Challenging the false anti-Israel narrative with facts


“This is our history – if we do not defend it – it will be stolen away.”

Opinion.

Weekend long read

The following article originally appeared in The David Collier blog, david-collier.com and appears here with permission from the author. David Collier is an investigative journalist exposing extremism and antisemitism. He is based in the U.K.

David Collier Head and Shoulders 002

By David Collier

“Not all opinions are equal. And some things happened just like they say they did. Slavery happened, the Black Death happened, the earth is round, the ice caps are melting, and Elvis is not alive” -Rachel Weisz (playing Deborah Lipstadt) from the movie ‘Denial’.


CANADA –  December 24-25/22  – Jews are facing Orwellian inversions of history. We are witnessing an increase in Holocaust denialism, that can even perversely attempt to make Jews responsible for the events in Nazi Germany. And we are seeing a rewrite of the story of Zionism, which results in Jews being portrayed as powerful, sadistic monsters.

Thankfully, Holocaust denialism is mostly in the shadows. Every decent person will have nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, the rewrite of the Israel story has been far more successful. Media, politicians, and even many Jews on the left, have lost sight of what is true. It is this history – the real history – that I highlight here.

Anti-Israel activism is based on two key falsehoods.

  • The first is that the Arabs welcomed the Jews (and were then betrayed by them).
  • The second is that the Jews controlled the events, eventually going on a deliberate rampage, slaughtering or expelling innocent and passive Arabs.

I have no intention of making this a wordy piece, but rather to go on a brief journey through time. Using news reports to highlight the truth upon which the conflict is built.

Acceptance and populations

Let me begin with the idea that the Arabs accepted the Jews – or lived with them in peace before the Zionists came. Until the latter part of the 19th century, pogroms could occur in places such as Tzfat or Hebron (1834) and the world remained oblivious. If news did break out, it often came through published letters of notable travellers that witnessed events. This distressing eye-witness account of a brutal attack on Jews in Jerusalem, was written in July 1834 and published four months after the event occurred:

Hampshire Advertiser 29 Nov 1834

That attack was not conducted by the Egyptians or the Turks – but by local Arab Muslims. This was the life of Jews in Jerusalem under Ottoman Islamic rule: 3rd class citizens, vulnerable to the violent whims of the Islamic rulers and local Muslim populations. Below are three more extracts from newspapers in the 19th Century, One details the ‘indignity’ with which Jews of Jerusalem were treated. The two others refer to Ottoman laws restricting Jewish free movement (one even mentions the ‘enmity’ towards them):

Vermont Journal, March 20 1820, Wilkes Barre Times Leader, 10 Oct 1898 and Champaign County Herald 8 May 1889

All reports from the area of the time speak of squalor, empty lands, decay, and neglect. Laws were set in place restricting Jewish land purchase and movement. This blatantly anti-Jewish decree did not just affect Jews from Europe – but even Jews inside the Ottoman empire:

American Israelite, 25 July 1884

At differing levels anti-Jewish activity continued until the British arrived. Between 1914 and 1917, the Turks expelled all the Jews in Tel Aviv and Yaffo:

Egyptian Jews
Daily Phoenix and Times-Democrat Oklahoma,19 Jan 1915

There was an unmentioned driver to the Turkish oppression of Jews in the late 19th Century. The Islamic rulers were worried about Jews entering a land with a low population. So *Muslim only* immigration was encouraged. This can be seen in reports from the time, such as this one that details the Bosnian Muslim immigration and the barriers placed on others:

Daily News on 11 Nov 1898

That report is important, it highlights a blatant pro-Muslim bias influencing the facts on the ground – and changing the demographics – in what was to become the British Mandate of Palestine. This from the Guardian, on immigration to the Galilee from North African states in 1860, The piece even mentions that they were corresponding with their communities in Nth Africa, telling them to ‘come to Palestine’:

Guardian 31 Aug 1860

And this influx continued, with the British turning a blind eye to Arabs crossing into the mandate area as deliberately and consistently as they were turning Jews away on the shores:

Buffalo News 22 April 1936

The descendants of these Arab, North African, and European Muslim immigrants – are of course today called ‘indigenous Palestinians’ by our media (from the BBC to CNN). Whilst Jews who arrived alongside them, are referred to as ‘colonial invaders’. In reality it was the imperial forces – the Ottoman and British Empire, that redrew the map by importing (or turning a blind eye to) Muslim immigration throughout the 19th Century and early 20th. As Jewish interest in settling increased – so did the desire of Imperialist anti-Jews to play their demographic games.

