Adbusters

Understanding Nakba

Do Palestinian refugees have a right to return?

When Palestinian refugees were gunned down by Israeli soldiers upon marching towards their homeland during unarmed Nakba Day demonstrations, the floodgates of historic revisionism opened.

What is this ‘Nakba’? Where did these refugees come from? Who should be responsible for them? Readers of the mainstream news undoubtedly raised these questions when the spilled blood of demonstrators brought the discussion of the most pivotal year in Palestinian history, 1948, back into the headlines.

Often, the events of this period are recited like this in mainstream media:

After Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, armies from neighboring Arab states attacked the new nation; during the war that followed, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes by Israeli forces.

That sequence of events, from a recent New York Times article, was repeated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after his meeting with President Obama last week.

Both describe the refugees as a result of the “Arab attack” in 1948. But even a cursory look at history reveals how flawed this is. Before a single Arab soldier crossed into Palestine on May 15, 1948 more than half the total refugees were created. Arab mobilization then became a reaction to massive refugee flows and not the cause of it. When Israel declared independence, its military had already succeeded in depopulating Palestine’s largest cities of Jaffa and Haifa as well as Tiberias, Safad and Beisan. Perhaps those writing today’s New York Times should read their own reporting from this period because they’d quickly learn they are peddling distortions that are simply unfit to print.

The depopulation of Palestine was no accident. The Zionist movement schemed to create a Jewish state in a territory where Jews were a minority. On the eve of the Nakba, Jews constituted 30 percent of the population and owned 7 percent of the land. Within months, they forged a state on 78 percent of the territory where they flipped the demographic ratio from 30:70 Jews to Arabs to 90:10. To think such dramatic demographic change happens by accident—only coincidently suiting decades old Zionist aims—is dangerous naiveté. Such things happen only by design.

Thousands of declassified files in Israeli military archives speak to the intent behind depopulation operations targeting Palestinian villages and the planning of these actions which began long before the war. In 1940, for example, the pre-state Jewish government began a clandestine intelligence operation that collected sensitive data on every Palestinian village. Prior to the depopulation, the Zionists had detailed information on the villagers, including name, age, property, political affiliations, wages, occupations, relationships. They documented water resources, roads, access to media and if the village had any weapon. They kept lists of villagers in each village believed hostile to Zionism. An expose in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed what historians have known for years.

In 1947, the UN General Assembly passed a plan to divide Palestine into four entities, one Arab (which was 99 percent Palestinian Arab on 43 percent of the land) one Jewish (which was 55 percent Jewish and 45 percent Palestinian Arab and on 55 percent of the land) a third entity to be internationally monitored around Jerusalem which was 51 percent Palestinian Arab and 49 percent Jewish and a fourth isolated enclave around the Palestinian city of Jaffa. For Palestinians, this partition divided their population into 4 and gave 55 percent of their territory to the 30 percent of the population which was Jewish, most of which just arrived in Palestine in the previous two decades. For the Jews, this plan would create the state they long desired. In short, the Palestinians had a great deal to lose while the Jews had a great deal to gain. That is why Palestinians justifiably rejected this deal and the Jews accepted it.

From 1919, the United States knew creating a Jewish State in Palestine meant disaster for the native Palestinian Arabs. An American fact finding team, the King-Crane commission, noted that a Jewish state could not be established without the “gravest trespass upon the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” The commission was shocked after meeting with Zionists at the time who “looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine.” Perhaps this insight led Washington to make a decision few people recall. On March 19, 1948, the United States withdrew its support for the partition plan. The Zionists knew the state they coveted was in jeopardy since the US, a global power after WWII, backed away from the plan. With the British Mandate ending in less than two months, it was time to take it by force. During this six week period the Israeli forces accelerated their attacks on Arab villages and committed massacres including at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948. At this point, the depopulation was in full swing and masses of refugees were created either by direct force or fear for their lives before the Arab armies entered Palestine.

As a student of history and the grandchild of Nakba survivors, I find it not only inaccurate to suggest Palestinian refugees are merely the unintended consequence of war, but also offensive and disgusting. In many countries, Holocaust denial will land you in jail but in the U.S. Nakba denial may land you on the pages of major newspapers.

Some Nakba denials are particularly vile. Michael Medved denies the Nakba happened in his distorted history and argues Palestinians never had it so good and benefited from Zionist colonization of their land. Like Cecil Rhodes, who more than a century ago led the English colonization of Africa, Medved asserts proudly that the colonization of the natives by European newcomers was to their benefit. This twisted defense of colonialism is as repulsive as it is supremacist and archaic. Medved and his frankly racist approach are relics with a “heart of darkness” that are incompatible with the 21st century. They should be opposed in all their forms by people of conscience.

