Palestinians in the Gaza Strip's Shati refugee camp mark Nakba Day on May 15, commemorating the “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding in May 1948. (Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Israel Should be Held Responsible for Palestinian Refugees

Al-Etihad, UAE, June 7

When we discuss the American peace project, or the so-called “Deal of the Century,” we must remember the fact that the classic Israeli narrative of the Palestinian refugees is an incorrect one. According to the Israeli narrative, the Palestinian people left Palestine voluntarily, on the basis of calls from Arab leaders to leave their homes and lands to make way for Arab armies to invade. However, various media and political sources – including some Israeli ones – have repeatedly refuted this claim, which was supported and propagated by classical Israeli academics keen to justify the 1948 War, led by David Ben-Gurion, who later became Israel’s first prime minister. The false Israeli narrative completely rejects and denies the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were forced to leave their villages and flee to foreign lands. Sadly, for many decades, the Israeli narrative succeeded in overshadowing the Palestinian one. It was only in recent years that an Israeli academic movement dubbed “Beyond Zionism” emerged and began stripping the Israeli refugee narrative of its lies. The historian Benny Morris and the political scientist Ilan Pappe, both Israelis belonging to the post-Zionist movement, presented numerous studies confirming the validity of the Arab narrative on the creation of the refugee problem by uncovering a secret military plan developed by the Hagana, known as “Plan D,” which instructed Israeli military leaders to forcefully expel the Arab masses from their homes. Strangely, even after these documents had been unveiled to the public, many Israeli academics continued to claim that the Palestinian masses fled at the behest of Arab leaders. Today, we know without a doubt that the first Israeli massacres took place on April 9, 1948, in the Palestinian town of Deir Yassin, leaving over 100 villagers dead. In other words, the Israeli expulsion campaign began long before Israel’s independence was declared in mid-May of that year. Therefore, blaming Arab armies for creating the refugee problem is misleading. There is unequivocal historical evidence pointing to the fact that Israel is responsible for creating the Palestinian refugee problem. Therefore, it must also be held responsible for solving it. This fact must be kept in mind as we discuss possible solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and before we propose different American frameworks to bring about a lasting peace between the two sides. – Ibrahim Al-Bahrawi (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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