In This Review

The Birth Of The Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949
The Birth Of The Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949
By Benny Morris
380 pp, Cambridge University Press, 1988

The simple and totally conflicting explanations that Israeli and Arab official statements have given for the mass exodus of Arabs from their homes in Palestine at the time of the first Arab-Israeli war are proved wrong by this careful study, although there are elements of truth in both. Using a great number and variety of Israeli and other sources, Morris examines what happened day by day, sector by sector, village by village. His conclusions, complex answers to complex questions, are so well documented by contemporary material that it is unlikely they would be substantially changed by seeing the unpublished Arab documents unavailable to him. Suffice it to say that the war itself, the attitudes and fears on both sides and the circumstances of the time made the flight of the Arabs almost inevitable.