top of page

Letter from Richard Sherman: The "Nakba" was Self Inflicted

Dear Letter to the Editor:

Notwithstanding Ameera Salman's claim of "everything I knew," she apparently does not know or wilfully denies that -- according to the contemporaneous reporting of Muslim and Arab journalists -- the "Nakba" was self inflicted. (" 'Farha' is a Poignant Story of Hope").

In fact not only was the "Nakba" self inflicted, but the derivation of the word itself has nothing to do with Israel or the Jews.

Endlessly repeating "murder, discrimination and forced displacement of Palestinian people" may be wonderful virtue signaling for those whose opinion of the Jewish people is identical to the Grand Mufti Amin al- Husseini, but it has zero relation to the "Nakba" as contemporaneous Muslim and Arab journalists make perfectly clear.

Even a cursory glance at contemporaneous Arab and Muslim newspapers and other Muslim media makes clear that it was Arab leaders in 1947/1948 who commanded the local Arab population in Mandatory Palestine to “flee” their homes in anticipation of the genocide of the Jews — and an Arab populace which willingly obeyed that command.

On April 3, 1949 the Near East Arabic Broadcasting Station reported: “It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees’ flight from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem”.

On October 12, 1963 the Egyptian daily Akbar el Yom reported that : “The 15th May, 1948 arrived…On that day the Mufti of Jerusalem ( the Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini) appealed to the Arabs of Palestine to leave the country, because the Arab armies were about to enter and fight in their stead”.

On April 9, 1953 the Jordanian daily Al Urdan reported: “For the flight and fall of the other villages it is our leaders who are responsible because of their dissemination of rumours exaggerating Jewish crimes and describing them as atrocities in order to inflame the Arabs. By spreading rumours of Jewish atrocities, killings of women and children etc., they instilled fear and terror in the hearts of the Arabs in Palestine, until they fled leaving their homes and properties to the enemy”.

Even the contemporaneous reporting of The Economist makes clear that the alleged “Nakba" was self-inflicted. On October 3, 1948 The Economist reported: “Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit…It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades”.

On August 19, 1951 the Beirut weekly Kul-Shay opined: “Who brought the Palestinians to Lebanon as refugees, suffering now the malign attitude of newspapers and communal leaders, who have neither honor not conscience? Who brought them over in dire straits and penniless, after they lost their homes? The Arab states, and Lebanon amongst them, did it”.

The Arab National Committee in Jerusalem, following the Arab Higher Committee’s March 8, 1948 orders, instructed women, children, and the elderly living in Jerusalem to leave their homes: “Any opposition to this order … is an obstacle to the holy war … and will hamper the operations of the fighters in these districts.”

Furthermore, the Jordanian newspaper Filastin on February 19, 1949 stated: “The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies, have failed to keep their promise to help these refugees”

The Syrian Prime Minister in 1948–49, Haled al Azm, also openly acknowledged the Arabs’ role in persuading the refugees to leave: “Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave.”

Finally, the term “nabka” originates with Syrian professor and intellectual Constantin Zureiq. In August 1948 he first used the term nakba as “a self-inflicted and humiliating wound caused by the Arabs themselves”. (Israel: A Simple Guide To The Most Misunderstood Country On Earth, page 114, Noa Tishby, 2021; Ms. Tishby in 2022 was appointed Israel’s Special Envoy to fight Antisemitism and the Delegitimization of Israel).

Zureiq’s own words make clear that “the Nakba” has nothing to do with Israel or the Jews: “When the battle broke out, our public diplomacy to speak of our imaginary victories, to put the Arab public to sleep and talk of the ability to overcome and win easily — until the Nakba happened….We must admit our mistakes…and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot”.

Only after 1968 did the antisemites of the PLO and their Jew hating allies on the Left pervert Zureiq’s clear meaning and make the Jews the villain.

Richard Sherman


bottom of page