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Abbas’ UN speech contradicts his “refugee” history
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Abbas' UN speech contradicts
his "refugee" history

Abbas to UN:
Arabs of Safed were
"uprooted and thrown into exile" in 1948

Abbas on PA TV:
Arabs of Safed "left" on their own,
"overcome with fear"

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 people (of Safed in 1948) were overcome with fear, and it caused the people to leave the city in a disorderly way."

Resident of refugee camp in West Bank:
"The Jordanian army... told us: 'Leave. In 2 hours we liberate it and then you will return.' We left only with our clothes... why carry anything? We're still waiting for those 2 hours to this day."

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas recently spoke in the UN (Sept. 26, 2013) and claimed:
"I am personally one of the victims of the Nakba (i.e., "the catastrophe," Palestinian term for the establishment of the State of Israel), among the hundreds of thousands of my people uprooted in 1948 from our beautiful world and thrown into exile."
 
However, Palestinian Media Watch documented that earlier this year, when describing why he and other Arabs in 1948 left Abbas' town of birth, Safed, a mixed Jewish Arab town, Abbas did not say that he and other Arabs were "thrown into exile," but explained that they left on their own out of fear. He stated that in 1929, there had been a "most severe" massacre of Jews in the cities of Safed and Hebron, and that Arab residents of Safed feared the Jews would take revenge. Accordingly, Abbas explained, they left Safed on their own, "overcome with this fear," and "it caused them to begin to leave the city in a disorderly manner."

The following is a longer excerpt from Abbas' interview on PA TV in which he describes why Arabs left Safed, a town in Northern Israel, in 1948:

PA Chairman Mahmoud 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."
[Official PA TV, Jan. 1, 2013]

Click to view

Abbas speaks about three Arabs who were executed by the British Mandate courts in 1930: Muhammad Jamjoum, Fuad Hijazi, and Ataa Al-Zir. According to the report by the British Government to the League of Nations, these men "committed particularly brutal murders [of Jews] at Safed and Hebron." They were convicted of murdering Jews and attacking British soldiers in the 1929 Massacres, in which 83 Jews were murdered.

Palestinian Media Watch has documented that Palestinian Arabs have acknowledged that they left Israel on their own during the war for a variety of reasons. Some have blamed local Arab leaders while others blame Arab armies or foreign Arab governments.

One additional recent example is this Palestinian man's statement asserting that the Jordanian Army told them to leave their homes in Israel:

PA TV reporter: "How did you leave [your village] Bir Ma'in? Did you experience the Nakba ("the 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."
[Official PA TV, May 15, 2013]

Click to view

Abbas' statement asserting that Arabs left of their own accord is important. Official Palestinian Authority policy is to deny Arab responsibility for Palestinian refugees and claim that Israel expelled all the Arabs who left Israel. The PA's demand that in a final peace deal, Israel accept all those refugees along with their descendants, remains one of the great impediments to reaching a peace agreement. 

However, as noted, Abbas' statement to the UN about Arabs of Safed being "thrown into exile" contradicts this earlier statement on PA TV.

Click to view PMW website with accounts by Arab residents of refugee camps and others describing that they left Israel during the 1948 war for a variety of reasons, and placing the blame on Arabs.

Excerpt from Abbas' speech at the UN, Sept. 26, 2013:
"I am personally one of the victims of the Nakba (i.e., 'the catastrophe,' Palestinian term for the establishment of the State of Israel), among the hundreds of thousands of my people uprooted in 1948 from our beautiful world and thrown into exile."
[Official PA news agency WAFA, English website, Sept. 26, 2013]

Longer excerpt from refugee's statement:
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.
[Official PA TV, May 15, 2013]