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Where to find reliable source about Palestinians leaving in 1948 (Nakba)?

Where to find reliable source about Palestinians leaving in 1948 (Nakba)?

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I am pretty new to the topic and just finishedA. Razak Abdel-Kader'sConflicts between Jews and Arabs, as one of my first books on the topic. He mentions more than 3/4 of Arabs left in 1948, who became afraid following fake news of threats from Jews at this moment. He mentions Jews asked them to stay despite those news, that this state would not be able to survive without them.

By trying to learn more about it, I came across the historianIlan Pappéwiki, mentioning Arabs were mainly fleeing fights. An other historian,Benny Morrisexplains it was deliberate from the Jews.

The two wikis mention sources from Israeli archives and Ben Gurion's letter. So where can I find sources going deeper than this and why is it so hard to find the truth?

This site has a great list of free, online newspaper archives that include coverage from 1948 Palestine. In particular, check out the link for The Jewish Press site, which has English-language content for the Palestine Post and other papers in the area. I found that a search on 'fleeing' turns up a lot of relevant content… you can quickly zero in on 1948 and easily scan the results. For example, there's a May 7, 1948 article: Arabs Flee By The Thousands

Of course, bear in mind that this is an Israeli publication, so it represents a particular perspective. But it's a great primary source, just the same.

Let us know what you find. - Dialog mit der islamischen Welt

Of course, this book about the Naqba has to include the keys – the big rusty keys to their former homes which exiled Palestinians still show, almost as a reflex, as a symbol for the injustice they and their families experienced in 1948 at the hands of the emerging state of Israel.

The keys are at the centre of many books on the Naqba, the catastrophe, as the Palestinians call the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. But this expressive symbol of their suffering has lost some of its power, since a solution of the Middle East conflict – however it comes about – will certainly not include a return of the refugees to their old villages and homes on Israeli territory.

So it's indeed positive that the Swiss journalist, Marlène Schnieper, makes sparing use of emotional clichés such as the keys in her book "Nakba – die offene Wunde" ("Naqba – The Open Wound"). She succeeds in making clear her sympathy for the Palestinians on the one hand, while on the other remaining objective in her delineation of events.

Research of the Israeli New Historians

​​Schnieper describes thoroughly and precisely the near-civil-war conditions under which the state of Israel was founded. She insists that the Arab states were a good deal less united, armed or determined when they went to war after Israeli independence than their martial rhetoric implied. ("However many Jews there are there, we will throw them in the sea," said Abd al-Rahman Azzam Pasha, the first secretary-general of the Arab League.)

For her description of events, Schnieper relies mainly on the research of the Israeli New Historians who have called the founding myths of the state into question since the late 1980s. Among those myths was the belief that the Palestinians left their homes voluntarily before Israeli independence. Schnieper describes how the planned and sometimes brutal expulsion of Palestinians in individual incidents led to a chain reaction in the whole country. News and rumours about the massacre at Deir Yassin, for example, led many Palestinians to flee their homes.

On 9th April, 1948, members of the Zionist underground organisations Irgun and Lehi killed between 100 and 120 people in the village near Jerusalem rumours spread quickly which doubled the number of dead and added reports that the women had been raped.

Linking individual fates to broader history

​​Hasan Hammami tells Schnieper in the book that it was the reports from Deir Yassin which had led his family to flee. His is one of six family stories in the book, telling how 1948 changed their lives, and linking individual fates to the broader history.

The Hammamis were a prosperous family of fruit traders from Jaffa. They fled to Lebanon, leaving their house and a large part of their wealth behind them. They had good contacts in Lebanon, and so they did not have to live in a refugee camp as did so many others. Hasan Hammami and his sister were able to take up successful professional careers. "Not bad for refugee children, eh?" he tells Schnieper.

It's one of the strengths of the book that it doesn't show the Palestinians just as passive victims who merely succeed more or less in coming to terms with the injustice done to their families. There's a casual worker who always has to rely on getting another work permit in Israel if he is to make ends meet.

There's the father in the Balata refugee camp on the West Bank who has lost both his sons: after one had been killed in an Israeli attack, the other decided to take revenge by becoming a suicide bomber and was killed by Israeli soldiers before he could carry out his mission. There's a Bedouin family which doesn't feel that anyone in the region represents their interests.

Biographical cross-section of Palestinian society

They are all allowed to tell their stories at length, as does Sari Nusseibeh, the maverick philosopher from an old aristocratic Jerusalem family, or Ahmad Yousef, intellectual adviser to the Hamas government of Gaza – an Islamist who says the best time of his life was the time he spent in Washington.

​​It's this biographical cross-section of Palestinian society which makes this book so worth reading. Schnieper lets these life stories repeatedly show how the history of 1948 still has an effect today and how patterns repeat themselves as they continue to influence the Middle East conflict – from the divisions in the Palestinian leadership and the lack of support from the Arab states to the continuing land grab by Israel and its settlers, supported by the country's military superiority.

None of this is really new, and anyone who has looked at the Middle East conflict before will find many things they already know as they read the book. It's highly to be recommended for beginners: anyone who wants to understand what the founding of the state of Israel meant for many Palestinians will find that this book gives them a readable insight – made more useful by a thorough chronology and a glossary.

Translated from the German by Michael Lawton

Marlène Schnieper: Nakba – Die offene Wunde. Die Vertreibung der Palästinenser 1948 und die Folgen (Naqba – The Open Wound: The Expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948 and its consequences), Rotpunktverlag, Zürich 2012, 380 Seiten, 28 Euro

Nakba, Palestine, 1948

Over the course of the war of Israel’s statehood — over 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes.

Amongst Palestinians this loss of home and land is known as the Nakba [al-Nakbah, Arabic for catastrophe]

I was cataloging a resource, Palestinians in Syria: Nakba memories of shattered communities by Anaheed Al-Hardan and was trying to determine some good subject headings.

Reading the table of contents, the back of the book and the preface — it was clear that this was a resource partially about the shared memories/feelings/affect that the Nakba had on the Palestinian people.

A cursory search of LCSH revealed that there was no heading for this particular expulsion [which I could then propose a subdivision of — Influence under]

Thus I created a proposal for the term — this is that proposal:

010 $a sp2017000197

040 $a MWalB $b eng $c DLC

150 $a Nakba, Palestine, 1948

450 $a Catastrophe, Palestine, 1948

450 $a Nakbah, Palestine, 1948

550 $w g $a Israel­-Arab War, 1948-­1949

550 $w g $a Population transfers $x Palestinian Arabs

670 $a Work cat: 945105294: Palestinians in Syria: Nakba memories of shattered communities, 2016: $b Preface (…the Nakba, or catastrophe, that resulted from the establishment of the state of Israel on Palestine in May 1948. This catastrophe saw the dispossession of more than half of historic Palestine’s population, some 800,000 people.)

670 $a 854503654: Auron, Yair. ha­Shoʼah, ha­-teḳumah ṿeha-­Nakbah, 2013: $b (English title: The Holocaust, the rebirth and the Nakba)

670 $a 820884307: Masalha, Nur. The Palestine Nakba, 2012: $b Introduction (1948 was the year of the Palestine Nakba (Catastrophe), the uprooting of the Palestinians and the dismemberment and de-Arabisation of historic Palestine.)

As you can see, I added two additional sources demonstrating the preferred form of the name and to generate UF references.

Yesterday the PSD evaluated my proposal and rejected it for the following reason:

Nabka refers to the 1948 expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from British Mandate Palestine (today’s Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jordan). The existing heading Population transfers—Palestinian Arabs is synonymous, or nearly synonymous, in meaning to the heading being proposed it should be assigned to the work being cataloged. The proposal was not approved.

While I’m unsure why the PSD defined the term for me, when I’d clearly understood it myself in the proposal, the second half is completely wrong.

I then sent Libby Dechman [the policy specialist responsible for the list] the following email [and a big thank-you to Anna-Sophia for reading it and providing me with feedback!]

Why My Father Made Me Forget Our Palestinian Catastrophe

How does a boy growing up in Israel remember how many of his people lost their homes in 1948, if no one will teach him?

When the creation of the State of Israel 70 years ago led to a mass Palestinian exodus, only about 150,000 Palestinians out of nearly 1 million who had lived on the territory managed to remain within the new state. Among them were my grandparents. And yet, it wasn’t until I was 20 years old that I first heard of the nakba, an Arabic term meaning “catastrophe” that many Palestinians use to mark the events of 1948.

Ironically, I heard the word from a Jewish friend at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In my excitement, I called my father and told him about my thrilling new discovery. He faltered, then advised me to get this nakba out of my system.

I hung up and stood there dumbly, wondering at the way my father seemed to be shunning the truth of his own existence. For 20 years, he had managed to silence, suppress, and obliterate the mention of the very word that binds Palestinians together in a shared memory.

But I could hardly blame him. Between 1948 and 1966, men like my father and grandfather were forced to live under a military regime imposed by Israel on its remaining Arab population. Their freedom of movement was controlled by Israeli permit requirements and curfews. They were restricted from seeing their fellow Palestinians and Arabs in neighboring countries like Jordan and Egypt, in the West Bank and Gaza, and even in other towns and villages inside Israel. Haunted by the fresh memory of loss and displacement, the first generation of Arabs in Israel was born into national limbo. Virtually overnight, they became strangers in their own homeland.

To my father, the nakba never truly ended. But whether out of fear or brutal realism, he refused to bequeath it to his son. He believed that third-generation Arabs in Israel could survive only through ignorance of what had come before. This was his mantra, one I heard repeated by him and other Palestinians of his generation.

As a youth I was educated in Arab schools in a small village near Jaffa, where I tried to make sense of the internal chaos my history teachers bred in my mind. The word nakba was omitted from Arabic textbooks, not to mention Hebrew textbooks. My teachers never dared mention it. I recall Jewish officials coming to our school around Independence Day—in retrospect, they may have been trying to monitor for use of the n-word, though if that was the goal it was an absurd effort. At the time the students there had no idea that such a word even existed. If anything, we thought that nakba was Arabic for the Holocaust.

The word “Palestine” and its derivations were equally absent. The history of Arab Palestine that had vanished in 1948 was passed over in silence among families like mine in Israel. The dream of a future Palestinian nationhood also went undiscussed within our schools and homes. We saw no such thing as a Palestinian people. Palestinians across the border were “West Bankers” and “Gazans” but never Palestinians they, not the Israelis, were our “other.” We, the Palestinians within Israel, were simply “Arabs”—neither Israeli nor Palestinian, but a nebulous species devoid of national character, identity, and memory.

