Continuing the series from Nur Masalha’s Expulsion of the Palestinians. . . .
The reason for this series is to make readily accessible the evidence that helps us understand the current situation in Palestine. This evidence informs us of the intentions and goals that the Zionist leadership had for the way their Jewish state would look and operate into the future. (Once complete I will compile the posts into a single block.) Some readers have asked me to focus on the events of the 1948 war between Israel and the Arab states because that is where the real roots of the current problems are found and I do hope to write about the 1948 war and detail the origins of the refugee. One of the several Jewish historians of this period that I will refer to will be Benny Morris who fully justifies the events that led to the dispossession of the Palestinian Arabs. It should go without saying that nothing in these posts can validly be construed as anti-semitism or justification for the murderous crimes of any form of terrorism.
Deep breath. Here we go again.
The Population Transfer Committee
The previous post, The Necessity for Mass Arab Transfer, outlined the responses of the various Jewish factions towards the British government’s Royal Peel Commission Report in 1937. This post covers the Jewish Agency’s response to the question of Arab transfer after their rejection of the Peel Commission’s plan for partition of Palestine.
The Twentieth Zionist Congress empowered the Jewish Agency to negotiate on the precise terms of the future Jewish state. To prepare for this the Agency established several advisory bodies including one (November 1937) named the Population Transfer Committee. Some of the members are listed below. Notice how many of the names became prominent leaders of the new state of Israel once it was established.
- Moshe Shertok appointed the Committee.
- Ya’acov Thon was the chairman (managing director of Palestine Land Development Company and instrumental in purchase of Jezreel Valley)
- Eliahu Epstein (Elat) was secretary.
- Bernard Joseph (Dov Yosef), later an Israeli cabinet minister
- Alfred Bonné
- Yosef Weitz
The Weitz plan
At the 21st November 1938 meeting Weitz introduced his plan for Arab transfer explaining it was based on two main assumptions:
the transfer of Arab population from the area of the Jewish state does not serve only one aim — to diminish the Arab population. It also serves a second, no less important, aim which is to evacuate land presently held and cultivated by the Arabs and thus to release it for the Jewish inhabitants.
For the above reasons most agreed that any evacuation had to start with the most difficult challenge: the transfer of the peasants and rural population. Only then would the new government turn its efforts to removing the townspeople.
The second assumption arose out of Britain’s backing away from any idea of compulsory transfer in its submissions to the League of Nations. This left the Jewish committees without any visible force necessary to carry out Arab transfers.
Weitz calculated that this first transfer phase would remove 87,300 Arabs and the purchase of 1,150,000 dunums mostly in Transjordan for their resettlement. A further 10 to 15 thousand Bedouins living on livestock could also be removed in this phase.
That would give to the Jews an extra 680,000 dunums that included 180,000 dunums of irrigated land.
Such a plan would see the Arab population reduced by one third within two to three years.
The chairman of the committee, Thon, agreed with Weitz that the plan was practical as a first step.
Bonné opposed plan. He wanted to see a plan for the removal of all the Arabs within ten years. He also recommended that the committee not give up so easily on the idea of compulsion. Compulsion had been first suggested by the English, he said, and besides, they were not talking about “full” compulsion since they wanted as much cooperation as possible helped along by the application of some pressure.
The solution, Bonné suggested, was to link Arab transfer to new agrarian legislation when the Jewish state was established. They would need to decide on a target date for removal of the Arabs so they would know how quickly to move against them.
Bernard Joseph agreed that partial transfer was not the answer.
According to Weitz’s account of the meeting both Bonné and Joseph wanted to use force to remove the entire Arab population.
Eshbal argued that it would be necessary to first move not only the cultivators of the land but along with them all those directly or indirectly dependent upon them.
After the above discussion the plan was forwarded to Shertok.
Shertok identified two flaws in the plan in his letter of 31 December 1937 to Bernard Joseph:
- Removing those working on the land first would only create a vacuum; poor neighbouring Arabs would move in to reoccupy those lands thus creating an endless cycle.
- The land holdings identified for first transfer were scattered and disconnected and would be difficult to consolidate into larger blocks.
Unstated but implied with this criticism was the need to transfer the Arabs en masse, both whole villages and peasants together. This implication was explicitly spelled out in later meetings of the committee as well as in the June 1938 meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive.
