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July 24, 2020 9:54 am

Head of PA’s Mission to UK Lies and Distorts 1948 History

avatar by Adam Levick

Opinion

David Ben-Gurion declares Israel’s independence, at the Tel Aviv Museum, May 14, 1948. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian Mission to the UK, published a piece in The Times (“Despite Israel’s efforts, Palestinians are going nowhere,” July 22) that began thusly:

Over the weekend, I was fortunate to spend some precious hours with my father, listening to his childhood memories and the stories told to him by his parents. My father was born in Simsim, a flourishing Palestinian village on the south coast of Palestine near the historic city of Majdal (Ashqelon).

In 1948, Simsim’s entire population was expelled by Haganah militia forces, which would later form the core of the Israeli military. Prevented from returning and with their homes destroyed, my family and their neighbours became refugees in the Gaza Strip.

Imagine my surprise, then, the very day after my father’s reminiscences, to read Sammy Stein’s article in which he claimed that none of this ever happened — that my father, and every other Palestinian family with a similar history, is lying.

However, the op-ed in The Times (paywall) by Sammy Stein, co-chair of Glasgow Friends of Israel, he’s referring to doesn’t even allude to the Zomlot family’s dislocation during the Arab-Israeli war, and doesn’t accuse Palestinians of lying about their flight during that time.

In other words, Zomlot’s accusation — that Stein accused Zomlot of lying, is itself a lie.

Rather, Stein’s piece largely focuses on what he refers to as the “politicised hijacking of a term Nakba,” and characterizes “The Nakba” as self-inflicted by the Arab leaders who launched a war of annihilation against Israel instead of accepting partition.

Zomlot continues to mislead in a subsequent paragraph:

Palestinian refugees, scholars everywhere, as well as a growing number of Israeli historians, have all attested to the reality of al-Nakba (the “Catastrophe”), when hundreds of towns were depopulated, looted and destroyed. Overall, more than half the population of Palestine was expelled. This is what Mr Stein refers to as “Israel’s success”

First, it’s not true that all of the refugees were expelled. Most fled due to orders from Arab military and political leaders, or of their own accord — to escape the war. More deceiving, however, is Zomlot’s claim that Stein referred to the Palestinian exodus as an Israeli “success.”

Here are the relevant paragraphs from Stein’s op-ed, where he refers to Israeli success:

The politicised hijacking of a term Nakba which bemoaned the absence of pan-Arab unity and castigated Arabs for their failings, into a term of abuse against Israel is a calculated and continuous act of deception, designed to absolve Arab states of blame and condemn Israel for successfully defending itself against attack.

Today Palestinians and their apologists worldwide might stop to consider these realities and face up to the fact that Nakba describes their failure, not Israel’s success.

It’s clear that Stein is referring to Israel’s survival in the Arab war as an Israeli “success” — not the flight of Palestinian refugees.

To see more deceit from Zomlont, read this post on his recent appearance on BBC’s “Hardtalk.”

Adam Levick is co-editor of CAMERA UK, the British division of Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).

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