Don’t Forget That Jews Were Massacred and Driven from Their Homes in 1948

Recently declassified documents from Israeli state archives reveal concern from Israel’s first cabinet, in 1948, over reports of atrocities committed by the nascent IDF, and what could be done to bring them to a stop. In the left-wing Israeli daily Haaretz, these documents have given rise to handwringing over the nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”)—as Palestinians call the creation of the Jewish state. But, according to Uri Misgav, none of the information in these documents about alleged war crimes is verifiable. Moreover, no discussion of the period can be undertaken without examining the massacres and expulsions that are all too verifiable. For instance:

Kibbutz Kfar Etzion fell on May 13, 1948, the day before the termination of the British Mandate; 242 members of the kibbutz and [Haganah] fighters were killed in the battle. A few dozen more fighters and civilians, including women, were slaughtered by Palestinian fighters after the battle had been decided; only four managed to flee. The three other kibbutzim in the area surrendered, and their residents were spared a slaughter thanks only to the intervention of Jordan’s Arab Legion, which took them to POW camps in Jordan. Immediately afterward, the four settlements were razed to the ground.

In the total war of existence that began to rage in Palestine following the adoption of the United Nations partition resolution of November 1947, that was the certain fate of every Jewish settlement that fell to the Arabs: the killing of fighters and civilians alike, mutilation of their bodies, looting of property, and destruction of the houses and other buildings. The pattern repeated itself at Beit Ha’arava, Nitzanim, Moshav Atarot, in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem that were attacked, and in other mixed cities.

It was a life-and-death war, brutal and bloody. The Jewish community lost fully 1 percent of its population (6,000 killed out of a population of 600,000), and a tenth of the remainder became refugees in their own country.

However, with time’s passage, it has become politically incorrect to talk about Jewish fighters who were killed (some of them were young, others were older and had families; there were new immigrants with no military training who hadn’t even managed to learn Hebrew, Holocaust survivors, women, and in some cases teenagers), or about civilians who were murdered or settlements that were evacuated and destroyed, and whose residents became refugees.

Today there is apparently only the nakba: it consists of the killing and expulsion of Arabs, Palestinian villages that were destroyed, and Palestinian refugees. This historiographic distortion, with its absurd and immoral lack of symmetry, is the apple of the eyes of certain circles in Israel, Arabs and Jews alike.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Israeli history, Israeli War of Independence, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7