Ben Gurion and Weizmann were kept informed of the Committee’s work and Weitz recorded in his diary that he had been informed Weizmann attached great importance to the need for an Arab transfer plan.
Early 1938 the Population Transfer Committee requested the Mandatory authorities for access to all the records in their land registrations and tax offices that related to Arab agriculture and land ownership in Palestine. These were acquired and the Committee copied records relating to 400,000 land units in 400 villages for the planning of the new state’s agricultural policies.
The Woodward Commission arrives
April 1938 the British Woodward Commission arrived in Palestine to examine the practical aspects of implementing the terms of the Peel Commission but without the use of compulsion. In response the Transfer Committee submitted to the Woodward Commission proposals for transfer of the Arabs to Transjordan, Syria and Iraq.
Given the removal of compulsory transfer from the options the focus shifted to the use of development of administrative and legislative measures to effect a de facto Arab transfer.
The Bonné plan
Bonné (who had opposed Weitz’s plan as too gradualist and piecemeal) prepared his own alternative scheme for transfer in July 1938. Bonné belonged to the Jewish Agency’s Institute for Economic Research and was an expert on the procedural and financial aspects of Arab transfer. His plan (“Transfer of the Arab Population”) was sent in a confidential memorandum to Ben Gurion 27 July 1938.
Bonnés plan made use of the figures copied from the Mandatory authorities to detail the scope of Arab transfer. The numbers of Arabs were broken down by towns and rural areas; by owners and peasants, agricultural laborers and others. Costs of compensation and acquisition of new lands were set out in detail. The recent experience of the transfer of the population in Greece where land was compensated at one-tenth the market price was noted. Bonné stressed that the transfers had to be carried out in organized groupings so that Arabs in a particular area left simultaneously to allow for organized Jewish occupation.
Jewish Agency Executive’s Transfer Discussions (June 1938)
David Werner Senator wanted to discuss the future status of the potentially substantial numbers of the Arab minority who would remain in the Jewish state despite efforts to encourage them to leave.
Ben Gurion had no time any acceptance of substantial Arab minorities and responded:
We cannot discuss the status of a minority without knowing the political and territorial framework of the state. [Besides] in the Jewish state the Arab minority will go and diminish.
Ben Gurion then submitted a “line of actions” titled “The Zionist Mission of the Jewish State”, in which he spoke of
state engagement in transferring the Arabs to neighbouring Arab states voluntarily. . . .
The term “voluntary”, however, applied to agreements between the new Jewish state and neighbouring Arab countries where the Palestinians were to be settled. It did not apply to the individual transferees themselves.
Ben Gurion further expressed his intention to accept a partitioned Palestine with the Jews occupying only a part of the land only on an interim basis. He was not
satisfied with part of the country, but on the basis of the assumption that after we build up a strong force following the establishment of the state — we will abolish the partition of the country and we will expand to the whole Land of Israel.
In response to the question of using force Ben Gurion replied that the Arabs would only accept the Jewish state when faced with the “facts on the ground”:
This is only a state in the realization of Zionism and it should prepare the ground for our expansion throughout the whole country through Jewish-Arab agreement . . . the state, however, must enforce order and security and it will do this not by moralizing and preaching “sermons on the mount” but by machine guns, which we will need.
The Woodward commissioners expressed their view that it was unfair for the Jewish state to take over the Arab orange groves and irrigated lands and even send them to places where one had to walk 30 kilometers to reach the nearest water without realistic compensation. Shertok replied that the Jewish state would be prepared to pay something in addition to the land price if the Arab states contributed significantly to the cost of transfer. well
Shmuel Zuchovitzky (Zakif) made his views clear:
I think that whenever you discuss it or submit a memo on the question of transfer, you must make it absolutely clear that this transfer is one of the conditions on which we are establishing our state and that the Mandatory government should carry this out. . . .
I am convinced that it would be impossible to carry out transfer without compulsion. I do not see in this any immoral measure. . . And also land expropriation must be carried out. . . . But it must be implemented as speedily as possible.
