Monday, June 21, 2010

Example of Alternative History

Here's a caption I found under a picture in an Al-Jazeera story:

Jaffa, now called Yafo by the Israelis, was once the cultural and economic hub of Palestine

Here's another "historical" narrative:

Battered during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the conflict that surrounded the creation of the Jewish state, Jaffa's population plummeted as residents fled or were expelled from their homes.
Let's be concise:

a) Did you know that the city, Jaffa, is from the Hebrew: יָפוֹ‎. It is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world.

Got that? 'Ancient'. 'Oldest'.

"Jaffa is mentioned four times in the Hebrew Bible, as one of the cities given to the Hebrew Tribe of Dan (Book of Joshua 19:46), as port-of-entry for the cedars of Lebanon for Solomon's Temple (2 Chronicles 2:15), as the place whence the prophet Jonah embarked for Tarshish (Book of Jonah 1:3) and as port-of-entry for the cedars of Lebanon for the Second Temple of Jerusalem (Book of Ezra 3:7). Jaffa is mentioned in the Book of Joshua as the territorial border of the Tribe of Dan, hence the nowadays term "Gush Dan", used for the center of the coastal plain. Many descendants of Dan lived along the coast and earned their living from shipmaking and sailing. In the "Song of Deborah" the prophetess asks: "דן למה יגור אוניות": "Why doth Dan dwell in ships?"

b) Jaffa was a den of anti-Jewish and anti-British violence.

In 1921, there were anti-Jewish riots. Hebrew author Yosef Haim Brenner was killed by Arabs in Jaffa.

The riot resulted in the deaths of 47 Jews and 48 Arabs, with 146 Jews and 73 Arabs being wounded. Most Arab casualties resulted from clashes with British forces attempting to restore order.

Fiften years later:

The 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, also known as the Great Arab uprising, inflicted great economic and infrastructural damage on Jaffa. On April 19, 1936, the Arab leadership of Palestine declared a general strike which paralyzed the economy. The strike began in the Port of Jaffa, which had become a symbol of Arab resistance. Military reinforcements were brought in from Malta and Egypt to subdue the rioting which spread throughout the country. Jaffa's old city, with its maze of homes, winding alleyways and underground sewer system, provided an ideal escape route for the rioters fleeing the British army. In May, municipal services were cut off, the old city was barricaded, and access roads were covered with glass shards and nails. In June, British bombers dropped boxes of leaflets in Arabic requesting the inhabitants to evacuate that same day. On the evening of June 17, 1936, 1,500 British soldiers entered Jaffa and a British warship sealed off escape routes by sea. The British Royal Engineers blew up homes from east to west, leaving an open strip that cut through the heart of the city from end to end. On June 29, security forces implemented another stage of the plan, carving a swath from north to south.

During the 1947-1948 battles, daily snipings from Arab Jaffa and nearby villages including Salama, Al Kheiriya and Yazur caused a major Jewish refugee crisis. Thousands of Jews were forced from their homes on the Jaffa - Tel Aviv border.

Yes, the Arabs have an alternative version which is misleading.

Why? Because: Jaffa the Mayor went on 4 days leave 12 days ago and has not returned, and half the National Committee has left...Palestine's Chief Secretary Sir Henry Gurney, wrote that "It is pathetic to see how the [Jaffa] Arabs have been deserted by their leaders.

c) as for being a hub, well, there were Jews involved:

In 1859, a Jewish visitor, Dr L.A. Frankl, found sixty-five Jewish families living in Jaffa, 'about 400 soul in all.' Of these four were shoemakers, three tailors, one silversmith and one watchmaker. There were also merchants and shopkeepers and 'many live by manual labour, porters, sailors, messengers, etc.' American missionary Ellen Clare Miller, visiting Jaffa in 1867, reported that the town had a population of 'about 5000, 1000 of these being Christians, 800 Jews and the rest Moslems.'


At the end of 1922, Jaffa had 32,000 residents and Tel Aviv, 15,000. By 1927, the population of Tel Aviv was up to 38,000. The Jews of Jaffa lived on the outskirts of Jaffa, close to Tel Aviv, whereas the old city was predominantly Arab.

But, of course, who believes Al-Jazeera anyway?

1 comment:

Morey Altman said...

It wasn't just the leaders that fled.

Sir Henry Gurney, Chief Secretary to the Palestine Mandate Government, and no friend of Zionism or Jews, recorded in his diary on May 5: “Really the Arabs are rabbits...Ninety percent of the population of Jaffa have just run away, and only some 5,000 now remain. Yesterday the municipal engineer locked the door of the water-supply pumping station, and walked off. The [British] army have taken it on. The mayor has gone, without even saying goodbye, and the remnants of the [Arab irregular] Liberation Army are looting and robbing. This is what the Palestine Arabs get from the assistance provided by the Arab states.”

There was, of course, a real nakba in 1948. The catastrophe was the absolute failure of Palestine's Arab leaders (Al-Husseini, in particular) to find any accommodation with the Jewish population. Instead they chose a path of terror against Jews, the British and even their fellow Arabs; it's not surprising that so many Arabs chose to flee or hide rather than support Al-Husseini. And it's not surprising they cheered Iraqi and Jordanian troops when they arrived; anything would have been preferable to living in a fascist terror state under that thug.