FAKE “VICTIMHOOD” OF ARAB “PALESTINIANS”
Why Israel Is The Victim And The Arabs Are The Indefensible Aggressors In the Middle East
By David Horowitz
January 9, 2002
1. The Jewish Problem and Its “Solution”
ZIONISM is a national liberation movement, identical in most ways to other liberation movements that leftists and progressives the world over — and in virtually every case but this one — fervently support. This exceptionalism is also visible at the reverse end of the political spectrum: In every other instance, right-wingers like Patrick Buchanan oppose national liberation movements that are under the spell of Marxist delusions and committed to violent means. But they make an exception for the one that Palestinians have aimed at the Jews. The unique opposition to a Jewish homeland at both ends of the political spectrum identifies the problem that Zionism was created to solve.
The “Jewish problem” is just another name for the fact that Jews are the most universally hated and persecuted ethnic group in history. The Zionist founders believed that hatred of Jews was a direct consequence of their stateless condition. As long as Jews were aliens in every society they found themselves in, they would always be seen as interlopers, their loyalties would be suspect and persecution would follow. This was what happened to Captain Alfred Dreyfus, whom French anti-Semites falsely accused of spying and who was put on trial for treason by the French government in the 19th Century. Theodore Herzl was an assimilated, westernized Jew, who witnessed the Dreyfus frame-up in Paris and went on to lead the Zionist movement.
Herzl and other Zionist founders believed that if Jews had a nation of their own, the very fact would “normalize” their condition in the community of nations. Jews had been without a state since the beginning of the diaspora, when the Romans expelled them from Judea on the west bank of the Jordan River, some 2,000 years before. Once the Jews obtained a homeland – Judea itself seemed a logical site — and were again like other peoples, the Zionists believed anti-Semitism would wither on its poisonous vine and the Jewish problem would disappear.
Here is what happened instead.
2. The Beginnings
In the 1920s, among their final acts as victors in World War I, the British and French created the states that now define the Middle East out of the ashes of the empire of their defeated Turkish adversary. In a region that the Ottoman Turks had controlled for hundreds of years, Britain and France drew the boundaries of the new states, Syria Lebanon and Iraq. Previously, the British had promised the Jewish Zionists that they could establish a “national home” in a portion of what remained of the area, which was known as the Palestine Mandate. But in 1921 the British separated 80 percent of the Mandate, east of the Jordan, and created the Arab kingdom of “Transjordan.” It was created for the Arabian monarch King Abdullah, who had been defeated in tribal warfare in the Arabian Peninsula and lacked a seat of power. Abudllah’s tribe was Hashemite, while the vast majority of Abdullah’s subjects were Palestinian Arabs.
What was left of the original Palestine Mandate – between the west bank of the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea – had been settled by Arabs and Jews. Jews, in fact, had lived in the area continuously for 3,700 years, even after the Romans destroyed their state in Judea in AD 70. Arabs became the dominant local population for the first time in the 7th Century AD as a result of the Muslim invasions. The Arabs were largely nomads who had no distinctive language or culture to separate them from other Arabs. In all the time since, they had made no attempt to create an independent Palestinian state west or east of the Jordan and none was ever established.
In 1948, at the request of the Jews who were living in Palestine, the United Nations voted to partition the remaining quarter of the original Mandate to make a Jewish homeland possible. Under the partition plan, the Arabs were given the Jews’ ancient home in Judea and Samaria – now known as the West Bank. The Jews were allotted three slivers of disconnected land along the Mediterranean and the Sinai desert. They were also given access to their holy city of Jerusalem, but as an island cut off from the slivers, surrounded by Arab land and under international control. Sixty percent of the land allotted to the Jews was the Negev desert. Out of these unpromising parts, the Jews created a new state, Israel, in 1948. At this time, the idea of a Palestinian nation, or a movement to create one did not even exist.
At the moment of Israel’s birth, Palestinian Arabs lived on roughly 90 percent of the original Palestine Mandate – in Transjordan and in the UN partition area, but also in the new state of Israel itself. There were 800,000 Arabs living in Israel alongside 1.2 million Jews. At the same time, Jews were legally barred from settling in the 35,000 square miles of Palestinian Transjordan, which eventually was renamed simply “Jordan.”
The Arab population in the slivers called Israel had actually more than tripled since the Zionists first began settling the region in significant numbers in the 1880s.The reason for this increase was that the Jewish settlers had brought industrial and agricultural development with them, which attracted Arab immigrants to what had previously been a sparsely settled and economically destitute area.
If the Palestinian Arabs had been willing to accept this arrangement in which they received 90 percent of the land in the Palestine Mandate, and under which they benefited from the industry, enterprise and political democracy the Jews brought to the region, there would have been no Middle East conflict. But this was not to be.
Instead, the Arab League – representing five neighboring Arab states – declared war on Israel on the day of its creation, and five Arab armies invaded the slivers with the aim of destroying the infant Jewish state.During the fighting, according to the UN mediator on the scene, an estimated 472,000 Arabs fled their homes to escape the dangers. They planned on returning after an Arab victory and the destruction of the Jewish state.
But the Jews — many of them recent Holocaust survivors — refused to be defeated. Instead, the five Arab armies that had invaded their slivers were repelled. Yet there was no peace. Even though their armies were beaten, the Arab states were determined to carry on their campaign of destruction, and to remain formally at war with the Israeli state. After the defeat of the Arab armies, the Palestinians who lived in the Arab area of the UN partition did not attempt to create a state of their own. Instead, in 1950, Jordan annexed the entire West Bank.
3. Refugees: Jewish and Arab
As a result of the annexation and the continuing state of war, the Arab refugees who had fled the Israeli slivers did not return. There was a refugee flow into Israel, but it was a flow of Jews who had been expelled from the Arab countries. All over the Middle East, Jews were forced to leave lands they had lived on for centuries. Although Israel was a tiny geographical area and a fledgling state, its government welcomed and resettled 600,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab countries.
At the same time, the Jews resumed their work of creating a new nation in what was now a single sliver of land. Israel, had annexed a small amount of territory to make their state defensible, including a land bridge that included Jerusalem.
In the years that followed, the Israelis made their desert bloom. They built the only industrialized economy in the entire Middle East. They built the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. They treated the Arabs who remained in Israel well. To this day the very large Arab minority, which lives inside the state of Israel, has more rights and privileges than any other Arab population in the entire Middle East.
This is especially true of the Arabs living under Yasser Arafat’s corrupt dictatorship, the Palestine Authority, which today administers the West Bank and the Gaza strip, and whose Arab subjects have no human rights. In 1997, in a fit of pique against the Oslo Accords, Palestinian spokesman Edward Said himself blurted this out, calling Arafat “our Papa Doc” – after the sadistic dictator of Haiti – and complaining that there was “a total absence of law or the rule of law in the Palestinian autonomy areas.”
The present Middle East conflict is said to be about the “occupied territories” – the West Bank of the Jordan and the Gaza strip – and about Israel’s refusal to “give them up.” But during the first twenty years of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel did not control the West Bank. In 1950, when Jordan annexed the West Bank, there was no Arab outrage. Nor did the Middle East conflict with the Jews subside.
