I witness pro-Israeli arguments online every day – and one of the things that always depresses me is when I see those defending Israel get stuck down pointless rabbit holes. Anti-Israel activists are only interested in the present ‘what’ – as in ‘the prisoner’, ‘the checkpoint’, ‘the wall’ – and they do this because this is where they are comfortable. These propagandists deliberately avoid the ‘why’ because the truth is quicksand for them. Such as why the ‘wall’ was built in the first place. And why on earth would anyone argue over a ‘settlement’ like Ariel – if the person you are arguing with thinks that Tel Aviv is an ‘illegal settlement’ too. This cannot be stressed often enough – it is simply foolish to fight on their turf.
Nowhere is this more visible that in discussion over what they call the ‘Nakba’ – the Arab defeat in a war that they wanted, started and lost. A war in which they sought to annihilate the Jews. Arguing from within their narrative is like bitterly arguing over the size of the thrones in the Narnian Capital ‘Cair Paravel’.
A recent comment piece in the Jewish Chronicle provides a perfect example. One of our naive and privileged youth wrote a piece bemoaning the fact that she wasn’t prepared by her Jewish school to fight for Israel on campus – because as she sees it – ‘we do not talk about the Palestinian narrative in a meaningful way’. Her answer includes introducing ‘Israel-critical’ groups like Yachad into schools and to teach our children about the ‘Nakba’. This is an absurd and submissive response to the problem. Her suggested solution would send an entire generation down the rabbit hole.
The Nakba narrative is a lie. Should the UK have taught children Soviet propaganda so that they would have been better prepared to defend the UK at uni too? Yes campus is hostile. Some places have adopted a far darker and more Islamist vision. I know it is deeply uncomfortable for young Zionists, but submission is not the way forward. If we Jews do not defend ourselves – then who will defend us? Adopting the lies of our enemies onto our own platforms will only lead to self destruction.
The Nakba – as it is described by our enemies – never happened. They have taken isolated incidents, such as the disputed events of Deir Yassin or what took place in Lod – and built an entire fairytale around them. The truth of 1948 – the foundation of everything that followed – is very simple and we should never lose sight of it – nor stop teaching it to our children. The truth can sometimes be really unpopular – but it does not stop being the truth.
What follows is a list of pillars and myths. The pillars are the foundations of the self inflicted distaster that was to befall the Arab population. The myths are the lies upon which the history is being rewritten.
SEVEN OF THE PILLARS THAT LED TO A SELF INFLICTED DISASTER
Pillar 1. The pillar of Arab violence
Conventional wisdom has it that the ‘civil war’ followed sporadic Arab violence in reaction to the partition vote in November 1947. In some ways this is misleading. The Arab massacres of Jews in 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936 and 1938 all occurred before 1947. And between each of these major events were lots of little ones – many of them never properly advertised because the British wanted to protect the image of ‘successful control’. The truth is that by the 1920s there was organised violence against Jewish communities and by the 1930s it had spread throughout the area of the British Mandate.
In the early days, armed local Arab gangs saw the Jews as a soft target and frequently attacked them. The British were often uninterested in robustly defending Jewish communities from these attacks. This Telegram from the High Commissioner provides an example from Jerusalem in Nov 1921 (British archives – file CO 733/7).
“A disturbance took place in Jerusalem this morning when a small crowd of Arab roughs appeared in the Jaffa Road. They were dispersed by police but soon after gathered for an attack on the Jewish Quarter… A bomb was thrown and a few cases of knifing occurred. Four Jews and one Arab was killed and fifteen persons were wounded”.
This consistent problem led to the creation of the Jewish Defense Force – the ‘Haganah’. But the violence against Jews was a growing feature – and became a regular and vastly under-reported feature of Jewish life in the Mandate.
This is an extract from an incident report from the HMS Repulse, which was stationed in Haifa. It is dated 14 July 1938 and covers events from Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th (File ADM 116/3690). The additional newspaper report is also from 14 July 1938 and references further incidents on Wednesday 13th. One of the victims of Wednesday’s incident was just 15-years-old.
Notice from the British report that this level of violence was considered by the British as ‘fairly quiet’!
The other feature – and an important one for the destruction of the false ‘Nakba’ narrative – was that ‘Arabs attacked and Jews responded’. Arabs that did not attack Jews were mostly left alone. This vitally important element, continued into the civil conflict of 1947/8. This extract from a British weekly intelligence report in January 1948 clearly states that villages that did not ‘start trouble’ – could expect to be left alone (file FCO 141/1284):
“but since these villages are not likely to be attacked unless they themselves start trouble..”
Jewish actions against Arab villages during the civil conflict was directed almost exclusively on Arab communities that had opened hostilities against Jews. Therefore Arab violence against Jews was a founding pillar of what was to come.
Pillar 2. The pillar of rejection
One of the key reasons why the Arabs failed to achieve any goals – and in fact still do not have a state of their own – is the pillar of rejection. From the very beginning the Arab leadership refused to cooperate with the British Authorities or Jewish community. The UN archives are full of examples of the Arab side simply not participating in discussions. Here is one example – published in the Jewish Daily Bulletin – March 28 1933:
“Adopting a policy of non-cooperation with the Palestine Government, a conference of several hundred Arabs at Jaffa yesterday decided not to make public how such non-cooperation would be carried out.”
They even boycotted the UN Special Committee that was sent to the region to investigate the possibility of Partition – then later complained that their voice was not heard. Here is an extract from the UNSCOP report of 1947:
Islamists such as the Grand Mufti Haj Amin el Husseini – or clan leaders in Beirut or Damascus would issues orders – and gangs on the streets of Jerusalem and Haifa would enforce them. This cultural straightjacket destroyed the opportunities for moderate voices to emerge. The Arabs rejected the Mandate – rejected partition and rejected Israel. Violence always accompanied their rejection. They violently opposed the Mandate, launched a civil war in response to the partition and attacked Israel from the day of its independence. This from the New York Times, Sep 30 1947:
“Palestinian Arabs Reject UN Plans; warn of battle. Jamal el-Husseini threatens to drench Holy Land with blood in ‘Lawful Defense’.”
Ever since 1948 they have never truly accepted a Jewish majority state in the region. They have said no to every single offer of peace. This strategy of rejection – more than anything else – is the reason that Arabs of Ramallah do not enjoy independence today.
Pillar 3. The pillar of wanting to destroy the Jews
The controlling elements of Arab society in the region always saw the destruction of the Jews as the ultimate goal. Nor were they shy about admitting it. The ‘drench the Holy Land in blood’ quote from the previous pillar is a fine example. Today that is still visible in the Iranian, Hamas and Hezbollah platforms. Some talk it down – but everytime they have had a chance – they have carried out their actions exactly as promised. Everywhere where Jews existed and ‘Palestinian Arabs’ remained in control – Jews suffered massacres and expulsion. This is an extract from a British Intelligent report in December 1947 (File WO 275/64):
Pillar 4. The pillar of having somewhere to go
One of the key reasons events played out as they did is that for the Jews there was no choice but to stand and fight for every inch of land that they held. At times they literally had their backs to the sea. The alternative – as the Arabs made clear- was to face annihilation. On the other hand the Arabs – who did not see ‘Palestine’ as anything other than part of a greater Arab nation – could seek refuge in any nearby part of ‘Arab lands’. So many just left. The Arabs had somewhere to go – the Jews did not. This is an extract from the weekly intelligence report from the High Commissioner for Palestine dated 20 December 1947 (file FCO 141/1284):
“Arabs are leaving the country with their families in considerable numbers and there is an exodus from mixed towns to the rural Arab centres”
Arabs were already leaving in December 1947 – even before the fighting had really started. Even some of those that didn’t leave completely – left the mixed cities to take up residence elsewhere in the Mandate area. This isn’t ethnic cleansing – it is flight from conflict as always occurs. This exodus continued throughout the conflict. There is another example of this ‘flight’ presented in the section of the ‘Myth of Ethnic Cleansing’.
Pillar 5. The pillar of destructive agency
In many ways this is connected to the pillar of rejection. It has been listed separately because of its import. The Arab leaders were not interested in what was best for the people they were meant to represent. In truth most of their actions made conditions worse for the Arabs. It was a clan based society in which those vying for power were pitted against each other – all driven by their own self-interests. In this example – the Arab population of Haifa sought a truce – but the Mufti opposed it. Here is an extract from the High Commissioner’s Weekly Intelligence Report. Feb 1st 1948. (File FCO 141/14284).
“The Mufti is reported to have vetoed a truce, but to have agreed that the Arabs shall stand on the defensive until the British forces have left”(ie when the Arab armies can invade).
