By Meir Abelson
What can be done about the Palestinian refugees –who are estimated today to number about seven million, including the descendants of the original 630,000? The conventional answer is: the Arabs and Israelis must be persuaded to come to an agreement, on the basis of two states for two peoples. This solution has been bandied around for over 70 years but has always foundered for an obvious reason that is never mentioned: ISLAM.
According to Islam, the world is divided into two parts: ‘dar el Islam’ – the world of Islam, and ‘dar el harb’ – the world of war. In the seventh century, the Arabs began their conquest of the world to the cry of JIHAD. Vast populations were subjected to the rule of Islam; the Jews and Christians who refused conversion were governed according to a specific legal system, the DHIMMA. This word means “protected person.” One must ask: protected against whom? When this stranger lives in Muslim countries, the only answer must be – against Muslims themselves. This meant that the ‘dhimmi’ had no genuine rights; his condition was governed by a treaty (dhimma) between him (or, his group) and a Muslim group. In Muslim law the person who concedes the charter can equally well rescind it at will; it means that those who are not Muslims have no human rights recognized as such. The guiding principle is that – according to the Koran – there was – and still is – a “jihad” – holy war – between the two worlds; non-Muslims are summoned to convert or accept Muslim supremacy, and, if faced with refusal, they can be attacked until they submit to Muslim domination. The possession of land by infidels is illegitimate; such lands should ‘revert’ by divine right to adherents of the true religion. Thus the Jihad became the means whereby the Muslims received back that which had been usurped on earth by the infidels. In this sense it is a holy war because it restored to the Muslims the land and possessions that should be part of the dar el-Islam, but which the dar el-Harb retains illegally.
Since the jihad is a state of permanent war, it excludes the possibility of true peace; and any land that has ever been occupied by Muslims cannot be left in dhimmi hands. Thus, there are Muslims who still treasure the keys of houses their ancestors left in Spain four centuries ago. Likewise, it is unthinkable that any part of the Holy Land – however tiny -should be held by a dhimmi people; and any talk of negotiation on borders is utterly useless.
So what can be done?
I suggest that we ask one pertinent question: Who was responsible for the refugee problem? The following testimonies provide the answer:
• 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 prison similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live in Eastern Europe.” Abu Mazen – now known as Mohammed Abbas, then member of the PLO Executive Committee,*Falastin el-Thawra, Beirut, March, 1976. Today, President of the PLO.
• Emile Ghoury, secretary of the Arab Higher Committee, declared in an interview with the “Daily Telegraph”, September 6, 1948: “The fact that there are these refugees is a direct consequence of the Arab States in opposing partition and the Jewish State.”
• “Who brought the Palestinians to Lebanon as refugees, suffering now from the malign attitude of newspapers and communal leaders, who have neither honour nor conscience? Who brought them over in dire straits and penniless, after they lost their honour? The Arab States, and Lebanon among them.” The Beirut Muslim weekly “Kul-Shay”, Aug. 19, 1951.
• “On that day the Mufti of Jerusalem appealed to the Arabs to leave the country, because the Arab armies were about to enter the country and fight in their stead.” The Cairo daily “Akhbar el Yom”, Oct 19th, 1951.
• “For the fall and flight of the other villages it is our leaders who are responsible because of their dissemination of rumours exaggerating Jewish crimes and describing them as atrocities, killing of women and children, etc., they instilled fear and terror in the hearts of the Arabs in Palestine, until they fled, leaving their homes and properties to the enemy.” The Jordanian daily newspaper “Al Urdun” April 9, 1953.
• “It was the Arab states who started and were responsible for starting the June (1967) War. They had duped themselves with their own fiery rhetoric and had become prisoners of their own propaganda.” Evan W. William, former US Minister Consul-General who served in Beirut, Tehran and Jerusalem in his book “Jerusalem, Key to Peace”, 1970
• “We said” ‘Let’s resettle those people.” The government of Egypt and so on, they all said: “Wait a while”, or ‘No, we won’t do it. The only place they are going to resettle is back in Israel, right or wrong. You must remember – well, these people are simply pawns. The Arab countries don’t want to take Arabs.” John McCarthy, the United States Catholic Conference refugee expert, in a 1975 interview.
• “The Arab States do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the UN, and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether Arab refugees live or die.” Ralph Galloway, former head of UNWRA, 1958.
