Monday, May 11, 2015

The Expulsion of Palestinian Arabs and Accusations of Ethnic Cleansing

The Expulsion of Palestinian Arabs and

Accusations of Ethnic Cleansing

*This article is part of a series*
       Alongside the question of how many Palestinian Arab refugees were created in the 1948 war in Palestine, a debate rages about whether these refugees were merely victims of a general wartime atmosphere or if they were instead ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces. While the fact that wars create refugees is rather axiomatic, some allege a more sinister, pre-meditated ethnic cleansing plan was in the works and the war simply provided convenient cover for implementing it.
       Israel's New Historians can be credited with popularizing the claim in the last few decades that the Zionist leadership had engineered a plan to ethnically cleanse Palestine and executed it during the 1948 war. It is not a new claim. The same accusation has been advanced by Palestinian advocates since just after the war ended. Endorsement of this claim by prominent Israeli historians rejuvenated the debate by lending some degree of credibility to what may have been seen in the past as polemic or distorted Palestinian historiography.
       There are two main pillars supporting the claim of ethnic cleansing:
  1. Zionist statements and literature called for the transfer of Arabs out of the territory that would become Israel

  2. During the 1948 war, Jewish military forces actively expelled significant numbers of Arabs from Israel

Words Speak Louder than Actions - Zionist Statements
       There is certainly no disputing that a preference for the transfer of Arabs out of the territory allotted to Israel had been vocalized by Zionist leadership of all ranks. It is also true that Zionists of all ranks (often the very same ones) had spoken out in opposition to the idea of transfer. Various ideas were entertained at various times by various people as those people reacted to events, often times violent ones, taking place. An opinion in 1934 that no Arab should be expelled from Palestine does not preclude that opinion from changing in 1947 to one that Arabs should be transferred, and vice versa.
       For a quick perusal of some examples of Zionists endorsing transfer, see Palestine Remembered's collection of Zionist quotes on transfer. Other resources for Zionist statements regarding transfer, albeit while proselytizing for ethnic cleansing, can be found in Nur Masalha's book Expulsion of the Palestinians1 and most books by Ilan Pappe. These sources do a good job at providing the reader with half the picture. As already mentioned, Zionist leaders are also on record denouncing the transfer of Arabs, declaring a transfer is not their goal and indeed, not a pre-requisite to the Jewish state.
       If statements favoring the transfer of Arabs can be pointed to as evidence that ethnic cleansing was the aim of the Zionist leadership, what then do we do with contrary statements? For example:
  • "at a meeting of the Zionist Congress, the supreme governing body of the Zionist Organization, held at Carlsbad in September, 1921, a resolution was passed expressing as the official statement of Zionist aims 'the determination of the Jewish people to live with the Arab people on terms of unity and mutual respect, and together with them to make the common home into a flourishing community, the upholding of which may assure to each of its peoples an undisturbed national development'"2

  • Ben-Gurion stated in 1931 that "The Arab community in Palestine is an organic, inseparable part of the landscape. It is embedded in the country. The Arabs work the land, and will remain."3

  • David Ben-Gurion repeatedly announced that he did not see population transfer as a requisite component of Zionist aspirations when others brought it up: "Like Weizmann, Ben-Gurion believed that the creation of a Jewish majority did not mean 'the removal of many Arabs from Palestine,' but 'the introduction of many Jews through development and industry.' This was the message Ben-Gurion bore during a four-month swing through Europe, with stops in London, Stockholm, and Berlin."4

  • "All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights, and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development."5

  • "In this connection it has been observed with satisfaction that at the meeting of the Zionist Congress, the supreme governing body of the Zionist Organization, held at Carlsbad in September, 1921, a resolution was passed expressing as the official statement of Zionist aims "the determination of the Jewish people to live with the Arab people on terms of unity and mutual respect, and together with them to make the common home into a flourishing community, the upbuilding of which may assure to each of its peoples an undisturbed national development."6

  • Even a cursory glance at the principles embodied in Ben-Gurion's version of Labor Zionism speaks to his planning on the Arabs remaining in Palestine, not being ethnically cleansed from it:
    • "... the most important economic asset of the native population is the fellahs ... Under no circumstances must we touch land belonging ... to them ... They must receive help from Jewish settlement institutions, to free themselves from their dead weight of their oppressors, and to keep their land."7

    • "... bridges had to be built to the Arab worker who, though still a politically negligible force, would one day emerge triumphant. It was, in fact, the historic mission of Zionism to elevate the Arab worker, without whom it would be difficult for Labor Zionism to succeed, for the fate of the Jewish worker was bound up with that of his Arab comrade."8

    Why all the concern about bettering the lives of Arab farmers and workers when the plan was to ethnically cleanse them from the land?

  • Failing even to allude to the transfer of Arabs, Ben-Gurion told his party, "The Arab question has only two solutions ... One is an agreement with the Arabs, and the Arabs don't want one. The other is reliance on England. There is nothing in between."9

  • Efraim Karsh's article 1948, Israel, and the Palestinians goes into greater depth illustrating the degree to which Zionism attempted to reach an agreement based on co-existence: 

    "The simple fact is that the Zionist movement had always been amenable to the existence in the future Jewish state of a substantial Arab minority that would participate on an equal footing 'throughout all sectors of the country’s public life.' The words are those of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founding father of the branch of Zionism that was the forebear of today’s Likud party. ... Jabotinsky voiced his readiness 'to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never do anything contrary to the principle of equal rights, and that we shall never try to eject anyone.'

    Eleven years later, Jabotinsky presided over the drafting of a constitution for Jewish Palestine. According to its provisions, Arabs and Jews were to share both the prerogatives and the duties of statehood, including most notably military and civil service. Hebrew and Arabic were to enjoy the same legal standing, and 'in every cabinet where the prime minister is a Jew, the vice-premiership shall be offered to an Arab and vice-versa.'

    If this was the position of the more 'militant' faction of the Jewish national movement, mainstream Zionism not only took for granted the full equality of the Arab minority in the future Jewish state but went out of its way to foster Arab-Jewish coexistence. In January 1919, Chaim Weizmann ... reached a peace-and-cooperation agreement with ... Faisal ibn Hussein .... From then until the proclamation of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, Zionist spokesmen held hundreds of meetings with Arab leaders at all levels. ... and Palestinian Arab elites of all hues.

    ... two months before the passing of the UN partition resolution, two senior Zionist envoys were still seeking to convince Abdel Rahman Azzam, the Arab League’s secretary-general, that the Palestine conflict 'was uselessly absorbing the best energies of the Arab League,' and that both Arabs and Jews would greatly benefit 'from active policies of cooperation and development.' Behind this proposition lay an age-old Zionist hope: that the material progress resulting from Jewish settlement of Palestine would ease the path for the local Arab populace to become permanently reconciled, if not positively well disposed, to the project of Jewish national self-determination. As David Ben-Gurion ... argued in December 1947: 'If the Arab citizen will feel at home in our state, . . . if the state will help him in a truthful and dedicated way to reach the economic, social, and cultural level of the Jewish community, then Arab distrust will accordingly subside and a bridge will be built to a Semitic, Jewish-Arab alliance.'"

  • "And for the Yishuv’s security, 'let us not rely on English friendship … let us be careful not to depend solely on the help of England.' Lasting security and peace could be had only through self-defense and a political settlement. It was thus necessary to speak with the Arabs. To drive his point home, Ben-Gurion dramatized: 'I’ll go still further, and say that I am ready to be a submissive slave to Ibn Saud and the Arab effendis if there is no alternative … if I knew that there lay the road to Zionist fulfillment.'"10

  • "Ben-Gurion was adamant. He said, “Were it possible to achieve the minimum through an agreement with the Arabs – I would do it, because I am full of fear and dread of the militarization of the youth in our state. I already see it in the souls of the children, and I did not dream of such a people and I don’t want it.”14
       It is impossible to document the extent that Zionists pursued a peaceful, political settlement toward the Arabs with a few bulleted points, but the effort was widespread. And while Zionism for decades exhausted efforts at achieving an understanding with Palestine's Arab population, some still choose to belittle this record with a perfunctory glance, and cling to mere words as all the proof of ethnic cleansing they need. Even within the realm of statements and opinions, however, contradictory viewpoints regarding transfer are as clear as it gets. What the sum of these mixed opinions, ideas, and musings leaves us is the speculative, academic game of predicting whether or not Zionists would have expelled Palestinian Arabs in the absence of hostility.

Might the Killing have Influenced Opinion?
       Arab hostility against the Jewish community in Palestine is the key that makes sense of the conflicting statements from Zionist leaders on the issue of transfer and provides a pragmatic explanation as to why the expulsions of Arabs took place. A conspiracy theory espousing ethnic cleansing need not be created to make sense of things. To be sure, there are those who can point to Zionist statements in favor of transferring Arabs out of Palestine as evidence ethnic cleansing was the plan all along, but a plan is something that may or may not happen in the future. There is uncertainty about whether Zionist rhetoric over transferring Arabs out of Israel would have ever transformed from word to deed.
       Arab hostility and violence, on the other hand, was not a possible future event but had been in progress for 30 years. It was at the time drastically increasing in intensity and was accumulating not just inside Palestine, but to a large degree in the greater Arab world as well. There was no element of uncertainty attached to this reality. While claims of ethnic cleansing tenuously rely upon what Zionists might or might not have done in the absence of their being invaded (see next paragraph), pervasive anti-Jewish sentiment, destruction of Jewish property, sporadic outbreaks of violence, and massacres were ongoing events. Next came a civil war. And finally, armies from seven surrounding Arab nations sent soldiers to destroy the new state and most likely a good number of its citizens. Claims of "ethnic cleansing" can only be made while ignoring, in totality, these circumstances facing the Jewish community in Palestine.
       Palestine Think Tank's Mary Rizzo complains, "For both [Uri] Avnery and [Benny] Morris, it seems, as long as there's a war going on, moving the civilian population on with a spot of shock and aware is justified and cannot be described as ethnic cleansing."11 Let it be clarified that ethnic cleansing and war are not mutually exclusive phenomena. The fact that Arab armies invaded Israel does not automatically result in the conclusion that ethnic cleansing did not happen.
       What the civil war and foreign invasion did, however, was introduce justification for carrying out expulsions (state security) that had absolutely nothing to do with racist desires for ethnic cleansing. They render the conclusion that ethnic cleansing did take place uncertain; a conclusion that could only be obvious in want of other legitimate motivation. If expulsions began prior to hostilities, or in the absence of war, ethnic cleansing would be the only reasonable conclusion. Rizzo's derisive suggestion that neither Avnery nor Morris can admit to ethnic cleansing because a war is on reveals her own uncompromising dogma that never is there a time when expulsions are anything but ethnic cleansing operations.
       An increasing trend can be seen in support for transfer among mainstream Zionism starting in the mid 1930's. Two very significant reasons account for this. First of all, 1936 was the year the violent Arab strike began in Palestine, concluding in 1939. It is no coincidence that most of the Zionist statements favorable toward transferring Arabs out of Israel coincided with violence on the ground. In large part, opinions favorable to transfer were formed only after the outbreak of the Arab strike; an event that destroyed mainstream Zionism's expectations that a peaceful agreement could still be reached with the Arabs.
"As a result of the Arab rebellion, Palestine’s Jewish population shifted ... from a defensive to an offensive ethos. ... The belief that the Jewish national home could be established by peaceful means had eroded and was replaced with a realization that Jewish-Arab confrontation was an inescapable reality. ... Early news about the fate of European Jewry under the Nazi regime, along with the alliance between Hajj Amin and the Axis reinforced the view that Palestine’s Arabs were in every sense an enemy."12

       Second, the British Peel Commission Report of 1937 formally recommended a population transfer to solve the ethnic violence in Palestine. As Benny Morris observes: "... transfer had never been adopted by the movement or any of the main Zionist parties (including the right-wing Revisionists) as part of a platform or official policy. Once the Peel Commission had given the idea its imprimatur, however, the floodgates were opened. Ben-Gurion, Weizmann, Shertok, and others – a virtual consensus – went on record in support of transfer at meetings of the JAE at the Twentieth Zionist Congress ... and in other forums."13
       If the Mandate authority in Palestine deemed it acceptable to suggest a population transfer, then who were the Zionists to disagree? Yet it was not just (unofficially) Zionist or (officially) British opinion that the already intractable feuding in Palestine required a population transfer to permanently resolve. A significant portion of the international community concurred with that solution. Not only did they agree with it, but population transfers, compulsory ones at that, had just been affected throughout Europe to solve similar ethnic friction just a few years previous.

1  Masalha, Nur. Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of "Transfer" in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948. Washington, D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992.
2  British White Paper of June 1922
3  Teveth, Shabtai. Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs - From Peace to War. 5-6
4  Teveth, Shabtai. Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs - From Peace to War. 108-109
5  Faisal-Weizmann Agreement, Article IV. 3 January 1919
6  Churchill White Paper, 3 June 1922
7  Teveth, Shabtai. Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs - From Peace to War. 32
8  Teveth, Shabtai. Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs - From Peace to War. 68
9  Teveth, Shabtai. Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs - From Peace to War. 154
10  Teveth, Shabtai. Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs - From Peace to War. 116
11 (Site accessed on Aug 28, 2008)
12  Cohen, Hillel. Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. 179
13  Morris, Benny. 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press, 2008. 18-19
14  Morris, Benny. 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press, 2008. 318

Population Transfer as a Tool

*This article is part of a series*
"If a country, or two countries, or an international body is faced with a minority problem which manifestly cannot be solved within the existing territorial framework and which, if perpetuated, will obviously lead to international complications and possibly to war, recourse should be taken at once to the preventive device of transfer."1

       The expulsion of Palestinian Arabs by Israel is today portrayed as some sort of especially wicked and unique evil in history. One gets the impression that Israel, in making the decision during the war to expel Palestinian Arabs, crossed a line that nations should never cross. But when analyzing the expulsions in their historic setting rather than superimposing onto them present-day norms, it becomes immediately apparent that Israel was taking their lead for solving ethnic conflict from the rest of the world. Population transfers and expulsions had been taking place for decades all over the globe before Israel resorted to the same tactic as a last resort in war.
       Population transfers were widely seen as a valid and effective technique to end lingering tensions and violence between differing ethnic groups. It would be beneficial to provide at least a high level survey of population transfer as a tactic in resolving ethnic conflicts around the world before returning to the circumstances facing Israel:
  • For the first time in modern history at the Convention of Adrianople (1913) an agreement was reached to exchange minority populations (Bulgarians and Turkish Moslems) as a solution to ethnic hostilities. Due to Turkey's entry into WWI, the actual exchange never took place, but would have affected just under 100,000 people.2

  • "A convention for the exchange of population between Greece and Bulgaria was signed on 27 November 1920 at Neuilly-sur-Seine by the Greek and Bulgarian plenipotentiaries."3 This "racial adjustment" was completed by 1930.

