Sources for the Israeli/Palestinian situation 1947-1948
NOTE: This is a critical fact often omitted when the history is presented and this leads to a very distorted view of what happened in 1948. The misleading story often told is that "Jews declared Israel and then they were attacked." The fact is from November 1947 to May 1948 the Zionists were already on the offensive and had already attacked Arabs. In the months before Israel was declared, the Zionists had driven 300,000 non-Jews off their land. In the months before Israel was declared, the Zionists had seized land beyond the proposed Jewish State. http://www.representativepress.org/IsraelHistory.html .
"The Zionists were by far the more powerful and better organized force, and by May 1948, when the state of Israel was formally established, about 300,000 Palestinians already had been expelled from their homes or had fled the fighting, and the Zionists controlled a region well beyond the area of the original Jewish state that had been proposed by the UN. 62 Now it's then that Israel was attacked by its neighbors - in May 1948; it's then, after the Zionists had taken control of this much larger part of the region and hundreds of thousands of civilians had been forced out, not before." pp. 131-132 Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky * See Footnote 62 belowZionist forces had been planning their conquest of the Palestine for years and had the military advantage over the native inhabitants. Even before Zionists declared their "Jewish State of Israel" in May of 1948, Zionist armies had already seized land within areas of what the UN proposed for the Palestinian state and had already carried out terrorist attacks (including killing children) in order to ethnically cleanse areas. Writing about a December 18, 1947 terrorist attack killing civilians carried out by the Palmach - the kibbutz-based strike force of the Haganah (the Defense Force of the Jewish settlemetn in Palestine, the precursor of the IDF), Chomsky quotes Israeli military historian Uri Milshtein who wrote that Moshe Dayan justified the attack on the grounds that it had a "desirable effect." Chomsky writes, "Sykes [ author of Crossroads to Israel] suggests that this opperation, three weeks before the first Arab irregulars entered the country, may have "percipitated the next phase of the war." p95 Fateful Triangle The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians The footnote for this says: "For a contemporary record of Irgun-LEHI terrorism in December 1947, see Peace in the Middle East?, pp.64-5, citing a report by the Council on Jewish-Arab Cooperation, which concludes that these actions were undertaken to create conflict in peaceful areas. See Towards a New Cold War pp. 464-5 and referances cited for additional examples of Zionist terrorism, including major masssacres. Little of this is known here; information appears in standard Israeli (Hebrew) sources.
"By May, its armies had taken over parts of the territory assigned to the Palestinian state. The Irgun-LEHI Deir Yassin massacre in April had already taken place, one major factor in causing the flight of much of the Arab population. This fact was reported with much enthusiasm in official statements of Irgun and LEHI, specifically, by the terrorist commander Menachem Begin, who took pride in the opperation in which some 250 defenseless people were slaughtered, including more than 100 women and children, with 4 killed among the attacking forces. Recently discovered personal testimonies of the leaders of the operation reveal that the majority favored eliminating whoever stood in their way, including women and children, and proceeded to do so, murdering captured and wounded." p95 Fateful Triangle The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians
The rest is from Chapter Four Footnote 62Footnote 62. On the extent of the Zionist-controlled territory and the number of Palestinian refugees through May 1948, see for example, David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, London: Faber and Faber, 1977, pp. 123-143. An excerpt (pp. 136, 138-139, 142):