• “Since 1948 the Arab leaders have approached the Palestinian problem in an irresponsible manner. They have used the Palestinian people for selfish political purposes; this is ridiculous, I might even say criminal.” King Hussein of Jordan in an Associated Press interview, 1996.
• From April-June, 1948, the three months during which the major part of the Arab flight took place, the London “Times”, which at that time was hostile to Zionism, published eleven leading articles on the situation in Palestine, in addition to extensive news reports and articles… In none was there even a hint of the charge that the Zionists were driving the Arabs from their homes. Furthermore, no Arab spokesman mentioned the subject. At the height of the flight, on April 17, 1948, Jamal Husseini, the Palestinian Arabs’ chief representative at the United Nations, made a long political statement, which was not lacking in hostility to Zionism; he did not mention the refugees.
• Three weeks later, while the flight was still in progress, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, made a fiercely worded political statement on Palestine; it contained not a word about refugees.
• On March 30, 1948, the weekly “Al Sarih” of Jaffa accused the inhabitants of Sheikh Munis and other villages in the neighbourhood of “bringing down disgrace on us all by abandoning their villages.”
• On May 5, 1948, the Jerusalem correspondent of the London “Times” reported: “The Arab streets are curiously deserted and, evidently following the 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.”
• Monsignor George Hakim, then Greek Catholic bishop of Galilee, the leading Christian personality in Palestine for many years, told a Beirut newspaper in the summer of 1948, before the flight of the Arabs had ended: “The refugees were confident that their absence would not last long, and that they would return within a week. 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.” “Sada al Janub,” August 16, 1948.
• The London weekly “Economist” reported on October 2, 1948: “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 Arab Higher 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.”
• An example of the stigma attached to the Arabs who remained in Israel was recorded by Dr. John Laffin in his book “The PLO Connections.” He writes: A crony of Arafat in 1953 was Walid Jiryis, who was to become well known as an oil company engineer….Another member of the circle around Arafat was a youth whose parents were nominally Israeli Arabs because, after 1948, they found themselves living in Israel, though at that time everybody thought the young man came from Cairo. When Arafat found out the truth he ridiculed the young man and demanded that he condemn his parents for not leaving. The young man idolized Arafat but would not condemn his parents. So Arafat held a form of trial and said that as fedayeen (“freedom fighters”) all the group members had an obligation to one another. As Jiryis recalls, Arafat made a speech along these lines: ‘My heart bleeds for Ahmed’ (his real name is not now known) ‘and my feday soul bleeds for him; we are as brothers whose blood flows from one to the other….But my brother Ahmed cannot bring himself to be a true feday so he must be taught.’ He thereupon called forth a young man known as ‘The Scimitar’, who was armed with a knife. He held down the defaulter and castrated him while Arafat sobbed bitterly. The victim killed himself that night….”
• The voluntary nature of the evacuation was proclaimed a virtue by the leader and spokesman of the Palestine Arab Higher Committee, addressing the United Nations on 23 April, 1948: “The Arabs did not want to submit to a truce…they rather preferred to abandon their homes, their belongings and everything they possessed in the world and leave town. This is in fact what they did.”
• On April 3, 1949, the Near East Arabic Broadcasting Station in Cyprus stated: “It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees’ flight from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem.”
• The Jordanian newspaper “Filastin” wrote on February 19, 1949: “The Arab States encouraged the Palestinian Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies.
• “Several years later, the leading Arab propagandist of the day, Edward Atiyah (then Secretary of the Arab League in London) reaffirmed the facts: “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 leader that it could only be a matter of some weeks before the Jews were defeated by the armies of the Arab States and the Palestinian Arabs were able to re-enter and retake possession of their country.” (“The Arabs” – London, 1955).
• Most pointed of all was the comment of one of the refugees themselves: “The Arab governments told us: ‘Get out so that we can get in.’ So we got out, but they did not get in.” Jordan daily “Ad Difaa”, September 6, 1954 The Arab League announced its plan for the occupation of Palestine by the armies of the League’s member states and the forcible prevention of the establishment of the Jewish State.” “New York Times”, November 30, 1947 (the day after the UN Partition plan.)
• “The Jews haven’t attacked any Arab village, unless attacked first.” Ismayil Safwat, Commander of Palestinian Operations, March, 1948.
