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How we learned to forget the villages we destroyed

‘Erased from Space and Consciousness’ is the product of years of meticulous research to raise awareness of the hundreds of villages Israel destroyed during and following the 1948 war. But is awareness enough to remedy the injustices of the past?

By Tom Pessah

A youth walks among the rubble of the displaced Palestinian village of Iqrit in northern Israel, April 21, 2014. Iqrit's original inhabitants were forcibly evacuated in the Nakba of 1948. Though the Israeli high court granted the residents, who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, the right to return to their homes in 1951, the military destroyed the village and has since prevented their return. Only the village's church and cemetery remained intact, and are still used by village residents while they campaign for a full return.

A youth walks among the rubble of the displaced Palestinian village of Iqrit in northern Israel, April 21, 2014. Iqrit’s original inhabitants were forcibly evacuated during the 1948 war. Though the Israeli high court granted the residents, who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, the right to return to their homes in 1951, the military destroyed the village and has since prevented their return. (photo: Activestills.org)

Kadman, Noga: Erased From Space and Consciousness – Israel and the Depopulated Palestinian Villages of 1948. 2015. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 256 pp.

Noga Kadman’s Erased from Space and Consciousness is one of those rare books that profoundly re-shapes your perspective. Growing up inside the Zionist education system meant that even when I did eventually hear about the “Palestinian narrative,” it seemed distant — not connected directly to my life experiences as an Israeli.

Kadman’s book, a product of visits to the sites of 230 former villages and extensive archival work, traces the points at which the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 was submerged and normalized, until this massive break in the country’s history became almost imperceptible to younger generations of Israelis. Through documenting the points at which these Palestinian experiences were re-coded, the book enabled me to de-familiarize the familiar – to finally notice the ruins and the cacti I regularly passed on bus rides, and to start asking questions about their former inhabitants. As Edward Said notes, “there can be no hope of peace unless the stronger community, the Israeli Jews, acknowledges the most powerful memory for the Palestinians, namely the dispossession of an entire people” (p. 145-6). This acknowledgement can only happen once we re-read our surroundings and fully perceive what has always been there — in the background.

After a useful forward by Prof. Oren Yiftachel and an in-depth review of the scholarship on the Nakba and its erasure, the book runs through three empirical chapters. The first examines publications from 25 rural Jewish communities that took over the lands of ruined villages, and describes how this transition was narrated there. The second describes in detail two government bodies established following the state’s founding — the Government Names Committee, and the Survey of Israel (the agency responsible for mapping) — both of which determined how the sites of former Palestinian localities would be officially named in Hebrew.

Palestinian citizens of Israel visit the remains of the village of Lubya (Activestills)

Palestinian citizens of Israel visit the remains of the village of Lubya (Activestills)

The third chapter discusses signs and publications by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which help mold the public’s perceptions of what became nature reserves and holiday resorts, which mask the sites of former villages. Extensive quotes from these sources are accompanied by historical photographs of the sites (new immigrants dancing among the recent ruins), contemporary photographs by the author (ancient cacti still visible among the newer JNF forests), and reproduced illustrations from when the kibbutzim were founded (pioneers marching forward to till the land, with a destroyed house in the background). The appendices include detailed lists of the depopulated villages (but not towns), their location, demographic and topographic features, as well as the communities and parks that were built atop them and the new names they were given.

The process Kadman documents included more than “erasure” or “silencing.” More precisely, the memory of the former Palestinian inhabitants was re-shaped into a form more palatable to Israelis. The mill used by the villagers of Jarisha, inside what is now Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park, is attributed to the “Ottoman period” on the JNF website, with no mention whatsoever of the villagers who used to live there (p. 122).

Furthermore the memory of certain villages became synonymous with filth and backwardness: Kibbutz Sasa wrote that “we are mired in the ruins of an Arab village, that even before its destruction we had to run around in it among fleas and dirt” (p. 74). Sometimes the old name remained long after the inhabitants were gone, preserved by informal agents such as Mizrahi immigrant transit camps (whom the Names Committee accused of “distorting the Hebrew face of our state” — p. 103).