Meanwhile, I was overfed with lectures about Israel’s independence, Zionist pioneers and peace doves, and the “Promised Land.” Israeli national myths—for instance, that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people without a land”—masqueraded as historical facts. Decorating the classroom walls were modern maps that labeled the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria,” a biblical designation used by Israelis who support the settlement enterprise. Zionist mantras, ranging from “God promised the land to the Jews” to “The Zionists made the desert bloom,” were repeated over and over, and Zionist platitudes were engraved deep in my Arab mind, even if some seemed mutually contradictory: “The Arabs fled because they were cowards.” “The Arabs attacked Israel first.” “Palestine was an empty land before the Zionists.” “Israelis have lived in the Land of Israel for 3,000 years.”

Indeed, I believed that Israel had existed in Palestine from time immemorial. I remember asking my history teacher, “From whom did Israel gain independence in 1948?” He hummed, gazed out into the distance, and said nothing. I gathered from his silence that Israel was a biblical miracle, somehow both eternal and created, like a national “big bang.”

I vividly recall those Independence Day moments when we Arab kids were herded into the schoolyard and ordered to stand still in memory of fallen Israeli soldiers. A long, torturous minute would pass before the siren died out and we burst into celebration, surrounded by fluttering Israeli flags and the melody of Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem. It’s no wonder Arabs in Israel continue to call Israel’s Independence Day “Independence Holiday.”

In the end, it is not what I learned, but what I did not learn, that has most profoundly shaped my memory: I did not learn, for instance, what drove thousands of people to abandon their homes and flee for their lives—leaving behind warm beds and brewed coffee, damp laundry still hanging from their windows, millstones running at their doorsteps—never to return. There were no answers, only clues wrapped in decades of collective fear and repression.

Today, I find it miraculous that I have lived and endured a life in Israel where, for much of it, nearly everybody was pretending that there had never been any nakba. For some Israeli Jews, the nakba never happened—or if it did, it happened because it had to happen. For some Arabs of my father’s and grandfather’s generations, the nakba must not happen again, even in remembrance.

But for young Palestinians of my generation, the nakba happened and happens still. Some of us feel as if our elders were enlisted to help hide the truth, and we frown sternly on their complicity in breeding a collective amnesia. Yet we also realize that for our fathers and grandfathers in Israel, keeping quiet about it was a survival tactic: The erasure bolstered their endurance. The irony is that those who lived the real nakba are still less inclined to invoke it than those who, like myself, are living it symbolically and from afar.

Israel has never officially accepted responsibility for the nakba, let alone taught it as part of its history. In 2011, Israel went so far as to pass the “Nakba Law,” which authorizes the finance minister to reduce state funding for institutions that mark Israel’s Independence Day as a day of mourning. This law restricts the ability of Palestinians to publicly commemorate a tragic past.

Israel seems to be under the perilous illusion that it can write off the national aspirations of millions of Palestinians by simply rewriting history. But history flows like a river out of the past into the present. As a Palestinian Arab who was born and raised in Israel, and who has inherited the double shock of catastrophe and independence, defeat and victory, erasure and memory, I feel like I am standing in the middle of a bridge where I can see both banks of the river. Perhaps one day Israelis too will walk that shaky bridge and see what lies on the other bank.

Where to find reliable source about Palestinians leaving in 1948 (Nakba)? - History

By Eitan Bronstein, 2004

al-Tantura's Palestinian women and children leaving their homes during Nakba. After massacring 200+ in cold blood, the rest were sent to labor camps at Umm Khalid

How can we understand this denial of the Nakba?

Can it be explained in psychological terms as the denial of an event that cannot be comfortably accepted?
Could we also say that recognition of the suffering inflicted on the Palestinians would 'remove' Jews in Israel from the status of the ultimate victim which justifies almost each evil action?
Or maybe the denial is a result of plain ignorance?

There may be various correct explanations for this phenomenon. This article will try to shed light on one aspect of the discourse about the Nakba in Israel (before and after its establishment). It will show that the Nakba represents for the Zionist subject an event that cannot possible have occurred and - at the same time - had to occur. From early on, Zionism ignored the existence of the Arab inhabitants of Palestine. It is, therefore, not possible that some 800,000 persons were ethnically cleansed from the country and that more than 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed. On the other hand, the expulsion of the Palestinian majority from their country was inevitable for Zionism that aimed to establish a Jewish State, i.e. a national home for the Jewish people in the world on a territory ruled by a Jewish majority on the basis of law.

The Nakba - an event that did not occur!

If Palestinians do not 'really' exist, as opposed to the 'reality' of Zionist existence, then also their expulsion cannot occur. It is not possible to expel somebody who is not present. According to Zionism, the violent events around 1948 did in fact occur, but only in form of an unavoidable response to the disturbance caused by the 'locals,' who did not accept the establishment of the new entity, the Jewish State. Therefore, what is important to understand, teach and tell about this period is the story of 'liberation' and 'independence' of the Jewish people in its homeland. According to this approach there was certainly no Nakba or tragedy for any other, because the other had never really existed in the land. Hundreds of villages in the costal areas, in the south and in the center were not expelled rather 'territorial continuity' was created according to the Haganah's Plan Dalet. The space is thus 'naturally' Jewish. It must only be realized and transferred to Zionist control. Jewish territorial continuity and Jewish demographic homogeneity in Palestine represent the core of the Zionist project. Therefore, the Zionist subject cannot understand or see the catastrophe inherent in this project, especially since what is involved is the historical realization of an idea that derives its relevance from the Bible and a modern nationalism turned into a religion in many aspects. The Zionist subject cannot see the Nakba or seriously debate its circumstances. It must strip off its inner essence, in order to start to see it as an event that has shaped the space in which Zionism realized itself.

The Nakba - an event that had to occur

On the other hand, and paradoxically, the Nakba - the violent expulsion of the inhabitants of the country and the transformation those remaining into refugees in their homeland, or into incomplete citizens - is a necessary event, because it brought about the realization of the ethnically pure, closed and autonomous Zionist subject which builds itself in the framework of a state aimed exclusively for him/her. Without the Nakba, the Zionist subject might have become contaminated intellectually by foreign ideas and practices, such as bi-nationalism, or even physically from living in a space over which s/he does not exert exclusive and absolute control. Benny Morris, for example, describes eloquently how the idea of transfer was found strongly in the heads and writings of Zionist leaders back in the early decades of the 20th century, based on the profound understanding that the establishment and existence of the Jewish state will require the eviction of the native inhabitants of Eretz Isra'el.

Morris then proceeds to show that also in the process of the Nakba Zionist leaders decided immediately, and in his opinion rightly so, not to permit the return of the refugees so as not to infringe upon the possibility of the establishment of a Jewish state. The decision then, by the Israeli government, to prevent the return of the Palestinian refugees, clearly indicates that its members were aware of their capability to bring about ethnic cleansing and also justified this indirectly. Some Arab villages had maintained good neighborly relations with the Jews until 1948 and some intervened for leave of the Arabs to stay in the country, however even this did not help them to remain in their homes. Zionism was not concerned with this village or that, depending on its attitude or behavior towards the new state. Arabs stayed in the country as a result of mercy, and, according to Morris, this was a mistake. The Zionist project had to evict the inhabitants of the country in order to realize itself.

Yosef Weitz, one of the heads of the Jewish National Fund at the time, provides evidence which is surprising in its honesty. He tells of the destruction of the village of Zarnouka after its inhabitants had been expelled, despite of numerous calls by Jews to abstain from their expulsion. He describes how he stood in the village watching the bulldozers destroy the buildings which until recently had housed their inhabitants, feeling nothing. The destruction of Palestinian lives does not cause any doubts or emotional disturbance. He is even surprised about the fact that he feels nothing. As if this destruction was expected and premeditated.

The Nakba continues as a non-event and causes anxiety when it appears

If the basic argument outlined above is correct, it can help explain two processes related to the Nakba, one situated in the reality of the violent conflict, the other in the consciousness of Israeli Jews who become exposed to the Nakba.

The Nakba as an event that did not occur in the past continues to not occur also today. Extra-judicial assassination of Palestinian leaders, confiscation of land, barring of Palestinian farmers from working their land by means of the wall under construction and the denial of their basic human rights are understood by the Zionist subject as means of the war against terrorism and as defensive acts necessary in order to fight the intolerable and illegitimate terror of the Palestinian people, who, according a recent statement by an Israeli leader, are seen as a genetically abnormal species. If the Nakba never happened, it is impossible that millions of Palestinians today are refugees who demand restitution of their rights. It is also impossible that the Palestinians demand control of at least one fifth of Palestine, because they also had nothing before. In the eyes of the Zionist subject, everything that is happening today is completely disconnected from the historical context of the Nakba. Reference to the past of 1948 is made only in line with the Zionist narrative which holds that, 'just like they did not accept us here in the past (e.g. according to the UN Partition Plan), they continue to try to throw us into the sea also today.'

Another interesting process related to the denial of the Nakba is what happens to Jewish Israelis who become exposed to it for the first time, whether through activities organized by Zochrot or otherwise. The Jewish Israeli individual experiences the encounter with the Palestinian Nakba as a kind of surprising slap in the face. Suddenly, and without prior warning or preparation (a result of years of denial), s/he is confronted with a tragedy that happened to the Palestinian neighbor, while s/he feels part of the side that had caused it. This creates intolerable feelings of guilt and helplessness. Guilt may be relatively easy to cope with, because it can be recognized and forgiveness can be requested. If we are ready to really listen to the voice of the Nakba, the major problem, however, is the challenge of all we have grown up with. The Zionist subject stands on somewhat shaky ground. It established itself by means of a violent process that is denied as an event that did not happen. When the ghostly spirit of this process is risen (by Zochrot, for example), it triggers astonishment and anger. If, however, we rise above these emotions towards a more objective perspective of this threatening past, we may be able to find the key to conciliation almost sixty years after the Nakba.

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The Nakba - What really happened?

Though the Nakba dates back to May 15, 1948, it is not merely a one-time occurance. Actually, the Nakba - or Catastrophe - is the plan calling for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from Palestine and it is still going on today.

