01 December '15..
This week’s anniversary of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which led to the creation of Israel as an independent state in 1948, is a good opportunity to look at a key point in the history of Palestinian rejectionism.
Unless, like Internet magazine Salon, you subscribe to the media narrative of the pristine and innocent Palestinians, ever the victims and never the aggressors. Then it’s an opportunity to rewrite history and whitewash Palestinian and Arab violence.
The UN voted to divide the area under the British Mandate into a state for Jews and a state for Arabs. The Jewish leadership accepted the plan and the Arabs rejected it and turned to violence, leading eventually the Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.
But you’ll get quite a different picture from the Salon article, a deeply flawed, one-sided picture that completely ignores Arab or Palestinian aggression in order to paint a picture of Israeli “ethnic cleansing”:
The Partition Plan was never implemented, however. The very next day after it was voted on, the 1947-1948 war broke out.
In this war, Zionist militias systematically ethnically cleansed large portions of historic Palestine, sacking hundreds of Palestinian villages and expelling more than 750,000 people — around two-thirds of the indigenous Arab population.
War simply broke out? Actually, the inconvenient truth for Salon writer Ben Norton, is that the war did not just simply start. The Palestinians started it, as historian Benny Morris explains:
On November 30, Arab gunmen, in the first shots of the war, ambushed two Jewish buses near Petah Tikva, killing seven passengers, and snipers firing from the Arab town of Jaffa hit pedestrians in neighboring Tel Aviv. The Husseini-led Arab Higher Committee (AHC), the Palestinian Arabs’ “government,” called a general strike. The civil war had begun.
And as for ethnic cleansing, it was the Arabs, who were seeking the annihilation of the Jews, not the other way. Morris provides the details:
At stake in this civil war was Israel’s existence, and in the early months the Arabs appeared to be winning. By the end of March 1948, most of the Haganah’s armored car fleet lay in ruins, and Jewish West Jerusalem, with 100,000 residents, was under siege. Had the run of successful Arab convoy ambushes continued, and had Jerusalem gone under, it seems certain that the armies of the Arab states that invaded the country seven weeks later would have aborted the tiny state before its birth.
Instead, in April 1948, with its back to the wall, the Yishuv (in Hebrew, the Settlement)—as the 630,000-strong Jewish community in Palestine called itself—struck back. In a series of campaigns lasting six weeks, they battled mercilessly with the Palestinian Arab militias and overran dozens of Arab villages and towns. Slowly but surely, the balance of the war began to tip in their favor.
Horton then repeats the same language in describing the outbreak of war in May of 1948:
Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948. The next day, the 1948-49 war broke out. In this war, Israel went on to annex even more land than was allotted to it in the Partition Plan. In the end, Zionist militias took control of around 77 percent of what had been Mandatory Palestine.
Again, war simply started, with no Palestinian or Arab agency. What he doesn’t say is that the combined force of the five Arab armies attacked the nascent state. Was their goal anything other than to obliterate Israel? In fact, the article makes no mention of any Arab or Palestinian aggression at all. The reader only learns about what Israel did, without the context to understand what was really happening.
The article is an excellent illustration of how the media presents the Palestinians as eternal victims and Israel as eternal oppressors. As Alex Ryvchin described it in a recent article in The Spectator:
For the Israel-haters, Palestinians are helpless victims, totally without agency and therefore without fault. They exist only as an abstract construct of untarnished innocence, an idealized nation of goatherds and olive farmers.
Playing loose with history, as Salon does in this article, does not contribute to a greater understanding of the Israel/Palestinian conflict, and how it’s reached the current impasse. If only the media held the Palestinians to account for their part of the conflict, things might start to change.
Honest Reporting: Defending Israel From Media Bias
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