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Historically important
Arab responsibility for refugees
Historically important
Confusion about Israel-Arab affairs is often the result of incomplete or false historical information. This section clarifies some of the pressing questions of Israeli-Arab history by showing actual events, eye witness accounts, and other documentation of historical significance.
Arab responsibility for refugees
In recent years, known Palestinian leaders, writers and refugees themselves are speaking out and candidly blaming the Arab leadership for the creation of the refugee problem. According to these Palestinian accounts the massive departure of Arabs from Israel was willful, the result of orders by the Arab leadership. This contradicts the Palestinian charge that the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who ran in 1948 were expelled by Israel.

In this interview, an elderly Arab resident of a refugee camp, recounts the reason his family left Israel during the war and became refugees:

"This picture was taken a week before we left Ein-Kerem [near Jerusalem] in June 1948, in front of our house. The radio stations of the Arab regimes kept repeating to us: "Get away from the battle lines. It's a matter of ten days or two weeks at the most, and we'll bring you back to Ein-Kerem." And we said to ourselves, "That's a very long time. What is this? Two weeks? That's a lot!" That's what we thought [then]. And now 50 years have gone by." [PA TV (Fatah), July 7, 2009]
Another aspect of Arab refugee history is that the PA intentionally restricts the rights of refugee camp residents, both political and humanitarian rights, in order to prevent their natural absorption into society.

The following are more examples clarifying this important period of history:
Palestinian recalls his father decided family should leave their village in 1948 after 14 were killed in nearby village 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 12, 2014
     “The Information Ministry in the Tubas and Northern Jordan Valley district and the Popular Services Committee in the Al-Far'ah refugee camp dedicated the 31st episode of the series, ‘Memory Never Rusts’ to the history of the destroyed village of Qaqun. Abd Al-Razeq Hussein Kawzah, who is in his 80’s, recounted the details of his birthplace... He [Kawzah] continued: “In June 1948, I was herding sheep in a sorghum field, and saw smoke [rising from] near our house. When I came back home, my father told me that the Haganah (i.e., Jewish defense forces in the pre-state period had fired two shells at a village near our home, one of which killed 14 [people] and wounded 26. Soon afterwards, my father decided to leave… We left in the afternoon, and went to my aunt Amina’s in the village of Atil, where we saw people walking towards Tulkarem and [the suburb of] Shwaika. We took nothing but our blankets and bedding, but my father insisted on taking a flock of sheep.”
Jews from Baghdad “were expelled to ‎Palestine” by Iraqi PM 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 20, 2014
In addition to Arab leaders' responsibility ‎for hundreds of thousands of Arabs leaving ‎Israel after Israel's creation, Arab leaders ‎also expelled hundreds of thousands of ‎Jews from their homes in Arab countries. ‎The following excerpt from the PA daily ‎recounts the expulsion of Jews from Iraq.‎
     ‎“Not far from the [Baghdad Medical City] ‎morgue lies the ‘Al-Bataween’ ‎neighborhood, parallel to Al-Saadoun ‎Street, which was built at the beginning of ‎the last century and has become one of ‎the finest neighborhoods in the city ‎center. Most of its residents had been ‎Jews, before they were expelled to ‎Palestine at the time of [Iraqi Prime ‎Minister] Nuri Al-Said, after which it ‎acquired a Christian majority.”‎
PLO official asks Jordan and Lebanon to accept refugees on a "temporary" basis, even though the "PLO strongly opposes settling the refugees in any Arab or foreign country" 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 23, 2014
     “PLO Executive Committee member Zakariya Al-Agha called on Jordan and Lebanon to reevaluate their decision to bar Palestinian refugees uprooted from Syria from entering [their countries], and to allow them to enter their territories (i.e., Jordan and Lebanon’s) in order to ease their suffering. He emphasized the temporary nature of the Palestinian presence on their lands as guests until they return to their homes [in Israel]… He emphasized that the PLO strongly opposes settling the refugees in any Arab or foreign country. In addition, he said that Jordan would not be an alternative homeland for the Palestinians, and that the compass of the Palestinian refugees points only toward the return to Palestine – to their lands and homes from which they were expelled in 1948 – in accordance with [UN] resolution 194.”
Abbas reminisces about leaving land in 1948 before armies arrived 
Source: Facebook page of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, May 14, 2014
A video of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ reminiscing about 1948.
[Video clips of Abbas talking, interspersed with historic footage from 1948]

