Saturday 4 June 2011

US to Turkey: "Stop 'Gaza flotilla II' & you can host 'fruitless negotiations'!"


"The U.S. government is considering to offer Turkey a deal in which Ankara would stop a second Gaza flotilla due to depart later this month in exchange for the opportunity to host an Israeli-Palestinian peace summit in Ankara, the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman reported Friday... Today's Zaman quoted the Turkish Hurriyet daily as reporting that the U.S. was due to officially ask Turkey to host a major peace conference in return for mending its ties with Israel and preventing the second Gaza-bound flotilla. According to Hurriyet, U.S. officials have been trying to get a sense of how Turkey would react to such a proposal, and one U.S. official said that Ankara seems unlikely to accept the offer without Israel apologizing for the IDF raid..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:30 PM

Washington trying to block sail of freedom flotilla
[ 04/06/2011 - 10:04 AM ] 

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The US administration is trying to convince Turkey to block the sail of the Freedom Flotilla 2, which is carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, a Hebrew daily reported on Saturday.

Haaretz said that Washington was proposing in return that Ankara would host Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, while promising to boost Turkey’s status in the region.

The paper, which was quoting the Turkish press, said that the US was probing Turkey’s possible response to such proposals, adding that American sources predicted Ankara would turn down the idea.

Organizers of the freedom flotilla 2 said that the ships carrying Turkish and European activists and relief material intend to set sail to Gaza on 20th June.

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Celebrate the "reunion of Jerusalem"

Saturday, June 4, 2011 at 8:46AM Gilad Atzmon

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Qassem: Israel will persist in attempts to foil Palestinian reconciliation

[ 04/06/2011 - 09:22 AM ] 

NABLUS, (PIC)-- Professor of political science in Najah University Abdulsattar Qassem has affirmed that Palestinian national forces would foil the incessant Israeli attempts to abort the national reconciliation agreement.

He charged in a statement on Saturday that Israel was trying to obstruct the reconciliation via its recent wave of arrests in lines of Palestinian leaders, describing the act as the price which the Palestinians have to pay for achieving reconciliation.

Earlier on Thursday, Hamas issued a statement carrying the same meaning, saying that Israel was trying to hamper reconciliation with its recent spate of arrests.

It was commenting on the Israeli detention of a number of Hamas and Fatah activists and leaders over the past few days.

The movement said that the escalation in arrest campaigns of Palestinian leaders reflected Israel’s confusion and hysterical reaction to the reconciliation agreement.

Hamas said that the arrests would not weaken the determination of the Palestinian national leaders and would not deter the Palestinians from continuing to defend their national rights and constants.

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Israel Plans to Expel 30,000 Palestinians

Israel plans to evict 30,000 Palestinians from south of the occupied territories in the course of five years.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drafted a plan to evict 30,000 Palestinians of the Bedouin community from the Negev desert to expanded areas of existing Negev Palestinian towns such as Rahat, Kseifa and Hura.

The plan is in line with recommendations made by the Goldberg Committee and will be put to vote in the Israeli cabinet in the coming weeks, Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported on Thursday.

The Goldberg Committee has been established by Israel to present recommendations regarding the Palestinian settlement in the Negev. The plan is estimated to cost between USD 1.7 and USD 2.3 billion.

According to the project, Palestinians will receive replacement land of half the area they claim and will be compensated either with cash or with construction sites the state promises to develop.

Representatives of Palestinians and human rights organizations are scheduled to meet this weekend at Neveh Shalom. Bedouin leaders have threatened to take legal action to stop the plan if it is approved.

Leading Palestinian activist Awad Abu Farih has called the plan a disaster that will stoke up conflict between the Palestinian residents of the Negev.

Human rights activists also said the measure does not provide recognition of Bedouin natives and forces them to relocate against their will.

Zionist plan to banish 30,000 Palestinians from Negev

[ 03/06/2011 - 09:39 PM ]

Nazareth, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation government is planning to displace around 30,000 Palestinian citizens from their villages in the Negev desert, south of occupied Palestine, and to put them in a number of existing villages after expanding them, the Hebrew Haaretz news paper reported Thursday.

According to the paper, the plan will be presented to the Israeli Knesset (parliament) to ratify it, adding that the government offered the affected Palestinians money and pieces of land in exchange for leaving their indigenous land.

The Zionist government refuse to recognize dozens of Palestinian villages in the Negev desert in blatant violation of human rights and international laws.

Israeli officials were quoted as saying that the current situation in the Negev area couldn’t go on as is, warning that number of Palestinian citizens in the area was doubling every 15 years, which, according to the Israelis, poses demographic danger to the Zionist entity.

Palestinian records revealed that around 191,000 Palestinian citizens were living in the Negev but nearly 71,000 of them are living in 36 villages the IOA refused to recognize.
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Israelis Rush for Second Passports as Palestinians Preparing to Return


“If our forefathers dreamt of an Israeli passport to escape from Europe, there are many among us who are now dreaming of a second passport to escape to Europe." Gideon Levy.

Today it is estimated that 70%. Israelis had approached or intended to approach a foreign embassy to inquire about or apply for citizenship and a passport.

Approximately 200,000 or 22% of Russians coming to Israel since 1990 have so far returned to their country. Jews who come to Israel "want to make sure that they have the possibility of an alternative to return whence they came."Israelis seeking a European passport, based on their family roots, just in case."

