Update to The Palestinian Myth


I don’t write or post my Pro-Israel disposition as much as I would like. TO BE CLEAR though I am quite the Christian Zionist (Though extremely critical of so-called Replacement Theology) in the sense I firmly believe God Almighty Promised Land to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses and Joshua led those direct descendants out of Egyptian captivity to the Land of Promise eventually named after Jacob’s God-given name Israel. And all the history of acquisition and expulsions and reacquisitions is not even close to complete since modern Israel is only a fraction of the Land Promised by God Almighty.

 

With that brief yet incomplete belief statement that is Pro-Jewish and Pro-Israel, I discovered Peter Baum added some more information about faux Palestinians. In full disclosure I did my best to corroborate Baum’s information with some source links.

 

JRH 1/14/20

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Update to The Palestinian Myth

 

From Peter Baum

MeWe Group Conservative United

https://mewe.com/group/5ac27c38310a7853d4d0a5ab

1/12/20

 

If any further proof were needed that the Palestinians are nothing more than an Arab Nationalist political group established in the 1960’s and never existed as a people, culture or race then the 1st census as noted below is that proof.

Absolutely no mention of either Palestinians nor Felastinians as a people, race, nation or religion.

 

Another thing I wanted to bring to your attention is that the very 1st Census done in the area was by the Jesuit priest Adriaan Reland [WikiZero] in 1697 by the authority of the Ottoman empire. The study written completely in Latin was published by Willem Broedulet, Uthrect, in 1714.

The study called: “Palaestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrata” [According to Google Translate Latin-English: The Palestine Monument old Illustrate – I found a pdf version 669 pgs. in Latin].

And I quote the major finding: Members of the region are mainly concentrated in the areas of Jerusalem, Acre, Safed, Jaffa, Tiberius and Gaza. In all these places the majority of the residents are Jews, Christians and very few others. Very few Muslim who are Bedouin came to serve as seasonal workers in agriculture or building trade.

Furthermore the census also says that the population of Jerusalem at that time was about 5000 people, mostly Jews, few Christians and very few Muslims.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adriaan_Reland

 

Know The Facts

The Palestinian Myth by Peter Baum

 

In previous posts I have exposed various myths regarding the anthropological miracle and history of those Arabs defined by others as Palestinians.

It is abundantly apparent that –

 

a) not one historical Palestinian or Fellastinian individual of historical profile existed for the period 3000 BC to 1964 AD nor

b) was there any record during this period ( 3000 BC to 1964 AD ) of any wars or battles fought by Palestinians or Fellastinians against foreign invaders (Romans, Umayyads, Byzantines, Persian, Crusaders, Kurds, Ottomans etc.) in an attempt to ‘regain’ captured Jerusalem or ‘Palestine’. I guess the Palestinians were not around during these 4964 years but were miraculously created in 1964 with the help of the KGB.

 

Moreover, given the religious claims the ‘Palestinians ‘ have over their beloved Jerusalem and the geographical land mass they believe has been their homeland since time immemorial it is indeed ironic, bewildering and astonishing to say the least that that the words – Canaan (which is where the Palestinians now tell everyone they originate from), Israel (the land not the people), Judea, Jerusalem nor Palestine are ever mentioned in the Koran.

 

Muslims turn their backs on Jerusalem when praying in contempt. This originated when the prophet Mohammed ordered the slaughter of Jews who having converted to Islam (to avoid taxes) secretly maintained their Judaism. The prophet thereafter also ordered Muslims change their direction of prayer.

 

We are also told by modern day Imams that Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Furthest Mosque – apparently located in Jerusalem. This is simply historically impossible as he died in 636 and the Mosque in Jerusalem was not built until 715!!

 

Lastly and this is worthy of further debate. The Koran bequeaths the Holy Land to the Children of Israel (sura 5.21) [Blog Editor: For Quranic context read Sura 5.21-26. It is interesting Sura 5 if written chronologically would have been numbered 112 out of 114 and written from Medina; hence Islamic abrogation means this surah is more valid than the 111 preceding suras.]. Any Muslim who is fighting for this land (the Palestinians) are in total defiance of the Koran. Many pragmatic Imams who recognize this fact are suggesting that the current turmoil in the Muslim world, the violence and the Shi’a, Sunni divisions is directly related to the Palestinian claim on Jerusalem in total defiance and indeed mocking the Koran.