Here is some vital background

The Deir Yassin massacre of April 9, 1948, was not the first massacre perpetrated by the Zionists who were enacting their plans to ethnically cleanse and take control of the Holy Land. But the event has been memorialized in the collective Palestinian consciousness. It is the enduring symbol of the beginning of the dispossession of the Palestinian people.

That diaspora became a reality for Palestinians is not surprising considering the land became a mandate territory of Great Britain after the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. Under British rule, the number of Jewish settlers continued to grow as did the pressure to realize the Zionist plan of creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly – under heavy pressure from the U.S. government – adopted Resolution 181, which effectively carved Palestine into two states one Arab and one Jewish.

At the time of the partition plan, there were approximately 1.2 million Arabs and 608,000 Jews living in in Palestine, according to historian Walid Khalidi. Partition gave 54 percent of Palestine and the nearly 500,000 Palestinians living in that area to the Jews, many of whom had been living in the area for less than 10 years, according to Richard Curtiss, former U.S. diplomat to the Middle East and a co-founder of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Not only did it create internal strife, but many Palestinians – even whole villages – were cut off from their major livelihood: Agriculture.

Jaffa, the Palestinian state’s major Mediterranean Sea port was cut off from the country’s interior, and Gaza lost its connection to the wheat fields of the Negev, according to Khalidi, who is also a professor and co-founder of the Institute for Palestine Studies, and author of “All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated By Israel in 1948.” (Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992)

The Palestinian state also lost direct access to both the Red Sea and to Syria.

During the months leading up to the Nakba and until the armistice agreement was signed in January 1949, more than 750,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes and 13,000 Palestinians were killed. The Zionists eradicated more than 500 villages and towns, completely erasing some of them from the face of the earth.

“By the end of the war, hundreds of entire villages had not only been depopulated but obliterated, their houses blown up or bulldozed. While many of the sites are difficult to access, to this day the observant traveler of Israeli roads and highways can see traces of their presence that would escape the notice of the casual passerby: A fenced-in area – often surmounting a gentle hill – of olive and other fruit trees left untended, of cactus hedges and domesticated plants run wild. Now and then a few crumbled houses are left standing, a neglected mosque or church, collapsing walls along the ghost of a village lane, but in the vast majority of cases all that remains are a scattering of stones and rubble across a forgotten landscape.” Khalidi wrote in “All That Remains.”

The number of villages and hamlets completely destroyed by the Haganah, Irgun and the Stern Gang differ. The book “All that Remains,” which is a comprehensive report on the depopulated villages undertaken by the Institute for Palestine Studies in Washington D.C ., Birzeit University in the West Bank, and the Galilee Center for Social Research in Nazareth, put the count at 418 while the Web site Palestine Remembered counts 531 such villages. The discrepancy is due to the different methodologies used to determine whether a village existed and was populated by Arabs before 1948.

By January 1949, the new state of Israel had conquered 78 percent of Palestine.

Policy of Ethnic Cleansing

Each year on May 15, Palestinians and those in solidarity with the cause, commemorate al-Nakba or “The Catastrophe,” which is also the day the state of Israel was born. The commemoration is important because in the remembrance of the catastrophe also lies the hope that Palestine one day will be whole again and its rightful inhabitants will once again people the blessed land.

But the Nakba is not just one historical event. It’s a process that began with the formation of Zionism in the late 19th century and still continues today.

“The Nakba is a process that developed the systematic dispossession of Palestinians it’s the destruction of a civil society for the intended purposes of a colonial enterprise to be set in its place,” said Dr. Hatem Bazian, professor of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and chairman of the American Muslims for Palestine. “The Nakba is not an historical event but an ongoing event. Gaza is an actual direct link to a process started in the latter part of the 19th century that culminated in 1948 and is continuing today.”

Bazian was referring to Israel’s three-week offensive against Gaza that began on Dec. 27, 2008, and which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,400 civilians and the wounding of more than 5,300. Israeli officials have said the bombardment and invasion were in response to rockets being fired into southern Israel from Gaza. But statements from Israeli leaders themselves speak not about retaliation but of advancing a policy of ethnic cleansing, which has been in effect for decades and that includes transferring Arabs out of Palestine and even murder.

Consider these quotes

“When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it's going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It's going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day . If we don't kill, we will cease to exist . Unilateral separation doesn't guarantee "peace" - it guarantees a Zionist-Jewish state with an overwhelming majority of Jews . ”

Professor Arnon Sofer, head of the Israeli army's National Defense College, as quoted in an article in the Jerusalem Post on May 24, 2004.

"I believe that it should have been even stronger! Dresden! Dresden! The extermination of a city! … I am not talking about rockets - not even a stone will be thrown at us. Because we're Jews. . I want the Arabs of Gaza to flee to Egypt. This is what I want. I want to destroy the city, not necessarily the people living within it."

Reserve Colonel Yoav Gal, an Israeli Air Force pilot, told Army Radio during the Gaza offensive on Jan. 11, 2009.

(Source: Electronic Intifada)

These chilling accounts echo earlier statements - some made more than 100 years ago - by the men who founded Zionism and the state of Israel.

“We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border … both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly.”

Theodor Hertzl, the founder of political Zionism, 1895.

“The concept of ‘transferring’ European Jews to Palestine and ‘transferring’ the Palestinian people out is central to Zionism.”

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, 1944.

“It must be clear that there is no room in the country for both people … the only solution is a Land of Israel … without Arabs. There is no room here for compromise … there is no way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries … not one village to be left, not one tribe.”

Yosef Weitz, director of the Jewish National Fund’s land department and founder of the Transfer Committee, 1944.

According to Donald Neff, a former Time magazine Jerusalem bureau chief, ethnic cleansing was at the core of Zionism, whether it was the ultranationalist Revisionist Zionists under founder Vladimir Jabotinsky and later Menachem Begin or the "mainline" Zionists headed by David Ben-Gurion.

"While the two major factions of Zionism disagree on tactics, their ultimate aim of maintaining a Jewish state free of non-Jews was the same. . In the Revisionist's vocabulary the goal was the same, if more expansionist and expressed in more pugnacious words. Former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, a leading spokesman of Zionism's right wing, commented in 1993: 'Our forefathers did not come here in order to build a democracy but to build a Jewish state," Neff wrote in an essay titled 1948: Zionism and Jewish Terrorism. The essay is included in a collection of Neff's work in the book, "Fifty Years of Israel." (American Educational Trust, 1998)

Plan Dalet and the Transfer of Palestinians

The Zionist plans for transferring Palestinians out of their homeland was made clear in the Plan Dalet, the master defense plan of the army, the Haganah, dated March 10, 1948. The manifesto outlined how the Jewish conquest of Palestine should be carried out. A major portion of the plan outlined how Jewish fighters were to secure and take control of villages and areas outside the boundaries the United Nations had set for the state of Israel.

“Zionism’s responsibility for the Palestinian exodus and diaspora is an integral part of the genesis of the State of Israel,” Khalidi wrote in a 1961 article titled, “Plan Dalet: Master Plan for the Conquest of Palestine.”

According to Khalidi’s article, the idea of transferring Arabs out of Palestine predated the Nakba by decades. Herzl, for instance, in the late 1800s, promoted the idea of the “lesser evil.” That is, “any hardship inflicted on the indigenous population of the land chosen by them was outweighed by the solution that the Zionist possession of the land offered to the Jewish problem,” Khalidi wrote. “The yardstick of the lesser evil became the moral alibi of the Zionist movement, dwarfing and finally submerging the anguish of its victims. Thus Herzl could say with little qualms of conscience of the indigenous population of the land to be possessed: ‘We intend to work the poor population across the frontier surreptitiously by providing work for them in transit countries but denying them any employment in our own land.’”

More quotes

“Under present circumstances Zionism cannot be realized without a transition period during which the Jewish minority would exercise revolutionary rule … during which the state apparatus, the administration, and the military establishment would be in the hands of the minority.”

Chaim Arlosoroff, director of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency, 1932.

"It is the duty of Israel to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is n o Zionism, colonization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands."

former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, quoted in the Agence France Presse, 11/15/1998.

“If it is clear that a substantial amount of land would be made available for the Jewish area, the most strenuous efforts should be made to obtain an agreement for the exchange of land and population. … It should be part of the agreement that in the last resort the exchange (transfer of Palestinians) would be compulsory.”

Royal Peel Commission report, 1937.
(Source: Khalidi, “Plan Dalet”)

Khalidi writes that the idea of transfer resurfaced near the end of the World War II, both in Britain and the United States. In 1944, the British Labor Party Executive said the Arabs should be encouraged to move out as the Jews move in. And ex-President Herbert Hoover advocated transferring Palestinians to Iraq in order to accommodate immigrant Jews, an idea the American Zionist Emergency Council applauded.

These statements and reports as well as studies conducted by academic scholars – including Israeli academics - refute the propagandized theory that Arab leaders told Palestinians to leave their homeland as the Zionists have asserted for more than 60 years. Neither Khalidi nor British writer Erskine Childers, who examined the back files of the Near East monitoring stations for both the British and American governments, found any evidence that Arab leaders encouraged mass evacuation of Palestine. To the contrary, Arab leaders told the Palestinians to stay put.

“Not only was there no hint of any Arab evacuation order, but the Arab radio stations had urged the Palestinians to hold on and be steadfast whereas it was the Jewish radio stations of the Haganah and the Irgun and the Stern Gang, which had been engaged in incessant and strident psychological warfare against the Arab civilian population,” Khalidi writes.

Israeli historian Benny Morris wrote in his book "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited" (Cambridge Middle East Studies, 2004) that he found no evidence suggesting Arab leaders encouraged evacuation.

"I have found no contemporary evidence to show that either they (Arab leaders) or the Mufti ordered or directly encouraged the mass exodus of April-May (1948). As to the Palestinian leaders, it may be worth noting that for decades their policy had been to hold fast to the soil and to resist eviction and displacement of communities."

Sometimes the orders to evacuate came from top Jewish officials. On July 13, 1948, the Haganah turned its attention to the Palestinian villages of Lydda and Ramleh, "forcefully compelling the entire population of as many as 70,000 men, women and children to flee their homes," Neff wrote in "Fifty Years of Israel."

