A Fake Massacre Serves as Historical Backdrop to a New Palestinian Novel

In the novel Children of the Ghetto: My Name Is Adam—recently published in English translation—Elias Khoury tells the story of a Palestinian who fled the city of Lydda during Israel’s war of independence and takes as its theme the “silence” of members of that generation. The subject of a fawning review in the New York Times, the book employs as its central conceit an exercise in Holocaust inversion (made clear by the title), comparing the plight of the Palestinians to that of the Jewish victims of Nazism. But the supposed massacre perpetrated by the Haganah at Lydda—which had a formative impact of the protagonist of Children of the Ghetto—never happened, as Martin Kramer demonstrated in Mosaic in 2014:

Lydda, along the route from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, was an Arab city of some 20,000, swollen by July [1948] to about twice that size by an influx of refugees from Jaffa and neighboring villages already occupied by Israeli forces. The 5th Infantry Company of the Transjordanian Arab Legion (approximately 125 soldiers) was deployed in the city, supported by many more local irregulars who had been making months-long preparations for battle.

On July 11, . . . the 3rd Battalion of the [Haganah’s] Yiftaḥ brigade moved into southern approaches to the city. . . . By the next day, as Israeli forces were strengthening their hold on the city, two or three armored vehicles of the Arab Legion appeared on the northern edge and began firing in all directions. This encouraged an eruption of sniping and grenade-throwing at Israeli troops from upper stories and rooftops within the town, and from [what was known as] “the small mosque” only a few hundred meters from the armored-vehicle incursion.

Israeli commanders feared a counterattack by the Legion in coordination with the armed irregulars still at large in the city. The order came down to suppress the incipient uprising with withering fire. The Great Mosque and the church, [crammed with male Arab civilians], were unaffected, but Israeli forces struck the small mosque with an antitank missile.

In short, a fierce battle took place, and Israeli troops fired on a mosque that had become an enemy outpost, but, as Kramer goes on to prove, there is no evidence of a massacre.

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More about: Israeli War of Independence, Literature, Lydda, Palestinians

 

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf