The Myth of the Arab Evacuation of Palestine

By Edward C. Corrigan.

Published in Beesan London, Ontario's Arabic Newspaper in 1998

The Fiftieth anniversary of the creation of Israel was May 15, 1998. This was an occasion for celebration for most Jews. However, it must be remembered many Jews opposed the creation of Israel. It is also important to remember the victims of the creation of the Jewish State, the 600,000 to 650,000 Palestinian Arabs who were forced to flee their homes. Many were expelled by force.

In 1948 the Israelis claimed that the Arabs left Palestine at the request of Arab leaders in order to make room for the Arab armies who were to "march in to throw the Jews into the sea." The Israelis say that the Palestinians simply abandoned their homes and left of their own accord. Only few were allowed to return. This view of the creation of Israel is false but the mythology lives on.

The myth relating to the cause of the exodus of Palestinians, that the Arabs simply abandoned their homes, has been used by Zionists to justify their occupation of Palestinian land. These claims were repeated in Joan Peters 1984 book From Time Immemorial. Peters book received wide spread praise in the United States but was dismissed as "worthless" by leading academic experts in England. In Israel the arguments set out in the book were described as "sheer rubbish except may be as a propaganda weapon."

Howard M. Sachar, considered by many the leading Jewish historian on Israel wrote, in A History of Israel "no such order was ever found in any release of the Arab League or in any military communiques of the period. Rather, the evidence in the Arab press and radio of the time was to the contrary. By and large, except for towns like Haifa, already captured by the Jews, the Arab League ordered the Palestine Arabs to stay where they were, and stringent punitive measures were reported against Arab youth of military age who fled the country. Even Jewish broadcasts (in Hebrew) mentioned these Arab orders to remain" (at pp. 332-333).

Dr. Erskine Childers examined the records of the BBC which monitored "all Middle Eastern broadcasts throughout 1948." He found that "there was not a single order, or appeal or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine, in 1948. There is repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders to stay put." ( The Israel-Arab Reader, Eds. Walter Laqueur and Barry Rubin, page 146).

Myer Levin in Jerusalem Embattled and Arthur Koestler in Promise and Fulfilment reported that dire warnings were issued to the Arabs if they did not leave. Koestler called the "blood-bath" of Deir Yassin (254 killed) "the psychologically decisive factor in this spectacular exodus." Berth Vester, a Christian missionary described how the massacre was exploited: "Unless you leave your homes the fate of Deir Yassin will be your fate." (David Gilmour, Dispossessed: The Ordeal of the Palestinians, page 69). Special UN mediator Count Bernadotte said shortly before his assassination by Zionist terrorists: "The exodus of Palestinian Arabs resulted from panic created by fighting in their communities, by rumours concerning real and alleged acts of terrorism or expulsion." ( UN Document A/648, 1948, page 14). Noam Chomsky, wrote that the massacre of 254 "defenceless" Palestinians by Menachem Begins Irgun at Deir Yassin on April 10, 1948 was "one major factor in causing the flight of much of the Arab population." (Noam Chomsky, The Fateful Triangle, 1984, p. 95.)

Rebuking a Zionist rabbi who alleged that there were Arab evacuation orders, Nathan Chofshi replied: "We old Jewish settlers in Palestine who witnessed the fight could tell him how and in what manner we, Jews, forced the Arabs to leave cities and villages...some of them were driven out by force of arms; others were made to leave by deceit, lying, and false promises." (Jewish Newsletter, New York, Feb 9,1959).

Yitzhak Rabin affirmed that Ben Gurion with respect to the Palestinian population of Lydda ordered, "Drive them out." (New York Times, Oct 23, 1979). Yigal Allon confirmed there was a Zionist campaign "to clean" the Galilee of Arabs. (David Hirst, Mideast Correspondent for The Guardian, The Gun and the Olive Branch page 41). Allon later became an Israeli cabinet Minister and Rabin became Prime Minister of Israel.

Israeli journalist Yeshayahu Ben-Porth summarized the "central truth" of the Zionist movement: "There is no State without the evacuation of Arabs and without the expropriation and fencing of lands." (Joy Gonen, A Psychohistory of Zionism, page 196).

In fact, there are many more Israeli and Western sources that refute the myth of the Arab evacuation. Instead of asking the Israelis what they did to the Palestinians, and accepting what they say as the truth, one could also ask the Palestinians what happened to them. People who believe that the Palestinians just got up and left their country, should look at Nafezz Nazzals The Palestinian Exodus From the Galilee, one of many possible Palestinian sources available in most good libraries.

The reasons for the systematic expulsion of the Palestinians under the auspices of Plan Dalet, were both ideological and demographic. Under the UN Partition Plan, the "Jewish State" had a 42 per cent non-Jewish population. The much higher Palestinian birth rate would soon create a Palestinian majority and it was deemed necessary to expel nearly a million Palestinians to create a "Jewish State". The high Palestinian birth rate in Israel and the Occupied Territories today means that the Palestinian population continues to grow.

This demographic reality is a recurrent nightmare for Zionists. Rabbi Meir Kahane asked "how long can Israel survive its malignant and growing Arab population" in his book They Must Go. This demographic theme is frequently echoed by many Zionist political and academic figures.

The fact remains that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee Palestine and were denied the right to return to their homes. Until this issue is addressed and Palestinians allowed to return to their homes or paid compensation for their illegally confiscated property the creation of Israel will be tainted with injustice and peace will not come to the Middle East.