"That same day, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion ordered all the Palestinians expelled. The order said: 'The residents of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age.' It was signed by Lt. Col. Yitzhak Rabin, operations chief of the Lydda-Ramley attack and later Israel's military chief of staff and its prime minister in 1974-77, and from 1992 until his assassination in 1995. A similar order was issued for Ramleh," Neff wrote.

Plan Dalet showed intention and planning to rid Palestine of its indigenous population, Bazian said. “It was a deliberate act to empty the land of its original inhabitants.”

It’s important to recognize that policies for ethnic cleansing already were in place before Israel became a state, Bazian said, because it clarifies the issue of responsibility when it comes to the Palestinian question. Many view both Israel and Palestine as innocent victims of events beyond their control. That view leads to the erroneous conclusion that neither is responsible for the situation in Palestine today, and as such both have equal narratives, Bazian said. But when one acknowledges that Zionism has at its core a plan to force the dispossession of the Palestinian people, it is possible then to assign responsibility to the oppressor and hold them accountable, making compensation to the injured party possible. “Eviction and dispossession were actual events and as such we can hold Israel or the Israeli society responsible,” Bazian said.


The Nakba in 1948 resulted in the expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland. Several thousand more were displaced within the newly created state of Israel. After Israel’s Six Day War in June 1967, in which it illegally occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, another 350,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes.

Palestinian refugees and those internally displaced (IDP) represent the largest and longest-standing case of forced displacement in the world today, according to Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights.

About 4.6 million refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in 2008. Nearly one-third of them live in 58 recognized refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Dispossession continues today through a variety of programs and policies that deny Palestinians their human rights in violation of international law. What’s happening today is the direct result of the Nakba and the racist policies inherent in Zionist ideology.

“We (our government has been) playing a role in the Palestinian dispossession,” Bazian said. “The American public is involved and has been a partner with Israel from 1948 to the present.”
Today, the policies of cleansing the Holy Land of Palestinians can be clearly seen. Low-intensity transfers have been ongoing, according to Badil. Those living in the Occupied Territories have been most severely affected. For instance, between 1967 and 1986, some 21,000 Palestinians per year were displaced from their homes. Sources of direct and indirect transfer include revocation of residency rights, expulsion, home demolition, land confiscation as well as mass detention, torture, military closure and curfews.

And the policies are affecting Muslim and Christian Palestinians alike.

In “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” former President Jimmy Carter writes the Apartheid Wall on the south side of the Mount of Olives, where Christians believe Jesus delivered the Beatitudes, has cut off thousands of Christian worshippers from their church, Santa Marta Monastery. The house of worship now lies on the Israeli side of the 30-foot concrete barrier, and its parishioners cannot get permits allowing them to enter.

“For nine hundred years we have lived here under Turkish, British, Jordanian and Israeli governments, and no one has ever stopped people coming to pray. It is scandalous. This is not a barrier. It is a border. Why don’t they speak the truth?” Santa Marta's priest, Father Claudio Ghilardi, asked.

The Apartheid Wall that has displaced and isolated hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, Carter writes. The 170,000 citizens of Bethlehem, for instance, are not surrounded by the Wall, which has trapped another nearly 400,000 Palestinians on the Israeli side, cutting them off from their farmlands, gardens, jobs, schools and families, Carter writes.

“The Wall and disengagement plan are the culmination of 70 years of Zionist policy. The Palestinian ghettos that exist today serve a dual purpose: To exert severe economic and social pressure on the Palestinian population in order to force them to leave and to allow complete control of the Palestinian population who remain in order to facilitate the expansion of the Jewish settlements onto their confiscated land.

Perhaps Ariel Sharon summed it up best when he said:
“You don’t simply bundle people onto trucks and drive them away … I prefer to advocate a more positive policy … to create, in effect, a condition that in a positive way will induce people to leave.”

former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, quoted in the article "Forcible Removal of Arabs gaining support in Israel” (The London Times, Aug. 24, 1988.

Israel has never recognized the right of refugees to return home, against the dictates of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Resolution 194. So while Israeli law will give instant citizenship to any Jew regardless of nationality, Palestinians who were born and raised in the Holy Land cannot return to live in their homeland. People who want to regain residency status after Israel revoked it for one reason or another or those wishing to get residency for a nonresident spouse must apply for family reunification. The process is limited by quotas and lack of transparency, according to Badil. In fact, between 1967 and the early 1990s, Israel approved fewer than 10 percent of all reunification applications, the agency reported.

Israel also uses home demolitions not only as collective punishment but also as a means to force Palestinians to leave. According to Badil, Israel has demolished more than 24,000 homes since 1967. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions puts that number at just over 20,000 demolished homes. However, the figure doesn’t take into account the nearly 2,500 homes the IDF completely destroyed in the January 2009 Gaza offensive, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

The genocidal attack on Gaza is another example of Zionist policy to ethnically cleanse Palestine. A report submitted on March 27, 2009, to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says “the recent indiscriminate and disproportionate Israeli military attacks against Gaza resulted in unprecedented forcible mass displacement.”

Though the exact number of displaced people is not known, the report estimates at least 90,000 people – including 50,000 children – were displaced. Most of these people already were refugees from 1948.

Despite the dire news, Bazian thinks it still could be possible to redress the issues facing Palestinians today. After all, UN Resolution 194 gives Palestinians the right to return to their homeland and to be compensated for their lost properties. But nothing can be done without an immediate end to the occupation of the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, Bazian said. “There must be justice and fairness in how to articulate a solution amenable to those who were injured in the process in the last 60 years.”

American Muslims for Palestine, April 2009 (Excerpted from "Preserving our Narrative"


One of the most jarring and important events of recent Islamic history has been the Arab-Israeli Conflict. This conflict is multifaceted, complex, and is still one of the world’s most problematic issues in international relations. One aspect of this conflict is the refugee problem that began in 1948, with the creation of the State of Israel. Over 700,000 Palestinians became refugees that year, in what is known as the “Nakba”, which is Arabic for catastrophe.


In the 1800s, a new nationalistic movement was born in Europe. Zionism was a political movement advocating the creation of a Jewish state. Many Jews believed having their own state was necessary in the face of discrimination and oppression by Europeans that went back centuries. After debating where to create this new state should exist at the First Zionist Congress in 1897, the Zionist movement decided to aim at creating their state in Palestine, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire. The sultan-caliph of the Ottoman Empire, Abdülhamid II, refused, even in the face of a 150 million British pound payment proposed by Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, in exchange for ownership of Palestine.

The door would open for Zionism however, after the First World War. During the war, Britain conquered Palestine from the Ottomans in 1917. At around the same time, the British foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, issued a declaration to the Zionist movement promising British support for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.

After the war, Palestine became a League of Nations mandate under British control in 1920. Since it was under British control, the Zionist movement heavily advocated the emigration of European Jews to Palestine. The result was an exponential rise in the number of Jews living in Palestine. According to British census data, in 1922, there were 83,790 Jews in Palestine. By 1931, it was 175,138. And by 1945, the number had jumped to 553,600 people. In 25 years, Jews had gone from 11% of the total population to 31%.

Naturally, the reaction from the Palestinian Arabs was less than enthusiastic. Tension between new Jewish settlers and native Palestinians erupted on numerous occasions. Eventually, the British decided by the 1940s that they could no longer control the territory, and decided to end the mandate of Palestine and leave the country.

United Nations Plan and Israeli Independence

The left map shows the Jewish-majority areas in the Mandate of Palestine. The right map illustrates the UN Partition Plan.

Seeing the coming end of British control over Palestine, and the inevitable conflict between the Arabs and the Jews that would follow, the newly-created United Nations took up the issue in 1947. It came up with a plan known as the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. In it, they advocated the creation of two states in what has historically been known as Palestine. One for Jews, known as Israel, and one for Arabs, Palestine.

While the Jews in Palestine accepted the plan with enthusiasm, the Arabs vehemently rejected it. In their view, it took away land that had been a historically Muslim Arab land since the Crusades and gave it to the new Jewish minority in the country. Tensions continued to rise between the two sides.

In the midst of this rising tension, Britain declared an end to the Mandate of Palestine, and withdrew from the country on May 14th, 1948. That day, the Zionist movement in Palestine declared the establishment of a new country, Israel. The following day, the neighboring Arab countries declared their rejection of the declaration and invaded Israel.

The result of the 1948 war was an enormous increase in the size of Israel. The resulting state was much larger than the state proposed by the United Nations, capturing approximately 50% of the proposed Arab state.

Expulsion of the Palestinians

Perhaps the largest human impact of the 1948 War was the expulsion of much of the Palestinian population. Within the borders of the new State of Israel, there had been close to 1,000,000 Palestinian Arabs before the war. By the end of the war in 1949, between 700,000 and 750,000 of them had been expelled. Only 150,000 remained in Israel.

Palestinian refugees in 1948

Refugees are always an unfortunate side-effect of war. Throughout history, groups of people have always fled to escape fighting and conquest. What makes the Palestinian refugees of 1948 unique, however, is why they became refugees. Since this is still very much a real conflict today, many historians analyzing the causes of the Palestinian exodus are still heavily influenced by politics and international relations. Historians (including some Israeli historians) have however defined a few key reasons for the exodus:

Fear: Many Palestinians left because due to fear of Israeli attacks and atrocities. These fears were not unwarranted. On April 9th, 1948, about 120 Israeli fighters entered the Palestinian town of Deir Yassin, near Jerusalem. 600 villagers were killed. Some died defending the city in battle against Israeli forces, while others were killed by hand grenades thrown into their homes, or executed after being paraded through the streets of Jerusalem.

Naturally, once word of this massacre spread throughout Palestine, Palestinians feared the worst from the Israelis. In many cases, entire Palestinian villages fled Israeli advances, hoping to avoid the same fate as Deir Yassin. Some Israeli groups, such as Yishuv, accelerated this flight through psychological warfare intended to intimidate Palestinian towns into surrendering or fleeing. Radio broadcasts were aired in Arabic, warning Arab villagers that they could not stand up to Israeli advances, and resistance was futile.

Expulsion by Israeli Forces: While fear was the main motivating factor for refugees early in the war, as the war dragged on through 1948, deliberate Israeli expulsion became more common. As the Israelis conquered more and more territory, their forces became more thinly spread throughout the country. In order to maintain control over these areas, many newly-conquered villages were forcibly emptied by Israeli forces.