  • During the Convention of Lausanne in 1923, the League of Nations oversaw the decision for a forced population transfer between the minority populations of Greece and Turkey. Over a million Greeks fled and were expelled from Turkey while under a half million Turks were expelled from Greece, not by the Greek government, but by order of the League of Nations. The "right of return" for the Greeks who fled was denied both by Turkey and the League of Nations, while the Turkish population in Greece for the most part was simply uprooted to provide enough room for the incoming Greek refugees.4 Despite the incredible hardships this posed on the uprooted people,"Before the operation the Greek and Turkish minorities had been a constant irritant. Now Greco-Turkish relations are friendlier than they have ever been before."5

  • Forced expulsions of German minority groups from various countries, namely Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary, were carried out with each country specifically stating they did not want the German minorities to remain out of a concern for future security. This decision was codified in the Potsdam Declaration where the major International powers all signed on in agreement that this would be best for the future security of Europe. About 6.5 million Germans were affected whether or not they had cooperated with the Axis powers. The governments of Yugoslavia and Romania did not even wait for approval from the Potsdam Conference members before unilaterally and forcibly expelling their German minorities.

  • The partition creating an independent Pakistan and India in 1947 resulted in a population exchange affecting over 14 million people as Hindus fled Pakistan and Muslims fled India. Despite the huge numbers of people involved, no "right of return" is being championed as an undying right by either side. The Palestinian refugees from the partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel is a tiny fraction of the Pakistani and Indian refugees. But for some reason the 14 million refugees from Pakistan and India are resettled, no longer an issue, while the comparatively small group of Palestinian refugees have done nothing but grow in size.
       There were population transfers between the Soviets and Czechoslovakia, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, Poland and the Soviets, Italy and Germany, Yugoslavia and Hungary, Denmark and Germany, Greece and Bulgaria, Bulgaria and Romania, etc. The list just goes on and on. Some were voluntary (albeit with state pressure to leave) and some were forced. Most were done in hopes of settling ethnic tensions that had historically led to security problems.
"Today, the transfer plan is being advocated by many responsible statesmen, scholars, and writers. Among those who see in the exchange of populations a solution for some of Europe's most acute problems are former President Herbert Hoover, and former Ambassadors Hugh Gibson and William C. Bullitt. Leopold C. Klausner, onetime director of the Pan-European Union, is convinced that population transfer must be considered the best solution for minority problems in danger zones. Harold Butler and Nicolas Politis, former Greek Ambassador to France and an authority on international law, strongly advocate employment of the transfer method. Imre Ferenczi, former population expert of the International Labour Office, is explicit in his support of the transfer plan. And Warren S. Thompson, one of the leading demographers in the United States, declared ... 'As for myself, I have gradually come to feel that the resettlement of considerable populations in Europe is indispensible to the establishment of a peace which will have a chance to last for more than a few years.'"6
       In Joseph B. Schechtman's exhaustive studies (European Population Transfers, 1939-19457,Postwar Population Transfers in Europe 1945-19558, and Population Transfers in Asia9) he provides a wide sampling of statesmen, academics, and population experts who approved of and endorsed population transfers, voluntary and compulsory. A portion of these people include:
  • Georges Montandon, a professor of ethnology at the Paris School of Anthropology
  • Professor Bernard Lavergne of the Lille University law faculty and the Greek Premier Venizelos
  • Harold Butler and Nicolas Politis, former Greek Ambassador to France and an authority on international law
  • Imre Ferenczi, former population expert of the International Labour Office
  • Warren S. Thompson, one of the leading demographers in the United States
  • Charles Upson Clark, a highly qualified student of Balkan problems
  • Jacob Robinson, an authority on the international protection of minorities

       Returning to the issue of population transfer in Palestine, Dr. Chaim Simons put together an impressive survey of both Jews and Gentiles that agreed such a thing would be the best and only effective solution for ending the conflict. From his study A Historical Survey of Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine, 1895 - 1947:
  • President Roosevelt considered a population transfer scheme that involved banning Arab immigration to what would be Israel, banning Jewish immigration to Arab nations, and enticing the existing Arab population out of Palestine with free land in Jordan. If that didn't work, the transfer should be forced, "They should be offered land free, and that ought to be enough to attract them; and failing the attraction, they should be compelled to emigrate to it." - Citing Lindsay to Oliphant, 3 November 1938, (PRO FO 371/21883 E6606/10/31)

  • In 1943 President Hoover, while addressing the Emergency Conference to Save the Jewish People of Europe proposed population transfer as a way to establish the Jews in Palestine, "but after all Palestine would absorb only a part of the three or four millions whom this Conference has been discussing as needing relief. This could be accomplished only by moving the Arab population to some other quarter." - Citing The New York Times, 26 July 1943, p.19.

  • In 1946 Alexander Kirkbride, while reporting to the Eastern Department of the Foreign Office in London, reported that during his meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan and the Prime Minister Ibrahim Pasha, Pasha "went on to say that, in his opinion, the only just and permanent solution lay in absolute partition with an exchange of populations; to leave Jews in an Arab State or Arabs in a Jewish State would lead inevitably to further trouble between the two peoples. Ibrahim Pasha admitted that he would not be able to express this idea in public for fear of being called a traitor." - Citing Kirkbride to Wikeley, 29 July 1946, p.1,(PRO FO 816/85)

  • "In 1939, Mojli Amin, a member of the Arab Defense Committee for Palestine put forward a proposal for the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. ... Amin's proposal was that all of Palestine be given to the Jews - its dwelling places, its fields, its mosques, its graveyards, etc. “Furthermore, I hereby propose that all the Arabs of Palestine will leave and be divided up amongst the neighbouring Arab countries. In exchange for this, all the Jews living in Arab countries will leave and come to Palestine.” - Citing Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial, (New York, 1984), p.25.

  • In 1941 Leopold Amery, Secretary of State for India, "wrote a letter to the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, in which he put forward his views on solving the Palestine question, which included transferring the Arabs. He considered that “the ideal policy might well be to give the Jews the whole of Palestine and find the money for the transference of the existing Palestinian population to Transjordan and Syria and its resettlement there.” - Citing Amery to Churchill, 4 October 1941, Reprinted by Natanel Katzberg, The Palestine Problem in British Policy 1940 - 1945, (Jerusalem, 1977), p.18.

  • Nobel Peace Prizewinner Sir Norman Angell stated, “A plan must be initiated to help in the development of other Arab territories so that Arabs in Palestine might immigrate to purely Arab lands where their establishment would be encouraged.” - Citing Joseph Schechtman, Population Transfers in Asia, (New York, 1949), pp.117-18.

  • Historian Edwyn Bevan who lectured at King's College in London made a public recommendation that Palestine's Arabs be moved to Iraq to make room for the Jews after the Iraqi irrigation system was revived in order to accompany them. - Citing Edwyn Bevan, Letters to the Editor, The Times, (London), 11 September 1936, p.10.

  • Ely Culbertson, President of World Federation Inc., proposed "A large part of the Mohammedan and Christian populations of Palestine shall be transferred to another territory in the Middle East, where equivalent or better land and living conditions shall be provided, together with a reasonable bonus." - Citing Ely Culbertson, Summary of the World Federation Plan, (New York, 1943), p.23. and Ely Culbertson, “No Solution Without a Plan”, The New Palestine, (New York), vol.xxxiii, no.9, 5 March 1943, p.6.

  • American journalist John Gunther suggested, "“Perhaps amelioration will come some day... in the form of an exchange of populations. This is not practical politics yet; it could become practical politics any time the British believed in it. The Arabs might conceivably go to Transjordan or Iraq, where there is plenty of room; Jews from Europe could come then to Palestine. The idea may seem fantastic, but it worked when imposed by a strong hand on the Greeks and Turks. Something drastic must be done.” - Citing John Gunther, Inside Asia, (New York, 1939), p.589.

