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November 03, 2011

Writer Amos Oz is Non-Wizard at NPR's On Point

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Amos Oz, Israeli novelist and left-leaning peace activist, was Tom Ashbrook’s Oct. 31 On Point guest discussing Israel

The syndicated National Public Radio (NPR) program On Point has broadcast numerous unbalanced talk shows dealing with the Middle East (examples — here, here, here, here, here and here). Such was the case in the Oct. 31, 2011 broadcast in which host Tom Ashbrook's guest was Israeli writer Amos Oz, who is touring the United States promoting his new book, Scenes From Village Life.

Near the end of the program, during the call-in segment, listeners heard caller "Daniel’s" anti-Israel polemic:

I believe the mass expulsion of eighty percent of the Palestinian population in 1947, the destruction of 450 villages in Palestinian towns, the continued refusal to come to terms with that legacy is the guilt that is being (indistinct) in that digging [alluding to a metaphor in Oz’s new book] down below the structure of Israel.

Mr. Oz responded:

Well, I don’t believe in original sin. I think in 1947, hundreds of thousands of Arabs were uprooted by the Israelis because there was a massive attack from the Arab world and from the Palestinians aiming at murdering Israel the day it was born. So, if there is an original sin it is divided between the two parties...

While Mr. Oz is correct in characterizing the intent of the Arab world to destroy Israel, he (as well as the caller) is mistaken in asserting that the majority of Arabs who fled in 1947-48 were expelled or “uprooted" by the Israelis.

The comprehensive CAMERA article Palestinian Arab and Jewish Refugees citing authoritative source material, shows that in the wake of Israel's War of Independence in 1948, the overwhelming majority of Palestinian Arab refugees were not expelled by Israeli forces. But a larger number of refugees, Jews who had resided in Arab countries for many generations, were, in fact, forced to flee their native lands.

The caller’s gross distortion, a canard, regarding “The destruction of 450 villages” — which Mr. Oz did not refute — likewise is not supported by the historical record. In most cases, the villages either were abandoned in 1947 and 1948 by Arabs who fled what became Israel, often to escape the fighting caused by attacks against Jewish villages and towns, first by Palestinian Arab "irregulars" and then by five invading Arab armies, or destroyed in fighting during the war. The CAMERA report cited above describes the circumstances of the abandonment of Arab localities:

The Palestinian leadership and elite set an example for the rest of society by evacuating their towns and villages early during the conflict, usually long before fighting neared their towns, and some even before the civil war [between Arabs and Jews in British Mandatory Palestine] began. (Or, as commander of the Arab Legion John Bagot Glubb put it, "villages were frequently abandoned even before they were threatened by the progress of war.") This behavior not only shattered the morale of the Palestinian masses, but also, in the words of historian Shabtai Teveth, "amounted to clear — albeit unwritten — instructions to flee Palestine."

Once again, an NPR program on Israel presents an unrepresentative perspective without challenge, and permits callers to use it as a megaphone for anti-Israel slanders. On Point was "Off Balance."


Posted by MK at November 3, 2011 04:21 PM

Comments

Amazing how they cleared out relatively easily. Is it normal for a people group to leave so easily. If it were your ancestral home/village, would you not feel a pinch telling you not to abandon it?

The deduction, when linked with the evidence of massive Arab immigration into Israel that went unchecked by the British, is that these guys were not from here in the first place!

Ofcourse all of this needs to fully mapped out so that no one can lie again.

