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New report: “false promises made by [Arab] leaders and political elites” created Palestinian Nakba

New report: “false promises made by [Arab] leaders and political elites” created Palestinian Nakba

Not the “Nakba” narrative peddled by rejectionists, revisionists and anti-Israel activists.

Last week on May 15th was Nakba Day, when Palestinians and their supporters mourn what they call the ‘catastrophe’ of the modern Jewish state’s establishment, mark the displacement of some 750,000 Arabs in 1948, and call for the ‘right’ of return of the Palestinian refugees to their lost homes in present-day Israel.

There are many reasons that hundreds of thousands of Arabs were displaced in 1948—but as we highlighted in a recent post, chief among them was the fear of being harmed by the approaching Zionist forces.

Basically, people fled in terror because they were led to believe, by their own leaders, that the Zionists would slaughter them like they allegedly did in the Arab village of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, even though no massacre ever took place there.

These are important facts for anyone interested in Nakba Day and the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem to know, and there’s a new Hebrew-language book by renowned Israeli historian Eliezer Tauber that provides them.

But, as we discussed in our prior post, American scholars and students won’t be able to learn about it. That’s because Tauber can’t manage to land a U.S. academic press contract on account of virulently anti-Israel faculty reviewers of his manuscript who don’t want the truth to come out, lest it upend their own narrative about these historical events, Silencing History: U.S. University Publishers Shun Book ‘Ending the Deir Yassin Myth’.

Tauber’s meticulous research about what really happened at Deir Yassin needs to reach a larger audience, especially because new material keeps coming to light that corroborates his central findings.

Last week, for example, on the day after Nakba Day, the watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) published a bulletin that adds important evidence clarifying why Arabs fled their homes in 1948, and provides further support for Tauber’s key claim: the true story of the 1948 Palestinian exodus is one of a massive flight caused not by any Zionist plan to expel the Arabs, but by the propaganda and lies produced by their own leaders.

PMW’s New Video Compilation of Palestinian Refugee Testimonies 

On March 16th PMW released an exclusive video compilation of over a dozen personal stories told by Palestinian refugees who lived through Israel’s War of Independence. It’s a short 7 minute video that’s well worth watching (a full transcript of the testimonies is also available here):

The video aims to explain what caused the Palestinian refugee problem and why hundreds of thousands of Arabs ended up leaving their homes during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.

It includes 13 translated testimonies by Palestinian refugees who lived in different parts of the country at the time. Despite those differences, there’s a “common denominator” to the personal stories recounted: none of the Palestinians interviewed claims to have been pushed out by Israel’s armed forces, and instead the focus is on what Arab leaders told them to do.

Many of those interviewed claimed that they were following the orders of leaders to evacuate their homes temporarily after which point they were told that they could return with the victorious Arab armies.

Others claim—as Prof. Elizer Tauber describes in his book—that they made the decision to flee with their families because of the “fear of the coming battles” and in particular because of the cruel ‘massacre’ that they heard had happened at Deir Yassin:

Why I left Allar – Orders of Arab army – “Leave…then you will return”

Ali Muhammad Karake: “When news reached us that the Jews were nearing our village, the Arab [Salvation] Army – may Allah protect them – came and said: ‘Leave the village so it won’t happen to you, like Deir Yassin. They slaughter, and do things.’ They said: ‘Leave, but don’t go far from the village because they [the Jews] will make a short visit to the village, leave, and then you’ll return to the village.’ The people left with nothing, even without bread and went into the mountains, and pitched [tents].”

[Al-Quds daily YouTube channel, May 17, 2016]

Significant Points from “How we really became refugees: 13 Palestinians tell their personal stories”

There are a few interesting takeaways from PMW’s new video of Palestinian refugee testimonies.

First, the refugees recounting their stories all express bitterness over the “false promises” of the Arab leaders at the time. The refugees each lament being so gullible as to believe what the Arab regimes and army commanders kept repeating to them—that they’d be returning to their homes “after a few hours.” Many describe how, because they so earnestly believed the political elites who assured them that they’d only be gone for a few days, they even “left their money and gold behind” and “flocks of sheep” in the pastures.

