Invited to leave in 1948
The people are in great need
of a "myth" to fill their
consciousness and imagination....
-- Musa Alami, 1948
At the time of the 1948 war, Arabs in Israel
were invited by their fellow Arabs -- invited to "leave" while the "invading"
Arab armies would purge the land of Jews.1
The invading Arab governments were certain of a quick victory; leaders
warned the Arabs in Israel to run for their lives.2
Since 1948 Arab leaders have approached
the Palestine problem
in an irresponsible manner.... they have
used the Palestine
people for selfish political purposes.
This is ridiculous and,
I could say, even criminal.
-- King Hussein of Jordan, 1960
Since 1948 it is we who demanded the return
of the refugees... while it is we who made them leave.... We brought
disaster upon ... Arab refugees, by inviting them and bringing pressure
to bear upon them to leave.... We have rendered them dispossessed.... We
have accustomed them to begging.... We have participated in lowering their
moral and social level.... Then we exploited them in executing crimes of
murder, arson, and throwing bombs upon ... men, women and children-all
this in the service of political purposes .... 
-- Khaled Al-Azm, Syria's Prime Minister
after the 1948 war
The nations of western Europe condemned
despite their guarantee of her security....
that ... their dependence upon sources
of energy precluded
their allowing themselves to incur Arab
-- Al-Haytham Al-Ayubi, Arab Palestinian
military strategist, 1974
In response, the Jewish Haifa Workers'
Council issued an appeal to the Arab residents of Haifa: [See Official
British Police Report ]
For years we have lived together
in our city, Haifa.... Do not fear: Do not destroy your homes with your
own hands ... do not bring upon yourself tragedy by unnecessary evacuation
and self-imposed burdens.... But in this city, yours and ours, Haifa, the
gates are open for work, for life, and for peace for you and your families."3
While the Haifa pattern appears to have been
prevalent, there were exceptions. Arabs in another crucial strategic area,
who were "opening fire on the Israelis shortly after surrendering,"4
were "forced" to leave by the defending Jewish army to prevent what former
Israeli Premier Itzhak Rabin described as a "hostile and armed populace"
from remaining "in our rear, where it could endanger the supply route
. . ."5 In his memoirs, Rabin stated that Arab
control of the road between the seacoast and Jerusalem had "all but isolated"
the "more than ninety thousand Jews in Jerusalem," nearly one-sixth of
the new nation's total population.
If Jerusalem fell, the psychological
blow to the nascent Jewish state would be more damaging than any inflicted
by a score of armed brigades.6
According to a research report by the Arab-sponsored
Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut, however, "the majority" of the
Arab refugees in 1948 were not expelled, and "68%" left without seeing
an Israeli soldier.7
After the Arabs' defeat in the 1948 war,
their positions became confused: some Arab leaders demanded the "return"
of the "expelled" refugees to their former homes despite the evidence that
Arab leaders had called upon Arabs to flee. [Such as President Truman's
International Development Advisory Board Report, March 7, 1951: "Arab leaders
summoned Arabs of Palestine to mass evacuation... as the documented facts
reveal..."] At the same time, Emile Ghoury, Secretary of the Arab Higher
Command, called for the prevention of the refugees from "return." He stated
in the Beirut Telegraph on August 6, 1948: "it is inconceivable that the
refugees should be sent back to their homes while they are occupied by
the Jews.... It would serve as a first step toward Arab recognition of
the state of Israel and Partition."
Arab activist Musa Alami despaired: as
he saw the problem, "how can people struggle for their nation, when most
of them do not know the meaning of the word? ... The people are in great
need of a 'myth' to fill their consciousness and imagination. . . ." According
to Alami, ar indoctrination of the "myth" of nationality would create "identity"
However, Alami's proposal was confounded
by the realities: between 1948 and 1967, the Arab state of Jordan claimed
annexation of the territory west of the Jordan River, the "West Bank" area
of Palestine -- the same area that would later be forwarded by Arab "moderates"
as a "mini-state" for the "Palestinians." Thus, that area was, between
1948 and 1967, called "Arab land," the peoples were Arabs, and yet the
"myth" that Musa Alami prescribed-the cause of "Palestine" for the "Palestinians"
-- remained unheralded, unadopted by the Arabs during two decades. According
to Lord Caradon, "Every Arab assumed the Palestinians [refugees] would
go back to Jordan."9
When "Palestine" was referred to by the
Arabs, it was viewed in the context of the intrusion of a "Jewish
state amidst what the Arabs considered their own exclusive environment
or milieu, the 'Arab region.' "10 As
the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser "screamed" in 1956, "the
imperialists' 'destruction of Palestine' " was "an attack on Arab
nationalism," which " 'unites us from the Atlantic to the Gulf.' "11
Ever since the 1967 Israeli victory, however,
when the Arabs determined that they couldn't obliterate Israel militarily,
they have skillfully waged economic, diplomatic, and propaganda war against
Israel. This, Arabs reasoned, would take longer than military victory,
but ultimately the result would be the same. Critical to the new tactic,
however, was a device designed to whittle away at the sympathies of Israel's
allies: what the Arabs envisioned was something that could achieve Israel's
shrinking to indefensible size at the same time that she became insolvent.
