Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday, 16 May 2014 
May 15: Nakba or defeat?

Published — Wednesday 14 May 2014


A few weeks ago, many people in the Arab world heard a name, Joshua Teitelbaum, an Israeli senior fellow at the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Goldman visiting associate professor at Stanford’s Center on Democracy and the Rule of Law. Ironically, it is the Arabs who made him famous.
He penned a book about the region. In the beginning, many refused to translate the book into Arabic because of his nationality. However, the book reportedly got translated. The question is: Do the Arabs really know Israel? Most likely the answer is no. The reason for that is we don’t read their literature but most Israeli scholars and politicians read everything written in the Arab world. The Arabs are not known for heavy and extensive reading, let alone reading Israeli literature or translating it.
Since 1948 it is not considered appropriate to read or translate a book written by an Israeli author that could help us understand Israel. Interestingly, in case of falling ill it is fine to use a cure discovered by an Israeli scientist. So, what happened on May 14, 1948?

It was the day when the state of Israel emerged on the world map. Do we know the rest of the story? No. We don’t know the entire story because we are wont of dealing with events with emotions. One day after the United Nations mandate (May 15), a long and bloody conflict broke out and after the dust settled, the Arabs called it Nakba or the Day of Catastrophe. It was a defeat but the Arabs chose to call it a catastrophe. Many Palestinians were displaced from their homeland and were promised that they would return to their homes soon. Despite the passage of over six decades, the promise has yet to be delivered. The thousands of Palestinians who fled their homes have turned into millions.
The question now is what if those Palestinians had accepted the mandate and decided to live side by side with the Israelis? I ask the readers to please note that I am just asking a question. So, would the fate of the Palestinians be the same? The reason I am asking is that we read reports that the Palestinian refugees are not allowed fleeing the atrocities in Syria and seeking refuge in Lebanon. That is double the agony.
There are many facts that were not clear to the Palestinians on May 15, 1948. Many of them didn’t have to flee their homes. It is said that it was the Mufti (Hussini) who encouraged them to flee. At the end of the day, the Mufti wasn’t a popular figure in the West or in then USSR because of his stand on the Nazis. And yes, it is true that many Palestinians were attacked and murdered but on that day it was chaos and all sides were fighting each other. On that day, Israel didn’t have a fully organized IDF so they wanted to disarm the Irgun and when refused, the IDF attacked one of their ships. In other words there was havoc but the Palestinians could have had acted more wisely.
As time passed, the Palestinians were promised to return to their homes but 66 years later with many wars and loss of human lives, the conflict continues. Since May 15, 1948 till 1967, the Palestinians and all Arab nations insisted that either all lands or no peace. In the course, the Palestinians were used, abused and misled even by their own leaders. Palestinians’ agony became a moneymaking machine for some of the Palestinian elite. Many Arab and non-Arab countries extended financial aid but the average Palestinian received nothing from the aid. Many of the Palestinian leaders will not go to a nearby refugee camp in Syria or Lebanon to see the living standard but they travel thousands of miles to stay in the best hotels in foreign capitals.
Nowadays, the peace negotiations are at a standstill with no light at the end of the tunnel. And if the Palestinian refugee situation is not resolved then there will be no solution to this conflict. Let us get real and think straight. How can the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank accommodate the millions of Palestinians from the refugee camps? And even if full peace is achieved and the two-state solution is accepted, how are we going to relocate millions of refugees back to theirs’ or their grandfathers’ towns and villages? The Palestinian-Israeli conflict could have been resolved on May 15, 1948 by either accepting the United Nations mandate or by absorbing the thousands of Palestinian refugees into the Arab world. Tomorrow, it is May 15, 2014 and we are not only back to square one but we are far away from it. And finally, I tell the Palestinians, don’t fool yourself. No one has ever felt your pain. Just look at what some regimes in the Arab world are doing to their own people. If they don’t care about their own people’s pain, then what will make them care about your pain? In the past, the Palestinians had better chances for peace but they never read the fine prints or between the lines.