Second, the personal stories of these refugees—which describe large-scale population movements, such as the flight from major cities like Safed and Jaffa—depict Arab armies that planned to exact a ruthless price on the Zionists. In one testimony from 2008, for instance, a Palestinian journalist claims that Arab officers told him that they had “come in order to exterminate the Zionists and their state.” Other testimonies confirm that army commanders, leaders, and elites wanted the “battlefields cleared” of Arab civilians. Basically, they were told to “get out of the way” so that they wouldn’t impede the troops and so that the “fighting [against Israel] would succeed.”

Third, while many of the testimonies suggest that the Palestinian Arabs left their homes “out of fear,” at least one says that the Jews offered him and his fellow villagers the chance to stay in Israel. Recorded on official PA TV back in 2013, one Palestinian refugee claims that the “Jews gave us choices,” including the option to “hand over your weapons and stay on your land and live the way you live.”

Lastly, the testimonies that PMW has compiled are all “presented openly” by the refugees themselves, and have been featured for years in official Palestinian Authority media. It’s important to note that some of the testimonies are by people in current leadership positions in the PA. Even PA President Mahmoud Abbas makes a cameo appearance, explaining why his family along with others from Safed made the decision to leave in 1948.

As author of the bulletin, PMW’s Itamar Marcus, notes:

All of this suggests that awareness of Arab responsibility for the refugee problem must be widespread among the Palestinian population—even though Palestinian leaders refuse to accept responsibility in international forum.”


In a recent op-ed, Times of Israel editor David Horovitz insists that the international community needs to tell Gaza’s “Hamas-abused masses” the truth, namely that they don’t have a ‘right’ of return and a ‘return’ will not happen:

After Monday’s terrible violence and loss of Palestinian life on the Gaza border, the world owes the Palestinians some painful but simple truths…What the [Hamas] terror group calls ‘Palestine’—i.e. Israel—is not going to be ‘liberated.’ Majority-Jewish Israel isn’t going anywhere. Most specifically, given the current Hamas tactic for bringing Gazans to the border, the ‘refugees,’ in their ostensible millions, are not going to ‘return.’…The world…owes it to the Palestinians to make clear that Israel will not be required or pressured to commit national suicide as a Jewish state by absorbing millions of descendants of Palestinians who used to live in what is today’s Israel.”

Horovitz suggests that a “straightforward means” for shattering the illusion of a ‘right’ of return is to correct the definition and classification of Palestinian refugees designated by UNRWA (the UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine).

That’s a good place to start.

For 70 years UNRWA has fueled an unrealistic hope and has encouraged millions of Palestinians to “dream” of a ‘right’ of return, because unlike every other refugee population on the planet, UNRWA allowed Palestinians to inherit refugee status. In preventing peace and reasonable compromise, it’s a false hope that’s been even more devastating for the Palestinians than the pack of lies and false promises told to them by their own leaders back in 1948.

Bottom line: The tens of thousands of Gazans participating in the violent Hamas-instigated ‘March of Return’ likely really do believe that their grandparents and great-grandparents were unjustly expelled by Israel in 1948 and that they now have every right to return to ‘Palestine’ and undo the Jewish state. But PMW’s new video compilation of refugee testimonies underscores that most Palestinians probably know deep down that Arab elites and armies were largely to blame for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, and not Israel. So the ‘right of return’ is unfounded and the personal stories of the Palestinian refugees themselves provides the proof.

Miriam F. Elman is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Inaugural Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University. She is the editor of five books and the author of over 65 journal articles, book chapters, and government reports on topics related to international and national security, religion and politics, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also frequently speaks and writes on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel movement. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @MiriamElman


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broomhandle | May 22, 2018 at 8:32 am

Thank you for this post. Every “Nakba” Day I will be enlightening people with the truth.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to broomhandle. | May 22, 2018 at 11:37 am

    I was aware that they left voluntarily, but unaware that they did so as a result of their leaders lying to them. Palestinian leadership lying has been continuous, and these people still listen to those leaders.
    Continuing to follow those leaders, continuing to sacrifice their children, continuing to produce so many children that those who are not killed live unproductive lives in hopeless squalor, all these things are signs of utter stupidity.