 

Ironically when Jordan had control of Jerusalem 1948 – 1967, they moved and located all Government offices to Amman to dilute the importance of Jerusalem. Furthermore not one Arab Head of State visited Jerusalem while under Jordanian occupation. Thus other myths exposed …

 

  • Jerusalem is not and has never been important to Islam. I repeat it is NEVER mentioned in the Koran. Therefore you will not be surprised to learn that it was NEVER mentioned in the PLO charter of 1964!

 

There are numerous historical quotations verifying the non-importance of either Jerusalem to Islam and the myth of the ‘indigenous Palestinians’ to the land mass. I have selected just some.

 

Ibn Taymiyyah [See Also Ibn Taymiyyah Explained] 1263 – 1328, one of Islam’s foremost historical scholars [The National Interest (though a bit too critical of Trump) nails Ibn Taymiyyah influence on today’s Islam] wrote: ‘…In Jerusalem there is not a place one calls sacred and the same holds true for the tombs of Hebron’.

 

The other myth that we have recently exposed is the numerical absurdity of Palestinian refugees. The generally accepted current (but fictional) narrative is that in 1948 there were supposedly 700,000 Palestinian refugees forcibly removed from their homes by the Zionists. Now in 2018 and a after a ‘genocide’ committed by the Israelis there are now 7 million Palestinians.

 

Human reproduction records have been blown out of the water by the sex craved, abundantly productive Palestinian women. If British women could reproduce at the same rate the population of London would be 85 million and New York City would be 120 million! [Blog Editor: Something to dwell on as Multiculturalist bring millions of Muslim refugees to Europe and America!] And all that without a genocide! Both the original and current refugee figures have been grossly exaggerated for political purposes but seem to go unchallenged by both the media and our Parliamentary representatives. Moreover there is sufficient evidence to verify the majority of Arabs entered Palestine on the back of Zionist economic growth and were never indigenous to the area.

 

Tewlik [or Tawfiq] Bey El Houran [or al-Hourani], Governor of Houran Province in Southern Syria stated in an interview with La Syne August 12th 1934, ‘that in the last few months 30000 to 36000 Syrians had entered and settled in Palestine. [Blog Editor citation: The Origins of Arab Settlers in the Land of Israel; By Rotem Nimkovsky; MiDA; 5/16/18]

 

Interestingly there is an enormous amount of evidence which contradicts the Palestinian narrative about forceful removal by Zionists. Below are just a selection of articles / essays which run counter to the volley of lies spewed out over decades by Palestinians and their anti-Semitic and intellectually backward supporters.

 

  • Emile Ghoury , Secretary of the Palestinian Arab Higher Commission in an interview with the Beirut Telegraph Sept. 6 1948 …… ‘The Arab States which had encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies. have failed to keep their promises to help refugees’

 

  • The Jordanian daily newspaper Falestin Feb. 19 1949 ….. ‘Who brought the Palestinians to Lebanon as refugees , suffering now from the malign attitude of newspapers and communal leaders, who have neither honor nor conscience? Who brought them over in dire straits and penniless after they lost their honor? The Arab States and Lebanon amongst them did it’.

 

  • The Beirut Muslim weekly, Kul-Shay , Aug. 19 1951…… ‘The 15th May 1848 arrived…on that day the Mufti of Jerusalem appealed to the Arabs of Palestine to leave the country because the Arab armies were about to enter and fight in their stead’.

 

  • The Cairo daily Akhbar el Yom, Oct. 2 1963….. ‘For the fight and fall of other villages it is our leaders who are responsible because of their dissemination of rumours exaggerating Jewish crimes and describing them as atrocities in order to inflame the Arabs….By spreading rumours 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’

 

  • The Jordanian daily newspaper Al Urdub April 9 1963 editorial stated – … ‘I could go on and on with this forgotten or deliberately obscured history. But you get the point. There was no Jewish conspiracy to chase Arabs out of their homes in 1948. It never happened. There are instead plenty of historical records showing the Jews pleading with their Arab neighbors to stay and live in peace and harmony. Yet, despite the clear unambiguous words of the Arab observers at the time, history has been successfully rewritten to turn the Jews into the bad guys’.

 

Joseph Farah, Arab historian and journalist – ‘The worlds collective amnesia ‘ Sept. 19 2002 is a masterpiece of investigative detection which far more elegantly and eloquently exposes the Palestinian myth in ‘Myths of the Middle East’.

