THE 1948 PALESTINIAN REFUGEES
1. Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the Palestinian leader in 1948, drafted a proposal during WW2 (1940), requesting that Germany and Italy acknowledge the Arab right "to settle the question of the Jewish elements in Palestine, and other Arab countries, in accordance with national and racial interests of the Arabs, and along lines, similar to those used to solve the Jewish question in Germany and Italy." (Fritz Grobba, Peoples and Powers in the East, pp. 194-7, 207-8, Berlin, 1967; Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial, p.37, Harper, 1988).
2. Jamal Al-Husseini, actin Chmn of the (Palestinian) Arab Higher Committee threatened on Nov. 24, 1947 that "Palestine shall be consumed with fire and blood," if the Jews get any part of it. The Nov. 29, 1947 partition Plan was violently rejected by the Palestinians and the Arabs as they did with the partition proposals of 1921 and 1937. Then ensuing war, launched by Arabs and Palestinians, resulted in 630,000 Palestinian, and 820,000 Jewish, refugees.
3. Most 1948 Palestinian refugees were from the coastal plane and the (Jezrael, Beit She'an and Hula) valleys of Israel, as it was (in smaller numbers) during previous periods of inter-Arab economic, social and military volatility (40,000 left in 1936-39). Unlike most Galilee Arabs, their roots were tenuous, being descendants of Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese and Sudanese migrants, who arrived to the area during 1830-1944 (Please see Cloakroom #98: http://www.acpr.org.il). Many felt more secure in their countries of origin. Most Palestinian political and financial leaders left, accelerating the refugee phenomenon.
4. Jordanian daily, Filastin (Feb. 19, 1949): "The Arab States...encouraged the Palestinians to leave their homes, temporarily, not interfering with the invading Arab armies." Khaled al-Azam, Syrian Prime Minister in 1949 (memoirs, 1973): "We brought destruction upon the refugees, by calling on them to leave their homes." London Economist (Oct. 2, 1948): "The most potent of the factors [in the flight] were announcements made by the Palestinian-Arab Higher Committee, urging all Haifa Arabs to quit, intimating that those remaining would be regarded as renegades." Arab over-confidence prior to the war (600,000 Jews vs. 27, 000,000 Arabs) was crashed by defeat, intensifying the flight of Arabs.
5. Almost 200,000 refugees left BEFORE the large scale war erupted in May 1948, while the Arabs had the upper hand! Arabs left Haifa and Jaffa, while British troops were still there, pleading with them to stay.
6. The British Mandate ordered Arabs and Jews to evacuate towns, where they were a minority. Arabs left (e.g. Tiberias), with encouragement of Arab countries, while Jews remained (e.g. Safed and its Arabs of Algerian origin). Arab evacuation - and the fall of Abd al-Kader al-Husseini in the Castel battle - was highlighted by Arab media, triggering a Domino Effect of further evacuations.
7. "Arab leaders were responsible for the [Arab] flight, disseminating exaggerated rumors of Jewish atrocities, in order to incite the Arabs, thus instilling fear in the hearts of the Palestinians." (Jordanian daily, al-Urdun, April 9, 1953). Ismayil Safwat, Commander of Palestinian Operations (March, 1948): "The Jews haven't attacked any Arab village, unless attacked first."
Data supplied by Dr. Yuval Arnon-Ohana, a top expert on the Palestinian issue (HaUmma Quarterly #141 and 142, autumn and winter 2000).