It would be wrong to say the land was ‘completely empty’. Just as it would be wrong to deny how deliberate were the actions of those – Turkish or British – who undermined Jewish aspirations – and created a catastrophe – by meddling with the facts on the ground.

The oncoming storm

When the British came, things turned from bad to worse. Jews faced growing violence against them. Most know of the massacres in Hebron, Tzfat and Jerusalem in 1929, but there were others; Yafo and Jerusalem in 1920 and 1921 and this one from Tiberias in 1938:

The Gazette, October 4 1938

And we focus on the big ones. Anti-Jewish violence was a constant backdrop – with many of the violent actions not making the news. As the fate of the Jews in Germany began to take the headlines, a murder or two in British Palestine often went unreported:

1930s killings
Observer 23 Aug 1936, Nottingham Evening Post 6 April 1931, St Louise Star Times 9 Nov 1936, Daily Herald 19 May 1936, Jewish Press 23 Sep 1938, Daily News 10 June 1932

This was the reality of Jewish life in 1930s British Palestine:

Daily News April 23 1936

Don’t place the cart before the horse

The Partition didn’t cause the violence – it was a direct result of the violence. Suggested by the British as early as 1935, the partition was put forward because consistent Arab violence caused the failure of the ‘one-state’ idea. In November 1947 the United Nations finally voted for the partition of the land. This immediately led to an increase in attacks on Jews – which soon turned into a civil war. Jews were murdered just a day after the partition vote:

Montreal Gazette, December 1 1947

This was not a one-off. The attacks continued and spread. The Irgun – everyone’s favourite bogey man, had until this point been concentrating on fighting the British. In the beginning of December they put out a warning: *IF* the Arab attacks against Jews continue *THEN* they would respond:

Vancouver Province, 3rd December 1947

The early days saw many attacks on Jews, with growing threats of all-out war:

Western Mail 4 Dec 1947

On Friday 5, as they left their mosques in Jaffa, Arab ‘mobs’ attacked Tel Aviv:

Franklin Repository 5 Dec 1947

Make no mistake, the Jews faced a threat of genocide:

The Age 13 Dec 1947

There was no ‘passive’ population

There is another ‘victim’ angle in anti-Israel propaganda which suggests the battle was between the Arab nations and the Jews, with the poor Arab residents of British Palestine standing innocently in the middle. It is ahistorical hogwash. An image from Jerusalem of Arab volunteers for their Holy War against the Jews:

New Haven Leader, 1 Jan 1948

An image of Arabs gathering in Ramallah (on their side of the partition), to attack trucks in Jewish areas:

Battlebro Reformer, 8 Jan 1948

And another – from Hebron – off to have their war by attacking Jews in Jerusalem:

Republican and Herald 17 Jan 1948

The arab irregular invasion

The anti-Israel narrative also ignores (or entirely downplays) the invasion of irregular forces from Arab countries that began to enter from January 1948.

Cushing Citizen, 8 Jan 1948

These armed forces entered Arab towns throughout early 1948 and spread even more deadly violence throughout the conflict areas.

Evening World Herald, 20 Jan 1948, Gazette and Daily 28 Jan 1948, Charlotte Observer 1 Feb 1948, Dunkirk Evening Observer 6 Feb 1948, Brantford Expositor Jan 26 1948, Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle Mar 19 1948

Backs to the wall

In early 1948, the Jews were suffering enormous losses. With Arab irregular forces entering the fray and the impending threat of full invasion, the Jewish forces were even losing control of the roads. Arab forces had cut off Jewish communities by attacking the convoys that set out to supply them:

cutting off the towns
Witchita Eagle 24 Mar 1948, Deseret News 30 Mar 1948, Daily Telegraph 30 Mar 1948, Times 25 March 1948, Sydney Morning Herald 2 Apr 1948, Daily Telegraph 19 March 1948

The lie of the forced expulsion

The most devious of the lies suggests that in this deadly environment the Jews had anything other than trying to survive in mind. Anti-Israel activists want people to think that these Jews, who could not even defend their own trucks or feed their own communities, were an all-powerful entity engaged in a secret plan to expel all the Arabs. It is just more ahistorical poppycock. For the most part, Arab communities did what families often do in civil war – they ran.

