Frequently Asked Questions:
- Was there ever a state of Palestine? Did Israel conquer Palestine and replace it with a Jewish state?
- In what percent of Palestine does Israel exist?
- Who does Palestine rightly belong to? Why do the Arabs, a nation which occupies 22 countries, also insist on occupying Palestine?
- What is the history of Palestine, where did it get it's name?
- Who are the Palestinians? Where did the Arabs of Palestine come from? Are they a separate people, historically different from other Arabs?
- Was Palestine full of Arabs before the mass return of Jews?
- Did the Jews expel the Arabs from Palestine? Are there no more Arabs in Israel?
- If the Land of Israel was so important to the Jews, why did they leave?
- Jews were mostly living outside of Palestine for a long time, doesn't that reduce their claim to the land?
- Weren't the Arabs living in Palestine for hundreds of years or millenea before the Jews came?
- Why did the Jews insist on returning to Palestine? They were doing quite well in other peoples' countries...
- Did the Arabs invade the region by force?
- Did the rich European Jews take advantage of the poor Arabs and trick them into selling their best land at low cost?
- Did the Jewish influx improve the job opportunities, health care, standard of living, infrastructure, which made Palestine an attractive place for Arabs, who would later immigrate to Palestine?
- Is the Arab opposition to Israel's existence, an opposition to imperialism, or a fight over limited land?
- Where is Palestine? What are its borders? Is it only between the Mediteranean and the river Jordan?
Was there ever a state of Palestine? Did Israel conquer Palestine and replace it with a Jewish state?
- In the Six-Day War, Israel captured Judea, Samaria and East
Jerusalem. But they didn't capture these territories from Yasser
Arafat. They captured them from Jordan's King Hussein. I can't help
but wonder why all these Palestinians suddenly discovered their
national identity after Israel won the war.
The truth is that Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land. ...Palestine has never existed ...as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their homeland.
- When Jews began to immigrate to Palestine in large numbers in
1882, fewer than 250,000 Arabs lived there, and the majority of
them had arrived in recent decades. Palestine was never an exclusively
Arab country, although Arabic gradually became the language of
most the population after the Muslim invasions of the seventh
century. No independent Arab or Palestinian state ever existed
in Palestine. When the distinguished Arab-American historian,
Princeton University Prof. Philip Hitti, testified against partition
before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, he said: "There
is no such thing as 'Palestine' in history, absolutely not."
In fact, Palestine is never explicitly mentioned in the Koran,
rather it is called "the holy land" (al-Arad
- In a recent speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Yasser Arafat talked of "the need to
realize justice for the Palestinian people, to restore their international status and their seat in
the United Nations." He referred to "our country, Palestine" and expressed the hope that it would be
"restored its freedom."
The meaning of this message is clear: Palestine is a country that belonged to the Palestinians until it was invaded and usurped by the Jews. Jerusalem was the Palestinian capital now being Judaized by Israel. Justice will be served only if the Palestinians are allowed to re-establish their sovereignty in it.
In fact, there never has been a state called Palestine, nor have the Palestinian Arabs ever been an independent people, and Jerusalem never has been an Arab or Muslim capital. Jerusalem has had an absolute Jewish majority for more than a century (and a plurality before that), and for the last three thousand years, only the Jewish people have called it their capital....To inveigh against "Judaizing" Jerusalem is like protesting the Arabization of Cairo.
David Bar-Illan, former Executive Editor of the Jerusalem Post, in an article first published in November 1998 in the Los Angeles Times.
In what percent of Palestine does Israel exist?
- Arab critics of Israel speak of Jewish migration to Palestine
after World War I, neglecting to mention that there has been a
substantial and continuous Jewish presence in the land for over three
thousand years, and a steady Jewish majority in Jerusalem. Nor do
they care to remember that when, after World War II, the General
Assembly proposed to partition Palestine, this followed an earlier
(1922) and illegal partition by the British which gave almost 80% of
the land promised to the Jews by the Balfour Declaration to create the
Arab state of Transjordan. Thus, at the time of the 1947 partition
vote in the United Nations, the Jews had already been unlawfully
deprived of four-fifths of their entitlement.
- Louis Rene Beres
Professor of International Law
Department of Political Science
Who does Palestine rightly belong to? Why do the Arabs, a nation which occupies 22 countries, also insist on occupying Palestine?
- History and Background
In 1920 the world organization of nations [League of Nations] proclaimed that Palestine was to be a homeland for the Jews. Around the same time, Lebanon was made a place for Arab Christians, and Syria, and Iraq were to be homelands for Arab Moslems. In 1922 England [the occupying power in Palestine] gave all of Palestine east of the River Jordan [77% of Palestine] to Arab Moslems, forbidding Jews to live there.
- [In World War I] Turkey, with an expansive empire that compassed the Middle East
(including Palestine) and North Africa, fought with Germany and the Central Powers against
the Allies. At the breaking up of the Turkish Empire by the victorious Allies, both Jews
and Arabs requested independent states. The world powers were generous in the extreme to
the Arabs by granting them twenty-two independent Arabs states - encompassing 5,414,000
square miles. The Jews asked for less than one percent of that vast territory. The Allies
agreed to this request (which included both sides of the Jordan) in the 1917 Balfour
Declaration and the 1920 San Remo Conference of World Powers.
For imperialistic interests, however, in 1921 Great Britain reneged on the Balfour Declaration, lopped off 77 percent of the Land promised in the Balfour Declaration and set up the Arab Emirate of Transjordan. Then in 1922 the League of Nations gave Great Britain a Mandate to prepare the remaining 23 percent of Palestine (including Samaria, Judea, Gaza, Golan Heights and Eastern Jerusalem) for a Jewish National Home. But under French pressure, in 1923 the Golan Heights was ceded by the British to the French mandate of Syria. They partitioned His Land and the Lord was angry.Oil Diplomacy
Oil was then discovered in the Arab countries. Consequently, "oil diplomacy" was instituted. British foreign policy simply appeased the Arabs. In 1939 the British White Paper banned further immigration to Palestine. Also, with brutal callousness, the United Sates and most nations refused to accept the beleaguered Jews of Europe. Consequently, 6 million Jews were slaughtered in the Holocaust.