In the lexicon of Kabri, one of the many newly-established Jewish community, the entry “orchards in Kabri” describes delicious fruits, without mentioning the residents of the Palestinian village, al-Kabri, who planted the trees (p. 64). The Names Committee listed Moshav Kfar Daniel as “named to commemorate Daniel Frisch, the president of the Zionist Organization of America,” (p. 101) but the name curiously echoes that of the destroyed village that existed on the same site – Daniyal.

Palestinians celebrate during a festival by a natural spring at Lifta, on May 16, 2014 in Jerusalem. Palestinians came to mark the Nakba day. Lifta was a Palestinian village that was destroyed after the establishment of Israel. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians celebrate during a festival by a natural spring at Lifta, on May 16, 2014 in Jerusalem. Palestinians came to mark the Nakba day. Lifta was a Palestinian village that was destroyed after the establishment of Israel. (Activestills.org)

Moshav Ya’ad provides a somewhat different example, in which elements of the older village were actually re-associated with its original inhabitants. The moshav was built on the lands of Mi’ar in the Lower Galilee in 1974, decades after the village was destroyed. Perhaps this is the reason members of the moshav were willing to work with internally-displaced refugees, who managed to stay inside the State of Israel during the 1948 war and today reside nearby. Together they managed to prevent new construction on the site of the former village, and the ancient cemetery was fenced off and protected. However, the majority of Ya’ad members opposed placing a sign to explain the history of the destroyed village.

Yet even this modest example of cooperation is an exception. At most the first generation of kibbutz members sometimes expressed sorrow for the fate of the inhabitants whose land they took. Their questions (“what gives us the right to reap the fruits of trees we have not planted?” Kibbutz Sasa Passover Haggadah, p. 84) remained unanswered and inconsequential, and were not raised again by the following generations. In moshavim, less committed to a socialist ideology with universal pretensions, these dilemmas were entirely absent.

While Kadman’s research on the renaming of Palestinian locales remains groundbreaking, a decade after she began her study, her conclusions may seem too timid for some readers’ taste. During this period, Zochrot, the central Israeli organization trying to raise awareness of the Nakba among the Israeli public, shifted its emphasis from memorialization of the Palestinian catastrophe to actively reversing its results. Zochrot now explicitly calls for the return of refugees to the lands they were expelled from, so that they can live alongside the present Israeli inhabitants. Kadman is doubtlessly right to stress “the importance of memory,” and to document efforts to bring this memory to the consciousness of Israelis, but many Palestinians would argue that memory alone is not enough and cannot replace meaningful efforts to reverse the expulsion of 1948.

Nevertheless there is no doubt that exposing the memory of the former Palestinian locales and the attempts to cover it up is a crucial first step towards reconciliation. Kadman has provided us with a valuable tool for reconfiguring our own consciousness and perceiving the everyday traces of some 85 percent of the Palestinian population of what became the State of Israel – those who remain, to this day, “erased from space and consciousness.”

Tom Pessah is a sociologist and activist, currently studying at Tel Aviv University.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Randall the Sarcastic

      Gee Wizz!
      I guess many Poles are also feeling guilty of the ethnic cleansing of some 8 million Germans who were kicked out of their homes in 1945. The same sense of guilt also plagues many Turks who drove the Greeks out of Northern Cyprus in 1974. Lets not forget the guilty Algerian Arabs who expelled the French out of their towns in the Algerian War.

      I reckon we need to organise a conference for all guilty nations that suffer from this phenomenon.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        No Randall. You see, you are trying to draw an equivalence between the post-war Poles and the Israelis of today. But the true equivalences actually run differently and are much more complex than you admit to. The Germans invaded Poland with absolutely no casus belli. When the war was over, Germany and Poland agreed on recognized borders that their governments agree on to this day. Absolutely no serious government minister on either side publicly contests those borders. They might nurse private grievances but the international matter is settled. The war is over. This is not the case with Israel-Palestine. The conflict arose in a much, much more complex fashion and it continues and the matter is not settled. And the lines of guilt run in several directions. At the end of WWII ethnic Germans were chased out of what was Germany but is now Poland, in what was an act of revenge and ‘victor’s justice’. At the end of the 48 war, Palestinians were chased out of what is now Israel not so much in an act of revenge but in an act of pre-meditated, opportunistic ethnic cleansing. In 1967 the Israelis used the resurgent conflict in a pre-meditated and opportunistic way to seize and occupy more land and mistreat the indigenous population it found there, in knowing violation of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, of which Israel was and is a signatory. The conflict is not over and no one at all agrees on borders and nothing is settled and Israel’s massive concerted settlement enterprise is specifically calculated to make the matter interminable and unresolvable (until such time as Israel can take advantage of the fog of a new war it will provoke and stoke in order to finish the job. Benny Morris himself talks openly and ominously about how Ben Gurion failed to finish the job and this was an error as he sees it and talks about how a new conflict might afford Israel the opportunity to cleanse the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank both. Such is the unspoken “Plan Dalet” of the 21st Century. Read Ari Shavit’s interview of Morris in 2004.) These complex series of events do not lend themselves to simplistic reductions to other conflicts and to simplistic morality tales. And yes, Israelis with integrity should feel guilty but that’s not really the most important point. Come to a decent practical compromise at long last and stop the incessant indecent land grab far beyond any true security needs, and the guilt and other complex feelings will work themselves out in the following generations. Do the right thing, at long last, and the feelings will follow.

