Last updated on: 5/14/2008 1:56:00 PM PST

Were Palestinian Refugees Forcibly Expelled from Israel during the 1948 War?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Ian J. Bickerton, PhD, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and United States History at the University of New South Wales-Australia, and Carla L. Klausner, PhD, Professor of Modern Middle East, Medieval Europe and Judaic Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, in their 2002 book A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, offered the following:

"Israelis long contended that during the Israeli War of Independence the Palestinian Arabs abandoned their homes and villages of their own free will. Not only that, they did so at the urging of the Arab leadership, who, the argument goes, told the Palestinians to leave until the Jewish state was destroyed and then they could return. The evidence, however, is inconclusive. According to some sources, the Arab League and the mufti ordered the Palestinians to remain where they were.

Israeli revisionist historians now maintain that as part of the campaign to evacuate Arabs from the Jewish state, the [Jewish] Haganah deliberately destroyed Arab houses and villages, broadcast false stories in Arabic of the spread of cholera and typhus epidemics, and urged the population to escape the bloodbath while there was still time. On the other hand, some [Israeli] efforts were made to reassure the Arabs, and in some instances Arabs were encouraged by the Jews to stay put, but by the first truce in mid-June 1948, over 250,000 Palestinians had fled, and this exodus had reached 300,000 by July [1948]. Arab Palestinians fled in some cases of their own free will, in some cases through fear; in other cases they were expelled.

There were several additional reasons for the Arab exodus. Among the more important was the damage done to the Palestinian political and economic infrastructure by the British during their suppression of the Arab revolt of 1936-1939. Thus, Palestinian leadership was absent just at the time when it was needed most. Further collapse occurred during 1947-1949, as many of the local mayors, judges, communal and religious officials fled."

2002 - Carla L. Klausner, PhD 
Ian J. Bickerton, PhD 

PRO (yes)

Benny Morris, PhD, Professor of History at Ben-Gurion University, in a Jan. 15, 2004 interview conducted by Henry Makow, stated:

"A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore, it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expell that population."

Jan. 15, 2004 - Benny Morris, PhD 

Mahmoud Abbas, PhD, Palestinian President, in the Mar. 1976 issue of Falastine a-Thaura -- the then official journal of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Beirut, stated:

"The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny but, instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live."

Mar. 1976 - Mahmoud Abbas, Csc 

Edward Said, PhD, the late Columbia Professor of Literature, in his 1994 book The Politics of Dispossession, wrote:

"Well over 800,000 Palestinians were evicted from their homes by the Zionist forces [in 1948]."

1994 - Edward Said, PhD 

The Palestine Ministry of Information website (accessed Feb. 5, 2004) contained the following:

"During the war of 1948, some eight hundred thousand of the approximately nine hundred thousand Palestinians who originally resided in the area that became Israel, were forced to leave their homes to seek refuge in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and further afield."

Feb. 5, 2004 - Palestine Ministry of Information 

CON (no)

Nuri Said, Former Prime Minister of Iraq, in 1947, as quoted in Nimr el Hawari's 1955 book, Sir Am Nakbah (The Secret Behind the Disaster), allegedly encouraged Arabs to flee to safety before an Arab attack against the Jews:

"The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down."

1947 - Nuri Said 

Dominique Vidal, French journalist and political commentator, in an article entitled "Ten Years of Research Into the 1947-49 War," published in Dec. 1997 by the French newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique, wrote:

"One can agree that the flight of thousands of well-to-do Palestinians during the first few weeks following the adoption of the UN partition plan - particularly from Haifa and Jaffa - was essentially voluntary."

Dec. 1997 - Dominique Vidal 

David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, presented the Israeli official "Arab Orders" argument on Oct. 11, 1961 in the Knesset. Quoted by Ilan Pappe in The Palestinian Exodus, 1948-1998, the argument was as follows:

"The Arabs' exit from Palestine...began immediately after the UN Resolution, from the areas earmarked for the Jewish state. And we have explicit documents testifying that they left Palestine following instructions by the Arab leaders, with the Mufti at their head, under the assumption that the invasion of the Arab armies at the expiration of the Mandate will destroy the Jewish state and push all the Jews into the sea, dead or alive."

Oct. 11, 1961 - David Ben-Gurion 

Moshe Shertok (Sharett), Israel's former Foreign Minister, in a July 30, 1948 letter to the United Nations, wrote:

"The Arab mass flight from Israel and Israel-occupied territory is the direct effect of Arab aggression from outside...The plain fact, however, is that but for the intervention of the Arab states, ther would have been an overwhelming measure of local Arab acquiescence in the establishment of the state of Israel, and by now, peace and reasonable prosperity would have reigned throughout the territory to the enjoyment of Jews and Arabs alike."

July 30, 1948 - Moshe Sharett