The Zionist archeology that erases the Palestinians of Burayr

The destroyed remains of a Palestinian home in the displaced village of Burayr (Palestine Remembered)

Salman Abu Sitta

Mondoweiss  /  September 3, 2022

Dr. Salman Abu Sitta excoriates the authors of an archeological survey that covers up the massacre and ethnic cleansing of the village of Burayr in 1948

Editor’s note: Below is an open letter addressed to the authors of an archeological survey of the ethnically cleansed village of Burayr published by the Bulletin of American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR). The open letter is penned by celebrated Palestinian researcher Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, who lambasts the authors of the piece for its clear erasure of the history of the indigenous Palestinians of Burayr, as well as the Zionist massacre that led to the village’s ethnic cleansing and depopulation.

To the authors of “An Archaeological Survey of the Arab Village of Bureir: Perspectives on the Late Ottoman and British Mandate Period in Southern Israel”:

Your paper described your work as an “Archaeological Survey,” implying it is about a search for the obscure and ancient history of Burayr. This is fraud.  Burayr is very much present history and geography.

Burayr is the site of a terrible massacre, in which about 125 farmers and their families were killed by hand grenades thrown at them in their homes by the Zionist militia (the Haganah). The village was torched and went up in flames. Burnt bodies were strewn in the streets. The massacre started on May 13, 1948 and continued thereafter.

Before their blood dried, David Ben Gurion, on the afternoon of May 14, declared the settlers’ State of Israel. He has the temerity to call on the Palestinians, the people of the country of Palestine, to resort to peaceful means and coexistence with the settlers.

Your paper never mentioned that. You never called the people of Burayr Palestinians, although they are and their country are in Palestine. The fact that hordes of Russians, Poles, Hungarians, and Bulgarians descended upon Palestine from Eastern Europe to kill them and take their country is a present war crime, not an archaeological research endeavor. The settlers’ claim to be the original Palestinians (and not the people of Burayr) is as farcical as Nigerians claiming to be Norwegians.

The people of Burayr are now refugees in the concentration  camp of the Gaza Strip, a few kilometers to the west, still suffering from constant Israeli war crimes as recently as a couple of weeks ago, when Israel’s “Operation Breaking Dawn” killed 49 people, including 17 children.

If you wish to extend your research to include the truth, please see “Anatomy of a Massacre – Burayr – Gaza District,” as well as “Massacres as a Weapon of Ethnic Cleansing.”

The information about Palestine under the infamous British Mandate, which ended in the Palestinian Nakba (or “catastrophe”) in 1948, is readily available, for example at The Atlas of Palestine 1917- 1966.

You refer to “Bedouins” as a source of information. Who are these “Bedouins”?

They are the remnants (ten percent) of the population of Beer Sheba district who were tolerated to stay after the Israeli expulsion of the district population between October and December of 1948. Like Burayr and 43 other villages, they were attacked, depopulated, and made into refugees. Their depopulation was propelled by a number of massacres, the most savage of which was at Al-Dawayima, in which 500 (some reports say 1000) farmers were killed.

Still, those “Bedouins” are Palestinians, nominally Israeli citizens, who were robbed of their land and moved to a “reserve”  15 km east, to live in “unrecognized” villages. You ran into them because they were not allowed to return home, although they were Burayr neighbors.

You would do well to extend your readings to consult the many recent reports of international human rights organizations finding Israel guilty of the crime of apartheid, such as the landmark report of Human Rights Watch, “A Threshold Crossed,” or Amnesty International’s “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians.”

Or better still, drive a little south and meet the genuine Burayr people in the refugee camp. They will better explain your “excavations”, the material of their terminated life. They will give you more details and show you a dozen books they wrote about their village. We can send you videos of at least half a dozen testimonies.

One can write a lot more on this.

The intrinsic value of research is honesty.

Incomplete, biased, twisted, or politically motivated work is not research. It is a propaganda leaflet.

This principle is very well known to the editor of BASOR. How the paper escaped his scrutiny is unknown.

Let us hope for a retraction or correction.

Dr. Salman Abu Sitta

Palestine Land Society, UK

Salman Abu Sitta is the founder and president of the Palestine Land Society, London, dedicated to the documentation of Palestine’s land and People; he is the author of six books on Palestine including the compendium Atlas of Palestine 1917- 1966, English and Arabic editions, the Atlas of the Return Journey and over 300 papers and articles on the Palestinian refugees, the Right of Return, and the history of Al-Nakba and human rights