The reason there was no Arab outrage over the annexation of the West Bank was because Jordan is a state whose ethnic majority is Palestinian Arabs. On the other hand, the Palestinians of Jordan are disenfranchised by the ruling Hashemite minority. Despite this fact, in the years following the annexation the Palestinians displayed no interest in achieving “self-determination” in Hashemite Jordan. It is only the presence of Jews, apparently, that incites this claim. The idea that the current conflict is about “occupied territories” is only one of the many large Arab deceits — now widely accepted — that have distorted the history of the Middle East wars.
4. The Arab Wars Against Israel
In 1967, Egypt, Syria and Jordan attacked Israel for a second time and were again defeated. It was in repelling these aggressors that Israel came to control the West Bank and the Gaza strip, as well as the oil-rich Sinai desert. Israel had every right to annex these territories captured from the aggressors – a time honored ritual among nations, and in fact the precise way that Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan had come into existence themselves. But Israel did not do so. On the other hand, neither did it withdraw its armies or relinquish its control.
The reason was that the Arab aggressors once again refused to make peace. Instead, they declared themselves still at war with Israel, a threat no Israeli government could afford to ignore. By this time, Israel was a country of 2 or 3 million surrounded by declared enemies whose combined populations numbered over 100 million. Geographically Israel was so small that at one point it was less than ten miles across. No responsible Israeli government could relinquish a territorial buffer while its hostile neighbors were still formally at war. This is the reality that frames the Middle East conflict.
In 1973, six years after the second Arab war against the Jews, the Arab armies again attacked Israel. The attack was led by Syria and Egypt, abetted by Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and five other countries who gave military support to the aggressors, including an Iraqi division of 18,000 men. Israel again defeated the Arab forces. Afterwards, Egypt – and Egypt alone — agreed to make a formal peace.
The peace was signed by Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, who was subsequently assassinated by Islamic radicals, paying for his statesmanship with his life. Sadat is one of three Arab leaders assassinated by other Arabs for making peace with the Jews.
Under the Camp David accords that Sadat signed, Israel returned the entire Sinai with all its oil riches. This act demonstrated once and for all that the solution to the Middle East conflict was ready at hand. It only required the willingness of the Arabs to agree.
The Middle East conflict is not about Israel’s occupation of the territories; it is about the refusal of the Arabs to make peace with Israel, which is an inevitable by-product of their desire to destroy it.
5. Self-Determination Is Not The Agenda
The Palestinians and their supporters also claim that the Middle East conflict is about the Palestinians’ yearning for a state and the refusal of Israel to accept their aspiration. This claim is also false. The Palestine Liberation Organization was created in 1964, sixteen years after the establishment of Israel and the first anti-Israel war. The PLO was created at a time the West Bank was not under Israeli control but was part of Jordan. The PLO, however, was not created so that the Palestinians could achieve self-determination in Jordan, which at the time comprised 90 percent of the original Palestine Mandate. The PLO’s express purpose, in the words of its own leaders, was to “push the Jews into the sea.”
The official charter of the new Palestine Liberation Organization referred to the “Zionist invasion,” declared that Israel’s Jews were “not an independent nationality,” described Zionism as “racist” and “fascist,” called for “the liquidation of the Zionist presence,” and specified, “armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine.” In short, “liberation” required the destruction of the Jewish state. The PLO was not even created by Palestinians but by the Arab League — the corrupt dictators who ruled the Middle East and who had attempted to destroy Israel by military force in 1948, in 1967 and again in 1973.
For thirty years, the PLO charter remained unchanged in its call for Israel’s destruction. Then in the mid-1990s, under enormous international pressure following the 1993 Oslo accords, PLO leader Yasser Arafat removed the clause while assuring his followers that its removal was a necessary compromise that did not alter the movement’s goals. He did this explicitly and also by citing a historical precedent in which the Prophet Muhammad insincerely agreed to a peace with his enemies in order to gain time to mass the forces with which he intended to destroy them.
6. The Struggle to Destroy Israel
The Middle East struggle is not about right against right. It is about a fifty-year effort by the Arabs to destroy the Jewish state, and the refusal of the Arab states in general and the Palestinian Arabs in particular to accept Israel’s existence. If the Arabs were willing to do this, there would be no occupied territories and there would be a Palestinian state.
Even during the “Oslo” peace process — when the Palestine Liberation Organization pretended to recognize the existence of Israel and the Jews therefore allowed the creation of a “Palestine Authority” — it was clear that the PLO’s goal was Israel’s destruction, and not just because its leader invoked the Prophet Muhammad’s own deception. The Palestinians’ determination to destroy Israel is abundantly clear in their newly created demand of a “right of return” to Israel for “5 million” Arabs. The figure of 5 million refugees who must be returned to Israel is more than ten times the number of Arabs who actually left the Jewish slivers of the British Mandate in 1948.
In addition to its absurdity, this new demand has several aspects that reveal the Palestinians’ genocidal agenda for the Jews. The first is that the “right of return” is itself a calculated mockery of the primary reason for Israel’s existence — the fact that no country would provide a refuge for Jews fleeing Hitler’s extermination program during World War II. It is only because the world turned its back on the Jews when their survival was at stake that the state of Israel grants a “right of return.” to every Jew who asks for it.
But there is no genocidal threat to Arabs, no lack of international support militarily and economically, and no Palestinian “diaspora” (although the Palestinians have cynically appropriated the very term to describe their self-inflicted quandary). The fact that many Arabs, including the Palestinian spiritual leader — the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem — supported Hitler’s “Final Solution” only serves to compound the insult. It is even further compounded by the fact that more than 90 percent of the Palestinians now in the West Bank and Gaza have never lived a day of their lives in territorial Israel. The claim of a “right of return” is thus little more than a brazen expression of contempt for the Jews, and for their historic suffering.
More importantly it is an expression of contempt for the very idea of a Jewish state. The incorporation of five million Arabs into Israel would render the Jews a permanent minority in their own country, and would thus spell the end of Israel. The Arabs fully understand this, and that is why they have made it a fundamental demand. It is just one more instance of the general bad faith the Arab side has manifested through every chapter of these tragic events.
Possibly the most glaring expression of the Arabs’ bad faith is their deplorable treatment of the Palestinian refugees and refusal for half a century to relocate them, or to alleviate their condition, even during the years they were under Jordanian rule. While Israel was making the desert bloom and relocating 600,000 Jewish refugees from Arab states, and building a thriving industrial democracy in its allotted sliver, the Arabs were busy making sure that their refugees remained in squalid refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, where they were powerless, right-less, and economically destitute.
Today, fifty years after the first Arab war against Israel, there are 59 such refugee camps and 3.7 million “refugees” registered with the UN. Despite economic aid from the UN and Israel itself, despite the oil wealth of the Arab kingdoms, the Arab leaders have refused to undertake the efforts that would liberate the refugees from their miserable camps, or to make the economic investment that would alleviate their condition. There are now 22 Arab states providing homes for the same ethnic population, speaking a common Arabic language. But the only one that will allow Palestinian Arabs to become citizens is Jordan. And the only state the Palestinians covet is Israel.
