Brog's Blog

May 18, 2011

The Catastrophe

Filed under: All Posts — brogsblog @ 12:06 am

On Sunday, May 15th, people across the country and around the world celebrated Israel Independence Day.   It was on May 14, 1948 – sixty-three years ago – that Israel’s leaders declared the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in their ancient land after centuries of exile.

But for multitudes in the Arab and Muslim world, May 15th is not a day to celebrate.  They have a different name for Israel Independence Day.  They call it “al-Nakba” – the catastrophe.  And indeed, for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, Israel’s birth did ultimately prove to be a catastrophe.  During Israel’s war of independence, approximately 600,000 Palestinian Arabs became refugees.  Some fled out of fear of the battles raging in their backyards.  Some were forced out by their own leaders.  And, yes, some were forced out by the Israeli military.

But here’s an interesting question that the Nakba mourners prefer to dodge:  Who started the war?  There would not have been one Palestinian refugee – not one – had the Arabs not launched a war of aggression to destroy the Jewish State immediately after its birth.  The Jews had agreed to divide the land into two states – one Jewish and one Arab.  It was the Palestinians who rejected this compromise and tried to conquer all of the land for themselves.

There’s an old Jewish joke that the definition of chutzpah (“nerve”) is to murder your parents and then throw yourself on the mercy of the court as an orphan.  The same applies to those who attacked Israel in an effort to destroy it and then complained about the manner in which Israel dared to defend itself.

Here, for example, is how Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described these historic events in an op-ed published in today’s New York Times.  “It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative.  Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued.”

Not even close, Mr. President.  When the United Nations recommended dividing Palestine into two states – one Jewish and one Arab – in November, 1947, the Jews not only accepted the compromise, but they danced in streets with joy.  It was the Palestinians who rejected the deal.  Within hours of the United Nations vote, they launched a civil war against Jewish towns and cities across the country.  When the Israelis survived this initial onslaught and declared their independence on May 14th, 1948, they once again celebrated.  The next day, five Arab armies invaded Israel in an effort to finish the job the Palestinians had started.

In each case, Israelis made a choice.  They decided to fight for their survival.  This meant taking up arms and using them.  The one thing all veterans can agree upon is that war is hell.  And wars also have consequences.  Just ask the mothers of the one percent of Israel’s population who fell in this war of Arab aggression.  These boys (and in many cases girls) never came home.  They have no right of return.

Israel isn’t perfect.  It’s important to criticize the mistakes Israel makes in its struggle to survive.  It’s fair to point out that the Israelis – who are men, not angels – committed some atrocities as they frantically fought for their survival.  But to overlook the context within which these battles took place sheds no light.  It’s D-Day without the Nazi Blitzkrieg.  It’s Iwo Jima without Pearl Harbor.  It’s less than half the story.  And it’s a lie.

As Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel has noted, the Palestinian people do have good reason to be angry.  But they shouldn’t be angry at Israel.  They should be angry at their grandparents who could have had a Palestinian state back in 1948 but chose not to compromise.  And, I would add, they should be angry at their parents who could have had a Palestinian state in 2000 and again in 2008 (when offered by Israeli Prime Ministers Barak and Olmert, respectively) but likewise refused to compromise.

Why was Israel’s birth a catastrophe for so many Palestinians?  Because the Palestinians lost the war that they started to destroy Israel.  Had they chosen a different path – the path of peace and mutual recognition — May 15th would have had a different name.  It would be known today as Palestinian Independence Day.

David Brog is the executive director of Christians United for Israel and author of a new book, In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity.  You can follow David on Facebook by clicking here and on Twitter by clicking here.



  1. Good article! There are a handful of important points: 1) Arabs came to the Land of Israel as a result of bloody jihad. 2) Arabic speaking people lived in the Land of Israel in 1940-s didn’t call themselves “Palestinaians”. Why should you? 3) The additional Arabic state had been created. It is Jordan. It is much larger than Israel. 4) Many of people who became refugees were not permanent residents in the Land of Israel – they came from Siria, Egypt and other countries because Jews have created jobs and paid well. But their “brothers” didn’t allow them to return home. 5) If what Abbas say is correct, why Jews left a lot of Arabs in other places, including Jerusalem and Jaffa?

    Comment by Anonymous — May 18, 2011 @ 1:52 am

  2. why does no one ever refer to the 600,000 Jewish people who became refugees – summarily driven from the Arab countries which attacked Israel in ’48?