  • Walter Clay Lowdermilk, at one time the Chief of the Soil Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, suggested that Arabs who did not prefer to dwell in Israel "could easily settle in the great alluvial plain of the Tigris and Euphrates Valley where there is land enough for vast numbers of immigrants." - Citing Walter Clay Lowdermilk, Palestine, Land of Promise, (New York, 1944), p.178.

  • John Bagot Glubb (aka Glubb Pasha) was the British commander of the Jordanian Arab Legion. He envisioned a final settlement of the conflict that rested upon a population exchange, as he explained, “When the undoubtedly Arab and undoubtedly Jewish areas had been cleared of all members of the other community, work would begin on deciding the actual frontier….” - Citing John Glubb, A Further Note on Partition as a Solution of the Palestine Question, pp.35-36, (PRO CO 537/1856).

  • Harry St John Philby, father of famous spy Kim Philby, served in the Arab Information Office in Cairo. He worked as an advisor to King Saud of Saudi Arabia. He believed "“The whole of Palestine should be left to the Jews. All Arabs displaced therefrom should be resettled elsewhere at the expense of the Jews ..." - Citing Harry St John B. Philby, Arabian Jubilee, (London, 1952), p.212 – 213
"... because it is patently impossible for any peace settlement to create a European order in which all states are nationally homogeneous, the opinion is gaining momentum that in several danger zones the answer to the territorial and minorities problems must be sought in an ethnic shifting of the minorities. It is felt that these persons should be resettled where they can become a part of larger ethnic groups whose language they speak, to whose customs they have the least antagonism, and to whom, spiritually, they owe allegiance."10
       As far back as 1922 the British whom the League of Nations set in charge of Palestine declared,"It is necessary also to ensure that persons who are politically undesirable be excluded from Palestine, and every precaution has been and will be taken by the Administration to that end."11 The Palestine Royal Commission went on to publish a report in 1937 (popularly known as the Peel Commission Report) with recommendations to ultimately solve the racial animosity. The crux of reaching a permanent, lasting peace was partitioning the land along with a population transfer to compliment the new frontier:
  • "They [the recommendations for solving Arab-Jewish grievances] cannot cure the trouble. The disease is so deep-rooted that in the Commissioners' firm conviction the only hope of a cure lies in a surgical operation", or in other words, ethnic resettlement. (Chapter XIX)

  • "If Partition is to be effective in promoting a final settlement ... there should be a transfer of land and, as far as possible, an exchange of population." (Chapter XXII, Pgph. 10)

  • "A precedent is afforded by the exchange effected between the Greek and Turkish populations on the morrow of the Greco-Turkish War of 1922." (Chapter XXII, Pgph. 10) This exchange, as I refer to above, was a forced population transfer that was successfully completed and effectively solved the friction among the mutual minority groups in the opposite countries.

  • "If ... a substantial amount of land could be made available for the re-settlement of Arabs living in the Jewish area, the most strenuous efforts should be made to obtain an agreement for the transfer of land and population." (Chapter XXII, Pgph. 10)

  • "In view of the present antagonism between the races and of the manifest advantage to both of them for reducing the opportunities of future friction to the utmost, it is to be hoped that the Arab and the Jewish leaders might show the same high statesmanship as that of the Turks and the Greeks and make the same bold decision for the sake of peace." (Chapter XXII, Pgph. 10)
       The British Labour Party also went on record in their support of population transfer in their 1943-1944 report: “Here too, in Palestine surely is a case, on human grounds and to promote a stable settlement, for transfer of population. Let the Arabs be encouraged to move out, as the Jews move in. Let them be compensated handsomely for their land and let their settlement elsewhere be carefully organised and generously financed.” The British Common Wealth party passed a similar resolution a year later.12
"... senior British officials and Arab leaders, including Emir ‘Abdullah and Nuri Sa’id, Iraq’s premier politician ... shared this view [of transfer]. All understood that for a partition settlement to work and last, the emergent Jewish state would have to be ridded of its large and potentially or actively hostile Arab minority. As ‘Abdullah’s prime minister, Ibrahim Pasha Hashim, put it in 1946: 'The only just and permanent solution lay in absolute partition with an exchange of populations; to leave Jews in an Arab state or Arabs in a Jewish state would lead inevitably to further trouble between the two peoples.' ‘Abdullah, according to Britain’s representative in Amman, Alec Kirkbride, concurred."13

       Benny Morris took a lot of heat for his controversial opinion that if David Ben-Gurion "was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types. But my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country - the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. It may yet turn out that this was his fatal mistake. If he had carried out a full expulsion - rather than a partial one - he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations."14
       But it's the same logic espoused by Arab novelist Anton Shammas when he states in an argument with a fellow Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua, "I always said that the Zionist state’s most serious mistake in 1948 was that it kept the 156,000 Arabs who did not run away and were not expelled. If you really wanted to establish a Jewish state, you should have kicked me out of Fasuta, too."17 It also echoes conventional wisdom shared by demographic experts and international lawyers:
"The purpose of a population transfer is not to remove a high percentage of a minority group from the country of its residence, but to remove a minority problem, to eliminate a threat to the future. There are only two alternatives. In countries where there is reasonable hope for a peaceable life for minority groups within the state-nation and where a transfer is not absolutely essential, maximum security and rights must be guaranteed to the minorities. But if population transfer is deemed unavoidable, there must be no trace of the collective minority existence left, no stuff for the resurgence of the minority problem. There is no third solution."15
"... it should be noted that forced population transfers, if they are not complete and permanent, only postpone and aggravate inter-ethnic conflict, they rarely terminate it. ... However, if evictions are complete and permanent, then they may in fact be the precursors to peace."16
       As we can see, population transfer was not a scheme hatched in a Zionist bunker. Transfer as a solution to Palestine's ethnic problem was proposed in the open for over 10 years before Israel declared statehood. It was agreed upon as the most effective solution by non-Jewish members of the international community from all backgrounds. These facts make a mockery of the accusation that "the Jews" or "the Zionists" were biding their time before ethnically cleansing their territory at an opportune moment. Of course, a more important question than who it was that first proposed this solution or how many agreed with it remains ...

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Navigate this series:

Part 1 - Expulsions and Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinian Arabs
Part 2 - Population Transfer in International Affairs
Part 3 - Were the Expulsions of Palestinian Arabs Necessary?
Part 4 - Terrorism as a Response to Expulsion

1  Schechtman, Joseph B. Population Transfers in Asia. New York: Hallsby Press, 1949. 84
2  "European Population Transfers, 1939-1945" by Joseph B. Schechtman, Pg. 12
3  "European Population Transfers, 1939-1945" by Joseph B. Schechtman, Pg. 13
4  "European Population Transfers, 1939-1945" by Joseph B. Schechtman, Pp. 17-18
5  Palestine Royal Commission, Chapter XXII, Pgph. 10
6  "European Population Transfers, 1939-1945" by Joseph B. Schechtman, Pp. 455-456
7  Schechtman, Joseph B. European Population Transfers, 1939-1945. Studies of the Institute of World Affairs. New York: Oxford University Press, 1946.
8  Schechtman, Joseph B. Postwar Population Transfers in Europe 1945-1955. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1963.
9  Schechtman, Joseph B. Population Transfers in Asia. New York: Hallsby Press, 1949.
10  European Population Transfers, 1939-1945" by Joseph B. Schechtman, Pg. 454
11  British White Paper of June 1922
12  European Population Transfers, 1939-1945" by Joseph B. Schechtman, Pg. 457
13  Morris, Benny. 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press, 2008. 18-19
14  Haaretz Jan. 2004, "Survival of the Fittest" by Ari Shavt - (Internet Archive confirms quote as of Jan 15, 2008)
15  Schechtman, Joseph B. European Population Transfers, 1939-1945. Studies of the Institute of World Affairs. New York: Oxford University Press, 1946. 478
16  Bookman, Milica Zarkovic. The Demographic Struggle for Power: The Political Economy of Demographic Engineering in the Modern World. London: Frank Cass, 1997. 141-142
17  Kimmerling, Baruch. Clash of Identities: Explorations in Israeli and Palestinian Societies. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. 224

Were the Expulsions Necessary?