 

‘There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians – another recent invention , Syrians, Iraqis, etc. Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 per cent of the Middle East lands. Israel represents one tenth of one per cent of the land mass. But that’s too much for the Arabs. They want it all. And that is ultimately what fighting Israel is about today…no matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough’.

 

These historical, recorded articles are evidence enough but what is even more interesting perhaps is the fact that none of the Arab journalists or historians refer to the displaced people as Palestinians. They are called Arabs. The genre ‘Palestinians’ did not exist. The truth is that circa 70 % of Arabs who left in 1948 – and truthful estimates are around 250,000 to 300,000, never saw an Israeli soldier. The Arab States initiated the war and never accepted responsibility despite their enormous wealth, to assimilate their Muslim refugee brothers in largely under populated Arab nations. The Arab public relations machine has been hugely successful in blaming this international tragedy on the Jews and the charade continues to this day. The suffering of the Arab refugees is perpetuated only for political purposes by the Arab States. As at the time of writing it is apparent that this farce is being gradually challenged politically. The Palestinians have been used as pawns to destroy Israel. After WW2 there were some 100 million refugees – all bar the Arab refugees have been successfully integrated and millions of Jews, ethnically cleansed from Arab States have been absorbed into tiny Israel. It is a geo-political and human absurdity to expect Israel to solve a refugee problem it did not create.

 

Now here comes the sweetest part of my essay – almost orgasmic for someone of my political ideology. There exists further historical evidence, reconfirming such articles highlighted above that totally debunks the Palestinian narrative. And it comes not from rabidly obsessed Zionist fanatics but from Arabs, Islamists, and former and reformed enemies of the Jewish State.

 

Abd al-Mahdi, Arab Ambassador [or “A local Arab leader”] before the Peel Commission 1937 … ‘There is no such land as Palestine. It is a term invented by ZIONISTS (capitals intended). There is no Palestine in the Koran. Our land was for hundreds of years part of Syria’.

 

Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian 1946: ‘There is no such thing as Palestine, absolutely no such thing’.

 

Ahmad Shukan 1956 Arab League Ambassador to the UN – ‘Such a creature as Palestine does not exist at all. This land is nothing but the southern portion of greater Syria’.

 

[Blog Editor: “Ahmad Shukan” has been difficult to locate in various search engines. So here is a similar name from the era speaking of faux-Palestinians – Ahmed Shukari (also spelled Shukeiri among other Arab to English transliterations): – Israpundit – ‘PLO founder, Ahmed Shukari. Already in 1956 he proclaimed from the UN podium, as the Arab League’s ambassador there, “Such a creature as Palestine does not exist at all. This land is nothing but the southern portion of Greater Syria”’. – Think-Israel: HADRIAN’S CURSE –– THE INVENTION OF PALESTINE: ‘All the same, there is nothing like the testimony of the founder of the P.L.O. himself, Ahmed Shukari. Already in 1956 he proclaimed from the podium of the U.N., as the Arab League’s ambassador there, that “such a creature as Palestine does not exist at all. This land is nothing but the southern portion of Greater Syria…”’]

 

Zuhair Mushin [Blog Editor: It’s interesting that Wikipedia entries in various languages differ with English Wikipedia presenting the most positive perspective. The various language entries highlights the difficulty in translating an Arab name to a Western language. Wikipedia: English – Zuheir Mohsen, GoogleTranslate Italian – Zuhayr Muhsin and GoogleTranslate German – Zuhair Muhsin], member of the PLO Executive Council 1967 [Wikiquote & similar at Center for Online Judaic Studies (COJS)]: ‘There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political purposes that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity…yes the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian State is a new tool in the continuing battle against Zionism’.

 

Hafez Assad [Jewish Virtual Library and Tyrants and Dictators of History], Syrian ex-Dictator to the PLO: ‘You do not represent Palestine as much as we do. Never forget this one point. There is no such thing as a Palestinian entity or people. There is only Syria.’

 

Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist stated [Myths, Hypotheses and Facts – Similar — NY Sun; Live Leak- Why do Palestinians really want an Arab state inside Israel?]: ‘Why is it that on June 4th 1967 I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian? We did not mind Jordanian rule. The teaching of the destruction of Israel was a definite part of the curriculum, but we considered ourselves Jordanian. Then all of a sudden we were Palestinian – they removed the star from the Jordanian flag and all at once we had a Palestinian flag. When I finally realized the lies and myths I was taught, it is my duty as a righteous person to speak out’.

