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Friday, June 17, 2005

The Palestinian Arab Refugees in April, 1948 (Palestine Post articles)

In April 1948, in one of the battles that preceded Israel's War of Independence, the Haganah decisively defeated the Arab fighters for control of Haifa. The Palestine Post has a few articles that describe the Arab refugees from Haifa during this time period that shed a little light upon the basic question of who created the Arab refugee problem?

This is only about Arabs in Haifa (and Jaffa) in a very small timeframe, but it shows the mindsets of the Jews and of the Arabs at the time and that it would be reasonable to expect that these mindsets remained somewhat consistent throughout the duration of the war.

The first article describes the Arab dilemma of whether they should leave a Jewish-controlled Haifa. Notice that these decisions are being made after the major fighting is over, while the truce is being negotiated. These Arabs, at least, were clearly not leaving because of war.

Notice also how the Haganah is bending over backwards to try to respect the rights of the Arab citizens of Haifa, pledging to protect their property and clearly expecting them to return. This is not the behavior of people who are trying to ethnically cleanse an area.





Meanwhile, Arabs were streaming out from Jaffa. A telling detail emerges in this account of the flight to Egypt: that Arabs were the ones encouraging other Arabs to leave, and other Arabs were upset by this. But no where do they say that Jews are expelling Arabs.

The general sense of panic among the Palestinian Arabs at the time can be seen from the tiny article at the end about the run on banks.



The next week, in a recap of the events that happened in Haifa, we see that it was clearly the Arab leadership who encouraged their people to leave. Interestingly, shortly thereafter most of Haifa's Arabs have returned to their intact homes, safe and sound. This is not the first time that the Arab leadership's treatment of the Palestinian Arabs were at cross-purposes with what the people wanted.

Again note how explicitly the Haganah is trying to keep the Arabs in their homes.



This is only a snapshot in time from a single source, and this is all before the outside Arab armies invaded (although this was considered a fait accompli), but it does show a couple of inescapable facts:

* The Haganah was acting in a way totally inconsistent with the desire to create a Jews-only state.
* The Jews were bending over backwards to respect Arab property and lives.
* The Palestinian Arab people were feeling that their leadership was not acting in their best interests. This feeling was amplified in an article the following week, right before Israel declared her independence:



The analogy to today is clear. Today the Palestinian people remain pawns in the hands of their supposed "leaders" - while the people just want to live and be able to raise their families, their leaders are obsessed with the destruction of Israel and are willing to sacrifice as many of their people as necessary to reach that goal. While the Arabs show no respect for the religion or property of others, the Jews retain respect for the human rights of their declared enemies. While the Arabs create nations that are Judenrein, the vast majority of Israelis have no desire to kick out the Arabs from Israel.

Crossposted to Palestine Post-ings.

UPDATE: SoccerDad adds this article with more details about that time period.