The Palsbarist argument: It all started in 1948 when the Zionists ethnically cleansed Palestine of its Arabs for no reason.
The counter argument: Benny Morris' letter to the Irish Times.
"In defiance of the will of the international community, as embodied in the UN General Assembly resolution of November 29, 1947, (Palestinian Arabs) launched hostilities against the Jewish community in Palestine in the hope of aborting the emergence of the Jewish state and perhaps destroying that community. But they lost; and one of the results was the displacement of 700,000 of them from their homes.
Most of Palestine's 700,000 "refugees" fled their homes because of the flail of war (and in the expectation that they would shortly return to their homes on the backs of victorious Arab invaders).
There was no Zionist "plan" or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of "ethnic cleansing"."In case you don't know who Benny Morris is, he's an Israeli historian that has been writing books about Israeli history for decades. Like him or not, he's a respected historian who is a lot more reputable source than anyone the Palsbarists could name to make the case for their revisionist history. If your source is attacked, just point that out.
This link is extremely useful and I use it all the time. It tends to shut down pretty much any attempts at revisionism. Most Palestinian apologists just respond about why the Palestinians were justified in starting the war, in which case I usually just say "I'm glad you admit the Palestinians started the fighting" and walk away.
Zach adds: There's also a useful link on Discover the Networks by David Meir-Levi titled "The Big Arab Lie." If you scroll down to the end there are a myriad of quotes by Palestinian and Arab leaders explaining just how the Arab leaders not only screwed over the Palestinian refugees but were responsible for their flight in the first place. Here are some examples:
"The Arab Exodus …was not caused by the actual battle, but by the exaggerated description spread by the Arab leaders to incite them to fight the Jews. …For the flight and fall of the other villages it is our leaders who are responsible because of their dissemination of rumors exaggerating Jewish crimes and describing them as atrocities in order to inflame the Arabs ... By spreading rumors of Jewish atrocities, killings of women and children etc., they instilled fear and terror in the hearts of the Arabs in Palestine, until they fled leaving their homes and properties to the enemy."
–- The Jordanian daily newspaper Al Urdun, April 9, 1953.
“The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of the act of the Arab states in opposing partition and the Jewish state. The Arab states agreed upon this policy unanimously and they must share in the solution of the problem."And most damning, in my opinion:
-– Emile Ghoury, secretary of the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, in an interview with the Beirut Telegraph 9/6/1948. (same appeared in The London Telegraph, 8.48)
Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) penned an article in March 1976 in Falastin al-Thawra (cf. supra), the official journal of the PLO in Beirut: "The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny, but instead they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, imposed upon them a political and ideological blockade and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live in Eastern Europe."No Israel hater has been able to overcome these simple truths.