May
17
2011

Palestinians Protest Israel's Founding–or Something Else?

At Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah challenges the skewed history coming from Ethan Bronner in the New York Times (5/15/11). In trying to explain the context for the recent Palestinian protests, Bronner wrote:

After Israel declared independence on May 15, 1948, armies from neighboring Arab states attacked the new nation; during the war that followed, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes by Israeli forces. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were also destroyed. The refugees and their descendants remain a central issue of contention in the Israeli-Palestinianconflict.

Abunimah replied:

This is standard Zionist propaganda that bears little resemblance to the facts. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist forces began in late 1947, so that by 15 May, 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had already been expelled from their villages and cities before a single soldier from any Arab army had intervened. The exodus from, for example, Jaffa began in early 1948 after Zionist terrorists belonging to the Stern Gang set off a massive car bomb destroying the Jaffa municipality building on 4 January. (This is all well-documented in books by right-wing Israeli historian Benny Morris, among others.) Many villages in the north of Palestine were also depopulated around thattime.

Abunimah adds that the Deir Yassin massacre happened in April 1948–before Israel declared its independence.

This skewed history seems to be fairly common. NBC's Richard Engel presented it this way on the Today show on Monday (5/17/01):

What sparked this is Palestinians were commemorating what they call the Nakba, it's the Arabic word for "catastrophe," which is how many Palestinians describe the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

The "catastrophe" is not the establishment of the state of Israel, it's the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that accompanied that establishment. It's an important distinction.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.