  • nursecrd 20 hours ago
    What a refreshing article and by an Arab to boot. More honesty like this is needed and the Palestinians need to be told the truth. I am sure that at this point, many of them would reject the truth, especially the radicals. But if enough Palestinians accept this truth then their might be a chance at peace. If enough accept the truth then the radical groups would fall apart and/or have much less influence and peace just might have a chance.
    The ball is now in the court of the Palestinians. They have been handed the truth which is the tool they need to move out of their self imposed squalor.

  • garybkatz a day ago
    Another important point is that the Palestinian Arabs have become radicalized by their slimy leaders and educators. What other Arab society names streets, schools and children's sporting events after suicide bombers? A recent Pew opinion poll of Muslims found that Palestinians support suicide bombing more than any other Muslims in the world (62% - Lebanese Shias were the closest runner up, at 39%)! I get the impression that more and more Muslims are fed up with terror and violence in the name of religion. Therefore, support for the terrorist-as-role-model Palestinians should be waning, at least until they reverse their societal psychosis.

  • Amir from Israel a day ago
    Once Jews from Arab countries gain their civil rights and property back from Arab's regimes then you will gain true peace. Don't forget how Arab's regime revoked Jews right to live in their own Arabic country even if Jews lived there before Islam florish. Eg: Yemen, but it's true for every Arab country that supported Arabic league decision which is all Arab's countries.

  • Ellie a day ago
    What an incredible article, thank you so much for posting this and starting a discussion based on reality and political feasibility.

  • renate a day ago
    Well written and thought out. Personally, I see the hand of God in all of this. He has promised the land of Israel to the Jews. He calls the land of Israel "My Land". Had the Palestinians stayed or returned, they would by now, due to their population increase, be an adverse political power in Israel. The Palestinians are no different to many displaced people all over the world except for one thing.....their "own" people, the Arabs, do not want them, do not want to help them, but do want to keep them in misery because they can and do use this misery to foment hatred against the Jews.

  • Doron a day ago
    There were a similar number of JEWISH REFUGEES FROM ARAB COUNTRIES in the decades following the failed 1948 Arab invasion of Israel. Yet they looked forward and rebuilt their lives. More than half of all Israelis are descended from them. Imagine how much better things could have been if the Arab world with its vast land and oil resources had similarly uplifted Arab refugees - they could so easily have established a Palestinian state in the West bank after 1948 but did not. The Palestinian tragedy is that their casue was built more for the destruction of Israel than for a positive vision of their own state.

  • Allen Aigen Hinda39 a day ago
    "May you be safe" reflects the reality that hatred and violence rule the Arab (and Muslim) world and that this senseless hatred prevents any Arab country from becoming as successful as Israel. If it wasn't for oil, there would be only poverty for all Arab masses and riches for their corrupt Arab leaders.

    • Dian Kjaergaard a day ago
      Great analysis. And actually, I think it is possible for Israelis and Arabs to recognize the pain of the Arabs of Palestine without denying that Israel has a right to exist and has lots to contribute to the world.
      The following is also a wonderful analysis, although it may take a bit of thought to interpret some of the bitterness and sarcasm. The article was written as a reaction to the Haaretz proposal to teach about the Naqba - *solely* from the victim point of view:
      (Go to the original to find some good live links and an exemplary article written by Dorothy Bar-Adon in the Palestine Post, August 17, 1948 .
      It seems to me that only one thing needs to be taught to Israeli students: the truth. If Israeli schools completely ignore talking about some 600,000 Palestinian Arabs having left their homes, some of them (but far from the majority) forced out by the Haganah and IZL, they are failing. If they teach the skewed Palestinian Arab narrative of forced dispossession and unending massacres, they are failing worse.
      Yes, teach the Nakba - but teach what really happened. Of course it was a
      catastrophe for hundreds of thousands of people, but the continuing catastrophe of what has happened to them since 1948 at the hands of their Arab brothers needs to be taught as well.
      There were some massacres - usually exaggerated but still true - and Israel
      should regret some of the excesses of war. But there was also heroism, there were also miracles, there was also the overriding moral imperative to survive and beat back an onslaught that was literally meant to be genocidal.
      Teach about how Palestinian Arab nationalism was weak to nonexistent in 1948. Teach how Jordan and Egypt's occupations of "Palestinian" land were
      not protested. Teach the history of the Mufti, his Nazi activities and his
      terror sprees against Jews (not Zionists - Jews.) Teach about how Arab refugees in Israel were integrated into society while those in Arab lands were treated like garbage, and still are. Teach about how UNRWA has ensured that the "refugee" problem will fester until Israel is destroyed. Teach about how the first people to lose their homes in the conflict were Jews, not Arabs.
      This week there were protests centered around Lubya, a town the Arabs fled in 1948. Right nearby is a town called Tur'an, which is still there and thriving with a population that has swelled about 800% since 1948. An email
      correspondent this week wrote:
      "If you ask the older generation in Tur'an about Lubya, you get some very
      revealing answers and learn that they're happy that the village formerly known for its thieves, bandits and its participation in the '48 war and the violence before it no longer exists."
      All of these need to be taught. It doesn't mean that Israeli youngsters shouldn't feel the appropriate sorrow for the suffering of their enemy, but it also doesn't mean that they should forget that they were still the enemy, and the moral imperative is to ensure your own survival before worrying about that of those who tried, and most still desire, to destroy you.
      For an example of what must be taught, here is an article that I have
      quoted before, from Dorothy Bar-Adon in the Palestine Post, August 17,
      1948 (click to enlarge). In it she discusses how she feels bad over the fact that her neighboring Arab village fled - but also says exactly why they cannot return. It strikes the perfect balance between humanity and self-preservation.
      Acknowledging the fact that 1948 was a disaster for Arabs in Palestine is not a violation of the Zionist narrative; it should be part and parcel of it - but it must be put in the proper context of the time and the place.
      Because the alternative was unimaginably worse.
      PS: The Palestine Post is an English-language daily established in Jerusalem in 1932 as part of a Zionist-Jewish initiative. In 1950 its name was changed to The Jerusalem Post and it continues to be published under that name to this day .

      David Kuita a day ago
      If my dear Palestinians in the West Bank want to prostitute their
      suffering for something that only benefit power-hungry militants, then
      But please… internalize the following: the world is only
      obsessed with your livelihood, because the enemy you are up against
      happens to be the Jewish state. If the state of Israel were to disappear
      tomorrow, you, and any suffering that may follow, will be as silent and
      irrelevant to the world as the suffering of Palestinians in refugee
      camps around the Arab world, who are kept in true apartheid conditions,
      only to achieve a hate-filled political end.
      You don't see CNN or the BBC obsessed with dead people in the Sudan. Or dead Kurds. Or dead Libyans. If they all had Israel as an enemy, then the media would be obsessively covering those episodes of genocide, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and torture. But they don't. Because the world looks on them and shrugs… "Just another dead Arab…" or "Just another dead African."
      You are valuable to them only because of the enemy you fight, which
      according to their narrative, are "White," "Jewish," "Western," "Europeans,"
      running a "Neocolonial" outpost. Either they drop their narrative, or
      you drop your fighting, and knowing those persistent ideologues that
      power the propaganda machines of the Left-leaning Western media, that
      won't be happening any time soon.
      The world doesn't actually care for you. You're just a means, to achieve a political end. It's time to end this bitter struggle that hasn't produced any amount of good, for anyone. And the sooner you stop, the sooner Arab nations will lose their incentive to continue their unfair apartheid and torture, of the Palestinian refugees who live amongst them. The ball is fully in your
      court on this one. And just remember, that at the end of the day, we only have each other.

  • nycdan a day ago
    well said

  • Theseus a day ago
    As for the dissemination of rumours exaggerating Jewish crimes and describing them as atrocities in order to inflame the Arabs: the reason the rumours were so effective is because this is precisely what Arabs have been trying to do to the Jews over the past few decades before the partition. This is what they have done to the Jews, this is what they were still trying to do, so naturally it was totally expected by that mindset that if Jews came around they would do the same thing to them. That's what they would have done. So they fled. I think the Arabs should reflect the new reality just for that type of thinking that got them into the trouble alone.