How many millions of these hapless victims would have found a haven in Palestine if Britain had not reneged - with the silent consent of the other nations of the world - on its own mandate obligations by banning Jewish immigration? What a heinous, collective crime of history! Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of Great Britain when the Balfour Declaration was issued, went on national radio to call the British 1939 White Paper, "an act of national perfidy which will dishonor the name of Britain."
This time the nations actually denied the Jews any of God's Land and the Lord was angry. Finally, the gentile nations, guilt-ridden after defaulting on their promise since 1922, felt a moral obligation to grant the Jews an independent state. But, unfortunately, the UN Partition Plan of 1947 further reduced the size of the new Israeli State. They partitioned "My Land" and the Lord was angry. .. .
When Israel became an independent State in 1948, armies from six Arab nations invaded the newborn State. Outnumbered 100 to one, Israel's ragtag army pushed back the invaders and took more of its rightful Land. Divine Providence was telling the world something about whose Land it is.Jordan Occupied East Jerusalem
However, the Arab State of Transjordan captured East Jerusalem, expelled all Jews and destroyed or desecrated all Jewish holy sites. This is the time when Jerusalem became "occupied territory." In addition to defying the U.N. Mandate, Transjordan also occupied the west bank of the River Jordan. No longer limited to being "Trans" (across) Jordan (the east bank), Transjordan reduced its name to simply Jordan, now ruling over both the occupied west bank and the original east bank of Jordan.
But this annexation of the "West Bank" by Jordan was not recognized by any nation of the world - except Great Britain and Pakistan. Jordan was even denounced by its Arab allies, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who wanted to expel Jordan from the Arab League! It is claimed that 600,000 Arabs fled "temporarily," but temporarily became permanently when the Arab invaders failed to destroy the new State of Israel. David Ben-Gurion adamantly argued that the 600,000 figure was a lie. "The refugee issue is one of the biggest lies, even among our own people...I have all the figures. From the area of the State of Israel, only 180,000 Arabs left in 1948. There were 300,000 Arabs altogether in Israel and 120,000 remain."
In the 1967 Six Day War, under the threat of being "pushed into the sea" by Egypt, Syria and Jordan, Israel actually liberated the "occupied territory" of Jerusalem and granted free access to Jews, Christians and Moslems to worship at their respective holy sites. Israel also liberated the "West Bank" and Gaza. How easily recent history is forgotten. By comparison, Israel's administration, despite its faults, has been much more humane.
What is the history of Palestine, where did it get it's name?
- The first time the name was used was in 70 C.
E. when the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed the Temple and declared the land of Israel would
be no more. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as Palestine. The name was derived from the
Philistines, a Goliathian people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier. It was a way for the Romans to add
insult to injury. They also tried to change the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, but that had even less
Palestine has never existed -- before or since -- as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their homeland.
- The name "Palestine", from the Greek Palaistina, originally from
the Hebrew Pleshet (Land of the Philistines): a small coastal strip
north east of Egypt, also called Philistia. The Roman term "Syria
Palaestina" in the 2nd century BCE referred to the southern third of
the province of Syria, including the former Judea. The name
"Palestine" was revived as an official title when the British were
granted a mandate after World War I.
- Encyclopaedia Britanica ill, Micropaedia, vol. Vll, "Palestine."
- The term "Palestine" is believed to be derived from
the Philistines, an Aegean people who, in the 12th Century B.C.,
settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain of what is now Israel
and the Gaza Strip. In the second century A.D., after crushing
the last Jewish revolt, the Romans first applied the name Palaestina
to Judea (the southern portion of what is now called the West
Bank) in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the
land of Israel. The Arabic word "Filastin" is
derived from this Latin name.
- The name "Palestine" was the name the conquering Romans gave the ancient Land of Israel so as to obliterate the JEWISH presence in the Holy Land! Despite being conquered and controlled by the Romans, Greeks, Turks and numerous others, only TWO nations have ever existed there over the last 3,000 years... ancient "Israel" and again "Israel," re-established in 1948! To the Arab people as a whole no such entity as "Palestine" ever existed prior to the early 20th century and there was certainly never an ancient Palestinian Arab nation!
Who are the Palestinians? Where did the Arabs of Palestine come from? Are they a separate people, historically different from other Arabs?
- Palestine has always constituted a single geographical, political
and demographic unit with Greater Syria and Egypt. On its soil the
civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt intermingled. Palestine also
witnessed, as a land bridge linking Asia, Africa, and Europe, several
movements and waves of conquerors who dominated it for different
periods of time and left behind varying degrees of influence.
- By Abdul Jawad Saleh, in Transformation of Palestine, printed in Challenge, February 1995, published on the WWW by the Center for Research and Documentation of Palestinian Society, Bir Zeit University, the West Bank
- Prior to partition, Palestinian Arabs did not view themselves
as having a separate identity. When the First Congress of Muslim-Christian
Associations met in Jerusalem in February 1919 to choose Palestinian
representatives for the Paris Peace Conference, the following
resolution was adopted:
"We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds."
- "There is no such country [as Palestine]! 'Palestine' is
a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible.
Our country was for centuries part of Syria."
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, a local Arab leader, to the Peel Commission, 1937
- "Palestine was part of the Province of Syria...
...politically, the Arabs of Palestine were not independent in the sense of forming a separate political entity."
- "It is common knowledge that Palestine
is nothing but southern Syria."