PA President Mahmoud Abbas: “During the last days, we began to feel the war approaching. The [prevailing] idea was that until the Arab armies arrived, the people would protect the land to the best of its ability, and the women and children would leave. To be honest, we were afraid. My family decided – I was the oldest of those who left with my brother’s wife and his two children – that they would move us. Where could we go? I remember [asking myself,] ‘Ok, how will I leave? What will I leave with?’ For example, I had two pairs of shoes, a new pair and an old pair. I said [to myself], ‘I’ll leave with the old pair, and leave the new pair for when we come back.’ Then, I remember looking at the city from outside, as if with a parting look.
I looked, and it truly was a look of sadness: Would I see this town again or would I never see it again? We left hoping we would return. They took us east, east of Safed, to the Jordan River. We wanted to cross the Jordan River alone, and head to Syria.”
Abbas oppose settling Palestinians in Lebanon as they will “return to their lands” (i.e., Israel) 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 4, 2013
     “President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday [July 3, 2013] that the Palestinian refugees are guests in Lebanon and [that they] will not interfere in its internal affairs.
In a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart [President of the Republic of Lebanon] Michel Suleiman, the President [Abbas] stated that the Palestinian presence in Lebanon is temporary, until they return to their lands and that there is no one among us who believes in settling [the refugees in Lebanon.]”
Palestinian refugee: Jordanian army told us to leave in 1948 War 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, May 15, 2013
PA TV reporter: "How did you leave [your village] Bir Ma'in? Did you experience the Nakba ("catastrophe," i.e., PA term for Israel's establishment)?
Resident of Qalandiya refugee camp in the West Bank: "Yes, I left when I was 20 years old. We left, I mean, the one who made us leave was the Jordanian army because there were going to be battles and we would be defeated. They told us: 'Leave. In 2 hours we liberate it and then you will return.' We left only with our clothes, we didn’t take anything because we were supposed to return in 2 hours. Why carry anything? We’re still waiting for those 2 hours to this day."
Click to view video
Click to view bulletin
Refugee rejected Israeli offer in 1948 War to co-exist in peace 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, May 15, 2013
Refugee Abu Amara: "The truth is that the Jews brought a mediator to us, a person we knew and who knew us. They gave us choices. The first choice was that you hand over your weapons and stay on your land and live the way you live. The second choice was that you leave if you don't want to hand over [your weapons]. If you don't want to leave and go away, prepare yourselves for battle. All three were hard."
PA TV reporter: "Especially handing over your weapon at the time."
Refugee: "First of all, for me, handing over my rifle at that time [was] actually like handing over my wife."
PA TV interviewer: “After you left [the ‎village of] Miska ‎, you went to Tira?”‎
Refugee: “We left for Tira, two ‎kilometers away… ‎Later, Tira surrendered in the Rhodes ‎Agreements (i.e., the 1949 Israel–‎Egypt Armistice Agreement). Of course, ‎afterwards the Jews came and we had no ‎choice, we were guests among the people ‎of Tira…‎ My father said: ‘What should we stay here ‎‎[in Tira] for? We have nothing here and ‎we won’t return to our village, so let’s ‎leave for Tulkarem.’ So we asked for ‎permission and left for Tulkarem…‎ Then, the agency [UNRWA] began to ‎establish the [refugee] camp in 1950 and ‎we were among the first to enter the ‎refugee camp.”‎
Click to view video
Abbas: Arabs of Safed "emigrated" on their own in 1948 and became refugees 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Jan. 1, 2013
PA TV hosted PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on its Personal Meeting program. Abbas himself was raised in Safed, and he spoke about the town during the 1948 war. He reported that the Arabs were afraid that the Jews might want to avenge the Arab riots of 1929 and the massacres that took place then. 
     Abbas: "The [Arab] Liberation Army retreated from the city [Safed in 1948], causing the [Arab] people to begin emigrating. In Safed, just like Hebron, people were afraid that the Jews would take revenge for the [Arab] massacre [of Jews] in 1929. The 1929 massacre was most severe in Safed and Hebron (Note: 65 Jews were killed in Hebron, 18 in Safed). Let's mention the 3 men from these cities who were executed (by the British Court, for "brutal murders"): Ataa Al-Zir, [Muhammad] Jamjoum and Fuad Hijazi. Hijazi from Safed and the other two from Hebron. The people (of Safed in 1948) were overcome with fear, and it caused the people to leave the city in a disorderly way."
Click to view video
Click to view bulletin

