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Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank village of Tuqua Image Credit: AFP

Israel wants Arab and Iranian cash, and lots of it, in order to ‘compensate’ Jews who were allegedly forced out of Arab countries and Iran in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This is more than unsubstantiated historical revisionism; it is a moral travesty as well.

Following 18 months of ‘secret research’ conducted by the Israeli Ministry of Social Equality, Israel resolved that seven Arab countries and Iran must pay $250 billion (Dh919.5 billion) to compensate for the alleged forced exodus of Middle Eastern Jews.

The truth is that while there was an exodus of Jewish communities from the Middle East region during that period, Israel’s ‘research’ fails to explain the reason for this. Following Zionist Jewish militias violent uprooting of nearly one million Palestinian Arabs from historic Palestine, the Israeli government was keen on populating the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian spaces with Jewish immigrants.

Israel’s founding fathers issued calls to Jews throughout the Middle East and the world to ‘return’ to the Israeli motherland. Those who didn’t answer the call, for example, Iraqi Jews, fell victim to the violent intrigues of the Israeli intelligence services, Mossad. Yemeni Jews were treated as subhuman; their children were taken away from them upon their arrival in Israel and were subjected to social stigma and economic and political discrimination.

“The time has come to correct the historic injustice of the pogroms ... to restore to hundreds of thousands of Jews who lost their property, what is rightfully theirs,” said Israeli minister Gila Gamliel.

But fabricating ‘historical injustices’ is certainly not the way to bring about true justice and lasting peace in that region.

That said, there is a reason behind the Israeli urgency to reveal such questionable research: The relentless US-Israeli attempt in the last two years to dismiss the rights of Palestinian refugees, to question their numbers and to marginalise their grievances.

It is all part and parcel of the ongoing plot disguised as the ‘Deal of the Century’, with the clear aim of removing from the table all major issues that are central to the Palestinian struggle for freedom.

The deliberate conflating of the Palestinian narrative and the Zionist narrative is aimed at creating parallels, with the hope that a future political agreement would cancel both grievances out, thus overlooking the ‘Right of Return’ for Palestinian refugees as enshrined in international law. United Nations Resolution 194 insists on the ‘inalienable’ right of Palestinian refugees and no amount of Israeli propaganda shall ever reverse that reality.

Contrary to what Israeli historians want us to believe, there was no mass exodus of Jews from Arab countries and Iran. However, the reality is that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947-1948 was a premeditated act of ethnic cleansing and genocide. It has been part of a long-drawn and carefully calculated campaign that, from the very beginning, served as the main strategy at the heart of the Zionist movement’s ‘vision’ for the Palestinian people.

“We must expel the Arabs and take their place,” wrote Israel’s founder, military leader and first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, in a letter to his son, Amos, on October 5, 1937. That was over a decade before Plan D — which saw the destruction of the Palestinian homeland at the hands of Ben Gurion’s militias — went into effect.

Palestine “contains vast colonisation potential”, he also wrote, “which the Arabs neither need nor are qualified to exploit.”

As Palestinian professor, Nur Masalha, concluded in his book, Expulsion of the Palestinians, the idea of the ‘transfer’, the Zionist term for ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Palestinian people, was and remains fundamental to the realisation of Zionist ambitions in Palestine.

Palestinian Arab “villages inside the Jewish state that resist ‘should be destroyed ... and their inhabitants expelled beyond the borders of the Jewish state”, Masalha wrote quoting the History of the Haganah by Yehuda Slutsky.

What this meant in practice, as delineated by Palestinian historian, Walid Khalidi, was the joint targeting by various Jewish militias to systematically attack all population centres in Palestine, without exception.

“By the end of April (1948), the combined Haganah-Irgun offensive had completely encircled (the Palestinian city of) Jaffa, forcing most of the remaining civilians to flee by sea to Gaza or Egypt — many drowned in the process,” Khalidi wrote in Before Their Diaspora.

Seventy years have passed since the Nakba, the ‘Catastrophe’ of 1948; Israel has, to date, neither taken responsibility for its action nor have Palestinian refugees received any measure of justice, however small or symbolic.

For Israel to be seeking compensation from Arab countries and Iran is an ahistorical account of what has actually happened, especially as Palestinian refugees continue to languish in refugee camps across Palestine and the Middle East.

Yes, indeed “the time has come to correct the historic injustice” — not of Israel’s alleged ‘pogroms’ carried out by Arabs and Iranians, but of the real and most tragic destruction of Palestine and its people.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018).