Trying to set the record straight

May 24, 2008 at 1:14 pm 3 comments




 A few weeks ago I wrote a blog called “Arabs and Israel’s Independence Day,” which dealt with the Arab pain associated with Israel’s establishment as a state. I mentioned that all that pain was quite unnecessary, given that the Arabs were able to set up a parallel state next to Israel – in addition to the other 22 states that they had set up, and the fact that 77% of Palestine had already become an Arab state beforehand in the form of the Kingdom of Jordan.

Many people responded to the blog. Some wrote to me directly, some folks posted comments below the blog. Most of the comments were positive. But one in particular pointed out some interesting notions. It was sent by Brett Mackey who wrote:

The original war for Israeli independence happened because as the Zionists were slaughtering innocent Palestinian Muslim and Christian civilians, the other Arab nations attempted to save the helpless.  The Arabs were defeated, and the result was a mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians; it was nothing less than ethnic cleansing.  Israel’s plan for the native inhabitants of its new land in the 1940s was no better than Hamas and Hezbollah’s plans for Israel today.”

I am always happy to receive such comments because it gives me a chance to make contact with someone who might not have all the facts straight. Here is how I answered Brett.

Dear Brett,

Thank you for your comment to my blog. Obviously, as an Israeli Jew I have a biased view of what happened. But I honesty am concerned about the veracity of my statements and I frequently question the validity of my notions. That’s why your comment to my blog is so stimulating – it prodded a question: “Hey, is this guy right, maybe?”

For starters, I’m pretty sure that our War of Independence in 1948 was a war of desperate survival, which we really didn’t want at that time. Many of our leaders even doubted our ability to stand up against the Arabs militarily. The Jewish population of Palestine at that time was in dire straits, economically, socially and certainly strategically. Even our military commander of that time Yigal Yadin said that there was an even chance that we would lose if war broke out. (Defeat would have meant yet another Holocaust a mere three years after the end of the Nazi one). But we didn’t really have a choice in the matter. Failing to declare our independence at that unique point in history (when the British left Palestine) could have meant not having another opportunity for statehood at any foreseeable time in the future (after losing our national independence thousands of years earlier and being crudely discriminated against in most of the places where we had tried to live). It was a nightmarish decision to make.

Actually the war had already been started by the local Arabs, together with militias from surrounding Arab countries, in November 1947, following the United Nations decision to partition Palestine into two separate states – one for the Arabs and one for the Jews. The Arabs here and everywhere else were determined to prevent an independent Jewish state and they launched attacks wherever they could – as they had been doing for the previous thirty years. In Palestine itself the Arabs could mount as many combatants as the Jews. But with the departure of the British on May 14, 1948, five regular Arab armies promptly invaded Palestine. Had they been victorious, it would probably have meant the slaughter of the whole Jewish population in Palestine. In the past this is exactly what had happened every time an Arab mob or force attacked and overwhelmed a Jewish town, suburb or village.

Talking about slaughter, or as you put it: “the Zionists were slaughtering innocent Palestinian Muslim and Christian civilians,” and yes, according to neutral estimates a few hundred Arab civilians were killed during the twenty months of warfare. Sorry if I sound crude, but that’s not slaughter? People get harmed in the midst of a war. Thousands get killed. Especially in battles in built-up areas. Hundreds of Jewish non-combatants were also killed – often not in the heat of battle but afterwards. But the reason that the other Arab nations invaded Palestine was not so as to prevent their fellow Arabs from being killed, as you state. Some Arab sources subsequently claimed this to cover up their initial war aims. But you only have to go into some of the Arab sources of the time. For instance, on the day after Israel declared its independence, Azzam Pasha, the Arab League Secretary, talking on Cairo radio about the Arab invasion said: “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” He meant the Jews. Also, given the circumstance, there seemed to be no way that the Arabs could lose that war.

But, as you mentioned: “the Arabs were defeated.” I don’t know if it was a miracle or if it was mainly a case of spirit and good tactics and strategy against ballyhoo and bedlam. Yet the result was certainly no mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians. And when you talk about ethnic cleansing, wasn’t that exactly what the Arabs aimed to do regarding the Jews. But we did not commit wholesale ethnic cleansing. While there were quite a few instances of Arabs fleeing their homes and lands as a result of Israeli army encouragement, it was mainly the Arab leaders who set off the mass exodus. They had urged the local Arabs to take to the hills for a short period while the local Arab forces and the armies from neighboring countries would have free reign to destroy the Jews, and then the local Arabs would be able to return to their homes and also take over the homes, properties and farms of the Jews who would not longer be there. I could quote a dozen reliable Arab sources on the subject, but for verification you can look up on foremost Arab personalities such as Edward Atiyah (Secretary General of the Arab League London Office) in his book “The Arabs,” published in 1955; Monsignor George Hakim, Bishop of Galilee; Emil Ghoury, Secretary of the Arab High Commission and countless other Arab sources. You’ll probably find them on the web or in any good library.

