By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
The truth about the circumstances and numbers of the 1948 Arab refugees has been sacrificed - by the UN, Arab regimes, the "elite" Western media and most Western Foreign Offices – on the altar of Arab-appeasement and Israel-bashing.
For instance, the Palestinian Arab leadership collaborated with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, seeking Nazi support to settle “the Jewish problem” in British Mandate Palestine in accordance with the practice used in Europe. Thus, the top Palestinian Arab leader, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, incited his people in a March 1, 1944 Arabic broadcast on the Nazi Berlin Radio - consistent with anti-Jewish Arab terrorism during the 1920s and 1930s - “Kill the Jews wherever you find them. It would please God, history and religion.”
On January 9, 2013, Mahmoud Abbas honored the Nazi collaborator: “We pledge to continue on the path of the martyrs [suicide bombers]…. We must remember the Grand Mufti of Palestine, Haj Amin Al-Husseini….” In 2016, Hitler's Mein Kemp and the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion feature prominently in Mahmoud Abbas' hate-education and incitement systems.
On October 11, 1947, Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha, the first Secretary General of the Arab League told the Egyptian daily Akhbar al Yom: “…This will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre, which will be spoken of like the Tartar massacres, or the Crusaders’ wars…. Each fighter deems death on behalf of Palestine as the shortest road to paradise….The war will be an opportunity for vast plunder…. ” On August 2, 1948, the NY Times reported that the founder of the largest Islamic terror organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, instigated: “Drive the Jews into the sea… and never accept the Jewish State.”
The Arab incitement led the CIA and the Department of State (which vehemently opposed the establishment of a Jewish State) to warn David Ben Gurion – Israel's Founding Father - that "a declaration of independence would lead to a second Jewish Holocaust in less than ten years."
In spite of the Arab military assault on the newly-born Jewish state, the wave of terrorism and subversion by Israeli Arabs, and their collaboration with the Arab invasion and the Nazis, the Commander-in–Chief of the "Arab Liberation Army," Ismayil Safwat, admitted on March 23, 1948: “The Jews have not attacked any Arab village, unless attacked first.”
The Arabs egregiously violated the November 29, 1947 UN General Assembly Resolution 181, Article 80 of the 1945 U.N. Charter (that includes the “Mandate of Palestine,” that stipulated a Jewish state in the entire area west of the Jordan River), the July 24, 1922 League of Nations’ “Mandate for Palestine,”, the April 1920 San Remo Conference of the First World War Allied Powers, which resolved to establish a Jewish national home on both sides of the Jordan River, and the November, 1917 Balfour Declaration, which was the basis for San Remo.
How many refugees resulted from the 1948/49 Arab attempt to annihilate the "infidel" Jewish state, which was established, supposedly, in the abode of Islam? According to inflated British Mandate numbers, before the 1948/9 war there were 800,000 Arabs in “pre-1967 Israel.” 170,000 Arabs remained at the end of the war. Of the 630,000 Arabs who left, 100,000 were absorbed by Israel’s family reunification gesture; 100,000 middle and upper class Arabs left before the war, absorbed by neighboring Arab countries; 50,000 migrant laborers returned to their Arab countries of origin; 50,000 Bedouins joined their brethren-tribes in Jordan and Sinai, from whence their forefathers migrated during the 18-19 centuries; and 10,000 were war fatalities (compared with 6,000 Jewish fatalities). Thus, the total number of Palestinian Arab refugees - resulting from a war launched by Arabs - could not exceed 320,000, in the context of over 100 million global refugees.
According to Elfan Rees, Advisor on Refugees Affairs to the World Council of Churches, during the 1950s there were 36 million refugees in Europe, Africa and Asia. Less than 1% were Arabs. All, but the Arabs, have been integrated into their new societies. Moreover, 100 million refugees were created by wars since WW2 and 79 million were created during 1933-1945, all were integrated. 38 million refugees in their own countries, and 15 million “ordinary” refugees, were documented in 2014 by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
In addition, there were 90 million Chinese refugees during the 1937-1945 war against Japan; 15 million Hindu, Sikh and Muslim refugees during the 1947 creation of India and Pakistan; 12 million German refugees from Poland and Czechoslovakia following WW2; 9 million Korean refugees during the 1950-1953 war; 7 million Syrian refugees caused by the current civil war; 5 million Sudanese refugees; 3 million Polish refugees following the 1939 USSR occupation; 3 million refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia following the 1975 US withdrawal; 3 million refugees from Afghanistan; 2 million Greek and Turkish refugees from the 1919-1922 war; 1 million Libyan refugees since 2011; 800,000 Yemenite refugees from Saudi Arabia in 1990; and over 500,000 Christian refugees from Lebanon.
The UN has highlighted/twisted the story of the 320,000 1948/49 Palestinian Arab refugees - singling them out for perpetuity unlike all other refugees - as a means to de-legitimize Israel. But, the UN has ignored the 300,000 Palestinian refugees from Kuwait, 200,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria and the 50,000 Palestinian refugees from Iraq.
In 1948, expecting an Arab assault on the reconstructed Jewish State, the British High Commissioner, Alan Cunningham, urged Arab and Jewish minorities to evacuate mixed towns. The Arabs complied – many of them returned to their countries of origin - but the Jews remained.
The London Economist wrote on October 2, 1948: “The most potent factor [triggering the Arab flight] was the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit…and that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades….” It was reaffirmed by Syria’s Prime Minister, Khaled al-Azam, who admitted, in his 1973 memoirs: “We brought destruction upon the  refugees, by calling on them to leave their homes.”
The goal of promoting the myth of the 1948 Arab refugees – which fails the reality test - was disclosed by Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Muhammad Salah al-Din Bey (the Egyptian daily Al Misri, Oct. 11, 1949): “In demanding the return of the Palestinian refugees, the intention is to exterminate the Jewish State.”
Should the US taxpayer fund UN agencies – such as UNRAW – which aim to de-legitimize Israel, sacrificing truth on the altar of lethal mythology?