*This article is part of a series*
       The diplomatic arena had already decided that population transfer was the only effective solution for Palestine. The transfer would have been overseen by international bodies in a humane manner with plenty of incentives and financial compensation. Unfortunately for the Palestinian Arabs, some from within their ranks, along with armies from all surrounding Arab states sought a violent solution instead.
       Military justifications for the expulsions have been referred to a couple of times now. For obvious reasons, those pushing the ethnic cleansing accusation do their utmost to denigrate the claim that expulsions were carried out for valid military considerations. If they were necessary from a military and security standpoint, the charge of ethnic cleansing is negated. A nuanced approach to this issue offers more than two possibilities where the expulsions were either motivated entirely by race or entirely by military necessity. Could not both be true to various degrees? The question at this point then, is to what extent were the expulsions necessary? The answer to this question creates a zero-sum scenario where to whatever extent expulsions were necessary, the accusation of "ethnic cleansing" loses credibility.
  • "We only had five days left … until 15 May [the Arab invasions]. We regarded it as imperative to cleanse the interior of the Galilee and create Jewish territorial continuity in the whole of Upper Galilee. The protracted battles had reduced our forces and we faced major tasks in blocking the invasion routes. We therefore looked for a means that would not oblige us to use force to drive out the tens of thousands of hostile Arabs left in the [Eastern] Galilee and who, in the event of an invasion, could strike at us from behind. ... I gathered the Jewish mukhtars [headmen], who had ties with the different Arab villages, and I asked them to whisper in the ears of several Arabs that giant Jewish reinforcements had reached the Galilee and were about to clean out the villages of the Hula, [and] to advise them, as friends, to flee while they could. And the rumor spread throughout the Hula that the time had come to flee. The flight encompassed tens of thousands. The stratagem fully achieved its objective … and we were able to deploy ourselves in the face of the [prospective] invaders along the borders, without fear for our rear."1

  • "Observers understood the grim logic behind the Haganah operations: the Jews, complained Arab League secretary-general ‘Azzam, were 'driving out the inhabitants [from areas] on or near roads by which Arab regular forces could enter the country … The Arab armies would have the greatest difficulty in even entering Palestine after May 15th.' He was right."2

  • "In order to defend some areas where Jews were completely surrounded by Arabs ... the Haganah adopted scare-tactics that were intended to strike terror into the Arab population ... Many Arabs ... fled because of tactics such as rumors that a huge Jewish army from the West was about to land ... hand-grenades thrown on front porches of homes, jeeps driving by and firing machine guns into the walls or fences of houses, rumors circulated by Arabic-speaking Jews that the Haganah was far bigger than it really was ... Here it is important to note that Jews were responsible in this part of the Arab flight. But it was not because they wanted to ethnically cleanse the country, or to wipe out the Arabs. It was because they knew that outnumbered Jews, undefended in Arab enclaves would be slaughtered (as in fact was the case ... in the Gush Etzion villages and in the Jewish Quarter of ... Jerusalem, and ... Hebron in 1929)."3

  • "None of this is to deny that Israeli forces did on occasion expel Palestinians. But this occurred not within the framework of a premeditated plan but in the heat of battle, and was dictated predominantly by ad-hoc military considerations. Even the largest of these expulsions … emanated from a string of unexpected developments on the ground and was in no way foreseen in military plans for the capture of the town. Finally, whatever the extent of the Israeli expulsions, they accounted for only a small fraction of the total exodus.”4

  • Yitzhak Rabin describes the expulsion of the Arabs from Lod and Ramle in which he participated:"While the fighting was still in progress, we had to grapple with ... the populations of Lod and Ramleh, numbering some fifty thousand civilians. ... Clearly we could not leave Lod's hostile and armed populace in our rear, where it could endanger the supply route to Yiftach, which was advancing eastwards. ... Alon repeated his question: 'What is to be done with the population?' BG [Ben-Gurion] waved his hand in a gesture which said: Drive them out! ... I agreed that it was essential to drive the inhabitants out. ... Psychologically, this was one of the most difficult actions we undertook. ... Today, in hindsight, I think the action was essential. The removal of those fifty thousand Arabs was an important contribution to Israel's security, in one of the most sensitive of regions ... After the War of Independence, some of the inhabitants were permitted to return to their home towns.”5

  • "[Operation] Nahshon heralded a shift from the defensive to the offensive and marked the beginning of the implementation of tochnit dalet (Plan D) – without Ben-Gurion or the HGS ever taking an in principle decision to embark on its implementation. But the Haganah had had little choice. With the Arab world loudly threatening and seemingly mobilizing for invasion, the Yishuv’s political and military leaders understood that they would first have to crush the Palestinian militias in the main towns and along the main roads and the country’s borders if they were to stand a chance of beating off the invading armies. And there was an ineluctable time frame. The Palestinians would have to be defeated in the six weeks remaining before the British departure, scheduled for 15 May."6

  • "Neither the UN nor the Zionist leadership intended the transfer of land or even a portion of the Arab population out of the areas of Palestine designated for a Jewish state. It was only in the course of the bitter Arab-initiated civil war of 1948 that land was conquered, either as a consequence of Arab flight and abandonment or of their forced expulsion."7

  • "The Israeli soldiers were not trained or experienced in occupying Arab communities and separating out armed guerillas from peaceful civilians. In any case, the Israelis had no manpower to spare for such delicate and sophisticated counterinsurgency operations, since they had to repel the armies of the invading Arab states even as they were forced to deal with the "local" guerilla-terrorists as well. These unfortunate military realities occasionally made expulsion of the inhabitants from "hostile" villages that served as bases of operation for guerilla attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians the only practical means of halting these attacks."8
       Ethnic cleansing apologists without fail point to a specific military strategy the Haganah had forumulated prior to the May 1948 Arab invasions into Israel. It was called "Plan D" and anticipated foreign invasion from neighboring Arab states aided by local Arab forces. Plan D was primarily defensive in nature, but unlike Plans A, B, and C which were exclusively defensive, Plan D allowed for offensive measures such as expelling or occupying Arab villages that threatened Jewish supply and communications lines. These actions were approved not to win the war, allege Zionism's critics, but to cleanse the land of Arabs due to ideological preferences. Thus, the theme of utter disregard for the situation on the ground that defines almost every aspect of these critics' allegations of ethnic cleansing is present here as well.
  • "These allegations rely on a single paragraph of Plan D's 75 pages and refer to one of the Plan's many aspects while taking this paragraph out of its context and ignoring or blurring the Plan's real task: defending the forthcoming Jewish state from outside invasion being assisted by domestic Arab subversion. ... The purpose was military: securing the hinterland after the British evacuation and with the invasion imminent. Occupation of villages was necessary to deny the invading enemy the use of main roads and potential bases for attacking neighbouring Jewish settlements. ... The text clarified unequivocally that expulsion concerned only those villages that would fight against the Haganah and resist occupation, and not all Arab hamlets."9