 

Fathi Hmad, Hamas Minister of the Interior and head of National Security on Al Hakma TV, March 23 2012, in an abortive attempt to appeal to Egyptian donors: ‘…every Palestinian in Gaza and throughout Palestine can prove his Arab roots – whether from Saudi Arabia, from Yemen , from anywhere. So where is your affection and mercy? We have blood ties. Personally all my family is Egyptian. We are like that, brothers. Half of the Palestinians are Egyptians the other half Saudis. Who are the Palestinians? We have many families called Al-Misr who have roots from Egypt. They may be from Alexandria or Cairo , from the North, from Aswan, from Upper Egypt. We are Egyptians Arabs Muslims’.

 

[Blog Editor- VIDEO: The origin of Palestinians

 

 

Posted by StangeWorld0000

210 subscribers – Mar 4, 2013

 

Fathi Hammad (Hamas Interior Minister):

 

“We all have Arab roots and every Palestinian, in Gaza and throughout Palestine, can prove his Arab roots- whether from Saudi Arabia, from Yemen, or anywhere. We have blood ties.

 

 

Personally, half my family is Egyptian. We’re all like that. More than 30 families in the Gaza Strip are called Al-Masri (“Egyptian”). Brothers, half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudis.

 

Who are the Palestinians?

 

We have many families called Al-Masri, whose roots are Egyptian. Egyptian!

 

They may be from Alexandria, from Cairo, from Dumietta, from the North, from Aswan, from Upper Egypt.

 

We are Egyptians. We are Arabs. We are Muslims.”]

Religiously and historically there is no justification for a Palestinian State.

 

Legally there is no such claim but this is subject to another separate post as it is rather boring and complex.

 

To prove me wrong please give me the names of indigenous Palestinians- not families who from their names originated from other surrounding countries. Or give me the names of any wars or battles Palestinians fought against invaders from time immemorial to 1947. And the names of their leader!!!

 

The further a society drifts from the truth the more it will hate those that speak it’’ – George Orwell

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Blog Editor: Rather than capitulate to Facebook censorship by abandoning the platform, I choose to post and share until the Leftist censors ban me. Recently, the Facebook censorship tactic I’ve experienced is a couple of Group shares then jailed under the false accusation of posting too fast. So I ask those that read this, to combat censorship by sharing blog and Facebook posts with your friends or Groups you belong to.

_____________________________

Edited by John R. Houk

Text embraced by brackets and source links are by the Editor. (Spellcheck was utilized)

 

© Peter Baum

 

Responding Comment to ‘What Palestinians?’


Palestinians Never Existed

John R. Houk

© July 24, 2014

 

Two comments by raginman to the NCCR post of “What Palestinians?

 

July 20, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Palestinians aren’t Arab.

 

July 20, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Palestinians aren’t Arab. Genetic testing shows they’re an amalgamated people who are culturally Arab. They were there before the British Mandate, otherwise there would have been no existing city of Jerusalem prior to the Mandate. Your writing of the history makes it seem as though no one lived in the current land of Israel prior to that point. Clearly that is not the case.

 

I appreciate your statement about the ethnicity of the people that call themselves Palestinians; nonetheless these people consider themselves as Arab and as you pointed out their culture is Arabic. Hence I will continue to call them “Arabs who call themselves Palestinians”.

 

Raginman of course there was a majority Muslim population prior to the existence of the Jewish State, BUT the population of indigenous Muslims descended from generations of centuries was very small. Only as Western technology emptied swamps and properly made the land fit for agriculture then did the Muslim population grow larger. Note the Western technology was largely initiated by Jewish immigrants from Europe willing to do the hard work that the land looked profitable for Muslims to emigrate from other Muslim regions as a land of opportunity. Proximity and Islamic Supremacism made Muslim culturally Arab people immigrate faster to the Holy Land than the Jews were able to their own Homeland.

 

http://www.imninalu.net/myths-pals.htm

 

http://www.redstate.com/diary/imreontheissues/2014/07/19/demographics-disprove-fraudulent-palestinian-claims/

 

http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~hireview/content.php?type=article&issue=spring01/&name=myth

 

Check out the above links. The last link is so relevant to your comment I’ll cross posting it.

