Picking apart the New York Times Zionist narrative on the Nakba . . . using the New York Times

Yesterday’s deaths at various demonstrations commemorating the Nakba remind us of one all-important fact: without a just resolution to the Palestinian refugee issue, the state of Israel will never be welcome or accepted in the region. Those killed highlight the importance of a 63 year-old issue which has yet to be resolved or properly addressed. But it is impossible for there to be any just solution to this issue without a candid discussion of history that many “pro-Israel” types do not want to have. (Image right: AP photo of Israeli soldiers yesterday making sure people inconvenient to an ethno-centric majoritarian state stay out. Kind of like what NY Times editors do to facts inconvenient to the Zionist narrative.)
 
The Zionist narrative on the Nakba goes something like this: Newborn and defenseless Israel was attacked by 5 Arab armies the day after its birth, and refugees may have been created during the fighting, but tough luck since the Arabs started the war and David defeated Goliath.
 
You can see this narrative uncritically repeated in the mainstream American press. Take for example this recent article by Ethan Bronner in the New York Times:
 
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. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were also destroyed. The refugees and their descendants remain a central issue of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 
The timeline begins at May 14th, 1948. There are a few rather significant historical facts which are inconvenient for this narrative that go unmentioned in the New York Times. Well, at least today’s New York Times. You see, had Ethan Bronner or the editors of the Times actually read their own newspaper’s reporting on this issue at the time, they likely would not have presented such a distorted representation of the facts. (This certainly isn’t the first time the NYT contradicts itself either)
 
Two facts which torpedo the Zionist narrative are corroborated by reporting from the New York Times during this period.

 
1. Masses of Palestinian refugees were created before one Arab soldier ‘attacked’ the new state of Israel. In one story from March, 20th, 1947, the New York Times actually addressed the pre-1948 situation as one of colonization and describes it rather appropriately. Imagining such characterization in the NY Times today is fantasy. I urge you to read the whole article, titled “Palestine Jews Minimize Arabs: Sure of Superiority, Settlers Feel They Can Win Natives By Reason or Force,” but here’s an excerpt:
Whatever the degree of their superiority complex, however, the Jews are certainly confident of their ability to bring the Arabs to terms — by persuasion if possible, by might if necessary. The program of the largest terrorist group, the Irgun Zvai Leumi, is to evacuate the British forces from Palestine and declare a Zionist state west of the Jordan, and “we will take care of the Arabs.”

Despite this, the New York Times today repeats the ridiculous assertion commonplace in the Zionist narrative that the creation of the state was an innocent act that drew unprovoked and barbaric reaction from the Goliath Arab states. Here is another article, this one from April 16, 1948 and titled “Jews Press Arabs in Pitched Battle in North Palestine“:
[Villages] taken yesterday were Dabiat er Ruha, Rihania and Kuteinat. Previously they had occupied Kufrin, Abu Sureik, Abu Shusha, Zerain, Naamieh, Ghubyat at Tahta and Ghubyat al Fauqha. Several bridges blown up by Haganah squads between Jenin and Lajjun are hampering Arabs [sic] communication.

But today’s New York Times wants you to believe that the refugees created during the Nakba period, which is actually from 1947-1949, started only after Arab states attacked the newborn and sinless Israel. In reality, Zionist operations against Palestinian villages began well before the Arab armies crossed any borders. Half the total refugees created during the Nakba were created BEFORE May 15th, 1948.
 
A stream of Arab refugees is moving eastward across the Jordan river. Many of the refugees passing Jericho en route to Trans-Jordan, a few miles away, are from Jerusalem and Jaffa. They say they fear that Jewish offensives are crashing through weakened Arab volunteer resistance. Haifa was described as almost a ghost town, with its population having dwindled to less than 20,000 from a normal figure at least five times that.

Another article appearing in the New York Times titled “Palestine Strife Creates DP Issue” is dated May 3rd, 1948 stating “200,000 Arabs are now listed as homeless”:
It is believed that possibly 50,000 Arabs left Jaffa, thousands of them by sea. Other thousands have fled inland, large numbers of them to become cave dwellers in the historic caves of Beit Jibrin, northwest of Hebron…at least 40,000 Arabs left Haifa when the combined Haganah and Irgun Zvai Leumi force stormed the Arab market place and conquered all of the city except the British-held waterfront. From Jerusalem wealthy Arabs have fled to near-by countries, the poorer ones into the hills and villages.

Another New York Times story, this one from April 18th, 1948, tells of horror among refugees and massacres in the Galilee:
According to reports telephoned from Nablus, that town and Jenin are crowded with refugees, among whom the rumor is circulating that the Jews are driving on Jenin. The Haganah said it had killed 130 Druse [sic] tribesmen yesterday when it seized Usha, a village east of Haifa.

This information is important not simply because it illustrates how poorly the New York Times‘ current day reporting is on an issue it reported on thoroughly at the time (They can’t even copy and paste), but also because it clearly rebuts the Zionist narrative people like Jeffery Goldberg incessantly repeat despite mounds of historic evidence to the contrary. In this post, Goldberg argues that the Nakba was “self-inflicted” because the Arabs “attacked the just-born Jewish state and then managed to lose on the battlefield.” Setting aside the already morally corrupt notion that ethnic cleansing during war is somehow acceptable, history simply proves Goldberg wrong. For a detailed account of the patterns of depopulation, you can see this video of Salman Abu Sitta’s recent lecture at the Palestine Center, starting around the 10 minute mark.
 
2. The pre-state Israeli forces were far greater in number and far better equipped than the combined forces of the “Goliath” Arab armies. This is another myth in the Zionist narrative. They want you to believe that the 5 Arab armies had genocidal intentions and wanted to destroy Israel. Why else would you send 5 armies against one? But if the 13 nation-states of the Caribbean attacked the United States we’d hardly consider the United States the ‘David’ facing a Caribbean Goliath. But the Zionist narrative wants to trick you with a faulty numbers game. In reality, the pre-state Israel forces were greater in numbers and far superior in training than the combined forces of the infamous 5 Arab Armies. Conveniently, the New York Times reported in an article from Feb. 29th, 1948 titled “The Army Called ‘Haganah’” :
Nobody knows its full strength, let alone its membership rolls. But it is no amateur army. It has a nucleus of 30,000 men who served in the British forces. Three thousand of them served in the RAF, including more than forty pilots. More than 300 served in the Commandos and 4,000 in the Jewish Brigade in action in Italy. The British estimate Haganah’s active membership at anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000.

David Ben Gurion’s war diary notes that at every stage of the war Zionist troops outnumbered combined Arab armies. The Arab armies were disorganized having little combat experience prior to this with the exception of some of the Jordanian forces. Most Arab soldiers were using outdated arms from WWI or earlier which were inferior to the Zionist armies’ WWII arms and artillery. But even though these are facts the New York Times told us back then, they don’t want to remind you about it now. It makes you wonder; do the people that write the New York Times read the New York Times?
 
The depopulation of Palestine of its native inhabitants which took place from 1947-49 was commemorated this weekend and it was marked by Israel with the enforcement of ethnic cleansing. Palestinians seeking to return were shot down in the process. One reason that the Nakba is marked when the state of Israel was created is because the creation of this state meant that a political force would exist to enforce the exile of Palestinian refugees. 63 years later, we are reminded that that fear was very well founded.
 
Ironically, Israel is complaining to the United Nations that states like Syria and Lebanon would allow Palestinian refugees to come back to their native lands even though it is the UN which in General Assembly Resolution 194 required Israel to do just that.
 
Peace in the region will not come without an honest discussion of the events of this period, but it’s a discussion the mainstream media doesn’t seem to want to have.

Yousef Munayyer is Executive Director of the Palestine Center. This post originally appeared on the Center’s blog Permission to Narrate.

About Yousef Munayyer

Yousef Munayyer is Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund and its educational program, The Palestine Center.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 28 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. iamuglow says:

    Thats a great post.

    Whats infuriating is that Bronner, Kushner, Goldberg and all the others who push thier selective version of history, know full well that it isnt the whole truth…yet still they do it.

    • My, what a spurious, paranoid and appalling screed.

      Said Mr. Munayyer:

      “The Zionist narrative on the Nakba goes something like this: Newborn and defenseless Israel was attacked by 5 Arab armies the day after its birth, and refugees may have been created during the fighting, but tough luck since the Arabs started the war and David defeated Goliath. You can see this narrative uncritically repeated in the mainstream American press. Take for example this recent article by Ethan Bronner in the New York Times:

      ‘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. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were also destroyed. The refugees and their descendants remain a central issue of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’

      The timeline begins at May 14th, 1948. There are a few rather significant historical facts which are inconvenient for this narrative that go unmentioned in the New York Times. Well, at least today’s New York Times. You see, had Ethan Bronner or the editors of the Times actually read their own newspaper’s reporting on this issue at the time, they likely would not have presented such a distorted representation of the facts.”

      Well, I suppose Bronner could have mentioned the fact that some 175,000-200,000 refugees had fled prior to May 15, but, then again, he was not writing a history of the Palestinian refugee problem or the 1948 War; he was writing a news article on the Nabka border protests, and merely added a brief, one paragraph summary of the history behind the protests for the sake of context. It certainly did not aim to be comprehensive, and the notion that it was an attempt to posit a “Zionist narrative” denying that any refugees fled prior to May 15 is preposterous. Mr. Munayyer presents no evidence that Bronner actually denies this, and I am confident that Ethan Bronner does not deny that there were Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled prior to May 15. I would be rather surprised if he did.

      It is certainly true that the new state was attacked by the surrounding states after the declaration of statehood, but this idea that the “Zionist narrative” (whatever that is) asserts that there were no flight of refugees prior to May 15, 1948 is simply false. I am unaware of any history on the subject that does and I think we can all agree (for once) that any that does is not worth the paper it is written on.

      Yet if there is anyone pushing a false narrative here it is Mr. Munayyer. Says he:

      “Masses of Palestinian refugees were created before one Arab soldier ‘attacked’ the new state of Israel. In one story from March, 20th, 1947, the New York Times actually addressed the pre-1948 situation as one of colonization and describes it rather appropriately:

      ‘Whatever the degree of their superiority complex, however, the Jews are certainly confident of their ability to bring the Arabs to terms — by persuasion if possible, by might if necessary. The program of the largest terrorist group, the Irgun Zvai Leumi, is to evacuate the British forces from Palestine and declare a Zionist state west of the Jordan, and “we will take care of the Arabs.’”

      The article does not speak of “colonization” at all. It rather breezily surveys the opinions of some of the Yishuv about their relations and attitudes toward the Arabs, and quotes a few brash, chauvinistic Jews (and members of the Irgun) on the matter. Big deal. The article is hardly even a portrait of Jewish hostility towards Arabs; quite the contrary, in fact. Says the following paragraph of the article:

      “Some of this display of confidence may be whistling in the dark. In any case the usual emphasis is not on might but on persuasion. There appears to be a sincere belief among Zionists that their settlement in Palestine has conferred large and tangible benefits on the indigenous population. Everyone can cite an example from his own experience.”

      Under the sub-heading “Sure Arabs Are Grateful” the article continues:

      “The Zionists are convinced that the Arabs are grateful for the improvements introduced by the Jews and would so express themselves if not incited by the politicians to make a show of hostility.

      Wherever ordinary Arabs are left to their own inclinations, Zionists frequently tell you, they make themselves friendly. They make a ceremony of welcoming new Jewish settlements, often bringing coffee and food on the first day. They sit side by side with Jews in public markets, work in Jewish enterprises, buy from Jewish stores in spite of the Arabs’ anti-Jewish boycott, and deal with Jewish banks. Their inherent willingness to get along with Jews is the primary article of the Zionists’ faith.”

      Under another subheading “Look For Common Interests”:

      “There is a belief that areas of common interest would be enlarged if the political irritant could be removed from Arab-Jewish relations.”

      Two peoples, two faiths, living side by side, just going about the business of simple, peaceful coexistence. What a remarkable snapshot of a vanished era this is. It is almost enough to make one weep in light of recent events. Here, for a brief moment in time, was the breezy optimism that the rejection of the partition and the coming war would soon tragically dispel forever. The gist of the article runs so contrary to the absurd racist/colonialist/ethnic cleansing narrative pushed by Mr. Munayyer that it begs the question of why he would even cite it.

      Yet, undeterred, he continues:

      “Despite this, the New York Times today repeats the ridiculous assertion commonplace in the Zionist narrative that the creation of the state was an innocent act that drew unprovoked and barbaric reaction from the Goliath Arab states. Here is another article, this one from April 16, 1948 and titled “Jews Press Arabs in Pitched Battle in North Palestine”:

      ‘[Villages] taken yesterday were Dabiat er Ruha, Rihania and Kuteinat. Previously they had occupied Kufrin, Abu Sureik, Abu Shusha, Zerain, Naamieh, Ghubyat at Tahta and Ghubyat al Fauqha. Several bridges blown up by Haganah squads between Jenin and Lajjun are hampering Arabs [sic] communication.’

      But today’s New York Times wants you to believe that the refugees created during the Nakba period, which is actually from 1947-1949, started only after Arab states attacked the newborn and sinless Israel. In reality, Zionist operations against Palestinian villages began well before the Arab armies crossed any borders. Half the total refugees created during the Nakba were created BEFORE May 15th, 1948.”

      Someone needs to tell Mr. Munayyer something: The first Arab-Israeli war did not begin on May 15, 1948; it merely escalated from a national into an international conflict with the Arab invasion. He is either ignoring or unaware of the fact that there had been a localized, low-intensity conflict between the Yishuv and other assorted Arab militias and paramilitaries since the announcement of the partition in late November 1947, and that what he is referencing here is a series of attacks and counter-attacks between the Arabs and the Yishuv in the context of that conflict. Of course, acknowledging that context runs contrary to his attempt to portray the situation as an ongoing act of Jewish ethnic cleansing and wanton criminality.

      Let us for a moment look at the situation on April 16. Prior to the Haganah’s launching of Operation Nachshon in the second week of April 1948, the engagements between the Yishuv and the Arabs had never involved anything larger than company level units on either side. The Arab Liberation Army (ALA) offensive against the Yishuv in Mishmar-Haemek had just been repulsed with heavy losses, Palestinian military commander Abd al-Qader al Husseini had been killed on April 8, the Stern/Irgun had just perpetrated the Deir Yassin massacre on April 9, Muslim Bothers launched a failed attack on Kfar-Darom on April 10, there was an ambush of a Jewish medical convoy by the Arabs on April 13 slaughtering some 80 nurses and doctors in cold blood (as retaliation for Deir Yassin), and there was a failed Druze offensive against the Yishuv in Usha and Ramat-Yohanan in Galilee. This is the context of the events he is omitting; the violence, involving heavy fighting and, yes, some atrocities that were being committed by both sides.

      As I have previously remarked, the events which led to the flight of the refugees did not occur in a vacuum; they occurred in the context of a war, a war that resulted from the Arabs’ rejection of the partition. The 1948 War was a brutal war, fought in close quarters, sometimes hand to hand where regulars, irregulars, and civilians all confusingly intermingled. It is not surprising that in such circumstances atrocities did occur, as they do in all wars. The violence was not all one way.

      He continues:

      “Again, another New York Times story from May 2nd, 1948 titled “Despair is Voiced by Arab Refugees: Evacuees from Palestine say Jews Crash Through Weak Resistance by Volunteers”:

      ‘A stream of Arab refugees is moving eastward across the Jordan river. Many of the refugees passing Jericho en route to Trans-Jordan, a few miles away, are from Jerusalem and Jaffa. They say they fear that Jewish offensives are crashing through weakened Arab volunteer resistance. Haifa was described as almost a ghost town, with its population having dwindled to less than 20,000 from a normal figure at least five times that..’

      This too provides a fascinating snapshot of a crucial stage in the conflict though, again, not the one-sided criminal/ethnic cleansing operation posited by Mr. Munayyer. Here was the situation on May 2, 1948: The Hagana had just captured Haifa the week before, where much of the Arab population left despite Jewish pleas to remain. The Hagana had just wound up Operation Jebusite, a successful operation to secure the surrounding Jerusalem neighborhoods, though they had been repulsed in their attempt to capture Sheik Jarrah. The Arabs had just launched what would be a failed attack on the Galilee kibbutzim, and the Hagana would consolidate their defensive perimeter in eastern Galilee in anticipation of the coming Arab offensive.

      The article, however, touches upon an unpleasant and little discussed subject: the anger and resentment of the refugees not only toward the ineptitude and folly of their own leaders, but their anger and distrust of their Arab brethren in the surrounding states.

      Said the article:

      “Talk of Arab governments rescuing Palestine sounds like another case of too little too late…The Arab Liberation Army of Yarmuk was described by the refugees as a hodgepodge collection of adventurers, ne’er-do-wells, and soap box orators who had never numbered more than 3000, and who had relied on Palestinian villagers for cannon fodder.

      The reported agreement by five Arab states to wipe out the Zionist state meets with skepticism from the refugees. With an air of disillusionment, they point out that the so-called Arab War Council of five states that met last week in Amman, the capital of Trans-Jordan, had included no Palestinian Arab.”

      The skepticism and the anger was well founded. As Efraim Karsh has written:

      “Even the ultimate war victims—the survivors of Deir Yasin—did not escape their share of indignities. Finding refuge in the neighboring village of Silwan, many were soon at loggerheads with the locals, to the point where on April 14, a mere five days after the tragedy, a Silwan delegation approached the AHC’s Jerusalem office demanding that the survivors be transferred elsewhere. No help for their relocation was forthcoming.

      Some localities flatly refused to accept refugees at all, for fear of overstraining existing resources. In Acre (Akko), the authorities prevented Arabs fleeing Haifa from disembarking; in Ramallah, the predominantly Christian population organized its own militia—not so much to fight the Jews as to fend off the new Muslim arrivals. Many exploited the plight of the refugees unabashedly, especially by fleecing them for such basic necessities as transportation and accommodation.”