Until candid discussions about the events of the Nakba will be part of our discourse in the United States, we shouldn’t think we can ever be a fair mediator between Israelis and Palestinians. Sadly, as the willingness of some readers to welcome Medved’s brazen distortion proves, we are far from that point.

Yousef Munayyer is Executive Director of the Palestine Center. This post is from the Palestine Center Brief No. 214 (25 May 2011).

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34 comments on the article “Understanding Nakba”

Displaying 31 - 34 of 34

Page 4 of 4

Steven B

Here's what a lot of people on the left don't get; Israel is a socialist country.

Israel subsidizes students for college tuition, provides unemployment insurance for immigrants, youths, disabled people, new mothers, subsidized housing for the poor (something like 40% - 50% of all the settlers in the West Bank are unemployed and on welfare) as well as national health care.

Do you know what a financial disaster it would be for Israel's welfare state if the population were to suddenly increase 3 fold overnight if the "Right of Return" was ever honored? How could it survive?

Would you just let it run out of money?

Would you implement a type of apartheid where Palestinians could return but claim none of the benefits of Israeli citizens? Or would you do away with education, health care and welfare in the name of preserving equality between the two?

I can't imagine the left supporting either, but the simple matter is, Israel cannot possibly support or provide for millions of new citizens if the "Right of Return" were ever implemented; they're having enough trouble providing for the ones they all ready have.

Some people in Israel think Israel's welfare debts are a bigger threat to their existence than Iran! (Look up "LA Times : Welfare system could cause Israel to collapse, economist warns")

Steven B

Here's what a lot of people on the left don't get; Israel is a socialist country.

Israel subsidizes students for college tuition, provides unemployment insurance for immigrants, youths, disabled people, new mothers, subsidized housing for the poor (something like 40% - 50% of all the settlers in the West Bank are unemployed and on welfare) as well as national health care.

Do you know what a financial disaster it would be for Israel's welfare state if the population were to suddenly increase 3 fold overnight if the "Right of Return" was ever honored? How could it survive?

Would you just let it run out of money?

Would you implement a type of apartheid where Palestinians could return but claim none of the benefits of Israeli citizens? Or would you do away with education, health care and welfare in the name of preserving equality between the two?

I can't imagine the left supporting either, but the simple matter is, Israel cannot possibly support or provide for millions of new citizens if the "Right of Return" were ever implemented; they're having enough trouble providing for the ones they all ready have.

Some people in Israel think Israel's welfare debts are a bigger threat to their existence than Iran! (Look up "LA Times : Welfare system could cause Israel to collapse, economist warns")

Yitzhak Shamir

Stevie B, you're back! Yay! Trolly McTroll is back.
I guess you didn't get enough abuse the last time you were trolling this site as the moderator will easily verify.

Fist of all "Israel" is not a socialist country. Many argue it's not even really a country at all hence the quotes around the state that has never declared it's borders, as Adbusters points out in this months issue, because it would spell it's end. The reasons are well articulated in the article and I'd advise you to read it. "Israel" is a collection of ultra wealthy elitist who prop up a religious colony largely for personal profit. In addition the state is subsidized by the U.S tax payer to the tune of 10 billion dollars a year on the books though the figure is likely double and even triple that in all actuality. For a state that has less people in it than the city of New York this is a huge sum. "Israel" is, as everyone knows, the largest recipient of U.S foreign "aid". So one wonders how they can really be called a socialist country with regards to their subsidized education, etc that you so heroicly tout.