Notable examples of this were the cities of Lydda and Ramla, near Jerusalem. When they were conquered in July of 1948, Yitzhak Rabin signed an order expelling all Palestinians from the two towns, amounting to between 50,000 and 70,000 people. Israeli forces bused some of them to the Arab front lines, while others were forced to walk, only being allowed to take with them whatever they could carry. This expulsion alone accounted for about 10% of the total Palestinian expulsion in 1948.

Encouragement by Arab Forces: In some cases, the Arab armies from neighboring countries, particularly Jordan, encouraged Palestinian towns to evacuate. One possible reason for this was that to provide an open battlefield without civilians in the crossfire. In any case, many Palestinian civilians left their homes under direction from Arab armies, hoping to return soon after the inevitable Arab victory, only to become refugees in neighboring countries.

After the War

A Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus, Syria in 1948

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War created a massive refugee problem in the Middle East. Over 500 towns and cities throughout Palestine were completely depopulated during this time. The 700,000+ refugees from these towns became an economic and social burden on neighboring countries and the West Bank, Palestinian land under Jordanian authority. In 1954, Israel passed the Prevention of Infiltration Law. It allowed the Israeli government to expel any Palestinians who managed to sneak back to their homes in what was now Israel. It also allowed the government to expel any internally displaced Palestinians still within Israel if they sought to return to their homes.

Today, the right of return is still a major problem that has yet to be solved by peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. The forcible expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 proved to be a problem that continues even after the lives of the original refugees draw to a close in the 21st century.

How Palestine Became Israel

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If Americans Knew
Last Updated April 2013

In the late 1800s a small, fanatic movement called “political Zionism” began in Europe. Its goal was to create a Jewish state somewhere in the world. Its leaders settled on the ancient and long-inhabited land of Palestine for the location of this state. 1

Palestine's population at this time was approximately ninety-six percent non-Jewish (primarily Muslim and Christian). 2

Over the coming decades Zionist leaders used various strategies to accomplish their goal of taking over Palestine:

Historic Palestine, the land now occupied by the state of Israel, was a multicultural society. During the 1947-49 War, Israel committed at least 33 massacres and expelled over 750,000 Palestinians. (Click graph for large version.)

In the 1930s, Jewish land ownership had increased from approximately 1% to just over 6% of the land, and violence had increased as well. With the emergence of several Zionist terrorist gangs (whose ranks included a number of future Prime Ministers of Israel), there was violent conflict. Numerous people of all ethnicities were killed – then, as now, the large majority of them Christian and Muslim Palestinians. 7

The Catastrophe

This growing violence culminated in Israel's ruthless 1947-49 "War of Independence,"in which at least 750,000 Palestinian men, women, and children were expelled from their homes by numerically superior Israeli forces – half before any Arab armies joined the war. This massive humanitarian disaster is known as ‘The Catastrophe,’ al Nakba in Arabic. 8

Zionist forces committed 33 massacres and destroyed 531 Palestinian towns. Author Norman Finkelstein states: “According to the former director of the Israeli army archives, ‘in almost every village occupied by us during the War. acts were committed which are defined as war crimes, such as murders, massacres, and rapes’. Uri Milstein, the authoritative Israeli military historian of the 1948 war, goes one step further, maintaining that ‘every skirmish ended in a massacre of Arabs.’” 9

Count Folke Bernadotte, a former official of the Swedish Red Cross who saved thousands of Jews during World War II and was appointed U.N. mediator in Palestine, said of the refugees: "It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes.” 10 Bernadotte was assassinated by a Zionist organization led by future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. 11

Injustice Continues

Over the 70 years since Israel’s founding on May 14, 1948, this profound injustice has continued. Palestinian refugees are the largest remaining refugee population in the world.

1.3 million Palestinians live in Israel as “Israeli citizens,” but despite their status as citizens, they are subject to systematic discrimination. Many are prohibited from living in the villages and homes from which they were violently expelled, and their property has been confiscated for Jewish-only uses. In Orwellian terminology, Israeli law designates these internal refugees as “present absentees.” 12

In 1967 Israel launched its third war and seized still more Palestinian (and other Arab) land. Israel also attacked a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Liberty, killing and injuring over 200 Americans, an event that remains largely covered-up today, despite efforts by an extraordinary array of high-level military officers and civilian officials to expose it. 13

Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip – the final 22% of mandatory Palestine – and began building settlements for Jewish Israelis on land confiscated from Palestinian Muslims and Christians. It has demolished more than 24,145 Palestinian homes since 1967. In 2005 Israel returned Gazan land to its owners, but continues to control its borders, ports, and air space, turning Gaza into a large prison, where 1.5 million people are held under what a UN Human Rights Commissioner described as “catastrophic” conditions.

Over 7,000 Palestinian men, women, and children are imprisoned in Israeli jails under physically abusive conditions (many have not even been charged with a crime) and the basic human rights of all Palestinians under Israeli rule are routinely violated. Some prisoners tortured by Israel have been American citizens. In the violence that began in fall, 2000 through Feb. 5, 2009, Israeli forces killed 6,348 Palestinians Palestinian resistance groups killed 1,072 Israelis. Israel’s military, the fourth most powerful on earth possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons. 14

American Involvement

American taxpayers give Israel more than $10 million per day, even though surveys reveal that 73% of Americans oppose taking sides on Israel-Palestine. Because of Israel’s powerful US lobby, Congress gives far more money to Israel than to all of sub-Saharan Africa put together. 15 In its 70 years of existence, Israel, the size of New Jersey, has received more U.S. tax money than any other nation. While most Americans are unaware of these facts (studies have shown that media report on Israeli deaths at rates up to 13 times greater than they report on Palestinian deaths) governmental actions are making Americans responsible for a continuing catastrophe of historic proportions – and which is, in addition, creating extremely damaging enmity to the US itself. Israel partisans have played a significant role in promoting U.S. attacks on Iraq and Iran. 16

As more Americans learn the facts, there is a growing bipartisan, multi-ethnic movement to counter Israel’s US lobby, which has long held a vicegrip on American Mideast policies.

Palestinian Loss of Land 1946-2005

“Confusion about the origins of the conflict all too often has obscured Americans&rsquo understanding of its true dimension. It began as a conflict resulting from immigrants struggling to displace the local majority population. All else is derivative from this basic reality.”

&ndash Donald Neff, former Senior Editor, Time Magazine, Fallen Pillars: U.S. Policy towards Palestine and Israel since 1945

“[T]he story of 1948. is the simple but horrific story of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Retrieving it from oblivion is incumbent upon us, not just as a greatly overdue act of historiographical reconstruction or professional duty it is. the very first step we must take if we ever want reconciliation to have a chance, and peace to take root, in the torn lands of Palestine and Israel.”

&ndash Ilan Pappe, Israeli Historian, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

“The Palestinian Holocaust is unsurpassed in history. For a country to be occupied, emptied of its people, its physical and cultural landmarks obliterated, its destruction hailed as a miraculous act of God, all done according to a premeditated plan, meticulously executed, internationally supported, and still maintained today. ”

&ndash Dr. Salman Abu-Sitta, Palestine Right Of Return, Sacred, Legal, and Possible

Recommended Books:

  • George W, Ball & Douglas B. Ball, The Passionate Attachment
  • Mazin Qumsiyeh, Sharing the Land of Canaan
  • Greg Philo and Mike Berry, Israel and Palestine: Competing Histories
  • Paul Findley, They Dare to Speak Out
  • Ali Abunimah, One Country
  • Jonathon Cook, Blood and Religion
  • Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
  • Israel Shahak, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel
  • Donald Neff, Fallen Pillars
  • Salman Abu-Sitta, Palestine Right of Return, Sacred, Legal, and Possible
  • Robert John & Sami Hadawi, Palestine Diary 1914-1945
  • Kathleen Christison, Perceptions of Palestine
  • John W. Mulhall, CSP, America and the founding of Israel
  • Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • Nur Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians
  • Stephen Green, Taking Sides
  • Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle
  • Sami Hadawi, Bitter Harvest
  • Virginia Tilley, The One State Solution
  • Norman Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah
  • John Mearsheimer & Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby

Selected Websites


There are numerous sources for the information in this brochure. We will continue to add citations to this section, so people may wish to periodically check back for additional source information.

    Many historians write about this. Glasgow University professors Mike Berry and Greg Philo, in Israel and Palestine, 2006, Pluto Press, pp. 1-4 summarize the work of such diverse historians as H.M. Sachar, Justin McCarthy, Martin Gilbert, and David Hirst as well as the The Complete Diaries of Thedore Herzl.

John W. Mulhall, CSP, America and the founding of Israel, 1995, Deshon Press, pp. 43-59.

Donald Neff, Fallen Pillars: U.S. Policy towards Palestine and Israel since 1945, 202, pp 7-20.

Sami Hadawi, Bitter Harvest, p. 37: “Commenting, author Erskine H. Childers, wrote, “one of the most massively important features of the entire Palestine struggle was that Zionism deliberately arranged that the plight of the wretched survivors of Hitlerism should be a &lsquomoral argument&rsquo which the West had to accept. This was done by seeing to it that Western countries did not open their doors, widely and immediately, to the inmates of the DP. (displaced persons) camps. It is incredible, that so grave and grim a campaign has received so little attention in accounts of the Palestine struggle &ndash it was a campaign that literally shaped all subsequent history. It was done by sabotaging specific Western schemes to admit Jewish DPs.”

A number of authors have discuss Zionist connections with Nazis for example:

  • Ben Hecht, Perfidy
  • Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine
  • Lenni Brenner, 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis
  • Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem
  • Sami Hadawi, in Bitter Harvest 1914-79, pp. 35-39, discusses the use of manipulated, sometimes invented, anti-Semitism in promoting Zionism, e.g.: “Ian Gilmour [wrote] &lsquoIn the Arab countries, Jewish difficulties and emigration to Israel were the result not of anti-Semitism but of Zionist activities and the existence of the state of Israel.&rsquo”
  • In “The Jews of Iraq,”The Link, April-May 1998, Naeim Giladi describes Zionist activities to push Jews to emigrate to Israel.

