The Arab Refugees and the Missing Israeli Narrative

Updated February 13, 2009

Gerard Michauds op-ed on the Palestinians claim to the “right of return” is interesting and easy to read because the anecdotes he presented put a human face on the Arab side of the problem. (Jerusalem Post, “A matter of choice”, Front Lines, Feb. 8, 2008.)

Clearly however, the writer was already of the opinion that the refugees had been hard done by, and that the nasty Israelis were to blame. Thus his purpose was a journey to seek evidence to support this view.

So he completely overlooks the Israeli claim that the majority of today’s so called refugees exited the Jewish areas voluntarily. They were motivated by Arab leaders to get out and allow the Arab armies in – to annihilate the Jews. For extermination and obliteration of the state was the Arab war aim. Nothing less.

Here are 17 unimpeachable references from Arab sources which overwhelmingly support the Israeli narrative – that the Arab exodus was virtually entirely voluntary:


Research reported by the Arab-sponsored Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut. (Also given by Joan Peters, in her classic work “From Time Immemorial,” on page 13) that

“the majority of the Arab refugees in 1948 were not expelled . . . 68% left without seeing an Israeli soldier.”


Report in Jaffa newspaper Ash Sha’ab, January 30, 1948.

“The first of our fifth column consists of those who abandon their houses and businesses and go to live elsewhere….At the first signs of trouble they take to their heels to escape sharing the burden of struggle.”


Jamal Husseini, Acting Chairman of the Palestine Arab Higher Committee, speaking to the United Nations Security Council. Quoted in the UNSC Official Records (N. 62), April23,1948,p.14

“The Arabs did not want to submit to a truce they rather preferred to abandon their homes, their belongings and everything they possessed in the world and leave the town. This is in fact what they did.”


From a memorandum by The Arab National Committee in Haifa to the Arab League Governments. 27 April 1948.

“”¦ when the delegation entered the conference room it proudly refused to sign the truce and asked that the evacuation of the Arab population and their transfer to neighboring Arab countries be facilitated.”


Emile Ghoury, secretary of the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, in an interview with the Beirut Telegraph, Sept. 6, 1948.

“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 agree upon this policy unanimously and they must share in the solution of the problem.”


Jordanian daily newspaper Falistin, Feb 19, 1949.

“The Arab states which had encouraged the Palestinian Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies, have failed to keep their promise to help these refugees.”


Radio broadcast by the Near East Arabic Broadcasting Station, Cyprus. April 3 1949.

“It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees’ flight from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa, and Jerusalem.”


Musa Alami, a leading Palestinian nationalist of the time, revealed the attitude of the fleeing Arabs in his article “The Lesson of Palestine”, Middle East Journal, Vol. 3, No. 4, October 1949, pp. 373-405.

“The Arabs of Palestine left their homes, were scattered, and lost everything. But there remained one solid hope: The Arab armies were on the eve of their entry into Palestine to save the country and return things to their normal course, punish the aggressor, and throw oppressive Zionism with its dreams and dangers into the sea. On May 14, 1948, crowds of Arabs stood by the roads leading to the frontiers of Palestine, enthusiastically welcoming the advancing armies”.

“Days and weeks passed, sufficient to accomplish the sacred mission, but the Arab armies did not save the country. They did nothing but let slip from their hands Acre, Sarafand, Lydda, Ramleh, Nazareth, most of the south and the rest of the north. Then hope fled.”


Statement by the Arab National Committee of Haifa in memorandum to the Arab States, April 27, 1950. Cited by Peter Dodd and Halim Barakat, “River Without Bridges. – A Study of the Exodus of the 1967 Arab Palestinian Refugees” Beirut 1969.

“The removal of the Arab inhabitants … was voluntary and was carried out at our request … The Arab delegation proudly asked for the evacuation of the Arabs and their removal to the neighboring Arab countries…. We are very glad to state that the Arabs guarded their honour and traditions with pride and greatness.”


Report by Habib Issa in the New York Lebanese newspaper, Al Hoda, June 8 1951,

“The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade. He pointed out that they were already on the frontiers and that all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the Mediterranean.” “Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes and property and to stay temporarily in neighboring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down.”


Beirut Muslim weekly Kul-Shay, Aug. 19, 1951.

“Who brought the Palestinians to Lebanon as refugees, suffering now from the malign attitude of newspapers and communal leaders, who have neither honor nor conscience? Who brought them over in dire straits and penniless, after they lost their honor? The Arab states, and Lebanon amongst them, did it.”


Nimr el Hawari, the Commander of the Palestine Arab Youth Organization, in his book Sir Am Nakbah (The Secret Behind the Disaster, published in Nazareth in 1955), quoted the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said as saying:

“We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down.”


Egyptian daily Akhbar El Yom, Oct 12, 1963.

“The 15th May, 1948 arrived… on that day the Mufti of Jerusalem appealed to the Arabs of Palestine to leave the country, because the Arab countries were about to enter and fight in their stead.”


Khaled al-`Azm, who served as Prime Minister of Syria in 1948 and 1949, wrote in his memoirs, Beirut 1973 (Part 1, pp. 386-387). that among the reasons for the Arab failure in 1948 was . . .

“the call by the Arab Governments to the inhabitants of Palestine to evacuate it and to leave for the bordering Arab countries, after having sown terror among them…Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave…We have brought destruction upon a million Arab refugees, by calling upon them and pleading with them to leave their land, their homes, their work and business…”


Fuad Abu Higla, columnist, writing in PA daily Al Hayat Al Jadida, March 19, 2001. He quotes a prisoner from the 1948 generation. (Per Palestinian Media Watch)

“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?”


From Asmaa Jabir Balasimah Um Hasan, who fled Israel in 1948. Quoted from Al-Ayyam May 16, 2006 per Palestinian Media Watch.

“We heard sounds of explosions and of gunfire at the beginning of the summer in the year of the Nakbah [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.”


Journalist Mahmud Al-Habbash, in the official PA paper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, in his column “The Pulse of Life”, December 13, 2006.

“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.”

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In addition to above quotes from Arab sources, I list a number of evidential quotes from non- Arab sources in my blog:

2 Responses to “The Arab Refugees and the Missing Israeli Narrative”

  1. Gerry Dinernan, Kfar Saba Says:

    Arabs in Judea-Samaria were given “Jordanian citizenship” by king Abdullah I in 1950. They were still in “The Western Bank” when Israel recovered the territory in ’67!

    The PLO’s 1964 Covenant declares that they do not have any claims of National Sovereignty in The Western Bank, Gaza Strip and Himmah Area. That changed in ’68 and in ’88 king Hussein “transferred” his claims to the PLO.

    In ’70, with Arafat now Head of both the PLO and his Fatah, the “Jordanian-Palestinian citizens” who were living in what was called a “Refugee Camp” rebelled against Hussein, resulting in “Black September 1970”. [Israel should call September ’93 the same thing.]

    When will they wake up and realize that all of those “refugees” are nothing more than cannon fodder for the Arab Leaders to use. And with the UN and the West paying the bill for those “refugees, the Leaders don’t have to invest too much money in “formal” armies.

    Israel should point out, that unless someone actually identifies a “refugee camp” [such as the ones in Beirut that were shown on TV during the last war] it is difficult to tell the difference between the housing of the refugees and their neighbors on the next block.

    People who don’t know, think of refugee camps as those tents and hovels that are in Dafur, and other African places where the Muslims attack the Black non-Muslim Africans. I guess that kind of behavior is a “tradition” with them going back to the days of slave trading. Come to think of it, isn’t slavery still going on in the Muslim world?

  2. Sondra Says:

    This is superb. Thank you very much!