Demolishing The Myths of the Propaganda War Against Israel
by D A V I D M E I R - L E V I
Introduction by David Horowitz
A Publication of the Center for the Study of Popular
Culture. Copyright ©2005
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Importance of this Text - by David Horowitz
1. The Refugee Question
2. The Eight Stages of the Creation of the Problem
3. The Question of 'Occupation'
and the Settlements
THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS TEXT
b y D a v i d H o r o w i t z
The War in the Middle East is nearly sixty years old. Most people alive today
are unfamiliar with its history and origins and lack knowledge of its facts.
This state of ignorance provides a fertile ground for the unscrupulous to
create myths that will justify their destructive agendas. The political
propaganda machine has created many such myths to fuel their war against
the Jewish state. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East that elects
its leaders in free elections and guarantees rights to its citizens, and
honors those rights. Yet Israel is the target of those who claim to be fighting
for human rights.
There are about a million and a half Arabs living as citizens in Israel who
elect representatives to Israels parliament and who have more rights
than the Arab citizens of any Arab state. Yet Israel is the target of those
who claim to be fighting for social justice. Israels very
creation is referred to by its Arab enemies as "the Nakba", or the
catastrophe, the clear implication of which is that Israel should
not exist. Yet Israel is the target of those who claim to support
self-determination and oppose genocide. Israel was the victim at its
very birth -- of an unprovoked aggression by five Arab monarchies and
dictatorships. It has been the target of an Arab war that has continued
uninterruptedly for nearly sixty years because the Arab states have refused
to make peace. Yet Israel is the target of those who say they want
peace. Israel is the victim of terrorist attacks suicide
bombings which along with the Jews they mark for extinction, kill
Palestinian women and children as well. Yet Israel is the target of those
who claim to speak for humanity and a future that is free. How
is this possible? How can evil be dressed in the garments of justice? How
can a genocidal war to destroy a democratic people be justified as a struggle
for national liberation?
They can through the creation of political myths that rationalize aggression
and justify war against civilian populations. In George Orwells futuristic
novel, 1984, the Ministry of Truth for the totalitarian state proclaims:
Knowledge Is Ignorance; Freedom Is Slavery. The nature of political doublespeak
never changes and its agenda is always the same:
Obliteration of historical memory in the service of power. The
struggle of man against power, wrote the Czech writer, Milan Kundera,
is the struggle of memory against forgetting. Only a restored
memory can demolish totalitarian myths and make men free.
David Meir-Levi has written a text that restores the memory of the
facts that lie at the heart of the conflict in the Middle East. These facts
are crucial not only to the restoration of the history that politics has
obscured, but to the survival of a people who live in the shadow of their
own destruction. Everyone interested in justice will want to read this little
The Arab version of the tragic fate of Arab refugees who fled
from the Palestine Mandate before and during the 1948 war and from Israel
immediately after the war, has so thoroughly dominated the thinking of even
well-educated historians, commentators, journalists and politicians, that
it is almost a given that the creation of the State of Israel caused the
flight of almost a million hapless, helpless and hopeless Arab refugees.
Israel caused the problem and thus Israel must solve the problem.
This assertion, although viscerally engaging and all but canonized
by the anti-Israel propaganda which makes it the core of its narratives of
the Middle East conflict, is unequivocally and totally false.
Origins of the Problem The State of Israel was created in a
peaceful and legal process by the United Nations. It was not created out
of Palestinian lands. It was created out of the Ottoman Empire, ruled for
four hundred years by the Turks who lost it when they were defeated in World
War I. There were no Palestinian lands at the time because there
were no people claiming to be Palestinians. There were Arabs who lived in
the region of Palestine who considered themselves Syrians. It was only after
World War I that the present states of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq were
also created and also created artificially out of the Turkish Empire
by the British and French victors. Jordan was created on about 80 percent
of the Palestine Mandate, which was originally designated by the League of
Nations as part of the Jewish homeland. Since then, Jews have been prohibited
from owning property there. Two-thirds of its citizens are Palestinian Arabs,
but it is ruled by a Hashemite monarchy.
In 1947, the UN partition plan mandated the creation of two states
on the remaining 20 percent of the Palestine Mandate: the State of Israel
for the Jews, and another state for the Arabs. The Arabs rejected their state,
and launched a war against Israel. This is the primal cause of the Arab refugee
The Arab refugees were roughly 725,000 people who fled because of
the war that the Arab states not the Palestinian Arabs -- started.
The Arab states - dictatorships all - did not want a non-Arab state in the
Middle East. The rulers of eight Arab countries whose populations vastly
outnumbered the Jewish settlers in the Turkish Empire, initiated the war
with simultaneous invasions of the newly created state of Israel on three
fronts. Nascent Israel begged for peace and offered friendship and cooperation
to its neighbors. The Arab dictators rejected this offer and answered it
with a war of annihilation against the Jews.