- The Romans had changed the name of the Land of Israel to "Palestine." But
from A.D. 640 until the 1960s, Arabs referred to this same Land as "Southern
Syria." Arabs only started calling the Land "Palestine" in the 1960s. Until
about the eighteenth century, the Christian world called this same Land, "The Holy
Land." Thereafter, they used two names: "The Holy Land" and
"Palestine." When the League of Nations in 1922 gave Great Britain the mandate
to prepare Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people, the official name of the
Land became "Palestine" and remained so until the rebirth of the Israeli State
in 1948. During this very period, the leaders of the Arabs in the Land, however, called
themselves Southern Syrians and clamored that the Land become a part of a "Greater
Syria." This "Arab Nation" would include Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Transjordan
as well as Palestine. An observation in TIME magazine well articulated how the Palestinian
identity was born so belatedly in the 1960s:
Golda Meir once argued that there was no such thing as a Palestinian; at the time, she wasn't entirely wrong. Before Arafat began his proselytizing, most of the Arabs from the territory of Palestine thought of themselves as members of an all-embracing Arab nation. It was Arafat who made the intellectual leap to a definition of the Palestinians as a distinct people; he articulated the cause, organized for it, fought for it and brought it to the world's attention.
If there was an Arab Palestinian culture, a normal population increase over the centuries would have been expected. But with the exception of a relatively few families, the Arabs had no attachment to the Land. If Arabs from southern Syria drifted into Palestine for economic reasons, within a generation or so the cultural tug of Syria or other Arab lands would pull them back. This factor is why the Arab population average remained low until the influx of Jewish financial investments and Jewish people in the late 1800s made the Land economically attractive. Then sometime between 1850 and 1918, the Arab population shot up to 560,000. Not to absolve the Jews but to defend British policy, the not overfriendly British secretary of state for the colonies, Malcolm MacDonald, declared in the House of Commons (November 24, 1938), "The Arabs cannot say that the Jews are driving them out of the country. If not a single Jew had come to Palestine after 1918, I believe the Arab population of Palestine would still have been around 600,000. . ."
Because Arabs until the 1960s spoke of Palestine as Southern Syria or part of Greater Syria, in 1919 the General Syrian Congress stated, "We ask that there should be no separation of the southern part of Syria, known as Palestine." In 1939 George Antonius noted the Arab view of Palestine in 1918:
Faisal's views about the future of Palestine did not differ from those of his father and were identical with those held then by the great majority of politically-minded Arabs. The representative Arab view was substantially that which King Husain [Grand Sherif of Mecca, the great grandfather of the current King Hussein of Jordan] had expressed to the British Government. . . in January 1918. In the Arab view, Palestine was an Arab territory forming an integral part of Syria.
Referring to the same Arab view of Palestine in 1939, George Antonius spoke of "the whole of the country of that name [Syria] which is now split up into mandated territories..." His lament was that France's mandate over Syria did not include Palestine which was under Britain's mandate.
You do not represent Palestine as much as we do. Never forget this one point: There is no such thing as a Palestinian People, there is no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria. You are an integral part of the Syrian people, Palestine is an integral part of Syria. Therefore it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the true representatives of the Palestinian people.
Assad stated on March 8, 1974, "Palestine is a principal part of Southern Syria, and we consider that it is our right and duty to insist that it be a liberated partner of our Arab homeland and of Syria."
There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons 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 Israel.
The Arabs themselves, who are its inhabitants, cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it.
Stephen Olin, D.D., L.L.D., called one of the most noted of American theologians after his extensive travels in the Middle East wrote of the Arabs in Palestine "...with slight exceptions they are probably all descendants of the old inhabitants of Syria."
Was Palestine full of Arabs before the mass return of Jews?
- "[The Holy Land was] desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over
wholly to weeds - a silent mournful expanse . . . A desolation is here
that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action
. . . We never saw a human being on the whole route . . . There was
hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus,
those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the
- Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrim's Progress (1869).
- The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the
arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the
Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and
historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the
history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted
large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab.
- "The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track
suitable for transport by camels and carts ... Houses were all of
mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen.... The plows used were of
wood.... The yields were very poor.... The sanitary conditions in the
village [Yabna] were horrible.... Schools did not exist.... The rate
of infant mortality was very high.... The western part, toward the
sea, was almost a desert.... The villages in this area were few and
thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area,
as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913
- We found it inhabited by fellahin who lived in mud hovels and
suffered severely from the prevalent malaria....Large areas...were
uncultivated....The fellahin, if not themselves cattle thieves,
were always ready to harbor these and other criminals. The individual
plots...changed hands annually. There was little public security,
and the fellahin's lot was an alternation of pillage and blackmail
by their neighbors, the Bedouin.
- Lewis French, the British Director of Development
- There are many proofs, such as ancient ruins, broken aqueducts, and
remains of old roads, which show that it has not always
been so desolate as it seems now. In the portion of the plain between
Mount Carmel and Jaffa one sees but rarely a village or other sights of
There are some rude mills here which are turned by the stream. A ride of half an hour more brought us to the ruins of the ancient city of Cęsarea, once a city of two hundred thousand inhabitants, and the Roman capital of Palestine, but now entirely deserted.
As the sun was setting we gazed upon the desolate harbor, once filled with ships, and looked over the sea in vain for a single sail. In this once crowded mart, filled with the din of traffic, there was the silence of the desert. After our dinner we gathered in our tent as usual to talk over the incidents of the day, or the history of the locality.
Yet it was sad, as I laid upon my couch at night, to listen to the moaning of the waves and to think of the desolation around us.
- by B. W. Johnson, in Young Folks in Bible Lands: Chapter IV, 1892
- Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the
clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled
away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once
inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two
thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing
this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on
these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water
flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary
population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into
the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards,
such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the
district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many
petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes;
scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride.