    Comment by Jan Taylor — May 18, 2011 @ 2:22 am

  3. Thank you David!
    You are a wealth of information. I wish this wasn’t the 1st time I’d heard this information. Be sure, it will be passed on from me. Thank you for all you do. Keep it up. God is faithful!

    Comment by Rich Trapp — May 18, 2011 @ 2:29 am

  4. The situation of late is like kids in a school yard. One keeps throwing rocks at another and it isn’t until the kid that gets the rocks thrown at him starts throwing rocks back gets in trouble for it. Am I the only one who sees this as the insanity that it is? If someone started bombing my cities I would bomb back and probably not be as gracious as Israel has been to wait. The whole region would be flattened, not just the sites that appear to be launching. No wonder Israel is God’s chosen, they have quite a bit more class than most.

    Comment by Irene Abbott — May 18, 2011 @ 2:50 am

  5. Great piece! Any way to get The New York Times to print your article as a rebuttal
    to Abbas?

    Comment by Bernie nagler — May 18, 2011 @ 3:13 am

  6. Thanks for this very open, honest and transparant coverage. However, it is unfortunately to have to live in times where there seems to be a continuous travesty and miscarriage of international law as well as justice, blacklisting Israel as a ‘scapegoat’ While ignoring the same time the vicious and herendous unjust hostility various Arab Muslim (NOTE: not speaking for all Muslims) towards Jews having the right of a homeland of their home. Often encouraged as well as sponsored through different undemocratic powerful interests in the media; political spectrums with too great influence. My prayers and thoughts are with all Jews round the world including the Jewish nation wishing them God’s Blessings and protection.

    Comment by Tim Blackburn — May 18, 2011 @ 3:45 am

  7. Truly, these are the days to join together and take a couragious stand for Israel. I appreciate all that you’re doing to make this happen on a global scale, and your sharing knowledge of the situation so that we, in turn can educate others. My prayers are with you, and with Israel.

    Comment by 2simplyb — May 18, 2011 @ 4:39 am

  8. Let me get this straight, in 1948 there was a country called Palestine that didn’t have Jews. Jews came from places like Europe and attacked the Arabs, driving them from there land. The Old Testament is a lie, Jews have no claim to the land, Jews were never part of the land until they invaded in 1948. I just wonder where the Obama administration differs from Abbas on the history of the Middle East. If someone asked Obama what happened in 1948 or 1967, I wonder what his answer would be. Since he has pointed out that everyone know that Palestine has been occupied since 1967, should someone ask him about Palestine in 1966. Jews have been under attack for the past century. Is there anyway that CUFI could bring out the truth. Is there anyone who would print it? This month’s message needs to be seen next to the garbage that you normally see. Is it safe to say that Netanyahu will be threatened when he comes to the White House on Friday.

    Comment by Marvin — May 18, 2011 @ 4:47 am

  9. David you are right. But one more point needs to be emphasized. Even to this day, the Palestinians do not really seek to have their own state ooexisting alongside Israel. Their priority is the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. The proof is incontrovertible. Besides refusing many previous offers to have a state of their own, they insist on inundating Israel with the descendents of the Arab refugees who fled from Israel in 1948 while, at the same time, insisting that no Jew can live in or return to ancestral Jewish land in the West Bank. In other words, the Palestinian motto is “heads I win, tails you lose”.

    Comment by Marc C. — May 18, 2011 @ 6:40 am

  10. @ Marvin; Who made you a judge? Whether you and Arab/ Muslim world like it or not, Israel is a Almighty God first chosen son/ nation. There’s no amount of blaspheming/ weapons specially designed against Jews shall stand. Let the whole world not only Arab/ Muslim conspire together against them shall not succeed. The Jews have my prayers daily. God bless Jerusalem.

    Comment by Anietie — May 18, 2011 @ 6:49 am

  11. David. You are right in principle, but I believe you have some factual errors or misplaced emphasis. My research indicates: 1/ The primary blame for refusing partition in 1947 should be upon the Arab nations, and not the Palestinians (although they probably did not disagree); 2/ The invasion by Arab armies was announced alomost immmediately after the November UN action, to be activated as the British would exit–which they did. There was a form of civil war between Nov 20, 1947 and May 15, 1948, combined by both Arab infiltrators and local Arabs.

    Of course, this does not alter the impact or general accuracy of the story.. . and how there would have been no Nakba if the Arabs had said “OK”.