 

JRH 7/24/14

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The Myth of Jewish “Colonialism”: Demographics and Development in Palestine

 

By David Wollenberg

Spring 2001Issue 1

Harvard Israel Review

A Student Publication on Israeli History, Politics and History

 

One of the most powerful and widespread arguments against Zionism and the State of Israel has been the claim that Jewish settlement in Palestine led directly to the displacement and exploitation of the land’s long-established Arab population. In 1939, on the eve of the Holocaust and at the height of British attempts to divide the region into separate Arab and Jewish states, Jamal Husayni, spokesman for the effective government of Palestinian Arabs, forcefully raised this very argument against the Jewish national home:

 

Is it in any way just, that the Arabs, who have lived on this land uninterruptedly for 1300 years, and whose lives are rooted in its soil—should be dispossessed by force, should be pushed aside, and should be blackmailed to enable the Zionist Jews to fashion a Jewish National Home on this land? That’s the problem….1

 

This was also the claim made by five Arab states to justify war against the State of Israel in 1948, just one day after it had declared its independence. According to this view, Jews had been absent from the land of Israel for too long to claim their right to return. In their absence, another group of people had come to occupy the land, and thus the Zionist movement could succeed only at this people’s expense. The West, embarrassed by the horrors of the Holocaust, had founded the State of Israel to clear its conscience, and the Arab residents of Palestine were forced to pay the price. The creation of the Jewish State was thus an outrage, so the argument goes, because the very settlement of the land by Jews was illegitimate.

 

Yet this argument rests on an inaccurate description of the country’s history, namely, a mischaracterization of the demographics of Palestine before 1948. For a number of reasons, both political and environmental, the Arab population of Palestine had been in a constant state of flux for much of the region’s history. There was of course a small Arab population in Palestine that could trace its roots back for centuries. But overall, the Arab population, which had remained dormant for centuries, began to blossom only after the beginning of Jewish immigration and the subsequent improvements in economic conditions, infrastructure, and agricultural techniques. The idea of “uninterrupted settlement…rooted in its soil,” is thus inconsistent with history. It was put forward primarily in an attempt to delegitimize Jewish immigration.

 

This essay will explore the various reasons for the Arab population shifts over time, focusing mainly on the first half of the twentieth century. Such an examination demonstrates that Jewish settlement in Palestine did not amount to the sudden disruption that Husayni and others claim, since there was no continuous national history or uniform population to disrupt. It also suggests that Jewish settlement was in many ways beneficial to the land and all of its inhabitants. In this light, it is clear that the two main tenets of the myth of Jewish “colonialism”—that Zionism uprooted a long-established nation and led to its uniform exploitation—are ideologically motivated distortions.

 

Arab Demographics Prior to British Governance: Dramatic Underpopulation

 

From the period of the Crusades to the beginning of modern times, the population of Palestine remained at a near constant level.2This apparent stability is significant, as populations naturally tend to increase over time. It is estimated that there were 205,000 people living in Palestine in the mid 1500s.3By 1800, the population had only grown to 275,000, reflecting about a thousandth of a percent of average growth a year.4By 1890, still before any significant Jewish immigration, the population had made a slightly larger jump, to 532,000.5But even with this increase, the nineteenth century growth rate was still a small 0.7% per year.6By comparison, in the 1940s the Muslim growth rate in the Middle East was closer to 3.07%.7

 

A number of factors account for this dramatic underpopulation, one of which is environmental. Many people fled the area as early as the fourteenth century as a result of the Black Plague. Starting shortly thereafter, many areas became swamp-infested and malarial, especially in the northern valleys. There is much evidence to suggest that, by the mid-nineteenth century, the region had become nearly uninhabitable. Around this time, German Templars tried to settle the Kinrot Valley, where Jesus had lived, but were forced to leave due to the prevalence of malaria.8Jewish settlers in the 1880s attempted to inhabit the Hula valley, but in some places child mortality rates were nearly 100% because of disease.9The Talmud remarks, “If the Garden of Eden is in the Land of Israel, Beit-Shean is its gateway.”10But when the scholar H.B. Tristram visited the area in the 1860s, traveling in the footsteps of Jesus, he claimed, “We saw not a tree….It is scarcely conceivable how any human beings can inhabit such sites; but such is the contrast, nowhere more settling than here, between ancient civilization and modern degradation.”11 Mark Twain was disillusioned by his trip to the Holy Land. He wrote, “Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes…desolate and unlovely…it is dreamland.”12Even by 1931, after many early Zionist efforts to clear the land, only a third of the whole region was cultivable.13No doubt, the lack of fertile land and presence of disease contributed to the comparatively limited population growth.