The rise of the State of Israel -- in frontiers larger than those assigned to it under the Partition Plan -- and the flight of the native population was a cataclysm so deeply distressing to the Arabs that to this day they call it, quite simply, al-nakba, the Catastrophe. . . . Deir Yassin was, as Begin rightly claims, the most spectacular single contribution to the Catastrophe. [Deir Yassin, an Arab town that had in fact refused to be used as a base for operations against the Jewish Agency by the foreign Arab volunteer force, was the site of a massacre of 250 innocent Arabs by the Jewish terrorist groups Irgun and the Stern Gang in April 1948.] In time, place and method it demonstrates the absurdity of the subsequently constructed myth [that Arab leaders had called on the Palestinian refugees to flee]. The British insisted on retaining juridical control of the country until the termination of their Mandate on 15 May; it was not until they left that the regular Arab armies contemplated coming in. But not only did Deir Yassin take place more than five weeks before that critical date, it also took place outside the area assigned to the Jewish State. It was in no sense a retaliatory action. . . . In reality, Deir Yassin was an integral part of Plan Dalet, the master-plan for the seizure of most or all of Palestine. . . . Nothing was officially disclosed about Plan Dalet . . . although Bengurion was certainly alluding to it in an address [on April 7, 1948] to the Zionist Executive: "Let us resolve not to be content with merely defensive tactics, but at the right moment to attack all along the line and not just within the confines of the Jewish State and the borders of Palestine, but to seek out and crush the enemy where-ever he may be. . . ." According to Qurvot (Battles) of 1948, a detailed history of the Haganah and the Palmach [the Zionist fighting forces], the aim of Plan Dalet was "control of the area given to us by the U.N. in addition to areas occupied by us which were outside these borders and the setting up of forces to counter the possible invasion of Arab armies." It was also designed to "cleanse" such areas of their Arab inhabitants. . . . When the war ended, in early 1949, the Zionists, allotted 57 per cent of Palestine under the Partition Plan, had occupied 77 per cent of the country. Of the 1,300,000 Arab inhabitants, they had displaced nearly 900,000.Benny Morris, "The Causes and Character of the Arab Exodus from Palestine: the Israel Defence Forces Intelligence Branch Analysis of June 1948," Middle Eastern Studies (London), January 1986, pp. 5-19. An excerpt (pp. 5, 6-7, 9-10, 14, 18):
A great deal of fresh light is shed on the multiple and variegated causation of the Arab exodus in a document which has recently surfaced, entitled "The Emigration of the Arabs of Palestine in the Period 1/12/1947-1/6/1948. . . ." Dated 30 June 1948, it was produced by the Israel Defence Forces Intelligence Branch during the first weeks of the First Truce (11 June-9 July) of the 1948 war. . . . Rather than suggesting Israeli blamelessness in the creation of the refugee problem, the Intelligence Branch assessment is written in blunt factual and analytical terms and, if anything, contains more than a hint of "advice" as to how to precipitate further Palestinian flight by indirect methods, without having recourse to direct politically and morally embarrassing expulsion orders. . . . On the eve of the U.N. Partition Plan Resolution of 29 November 1947, according to the report, there were 219 Arab villages and four Arab, or partly Arab, towns in the areas earmarked for Jewish statehood -- with a total Arab population of 342,000. By 1 June, 180 of these villages and towns had been evacuated, with 239,000 Arabs fleeing the areas of the Jewish state. A further 152,000 Arabs, from 70 villages and three towns (Jaffa, Jenin and Acre), had fled their homes in the areas earmarked for Palestinian Arab statehood in the Partition Resolution, and from the Jerusalem area. By 1 June, therefore, according to the report, the refugee total was 391,000, give or take about 10-15 per cent. Another 103,000 Arabs (60,000 of them Negev beduin and 5,000 Haifa residents) had remained in their homes in the areas originally earmarked for Jewish statehood. (This figure excludes the Arabs who stayed on in Jaffa and Acre, towns occupied by Jewish forces but lying outside the 1947 partition boundaries of the Jewish state.) . . . [The report] stress[es] that "without doubt, hostile [Haganah/Israel Defense Force] operations were the main cause of the movement of population. . . ." Altogether, the report states, Jewish -- meaning Haganah/I.D.F., I.Z.L. and L.H.I. -- military operations . . . accounted for 70 per cent of the Arab exodus from Palestine. . . . [T]here is no reason to cast doubt on the integrity of I.D.F. Intelligence Branch in the production of this analysis. The analysis was produced almost certainly only for internal, I.D.F. top brass consumption. . . . One must again emphasize that the report and its significance pertain only up to 1 June 1948, by which time some 300,000-400,000 Palestinians had left their homes. A similar number was to leave the Jewish-held areas in the remaining months of the war.The article also explains how this Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Branch report "thoroughly undermines the traditional official Israeli explanation' of a mass flight ordered or 'invited' by the Arab leadership for political-strategic reasons" (p. 17). See also, Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1987; Benny Morris, 1948 And After: Israel and the Palestinians, New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. Since Morris's early publications, he has noted that later declassified documents have strengthened his conclusions. See Benny Morris, "Revisiting the Palestinian exodus of 1948," in Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim, eds., The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2001, pp. 37-59.An excerpt (pp. 49, 38):