Perhaps historians or cultural anthropologists surveying the course of human events can identify for us a land, in addition to Palestine, where such a large percentage of a recently arrived colonial population prepared to exercise their right to depart, while many more, with actual millennial roots but victims of ethnic cleansing, prepared to exercise their right of Return.

One of the many ironies inherent in the 19th century Zionist colonial enterprise in Palestine is the fact that this increasingly fraying project was billed for most of the 20th century as a haven in the Middle East for “returning” persecuted European Jews. But today, in the 21st century, it is Europe that is increasingly being viewed by a large number of the illegal occupiers of Palestinian land as the much desired haven for returning Middle Eastern Jews.

Fatima’s Gate-- at the Lebanon-Palestine border

To paraphrase Jewish journalist Gideon Levy “If our forefathers dreamt of an Israeli passport to escape from Europe, there are many among us who are now dreaming of a second passport to escape to Europe."

Several studies in Israel and one conducted by AIPAC and another by the Jewish National Fund in Germany show that perhaps as many as half of the Jews living in Israel will consider leaving Palestine in the next few years if current political and social trends continue.

A 2008 survey by the Jerusalem-based Menachem Begin Heritage Center found that 59% of Israelis had approached or intended to approach a foreign embassy to inquire about or apply for citizenship and a passport. Today it is estimated that the figure is approaching 70%.

The number of Israelis thinking of leaving Palestine is climbing rapidly according to researchers at Bar-Ilan University who conducted a study published recently in Eretz Acheret, (“A Different Place”) an Israeli NGO that claims to promote cultural dialogue. What the Bar-Ilan study found is that more than 100,000 Israelis already hold a German passport, and this figure increases by more than 7,000 every year along an accelerating trajectory. According to German officials, more than 70,000 such passports have been granted since 2000.

In addition to Germany, there are more than one million Israelis with other foreign passports at the ready in case life in Israel deteriorates. One of the most appealing countries for Israelis contemplating emigration, as well as perhaps the most welcoming, is the United States. Currently more than 500,000 Israelis hold US passports with close to a quarter million pending applications.

During the recent meetings in Washington DC between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s delegation and Israel’s US agents, assurances were reportedly given by AIPAC officials that if and when it becomes necessary, the US government will expeditiously issue American passports to any and all Israeli Jews seeking them.

Israeli Arabs need not apply.

AIPAC also represented to their Israeli interrogators that the US Congress could be trusted to approve funding for arriving Israeli Jews “to be allocated substantial cash resettlement grants to ease transition into their new country.”

Apart from the Israeli Jews who may be thinking of getting an “insurance passport” for a Diaspora land, there is a similar percentage of Jews worldwide who aren't going to make aliyah. According to Jonathan Rynhold, a Bar Ilan professor specializing on U.S.-Israel relations, Jews may be safer in Teheran than Ashkelon these days—until Israel or the USA starts bombing Iran.

Interviews with some of those who either helped conduct the above noted studies or have knowledge of them, identify several factors that explain the Israeli rush for foreign passports, some rather surprising, given the ultra-nationalist Israeli culture.

The common denominator is unease and anxiety, both personal and national, with the second passport considered a kind of insurance policy “for the rainy days visible on the horizon,” as one researcher from Eretz Acheret explained.

Other factors include:

• The fact that two or three generations in Israel has not proven enough to implant roots where few if any existed before. For this reason Israel has produced a significant percentage of “re-immigration” — a return of immigrants or their descendants to their country of origin which Zionist propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding, is not Palestine.

• Fear that religious fanatics from among the more than 600,000 settlers in the West Bank will create civil war and essentially annex pre-1967 Israel and turn Israel more toward an ultra-fascist state.

• Centripetal pressures within Israeli society, especially among Russian immigrants who overwhelmingly reject Zionism. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, some one million Jews have come to Israel from the former Soviet Union, enlarging the country's population by 25 percent and forming the largest concentration in the world of Russian Jews. But today, Russian Jews comprise the largest group emigrating from Israel and they have been returning in droves for reasons ranging from opposition to Zionism, discrimination, and broken promises regarding employment and “the good life” in Israel.

Putin with Rabbi Berel Larzar
Approximately 200,000 or 22% of Russians coming to Israel since 1990 have so far returned to their country. According to Rabbi Berel Larzar, who has been Russia’s chief Rabbi since 2000, "It's absolutely extraordinary how many people are returning. When Jews left, there was no community, no Jewish life. People felt that being Jewish was an historical mistake that happened to their family. Now, they know they can live in Russia as part of a community and they don’t need Israel."

• No faith in or respect for Israeli leaders, most of whom are considered corrupt.

• Feelings of anxiety and guilt that Zionism has hijacked Judaism and that traditional Jewish values are being corrupted.

• The increasing difficulty of providing coherent answers to one’s children, as they become more educated and aware of their family history, and indeed honesty to oneself, on the question of why families from Europe and elsewhere are living on land and in homes stolen from others who obviously are local and did not come from some other place around the World.
• The recent growing appreciation, for many Israelis, significantly abetted by the Internet and the continuing Palestinian resistance, of the compelling and challenging Palestinians' narrative that totally undermines the Zionist clarion of the last century of “ A Land without a People for a People without a Land.'

• Fear mongering of the political leaders designed to keep citizens supporting the government’s policies ranging from the Iranian bomb, the countless ‘Terrorists” seemingly everywhere and planning another Holocaust, or various existential threats that keep families on edge and concluding that they don’t want to raise their children under such conditions.