He describes this in greater detail in his book: Ben-Gurion's Scandals: How the Haganah and the Mossad Eliminated Jews:

A number of factors were used to convince Britain, several having to do with assisting it to win the war if it promised to assist Zionists:

Mulhall, p. 62: “Britain was also trying to coax America into the war. in 1937 Lloyd George told the Palestine Royal (peel) Commission: &lsquoZionist leaders gave us a definite promise that, if the Allies committed themselves to giving facilities for the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestinbe, they would do their best to rally Jewish sentiment and support throughout the world to the Allied cause. They kept their word.&rsquo”

Robert John, Sami Hadawi, The Palestine Diary 1914-1945, p. 72: quoting Samuel Landman, a leader of the Zionist-Revisionists, in the review “World Jewry”: “. it was resolved to send a secret message to Justice Brandeis that the British Cabinet would help the Jews to gain Palestine in return for active Jewish sympathy and for support in the U.S.A. for the Allied cause, so as to bring about a radical pro-Ally tendency in the United States.&rsquo”

Regarding the US: Many writers have discussed the electoral role in Truman&rsquos assistance to Zionism, e.g.:

Mulhall, p. 131: “In November, four heads of U.S. diplomatic missions in Arab states met with Truman and warned him that his pro-Zionist statements threatened U.S. interests. He reportedly replied, I&rsquom sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”

Mulhall: p. 65, “Wilson therefore decided to risk harming U.S. relations with Turkey rather than alienate a powerful segment of his own political constituency.

Decision on Palestine, Evan N. Wilson, Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, 1979: Wilson was a retired foreign service officer with thirty years&rsquo experience, much of it involved with Israel-Palestine. He provides considerable valuable information, e.g.:

“That the President&rsquos [Truman&rsquos] action was politically motivated was the thrust of a column by James Reston which appeared in the New York Times for October 7 under the heading “Truman&rsquos Palestine Plea Flouted Foreign Advisors.” Reston wrote that domestic politics were responsible for the President&rsquos appeal. This interpretation is borne out by the fact that the President received letters from a number of prominent Democrats, such as Representative Emmanuel Celler, commending him for having made his appeal and predicting that it would be of material help to the party in the forthcoming elections.” (p. 98)

“The files of the Truman Library show that Truman&rsquos Yom Kippur statement was drafted primarily by Eliahu Epstein (later Elath), the Washington representative of the Jewish Agency.” (p. 98)

The primary books documenting the role of the Israel lobby in determining US support for Israel are:

  • They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby, by Paul Findley
  • The Lobby: Jewish Political Power and American Foreign Policy, by Edward Tivnan
  • Foreign Agents: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal, by Grant F. Smith
  • The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt |BACK|

In his autobiography, Trial and Error, (Illustrated Edition) p. 41, Chaim Weizmann describes how Zionists “bought land, sometimes through straw men, sometimes by bribes. Between baksheesh and an infinite variety of subterfuges, the first little colonies were created.”

Mulhall, p. 53: “Like many other Zionist projects, many of these were largely funded by Rothschild family members. ”

Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Berry-Philo, p. 5: “Israel Zangwill, who had coined the Zionist slogan &lsquoa land without people for a people without land&rsquo, informed a meeting of Zionists in Manchester in 1905 that &lsquo[We] must be prepared either to drive out by the sword the [Arab] tribes in possession as our forefathers did or to grapple with the problem of a large alien population.”

Naim Stifan Ateek, Canon of St. George&rsquos Cathedral in Jerusalem, in Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation, describes his own personal experiences for example (pp.7-10):

“I had just turned eleven in 1948 when the Zionists occupied my hometown, Beisan (Beth Shean). We had no army to protect us. There was no battle, no resistance, no killing we were simply taken over, occupied, on Wednesday, May 12, 1948.

Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Bernadotte favored redrawing Palestine&rsquos map and urged the UN General Assembly to take prompt action to implement his recommendations. “On Sept. 17, the day after he released them, he was gunned down &ndash by Israelis, according to eyewitnesses &ndash in the Israeli-held part of Jerusalem. Israel never apprehended his murderers.”

Stephen Green, in his fascinating book based on declassified State Department archives, Taking Sides: America&rsquos Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, pp. 38-41, gives considerably more information on the assassination: “On September 18, the day after the assassination, Consul General MacDonald assured Secretary of State [George] Marshall that the maverick Stern gang was responsible, and that the Israeli government was taking every step possible to apprehend the killers, including mass arrests of Stern gang members. There is no doubt that the Stern group was involved, nor that the government did in fact round up many Sternists after the murder. But there is strong evidence that the Israeli government was itself directly involved in the killing, and that the U.S. government secretly investigated this involvement [emphasis added].”

During the Six-Day War, Israel also attacked a US Navy ship, the USS Liberty, killing and injuring over 200 American servicemen. Many analysts believe that the fact that there were no consequences for this attack led Israeli leaders to conclude that they could commit any act of aggression without US complaint. While this attack has largely been covered up in the US media (see “American Media Miss the Boat: For USA Today, Freedom of the Press Means the Right to Report It Wrong”, Alison Weir, CounterPunch, June 23/24, 2007) it is discussed in a number of books, including James Ennes, The Assault on the Liberty William Gerhard, Attack on the USS Liberty Dr. John Borne, The USS Liberty, Dissenting History vs. Official History Stephen Green, Taking Sides: America&rsquos Secret Relations with a Militant Israel James Bamford, Body of Secrets and in a recent article: “New revelations in attack on American spy ship Veterans, documents suggest U.S., Israel didn't tell full story of deadly '67 incident,” John Crewdson, Tribune senior correspondent, Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007.

European Parliament resolution on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, 4.10.2007: “. as a result of the blockade on the movement of people and goods, the massive devastation of public facilities and private homes, the disruption of hospitals, clinics and schools, the partial denial of access to proper drinking water, food and electricity, and the destruction of agricultural land, the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip has reached a catastrophic level,”

Anne Penketh, The Independent/UK, “Gaza &lsquoOn Point of Explosion&rsquo Warns UN”. Thursday, May 1, 2008,

For a very partial list of diverse groups working on this issue go to:

For discussion of the importance of this issue, see: “Choosing to Act: Anti-Semitism is Wrong,” Alison Weir.

Israel-Palestine Timeline: The human cost of the conflict records photos and information for each person who has been killed in the ongoing violence.

Alison Weir's book Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel brings together meticulously sourced evidence to outline the largely unknown history of U.S.-Israel relations.

Buy it on Amazon, and visit the book website for reviews, more ordering options, and upcoming author events.

BBC Commemorates Palestinian Nakba With a Bit of Fakery and Propaganda

The report’s most poignant scene takes place in front of an attractive, tree-shaded villa:

WOOD: Her family fled this house in Jerusalem when she was a little girl and then lost ownership.
CLAUDETTE HABESCH: They did not leave by free will.

Ms. Habesch, the featured person of this news segment, is presented as an ordinary person who returns for a visit to her childhood home in Jerusalem.

A Bit of Fakery

Perhaps BBC‘s motivation for failing to reveal Ms. Habesch’s true identity was to avoid the impression of one-sided, propagandistic content.

Correspondent Wood Takes Viewers on a Tour of an Apparently Deserted Village

The remains of the Arab village of Lifta on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The inhabitants left in 1948. They were some of the 700,000 Palestinians for whom Israel’s birth meant dispossession. There are deserted Arab villages like this dotted all over Israel. The Palestinians insist on the right of those who fled and their descendants to come back. The Israelis fear that – that would mean the end of their country as a Jewish state. And so, the so-called “right of return” is one of the seemingly insoluble issues of the peace process.

But the BBC is deceptively omitting relevant facts concerning Palestinian Arab refugees and the forgotten Jewish refugees. The comprehensive CAMERA article, Palestinian Arab and Jewish Refugees, citing authoritative source material, shows that in the wake of Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, the overwhelming majority of Palestinian refugees were not expelled by the Israelis. But a much larger number of refugees, Jewish refugees who had resided in Arab countries for many generations, were forced to flee their native lands:

[N]ot withstanding a limited number of tactical expulsions, “a people” was certainly not expelled…Roughly half of those fleeing did so between November 1947 (when Palestinian Arabs responded to the United Nations partition recommendation with anti-Jewish violence) and May 1948 (when the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon invaded Israel).

WOOD: For Claudette Habesch, 1948 is a year of painful memories. Her family fled this house in Jerusalem when she was a little girl and then lost ownership.
HABESCH: They did not leave by free will. We had two bombs here. My father had to take us out from here for security, for physical security. I wondered very often, who is sleeping in my bed? Who is playing with my dog?
WOOD: Her childhood friend, a Jewish woman (Ruthie), still lives next door.
RUTHIE: My parents rented this little house here from her parents.
HABESCH: This is my home and I go out as a stranger? Why? I need somebody to explain to me.

The answer to Mrs. Habesch’s question is rather obvious, though once again omitted by the BBC: Had the Palestinians and the Arab countries accepted the UN Partition Resolution, had they not declared an illegal war on Israel in violation of the UN Charter, and had they not invaded Israel, there would not have been a single Palestinian refugee. Instead, there would have been a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel that would this year be celebrating its 62nd anniversary. In addition, the 6000 Israelis who were killed in the war – fully one percent of the population – would instead have gotten to live, to go back to their families or to start families.

But because the Arabs were more interested in destroying Israel than creating Palestine, millions of people – both Arabs and Jews, have had to suffer through unnecessary wars and untold misery.

And that is the response that the BBC might have challenged Mrs. Habesch with, and perhaps in return they would have gotten an interesting answer. Of course, the BBC did nothing of the sort.

Correspondent Wood provides a segue to an appearance of Israeli revisionist historian Tom Segev: “The Israeli narrative of 1948 says the Palestinians left of their own accord. The Arab narrative says they were forced out.“

SEGEV: Half of the something like 750,000 Arabs left and about half were expelled. So, in a way both narratives are right. The basic dream of the Zionist movement is to have maximum land with minimum population. When the war broke out it was obvious to everybody that whoever wins will expel parts – at least parts of the population. So, that was obvious because 1948 is not the beginning of the conflict.

The problem with Segev’s “basic dream of the Zionist movement …” is that it is largely a myth of revisionist historian critics of Israel like Segev. Where is Segev’s evidence for the claim that in effect says the Zionists believed that there was not enough land to justify allowing the Arabs to remain? In fact, there’s evidence to the contrary. For example, in “Fabricating Israeli History” by Ephraim Karsh (published in 2000), the author quoted Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, in a letter to his son Amos, “All our aspiration is built on the assumption – proven throughout all our activity – that there is enough room for ourselves and the Arabs in Palestine.”

KAY(ending the report): A conflict decades old and still very much unresolved.

