"The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of the act of the Arab states in
opposing partition and the Jewish state. The Arab states agreed upon this policy unanimously and
they must share in the solution of the problem."
mile Ghoury, secretary of the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, in an interview with the Beirut Telegraph September 6, 1948. (same appeared in The London Telegraph, August 1948)
The New York Times has given Mahmoud Abbas an opportunity to write an op-ed, and from the very beginning, we know what to expect. Abbas starts with the claim he and his family were kicked out of Israel:
SIXTY-THREE years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in the Galilean city of Safed and flee with his family to Syria.The problem is that Abbas himself admitted in July 6, 2007 during an Arabic interview that they were not forced to leave at all.
In a Jerusalem Post article, Sarah Honig writes about Abbas and his admission that he and his family left Safed on their own:
Fatah's cofounder reminisced at length about his Safed origins and haphazardly let the truth slip out. "Until the nakba" (calamity in Arabic - the loaded synonym for Israeli independence), he recounted, his family "was well-off in Safed." When Abbas was 13, "we left on foot at night to the Jordan River... Eventually we settled in Damascus... My father had money, and he spent his money methodically. After a year, when the money ran out, we began to work. "People were motivated to run away... They feared retribution from Zionist terrorist organizations - particularly from the Safed ones. Those of us from Safed especially feared that the Jews harbored old desires to avenge what happened during the 1929 uprising [Muslim pogroms instigated by the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, known later for his Nazi sympathies]. This was in the memory of our families and parents... They realized the balance of forces was shifting and therefore the whole town was abandoned on the basis of this rationale - saving our lives and our belongings."In his book, Politics, Lies and Videotape, Yitschak Ben Gad has other quotes by Abbas--from a different Arabic interview he gave:
(You can view these quotes in the online version of the book here. Hat tip: Elder of Ziyon)
In the first quote, Abbas admits that the Arabs themselves encouraged those Arabs living in then-Palestine to leave--with the promise of 'throwing the Jews into the sea' after which the Arabs could return and take their land.
In the second quote, Abbas again acknowledges that the Arab armies--and not the Jewish armies--were responsible for the Arabs leaving.
Abbas develops his fraudulent claim further:
It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued.The key points that Abbas omits are:
o There has never been a Palestinian state. After being part of the Ottoman Empire, the area passed to the British, who were entrusted with the Mandate for a Jewish state. During the 1948 war, Gaza fell to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan: annexations recognized solely by Great Britain and Pakistan. In 1967, Israel captured those areas. Never in all of the history of that land was there an Arab Palestinian state or homeland.
o Of course, the other point--which Abbas glosses over--is that the Arabs were offered a share in that partition: they had the opportunity them for a state. Instead, as Abbas himself confirms above, the Arabs rejected the offer, in the belief that they would be able to kick the Jews out.
As a matter fact, if you are keeping track Rick Richman points out that the Palestinian Arabs have been offered a state of there own on 7 different occasions.
In the National Interest, Benny Morris succinctly summarizes the peace process, writing that there can be disagreement about tactical mistakes made over the years, but that:The rest of Abbas's op-ed is more of the same obfuscation--a fraud perpetrated on the readers of the New York Times.
[T]here can be no serious argument about what transpired in July and December 2000, when Arafat sequentially rejected comprehensive Israeli and Israeli-American proposals for a two-state solution which would have given the Palestinians (“the Clinton Parameters”) sovereignty and independence in 95% of the West Bank, all of the Gaza Strip, and half of Jerusalem (including half or three-quarters of the Old City).And further that:
[T]here can be no serious argument either about Abbas’s rejection of the similar, perhaps even slightly better deal, offered by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. (Indeed, these rejections of a two-state solution were already a tradition set in stone: The Palestinians’ leaders had rejected two-state compromises in 1937 (the Peel proposals), 1947 (the UN General Assembly partition resolution) and (implicitly) in 1978 (when Arafat rejected the Sadat-Begin Camp David agreement, which provided for “autonomy” in the Palestinan territories).That is six Palestinian rejections of a Palestinian state: 1937, 1947, 1978, 2000 (twice), 2008.
Actually, the correct number is seven, since Morris omitted the first one: in 1919, Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, and Emir Feisal Ibn al-Hussein al-Hashemi signed an agreement providing for Arab recognition of the Balfour Declaration, Arab retention of the Muslim holy sites, and WZO agreement to the establishment of an Arab state. Later that year, the Arabs repudiated the agreement.
We are now in the 92nd year of a peace process in which the Palestinians are the first people in history to be offered a state seven times, reject it seven times, and set preconditions for discussing an eighth offer. [emphasis added]
But then again--what else would you expect? After all, while the New York Times dutifully describes Abbas as the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the president of the Palestinian National Authority, the fact is that Abbas's term expired 2 years ago.
More at Memeorandum
UPDATE: As someone mentioned in the comments, MEMRI has a 2 minute video clip of an interview Abbas gave where he makes clear he and his family were not forced to flee Safed.
Here is the transcript:
Following are excerpts from an interview with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, which aired on Al-Filistiniya TV on July 6, 2009:
Interviewer: When the Palestinians were forced to leave their land, they were driven by strong motives. Do you recall that?Hat tip: Elder of Ziyon
Mahmoud Abbas: The main reason was that the people wanted to flee for their lives, and protect the honor of their women, which was very important. They feared the violence of the Zionist terrorist organizations. We, in Safed, in particular – just like the people of Hebron – could feel that there was [Jewish] vengeance for the 1929 uprising. This remained in the memories of our families and parents. The balance of military power – actually, it was not a military power in the true sense of the word... All [we] had was several young men fighting with primitive [weapons]... When they felt that the balance [of power] had shifted, they decided to leave. The city in its entirety left, in order to protect their lives and their women's honor.
Everybody knows my opinion: from day one, there should have been a single [Palestinian] Authority. It's inconceivable that while I am making peace, someone else carries out operations. I cannot allow such a thing. But military operations were allowed and prevented intermittently, in 1996, 1997, 1998, and the result was a complete loss of control in the 2000 Intifada. In my opinion, it was a mistake to conduct the Intifada. Okay, there was an Intifada because Sharon desecrated the Haram Al-Sharif and so on, but we shouldn't have allowed things to get out of control. When they did get out of control, the PA ceased to exist both in Gaza and in the West Bank.
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