7. The Policy of Resentment and Hate
The refusal to address the condition of the Palestinian refugee population is – and has always been — a calculated Arab policy, intended to keep the Palestinians in a state of desperation in order to incite their hatred of Israel for the wars to come. Not to leave anything to chance, the mosques and schools of the Arabs generally — and the Palestinians in particular — preach and teach Jew hatred every day. Elementary school children in Palestinian Arab schools are even taught to chant “Death to the heathen Jews” in their classrooms as they are learning to read. It should not be overlooked, that these twin policies of deprivation (of the Palestinian Arabs) and hatred (of the Jews) are carried out without any protest from any sector of Palestinian or Arab society. That in itself speaks volumes about the nature of the Middle East conflict.
All wars — especially wars that have gone on for fifty years – produce victims with just grievances on both sides. And that is true in this one. There are plenty of individual Palestinian victims, as there are Jewish victims, familiar from the nightly news. But the collective Palestinian grievance is without justice. It is a self-inflicted wound, the product of the Arabs’ xenophobia, bigotry, exploitation of their own people, and apparent inability to be generous towards those who are not Arabs. While Israel is an open, democratic, multi-ethnic, multicultural society that includes a large enfranchised Arab minority, the Palestine Authority is an intolerant, undemocratic, monolithic police state with one dictatorial leader, whose ruinous career has run now for 37 years.
As the repellent attitudes, criminal methods and dishonest goals of the Palestine liberation movement should make clear to any reasonable observer, its present cause is based on Jew hatred, and on resentment of the modern, democratic West, and little else. Since there was no Palestinian nation before the creation of Israel, and since Palestinians regarded themselves simply as Arabs and their land as part of Syria, it is not surprising that many of the chief creators of the Palestine Liberation Organization did not even live in the Palestine Mandate before the creation of Israel, let alone in the sliver of mostly desert that was allotted to the Jews. Edward Said, the leading intellectual mouthpiece for the Palestinian cause grew up in a family that chose to make its home in Egypt and the United States. Yasser Arafat was born in Egypt.
While the same Arab states that claim to be outraged by the Jews’ treatment of Palestinians treat their own Arab populations far worse than Arabs are treated in Israel, they are also silent about the disenfranchised Palestinian majority that lives in Jordan. In 1970, Jordan’s King Hussein massacred thousands of PLO militants. But the PLO does not call for the overthrow of Hashemite rule in Jordan and does not hate the Hashemite monarchy. Only Jews are hated.
It is a hatred, moreover, that is increasingly lethal. Today, 70 percent of the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza approve the suicide bombing of women and children if the targets are Jews. There is no Arab “Peace Now” movement, not even a small one, whereas in Israel the movement demanding concessions to Arabs in the name of peace is a formidable political force. There is no Arab spokesman who will speak for the rights and sufferings of Jews, but there are hundreds of thousands of Jews in Israel – and all over the world – who will speak for “justice” for the Palestinians. How can the Jews expect fair treatment from a people that collectively does not even recognize their humanity?
8. A Phony Peace
The Oslo peace process begun in 1993 was based on the pledge of both parties to renounce violence as a means of settling their dispute. But the Palestinians never renounced violence and in the year 2000, they officially launched a new Intifada against Israel, effectively terminating the peace process.
In fact, during the peace process — between 1993 and 1999 — there were over 4,000 terrorist incidents committed by Palestinians against Israelis, and more than 1,000 Israelis killed as a result of Palestinian attacks – more than had been killed in the previous 25 years. By contrast, during the same period 1993-1999 Israelis were so desperate for peace that they reciprocated these acts of murder by giving the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza a self-governing authority, a 40,000 man armed “police force,” and 95 percent of the territory their negotiators demanded. This Israeli generosity was rewarded by a rejection of peace, suicide bombings of crowded discos and shopping malls, an outpouring of ethnic hatred and a renewed declaration of war.
In fact, the Palestinians broke the Oslo Accords precisely because of Israeli generosity, because the government of Ehud Barak offered to meet 95 percent of their demands, including turning over parts of Jerusalem to their control — a possibility once considered unthinkable. These concessions confronted Arafat with the one outcome he did not want: Peace with Israel. Peace without the destruction of the “Jewish Entity.”
Arafat rejected these Israeli concessions, accompanying his rejection with a new explosion of anti-Jewish violence. He named this violence — deviously — “The Al-Aksa Intifada,” after the mosque on the Temple Mount. His new jihad was given the name of a Muslim shrine to create the illusion that the Intifada was provoked not by his unilateral destruction of the Oslo peace process, but by Ariel Sharon’s visit to the site. Months after the Intifada began, the Palestine Authority itself admitted this was just another Arafat lie.
In fact, the Intifada had been planned months before Sharon’s visit as a follow-up to the rejection of the Oslo Accords. In the words of Imad Faluji, the Palestine Authority’s communications minister, “[The uprising] had been planned since Chairman Arafat’s return from Camp David, when he turned the tables on the former U.S. president [Clinton] and rejected the American conditions.” The same conclusion was reached by the Mitchell Commission headed by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell to investigate the events: “The Sharon visit did not cause the Al-Aksa Intifada.”
9. Moral Distinctions
In assessing the Middle East impasse it is important to pay attention to the moral distinction revealed in the actions of the two combatants. When a deranged Jew goes into an Arab mosque and kills the worshippers (which happened once) he is acting alone and is universally condemned by the Israeli government and the Jews in Israel and everywhere, and he is punished to the full extent of Israeli law. But when a young Arab enters a disco filled with teenagers or a shopping mall or bus crowded with women and children and blows himself and innocent bystanders up (which happens frequently), he is someone who has been trained and sent by a component of the PLO or the Palestine Authority; he is officially praised as a hero by Yasser Arafat; his mother is given money by the Palestine Authority; and his Arab neighbors come to pay honor to the household for having produced a “martyr for Allah.” The Palestinian liberation movement is the first such movement to elevate the killing of children – both the enemy’s and its own – into a religious calling and a strategy of the cause.
It is not only the methods of the Palestine liberation movement that are morally repellent. The Palestinian cause is itself corrupt. The “Palestinian problem” is a problem created by the Arabs, and can only be solved by them. In Jordan, Palestinians already have a state in which they are a majority but which denies them self-determination. Why is Jordan not the object of the Palestinian “liberation” struggle? The only possible answer is because it is not ruled by Jews.
There is a famous “green line” marking the boundary between Israel and its Arab neighbors. That green line is also the bottom line for what is the real problem in the Middle East. It is green because plants are growing in the desert on the Israeli side but not on the Arab side. The Jews got a sliver of land without oil, and created abundant wealth and life in all its rich and diverse forms. The Arabs got nine times the acreage but all they have done with it is to sit on its aridity and nurture the poverty, resentments and hatreds of its inhabitants. Out of these dark elements they have created and perfected the most vile anti-human terrorism the world has ever seen: Suicide bombing of civilians. In fact, the Palestinians are a community of suicide bombers: they want the destruction of Israel more than they want a better life.
