Palestinians Blame Arabs Leaders for Refugee Problem-Palestinian Media Watch

A central demand of the Palestinian movement is the right of return, predicated on the notion that Israel intentionally and forcibly removed Palestinians from their homes in 1948. They place the reponsibility for the continued plight of Palestinian refugees and their descendants on Israel. Arab states use this accusation as an excuse for denying privileges and citizenship for the Palestinians within their borders.

As usual, the reality is quite different than the Palestinian narrative. While there were cases of Israeli forces removing Arabs for strategic purposes, many Arabs left their homes expecting a quick Arab victory and subsequent return. Arab leaders even encouraged these  Arabs to temporarily evacuate their homes.

Palestinian Media Watch has been accumulating instances of admission by Palestinians and other Arabs that the Arab leaders called for the evacuation of the homes. This is particularly significant given the scarcity of introspective self-criticism in Arab society. Perhaps PMW glosses over the instances of forced evacuation, but they are correct in that the Arab leadership bears responsibility for the refugee problem- not only for urging the villagers to flee, but also for invading Israel and initiating the hostilities in 1948 and in 1967 that led to the current refugee situation. 

The Arabs who became refugees in 1948 were not expelled by Israel but left on their own to facilitate the destruction of Israel, according to a senior Palestinian journalist writing in a Palestinian daily. This plan to leave Israel was initiated by the Arab states fighting Israel, who promised the people they would be able to return to their homes in a few days once Israel was defeated. The article in Al-Ayyam concludes that these Arab states are responsible for the Arab refugee problem.
A backbone of Palestinian English-language propaganda is the myth that Israel expelled hundreds of thousands of Arabs from Israel and created Arab refugees. But in recent years, PMW has documented an increasing willingness among Palestinians to openly blame the Arab states and not Israel.
Following are five such statements of blame, starting with this most recent article and including testimony from refugees themselves and corroboration by Palestinian leaders. Clearly, there is a growing Palestinian willingness to blame the Arab leaders, which corroborates Israel’s historical record.

1. Jawad Al Bashiti, Palestinian journalist in Jordan, writing in Al-Ayyam, May 13, 2008

“Remind me of one real cause from all the factors that have caused the “Palestinian Catastrophe” [the establishment of Israel and the creation of refugee problem], and I will remind you that it still exists… The reasons for the Palestinian Catastrophe are the same reasons that have produced and are still producing our Catastrophes today.
During the Little Catastrophe, meaning the Palestinian Catastrophe the following happened: the first war between Arabs and Israel had started and the “Arab Salvation Army” came and told the Palestinians: ‘We have come to you in order to liquidate the Zionists and their state. Leave your houses and villages, you will return to them in a few days safely. Leave them so we can fulfill our mission (destroy Israel) in the best way and so you won’t be hurt.’ It became clear already then, when it was too late, that the support of the Arab states (against Israel) was a big illusion. Arabs fought as if intending to cause the “Palestinian Catastrophe”. [Al-Ayyam, May 13 2008]

2. Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Palestinian Journalist in PA official daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, December 13, 2006

“…The leaders and the elites promised us at the beginning of the “Catastrophe” in 1948, that the duration of the exile will not be long, and that it will not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees will return to their homes, which most of them did not leave only until they put their trust in those “Arkuvian” promises made by the leaders and the political elites. Afterwards, days passed, months, years and decades, and the promises were lost with the strain of the succession of events…” [Term “Arkuvian,” is after Arkuv – a figure from Arab tradition – who was known for breaking his promises and for his lies.”] ”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, December 13, 2006]

3. Asmaa Jabir Balasimah, Woman who fled Israel in 1948, Al-Ayyam, May 16, 2006

“We heard sounds of explosions and of gunfire at the beginning of the summer in the year of the “Catastrophe” [1948]. They told us: The Jews attacked our region and it is better to evacuate the 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 flock [of sheep] and those who left their money and gold behind, based on the assumption that we would return after a few hours.”
[Al-Ayyam, May 16, 2006]

4. Son of man who fled in 1948, PA TV 1999

An Arab viewer called Palestinian Authority TV and quoted his father, saying that in 1948 the Arab District Officer ordered all Arabs to leave Palestine or be labeled traitors. In response, Arab MK Ibrahim Sarsur, then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, cursed those leaders, thus acknowledging Israel’s historical record.
“Mr. Ibrahim [Sarsur]. I address you as a Muslim. My father and grandfather told me that during the “Catastrophe” [in 1948], our district officer issued an order that whoever stays in Palestine and in Majdel [near Ashkelon – Southern Israel] is a traitor, he is a traitor.”
Response from Ibrahim Sarsur, now MK, then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel:
“The one who gave the order forbidding them to stay there bears guilt for this, in this life and the Afterlife throughout history until Resurrection Day.”
[PA TV April 30, 1999]

5. Fuad Abu Higla, senior Palestinian, Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, March 19, 2001
Fuad Abu Higla, then a regular columnist in the official PA daily Al Hayat Al Jadida, wrote an article before an Arab Summit, which criticized the Arab leaders. 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 the Arab leaders.

“I have received a letter from a prisoner in Acre prison, to the Arab summit:
To the [Arab and 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 the armies of your predecessors in the year of 1948, who forced us to leave [Israel], on the pretext of clearing the battlefields of civilians… So what will your summit do now?”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 19, 2001]

It is clear from these statements that there is general acknowledgement among Palestinians that Arab leaders bear responsibility for the mass flight of Arabs from Israel in 1948, and were the cause of the “refugee” problem. Furthermore, the fact that this information has been validated by public figures and refugees in the Palestinian Authority media itself confirms that this responsibility is well-known – even though for propaganda purposes its leaders continue to blame Israel publicly for “the expulsion.”

3 Responses to Palestinians Blame Arabs Leaders for Refugee Problem-Palestinian Media Watch

  1. Eliyahu says:

    actually, Arab irregular forces, apparently guided militarily and politically by the Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini and his family members, such as Abdel-Qader Husseini [father of Faisal Husseini] and their Arab Higher Committee for palestine practiced ethnic cleansing against Jews at the beginning of the Israeli war of independence when the Arabs had the upper hand as well as the support of the British.

    South Tel Aviv civilians fled from sniping and mortar attacks from Jaffa, especially the Manshiyyah [Manshieh] mowque, starting in 12/1947. Jews were driven out of the Shim`on haTsadiq quarter near the tomb of Simon the Just, towards the end of 12/1947, although one holdout family fled between 8 and 10 January 1948. A family member interviewed was not certain about the exact date. The Shim`on haTsadiq quarter was occupied by the Transjordan Arab Legion, so the Jews could not go back to their homes there after the war.

  2. Eliyahu says:

    Manshiyyah [Manshieh] MOSQUE…

  3. […] The responsibility of Arab leaders in Middle Eastern problems July 17, 2008 Posted by blogfreeworld in Islamism, Religion, foreign policy, terrorism. Tags: Israel, mass flight of Arabs from Israel in 1948, Palestine, Palestinian Authority trackback Especially in the evacuation of Palestinians, normally blamed on Israel, is recognised by several Palestinian journalists: […]

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