  • "... contrary to the assertions of some ... [Plan D] was not a plan for mass expulsion or 'ethnic cleansing' of Palestinians ... it was not an offensive plan -- it was meant to [be] activated only in the event of an attack initiated by the Arab side ... It did not call for massacres ... It was not an 'expansionist' plan ..."10

  • "Plan D has given rise over the decades to a minor historiographic controversy, with Palestinian and pro-Palestinian historians charging that it was the Haganah’s master plan for the expulsion of the country’s Arabs. But a cursory examination of the actual text leads to a different conclusion. The plan calls for securing the emergent state’s territory and borders and the lines of communication between the Jewish centers of population and the border areas. The plan is unclear about whether the Haganah was to conquer and secure the roads between the Jewish state’s territory and the blocs of Jewish settlement outside that territory. The plan 'assumed' that 'enemy' regular, irregular, and militia forces would assail the new state, with the aim of cutting off the Negev and Eastern and Western Galilee, invading the Coastal Plain and isolating Tel Aviv and Jewish Haifa and Jerusalem. The Haganah’s 'operational goals' would be 'to defend [the state] against … invasion,' assure 'free [Jewish] movement,' deny the enemy forward bases, apply economic pressure to end enemy actions, limit the enemy’s ability to wage guerilla war, and gain control of former Mandate government installations and services in the new state’s territory.

    The plan gave the brigades carte blanche to conquer the Arab villages and, in effect, to decide on each village’s fate – destruction and expulsion or occupation. The plan explicitly called for the destruction of resisting Arab villages and the expulsion of their inhabitants. In the main towns, the brigades were tasked with evicting the inhabitants of resisting neighborhoods to the core Arab neighborhoods (not expulsion from the country). The plan stated: '[The villages] in your area, which have to be taken, cleansed or destroyed – you decide [on their fate], in consultation with your Arab affairs advisers and HIS officers.' Nowhere does the document speak of a policy or desire to expel 'the Arab inhabitants' of Palestine or of any of its constituent regions; nowhere is any brigade instructed to clear out 'the Arabs.'"

  • "Plan D was not a political blueprint for the expulsion of Palestine's Arabs: it was a military plan with military and territorial objectives."12
       Not only was this plan primarily concerned with the defense of the state against invasion, but its implementation wasn't even organized or coordinated.
  • "... Plan D had no D-Day and no zero hour. Its objectives were only partially accomplished ad hoc during the last month of the British mandate in Palestine, not as a single concerted preplanned operation."13

  • "... Plan D itself was never launched, in an orchestrated fashion, by a formal leadership decision. Indeed, the various battalion and brigade commanders in the first half of April and perhaps even later, seemed unaware that they were implementing Plan D. In retrospect it is clear that the Haganah offensives of April and early May were piecemeal implementations of Plan D. ... The massive Haganah documentation from the first half of April contains no reference to an implementation of Plan D, and only rarely do such references appear in the Haganah’s paperwork during the following weeks."14

  • "Plan Dalet was a plan, it was one of many plans. The lists compiled by the Hagana had been cobbled together for a decade before 1948, but they were not blueprints - merely intelligence assessments. The British also kept lists of everything; they knew about weapons in various kibbutzim, about the Hagana and illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine. Those lists weren't blueprints for ethnic cleansing anymore than were the Hagana files on Arab villages."21
       When it came to realizing the dubious "Zionist goal" to "ethnically cleanse" the land of Arabs, the Zionist leadership did not use as a wonderful pretext the fact the international community was suggesting they do so, or the fact the international community itself had just done so. No, the Zionist leadership instead subjected themselves to a civil war and then a conventional military invasion resulting in over 6,000 of their own killed to push them to expelling Arabs based on sound military considerations. In a country desperate for Jewish immigrants to build up the state, this hardly resembles a masterminded operation. It instead looks remarkably similar to expelling the Arabs because they had to, not because they preferred to; the difference between military necessity and ethnic cleansing.

Unnecessary Expulsions and Missed Opportunities
       An obvious military necessity has been demonstrated when it comes to explaining Israel's expulsion of some Arabs. But were any of the expulsions unnecessary? Yes, some were. While determining which of the expulsions were unnecessary is inherently subjective, an acknowledgement by Israel's own Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website states, "In the final stages of the fighting, Palestinian areas were intentionally destroyed by the Israeli army and, with no military justification, their inhabitants were expelled by force to beyond the armistice line that was marked at the war's end in 1949."15
       Benny Morris identifies a number of villages whose dealings with the Jews had been friendly, or at least neutral, before and during the war that were nonetheless expelled in his study Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited16. He also explains that while Arab residents of some villages were not expelled immediately during or after the fighting, they were nonetheless expelled soon afterward once the dust cleared.
       Such decisions could have been punitive in nature, driven by revenge, hatred, and yes, racism. Proponents of the "ethnic cleansing" accusation will no doubt conclude they were done to clear out Arab inhabitants from Israel to create a more homogeneous Jewish state. But placed in the proper perspective, the unnecessary expulsions (those with no military value) were a small minority of the expulsions as a whole, which themselves accounted for only a fraction of the overall Palestinian Arab refugees. As such, if one were to attribute all unnecessary expulsions to an ethnic cleansing plan, it would have to be viewed as a pathetic effort at best.
       Another conundrum facing an alleged ethnic cleansing campaign is the fact some Arab villages that could have easily been expelled were left alone:
  • "... Carmel and Laskov ordered the town’s [Nazareth] new military governor , Seventh Brigade OC Colonel Ben Dunkelman ... to expel the inhabitants. Dunkelman refused. Laskov appealed to Ben-Gurion: 'Tell me immediately, in an urgent manner, whether to expel [leharhik] the inhabitants from the town of Nazareth. In my opinion, all should be removed, save for the clerics.' Ben-Gurion backed Dunkelman. ... Orderly administration was imposed under the new governor, Major Elisha Sulz. IDF troops – except those serving in the military government – were barred from the town, and normal life was rapidly restored. Indeed, Nazareth soon filled with returning locals and refugees from surrounding villages."17

  • "On the other hand, Arab villages from which guerilla-terrorist attacks did not originate, and that did not offer armed resistance to the Israeli forces, were left alone by the Israeli soldiers; or if they were occupied by the Israelis, the inhabitants were well treated, and were not asked to leave Israeli-held territory."18

  • "There was an apparent relationship between the harshness of the Jews and the resistance of the locals or their previous behavior. Druze villages were usually left intact. Christian Arabs were often also not expelled, nor did they flee before the approaching Israeli forces. Muslims, especially those who had reason to fear retaliation for past behavior, either fled in advance or were expelled."19

No Reason Good Enough
       For some people it matters not a whit about why an expulsion was carried out. They don’t care about the who, what, when, where, or why. Presumably, there is never a reason convincing enough to justify expulsion which ironically ranks expulsion as more detestable than murder, riots, malignant racism, or warfare. This outlook is not the result of a moral assessment that finds expulsion to be worse than the assorted hostility aimed at the Jewish community of Palestine. It is the necessary outlook for the diehard fault-finders who have never considered a reasonable assessment of Israel and probably never will. Few would reach the conclusion that the expulsions were uncalled for considering the atmosphere, so the only option left is to portray expulsion as unthinkable barbarism that can not be justified in any circumstances.
       Take Norman Finkelstein, for example. In his book Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict20, Finkelstein begrudgingly admits “If he [Benny Morris] means that the Arabs, by electing to wage war, facilitated the expulsion, he is no doubt correct. Yet, this in no way belies the fact that it was an expulsion.” (Pg. 61) Even when Finkelstein can correctly place cause in front of effect and acknowledge that the Arab decision for war led to the Israeli decision to expel, he disapproves anyway. We are to be outraged not at the Arabs’ aggression and hostility but instead, at the Jews’ reaction to the dual-national threat of civil war and foreign invasion. This of course is nonsense.
       Palestine Remembered puts it this way, “Nobody has the right to usurp the political and civil rights of another citizen PERIOD, regardless of the circumstances.” Regardless of the circumstances? So in the midst of an armed national struggle with foreign armies on the verge of invasion, the sole defending nation has no right to resort to expulsions even if they gain a military advantage by doing so? This sounds more like propagandistic rhetoric from the invading states rather than an objective assessment that expulsions are inherently unjust.
       Palestine Remembered appeals to “civil rights” as if these exist to safeguard hostile, destabalizing citizens engaged in civil war and an invading foreign country. The idea that civil rights are dependant upon civil behavior is completely lost on Palestine Remembered, as is the fact that ethnic cleansing would have been the least violent intention the Arab armies had in mind for the Jewish community of Palestine.
       These critics stop short of explaining what the Jews should have done instead. Such mindless condemnations beg the question, would the multitudes of dead civilians that would have resulted from open warfare in populated towns and villages been the better scenario? I'm not suggesting the expulsions were carried out with the safety of Arabs in mind, but the ultimate result, regardless, was that people were walking away instead of getting shot to death in the cross-fire of a battle.

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Navigate this series:

Part 1 - Expulsions and Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinian Arabs
Part 2 - Population Transfer in International Affairs
Part 3 - Were the Expulsions of Palestinian Arabs Necessary?
Part 4 - Terrorism as a Response to Expulsion

1  Morris, Benny. 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press, 2008. 159-160
2  Morris, Benny. 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press, 2008. 162
3  "Big Lies: Demolishing the Myths of the Propaganda War Against Israel" by David Meir-Levi, Pg. 16
4  "Rights and Wrongs: History and the Palestinian 'Right of Return'", Efraim Karsh, June 2001
5  Said, Edward W., and Christopher Hitchens. Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question. London: Verso, 2001. 91-92
6  Morris, Benny. 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press, 2008. 116
7  Lassner, Jacob, and S. Ilan Troen. Jews and Muslims in the Arab World: Haunted by Pasts Real and Imagined. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. 309
8  Neuwirth, Rachel. The Expulsion Libel: 1948 Arab Exodus Reconsidered. April 13, 2008.
9  Gelber, Yoav. Palestine, 1948: War, Escape and the Emergence fo the Palestinian Refugee Problem. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2001. 303-306
10 (Internet Archive confirms this quote as of Oct 12, 2007)
11  Morris, Benny. 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press, 2008. 120-121
12  Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000. 31
13  Gelber, Yoav. Palestine, 1948: War, Escape and the Emergence fo the Palestinian Refugee Problem. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2001. 305
14  Morris, Benny. 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press, 2008. 119
15 (Internet Archive confirms this quote as of Aug 18, 2004)
16  Morris, Benny. The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge Middle East Studies. 2004.
17  Morris, Benny. 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press, 2008. 282-283.
18  American Thinker. The Expulsion Libel: 1948 Arab "Exodus" Reconsidered. April 13, 2008
19  Lozowick, Yaacov. Right to Exist: A Moral Defense of Israel's Wars. New York: Doubleday, 2003. 99.
20  Finkelstein, Norman G. Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. London: Verso, 2003.
21  Frantzman, Seth. Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine?. Jerusalem Post. Aug 16, 2007.

You'd Terrorize Too if it Happened to You

*This article is part of a series*
       Palestine Remembered lists as their primary purpose for existing "To emphasize that the CORE issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are the dispossession and ethnic cleansing (compulsory population transfer to achieve political gains) of the Palestinian people for the past five decades. In our opinion, the conflict would have been at the same level of intensity even if both parties had been Jewish, Muslims, or Christians."1
       It was wise of them to preface this assertion with "In our opinion" because opinion is all it is, and an ill-informed one at that. If "compulsory population transfer to achieve political gains" is sufficient to create conflicts at the "same level of intensity even if both parties had been Jewish, Muslims, or Christians," we should be seeing similar prolonged and intractable conflicts all over the world. The following examples of compulsory population transfer to achieve political gains occurred between Muslims as well as all manner of other combinations of one group expelling the other, to test if the decades and decades of violent Palestinian terrorism is the normal reaction, or "intensity":
  • Perhaps the most obvious starting point would be during and after the 1948 Palestine War when a number of Arab countries began their retaliatory mass expulsions of Jews. By most accounts, somewhere around 800,000 Jews were ethnically cleansed from Arab countries all over the Middle East. Most of the Jewish families had long-standing community ties, had been there for hundreds of years, and had nothing to do with the war in Palestine. The expulsions were strictly vengeful and as unjust as one can get. There is no expectation any of these refugees will be compensated for their stolen assets or repatriated to their homes. Despite all this, the ethnically cleansed Jewish refugees re-settled and built new lives in their new homes (primarily America and Israel) with not even significant individual acts of terrorism to be found, much less organized violence lasting for generations.

  • During the late 60's and early 70's the large population of Palestinian Arabs living in Jordan became an increasingly serious security risk to the Jordanian kingdom. In 1970 King Hussein made the decision to turn his army against them and in a matter of 11 days, approximately 3,400 Palestinian Arabs were killed. The majority of the surviving population was forcibly expelled and wound up in Lebanon (where they proceeded to completely destabilize that country as well, the leadership eventually being expelled once again, this time to Tunisia).

  • "The example par excellence of a modern time mass expulsion is the 1972 expulsion of Asians from Uganda. In August 1972, President Idi Amin Dada, who had seized power after a military coup in 1971, issued a decree ordering all people of Indian and Pakistani origin, and who had not become Ugandan citizens, some 40,000-50,000 persons in total, to leave the country within 90 days. The short term notice caused extra hardship and since no one was allowed to transfer or export any assets, the order also meant a de facto expropriation."2

  • In March 1976 "Libya expelled over 20,000 Egyptians and some 2,000 Tunisians and confiscated their property."3

  • "... a number of tribal groups is [sic] Africa such as the approximately 75,000 Banyarwanda who were forced to leave Uganda in 1982."4

  • In 1983, Nigeria's first mass expulsion affected "around 1.5 million broken down approximately as follows: 700,000 Ghanaians, 180,000 Nigeriens, 150,000 Chadians, 120,000 Cameroonians, 5,000 Togolese, and 5,000 Beninoise."5 These expulsions were "carried out hurriedly, in circumstances of confusion and harsh treatment by the locals." The expulsions were supposed to relieve Nigeria of "crime and moral turpitude" allegedly caused by the aliens, although this goal was not realized.

  • "Peaceful demonstrations by ethnic Turks in May of 1989 prompted the Bulgarian authorities to expel in a direct manner several thousand ethnic Turks during May and June of 1989. ... These expulsions were discriminatory and arbitrary and constituted an unlawful direct mass expulsion. ... Thereafter, a second wave of expulsions took place from mid-June to late August, 1989, in which the number of persons expelled rose from several thousands to some 300,000. ... Helsinki Watch was of the opinion that 'a substantial portion of the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Turks who left Bulgaria ... were essentially forced to leave because they continue[d] to be denied their most basic human rights,'".6

  • For their passive support of Saddam Hussein's invasion, Kuwait expelled 400,000 Palestinian Arabs living there.7 "Kuwait proceeded with the mass expulsion of Bedoons [a generic term literally meaning 'without' applied to those in Kuwait without nationality, not to be confused with nomadic Arab Bedouins] who were indiscriminately rounded up and expelled together with Iraqis, Palestinians and other Arabs."8 But there is no conflict of any intensity against Kuwait for these expulsions, however. Not only is there no conflict, but the Palestinian chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, actually apologized to Kuwait for their support of Saddam Hussein.