      Karsh adds:

      “During a fact-finding mission to Gaza in June 1949, Sir John Troutbeck, head of the British Middle East office in Cairo and no friend to Israel or the Jews, was surprised to discover that while the refugees

      “express no bitterness against the Jews (or for that matter against the Americans or ourselves) they speak with the utmost bitterness of the Egyptians and other Arab states. “We know who our enemies are,” they will say, and they are referring to their Arab brothers who, they declare, persuaded them unnecessarily to leave their homes. . . . I even heard it said that many of the refugees would give a welcome to the Israelis if they were to come in and take the district over.” (Efraim Karsh, “1948: Israel and the Palestinians—the true story,” Commentary Magazine, May 2008)

      The point is not that the refugees did not blame the Jews for their plight; they did. But these snapshots by the NYT article and Karsh’s quote from Sir John Troutbeck reveal a more complex portrait of the refugees feelings at the time that we seldom see: their feelings of betrayal and abandonment by their leaders and fellow Arabs, and the often shabby treatment they received at their hands.

      I have previously argued that the Deir Yassin massacre, and the hysterical broadcasts exaggerating the scale of it, certainly sowed panic and (unintentionally) influenced the flight of the refugees, but that the violence of the fighting in the towns and villages, the flight of so many high ranking Arab functionaries, and the near total breakdown in services also played a role in the exodus of the refugees throughout the 1948 War. This is not to deny that there were not some expulsions at Lydda and elsewhere; there were, but the numbers of those expelled were rather few. Palestine was a war zone in those days, and, in general, Palestinian Arab society was governed by a somewhat fragile polity at that time, and it simply collapsed under the strain of the conflict, as did countless other societies in Europe during World War Two. When war comes to your village, it is only human to want to get out of its way until it is over.

      Munayyer continues:

      “Another New York Times story, this one from April 18th, 1948, tells of horror among refugees and massacres in the Galilee:

      ‘According to reports telephoned from Nablus, that town and Jenin are crowded with refugees, among whom the rumor is circulating that the Jews are driving on Jenin. The Haganah said it had killed 130 Druse [sic] tribesmen yesterday when it seized Usha, a village east of Haifa.’”

      Mr. Munayyer is here being deliberately dishonest. The article does not speak of a “massacre.” The 130 Druze were not massacred, they were members of the Druze battalion of the ALA who were killed in their failed attack against the Yishuv in Usha and Ramat-Yohanan on April 13-16, which I mentioned earlier.

      Yet, having lodged an utterly baseless charge at Ethan Bronner for “denying” the flight of refugees prior to May 15, having lifted quotes out of the context of the events he describes to advance his spurious anti-Israel colonialist/ethnic cleansing narrative, and willfully ignoring the contents of the evidence he does cite, he nevertheless remarkably concludes that the evidence

      “clearly rebuts the Zionist narrative people like Jeffery Goldberg incessantly repeat despite mounds of historic evidence to the contrary. In this post, Goldberg argues that the Nakba was “self-inflicted” because the Arabs “attacked the just-born Jewish state and then managed to lose on the battlefield.” Setting aside the already morally corrupt notion that ethnic cleansing during war is somehow acceptable, history simply proves Goldberg wrong.”

      No, it doesn’t. What the evidence shows is that the Nabka was sired in the rejection, the lack of realism, and the still-persisting allergy to compromise that made the first Arab-Israeli war inevitable. The war resulted from the Arabs’ rejection of the partition, and the refugee crisis resulted from the war. The chain of causation here is simply undeniable: there would have been no refugee crisis if there had been no war.

      Having rejected the path of diplomacy and compromise, the Arabs sought the arbitration of force; it was to be a war of annihilation. Ever since the announcement of the partition in November 1947, they sought to destroy the nascent Jewish state, failed, suffered catastrophe and defeat in the process, and, as usual, blamed everyone but themselves. The Nabka was indeed needlessly self-inflicted by them, and the refugees and their descendants have paid a horrific price for their unpardonable folly. They still do.

  2. Shingo says:

    What an outstanding summary Yousef, and so wonderfully argued.

    This is one of the richest and most informative posts I’ve read on the subject.

  3. Kris says:

    This is an excellent post, thank you!

  4. Jim Haygood says:

    ‘It makes you wonder; do the people that write the New York Times read the New York Times?’

    Probably not, actually. Reporters are busy people, and like most us, ‘live in the now’ during most of their waking hours.

    Like Yousef Munayyer, I have access to the NYT historical database going back to 1851, and enjoy trolling through it. The accepted narrative of the world has morphed dramatically with each passing decade. Since few people other than doddering academics and historians personally review the transcripts of the past, glaring continuity glitches in the Matrix are really not a problem.

    As Orwell foresaw around the same time that Israel was founded, the canonized past can easily be revised after only a short passage of time, with hardly a ripple in reaction.