If a nation state is all the Palestinians desire, Jordan would be the solution. (So would settling for 95 percent of one’s demands.) But the Palestinians also want to destroy Israel. This is morally hateful. It is the Nazi virus revived. Nonetheless, the Palestinian cause is generally supported by the international community, with the singular exception of the United States (and to a lesser degree Great Britain). It is precisely because the Palestinians want to destroy a state that Jews have created — and because they are killing Jews — that they enjoy international credibility and otherwise inexplicable support.
10. The Jewish Problem Again
It is this international resistance to the cause of Jewish survival, the persistence of global Jew-hatred that, in the end, refutes the Zionist hope of a solution to the “Jewish problem.” The creation of Israel is an awe-inspiring human success story. But the permanent war to destroy it undermines the original Zionist idea.
More than fifty years after the creation of Israel, the Jews are still the most hated ethnic group in the world. Islamic radicals want to destroy Israel, but do so Islamic moderates. For the Jews in the Middle East, the present conflict is a life and death struggle, yet every government in the UN with the exception of the United States and sometimes Britain regularly votes against Israel in the face of a terrorist enemy, who has no respect for the rights or lives of Jews. After the Al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center, the French ambassador to England complained that the whole world was endangered because of “that shitty little country,” Israel. This caused a scandal in England, but nowhere else. All that stands between the Jews of the Middle East and another Holocaust is their own military prowess and the generous, humanitarian support of the United States.
Even in the United States, however, one can now turn the TV to channels like MSNBC and CNN to see Ariel Sharon who is the elected Prime Minister of a democracy equated politically and morally with Yasser Arafat who is a dictator, a terrorist and an enemy of the United States. One can see the same equivalence drawn between Israel’s democracy and the Palestine Authority, which is a terrorist entity and an ally of America’s enemies Al Qaeda and Iraq.
During the Gulf War, Israel was America’s staunch ally while Arafat and the Palestinians openly supported the aggressor, Saddam Hussein. Yet the next two U.S. Governments – Republican and Democrat alike – strove for even-handed “neutrality” in the conflict in the Middle East, and pressured Israel into a suicidal “peace process” with a foe dedicated to its destruction. It is only since September 11 that the United States has been willing to recognize Arafat as an enemy of peace and not a viable negotiating partner.
The Zionists’ efforts created a thriving democracy for the Jews of Israel (and also for the million Arabs who live in Israel), but failed to normalize the Jewish people or make them safe in a world that hates them. From the point of view of the “Jewish problem,” which Herzl and the Zionist founders set out to solve, it is better today to be a Jew in America than a Jew in Israel.
This is one reason why I myself am not a Zionist but an unambivalent, passionate American patriot. America is good for the Jews as it is good for every other minority who embraces its social contract. But this history is also why I am a fierce supporter of Israel’s survival and have no sympathy for the Palestinian side in the conflict in the Middle East. Nor will I have such sympathy until the day comes when I can look into the Palestinians’ eyes and see something other than death desired for Jews like me.
SELF-INFLICTED ARABS SINCE 1948
The Palestinian narrative is a falsification of history
If true peace is ever to reign among Israel and its Arab neighbors, it is important that the Arabs recognize that what they call the Nakba was a self-inflicted tragedy.
By Moshe Arens
The legendary TV sleuth Columbo used to question witnesses to a crime he was investigating by confronting them brusquely: “Just give me the facts,” he would say. He was not interested in hearing conflicting subjective accounts of the kind that appear in Akira Kurosawa’s famous film “Rashomon,” where each of the witnesses to a crime gave his subjective impression in mutually contradictory ways. The facts, that is all he wanted to hear. The facts, that is what is required of those who teach history to our children in school when they teach the history of Israel’s War of Independence.
Some years ago, the Ministry of Education instructed schools to teach our children the “Palestinian narrative” in addition to the Jewish (Israeli?) narrative of the events of Israel’s War of Independence. Now that this instruction has been countermanded, a demand is voiced by some that the “Palestinian narrative” nevertheless continue to be taught in our schools. Are there really two narratives which our children should be taught? Is history no more than a collection of conflicting narratives?
The “narrative” mode of history is something of recent vintage, a fad not likely to persist. It is the facts that we want our children to be taught in history lessons. There may be different interpretations of certain events that may need to be elaborated, even when the events themselves have been established beyond doubt. It is only when the actual course of events has been difficult or impossible to ascertain that there is room for presenting different versions.
As a matter of fact, the narrative form of teaching history seems to have struck root primarily in Israel. Would anyone suggest that in American schools the “Japanese narrative” of the American-Japanese conflict during World War II be taught alongside the “American narrative”? Is the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 no more than the American version? Or how about teaching in Russian schools the “German narrative” of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941? This seems too preposterous to contemplate.
So why is this happening in Israel? Yes, there is a “Palestinian narrative” of the 1948 war, and it is called “Nakba.” But as every student of that war and the still-living witnesses know only too well, the Nakba version is no more than a pack of lies. No juggling and politicized interpretations of the events of that war, in which one percent of the Jewish population fell fighting against the Arab attack, can change the fact that the Arab world – the local Arab militias and the regular armies of the neighboring Arab countries, plus Iraqi forces – attempted to destroy the Jewish State in a war they started immediately after the UN resolution dividing western Palestine into Jewish and Arab states in November 1947.
Six thousand Jews – soldiers and civilians – fell in that war fighting against the Arab onslaught. Where the Arabs were successful the Jewish population was killed or deported, and all Jewish property was destroyed. What happened in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and in the Etzion bloc in May 1948 when they fell to the Jordanian Legion was a portent of the fate that awaited the entire Jewish community had the Arabs won this war. All this has been effaced in the “Palestinian narrative.”
Is it suggested that this falsification of history should be taught to schoolchildren – Jews and Arabs – in Israel?
It is true that the Arab population of Palestine suffered grievously during that war. But it is also beyond doubt that this tragedy was brought on them by the decisions taken by the Arab leadership. It is essential that this part of the history of Israel’s War of Independence, of the “Israeli narrative” if you like, be taught in our schools to Jewish and Arab children alike. And if true peace is ever to reign among Israel and its Arab neighbors, it is important that the Arabs recognize that what they call the Nakba was a self-inflicted tragedy.
Just as real peace could come to Europe after World War II only after Germans abandoned the “German narrative” and accepted the true history of the war that Germany started, so only abandonment of the “Palestinian narrative” and acceptance of the true sequence of the events of 1947-48 can serve as a basis for reconciliation between Jews and Arabs.
Palestine’s Self-Inflicted Wound
Alan Dershowitz [Lawyer and author]
Posted: May 17, 2007 05:21 PM
I just returned from a visit from several university campuses during which I spoke about the Israeli-Palestine conflict. On these and other campuses anti-Israel students commemorate the Palestinian Nakba. They call this the Day of Catastrophe on which the Palestinians were deprived of their homeland and were made refugees from their birthplace. They compare their catastrophe to the Holocaust. Perhaps out of deference to the suffering of the Palestinian people, Pro-Israel students generally say nothing in response to these Nakba commemorations. The impression is thus created that everyone agrees that this was indeed a catastrophe inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians. The time has come to reply to this canard and to place it in its historical context.