Explaining that he was speaking as a private citizen and not as a member of Democrats Abroad Israel, New York native Hillel Schenker suggested that Jews who come to Israel "want to make sure that they have the possibility of an alternative to return whence they came." He added that the "insecurities involved in modern life, and an Israel not yet living at peace with any of its neighbors, have also produced a phenomenon of many Israelis seeking a European passport, based on their family roots, just in case."
Gene Schulman, a former American-Jewish fellow at the Switzerland-based Overseas American Academy, put it even more drastically, emphasizing that all Jews are "scared to death of what is probably going to become of Israel even if the U.S. continues its support for it."
Many observers of Israeli society agree that a major, if unexpected recent impetus for Jews to leave Palestine has been the past three months of the Arab Awakening that overturned Israel’s key pillars of regional support.
According to Layal, a Palestinian student from Shatila Camp, who is preparing for the June 5th “Naksa” march to the Blueline in South Lebanon: “What the Zionist occupiers of Palestine saw from Tahir Square in Cairo to Maroun al Ras in South Lebanon has convinced many Israelis that the Arab and Palestinian resistance, while still in its nascence, will develop into a massive and largely peaceful ground swell, such that no amount of weapons or apartheid administration can insure a Zionist future in Palestine. They are right to seek alternative places to raise their families.”

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and can be contacted c/o
He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon.

He contribute to Uprooted Palestinians Blog

Please Sign

A Talk: The War Against Terror Within

Friday, June 3, 2011 at 10:55PM Gilad Atzmon

York Against the War
a talk and discussion

7:30 to 9:00pm Monday 6th June
Priory Street Centre, 15 Priory Street, York
The War Against Terror Within

admission free, all welcome
Gilad Atzmon, an internationally known jazz musician, is also a radical freethinker. Israeli born, he has written extensively about Middle East issues from an anti-Zionist viewpoint.
The more ruthless we are, the more frightened we become, says Gilad Atzmon, because we fear retaliation in kind.
Ten years on, the US led 'War Against Terror' is neither over, nor bringing sense of security to Western countries. Likewise, 60 years on, Israels's wars against Palestinians still bring no security and no end is in sight.
How can we transcend the cycle of ruthless vengeance, retaliation and quest for supremacy which may keep these conflicts running forever?
Tony Greenstein AKA Atzmon's Internet Stalker seems to be very upset.
He launched another clandestine Jewish campaign (read bellow...) attempting once again to stifle freedom of speech.
From: Tony Greenstein
"Dear XXX,

I have just been sent a flyer for a meeting that you are holding in York on 6th
June with Gilad Atzmon.

I am a
Jewish* member of Palestine solidarity as well as being active in the BDS
Campaign. I find your decision, despite being fully informed as to who Atzmon
is, outrageous.

In your flyer, which I'm copying for the benefit of those who I'm copying in,
you state that Atzmon 'has written extensively about Middle East issues from an
anti-Zionist viewpoint'.

Wrong. Atzmon is not an anti-Zionist. Atzmon is an anti-Semite, i.e. an
anti-Jewish racist. Anti-Zionism is a form of anti-racism. Atzmon subsribes to
the world Jewish conspiracy theorist so beloved of fascists.
'Since America currently enjoys the status of the world's only super power and
since all the Jews listed above declare themselves as devoted Zionists, [there
is a list of Jews in the Bush White House - TG] we must begin to take the
accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very
seriously.' [essay 'on anti-Semitism']"...

Greenstine repeats the same story for years...I noticed recently that no one circulate his writing not even on a blog roll, not even his old Jewish friends. Is this the real meaning of self inflicting Shoa?
I can only try to help those Jewish ethnic activists and spread their venom around. I believe that everyone should witness their real 'contribution' to our movement.
* Greenstein is not just an ordinary PSC menber, he is actually a 'Jewish' one- a privilaged being i guess.
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NeoCon/Zionist Policy Introducing Fascism Into This World

Friday, June 3, 2011 at 11:38PM Gilad Atzmon

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Israeli Sources: “Peres Meets Abbas In Italy”

Friday June 03, 2011 09:31 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

Visiting Italy Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, held a meeting, on Thursday, with Israeli President, Shimon Peres, and the two held talks on the efforts to resume the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

Israeli paper, Yedioth Aharonoth, reported that the office of Peres demanded that details of the talks should remain anonymous, while a source at Peres' office refused to confirm or deny the meeting took place.

The paper said that although Peres does not openly denounce the polices of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, he expresses in private meetings his concerns regarding the stalled peace process.

Peres and Abbas held separate meetings with UN secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who said that he supports the efforts to establish an independent Palestinian State.

Following his meeting with Abbas in Rome, the UN secretary-general said that he hopes that UN member states will realize the legitimate Palestinian statehood demands.

He added that he is concerned regarding stalemate in peace talks, yet he is optimistic regarding the recent speech of U.S President, Barack Obama, regarding the Middle East.

Ban Ki-moon further stated that reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas movements must be based on the international commitments of the Palestinian Authority, and the decisions of the Quartet Committee (the United Nations, The United States, The European Union, and Russia).

According to Yedioth Aharonoth, Peres and Abbas are constantly communicating far away from the media, similar to talks held between Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salaam Fayyad.

Visiting Tel Aviv, French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, presented a French proposal to hold a peace conference in Paris this summer, and warned that should the peace process remain idle, “the international community will have to face the uncomfortable situation in September”, as the Palestinian Authority intends to ask for international recognition of a Palestinian state.

Juppe urged the Palestinians and Israel to return to the negotiations table to hold peace talks based on the outlines presented by Obama during his May 19 speech.

