An open letter to Barbara Harvey and David Finkel
From Maurice Ostroff June 8, 2008
Ms Harvey and Mr. Finkel
I refer to your May 22 article "No time to celebrate as Palestinians still suffer"
the outset I must state that the suffering of Palestinians is real and deserves not only our sympathy but assistance. But
making unsubstantiated inaccurate statements does not advance their cause. Intellectual honesty requires that we avoid representing
our opinions as facts and that we check the information on which our publicly expressed opinions are based.
For example, your allegation that Jewish soldiers of the Alexandroni Brigade "went on a killing spree" in the village
of Tantura is libelous. Having served in the Israel army in 1948, I am particularly hurt by this type of false, damaging and
inciting allegation of behavior that is completely contrary, in my own experience, to the code of conduct practiced by my
The fact, as proved in a Supreme Court action, is that the story of a massacre at Tantura is a fiction that
originated in a thesis submitted by Theodore Katz, a student under the supervision of revisionist historian Ilan Pappe at
the University of Haifa. Katz was sued for libel and during the trial he admitted under oath that no massacre took place.
Moreover, it was revealed that his own notes and recorded interviews contradicted his claims that there had been a massacre.
In the circumstances, one must ask whether you didn't consider it important enough to invest in even a modest amount
of research that would have revealed the facts of the trial, or whether you were indeed aware of the trial and chose to ignore
You cite what you call "the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin" as if you are certain that it occurred.
But there is incontrovertible proof, readily available on public record, that this story of a massacre was also fabricated.
I say incontrovertible because of an admission, in a 1997 interview with the BBC, by no less an authority than the person
who issued the first press report on this event, Hazem Nusseibeh, editor of Palestine Broadcasting Service's in 1948.
the interview, Nusseibeh explained why so many Arabs fled at the time and in doing so he let slip that that the story of a
massacre at Deir Yassin, was fabricated on the direct instructions of the secretary of the Arab High Committee, Hussein Khalidi
so as to encourage Arab regimes to attack Israel.
As the many articles about an alleged massacre at Deir Yassin that
were immediately circulated around the world and frequently repeated since then, were all based on the fictional press release
put out by Nusseibeh, his admission cannot be disregarded.
Nusseibeh explained his main theme, that the Palestinians
later realized that the fabricated atrocity stories were in his words, "our biggest mistake, because Palestinians fled in
terror and left the country in huge numbers after hearing the atrocity claims."
In the same program, a former resident
of Deir Yassin told Khalidi there were no rapes but Khalidi convinced them that they had to say there were. "'We said, there
was no rape but Khalidi said, We have to say this, so the Arab armies will come to liberate Palestine from the Jews".
am sure you will agree that no person seeking the truth can ignore this evidence. If you have difficulty in believing this
revelation, please view a video clip of the interview at http://deir-yassin.tripod.com/
is your cursory emotive reference to 700,000 Palestinians who have grown to 7 million in 60 years, with no attempt at placing
the matter in perspective. As mentioned above, Hazem Nusseibeh explained to the BBC that his fabricated story of a massacre
at Deir Yassin was a major cause of the Palestinians fleeing in 1948.
But every intelligent person must ask why they
have not been absorbed and resettled in the vast Arab countries. Every human must agree with the general manager of Al -Arabiya
television, Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, who courageously wrote in an article in the leading Arabic international daily Asharq
Alawsat, "Some Arab countries 'hosting' refugees ban them from leaving [camps], from occupying a large number of positions
and deny them any other legal rights. ..Our insistence to lock the Palestinians in camps and treat them like animals in the
name of preserving the issue is far worse a crime than Israel stealing land and causing the displacement of people. The 60
year-old camps only signify our inhumanity and double standards".
It is educational to read his complete article available
In sharp contrast to the failure of the Arab states to absorb and
rehabilitate the relatively small number of Palestinian refugees, the tiny population of 600,000 Jews in Israel quickly absorbed
and rehabilitated not only the approximately 800,000 Jewish refugees expelled by Arab states, but in addition, more than one
million penniless refugees from Europe.
It is legitimate to ask why, among the hundreds of millions of refugees world-wide
who have been successfully resettled, only the Palestinians have suffered the deliberate intensification of their refugee
status as a political weapon. (See http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com/id121.html )
In a November 1957 paper, "Century
of the Homeless Man" published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Dr. Elfan Rees, Advisor on Refugees to the
World Council of Churches, wrote: "No large-scale refugee problem has ever been solved by repatriation, and there are certainly
no grounds for believing that this particular problem (the Palestine refugees) can be so solved. The facts we must face force
us to the conclusion that for most of the world refugees the only solution is integration where they are. "
of the 1945 Potsdam declaration approximately 15 million Germans in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Austria were forcibly
relocated to Germany. They lost title to the property they left behind, and no arrangements were made to compensate them for
The creation of Pakistan similarly resulted in relocation of millions of people. Immoveable property
left behind by these refugees was seized by the respective governments to help settle the incoming refugees.
and Mr. Finkel, may I dare hope that, in the light of the above verifiable information, you will reconsider your opinions
and offer a public correction of the incorrect statements in your article?
Detroit Free Press
No time to celebrate as Palestinians still suffer
BY BARBARA HARVEY and
DAVID FINKEL May 22, 2008
The celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary reflects the understandable joy of millions
of Jews and their friends who view Israel as the symbol of freedom from centuries of persecution culminating in the Holocaust.
But not all Jews are celebrating.
Israel gave haven to several hundred thousand Jewish refugees who had nowhere else to go, in large part because the United
States and other Western countries closed their doors to them. Yet the terrible fact is more than 700,000 Palestinians became
permanent refugees in the creation of the nation and, 60 years later, an estimated 7 million remain refugees. Many still live
in 58 camps. Others are dispersed throughout the world.
That is why creation of the nation of Israel is known to Palestinians
as the Nakba, or Catastrophe. And that is why many of us in the Jewish community will not celebrate Israel while our Palestinian
sisters and brothers must still fight for their basic human rights.
We remember that:
In April 1948, the month of the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin and the mortar attack on Palestinian civilians in Haifa's
market square, the Israeli military and political leadership's "Plan Dalet" was put into effect, authorizing the systematic
destruction of Palestinian villages and expulsion of their people.
On May 22, 1948, Jewish soldiers entered homes
in the village of Tantura and went on a killing spree. Between 110 and 230 Palestinian men were shot and killed by the Alexandroni
On Oct. 28, 1948, Israeli forces occupied the village of Dawayameh, near Hebron. Israeli soldiers describe
babies whose skulls were cracked open, women raped and burned alive in their homes, men stabbed to death; 145 men, women and
children were killed.
Nor can we celebrate when our own government's massive military and economic aid to Israel subsidizes
the bulldozing of Palestinian homes and deliberate starvation of the population of Gaza because they voted for the "wrong"
We will celebrate when Arabs and Jews live as equals in a peaceful Middle East.
and DAVID FINKEL are board members of the of the Detroit chapter of the Jewish Voice for Peace,www.jvp.org, a nonprofit based
in Oakland, Calif. You also may contact them and the other authors on this page in care of the Free Press Editorial Page,
615 W. Lafayette, Detroit 48226 or firstname.lastname@example.org