Abbas also recounted the revisionist version of recent Palestinian history, noting that, “hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were torn from their homes and displaced within and outside of their homeland, thrown from their beautiful, embracing, prosperous country to refugee camps in one of the most dreadful campaigns of ethnic cleansing and dispossession in modern history.” (What extraordinary charges!)
The tragic irony of all this is that, had the Arab leadership accepted the U.N. partition plan offered in 1947, “Palestine would be celebrating its [65th] anniversary this May. And there would have been no Nakba [catastrophe]” (quoting Professor Ephraim Karsh in his important book Palestine Betrayed).
As far back as 1937, David Ben Gurion stated that, “We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their place. All our aspiration is built on the assumption – proven throughout all our activity in the Land of Israel – that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs.”
And on November 29th, 1947, when the Jewish leadership accepted the two-state partition plan, Golda Meir said, “We are happy and ready for what lies ahead. Our hands are extended in peace to our neighbors. Both States can live in peace with one another and cooperate for the welfare of their inhabitants.”
This was followed by Ben Gurion’s statement in December, 1947: “If the Arab citizen will feel at home in our state . . . if the state will help him in a truthful and dedicated way to reach the economic, social, and cultural level of the Jewish community, then Arab distrust will accordingly subside and a bridge will be built to a Semitic, Jewish-Arab alliance.”
In contrast, Arab leaders like Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, had their sights set on driving the Jews into the sea: “It will be a war of annihilation. It will be a momentous massacre in history that will be talked about like the massacres of the Mongols or the Crusades.” (As quoted in an interview in the Akhbar Al-Yom Newspaper, October 11, 1947.)
Speaking to the U.N. Security Council on April 16, 1948, Jamal Husseini stated, “The representative of the Jewish Agency told us yesterday that they were not the attackers, that the Arabs had begun the fighting. We did not deny this. We told the whole world that we were going to fight.”
The Arab nations did fight – and lost. And while the fledgling state of Israel absorbed 800,000 Jewish refugees who were expelled from surrounding Muslim lands, these same countries made no effort to absorb the 600,000 Arab refugees who fled Israel. Sadly, to this day, there are Palestinian refugee camps in Arab countries like Lebanon, while the inhabitants of Gaza lived in oppressive conditions when it was under Egyptian control after 1948.
But truth and justice matter little to the U.N. General Assembly when it comes to Israel, and so, November 29th, which was once an important day in the history of the United Nations, has become a day of infamy.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.