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Analysis Last Updated: Jun 13th, 2008 - 00:36:52

The black days of 1948
By Dr. Marwan Asmar
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jun 13, 2008, 00:14

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For a long time, Israel sought to perpetuate a myth that it was not their officials who sought to expel the Palestinians out of their country but it was the Arabs who made them leave. This is how Israel justified and today justifies its existence by denying what it has done to others.

The Palestinian Diaspora of 1948, in which over 750,000 people were forced to leave their homes, was made virtually at gunpoint. This year, as Israelis celebrate their 60th birthday in a bombastic fashion, Palestinians remember their Nakba of destruction and turmoil signified by their uprooting from their land. It is this monstrous equation that has to be driven at the forefront by scholars, academics, journalists, commentators, politicians, and activists so that the world is educated about the Israeli's forced exodus of the Palestinians.

Instead, the Nakba of 1948 is remembered in passing. The deaths and destruction of the time are treated as casual events. Sure the Nakba is bemoaned, but the depth of the tragedy continues to be lacking as Israel is an established fact which nobody has the right to question!

Today, Israel is seen as a de facto state, a legal entity, a member of the world community, an entity with military and economic muscle as well as a democratic state. The way it came to exist, although very disturbing, people, Jews and worldwide liberals have for a long time tried to brush under the carpet -- the secrets of massacres, destruction and general mayhem and of the removal of one set of people by another.

Established Zionist politicians and Israel�s military leaders understood there would come a day when the cat would be let out of the bag and the terrible secret of the massacres, transfers, expulsions, destruction of whole villages would become known to the whole world.

That�s why they�ve sought to legitimize their entity since 1948 by wrapping their existence in mythical literature -- histories, biographies and novels -- written in English to capture the hearts and minds of Western audiences and politicians. Some biographies and autobiographies have been cleverly done, written in anecdotal style of the long-last return of the Jews. The Palestinians, the injured party, were secondary, peripheral, meaningless, as if they didn�t exist.

Over a 60-year period, politicians, beginning with David Ban Gurion, the first Zionist leader who justified the terror tactics against the Palestinians, Menachem Begin, Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon and Shimon Peres, have all sought to write a �history of their struggles� in Palestine/Israel and how they made it bloom.

While Golda Meir, for instance, touched on her human aspects of her political career, Shimon Peres tried to provide a political history of Israel, and the political actions during the pre-state days of the 1930s and 1940s.

The biographies and histories soon became powerful weapons and public relations exercises to buy time, strength and support -- especially in America -- for Israel, which was built on the blood of the Palestinian people, young and old, men and women, children and toddlers.

Through their Jewish organizations and paramilitary groups like the Haganah, the Palmach, its strike force; the Irgun and the Stern gang, some of whom were trained and supplied by the British authorities -- facts that have been documented -- 13 large massacres were committed in 1948 alone, and up to 100 �smaller� massacres, according to none other than Jewish historians who have been documenting what their Jewish comrades were doing.

One or two massacres, like Dier Yassin in which around 254 women, men, children, old, pregnant women were slaughtered by being shot point-blank, are slowly being remembered for their ferocity which many Jews have became proud of.

April 8, 1948, is a day that should be a black day not only for Palestinians, Arabs, the world and even for Israelis themselves who sought to establish their �paradise� come what may.

Others massacres in Palestine were �small,� as few as five people killed, but many others killed 50 to a 100. The massacres began roughly as early as 1946 when Zionist terrorists bombed the King David Hotel, killing 91 people, but they continued in 1947 and increased throughout 1948 to grab as much land as possible.

Terming it Plan Dalet, the aim of the Jewish paramilitaries that were strongly organized and together with the reservists, altogether comprising more than 100,000 armed men against around a 14,000 Arab army, wanted to take as much land as possible outside of that allocated to them by United Nations Resolution 191 dividing historical and geographical Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Israeli.

Plan Dalet was an attempt to drive the Palestinians out through instilling fear into the local Palestinian villagers and town dwellers and force them to leave their land and their houses. People were panic stricken, a mass-flight was induced, Israeli loudspeakers telling people to leave for their own safety as sirens wailed.

Palestinians were made into refugees overnight. They left under bombardment. Of the Palestinians captured many were killed as a lesson to others that they too would be killed if they harbored any signs of resistance.

Despite the instructions of the Arab Higher Committee urging people not to leave, Palestinians made an exit to avoid what they were hearing about the massacres, and in honor of their women and in fear for their children; stories were being spread by none other than the Jews that women were being raped and killed and it would be best to leave in that situation.

Palestinians left with the keys to their houses. Some at first sought refuge in nearby villages; some went over into neighboring countries, such as Lebanon and Syria where the idea of borders were still rudimentary. People genuinely believed it would be a matter of days and weeks before they could return to tilling their fields, and they didn�t fathom the fact that their exile would become permanent.

Some still alive today said that after May 15 1948, when they were exiled to Jordan, they tried to go back via taxis, which was doubly difficult in those days, only to find that their houses had become occupied by Jewish families.

These houses were, ironically, the lucky ones. Other villages were quickly decimated soon after they were depopulated and emptied of their inhabitants.

To erase the semblance of a prior Palestinian entity more than 500 villages were destroyed in 1948, and many of these were given Jewish names to cover the evil deeds.

When the Palestinians left, the key to their houses became a permanent symbol of their lost return, of homes and houses taken over by working class Jews, middle class Jews, Jewish liberals, university professors and extremists who since then have had no qualms about living in somebody else�s quarters or taking away their homes.

A body of literature was written throughout the years, particularly after the 1960s, examining just why the Palestinians were made into refugees and increasingly questioning the Israeli narrative that it was calls from the Arab countries that told the people to leave.

Erskine Childers, an Irish journalist, first started the ball rolling with his early 1960s article in the London weekly magazine, The Spectator, stating he found no evidence to suggest that it was the Arab countries that were responsible for the creation of Palestinian refugees, but, on the contrary, it was the then Jewish paramilitaries that forced the exodus.

Palestinian academic Dr Walid Al Khalidi sought to expose the Zionist myth, then it was Rosemary Al Sayigh, a British writer and academic who wrote extensively on the Palestinian uprooting, and, in the 1980s, Michael Palumbo wrote about 1948.

These writings may have influenced a body of Jewish academics that also begun to examine their own creation as an Israeli state. Dubbed as the new historians, they gained prominence in the 1990s onwards and by examining state archives made available concluded that Israeli officials were indeed behind the Palestinian flight from their towns and villages and homes.

Dr. Marwan Asmar is the chief editor of Jo Magazine, a monthly produced in Amman. From 1993 until 2003, he was the managing editor of the Star, also in Amman, and writes frequently on Arab and Palestinian affairs.

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