The documentation that has come to light or been declassified during the past ten years offers a great deal of additional information about the expulsions of 1948.The departure of Arab communities from some sites, departures that were described in The Birth as due to fear or I.D.F. [Israel Defense Force] military attack or were simply unexplained, now appear to have been tinged if not characterized by Haganah or I.D.F. expulsion orders and actions. . . .This means that the proportion of the 700,000 Arabs who took to the roads as a result of expulsions rather than as a result of straightforward military attack or fear of attack, etc. is greater than indicated in The Birth. Similarly, the new documentation has revealed atrocities that I had not been aware of while writing The Birth. . . .These atrocities are important in understanding the precipitation of various phases of the Arab exodus. . . . Above all, let me reiterate, the refugee problem was caused by attacks by Jewish forces on Arab villages and towns and by the inhabitants' fear of such attacks, compounded by expulsions, atrocities, and rumors of atrocities -- and by the crucial Israeli Cabinet decision in June 1948 to bar a refugee return.See also, Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World, New York: Norton, 2000. An excerpt (p.31):
Plan D, prepared by the Haganah chiefs in early March, was a major landmark in the development of this offensive strategy.During the preceding month the Palestinian irregulars, under the inspired leadership of Abdel Qader al-Husseini, cut the main road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and started to gain the upper hand in the fighting with the Haganah. After suffering several defeats at the hands of Palestinian irregulars, the Haganah chiefs decided to seize the initiative and go on the offensive.The aim of Plan D was to secure all the areas allocated to the Jewish state under the U.N. partition resolution as well as Jewish settlements outside these areas and corridors leading to them, so as to provide a solid and continuous basis for Jewish sovereignty.The novelty and audacity of the plan lay in the orders to capture Arab villages and cities, something the Haganah had never attempted before.Although the wording of Plan D was vague, its objective was to clear the interior of the country of hostile and potentially hostile Arab elements, and in this sense it provided a warrant for expelling civilians.By implementing Plan D in April and May, the Haganah thus directly and decisively contributed to the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem. . . . Plan D was not a political blueprint for the expulsion of Palestinian Arabs: it was a military plan with military and territorial objectives. However, by ordering the capture of Arab cities and the destruction of villages, it both permitted and justified the forcible expulsion of Arab civilians. By the end of 1948 the number of Palestinian refugees had swollento around 700,000. But the first and largest wave of refugees occurred before the official outbreak of hostilities on 15 May.Ilan PappÈ, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-51, London: I.B. Tauris, 1992, chs. 2 and 3, especially pp. 76-99.An excerpt (pp. 85, 96):
The Jews moved from defense to an offensive, once Plan D was adopted. The plan, inter alia, aimed at extending Jewish rule in Palestine. . . . from 1 April 1948 to the end of the war, Jewish operations were guided by the desire to occupy the greatest possible portion of Palestine. . . . By 15 May 1948, about 380,000 Palestinians had become refugees. By the end of the war the number was doubled and the U.N. report spoke of 750,000 refugees.Simha Flapan, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities, New York: Pantheon, 1987, pp. 81-118. An excerpt (pp. 42, 83-84, 132):
