Israel is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its establishment as an independent nation. There are parades, speeches and parties as Israeli citizens continue marvel the nation has remained intact despite wars and conflicts. On the same day an alternative “celebration” was being held by Palestinians who regard the birth of Israel as a sad event in their lives. One Palestinian march began just outside Nazareth, cose to the Israeli town of Tziponi, and a short walk from the site where the village of Safuriyya once lay. The annual march was organized by the Associaiton for the Defense of the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons in Israel(ADRID).
An article in the New Statesman describes events in 1948 when Arab villagers were “hit by aerial bombardment and artillery fire,” many fled and eventually returned only to be forced out by Israeli authorities who were concerned about their loyalty. There is no question many Arab villagers were displaced and their land used to build settlements for Jewish refugees. Unfortunately, in the New Statesman story, there is not a single word about the fact Israel was attacked by several Arab nations who had more troops, more tanks, more planes, and certainly more artillery. Does that massive attack excuse mistreatment of Arab citizens? No, but it helps explain behavior. The world of 2008 sees a powerful, well trained Israeli army, but forgets, in 1948, few believed Jews could survive Arab nations which attacked their land.
War produces inequity, it leads to horrible crimes committed against the innocent. It is rare for newspapers like the New Statesman to ever report about Arab horrors committed against Jews during the difficult days of 1948 when survival was paramount. Does one horror sanction a responsive horror? Of course not. There is no way to identify which side began to resort to brutal tactics. The New Statesman article presented one side in the conflict. Its story would have been more powerful and meaningful had it also examined the complexity of the time when refugees fled.
Isn’t an issue of 2008 the process by which rights of Palestinians can be recognized today? It might begin by having the West Bank evacuated and its housing offered to Palestinian refugees. It might also begin by Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Iraq offering compensation to Jews forced to flee from those nations. The refugee issue is a bit more complex than how the New Statesman presents it in 2008.