Arthur Derounian who wrote under the pen name, John Roy Carlson, was an Armenian-American investigative journalist and best-selling author. He became famous for his undercover reporting on the subversive activities of Nazis and Communists in the United States.
In 1948, he traveled by way of England to Egypt where he was granted permission to accompany the Arabs forces as they set off to fight the Jews in the Holy Land, in Palestine. His coverage of the war later became a memoir, Cairo to Damascus. It is a vivid, sometimes thrilling account of his experience that delves deeply into what the Arab world was like at the time and the nature of the Muslim dispute with the Jewish people and the active support the Britain was giving to the Arabs to crush the Jews. It covers everything from the Muslim Brotherhood, Arab Nazi Haj Amin Al Husseini (whom he meets), ancient Cairo ghettos and Arab feudalism, British – Nazi – Arab collusion and even the prevalence Arab homosexuality and transgenderism. It’s quite the wild, riveting, mind-blowing read from an informed observer who is neither Jewish or Arab, yet writes with compassion and understanding for both and a keen grasp of the historical and political context surrounding the conflict.
In a footnote on page 235 (copied below) Carlson addresses the “flight” of the Arab refugees, describing who they were, the real reasons they fled, and their number which, even then, he says, for the purposes of propaganda, was hugely inflated.
The book Cairo to Damascus can be read for free here:
Excerpt from Cairo to Damascus by John Roy Carlson:
This flight-psychosis, which prevailed among the Arabs and ultimately resulted in the frantic exodus of many Moslems and Christians, is a difficult phenomenon to explain. It was a mass hysteria induced by poor morale and by fear of revenge and retribution for the Arab massacres and lootings from 1920 on.
Arab leaders-particularly in the Mufti’s Arab Higher Committee-urged residents to clear the fighting areas, promising them that Palestine would be cleared of Jews within thirty days after the Mandate ended. After the Jews had been pushed into the sea, Arab leaders said, Palestinians could return to their homes and at the same time share in Jewish booty. They implied that those who refused to leave were pro-Zionist; such people were threatened with re- prisals.
In contrast, I know of instances where the Jews begged the Arabs, par- ticularly the Christian elements, to remain, guaranteeing their safety and full respect for property. These Christians, however, joined the fleeing Moslems, fearing the promised retribution following the promised Arab victory. As an instance, the Armenians, who had always got along well with Arab and Jew alike, joined the panicky Moslems, horror-stricken by the memory of the Turkish massacres.
Wealthy merchants, physicians, bankers, politicians, and other leaders were the first to leave. Later came the poorer elements until, by the time the Mandate expired, those remaining were largely only the ill and aged, the looters, and the innocents.
The exodus figure of 750,000 or more Arabs is sheer propaganda, a fictional number that cannot be supported by the facts. The populace in the country from Jerusalem north to Jericho was not disturbed by the fighting, nor were the Arabs and Christians resident in the congested areas within the quadrangle formed by Ramallah, Tulkarrn, Jenin, and Nablus-Palestinian territory now annexed by Jordan. It must also be pointed out that many of the Moslem so-called refugees were homeless, nomadic wanderers in the first place. Poor, nonrefugee Arabs, such as those in Gaza, have claimed refugee status in order to qualify for American aid.