The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial

Photo by Oren, Elhanan | CC BY 2.0

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the single largest mass expulsion of Arabs from Palestine during the Jewish ethnic cleansing campaign of 1948-49, the infamous Lydda Death March, in which attacking Israeli troops murdered and pillaged the people and property of Lydda, Ramle and surrounding villages while forcing some 80,000 men, women and children into the scorching wilderness, never to return.

“No Room for Both People”

In late 1947 Britain, worn down by a ferocious Jewish terror campaign led by men who included future Israeli prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, announced it would end its 30-year occupation of Palestine. The Palestine problem would now be for the fledgling United Nations to solve and, to that end, the world body devised a plan to partition the territory between Jews and Arabs. The latter were not consulted. Under the UN plan Jews, who comprised just over a third of Palestine’s population at the time, were given 55 percent of its land. This understandably enraged Arabs but even this heavily favorable distribution wasn’t enough for the Zionists. They wanted all of Palestine for themselves, despite the fact that it had been thousands of years since Jews constituted anything remotely approaching a majority there. As Joseph Weitz, director of the Jewish National Land Fund, had so unambiguously stated:

Among ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both people in this country……

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