 

The higher growth rate of the nineteenth century (relative to the previous rates) must be attributed to a different set of conditions, namely major demographic shifts stemming from emigration and immigration. In 1831, Muhammad Ali of Egypt invaded the region to obtain raw materials and a market for his country’s industrializing economy.14As a result of the violence, many fellaheen, or farmers, fled Palestine to neighboring regions. Yet these emigres were soon replaced by a new wave of farmers from Egypt seeking to escape their country’s military draft.15According to the French scholar M. Sabry, the Egyptian governor Ibrahim Pasha brought over six thousand people to settle empty stretches of land in Palestine.16Although his leadership brought a greater sense of law and order to the land than ever before, the conquest precipitated a half-century of intertribal warfare, especially among the Bedouin.17The British decided that this instability threatened their economic interests in the region and forced Ibrahim to retreat to Egypt.18The net result of this upheaval was a positive but minor population increase. It would not be until the end of the century that modernizing developments would cause major demographic changes.

 

British Control: Population Shifts and the Beginnings of Growth

 

With British control during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries came greater material stability and economic growth. As a result of the construction of railroad lines that led to the sea, the population of Haifa tripled and that of Jaffa more than doubled from 1880 to 1910.19But while the population shifted toward these areas, the overall growth rates for the country stayed low. According to British investigations, there were 689,275 persons in Palestine in 1915, about 590,000 of whom were Arab.20 Given a population in 1890 of 532,000 (473,000 Arab), this still represents only a 0.8% per year growth rate.

 

Soon afterwards, during World War I, the Ottomans tried to muster troops from the region, prompting many of the upper classes to flee. It appears that the war prompted a massive flight, immediately followed by a huge influx. According to contemporary surveys, the Arab population declined by 35,000 during the years 1915 to 1919. While many Arabs may have fled to escape the draft, others were expelled by force. To defend against the British, the Ottomans, still nominally in control, expelled both Jews and Arabs from cities across the coast on the assumption that their nationalistic intentions could lead them to sympathize with the British invaders. This effort was massive: twenty-eight thousand Arabs were forced out of Gaza alone.21By 1922, however, just three years later, the Arab population had increased by 80,000 above the 1919 level.22After the War had ended and Britain had taken formal control of the area (with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire), Arab population rates recovered quickly and significantly. Many Arabs took advantage of the improved economic conditions that resulted from British administration; and by 1922, the population of Haifa—which had declined by 30% from 1915 to 1917 due to Ottoman expulsions23—had become greater than it was before the war.24 The Zionists, also eager to take advantage of this economic growth, had hoped that the British government, the country’s largest employer, would hire Jews in construction. But the British preferred cheaper foreign labor; and in the period leading up to 1922 they employed fifteen thousand foreigners (mostly from Egypt and Syria) and only five hundred Jews.25Despite this low employment rate, however, the Jewish population continued to grow through immigration. The increasing numbers of these two populations would soon lead to a significant clash.

 

Approaching 1948: Economic Growth and the Population Burst

 

After years of relative stagnation, the few decades leading up to 1948 saw significant growth in both Arab and Jewish populations. Had the Arab population remained at its pre-WWI growth rate (0.8%) after 1922, one would have expected a population of approximately 785,000 by 1947. But there were in fact between 1.2 and 1.3 million Arabs in all of Palestine by 1947.26What could have caused this sudden burst?

 

To investigate possible causes, it is important to examine where in the country the growth took place. Non-Jewish population growth rates were highest within modern-day sovereign Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip regions. These rates cannot be explained by higher birth rates alone.

 

One major factor accounting for the unexpected growth was the potential for upward mobility that existed in the western cities. The wages of western cities were more attractive, no doubt bringing many people from surrounding areas. Port cities also offered greater employment opportunities, which helps explain the fact that there was a dramatic influx into Haifa and Jaffa relative to cities like Beit-Shean and Jerusalem.

 

Another major reason for the population explosion was the revolution that took place in farming and thus in the ecosystem generally. Agriculture had been the main source of income of 90% of Muslims in 1931.29With the increase in Jewish immigration during this period, Arab farmers began to pressure the British to stop the Jewish influx, arguing that the land could not sustain any more inhabitants. The result was the Passfield White Paper of 1930, which claimed:

 

It can now be definitely stated that at the present time and with the present methods of Arab cultivation there remains no margin of land available for agricultural settlement by new immigrants, with the exception of such undeveloped land as the various Jewish agencies hold in reserve.30

 

Although this document would be repudiated only a year later, it reflects the widespread and strongly-held belief that the land’s resources could not be shared. Yet this belief was based on the assumption that the state of agriculture could not improve, an assumption that experience would soon prove false.

