ICEJ Five Lies

5 Lies about 1948 and Israel’s Birth as a Nation

By Dr. Susan Michael, ICEJ USA Director

Since becoming a state in 1948, Israel’s enemies have continually attempted to defeat and discredit the Jewish State using any tactics that stick. For example, they’ve tried to weaken Israel economically with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and diplomatically with the 1975 UN Zionism Is Racism resolution. But they’ve also done this by trying to weaken Israel in the “court” of public opinion by spreading lies about the creation of the Jewish State in 1948. Here are five of those lies—and how this evil disinformation is impacting global opinion about Israel’s right to exist today.

Lie #1 – Israel attacked the Arab nations in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War

In 1947 the United Nations voted to partition the area then known as the Mandate of Palestine into two states: one Jewish and one Arab. The Jewish community accepted this plan and began making plans to declare statehood, but the Arab world rejected it and began preparing for war. The day after Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, five Arab countries responded by launching a war to destroy the newborn state with the declared aim to eradicate it. Israel did not initiate this conflict but was obliged to defend its existence, integrity, and population. Casualties and displacement of people during the battle were not part of Israel’s design or intent to destroy the Palestinian people; rather, they were the results of armed conflict. Israel’s military response has always been defensive against Arab aggression. This is why Israel’s military is named the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Lie #2 – Arab countries invaded Israel because Israel expelled Palestinian Arabs

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, what Israel calls its War of Independence, between 550,000 and 700,000 Palestinian Arabs living in areas under Israel’s newly established sovereignty were displaced. Most left voluntarily or at the urging of invading Arab armies that advised them to flee and promised their return after victory in a few short weeks. Many never left “Palestine” but traveled a few miles to the other side of the fighting. Others crossed over into bordering Arab nations with the same language and ethnicity. Once the fighting ended and armistice lines were drawn, those outside of Israeli territory were not allowed back in, and sadly, instead of being welcomed by their Arab brethren, they were put into refugee camps, where many remain to this day. Israel did not expel Palestinian Arabs.

Lie #3 – The Jewish people illegally took the land of Israel in 1948

After Israel accepted the UN Partition Plan and declared statehood, Israel was recognized by the United Nations and, in 1949, was admitted as a full voting member by majority vote to the international body. This recognition by the United Nations placed a stamp of approval upon Israel’s founding and accepted the new Jewish State into the governing organization. Israel’s founding was legal and accepted by the international community as such.

Lie #4 – There were no Jews in the land of Israel prior to 1948

Israel’s enemies use this lie to back their claim that the Jewish people are “colonizers” of the land—they have replaced another indigenous people and culture. However, the Jewish people’s connection to the land goes back some 4,000 years when, according to the Bible, God bequeathed it to the Jewish people through an unconditional covenant with Abraham. The Bible also records the Israelites’ settlement of the land and the establishment of the Davidic Kingdom there. Even though over the next 3,000 years the Jewish people suffered two exiles, there was always a Jewish presence in the land—though sometimes small. It’s a thousands-of-years-old historical, genealogical, and archaeological fact: the Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel.

Lie #5 – Israel’s establishment was a “catastrophe” (Nakba) for the Palestinians

The State of Israel was established with the intent to exist alongside an Arab state in Mandatory Palestine. However, the Arabs’ refusal to accept the Partition Plan and their declaration of war resulted in the refugee problem. The Nakba was entirely their own doing and not the result of any action, inaction, or injustice by Israel. Conversely, if the Arabs had also declared statehood and pursued peace with the neighboring Jewish State, they would have benefited greatly and even become one of the most prosperous and free states in the Arab world.

Unfortunately, for countless people who don’t know the Bible or history, these and other repeated lies about the creation of the State of Israel and what happened immediately after have become their truth, especially with younger generations. Modern technology and social media have only exasperated this massive problem. We must not remain silent; we must fight untruth with truth.