        Reply to Comment
        • Randall the Sarcastic

          Well, if you dislike the Germans being involved, our Big Conference could just include Turkish Cypriots, Algerians and Israelis. Why well at it, lets include Israelis of Mizrachi origin who had their homes in Bagdad, Cairo and Bengazi confiscated. Let everyone share the guilt.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            The Algerian Arabs equated to Israeli Jews? This alone demonstrates how mixed up you are.

            Reply to Comment
    2. been there

      The historian Ilan Pappe introduced the word ‘memoricide’. The nakba never ended; it continues today.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Jim KABLE

      As in Australia the descendants of the invading British and their exiles – and others since – in other guises as gold-seekers or immigrants seeking a better life – or as post-WWII displaced persons and subsequent refugees and asylum-seekers – are beginning to understand that it is a nation built on and over the dispersal and dispossession of the original Indigenous peoples. So too this sadness in the “establishment” of Israel and attendant “dispersal”of the Palestinian inhabitants needs to be properly recognised, understood – and dealt with in restorative ways. Congratulations to Noga KADMAN for this important and valuable contribution to keeping memory ongoing – leading one hopes and prays to state recognition and restitution.

      Reply to Comment
      • Eliza

        I have no argument with your description of Australian colonization and dispossession but I hope you realize that Israeli colonization and dispossession of its indigenous people is still a work in progress – it is not something in the past.

        Palestinians are still being dispossessed – out of Area C and herded into parts of Areas B and C. Before we wax too lyrical about ‘keeping the memory ongoing’ we should recognize the continuing acts of dispossession happening right now.

        The only way to make sense of all Israeli government policies regarding the Palestinian Occupied Territories is to accept that Israelis, whether right or left wing, want most of the West Bank with as few Palestinians as possible.

        Reply to Comment
    4. i_like_ike52

      “We” (meaning us Israelis) are NOT responsible for the abandoned Arab villages. They brought it on themselves by proclaiming a genocidal jihad against the Jewish yishuv in the wake of the UN Partition Resolution of 1947. They started the war and they lost it. Yes, they lost villages. So did Greek Cypriots in Northern Cyprus, Greeks and Turks lost villages in the massive exchange of of populations in the 1920’s between those two countries, Serbs and others lost villages in Yugoslavia when it broke up, Muslims and Hindus lost many villages during the massive upheavals of millions of people during and after the partition of India. Millions of Germans lost villages in East Prussia, the Czech Sudetenland, Silesia, etc.
      For that matter, many ancient Jewish communities were obliterated due to Muslim intolerance and sometimes even violence in the Arab/Muslim Middle East.

      If the Palestinians ever want to get their act together, they are going to have to stop their endless recriminations and attempts to make us Israelis feel guilty for defending ourselves from their genocidally-inspired jihad that fortunately failed. They will not advance as a people to a more normal existence until they realize this.

      Reply to Comment
      • Baladi Akka 1948

        Come on, I_like_Ike52 aka Ben Israel etc. You didn’t have to defend yourself against anyone, you’re an American settler who came to squat in Palestine when you were an adult; whatever solution in the duture, you clearly belong to the people that we have to return to sender. You’re not welcome in the Middle East.

        Reply to Comment
        • AJew

          “whatever solution in the duture, you clearly belong to the people that we have to return to sender. You’re not welcome in the Middle East.”

