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The Flight from Fact: Palestine in the Hands of Palestinian From Time Immemorial
From the Book: From Time Immemorial | 1984 | Joan Peters

Posted on 08/14/2002 7:18:09 AM PDT by carton253

The “Palestinian problem” is often asserted to be the “heart of the matter”, which must be dealt with before any real Middle East peace or any solution can occur.

The “heart of the matter” however, is not the Arab refugees or the “Palestinian Arab refugees” or the “rights” of the “Palestinians” – or even Palestine. Were the Jewish-settled independent state on any area within reach of the Arab world – no matter how remote or barren the location, there might well be another “problem”. And very likely there would also be another group of effendis (Arab landlords) to sell land to the Jews. There would be “landless” peasants anxious to better their lot who would migrate into the area of Jewish development. Perhaps they too would be goaded into claiming that the Jews displaced them from their “land since time immemorial”. But the chances of the dhimmi Jews gaining independence among Arabs in an Arab country, where Islam is the state religion are not even arguable. Even in the Jews’ own Holy Land it took two thousand years and millions of Jewish lives to accomplish the political rebirth of Israel.

The Arabs believe that by creating an Arab Palestinian identity, at the sacrifice and well-being and the very lives of “Arab refugees”, they will accomplish politically and through “guerrilla warfare” what they failed to achieve in military combat: the destruction of Israel – the unacceptable independent dhimmi state. That is the “heart of the matter”.

All the myths surrounding the Arab “Palestinians” are based on the same premises:

1. The “Palestinian people” have had an identity with the land

2. That identity has been present for “thousands of years.”

3. The alien Jews “returned after 2000 years” in 1948 to “displace” the “Palestinian Arabs” in the “new” Jewish state.

4. The Arabs were there first – it was Arab land.

5. The Jews “stole” the Arabs’ land.

6. The Jewish terrorists forced the peaceable Arabs to flee from “Palestine”.

7. Palestine is Israel, and Israel constitutes all of Palestine. “In 1948 Palestine became Israel”.

8. Only Jews immigrated into “Palestine,” while Arabs were natives there for millennia.

9. There are no places for the “homeless” Palestinian “refugees” to go.

10. The Jews were living in quality and tranquility with the “Palestinian Arabs” before Israel became a state, just as Jews had lived traditionally in peace and harmony throughout the benevolent Arab world.

11. The Arab “Palestinians,” like other Arabs, have “nothing against Jews – only Zionists”.

Contrary to those Arab propaganda claims:

1. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Arabs or Arabic-speaking migrants were wandering in search of subsistence all over the Middle East. The land of “Palestine” proper had been laid waste, causing peasants to flee.

2. Jews and “Zionism” never left the Holy Land, even after the Roman conquest in AD 70.

3. The traditional land of “Palestine included both areas east and west of the Jordan River (Transjordan or Jordan).

4. The Arabic-speaking “masses” in “Palestine” – what few there were – though of themselves as “Ottomans or Turks”, as Southern Syrians or as “Arab People” – but never as “Palestinians” even after effendis and the Mufti tried to incite “nationalism” and even after T.E. Lawrence had made Herculean attempts to inject the Arabic-speaking residents of “Palestine” with nationalism.

5. Imbued with religious prejudice, the Muslims of Palestine erupted into anti-Jewish violence often, and at the call of the Muslim leaders, long before Israel.

6. Those anti-Jewish, apolitical acts were later, by the British, ascribed as “Nationalism”.

7. The bulk of all “Arab” peasantry in the area – East Palestine, Syrian, Iraqi, Egyptian, and others – were rendered “landless” by feudal-like societal structures, natural disasters, extortionate taxation, and corrupt loan sharks. Yet the Jews were cynically charged with creating “landless” Arabs in “Palestine”. The British gave state domain lands, allocated for the “Jewish National Home” to those “landless” Arabs who claimed they were being “displaced by Jews” in Western Palestine.

8. All the land outside the limited Jewish-settled area of Western Palestine was treated as “Arab” land: more than 80% -- including even part of Western Palestine – was diverted to the Arabs. (Winston Churchill signed a white paper in the early 1920’s that single handedly divided Mandate Palestine into two parts – giving the larger part to the Emir Abdullah and creating Transjordan)

9. The overwhelming bulk of Palestine called “Eastern Palestine” or “Transjordan” became the Arab independent state within Palestine, despite the fact that all “Palestine” had been designated as a “Jewish National Home.”

10. The “homelands” to which Arab refugees moved in 1948 included lands that many Arab refugees had only recently left in order to gain economic advantages of the small Jewish region within Palestine. Those “homelands” where many Arab refugees of 1948 originated included the greater part of “Palestine” – Jordan today – to which the Jews claimed historic rights. Jordan was no less a “Palestinian state” than was the Jewish-settled fraction named “Israel”.

11. Those who were deprived the Arab “refugees” of homes among families and within their own Arab nation are the Arab-Muslim leaders.

12. The Arab “refugees-émigrés”, who by tradition been migrating into the Jewish-settled areas, were accepted as citizens of Palestine-cum-Jordan, because Jordanians acknowledge that their country is “Palestinian soil”.

13. All other adjacent Arab states refused to grant the dignity of citizenship to those whom they called their Arab brothers. The migrants had left their nearby Arab homelands to share the new prosperity in the Jewish-settled area of Western Palestine, that fraction of the original Jewish homeland retained by the Jews.

As we have seen, it is only in the Jewish-settled area of Western Palestine that the population distribution is relevant. The charge that “Arab Palestinians were excluded from their homeland” has been levied against the Jewish people, based upon the false assumption that Jews were allowed to settle, unrestricted, throughout their Jewish National Home” of “Palestine”, and thus Israel was equivalent to all of “Palestine”. Since the land of Israel – mainly the Jewish inhabited land in1948 – accounted for less than a fourth of the land originally designated “Palestine,” and if the rest of “Palestine” is inhabited by Jordanian/Palestinians in an Arab state carved out of the Palestinian “Jewish National Home” where Jews are forbidden by law from settling – how, then can Arabs be said to be “excluded” from a “Palestinian Homeland.”

The situation-changing effect of a detailed analysis of the composition and distribution of the population of Western Palestine, and of the nature of immigration and in-migration into that area, is of immense significance; yet these data have heretofore been almost entirely ignored. There was neither map nor measure readily available to identify accurately the population or territory actually involved in the Jewish-settled areas that constituted the land where 98% of all Jews in “Palestine” would live until after 1948 – a fraction of Western Palestine. There are been no relevant recognition of the British land restrictions against Jews, which limited Jewish settlements to only a portion of Western Palestine.

The land in the “Jewish National Home” was treated largely as “Arab Land.” The Jews immigration was brutally restricted while “illegal” Arab immigration was freely permitted – that was in fact the British “system” of immigration. To appease Arab “discontent”, the British violated the international League of Nations Mandate, by “facilitating” Arab settlement into Jewish settled land, and by treating the Jews only “on sufferance” in their “Jewish National Home.” No real measure of in-migrants or immigrants was ever taken, because the prevalent erroneous assumption was and still is that those Arab migrants had “always been there.” The omission of such information facilitated the myth of today.

The situation that subsequently evolved brings to mind once more this parable:

In the state of Georgia, there is a population of nearly 600,000 farmers – 500,000 white farmers and 85,000 black farmers. The white farmers are sprinkled on land throughout the state. The black farmers have been permitted to dwell and buy land in a small, generally undeveloped, and abandoned coastal country of that state; they have toiled to drain and reclaim its swampland and have begun to build up its sandy wastes.

Although, the majority of the state’s land is state domain, the whites exert pressure and utilize violence in order to keep the Georgia administration from selling to the blacks that state territory which is their right. The Georgia government passes spuriously based legislation that has the effect of impeding the sales of state domain land to the black would-be settlers, and enacts restrictions on entry into Georgia in order keep out the blacks. The only land left available to them is the outrageously overpriced land that the whites sell to the blacks, most of which has become dunes and swampland.

Meanwhile, white migrant workers throughout Georgia, and from neighboring states as well, begin flooding into the area that has been promised to and allocated by federal legislation for black settlement. Having been hired by the blacks to assist in development, those white migrants are then designated by the government of Georgia to be the “original settled inhabitants” of the area. Then the white so-called “original settlers” charge that the blacks are “dispossessing” the whites, and must be kept out, although all the states surrounding Georgia – as well as the majority to territory inside Georgia – are dominated by whites, all in areas where KKK persecution and violence against blacks have been occurring with regularity. The white farmers resent the prosperity and equality accruing to those whom they regard as their “slaves” and therefore claim that the previously deserted land was “expropriated from whites”, insisting that the blacks’ farms belong to the whites from time immemorial.

Would any reasonable jury today respect such a claim?

And yet, so buried by layer-upon-layer of propaganda is the actual historical situation of Arabs and Jews in the Jewish-settled area of Western Palestine that just Arab demands have been given acceptance by many who, while in search of justice, lack the facts.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; Israel; News/Current Events; Syria; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: eretzyisrael; israel; palestine; peaceinthemiddle; syria
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To: tictoc
Well... with no disrespect to Daniel Pipes, that is his opinion. Pipes might be right or not... but now we are in the dueling opinions war...

And I think you did mention it to rain on my parade... but that's all right, I have a big umbrella :) The more information I get, the better. I will certainly take your "warning" into consideration...

I don't think Joan Peters is saying that there were not Arabs who were ejected from the land... as I read the book, her main take is on the number of Arabs who claimed they were being forced from the land, etc.

As for countries being born... you are right. No countries are innocent in their birth. No countries are innocent in their growth.

I remember an Australian teacher outraged over the many broken treaties the American government made with Native Indians. He was right... not a glorious chapter. But, I didn't hear him mention Australia's treatment of native peoples in Australia while he was railing against our past.

21 posted on 08/14/2002 9:51:16 AM PDT by carton253
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To: carton253
The facts and fiction regarding Israel's pre-statehood history are compelling and undermine the credibility of Arab claims. But Israel's survival, and that of the Jews, will not result from a much needed history lesson for those opposed to her existence.

The parties (namely the EU and UN) seeking to scapegoat Israel and the Jews for the Arabs misery are not misinformed, but rather have calculated the specific agenda to destroy the state of Israel. These parties must be taken to account based on the long held practices and precedents set by international law.

And as I recently posted, the debate on whether Arab-terrorists may be freedom fighters concedes legal authority to their actions. Before answering whether Palis are justified in fighting "occupiers" it must be determined whether they are being "illegaly occupied". The history of events surrounding the West Bank and Gaza make the Pali claim dubious under international law. Simply stated, legal title to this territory vested under Israel's soveriegnty upon the unlawful actions of Israel's Arab neighbors, who used the territory to repeatedly launch invasions against Israel (four hostile attacks upon Israel between 1948 and 1967-- any of which gave Israel the right to annex the disputed territory).

22 posted on 08/14/2002 11:19:47 AM PDT by 1bigdictator
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To: 1bigdictator
When I read about Israel's history... I can understand Arab motives and actions. I am not surprised by them... What I do not understand is the West's motives and actions.

To say we yield to Arab demands because of oil can't be the whole story. For the West has been yielding long before oil. To bottom line it into Anti-Semitism seems to just scratch the surface of the problem.

To read the history of the Jews under the Mandate period and watch the British break their own law to make sure that the Jews did not immigrate to a land that Britian itself set aside for that purpose... flabbergasts me. To watch leaders like Chamberlain, Roosevelt, etc. dance around the issue that Jews were dying under Hitler is devestating. Even when the facts of the death camps were known, even then the British would not let the European Jews migrate to Palestine. They preferred the Arabs who were fighting on the Nazi's side. What is that!

Even today, the Palestinians aren't Israel's main enemies... but the West who allow the Palestinians carte blanche to do whatever they want to the Israelis and then hold Israel to a different standard. The EU and UN prefer the Arabs and signal their hatred for the Jews in their condemnations and resolutions.

You are right... it is not misinformation... it is calculated. It is calculated to deny a people the right of existence.

I would like to have your opinion on why EU and the UN have chosen this path...

23 posted on 08/14/2002 11:37:33 AM PDT by carton253
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To: tictoc
tictoc opened his mouth about fact checking but was himself wrong in attributing a quote from the NY Review of Books to Daniel Pipes.

That quote, in fact, came from Ronald Sanders, who together with Daniel Pipes offered a qualified defense of Peters' book in response to a negative review from Yehoshua Porath.

The back-and-forth between these three people can be read at the second link above.

tictoc is now looking for a napkin to wipe the egg off his face.

24 posted on 08/14/2002 9:07:47 PM PDT by tictoc
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To: carton253; UltraConservative
Wow. Nicely done, carton253. Not an easy book to get through-- thanks for your service to FR.
25 posted on 08/14/2002 11:45:53 PM PDT by Cinnamon Girl
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To: tictoc
You are alright in my book... Thank you for letting me know this information.

Have a nice day!

26 posted on 08/15/2002 5:20:49 AM PDT by carton253
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To: carton253
Thank you for posting the full reviews… I read them over. All three seem to dispute Miss Peters’ starting number of Jews versus Muslims versus Christians living in Palestine in the year 1890. Miss Peter’s disputes the Ottoman census and relies on French traveler and geographer Vital Cuinet’s numbers. Now it seems, Cuinet’s seems to have fallen out of favor with certain scholars… yet, Mr. Sanders says that Cuinet’s figures and the Ottoman census figures seem to mesh until you get to the number of Jews living in Palestine in 1890. Then the numbers are wide apart. Mr. Porath believes that the Ottoman census is correct and not Cuinet… so Miss Peters’ research is poisoned from the start.

I will leave that fight aside… because I would have to look at the numbers myself to see which set of numbers I would believe.

But, I am struck by something buried in Mr. Porath’s argument that seems to contradict his opposition to Miss Peters and supports exactly what the main thrust of her book is saying.

Mr. Sanders sums up her thesis thusly: ”Much of Miss Peters’ book argues that at the same time that Jewish immigration to Palestine was rising, Arab immigration to the parts of Palestine where Jews had settled also increased. Therefore, in her view, the Arab claim that an indigenousArab population was displaced by Jewish immigrants must be false, since many Arabs only arrived with the Jews.

Mr. Sanders writing says: “Yet neither he (Mr. Porath) nor any of the detractors I have read has taken on the most striking of her demonstrations in favor of her case, dealing with the phenomenon she calls “in-migration” – that is, the movement of Arabs from other parts of Palestine into the main areas of Jewish settlement. She shows that in the years 1893 to 1947, while the Palestinian Arab population slightly more than doubled in areas where no Jews were settled, it quintupled in the main areas of Jewish settlement. How can this difference be accounted for without including Arab migration as a factor?"

Mr. Porath goes about explaining how that can be… and in the meantime he proves just how that happened.

First, Mr. Porath discounts evidence that Palestine was a wasteland due to the fact that the person Mr. Sanders quoted in his review about this fact was a Zionist. Okay… but there is evidence from numerous sources i.e, Mark Twain being just one observer who wrote that Palestine was in fact desolate and void of population.

Mr. Porath writes about “in-migrants”: “It is true nevertheless that during the Mandate period, the Arab population of the coastal area of Palestine grew faster than it did in other others. But this fact does not necessarily prove an Arab immigration into Palestine took place. More reasonably it confirms the very well-known fact that the coastal area attracted villagers from the mountainous parts of Palestine who preferred the economic opportunities in the fast-growing areas of Jaffa and Haifa to the meager opportunities available in their villages.

The coastal area had several main attractions for the Arab villagers. The found jobs in constructing, and later working in, the port of Haifa, The Iraq Petroleum Company refineries, the railway, workshops, and the nascent Arab industries there. They also took part in the large-scale cultivation of the citrus groves between Haifa and Jaffa and found jobs connected with the shipment of citrus fruits from the Jaffa port. Contrary to what Mr. Pipes claims, all these developments had almost nothing to do with the growth of the Jewish National Home. The main foreign factor that brought them about was the Mandatory government. The Zionist settlers had a clearly stated polity against using Arab labor or investing in Arab industries.”

First of all, Mr. Porath is in denial if he thinks that the explosion in labor had nothing to do with the Jews reclaiming the land and planting and growing citrus crops. He accounts it only to the British government. We know that government can produce jobs… and may be responsible for some of the opportunities presented to Arab workers… but that doesn’t refute Miss Peters’ argument that the growth of the Arab population in Western Palestine was due to “in-migrant” workers and not landed Arabs who were displaced by Zionists from lands they have owned since time immemorial.

And to say that the Jews never hired Arab workers is not true. Yes, there were instances where the Jews would not work with Arabs but left the labor to Jews. But that is not true in every situation. As the land was reclaimed… and Jewish immigration was stymied by British capitulation to Arab demands, the Jews were forced to work with Arabs (paying them great wages), which lead to more Arab “in-migration”

Such books as Israel by Martin Gilbert, The Seige By Conor Cruise O’Brien, A Durable Peace by Benjamin Netanyahu and O Jerusalem state that Arabs worked for Jewish farmers and as a result their standard of living improved.

Were some landed Arabs uprooted from their homes at the birth of Israel? Without a doubt. Were 1.6 million of them uprooted… no. Miss Peters’ says that the UNWRA stated that any Arab who lived in Israel only 2 years before the partition are refugees and should be counted as such. They are still categorized as refugees 54 years later. Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were forced out of their homes in 1948, as of 1984, could no longer be counted as refugees. Why the double-standard? Why hasn’t Arab countries absorbed the refugees? In the early 1980’s the Syrians put out a call for laborers. When asked why they didn’t hire the refugees in Syrian camps… they said no… that those refugees served a political strategy against Israel.

In conclusion, we can argue about the 1890 census until we turn blue in the face and nothing will be solved. The truth is that from the time the Mandate came into force until 1948, Western Palestine flourished and industry grew. That growth was due to the Jewish efforts to reclaim the land. As the land flourished… industry grew. It is also true, that Arab “in-migrants” came to where the wages were higher and the standard of living was good. And those “in-migrants” were counted by the UNWRA and Arab propaganda as Arabs thrown off their farms by Zionist imperialists. These farms that they have owned since time immemorial.

27 posted on 08/15/2002 8:35:50 AM PDT by carton253
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To: tictoc
My post #27 was supposed to be written to you...
28 posted on 08/15/2002 8:37:41 AM PDT by carton253
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To: carton253
Printing out your response for subsequent reading...
29 posted on 08/15/2002 9:44:01 AM PDT by tictoc
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