No favours are done through the distortion of facts
Both sides suffered casualties in the 1948 War; the part played by other Arab countries was far from honourable and much of their rhetoric was reprehensible. It is also true that approximately 700 000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from, or deliberately intimidated into leaving, their homes. Laws were quickly passed to prohibit their return. Only in this way was it possible to achieve a Jewish majority in the region.
These facts are widely accepted by scholars, for instance, Derek Penslar and Avi Shlaim at Oxford University. Jewish-Israeli historians like Benny Morris, Tom Segev, and Ilan Pappe concur. And these are just some of the high-profile Jewish academics.
While the hegemonic Zionist narrative, most forcibly advocated by the State of Israel, tends to ignore, misrepresent or minimise this aspect of the war, we do it no favours by collaborating in such distortions.
There are those who argue that (IsraeliPrime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu does not have the right to claim to act in the name of all Jews. Whatever the merits of this argument, the fact is that he does make this claim. By doing so he implicates us in all the crimes committed by the state: we are made complicit in the demolishing of Palestinian homes; complicit in the arrest and detention of children in the West Bank; complicit in the daily humiliation of ordinary Palestinians at teenage-manned blockades.
Because we are already implicated in Israel’s various violations, SAJFP actively campaigns against these crimes. However, there are many legitimate causes and we recognise that everyone has the right to advocate for the one(s) he/she feels most strongly about.
Should Wolman seek redress for the mistreatment of Palestinians refugees in their host counties, we would certainly support that and welcome him as a comrade in the struggle for human rights.
If, however, this is just an attempt to use one set of abuses (crimes committed by ISIS) to ensure that another set (crimes committed by Israel) can continue, then we cannot endorse either his strategy or his ends.
Allan Wolman, in response to our letter in Jewish Report, writes: “SAJFP’s claim of ethnic cleansing is an interesting accusation” However, it is neither interesting, nor productive to characterise the ethnic cleansing of 1948 as “an interesting theory”. This attempt to repress, deny and conceal past events, is damaging, not only to those expelled, and their descendants, but also to Israelis and Jews around the world.
Jews for a Free Palestine