BBC’s Continuing Unfair, One-Sided Coverage of Israel

“Decades old and still very much unresolved” could also characterize BBC’s continuing unfair, one-sided coverage of Israel. BBC could have informed viewers of the unwillingness of Arab states to absorb and integrate most of the Palestinian refugees – instead, forcing them into crowded refugee camps. BBC could have informed viewers – that of the millions of refugees after the Second World War, the only refugee group still occupying the interest of the world in a major way are the Palestinian refugees. In fact, even a special agency of the United Nations (UNRWA) exists only to maintain these refugees. BBC could have informed viewers that this agency has spent billions of dollars on the Palestinian refugees, with most of this funding contributed by the United States. BBC could have informed viewers that the handling of the Palestinian refugee problem was in sharp contrast to Israel’s absorption and integration of Jewish refugees who chose to emigrate to Israel, constituting the majority of Jews expelled from Arab countries in the wake of Israel’s war for Independence defending herself from attacking Arab armies. Finally, BBC could have informed viewers that Palestinians continue to be incited to anti-Israel, anti-Jewish hatred and violence on a daily basis through their media, mosques and schools. This is documented in numerous CAMERA reports including:

Obviously, anyone seeking an accurate, unbiased explanation of the “Nakba” (and related matters) is unlikely to find it at BBC News.

‘Facing History,’ a global resource for educators, leaves out Palestine

“Facing History” helps teachers to explore racial injustice in the U.S. but is mute when it comes to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Screenshot of “Facing History and Ourselves” page.

“Facing History and Ourselves“, an educational and professional development organization that uses the “lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate,” is an incredibly rich resource for educators as long as they’re not looking for teaching materials on Palestine, and are not questioning Zionism.

The global non-profit organization, founded in 1976 to empower students to learn lessons from the Holocaust and other historical events and connect them to their own lives, has no general educational materials about Palestinian history. Rather, it provides a one-sided narrative of Israel as a pluralistic and just society.

The need for quality curricular materials that fully address issues of power in Israel and Palestine is more important than ever given the recent Israeli war in Gaza, the violence at the Al-Aqsa mosque, and the possible evictions in the Jerusalem neighborhood Sheikh Jarrah. Instead of addressing these power dynamics, however, “Facing History” perpetuates a liberal Zionist ethos that limits the very historical breadth it claims to foster, and uses the Holocaust and anti-Semitism to talk to students about systemic oppression.

“Facing History” is at heart a “Progressive Except Palestine” organization. Its ethos is permeating schools, upholding and normalizing the erasure of Palestine, and ultimately taking advantage of overworked teachers and their students who already have been educated to think Palestinians are invisible–even when the recent Israeli attacks in Gaza and ongoing occupation have been condemned all over the world.

The organization’s goal is to help educators “foster empathy and reflection,” according to its mission statement, and has “[e]verything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice”:

At Facing History and Ourselves, we believe the bigotry and hate that we witness today are the legacy of brutal injustices of the past. Facing our collective history and how it informs our attitudes and behaviors allows us to choose a world of equity and justice. Facing History’s resources address racism, antisemitism, and prejudice at pivotal moments in history we help students connect choices made in the past to those they will confront in their own lives.

This assertion makes it seem that all histories have a place in “Facing History”’s curriculum–indeed, that history itself is about relationships and power rather than just facts. However, a deeper look at the organization shows that some relationships are more important than others, and a few, like Palestinians, not important at all.

Holocaust educational materials on the “Facing History and Ourselves” website. Screenshot, June 9, 2021.

Over 700,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed by Israel when the Jewish State was founded in 1948-49 and they have never been allowed to return to their homes. In the context of “Facing History” where social justice is supposedly a key curricular component, this historically documented injustice of Palestine isn’t mentioned anywhere in the organization’s curriculum. Instead, Israel is valorized in “Facing History”’s materials as a democracy and homeland of the Jews, a safe-haven from anti-Semitism after the Holocaust, never mentioning Palestinians in its heroic nation-state narrative.

For example, one of the many videos available to educators at Facing History is The Long Way Home, a documentary produced by Marvin Hier, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance (built on top of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem). The film, narrated by Morgan Freeman, describes Palestinians as violent and arrogant, and Israelis as civilized and rational. Film footage of Holocaust survivors approaching the shores of Palestine while HaTikvah (“The Hope,” Israel’s national anthem) plays in the background is moving, of course, but only presents one side of Palestine’s history. The truth of how Israel became a nation-state is far more dependent upon the history of colonialism and ethnic cleansing than “Facing History” would have educators believe.

“Facing History” is financially backed by prominent liberal philanthropists like Seth Klarman, the hedge-fund billionaire who also serves the program as Emeritus Chair of the Leadership Council and Chair of the Board of Trustees. “Facing History”’s 2020 annual report reveals that The Klarman Family Foundation donated one million dollars to the organization. Klarman is also a huge supporter of Israel. He’s on the board of the Israel Project, and gives money to the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces and the David Project, the group that has targeted Arab and Muslim intellectuals on U.S. college campuses. He is a major donor to Birthright, the indoctrination program that sends young Jews on a free trip to Israel.

Klarman is also the co-founder of The Times of Israel, an online English-language newspaper. In a 2012 blog post announcing his investment in The Times of Israel, Klarman conflates anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism:

As a long-time student of the history of anti-Semitism, I know that this blind hatred is never the fault of Jews moreover, it is clear to me that anti-Zionism is simply the newest form of anti-Semitism. When the Jewish State is singled out above all others for criticism, such as it is at the United Nations, this is anti-Semitism.

The Klarman Family Foundation also states its steadfast support of Israel, its “unwavering commitment to demonstrating Jewish values and supporting the Jewish people and Israel”:

We believe Israel is essential to the Jewish experience and even to Jewish survival. In an environment of growing anti-Semitism, Israel is the one Jewish state–a historic homeland where every Jew is welcome.

In addition to supporting Israel, Klarman’s liberal philanthropy in the U.S. also includes donations to arts organizations, educational institutions, hospitals, and Planned Parenthood, among others.

Seth Klarman

Another major donor to Facing History is the pro-Israel lobby organization, The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation (they donated between $250,000-499,000 dollars to “Facing History,” according to the organization’s 2019 annual report). The Schusterman Foundation also gives millions of dollars to Birthright (Klarman, $1.75 million in 2016 alone Schusterman $2.5 million in 2019).

Like the Klarman Foundation, Schusterman maintains a right-wing silence on injustices in Palestine while supporting liberal causes in the U.S. For example, the Schusterman Foundation issued a statement condemning racism on their website on May 25, 2021, “Remembering George Floyd: Pursuing Racial Justice.” “We have seen a growing national recognition of the need to address racial inequity across nearly every facet of our society,” the announcement reads. “May we honor the memories of George Floyd and all Black lives taken unjustly before and since by working toward a world free from hate and with dignity and justice for all people.” Given the ongoing history of racism in the U.S., it’s important that the organization made this statement, but it’s problematic when the “dignity and justice for all people” doesn’t actually extend to all victims of oppression, certainly not Palestinians, and ignores the growing understanding in progressive circles that Zionism is racist.

But it’s no surprise that Democrats like Klarman and Schusterman–at once deep-pocketed liberal philanthropists and serious Israel lobbyists–are major supporters of “Facing History” because the organization’s philosophy is similar to theirs, Progressive Except Palestine.

To any outside observer, “Facing History”’s curricula are current and relevant, tackling issues of systemic oppression. Given the extent to which teachers are overworked in underfunded public schools, getting support from an organization like “Facing History” is an educator’s dream. A teacher can find teaching strategies, daily-lesson and unit plans aligned to state and national standards, learning objectives, essential and guiding questions for each lesson, primary source documents, streaming videos, downloadable PDFs, and slide shows. These resources “will support your students’ learning,” the website states on its “Educator Resources” page, “whether you are teaching a complex moment in history or addressing today’s breaking news.”

But the “complex moments” that “Facing History” claims to teach omit issues of power that remain outside the mainstream.

The “Current Events” page also has a section called, “Support for Teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” a lifesaver for many educators this past year and a half who had to instantly adapt curricula to remote and hybrid teaching. “In the News Now” provides lesson plans for the timely events it chooses to highlight.

For instance, just hours after the verdict was announced April 20 in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, “Facing History” pushed out a lesson plan to educators all over the U.S.

The lesson plan was sent by Abby Weiss, Chief Officer of the Program & Thought Leadership wing of “Facing History.” “The [lesson] activities prompt students to process the news of the verdict,” Weiss wrote in her email, “and then explore the complicated concepts of justice, accountability, and healing.” The pre-packaged lesson plan included journal prompts, readings, and teaching strategies about the Chauvin trial specifically, and about the larger systemic issue of police violence towards Black people in America. Included was a statement by Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison after the verdict and an article from The Conversation, “The racist roots of American policing: From slave patrols to traffic stops,” that digs into structural racism in the U.S.

To be sure, it is challenging to talk with students about institutional and structural racism in America. I look for ways to grow in this area, especially as a white Jewish woman working in a large public school system where almost 40 percent of the student body is Black. But “Facing History”, like the Schusterman Foundation, loses credibility for this anti-racist, anti-Zionist educator (who also lost family in the Holocaust and has been a victim of anti-Semitism many times) when it decides what topics are “complicated” and which remain invisible. You simply cannot oppose white nationalism in the U.S. while supporting Jewish nationalism in Israel, but “Facing History” functions as though it is possible to be both anti-racist and Zionist.

It’s an obvious omission, given the connections between Black liberation and Palestine solidarity movements, emphasized by the work of activists like Angela Davis. This link was also recently highlighted by Haidar Eid, Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University. “Isn’t it time to include Palestinian literature into the body of research that became known as critical race theory,” Eid asks, “since most of it has been ideologically committed to the struggle against institutionalized racism?”

The Black Lives Matter movement also put out a statement denouncing the recent violence in Palestine on its official Twitter page on May 17, 2021:

We are a movement committed to ending settler colonialism in all forms and will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation (always have. And always will be). #freepalestine.

“Facing History” is ignoring this connection. When I did a search for Black Lives Matter, 1704 results appeared with tons of materials on systemic racism: Lesson plans on the murder of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, racial bias and white nationalism, videos on race in the U.S., and reading lists that center Black lives and support the Black Lives Matter Movement. Not one resource mentioned the Black Lives Matter recent Twitter statement on Palestine.

