Toronto Star Column Claims 700,000 Arabs Uprooted By Israel In 1948, Ignoring Arab Leaders’ Central Role In Launching War & Encouraging Arabs To Flee

When a building is constructed, if it lacks a solid foundation, the entire structure is weak.

So, too, when an argument is built on false or misleading statements, the entire case soon falls apart.

That is the case in a May 15 opinion column in The Toronto Star entitled: “I am in Canada. My family is constantly reliving the Nakba in Gaza. To me, it’s clear what Palestinians need from the international community,” written by Izzeldin Abuelaish, a professor at the University of Toronto.

In his column, Abuelaish referred to Israel’s independence in 1948, saying that his parents were “survivors of the Nakba in 1948 when they were expelled from their homes to create the Israeli state,” adding that “this week marks 76 weeks since the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians.”

While he did not provide details on his specific family, his statement is nonetheless highly misleading, suggesting that 700,000 Arabs were forced from their homes by Israel 76 years ago.

In truth, while a similar number of Arabs did leave their homes in Israel at that time, evidence shows that most did so, not because Israel “expelled” them, but because of the actions of Arab leaders.

Immediately after Israel declared its independence, it was invaded by neighbouring Arab countries, including Egypt and Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, who sought to destroy the Jewish State and carry out another Holocaust. In the words of Azzam Pasha, the leader of the Arab League, Arab states would conduct a “war of extermination and (a) momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades.”

Fortunately, their efforts failed, but during the war, Arab leaders – confident in their victory – “ordered the complete evacuation of specific villages in certain areas, lest their inhabitants ‘treacherously’ acquiesce in Israeli rule or hamper Arab military deployments,” according to historian Benny Morris.

Simply put, while there is no doubt that many Arabs in Israel suffered in 1948, it is fallacious to suggest that Israel is the culprit in their misery, when in fact Arab leaders were responsible.

This is not simply a matter of historical interest, as Abuelaish’s column continued by calling for a “comprehensive, holistic approach” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, specifically noting the need to address issues such as “the right of return for Palestinian refugees, the establishment of a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel, an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories, and a just resolution to the status of Jerusalem.”

What Abuelaish failed to share is that Israel has indeed, multiple times in fact, offered extremely generous peace deals to the Palestinian leadership, only to be rejected time and time again.

Most famously, in 2000, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians all of Gaza, virtually all of Judea & Samaria (“West Bank”), and some land in Israel in exchange, and half of Jerusalem.

The offer was unceremoniously rejected by a Palestinian refusal, which, since time immemorial, refused to accept the existence of a Jewish state in the Levant, and soon thereafter, a violent jihadist uprising was launched.

Later, in 2005, Israel forcibly withdrew all its citizens from Gaza, leaving the land to the Palestinians. Predictably, it was soon converted into a terrorist statelet and a launching pad for terrorism against Israel by Hamas.

As for Abuelaish’s call for the “right of return,” it is an absurd non-starter. It calls for Israel to absorb millions of Arabs who are descendants of ancestors who left Israel 76 years ago, which would effectively eliminate Israel as a Jewish State.

Abuelaish ended his column by calling for a “permanent ceasefire,” ignoring that as long as Hamas, a genocidal Islamic terrorist organization hell-bent on Israel’s total destruction, remains in control in Gaza, there can never be peace.

Israel has no moral obligation to allow Hamas, and similar groups, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, both armed by Iran, to threaten Israel’s existence.


Peace is possible, but only once the extremist terrorist groups are defeated. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s column, which ignored Arab rejectionism towards Israel, both historically and now, rendered his argument highly detached from reality.

Take action now by sending a letter to the editor to the Toronto Star. Send letters to: lettertoed@thestar.ca.

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