The Nakba was indeed a catastrophe, but it was a self-inflicted wound. The Palestinian Nakba was a direct result of the refusal of the Palestinian and Arab leadership to accept the two state solution offered by the United Nations in 1947-48. The UN divided what remained of Palestine, after Trans-Jordan was carved out of it, into two states of roughly equal size (The Israelis got slightly more actual land, but the Palestinians got considerably more arable land). Israel would control territories in which Jews were a majority, while the Palestinians would control territories in which Arabs were a majority. Israel accepted the partition and declared statehood. Palestinians rejected statehood and attacked Israel with the help of all the surrounding Arab countries. In the process of defending their new state, Israel lost 1% of its population (1 out of every 100 Israelis were killed.) In the ensuing war- a war declared to be genocidal by Israel’s enemies- 700,000 Palestinians left their homes, some voluntarily, some at the urging of Palestinian leaders and some forced out by the Israeli military. None of these people would have had to leave Israel had the Palestinians and other Arabs been willing to accept the two state solution. It was indeed a catastrophe for all sides, but the catastrophe was caused by the Palestinians and Arabs.
In the aftermath of the war, Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. There were no United Nations condemnations of these occupations though they were brutal and denied the Palestinians autonomy and sovereignty. Only when Israel occupied these lands, following a defensive war against Egypt and Jordan, did the occupation become a source of international concern.
This is the reality. This is the historical truth. And the world should understand that this particular catastrophe, as distinguished from others like the Holocaust, could easily have been prevented had the Palestinians wanted their own state more than they wanted to see the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.
The Germans don’t celebrate the catastrophe resulting from their invasion of Poland. Japanese do not celebrate their catastrophe resulting from the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Why do Palestinians celebrate their catastrophe resulting from the Arab attack against Israel?
Palestine betrayed – Efraim Karsh – [Yale University Press,] 2010 – History – 342 pages [ISBN 0300127278, 9780300127270]
A Self-Inflicted Catastrophe
“The Arabs failed their fateful test not because of numerical or material inferiority –for the Jews had no edge in either category. They failed because of the spirit that had guided them for quite some time and continues to doso….A spirit of laziness, neglect, incompetence, indecision, divisiveness, delusion, humbug … lack of seriousness, willingness to sacrifice, and solidarity … and no true belief in the cause for which they are fighting.”
Muhammad Izzat Darwaza, 1972
Why did Palestinian Arab society collapse and disintegrate during the fateful five-and-a-half months of fighting that followed the passing of the partition resolution?
Why did vast numbers of Palestinians take to the road while their Jewish adversaries, who were facing the same challenges, dislocation, and all-out war, and who paid a comparatively higher human cost stayed out?
To many contemporary Arabs the answer was clear and unequivocal: the Palestinians were an unpatriotic and cowardly lot who had shamefully abdicated their national duty while expecting others to fight on their behalf. “Fright has struck the Palestinian Arabs and they fled their country,” commented Radio Baghdad on the eve of the pan-Arab invasion of the newborn state of Israel in mid-May. “These are hard words indeed, yet they are true.” Lebanon’s minister of the interior (and future president) Camille Chamoun was more delicate, intoning that “The people of Palestine, in their previous resistance to imperialists and Zionists, proved they were worthy of independence, But at this decisive stage of the fighting they have not remained so dignified.”
In two reports to the Arab League’s Palestine Committee, ALA commander-in-chief Ismail Safwat lamented that only 800 of the 5000 volunteers trained by the ALA had come from Palestine itself, and most of these had deserted their units either before completing their training or immediately afterward. This, in his view, reflected a wider malaise of Palestinian Arab society, which remained embroiled in internal squabbles at a time when its corporate existence was in mortal danger. “I have done everything in my power to overcome this
Fabricating Israeli history: the “new historians” – Page 28
Efraim Karsh – [Taylor & Francis,] 2000 – 236 pages
‘The people of Palestine, in their previous resistance to imperialists and Zionists, proved they were worthy of independence’, he said in a press conference on 7 May 1948. ‘But at this decisive stage of the fighting they have not remained so dignified in their stand; they lack organization and omitted to arm themselves as well as their enemy did. Many of them did not assist their brothers from nearby Arab countries hastened to help them. I think the explanation is that they were absorbed in local disputes’. Going back to the size of the opposing armies during the 1947 -49..
A Brief Guide to Why 1948 Was a Palestinian Arab and Arab Disaster
By Barry Rubin May 17, 2011
In 1947 the UN voted to partition the British mandate of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. The Jews accepted partition into two states; the Arabs rejected it.
The international community offered to make Amin al-Husseini, the Palestinian Arabs’ leader, head of a state despite the fact that he and his closest colleagues were the subject of a 1938 British arrest warrant for terrorist activities (not mythical but for killing lots of people), and had spent World War Two in Berlin doing pro-Nazi propaganda, recruiting for SS units, and planning a Holocaust of Jews in the Middle East.
But al-Husseini rejected partition and so did all of the Arab states. While Jordan wanted to make a deal and Egypt’s government wasn’t enthusiastic, they all had to go along with al-Husseini’s intransigence, their hysterical public opinion, and the other Arab states’ pressure. The Arab League’s leader, a Nazi agent during World War Two, bragged that the Jews would be massacred. The Muslim Brotherhood, which collaborated with the Nazis during the war and were subsidized by them before the war, sent volunteers to fight the Jews.
And so a Palestinian Arab army, whose three chief commanders had all fought for the Nazis during World War Two, went to war against the Jews using Nazi-supplied weapons (provided for the Palestinian Arab revolt in 1939 and for an Egyptian revolt that never happened in 1942). They lost.
Then the armies of the Arab states invaded Israel. They largely lost, though the Egyptian held onto the Gaza area while the Jordanians took east Jerusalem and what became known as the West Bank. Egypt ran Gaza; Jordan annexed the West Bank.
Everything that happened afterward was due to Arab decisions to reject both a two-state solution and Israel’s creation.
That’s the bottom line. So the disaster was due first and foremost to the Palestinian Arab leadership and secondly to the Arab states and publics.
Dealing with the “nakba” would then require that the Palestinian Arabs and the Arabic-speaking world generally would recognize that the disaster resulted from their refusal to accept Israel’s existence and to seek a genuine, compromise two-state solution.
But, instead, in the name of the 1948 disaster they are repeating the same policies that brought it about! Indeed, they are the same policies that led to the self-inflicted disasters of 1967, 2000, and others since then.
For example, as part of the preparations for the commemoration of the 1948 disaster, Palestinian Authority television played repeatedly a music video entitled “On the Way to Jerusalem” The main lines are:
“Jaffa, Acre, Haifa, and Nazareth are ours.
[ I ], Muhammad, sing about the Galilee and the Golan (Heights).
Jaffa, Acre, Haifa and Nazareth are ours.”
This is precisely the one-state, wipe-Israel-off-the-map that brought on them the disaster of 1948, disaster every year since then, and more disaster into the forseeable future. Sixty-four years (counting from 1947) of failed policy has not brought wisdom.