Posted by: Anonymous at November 3, 2011 06:42 PM

BESIDE THE ATTACKS AGAINST THE JEWISH POPULATION
IN PALESTINE DURING THE TWENTIES ,THE THIRTIES AND THE FOURTIES ,ISRAEL WAS ATTACKED BY ARAB
ARMIES SINCE THE FIRST DAYS OF ITS EXISTENCE.
I DON'T KNOW WOW HOW IT IS POSSIBLE TO DETERMINATE
HOW MANY ARABS WERE CHASED FROM PALESTINE BY FORCE OR THEY FLED BECAUSE THEY WERE ENCOURAGED TO DO SO OR BY FEAR.
ALMOST NOBODY SPEAKS FROM THE JEWS WHICH WERE CHASED FROM THE ARAB COUNTRIES (WHERE THEY LIVED IN SOME CASES SINCE MORE THAN 2500 YEARS) OR FLED FROM THERE TO SAVE THEIR LIVES.
WHAT ABOUT THE PROPERTIES THEY LOST , WHAT ABOUT THE SYNAGOGUES OF THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM WHICH WERE ALL DESTROYED , THE JEWISH CEMETERIES DESACRATED AND THE JEWS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO PRAY
AT THEIR HOLIEST SITES.
IN ANY WAR THERE ARE MANY CIVILIAN VICTIMS FROM
BOTH SIDES .ISRAEL DIDN'T INITIATE THE WAR IT WAS FORCED IN . THERE WERE SURELY AND REGRETTABLY INJUSTICES AND CRIMES COMMITTED BY SOME ISRAELI
BUT THERE WERE ALSO CRIMES MADE BY THE OTHER SIDE.
TO ACCUSE ONLY ISRAEL IS HYPOCRITE AND UNFAIR.
AS FOR THE "REFUGEES" FOR HOW MANY
GENERATIONS WILL THERE BE PALESTINIAN REFUGEES
LASTLY HOW MANY EXCHANGES OF POPULATIONS DID
HAPPEN EVEN ONLY AFTER WWII .WHY SHOULD THE PALESTINIANS BE THE ONLY EXCEPTION ?
RALPH

Posted by: ralph at November 4, 2011 04:10 AM

Another reason they left easily: they feared that Jews would slaughter them, because that's what they would have done to Jews, and, indeed, many of them did do to Jews throughout the years leading to Israel's independence.

Posted by: ER at November 4, 2011 12:05 PM

The discussion should include the history of all of the Jews and Palestinain Arabs that were living in the Mideast in the 40's.

Focus might begin with the approximatley 850,000 Jews living in the MidEast but outside of Palestine in 1941. Most were living in communities that were hundreds of years old. In June of that year, Arabs attacked the Jews of Baghdad and massacred over 200 of them. In November of 1945, over a hundred Jews were massacred in Tripoli, and riots killed 10 Jews in Egypt. Two months later 75 Jews were massacred in the Libyan city of Zanzur, and more than 100 murdered in other towns.

Shortly after the UN vote, 82 Jews were massacred in Yemen and 75 in Syria. In June of 1948, 43 Jews were massacred in Morocco and 150 more in Egypt. The perpetrators of these massacres were not punished. Following each massacre conditions for the Jews worsened, and the Jewish population started to leave. By 1955, 560,000 of them had left for Israel. In 1962, the newly independent government of Algeria forced the 130,000 Jews out of that country, completing the process whereby the 800,000 Jews became refugees.

Approximately 650,000 of these people emmigrated to Israel. Notably, they were all “native” to the Mideast, according to the definition favored by the Arabs, and after they all arrived they constituted a majority, in Israel, relative to the Jews who arrived from Europe.


Arab violence and hostility created other Jewish refugees in the same period. This British barrier to Jewish immigration, referenced above, was imposed because of riots and massacres conducted by Arabs, and it cut off a potential refuge for thousands of Jews fleeing Europe. The embargo continued after the war ended, and by that time it was Holocaust survivors who were kept from finding a home, at least until Israel became a state.

It was during the Arab-Israeli war that followed the United Nations vote in November 1947 that 600,000 Arabs became the refugees that everyone has heard so much about. As described in this blog, the Jews contend that the great majority of those people left voluntarily, often at the urging of Arab leaders. Arab historians dispute this but, in any event, it wasn’t the Jews who initiated the practice of forcing people from their homes.

The first attempt started just after the UN vote, when Arabs laid siege to Jewish Jerusalem. Their intentions were quite clear. Unlike the Arabs, however, the Jews had no place to go so it was significantly harder to create a Jewish refugee than an Arab one and the Jerusalem siege failed. The Arabs did, however, manage to evict the 2,000 inhabitants of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. These refugees thereby became the tail-end of a Jewish presence, in that area, that was virtually continuous over the previous 3,000 years.