• In July, 1948, London’s central intelligence office, the British Middle East Office, stated: “The panic flight of Arabs from the Jewish occupied areas has presented a very serious immediate problem.”
• “We brought destruction on the refugees, by calling on them to leave their homes.” Khaled al-Azam, Syrian Prime Minister, 1949.
• In 1948, British and American witnesses attested to the efforts of the Jews of Haifa, the Jewish mayor, and of the Hagana to persuade the Arabs to stay. The Hagana, both in a radio broadcast and a leaflet, urged the fleeing Arabs to return to their homes, promising them freedom and security. The British District Superintendent of Police reported that “every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab populace to stay and carry on with their normal lives.” The Haifa rabbinate even gave special permission to Jewish bakers to bake bread during Passover to distribute to the Arabs.” – “Were the Palestinians Expelled?” Commentary, May, 2001.
• “The first group of our fifth column consists of those who abandon their houses and businesses and go and live elsewhere…At the first sign of trouble they take to their heels to escape sharing the burden of struggle.” Ash Shalab – Jaffa newspaper, January 30, 1948.
• “The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by order of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city. By withdrawing Arab workers their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa.” Time, May 3, 1948.
• “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 the Arab Higher Committee for Palestine. They viewed the first wave of Arab setbacks as merely transitory. Let the Palestine Arabs flee into neighbouring 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, “New Star in the Middle East,” 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.” Nuri Said, Iraqi Prime Minister, in “Sir Am Nakbah”, Nazareth, 1952.
• “The Arab civilians panicked and fled ignominiously. Villages were frequently abandoned before they were threatened by the progress of war.” General Glubb Pasha, in the London “Daily Mail,” August 12, 1948.
• “The Arab exodus from other villages was not caused by the actual battle, but by the exaggerated description spread by the Arab leaders to incite them to fight the Jews.” Yunes Ahmed Assad, refugee from the town of Deir Yassin in “Al Urdun,” April 9, 1953.”
• The Secretary General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab people 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 the 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 neighbouring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down”. Habib Issa, Secretary General of the Arab League (Azzam Pasha’s successor) in the newspaper “Al Hoda”, June 8, 1951.
• “….the Jewish Hagana asked (using loudspeakers) Arabs to remain at their homes, but most of the Arab population followed their leaders who asked them to leave the country.” The London “Times,” reporting events of April 4, 1948.
• “One morning in 1948, Dr. Jamal woke us to say that the Arab Higher Committee (AHC) led by the Husseinis, had warned Arab residents of Talbieh (Jerusalem) to leave immediately. The understanding was that the residents would be able to return as conquerors as soon as the Arab forces had thrown the Jews out. Dr. Jamal made the point repeatedly that he was leaving because of the AHC’s threats, not because of the Jews, and that he and his frail wife had no alternative but to go.” “Commentary” magazine, January, 2000.
• The reason for the obdurate insistance on the “right of return” was clarified by Muhammed Salah ed-Din, Foreign Minister of Egypt in 1951: “Let it be known and appreciated that, in demanding the return of the refugees to Palestine, the Arabs intend that they shall return as the masters of the homeland, and not as slaves. More explicitly, they intend to annihilate the State of Israel.” This intention remains to this day.
• An elderly woman who left Israel during the War of Independence, and who is still considered a “refugee,” confirmed in a Palestinian Authority newspaper in May, 2006 that it was Arab leaders and not Israel who told her and her neighbours to flee, for tactical military reasons. Palestine Media Watch Bulletin, May 30, 2006.
• “We heard sounds of explosions and of gunfire at the beginning of the summer in the year of the Nakbah (1948). They told us: The Jews attacked our region and it is better to evacuate our village and return, after the battle is over. And indeed there were among us [who fled Israel] those who left a fire burning under the pot, those who left their flocks of sheep and those who left their money and gold behind, based on the assumption that we would return after a few hours.
• On April 30, 1999, an Arab viewer called Palestinian Authority TV and addressed Ibrahim Sarsur, then head of the Islamic Movement in Israel as follows: “I address you as a Muslim. My father and grandfather told me that during the “Catastrophe” [establishment of Israel in 1948] our District Officer issued an order that whoever stays in Palestine and in Majdel (near Ashkelon, southern Israel) is a traitor.” The response from Ibrahim Sarsur was: “The one who gave the order forbidding them to stay bears guilt for this, in this life and the afterlife throughout history until Resurrection Day.”
