Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Old City of Jerusalem.
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Editorial: Independent Jewish Voices, the Palestinian Nakba ( Catastrophe) and the refusal to accept the 1947 Partition Plan

by Rhonda Spivak , May 20, 2019

On May 18, 2019  Independent Jewish Voices, CanPalNet, and a number of other groups sponsored the viewing of the documentary 1948: Creation and Catastrophe which was screened at the Winnipeg Cinematheque.  The viewing  marked the "Nakba"  or  "Catastrophe" which Palestinians say occurred during the 1948 war when Israel was created.  Palestinians refer to  the displacement that occurred around the time of Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948 as the "Nakba." The problem with the Palestinian "Nakba" narrative is that it doesn't take into account that the Palestinians  initiated the 1948 war  because they refused to accept the 1947 U.N. Partition plan, which was to have brought about both a Jewish and Arab state. 
David Ben-Gurion and the Yishuv leadership, albeit they were not altogether enamoured with the partition plan, accepted it, but the Palestinians under the  leadership of the Mufti of Jerusalem , Haj Amin Al Huseini opposed the plan, as did the surrounding Arab states. It was a historical mistake for the Palestinians to have refused to have accepted the 1947 partition plan, which would have meant sharing the land. The result of rejecting partition is that the Palestinians do not have the state that they could have had as early as 1947.
One can understand how on a personal level  many Palestinians suffered greatly from the 1948 war. However,  the "Nakba" was the result of  Palestinian and Arab leadership rejecting the  UN resolution calling for the establishment of both a Jewish state and a [ Palestinian] Arab state. As Irwin Cotler has written, "“The Jewish leadership accepted the resolution, but the Palestinian and Arab leadership did not, which they had a right to do. What they did not have a right to do was attack the nascent Jewish state with the objective – as they acknowledged at the time – of initiating a ‘war of extermination.’" (Of course, we can only wonder what would have happened to the Jews in 1948 had they lost the war ? The Jews certainly believed that they would have been collectively slaughtered.)
Historian Benny Morris has written more recently the 1948 war was "a jihad -an Islamic holy war"as well as a territorial and political war.  Morris has said  that "What I discovered in the documentation relating to the war, at least from the Arab side, was the war had a religious character, that the central element in the war was an imperative to launch jihad. There were other imperatives of course, political and others—but the most important from the enemy's perspective was the element of the infidels who had the nerve to take control over sacred Muslim lands and the need to uproot them from there."
It should be noted that the Palestinian Arabs similarly made an historic mistake in rejecting the Peel Commission plan in 1938 which was more generous to the Palestinians than the 1947 Partition Plan. In this regard, research by Hillel Cohen of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has shown that from 1917 to 1948 prior to the State of Israel being established, about 20% of Palestinians were willing to accept the Peel Commission plan for the partition of Palestine in 1937, which called for a Jewish and Arab state. They were represented by an Arab man named Raghib al-Nashashibi, who became Mayor of Jerusalem in 1920, and who was willing to accept the Peel Commission plan, and secretly favoured  a union with Transjordan. The Nashashibi clan opposed the extremism of the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin  Husseini. However, as Cohen relates, the extremists of the Palestinians  had the upper hand and terrorized the moderates. Cohen writes, "The message was clear: anyone who leaned towards compromise or disputed Hajj Amin's leadership was a traitor whose life was forfeit." (Hillel Cohen, Army of Shadows:Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism at 64 and 122).
Had the Palestinians chosen to  support the  moderate position of  the Nashishibi clan over the extremist Husseini clan, they could have had the borders the Peel commission offered. 
Finally, in order  to make progress in bringing the conflict to an end  the majority of Palestinians will need to come to terms with Israel's existence  and agree to live side by side with  a sovereign Jewish state--in other words they finally will have to  adopt 'the Nashishibi position over the Mufti's position. 
<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Fillmore Riley
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Winter's Collision Repair
  • Gray Academy
  • Jacqueline Simkin
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Joyce Rykiss
  • CHW
  • The J Hansen HVAC Group
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • The Lazareck Family
  • Imperial Soap
  • GTP
  • Piston Ring
  • Nick's Inn
  • Lori Shenkarow
  • Roseman Corp.
  • Tyler Bucklaschuk
  • TD Canada Trust
  • Sobey's
  • Daniel Friedman and Rob Dalgliesh
  • The Lipkin Family
  • Booke and Partners
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • Fair Service
  • Daien Denture Clinic
  • Thovaldson Care
  • Laufman Reprographics
  • Amalgamated Drywall Systems Ltd.
  • Maric Homes
  • Artista Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Commercial Pool
  • Lanny Silver
  • Fetching Style
  • Rudy Fidel
  • Shindico
  • Dakota Chiropractic Office
  • Myrna Driedger
  • Shirley and Bob Freedman
  • The Chisick Family
  • Carol and Barry McArton
  • The Shinewald Family
  • Dr. Ted and Harriet Lyons
  • Munroe Dental Centre
  • Ixtapa Travel
  • Hill Sokalski Walsh
  • D'arcy and Deacon
  • The Charach Family
  • Esther and Sid Halpern
  • Myers LLP
  • The Lazar Family
  • Dr. Marshall Stitz
  • Cavalier Candies
  • Cdn Visa
  • Kowall Chiropractic Centres
  • Dr. Brent Schacter
  • Doheny Securities
  • Ambassador Mechanical
  • Peerless Garments
  • Pitblado
  • Cindy Lamoureux
  • HUB International
  • Philip Kahanovtich
  • Global Philathropic Canada
  • Sorrento's
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Aziza Family
  • Western Scrap Metals
  • Cascade Financial Group Inc.
  • James Bezan
  • Larry N. Maguire
  • Malaya Marcelino
  • Candice Bergen
  • Safeway
  • John Orlikow
  • Ross Eadie
  • Orthodox Union
  • Saul Simmonds
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Chochy's
  • City Sheet Metal
  • Superlite
  • Stephen Rosenfield
  • Abe and Toni Berenhait
  • The Lofchick Famiy
  • Stringer Rentals
  • John Wishnowski
  • Ingrid Bennet
  • Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education
  • Asper Jewish Community Campus
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Grant Kurian Trucking
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • Kristina's
  • West Kildonan Auto
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
  • Maric Homes
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.