This telegram about the Arabs being forced to refuse a truce in Haifa on the orders of the Mufti was written on Feb 1st 1948. Within two months of this report, the Arabs had lost the battle for Haifa – and most of the Arab population had fled from the town in panic. Throughout the conflict (and indeed the entire Mandate period) Arab clan leaders extracted a horrific price from the local populations they were meant to serve. And as in the case of Haifa – some were driven to keep fighting even when they didn’t want to. The constant rejection of opportunities for peace – were catastrophic decisions driven by a problem of destructive agency.
Pillar 6. The pillar of different objectives (or the pillar of the impending invasion)
From the very beginning – the two sides had very different objectives. The British forces were due to depart in May 1948 – and the Arabs only had to disrupt Jewish living and supply lines until such time as the Arab armies could come and destroy the Jews. This extract from file CO 537/3926 was a telegram written by the Senior Commander of the British Mediteranean forces in April 1948.
“There is a fundamental difference between the military problem confronting the Arabs and that confronting the Jews. The Arabs are concerned with driving or starving the Jews out of as much land and property as possible whereas the Jews have a defensive object, to keep as much as possible of what they already hold”.
This was written just three weeks before Arab armies from across the region invaded in an attempt to destroy the Jews and share the spoils. Another example from a few months earlier. An extract from a Weekly Intelligence Report on 30 November 1947 – the day after the Partition vote (File FCO 141/14284).
“will little effect the outcome, which, Arabs believe will be determined by the degree of superior strength which the Arab states can bring to bear once the British have ceased to shield the Yishuv”.
The Pillar of one Arab nation (or ‘Palestine’ did not exist)
‘Palestine’ is a colonial construct. Its identity was built by the British in negotiations with other powers during 1917-1922. For example ‘Tyre’ which is in Lebanon, was almost part of ‘Palestine’- and the only reason the people in Tyre are ‘Lebanese’ and not ‘Palestinian’ is because the British eventually placed the border further south. Arab Beduin around the Negev were only in ‘Palestine’ and not ‘Egypt’, because the British made some changes to the Southern border in the last minute. These imperial dictates had little to do with how the residents saw themselves. Arabs (especially Muslim Arabs) saw themselves as one nation – and refused to see Palestine as a separate entity. This petition from the Arabs of Nablus (File FO 608/99) clearly indicates the view of the general Arab population:
“Palestine (the region) should not be seperated from Syria, to which it naturally belongs”
This simple fact – that ‘Palestine’ did not exist in the Arab narrative, placed the residents as a subservient minority to a greater Arab will. This gave rise to the problem with agency – with the result that in 1948, instead of working towards the betterment of the people and the creation of a ‘State of Palestine’ – almost the entire *regional* apparatus was intent on just ensuring that there would be no ‘State of Israel’ for the Jews to enjoy.
FIVE OF THE BIGGEST MYTHS OF THE NAKBA NARRATIVE
Myth 1. The myth of the innocent Arab population
The Arab myth potrays an innocent Arab population set upon by a powerful Jewish militia. This has nothing to do with the truth. By as early as January 1948, Arab irregulars came over increasingly porous borders. All this was before the Haganah was forced to go on the offensive. When the British complained – the Arabs simply came over in smaller groups so as not to annoy the British. The British Weekly Intelligence Reports for January and February 1948 consistently headline with news about new infiltrators.
Myth 2. The myth of the ‘slaughter’
A founding myth of the ‘Nakba’ that runs rampant is that somehow the Jewish forces went about massacring unarmed Arab populations – causing a massive loss of life. This extract from file FCO 141/8742 thoroughly demolishes that myth. It shows the during the entire course of the civil conflict – from the date of the partition vote until just 18 days before the Arab nations invaded – casualty figures of Jews and Arabs remained roughly even. Worth remembering that this figure would also include inflated Arab casualties, such as from the events of Deir Yassin or Balad al Sheikh:
During the Mandate period (before the civil conflict), many Arabs were also killed. But most of these occurrences where when the British were obliged to use force to stop Arab violence. This is an extract from the Air Marshall’s report on ‘disturbances’ in 1936 (File AIR 2/1938):
“The Jews killed were murdered by Arabs. The Arabs were killed as a result of police action (to stop them murdering Jews). This is a significant difference which should be emphasised”.
Myth 3. The myth of the demographic threat
Another myth of the ‘Nakba’ is that the Jewish forces needed to expel Arabs in order to maintain a Jewish majority. For this, the propagandists frequently include Arab populations that were in areas not intended to be inside the Jewish state thus creating a ‘demographic threat’ which, they argue, forced the Jews to ethnically cleanse the Arab inhabitants. They also ignore the terms of the Partition plan itself – which largely dealt with these issues.
