Monday, May 16, 2005

Just another example of how a lack of interest, insufficient knowledge, and/or poor journalistic values can lead to biased reporting and falsification of history.
In the Radio Netherlands news bulletin that I receive daily by e-mail I just read an item on the Palestinian ceremonies in remembrance of Al-Naqba ( the catastrophe ), the establishment of the State of Israel. The Dutch original says " During the war in 1948 about 760.000 Palestinians were driven (*) from cities and towns by Jewish forces." ( (*) The English version says "fled or were driven" ).
Never mind that the war lasted until the spring of 1949. What is really important is that, while many Palestinians indeed were expelled or 'encouraged' to leave by Israeli forces and officials, a lot of them also left as a result of poor leadership on their side, or simply because they were afraid or did not want to live under Jewish rule.
The Israeli 'official' version maintains that most Palestinians fled 'voluntarily' or because their leaders told them to leave to facilitate the Arab offensive against the Zionists. Arab spokesmen have always claimed that the refugees were expelled intentionally and systematically by the Israelis. As Benny Morris writes in his Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001 ( New York: Vintage Books Edition, 2001 ), p. 253: " Documentation that surfaced in massive quantities during the 1980s in Israeli and Western archives has demonstrated that neither 'official' version is accurate or sufficient." On pp. 253-258 he briefly summarizes what he published earlier in his The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988 ).
If you read my blog now and then you will know that I do not deny that Israel has a responsibility regarding the Palestinians, not only because of the post-1967 occupation but also because of the very establishment of the Jewish state. Still, that is not exactly an excuse to give unbalanced reports such as the one mentioned above. Well informed, balanced, fair and honest reporting - trying to mention the faults and crimes committed on all the many different sides of the conflict - would help both Palestinians and Israelis.

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