Yehoshua’ Suparsky, leader of the General Zionists in Palestine and member of the Zionist Actions Committee, argued for the use of agrarian legislation to confiscate large Arab estates and to prevent Arabs from buying land. By this means
a large part of the Arabs will leave the land of Israel. . . .
It is difficult to say now in our memo to the [Woodward Commission] that we vehemently insist on compulsory transfer. . . We must, however, insist in principle on compulsory transfer without insisting now on the speedy implementation of the principle. . . .
Ussishkin flatly opposed partition:
[W]e would not accept a reduced Land of Israel without you [British] giving us the land, on the one hand, and removing the largest number of Arabs — particularly the peasants — on the other before we come forward to take the reins of government in our lands even provisionally.
But if you ask me whether it is moral to remove 60,000 families from their places of residence and transfer them to another place [i.e. Transjordan] . . . I will say to you that it is moral. . .
Only the British government could carry out the forcible removal and for this two things are required: a strong hand by England and Jewish money.
There were other more moderate voices. One of these, Arthur Ruppin, proposed to transfer 100,000 Arabs more gently:
I do not believe in the transfer of the individual. I believe in the transfer of entire villages. And I think that the Development Company should first build there [in Transjordan] several model settlements so that the Arabs can see what they can get there. . . . I believe that we would possibly be able . . . to transfer in these 10-15 years 100,000 Arabs or 25,000 peasant families.
Mapai leader Berl Katznelson:
What is compulsory transfer?
Compulsory transfer does not mean individual transfer. It means that once we resolved to transfer there should be a political body able to force this or that Arab who would not want to move out. But if you have to decide on transfer in each case with every Arab village and every Arab individual you will never finish with this matter. . . . The question will be the transfer of much greater quantity of Arabs through an agreement with the Arab state: this is called compulsory transfer. . . . We have here a war about principles, and in the same way that we must wage a war for maximum territory, there must also be here a war [for the transfer “principle”.]
It must be abundantly clear that there will be two chief objectives during the time of creating a Hebrew state: 1) promoting Jewish immigration and settlement; and 2) promoting Arab transfer and resettlement. . . .
Ben-Zvi recommended in addition to confiscatory agrarian legislation the imposition of taxes to put extra pressure on Arab farmers to leave.
He further concluded that many Arabs could be removed within two to three years by means of controlling and supervising citizenship acquisition. It would be easy to remove Arabs without property, he said. Those were not the problem. Rather,
We must set up a committee that will study legislation regarding citizenship and prepare material to back up these things.
Eliahu Berligne agreed that taxes should be increased on the Arabs to force them to leave.
With compulsory transfer we [would] have vast areas. . . . I support compulsory transfer. I do not see anything immoral about it. But compulsory transfer could only be carried out by England. . . . There are two issues here: 1) sovereignty and 2) the removal of a certain number of Arabs, and we must insist on both of them.
Ben Gurion added that though the principle of forced removal remained it would be more tactful for public discourse to use other terms such as “citizenship [control] and a state agricultural development policy” [i.e. land confiscation].
These June discussions showed growing support for justification of transfer of the Arabs but they were confined to the Zionist internal discussions. British policy was against the idea.
Woodward Commission’s report in August 1938
The Woodward Commission returned to the UK with the following conclusion: the Peel Commission plan was unworkable; it was clearly impossible to assign significant areas to the Jewish population that would not also contain large Arab populations, and there was no prospect of a voluntary transfer of the Arabs.
We then come to the War years. . . .
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36 thoughts on “Expulsion of the Palestinians – Pre-War Internal Discussions”
Thank you so much for this important piece. A grave injustice that must be righted.
Btw regarding that “war” of 48: The leader of the highly trained Jordanian army was the British General Sir John Glubb better known as Glubb Pasha who had 46 other British officers under his command. The British had concluded an early deal with Zionists that there would be NO confrontations between the Jordanian Arab army and the zionist militia. This is why Glubb called the 48 war “the phony war”.
No doubt you have planned a follow-up posting on the concomitant expulsion of the Jews from all of Palestine NOT to be Israel? Surely a symmetrical “grave injustice”?
From the top (above): Godfrey:
“One of the several Jewish historians of this period that I will refer to will be Benny Morris who fully justifies the events that led to the dispossession of the Palestinian Arabs.”