The Right of Return is mandated by the U.N. This is non-negotiable right of all humans on earth according to the U.N of which "Israel" says they are a member. This means that any refugee who was forcibly and illegally removed from their land by an occupying entity has the right to return to their land. The operative words here are "their land". The question you pose is of course dangerously racist and reeks of Judeo-supremacist dogma. The colony of "Israel" is occupying someone else's land so it really doesn't matter what happens to the brutal and illegal occupier or their phoney "economy". Cry all you want in your Jewish/Zionist owned and operated corporate media outlets - you won't find much sympathy on a site like this that is dedicated to deconstructing the systemic propaganda found in such outlets.
Which brings us back to you Stevie B and your real motives here. You have been outed as a troll before on this site. One can only assume your continued yammering on here is a sign that Adbusters has seriously crossed into your perceived territory by rendering the defenses of your mainstream media impotent and prying readers away from the lockstep support of Zionism that you have counted on for so long.
As a Zionist Brownshirt this angers you to no end and so you've come in droves to attempt to flood the airwaves with your preposterous and flagrantly racist drivel.
The fact is Palestine was invaded by European Jews 60 odd years ago and the sick experiment on colonialism is coming to an end as billions of people are exposed to accurate information thanks to the internet and organizations like Adbusters. And this, Stevie B, is a hard pill for you to swallow. But swallow you must. Or be left to choke in the dust of history.
Your parents sold you a lie Steven and you bought it and paraded it around and built your self worth out of it and now it's being recycled for something better Stevie; truth and justice and evolution. We as a world will not go backwards as you would have us. Why not look into your frightened, little, black heart and peer for some faint glimmer of light. Follow the light Stevie you can do it! Come toward the light. Come toward freedom! Free yourself of your intense hatred, your profound racism and you feelings of inferiority disguising themselves as superiority. Listen I know your hearts been aching but you're too shy to say it. Inside we both know what's been going on Stevie. I just want you to know that if you try Stevie we're never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down. Never gonna run around and desert you. Never gonna make you cry. Never gonna say goodbye. Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.
Alright buddy?
Try to get some sleep pal. You'll feel better in the morning.
O.K buh-bye.

Yitzhak Shamir

Stevie B, you're back! Yay! Trolly McTroll is back.
I guess you didn't get enough abuse the last time you were trolling this site as the moderator will easily verify.

Fist of all "Israel" is not a socialist country. Many argue it's not even really a country at all hence the quotes around the state that has never declared it's borders, as Adbusters points out in this months issue, because it would spell it's end. The reasons are well articulated in the article and I'd advise you to read it. "Israel" is a collection of ultra wealthy elitist who prop up a religious colony largely for personal profit. In addition the state is subsidized by the U.S tax payer to the tune of 10 billion dollars a year on the books though the figure is likely double and even triple that in all actuality. For a state that has less people in it than the city of New York this is a huge sum. "Israel" is, as everyone knows, the largest recipient of U.S foreign "aid". So one wonders how they can really be called a socialist country with regards to their subsidized education, etc that you so heroicly tout.

The Right of Return is mandated by the U.N. This is non-negotiable right of all humans on earth according to the U.N of which "Israel" says they are a member. This means that any refugee who was forcibly and illegally removed from their land by an occupying entity has the right to return to their land. The operative words here are "their land". The question you pose is of course dangerously racist and reeks of Judeo-supremacist dogma. The colony of "Israel" is occupying someone else's land so it really doesn't matter what happens to the brutal and illegal occupier or their phoney "economy". Cry all you want in your Jewish/Zionist owned and operated corporate media outlets - you won't find much sympathy on a site like this that is dedicated to deconstructing the systemic propaganda found in such outlets.
Which brings us back to you Stevie B and your real motives here. You have been outed as a troll before on this site. One can only assume your continued yammering on here is a sign that Adbusters has seriously crossed into your perceived territory by rendering the defenses of your mainstream media impotent and prying readers away from the lockstep support of Zionism that you have counted on for so long.
As a Zionist Brownshirt this angers you to no end and so you've come in droves to attempt to flood the airwaves with your preposterous and flagrantly racist drivel.
The fact is Palestine was invaded by European Jews 60 odd years ago and the sick experiment on colonialism is coming to an end as billions of people are exposed to accurate information thanks to the internet and organizations like Adbusters. And this, Stevie B, is a hard pill for you to swallow. But swallow you must. Or be left to choke in the dust of history.
Your parents sold you a lie Steven and you bought it and paraded it around and built your self worth out of it and now it's being recycled for something better Stevie; truth and justice and evolution. We as a world will not go backwards as you would have us. Why not look into your frightened, little, black heart and peer for some faint glimmer of light. Follow the light Stevie you can do it! Come toward the light. Come toward freedom! Free yourself of your intense hatred, your profound racism and you feelings of inferiority disguising themselves as superiority. Listen I know your hearts been aching but you're too shy to say it. Inside we both know what's been going on Stevie. I just want you to know that if you try Stevie we're never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down. Never gonna run around and desert you. Never gonna make you cry. Never gonna say goodbye. Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.
Alright buddy?
Try to get some sleep pal. You'll feel better in the morning.
O.K buh-bye.

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