Newfoundland Student Newspaper Columnist Calls Israel’s 1948 Independence An “Occupation Of Palestinian Land,” Denying The Jewish State’s Right To Exist

August 10, 2023

Alarmingly, an opinion column recently published in The Muse, the student newspaper of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, described Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 as an “occupation of Palestinian land,” which fundamentally denies the Jewish state’s right to exist.

The column entitled: “From Palestine to Newfoundland: A Journey of Cultural Resilience,” by Fayez Almadhoun, was ostensibly a first-person narrative of Almadhoun’s family and their journey from the Middle East to Canada, but in reality, it was a broadside attack on Israel’s legitimacy.

Early in his column, Almadhoun wrote that “The wide range of individuals that live outside of Palestine, termed ‘diaspora,’ is characterized by the displacement of the Palestinian people from their ancestral homeland in the wake of the 1948 occupation of Palestinian land, known as the Nakba.”

With a single sentence, Almadhoun not only turned history on its head, but has also attempted to gut Israel’s very legitimacy and its right to exist, even though he never mentions Israel’s name once in his column.

In 1948, Israel declared its independence from the United Kingdom, which had administered the land for more than 30 years at the behest of the international community, but the newly-formed State of Israel did not grow out of a vacuum, either legally or historically.

The year prior, the United Nations voted to recognize the partition of the British Mandate for Palestine, into two states: an Arab one, and a Jewish one. That partition was drawn up by a special United Nations committee, and was accepted by Jewish representatives, but rejected by Arab representatives, who refused to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish nation-state. Almost immediately after Israel was declared a state by its founders in May, 1948, neighbouring Arab countries declared war on it.

But that was not the genesis of Israel’s legal basis. In 1920, representatives from international powers gathered in San Remo, Italy, and formally recognized Israel’s right to be reconstituted over the entirety of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

Still, in the late 1940s, representatives from the Zionist movement accepted a lesser offer, seeing that even part of the Jewish People’s ancestral land, was better than nothing at all.

But according to Almadhoun’s retelling, Israel grew out of seemingly nothing at all, when in fact, the country’s genesis stretches back for three thousand years of Jewish history in the land.

Consequently, when Almadhoun referred to Israel’s independence in 1948 as kickstarting the “occupation of Palestinian land,” he is not only erasing Israel’s extensive legal rights to the land, but also to the Jewish People’s three millennia of undisputed presence there.

While Almadhoun’s column doesn’t mention Israel directly, his inference is clear that the “the displacement of the Palestinian people” in 1948 was due to Israel’s rebirth that year. But such a claim would be a dramatic skewing of the historical record. When Israel’s Arab neighbours declared war on the newly reborn Jewish State in 1948, they clearly did not expect to lose, and in advance of their presumed victory, Arab leaders inside pre-state Israel actively encouraged members of the region’s Arab population to flee their advance in order to hasten Israel’s imminent demise and to avoid collateral damage.

Had the Arab delegates to the United Nations in 1947 accepted the presence of a Jewish State, there could have been a Palestinian state for more than seven decades. Instead, to this day, Palestinian leaders have never ceased to reject Israel’s right to exist, robbing their own people of self-determination.

Almadhoun’s column laments the “denial of nationhood” faced by Palestinians, he evidently fails to see his own active involvement in denying Israel’s legitimacy, and as such, it’s very right to exist.

And while Almadhoun is free to tell the story of his family and their experiences, he wildly veers off course and instead actively falsifies history to claim that Israel is built upon an illegal seizure of Palestinian land, when in truth, it was created with the full backing of international law, and atop three thousand years of Jewish history.

Until pro-Palestinian advocates can acknowledge Israel’s history and legitimacy, they will continue to do disservice to the very people on whose behalf they claim to advocate.

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