In case you didn’t see this historically significant article published earlier this week, this article is a critical addition to your talking points. Please take note:
PA columnist: Arab leaders initiated departure and made false promises of a speedy return by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook- Dec. 17, 2006
PMW has documented yet another corroboration in the official Palestinian Authority (PA) paper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida that it was Arab leaders who were responsible for the flight of Arabs from the new State of Israel in 1948.
A backbone of PA ideology, and indeed of anti-Israel propagandists worldwide, is the myth that Israel expelled hundreds of thousands of Arabs from Israel and created the Palestinian “refugee” situation.
However, a regular writer for the official PA paper, Mahmud Al-Habbash, writes in a recent column that in 1948 the Arabs left their homes willingly under the instruction of their own Arab leaders and their false promises of a prompt return. He refers to these promises as “Arkuvian,” after Arkuv – a figure from Arab tradition – who was known for breaking his promises and for his lies – and states that the Arabs who left their homes, and became refugees did so believing their leaders’ deceptive promises. He places the blame and the responsibility on the shoulders of the Arab leaders and does not mention any so-called “Israeli expulsion.”
Following is this most recent article, as well as earlier statements by Arab “refugees” that have appeared in the PA press, all of which corroborate Israel’s historical narrative. The latter two testimonials are significant because they were corroborated by still other more public Palestinians, indicating that the responsibility of the Arab leaders is known in the Palestinian world. One was confirmed by Arab Member of Knesset, Ibraham Sarsur, who was then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and the other by a Palestinian journalist, Fuad Abu Higla, in the official PA daily.
The following are four statements corroborating that Arabs fled Israel under the instruction and the encouragement of Arab leaders:
1. Journalist writing about the events of 1948
Mahmud Al-Habbash, a regular writer in the official PA paper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, indicates in his column “The Pulse of Life” that the Arabs left Israel in 1948 only after political Arab leaders persuaded them to do so by promising the Arabs a speedy return to their homes in Palestine:
“…The leaders and the elites promised us at the beginning of the “Catastrophe” [[the establishment of Israel and the creation of refugee problem] in 1948, that the duration of the exile will not be long, and that it will not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees will return to their homes, which most of them did not leave only until they put their trust in those “Arkuvian” promises made by the leaders and the political elites. Afterwards, days passed, months, years and decades, and the promises were lost with the strain of the succession of events…” [Term “Arkuvian,” is after Arkuv – a figure from Arab tradition – who was known for breaking his promises and for his lies.”] ” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, December 13, 2006]
2. Woman who fled Israel in 1948
“We heard sounds of explosions and of gunfire at the beginning of the summer in the year of the “Catastrophe” [The establishment of Israel and the expulsion from the land in 1948]. They told us: The Jews attacked our region and it is better to evacuate the village and return, after the battle is over. And indeed there were among us [who fled Israel] those who left a fire burning under the pot, those who left their flock [of sheep] and those who left their money and gold behind, based on the assumption that we would return after a few hours.” [Asmaa Jabir Balasimah Um Hasan, Woman who fled Israel, Al-Ayyam, May 16, 2006]
3. Son and grandson of those who fled in 1948
An Arab viewer called Palestinian Authority TV and quoted his father and grandfather, complaining that in 1948 the Arab District Officer ordered all Arabs to leave Palestine or be labeled traitors. In response, Arab MK Ibrahim Sarsur, then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, cursed the leaders who ordered Arabs to leave, thus, acknowledging Israel’s assertion.
Statement of son and grandson of man who fled:
“Mr. Ibrahim [Sarsur]. I address you as a Muslim. My father and grandfather told me that during the “Catastrophe” [establishment of Israel in 1948 and the expulsion from the land], our district officer issued an order that whoever stays in Palestine and in Majdel [near Ashkelon – Southern Israel] is a traitor, he is a traitor.”
Response from Ibrahim Sarsur, Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel:
“The one who gave the order forbidding them to stay there bears guilt for this, in this life and the Afterlife throughout history until Resurrection Day.” [PA TV April 30, 1999]
4. Article by senior PA journalist
Fuad Abu Higla, then a regular columnist in the official PA daily Al Hayat Al Jadida, wrote an article before an Arab Summit, which criticized the Arab leaders for a series of failures. One of the failures he cited, in the name of a prisoner, was that an earlier generation of Arab leaders “forced” them to leave Israel in 1948, again placing the blame for the flight on the Arab leaders.
“I have received a letter from a prisoner in Acre prison, to the Arab summit:
To the [Arab and Muslim] Kings and Presidents, Poverty is killing us, the symptoms are exhausting us and the souls are leaving our body, yet you are still searching for the way to provide aid, like one who is looking for a needle in a haystack or like the armies of your predecessors in the year of 1948, who forced us to leave [Israel], on the pretext of clearing the battlefields of civilians… So what will your summit do now?” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, March 19, 2001]
It is clear from these statements that there is general acknowledgement among Palestinians that Arab leaders bear responsibility for the mass flight of Arabs from Israel in 1948, and were the cause of the “refugee” problem. Furthermore, the fact that this information has been validated by public figures and the media in the Palestinian Authority confirms that this responsibility is well-known – even though, for propaganda purposes, its leaders continue to blame Israel publicly for “the expulsion.”