This is a book that tells the truth about a subject many would rather cover up. It is a voice of truth against a decades long propoganda campaign which wishes to pretend that Palestinians didn’t have homes or villages within what is now Israel. Khalidi catalogs hundreds of villages which are now gone. Gone as a result of Israel’s extensive efforts after 1948 to erase every trace, with explosives and excavators, of the villages. Even with the extensive catalog of information presented, there are those who are in denial. They start with dishonest works that claim what is now Israel was empty when they arrived. Since it was empty, the villages destroyed were simply empty ruins. Lies build on lies.
The first british count of the population of Palestine after they took over showed around 80,000 jews and around 700,000 who were not Jews. Khalidi shows the reality of those 700,000 people and their lives. And how the evidence of that reality was erased.
Many will be angry that Israeli pseudo-scholars and pseudo-scholarship which has definitively “proved” that what is now Israel was empty before Jewish settlers arrived is not accepted as fact. But they have little to be angry about considering that their scholarship has no crediblity outside of Israel and the US Christian Right. The grim reality as shown by Walid Khalidi in this book is impossible to dismiss because the truth of it is right there on the page. No matter how many books they can find to say that what is now Israel was empty of people, every census and what physical evidence is left proves them wrong.
Khalidi will also by some be said to be ungreatful to the British and the Jewish settlers. Along with the arguments that palestinians didn’t exist and their villages were not real, is the sick idea (refuted by the book) that Palestinians were little more than savages whose only possiblity of advancement was by being civilized by europeans. They fail often to understand that slaves don’t enjoy the benefits of progress created by their masters. In the end, they can only repeat the official line that these people didn’t exist or were shiftless drifters who have no attachment to any land.
Khalidi provides in the book detailed surveys of villages lost in 1948. He has unearthed masses of documentation and photographs. The material shows the existance and life of these villages. What is presented will never be good enough for some critics. All that can be said is that we fortunate that so much survives considering the lengths that Israel went to after 1948 to erase even the rubble of these villages from the face of the earth.
Finally, Khalidi shows with Israeli documents how Israeli policies in 1948 led to the depopulation of the villages. It must always be remembered that Israel could only exist as a democracy after 1948 by driving enough palestinians from their homes during the war. The massacre of civilians
such as Dier Yassein and other policies drove these people from their homes and the borders drawn after the war did not let them come back.
Khalidi’s evidence for the obvious, the existance of pre-1948 Palestinians, is so overwhelming that no honest person could deny the reality of what he presents. But the enemies of peace in the middle east will even in spite of all of Khalidi’s material deny the truth.
(www.amazon.com / 30.05.2011)