  • Yemen was officially opposed to the war against Iraq in 1990. For this grievous crime, "some 800,000 Yemeni workers [were] expelled by Saudi Arabia."9 Where is the terrorism or political activism against Saudi Arabia by the Yemenites for this expulsion? After all, Saudi Arabia expelled many more Yemenis than there were Palestinian Arab refugees in 1948 but the ongoing political struggle for repatriation is virtually nil.

  • Human Rights Watch published a report detailing the forced expulsion of the largely Muslim Kurds, Turkmen, and Assyrian minority groups.10 With few exceptions, there are no repatriation movements on par with that of the Palestinian Arab "right of return" demands. Instead, the UNHCR is arranging for the resettlement, not the repatriation, of Kurds either to the north in Iraq or to Turkey.11 The voluntary nature of this population transfer is being played up so as to distract from the fact it is a tacit recognition in modern times that sometimes this is what needs to happen.

  • "On July 23, 1978, the then President of Gabon, Omar Bongo, decreed the forthwith expulsion of all Benin nationals, some 9,000 people in total. ... The expulsion decision was prompted by the spiraling bad relations between President Bongo and President Kerekou of Benin."12

  • "In 1993, Greece 'rounded up more than 4,500 Albanians in a 48-hour sweep and [began] expelling the suspected illegal refugees.' This was in retaliation for the expulsion of a senior Greek Orthodox priest from Albania."13

  • "Greece expelled more than 30,000 illegally residing Albanians in retaliation for the conviction of five prominent members of Omonia on September 7th in Tirana. Omonia is the Greek political movement in Albania fighting for Greek minority rights. ... While Greece has every right to expel illegal aliens, to do so in retaliation taints its actions will illegality."14

  • "As objectionable as it may be, in recent years some governments have become guilty of retaliatory mass expulsions for the most futile reasons. According to Ricca, 'two football matches which degenerated into fights were at the origin of the expulsion of 5,000 Cameroonians from Gabon in 1982 and 10,000 Ghanaians from Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in 1985.' ... A lost soccer match was at the origin of expulsions from El Salvador and Honduras from 1969 to 1974. In April 1989, a border incident between Mauritania and Senegal over grazing rights along the Senegal river sparked rioting and looting, in the course of which some 400 people were killed. At first this led to the departure, and later the expulsion, of the nationals of each of the two countries living in the other."15

    During this expulsion, "Mauritania's security forces allegedly killed, tortured and arbitrarily arrested people, all of which added to the suffering of the people and the illegality of the measure."16 "It was estimated that between 40,000 and 50,000 black Mauritanians were expelled, mostly members of the Peul-speaking ethnic groups ..."17

  • "Other expulsions of migrant workers in Africa include: the expulsion in 1958 of Togolese, Beninoise (then Dahomeyans) and Nigerians from Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), the expulsion in 1964 of about 16,000 Beninoise from Cote d'Ivoire, the expulsion of Ghanaian fisherment in 1966 from Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the expulsion in 1971 of Malians and Senegalese accused of illegal diamond traffic from Zaire, the expulsion from Zambia in 1971 of 150,000 aliens without work permits mostly from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zaire, Tanzania and Somalia, the expulsion of all West Africans from Congo in 1977, the expulsion in 1979 of thousands of Beninoise from Chad, the expulsion in 1979 of 2,500 to 4,000 Ugandans and Tanzanians, both refugees and established migrant workers, without valid documentation from Kenya, and the expulsion in late 1980 early 1981 of 2,000 Tanzanians from the Kenyan informal sector."18
       If the Palestinian Arab model of incessant terrorism for almost one hundred years, that still today has no end in sight is acceptable for those who have been expelled, its advocates have some serious issues to address. Before Israel made the decision to expel Palestinian Arabs, there were tens of millions of people that fell victim to expulsions in dozens of separate instances. After Israel made the decision to expel, millions more have been expelled in dozens more separate instances. Certainly at the time the expulsions occurred, there was outrage, reactionary violence, and protest. But the outrage and protest subsided over time and the violence ran its course. The vast majority of these millions and millions of expelees in these dozens and dozens of expulsions have progressed beyond being victimized and moved on. They do not perpetually exist as a group of victims and the descendants of victims bent on revenge at the continued expense of their own state and frequently their own lives.
       Some were expelled under more humane conditions, some under worse. Some were expelled for justified security concerns, others for petty or trivial matters. Some were expelled legally, others illegally. The point is, after taking into consideration all the injustice, the illegality, and the immorality that is rightfully attached to many of these expulsions, it is the Palestinian Arabs who stand alone in the spotlight of international concern. They have been standing there for 60 years while the other expelees of both relatively just and relatively injust circumstances have moved on long ago.

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Navigate this series:

Part 1 - Expulsions and Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinian Arabs
Part 2 - Population Transfer in International Affairs
Part 3 - Were the Expulsions of Palestinian Arabs Necessary?
Part 4 - Terrorism as a Response to Expulsion

1 (Quote last confirmed on site as of Nov 1, 2007)
2  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 20
3  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 44
4  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 117
5  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 67
6  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pp. 111-112
7 (Citation last confirmed on site as of Nov 1, 2007)
8  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pp. 98-99
9  "Palestinian Refugees and Peace" by Elia Zureik. Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1. (Autumn, 1994), pg. 5.
10 (Internet Archive confirms citation as of June 5, 2007)
11 (Internet Archiveconfirms citation as of Nov 6, 2005)
12  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 16
13  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pp. 17-18
14  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 18
15  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 18
16  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 40
17  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 82
18  Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 71

Israel must be steadfast in protecting its rights and its people
Many nations and people are questioning Israel’s control of its liberated territory
No one is mentioning that the Arab countries had ejected about a million Jewish people and their children from their countries, confiscated their assets, businesses, homes and Real estate. Many of the Jews ejected from Arab countries died while their forced departure from Arab countries, due to hardship, famine and starvation. 650,00 Jewish people and their children of these expelled Jewish people and their children were resettled in Greater Israel. The Land the Arab countries confiscated from the Jewish people 120,440 sq. km. or 75,000 sq. miles, which is over 5-6 times the size of Israel, and its value today is the trillions of dollars.
The Jewish people and their children during the over 2,000 years living in Arab countries have suffered Pogroms, Libel claims, beheadings, beatings, false imprisonment and extreme hardship as a second class citizens. They had their businesses and homes pillaged, their wives and daughters raped, sold them as slaves, their houses of worship pillaged and burned, forced conversion to Islam.

Today over half of Israel's population are Jews expelled from Arab countries and their children and grandchildren.

The Audacity of the Arab countries in demanding territory from the Jewish people in Palestine after they ejected over a million Jewish people and their children who have lived in Arab land for over 2,000 years and after they confiscated all their assets and Real estate 5-6 times the size of Israel (120,440 sq. km. - 75,000 sq. mi.), valued in the trillions of dollars.
Now the Arab nations are demanding more land and more compensation.
The Arab countries have chased the million Jews and their children and now the want to chase them away again, from their own historical land.

Israel must respond with extreme force to any violent demonstration and terror. Israel's population must have peace and tranquility without intimidation by anyone.
The Jewish people have suffered enough in the Diaspora for the past 2,500 years. It is time for the Jewish people to live as free people in their own land without violence and terror.
It is time to consider that the only alternative is a population transfer of the Arab-Palestinians to the territories the Arab countries confiscated from the Jewish people and settle this dispute once and for all. Many Arab leaders had suggested these solutions over the years.

YJ Draiman

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