The war failed. But the state of war has continued uninterruptedly
because of the failure of the Arab states Saudi Arabia and Iraq in
particular to sign a peace treaty with Israel. To this day, the Arab
states and the Palestinians refer to the failure of their aggression and
the survival of Israel as an-Nakba the catastrophe.
Had there been no Arab aggression, no war, and no invasion by Arab
armies whose intent was overtly genocidal, not only would there have been
no Arab refugees, but there would have been a state of Palestine in the West
Bank and Gaza since 1948.
In the war, Israel acquired additional land. In the absence of a peace
treaty between belligerents, the law of nations allows the annexation of
an aggressors land after a conflict although the land in question
belonged to the Turks and then the World War I victors. Israel actually offered
to return land it had acquired while defending itself against the Arab aggression
in exchange for a formal peace. It made this offer during the Rhodes Armistice
talks and Lausanne conference in 1949.
The Arab rulers refused the land because they wanted to maintain a
state of war in order to destroy the Jewish state. Had Israels offer
been accepted, there could have been prompt and just resolution to all the
problems that have afflicted the region since. The only problem that
wouldnt have been resolved to the satisfaction of the Arabs was their
desire to obliterate the state of Israel.
After their victory, Israel passed a law that allowed Arab refugees
to re-settle in Israel provided they would sign a form in which they renounced
violence, swore allegiance to the state of Israel, and became peaceful productive
citizens. During the decades of this laws tenure, more than 150,000
Arab refugees have taken advantage of it to resume productive lives
in Israel. Jews do not have a similar option to become citizens of Arab states
from which they are banned.
It should be completely obvious to any reasonable and fair-minded
observer of this history, therefore, that it was not Israel that caused the
Arab refugee problem, nor Israel that obstructed its solution. On the contrary,
the Arab refugee problem was the direct result of the aggression by the Arab
states, and their refusal after failing to obliterate Israel to sign a formal
peace, or to take care of the Arab refugees who remained outside Israels
The Jewish Refugees
There were other refugees from the Arab-Israeli conflict that everyone
on the Arab side of the argument chooses conveniently to forget. Between
1949 and 1954, about 800,000 Jews were forced to flee from the Arab and Muslim
lands where they had lived for hundreds and even thousands of years
from Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and Iran, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and
other Muslim countries.
These Jews were peaceful citizens of their Arab countries and in no
way a hostile population. Nonetheless, they were forced at gun-point to flee
with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The only reason for their expulsion
was revenge against the Jewish citizenry of Arab countries for the shame
of the Arab defeat in their war of aggression.
Most of these Jewish refugees came to Israel, where they were integrated
into normalcy by the tiny fledgling Jewish state. The Arab states (and later
the PLO) refused to do this for the Arab refugees because they preferred
to keep them an aggrieved constituency for their war against Israel.
Some observers have suggested that the dual refugee situation should
be understood as a population exchange Arabs fled to Arab
countries as Jews fled to the Jewish country, both as a result of the 1948
war, both under conditions which their side regards as forced evacuations.
On the other hand, no one on the Arab side has suggested the obvious: if
Jewish refugees were resettled on land vacated by fleeing Arabs, why not
resettle Arab refugees on the lands of Jews who were forced to flee the Arab
countries. One reason no one has suggested this is that no Arab state with
the exception of Jordan will even allow Arab refugees to become citizens.
Taking into account the Jewish refugees assets that were confiscated
when they fled from Arab and Muslim lands, one can conclude that the Jews
have already paid massive reparations to the Arabs whether warranted
or not. The property and belongings of the Jewish refugees, confiscated by
the Arab governments, has been conservatively estimated at about $2.5 billion
in 1948 dollars. Invest that money at a modest 6.5% over 57 years and you
have today a sum of $80 billion, which the Arab and Muslim governments of
the lands from which the Jews were expelled could apply to the benefit of
the Arab refugees. That sum is quite sufficient for reparations to Arab refugees.
There is no way of accurately assessing the value of Arab property left in
Israels control; but there are no estimates as high as a 1948 value
of $2,500,000,000. So, hypothetically, the Arab side has already gotten the
better end of the deal.
During the many wars of the 20th century, tens of millions of refugees
were created in Europe and Asia. In 1922, 1.8 million people were relocated
to resolve the Turkey-Greece war. Following World War II, some 3,000,000
Germans were forced from countries of Eastern Europe and resettled in Germany.
When the Indian sub-continent was divided, over 12 million people were
transferred between India and Pakistan.
All such refugee issues have been resolved, except the roughly 725,000
Arabs who fled Israel during the 1948 war and whom the Arab states and the
Palestinian Authority have kept in refugee camps.