  • Philassie a day ago
    This is a heroic article

    • Angelica a day ago
      Wow, i´m proud of you, this is exactly what the problem is! Thanks!!

  • Gordon 2 days ago
    Mr. Al Mulhim, it's always a pleasure reading your level headed pieces.

  • Mutzka 2 days ago
    Great! Now can the Palestinians who live in Judea-Samaria fire their blood sucking parasitic leaders and accept to work and live side by side with us as Israelis citizens? We Jews have no problem accepting Arabs among us, provided the Arabs accept us equally.

  • Hinda39 Mutzka a day ago
    Perhaps if they did away with the mask called "palestinian" and be who they are Israeli Citizens. Look at ZIV hospital at the border of Syria and Israel. Could such a thing exist in TransJordan or in Egypt? No.

    • Poupic 2 days ago
      Wow! I read this in Arab News! You could have added that The Arab High Command told the Arab to leave to facilitate their victory in 1948. You can also add that later all Arab states and Persia got rid of all their Jews and they got absorbed in Israel on their first day. 66 years later Arab states still leave “their brothers“ in refugee camps instead of having absorbed them and their support is from western sources, not Arabs. Where is the legendary Arab hospitality?
      Israeli Arab can parade with their “Nakba day” and live to see the next day. Can any Arab in any Arab state do the same and live? Israeli Arabs have rights that most Arabs can’t even dream of having.
      Your article is not totally accurate but it is close enough for me to say thank you. I also hope that nothing bad will happen to you. Maybe you could be the spark that trigger at least some understanding between Arabs in the Arab world and Israeli’s. Thank you!

  • Faisal Ali 2 days ago
    Finally, someone speaks reality. I always say that Arabs no almost nothing about israel but a Zionism entity. What about their culture, language, literature, history, political stance, and etc. However, I believe it is not late to reach a concord stand between Israelis, and Arabs (Palestinians). No one can fell the situation on the land between the tow parties yet the Israelis and the Palestinians. I was so angry when I read especially from some educated, scholars arabs that they refused any translation work from an Israeli citizen (Either Hebrew or any other language) into Arabic. There is an Arabic saying "People are enemy of what they ignoring". The more we understand each other the more we apply solid peace on real land.

  • ba231q 2 days ago
    You ask arabs to read what happened while they lived so there is no need to read opinions and theyre point of view cause they stated it clearly and acted upon it. As for sheikh hussini he was a factor but at the same time there was a lot of phobia present cause jewish militia murdered entire villages. And with time the refugees outside will make a force an army if you may call it and then we will see how the victor writes history

  • alexa44 ba231q 2 days ago
    ON JUNE 8, 1951, Habib Issa, secretary-general of the Arab League, wrote in the New York Lebanese daily al-Hoda that in 1948, Azzam Pasha, then League secretary, had "assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and of Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade ... Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes and property, and to stay temporarily in neighbouring fraternal states
    ON APRIL 9, 1953, the Jordanian daily al-Urdun quoted a refugee, Yunes Ahmed Assad, formerly of Deir Yassin, as saying: "For the flight and fall of the other villages, it is our leaders who are responsible, because of the dissemination of rumours exaggerating Jewish crimes and describing them as atrocities in order to inflame the Arabs ... they instilled fear and terror into the hearts of the Arabs of Palestine until they fled, leaving their homes and property to the enemy."
    ANOTHER refugee told the Jordanian daily a-Difaa on September 6, 1954: "The Arab governments told us, 'Get out so that we can get in.' So we got out, but they did not get in."
    THE JORDANIAN daily Falastin 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."

    • rhoneyman alexa44 a day ago
      the near-sighted must first decide to wear glasses to see and the near-deaf must decide to insert hearing aids to listen.
      preaching to the choir, alas.

        • Allen Aigen rhoneyman a day ago
          Unfortunately the lies of the Palestinians were bought by the antisemitic Europeans and Americans. And now Europe is so afraid of saying anything bad about Islam (they gave in to the bullies and can't admit it) that they lost the ability to see the truth.

