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The Arab refugee problem, how it can be solved; proposals submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations
Section 2 Chapter I
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FLIGHT OF ARABS FROM PALESTINE?
The flight of the Arabs from Palestine was a concomitant of the Arab war on the U. N. partition resolution of November 29, 1947-a war conducted between December 1947 and May 1948 by so-called "irregulars"from the Arab states, and after May 14, 1948, by the official armies of the Arab states.
The record shows that it was an evacuation admittedly planned by the Arab war leaders and the Arab Higher Committee for the three-fold purpose of :
1. Clearing the roads of the villages for an advance of the Arab regular armies.
2. Demonstrating the inability of Jews and Arabs to live side by side.
3. Disrupting services following the end of the mandate.
The flight took place in five stages, the first two between December1947 and April 1948. The three which followed in May, October and December 1948 followed Arab defeats on the military fronts.
Under the partition resolution of November 29, 1947, the State of Israel would have had an Arab minority of 397,000, or 42 per cent of its then population. Today there are 175,000 Arabs in Israel in a total population of 1,550,000.
Jews Try to Stop Flight of Arabs
A number of attempts to halt the flight of Arabs were made, first by the Haganah, and later by the Provisional Government of Israel.
In December 1947, the Haganah appealed to the Arabs to live in peace with the Jews. In leaflets distributed in all Arab villages they urged the Arabs to choose peace and constructive work "so that we shall not have to harm you and your property in the course of our self-defense.You will understand that if attacks are made from these bases we shall have no alternative but to shoot back. We hope that you will heed this appeal and help bring peace back to the country for the good of the inhabitants."
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On May 14, 1948, the Provisional Government of Israel, in its Proclamation of Independence, appealed to the Arab population:
"In the midst of wanton aggression we call upon the inhabitants of The state of Israel to return to the ways of peace and to play their part in the development of the state with full and equal citizenship and due responsibility in all its bodies and institutions, provisional or permanent."
None of the appeals was heeded.
Stages of Evacuation
Immediately after the U. N, resolution was adopted on November 29,1947, the wealthier Arab families deserted Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa for neighboring Arab states. Some 30,000 persons left during this period, many taking all their movable possessions with them.
The second exodus took place after the harvesting of the citrus crop in March and April, 1948, from the plains of Sharon, following broadcast instructions of the Mufti. Tens of thousands of Arabs were involved in this evacuation. Many of them even sold their poultry and flocks to their Jewish neighbors.
On April 18, 6,000 Arabs suddenly left Tiberias, without being involved in any military operations.
On April 22, 1948, when 200 Jewish soldiers took Haifa, 60,000 Arabs left the city.
In the four-day period of April 25 to April 29, 1948, between 65,000 and 70,000 Arabs left Jaffa.
When on May 14, 1948, Israel proclaimed its existence, the Arab states fulfilled their promise, announced to the Security Council of the United Nations, and began a full-scale invasion of Palestine with their regular armies.
The Israelis withstood the invaders and by June 11, 1948, had occupied practically all the villages within the boundaries allotted by the U.N. to the Jewish state.
As a result of the truce arranged by the U. N., there was a lull from June 11, until early in July. Fighting resumed on July 9. Before the second truce was imposed the Israel army had captured 494 additional square miles, including the Arab towns of Lydda, Ramleh and Nazareth.Thirteen Arab towns and townlets, and 112 villages were thus occupied by the Israelis. It was during this period that the largest numbers of Arabs left Palestine.
The second truce put an end both to fighting and to the Arab flight. But
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in October 1948, fighting between the armies of the Arab states and Israel renewed The Israelis occupied Beersheba; they routed the Arab"Liberation Army" and gained control of Galilee.
Simultaneously, the area south of Jerusalem was deserted in a mass exodus to Transjordan.
In December, the Negev campaign, where the Arabs were also defeated,was followed by a flight of Arabs from the areas then held by Transjordan.
French, British and Arab Sources Confirm Arabs Were Not Driven Out
French, British and Arab sources alike confirm that the Arabs were not driven out of Palestine by the Jews. Rather, these sources establish that the fights were organized and continued at the behest of Arab leaders.
On April 7, 1949, the French representative on the U. N. Conciliation Commission told the Israel government that it would be wrong even by accounts of the refugees themselves to describe them as having been deliberately "driven out," and correct to describe them as having fled in the atmosphere of fear, insecurity and danger inseparable from war.
Discussing the Arab mass evacuation of Haifa, Sir Alexander Cadogan,British representative, on April 23, 1948, told the Security Council of the United Nations:
"During the past week there has been a tendency for Arabs to infiltrate into Haifa, and there were continuous Arab attacks on Jews during the four days preceding the Haganah offensive. It thus appears that the Arabs are those responsible for the latest developments in Haifa:'"
On October 2, 1948, an eye-witness of what happened in Haifa wrote in the London Economist:
". . . During the subsequent days the Israeli authorities who were now in complete control of Haifa urged all Arabs to remain . . . and guaranteed them protection and security. So far as I know, most of the British civilian residents whose advice was asked by Arab friends told the latter they would be wise to stay. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that by far the most potent of these factors were the announcements made over the sir by the Arab Higher Committee urging all Arabs in Haifa to quit.The reason given was that upon the final withdrawal of the British the combined armies of the Arab states would invade Palestine and drive the Jews into
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the sea. It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades."
Arabs Admit Responsibility for the Flight
On April 20, 1948, Jamal Husseini, Vice Chairman of the Arab Higher Committee, told the U. N. Security Council that "the Arabs would not submit to a truce but prefer to leave their homes."
On August 12, 1948, Glubb Pasha, the British commander of the Transjordan Arab Legion, in an article in The London Daily Mail, declared: "The Arab civil population panicked and fled ignominiously."
On September 6, 1948, Emile Ghory, Secretary of the Arab Higher Committee and one of its representatives before the U. N., told the Beirut Telegraph:
"At the time of the first truce the number of Arab refugees was200,000. By the time the second truce began this number had risen to 300,000. It is impossible to foretell how many more refugees there will be if hostilities are renewed and there is a third truce. I do not want to impugn any one but only to help the refugees. The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence 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."
Not All Arab Leaders for Flight
Not all Arab opinion supported the policy of the Arab High Command in ordering the flight.
On March 30, 1948, the Palestine Arab paper, As Sariah, declared:
"The inhabitants of the large village of Sheikh Mums and of several other Arab villages in the neighborhood of Tel Aviv have brought a terrible disgrace upon all of us by quitting their villages bag and baggage. We cannot help comparing this disgraceful exodus with the firm stand of the Haganah in all localities situated in Arab territory or bordering on it. But what is the use of making comparisons; everyone knows that the Haganah gladly enters the battle while we always flee from it."
On April 3, 1948, the Near East Arabic Radio said:
"It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees to flee from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem, and that certain leaders have tried to make political capital out of their
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miserable situation. The Arab states must not allow the future of the refugees to be sacrificed to make political capital out of their fate."
On June 30, 1948, Es Shaab, a Palestine Arab newspaper, called the deserters Fifth Columnists, declaring editorially:
"The first group of our Fifth Columnists are those who abandon their houses and business premises and go to live elsewhere. Many of these have lived in great comfort and luxury. At the first sign of trouble they take to their heels in order to escape sharing the burden of the struggle her directly or indirectly. The neighboring countries have rendered us a great disservice by admitting these fugitives from the battlefield. They are the worst type of our Fifth Column and deserve to be punished with the utmost severity."
On July 9, 1948, King Farouk, in a broadcast to the Arab world, expressed his dissatisfaction with the Palestine Arabs who ran away leaving their houses and lands and providing an opportunity for large Jewish immigration and putting Palestine, as he said, in danger of a Jewish majority.
On August 3, 1948, a Syrian radio broadcast from Damascus declared that the Arabs of Palestine:
". . . were responsible for the heavy losses of the armies in Palestine. They ran away in the face of a threat by a small minority and spent more time talking over their fears than fighting for their country:'
On August 13, 1948, the Lebanese newspaper, Beirut, quoted a memorandum of the Arab Higher Committee to Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, as follows:
"From the areas not dominated by the Jews, a large number of the population fled because they had no confidence in the military defense measures."