- by William Thackeray in From Jaffa To Jerusalem, 1844
- So when the Arabs speak of an historical "Palestinian people," this is
a lie and they know it! The Land of Israel was virtually uninhabited
when the Jews began their return ["Zionist Movement"] in the late
1800s. The vast majority of Arabs came to Israel AFTER these Zionists
pioneers began to rebuild the land and thereby creating the economic
opportunities and medical availabilities which attracted Arabs from
both surrounding territories and far-away Arab lands!
Terrorism, slaughter, rape and carnage by the Arabs against the Jews began as soon as the Jews began to resettle the barren land and largely uninhabited lands, continued through the British Mandatory period after World War I, continued again after the Jews declared a Jewish Palestinian home [Israel] in 1948 and is still continuing today.
- The Palestinian claim that the Land for centuries sustained a thriving Palestinian
culture is not authorized by the facts of history. Yet the world community has given this
claim a receptive hearing. PLO Chairman Yassir Arafat in his speech before the U.N. in
1974 declared, "The Jewish invasion began in 1881 . . . Palestine was then a verdant
area, inhabited mainly by an Arab people in the course of building its life and
dynamically enriching its indigenous culture."
What happens when this claim is compared with the personal observations of the following recognized authorities? In 1738 Thomas Shaw observed a land of "barrenness.... from want of inhabitants." In 1785 Constantine Francois de Volney recorded the population of the three main cities. Jerusalem had a population of 12,000 to 14,000. Bethlehem had about 600 able-bodied men. Hebron had 800 to 900 men. In 1835 Alphonse de Lamartine wrote, "Outside the city of Jerusalem, we saw no living object, heard no living sound. . .a complete eternal silence reigns in the town, in the highways, in the country . . . The tomb of a whole people."
In 1857, the British consul in Palestine, James Finn, reported, "The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population."
The most popular quote on the desolation of the Land is from Mark Twain's THE INNOCENTS ABROAD (1867), "Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies....Palestine is desolate and unlovely.... It is a hopeless, dreary, heartbroken land."Bible Students Congregation of New Brunswick
Did the Jews expel the Arabs from Palestine? Are there no more Arabs in Israel?
- If this piece of propaganda were true, one should indeed not find Arabs in Israel. That some 15% of the population of Israel is Arab (Muslims and Christians, although the Christians are not technically Arabs) with full voting and civil rights with members in parliament - certainly disproves that propaganda. There were, of course, Arab refugees as a result of the War of Independence in 1948 and the Six-Day war in 1967. There were as many Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands during this time period. The difference is that, in Israel, the Arab states encouraged the Arab residents to leave Israel temporarily while they exterminate the Jews. Some Arab residents went along with this scheme expecting to come back and take Jewish property after the Arab victory. But there was no victory, and no return. The Jewish residents of Arab lands, on the other hand, were expelled without provocation by their Arab overlords who seized vast amounts of Jewish posessions and property. The Jewish refugees were absorbed almost immediately by Israel and France. The Arab refugees were left to rot by the Arab governments responsible for their predicament, and were put in camps which became breeding grounds for hatred and extremism. That anger at Israel and the Jews is misdirected.
If the Land of Israel was so important to the Jews, why did they leave?
- A common misperception is that the Jews were forced into the diaspora
by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem
in the year 70 A.D. and then, 1,800 years later, suddenly returned
to Palestine demanding their country back. In reality, the Jewish
people have maintained ties to their historic homeland for more
than 3,700 years. A national language and a distinct civilization
have been maintained.
Even after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the beginning of the exile, Jewish life in Palestine continued and often flourished. Large communities were reestablished in Jerusalem and Tiberias by the ninth century. In the 11th century, Jewish communities grew in Rafah, Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa and Caesarea.
Many Jews were massacred by the Crusaders during the 12th century, but the community rebounded in the next two centuries as large numbers of rabbis and Jewish pilgrims immigrated to Jerusalem and the Galilee. Prominent rabbis established communities in Safed, Jerusalem and elsewhere during the next 300 years. By the early 19th century-years before the birth of the modern Zionist movement-more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is today Israel.
- Although the expulsions of Jews after A.D. 70 and 135 were massive, devotion to the
Land of Israel caused some to linger just outside the borders, wait for quieter times and
keep coming back. One of the so-called Early Church Fathers, Origen, during his stay in
the Holy Land from A.D. 231-254, observed that the Jews were still a majority in the Land
at that time. After the Roman Empire embraced Christianity in the fourth century, a
systematic dispersal of the remaining Jews began. However, between A.D. 614-617, the Jews
actually controlled large parts of the Land:
Consequently, the population of the Land was a "quilt" of minorities when the Arabs acquired it in their conquest of Byzantine Syria in A.D. 640. This quilt of people whose Land was dubbed "Palestine" by Imperial Rome was composed of Jews, Samaritans, dissident-Christians and the largest grouping-Syrian Orthodox Christians-none of whom were Arabs.
Although the Arabs ruled the Land from A.D. 640 to A.D. 1099, it is questionable that they ever became the majority of the population. The historian James Parker wrote:
During the first century after the Arab conquest [A.D. 670-740], the caliph and governors of Syria and the Land [Palestine] ruled entirely over Christian and Jewish subjects. Apart from the Bedouin in the earliest days, the only Arabs west of the Jordan. . .were the garrisons.
In A.D. 985 the Arab writer Muqaddasi complained about the large majority Jewish population in Jerusalem and added, "The mosque is empty of worshippers. . ." Although Al-Hakim, Caliph of the Arab Empire (A.D. 996-1021), ordered all non-Moslems in Syria and the area called Palestine to convert to Islam or be expelled, he later rescinded some of the restrictions and so the Arabs remained a minority. The noted Arab historian Dr. Philip Hitti observed that after almost four centuries after the Arab conquest (about A.D. 1070), the Christians (non-Arabs) in Syria, including Palestine, were still fully as numerous as the Moslems and that the Moslems were by no means all Arab.
