October 19, 2012

EDITOR: The video archive of Zochrot in Israel, produced and compiled by Eyal Sivan and Ilan Pappe, is the most comprehensive oral history ever put together on the Nakba, an amazing source of historical truth about the crimes during 1947/8/9. While the text is being translated to English and Arabic, you can see most of the material on video, with English subtitles. This is the most important effort of writing the real history of the period, rather than being limited to mere archive materials. This is the real archive, the archive of reality. It is difficult to express the importance of this archive, it is so revolutionary and unusual!
On the right pane, you can choose from a large verity of witness evidence.

One page is brought here as an example:

Amnon Neumann: Zochrot


Excerpts from the testimony:

Amnon Neumann: I was in the Second, Eighth, and Ninth Battalions of the Palmach from February 1948 until my discharge in October 1949. I was there for this whole period, except for a few months after I had been wounded and after my father had passed away.
The most significant period for me in terms of the Nakba was April-May 1948, when the battles or clashes with the locals took place, until the Egyptian Army arrived. At first we escorted convoys traveling on the road from ‘Iraq Suwaydan , from Rehovot, [through] ‘Iraq Suwaydan, Kawkaba  and Burayr,  to Nir-‘Am where our company headquarters were located. Then an armed group of Arabs situated itself in Burayr and didn’t let us through, so we took a different route, from near Ashdod where Isdud was located, through Majdal,  Barbara,  Bayt Jirja,  to Yad Mordechai. From there we drove to Nir-‘Am. Those were the two routes [we used] until the Egyptian army arrived. When the Egyptian army arrived, it was a completely different situation. The Egyptian army arrived when we had wiped out all Arab resistance, which wasn’t that strong. It would be an exaggeration to say we fought against the Palestinians… in fact there were no battles, almost no battles. In Burayr there was a battle, there were battles here and there, further up north. But there were no big battles; why? Because they had no military capabilities, there weren’t organized. The big battles started with the entry of the Egyptian army, and those were very difficult problems, especially from May 15th, when we were still an organized army—the Palmach—semi-military. But their soldiers were organized by British methods, they fought like the British. But they had no leadership and they had no motivation. So when they attacked, it was very lousy, they hardly knew how to attack, but they did know how to defend themselves. They knew they were fighting for their lives. But as far as all the rest, it was a fifth-rate army. They had terrible cannons that killed us like hell. They had all kinds of tanks of different types, and they were a problem for us. We didn’t have anything, we had armored vehicles, those fluttering ones that were impossible to fight with, not against tanks and not even against a halftrack, right? But we more or less managed with them.

The villagers’ flight, and I understand this is the main issue here, happened gradually. I only know about what happened from the ‘Iraq Suwaydan road, [through] Majdal, to ‘Iraq al-Manshiyya . We were to the south of this area, and to its north there was the Givati Brigade. The day the Egyptians entered the war, the Negev was cut off and that was mostly our fault, my platoon’s fault… I’ll say more about it later. But that wasn’t significant. The Egyptians’ attacks were significant. They beat the hell out of us and killed us mercilessly.
The villagers’ flight started when we began cleaning these convoy escort routes. It was then that we started to expel the villagers… and in the end they fled by themselves. There were no special events worth mentioning. No atrocities and no nothing. No civilians can live while there’s a war going on. They didn’t think they were running away for a long period of time, they didn’t think they wouldn’t return. Nor did anyone imagine that a whole people won’t return.

First we expelled those … and then we started expanding sideways. To Najd , to Simsim , and that was a later stage. There were no battles, except for one battle in Burayr. In the north there were battles, with Givati, but we didn’t have any battles. We did ok with them … (silence). One village was left, between Dorot and Nir-‘Am, that’s Kufr Huj,  they didn’t run away and we didn’t expel them. There was probably an agreement at a higher level that Huj is not to be touched.

The first time I entered Kawkaba and Burayr I was amazed by their poverty. There was nothing there. No furniture and no nothing, there were shelves made of straw and mud, the houses were made of mud and straw. They lived there for thousands of years without any changes, and the only thing that happened to them was the disaster of the Nakba in “Tashah” [1948]. Because we didn’t come to collect taxes, we came to inherit the land from foreigners. That was the foundation of our thinking. We drove them out because of the Zionist ideology. Pure and simple. We came to inherit the land. Who do you inherit it from? If the land is empty, you don’t inherit it from anyone. The land wasn’t empty so we inherited it, and whoever inherits the land disinherits others. And that’s why we didn’t bring them back. It was everywhere, in the north and the south, everywhere. That’s the most important point. The land wasn’t empty as I was told when I was a child. I know it, because I lived with Arabs. I remember I was wounded and I went home, after April 1948, after they had expelled the Arabs in Haifa, they had run away. Our villages, Yajur  and Balad al-Shaykh , didn’t exist anymore either. They were empty. And I came home and my father told me, Come sit, son. Sit. He told me, You know what happened? And I told him, Yes, I passed through Balad Al-Sheikh and there was no one there. And he said, Yes, there was a disaster. That’s not what was intended. That’s not what I intended. He came with the second Aliyah. And he said: that’s not what I intended. So nobody thought in these categories, maybe the Yishuv leaders did. My father was a simple man, a worker his entire life. And then I went back to the Negev and we did the same thing. At that time I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I was educated to it just like everybody else. And I followed through with it faithfully, and if I was told things I don’t want to mention—I did them without the least of a doubt. Without thinking twice. For fifty or sixty years I’ve been torturing myself about this. But what’s done is done. It was done by order. And I won’t go into that, these are not things that … (long silence).
In the north they fought. In the south they didn’t, they didn’t have anything. They were miserable, they didn’t have anywhere to go, or anyone to ask.

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