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Middle East Issues





CAMERA ALERT: The PA “Condemns” – and Justifies – Terror Attack


Mangled history in the service of terror

Following the Palestinian terror attack against the Israeli town of Rosh Ha’ayin, in which one Israeli was killed and at least four were seriously wounded, the Palestinian Authority released a statement “condemning” the “operation.” Most of the statement, however, concerned not the suicide bombing, but Israel’s alleged “crimes against the Palestinian people” and its continuing “attacks on the Palestinian cities especially Nablus and Jenin.”

What was especially noteworthy about the PA’s statement was not its rather tepid deploring of terror attacks against Israelis – that’s par for the course, when disapprovals are even voiced. No, what was most significant was the last paragraph outlining the PA version of Rosh Ha’ayin’s history. Rosh Ha’ayin, according to the PA:

is an Israeli city build (sic) on the rubble of the Palestinian city Ras Al-Aa’ain after being occupied by Israeli occupation forces in the 1948 war.

The import of this couldn’t be clearer: Ras Al-Aa’ain, it is implied, was cleared of its ancient Palestinian population by marauding Jewish forces, who then built the Jewish town of Rosh Ha’ayin on its “rubble.” And it also couldn’t be clearer that this nugget of history is included to provide justification for the terror attack: Who can blame dispossessed Palestinians for striking out at the cruel occupier?

Except that this Palestinian history of Ras Al-Aa’ain and Rosh Ha’ayin is nonsense. Ras Al- Aa’ain had been abandoned by its Arab inhabitants at the turn of the last century. Even Walid Khalidi admits this in his tendentious All That Remains, a supposed history of Palestinian towns that were occupied by Israel (the book is published by the PLO-founded Institute for Palestine Studies). According to Khalidi, Ras al-Ayn (as he spells it) was a “village that was deserted at the beginning of this [ie the 20th] century.” (p 251)

So there was no Arab population there to be dispossessed and there was no one there to expel. But the Jews who began to live there in 1949 had been expelled – by Arabs. These were Jews from Yemen, and Israel built a refugee camp for them at what had been a British military base. The Jewish refugee camp later became the Israeli town of Rosh Ha’ayin (Head of the Spring), named after the local springs. But, of course, the town has a longer history than that – in the Bible it was known as Aphek, after the neighboring riverbed.

It is only to be hoped the PA’s condemnation of the terror attack against Rosh Ha’ayin is more legitimate than its bogus history of Rosh Ha’ayin.


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