History offers few examples of “evictions” more thorough than that carried out in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem in 1948. After the Jews left, the Arabs destroyed most the synagogues in the quarter, as part of their campaign to desecrate all Jewish religious property under their control. Some of the synagogues were over 800 years old and contained documents from Jewish scholars that were older than that.


And many Middle east refugees were created by the Arab-Jewish conflict shortly before those described above, and a good many of them were created by Haj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Husseini was the George Washington of the Palestinian Arabs and was their undisputed leader from 1921 until 1936. It was difficult to create refugees, during that period, because the British controlled the area and did not approve of anybody being evicted from their homes. All the Jews, for example, lived on land they recently purchased from the Arabs or land they had owned for some time. In August of 1929, however, Husseini incited the massacre of 67 Jews in Hebron, along with 65 Jews in the rest of Israel.

Hebron is the site of the Machpelah cave, which is the burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and is the second holiest site in Judaism. After the massacre, however, the British were not confident they could prevent further killing, so the surviving Jews became refugees, putting an end to the Jewish community that had existed in Hebron for over 400 years. The Jews could not even conduct religious ceremonies at the Western Wall, following the 1929 violence, because the Arabs opposed that practice and the British did not want responsibility for protecting those ceremonies any more than they wanted to protect Jews in Hebron and other West Bank towns. After 1948, of course, Jews could not even visit the Western Wall, for ceremonies, personal prayer, or for any other reason. And so it was that the Arabs kept the first and second most holy sites in Judaism completely off limits to Jews from 1929 until 1967.

The West Bank, of course, is where most of the stories of the Old Testament played out, so the idea that Jews are “foreigners” to that area is ludicrous. And the West Bank was wide open, before the massacre of 1929, so it represented a natural opportunity for Jewish people. But no Jews could buy or rent property in that region, after that year, because they had no protection from the deadly violence that was sure to follow.

The land to the East of the Jordan River is similar to the West bank – it is fertile, rich in Old Testament history, and part of the ancient Jewish kingdom. But it had been put off limits to Jews in 1922 when it was given by the British to the new Arab country of TransJordan. And so it was that, as if to teach the Jews the price of aspiring for a state, the Mufti’s 1929 pogrom created the remarkable situation where both “banks” of the Jordan River – the Old Testament Land exactly – had become “Arab only” and were strictly off limits to Jews.

When Israel captured the area in 1967 in response to active Arab preparations for destroying the Jewish state, they found what they knew to be true -- not a single Jewish person was living there. The Arabs had succeeded. They had kept the West Bank Judenrein for the 38 years following their murderous attacks of 1929, pumping up their population statistics all the while. There are now 3 million Arabs living where perhaps 200,000 stood in 1929.
The Jews had taken an interest in an unpopulated and unattractive area and, in response, the Arabs barred the Jews and filled the land with their ethnic group. Meanwhile, the 200,000 Jews now living in the West Bank and in second holiest city in all of Judaism – Hebron -- are labeled “settlers” and are the subject of so much controversy, blame, and hatred.

Posted by: David D Goodman at November 5, 2011 12:59 AM

Mr. Oz doesn't provide any souces for his false claim about Israel 'uprooting hundreds of thousands of Arabs' because there are none. What Israel has acknowledged is that Arabs in Ramle and Lod were told to leave since there were Iraqui army units there attacking Israelis. While all the circumstatnces cannot be known, it is clear from Arab, British and Israeli sources sources that large numbers of Arabs were leaving volutarily by the latter part of 1947 when Britain controlled the area. It seems clear that these Arabs naturally expected that surrounding Arab states could destroy Israel. Having failed, they have rewritten the history in their favor. Truth has little value in public discourse in the Arab and Moslem world hence there is little accountability which is necessary for tolerant democracy to develop.

Posted by: Bob Kirk at November 6, 2011 12:40 AM

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