Almost every event–Egypt’s revolution, demonstrators trying to cross Israel’s border, a terrorist attack, Western sympathy, and so on–is interpreted as proving that Israel’s destruction is possible and so additional decades should be spent in diplomatic intransigence and the incitement of violence rather than some constructive effort. That’s one reason, by the way, why the Palestinians always ultimately lose.
This has also been going on so long that much of the West has forgotten the roots and ongoing causes of this conflict, Palestinian suffering, Israeli suffering, and the terrorist violence and defamation of Israel.
Note: The use of the words “Nazi collaborator” and other mentions of pro-Nazi activities in this article are not name-calling but based on German and U.S. intelligence materials. These points will be fully and in detail documented in the forthcoming book by myself and Wolfgang Schwanitz, to be published by Yale University Press next year.
New outlook: Volume 34 – Makhon le-ḥeḳer ha-shalom (Giv’at Havivah, Israel) – Hashkafah Hadashah, 1991 – [Page 48]
… Alouph A Self-inflicted Hell: Should Israel Fail to Make Peace with the Palestinians Toward a Coalition of Peace or War?
The Self-Inflicted Catastrophe Continues
The Jewish Exponent
May 15, 2008
Marking Israel’s 60th anniversary has engendered much debate within Palestinian society about the Nakba (“catastrophe”) and its celebration on May 15. Truth be told, the real catastrophe did not occur in 1948; it happened much earlier and it continues today under the leadership of Hamas. That is, the inability of the Palestinian national movement to create the political and social institutional infrastructure necessary for the foundation of a nation-state.
And although, Palestinians like to see themselves as the victims of the Zionist movement’s triumphant creation of a Jewish state, they should actually turn inward and look at the history of their own leaders who failed them.
This ongoing debate always raises the issue of the territorial bond between the land and the people and who rightfully owns the land.
For Israelis, though largely secular, their country remains a land deeply defined by religion, which also has political implications. The absence of a real separation of church and state in Israel is concomitant with the constant entanglement of religious and political issues rooted in the land itself. These roots fuel the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence over territorial ownership. For the “physical” territory is also the tie between religious identification in Judaism and the land itself.
And this tie to the land is unique to Judaism, as Adam Garfinkle explains:
“The religious identification of Jews in Israel is linked to the memory of the First and Second Commonwealths; it is history with a sacred dimension, and it is integral to the theological interpretation of Jewish history. As important, virtually all Jews know that Israel is the place that is most integral to Jews, and that Jerusalem is the place that is most integral to Israel. One can be a Jew anywhere, but there are some commandments that can be performed only in Israel. There is a sharp and indissoluble theological distinction between the land of Israel and everywhere else.”
Furthermore, Hillel Cohen in his new important book titled, Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration With Zionism, 1917-1948, studies the relationships and ties between the Zionists and the Arab community in the pre-state era.
The merit of Cohen’s book lies in its thorough recounting of the history of Arab-Zionist cooperation and collaboration, period by period, region by region, family by family. One of the most important interactions Cohen highlights, which is key to the debate surrounding the ownership of the land, is the purchase of those lands from the Arabs, dating back to the 1880s. These legal acquisitions are important, as they dispel the ongoing myth used by Palestinians propagandists that the “Jews stole the land” from them.
Historically, by the end of 1947, the Zionist institutions and individual Jews had acquired close to 7 percent of Palestine’s land, which at the time was approximately 10,000 square miles. The legality of these transactions was done specifically to ensure that they could not be accused of taking the land by force.
History does not offer any guarantees for success, and the story of the Jewish yishuv (community) could have gone in a different direction. Had the Zionists failed, they could have cited the British Mandate authorities, who betrayed their charge to help form a Jewish national home; the Arab opposition; and the trauma of the Holocaust as excuses for why the modern state of Israel could not be established under such arduous circumstances. But despite all these hardships, the Zionist movement managed to overcome and establish a national authority, as well as an organizational and institutional foundation that led to the creation of the state.
In contrast to the Zionist story, the Palestinian story prefers to blame everyone around them but themselves — since it is easier to blame someone else than actually do the work that is desperately needed to move beyond a self-inflected catastrophe.
“CASUALTIES” VS CASUALTIES
The “al-Aqsa Intifada” – An Engineered Tragedy Summary of Findings
June 20, 2002
Updated: May 21, 2003
An ongoing study by the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya provides an in-depth look at the fatalities on both sides of the current Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Based on thorough research using Palestinian and Israeli open sources, the study provides a breakdown of those killed by age, gender, and combatant status. The results lead to some surprising conclusions.
Combatants, Noncombatants, and Responsibility
Almost 1900 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the “al-Aqsa Intifada”, compared to almost 700 Israelis. Numbers like these are used to create an image of lopsided slaughter, with Israel cast as the villain. But such numbers distort the true picture: They lump combatants in with noncombatants, suicide bombers with innocent civilians, and report Palestinian “collaborators” murdered by their own compatriots as if they had been killed by Israel.
More meaningful figures show that Israel is responsible for some 733 Palestinian noncombatant deaths, while Palestinians have killed 546 Israeli noncombatants. Over 54 percent of the Palestinians killed were actively involved in fighting – and this does not include stone-throwers or “unknowns”. And Palestinians are directly responsible for the deaths of at least 253 of their own number – more than one out of every eight Palestinians killed. On the Israeli side, 80 percent of those killed have been noncombatants. While Israelis account for about 27 percent of the total “Intifada” fatalities, they represent over 43 percent of the noncombatant victims.
IDF’s unparalleled record of sparing civilians in counter-terrorism operations
December 30, 2011
In a year-end review of countering rocket fire from Gaza, the IDF reports that its retaliatory fire killed 100 Palestinians, including nine civilians. The rest were combatants linked to Palestinian terror organizations. Put another way, the Palestinian fatality toll included 10 fighters for every civilian.
The one-to-10 noncombatant-combatant fatality ratio is unique among conflicts around the world. No other army can boast of similar records of minimal civilian collateral damage. In fact, the United Nations estimates that 30 civilians are killed for every 10 combatant fatalities in conflicts elsewhere in the world. That’s three times as many non-combatants as combatants.
The IDF’s record is the more remarkable when one considers that Palestinian terror groups are deeply embedded in civilian neighborhoods, requiring ever greater IDF pinpoint accuracy in retaliatory strikes as well as extensive intelligence inside Gaza to select proper targets. Also, quite often, IDF commanders will forgo ordering an attack when the potential for civilian casualties seems too high.
Yet, if one reviews mainstream media reports in 2011 about the continuing Gaza conflict, scant attention is paid to the paucity of Palestinian civilian casualties. Headlines regularly announce that “Israel killed 3 Palestinians” — leaving readers in the dark about who these casualties are or, worse, concluding erroneously that they’re probably civilians. And virtually never do reporters dig into the lengths to which the Israeli military goes to spare civilians.