    After the communist revolution, China changed and simplified hundreds of its written characters, making its past inaccessible to all but a minority of scholars conversant with the old lexicon. In the U.S., such drastic measures are quite unnecessary. An incurious people, drilled in the merits of unquestioning ‘compliance’ (itself a recent meme) at school and work, don’t bother to poke into troublesome matters of the distant past which don’t concern them.

    Doubtless Israeli history works the same way, such that many fervent zionists honestly don’t know, and aren’t amenable to knowing, the atrocities that occurred in the chaotic run-up to Israel’s declaration of independence. Someday Nakba museums may document the tragic events of 1947-1949 with the same thoroughness that Holocaust museums present the horrors of 1939-1945.

  5. Great post Yousef, thank you for this contribution!

  6. pabelmont says:

    We told the NYT so. As you show, the NYT told the NYT so.

    But it doesn’t matter. Few people read MW and many read NYT.

    It’s David v. Goliath. Honesty may, and I hope is, part of MW’s gameplan; it is surely not a part of NYT’s gameplan. NYT and Israel are planning a retrospective, perhaps in 2050, saying,

    Oh, so sorry, we really did cause a lot innocent loss of life, limb, home, homeland, etc, Here, let us apologize, but — thank you very much — there is a peace, Israel and Palestine are settled, and what’s past is past. And we hope the Palestinians enjoy their new homeland, with Amman as its capital.

  7. ish says:

    What a great article. Nice work digging up this stuff. Sad how easily history is rewritten.

  8. Hostage says:

    While we are on the subject of using the New York Times to debunk Zionist mythology, here is another untapped resource:

    THE publication on Feb. 4 of the mandate over Palestine allotted to Great Britain by the Supreme Council of the Allies at San Remo threw a flood of light upon a hitherto dark spot of diplomacy and straightened out a question which was rapidly becoming involved in serious complications. The text embodies, aside from the articles of procedure, the famous San Remo resolution and the no less famous Balfour declaration. Although approved by the Supreme Council at San Remo it has yet to be submitted to the Council of the League of Nations. It makes it clear that while the mandatary is expected to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” it is not the intention to create a “Jewish State,” as had been charged in certain quarters. See Current history, Volume 13, New York Times Co., 1921, page 509

    If you compare the text of the draft mandate with the text that the Council of the League of Nations actually adopted, you’ll discover that the San Remo resolution was just like the draft treaty of peace with Turkey that the Supreme Council of the Allies adopted in anticipation of their summit in Sèvres, France. Neither of the draft instruments ever entered into effect and weren’t worth the paper they were written on.

  9. Citizen says:

    YOUSEF MUNAYYER, what an eye-opening post to the cancer on America’s informed consent that is the New York Crimes, er I mean Times. Meanwhile,
    The Economist is waking up, smelling the coffee–and wondering if Americans will see Israel is shooting down nonviolent Palestinian rights protesters in the streets:
    link to economist.com

  10. I second these commendations. — great post. A humble suggestion: Scan the articles from the old NYT editions and post them as jpegs or pdf’s. This would greatly add to the impact of your essay. Indeed, creating an archive of the Nabka as reported by the New York Times would make for a fascinating and powerful narrative. My 2 cents. -N49.

    • iamuglow says:

      ‘creating an archive of the Nabka as reported by the New York Times’

      I agree. To add to that…Phil: there have been so many important posts here with invaluable facts, quotes…that over time, at least for me…get lost beneath the new posts.

      Maybe, when you have the time and resources….you could add an index page, FAQS or a best of, or highly rated…? Where some of the best posting can be more easily referenced. The current search feature tends to pull back so many entries that, for me, its hard to find the story I’m looking for.

      As always, thanks for this site.

  11. Nevada Ned says:

    Great post, Mr. Munayyer.
    I do have a question, since you know your way around the NYT archives.
    Back in 1947-8, the Times referred to “Arab” refugees, but not “Palestinians.”
    Could you do some poking around in the NYT archive to see whether there was a year when they started to call them “Palestinians” instead of just “Arabs”. After all, Arabs could be from Morocco, Syria, lots of places. But using the word “Palestinians” implies that Palestine was inhabited, not “a land without people for a people without a land”.

    And if the NYT at some point started to use the word “Palestinians”, what year was that??

  12. Avi says:

    First, I would like to thank Mr. Munayyer for contributing his well-argued article.