• Before an Arab summit in 2001, Fuad Abu Higla, then a regular columnist in the official PS daily Al Hayat Al Jadida, wrote an article which criticized the Arab leaders for a series of failures. One of the failures he cited, in the name of a prisoner, was that an earlier generation of Arab leaders “forced” them to leave Israel in 1948, again placing the blame for the flight on Arab leaders. He wrote:
• “To the Muslim] Kings and Presidents. Poverty is killing us, the symptoms are exhausting us and the souls are leaving our body, yet you are still searching for the way to provide aid, like one who is looking for a needle in a haystack or like armies of your predecessors in the year of 1948, who forced us to leave [Israel]
• The Research group for European Migration Problems, 1957, recalled that “As early as the first months of 1948, the Arab League issued orders exhorting the people to seek a temporary refuge in neighbouring countries, later to return to their abodes….and obtain their share of abandoned Jewish property.
” It is absolutely clear from the evidence that when the Arab onslaught on Israel failed in 1948, and the Arab leaders’ promise of an early return evaporated, they created the myth of Israel’s “expulsion.” The result has been that of the approximately 135 million refugees created over the last century, only the 472,000 Arab refugees who left Israel before and during the War of Independence in 1948 have been forced to suffer this dismal status; every other major refugee group has been resettled within a generation. Furthermore, they are the only group for which a special organization – the UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees – was created. Although providing important humanitarian aid to the refugees, UNWRA ultimately serves as a fig leaf for an Arab world that has created, perpetuated and exploited the plight of these refugees – and yet contributed a mere 2.19% of its budget.
For more than sixty years the refugees have been frozen in their status as a result of the failure of the Arab States to eliminate Israel; they caused the problem; they should have been told to solve it from the beginning; they should be told to solve it now.
But the myth of Israel’s guilt is not the only one that bedevils the refugee problem.” The accepted myth is that the Palestinian Arabs were long established in Palestine, until the Jews came and “displaced” them. The fact is that recent Arab immigration into Palestine “displaced” the Jews. Prior to 1948, an estimated 125,000 out of 650,000 had been very recent arrivals to the region, barely living in the area for two years; so the UN relaxed its rules, that defined refugees as persons who lived twenty or more years in an area. Others of the Palestinian Arabs had arrived over previous decades from adjacent nations, including Syria, TransJordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sinai and Egypt, as a result of the economic growth spurred by the Jews who were stepping up settlement in their ancient homeland.
Even as early as 1922, the British Governor of Sinai wrote: “It is very difficult to make a case out for the misery of the Arabs if at the same time their compatriots from adjoining states could not be kept from going in to share that misery.”
It is vital to remember that the concept of a separate “Palestinian people” did not exist until 40 years ago. After the 1967 War Yasser Arafat, reputedly on the advice of his friend President Bourguiba of Tunisia, changed his tactics. Until then, the Palestinian Arabs vigorously rejected the title “Palestinian” because – they said, it referred to Jews. This was true. There was The Palestine Radio, the Palestine Post, The Palestine Economic Development Corporation, The Palestine Electric Company, The Palestine Symphony Orchestra, the Palestine Foundation Fund, the Joint Palestine Appeal, the Palestine Brigade of Jewish volunteers in the British World War II army, etc. All were Jewish.
The Palestinian Arabs, on the other hand, referred to themselves either as southern Syrians,” or as “part of the great Arab nation.” Giving evidence before various British and international commissions up till 1947, Arab officials, spokesmen and writers expressed their views on Palestine:
“There is no such country as Palestine….Our country was for centuries part of Syria. ‘Palestine’ is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it.” – Local Arab leader to \British Peel Commission, 1937.
“There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not.” – Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian to the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, 1946.
“It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria.” – Delegate of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations Security Council, 1956.