On August 16, 1948, the Lebanese paper, Saudi el-Jenub, quoted Monsignor George Hakim Greek Catholic Bishop of Haifa and Galilee, as stating that Arab statesmen had assured the refugees that their armies would annihilate the "Zionist gangs"in a short while and there was no cause to fear permanent exile.
On September 27, 1948, the Near East Arabic Radio attacked the Arab Higher Committee's record, declaring:
"It is besmirched by the flight of its leaders and their encouragement
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of the Arabs to leave their homes even though no previous arrangement had been made for their housing and resettlement."
On May 15, 1949, the Near East Arabic Radio broadcast the following statement :
"The Arab leaders and the Arab press and radio announced on May 15(1948) that the Jews were scared to death and would soon be thrown into the sea by the advancing Arab armies; but it was not long before opinions had to be changed as the Jews scored nothing but victories and the Arabs suffered nothing but defeats."
Recently, on June 8, 1951, the responsibility of Arab leadership for the Arab mass flight from Palestine was charged in an article in Al-Hoda, the Lebanese daily newspaper published in the United States.Written by the acting editor of the publication, Habib Issa, it declared:
"As soon as the British had publicly announced the time for their relinquishment of the mandate and their withdrawal from Palestine, the Arab League began holding meetings and calling conferences, and its general secretary, Abdul-Rahman Azzam Pasha, published numerous reports and declarations in which he assured the Arab peoples and all others that the occupation of Palestine and of Tel-Aviv (the virtual Jewish capital ) would be as simple as a military promenade for the Arab armies. Azzam Pasha's statements pointed out that armies were already on the frontiers and that all the millions that the Jews had spent on land and on economic development would surely be easy booty for the Arabs, since it would be a simple matter to throw the Jews to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea."
"As the time for the British withdrawal grew nearer, the zeal of the Arab League was redoubled. Meetings and conferences took place almost daily and burning calls and appeals were issued. Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine, urging them to leave their land, homes and property and to stay temporarily in neighboring, brotherly states,lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down.
"The Palestinian Arabs had no choice but to obey the `advice' of the League and to believe what Azzam Pasha and other responsible men in the League told them-that their withdrawal from their lands and their country was only temporary and would end in a few days with the successful termination of the Arab `punishment' action against Israel.
"But victory was not to be the result of this `punishment' action.Victory is not produced by speeches, reports, and declarations. Victory
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is produced by cannons, airplanes,and tanks. The threats of the Arab League evaporated in the face of the preparedness, good command and superior generalship of the Zionist `gangs: We saw `the military promenade' become a crushing catastrophe that shattered the prestige of the League and its member states and exposed their inner weakness and deterioration.
"Azzam Pasha and the other responsible Arab leaders now try to excuse the defeat of the Arabs on the ground that their forces were inadequately armed, organized and trained. In the light of this, we should like to ask Aaam Pasha and his colleagues a simple question: `If the Arab armies lacked sufficient arms, organization and training, why did you throw them into a savage war against an enemy who had everything that modern wars require--equipment, good training, unity of command, expert officers who knew the arts of war and who had participated in two World Wars? And why did you jeopardize the lives of a million Palestine Arabs and make them wander from their homes? Since,as you say, the Arab armies were not adequately prepared for victory, did not the flight of the Arabs, urged by you, amount to the facilitation of Zionist victory?"
On August 19, 1951, the Lebanese newspaper, Kul-Shay, placed ther esponsibility for the flight of the Arab refugees on the Arab states and scored neglect of the problem, declaring:
"Who brought the Palestinians to Lebanon as refugees, suffering now from the malign attitude of newspapers and communal leaders, who have neither honour nor conscience? Who brought them over in dire straits and penniless, after they lost their honour? The Arab States, and Lebanon amongst them, did it!
"Does not Lebanon share in the common responsibility for their fate?But when she is asked to shoulder the burden of the outcome of her participation in a political and military misadventure, some newspapers and certain groups hasten to foretell calamities and disasters.
"You are welcoming thousands of Kurd sand Assyrians as co-religionists and citizens; however you deny the right of those, in the expulsion,humiliation and poverty of whom you had a hand, to take refuge with you and to give you their energy, love, power and property."
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citation Harvard Style: ANDERSON, D. (1951). The Arab refugee problem: how it can be solved : proposals submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations. [U.S.A.], [s.n.]. [print]