top of page

Letter from Richard Sherman to the New York Times on December 2, 2022

Richard Sherman, in a letter to the New York Times on December 2, 2022, does more than tackle an antisemitic depiction of the history of Israel. Read his brilliant retelling of the mis-characterized “nabka” by Muslims who experienced it at that time. Muslim press and leaders described their own making of a “disaster” that had nothing to do with the Jews in 1948-49 when Arabs attacked fledgling Israel. There were no Arab victims of a terror inflicted by Jews!!

(This excerpt is in response to a review by a Beatrice Loayza of a film called “Farha”.)

Dear Letter to the editor: (Ed: bold added)

A basic knowledge of contemporaneous Muslim journalism makes perfectly clear that the"Nakba" was self inflicted--notwithstanding Ms. Loayza's claim of "basic knowledge" of what Palestinians refer to as the "Nakba".

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 who 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 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 anti-semites of the PLO and their Jew hating allies on the Left pervert Zureiq’s clear meaning and make the Jews the villain.

Ms. Loayza's basic ignorance of Mideast history and praise for Darin J. Sallam's remake of "The Eternal Jew" is a perverse antisemitic combination that only journalists like Julius Stretcher, Alfred Rosenberg and Guido Enderis could love.

Richard Sherman

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page