          So speaks “a lady” who calls herself Palestinian but who is actually a member of the Arab Umma who are owners of vast lands in the Middle East and North Africa far exceeding the size of Israel which represents a quarter of one percent of the lands owned by Arabs. But “this lady” who presents the majority voice amongst the Arabs of Palestine wants to expel Jews from Israel so they can have the land of Israel too.

          How can Israelis make peace with such a people? How can Israelis even respect such people?

          Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Ike, your account of who started it is dishonest propaganda not history. But just for argument’s sake lets grant for the moment that point. If we did that you might then have a leg to stand on here from a practical standpoint if you confined yourself to the pre-1967 lines in terms of justifying why Israelis should not “feel guilty for defending ourselves.” Ze’ev Sternhell makes similar principled arguments about why the destruction of the European Jews necessitated, at the time, a reasonable and secure homeland established in Palestine. Where you lose credibility, abruptly, is when you justify the occupation across the 1967 lines. As you have tried to do on countless occasions. Where you reveal dishonest purposes is when you extend this supposed “defending ourselves” rationale to the occupied territories. It is a thoroughly dishonest extension. Ze’ev Sternhell among others has defined why very clearly. It is way too simple and it is dishonest to say that Israelis are not responsible for the abandoned Arab villages. But that evasion would be tolerable as a face saving practical compromise and a way of moving forward if one were to admit that 78% is enough, at long last. But the incessant and indecent grabbing after the additional 22%, and the atrocious abuse of human beings involved sticks in everyone’s craw, everyone with the least amount of decency and not consumed by the coldest ‘judeo-fascist’ (I use the term as Yehayahu Leibowitz meant it to be used) imperatives.

        Reply to Comment
        • AJew

          “Ike, your account of who started it is dishonest propaganda not history.”

          The only dishonest person here is Ben because he denies that the Arabs of Palestine were the ones who started the violence against the Jews of Palestine.

          Which bit does this man not get? The Arabs of Palestine called (and still call) Jewish immigrants and refugees who started getting back to Palestine from the mid 1800s, they called them colonists. From there, it is only a small step to acknowledge well documented history that they resorted to violence to prevent Jews returning to the land of our ancestors.

          Reply to Comment
          • mika

            Just for interest, read King-crane commission report from year 1919. Reasons for Palestinians to resist jewish immigration to Palestine was fear for dispossession and displacement. Well, year 1948 proved that to be accurate fear.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bernie X

            Crane was a notorious anti-Semite and Hitler worshiper. King was a Christian missionary.

            Their report was a biased, prejudiced anti-Zionist, pro-Christian mission.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “It is no longer my country”
            “For me, this business called the state of Israel is finished…I can’t bear to see it anymore, the injustice that is done to the Arabs, to the Beduins. All kinds of scum coming from America and as soon as they get off the plane taking over lands in the territories and claiming it for their own…I can’t do anything to change it. I can only go away and let the whole lot go to hell without me.”
            –Israeli actress (and household name) Rivka Mitchell, quoted in Israeli peace movement periodical, “The Other Israel”, August 1998.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Even Ben’s reference link proves what I said. I said that the Arabs of Palestine perceived Jews as colonists who came to take their lands off them. That’s why the Arabs reacted with violence towards the Jewish refugees and immigrants.

            Were the Jews planning to redeem the land and establish a Jewish state? Of course they were. But their plans did not include taking over the land by violence. The Jews were BUYING lands from absentee Arab land-lords or they settled on and developed uninhabited swampy lands such as Zichron Yaakov, Petach Tikva and others. Anyone interested can google it.

            In 1947, after the announcement of UN resolution 181 to partition the land into two states, one Arab and one Jewish state. The Jews of Palestine accepted the resolution while the Arabs rejected it because they did not want a Jewish state to exist in the Middle East not even if it represented only a quarter of one percent of the lands that Arabs already owned. The Arabs rejected the UN plan by rioting and committed random acts of violence against the Jewish population of Palestine. Ben and his cohorts would have expected the Jews to ignore the violence against them. Of course the Jews disappointed people such as Ben. Who wouldn’t?!

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            From Ben’s reference link:

            Didn’t the Zionists legally buy much of the land before Israel was established?

