It’s one thing to re-write history, but quite another to pretend as if a major historical event – involving a well-documented case of ethnic cleansing – never occurred.
A July 25th edition of the Guardian’s Data Blog, edited by Mona Chalabi, was titled ‘What happened to history’s refugees?‘ Here’s the strapline:
People have been forced to leave their countries since the very notion of a country was created. We take a look at some of the largest human movements in history to find out why people left their homes, where they went and what became of them.
This ambitious project includes Israelites: Canaan (740 BC), Edict of Fontainebleau (France 1685), Muhacirs (Ottoman Empire 1783), Pogroms (Russia 1881), WWI (Europe 1914), WWII (Europe 1945), Nakba (Palestine 1948), and others.
Regarding the “Nakba”, here’s their remarkably skewed narrative:
Nowhere are numbers on refugees more contentious than the 1948 Palestinian exodus. An attack by a Zionist military group on an Arab village realised the Palestinians’ worst fears and combined with Zionist expulsion orders, military advances, virtually non-existent Palestinian leadership and unwillingness to live under Jewish control on their homeland. The result was a mass exodus of around 80% of Arabs on the land that was to become Israel. Later absentees property law in Israel would prevent the return of those Arabs. Nakba, meaning “catastrophe” is commemorated on 15 May each year. The UN set up a special agency, UNRWA, to deal with the enormous numbers of refugees requiring assistance that now number around 5 million.
There are so many omissions, misleading and flatly untrue claims about their tale of the flight of Palestinians, but, suffice to say that, in reading the summary, you could be forgiven for not knowing that there was an even an Arab-Israel War in the first place – a war of aggression against the nascent Jewish state without which there wouldn’t have been a refugee problem. However, this isn’t at all the most egregious historical error in the piece.
Did you notice an historical omission?
As the site of JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) explains:
…under the heavy weight of Anti-Jewish governments and policy, nearly one million Jews [beginning in 1948] from the Middle East and North Africa had their property confiscated, basic human rights stripped, and were systematically persecuted and victimized. Ultimately these Jews were forced to flee their homes and surrender their nationalities, becoming the “Forgotten Refugees” of the Middle East and North Africa.
Revisionist history of the Middle East conveniently excludes the fact that over half of Israel’s Jewish population live there not because European atrocities during World War II, but because of Anti-Jewish Arab governments who dispossessed and displaced their native Jewish populations following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Adopted narratives of the Arab-Israeli conflict fail to address the fact that Israel was the largest refugee camp in the Middle East, providing safe haven to…dispossessed Middle Eastern and North African Jewish refugees whose ancestors had a continuous presence in the region for over 3,000 years.
JIMENA reminds us that, though “UN Resolution 242 asserted that Jews fleeing Arab countries were ‘bona fide’ refugees” the international community, the media and educational systems have continuously ignored their plight.
Of the 800,000 or so Jewish refugees between 1948 and 1972, more than 200,000 found refuge in Europe and North America while 586,000 were resettled in Israel, “without any compensation from the Arab governments who had confiscated their possessions.” Further, unlike Palestinian refugees who were displaced by war, a definitive report, co-authored by Irwin Cotler, concluded that Jews’ expulsion was part of an intentional and coordinated effort by Arab rulers:
These massive human rights violations were not events that occurred coincidently or haphazardly; nor were they the result only of state-sanctioned patterns of repression in each of the Arab countries, though this would be bad enough; rather, as the evidence discloses, they were the result of an international criminal conspiracy by the League of Arab States to target and persecute the Jewish populations in their respective countries.
It’s one thing to parrot the Palestinian narrative of the “Nakba”, but what the Guardian did was to completely erase from the historical record the well-documented (and completely undisputed) forced expulsion of hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews.
The Guardian’s ideologically inspired animosity towards the Jewish state has crossed a line, and the paper’s editors need to be held accountable for such completely ahistorical propaganda.