Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The myth of Arab incitement

Show a (certain kind of) Charedi that there are rishonim who believed in an old universe, or disbelieved in magic, or who said verses were added to the Torah after Moshe, and you can expect him to question your motives and to respond with some combination of anger and indignation before he runs away to tell everyone what a jerk you are.

Zionists, I've discovered, are the same. Show a (certain kind of) Zionist anything --anything at all -- that discredits the received wisdom about Israel's general excellence and overall nobility and you'll get the exact, same sort of reaction. Like the Haredim, these kinds of Zionists have their own set of inaccurate facts and any attempt to correct the record is viewed as villainy.

**Interpolation **

Yes, I am sure that I do this, too, to some degree on some topics. But not religious ones.

** End **

I was treated to such a reaction earlier today when I tried to correct the claim, often repeated, that Arab leaders incited Arab followers to leave their homes in 1948. This is a myth, a comforting and convenient myth to be sure, but one that has been entirely debunked.

I'll allow the late Christopher Hitchens to summarize the evidence:
... [Elie Weisel] asserts that in 1948, “incited by their leaders, 600,000 Palestinians left the country convinced that, once Israel was vanquished, they would be able to return home.” 
This claim is a cheap lie and is known by Wiesel to be a lie. It is furthermore an utterly discredited lie, and one that Israeli officialdom no longer cares to repeat. Israeli and Jewish historians have exposed it time and again: Every Arab broadcasting station in the region, in 1947 as well as 1948, was monitored and recorded and transcribed by the BBC, and every Arab newspaper has been scoured, and not one instance of such “incitement”, in direct speech or reported speech, has ever come to light. The late historian and diplomat Erskine Childers issued an open challenge on the point as far back as the 1950s that was never taken up and never will be.  
Eliminate the myth of incitement, and we're left with no neat explanation for the displacement of over half a million Arabs during Israel's War of Independence, which was not a fight for independence but a fight for existence first and land second. Eliminate the myth of incitement,and we're forced to face the messy truth: Some Arabs left out of fear of the war, while others, as historians have documented, were forcibly expelled.

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