugees.

[There were a few hundred thousand Arab refugees. Today, sixty years later, only a relative handful are still alive, forced to remain refugees by their own people.

The millions of so-called Arab refugees are not refugees at all, but are descendants of refugees, used as pawns in the genocidal war against Israel.]

8. Refugees have internationally-recognized rights.

All refugees enjoy internationally-recognized rights to return to areas from which they have fled or were forced out, to receive compensation for damages, and to either regain their properties or receive compensation and support for voluntary resettlement. This right has been explicitly acknowledged in recent peace agreements in Cambodia, Rwanda, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guatemala, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Burundi, and Darfur. This right was affirmed for the Palestinians by the United Nations Resolution 194 of 1948. Israel, however, does not allow Palestinian refugees to return, although a Jew from anywhere in the world can settle in Israel.

[Resolution 194 contained fifteen provisions, virtually all of which were blatantly violated by the Arabs.

The one provision dealing with refugees did so in the context of a peace the Arabs refused and has been rendered moot by the continuing Arab war.

Despite this, Israel would most likely accept the return of actual refugees desiring, as called for in the resolution, to live in peace. It is doubtful it would permit the immigration of millions of hostile descendants of refugees, nor is there any reason it should.]

9. Justly resolving refugee rights is essential to Middle East peace.

An overwhelming majority of Palestinians believes that refugee rights must be fulfilled for peace between Palestinians and Israelis to endure. And according to an August 2007 poll by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, nearly 70 percent believe that refugees should be allowed to return to "their original land".

[See above.

Given that approximately 78 percent of Mandatory Palestine is already incorporated into an Arab state, even if the Arabs continue to refuse to make peace, every refugee and descendant of refugees can easily return to his or her "original land" without emigrating to Israel.]

10. The Nakba has implications for Americans.

Israel's ongoing denial of Palestinian rights - and unconditional U.S. financial and diplomatic support for Israel - fuels anti-American sentiment abroad. A 2002 Zogby poll, conducted in eight Arab countries showed that "the negative perception of the United States is based on American policies, not a dislike of the West." The same poll showed that "the Palestinian issue was listed by many Arabs among the political issues that affect them most personally." Resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue would undoubtedly improve America's international image, by proving that the U.S. government supports the consistent application of international law.

[One of the greatest inconsistencies is the special treatment of Arabs who are descendants of refugees. A good start would be to stop supporting this special treatment, disband the UNHWA and work to absorb the descendants of Arab refugees the way other groups have been absorbed, in the lands to which they moved.]

No comments: