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Israel did not cause
the Arabs to leave

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From: (H MAVERIK) to Newsgroup: soc.culture.israel. Date: 17 Sep 1998.

Following is the historical record. From Allen Elias' research in a Usenet Newsgroup: Abu Mazen wrote in an article entitled "Madha `Alamna wa-Madha Yajib An Na`mal" [What We Have Learned and What We Should Do], published in "Falastineth-Thawra" [Revolutionary Palestine], the official journal of the PLO, Beirut, March 1976, "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...The Arab States succeeded in scattering the Palestinian people."

Khaled al-`Azm, who served as Prime Minister of Syria in 1948 and 1949, wrote in his memoirs (published in Beirut, 1973), that among the reasons for the Arab failure in 1948 was "the call by the Arab Governments to the inhabitants of Palestine to evacuate it and to leave for the bordering Arab countries, after having sown terror among them...Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave...We have brought destruction upon a million Arab refugees, by calling upon them and pleading with them to leave their land, their homes, their work and business..." (Part 1, pp. 386-387).

Harry C. Stebbens, who was in an official position in the British Mandatory Government in Palestine in 1947-48, wrote in the London Evening Standard (Friday, 10 January, 1969):
"Long before the end of the British mandate, between January and April, 48, practically all my Arab Palestinian staff of some 200 men and women and all of the 1800 labor force had left Haifa in spite of every possible effort to assure them of their safety if they stayed.
"They all left for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. The Arab terrorism engendered by the November, 1947, U.N. partition resolution frightened them to death of their imaginative souls and they feared Jewish retaliation.

  2. Propagandists promised a blood bath as soon as the mandate ended in which the street of all the cities would run with blood.

  3. The promised invasion by the foreign Arab armies (which started on May 14, 1948, with the Arab Legion massacre of some 200 Jewish settlers at Kfar Etzion) was preceded by extensive broadcasts from Cairo, Damascus, Amman, and Beirut to the effect that any Arabs who stayed would be hanged as collaborators with the Jews.

"The Palestinian Arabs were the victims then, as in 1967, of their own propaganda, and having on the average no stomach for violence they ran. I have met many of my Palestinian Arab friends since in Beirut, Damascus, Amman, and in the Persian Gulf states, and they have all without exception gladly told me that they had wished they had listened to me and stayed - as did some 200,000 who became and still are the most economically advanced Arabs in the Middle East.

The massacre of Kfar Etzion, the massacre of the hospital convoy killed 48 Jewish doctors and nurses, the continued shelling and blasting of Jewish settlement for more than 20 years, has not caused one single Israeli to move away. They sit tight and if necessary in their shelters while across the river, where the shooting comes from, the towns and villages are deserted, last year's crops still rot on the trees and the refugees move still further away from any trouble."How long will the Palestinian Arabs continue the myth that they were kicked out, every time they ran away from trouble and got themselves into more trouble?"

Jamal Husseini, in charge of the Palestine Higher Committee, told the Security Council on 23 April 1948, "we have never concealed the fact that we began the fighting."

On 6 September 1949, the Beirut Telegraph carried an interview with Mr. Emile Ghoury, Secretary of the Palestine Higher Committee, in which he said:
"The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of the act of the Arab States in opposing partition and the Jewish State."

The Jordan daily Falastin wrote on 19 February 1949: "The Arab States which had encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies, have failed to keep their promises to help these refugees."

As late as 12 October 1963, the Cairo daily Akhbar el-Yom, recalled:
"15 May 1948 arrived...on that very 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..."

A British police report to Jerusalem Headquarters on 26 April 1948 attested: "Every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab population to stay and carry on with their normal lives..."

In Haifa, on 27 April 1948, the Arab National Committee refused to sign a truce, reporting in a memorandum to the Arab League Governments: "when the delegation entered the conference room it proudly refused to sign the truce and asked that the evacuation of the Arab population and their transfer to neighboring Arab countries be facilitated...The military and civil authorities and the Jewish representatives expressed their profound regret. The mayor of Haifa (Mr. Shabtai Levi) adjourned the meeting with a passionate appeal to the Arab population to reconsider its decision..."

As to Deir Yassin:

  1. It was carried out by Irgun and Lehi forces against the orders of the army.

  2. Attacks on Jewish villages were being launched from there by Arab soldiers.

Other statements about the Arabs leaving "Palestine"

  • "The first group of our fifth columnists consists of those who abandoned their houses and business and go to live elsewhere... At the first sign of trouble they take to their heels to escape sharing the burden of struggle." -- Editorial, Ash Sha'ab, January 30 1948 (Haifa)

  • "The Arab streets are curiously deserted and, evidently following the poor example of the more moneyed class there has been an exodus from Jerusalem too, though not to the same extent as in Jaffa and Haifa." -- London Times, May 5 1948.

  • "The refugees were confident that their absence would not last long, and that they would return within a week or two. Their leaders had promised them that the Arab Armies would crush the "Zionist gangs" very quickly and that there was no need for panic or fear of a long exile." -- Msgnr. George Hakim (Greek Catholic bishop), as quoted in Sada al Janub, August 16, 1948 (Beirut).

  • "Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit... It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades." -- The Economist, October 2 1948 (London)

  • All the above were written while the exodus of refugees-to-be was still taking place. Let us now turn to statements made after the fact:
    "The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies." -- Editorial, Falastin, February 19, 1949 (Amman) "It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees' flight from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa, and Jerusalem." --Broadcast by the Near East Arabic Broadcasting Station on April 3 1949 (Cyprus)

  • "The Arab exodus, initially at least,was encouraged by many Arab leaders, such as Haj Amin el Husseini, the exiled pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, and by the Arab Higher Committee for Palestine. They viewed the first wave of Arab setbacks as merely transitory. Let the Palestine Arabs flee into neighboring countries. It would serve to arouse the other Arab peoples to greater effort, and when the Arab invasion struck, the Palestinians could return to their homes and be compensated with the property of Jews driven into the sea." -- Kenneth Bilby (an American journalist, covering the area before and during the war), in his book 'New Star in the Near East', pp. 30-31 (New York 1950)

  • "We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down." -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said, as quoted by Nimr el Hawari (the former Commander of the Palestine Arab Youth Organization) in his book 'Sir Am Nakbah' ("The Secret Behind the Disaster"), 1952 (Nazareth)

  • "This wholesale exodus was due partly to the belief of the Arabs, encouraged by the boasting of an unrealistic Arab 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 retake possession of their country." -- Edward Atiyah (Secretary of the Arab League Office in London), as quoted in 'The Arabs', p. 183 (London 1955)

  • "I do not want to impugn anybody but only to help the refugees. The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of the action of the Arab States in opposing partition and the Jewish State. The Arab States agreed upon this policy unanimously and they must share in the solution of the problem." -- Emil Ghoury (Secretary of the Arab Higher Committee), as quoted in the Daily Telegraph, September 6 1948 (Beirut)

  • "The Secretary General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and of Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade... He pointed out that they were already on the frontiers and that all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the Mediterranean... Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes, and property and to stay temporarily in neighboring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down." -- Habib Issa, in the daily US-published Lebanese newspaper Al Hoda, June 8 1951 (New York)

  • And, for dessert, here is a quote from a refugee: "The Arab governments told us: get out so that we can get in. So we got out, but they did not get in." -- (from the Jordanian daily newspaper Ad Difaa, September 6 1954) I trust these references will be helpful as a start. You can verify most, if not all of them, in any university library with a significant Middle Eastern Studies section.

Incidentally: please note that, in almost all cases, references to the refugees by nationality are as "The Arabs of Palestine" or simply "The Arabs". The ONLY contemporary reference above to refer to "Palestinians" is also the only American; Arabs of that time simply did not use the term. (They did not because the term would have been inaccurate; "Palestinian" then applied to both Jews and Arabs living under the British Mandate. Use of the term "Palestinian" to mean Arabs only came much later.)

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