A Brief Guide to Why 1948 Was a Palestinian Arab and Arab Disaster
By Barry Rubin
In 1947 the UN voted to partition the British mandate of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. The Jews accepted partition into two states; the Arabs rejected it.
The international community offered to make Amin al-Husseini, the Palestinian Arabs' leader, head of a state despite the fact that he and his closest colleagues were the subject of a 1938 British arrest warrant for terrorist activities (not mythical but for killing lots of people), and had spent World War Two in Berlin doing pro-Nazi propaganda, recruiting for SS units, and planning a Holocaust of Jews in the Middle East.
But al-Husseini rejected partition and so did all of the Arab states. While Jordan wanted to make a deal and Egypt’s government wasn’t enthusiastic, they all had to go along with al-Husseini’s intransigence, their hysterical public opinion, and the other Arab states' pressure. The Arab League's leader, a Nazi agent during World War Two, bragged that the Jews would be massacred. The Muslim Brotherhood, which collaborated with the Nazis during the war and were subsidized by them before the war, sent volunteers to fight the Jews.
And so a Palestinian Arab army, whose three chief commanders had all fought for the Nazis during World War Two, went to war against the Jews using Nazi-supplied weapons (provided for the Palestinian Arab revolt in 1939 and for an Egyptian revolt that never happened in 1942). They lost.
Then the armies of the Arab states invaded Israel. They largely lost, though the Egyptian held onto the Gaza area while the Jordanians took east Jerusalem and what became known as the West Bank. Egypt ran Gaza; Jordan annexed the West Bank.
Everything that happened afterward was due to Arab decisions to reject both a two-state solution and Israel’s creation.
That’s the bottom line. So the disaster was due first and foremost to the Palestinian Arab leadership and secondly to the Arab states and publics.
Dealing with the “nakba” would then require that the Palestinian Arabs and the Arabic-speaking world generally would recognize that the disaster resulted from their refusal to accept Israel’s existence and to seek a genuine, compromise two-state solution.
But, instead, in the name of the 1948 disaster they are repeating the same policies that brought it about! Indeed, they are the same policies that led to the self-inflicted disasters of 1967, 2000, and others since then.
For example, as part of the preparations for the commemoration of the 1948 disaster, Palestinian Authority television played repeatedly a music video entitled "On the Way to Jerusalem" The main lines are:
"Jaffa, Acre, Haifa, and Nazareth are ours.
[ I ], Muhammad, sing about the Galilee and the Golan (Heights).
Jaffa, Acre, Haifa and Nazareth are ours."
This is precisely the one-state, wipe-Israel-off-the-map approach that brought on them the disaster of 1948, disaster every year since then, and more disaster into the forseeable future. Sixty-four years (counting from 1947) of failed policy has not brought wisdom.
Almost every event--Egypt's revolution, demonstrators trying to cross Israel's border, a terrorist attack, Western sympathy, and so on--is interpreted as proving that Israel's destruction is possible and so additional decades should be spent in diplomatic intransigence and the incitement of violence rather than some constructive effort. That's one reason, by the way, why the Palestinians always ultimately lose.
This has also been going on so long that much of the West has forgotten the roots and ongoing causes of this conflict, Palestinian suffering, Israeli suffering, and the terrorist violence and defamation of Israel.
Note: The use of the words “Nazi collaborator” and other mentions of pro-Nazi activities in this article are not name-calling but based on German and U.S. intelligence materials. These points will be fully and in detail documented in the forthcoming book by myself and Wolfgang Schwanitz, to be published by Yale University Press next year.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/ His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is http://www.gloria-center.org.