Page [3]

 “The wholesale exodus was due partly to the belief of the Arabs, encouraged by the boasting of an unrealistic press and the irresponsible utterances of some of the Arab leaders that it could be only a matter of some weeks before the Jews were defeated by the armies of the Arab states, and the Palestinian Arabs enabled to re-enter and re-take possession of their country”. -- Edward Atiyah (Secretary of the Arab League, London, The Arabs, 1955, p. 183)

 “As early as the first months of 1948, the Arab League issued orders exhorting the people to seek a temporary refuge in neighboring countries, later to return to their abodes ... and obtain their share of abandoned Jewish property.” -- Bulletin of The Research Group for European Migration Problems, 1957.

 “Israelis argue that the Arab states encouraged the Palestinians to flee. And, in fact, Arabs still living in Israel recall being urged to evacuate Haifa by Arab military commanders who wanted to bomb the city.” -- Newsweek, January 20, 1963.

“The 15th May, 1948, arrived ... On that day the mufti of Jerusalem appealed to the Arabs of Palestine to leave the country, because the Arab armies were about to enter and fight in their stead.” -- The Cairo daily Akhbar el Yom, October 12, 1963.

In listing the reasons for the Arab failure in 1948, Khaled al- Azm (Syrian Prime Minister) notes that “…the fifth factor was the call by the Arab governments to the inhabitants of Palestine to evacuate it (Palestine) and leave for the bordering Arab countries. Since 1948, it is we who have demanded the return of the refugees, while it is we who made them leave. We brought disaster upon a million Arab refugees by inviting them and bringing pressure on them to leave. We have accustomed them to begging...we have participated in lowering their morale and social level...Then we exploited them in executing crimes of murder, arson and throwing stones upon men, women and children...all this in the service of political purposes...” -- Khaled el- Azm, Syrian prime minister after the 1948 War, in his 1972 memoirs, published in 1973.

 “The Arab states succeeded in scattering the Palestinian people and in destroying their unity. They did not recognize them as a unified people until the states of the world did so, and this is regrettable.” -- Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), from the official journal of the PLO, Falastin el-Thawra (“What We Have Learned and What We Should Do”), Beirut, March 1976.

 “Since 1948, the Arab leaders have approached the Palestinian problem in an irresponsible manner. They have used to Palestinian people for political purposes; this is ridiculous, I might even say criminal...” -- King Hussein, Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, 1996.

 “Abu Mazen Charges that the Arab States Are the Cause of the Palestinian Refugee Problem” (Wall Street Journal; June 5, 2003): Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) wrote an article in March 1976 in Falastin al-Thawra, the official journal of the PLO in Beirut: “The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny, but instead they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, imposed upon them a political and ideological blockade and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live in Eastern Europe.” As Abu Mazen alluded, it was in large part due to threats and fearmongering from Arab leaders that some 700,000 Arabs fled Israel in 1948 when the new state was invaded by Arab armies. Ever since, the growing refugee population, now around 4 million by UN estimates, has been corralled into squalid camps scattered across the Middle East - in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Gaza, and the West Bank.

In 1950, the UN set up the United Nations Relief and Works Agency as a temporary relief effort for Palestinian refugees. Former UNRWA director Ralph Galloway stated eight years later that, “the Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders do not give a damn whether Arab refugees live or die. The only thing that has changed since [1949] is the number of Palestinians cooped up in these prison camps.”


Besides the refugee problem, the two most prominent issues in the Arab propaganda war against Israel are the alleged Jewish occupation of Arab lands and the existence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. To peel away the myths enveloping these issues and proceed to the realities beneath, it is necessary to review their history within the context of the Arab war against Israel, which has been going on without interruption since the creation of Israel in 1948, and which includes the Arab hostility towards the Jews before that.


Early Zionism

Zionist pioneers from the middle of the 19th century onward joined the local Jewish communities in rebuilding a Jewish homeland in what was then the Turkish Empire by purchasing land from the Turkish Crown and from Arab landowners (effendi). There was no invasion, no conquest, and no theft of Arab land – and certainly not of a land of Palestine, since the Arabs living in the region had been Turkish subjects for 400 years. Unarmed and possessing no military, the Jews bought so much land from Arabs that in 1892, a group of effendi sent a letter to the Turkish Sultan, requesting that he make it illegal for his subjects to sell land to the Jews. Their successors did the same thing, via a telegram, in 1915. Evidently, the very presence of Jews owning land in the Middle East – however legally acquired – was offensive to some.

It is indisputable that there was no theft, because no one complained of any. No Arabs were driven from their homes. In fact, as a demographic study published by Columbia University demonstrates5, the Arab population of the area grew tremendously during this period in part because of the economic development that the Jews helped to generate.

Between 1514 AD and circa 1850, the Arab population of this region of the Turkish Empire was more or less static at about 340,000. It suddenly began to increase around 1855, and by 1947  the Arab population stood at about 1,300,000 -- almost quadrupling in less than 100 years. ( 5 Justin McCarthy, The Population of Palestine, 1990).

The exact causes of this population rise are beyond the scope of this essay, but the causal correlation between this independently documented phenomenon and the Zionist enterprise is beyond rational argument.

Far from driving out any Arabs, stealing their land or ruining their economy, the work of the Jewish pioneers in the 19th and early 20th centuries actually enabled the Arab population to quadruple, the economy to enter the modern era, and the society to slough off the shackles of serfdom that typified the effendi-fellah (land-owner/serf) relationship of the Ottoman era. An Arab working in a Jewish factory or farming community could earn in a month what his father earned in a year eking out a living as a subsistence-level farmer using medieval technology. Arab infant mortality plummeted and longevity increased as the Jews shared their modern medical technology with their Arab neighbors.

Much of the land that the Zionists purchased was desert and swamp, uninhabited and deemed uninhabitable by the Arabs. Modern agrarian techniques instituted by the Jews and the blood and sweat of thousands of idealistic Zionists reclaimed that land and turned it into prime real estate with flourishing farms and rapidly growing communities sporting modern technology and a healthy market economy.

As a result, Arab migrants poured into the region from surrounding states, with hundreds of thousands seeking a better life and greater economic opportunity. Based on the above, it is fair to suggest that a significant plurality, if not a majority, of Arabs living in Israel today owe their very existence to the Zionist endeavor.

Validation of this history, which is quite at variance with the standard Arab propaganda, comes from a surprising source. Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradhawi, international Arab terrorist and lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, in a televised speech in May, 2005,6 chided his followers with the following words: “Unfortunately, we [Arabs] do not excel in either military or civil industries. We import everything from needles to missiles…How come the Zionist gang has managed to be superior to us, despite being so few? It has become superior through  knowledge, through technology, and through strength. It has become superior to us through work. (MEMRI,

We had the desert before our eyes but we didn’t do anything with it. When they took over, they turned it into a green oasis. How can a nation that does not work progress? How can it grow?” 7 ( More academic validation can be found in Palestinian-born Professor Rashid Khalidi’s “Palestinian Identity”, in Kimmerling, B., and Migdal, J. The Palestinian People, and in the as yet unpublished doctoral thesis of Dr. Sandi Sufian, a Palestinian now doing post-doctoral work at the University of Chicago.)

It was precisely this success of the Zionist endeavor that aroused the fear and ire of Arab leaders. Zionist progress, technology, economy, and the Jews’ willingness to share this technology with their Arab neighbors radically threatened the medieval stranglehold of the effendi over the fellahin (peasantry).

Turkish methods of insuring tranquility under the Sultan were rather draconian. Consequently, as part of the Turkish Empire, the Arabs in the region did not wish to risk civil disturbance, and therefore maintained a stoic sufferance of the Jewish presence that some have interpreted as tolerance. But the British rule that followed the First World War was not so severe.

When Britain took over the governance of British Mandatory Palestine (today the states of Israel and Jordan), Arab leaders discovered they had a much freer hand. Stoking religious hatred and fanning the flames of fellah resentment with lies about the Jews’ intent to destroy Islam, representatives of the leading effendi families led by the Hajj Amin el-Husseini began an Islamic jihad involving a series of pogroms against the Jews.

Peel Partition Plan From 1919 to 1936, Arab violence against Jews expanded in scope and grew in brutality. The British did almost nothing to curtail it and sometimes abetted it. Lord Earl Peel led a commission of inquiry in 1936 with the goal of finding a solution to the seemingly endless violence. His suggestion was partition. Let the Jews have their state on the 15% of lands that they have purchased and redeemed. Let the Arabs have theirs on the remaining 85%. In other words, the very idea of partition became an agenda because the Arabs could not live peacefully beside Jews.

In 1922, Britain ceded all of the Palestine Mandate east of the Jordan River to the emir Abdullah. This became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with a majority Palestinian population that by law permitted no Jew to enter. When offered their own state in 1937 on roughly 85% of British Mandatory Palestine west of the Jordan River, the Arab leaders chose war and terrorism. This was the “Great Arab Revolt” of 1937-1939. With World War II in the offing, Britain lost no time in brutally crushing the uprising.

Meanwhile, the pioneering Zionist endeavor continued with the purchase of more crown land from the British. It is important to note that according to international law, what had been crown land under the Turkish Empire was now legally crown land under the British Mandate. The disposition of that land through legal purchases was well within the rights of the British. It also conformed to the parameters of international law. When the West emerged victorious from World War II, Zionist organizations owned about 28% of what is today Israel, and private Arab land ownership or British crown land accounted for the rest.

With the end of the war, Arab leadership again promoted violence and terrorism against Jewish settlements and against the British. The majority of Jewish leaders preached restraint and practiced the exploration of political solutions via the newly formed United Nations. A minority practiced terrorism against the British and violent reprisals against the Arabs.

UN Partition Plan

Sick of the violence and facing political crises growing out of economic problems following World War II, the British abandoned most of its empire and decided to place “the Palestine Question” into the hands of the United Nations. In 1947 several UN exploratory missions reached Lord Peel’s conclusion of a decade earlier. On November 29, 1947 the UN declared the existence of two states: a state for the Arabs on about 45% of the land, and the state of Israel for the Jews on about 55%. But more than half of the Jewish portion (60%) was the Negev desert, crown land largely unpopulated and believed to be worthless.

The UN Partition Plan (UN Resolution # 181) created unwieldy boundaries between the two nascent states based upon the land ownership and population densities of the two groups.

The Arab states were members of the UN. Their membership presumably entailed a willingness to abide by majority decisions of the newly formed world body. But they did not.

In high-handed defiance of the UN partition plan, they launched a war of aggression which, by their own public rhetoric, was to be a war of annihilation. Their intent was not to correct some border dispute or to reclaim turf lost in an earlier battle. Their intention was to destroy the newly created State of Israel, and to dispatch by whatever means necessary its 605,000 Jews.

To their everlasting chagrin, the Arab states lost their war of aggression. In losing, moreover, they lost much of the territory that the UN had designated for the state of Palestine. However, even this remainder of what would have been Palestine (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) was obliterated – by its two neighboring Arab states. Egypt maintained illegal occupation of the Gaza Strip, and Jordan illegally annexed the West Bank. Both actions were in high-handed defiance of international law and UN resolutions 181 and 194. There was no Arab or Palestinian protest over this. Why? The only conclusion that can be drawn is that in 1949, the Palestinians didn’t consider themselves “Palestinians” but Arabs, and in fact the term “Palestine”
was universally used to refer to the Jewish state.

To add to the Arabs’ embarrassment, Israel offered them in 1949 a formal peace treaty in exchange for which Israel would return much of the land conquered in the war and allow the repatriation of some substantive portion of the Arab refugees created by the war (Rhodes Armistice talks, February – July, 1949). Had the Arab nations been willing to accept the UN partition plan, or had they been willing to accept the Israeli peace offer, not only would a State of Palestine have existed since 1949, but there would never have been an Arab refugee problem.

However, the Arab response was: no peace. The refugees would return to their homes only when they could fly the flag of Palestine over the corpses of the Jews. Better Palestinians should rot in squalid refugee camps than that the Arabs should acknowledge a non-Moslem state in their midst. As in 1937, Arab leaders rejected the possibility of a Palestinian state in favor of continued aggression against Israel.

It was not the creation of the State of Israel that caused the refugee and other subsequent problems; it was the war of annihilation waged by the Arab states that created the refugees and rejected the second opportunity for the creation of a Palestinian state.

Pre-1967 Terrorism Against Israel From 1949 to 1956, Egypt waged a terror war against Israel, launching about 9,000 attacks from terrorist cells set up in the refugee camps of the Gaza Strip. The 1956 “Sinai campaign”, in which Israel defeated the Egyptian army, ended Egypt’s terror war, even though the United States forced Israel to return the Sinai to Egypt without a peace treaty. But the terror continued on other fronts.

In 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organization was created – not to liberate Palestinians from Jordanian and Egyptian rule – but to begin a 40-year campaign of terror against Israel with the openly avowed goal of “pushing the Jews into the sea.” Sponsored first by Kuwait, and later by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran and others, the PLO leaders declared unending war against Israel until all of “Palestine” was liberated, redeemed in “fire and blood”.

From 1949 to 1967 there were no Jewish settlements in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. The “Palestine” that Arafat sought to “redeem” was not the West Bank or Gaza, where Palestinians were the abject subjects of Jordanian and Egyptian rule, but the entire State of Israel within its 1949 “green line” borders.

It is instructive to read the original 1964 version of the PLO Covenant: Article 24. “This Organization (the PLO) does not exercise any regional sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in the Gaza Strip or the Himmah area.”

Since the PLO’s original Covenant explicitly recognized Judea, Samaria, the eastern portion of Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip as belonging to other Arab states, the only “homeland” it sought to “liberate” in 1964 was the state that belonged to the Jews.

Three years later in 1967, five Arab states – including Jordan -- attacked Israel. As a result of Israel’s victory in the war Israel now occupied the West Bank having defeated the Jordanian aggressor, who had illegally annexed the West Bank 18 years earlier.

The PLO’s response to these events was to revise its Covenant, which it did on July 17, 1968. It removed the operative language of Article 24, thereby asserting for the first time a “Palestinian” claim of sovereignty to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In other words, the Palestinian claim is asserted only against Jews.

The Jordanian occupation of the West Bank and the Egyptian control of the Gaza Strip were typified by brutal totalitarian repression. In the words of Arafat himself, in 1948 the Egyptians herded Palestinians into refugee camps, kept them behind barbed wire, sent in spies to murder the Palestinian leaders, and executed those who tried to flee.8

There were no Palestinian protests of this oppression or behalf of any selfdetermination they felt they had been denied.

Belated Palestinian Nationalism The reason why there was no agitation among Palestinians for their own national identity prior to 1967 is perfectly clear. The concept of Palestine as a nation and Palestinians as a separate people did not exist among the Arabs of the Turkish provinces that became British Mandatory Palestine after World War I.

Despite the contorted, forced, and contrived narratives of apologists for the Palestinian war against Israel like Rashid Khalidi, Baruch Kimmerling and others, there was never any state called Palestine, no country inhabited by “Palestinians”, and before 1967 no concept of a separate political, cultural, or linguistic entity representing a defined group that could be identified by such an appellation.

In fact, the opposite is the case. Arab respondents to the UN’s 1947 inquiries argued that there never was, nor should there ever be, a Palestine. The area under discussion they claimed was historically part of southern Syria, and for centuries had been known as “balad esh-sham” (the country of Damascus). In fact, at that time, the term “Palestinian” was applied only to the Jews living in Mandatory Palestine. The Arabs of the region were known as “Arabs.”

In a March 31, 1977 interview with the Amsterdam-based newspaper Dagblad de Verdieping Trouw, PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhse’in said: “The Palestinian people does not exist. 8 (Yasir Arafat in his authorized biography, “Arafat: Terrorist or Peace Maker”, by Alan Hart, 1982)

The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism. For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

Even today, Syrian 5th Grade social studies textbooks show “Greater Syria” as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel. There is no nation called Palestine. The concept of “Palestinians” as Arabs living for millennia in “historic Palestine” is a fiction created for the political and military purposes described by Zahir Muhse’in. This latter day frenzy of Palestinian agitations for national self-determination is simply the faux mantle of respectability behind which genocidal Arab terrorism can be perpetrated against Israel with the support of international do-gooders and “idealists.” After the Holocaust, Western liberals cannot look kindly upon genocidal terrorism; but they can embrace warmly and enthusiastically the deep and heartfelt yearnings of an oppressed people struggling to be free. Hence, Arafat’s terrorist propagandists needed to invent the lies of Palestinian National Identity and Israeli occupation and oppression.

The Six-Day War of 1967 Contrary to current Arab propaganda, but congruent with all news accounts contemporary to the events, Israel was the victim of Arab genocidal aggression in the 1967 War. On May 15, 1967, Egypt demanded that the UN peacekeeping forces, in place since the Sinai Campaign, evacuate at once. UN Secretary General U-Thant, for reasons never fully clarified, complied at once.

Then, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran, blocking the Israeli port of Eilat for shipping, and moved two tank battalions and 150,000 troops right up to Israel’s western border. A military pact with Syria and Jordan and illegal invasion of Israel’s air space for surveillance over-flights of the Israeli atomic reactor in Dimona rounded out the threats.

These were five casus belli: actions defined in international law as so threatening to a sovereign state that each one creates a legitimate cause for defensive military response. Had Israel retaliated with lethal force after any one of these five, its military action would have been completely legal per international law, as legitimate defensive response to existential threats from an aggressor.

However, Israel did not retaliate immediately. It first tried political negotiations, but its complaints to the UN went unanswered. Its reminders to President Johnson that the United States had guaranteed in 1957 to intervene if the Straits of Tiran were ever closed, or if Egypt ever re-militarized the Sinai, fell on deaf ears. President Johnson was too heavily involved in the Vietnam war to consider American military action elsewhere, even though President Eisenhower, when he forced PM Ben Gurion to retreat from the Sinai after the phenomenally successful Sinai Campaign in 1956, had promised America’s eternal vigilance that Israel would not again face a military threat from Egypt.

After three weeks of watching the Egyptian-Syrian-Jordanian forces grow in size and strength on its borders, Israel tried one last diplomatic action. Via the UN commander of the peace-keeping forces in Jerusalem, Colonel Od Bul (a Norwegian), Israel’s government sent a written message to King Hussein of Jordan: if you do not invade Israel, Israel will not invade the West Bank. Jordan’s King superciliously tossed the note back to Colonel Od Bul and walked away.

On Monday, June 5, 1967, after receiving military intelligence that Egypt was within hours of launching an invasion via the Gaza Strip, Israel launched its defensive pre-emptive strike, an air attack that destroyed the air forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria while they were still on the ground. With the control of the skies firmly in Israel’s hand, its armor and infantry put Egyptian forces to flight, reaching the Suez Canal within two days.

Return to Arabs/Palestinians


Left Arrow

Page [1] [2]

Left Arrow

Arrow Right

Page [4] [5]

Arrow Right

The Top__