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Ghada Karmi and other Writers of Fiction
Last uploaded : Sunday 21st May 2006 at 22:31
Contributed by : Honest Reporting UK


Guardian Op-Ed Distorts History

Ghada Karmi's one-sided op-ed distorts the history of 1947-48 as well as present day events.

As Israel finishes celebrating its 58th birthday, so too the Palestinians commemorate what they refer to as "al-Nakba" ("the catastrophe") that represents the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Articles such as Ghada Karmi's in the Guardian on 15 May serve as a reminder of how the Palestinian narrative has found its way into mainstream discourse over the years, muddying the waters of history and serving as a means of demonising Israel.

Using emotional language to elicit a sympathetic response, Ghada Karmi


omits key facts and context behind the events that occurred during Israel's War of Independence and makes a number of disputable claims:

... Israel displaced 250,000 to take their land without compensation.

... Jews fought to seize our land in the wake of the 1947 UN partition resolution.

In fact, as Mitchell Bard writes,


the Palestinians left their homes in 1947-48 for a variety of reasons. Thousands of wealthy Arabs left in anticipation of a war, thousands more responded to Arab leaders' calls to get out of the way of the advancing armies, a handful were expelled, but most simply fled to avoid being caught in the cross fire of a battle. Had the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN resolution, not a single Palestinian would have become a refugee and an independent Arab state would now exist beside Israel.

Karmi also fails to mention the 820,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries, some nearly 600,000 of whom were resettled in Israel at great expense to the new state and with no offers of compensation.

... Israelis made much of the danger they faced from five Arab armies in the 1948-49 war, but in reality their forces were greater than all their opponents' combined, and the latter ill equipped and poorly trained.

Karmi deliberately downplays the existential danger as Israel faced invasion. As Bard writes: When Israel declared its independence in May 1948, the army did not have a single cannon or tank. Its air force consisted of nine obsolete planes. Although the Haganah had 60,000 trained fighters, only 18,900 were fully mobilised, armed and prepared for war. On the eve of the war, chief of operations Yigael Yadin told David Ben-Gurion: "The best we can tell you is that we have a 50 - 50 chance."

Growing up in Britain, I got no sympathy but rather kept being told about the need to give Jews a state they could feel safe in. But at whose expense was this generosity? We Palestinians had no hand in the Holocaust, nor in persecuting Jews.

In fact, the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Al-Husseini sought Hitler's aid in extending Nazi anti-Jewish pogroms to the Middle East and in 1945 Yugoslavia sought to indict the Mufti as a war criminal for his role in recruiting 20,000 Muslim volunteers for the SS, who participated in the killing of Jews in Croatia and Hungary. In addition, recent British archives have revealed that Nazi Germany attempted to ship arms to Palestinian forces in the 1930s with the aim of preventing the emergence of a Jewish state.

In any case, while Karmi attempts to portray the creation of Israel as the result of the Holocaust, Jewish rights to a national home were enshrined in the 1917 Balfour Declaration and in the terms of the League of Nations, which gave Britain the Mandate to administer Palestine after World War One, as well as the ties of the Jewish people to the land going back some 3700 years.

Bringing the situation to the present day, Karmi lays the blame for the disastrous economic situation of the Palestinians solely on Israel, while failing to mention the longstanding corruption within the PA and the refusal of Hamas to renounce violence and recognise Israel. This, a reasonable demand of donor nations that have for too long failed to properly monitor the PA's accounts and funneling of money for terror activities at the expense of much needed infrastructure and social welfare.

Karmi goes on to claim that "Israel's assault on the Palestinians continues", quoting casualty statistics while failing to acknowledge the number of those who were directly involved in terrorism or died while confronting IDF troops.

Referring to international financial sanctions, it is disingenuous of Karmi to assert that "the world's silence in the face of this cruelty is astonishing", while at the same time, Israel is releasing tax funds collected for the PA in order to channel the money directly to the Palestinian people as the US and EU also seek to send aid while bypassing the Hamas government.

Karmi's article represents a wholly one-sided and distorted representation, not only of the history of 1947-48 but also of present day events. While blaming Israel, it also neglects to attribute any form of Palestinian self-responsibility for their current situation.

While the Guardian has a long history of publishing such articles, the paper's claim to give a platform to commentators from both sides is undermined by a 12 May opinion piece on "al-Nakba" by Karma Nabulsi only a few days before Ghada Karmi's.


HonestReporting UK does not remember any Israeli commentators appearing in the Guardian on Israel's Independence Day.

Subscribers are urged to keep their eyes open for further articles of this nature as the Palestinians commemorate "al-Nakba".

Please visit Honest Reporting:


Comments to the Guardian: letters@guardian.co.uk


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