The Crusader rule (A.D. 1099-1291) in the Land was followed by the non-Arab Moslem rule of the Mamelukes (A.D. 1291-1517). The Arab historian Hitti observed that there was a large exodus of Arabs during this period. Th e Arab historian Ibu Khaldun wrote in A.D. 1377, "Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel extended over 1400 years. . . . It was the Jews who implanted the culture and customs of the permanent settlement." Nearly 300 years after the Arab rule in the Land, the noted Arab historian Khaldun (called one of the greatest historians of all time by Arnold Toynbee) observed that the Land still was permeated with Jewish culture and customs. In A.D. 1400, nearly 300 years after Arab rule, there was still no evidence of Palestinian roots or established culture.
During the period of the Mamelukes as a consequence of the Black Plague, the population of the Land west of the Jordan River dwindled down to 140,000 to 150,000 Moslems, Christians and Jews. After the Turkish conquest in 1517 a census for tax purposes tabulated 49,181 heads of families and single men liable to tax. Professor Roberto Bacchi calculated that in the years 1553-1554 there were 205,000 Moslems, Christians and Jews. From his travels in 1785, Francois Comte de Volney's figures would leave less than 200,000 for the total population of the land of Palestine. Both Dr. Philip K. Hitti and Alfred Bonni agree that the total population was less than 200,000 in A.D. 1800. Some estimate the total population of the Land at 150,000 by 1850. This total population would include Jews, Christians and Arabs.
Then Jewish funds started to flow into the Land by 1856 when Sir Moses Montefiore purchased Land outside of Jerusalem to teach agriculture to the Jews in the Land. From about 1878, Edmond de Rothschild began to actually finance the establishment of Jewish agricultural colonies. At this time in history, an uninterrupted stream of Jewish funds and Jewish immigration commenced to pour into Palestine. This influx of resources resulted in an economic upswing that attracted Arabs from surrounding countries. Since the Land was at that time under Turkish Moslem rule, Arabs throughout the Middle East had unrestricted access to Palestine. By 1918 the Arab population increased to 560,000. In spite of restrictions on Jewish immigration, Jews and Arabs continued to pour into the Land until the birth of the State of Israel in 1948. Clearly, Jewish financial investments and immigration - together with laborious cultivation of the land - had put the Land of Israel on the economic map....The Jews lived in the Land of Israel for seventeen hundred years virtually uninterrupted until the Roman destruction of its national polity in A.D. 70. At this point, Israel's population of over two and one-half million was abruptly decimated by massive slaughter and expulsion. But as late as A.D. 617, Jews controlled Jerusalem and a large portion of the Land. After that time, even though Arabs conquered the Land, they were only a minority. Then through the centuries of Christian Crusader rule and the Mameluke period, the Land was still dominated by Jewish culture and customs until A.D. 1400 even though the Arabs eventually became a small majority.
- What is important is not how many Jews were living in Palestine at any given moment but the huge host of those who were not, those who had to suffer for possessing no country of their own. It is because the Jews had no country that they are entitled to demand equality with those more fortunately placed.
- Jacques Givet, "The Anti-Zionist Complex"
Jews were mostly living outside of Palestine for a long time, doesn't that reduce their claim to the land?
- No, it increases their claim - in proportion to the time spent wandering without a home, at the mercy of other people in foreign lands and their tyrants...
- Not because we were here two thousand years ago are we entitled to be here today, but because it has taken us two thousand years to win our freedom.
- Claude Ranel, Moi, Juif palestinien, Laffont, Paris
- If I am turned out of hearth and home and remain outside one night, I am legally entitled to return the following day. If I suffer for ten, twenty, five thousand or fifty thousand nights, does my right of return stand in inverse relationship to the length of my exile? Quite the contrary; my right to return and recover my freedom becomes stronger in direct proportion to what I have endured, not by virtue of some abstract arithmetic, but because of the nights spent in exile, and because I want my children, to be spared a similar experience.
- Jacques Givet, "The Anti-Zionist Complex"
Weren't the Arabs living in Palestine for hundreds of years or millenea before the Jews came?
- As I lived in Palestine, everyone I knew could trace their heritage
back to the original country their great grandparents came from. Everyone knew their
origin was not from the Canaanites, but ironically, this is the kind of stuff our
education in the Middle East included.
...The fact is that today's Palestinians are immigrants from the surrounding nations! I grew up well knowing the history and origins of today's Palestinians as being from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Christians from Greece, Muslim Sherkas from Russia, Muslims from Bosnia, and the Jordanians next door.
...My grandfather, who was a dignitary in Bethlehem, almost lost his life by Abdul Qader Al-Husseni (the leader of the Palestinian revolution) after being accused of selling land to Jews. He used to tell us that his village Beit Sahur (The Shepherds Fields) in Bethlehem County was empty before his father settled in the area with six other families. The town has now grown to 30,000 inhabitants.
Why did the Jews insist on returning to Palestine? They were doing quite well in other peoples' countries...
- Perhaps because this is not quite true, and that in the long run those "other peoples' countries" may be fine for other peoples, but not for the people without a country, who only had to organize their scattered members and to return to their land from which they were unjustly expelled in the first place.
Did the Arabs invade the region by force?
- "Muhammad had prepared an army to
invade the borders of Syria. When Muhammad died Abu Bakr sent
an army headed by Usama Ibn Zayd and 'Umar Ibn
al-Khattab. The army marched towards southern Palestine and
invaded some parts of the land, frightened the people and
captured some booty. ...By the end of the year 12, Hajira
Abu Bakr became interested in Syria (Al Sham). He issued
orders to four of his great generals and designated for each
one of them a country which he was given to invade. He
assigned Damascus to Yazid, Jordan to Sharhabil, Homs to Abu
'Ubayda and Palestine to 'Umru Ibn al-'As."
- in "The Rightly Guided Caliphs" by Dr. Abu Zayd Shalabi
Did the rich European Jews take advantage of the poor Arabs and trick them into selling their best land at low cost?
- "At the end of World War I, some of Palestine's land was owned by
absentee landlords who lived in Cairo, Damascus and Beirut. About 80%
of the Palestinian Arabs were debt-ridden peasants, semi-nomads and
Bedouins. Analyses of land purchases from 1880 to 1948 show that 73%
of Jewish plots were purchases from large landowners, not poor
- The Peel Commission (1937)
"The Arab charge that the Jews have obtained too large a proportion of good land cannot be maintained. Much of the land now carrying orange groves was sand dunes or swamp and uncultivated when purchased...there was at the time at least of earlier sales little evidence that the owners possessed either the resources or training needed to develop the land. Jews paid more than $20 million at 1936 rates) to arab landowners, mostly estate holders...In 1944, Jews payed between $1000 and $1100 per acre in Palestine, mostly for arid or semi-arid land; in the same year, rich black soil in Iowa was selling for about $110 per acre (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture)"
- The Peel Commission's report in Land Ownership in Palestine, 1880-1948
[Moreover, the Commission found the shortage was "due less to the amount of land acquired by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population." The report concluded that the presence of Jews in Palestine, along with the work of the British Administration, had resulted in higher wages, an improved standard of living and ample employment opportunities.]
- According to British government statistics, prior to the establishment
of the State of Israel, 8.6% of the land area now known as Israel was
owned by Jews; 3.3% by Arabs who remained there; 16.5% by Arabs who
left the country. More than 70% of the land was owned by the British
Government. Under international law, ownership passed to Israel in
1948. The public lands included most of the Negev Desert --half of
Palestine's post-1922 total area.
source: Survey of Palestine, 1946, British Mandate Government
- Jews actually went out of their way to avoid purchasing land in
areas where Arabs might be displaced. They sought land that was
largely uncultivated, swampy, cheap and, most important, without
tenants. In 1920, Labor Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion expressed
his concern about the Arab fellahin, whom he viewed as
"the most important asset of the native population."
Ben-Gurion said "under no circumstances must we touch
land belonging to fellahs or worked by them." He advocated
helping liberate them from their oppressors. "Only if a fellah
leaves his place of settlement," Ben-Gurion added, "should
we offer to buy his land, at an appropriate price."
It was only after the Jews had bought all of this available land that they began to purchase cultivated land. Many Arabs were willing to sell because of the migration to coastal towns and because they needed money to invest in the citrus industry.
- "They [Jews] paid high prices for the land, and in addition
they paid to certain of the occupants of those lands a considerable
amount of money which they were not legally bound to pay."
- John Hope Simpson, May 1930
- It is made quite clear to all, both by the map drawn up by the
Simpson Commission and by another compiled by the Peel Commission,
that the Arabs are as prodigal in selling their land as they
are in useless wailing and weeping (author's emphasis).
- Transjordan's King Abdullah, in his memoirs
- By 1947, Jewish holdings in Palestine amounted to about 463,000 acres. Approximately 45,000 of these acres were acquired from the Mandatory Government; 30,000 were bought from various churches and 387,500 were purchased from Arabs. Analyses of land purchases from 1880 to 1948 show that 73 percent of Jewish plots were purchased from large landowners, not poor fellahin. Those who sold land included the mayors of Gaza, Jerusalem and Jaffa. As'ad el-Shuqeiri, a Muslim religious scholar and father of PLO chairman Ahmed Shuqeiri, took Jewish money for his land. Even King Abdullah leased land to the Jews. In fact, many leaders of the Arab nationalist movement, including members of the Muslim Supreme Council, sold land to Jews.
Did the Jewish influx improve the job opportunities, health care, standard of living, infrastructure, which made Palestine an attractive place for Arabs, who would later immigrate to Palestine?
In the last decade Palestine has been lifted to a new economic level,
and the standard of life has risen not
only among the Jews, but among the Arabs too.
- Dr. Arthur Ruppin, in "The Picture in 1907", February 27, 1908
- "Those good Jews brought civilization and peace to the Arab Muslims, and they dispersed gold and prosperity
over Palestine without damage to anyone or taking anything by force. Despite this, the Muslims declared holy war
against them and did not hesitate to massacre their children and women... Thus a black fate awaits the Jews and
other minorities in case the Mandates are cancelled and Muslim Syria is united with Muslim Palestine."
- from a letter sent to the French Prime Minister in June 1936 by six Syrian Alawi notables (the Alawis are the ruling class in Syria today) in support of Zionism. (Source, Daniel Pipes, Greater Syria, Oxford U Press, p. 179)
- If there was an Arab Palestinian culture, a normal population increase over the
centuries would have been expected. But with the exception of a relatively few families,
the Arabs had no attachment to the Land. If Arabs from southern Syria drifted into
Palestine for economic reasons, within a generation or so the cultural tug of Syria or
other Arab lands would pull them back. This factor is why the Arab population average
remained low until the influx of Jewish financial investments and Jewish people in the
late 1800s made the Land economically attractive. Then sometime between 1850 and 1918, the
Arab population shot up to 560,000. Not to absolve the Jews but to defend British policy,
the not overfriendly British secretary of state for the colonies, Malcolm MacDonald,
declared in the House of Commons (November 24, 1938), "The Arabs cannot say that the
Jews are driving them out of the country. If not a single Jew had come to Palestine after
1918, I believe the Arab population of Palestine would still have been around 600,000. .
Jewish contributions and Jewish immigration continued to flow into the Land. The Jews created industry, agriculture, hospitals - a complete socio-economic infrastructure. As job opportunities increased, so did Arab immigration. In fact, in 1939 President Roosevelt observed that "Arab immigration into Palestine since 1921 has vastly exceeded the total Jewish immigration during this whole period." For one specific example, in 1934 between 30,000 and 36,000 Arabs from the Hauran Province in Syria left for "the better life" in Palestine.
On the other hand, Great Britain's White Paper of 1939 closed the doors of Jewish immigration to their Land. Simultaneously, there was a large-scale Arab immigration to the new Land of opportunity during World War II. In 1946 Bartley C. Crum, a United States Government observer, noted that tens of thousands of Arabs had entered Palestine "because of this better life - and they were still coming."
- It is absolutely necessary
that an entente be made between the Zionists and Arabs, because
the war of words can only do evil. The Zionists are necessary
for the country: The money which they will bring, their knowledge
and intelligence, and the industriousness which characterizes
them will contribute without doubt to the regeneration of the
- Dawood Barakat, editor of the Egyptian paper Al-Ahram
- The resources of the country are still virgin soil and will be
developed by the Jewish immigrants. One of the most amazing things
until recent times was that the Palestinian used to leave his
country, wandering over the high seas in every direction. His
native soil could not retain a hold on him, though his ancestors
had lived on it for 1000 years. At the same time we have seen
the Jews from foreign countries streaming to Palestine from Russia,
Germany, Austria, Spain, America. The cause of causes could not
escape those who had a gift of deeper insight. They knew that
the country was for its original sons (abna'ihi-l-asliyin),
for all their differences, a sacred and beloved homeland. The
return of these exiles (jaliya) to their homeland will
prove materially and spiritually [to be] an experimental school
for their brethren who are with them in the fields, factories,
trades and in all things connected with toil and labor.
- As Hussein foresaw, the regeneration of Palestine, and the growth
of its population, came only after Jews returned in massive numbers.
The Jewish population increased by 470,000 between World War I
and World War II while the non-Jewish population rose by
588,000. In fact, the permanent Arab population increased 120
percent between 1922 and 1947.
This rapid growth was a result of several factors. One was immigration from neighboring states-constituting 37 percent of the total immigration to pre-state Israel-by Arabs who wanted to take advantage of the higher standard of living the Jews had made possible. The Arab population also grew because of the improved living conditions created by the Jews as they drained malarial swamps and brought improved sanitation and health care to the region. Thus, for example, the Muslim infant mortality rate fell from 201 per thousand in 1925 to 94 per thousand in 1945 and life expectancy rose from 37 years in 1926 to 49 in 1943.
The Arab population increased the most in cities with large Jewish populations that had created new economic opportunities. From 1922-1947, the non-Jewish population increased 290 percent in Haifa, 131 percent in Jerusalem and 158 percent in Jaffa. The growth in Arab towns was more modest: 42 percent in Nablus, 78 percent in Jenin and 37 percent in Bethlehem.
- Before Jewish immigration and Jewish investments spawned massive Arab immigration,
Arabs were actually leaving Palestine. Then the flow of traffic reversed. ". .
.Palestine changed from a country of Arab emigration to one of Arab immigration. Arabs
from the Hauran in Syria as well as other neighboring lands poured into Palestine to
profit from the higher standard of living and fresh opportunities provided by the Zionist
pioneers." [Ernst Frankenstein, Justice for My People (London: Nicholson & Watson, 1943)]
This phenomenon is confirmed by the Palestine Royal Commission Report which observed that
in the period between the Balfour Declaration and the United Nations Partition Resolution
of 1947, Palestine became a land of Arab immigration. As further documented
by Frankenstein, substantial Arab immigration was a recent phenomenon:
The early "lovers of Zion" began the stimulation of Arab immigration. Some writers have come out with the conclusion that in 1942, 75 percent of the Arab population were either immigrants or descendants of immigrants into Palestine during the preceding one hundred years, mainly after 1882.
These facts of history explain why the United Nations needed to develop a definition that a "Palestinian Refugee" is any Arab who had been in "Palestine" for only two years. This U.N. definition, in fact, is incompatible with the assumption that the Arab Palestinian roots go back one or two thousand years. The Jews themselves have dominated the Land called "Palestine" for the past two millennia. The Jews themselves are as much "Palestinian" as the Arabs who claim to be Palestinians. If any population has a right to the name Palestinian (if they wanted it), it would be the Jews whose ancestors had their Land renamed "Palestine."- Bible Students Congregation of New Brunswick
Is the Arab opposition to Israel's existence, an opposition to imperialism, or a fight over limited land?
- "We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement... We will wish
the Jews a hearty welcome home... We are working together for a reformed and revised Near East, and our two
movements complement one another. The movement is national and not imperialistic. There is room in Syria for us
both. Indeed, I think that neither can be successful without the other."
- Emir Feisal to Felix Frankfurter, March 3 1919
Where is Palestine? What are its borders? Is it only between the Mediteranean and the river Jordan?
league of 10 ancient Greek CITIES IN EASTERN PALESTINE THAT WAS FORMED AFTER THE ROMAN CONQUEST OF PALESTINE IN 63 BC. The name Decapolis also denotes the roughly contiguous territory formed by these cities, all but one of which lay east of the Jordan River. The 10 cities of the league were Scythopolis (modern Bet She'an, Israel), Hippos, Gadara, Raphana, Dion (or Dium), Pella, Gerasa, Philadelphia (modern Amman, Jordan), Canatha, and Damascus (now the capital of Syria). Damascus lay the farthest north, while Philadelphia lay the farthest south. The cities participated in the Decapolis as a means of mutual protection and security against their Semitic neighbours. The league was subject to the Roman governor of Syria, though his authority was somewhat tenuous in eastern Palestine. The cities of the Decapolis created a rich Hellenistic culture that produced the philosopher-satirist Menippus, among other figures. The league survived until the 2nd century AD.