            “In 1948, at the moment that Israel declared itself a state, it legally owned a little more than 6 percent of the land of Palestine…After 1940, when the mandatory authority restricted Jewish land ownership to specific zones inside Palestine, there continued to be illegal buying (and selling) within the 65 percent of the total area restricted to Arabs.
            Thus when the partition plan was announced in 1947 it included land held illegally by Jews, which was incorporated as a fait accompli inside the borders of the Jewish state. And after Israel announced its statehood, an impressive series of laws legally assimilated huge tracts of Arab land (whose proprietors had become refugees, and were pronounced ‘absentee landlords’ in order to expropriate their lands and prevent their return under any circumstances).” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.” . . .

            Was the partition plan fair to both Arabs and Jews?

            “Arab rejection was…based on the fact that, while the population of the Jewish state was to be [only half] Jewish with the Jews owning less than 10% of the Jewish state land area, the Jews were to be established as the ruling body — a settlement which no self-respecting people would accept without protest, to say the least…The action of the United Nations conflicted with the basic principles for which the world organization was established, namely, to uphold the right of all peoples to self-determination. By denying the Palestine Arabs, who formed the two-thirds majority of the country, the right to decide for themselves, the United Nations had violated its own charter.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “From Ben’s reference link”

            The Arabs perceived Jews as invaders who had no right to come. That’s why the Arabs resorted to violence. That’s what I keep on saying and that’s what Ben continually skips over.

            “In 1948, at the moment that Israel declared itself a state, it legally owned a little more than 6 percent of the land of Palestine…After 1940, when the mandatory authority restricted Jewish land ownership to specific zones inside Palestine, there continued to be illegal buying (and selling) within the 65 percent of the total area restricted to Arabs.”

            Illegal buying and selling? But the Arabs happily pocketed Jewish money. Go figure. By the way, the Arabs didn’t have private ownership of every inch of Palestine. Much of the land that Israel ended up with was crown land. The rest were purchased lands and some were deserted dwellings from which Arabs fled after they came off second best in the violence which the Arabs STARTED (Ben keeps on skipping over this “minor detail” that the Arabs were the first to resort to violence).

            “Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.” . . .”

            Never mind what Edward Said said. He was “somewhat” biased. I wonder if Ben would accept an ardent Zionist’s quote about the Israeli Arab conflict? I doubt it very much. So why would he expect anyone to accept the quote of an ardent Arab nationalist like Edward Said?

            “Arab rejection was…based on the fact that, while the population of the Jewish state was to be [only half] Jewish with the Jews owning less than 10% of the Jewish state land area, the Jews were to be established as the ruling body.

            — a settlement which no self-respecting people would accept without protest, to say the least…”

            Another biased and slanted representation by Ben about what is or isn’t appropriate.

            The fact is that the UN proposed two states. Yes one state was supposed to be a Jewish state with nearly as many Arabs in it. The other state was to be an Arab state with a small minority of Jews in it. What is unfair about that?

            As for who would have ended up in government in the Jewish state? More than likely it would have been a Jewish dominated government but who knows how that would have worked out in the long term had the UN proposal would have been accepted by both sides peacefully.

            In any case. Why is it so shameful for Arabs to be ruled by Jews when Jews are a majority? But if it is shameful for Arabs to be ruled by Jews, according to Ben, maybe he could tell us the alternative? There is only one other alternative. And that is for Jews to be ruled by Arabs. According to Ben’s logic, we then too can object to being ruled by Arabs. Ben of course will try his usual spin. He will say that the alternative is a government for all it’s citizens. Yea, nice slogan, but why can’t a majority Jewish state accomplish that in peace time as opposed to an Arab majority state? Ben pretends that under an Arab majority Jews can be treated fairly but a Jewish majority state cannot treat it’s Arabs fairly. Historically that is certainly not true. Jews by and large were certainly made to feel as inferiors under Arab rule even though there may have been short periods when the oppression of Jews by Arabs were minimal, there were many other periods when Jews were made to feel like Dhimis, or worse.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Baladi Akka 1948

      Maybe you should read some of I_like_Ike52’s comments on this site or elsewhere, he was formerly Ben Israel among other pen names, and this American settler lunatic who came to Palestine as an adult has wet dreams about a Greater Israel without any indigenous population. Yes, he should be sent back to where he came from ! Maybe it’s your case too

      Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        “Send us back?” But you want US to respect YOUR rights?

