The Palestinians have institutionalized the establishment of Israel as their “Nakba,” their catastrophe, but it is important to remember that the 1948 war actually started not with the Israeli declaration of independence on May 14, 1948 (the day the British Mandate ended), but six months earlier—on November 30, 1947, the morning after the UN endorsed a two-state solution.
But for the Arab rejection of even a miniscule Jewish state, and the Arab war commenced in response to the UN resolution, there would not have been a single refugee, and Palestinians would today be celebrating the 63rd year of their state. There would also never have been, as Jonathan observes, an even larger number of Jewish refugees created in 1948, who have never been compensated for their losses.
The 1948 Declaration of Independence of Israel promised “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex,” as well as “freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture” and the safeguarding of the Holy Places of all religions. It also included a paragraph directed to its Arab residents:
WE APPEAL—in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months—to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
The “catastrophe” of 1948 was the failure of the Arabs to respond to that appeal, as they began the first of their successive efforts to destroy Israel. The tragedy of today is that there are still no Palestinian leaders willing to recognize a Jewish state in the land where the Jewish people was born, and every year they blame the Jewish state for the catastrophe they brought on themselves.