    In any event, see:

    “the Article concludes that such an expulsion was not illegal at the time and that international law did not provide a right of return. A second contribution of this Article is to historicize the international law relevant to the dispute. Many relevant areas of international law have changed significantly since 1947–49—such as the law of armed conflict, refugee law, human rights law, and law regarding nationality, statelessness, and state succession. Previous scholarship and advocacy find return of Palestinian refugees have impermissibly sought to hold Israel to legal standards developed decades after the relevant events.”

    Copyright © 2012 by Andrew Kent.
    * Associate Professor, Fordham Law School; Faculty Advisor, Center on National Security at Fordham Law School. This Article benefited from presentations at the Israel and International Law Conference at Northwestern Law School and faculty scholarship workshops at St. John’s and Fordham Law
    Schools. In addition, thanks are due to Paolo Galizzi, Charlie Honig, Robert
    Kaczorowski, Tom Lee, Ethan Leib, Robert Sloane, Asher Steinberg, and David
    Wolitz for helpful comments, and to Joseph Tartakovsky for terrific research
    assistance and intellectual fellowship.
    03 KENT (DO NOT DELETE) 1/21/2013 4:00 PM

4th armored div | May 22, 2018 at 9:18 am

for those of us who, like me, were born post WW2 and pre 1948, in DP camps in Germany to Holocaust survivors, know the truth you are explaining, because of the loss of generations of family.

No photos, no items, no nothing.
and when, the survivors went back to Poland to try to find any remnant of ‘der alter heim’, found Poles, Huhgarians etc living there and killing again many of these tired wretches.

They and we had to start new lives with the aid of HIAS and the surviving Rabbis who themselves had lost their wives and children.

when will the UN and the other Anti Semites recall OUR loss and rebirth as a nation?

I have NO sympathy for these “displaced arabs”, who left out of fear and were complicit in wanting Jews massacred, once again.

we are no longer weak and if the Aeabs now don’t want to tell the truth, THEY WILL BRING THEIR OWN DESTRUCTION!

JohnSmith100 | May 22, 2018 at 9:47 am

Everyone needs to keep in mind that those displaced Arabs were relatively low numbers of people, and that they followed their leaders advice to reproduce in excess, intentionally brainwashing their children into believing their purpose in life was to die young as martyrs.

Personally, I think that Jews should run Palestinians out of both Gaza and the West Bank. I find it hard to understand why they continue to put up with Palestinian’s never ending BS.

    4th armored div in reply to JohnSmith100. | May 22, 2018 at 11:46 am

    there was wishful thinking in Israel until Bibi was elected and hopefully their eyes are now fully open.
    left-right and center are in agreement – No more givebacks and definitely no right of return.

    the Lucy and the football no longer works.

      Milhouse in reply to 4th armored div. | May 22, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      If only. Bibi himself is the head of the givers-away and the two-staters. Never forget who gave Hevron away. It wasn’t Rabin and it wasn’t even Peres. Practically Bibi’s first official act was to give it away, and dozens if not hundreds have died because of that decision.

        DaveGinOly in reply to Milhouse. | May 23, 2018 at 12:34 am

        Concerning the “two-state solution,” that solution was put into effect decades ago. The second state is called “Jordan,” created when the British exercised an option to split the Mandate for Palestine (which was intended in its entirety for Jews) because of the belief (sincerely held or not) that the mandate was too large for the number of Jews who would settle there. So the Jews ended up with a fraction of the land of Palestine that was supposedly set aside for them, and the Arabs got the larger portion of the mandate, which became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. So the two-state solution in the land formerly known as the Mandate for Palestine has already been effected.

        The Palestinian “refugees” should have been resettled elsewhere in the Arab world decades ago, as Israel immediately absorbed and resettled the bulk of the 840,000 Jews who were ejected from Muslim countries following the War of Independence. However, their value to the Arab nations as “poster children was too great, and to this day the Palestinians suffer because they allowed themselves to be used as pawns in a lost game of chess against Israel.