This program was reviewed in 1971 by Mohamed
Heikal,12 then still an important spokesman
of Egypt's leadership in his post as editor of the influential, semi-official
newspaper Al Ahram. Heikal called for a change of Arab rhetoric
-- no more threats of "throwing Israel into the sea" -- and a new political
strategy aimed at reducing Israel to indefensible borders and pushing her
into diplomatic and economic isolation. He predicted that "total withdrawal"
would "pass sentence on the entire state of Israel."
As a more effective means of swaying world
opinion, the Arabs adopted humanitarian terminology in support of the "demands"
of the "Palestinian refugees," to replace former Arab proclamations of
carnage and obliteration. In Egypt, for example, in 1968 "the popularity
of the Palestinians was rising," as a result of Israel's 1967 defeat of
the Arabs and subsequent 1968 "Israeli air attacks inside Egypt."13]
It was as recently as 1970 that Egyptian President Nasser defined "Israel"
as the cause of "the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their land."
Although Nasser thus gave perfunctory recognition to the "Palestinian Arab"
allegation, he was in reality preoccupied with the overall basic, pivotal
Arab concern. As he continued candidly in the same sentence, Israel was
"a permanent threat to the Arab nation."14
Later that year (May 1970), Nasser "formulated his rejection of a Jewish
state in Palestine," but once again he stressed the "occupation of our
[Pan-Arab] lands," while only secondarily noting: "And we reject its [Israel's]
insistence on denying the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people in
their country."15 Subsequently the Arabs have
increased their recounting of the difficulties and travail of Arab refugees
in the "host" countries adjacent to Israel. Photographs and accounts of
life in refugee camps, as well as demands for the "legitimate" but unlimited
and undefined "rights" of the "Palestinians," have flooded the communications
media of the world in a subtle and adroit utilization of the art of professional
A prominent Arab Palestinian strategist,
AI-Haytham Al-Ayubi, analyzed the efficacy of Arab propaganda tactics in
1974, when he wrote:
The image of Israel as a weak
nation surrounded by enemies seeking its annihilation evaporated [after
1967], to be replaced by the image of an aggressive nation challenging
world opinion.* 17
[* As Rosemary Sayigh wrote in the Journal
of Palestine Studies, "a strongly defined Palestinian identity did
not emerge until 1968, two decades after expulsion." It had taken twenty
years to establish the "myth" prescribed by Musa Alami.18]
The high visibility of the sad plight of
the homeless refugees -- always tragic -- has uniquely attracted the world's
compassion.19 In addition, the campaign
has provided non-Arabs with moral rationalization for abiding by the Arabs'
anti-Israel rules, which are regarded as prerequisites to getting Arab
oil and the financial benefits from Arab oil wealth. Millions of dollars
have been spent to exploit the Arab refugees and their repatriation as
"the heart of the matter," as the primary human problem that must be resolved
before any talk of overall peace with Israel.
Reflecting on the oil weapon's influence
in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Al-Ayubi shrewdly observed:
The nations of western Europe
condemned Israel's position despite their guarantee of her security and
territorial integrity. They understood that European interests and their
dependence upon sources of energy precluded their allowing themselves to
incur Arab wrath.20
Thus Al-Ayubi recommended sham "peace-talks,"
with the continuation, however, of the "state of 'no peace,'" and he advocated
the maintaining of "moral pressure together with carefully-balanced military
tension..." for the "success of the new Arab strategy." Because
"loss of human life remains a sore point for the enemy," continual "guerrilla"
activities can erode Israel's self-confidence and "the faith" of the world
in the "Israeli policeman."
Al-Ayubi cited, as an example, "the success
of Arab foreign policy maneuvers" in 1973, which was
so total that.... With the exception
of the United States and the racist African governments, the entire world
took either a neutral or pro-Arab position on the question of legality
of restoring the occupied territories through any means -- including the
use of military force.