        Baladi seems to be the norm amongst Palestinians. That’s why things are the way they are.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Carmen

      “Defense mechanism, in psychoanalytic theory, any of a group of mental processes that enables the mind to reach compromise solutions to conflicts that it is unable to resolve. The process is usually unconscious, and the compromise generally involves concealing from oneself internal drives or feelings that threaten to lower self-esteem or provoke anxiety. The concept derives from the psychoanalytic hypothesis that there are forces in the mind that oppose and battle against each other. The term was first used in Sigmund Freud’s paper “The Neuro-Psychoses of Defence” (1894).

      Projection is a form of defense in which unwanted feelings are displaced onto another person, where they then appear as a threat from the external world. A common form of projection occurs when an individual, threatened by his own angry feelings, accuses another of harbouring hostile thoughts”.

      Projection is the main hasbara employed by zionists. It’s seen on these pages, with very little variation, 24/7. It’s ironic that the late Dr. Freud, by being a supposed fan of zionism, committed the mother of all freudian slips. Interesting that zionists are incapable of introspection and self-examination, but are masters of projection.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Carmen

      “But “this lady” who presents the majority voice amongst the Arabs of Palestine wants to expel Jews from Israel so they can have the land of Israel too.

      How can Israelis make peace with such a people? How can Israelis even respect such people?”

      Who claims this woman ‘presents the majority voice……’

      How can Palestinians and the 20% of israelis who aren’t Jewish deal with folks like you?

      Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        “How can Palestinians and the 20% of israelis who aren’t Jewish deal with folks like you?”

        Carmen admits that 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs. How could that be if we as a people are expellers?

        As for Carmen’s question about how Palestinians can deal with people like me? That’s easy. Baladi herself answered that question. She said what the Arabs always said, which is the source of the violence, they dealt with us by trying to drive us into the sea. Only it did not work out that way because we have a say on the matter too.

        Reply to Comment
        • Carmen

          I’m sorry but it’s very, very hard to take any of your posts seriously. If that’s your purpose, well done. If not, you’re just going to have to try a lot harder than ad hominen attacks. History is not on your side.

          Reply to Comment
    8. TB7

      “Carmen admits that 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs. How could that be if we as a people are expellers?”

      According to your faulty logic, Germans didn’t commit genocide against Jews, because they didn’t murder all Jews.

      But Israel expelled EVERY Palestinian, it didn’t allow to return. And it knew very well, that the UN would have NEVER recognized it, if it didn’t allow a managable Nonjewish minority to stay.

      Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        Or, maybe, just maybe, like in any other war, there were refugees. How many refugees are there from Syria today? And the ones who did not flee are Israeli citizens today, which represents 20% of Israel’s population.

        By the way, how many Jewish Palestinians remained in the West Bank, under Arab rule, after the Arabs conquered the West Bank and ruled it between 1948 and 1967? Answer: ZERO! In other words, the Arabs matched in deed what they promised. They expelled ALL Jewish Palestinians wherever and wherever they could!

        Ok thats it from me. No point in arguing with fanatics. Someone will always come out of the woodworks and deny the undeniable. I haven’t got the time for this.

        Reply to Comment
        • Duh

          This might sound callous, but frankly the West Bank (and E. J’lem) and Gaza had only several thousand Jews between them when they were occupied by the Arab forces. The Yishuv went from ~33% of Palestine’s population in 1948 to ~90% in the ’49 armistice boundary. Considering the many wars other colonial enterprises had to fight to achieve dominance, that’s not a bad deal for having started 50 years earlier with nothing.

          Also, the British instructed the Arab Legion to not attack the UN-proposed Jewish state, so a larger cleansing of Jews by the Arabs was out of the question.

          Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          “Or, maybe, just maybe, like in any other war, there were refugees. How many refugees are there from Syria today?”

          You’re trying to tell us that the displaced Syrians chased out by the brutal forces there have no right to eventually return to their homes? That their displacement was just the natural course of things and they should just get over it? Why do you only care about Israel? It’s very suspicious. Why don’t you care about Syrians? Only a biased person could write here to defend Israel but ignore what is going on in Tibet and Syria and Sudan and so many other places. You must be obsessed with the Jews. What’s your problem?

          Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Ben is trying to put words in my mouth about what I am telling him. But in reality, this is what I am telling him:

            I am telling him that be it Israel, Syria or anywhere else. A side which was attaked by another side will not allow an overwhelming number of aggressors to return to their dwellings and thereby give another opportunity to the aggressors to attack it again from the inside. Nor would it be a recipee for peaceful coexistence because even if the aggressors WOULD be allowed to return in overwhelming numbers, the ruling side would rule over them with an iron fist so as to not give them an opportunity to try their aggression again. And that in turn would be a recipee for future violent conflict.

            Since Ben tries to pretend that Syria is likely to be different, I predict that if Assad wins in Syria:

            1. Either, like Israel, Assad will not allow most of the Sunnis to return.

            2. Or, if he does, he will subject the Sunnis to such a repressive rule that they will regret returning.

            On the other hand, if the Sunnis would end up defeating Assad’s Alawite dominated army, the refugee issue would pale into insignificance compared to what will happen to the Alawites. For a clue, look at how the Sunni Isis forces deal with Shiites, Christians, the Druse, the Kurds and other non Sunnis.

            Of course Ben would be too busy to talk about ANY of the other scenarios because that would stop him from carrying on with his favorite pre-occupation which is the demonisation of Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I didn’t have to talk about them. You talked about them for me. Assad and Isis are your role models–modified, limited, partial role models, I understand, you’re much more refined and humane about it, you’re the best, but nevertheless. Got it. Occupiers and tyrants gotta look after themselves. It’s only right. Ok. Thanks.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Oh and one more thing.

            Nowhere in the history of mankind were refugees of two fighting peoples (protagonists) who fled in fear because of war, nowhere, no time were they allowed to return to their homes.

            It didn’t happen between Greeks and Turks.

            It didn’t happen for the Germans of Poland.

            It didn’t happen to the Muslims of Pakistan.

            It didn’t happen to the Hindus of India.

            And last but not least, it didn’t happen to the 1million Jews who were made to be refugees by a number of Arab countries.

            The only place where fanatics like Ben insist on it is for the Arab Palestinian refugees. And they insist on it as a strategy to hit Israel over the head with. If Israel would comply, that would enable them to cause trouble from within. Big trouble! If Israel does not comply then Israel is painted as the devil incarnate. Ben and his cohorts think kinda like flipping a coin in a crooked game. Heads Israel loses, tails the Arabs win. But Ben and his cohorts are wrong. The world is changing as they will find out soon.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            You could have settled in an “agreed upon” way the refugee issue to everyone’s acceptance a long time ago via the API if you did not insist on subjugating and humiliating them constantly via your occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and insisting on your god given eternal right to the whole shebang. Here’s what has also never happened in the history of mankind: A nation occupies and ruthlessly subjugates another people all the while saying to them “Why won’t you settle this refugee issue, am I missing something dears?” and all the while saying to the rest of the world “What’s the problem?! We’re Israeli!” and “The settlements aren’t the problem! Their refusal to knuckle under, that’s the problem!”

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          • AJew

            Could we?

            Ben keeps on denying the facts. Barak tried to settle the issue and in response he got a bloody Intifada. Olmert tried to settle the issue and he got ignored.

            Now Ben will come back with his excuses and denials about why Barak’s and Olmert’s peace offers were not valid or could not be accepted. We heard it all before.

            As for the API, it included the right of return demand for millions of Arab refugees. So long as that demand is not removed, it is a non starter for the reasons outlined above.

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    9. Claudio Chami

      Jordan was only ONE of the invading armies. And they certainly CLEANSED East Jerusalem of its Jewish inhabitants.

      Other armies, like the one from Egypt, were only a few km. from Tel Aviv. There they stopped, more or less at the Arab planned frontier of the Partition. Wether planned of because there they met strong opposition, is still discussed.

      But another egyptian column advanced at the very heart of the Negev, undoubtely an area of the Jewish state.

      Syrians also advanced from the north until being stopped by the courage of the kibutzim inhabitants. And should I remember the paper played by the Arab Liberation Army, whose leader was the nazi Fawzi al-Qawuqji, and whose flag was a knife stabbing a Star of David?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Liberation_Army

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