What about Israeli atrocities against Arabs?
Pro-Arab sources cite examples of Israeli massacres and other atrocities during the1948 War of Independence. Some Israeli revisionist historians support the atrocity claimsas part of their political agenda, butmainstream historians do not think the claims are credible. The crux of the issue iswhether the Jewish forces acted in a manner which goes beyond the normal course of warfareor if, on the contrary, any casualties were either opposing Arab armed forces or civilians whowere accidently killed due to battle.
The weight of evidence from eyewitnesses and sparse documentation is that:
- The Jewish population came under attack from Palestinian Arabs in the latterdays of the British Mandate and, after independence was declared, from the armies ofArab nations.
- The heavily outnumbered and under-supplied Jews fought both conventional and unconventional battles against their foes, but did not engage in atrocities, massacres, or other improper acts.
- Arab casualties that did occur were either Arab armed forces in battle, orcivilians caught in battle areas. Since Arabs often attacked from civilian areas,most of these casualties were the result of such Arab attacks.
The most often mentioned location is Dir Yassin, one of the bases of the Arab forces maintaining pressure on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road.For the full story on this battle, see the Dir Yassin page. Other atrocities attributed to Jewish forces in the War of Independence timeframeinclude this list and more:
- Yehida: 13 December 1947
- Khisas: 18 December 1947
- Qazaza: 19 December 1947
- Al-Sheikh Village: 1 January 1948
- Naser Al-Din: 13-14 April 1948
- Abu Shusha: 14 May 1948
- Beit Daras: 21 May 1948
- Tantura: May 22-23, 1948
- Dahmash Mosque: 11 July 1948
- Dawayma: 29 October 1948
Certainly claims of massacres and atrocities should not go without investigation. The problem isthat, like the case of Dir Yassin, even when the claim is shown to be unfounded, the legend persists. It is convenient for the enemies of Israel to portray her armed forces asruthless savages, but that propagandistic position cannot be supported by any facts. For example, Tantura. A Haifa University revisionist historian, Theodor Katz, claimed in his M.A. thesis (released January 2000) that an IDF unit had massacred over 200 Arab residents of the village of Tantura in the 1948 War of Independence. He was brought to court in 2001 bysurviving officers and men of the unit who presented contrary evidence including review of Katz’s tape recordings showing how he had manipulated the testimony ofsurvivors. Katz admitted finallythat he had selectively used reports from Arab sources, taking only those that supported histhesis. The lawsuit was dropped after Katz signed a renunciation of his own work and HaifaUniversity pulled the thesis from library shelves. [It was revealed in September 2002 that tormer Palestinian Authority minister Feisal Husseini paid $8,000 for the legal defense of Teddy Katz.] The University conducted its own review of the evidence. After six months of work, the committee had managed to review only a little more than one-fourth of Katz’s tapes, mostly in Arabic, which bore direct relation to the question of whether any massacre took place. Yet even in that limited selection, 14 major discrepancies – in which the tapes didn’t accord with the written text – came to light. No pro-Palestinian Arab source had ever pointed to a massacre at Tantura before Katz’s thesis appeared in 2000. The thesis has been completely debunked. Nonetheless, there are now hundreds of web sites that cite the “Tantura massacre” as historical fact. And while Arab sources rushed into print to trumpet the news of Katz’s thesis, none has mentioned the retraction save a few who cite it as an example of a massive coverup.