    Second, I would like to post the following excerpts from Simha Flapan’s book, entitled, “The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities”

    Page 57

    It is certainly true that the Arabs of Palestine were opposed to the UN Partition Resolution. They saw it as imposing “unilateral and intolerable sacrifices” on them by giving the Jews, who constituted 35% of the population, 55% of the country’s territory. Furthermore, it cut off the proposed Palestinian Arab state from the Red Sea and from Syria and provided it with only one approach to the Mediterranean, through the enclave of Jaffa.

    Page 72

    The evidence is so overwhelming that the question arises how the myth of a Palestinian jihad against the Jews could survive for so long. One reason, in addition to the efficiency of Israel’s propaganda campaigns, is probably the Arabs’ reluctance, after their defeat in 1948, to admit that they were ready then to accept, under certain conditions, the fact of partition.

    Page 74

    [...] sufficient evidence has filtered out [of Jewish Agency, IDF archives, Histadrut and kibutz movement archives] to verify that the majority of Palestinian Arabs did not want an escalation of violence into total war. This is confirmed by the official History of the Haganah, which was edited by authoritative Haganah leaders, including Shaul Avigur and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi (Ben-Gurion’s close associate who was to become Israel’s second president). The movement to sign nonaggression pacts with Jewish neighbors spread all over the country, embracing most of the Arab villages in the Sharon area, in the vicinity of Jerusalem, including Dir Yassin and Silwan, in the upper Galilee, and in the Negev. Similar initiatives were taken in Haifa and Tiberias.

    [...]

    In a cable on December 2, 1947, Eliyahu Sasson informed Sharett that all of the terrorist activities up to then had been carried out by the mufti’s hirelings – AGAINST the wishes of the majority of Palestinian Arabs – in order to prove at the forthcoming meeting with Arab League that a military confrontation with Zionism was inevitable and that therefore the Arab states were bound to provide the Palestinians with moral, political, and military support.

    Mr. Flapan continued on page 74:

    The opinions of Ben Gurion and Danon quoted at the beginning of this chapter were shared by others, including Yaakov Shimoni, of the Jewish agency’s Arab Department, and the UN military expert Col. Roscher Lund. Yisrael Galili, the head of the Haganah, similarly indicated that apart from a few hundred supporters of the mufti, the majority of Arabs in Palestine did not want war.

    [...]

    According to descriptions in the History of the Haganah, the Palestinian Arabs who had arms were concerned with defending their villages or neighborhoods than with going out to attack Jewish forces. The initial fortification and arming of the Arab villages occurred largely because of their fear of attacks by the Jews. Indeed, weaker villages or those near strong Jewish settlements preferred to rely on nonaggression pacts with their Jewish neighborhoods, promising not to initiate actions or to permit hostile outside elements to interfere.

    Page 75

    [...] on January 25, 1948, [a meeting took place] between Ben -Gurion and his political and military assistants. [...] Ultimately, his [Ben-Gurion's] main concern seems to have been how such pacts would affect the Yishuv’s ability to defeat the Arabs in the military confrontation, which he thought, was the only way to resolve the conflict.

    The following is a list of military operations Zionist forces had carried out as early as December 1947, mere days after the UN Partition Plan was passed on November 29, 1947.

    Between December 1947 – May 15, 1948
    Operation Ben-Ami
    Operation Mishmar Ha-Emek
    Operation Khametz (Translation: Sour)
    Operation Barak
    Operation Nachshon
    Operation Har’el
    Operation Maccabi
    Operation Yevussi (Translation: Jebusite)
    Operation Shfiffon (Translation: Pseudocerastes, i.e. Viper snake)
    Operation Kilshon (Translation: Pitchfork)

    Between May 15, 1948 – June 11, 1948

    Operation Kilshon (Pitchfork) continued
    Operation Ben-Nun (pronounced: Noon)
    Operation Yoram

    Between July 8, 1948 – July 18, 1948
    Operation Dekel
    Operation Dani
    Operation An. Far. (Short for Anti-Farouk)
    Operation Death to the Invader

    Meanwhile, the second lull went into effect on July 18.

    July 18, 1948 – November, 1948
    Operation Hiram
    Operation Shoter (Translation: Policeman)
    Operation Nikahyon (Translation: Cleanup) — Israeli forces massacre Palestinians in Ashdod
    Operation Yo’av
    Operation Ha-Haar (Translation: The Mountain)

  13. Djinn says:

    The whole ‘Arab army struck first’ & ‘Arabs left coz Arab nations told them too’ memes and the others in similar veins tend to get brought up as a means to negate the right of return. It grates no end that it seems to work.
    Even IF all the ridiculous & demonstrably untrue Zionist fairytales about Israel’s founding were true it wouldn’t in anyway negate the RoR.
    If you flee actual violence you are entitled to return. If you flee with a well founded fear you are entitled to return. If you flee w/out a well founded fear you are entitled to return. Even if you pop across the border at the invitation of the rulers of a neighboring nation you are entitled to return.

