Didn’t the Palestinians leave Israel willingly in 1948 because the Arab countries told them to?

Even though many people have repeated this argument throughout the years, this is a false myth created by the first Israeli government immediately after the creation of the state of Israel and one that has been repeated ever since in order to justify the confiscation of Palestinian property and the prevention of the Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes, which most Israelis believe would upset the demographic balance and threaten the Jewish character of the state of Israel.  Palestinians have always denied this claim that they left willingly, and in the 1980s, the Israeli “New Historians,” including Benny Morris in his book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949, began to uncover the reality about the Palestinian Nakba when they were first able to access official Israeli government documents from that time.

In reality, aside from a handful of examples where invading Arab armies temporarily cleared some villages of women and children to avoid the fighting, Palestinians were either expelled from their villages inside of Israel at gunpoint by entering Jewish forces, or they fled their homes in fear of attacks--especially after word of incidents like the Deir Yassin massacre spread.  In each case, the great majority of Palestinians who fled thought it would only be temporary and had the intention to return to their homes once the fighting had stopped.

  1. A brief explanation from Jewish Voice for Peace:

  2. http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/101conflict.shtml#10

  3. For more information on this issue from a Palestinian perspective:

  4. http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Palestine-Remembered/Story412.html