Like most people I know, there is incredible skepticism whenever we hear that in the conflict with the Hizbollah or the Palestinians, “don’t worry, UNFIL or some other international organization will “monitor” what’s going on in order to maintain the peace, the cease fire, hudna or whatever".
This week again, the integrity of UNIFIL has been brought into question because of the airy fairy way its role has been defined. Under its rules of engagement, UNIFIL is controlling the Lebanese countryside but is not allowed in the villages without approval of the Lebanese army. So guess what? Hizbullah is no longer operating in the open areas, but rather inside the villages.
Comments as to the ineffectiveness of UNIFIL also come from anti-Hizbullah Shi'ite mufti of Tyre, Ali al-Amin, blasted UNIFIL in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Saturday.
"Peace mission?" he said of UNIFIL. "You must be kidding. I will tell you what UNIFIL troops in southern Lebanon are. They are tourists, simple, faint-hearted and ignorant tourists’. He went on to say that UNIFIL "should be helping the Lebanese army guarantee democracy, but it is a mere illusion. The events of the last few days have strengthened Hizbullah even more.
"Everyone knows that the national army is too weak to take Hizbullah on, and UNIFIL forces pretend not to see anything. Hizbullah has built its own cable telephone system and is getting re-armed right outside their [UNIFIL's] bases. Can they really do nothing to stop it, can they not report it?"
Another issue in the PR war is the ongoing matter of Arabs who became refugees in 1948. The constant claim that they were expelled is being disclaimed not just by the Israelis but now also by more and more Palestinian and Arab journalists.
According to a senior Palestinian journalist writing in a Palestinian daily. The plan to leave Israel was initiated by the Arab states fighting Israel, who promised the people they would be able to return to their homes in a few days once Israel was defeated. The article in Al-Ayyam concludes that these Arab states are responsible for the Arab refugee problem.
In a report by Palestinian Media Watch www.pmw.org.il , it is noted that “a backbone of Palestinian English-language propaganda is the myth that Israel expelled hundreds of thousands of Arabs from Israel and created Arab refugees. But in recent years, PMW has documented an increasing willingness among Palestinians to openly blame the Arab states and not Israel.”
1. Jawad Al Bashiti, Palestinian journalist in Jordan, writing in Al-Ayyam, May 13, 2008 "Remind me of one real cause from all the factors that have caused the "Palestinian Catastrophe" [the establishment of Israel and the creation of refugee problem], and I will remind you that it still exists... The reasons for the Palestinian Catastrophe are the same reasons that have produced and are still producing our Catastrophes today.
During the Little Catastrophe, meaning the Palestinian Catastrophe the following happened: the first war between Arabs and Israel had started and the "Arab Salvation Army" came and told the Palestinians: 'We have come to you in order to liquidate the Zionists and their state. Leave your houses and villages, you will return to them in a few days safely. Leave them so we can fulfill our mission (destroy Israel) in the best way and so you won't be hurt.' It became clear already then, when it was too late, that the support of the Arab states (against Israel) was a big illusion. Arabs fought as if intending to cause the "Palestinian Catastrophe". [Al-Ayyam, May 13 2008]
2. Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Palestinian Journalist in PA official daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, December 13, 2006"...The leaders and the elites promised us at the beginning of the "Catastrophe" in 1948, that the duration of the exile will not be long, and that it will not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees will return to their homes, which most of them did not leave only until they put their trust in those "Arkuvian" promises made by the leaders and the political elites. Afterwards, days passed, months, years and decades, and the promises were lost with the strain of the succession of events..." [Term "Arkuvian," is after Arkuv - a figure from Arab tradition - who was known for breaking his promises and for his lies."] " [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, December 13, 2006]
3. Asmaa Jabir Balasimah, Woman who fled Israel in 1948, Al-Ayyam, May 16, 2006
"We heard sounds of explosions and of gunfire at the beginning of the summer in the year of the "Catastrophe" . They told us: The Jews attacked our region and it is better to evacuate the village and return, after the battle is over. And indeed there were among us [who fled Israel] those who left a fire burning under the pot, those who left their flock [of sheep] and those who left their money and gold behind, based on the assumption that we would return after a few hours." [Al-Ayyam, May 16, 2006]
4. Son of man who fled in 1948, PA TV 1999
An Arab viewer called Palestinian Authority TV and quoted his father, saying that in 1948 the Arab District Officer ordered all Arabs to leave Palestine or be labeled traitors. In response, Arab MK Ibrahim Sarsur, then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, cursed those leaders, thus acknowledging Israel's historical record.
"Mr. Ibrahim [Sarsur]. I address you as a Muslim. My father and grandfather told me that during the "Catastrophe" [in 1948], our district officer issued an order that whoever stays in Palestine and in Majdel [near Ashkelon - Southern Israel] is a traitor, he is a traitor."
Response from Ibrahim Sarsur, now MK, then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel: "The one who gave the order forbidding them to stay there bears guilt for this, in this life and the Afterlife throughout history until Resurrection Day." [PA TV April 30, 1999]
5. Fuad Abu Higla, senior Palestinian, Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, March 19, 2001
Fuad Abu Higla, then a regular columnist in the official PA daily Al Hayat Al Jadida, wrote an article before an Arab Summit, which criticized the Arab leaders. One of the failures he cited, in the name of a prisoner, was that an earlier generation of Arab leaders "forced" them to leave Israel in 1948, again placing the blame for the flight on the Arab leaders.
"I have received a letter from a prisoner in Acre prison, to the Arab summit: To the [Arab and Muslim] Kings and Presidents, poverty is killing us, the symptoms are exhausting us and the souls are leaving our body, yet you are still searching for the way to provide aid, like one who is looking for a needle in a haystack or like the armies of your predecessors in the year of 1948, who forced us to leave [Israel], on the pretext of clearing the battlefields of civilians...
So what will your summit do now?" [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 19, 2001]
It is clear from these statements that there is general acknowledgement among Palestinians that Arab leaders bear responsibility for the mass flight of Arabs from Israel in 1948, and were the cause of the "refugee" problem. Furthermore, the fact that this information has been validated by public figures and refugees in the Palestinian Authority media itself confirms that this responsibility is well-known - even though for propaganda purposes its leaders continue to blame Israel publicly for "the expulsion."