- Encyclopedia Britanica, at Britannica.com http://www.britannica.com
- The Dead Sea, as you have heard ever since you were children at
school, has no outlet, and you can see at once that if it had any
connection with the great body of seas and oceans, it would be an
inlet. If, as Chinese Gordon proposed a few years ago, a canal were
cut so that the waters of the Mediterranean Sea might pour in, they
would swell the surface of the Dead Sea thirteen hundred feet up the
sides of the mountains on either side; they would rise above the
Jordan proportionately; the river Jordan would disappear; the Dead Sea
and the lake of Galilee would disappear; and in the place of these a
long body of sea water would divide western from eastern
Palestine. These characteristics distinguish the Jordan from all the
other rivers of the earth, and make its formation a profound study to
the geologist--one that has never yet been explained in attempting to
trace back the history of this old world.
- J. W. McGarvey, Louisville, Kentucky, August 27, 1893
- "[The Jordan river] will not do as Palestine's eastern boundary. Our duty as Mandatory is to make Jewish Palestine not a struggling State but one that is capable of a vigorous and independent national life."
- the Times of London, September 19, 1919
Let me start by stating that the word "Palestine" had no clear cut
geographical denotation, and, represented no political identity before
the First World War. "Palestinians" are therefore all people, Jews,
Arabs, Druze, Christians, Armenians, Melchites, Greek Orthodox and
Bahai, etc., who live in the Territory of the Palestine Mandate as
constituted in 1920. It is also a Fact that Jordan and Israel have
emerged as successor States of the "Palestine Mandate".
The Palestine Mandate as granted to Great Britain at the San Remo Conference of 1920, and, confirmed by the League of Nations in 1922, covered a territory of 45,820 square miles East and West of the Jordan river. Its boundaries reached from the Mediterranean in the West to Iraq border in the East. Thus, all of Jordan was encompassed within the border of Palestine. Trans-Jordan (Jordan) was in fact what the relevant League of Nations file called "The Trans-Jordan Province of Palestine" until the last meeting of the League on April 18, 1946.
As everyone knows by now that on September 16, 1922, two months after the confirmation of the said Mandate, and, in breach of its Mandatory obligations, Britain refused to apply the "Jewish National Home" provision of the Mandate in Eastern Palestine (Trans-Jordan Province of Palestine). It was under an authorization contained in Art. 25 of the Mandate that the British Government obtained the League's consent to "postpone or withhold" the application of the Jewish National Home Provision of the Mandate.
Art. 25 by its own legal terms, defines the Eastern Border of the Palestine Mandate "In the territories lying between the Jordan (river) and the eastern boundaries of Palestine" means that Palestine reached its Easternmost border with Iraq.
In what the relevant file of the League of Nations describes as the "Trans-Jordan province of Palestine," a local administration was established within the Palestine Mandate, headed by the Emir Abdullah, older brother of King Feisal of Iraq. Jews were not allowed from that moment on to establish or live in Trans-Jordan. But, this did not mean that Trans-Jordan was legally separated from Palestine in any way as far as the Arab population of the country was concerned. There was no separate Government; unlike the situation of the French Mandate of Syria-Lebanon. Palestine was meant to remain whole. Trans-Jordan by now called Transjordan, remained under the Palestine Mandate and was administered under the authority of the High Commissioner of Jerusalem. The residents of Transjordan traveled under the authority of the Commissioner and his protection. Under International Law their Nationality then was "Palestinian."
Transjordan was given Independence by the Attlee-Bevin government in May 25, 1946, nine months later, in February 1947, the British submitted the TRUNCATED "Palestine Mandate", now restricted to an area of 10,100 square miles to the United Nations for its decision. About two years later, the kingdom of Transjordan, later renamed Jordan in 1950, occupied 37,730 square miles, and, the state of Israel 7,999 square miles. About 100 square miles were occupied by Egypt in the Gaza district. Thus that FIRST partition of Palestine had left the Arabs with 82.5% of the Mandate.
Later the loss of the "West Bank" territory - the province of Samaria and Judea - which the British led army of King Abdullah of Transjordan occupied in 1948, and which Israel liberated in 1967 represents 4,5% of Palestine. The Kingdom of Jordan today occupies 77% of the Country (Palestine Mandate). Considering that the whole of the "Mandated Palestine" territory according to the Balfour Declaration was to be the of Jewish National State, the Arabs emerged with the Lion share.
Especially when Art. 5 of the Palestine Mandate, "The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestinian Territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of, the Government of any Foreign Power."
No, this was not the Lion share, this was quite a loot.
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- BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIAL:
- Palestine: A Twice-Promised Land? Vol. 1: The British, the Arabs, and Zionism, 1915-1920, by Isaiah Friedman
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- The Claim of Dispossession: Jewish Land Settlement and the Arabs, 1878-1948, by Arieh L Avneri
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- Israel and Palestine: Assault on the Law of Nations, by Julius Stone
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- Whose Land?: A History of the Peoples of Palestine, by James Parkes
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- Palestine at the crossroads, by Ladislas Farago
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- Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, 1789-1923, by Efraim Karsh, Inari Karsh
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- A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, by David Fromkin
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- A History of Palestine, 634-1099, by Moshe Gil
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- From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine, by Joan Peters
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- Battleground: Fact & Fantasy in Palestine, by Samuel Katz
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- Jewish Continuous Presence in the Land of Israel and The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, by Harold J. Margolis
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- Israel, The Arabs and the Middle East, by Irving Howe & Carl Gershman
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- The Israelites, by B. S. J. Isserlin
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- What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel, by William G. Dever
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- Land and Power: The Zionist Resort to Force, 1881-1948, by Anita Shapira
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- Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israel Conflict, Second Edition, by Mitchell Geoffrey Bard
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- Let My People Go: The trials and tribulations of the people of Israel, and the heroes who helped in their independence from British colonization, by Jerry A Grunor
[VIEW BOOK HERE]
Ernst Frankenstein, Justice for My People (London: Nicholson & Watson, 1943)
- Palestine: A Twice-Promised Land? Vol. 1: The British, the Arabs, and Zionism, 1915-1920, by Isaiah Friedman