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Sunday, December 17, 2006
PMW: PA daily: Arab leaders caused the '48 refugee problem

Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin - Dec. 17, 2006
View this bulletin online

PA daily: Arab leaders caused the refugee problem

PA columnist: Arab leaders initiated departure and made false promises of a
speedy return

by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Palestinian Media Watch:
p:+972 2 625 4140e: pmw@pmw.org.il
f: +972 2 624 2803w: www.pmw.org.il

PMW has documented yet another corroboration in the official Palestinian
Authority (PA) paper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida that it was Arab leaders who were
responsible for the flight of Arabs from the new State of Israel in 1948.

A backbone of PA ideology, and indeed of anti-Israel propagandists
worldwide, is the myth that Israel expelled hundreds of thousands of Arabs
from Israel and created the Palestinian "refugee" situation.

However, a regular writer for the official PA paper, Mahmud Al-Habbash,
writes in a recent column that in 1948 the Arabs left their homes willingly
under the instruction of their own Arab leaders and their false promises of
a prompt return. He refers to these promises as "Arkuvian," after Arkuv - a
figure from Arab tradition - who was known for breaking his promises and for
his lies - and states that the Arabs who left their homes, and became
refugees did so believing their leaders' deceptive promises. He places the
blame and the responsibility on the shoulders of the Arab leaders and does
not mention any so-called "Israeli expulsion."

Following is this most recent article, as well as earlier statements by Arab
"refugees" that have appeared in the PA press, all of which corroborate
Israel's historical narrative. The latter two testimonials are significant
because they were corroborated by still other more public Palestinians,
indicating that the responsibility of the Arab leaders is known in the
Palestinian world. One was confirmed by Arab Member of Knesset, Ibraham
Sarsur, who was then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and the other
by a Palestinian journalist, Fuad Abu Higla, in the official PA daily.

The following are four statements corroborating that Arabs fled Israel under
the instruction and the encouragement of Arab leaders:

1. Journalist writing about the events of 1948

Mahmud Al-Habbash, a regular writer in the official PA paper, Al-Hayat
Al-Jadida, indicates in his column "The Pulse of Life" that the Arabs left
Israel in 1948 only after political Arab leaders persuaded them to do so by
promising the Arabs a speedy return to their homes in Palestine:

".The leaders and the elites promised us at the beginning of the
"Catastrophe" [[the establishment of Israel and the creation of refugee
problem] in 1948, that the duration of the exile will not be long, and that
it will not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees
will return to their homes, which most of them did not leave only until they
put their trust in those "Arkuvian" promises made by the leaders and the
political elites. Afterwards, days passed, months, years and decades, and
the promises were lost with the strain of the succession of events." [Term
"Arkuvian," is after Arkuv - a figure from Arab tradition - who was known
for breaking his promises and for his lies."] "
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, December 13, 2006]

2. Woman who fled Israel in 1948

"We heard sounds of explosions and of gunfire at the beginning of the summer
in the year of the "Catastrophe" [The establishment of Israel and the
expulsion from the land in 1948]. They told us: The Jews attacked our region
and it is better to evacuate the village and return, after the battle is
over. And indeed there were among us [who fled Israel] those who left a fire
burning under the pot, those who left their flock [of sheep] and those who
left their money and gold behind, based on the assumption that we would
return after a few hours."
[Asmaa Jabir Balasimah Um Hasan, Woman who fled Israel, Al-Ayyam, May 16,

3. Son and grandson of those who fled in 1948

An Arab viewer called Palestinian Authority TV and quoted his father and
grandfather, complaining that in 1948 the Arab District Officer ordered all
Arabs to leave Palestine or be labeled traitors. In response, Arab MK
Ibrahim Sarsur, then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, cursed the
leaders who ordered Arabs to leave, thus, acknowledging Israel's assertion.

Statement of son and grandson of man who fled:

"Mr. Ibrahim [Sarsur]. I address you as a Muslim. My father and grandfather
told me that during the "Catastrophe" [establishment of Israel in 1948 and
the expulsion from the land], our district officer issued an order that
whoever stays in Palestine and in Majdel [near Ashkelon - Southern Israel]
is a traitor, he is a traitor."

Response from Ibrahim Sarsur, Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel:

"The one who gave the order forbidding them to stay there bears guilt for
this, in this life and the Afterlife throughout history until Resurrection

[PA TV April 30, 1999]

4. Article by senior PA journalist

Fuad Abu Higla, then a regular columnist in the official PA daily Al Hayat
Al Jadida, wrote an article before an Arab Summit, which criticized the Arab
leaders for a series of failures. One of the failures he cited, in the name
of a prisoner, was that an earlier generation of Arab leaders "forced" them
to leave Israel in 1948, again placing the blame for the flight on the Arab

"I have received a letter from a prisoner in Acre prison, to the Arab

To the [Arab and Muslim] Kings and Presidents, Poverty is killing us, the
symptoms are exhausting us and the souls are leaving our body, yet you are
still searching for the way to provide aid, like one who is looking for a
needle in a haystack or like the armies of your predecessors in the year of
1948, who forced us to leave [Israel], on the pretext of clearing the
battlefields of civilians... So what will your summit do now?"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, March 19, 2001]


It is clear from these statements that there is general acknowledgement
among Palestinians that Arab leaders bear responsibility for the mass flight
of Arabs from Israel in 1948, and were the cause of the "refugee" problem.
Furthermore, the fact that this information has been validated by public
figures and the media in the Palestinian Authority confirms that this
responsibility is well-known - even though, for propaganda purposes, its
leaders continue to blame Israel publicly for "the expulsion."

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