But Netanyahu and his government insist on a Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and reject the internationally guaranteed Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees, in addition to rejecting talks on other main issues such as talks on borders, Jerusalem, settlements and natural resources.
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Calls in West Bank for broad participation in marking the Naksa

[ 03/06/2011 - 08:08 PM ] 
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- A statement issued by the various Palestinian groups including unions and civil society as well as representatives of youth and women organisations called for broad participation in the marking of the 44th anniversary of the Naksa.

The groups called for extending the circle of protests to include tangent areas near the apartheid wall, roadblocks and bypass roads to reaffirm Palestinian people’s insistence on their inalienable rights, foremost of which is the right of return of refugees, the right to self-determination, independence and a sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital.

They warned the occupation against violently quelling the peaceful protests especially with all the sabre rattling coming from the Israeli occupation government ahead of the anniversary.

They further called on international organisations to shoulder their responsibilities, stand by Palestinian rights and pressure Israel into halting its criminal measures against the Palestinian people and their land.

The groups also called for a special protest at the Qalandia roadblock on Sunday at 12:00 PM and for the Friday sermons to be about the anniversary and encourage people to participate in the peaceful protests.

A protest march in Jordan to mark the Naksa

[ 03/06/2011 - 08:47 PM ] 
AMMAN, (PIC)-- Hundreds of people participated in a march that started at the Hanbali mosque after the Friday prayers towards the Ras Al-Ain district to mark the 44the anniversary of 1967 Naksa.

Participants in the march, that was organised by opposition parties carried placards that condemned occupation and the Wadi Araba peace agreement between Jordan and the Israeli occupation. They also carried placards reaffirming the right of return of Palestinian refugees and rejecting the notion of an alternative home in Jordan for those refugees.

“People want the annulment of Wadi Araba accord,” participants chanted “People want to cleanse Rabia,” in reference to the Amman neighbourhood were the Israeli occupation embassy stands.

Deputy secretary of the People’s Democratic Party made a speech on behalf of opposition parties in which he said: “We stand here today to pay tribute to the Palestinian, Jordanian and Arab generations of resistance and steadfastness which continued its struggle since the Nakba and gave thousands of martyrs, wounded and captives as well as millions of refugees in defence of Palestine,” and called on Palestinians to put their house in order and protect reconciliation and national unity.

Member of the executive office of the Islamic movement Ahmad al-Kafaween also made a speech in which he called on the Arab and Islamic states to stand united in the face of Zionist designs which target the whole Ummah and its resources in addition to depriving Palestinians of their ancestral home.

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PALESTINE/ISRAEL: Port at a storm

A girl waits at Haifa dock, April 1948.

The mass flight of Haifa's Arabs remains one of the most contested events of the 1948 war. Yet despite strong evidence to support Arab claims, Israeli historians remain economical with the truth. Here's the story they don't want you to know.

Two months ago, the Knesset passed the Budget Principles Law (Amendment 39), more popularly known as the "Nakba Law." The ostensibly procedural clause is intended to prevent institutions that receive state funding from marking the "day of the catastrophe" - which is how the Palestinians refer to May 15, 1948, the day the British Mandate in Palestine came to an end.

