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Encountering the Nakba The nakba in history. Population of Israel/Palestine in 1947 PalestiniansJews 100,000 200,000 300,000 400,000 500,000 600,000 700,000.

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Presentation on theme: "Encountering the Nakba The nakba in history. Population of Israel/Palestine in 1947 PalestiniansJews 100,000 200,000 300,000 400,000 500,000 600,000 700,000."— Presentation transcript:

1 Encountering the Nakba The nakba in history

2 Population of Israel/Palestine in 1947 PalestiniansJews 100, , , , , , , , ,000 1,000,000 1,100, , ,000 The Nakba in Numbers These figures refer to the area on which the state of Israel was founded Source: Abu Sitta, 2004.

3 Number of localities in Israel/Palestine in 1947 PalestiniansJews The Nakba in Numbers

4 100, , , , , , , , ,000 1,000,000 PalestiniansJews 1,100, ,000 1,000,000 The Nakba in Numbers Population of Israel/Palestine in 1949

5 PalestiniansJews The Nakba in Numbers Number of localities in Israel/Palestine in 1949

6 In other words, from 1947 – 1949: 530 Palestinian localities were destroyed 800,000 residents fled or were expelled and not allowed to return The Nakba in Numbers

7 What was Palestine like before the Nakba? ילדי בית הספר האורתודוכסי ביאפא, 1938 Towns What was Palestine like before the Nakba? There were twenty-nine towns in The large, mixed (Arab-Jewish) towns were Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa. The large Arab towns were Nazareth, Nablus, Hebron, Ramle, Lydda and Gaza. Tel Aviv was the large Jewish town. In 1947, one-third of Palestine’s Arabs lived in towns.

8 Almost two-thirds of the Arab population was rural. The main source of income was agriculture. The village was led by the Mukhtar, who was usually a representative of its most important family. Most villages were independent social, political and economic units. Villages חטין, צלם לא ידוע What was Palestine like before the Nakba?

9 Ceremony inaugurating a Jewish-Arab clinic in Kibbutz Amir, The sign reads, “Behold, I will bring it healing and cure, and I will cure them, and I will reveal to them a greeting of peace and truth.” (Jeremiah 33:6) – In Hebrew. Kibbutz Amir archive What was Palestine like before the Nakba? Palestinians and Jews

10 Though neighborly relations and cooperation developed in many places in the country, the growing strength of the two national movements (particularly Zionism) and competition for resources led to tensions, suspicion and violence. Palestinian farmers and their Jewish neighbors in the Hula Valley, קלוגר זולטן, לשכת העיתונות הממשלתית What was Palestine like before the Nakba? Palestinians and Jews

11 The Nakba occurred primarily during In November 1947 the UN proposed a partition plan which split the land about equally between the Jewish and Arab sides. At this time Jews comprised 1/3 of the local population and owned about 5% of the land. When did it happen?

12 David Ben Gurion supported the 1937 Peel Commission partition plan shown here for tactical reasons. He told the Zionist Executive that: ‘‘after the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we will abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.’ He reiterated this position in a letter to his family during that same period: ‘A Jewish state is not the end but the beginning... we shall organize a sophisticated defense force--and elite army. I have no doubt that our army will be one of the best in the world. And then I am sure that we will not be prevented from settling in other parts of the country, either through mutual understanding and agreement with our neighbors, or by other means.’” (Simha Flapan, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities,1987, p.22) Text PEEL COMMISSION PLAN 1937

13 When the partition plan was passed, and until March 1948, there was an escalation in violence between the two sides, such as firing on transportation routes and retaliations. However, at this time the violence was not expressed as wholesale expulsion or clearing of Palestinian localities. When did it happen?

14 This situation changed in March 1948, when the Hagana embarked on “Plan D.” The purpose of this plan was to create territorial continuity for the Jewish side by controlling the largest possible territory with the smallest possible Arab population. To accomplish this task, Jewish military forces began a campaign to expel and destroy Arab villages. This was the beginning of the Nakba. Two months later, on May 16, 1948, the war between Israel and the Arab states began. “In the conquest of villages in your area, you will determine – whether to cleanse or destroy them – in consultation with your Arab affairs advisers and … You are permitted to restrict – insofar as you are able – cleansing, conquest and destruction operations of enemy villages in your area.” [From the text of Plan D] How did it happen?

15 In most localities (83%) the population exodus was directly due to Israeli military action. As Israeli historian Benny Morris claims, the assertion that the Palestinian refugees left their villages because they were instructed to do so by their leaders is a myth. Military assault by Jewish forces – 270 localities Expulsion by Jewish forces – 122 localities Fall of a neighboring town – 49 localities Psychological warfare and fear of attack – 50 localities No information – 34 localities Orders of Arab leaders – 5 localities 51% 23% 9% 6% 1% Of 530 villages and cities that were destroyed the causes were: How did it happen?