As Al-Ayubi noted, "The basic Arab premise
concerning 'the elimination of the results of aggression' remains accepted
by the world." Thus the "noose" will be placed around the neck of the "Zionist
But the Arabs' creation of the "myth" of
nationality did not create the advantageous situation for the Palestinian
Arabs that Musa Alami had hoped for. Instead, the conditions he complained
of bitterly were perpetuated: the Arabs "shut the door" of citizenship
"in their faces and imprison them in camps."21
Khaled Al-Azm, who was Syria's Prime Minister
after the 1948 war, deplored the Arab tactics and the subsequent exploitation
of the refugees, in his 1972 memoirs:
Since 1948 it is we who demanded
the return of the refugees ... while it is we who made them leave.... We
brought disaster upon ... Arab refugees, by inviting them and bringing
pressure to bear upon them to leave.... We have rendered them dispossessed....
We have accustomed them to begging.... We have participated in lowering
their moral and social level.... Then we exploited them in executing crimes
of murder, arson, and throwing bombs upon ... men, women and children-all
this in the service of political purposes .... 22
Propaganda has successfully veered attention
away from the Arab world's manipulation of its peoples among the refugee
group on the one hand, and the number of those who now in fact possess
Arab citizenship in many lands, on the other hand. The one notable exception
is Jordan, where the majority of Arab refugees moved,* and where they are
entitled to citizenship according to law, "unless they are Jews."23
Palestinian leadership will not let the
refugee problem be solved In 1958, former director of UNRWA Ralph Galloway
declared angrily while in Jordan that
The Arab states do not want to
solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an
affront to the United Nations, and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders
do not give a damn whether Arab refugees live or die.
Prittie, "Middle East Refugees," in Michael
Curtis et al., eds., The Palestinians:
People, History, Politics (New Brunswick,
N.J.: Transaction Books, 1975), p. 71.
Palestinians burn effigy of Canadian minister
January 17, 2001
Palestinians burned an effigy of Canadian
Foreign Minister John Manley on Thursday in a protest against Canada's
offer to accept Palestinian refugees as part of a Middle East peace plan.
Hooded gunmen fired into the air during the protest in Balata refugee camp
near the West Bank town of Nablus and hundreds of demonstrators shouted
slogans demanding the right of return to former homes. "We refuse resettlement
of refugees," they shouted.
Manley told the Toronto Star newspaper
in an interview published on January 10, "We are prepared to receive refugees.
We are prepared to contribute to an international fund to assist with resettlement
in support of a peace agreement." Manley said there had been no discussion
on the number of refugees to be resettled outside the Middle East.
Canada heads the multilateral Refugee Working
Group, a committee charged with trying to resolve the plight of Palestinian
Issa, ed., Al-Hoda, Arabic daily, June 8, 1951, New York; see Economist
(London), May 15, 1948, regarding "panic flight"; also see Economist, October
2, 1948, for British eyewitness report of Arab Higher Committee radio "announcements"
that were "urging all Arabs in Haifa to quit."
2. Near East
Arabic Radio, April 3, 1948: "It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher
Committee encouraged the refugees to flee from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa
and Jerusalem, and that certain leaders . . . make political capital out
of their miserable situation . . ." Cited by Anderson et al., "The Arab
Refugee Problem and How It Can Be Solved," p. 22; for more regarding Arab
responsibility, see Sir Alexander Cadogan, Ambassador of Great Britain
to the United Nations, speech to the Security Council, S.C., O.R., 287th
meeting, April 23, 1948; also see Harry Stebbens, British Port Officer
stationed in Haifa, letter in Evening Standard (London), January 10, 1969.
28, 1948; according to the Economist (London), October 1, 1948, only "4000
to 6000" of the "62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa" remained there
until the time of the war; also see Kenneth Bilby, New Star in the Near
East (New York: Doubleday, 1950), pp. 30-31; Lt. Col. Moshe Pearlman, The
Army of Israel (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950), pp. 116-17; and
Major E. O'Ballance, The Arab-Israeli War of 1948 (London, 1956), p. 52.
Shipler, New York Times, October 23, 1979, p. A3. Shipler cites Larry Collins
and Dominique Lapierre, 0 Jerusalem, and Dan Kurzman, Genesis 1948.
5. New York
Times, October 23, 1979.
Rabin, The Rabin Memoirs (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown, 1979), p.
23, pp. 22-44.