        • Ben Plonie 2 days ago
          I am gong to relate a history that is not known and not taught but totally fact-checkable.
          The Palestinian population is no more than a human shield for cynical money and power-seekers. There never was an established Palestinian Arab society in Palestine. The majority of the Arabs living in Palestine in May of 1948 were Syrians, Egyptians, Iraqis and North Africans who arrived there in response to Jewish investment in rehabilitating their own ancient homeland, beginning in 1882. The movement accelerated in response the Mufti-induced riots and murders of Jews in the 1920's and the artificial blockage of Jewish immigration in the 1930's.
          In 1948 the Jews owned 6% of the land in Palestine. Less well known is that Arabs owned only 3%, again while they enjoyed unimited immigration and the Jews were blocked by British military.
          A new unprecedented false definition of 'refugee' was invented for these people alone, of residence of 2 years in Palestine. In this way a Syrian or Egyptian or Bedouin could roll off the vegetable truck from Egypt and immediately begin shouting and rioting 'Jews out of Palestine'. Also unprecedented is the definition of children of these phony refugess as refugees as well, for the purpose of maintenance by a special UN agency also invented just for them. It was an attempt to create a new kind of nation resembling the Jewish nation in exile, in which children of Jews actually are citzens of the Jewish nation. Why couldn't those people be absorbed back into their own ancestral homelands or Syria or Morocco? Because they were pawns of power seekers looking to get a state for free, that's why. There need not be even one Palestinian Arab refugee anynore.
          The story of Palestine is the story of efforts to impede the establishment of a Jewish homeland of any kind in Palestine. After the Balfour Declaration, the enemies of the Jews regrouped and did everythng to prevent its implementaton. After Eastern Palestine (80%) was emptied of Jews and given the homeless King Abdullah, and Northern Palestine was was emptied of Jews and given to the French Mandate of Syria and ultmately becoming Lebanon, and Western Palestine (Gaza) was emptied of Jews and given to Egypt, a tiny little area was again to be divided with Arabs getting the mountains and valleys and ports and water, and the Jews getng the beach and the desert.
          One reason for this was that Britain controlled the Iraqi oil and wanted to build and control a pipeline from Iraq o the port of Haifa. They assumed that it would be easier to install an Arab puppet regme in Palestine than to deal with those pesky, stubborn and independant Jews.
          But to answer your question, if the Arabs had accepted that partition, the result would be exactly the same as today - a strong civilized advanced successful Israel, and a corrupt violent impovershed Arab Palestine.

          Michael Hill 2 days ago
          At last a degree of reality. It will be interesting to read the other comments you will get.

  • Abdullah 3 days ago
    wow... someone's got a good head on his shoulders. I think we should accept the reality. Arabs can never get their lands back. Israel has become virtually undefeatable. The only solution is negotiations and living side by side.

  • David Abdullah 2 days ago
    I beg to differ... The long wars in Afghanistan and China have allowed the space for China to rise, now we have a more equal balance of power on the geopolitical map. No longer can an arrogant aggressor manipulate the worlds finances and no longer can he act in isolation. It has been 10 years to get where we are, and the next ten years will be a game changer for many.

    • Naser David 21 hours ago
      You are wrong David, Israel has much too power and influence in the world to be beckoned into a corner about it, it may seem otherwise but all in all there are far worse conflicts in the world, and the apathy of the other countries, especially ours, the Arab world is much more deafening...
      Today, it will be much smarter for the Palestinians to sign the peace agreements without insisting on absurdities such as releasing murderers - between us, who would even want them running around in Ramallah?!

      Shariff David a day ago
      I beg to double differ, history has proven time and time again that when it comes to Jews, they survive, and no matter the size of the nation that decides to make the Jews their enemies be it some forgotten biblical state or a great empire - it perishes into oblivion along with it's gods and culture where as the Jews survive and only become stronger.
      When, for a change for us Arabs, we go back in history to find people that favored the Jews we see they only gained from that - Kings that encouraged Jews to move to their countries gained a golden era of culture and fiscal prosperity. Even countries that made peace with Israel gained greatly from that such as Jordan, whereas see at what state Syria and Lebanon are these days.
      The message is clear, and as I like to think, out prophet truly wanted every Arab to live in peace.