 

One major reason for this improvement was swamp drainage. The project, largely conceived and carried out by Jewish immigrants with some British help, was enormous in magnitude. It provided dramatic health benefits in addition to large increases in the amount of arable land.

 

Another development in farming took the form of improved agricultural techniques. Formerly, according to historian Kenneth Stein, “the cultivated land was not very fertile or sufficiently irrigated. The failure or inability to use modern agricultural techniques such as manuring and mechanization kept yields to a minimum. Crop rotation was rarely practiced.”32This would all change in a very short time.

 

Yet another reason for improvement was the growth of citriculture, the most profitable form of agriculture in the country.33From 1931 to 1937, land used for citriculture increased by almost 200%, with total citrus output rising 380%. During the same period, total wheat cultivation remained near constant, dropping about 4% in total area, but tripling in output. Arab agricultural techniques improved in other ways as well, resulting in increased production of produce, tobacco, watermelons, cattle, and fowl. With new farming techniques and more cultivable land, the naturally sustainable population increased exponentially.

 

Another Piece of the Puzzle: Property Ownership

 

One of the major obstacles faced by Jewish immigrants who tried to purchase land prior to 1948 was the unique system of property ownership established in much of the country. In 1932, 117,869 dunam of land was held by absentee landowners. In most cases, tenant farmers worked the land, creating a dilemma for land purchasers.34 Even after buying the land from the “real” owner, the tenant farmers would generally remain in place. In 1927, the British passed a law preventing the transfer of land without first securing new land for the tenant farmer or making a cash settlement.35Yet this had already been the policy of the Jewish Agency, which had explicitly sought to avoid controversy in its land purchases. The Shaw Commission reported:

 

We think that the Jewish Companies are not open to any criticism in respect of these transactions. In paying compensation, as they undoubtedly did, to many of the cultivators of land which they purchased in the Plain of Esdraelon [Jezreel Valley] those companies were making a payment which at the time of the transactions the law of Palestine did not require. Moreover, they were acting with the knowledge of the Government.36

 

Despite this careful attention to the tenant farmers’ reimbursement, Arab fellaheen often claimed that Jews had given them little or no compensation. In response, the British launched investigations into over 3000 claims, of which about 2500 were ultimately rejected.37For the 600 or so claims that were accepted, the Development Department was required to provide 60 dunam of irrigable land or a cash settlement that would presumably allow the farmer to move to a city.38 The immigration of Jews to Palestine was thus done both legally and ethically.

 

But the local Arab elite’s complaints about Jewish immigration were not about legality anyway. These leaders claimed that the presence of outsiders would destroy the Arab nature of the country, a claim that can still be heard among Palestinians and pro-Palestinian advocates today. Ironically, however, many of the strongest opponents of Jewish land purchases were also the people who profited most from them. A brief list of Arab leaders who sold land to Jews includes Fahmi el-Husayni, mayor of Gaza; Ragheb Nashashibi, mayor of Jerusalem and founder of the “National Defense Party”; Mussa el-‘Alami, Government Advocate of the Palestine Government and a member of the Arab Higher Committee; As’ad el-Shuqairi, father of Ahmed Shuqairi, the first chairman of the P.L.O.; and Jamal el-Husayni, who is quoted at the beginning of this essay.39 Of course, the Arab leadership attempted to suppress this information, but it was brought to public attention by Lewis French, the first director of the British Mandatory Government’s Department of Development.40The news of the Arab leadership’s hypocrisy eventually led to the collapse of the Arab Executive (the governing Arab body in the Mandate) in the early 1930s. It would not be until 1936 that another body of political leadership would come to exist, in the form of the Arab Higher Committee.41

 