Dodd and Halim Barakat, River Without Bridges.- A Study of the Exodus of
the 1967Arab Palestinian Refugees (Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies,
1969), p. 43; on April 27, 1950, the Arab National Committee of Haifa stated
in a memorandum to the Arab States: "The removal of the Arab inhabitants
... was voluntary and was carried out at our request ... The Arab delegation
proudly asked for the evacuation of the Arabs and their removal to the
neighboring Arab countries.... We are very glad to state that the Arabs
guarded their honour and traditions with pride and greatness." Cited by
J.B. Schechtman, The Arab Refugee Problem (New York: Philosophical Library,
1952), pp. 8-9; also see Al-Zaman, Baghdad journal, April 27, 1950.
8. Musa Alami,
"The Lesson of Palestine," The Middle East Journal, October 1949.
9. Lord Caradon,
"Cyprus and Palestine," lecture at the University of Chicago, Center for
Middle Eastern Studies, February 17, 1976. Similar statement by Folke Bernadotte,
To Jerusalem, p. 113.
Vatikiotis, Nasser and His Generation (London: Croom Heim, 1978), pp. 256-57.
p. 234, quoting a speech by Nasser at Suez, July 26, 1956; in 1952, Sheikh
Pierre Gemayel, then leader of the Lebanese National Youth Organization
"Al Kataeb," wrote: "Why should the refugees stay in Lebanon, and not in
Egypt, Iraq and Jordan which claim that they are all Arab and beyond that,
Moslem? ... Isn't it for that alone that these so-called nationalist elements
are demanding to resettle the refugees in Lebanon because they are themselves
Arab and Moslems?" Al-Hoda, Lebanese journal, January 3, 1952, cited in
Schechtman, Arab Refugee Problem, p. 84; also see Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, "Quest
for an Arab Future," in Arab Journal, 1966-67, vol. 4, nos. 2-4, pp. 23-29.
Hassanein Heykal Discusses War and Peace in the Middle East," Journal of
Palestine Studies, Autumn 197 1. Heykal thus joined the Arab chorus heard
after the 1967 war.
Nasser, p. 257; also see Mohamed Heikal, The Road to Ramadan (New York:
Ballantine Books, 1975), p. 56.
with Nasser, Le Monde (Paris: February 1970), cited in Vatikiotis, Nasser,
Foltz, interview with Nasser, U.S. News and World Report, May 1970, cited
in Vatikiotis, Nasser, p. 259; see also Le Monde interview, February 1970.
to the popular view ... in the West," a "great many refugees" were living
out of camps "in comfortable housing outside," in the beginning of the
1960s according to Fawaz Turki, The Disinherited- Journal of a Palestinian
Exile (New York and London: Monthly Review Press, 1972), p. 41.
A]-Ayubi, "Future Arab Strategy in the Light of the Fourth War," Shuun
Filastiniyya (Beirut), October 1974. AI-Ayubi, also called Abu-Hammam,
has been military head of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,
Lieutenant Colonel in the Syrian army, and highly respected strategist
on Israel. He perceived the "guerrilla" war against Israel as the ultimately
Sayigh, "Sources of Palestinian Nationalism: A Study of a Palestinian Camp
in Lebanon," Journal of Palestinian Studies, vol. 6, no. 4, 1977, p. 2
1; see also Sayigh, "The Palestinian Identity Among Camp Residents," Journal
of Palestinian Studia vol. 6, no. 3, 1977, pp. 3-22.
19. In 1981,
the Organization of African Unity's executive secretary, Ambassador Oumarou
Garba Youssoupou from Niger, reflected upon why the millions of displaced
souls in Africa were not as visible: "We're not getting the publicity because
of our culture. No refugee is turned away from the host countries, so we're
not dramatic enough for television. We have no drownings, no piratings....
We don't make the news ... .. Aiding Africa's Refugees," by Gertrude Samuels,
The New Leader, May 4, 1981.
"Future Arab Strategy in the Light of the Fourth War."
Alami, "The Lesson of Palestine," The Middle East Journal, October 1949.
Al-Azm, Memoirs [Arabic), 3 vols. (AI-Dar al Muttahida Id-Nashr, 1972),
vol. 1, pp. 386-87, cited by Maurice Roumani, The Case of the Jewsfrom
Arab Countries: A Neglected Issue, preliminary edition (Jerusalem: World
Organization of Jews from Arab Countries [WOJAC], 1975), p. 61.
National Law, Official Gazette, No. 1171, February 16, 1954, p. 105, Article
3(3). Between 1948 and 1967, 200,000 to 300,000 Arabs moved from the West
Bank to the "East Bank," according to Eliyahu Kanovsky, in Jordan, People
and Politics in the Middle East, Michael Curtis, ed. (New Brunswick, N.J.:
Transaction Books, 1971), p. 111.
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