Wednesday, March 26, 2014

“We Acted as They Would Have Done to Us”: An Interview with Arie Lova Eliav. By Arieh O’Sullivan.

“We acted as they would have done to us.” An interview with Arie Lova Eliav (1921-2010). By Arieh O’Sullivan. Jerusalem Post, June 1, 2010. Originally published June 18, 2004.


First of all, 1,000 [Jewish] refugees were arriving daily. Every day another thousand. One day, one thousand. And we had to settle them. Remember this wasn’t the same state that absorbed 1 million Russian immigrants and had cities like Ashdod and Ashkelon and Upper Nazareth. We were a small and poor country. We had to absorb hundreds of thousands of refugees from Morocco and Iraq and Poland and Hungary.
Look, we had just gone through a terrible war [the War of Independence]. Where they won, like in Gush Etzion and the Old City and Atarot, they won. They killed soldiers, destroyed the houses and took the women and children and residents and made them into refugees. The Arabs were victorious in about 20 places. In that war it was either them or us. It was a zero sum war. That is the context. There was a war, and wherever they won, they turned us into refugees.
To our good fortune, we were victorious in over 400 places. And I don’t need [historian] Benny Morris to tell me what we did. We acted as they would have done to us. We did to them what all victors throughout history and for all generations and through all the miserable history of mankind did. The victor conquers, kills in battle and those who remain are banished.
They won in 20 places, and if they had won in 400 or 300 or 100 places, then I wouldn’t be sitting with you today. They would have either killed me or made me into a refugee. This was the horrible war of 1948. The result of this awful war was the creation of two groups of refugees. We are 5 million Jewish refugees and they are 5 million Palestinian refugees. They need to solve this humanitarian problem of their refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is my position that not one refugee will return. Not one.