Editor's Note: This is the third of a three-part series of excerpts from Washington Examiner columnist Jed Babbin's new book "The BDS War Against Israel," written with Herbert London.
Approximately 700,000 Arab Palestinians emigrated from the Jewish state when it was partitioned by the U.N. in 1948. The mass emigration began in 1947, before partition of the British mandate and continued through the Israeli war of independence in 1948-1949.
As Khaled Al-Azm, Syria's Prime Minister, said after the 1948 war, “Since 1948 it is we who demanded the return of the refugees ... while it is we who made them leave, ... We brought disaster upon ... Arab refugees, by inviting them and bringing pressure to bear upon them to leave. ... We have rendered them dispossessed. ... We have accustomed them to begging. ... We have participated in lowering their moral and social level. ... Then we exploited them in executing crimes of murder, arson, and throwing bombs upon ... men, women and children -- all this in the service of political purposes...”
As happens in almost every war, people fled their homes in fear of being caught in the fighting. Many others were driven out. Some stayed and were hurt or killed. There were towns and villages destroyed or abandoned, while others were left untouched. But it was not an ethnic cleansing.
Israel’s 2006 campaign in Lebanon was precipitated by Lebanese Hizballah terrorists who raided Israel and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. They did so in coordination with the Hamas terrorists that, since that same year, have governed the Gaza Strip.
In the heavy fighting in Lebanon in 2006, Hizballah famously practiced “fauxtography” – photoshopped and staged photos of supposed war crimes. Hizballah fighters and sympathetic media invented war crimes stories that were picked up all over the world, such as pictures that purportedly showed Israel intentionally targeting ambulances. Terrorists dug up or moved dead bodies – including those of women and children – to places the Israelis had struck to manufacture “evidence” of war crimes.
From December 2008 to January 2009 the Israeli military conducted “Operation Cast Lead,” in which Israel struck the terrorist forces of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
[T]he allegations of war crimes coming out of “Operation Cast Lead” were so intense that a special U.N. Human Rights Council mission, under South African Judge Richard Goldstone, was appointed to investigate them. In its initial report, the Goldstone investigation accused Israel of targeting civilians intentionally, and said – correctly — that the Hamas terrorists had also been targeting Israeli civilians.
Judge Goldstone ultimately retracted a significant part of his original report. In an April 1, 2011, Washington Post op-ed, Goldstone admitted that Israel had not intentionally targeted civilians as a matter of policy (though he didn’t exonerate individual soldiers). He also reaffirmed that Hamas had clearly and deliberately committed war crimes.
About genocide, it is necessary to say more than the obvious, i.e. that genocide is anathema to the members of a religion that suffered the Holocaust. Anyone who has visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem has seen some of the dozens of Jewish children who visit every day, implanting the lessons of the Holocaust in a way that make it unthinkable for Jews to commit similar brutalities. And it is for that very reason that Israel is accused of that crime by BDS proponents.
Obama has tried to tilt the balance toward the Palestinians. He was wrong to do so. America should not be an impartial arbiter between the parties to this conflict. There are too many in the wrong, such as the Gazans, who chose Hamas terrorists to govern them. Hamas, whose charter states that its express purpose is the destruction of Israel, is an enemy of civilization. The Palestine Authority, in the person of Mahmoud Abbas, quite evidently lacks the power to effectuate a peace and thus cannot be regarded as a representative of the Palestinian people. It is only the Israelis who, with all their imperfections, stand for freedom, just as America does.Jed Babbin served as a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration and is a senior fellow of the London Center for Policy Research.