“Facing History” also has a lot of materials about police brutality towards people of color in the U.S.–a search showed 399 results. But nowhere does the organization state that many police departments in the U.S. work closely with Israel, sending police to Israel to work with Israeli military in joint trainings. “Facing History” criticizes police brutality, turns tragic U.S. current events into teachable moments, but then ignores the police and military brutality currently happening in Palestine.

Not until May 26, five days after the May 21 ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, did “Facing History” put out an announcement–not a lesson plan–with generalized ideas for teaching about the recent violence in Israel and Palestine.

The statement, “A Message for Educators on the Crisis in Israel and Palestine,” was a sanitized gesture, saying all students should confront “difficult histories” and “navigate challenging conversations”:

The complexity of this conflict demands thoughtful, fact-based historical inquiry and nuanced ethical reflection. Too often people engage through quick sound bites, which lend fuel to oversimplifications rather than deep understanding. Instead, we encourage informed and respectful dialogue that references primary sources and multiple perspectives and that inspires empathy for all who are suffering.

The vague and elusive statement presented a “both sides” approach that used the word “complexity” to describe the conflict–a common trope used by liberal Zionists when they talk about Israel. The statement focused on personal reflection, avoiding any discussion of systemic power and oppression. Links to The Council on Foreign Relations and The U.S. Institute of Peace, both establishment organizations, were offered as resources.

The piece de resistance for me in “Facing History”’s statement was its link to All Sides, a news site that decides which news outlets are considered “left,” “center,” and “right.” According to its website, All Sides exposes “people to information and ideas from all sides of the political spectrum so they can better understand the world–and each other.” The link to All Sides that “Facing History” provided was from May 21, to a page titled, “Perspectives: Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Begins.” This page provides a list of media outlets allegedly representing “all sides” of reporting on the conflict. However, the media analysis provided by All Sides is characterized by a misreading of the range of political viewpoints represented by major media outlets. All Sides decided that the “center” was an article from the Associated Press. On the “right,” an article from The Wall Street Journal, and the “left” was The New York Times–a mainstream liberal newspaper. All Sides claims to provide “balanced news and civil discourse,” yet when I searched for Electronic Intifada, Institute for Middle East Understanding, and Mondoweiss, nothing came up. All Sides is popular in schools and has an entire section with lesson plans with these supposed “balanced perspectives” that simply perpetuate the mainstream liberal Zionist stance on Israel.

A few days before “Facing History” put out their May 26 statement, I had emailed them, asking if they had materials on the recent humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Tracy O’Brien, Director of Library Services, replied within a few hours with an evasive response. “With current events still unfolding and the complexity and sensitivity of the conflict in mind,” O’Brien wrote, “our focus is, as always, on supporting educators by helping them navigate any challenging conversations they may have in their classrooms.” O’Brien reminded me that “Facing History”’s “approach encourages respectful listening, informed civic dialogue, and multiple perspective taking.” She then suggested I use Facing History for guidance “on how to utilize this approach in your classroom” and recommended I use the “Checklist” on the website. (But I hadn’t asked for help with facilitating sensitive discussions. I have twenty years’ experience as a facilitator and educator I had asked specifically for materials on Gaza.) O’Brien avoided the entire topic, rerouting me back to in-house “Facing History” materials.

“Facing History”’s website is so glossy, its language so empowering, it could be easy for some, particularly newer teachers, to get swept up in its “critical thinking” ethos, especially with its focus on systemic issues:

Teaching current events can be challenging: the news cycle moves quickly, the issues can spark strong feelings, and classroom time is tight. Yet engaging with current events is an essential part of educating young people to be informed and humane participants in a democracy.

Many liberal educators–even those who consider themselves “activist-teachers”–may not even notice Palestine missing from the website unless they specifically look for it. Most teachers in the U.S. are not encouraged or required to teach Palestinian history. Instead, “Facing History” focuses on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism to teach about other injustices.

“Facing History” has cleverly aligned itself with public law, which states that a unit on the Holocaust must be taught in public schools. Illinois was the first state to mandate this instruction in 1990, and it was expanded in 2005 to include several other genocides without mentioning Palestine:

Every public elementary and high school must provide a unit of instruction studying the events of the Nazi atrocities of 1933-1945, a period in world history known as the Holocaust. To reinforce that lesson, such curriculum shall include an additional unit of instruction studying other acts of genocide across the globe. This unit shall include, but not be limited to, the Armenian Genocide, the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine, and more recent atrocities in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan.

It’s understandable, of course, why it became law for the Holocaust to be taught in public schools. There’s a need to discuss the Holocaust in the 21st century, especially after the Trump years. But the language surrounding the law is problematic because other genocides become less important, and Palestine not at all. The Holocaust is centered as an almost archetypal genocide at the intersection of both the private organization “Facing History” and in public law.

What happens to students when one genocide is highlighted in the classroom over others, one student’s life experiences more important than his classmate’s? How long will Palestinian students have to see their homeland intentionally left off of maps when they’re in school, supposedly learning “both sides?” And what would it be like for students to openly study power dynamics and settler colonialism in Israel/Palestine with teachers who are supported to talk about it in class as part of the curriculum–alongside the Holocaust–rather than as a subversive act that can get them fired? (I’m writing this under a pseudonym after receiving death threats years ago for writing about being anti-Zionist).

Privileging the Holocaust over other genocides isn’t only occurring in state law and in “Facing History”’s materials for teachers–it’s also in the professional development seminars for educators the organization provides. The classes are taught by “Facing History” staff members, many who are former teachers. Educators can earn credit hours towards recertification by taking the classes–which are also approved by the state. Similar to the teacher resources, the courses also sound progressive and timely. A few of the classes offered include: Teaching With and Through Women’s Calls for Justice Teaching Race and Membership Teaching To Kill a Mockingbird Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Residential Schools Teaching Identity Membership and Belonging: Teaching Immigration and Teaching Holocaust and Human Behavior.

While it’s great for teachers to have the opportunities to grapple with the issues raised in these courses, the continued omission of Palestinian history is intentional–especially when systemic racism and indigeneity are the subjects of entire “Facing History” courses.

About fifteen years ago, I took the “Facing History” Holocaust and Human Behavior five-day class. The first four days we studied the Holocaust, and then on the fifth we learned about the Armenian and Rwandan genocides. I remember the facilitator telling our class that because we had now studied the Holocaust so extensively, we could apply it to other atrocities in history. The “Facing History” course did exactly what public policy dictates it do–use other genocides to “reinforce” what we learned about the Holocaust while omitting any discussion of Palestine.

(Resources do exist to the left of “Facing History.” Teach Palestine provides timely and historically relevant curricular materials for educators, focusing “on bringing Palestine into our classrooms and schools,” and makes connections between the Black Lives Matter movement and Palestinian solidarity–not to suggest they’re the same, of course, but to help students identify similar modes of oppression.)

The connection between Black Lives Matter and Palestine is nowhere to be found in “Facing History.” The organization does a bait-and switch on the well-intentioned teachers it appeals to while continuing to privilege the Holocaust. No resources exist about anti-Zionism, either.

Prior to my earlier email exchange, I contacted “Facing History” on April 26 asking if they had materials on anti-Zionism. I received another quick reply (they are prompt!) from O’Brien, recommending the book, A Convenient Hatred, by Phyllis Goldstein, published by “Facing History” in 2012. “Facing History has published a comprehensive overview of antisemitism,” O’Brien wrote in her email. “There is a chapter devoted to anti-Zionism, along with a lot of other important historical context.” The only reference to anti-Zionism–I found the book online–was in the context of the Soviet Union in 1952 when promoting Zionism was considered a crime.

When author Liz Rose asked “Facing History” for materials on anti-Zionism, they recommended this book about anti-Semitism that conflates criticism of Israel with hatred of Jews.

A description of the last chapter of the book, “Antisemitism Today: A Convenient Hatred,” on the “Facing History” website, conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism:

That chapter considers the newest justifications for antisemitism–including Holocaust denial and the use of traditional antisemitic libels to demonize both the state of Israel and Jews in general.

My inquiry resulted in being insularly redirected in a circular loop to in-house materials that reinforce the Zionist ethos of “Facing History.” This deliberate strategy protects Zionism from ever being criticized.

A few weeks ago I was talking with a trusted colleague about the ways we teach and talk about power with our students. We joked about the limitations of pre-packaged materials, how so much of teaching consists of putting together our own resources, and that we prefer it this way: news articles here, school board approved literature there, book chapters, video clips, whatever we can find to help students understand their own lived experiences better and find their place in the world.

Teaching is an art form. Ultimately, the best materials are the resources we find and put together ourselves. Two years ago I visited friends in Bethlehem, and one of them, a high school English teacher, gave me two books she uses with her 12th grade students, English for Palestine, and English for Palestine: Reading Plus, both published by Macmillan in conjunction with Palestine’s Ministry of Education.

In Unit 6 of the Reading Plus book, students are asked to write a short biography about how their family was affected by the Nakba. The text asks them if they “come from a family that used to live in one of the villages depopulated and/or destroyed by the Israelis in 1948.” Questions for students to consider for their biography include: “Where was the village? What was life there like before 1948? Where did your family go when they were forced to leave? What was their life like in the new place?” Students are given guidelines for writing their biography: “Include details of life before the Nakba, either from imagination or from what your family has told you” “Say what effect the Nakba had on you and your family” “Add a conclusion about how people kept the memory alive and their hope for a Right of Return.”

“Facing History and Ourselves” could include materials like this about Palestine if it was truly committed to do what it claims, to equip “teachers with the tools and strategies they need to help students become thoughtful, responsible citizens.” But to do so would require criticizing, and ultimately acknowledging that Zionism is racism.

The educators who use Facing History’s materials, and the students they teach, don’t learn about the power imbalance between the Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish Israelis, or about the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. They don’t hear about the Palestinian villages that Israel destroyed in 1948, or the ongoing Israeli military occupation. They aren’t taught about settler colonialism or ethnic cleansing in Palestine. Their lesson plans say nothing of keeping memory and hope alive for a Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.

“Facing History and Ourselves” is not facing history or ourselves. Instead, it’s facing, authenticating, and propagandizing the dominant ideologies that govern how we talk and teach about power and oppression in schools–stopping short, especially now, at the shores of Palestine.

So where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?

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