Alex Bensky | May 22, 2018 at 11:35 am

It can’t be denied that in some areas, especially Jaffa and the Lydda area, there were outright expulsions, and elsewhere on a local basis. This was usually for purposes of military security but like every other human institution, Israel’s birth was not immaculate. And in other areas when Arabs fled for the reasons detailed above, the Jewish authorities didn’t try hard to deter them, although sometimes they did.

Of course if the Arabs had accepted partition the scholarly consensus is that the number of displaced Arabs would have been roughly…none. It was a war, a war not sought by Israel.

    Milhouse in reply to Alex Bensky. | May 22, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    No, they didn’t try to deter them. Why on earth should they have? The Dir Yassin myth was actively and gleefully spread by the Israeli government in order to smear Etzel and Lehi, but those groups were more than happy for the Arabs to believe it and flee in terror. Read The Revolt, where Begin openly writes this.

    It’s true that in Haifa the lefties persuaded the Arabs to stay; more fools they. In Hevron in ’67 Dayan did an even more foolish thing: he chased down the Arab population which had fled, and begged them to come back.

Juba Doobai! | May 22, 2018 at 12:40 pm

[T]here’s a new Hebrew-language book by renowned Israeli historian Eliezer Tauber that provides them.

But, as we discussed in our prior post, American scholars and students won’t be able to learn about it. That’s because Tauber can’t manage to land a U.S. academic press contract on account of virulently anti-Israel faculty reviewers of his manuscript who don’t want the truth to come out, lest it upend their own narrative about these historical events, Silencing History: U.S. University Publishers Shun Book ‘Ending the Deir Yassin Myth’.

Tauber’s meticulous research about what really happened at Deir Yassin needs to reach a larger audience, especially because new material keeps coming to light that corroborates his central findings.

This is a lame excuse in light of the advent of self-publishing. Tauber can publish via iBooks Author or via Amazon. Has he tried?

Until he’s gone that route around the lying gatekeepers, there’s no point in bemoaning his inability to read a larger audience. Sure, the gatekeepers will try to have Apple and Amazon strike Tauber’s book, but he can rack up the numbers by selling his book as a downloadable ePub, mobi, and PDF off of a website specifically set up just for selling it. If Tauber gets enough electronic sales, the publishers will pick it up no matter what the gatekeepers say.

Push comes to shove, if Tauber doesn’t self-publish, then what’s the point of writing/translating the book into English? Another move is to have the book published in India, in English. The book can then be available for sale via eBay or a wide assortment of booksellers accessible via The Jew-hating gatekeepers can only do so much.

Heck, Tauber can even enter into a contract with LI, PJM, and a host of center right websites to sell the book from there. Drum up the electronic sales and watch publishers, Apple, and Amazon come around.

After all, money talks, or does it?

    Milhouse in reply to Juba Doobai!. | May 22, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    Self-published books have no credibility in academia, in fact the mere fact that a book is self-published is itself evidence of unreliability. To be taken seriously by scholars you have to be published by a respected academic press.

      Juba Doobai! in reply to Milhouse. | May 22, 2018 at 10:10 pm

      Yeah, you stick with that mantra. Keep walking that tight line whilst the same academics block publishing of the book. Are we to trust books approved by academics who impose bans on writers based on ancestry and ideology?

      It’s time for a new paradigm that dismisses the gatekeepers. We are living in a world in which research is unreliable because so much of it is invented. Yet, the same gatekeepers approved the research for publication.

      So, something has to change. I’ve encountered the snobby bastards who decide that to be taken seriously you must meet their demands. The back of the hand to them. Let the guy self-publish and let the gatekeepers try to disprove his research. The book is already in print in Hebrew. Print it in English, self-published, and be ready to cry anti-Semitism for every snobby little clown who tries to tear him down. Use the Left’s tactics on the Left.

      DaveGinOly in reply to Milhouse. | May 23, 2018 at 12:44 am

      I think the point here is that the scholars know the truth and are opposed to having it become widely-known. The point of publishing in any way is to get the truth to a larger audience, i.e. lay people. Some scholarly journals won’t publish the truth about “climate change,” but that hasn’t stopped important information from being disseminated, nor should it.