    Randy Neal does a great job of describing this, as well as the other historical events.

    dan davis santa maria, ca

    Comment by Dan Davis — May 18, 2011 @ 6:54 am

  12. It is good to hear the truth and so sad at the lies people like Marvin have been told and believe despite the evidence. To Marvin I say just check it out there is no doubt you and others like you have been lied to. If there is no Old Testament where did your scripture come from -all the prophets of Christians and 600 years later Muslims are Jewish?
    @ AnietieI do so agree with you no matter what they do they cannot win against God. God’s heart is for them to find the truth and repent (change their thinking).

    Comment by Jacqueline Bridge — May 18, 2011 @ 7:26 am

  13. very interesting brief information which has opened my perspectives on what I have been reading in brief news media coverage. I believe Israel’s God that I worship will save Ierael from this imminent catastrophe. God bless and be with you Israel in your endevours.

    Comment by wakasa a. mecksaene — May 18, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  14. Excellent Article. I have been following this blog for the past week or so, as I only just recently discovered it.

    @Anietie and @Jacqueline Bridge, unless I misread/misunderstood Marvins intent, I do believe he was saying that sarcasticly. He even says near the end of his post that he wishes “news” like this were to actually be presented on the same medium as everyday newscasts, right beside it, so people will actually learn something. He also says he believes (as I do, sadly enough) that Netanyahu will be threatened by the pro-Islam governement we have.

    Comment by Matthew F — May 18, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  15. Dear Director Brog,

    I read your May 18 Blog with great interest. I am a sixty four year old American Jew who has always been proud of my heritage. I have also been a supporter of Israel for my entire life. In fact, I will be attending the AIPAC Policy Conference which begins this Sunday in Washington DC. I must admit, though, that as a moral person, I have been troubled by some of the points which are getting made by the Palestians regarding the origins of Israel in 1948. Your comments in today’s Blog have put a perspective on that period which I had never thought of. I am greatful to you for helping me come to grips with some of the issues which have been so troubing to me. Thank you for that as well as your continued support for the Jewish People.

    May G_d bless you.

    Fred D.

    Comment by Fred D. — May 18, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  16. wrong on a number of points. Israel did not accept the compromisen in 1947. Ben-Gurion was very careful to let the Palestinians fall into the trap. Israel has never declared fully what it believes it’s borders to be. Note Netanyahu claim re Golan heights. That is not an internationally recognised Israeli border.
    As to the Arab armies attacking the new Israeli state: your readers should know that the Zionist movement had been targetting Palestinian leaders in villages and towns since early in 1947, in some cases even earlier. The claim ‘next day five arab armies invaded’ is seriously misleading. It implies that those armies all posed a serious threat. Only in the case of one group could that be said.
    Further, it is clear that the proposed partition was unfair. Why should 32% of the population, mostly 1st generation immigrants, receive 55% of the land? Yad Vashem contains a document lauding the sacrifice for ‘independence’ of holocaust escapees. As has been said by Jewish commentators; what was seen by Jews as gaining a safe home, was seen by Palestinians as a western colonial invasion.
    Certainly the Palestinians have made many mistakes. But so has Israel and so has the international community. We do Jews no favours by treating Israel as nif it were different from other nations. To do so as ‘Christians’ is not just biblically mistaken, it is idolatry.

    Comment by David Carter — May 18, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

  17. This is an utter misrepresentation of historical fact, part of what Israeli historian Shlomo Sand calls the “mythistory” of Israel. The truth, well documented by Israel’s own historians drawn from Israeli archives, 1948 US consulate records, UN records and other unimpeachable sources, is as follows:
    1. Jewish land ownership in 1947 Palestine was less than 7% and Jews represented less than one-third the population consisting largely of recent immigrants from Europe.
    2. The UN Charter calls for “self-determination” of peoples and Arabs were the clear majority in Palestine.
    3. The land was not the UN’s to give away, and of course the majority population holding this right under the UN’s founding document objected strenuously to the General Assembly proposal (UNGA 181).
    4. UNGA 181 was never ratified by the Security Council, which instead returned it for “reconsideration” to the General Assembly in March 1948.
    5. At this point, the Zionist terror groups (so designated by a UN Report in October 1948 following Zionist assassination of UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte) Haganah, Irgun and Lehi (aka Stern Gang) activated “Plan Dalet” to ethnically cleanse Palestine by force.
    6. Palestinians had no armed forces and were largely helpless before the well-armed and well-organized Zionist assault which drove over 300,000 Palestinians into 59 hastily constructed UN refugee camps – from which they were never allowed to return – before the British left in May 1948 and after which Arab forces attempted to intervene with much too little too late. They were greatly outnumbered and out-funded by the Zionists and denied arms and supplies by UN restrictions while arms were allowed to flow freely to the Zionists forces (After May 1948 the IDF).
    7. These Arab forces attempted only to prevent Zionist takeover of the land allocated to Palestinians in UNGA 181.
    8. By December 1948 the Zionists had expelled 3/4 million Palestinians from 531 villages and 11 urban areas, committing 33 massacres in the process.
    9. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN in December 1948 declares that no one can be arbitrarily deprived of his home (Article 17) and everyone has the right to leave and return to his country (Article 13).
    10. The UN passed Resolution 194 in December 1948 applying these principles specifically to the Palestinians, and allowing return of these refugees was a condition of Israel’s 1949 admission to the UN, and obligation that remains unfulfilled 62 years later.
    11. These facts are well documented by numerous Israeli historians. For a clear, focused account, I recommend “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” by Ilan Pappe. Another excellent history detailing the political machinations behind all this is the 3-volume set by veteran Middle East correspondent Alan Hart, “Zionism, the Real Enemy of the Jews.”

