In Nazareth the whole world was watching


On July 17,1948 Ben Dunkelman a 35 year old Jew from Toronto was commanding the Israeli forces which the previous day had conquered the Galilean city of Nazareth. The World War ll vet, an expert on the use of mortars, brazenly refused the order from his superiors to expel the local population.

He later wrote that this was “one of the most sanctified shrines of the Christian world”(Jesus’ hometown)and was thus aware of the very bad optics and the “severe international repercussions” of such an action.”

Lest the halo shine too brightly on this fellow Canadian’s moral scruples, the Seventh Brigade according to historian Ilan Pappe was particularly known for their barbarous behaviour.

This was all part of Plan D, which had been agreed on in March.It simply meant “transfer” a nice euphemism for kicking out native Palestinians from the country they had been part of for eons. From the text of this plan—“In the event of resistance, the armed force must be wiped out and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state”; and the razing of their villages: “Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those population centers which are difficult to control.

Previously the locals in Nazareth had agreed to surrender on one condition—they would be left alone and allowed to stay.The next day he received a direct order from General Moshe Karmil his superior to depopulate the city. Dunkelman refused on the grounds that he had pledged to leave the population alone. Karmil immediately asked his boss, the Defense Minister and Prime Minister Ben Gurion .The latter allowed the locals to stay. His cynical remark says it all:”Here the world is watching us.”

The decision ultimately gave Ben Gurion ulcers.750,000 Palestinians were expelled and a few towns and small cities were allowed to stay.Nazareth was one.

When he toured the Galilee in 1953 he was outraged at the presence of so many Arabs ”It is not enough to expel the foreign invader (Palestinians!), we have to replace with Hebrew settlers.”



Today Nazareth is still the only Arab city, in the whole state. Since it is in Israel proper and not the Occupied Territories many Jews now live there in the more commodious Upper Nazareth—but that’s a story for another time.



Now more than ever,”the whole world is watchng”.


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