These two examples are not about Jews at all, but the British. The article on the left is about the British retaking Jericho from Arab forces during the 1930s uprising. The Arabs ran towards Jordan. The second one is interesting because of the real-world context it provides to counter the one-dimensional anti-Israel propaganda. In March 1948 the British were still there. These Arabs ran from British forces. Just as they were to run from the Jewish ones.

Cumberland News 14 Nov 1938, Daily Chronicle 23 March 1948

Many reports of the time, record the local Arab population running from the fighting – some from as early as December 1947. One paper even paints an image of Arabs streaming into Jordan being held up by Iraqi forces crossing the other way. All of these articles were published before the big invasion in May 1948:

York Daily Record 29 Mar 1948, Miami News 20 Dec 1947, Baltimore Sun 22 April 1948, Western Morning News 29 Apr 1948, Daily Telegraph 4 May 1948

As the majority of Arabs in the area packed up and left – propagandists use exceptions to pretend that Jewish forces fighting for their lives were powerful demons forcibly evicting the entire Arab population. Utter hogwash. And let us not forget, that the million Jews that lived in Arab nations – were actually ethnically cleansed:

Jewish Press 22 Oct 1948

Nor should we accept the anti-Israel propaganda that suggests Jews in Arab lands were only attacked because of the 1948 War. Despite the pretence that Jews lived safely in Arab lands there were frequent outbreaks of violence against them. Examples show various anti-Jewish riots and massacres in Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Tunis, Algeria, Syria and Morocco:

Evening Star 7 Dec 1945, Honolulu Star Bulletin June 15 1923, Jewish Press 11 July 1941, Great Falls Tribune 2 July 1933, Morning Post 13 April 1898, Washington Sentinel 30 April 1898, Belfast News Letter 21 April 1840, American Israelite 30 April 1875, Birmingham Daily Post 28 May 1890, Sheffield and Rotherham Independent 18 Feb 1890

I want to highlight one last issue that was taking place on the ground. The British, who had a clear pro-Arab sentiment, were often caught sitting idly in the face of Arab aggression – or sometimes actually helping the Arab forces. The Arab irregular soldiers somehow even procured use of British army vehicles. While all this was going on – and the Jews were having trouble getting food to their own communities – the British were still manning the coastline, disgracefully deporting 100s of young Jews (many of fighting age) from ‘Palestine’ – rounding them up, and sending them to a concentration camp in Cyprus:

Daily News 10 March 1948, The San Francisco Examiner 1 March 1948

Those British concentration camps on Cyprus, and the far larger DP camps in Europe, destroy another anti-Israel myth. The anti-Zionists say Israel *had to* expel the Arabs in order to have demographic superiority. The 100,000s of Jews who were waiting for Israel to open the door say otherwise:

Phoenix Jewish News 31 Dec 1948

On May 14 1948, Israel declared independence. The Arabs attempted to carry out their genocidal threat and Arab armies invaded Israel:

San Francisco Examiner, May 15 1948

The war finally ended in 1949. And not a single Jew was left in any of the areas that the Arabs held or captured. Not one.

Camden News 31 Aug 1948

But the Jews won the war. They fought back against the invading armies, took full control of the towns within the areas they held – and survived the genocidal threat against them. Across the MENA region, Jews were chased out or expelled. In the end, the only sizeable Jewish community that remains in the entire MENA region is Israel. And still many Arabs will not let them live in peace.

What is detailed above is history. Verifiable, factual information that is easily supported through proper research. Yet talking about the true history is drowned out with cries of ‘hasbara’ and ‘Zionist propaganda’. Yet these things happened, ‘just like they said’.

What anti-Israel propagandists do is cherry pick, and piece together an ahistorical narrative that demonises the Jews. They hold up exceptions, make films about them, and wipe the truth from history. They even do this with the help of foolish Jewish people on the left, who want to accommodate ‘the opinion of others’ and need to feel ‘loved’ by those that hate them. Media, and many politicians have also bought into the false narrative. Everyone should be reminded that the truth is not half-way between a historical fact and a lie. This is our history – if we do not defend it – it will be stolen away.♦

David Collier’s writings help challenge the revisionist narrative and expose lies and antisemitism. In 2017 he was named by the Algemeiner in the J100 as one of the ‘top 100 people positively influencing Jewish life’. In 2022 the media watchdog CAMERA gave him a ‘Potrait of Courage’ award.

Credit: david-collier.com


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