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December 15, 2010
NY Times' historical revisionism of Israel's War of Independence
In its Dec. 14 editon, the New York Times ran a feature article by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner about Ein Hod, an artists' colony that susatained major damage during the recent blaze across the Carmel Mountain range("Arabs And Israelis, United by Flames" page A5)
Kershner's ostensible thesis is the close cooperation between Jews and Arabs in fighting the blaze and mitigating damage in its aftermath, focusing on Jewish residents in Eid Hod and Arab residents in the nearby village of Ayn Hawd.
But that's just a jumping-off point for Kershner's deeper objective -- rewriting the history of Israel's War of Independence or, more precisely, erasing from the pages of history what really brought the war about.
Arab families in Ayn Hawd, she writes, were "driven from Ein Hod during the Arab-Isreli War of 1948, when Israel was established." Enlarging the picture, she adds that "about 700,000 Arabs fled, or were expelled, from their homes during the war and became refugees, while 150,000 stayed behind." So, according to Kershner's piece, the only clue to what triggered this war points to the establishment of Israel.
Moving the historical clock forward to the present, Kershner reports that "Israeli Jews describe the houses of Ein Hod as 'abandoned' Arab properties. But for Arabs,, 1948 was the 'naqba, Arabic for 'catastrophe,' and they consider the houses stolen."
What are clearly missing from her historical narrative are two things that put a totally different, and more accurate, light on today's Ein Hod -- the 1947 UN partition resolution to divide Palestine into two two states, one Jewish and one Arab, along with the Arab world's fierce rejection of the UN partition resolution, followed by a war of aggression against the nascent Jewish state by half a dozen Arab armies.
Arab families would still live in Ein Hod today were it not for the Arabs' initiation of war to destroy Israel in 1948. Had the Arabs accepted partition, there wouldn't be a single Palestinian refugee anywhere in the Middle East today.
But once the Arabs initiated war, all bets were off as Israel's primary objective -- sheer survival against aggression -- took over. As Kershner herself admits, Arab villages on the Carmel were overrun by Israeli forces "to prevent Arabs militias from sniping at traffic on the Tel Aviv-Haifa road." And as in other wars, when the fighting ends, maps, boundaries and demographics tend to change.
For example, would Kershner and the Times also weep for Germans displaced from their homes in German Danzig, now a part of Poland under its new name of Gdansk? And if the Times were to do such a piece, would it omit the incontrovertible historical fact that it was Germany that declared war on Poland, triggering World War II and the chain of events that led Danzig to morph into Gdansk, with lots of blood spilled by both sides?
Or, for that matter,would the Times and Kershner come up with a piece on America's entry into World War II and the ensuring events in the Pacific Theater without mentioning Pearl Harbor?
What I do know is that historical relativism that assigns equal weight to revisionist, self-serving narratives ends up presenting a biased view of actual events. This also goes for Israel's 1948-49 War of Independence. Swallowing the Palestinians' "naqba" narrative, while erasing the hard fact that this was a self-inflicted Arab catastrophe initiated by the Arab world in defiance of the UN partition resolution, ends up as a gross distortion of history, abetted by biased journalism.