Palestinian refugees
Palestinian refugees in 1948 (Wikicommons)

Israel committed ethnic cleansing in 1948 against the Palestinians, not genocide, according to one of the UK's most prominent academics.

Oxford's professor of Israel studies, Derek Penslar, maintained that supporters of Israel should accept the "vast bulk of findings" by Zionist revisionist historians such as Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe about Israel's policies in 1948.

"What happened to the Palestinians, the Naqba [the Palestinian exodus], was not genocide," he told the Jewish Chronicle. "It was horrible, but it was not genocide. Genocide means that you wipe out a people. It wasn't genocide. It was ethnic cleansing."

In his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Pappe seeks to prove that a planned ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs, set up by Zionist movement leaders such as David Ben-Gurion, occurred during the 1948 war.

Penslar claimed that people like Pappe "could not lie about ethnic cleansing because of some concern that some extremist is going to try to misuse my words to back up a point of view that he or she holds anyway".

"People are refusing to believe [what happened] not because it's not true," he continued. "Even if it is true they do not want to distribute it. Scholars have an obligation to tell the truth".

The Naqba resulted in hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs being expelled from their homes, forced to flee and relocate. They were forced out by the Haganah, the Stern Gang and the Irgun, three Israeli militias, along with the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

The ethnic cleansing has been "most successfully erased from conventional Israeli history", according to Pappe. The aim was to create a state exclusively for Jews.