Know Your History: The ‘Palestinian Refugees’ (NY Times May 19, 1957)

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series where I bring to you news from the archives and historical documents to debunk common misconceptions about the Middle East conflict.

On May 19, 1957, James A Pike, a self-confessed non-Zionist, wrote a piece in the New York Times describing the palestinian refugee issue and possible solutions. It is a revealing and important read, given it acknowledges the situation is not as the haters claim (that Israel expelled the palestinian Arabs).

Note in particular:



  • The quoted number of refugees – way less than UNRWA’s number of 5 million that is based on a definition including descendants
  • The reasons for the Arabs fleeing Israel – including threats by their fellow Arabs, and hopes they could return after Israel was vanquished
  • Those who were scared of Israel based it on the actions of Jewish fighters not acting in an official capacity, who acted partly due to fear of a fifth column
  • The Arabs who stayed in Israel fared well
  • Arab opposition to resettlement of the refugees and the use of the refugees as political pawns
  • An acknowledgement that Israel could not take in the refugees, given our size and the fact they would be a fifth column
  • The instability refugees caused Jordan
  • Israel’s efforts in resettling 400,00 Jews from Arab lands

Note: I cannot provide a link to the full article since it is only available to those who have purchased a NY Times subscription. But I have provided screenshots below.

Click on the images to enlarge.

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An Aussie immigrant to Israel, David Lange is founder and managing editor of Israellycool. He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and single malt whisky.