Note: Muhammad Jamjoum, Fuad Hijazi, and Ataa Al-Zir "committed particularly brutal murders [of Jews] at Safed and Hebron," according to the report by British Government to the League of Nations. They were convicted of attacking British soldiers and murdering Jews in the 1929 Hebron Massacre, in which 65 Jews were murdered. They were executed by the British in 1930.
Refugee on PA TV: We left following leaders' promise absence would be temporary 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Feb. 12, 2010
Sadek Mufid, a resident of the Burj Al-Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon, left Dir Al-Qasi (Acre region) in 1948. He was interviewed on PA TV's weekly program entitled Returning. Each program focuses on a different refugee camp:
     "We headed first from Dir al-Qasi [northern Israel] to Rmaich [Lebanon], considering what they (Arab leaders) said at the time: 'By Allah, in a week or two, you will return to Palestine.' The Arab armies entered Palestine, along with the Arab Liberation Army. We left - we and those who fled with us - and we all headed for Lebanon. Some people came to Rmaich and others came to the villages on the border, such as Ein Ibl and also to Bint Jbeil. People scattered. And we have about 11 or 15 [refugee] camps in Lebanon."
Click to view video
Click to view bulletin
Refugee: Arab regimes told us to leave in 1948 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, July 7, 2009
Arab resident of a refugee camp recounting the reason his family left Israel during the war and became refugees:
     "This picture was taken a week before we left Ein-Kerem [near Jerusalem] in June 1948, in front of our house. The radio stations of the Arab regimes kept repeating to us: "Get away from the battle lines. It's a matter of ten days or two weeks at the most, and we'll bring you back to Ein-Kerem." And we said to ourselves, "That's a very long time. What is this? Two weeks? That's a lot!" That's what we thought [then]. And now 50 years have gone by." Click here to view
Refugees told: Leave so we can destroy Israel 
Source: Al-Ayyam, May 13, 2008
Jawad Al Bashiti, Palestinian journalist in Jordan:
     “The reasons for the Palestinian Catastrophe [establishment of Israel and the refugee problem] are the same reasons that have produced and are still producing our catastrophes today... The first war between Arabs and Israel had started and the "Arab Salvation Army" told the Palestinians: 'We have come to you in order to liquidate the Zionists and their state. Leave your houses and villages, you will return to them in a few days safely. Leave them so we can fulfill our mission (liquidate Israel) in the best way and so you won't be hurt.' It became clear already then, when it was too late, that the support of the Arab states (against Israel) was a big illusion.”
Refugees left homes in 1948 because of Arab promises 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 13, 2006
Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Palestinian Journalist:
     "The leaders and the elites promised us [refugees] at the beginning of the "Catastrophe" in 1948, that the duration of the exile will not be long, and that it will not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees will return to their homes, which most of them did not leave until they put their trust in those Arkuvian* [worthless] promises made by the leaders and the political elites. Afterwards, days passed, months, years and decades, and the promises were lost with the strain of the succession of events.."
[Note: The term "Arkuvian" is after Arkuv - a figure from Arab tradition - who was known for breaking his promises and for his lies.]
Refugee: Arab leaders told us to leave in 1948 
Source: Al-Ayyam, May 16, 2006
Refugee who fled Israel in 1948, Asmaa Jabir Balasimah:
     “We heard sounds of explosions and of gunfire at the beginning of the summer in the year of the "Catastrophe" [1948]. They [Arab leaders] told us: The Jews attacked our region and it is better to evacuate the village and return after the battle is over. And indeed there were among us [who fled Israel] those who left a fire burning under the pot, those who left their flock [of sheep] and those who left their money and gold behind, based on the assumption that we would return after a few hours."
PA denies camp residents housing rights and democracy 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 29, 2004
Refugee camp residents not permitted to integrate into better housing or vote in elections, in order to preserve their “unique status”
     “The Supreme National Committee for the Protection of the Right of Return, announced yesterday that it opposes the participation of the refugee camps in the local elections that are expected to take place in the Palestinian territories. The committee justified its objection as protecting the unique status of the refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank, considering them testimony to the crime that the occupation state made against our nation for 56 years. The committee warned of the dangers of integrating the refugee camps into the urban housing units.”
Palestinian writer blames Arab leaders for refugees 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Mar. 19, 2001
Palestinian Authority columnist:
     "I have received a[n imaginary] letter from a Palestinian prisoner in Acre [Israeli] prison, to the Arab summit leaders:
'To the [Arab] Kings and Presidents: Poverty is killing us, the symptoms are exhausting us and the souls are leaving our body, yet you are still searching for the way to provide aid, like one who is looking for a needle in a haystack or like the armies of your predecessors in the year of 1948, who forced us to leave [Israel], on the pretext of clearing the battlefields of civilians.'"
Israeli Arab MP curses leaders who told Arabs to leave Israel 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Apr. 30, 1999
PA TV: Question by refugee’s son to Arab Muslim leader, Ibrahim Sarsur: 
Son of refugee: "Mr. Ibrahim [Sarsur]: I address you as a Muslim. My father and grandfather told me that during the "Catastrophe" [in 1948], our District Officer issued an order that whoever stays in Palestine and in Majdel [southern Israel] is a traitor, he is a traitor."
Ibrahim Sarsur, then Head of Islamic Movement in Israel, now MP:
     "The one who gave the order forbidding them to stay there bears guilt for this, in this life and the Afterlife throughout history until Resurrection Day." Click here to view

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