In April 1948, forces of the Irgun penetrated deep into Jaffa, which was outside the borders of the proposed Jewish state. . . . Ben-Gurion, despite harsh pronouncements against the dissidents [i.e. the Irgun and other terrorist squads], waited until after the establishment of the state to force them to disband. He could have done this earlier had it suited his purposes, but clearly it did not. The terrorists were very successful in extending the war into areas not officially allocated to the Jews. . . . Between 600,000 and 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were evicted or fled from areas that were allocated to the Jewish state or occupied by Jewish forces during the fighting and later integrated de facto into Israel. During and after the exodus, every effort was made -- from the razing of villages to the promulgation of laws -- to prevent their return. . . . According to the partition plan, the Jewish state would have had well over 300,000 Arabs, including 90,000 Bedouin. With the Jewish conquest of areas designated for the Arab state (western Galilee, Nazareth, Jaffa, Lydda, Ramleh, villages south of Jerusalem, and villages in the Arab Triangle of central Palestine), the Arab population would have risen by another 300,000 or more. Zionist leaders feared such numbers of non-Jews would threaten the stability of the new state both militarily -- should they become a fifth column for Arab armies -- and socially -- insofar as a substantial Muslim and Christian minority would challenge the new state's Jewish character. Thus the flight of up to 700,000 Arabs from Palestinian villages and towns during 1948 came to many as a relief. . . . It wasn't until April 30, 1948, two weeks before the end of the [British] Mandate, that Arab chiefs of staff met for the first time to work out a plan for military intervention. Under the pressure of mounting public criticism, fueled by the increasingly desperate situation in Palestine -- the massacre of Dir Yassin, the fall of Tiberias, the evacuation of Haifa, the collapse of the Palestinian forces, the failure of the A.L.A. [Arab Liberation Army], and the mass flight of refugees -- the army chiefs of the Arab states were finally compelled to discuss the deployment of their regular armies.Jon Kimche, Seven Fallen Pillars: The Middle East, 1945-1952, New York: Da Capo, 1976 (eyewitness report by a Zionist historian, also recounting the fact that well before May 1948 the Jewish guerrilla group Irgun and the Zionist military organization Haganah had driven most of the Arab population from Jaffa and from large areas of the proposed Palestinian state by force). An excerpt (pp. 226-227):
The battle of Mishmar Haemek [in the first half of April 1948] was an obvious sign of the turning tide, but the Jews were at the same time developing another tactic which, as we now know, made a far greater impact on the Arab population of Palestine. . . . Marching at night, they penetrated to Arab villages far in the heart of Arab-held territory. Occasionally they blew up a house occupied by an active Arab nationalist or by foreign Arab volunteers; in other villages they confiscated arms or plastered the village with warning notices. The effects of such nightly visitations soon made themselves felt throughout the Arab hinterland. They caused great disturbances and started an exodus from the areas lying near to Jewish districts. . . . Plans were now laid for a crucial attempt to seize the ports of Haifa and Jaffa, and to open communications with the north by the occupation of Tiberias and Safed. On April 21st I noted in my diary: "Arabs increasingly leaving Jewish state area. Almost half have left Haifa. Villages in the coastal plains are being evacuated. Crowded boats also leaving Jaffa" (a predominantly Arab city).And see Benny Morris, "Operation Dani and the Palestinian Exodus from Lydda and Ramle in 1948," Middle East Journal, Winter 1986, pp. 82-109 (on the expulsion of the Arab populations of Lydda and Ramle in July 1948); Erskine Childers, "The Other Exodus," in Walid Khalidi, ed., From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem Until 1948, Washington: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1987, pp. 795-803 (refuting as thoroughly baseless the claim that the Palestinian refugees fled on orders from Arab leaders); Simha Flapan, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities, New York: Pantheon, 1987, pp. 81-118 at p. 85 ("recent publication of thousands of documents in the state and Zionist archives, as well as Ben-Gurion's war diaries, shows that there is no evidence to support Israeli claims" that Arab leaders called for the exodus of Palestinian refugees. "In fact, the declassified material contradicts the 'order' theory, for among these new sources are documents testifying to the considerable efforts of the A.H.C. [Arab Higher Committee] and the Arab states to constrain the flight").