16 In most cases Jewish forces bombed the village, sometimes from the air, so that the population would flee. Less frequently there was Arab and Palestinian military resistance, but the balance of power typically favored the Jewish side. Military assault During the morning [the Jews] were continually shooting down on all Arabs who moved both in Wadi Nisnas and the Old City. This included completely indiscriminate and revolting machinegun fire, mortar fire and sniping on women and children sheltering in churches and attempting to get out… through the gates into the docks… The 40 [Royal Marine Commando] who control the docks… sent the Arabs through in batches but there was considerable congestion outside the East Gate of hysterical and terrified Arab women and children and old people on whom the Jews opened up mercilessly with fire. A British intelligence officer, cited in Morris, 2004, p. 191.

17 A pattern of expulsion was repeated in numerous locations: After residents of the village surrendered, the village was surrounded from three sides and the fourth was left open so that residents would leave in the direction of the neighboring Arab state. Men were separated into one group and women, children and the elderly in another. The latter were expelled by threats and shooting over their heads, and sometimes their valuables were also taken. Some of the men were killed in order to scare the others, and many were taken to prisoner of war camps. At left is a military order setting out such an instruction for the village of Hunin. Expulsion They abandon the villages of their birth and that of their ancestors and go into exile… Women, children, babies, donkeys – everything moves, in silence and grief, northwards, without looking to right or left. Wife does not find her husband and child does not find his father… no one knows the goal of his trek. Many possessions are scattered by the paths; the more the refugees walk, the more tired they grow – and they throw away what they had tried to save on their way into exile. Suddenly, every object seems to them petty, superfluous, unimportant as against the chasing fear and the urge to save life and limb. -- Moshe Carmel, Commander of the Carmeli Brigade, Northern Battles, 1949 (in Morris, 2004, p.482).

18 Expulsion There were also a number of areas where the population was expelled by trucks (Ramleh, Baysan, Majdal, and others).

19 Many localities were abandoned following the fall of a neighboring village or city, as residents feared they would be defenseless against a coming attack. The fall of cities and large towns had a particularly strong effect, as the surrounding economic and social network broke down. Fall of a neighboring town

20 20 Psychological warfare and fear of attack “We, therefore, looked for a means that would not oblige us to use force to drive out the tens of thousands of hostile Arabs left in the Galilee and who, in the event of an invasion, could strike at us from behind. We tried to utilize a stratagem that exploited the [Arabs] defeat in Safad and in the area cleared by [Operation] Broom - a stratagem that worked wonderfully. I gathered the Jewish mukhtars,, who had ties with the different Arab villages, and I asked them to whisper in the ears of several Arabs that a giant Jewish reinforcement had reached the Galilee and were about to clean out the villages of the Hula, [and] to advise them, as friends, to flee while they could. And rumor spread throughout the Hula that the time had come to flee. The flight encompassed tens of thousands. The stratagem fully achieved its objective... and we were able to deploy ourselves in face of the [prospective] invaders along the borders, without fear for our rear." Yigal Allon, Book of the Palmah, in Morris, 2004 p

21 1973, רון פרנקל, לשכת העיתונות הממשלתית “[Should the Jews] make an effort to bring the Arabs back to Haifa, or not [?] Meanwhile, so long as it is not decided differently, we have decided on a number of rules, and these include: We won’t go to Acre or Nazareth to bring back the Arabs. But, at the same time, our behavior should be such that if, because of it, they come back – [then] let them come back. We shouldn’t behave badly with the Arabs [who remained] so that others [who fled] won’t return.” Golda Meir, from Protocol of meeting of JAE, 6 May 1948 (In: Morris, 2004). During the war, the question of whether Palestinians should be allowed to return was an open one. Preventing Return

22 1938, רודי ויסנשטיין, ארכיון קק"ל However, as the war progressed, the Israeli side came to adopt a strict policy of preventing return. During the war, the question of whether Palestinians should be allowed to return was an open one. “(1) Destruction of villages as much as possible during military operations. (2) Prevention of any cultivation of land by them… (3) Settlement of Jews in a number of villages and towns so that no ‘vacuum’ is created. (4) Enacting legislation (5) Propaganda” From a memorandum by Yosef Weitz to Ben-Gurion, “Retroactive Transfer, A Scheme for the Solution of the Arab Question in the State of Israel” (June 5, 1948) (in: Morris, 2004, p.313). Preventing Return Text The 1950 Absentee Property Law and 1953 Israel Land Acquisition Law were used to confiscate the homes and lands of Palestinians, including those who had fled their homes but remained in what became the state of Israel.


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