Paradoxically, it is the determined attempt to erase the day from the Israeli-Jewish consciousness that has increased awareness of the Nakba among Jews. Recent months saw a surge in Internet searches for the word "Nakba," according to Google Trends (which shows word-search patterns on the Web ). The index shows the usual yearly leap in English and Arabic ahead of May, but indicates an unprecedentedly huge increase in Hebrew this year. Clearly, the unusually large scope of events on Nakba Day last month contributed to the growing public interest and heightened the emotional content of the term - sometimes absurdly so. Two weeks ago, for example, MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union ) objected to the decision to hang a painting titled "The Citrus Grower" in the Knesset building. According to Eldad, the work is a "Nakba painting." The painting, by Eliyahu Arik Bokobza, is based on a pastoral photograph taken in 1939, showing a rural Arab family dressed in traditional garb, with orange trees in the background. In his complaint to the Knesset speaker, Eldad wrote, "Why do you want to add an artistic expression by an Israeli artist with a twisted mind and afflicted by self-hate, who is calling the Arab lie the truth and thereby rejecting our truth?"
This year, the primal fear of the Nakba spurred an "appropriate Zionist response." Since Independence Day, members of Im Tirtzu - an ultra-nationalist group - have been distributing a pamphlet called "Nakba Nonsense - The Pamphlet that Fights for the Truth." In the course of 70 pages, the authors - journalist Erel Segal and Im Tirtzu co-founder Erez Tadmor - try to persuade readers that the Arabs, who view themselves as victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are actually the aggressors. It therefore follows that Israel, which is generally perceived as the aggressor, is actually the victim. In their words, the pamphlet "tries to fight the lies, and it prosecutes a war against the terrible falsehoods in whose name our enemies seek to undermine the just path of Zionism and prepare the ground for the destruction of the Jewish state." The authors refer to the succession of lies they say they are refuting as "the myth of the Nakba."
In the pamphlet's second chapter, titled "The Abandonment - Haifa as a Case in Point," the authors discuss what they call the lie of the "deliberate expulsion." Drawing on the book "Fabricating Israeli History" by Prof. Efraim Karsh, they proceed to take issue with the so-called "new historians" - academics who question the conventionally-held Arab-Israeli narrative. According to the pamphlet, these academics are out "to spread the libel that the Jewish fighting forces perpetrated a series of brutal massacres in the service of a deliberate policy of expulsion and ethnic cleansing." The authors conclude the chapter by describing the conquest of Haifa in the War of Independence as evidence that the Israeli side did not pursue any such policy and that "the Arab leadership bears responsibility for the results of the war and the refugee problem."
It is not by chance that the authors chose the example of Haifa's capture in April 1948 by the Haganah (the pre-independence army of Palestine's Jews ), to rest their case. The events in Haifa are considered perhaps the most treacherous minefield in the history of the Nakba. Nearly every historian who has researched the period, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has tried to navigate his way through this field. Few have succeeded in reaching a firm conclusion without stumbling on one of the mines of mistaken interpretation. Many scholars have claimed that their predecessors failed to make it through. Despite a plethora of testimonies, documents and studies, the historical controversy has yet to be decided, and in the public debate each side often resorts to the case of Haifa to strengthen its case.
The facts and testimonies that Segal and Tadmor cite in their pamphlet are not new, nor do they contradict facts and data that have appeared in earlier works on the subject. But in the best tradition of political pamphleteering, they are presented selectively and one-sidedly, in order to support a predetermined narrative. Neither the pamphlet nor, still less, the chapter on Haifa, offer a true discussion or a balanced presentation of facts.
Segal and Tadmor traverse the Haifa Nakba minefield by means of leaps and bounds, refraining from dealing with facts or testimonies that might undermine the thesis they are propounding. In an era dominated by "narratives," in which "truth" is considered relative, the method used by the authors to choose their sources might even be considered legitimate; in the Israel of 2011, it is certainly also legal.
"Even though the pamphlet is not an academic study, I consulted with many academics while working on it," Tadmor says, in a telephone interview. "I chose to present the findings of Prof. Karsh and of other historians, such as Benny Morris, because they seemed to me to be reliable." Segal too maintains that the pamphlet "does not purport to be an academic study. Each side is able to choose the studies it finds suitable. In the same way that Palestinian propaganda chooses to relate certain things it finds convenient, we chose to tell our truth. I accept Prof. Karsh's study as scientific and reliable."
The flight from Haifa
History cannot be treated as propaganda in the old-timer's club in Haifa's Wadi Nisnas neighborhood. For the dozens of local Arab residents who visit the club every day, the Nakba is a chapter in their personal biography. One of them remembers how Jewish troops expelled his neighbors at gunpoint; another describes how Haganah snipers shot at his father as he returned home from work; a third recalls the small bundle he carried while fleeing. All of them remember the fear they felt as helpless civilians, caught in the storm of war.
The stories they tell are on a minor scale. They describe small moments: Looks they encountered, experiences of defeat, humiliation and, occasionally, arbitrary abuse by Haganah fighters. Some of them spice their personal tragedy with humor, though the sadness in their eyes remains constant. The years have blunted the memory of all of them. In some cases the stories get mixed up and details from later periods are added.

By most estimates, 62,500 Arabs called Haifa their home before the War of Independence. Under the United Nations partition plan, they were to live in a mixed city as citizens of the Jewish state after the expiry of the British Mandate. However, rising tensions between the sides and a series of mutual acts of hostility prompted many Arabs to leave the city in the weeks before the British departed. Most of the leavers were affluent and many of them were Christians who were given aid and shelter by churches in the Galilee. By mid-April 1948, fewer than 20,000 Arabs remained in the city.
Like the Jewish residents, they too waited to see how things would develop. In the meantime they tried to maintain as normal a life as possible amid the violence. "Life in the city became intolerable at that time," recalls Jamal Jaris, 90, in the Wadi Nisnas club, as he tries to explain why he fled the city a few days before it fell to the Jewish forces. "There were shots and bombs every day. No distinction was made between civilians and armed combatants. In certain parts of the city, especially in the Arab neighborhoods, everyone who walked in the street was exposed to snipers and machine guns."
On April 21, the commander of the British forces in Haifa informed both sides that his troops were evacuating the city immediately, apart from the harbor and a few key roads that the army would need during the organized withdrawal in mid-May. That same night the Haganah launched an attack on the Arab neighborhoods. The Carmeli Brigade, which spearheaded the assault, enjoyed numerical and topographical superiority. Its troops were also better trained and better equipped and fought in a far more organized manner than the Arab forces. In less than a day, all of Haifa fell to the Haganah.
Indiscriminate shooting

It was a short battle and a crushing victory, in which the Jewish side sustained relatively few casualties. The Arabs put up only minor resistance. Haganah troops who searched the Arab neighborhoods after the battle were surprised to find so few weapons. A week later, the Haganah journal Ma'arakhot (Campaigns) wrote, "The battle of Haifa will perhaps not be counted among the great city battles in military history."
However, the Jewish victory spurred the panicky flight of most of the city's remaining residents. "Haifa, third largest city of Palestine and evacuation port of the British Army, became a virtual Jewish stronghold tonight after a series of savage thrusts by Haganah, the Jewish army, won control of most of the city's Arab areas and provoked a mass Arab exodus by sea," the New York Herald Tribune reported. On April 23 the New York Times wrote: "Tens of thousands of Arab men, women and children fled toward the eastern outskirts of the city in cars, trucks, carts and afoot, in a desperate attempt to reach Arab territory until the Jews captured Rushmiya Bridge toward Samaria and Northern Palestine and cut them off. Thousands rushed every available craft, even rowboats, along the waterfront, to escape by sea toward Acre."

The Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv wrote, "British harbor officials estimate that 12,000 to 14,000 Arabs left by sea and 2,000 to 4,000 by land. The Jewish and Arab numbers contradict one another. The Jews are trying to reduce the scale of the exodus. An official Jewish spokesman said that no more than 5,000 Arabs left. However, Arab leaders said that at least 20,000 left."
"We were afraid." That is the sole explanation - offered by another frequenter of the old-timers' club, 85-year-old Chana Mur - for the flight of the city's Arab residents. On the day the city was conquered, he says, he went to work as usual in the port's customs division: "For hours we heard explosions and gunfire from the direction of the Arab neighborhoods. The Jews shot at the houses and sniped at people in the streets. There was a huge panic. I remember people saying they felt the world was turning upside down. The port remained the only safe place for Arabs. They were protected there by the British soldiers. Whoever was able collected a few things in a blanket or a knapsack and fled to the port. Our feeling was that we were running for our lives.
"I remember a young couple who, in the panic of fleeing, forgot their little daughter at home," Mur continues. "They probably took some other bundle instead of her. She was found by the neighbor on the second floor. He heard her crying when he fled and took her with his family. Her parents eventually reached a refugee camp in Lebanon, and the girl was raised at [the neighbor's] home in Acre. I later met her; she now lives in the village of Kababir in Haifa."
Several history books published in Israel in recent years describe the flight of thousands of Haifa Arabs to the port on the day of the city's conquest, and their departure by sea to Acre and Lebanon. The event assumes greater import and significance in the newspapers of the time and in various archives. Segal and Tadmor write: "On April 22, as Haganah forces moved toward the market, a mass flight of thousands was recorded." They do not say what happened in the market, preferring instead to draw on Prof. Karsh's thesis. "The Arab leadership," they write, "urged the members of their nation to evacuate their homes, whether to clear the territory for the Arab forces or for propaganda purposes aimed at negating the legitimacy of the Jewish state."
Another source the authors cite for their chapter conclusions is the book by historian Benny Morris, "1948," (published in English in 2008 and two years later in Hebrew). They write that Morris used to be a new historian "until he recanted," and add that he is the most respected and serious member of the group. Morris has written about the Haifa conquest and mentioned the flight of the Arab residents to the port in several studies. In "1948," he describes the events of April 22 as follows: "The constant mortar and machine gun fire, as well as the collapse of the militias and local government and the Haganah's conquests, precipitated mass flight toward the British-held port area. By 1:00 P.M. some 6,000 people had reportedly passed through the harbor and boarded boats for Acre and points north."
Morris sums up the reasons for the flight with these words: "The majority had left for a variety of reasons, the main one being the shock of battle (especially the Haganah mortaring of the Lower City ) and Jewish conquest and the prospect of life as a minority under Jewish rule." However, in his first book, "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem" (first English-language edition, 1987 ), which was written well before his "recantation," Morris described the course of events in greater detail and shed a different light on them, quoting from a book by an Israeli historian: "The three-inch mortars 'opened up on the market square [where there was] a great crowd ... a great panic took hold. The multitude burst into the port, pushed aside the policemen, stormed the boats and began fleeing the town.'"
But this, too, is very much a partial description. Morris actually quotes from a book by Zadok Eshel, "Haganah Battles in Haifa," published in 1978 (in Hebrew ) by the Defense Ministry. Eshel was a member of the Haganah and offers first-hand descriptions of many of the unfolding events in Haifa. Here is his account of the events of April 22 (note the words which Morris omitted and replaced by an ellipsis): "Early in the morning, Maxy Cohen informed the brigade's headquarters that the Arabs were using a loudspeaker and calling on everyone to gather in the market square, 'because the Jews have conquered Stanton Street and are continuing to make their way downtown.' Upon receiving the report, an order was given to the commander of the auxiliary weapons company, Ehud Almog, to make use of the three-inch mortars, which were situated next to Rothschild Hospital, and they opened up on the market square [where there was] a great crowd. When the shelling started and shells fell into it [the crowd], a great panic took hold. The multitude burst into the port, pushed aside the policemen, stormed the boats and began fleeing the town. Throughout the day the mortars continued to shell the city alternately, and the panic that seized the enemy became a rout."

"That is a mistake," retorts Ehud Almog, who was the commander of the auxiliary unit in the Carmeli Brigade's 22nd Battalion. "It was not a three-inch mortar. They were Davidka shells" - referring to homemade shells which were renowned for the loud noise they made. Of the other details he says, "The historical description is correct. Absolutely true. I remember the events vividly. We were ordered to shell the market when there was a large crowd there. There were tremendous noises of explosions which were heard across 200 meters." Almog adds that the shelling, which took place in the early afternoon, was short "but very effective."
Like Eshel, Almog also says the mortars fired by his unit spurred a flight of civilians to the port. Although not an eyewitness to the flight, officers from Shai (the Haganah's intelligence unit) who were stationed near the port's gates gave him a real-time account of events. Another testimony (quoted by Morris in "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem" ) comes from a British soldier who was stationed in the port: "During the morning they [the Haganah] were continually shooting down on all Arabs who moved both in Wadi Nisnas and in the Old City. This included completely indiscriminate and revolting machine gun fire and sniping on women and children - attempting to get out of Haifa through the gates into the docks. There was considerable congestion outside the East Gate [of the port] of hysterical and terrified Arab women and children and old people on whom the Jews opened up mercilessly with fire." (A truncated version of this quote also appears in "1948" - reduced to "completely indiscriminate and revolting ... fire," the ellipsis replacing the words "machine gun.")

