These essayists (Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, Rashid Khalidi and Edward Said and others), consider all previous historical accounts "Zionist propaganda," as Yehoshua Porath observes in his important summer, 2002 review in Azure. Actually, this book is propaganda, not the reverse. These essays weakly attempt to recast Israel's 1947 and 1948 fight for survival --- and fail.
There is nothing new to the idea that Israel instigated the flight of Arabs from Israel in 1947 and 1948, but the falsity of these accusations has been proved time and again by extensive historical research since 1948. Israel did not deliberately expel Arabs.
Taken on together, or case by case, such claims are easily disproved. Inhabitants of Saffuriya, for example, accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing. But in the 1930s, the village hosted anti-Jewish radicals and in 1948 it was headquarters for Arab Liberation Army leader Fawzi al-Qawuqji, who ignored the June 11, 1948 U.N. truce. Thus inhabitants fled en masse, expecting "revenge for their numerous onslaughts upon Jews," --- before the IDF captured the village, according to historical documents, military orders, oral testimonies and diaries cited in Yoav Gelber's Palestine 1948 (p. 165).
These authors also accuse Israel by selectively citing certain items but neglecting critical contextual factors that disprove their allegations.
Contrary to this book's contention, "civil war in Palestine" did not "break out" on Nov. 30, 1947. The "outbreak" wasn't spontaneous, but a well organized series of Arab riots and attacks targeting Jewish communities and people after Arab commanders, leaders and neighboring nations rejected the U. N. Partition Plan--which Israel had just accepted.
These authors, like many other anti-Israel dogmatists, harp on 100 Arabs killed at Deir Yassin --- meanwhile neglecting that the village was actually militant stronghold central to Arab attacks on the roads to Jerusalem, intended to cut off the city's access to Jews. In other words, the so-called Deir Yassin massacre occurred in a bona fide battle zone, where Iraqi combatants had encamped and joined local aggressors.
The fact is, Arab men dressed in women's clothes and opened fire. They weren't innocent civilians at all. Likewise, Arabs at a Haifa refinery murdered 50 Jewish civilian co-workers on Dec. 30, 1947 and Arabs slaughtered 80 civilian Jewish medical workers and professors on Apr. 13, 1948. The sole motivation were the victims' Jewish faith.
For his part, Rashid Khalidi focuses on 1948 Palestinian Arab failures --- criticizing Jerusalem Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini. Yet he ignores Haj Amin's alliance with Hitler, his wartime refuge in Berlin, his anti-Jewish Berlin radio broadcasts, and his personal request that Hitler refuse to spare 400,000 Hungarian Jews in exchange for military supplies. Haj Amin also elicited a Nazi promise to exterminate Israel's Jews. Nor does Khalidi mention the murders by Palestinian Arabs of 129 of the 131 Jewish prisoners who surrendered at Etzion Bloc.
Avi Shlaim claims that Jewish soldiers vastly outnumbered 25,000 Arab soldiers. But as Porath notes, Israel's Jewish people totaled no more than 750,000, could find no more fighters, and exhausted their resources mounting their self-defense, while seven Arab nations opposing them could easily have drafted far more soldiers from their combined populations of more than 50 million.
Finally, comes the late Edward Said, writing on his family's "flight" from Jerusalem's Talbieh neighborhood. The details confirm --- like many 1948, 1949 and 1950 Arab newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, U.N. and Arab League statements and personal Arab accounts --- that Arab leaders' urgent calls for Palestinian flight, resulted in massive, voluntary urban Palestinian departures. Said claims to have been forced to leave. His own details contradict him.
Despite these essayists claims, 1947 and 1948 Arab attacks on Jews were very significant, and existential threats, just like frequent publicly announced plans to destroy Israel at its birth.
--Alyssa A. Lappen