This remains most notable in coverage of Israel’s counter-terrorism incursion into Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009. To this day, media like the New York Times, abetted by spurious reports from human rights organizations and the UN’s notorious Goldstone report, still buy into Palestinian casualty figures hook, line and sinker, vastly exaggerating Palestinian civilian fatalities while overlooking hundreds of combatant fatalities.
The IDF, which conducted a detailed post-offensive investigation into Palestinian fatalities, found that there were 1,166 Palestinian fatalities, including 709 combatants, from what was dubbed Operation Cast Lead. And it identified every one of them. In three weeks of grueling ground combat, in the face of terrorist fire from amidst Gaza civilians, the number of Palestinian combatant fatalities still substantially exceeded the number of non-combatants — by a margin of 6 to 4.
These breakdowns, however, were mostly ignored by mainstream media, while overall casualty totals were vastly inflated by the Palestinian side and by self-appointed human-rights groups. And, more often than not, combatant-versus-noncombatants breakdowns never made it into print.
To this day, the New York Times, in referring to Israel’s 2008-2009 Gaza offensive, simply mentions that 1,400 Palestinians were killed. Which falsely suggests that Israel used disproportionate force. A breakdown of civilians and non-civilians would throw light on what actually happened. But that king of reporting is not fit to print in the New York Times.
In similar vein, the UN’s Goldstone report accepted largely pro-Palestinian statistics to buttress its gross libel that the IDF deliberately targeted civilians.
Ironically, Hamas — long after the ground war was over — accepted breakdowns much closer to the truth. Why? Because, on reflection, phony big numbers for civilian deaths and phony small numbers for combatant deaths were apt to minimize Hamas’s “heroic” resistance against Israeli forces. So, Hamas belated announced that it had lost 600 to 700 of its fighters – a range quite close to the IDF’s conclusions.
But this also is of little interest to Western reporters determined to martyrize Palestinians while maligning Israel and its military.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers
Gillibrand-Risch Resolution Urging U.N. To Retract Flawed
Apr 15, 2011 – In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Judge Richard Goldstone retracted his premise that Israel committed war crimes during the 2008 war in Gaza and intentionally killed Palestinians. Goldstone wrote in his op-ed, “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”… The UN Human Rights Council members must put Judge Goldstone’s words into action and immediately revoke this inflammatory, anti-Israel document.”
Last week, Senators… led a Senate effort urging the UN panel to stop carrying out the report’s recommendations and take measures to ensure that the panel no longer launches false attacks and accusations against Israel… “Goldstone’s admission of error is not enough to undo the damage and libel made against Israel.
[...] used Palestinian civilians and civilian institutions as human shields against Israel …
Why Do Palestinian Deaths Outnumber Israeli Deaths?
Assessments of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often come down to a simple comparison: How many have been killed on each side. No one disputes that, by this simple calculation, Palestinian deaths outnumber those endured by the Israelis – by a lot. That approach, however, invokes a widely used mathematical idiom: statistics lie.http://www.policymic.com/articles/why-do-palestinian-deaths-outnumber-israeli-deathshttp://jesskcoleman.com/Jess_K._Coleman/Journalism_files/Why%2520Do%2520Palestinian%2520Deaths%2520Outnumber%2520Israeli%2520Deaths.pdf
According to a study by the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, between 2000 and early 2003, nearly 2,000 Palestinians had been killed compared to 750 Israelis. But a closer, more robust look at the numbers uncovers the flaws of that effortless assessment. Indeed, it is clear that these disproportionate death tolls are due to the fact that there are many more Palestinian combatant deaths than Israeli combatant deaths. Palestinians’ rejection of Israelis’ far superior heath care, along with the Palestinians’ use of human-shields, has widely distorted these numbers in favor of the Palestinians.
The most significant problem with a simple death toll is that it includes deaths of combatants (i.e. terrorists, suicide bombers, etc.). If you remove combatants from the equation and only look at noncombatants (innocent civilians), the tables immediately turn in favor of the Israelis.
According to the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 80% of the Israeli death toll is comprised of innocent civilians. On the Palestinian side, only 45% of those killed are non-combatants. Moreover, 40% of Israelis killed are females, compared with just 5% for Palestinian deaths. The numbers clearly indicate that the Palestinians actually target Israeli noncombatants and females, while Israel focuses solely on those that pose a threat, while at times inadvertently killing innocent civilians.
But even that assessment does not tell the whole story. According to the Jerusalem Post, because “Palestinian medical facilities are unable to treat many of their wounded adequately,” Israel offered the Palestinians their assistance. “The Israeli Health Minister Nissim Dahan has several times offered to treat ‘all Palestinians wounded in the current intifada in Israeli hospitals and at Israeli expense,’ but the Palestinians have not bothered to reply…”
It’s hard to understand why the Palestinians would ever opt to reject this offer. But it is likely driven by the Palestinian leadership’s understanding that when one of their citizens dies, Israel bears the burden. Motives aside, it is clear that many of the Palestinian noncombatant deaths could have been prevented had they accepted Israel’s gracious offer. Indeed, a significant reason for the disparity in deaths between the Israelis and the Palestinians is due to Israel’s far better health care capabilities.
Moreover, Israel displays a firm commitment to protect innocent life, while Palestinian combatants deliberately target innocent civilians and women, as the data suggests. The Israeli Army has a code of ethics. Israeli soldiers must act “out of recognition of the supreme value of human life,” and “do all in [their] power to avoid causing harm to [noncombatants'] lives, bodies, dignity, and property.”
Hamas forces, on the other hand, have been known to surround themselves with innocent civilians, creating human shields, in order to prevent Israel from attacking legitimate military targets. The intention is to tilt public opinion and inflate the number of innocent Palestinians killed by making it impossible for Israel to carry out its missions.
Consider the story of Abu Bilal al-Ja’abeer, told by Ja’abeer himself on Arab television. When Israeli forces targeted his house, they didn’t blindly bomb it. Instead, they alerted Ja’abeer that he had “five minutes to evacuate the house. You and your children.” Ja’abeer proceeded to call in friends and neighbors to form a shield around his house, making it impossible for Israel to carry out its legitimate mission.
This practice, however, is not simply employed as a means of protecting one’s private property. Hamas MP Fathi Hammad said in a speech on February 29, 2008, that “For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry … This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen…” Not only is this method illegal under international law, but Hammad also felt the need to go even further. “We desire death like [the Zionists] desire life,” he concluded.
The Israeli army attempts to save the lives of legitimate military targets, and the Palestinians use that as an opportunity to tilt public opinion by causing more Palestinian deaths. The Israeli army should be praised for respecting the rights of all humans, even those who present a legitimate threat to Israel’s national security. Instead, Israel is the primary source of international opposition and is often tagged as the world’s worst human rights violator.
It’s time we not only educate ourselves before simply grasping onto public opinion, but also stop singling out a nation that should actually be passionately praised. Israel has endured vicious, inaccurate criticism throughout its entire history, and those who perpetuate those claims will only find themselves on the wrong side of history.
Examination of the number of Palestinians killed during Operation Cast Lead indicates that most were armed terrorist operatives and members of Hamas’s security forces involved in fighting against the IDF. Hamas has adopted a policy of concealing its casualties and attempts to include them in the overall number of civilians killed.