Regardless of this manipulation – the myth is built on the omission of the most important fact, and that is the 100,000s of Jews in DP camps or in British built camps in places like Cyprus. These Jewish populations were patiently waiting for the gates of Israel to open.
It is a historical fact that the Jewish population of Israel doubled in just three years – and much of this rise was foreseeable. Thus the argument of the ‘demographic threat’ is nothing more than a propaganda myth.
Here is an extract from File WO 191/81, which discusses the urgency with which the British wanted the camps on Cyprus cleared:
“It is decided Jewish Agency is to be body responsible (for) clearance of Cyprus Camp between end of Mandate and First August”
This from the inamtes of Hohne Belsen DP Camp in September 1945: (FO 1049/81)
“We affirm our right of Immigration into Palestine”
For obvious reasons the DP camp at Belsen was almost empty by early 1949 and closed by September 1950. Most of the DP camps emptied of their Jewish residents within a year of the creation of Israel.
Myth 4. The myth of the stolen land
A second myth underpins this headline – and that is the one about ‘distant landowners’ selling land from under the Arabs’ feet. In fact the British concern chiefly focused on small and present land owners who were voluntarily selling their land. During 1933 and 1934, over 90% of all Arab land sales to Jews were from small land owners. Having profited from inflated prices – it is somewhat twisted that their grandchildren would later claim these lands were stolen. This is an extract dated 22 February 1935 from file CO 733/272/12 which explicitly dealt with the growing problem of *small* land sales.
Two other elements are important to mention here.
1. Almost all the land was state owned. In other words just because it was not ‘owned’ by Jews does not mean it was ‘owned’ by Arabs.
2. Ever since Ottoman times, there had been restrictions on Jewish land purchases. The British also enforced serious land sales restrictions. Therefore Jews did not own as much land as they should have because racist policies prohibited them from doing so.
Myth 4. The myth of pre-planning
A key strand of the demonisation narrative is that the Jews ‘pre-planned’ the ‘Nakba’. In truth the Jewish side responded (often weakly) to unfolding events both in the hope that full scale war could be averted and in the belief their resources would consistently be outmatched. This from a top secret Intelligence Report covering events from 6-18 December 1947 – the start of the civil war (File WO 275/64):
“Hagana, who admitted in a communique that the sudden violence of the Arab reaction to Partition had taken them unawares have been severely criticised for their policy of Havlaga (‘restraint’).”
This from a British Intelligence report in early April 1948 – just a month before the Arab armies were to invade (file FCO 141/14284) :
“It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Yishuv and its leaders are deeply worried about the future. The intensification of Arab attacks on communications and particularly the failure of the Kfar Etzion convoy probably the Yishuv’s strongest armoured transport unit – to force a return passage has brought home the precarious position of Jewish communities both great and small which are dependant on supply lines running through Arab controlled country.”
Myth 5. The myth of ethnic cleansing
This is an extract from the Weekly Intelligence Report from the High Commissioner for Palestine dated 20 December 1947 /1284):
“Arabs are leaving the country with their families in considerable numbers and there is an exodus from mixed towns to the rural Arab centres”
Another extract from the same file. A Weekly Intelligent Report – four months later – on 30 April 1948, and just two weeks before the invasion of the regional Arab armies.
“Many of their so called leaders are fleeing the country and the ‘Effendi class’ generally do not seem to be ashamed of watching the contest from the touchline.”
Most of the Arabs simply fled – and almost all the known incidents of a town being forcibly ’emptied’ were down to open hostilities from inside the town – or an inability to secure a strategically important area (such as near the airport) without such drastic action. The planned ethnic cleansing claim is pure myth.
The cumulative effect
The pillars of the conflict show that the ‘catastrophe’ which befell the Arabs was self-inflicted. They should have had a state in 1948 – and they still don’t have one today – chiefly because of the failings of their own leadership.
The section on the myths of the Nakba show that the Arab Nakba narrative that is spreading throughout the west is little more than a mountain of lies. The Nakba was a self-inflicted catastrophe – and only when the Arab leadership is brave enough to admit this – will there be any chance that real negotitations can begin.
In the meantime, we should be making sure that our youth learn the true facts of the conflict – and understand how alone this truth can make us – rather than help them to submit to the hard-left and Islamist lies that are proliferating on campus.
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