As Israel celebrates the 60th anniversary of its restoration, its Arab adversaries again lament its founding, mourning, as they do annually at this time, their “nakba,” their “catastrophe.”
Their lexicon of manipulation, exaggeration, and inversion of historical facts – all geared towards a denial of Israel’s legitimacy – continues to find traction the world over. However, this year, perhaps much more so than before, the notion of Palestinian “dispossession,” as a devious and premeditated Zionist plot, has been gaining momentum.
Take a peek at websites such as “Al-Awda, The Palestinian Right to Return Coalition” (www.al-awda.org). There you will see accounts of the Palestinian refugee predicament that underscore the distortions that Israel’s Arab enemies have so zealously promoted – and that the gullible, the uninformed, and the declared anti-Zionists in the West and elsewhere, are so ready to accept.
According to such sources, Palestinian refugees are seen as “the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine”; Jewish militias “terrorized the Palestinian street, destroyed villages and slaughtered entire Palestinian families [in 1948]”; the Palestinian refugee problem occurred because of “a systematic policy of ethnic cleansing,” and “dispossession and expulsion continued with the 1967 war, which Israel launched on its Arab neighbours and which resulted in the occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.”
In fact, the Palestinians have very little evidence to back up their claim that they are the “indigenous inhabitants of Palestine.” The history of the region, spanning some 5,000 years, is highly complex. It is one of conquest and further conquest with, from time to time, the Canaanites, Jews, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Christian crusaders, Turks, and Mamluks, among others, all asserting their sovereignty over the tiny slice of land where Israel is today. Amid all of this, Arabs ruled the area for only a relatively short period, from 638 until their defeat by the Crusaders in 1099.
Also, the accusation that the nascent Jewish state embarked on a declared policy of ridding the region of Arabs in 1948 has been credibly refuted again and again. And as to the charge that Israel started the wars against surrounding Arab nations, either in 1948 or 1967, this, too, is a flagrant misrepresentation of the historical record.
On the contrary, by taking up arms in their efforts to destroy the Jewish state – rather than embracing the many peace initiatives that would have assured them of their own state – the Arabs accepted what has been termed by essayist Lawrence Auster as the “verdict of arms.”
Fortunately for Israel, they lost that verdict in 1948 and then again in 1967. So, were it not for the intransigence of their leaders over the past 60 years, the outcome would have been vastly different – and so much better for all, both Palestinians and Israelis.