Then, after the 1967 War, Yasser Arafat decided that it was counter-productive to present the Palestinian Arabs as “part of the great Arab nation,” of which the four states bordering Israel alone have an area of 1,200,000 square kilometers – (Israel has 25,450, including Judea and Samaria.) This pictured tiny Israel as a David facing a Goliath. So – overnight – the small, deprived, oppressed, unarmed and pitiable “Palestinian people” was invented – and the roles were reversed. As Walid Shoebat, reformed terrorist wrote in his book “Why I Left Jihad”
“Why is it that in June  I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian?” His comment is supported in an interview given by Fadel Tahbub, an East Jerusalemite, in the “Jerusalem Post” supplement of May 11, 2007 marking the Six-Day War in 1967:
“….at that time, the idea of an independent Palestinian state wasn’t yet fully developed. We were part of Jordan before, but since 80% of Jordan’s population was Palestinian at that time, we felt we were an integral part of the state. We held public office and held Jordanian IDs. [Identity cards]” This comment reminds me of the day in 1974, when my East Jerusalem friend Twety entered my home and, with an embarrassed grin, blurted out: “I’m a Palestinian now!” It was clear he had only just heard of it.
Bat Yeo’r makes the same point in her book “Eurabia”(p.50:) “Before 1967 an autonomous “Palestinian people” had never claimed independence or sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem or even over the territories conquered in the 1948-9 war by the Jordanian-Palestinian armies backed by Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi contingents. Even at the beginning of the 1970’s the political concept of a “Palestinian people,” as distinct from the larger Arab nation, was still inchoate. [in its early stages.”]
“Article 1 of the revised Palestinian National Covenant of 1968 states: “Palestine is the home of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the nation.” Likewise, the Declaration of the Algiers Conference in 1973 and subsequent declarations spoke of the Arab Nation determined to recover its territories. Israeli land was considered as belonging not to a distinct Palestinian nationality but to a global Arab nation, whose members supported their brethren in Palestine.”
“It was then normal practice then not to refer to the “Palestinian people,” as did the Brussels Resolution, but only to Arabs – people who were no different from the Arabs in other countries of the Arab League, to say nothing of the Arabs in Transjordan (the Palestinian area that became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949). Jordan today covers 78% of the area designated by the League of Nations in 1922 as Palestine. Great Britain drew the borders of this vast Palestinian region in 1922, transforming it into an exclusively Arab country named the Emirate of Transjordan, where Jews could not settle nor own land. Even the 1967 UN Resolution 242 recommended a global solution to the refugee problem – Arab and Jewish. Ten years later President Jimmy Carter confirmed that a solution to the refugee problem also concerned the Jewish refugees who had fled from Arab countries, leaving all their possessions behind.
The first time the UN General Assembly referred to the “Palestinian people”, rather than to “refugees” was on November 22, 1974. The creation of a “Palestinian people” ex nihilo, after the Arab oil embargo in 1973, was accompanied by a European policy that buttressed the legitimacy of this new Palestinian people with rights that were not only equivalent to, but even superior to those enjoyed by Israelis. To do so, European policy went hand in hand with the ancient and condemned Christian policy of “replacement.” Constantly nourished with propaganda demonizing Israel, this theology justified the demise of the Jewish state. It confirmed the European Economic Community on its path of active collusion since 1971 with the Arab scheme to eliminate Israel “by stages” – a goal based on the Arab world of Islamic Judeophobia and the PLO-s jihad, formulated in the PLO’s Phased Political Program by the Palestine National Council at its 12th session held in Cairo, June 9, 1974. The Euro-Arab alliance encouraged and legitimized Palestinian Arab terrorism against Israel, thereby facilitating the introduction of widespread international air piracy, hostage taking, and the indiscriminating killing of civilians in a worldwide jihad strategy.”
The leaders of this mythical people have made no secret of their purpose. Zuheir Mohsen, PLO Executive committee member, explained in a 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper ‘Trouw’: “The Palestinian people does not exist. 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, Be’er Sheba and Jerusalem. However, the moment that we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we shall not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”
The tragedy is that Israel accepted this fabrication at Oslo in 1993, when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave a letter to Yasser Arafat, recognizing the PLO as “the representative of the Palestinian people…” In exchange, Arafat undertook:
• To recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.
• To accept United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338
• To resolve all outstanding issues through negotiations
• To renounce the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and to assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators
• ... those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid
• To submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to those Articles in the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel’s right to exist..