Beyond the moral issues that arise from firing into a crowded market, the testimony of Zadok Eshel, which is backed up by that of Ehud Almog, indicates that the attack was carried out by order of senior Haganah officers. How senior they were is not known. Not all the Israel Defense Forces archival material about this period is accessible to the public. It is therefore impossible to determine whether the shelling was part of a general policy aimed at expelling the Arabs, or one of several similar instances that were documented during the war.
Bodies in the streets
The shelling took place as Arab representatives were holding negotiations with Haifa's Jewish leaders on the terms for a ceasefire. Most of the testimonies from the time suggest that the city's mayor, Shabtai Levy, believed in coexistence. Many studies note that he urged the Arabs to capitulate and remain in the city. At certain moments this actually seemed possible. A correspondent for United Press Associations (UP) reported that, even though nothing official had been said, it appeared certain that the conditions laid down by the Jews had been accepted by the Arabs, at least in the main. Reportedly, the Arab Legion and the Iraqi volunteers had already begun to leave the city.
However, Haganah headquarters operated independently; even as senior officers kept abreast of the progress of the ceasefire talks, their forces continued to fire on Arab neighborhoods. A cable from Carmeli Brigade to Haganah headquarters at 2:30 P.M. on the day of the battle stated, "Arabs in Haifa approached the general, the mayor, seeking a mediator between them and the Haganah, to accept the ceasefire terms." A copy of the agreement in English, as drawn up by the Haganah, was appended to the cable. The cable concluded, "Panic, flight among the Arabs. Resistance very feeble."
The Haganah mortars harassed the fleeing Arabs. According to the Jewish force's daily events sheet, the duty officer announced at 2:40 P.M.: "Three shells landed next to the gate of Port No.3. The shells are coming from the direction of the city's Hadar Carmel section [i.e. from higher ground, on Mount Carmel]. Similar case occurred this morning and the [British] Army is threatening to attack Hadar with artillery if this does not stop." In other cases, the British Army opened fire and scored hits on Haganah soldiers who had shot at Arab civilians.
At 3 P.M. the text of the agreement was resent, with several corrections inserted by the English general. Moshe Carmel, the brigade commander, reported to Haganah headquarters, "A joint meeting of Jews, English and Arabs will be held at 4 P.M. [today] to discuss the terms. We can assume that the Arabs will not accept them, because technically there is no possibility of an organized surrender." Haganah headquarters responded, "As long as it is not certain the terms will be met, you must go on attacking." The message concluded: "Be especially careful of a trap, in case the negotiations are [intended] to gain time."
At 4 P.M., under the mediation of British officers, the two sides began to discuss the surrender and ceasefire terms. The Arabs requested more time for consultations. The sides met again at 7:15 P.M. The Haganah report stated, "The Arabs claimed they cannot fulfill the terms. Because the Arabs will not obey them [sic], they prefer to evacuate the city of Haifa completely of its Arab residents." A Haganah intelligence report from the day of the battle relates, "There are signs that the Arab command in the city is falling apart. Arab headquarters have been abandoned. No one is answering the phone and there are reports that the commanders and their staff have abandoned Haifa. Exact numbers of enemy losses are unknown. The Arab hospitals are known to be filled with dead and wounded. Bodies of the dead lie in the streets, along with the wounded, and are not being collected because of disorganization and lack of hygienic means. There is great panic among the Arabs. They are waiting for an armistice to be signed and for the Jews to take over as a good development which will be their salvation. In the meantime, a report was received from an Arab source that they have accepted our armistice terms."
Silence of the historians
In the Palestinians' consciousness, the shelling of the crowded market in Haifa occupies a significant place in the history of the Nakba in the city. Sitting in the old-timers' club in Wadi Nisnas, Awda al-Shehab, 87, says the shelling "had a great influence on the flight to the port. People gathered in the market to discuss the situation and the terms being proposed for a ceasefire. Historians tell us now that the [Jewish] mayor wanted the Arabs to stay and that after the war the Haganah did all it could to prevent the departure, but acts are far more weighty than words. And when the mortar shells landed in the heart of the market, the Arabs took this as the Jewish response to the ceasefire proposal."
Similar claims were made 63 years ago. According to a UP report which appeared in Davar (the newspaper of the Histadrut labor federation), the Arabs maintained that Jews had "violated the armistice in Haifa" and had created a "new wave of panic among thousands of Arabs" who were rushing to leave the city. Privately, the report continued, Jews admitted that during the battle and for some time afterward people lost their heads and there was some looting and shooting at civilians.
Over the years, some Israeli researchers tried to play down the significance of the shelling of the market. In his 2006 book "Palestine 1948: War, Escape and the Emergence of the Palestinian Refugee Problem," Prof. Yoav Gelber writes, "After several mortar shells fell in the vicinity of the market, where large numbers of Arabs had gathered, masses of people stormed the port, driven by fear of the gunfire and shelling." However, Zadok Eshel says explicitly that the shells landed within the crowd. Gelber does not explain how he arrived at the conclusion that the shells struck only "the vicinity of the market."

Gelber also ignores the testimonies of dozens of wounded Arabs who remained in the market after the mass flight. Most of the Palestinian researchers estimate that "several dozen were killed." Haaretz reported after the battle that "a member of the Arab National Committee said that the Jews had killed a large number of women and children who had tried to flee to the Old City, to the British security zone in the port ... Although the Jews denied the reports of heavy losses supposedly inflicted on Arab civilians, the Haganah spokesman said, 'Even if that is what happened, we are not to blame, as we broadcast over the radio and over loudspeakers 48 hours before our attack a warning in Arabic, which we also distributed via leaflets, calling on the Arabs to evacuate the women and children and send everyone who is not from Haifa out of the city. We repeated that this would be our final warning."

"An appalling and fantastic sight," David Ben-Gurion wrote in his diary after visiting the city's abandoned Arab neighborhoods on May 1. "A dead city, a carcass city ... without a living soul, apart from stray cats." The empty streets were strewn with dozens of bodies of Arab civilians. Red Crescent units that collected them initially estimated their number at more than 150; three days later, they revised the estimate downward to 80 Arabs who were killed in the battles and several hundred wounded. According to the Red Crescent, only six of those killed were combatants and the majority of the bodies were of women and children.
Many bodies remained in the area of the shelled market. A Haganah intelligence report relates that at least ten bodies were found in the Ajami Cafe there. They were removed only after all the unexploded shells in the area were neutralized. The report added: "It is hard to know the number of losses as a result of the explosion on Nazareth Street in the house of Abu Madi, as not all the bodies have as yet been removed from the rubble. The house was packed with families who moved there from outlying areas."
A few dozen Arab refugees remained in the port, waiting on the docks for boats to rescue them, fearful of returning to their homes. "The scenes in the port were pitiful," Davar reported. "Women and children were without food and water for the past two days. The British say they cannot help very much, while the Arabs maintain that this is a deliberate step by the British in order to force the Arabs to return to their homes."
In our conversation, the Arab old-timers in the Wadi Nisnas club often mention "coexistence" and "a state for two nations." They take great pride in the deep, friendly relations they maintain with their Jewish neighbors; a few of them say they have been involved over the years in attempts to draw Jews and Arabs closer together. From their viewpoint, the Nakba is a historical fact which needs no confirmation or legislation. Nor, in their view, need it frighten or threaten the Jewish presence in the country. As Awda al-Shehab says, "Only after we recognize mutually the suffering that was endured by the two peoples will we be able to create a common future. That is the true key to coexistence. Without it, each side will continue to live in the past."
When Golda cried
The commander of the Haganah in Haifa, Yaakov Lubliani, gave the following account of a visit to the city by Golda Meir, who at the time was a senior official in the Jewish Agency’s Political Department: “I suggested to her that we visit the Old City. She told me she did not want to see the ruins and the desolation. She wanted to visit an area where there were still Arabs. I took her to the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood. We came to Muchlis Street. We walked up some stairs. The apartments on the first two floors were abandoned. When we reached the third floor, an old Arab woman approached us, carrying some bundles. When she saw Golda she stopped and burst into tears. Golda stopped, looked at her, and tears streamed down her face. The two women stood there and cried. I looked at the weeping Golda and was angry at her. Although I did not dare chastise her, inwardly I thought: We are enthusiastic and happy because we have the upper hand, we eradicated the Arabs and you can walk around the city without thinking about gunfire and attacks, and she stands there, crying.” From “Haganah Battles in Haifa” ‏(1978‏) by Zadok Eshel

The importance of Haifa
On the day of Haifa’s conquest, the editor-in-chief of the Ma’ariv newspaper, Dr. Ezriel Carlebach, published an article explaining the city’s importance: “At this moment we are fighting for Haifa, which means we are fighting for the state. If we control Tel Aviv and the cities of the coastal plain we will still be only a canton, an autonomous area, a ghetto. If Haifa is ours, we will be a state.
Everyone knows this. [Jordanian King] Abdullah knows that if Haifa is in our hands, he and Iraq have no outlet to the sea, and everything he will conquer from the western part of the land will be only an adjunct to the desert, not a gateway to the world. The English also know that if Haifa is in our hands, both the oil magnates and the naval strategists, both Whitehall and Wall Street and also Washington will have to take us into account, too, and not only the Arab oil kings. If Haifa is ours, the entire political and military picture will change. The whole fate of our state now hangs in the balance.” Taken from Ma’ariv, April 22, 1948
A ‘positive’ byproduct
A post-battle article in Davar headlined “The meaning of the victory in Haifa” stated: “We must also emphasize a byproduct. The thousands of Arab refugees who will arrive in a panicky flight in the Arab towns and villages are also a positive military element for us. Let us remember the millions of refugees in France and Poland during the German blitz, who blocked the advance of the army and sowed the seeds of defeatism and panic among their people and caused their everlasting defeat.
Article in Davar, April 25, 1948
The Arabs’ dilemma
Two Haganah intelligence reports about the situation in Haifa’s Arab neighborhoods were drawn up a week after the city’s conquest. An excerpt from the first report said: “Spoke today with a number of Muslims and Christians who remained in the city. They are extremely worried about May 15. On the one hand, they do not believe in the possibilities of an invasion of an Arab army from the neighboring countries; on the other hand, they are apprehensive that in the event of an invasion they will be in dire straits, as they have been informed that everyone who did not leave Haifa is viewed as a traitor and as having ties with the Jews. The situation has reached such a pitch that many who had thought to stay are now planning to leave the city during the week.
The second report related: “Mr. Taharuna, the director general of the Spinni Company, said that all the Arab workers had left Haifa. They did not want to go, but apparently received an order from above. The workers said they would be back in another six to eight weeks.” Elsewhere, the report states: “The Arabs now in Haifa are desperate and do not know what to do − to go or stay? Most of those who are here are waiting to get their wages from the [British] government and then to leave, as every Arab who remains in Haifa is considered by the public to be a traitor to his people.