Scratch an obscure hillside in Israel and you find the tragedy and brutality of the Nakba, Israel’s 1948 ethnic cleansing [big map file] of Palestine’s Arab peoples. So, when the AP published Friday one of its many ‘normal country’ articles about Israel, describing the excavation of an ancient hillside that was the Philistine town of Gath and later the Arab village of Tell es-Safi (the location also happens to be on the ‘Palestine’ side of the 1947 UN armistice line), a reader should demand that the article answer the following question: “What about Tell es-Safi, why was it abandoned by its inhabitants in 1948?” Wikipedia:

On 7 July [1948] Givaiti* commander Shimon Avidan issued orders to the 51st Battalion to take the Tall al-Safi area and “to destroy, to kill and to expel [lehashmid, leharog, u´legaresh] refugees encamped in the area, in order to prevent enemy infiltration from the east to this important position.”[16] According to Benny Morris, the nature of the written order and, presumably, accompanying oral explanations, probably left little doubt in the battalion OC’s minds that Avidan wanted the area cleared of inhabitants.[17][18]

*The Givati was a brigade of the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary force from 1920-1948 that would later form the core of the Israeli Defense Forces.

The AP instead reports the ethnic cleansing of the village in the following way, the passive construction excusing and disappearing the Israeli perpetrators:

?… later the site became home to an Arab village, Tel el-Safi, which emptied during the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.

(The Israeli university conducting the archaelogical dig is even more demure, referring not at all to the Arab ghost town or 1948 but only to “the site known as Tell es-Safi.”)

Almost always, when a news story touches on recent Palestinian or Israeli history, the anonymous Wikipedia army crushes the mainstream press. Wikipedia regularly provides readers the full, important truth. Wikipedia of course has lots of flaws — among them that it doesn’t have an encyclopedia entry entitled ‘The Nakba’ — but in this case: Wikipedia good, unafraid, unbiased, complete truth; AP bad, afraid, pro-ethnic-cleansing biased, very important truth left out.

And the whole truth matters, because it would inform clueless Americans — on this topic the vast majority — about ‘why they hate us’. ‘They’ hate the U.S. government for its always unquestioning but now increasingly enthusiastic support for Israel’s ethnic cleansing project, which is ongoing in July 2011, 63 years after the village of Tell es-Safih was cleansed and disappeared.

In the late 19th century, Tell al-Safi was described as a village built of adobe brick with a well in the valley to the north.[13] James Hastings notes that the modern village prior to its depopulation also contained a sacred wal?.[7]

The villagers of Tall al-Safi were Muslim, and they had a mosque, a marketplace, and a shrine for a local sage called Shaykh Mohammad. In 1944 a total of 19,716 dunums [1 dunum = .25 acres] of land were used for cereals, while 696 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.[14]

To stop the ethnic cleansing please support Desmond Tutu’s call for the boycott of and divestment from an apartheid Israel.