The Arab Refugee Problem
Another irony must be considered in the context of the refugee issue. Israel
handled its Jewish refugee problem by devoting massive resources to the education
and integration of the Jewish refugee population into its society. These
refugees never became a burden on the world, never needed the assistance
of the United Nations, and never had their civil and human rights denied
by their new host country. Instead, despite great hardship, early discrimination,
difficult adjustments and initial privations, they and their offspring have
become productive citizens of the Middle Easts only democracy, and
substantive contributors to one of the most technologically and socially
advanced countries in the world.
The fate of the Arab refugees has been the diametric opposite of this
obvious positive solution to their problem. Arab leadership has purposely
kept their Palestinian brethren in refugee slums, at times approaching the
status of concentration camps, with their misery perpetuated by Machiavellian
rulers to be used as a propaganda weapon against Israel and against the West.
The Palestinian refugees in Gaza were forced there in 1948 not by
Israel but by the Egyptians, kept there under guard, shot if they tried to
leave, and never given Egyptian citizenship or Egyptian passports. (These
facts are recorded by Yasir Arafat himself in his authorized biography by
Alan Hart, Arafat: Terrorist or Peace Maker? 1982).
Refugees in Lebanon were kept under similar but less draconian repression.
They were barred by law from almost 70 professions, not granted citizenship,
and not allowed to travel. Only in Jordan were the refugees granted citizenship.
Senior Fatah Central Committee member Sakher Habash succinctly explained
the reason for the calculated refusal of the Arab rulers including the
Palestinian rulers to help the Palestinian refugees to return to normal lives.
During a 1998 lecture at Shechems An-Najah University, Habash said:
To us, the refugee issue is the winning card which means the end of
the Israeli state.
In other words, war, terrorism, diplomatic isolation of Israel, world-wide
PR campaigns to demonize Israel all may fail (and most have, so far); but
as long as this last trump card is still alive, hope for the destruction
of Israel still pulses in the hearts of Arab revanchists. Palestinians who
fled Israel in 1948 and are still alive have no legal right to return to
Israel, because the Arab leadership representing them (Arab nations until
1993, and since then the Palestinian Authority) are still, de jure and de
facto, at war with Israel; and these refugees, therefore, are still potential
hostiles. International law does not require a country at war to commit suicide
by allowing the entry of hundreds of thousands of a potentially hostile
population. In the context of a peace treaty, in 1949, the Arab refugees
could have taken of the Middle Easts only democracy, and substantive
advantage of Israels offer; but their leadership refused.
Of course the present Palestinian claim of a Right of Return
is accompanied by the claim that there are not 725,000 refugees (minus those
who have died in the interim) but 5 million. This number serves many political
agendas but from the point of view of international law generations born
into a refugee population that has been resettled and living in exile do
not have the legal status of refugees. That means that legal refugee status
today applies only to those few surviving Arabs who fled in 1948, among whom
most are advanced in age.
A Summary of The Salient Facts
The protracted Arab refugee crisis is an artificial crisis maintained
for 57 years by Arab rulers in order to exploit their own peoples suffering
-- to create a poster child for Palestinian victim-hood; a staging
ground for anti-Israel propaganda; a training center for Arab terrorists;
and a trump card for the anti-Israel jihad (per Sakher Habash) when all else
(war, terrorism, international diplomacy) fails. Haq el-Auda,
the law of return, for Palestinian Arabs to their own homes and
farms and orchards that have been part of Israel for the past 57 years is
Sixty years ago there were nearly a million Jews in the Arab states
of the Middle East: honest hard-working citizenry contributing to the culture
and economy of their countries of domicile. Today, there are almost no Jews
in the Arab countries of the Middle East, and racist apartheid laws prohibit
even Jewish tourists from entering some Arab countries.
In Israel, on the other hand, the Arabs who did not flee numbered
about 170,000 in 1949; and now number more than 1,400,000. They have 12
representatives in the Israeli Parliament, judges sitting on the Israeli
courts and on the Israeli Supreme Court benches, and Ph.Ds and tenured
professors teaching in Israeli colleges and universities. They are a population
that enjoys more freedom, education, and economic opportunity than do any
comparable Arab populations anywhere in the Arab world.
The Arab rulers caused the Arab refugee problem in 1948 by their Arab
rulers caused the Arab refugee problem in 1948 by their war of aggression
against the infant state of Israel, a legal creation of the United Nations;
the Arab rulers have since maintained the Arab refugee population and denied
it any possibility of normal life in Arab countries in order to use the suffering
they themselves have caused, as a weapon in their unending war against Israel.
During all these decades the refugee camps and their Arab exploiters
have been funded by billions of dollars from the United Nations, the United
States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and others.
|2. THE EIGHT STAGES OF THE CREATION OF THE
The flight of Arabs from what would soon become Israel took place
in eight stages:
One. As early as the Fall of 1947, months before the UN partition
plan of November 29, 1947, it was clear that there would be a war no matter
how the partition lines were drawn. In anticipation of this war, many of
the well-to-do Arabs (the effendi) of Western Galilee, from Haifa to Acco
and villages in between, closed down their houses and went to Beirut or Damascus.
With their wealth and connections, they could wait out the war in safety.
No one imagined the infant state of Israel could win a war with the Arab
states. The Arabs who left thought that they would be out of the way of danger,
and when the war was over they would come back to their homes. Current estimates
by objective observers (Conor Cruise OBrien, in his book The Siege,
being perhaps the most objective) is that about 70,000 fled.
Two. These refugees caused a sudden absence of political and social
leadership among the Arabs of Galilee, and thus as the hostilities developed
in the winter of 1947, many of the Arab peasantry (Felahin) fled as well,
following their leaders example. They lacked the money and connections
to make a comfortable trip out of the way of danger, as their effendi had
done. So many of them simply walked with whatever they could carry to Lebanon
or Syria. Their leadership had fled, which led them to assume that things
must be pretty bad, so they figured they had better leave too. They too were
sure, based upon documentation from Arab press at the time, that when the
war was over and the Jews were all dead or driven from Israel, they would
come back to their homes.
There are no solid numbers for this exodus, but estimates range around
100,000 people. There were so many exiting that the Arab states had a special
conference in Beirut to decide how to handle all the Arabs that were pouring
across the borders. They set up special camps, later to be known as refugee
camps.These Arabs were fleeing of their own free will. No one, neither Israel
nor Arab states, were encouraging, frightening, or ordering them to do so.
The war had not yet even begun.
Three. After November 29, 1947, warfare between the Israeli Haganah
and para-military Arab volunteers numbering in the tens of thousands began
The Arab press and public speeches made it clear that this was to
be a war of annihilation like those of the great Mongol hordes killing all
in their path. The Jews would be either dead or out. Israel was fighting
not a war of independence, but a war of survival.
In order to defend some areas where Jews were completely surrounded
by Arabs (like the Jews of Jaffa, Jewish villages or kibbutzim in parts of
Galilee and the central hill country, and in Jerusalem), the Haganah adopted
scare-tactics that were intended to strike terror into the Arab population
of those areas, so that they would retreat to safer ground. Then, it would
be possible for the Haganah to defend those Jews who would otherwise be
inaccessible and thus vulnerable to genocidal Arab intentions.
Many Arabs in parts of western Galilee, Jaffa, and parts of western
Jerusalem, fled because of tactics such as rumors that a huge Jewish army
from the West was about to land on the coast, hand-grenades thrown on front
porches of homes, jeeps driving by and firing machine guns into the walls
or fences of houses, rumors circulated by Arabic speaking Jews that the Haganah
was far bigger than it really was and was on the verge of surfacing with
a massive Jewish army, etc.
Here it is important to note that Jews were responsible in this part
of the Arab flight. But it was not because they wanted to ethnically cleanse
the country, or to wipe out the Arabs. It was because they knew that outnumbered
Jews, undefended in Arab enclaves would be slaughtered (as in fact was the
case of Jews in the Gush Etzion villages and in the Jewish Quarter of the
Old City in Jerusalem, and as had happened in Hebron in 1929). It was the
exigency of their fighting a war of survival against a bigger and better
armed enemy that drove them to the tactics described above.
It is also important not to forget these facts: Had the Arab leadership
accepted the UN partition plan, there would have been a state of Palestine
since November 29, 1947, for the Arabs, alongside of Israel.
Had the Arab armies not invaded, there would have been no refugee
problem. Keeping in mind these two facts, it is clear that the total onus
of culpability for the start of the refugee problem rests squarely and solely
upon the Arab states that invaded, in clear disregard for the UN resolution
181 and international law.
Four. Arab leadership from among the para-military forces and the
forces of Syria were vociferous in their announcements that they wanted Arabs
to leave so that the armies would have a clear field in which to perpetrate
their genocide of the Jews. When the war was over and the Jews were driven
out or killed, the Arab residents could come back and have both their own
lands and those of the Jews.
We cannot know how many Arabs fled because of these announcements;
but since a number of Arab spokespersons after the war admitted to having
done this, and wrung their hands publicly in painful repentance of having
created the refugee problem, it is clear that the Arab leaderships
own message to many Arabs in the area was a major factor in the Arab flight.1
It is also important to point out at this time that there were a number
of cases where Jewish leaders got out in public and pleaded with Arabs not
to leave. The mayor of Haifa is the best example of this. At the risk of
his own life, he drove through the Arab section of Haifa with a loudspeaker
on his jeep, and in Arabic called out to the residents of his city to disregard
the Arab propaganda.