Palestinian ‘Nakba’ Revisionism Rebutted by CAMERA in The Hill

Ghada Karmi (“Will a Palestinian return to Israel ever happen?” June 2, 2015) misleads readers through false quotes and a distorted narrative reliant on omissions.

The author argues that 67 years ago Palestinian Arabs were “dispersed” to “refugee camps and exile in various countries.” Yet, she fails to mention that they became refugees not because of the creation of the state of Israel, but due to Arab rejection of the United Nations 1947 Palestine partition plan and then violation of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 by attacking Israel.

Karmi’s “catastrophic event” as she calls it, was in fact the failure of five invading Arab armies and Palestinian Arab “irregulars” to destroy the Jews and their state.

She claims “a succession of Israeli governments” has refused to recognize what she deceptively calls a “right of return” for these Palestinian Arabs. However, no such “right” exists.

Of the four relevant U.N. General Assembly resolutions from that time (194,1948; 393,1950; 394,1950; and 513, 1952), none included a right of return. It was for this reason and for its recognition of Israel that Arab states voted against Resolution 194. Arab countries, refusing even to negotiate face-to-face, rejected Israel’s goodwill gesture at the 1949 Lausanne talks to absorb 100,000 of the roughly 500,000 refugees for the same reason: they would not recognize the Jewish state.

Unmentioned by Karmi, who narrow-focuses on the estimated 420,000 to 650,000 Arabs who left what became Israel (the lower figure was given by a U.N. official on the scene, the larger is the difference in Arab population between the last British census for that part of Mandatory Palestine and the first Israeli census) are the more than 800,000 Jews who fled or were forced from their homes in Arab lands during and after Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. Nearly 600,000 of these Jewish refugees settled in Israel.

Palestinian rejectionism? Palestinian amnesia
Karmi says,“Palestinians are as distant as ever from achieving the right to return to our homeland.” But she fails to mention the numerous recent occasions—in 2000, 2001, 2008, and 2014—when Palestinian leaders could have had a new West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem country but rejected it because they would have had to agree to co-exist peacefully with Israel as the Jewish state.

She errs also in claiming that Israel is trying to “colonize as much land as possible.” This historical revisionism omits Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and the fact that even today Jewish communities comprise five percent or less of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Such information doesn’t fit the narrative she is desperately trying to prop up.

Nor does treatment of Palestinian refugees in Arab countries, where they have been denied citizenship and jobs by Arab governments. By way of contrast, the 150,000 Arabs who stayed in Israel and became citizens, and their descendants, today numbering nearly 1.5 million, have vastly better economic and educational opportunities, not to mention full civil rights, than most Arabs, Palestinians or others, in Arab states.

This is the same Israel—with growing Arab political parties and a recent national election overseen by an Israeli Arab—that Karmi claims has “openly racist views bordering on fascism.” She fails to mention the constant indoctrination of Jew-hatred by Palestinian Authority communications media, schools and mosques, exemplified in a recent government sponsored children’s television show that called Jews “barbaric monkeys” and “the most evil of all creatures.” This is real racism that contributes to fascist-like movements, including not only the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas but the more “secular” al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades of Fatah.

But noting what others say does not seem to be her specialty. She claims Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon “described Palestinians as a ‘cancer’ for which he advocates chemotherapy.” In reality, Ya’alon stated in 2002, during the middle of the violent second intifada during which Arab terrorists targeted Israeli civilians, “Palestinian terrorism is the main threat for Israel because it is spreading like a cancer.”

Similarly, she claims that Jewish Home Party leader Naftali Bennett has said “I’ve killed many Arabs in my life,” failing to provide the context that Bennett, a former Israeli special forces soldier, was talking about terrorists.

Congress Blog readers deserve more than Karmi’s false quotes and one-sided, anti-historical narrative.

Durns is media assistant with CAMERA—Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

(This is an edited version of the commentary that appeared on The Hill newspaper’s Congress Blog site June 11, 2015.)

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