Almost immediately, Arafat showed that he had no intention of fulfilling any of these undertakings; nor have any of his successors. But Israel’s agreement to these terms was tantamount to swearing to the grand falsehood that there is such an entity as a “Palestinian Arab “people.” Yet such a people was not even mentioned as late as 1967 in UN resolution 242, which only mentioned “refugees.” This peoplehood was created out of virtually nothing. In fact, there was no “people,” only a motley of Arab and other nationals who in 1948 were living in the area of the lands of the Mandate of Palestine, from which was drawn the name “Palestinian.” To be sure, as residents of the Mandate areas, Jews were also “Palestinians,” and as I have already noted, this term had previously referred to Jews, since the resident Arabs preferred their identification with the nation they most recently came from, or with the “grand Arab nation” that transcended national boundaries.
So was lost the battle for reality in 1993, when the Rabin government surrendered to Arab propaganda that insisted that the Arab side represented a bona fide people with national rights to the land. The consequences have been as devastating to Israel as they have been strengthening and energizing to the Arab enemy. The Arabs have still not recognized the legitimacy of Israel nor renounced violence, the basis for the Oslo Accords. But what was just as bad was that accepting “Palestinian Arab peoplehood” vindicated the phony Arab propaganda alleging that Israel was robbing an Arab nation of its pre-existing national existence (that never was,) a nation now to be known as “Palestine.”
Moreover, it enabled the Arabs to define as “Palestinian” a large population who were living outside the Israeli held lands, allegedly the Arabs and their subsequent descendants who had left the area in 1948, now numbering millions through population growth, accretion of Arabs drawn by food ration books and grants, and other forms of chicanery. These Arabs were too to be considered part of this mythical people. With the participation of the Israeli government in this falsehood, the Arabs lost no time in demanding the right of these “Palestinians” to return to their alleged native land – a killer demand that exists to this very day and which reveals the true Arab goal.
Thenceforth, it was natural for the world to bestow on these Arabs the romantic aura of “freedom fighters” for the recovery of their lost nationhood, with the corollary, of course, that Israel became defined as the “colonial occupier” of the lands that these “freedom fighters” were attempting to liberate. No wonder that Arab barbarity is crowned with admiration to which real freedom fighters are entitled.
Israel could hardly have done more to prejudice its reputation and existence than accepting this mighty blow to the nation’s integrity and legitimacy. It is not surprising that now the Arabs capitalize on this falsified history so as to create headlines in the world press attacking the Israeli “occupier.” And if anyone protests against this slander, he is directed to Israeli government statements and policies that have accepted and underwritten these falsehoods. Moreover, the Palestinian Arabs have embellished on the story of their peoplehood, and have retrojected their brief, manufactured history back millennia, modeling a false history to ape the history of Israel. To Arab youth, and unhappily, to ignorant Jewish youth, including the Israeli, this is the only history they know, irrespective of its fallacious status as history.
The conclusion is clear:
1. The Arabs should be called upon to solve a problem for which they were responsible.
2. Israel must rescind and renounce the Arab claim to a peoplehood linked to Jewish lands. Otherwise, Israel will become an example of national self-destruction and degradation – an example to the nations of what other self-respecting nations should never become.
3. The UNWRA – United Nations Relief and Works Agency – the only organization ever to be set up to serve a single body of refugees – should be gradually dismantled, and the refugees dispersed among the 21 Arab nations who have unlimited lands in which to receive them.
“The only truly serious attitude – serious because the danger of man’s destruction is serious, serious because no other attitude is truly serious and responsible – is to show people the extreme effectiveness of the weapon used against them, to rouse them to defend themselves by making them aware of their frailty and vulnerability, instead of soothing them with the worst illusion, that of a security that neither man’s nature nor the techniques of propaganda permit him to possess. It is merely convenient to realize that the side of freedom and truth for man is not yet lost, but it may well lose – and that in this game, propaganda is undoubtedly the most formidable power, acting in only one direction (toward the destruction of truth and freedom) no matter what the good intentions or the goodwill may be of those who manipulate it.”
JACQUES ELLUL: “Propaganda.”
[Meir Abelson – received a BA (Hons.) degree from the University of London in Classical & Medieval Hebrew with Aramaic. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, London; Retired Flight-Lieut., Royal Air Force (Britain); and retired Land Valuer at the Chief Government Valuer’s Office, Ministry of Justice, Jerusalem. A researcher of the Arab-Israeli dispute and author for nine years of the monthly “Letter from Jerusalem” which was circulated to nine countries, and printed partly at the Foreign Office and partly at the Prime Minister’s Office.]