A History Lesson for CNN

Yesterday during lunch, I tuned in CNN… clearly a mistake. They were doing a piece on Nakba Day or Catastrophe Day. This day comes once a year for Palestinians, where they mourn the birth of the State of Israel. Reporter, Sara Sidner spoke of the day when 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes.  In fact, she twice alluded to this, without giving any context.  You were left to assume that Jews forced them to leave.  Finally, towards the end of her report, she changed her story, edging closer to the truth by defining the day of Catastrophe like this, “when the state of Israel was formed, and many Palestinians fled their land in fear.” Only closer to the truth… but still not completely true.

Sidner takes a very complicated history and sums it up in a few sound bites, first by saying the Arabs were forced to leave and then saying they fled in fear.  I say Arab because at the time, there was no Palestinian national identity.

“There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity… yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.” —Zuheir Muhsin, late Military Department head of the PLO and member of its Executive Council (Dutch daily Trouw, March 1977)
“There is no such country as ‘Palestine’; ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.” —Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi to the Pell Commission in 1937
“It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria.” —Ahmed Shuqeiri, to the UN Security Council in 1949

Sidner is not the first to make use of this misleading narrative. The fictitious story goes like this: There was once a nation of peace-loving Arabs called Palestine. The Jews took it over by force, kicked them out and changed the name to Israel.

It is true that hundreds of thousands of Arabs left Israel in the days leading up to what the Arabs call The Day of Catastropheand what we in Israel call Independence Day. It is also true that Israel absorbed even more Jewish refugees from Iraq, Yemin, Morocco and other Arab nations.  So the question is simple. Why did the Arabs who lived in British Mandate Palestine (Israel) leave?

For that we actually have to look back in history. Unlike modern day reporters who simply parrot popular PLO propaganda they think will get them more views on YouTube; we will actually quote sources at the Cantor Comment.

PLAN YOUR WAR In most cases, war breaks out spontaneously after some egregious act, as when the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand helped bring about World War I or the kidnapping of several soldiers along the Israeli/Lebanese border caused the Israel/Hezbollah war in 2007.

However, in the case of Israel’s War of Independence they were able to circle the date on their calendars: May 15th. Why? Because, contrary to the mythic takes of 2012, Great Britain, not Palestinian Arabs, governed all the land West of the Jordan River.

  1. In 1946 Great Britain went to the UN and said, “Enough! We are leaving Palestine.” (And need I say it again, the word Palestine was the name the Romans gave to the region after they conquered it in 135 CE. It has absolutely zero connection with Arabs.)

  2. In November 1947, the UN approved a plan that would take this land and create both an Arab state and a Jewish State, as the world recognized that in light of Hitler’s genocide of 6,000,000 Jews, these people needed their own defensible country.

  3. The Jews accepted the partition plan, while the Arabs declared they preferred war, rather than a Jewish State.

And thus, they prepared to attack the new Jewish state as soon as the British went home.  Their plan was clear: Complete Annihilation of the New Jewish State.

Azam Pasha, the Arab League Secretary General, boldly proclaimed the intentions of five Arab nations[1] that would attack Israel on May 15, 1948.

“This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the crusades.”

Citing Damascus radio, TIME (page 20, June 2, 1948) recorded Syria calling on all Arabs to 

‘undertake the liberation battle that will tear the hearts from the bodies of the hateful Jews and trample them in the dust.’

Ahmed Shuqeiri, later to head the Palestinian Liberation Organization, stated (quoted from Churchill and Churchill, page 52)

the surviving Jews would be helped to return to their native countries, but my estimation is that none will survive.’ [2]

The King of Jordan said,

“The only way left for us is war. I will have the pleasure and honor to save Palestine.”[3]

The goal was to destroy Israel before she ever lived. Fortunately, though being vastly outnumbered and having no nation willing to sell her arms (due to a UN embargo), Israel drove back the invading Arabs and won the war.