On May 14, 1948,Israel declared itself a new, independent state, and was soon thereafter attacked by assembled forces of the Arab world determined to destroy this proud, determined newcomer to the region -- or so the legend has been perpetuated for over six decades, propelled by the best-selling 1958 Leon Uris novel, Exodus, said to have originated as a PR effort to glamorize Israel and sanitize its dishonorable establishment. This was soon followed in 1960 by the Otto Preminger film that spread the myth to a much larger audience and simplified it further into essentially a cowboys and Indians tale.
Whether deliberate or inadvertent, the widespread appeal of this film may well reflect its close correspondence with America's own ethnic cleansing of our indigenous population and its whitewashed reversal of heroes and villains, where Zionism and Manifest Destiny are companion ideologies, and Israeli "settlers" match American "pioneers."
But a few salient facts have been conspicuously omitted from the legend.
Three Zionist terror groups (as designated by the United Nations)systematically planned and executed the expulsion of the Palestinians, who owned over 93% of Palestine in 1947. This ethnic cleansing operation had been prepared over the preceding year, ready for implementation when perceived necessary to drive out the indigenous Arab population and seize their land and properties once the British adminstrative authority was gone. Zionist preparations documented by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe included financial support from the US Jewish community circumventing government prohibitions, weapons smuggling, and infiltration of Arab communities to identify leaders for quick assassination.
These terrorist "militias" had ethnically cleansed a third of the Palestinian population before the British departed in May 1948 and by the end of 1948 had driven over 3/4 million Palestinians into 59 refugee camps hastily constructed to accommodate them by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), newly created to respond towhat Palestinians called their "catastrophe" - al Nakba.
Angered over British immigration policies following incorporation of the Balfour Declaration into the British Mandate established by the League of Nations, the Palestinians had rebelled against the British in the late 1930s and had been disarmed. They were consequently helpless after WWII against Zionist terrorism.
Scattered Arab forces from neighboring states intervened after the British withdrawal in May 1948, but were no match for the better-organized, better-armed and much better-funded Zionist militias now merged into the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Since most Arab countries had recently emerged from post-WWI mandates under British or French administration, the only credible Arab army was the Arab Legion of Transjordan which the Zionists co-opted in an agreement with King Abdullah of Transjordan. Under this agreement Abdullah would keep Judea and Samaria (now the West Bank) and the Zionists were allowed to "cleanse" (their term) the rest of Palestine unopposed. There were a few clashes between Arab Legion and Zionist forces that established the Israeli/West Bank border until 1967.
By the end of the ethnic cleansing campaign, the Zionists had destroyed and/or depopulated 531 Arab villages and eleven urban areas, and had committed 33 documented massacres that killed some 13,000 largely defenseless Arabs, the most notorious of which was Dar Yassein (above) but perhaps the most gruesome was Lydda where townspeople seeking refuge in a mosque were murdered en masse and dismembered. In an article three decades later for The American Zionist, Mordechai Nisan of the Truman Research Centre of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem wrote, “Without terror it is unlikely that Jewish independence would have been achieved when it was.” This was an intentional terrorist strategy. Reports of each massacre terrified other Arab villages into fleeing their homes and communities in the path of approaching Jewish forces. By 1950 nearly a million Palestinian refugees had been registered by the UN in refugee camps with land claims against Israel. With their descendents who are legal heirs to the stolen property, that number now exceeds 4½ million, the largest and longest-standing refugee population in the world. According to the Zionist narrative, Palestinian leaders unable to protect the villages had advised the residents to flee but there is no evidence of this. Nevertheless, this myth has been used shamelessly by Zionist propagandists to claim that the Palestinians left voluntarily or unnecessarily upon direction by their leaders.
Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has declared that "catastrophe" with its connotations of natural disaster is an inaccurate term. Rather, he clearly identifies these acts as crimes that should be so identified.
Following these atrocities, some Jewish communities - which had found refuge in Arab communities from Christian persecution in Europe and lived in peace with Arabs for centuries throughout the Middle East and North Africa - fled their homes in fear of retribution for Jewish aggression in Palestine. This has been used by Zionist propagandists to imply that some sort of balanced population exchange occurred in order to invalidate the Palestinian right of return. But most of these Jewish immigrants to Israel were in fact recruited by Zionism and motivated by incentives and subsidies offered by the new state, including involuntarily vacated Palestinian homes, rather than escape from Arab persecution. Notably large Jewish populations immigrated to Israel from Morrocco and Yemen in response to Israeli invitations and incentives. Jewish exodus from North Africa was also motivated by contemporaneous upheavals in the region against post-war French efforts to re-establish its colonies.
Israel cast itself as a refuge, calling for "ingathering of the exiles." However, since the Mizrahi (Arab) and Sephardic (Iberian) Jews had not suffered Russian pogroms or the Holocaust, many had no interest in uprooting their long established communities for transplantation to Israel. Some Arab expulsion of their Jewish neighbors occurred in some communities due to fear of Zionism, especially in Egypt following their 1956 invasion by Israel, but this "ingathering" was largely solicited by Israel and actively encouraged by false flag Mossad attacks on synagogues and Jewish businesses to frighten Jews in Egypt and Iraq into relocating.
Any legitimate Jewish refugees - like Palestinians - had the right to file claims with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. How many have done so? Whatever the number, if any, their claims are irrelevant to Palestinian claims. Most importantly, have Jewish refugees - like Palestinians - been denied the right to return? Quite the contrary. In fact, both Egypt and Iraq published prominent invitations in major newspapers for Jewish emigrants to return.
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