WaPo Gives Readers False History of 1948

Leo Rennert
If you’re going to write an article about the 1948 phase of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there are several obvious points that must be included for a true rendering of history.

It was in 1948 that Israel declared independence and celebrated the rebirth of Jewish nationhood. It was in 1948 that Palestinians bolstered by the might of six Arab armies took up weapons to destroy the nascent Jewish state. It was in 1948-49 that Israel repelled Arab aggression with a successful defensive war. It was in 1948 that Arab defeat in this war resulted in displacement of some 700,000 Palestinians. And it was in 1948 and subsequent years that a greater number of persecuted Jews – more than 800,000 – were forced to flee from Arab countries where they had lived for many centuries.

Any reputable history of 1948 must, at a minimum, address these key events. But unfortunately, you’d be hard put to find them in the Washington Post in a puerile and biased article by correspondents William Booth and Ruth Eglash that sets a new low for sloppy, selective journalism (“App records Palestinian ‘catastrophe’” May 15, page A8)

The main theme of the article revolves around the “Naqba” – the Palestinian term for the “catastrophe” that is said to have forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee from homes and villages in the 1948 Arab war. Except that the Booth-Eglash dispatch is conspicuously lacking an essential aspect of the Naqba – that contrary to the impression left by the Post, this catastrophe was self-made. The Naqba was spawned by Arab rejection of edicts of the League of Nations and the United Nations for a two-state solution. Israel accepted dividing British mandatory Palestine. The Arabs rejected it and instead went to war to destroy Israel. Ergo, they only have themselves to blame.

In 1948 – on May 14 – when David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel’s independence and nationhood, he declared: “We appeal to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.” And he added: “We extend our hand to all neighboring states in an offer of peace and good neighborliness.”

Had his offer been accepted, there would be no need for commemorations of the Naqba.

Booth and Eglash instead dwell at length about an app developed by a pro-Palestinian group that shows a map covered with pins representing depopulated Palestinian villages, plus identification of Israeli military units that occupied these villages. “Users of iNaqba can log on and add photographs and video,” Booth and Eglash report.  “There are plans to provide detailed text to the app.”

In other words, here are a couple of Washington Post correspondents playing the Palestinian victimhood game, while totally ignoring the actual roots and causes of the Naqba.

Nor is this by any means their sole affront to reputable history.

Nowhere in the article is there the slightest mention that during this same historical time, an even greater number of Jews were persecuted, robbed of personal and communal assets, and forced into exile from Arab countries they had called home since before the birth of Islam.

As a result, Booth and Eglash fail to point out that while Israel absorbed and integrated many of these persecuted Jews, Arab regimes kept displaced Palestinians in refugee camps and still use them as diplomatic and propaganda pawns against Israel.

Booth and Eglash give cursory mention to competing Israeli and Palestinian “narratives” about 1948. But there’s far more to the story – not to be found in “narratives” and assorted myths, but in solid historical facts that unfortunately go missing in the Washington Post.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

If you’re going to write an article about the 1948 phase of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there are several obvious points that must be included for a true rendering of history.

It was in 1948 that Israel declared independence and celebrated the rebirth of Jewish nationhood. It was in 1948 that Palestinians bolstered by the might of six Arab armies took up weapons to destroy the nascent Jewish state. It was in 1948-49 that Israel repelled Arab aggression with a successful defensive war. It was in 1948 that Arab defeat in this war resulted in displacement of some 700,000 Palestinians. And it was in 1948 and subsequent years that a greater number of persecuted Jews – more than 800,000 – were forced to flee from Arab countries where they had lived for many centuries.

Any reputable history of 1948 must, at a minimum, address these key events. But unfortunately, you’d be hard put to find them in the Washington Post in a puerile and biased article by correspondents William Booth and Ruth Eglash that sets a new low for sloppy, selective journalism (“App records Palestinian ‘catastrophe’” May 15, page A8)

The main theme of the article revolves around the “Naqba” – the Palestinian term for the “catastrophe” that is said to have forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee from homes and villages in the 1948 Arab war. Except that the Booth-Eglash dispatch is conspicuously lacking an essential aspect of the Naqba – that contrary to the impression left by the Post, this catastrophe was self-made. The Naqba was spawned by Arab rejection of edicts of the League of Nations and the United Nations for a two-state solution. Israel accepted dividing British mandatory Palestine. The Arabs rejected it and instead went to war to destroy Israel. Ergo, they only have themselves to blame.

In 1948 – on May 14 – when David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel’s independence and nationhood, he declared: “We appeal to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.” And he added: “We extend our hand to all neighboring states in an offer of peace and good neighborliness.”

Had his offer been accepted, there would be no need for commemorations of the Naqba.

Booth and Eglash instead dwell at length about an app developed by a pro-Palestinian group that shows a map covered with pins representing depopulated Palestinian villages, plus identification of Israeli military units that occupied these villages. “Users of iNaqba can log on and add photographs and video,” Booth and Eglash report.  “There are plans to provide detailed text to the app.”

In other words, here are a couple of Washington Post correspondents playing the Palestinian victimhood game, while totally ignoring the actual roots and causes of the Naqba.

Nor is this by any means their sole affront to reputable history.

Nowhere in the article is there the slightest mention that during this same historical time, an even greater number of Jews were persecuted, robbed of personal and communal assets, and forced into exile from Arab countries they had called home since before the birth of Islam.

As a result, Booth and Eglash fail to point out that while Israel absorbed and integrated many of these persecuted Jews, Arab regimes kept displaced Palestinians in refugee camps and still use them as diplomatic and propaganda pawns against Israel.

Booth and Eglash give cursory mention to competing Israeli and Palestinian “narratives” about 1948. But there’s far more to the story – not to be found in “narratives” and assorted myths, but in solid historical facts that unfortunately go missing in the Washington Post.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers