Lost in most all of the media’s coverage of the conflict in Gaza, and more broadly the battle between Israel and the Arab world is a candid discussion of the history of Israel’s founding and specifically what happened to the Arabs of Palestine at the time of its founding.
Shmuel Katz, a South African native who emigrated to Israel in the 1930s, served in the Irgun and later held a seat in Israel’s First Knesset wrote at length about this very topic in his 1973 title “Battleground: Fact & Fantasy in Palestine.” And he asserts something that would enrage today’s mainstream media and undermine a crucial element to their narrative on the conflict: that the notion that Arabs were forcibly displaced from Palestine and made refugees is a farce.
Katz makes his argument largely based upon the words of the Western media and Arab leaders themselves during the time of Israel’s founding. Below is the relevant passage:
The Arabs are the only declared refugees who became refugees not by the action of their enemies or because of well-grounded fear of their enemies, but by the initiative of their own leaders. For nearly a generation, those leaders have willfully kept as many people as they possibly could in degenerating squalor, preventing their rehabilitation, and holding out to all of them the hope of return and of “vengeance” on the Jews of Israel, to whom they have transferred the blame for their plight.
The fabrication can probably most easily be seen in the simple circumstance that at the time the alleged cruel expulsion of Arabs by Zionists was in progress, it passed unnoticed. Foreign newspapermen who covered the war of 1948 on both sides did, indeed, write about the flight of the Arabs, but even those most hostile to the Jews saw nothing to suggest that it was not voluntary.
In the three months during which the major part of the flight took place – April, May, and June 1948 – the London Times, at that time [openly] hostile to Zionism, published eleven leading articles on the situation in Palestine in addition to extensive news reports and articles. In none was there even a hint of the charge that the Zionists were, driving the Arabs from their homes.
More interesting still, no Arab spokesman mentioned the subject. At the height of the flight, on April 27, Jamat Husseini, the Palestine Arabs’ chief representative at the United Nations, made a long political statement, which was not lacking in hostility toward the Zionists; he did not mention refugees. Three weeks later (while the flight was still in progress), the Secretary General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, made a fiercely worded political statement on Palestine; it contained not a word about refugees.
The Arab refugees were not driven from Palestine by anyone. The vast majority left, whether of their own free will or at the orders or exhortations of their leaders, always with the same reassurance that their departure would help in the war against Israel. Attacks by Palestinian Arabs on the Jews had begun two days after the United Nations adopted its decision of November 29, 1947, to divide western Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state. The seven neighboring Arab states Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Egypt then prepared to invade the country as soon as the birth of the infant State of Israel was announced.