  14. Robert767 says:

    The volume of accurate easily verifiable historical records which show the true nature of the Zionist enterprise and how Israel was created along with the ongoing efforts to complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is so huge one wonders how any normal,rational,literate person could possibly interpret it any other way.The only possible conclusion is that of wilfull ignorance for to confront the truth DOES call into question the legitimacy of the state of Israel.

    • Andre says:

      I would also like to thank Mr. Munayyer for his great article.

      Robert 767 said: “The only possible conclusion is that of wilfull ignorance for to confront the truth DOES call into question the legitimacy of the state of Israel.”

      After having had countless discussions over many years with apologists for Israel’s past and present criminal behavior, the only conclusion I must draw is that the overwhelming majority of them are deliberately lying through their teeth. IMO, sincere ignorance of the facts played a very minor role in my online and IRL encounters with these intellectually dishonest Hasbarists.

  15. Its an opportunistically innaccurate post as well.

    In the 1947 civil war there was MUTUAL aggressions, as in the 36-39 Arab uprisings, and in 1930 and 1920 in Hebron/Safed.

    The argument to claim “victimhood” is a lost argument. War occurred. Its time to fess up to it as a conflict and not solely as an oppression. It disempowers you to do so.

    • Avi says:

      Richard Witty said:

      I reject your reality and substitute my own, with myths, spin and propaganda aplenty.

    • Jim Haygood says:

      Munayyer cites a half dozen NYT references to back his assertions. You cite none to support yours.

      Citations talk, hasbara walks. Better luck next time.

    • eljay says:

      >> RW: The argument to claim “victimhood” is a lost argument.

      And yet you use it all the time in your apologetics for Israel. Hypocrite.

      >> Avi: Richard Witty said…

      Don’t forget the single quotation marks. Makes it more authentic. :-)

    • Donald says:

      “In the 1947 civil war there was MUTUAL aggressions, as in the 36-39 Arab uprisings, and in 1930 and 1920 in Hebron/Safed.”

      That’s true.

      “The argument to claim “victimhood” is a lost argument.”

      In other words, only Jews get to claim victimhood. Palestinians don’t.

      ” War occurred. ”

      Yes. And a lot of deliberate war crimes from the Zionist side–the majority from the Zionist side. You just don’t want anyone talking about that because it shows the founding of Israel was based on a massive series of war crimes.

      “Its time to fess up to it as a conflict and not solely as an oppression. It disempowers you to do so.”

      Yes, Palestinians should listen to Richard. He has their best interests at heart and would never tolerate it if someone tried to justify their oppression as “necessary”. Unless it was, from his perspective.

  16. Emma says:

    And let us not forget that other great plank in the Zionist myth – that the UN created Israel with the “partition plan,” a General Assembly resolution with no legal power, passed in violation of international law, the Geneva Conventions, and the UN’s own charter, a recommendation to the Security Council which the council refused to pass. In other words, the partition plan failed. The declaration of statehood by the Zionists in 1948 was illegal.

    link to palestinechronicle.com

  17. Wonderful post summarizing what really happened in the Yishuv war of aggression and conquest. For a harrowing but detailed day-to-day account, nothing is better than Ilan Pappe’s “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.” But accepting the truth about the settler colonialist conquest of Palestine and the ethnic cleansing makes it impossible to also accept the legitimacy of the Stae of Israel–since all of the land on which that state lies was stolen by brutal force from its rightful owners.

  18. tellmeall says:

    Excellent post + insightful comments.

    This is what we get when the press becomes a mouthpiece for the government.

  19. Chu says:

    well done and thanks. Their propaganda techniques are stale and old,
    and these techniques are starting to collapse, worldwide.
    It’s difficult to seriously consider the lame comments from the
    internet trolls today. This site disputes the Hasbara
    narrative with great impact. The game has changed, and
    they cant adapt to current circumstances.

  20. As amazing as these revisions/omissions are, I’m always gobsmacked when reports ignore that territory acquired by conquest is illegal since the Nuremberg courts addressed this and other issues in response to the horrors of WWII with the intent being that no one else should be subjected to similar injustices.

    I am also reminded of why one group over others has to enforce “truth” by the power of the law, as it would be quite possible for the whole house of cards to tumble if too many cracks in the base narrative started appearing and were examined in a clearer light without fear. This is not denial or revisionism but an acknowledgement of the conflating of any aspect of the Zionist narrative with that of the Holocaust. To question the Zionist narrative puts one at risk of being labeled as a denier of all Jewish history, along with the bullying that is so regularly employed in that regard.