I wonder when you talk about ethnic cleansing, are you also taking into consideration the 800,000 Jews who fled their homes in Arab countries where they had lived for hundreds and even thousands of years. Now that was ethnic cleaning. They too, became refugees, but all were quickly absorbed in Israel, France, Canada and a few other countries. No one made a fuss over them. And no one purposefully kept them in wretched conditions for generations just to make a propaganda stand (ironically caused by the murderous intentions of the inhospitable host countries themselves).

Like I said earlier, I am biased because I happen to live here. I am biased because I keep hearing statements from Arab and Muslim leaders about their interminable quest to annihilate us, simply because we are Jews and as such are not entitled to lead normal lives in our ancient homeland. Do you know of any other nation whose actual physical existence is constantly being threatened? Actually, Jews are like the canary in the mine shaft. Wherever such rabidly anti-Jewish sentiments exist, it is in a milieu of utter wickedness. Throughout history it’s been like that.

Anyway, yes I am biased – in favor of finding a way to make peace with the Arab peoples of the region, but you’ll just have to accept that I am not willing to commit national suicide. I believe that peace will eventually come one day, but only after the Arabs and their sympathizers and supporters are able to discern truthfulness from falsehood and acknowledge that their hatred for us has been sustained by half-truths and selective omission and crude falsehood.

I don’t know if you are biased, Brett. And if so, why? But if you are sincerely concerned about the welfare of the Arabs, you can help them more by trying to persuade them simply to leave Israel alone. Tell them that can have peace whenever they choose – simply stop shooting at us; stop planning to annihilate us, and for goodness sake, try to relate to facts as they really are and stop the crude fabrications about the past and the present. They could have had their own independent state at least three times in the last 60 years, but each time they screwed things up by attacking Israel.

Let’s stay in touch.


Ralph Dobrin

See: for more material on the subject 


Entry filed under: dangeous lies and halftruths. Tags: , , , , , , .


3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Edoardo Shmuel Recanati  |  May 26, 2008 at 9:08 am

    To Ralph Dobrin your answer to that Brett was indeed impressive, civilized and historically well based.
    The matter is that people do not want or cannot be convinced. If they are smart, they know, and it appears clear that they are in bad faith and follow a different agenda.
    If they are “simple” they would not understand your reasons and believe that YOU are following your agenda.
    Hate for the Jews and today Israel is an endemic disease and no explanation is going to satisfy the antisemites.
    You remind our suffering; they think we deserved it.
    You mention our achievements… another good reason to hate us.
    Let’s forget this hopeless fight. We should spend our energy somewhere else. . Let’s do what is “good for the Jews”!

  • 2. patronization  |  May 27, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    patronization says : I absolutely agree with this !

  • 3. Pauli Ojala  |  June 11, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Could you kindly comment, whether my details are correct in a dissident essay in ?

    E.G. “…Before the Second Intifada, there were nearly 200 Israeli companies listed in the Nasdaq, at the Intifada the count dropped to 70. (The number is still greater than from all the European countries combined). It is said that the dollars are green since the Americans pull them down from the tree raw and fresh. The start-ups are imported straight from the garage, and scaling up of production in the “conflict hotspot” has been considered impossible. But the new Millennium has brought a change in tide.

    The population of Arabs under the Israeli government increased ten-fold in only 57 years. Palestinian life expectancy increased from 48 to 72 years in 1967-95. The death rate decreased by over 2/3 in 1970-90 and the Israeli medical campaigns decreased the child death rate from a level of 60 per 1000 in 1968 to 15 per 1000 in 2000 at the Westbank. (An analogous figure was 64 in Iraq, 40 in Egypt, 23 in Jordan, and 22 in Syria in 2000). During 1967-88 the amount of comprehensive schoold and second level polytechnic institutes for the Arabs was increased by 35%. During 1970-86 the proportion of Palestinian women at the West Bank and Gaza not having gone to school decreased from 67 % to 32 %. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in West Bank and Gaza increased in 1968-1991 from 165 US dollars to 1715 dollars (compare with 1630$ in Turkey, 1440$ in Tunis, 1050$ in Jordan, 800$ in Syria, 600$ in Egypt. and 400$ in Yemen)…”

    Recovering from hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of the brain,

    Pauli Ojala, evolutionary critic
    Biochemist, drop-out (MSci-Master of Sciing)


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