April 07, 2009
1. The results of an examination carried out by IDF Military Intelligence and issued by the IDF Spokesman show that during Operation Cast Lead (Dec. 27, 2008-Jan. 18, 2009) 1,166 Palestinians were killed. Most of them (709) belonged to terrorist organizations , i.e., Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and others. According to the findings, 295 non-combatant civilians were killed , among them women and children. The identity and degree of involvement of the remaining 162 Palestinians (all of them male) are unclear (IDF Spokesman’s website, March 26, 2009 ).
2. Six hundred and nine of the 709 armed Palestinians killed during the operation were Hamas terrorist operatives and operatives belonging to the security forces under orders from the Hamas de-facto administration. In many instances, security force operatives also serve in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades , Hamas’s military-terrorist wing. The Hamas administration issued a list of 232 internal security forces’ operatives who were killed during Operation Cast Lead, but examination showed that many them also served as commanders and terrorist operatives in the Brigades. 1In addition, about 100 operatives belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations active in the Gaza Strip were also killed fighting at the side of Hamas against the IDF.
3. The findings of the examination showed that during Operation Cast Lead 295 non-combatant civilians were killed, 89 of them under the age of 16, and 49 of whom were women (IDF Spokesman’s website, March 26, 2009 ). The basic reason behind the civilian casualties was Hamas’s (and the other terrorist organizations’) strategic decision to establish their military networks and fight against the IDF from within densely-populated civilian areas, making extensive use of the population as human shields (for example shooting from within or around residential dwelling and public institutions; booby-trapping civilian structures, including a school; operating from within groups of civilians, including children; and dressing terrorists as civilians, enabling them to melt into the civilian crowd). 2
Hamas’s media policy: concealing its own casualties
while magnifying harm done to civilians
4. During Operation Cast Lead Hamas adopted the policy of concealing its own casualties to prevent morale from flagging and to reinforce the (false) impression that Israel was deliberately directing its military operations against Gazan civilians. Surfers on PALDF, Hamas’s main Internet forum, were informed that it was strictly forbidden to post the names, pictures or any identifying details about “resistance” [i.e., terrorist] operatives killed or wounded until the end of the “Israeli aggression” in the Gaza Strip 3 (see the Appendix for the text of the instructions). In some instances reports were received of unofficial (and sometimes secret) and improvised burials during the fighting.
5. The policy of hiding the real number of terrorist operative casualties and issuing false reports about the number of civilians killed has continued after Operation Cast Lead . That was manifested by the creation of a false propaganda presentation of the mass killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip (the “holocaust” claimed by pro-Hamas propaganda) and the reduction or hiding of the blow dealt to Hamas’s military infrastructure and its terrorist operatives. All of the above were aimed at serving the “victory narrative” which Hamas has been carefully constructing since the end of Operation Cast Lead.
6. Hamas, which controls all information originating in the Gaza Strip, issued exaggerated numbers of the number of “civilians” killed during Operation Cast Lead, while feeding the media false data and selective, biased reports about the number of armed operatives killed. That was done by lending a civilian character to security forces’ operatives despite the fact that such operatives also serve in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades in unequivocally operational capacities. 4
7. The numbers of armed terrorists involved in the fighting are therefore swallowed by the general statistics, where their identity as terrorists is blurred and they are represented as civilians or innocent, harmless policemen deliberately killed by the IDF . As a result a gap has been created between the biased data provided by Hamas (which the human rights organizations base their reports on) and the aforementioned findings of the examination undertaken by IDF Military Intelligence .
8. After Operation Cast Lead the Palestinians media reported an exaggerated 1,330 deaths. 5 By the end of February the total had been inflated to 1,414 (according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights) and then to 1,452 (by a media report which originated with the Hamas de-facto administration 6). The continual increase in the numbers of the dead was not supported by reports of scores of newly-found bodies or deaths of the wounded.
9. The discrepancy between the initial and later numbers can be explained by the inclusion of those who were not actually killed during Operation Cast Lead or the addition of those who died of natural causes. 7
The instructions to conceal the identity and number of terrorist operatives killed and wounded posted on Hamas’s PALDF forum during Operation Cast Lead
Important announcement regarding information and pictures
of the shaheeds of the resistance Dear Brothers!
” In accordance with the policy of the factions of the jihad resistance in Gaza …we inform you that it is completely forbidden to issue information about the numbers, names or pictures or any [other] detail about the shaheeds and wounded of the resistance . The order is in force until the end of the Zionist aggression which is clear to us and our nation, with the consent of Allah, may he be exalted. Any [report] which violates these rules will be deleted and a warning will be sent to whoever is responsible for the posting. Let us all be soldiers of the resistance, and if we cannot assist it, at least let us not assist the enemy [fighting] against it.”
1 For further information see our March 24, 2009 bulletin entitled “Mounting evidence indicates that during Operation Cast Lead (and in ordinary times) members of Hamas’s internal security forces served as commanders and operatives in Hamas’s military wing (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades)” at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e067.pdf .
2 A great deal of information about the operational methods employed by Hamas and the other terrorist organizations during Operation Cast Lead from within the civilian can be found on the ITIC website. The IDF Spokesman noted that the IDF took far-reaching steps to prevent the civilian population from being harmed, and to that end distributed millions of flyers, utilized the Palestinian media, made telephone calls to Gazans, fired warning shots and briefed commanders and soldiers to exercise extreme caution when dealing with the civilian population (IDF Spokesman’s website, March 26, 2009 ). Following reports in the Israel media about statements made by soldiers at the Rabin military preparation center, the Military Police held an investigation. It was found that crucial components of the soldiers’ descriptions were based on hearsay and not supported by specific personal knowledge. Following the findings, the Israeli Military Advocate General, Brigadier General Avichai Mendelblit, decided to close the investigation and determined that no evidence had been found for the claims. (For details see the IDF Spokesman’s website, March 30, 2009 .)
3 For further information see our January 12, 2009 bulletin entitled ” Hamas hides the casualties suffered by its operatives: Hamas’s main online forum censors the publication of names and photographs of operatives . ”
4 Hezbollah used a similar media policy during and after the second Lebanon war, when it refrained from publishing the number of its operatives killed. It preferred to bury them in secret without media coverage, as a way of reinforcing its myth of the “divine victory.”
5 The human rights organizations operating in the Gaza Strip were willing to report data and information in line with Hamas’s propaganda policy. However, when they tried to do so, their own reports revealed many difficulties in obtaining data and made it clear that no methodical, organized registration had been carried out and that they had had to rely on casual reports and statements given by families.
6 The number was reported by Muawiya Hassanein , head of emergency services in the Hamas administration’s ministry of health, who told the press that the number of Gazan dead was 1,452 (Ma’an News Agency, February 25, 2009).
7 According to the population registry, an average of 415 Gazans die every month. Thus, during Operation Cast Lead, more than 300 died of natural causes in the Gaza Strip. Some of them may have been listed as having died as a result of the operation, a phenomenon familiar from former confrontations in the Palestinian arena.
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