    Comment by Jack Dresser — May 18, 2011 @ 5:28 pm


    By 1950 there were nearly a million UN-registered Palestinian refugees from the Nakba. Another quarter million were expelled in 1967 by Israel’s attacks on three neighbors falsely justified as pre-emptively defensive (as admitted by Menachim Begin in 1982), and perhaps another half-million have been dispossessed by Israel’s subsequent destruction of some 25,000 Palestinian homes which often housed multiple families and multiple generations.

    With their descendants, this registered refugee population now exceeds four million, and the conflict between their rights and Israel’s fear provides a substantial obstacle to resolution of their impasse. Palestine is their homeland, which threatens Israel’s ability to call itself a “Jewish” homeland and retain its discriminatory laws and Jewish privileges without sacrificing its pretensions of democracy.

    A myth of population exchange has been floated heavily as one of the latest attempts to neutralize this dreaded Palestinian right of return as codified in UN Resolution 194 of December 1948 under Articles 13 and 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reaffirmed the following year by the Fourth Geneva Convention. This argument asserts that an equivalent number of Jews were expelled from Arab countries to balance out the number of Arab Muslims and Christians expelled from Palestine during the Nakba.

    This represents yet another in a long succession of distortions, rationalizations and outright lies designed to avoid the “demographic threat” of an Arab majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.

    These evasions of truth, responsibility and international justice are now supplemented with the assertion that justice has already been satisfied: it was just a fair trade of populations.

    Actually, however, the emigration of Misrahi Jews from Arab lands was almost entirely voluntary in response to Israeli recruitment, a central Zionist objective in establishing the new Jewish state. The Palestinians were driven into UNRWA refugee camps while their stolen properties were given to these aggressively recruited emigres. In addition to generous incentives, the recruitment was facilitated by false flag Mossad attacks in Baghdad and Cairo to stampede Jews into fleeing, as revealed by the diaries of Moshe Sharett, Israel’s first foreign minister and second prime minister. And most “ingathering” of Jewish emigrants was not in 1947-49, but took place over the next 20 years in response to the call of Zionism.

    Some Jews were expelled due to Arab panic and sudden distrust of their long-time Jewish neighbors evoked by the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine, well-documented by Israel’s own historians including Avi Shlaim and Ilan Pappe. Some were expelled from Egypt when invaded by Israel in 1956.

    But most important, Jews have not been denied their rights to return to their homes and countries of origin. The governments of Morocco, Egypt, Iraq and Yemen have always invited their former Jewish citizens to return, and some have even done so proactively. In 1975 Iraq ran advertisements in the New York Times, Toronto Star and Le Monde inviting their 140,000 Jewish emigres to return, and in 1977 Egyptian President Sadat extended the same invitation to Egyptian Jews.

    If some Jews were unjustly expelled and deprived of their property they are certainly entitled to return and/or compensation under international law, but this does not in any way negate or “cancel out” the same right of return and/or compensation for Palestinians. Jews expelled with land claims have always been free to register these with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. But how many have needed to do so if provided the properties of dispossessed Palestinians or state-subsidized housing on illegally occupied Palestinian lands?

    Comment by HHM — May 18, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

  19. I should add that Pappe’s book also describes Israel’s “Nakba denial” and “memoricide” to conceal the evidence of their crimes (unequivocally designated as such by Pappe) and obliterate the history and culture of Palestine’s indigenous people. This is now actively counteracted by a fine Israeli NGO, Zochrot ( that has also studied the feasibility of implementing the right of return and has produced a detailed plan for achieving compliance with this international law which has remained the roadblock to peace for six decades.