Husayni’s claim of 1300 years of uninterrupted Arab presence in Palestine is clearly a convenient simplification. Any statements about the demographics of Palestine before 1948 must recognize the country’s dynamic history. The first half of the twentieth century was a period of sweeping changes for the land and all the people living on it—Arab and Jew. After remaining nearly stagnant for centuries, the population exploded in modern times due to improved infrastructure, agriculture, and immigration, both Jewish and Arab. As a result, from 1890 to 1947, in less than sixty years, the population grew from 532,000 to 1,845,560.42The Arab population of Palestine grew more from 1922 to 1947 than it had over the previous 400 years. But the population shift that would occur over the following three years, as a result of the U.N. partition plan and the Arab-Israeli war, would be so momentous that it almost makes this prior data seem irrelevant. Each side blames the other for the consequences of the war, including some who point to the war as proof of “Zionist aggression.” But even Benny Morris, the historian who argued that the Palestinian refugee problem was caused in part by Israeli military actions43points out that “the [refugee] problem was a direct consequence of the war that the Palestinians—and, in their wake, the surrounding Arab states—had launched.”44From the beginning, it was Arab intolerance of the Jewish presence that caused the widespread opposition to Israel, an intolerance that resulted in the war of 1948. Jews, of course, had not chosen arbitrarily to immigrate to this area of the world. Moreover, they did so legally and with positive effects. As evidenced by the massive growth in population, the improvement of agriculture, and increased wages, the claim against Jewish return to Palestine was not pragmatic but ideological. The idea of a Jewish State as such was, from the beginning, anathema to the Arabs living there, and they sought to discredit and defeat it by any means possible. It is in this context that the birth of the Arab-Israeli conflict must be considered.


David Wollenberg, Harvard Class of 2003, is from Short Hills, New Jersey.


Notes

1. Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession (Efal, Israel: Yad Tabenkin, 1982), p. 11.
2. Ibid, p. 12.
3. Ibid.
4. Including 246,000 Muslims and 22,000 Christians.
5. Including 432,000 Muslims and 57,000 Christians (total Arab population: 473,000). See Avneri, p.12.
6. Because only a total population statistic is available for 1800, and not a pure ‘Arab population’ statistic, this growth rate actually represents the total natural population increase. But given the overwhelming Arab majority at the time, it is a good approximation of the Arab growth statistic.
7. “A Survey of Palestine,” prepared in December 1945 and January 1946 for the Information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, Vol. II p. 714, as cited in Avneri, p. 252.
8. Avneri, p. 42.
9. Ibid, p. 41.
10. Erub. 19a.
11. Avneri, pp. 43-44.
12. Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad, pp. 441-442.
13. Kenneth W. Stein, The Land Question in Palestine 1917-1939 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984), p. 4.
14. William L. Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, p. 72.
15. Avneri, p. 13.
16. See Avneri p. 13.
17. Ibid, pp. 18-24.
18. Cleveland, p. 74.
19. Ibid, p. 27.
20. Ibid, p. 25.
21. Ibid, p. 28.
22. Ibid.
23. Ibid.
24. Ibid, p. 30
25. Ibid.
26. Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem 1947-1949 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 8.
27. Notes compiled for U.N.S.C.O.P, pp. 12-13 (for data for December 31, 1946), as cited in Avneri, p. 255.
28. Avneri, p. 262.
29. Stein, p. 6.
30. Passfield White Paper, October 1930.
31. Avneri, p. 235.
32. Stein, p. 4.
33. Avneri, p. 259.
34. Stein, p. 179.
35. Avneri, p. 132
36. Ibid, p. 126.
37. Stein, p. 160.
38. Ibid, pp. 158-163.
39. Ibid, pp. 228-238.
40. Avneri, p. 233.
41. Ibid, p. 234.
42. Notes compiled for UNSCOP, p. 12, as cited in Avneri, p. 252.
43. Morris, p. 286.
44. Benny Morris, “Peace? No chance.” The Guardian (UK). February 21, 2002.

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Responding Comment to ‘What Palestinians?’

John R. Houk

© July 24, 2014

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The Myth of Jewish “Colonialism”: Demographics and Development in Palestine

 

Copyright © 2003 Harvard Israel Review. All Rights Reserved.

 

From the Editors

 

This issue of the Harvard Israel Review represents the hard work of many students over several months. The individuals who produced this issue share a common concern for the deteriorated political situation and abhorrent violence in the Middle East. They also share the hope that, one-day, Israel, living beside its neighbors in peace and security, will empower Jews around the world by creating communal self-reliance and protecting Jews from anti-Semitism.

 

The West once viewed the idea of the Jewish State with this same hope. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, when the world learned the extent of the horror visited upon the Jewish people, Jewish empowerment became a moral imperative to those in the West. World leaders and intelligentsia, especially in Europe and America, felt that Jewish self-reliance through the creation of a Jewish State was the only way to prevent another Holocaust.

 

Today, this hope is a reality and READ THE REST