    Comment by Jack Dresser — May 18, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

  20. There are always two sides to the story and being exclusively ‘pro-Israel’ or ‘pro-Palestine’ by default ignores the other half of the story.

    To put it in hypothetical terms, how would you like it if all of a sudden a Native American tribe decided that they wanted to annex part of your state and divide it in half, based on the fact that the land used to be theirs (which is a fact – and it was their land only a couple hundred of years ago). One half would be for the current residents and the other half would become a new Native American nation, populated by people who would bring in a different language, culture and religion. Would you just say “OK,someone decided this was a good idea and we still get to keep 50% of our territory so let’s shake on it”?? Would anyone honestly say they would let a stranger take over their land without a struggle?? I think most people would fight for their home, yet we label Palestinians who are doing just that as “terrorists”. I certainly do not advocate violence but let’s stop vilifying Palestinians whilst sactifying Israel. Both sides commit human rights abuses, both sides kill innocent people, and both sides have suffered terrible loses, but at the end of the day we should be trying to work towards peaceful reconciliation, not wasting time on trying to figure out who has the most righteous cause or who deserves the most sympathy and support.

    Believe me, the average Palestinian just wants to get on with their life, they don’t spend all their time plotting ways to destroy Israel (which would be quite a task since Israel has the 4th strongest army in the world). I spent time in the West Bank speaking with Palestinians and it appeared to me that what they want is the right to self-determination, freedom of movement within their own territory and basic human rights which the current occupation is denying them. Not too much ask, eh?

    Ps. In response to Marc C’s comment, I believe you are incorrect by stating Palestinians “ insist on inundating Israel with the descendents of the Arab refugees who fled from Israel” since at the present time there is no right of return for any Palestinian refugee and it near impossible for a Palestinian to get a permission to travel to Israel. Even a permit to travel to Jerusalem is very difficult to obtain, as my Christian friends from Bethlehem can attest to. Jerusalem is a mere 5 miles away but due to the challenges of securing a permit many people are unable to visit a place that is holy and sacred to them, bot Christians and Muslims.

    Comment by M Roland — May 19, 2011 @ 1:05 am

  21. Never as clear as this. There are vital lessons to learn from this by both the Palestinians, Arabs and the rest of the world. That when argitations arise, dialogue and the gains it could bring should not be wished away with a waive of the hand. there is still an opportunity to go back to that initial agreement of division into two viz a Palestinian state and a Jewish state, all having equal right to exist. It appears to me it is the Palestinian part that does not want to recognise to right to exist of Israel. The Jews did not fall from the sky, did they?

    Comment by Derefaka Direh — May 19, 2011 @ 6:12 am

  22. Okay. I really don’t understand the whole land situation. Why don’t the Israel just buy the land from the Palestinians. If someone is giving me lots of money and a chance to immigrate out of that situation, I will go. Wouldn’t that be cheaper than all these fighting and death. I mean, Israel really shouldn’t just go to other people’s land and grab it just because they can. 1 to 2 million Palestine refugees were created because Israel took their land.

    Comment by emily — May 21, 2011 @ 8:41 am

  23. I have traveled to Israel twice; and once to Jordan. The Arabs have millions of miles of land; most of it not cultivated; not built up; not cared for.
    The Arabs were in control of half of Jerusalem prior to the 1967 war. They did nothing to improve on it; build it up; in fact, I was told by one living there that the Arabs let goats, other animals, roam thru the synagogues just to show disrespect.
    When the Arabs were in control of the West Bank, Gaza, and whatever else prior to 1967 – why didn’t they build and create great cities, industries, etc.?
    The part Israel controlled while I was there in 1976 was clean; trees, orchard planted. Not so with Arab side.

    Comment by Pearl — May 22, 2011 @ 3:26 am

  24. It is blaspheme to say the old testamemt is a lie. No wonder the awesome God gives Isreal a upper hand over their enemies.We humans must give way to God’s plan and purpose at all times. That will make our short time here bearable. God bless Isreal, God defend His people Amen

    Comment by Hauwa Ojeme — June 7, 2011 @ 10:34 am

  25. Thanks David for that insight,God will protect the Israel people,they have every right to live and exist.

    Comment by Nyaga James — June 7, 2011 @ 12:30 pm


    Comment by Mary High — September 15, 2011 @ 6:58 pm

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