Google: Benny Morris
Did you intend to link to the Google edition of Benny Morris’s 1948? If so, this is the link: http://books.google.com.au/books/about/1948.html?id=CC7381HrLqcC
Gingerbaker, neither of us, I’m sure, believes any injustice inflicted upon one generation justifies an injustice upon another generation. I’m sure we believe in justice applied equally to all. That’s the main point and only point of any real significance today.
What I object to is the implication of your remark that I am somehow “anti-Jewish” to the extent I don’t believe in equal justice for Jews. What I object to is that so often it seems that any voice that points out injustices against the Palestinians is condemned for daring to suggest the state of Israel could do any wrong at all like any other state in history — that is, it is impossible to speak up on behalf of Palestinians without being condemned as being anti-Jewish.
Meanwhile, on the question of an event in ancient history (I presume you are referring to the Jews being expelled by the Romans) I have addressed this and related questions in several posts now. The latest one is at The Myth of Judean Exile 70 CE.
You don’t need my help, but let’s look at who started the dominoes falling. Yes, any expulsion of Jews from Arab countries in response to the expulsion of Palestinians from their land is just as unjust, but without the tat there would have been no tit. One cannot plausibly use the reaction to justify an unjust prior action. Reap what you sow.
You’ve crossed the line Godfrey. Israel accepted the UN Partition. The Arabs, including the Palestinians, did not. The Arabs/Palestinians were the ones who decided at the start that there would be no Israel and until relatively recently it remained their policy (and still is for Hamas). To cherry pick supposed Israeli sources and try to posture a supposed Israeli position which was never the official position and deny/ignore the Arab position which was/is guilty of what you accuse Israel of (having a policy of removing the other) is not just dishonest but disgusting.
It is especially disgusting now as it could be seen as supporting Muslim terrorism against Jews outside of Israel because there are Jews in Israel.
Anyone interested in seeing some truth and integrity on the subject can look at Israel’s history on Wikipedia:
You should be proud that the mainstay of the Israeli leadership set aside all of their plans and attitudes towards the idea of Arab transfer up to 1948 and that those old ideas and hopes played no role at all in any of their actions from that time on.
Here are some scholarly reviews of Masalha’s book. I have highlighted a few comments:
Review by William B. Quandt, in Foreign Affairs, Vol. 72, No. 3 Summer 1993 (p.210)
Review by Steve Cox, in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2 (1993), pp. 252-254
Review by Scott D. Johnston in International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Feb. 1994), pp. 137-139
Review by Fouad Moughrabi in Journal of Palestinian Studies, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Spring, 1995), p.98
Review by Charles S. Kamen, in American Historical Review, Vol. 99, Issue 1, (Feb 1994) p. 274
You seem to find the sentiments disturbing, too. I trust you don’t really believe that the facts of Israel’s history should be suppressed but also believe our respective pasts should be considered thoughtfully for self-understanding and peaceful relations.
Happily there is an interesting rider above the relevant section of the wikipedia article you direct us to read.
Australians have been torn by historical controversies, too, with debates arising over whether our founders really were as benign and well-intentioned with respect to the native inhabitants as we have wanted to believe. Zionism was born at the same time as other nationalist-expansionist movements that left tragic colonial ventures in their wake. Is it difficult to imagine Israelis being no better or worse than other peoples?
Hang on, Joe. The Peel Commission resolution (read the post) was in 1936-8, while the U.N. resolution was in 1947. Both parties rejected the first.
You need tell us exactly what line Neil has crossed, and provide evidence for your implication that he is not telling the truth and does not have integrity. I urge you to do this quickly.
Neil’s subsequent post confesses that he was previously misleading. Now you have replaced him. I posted the Wikipedia link. As the drug dealer said to Kick-Ass in the classic movie. “Or what”. You are now the one on trial with your last post, not me.
What are talking about? Where and in what sense have I indicated I was “misleading” at any time?
I’ll tell you what I mean by “or what,” Joe. Neil and I block antisemitic comments here all the time. And I would have no qualms whatsoever permanently banning someone making false accusations about antisemitism.
So you see, you are the one who’s on trial.
Before contributing my wide-range reading lists re Islam, the Middle East and Zionism, your specific definition of “antisemitism” here would be useful to me and possibly some others. For example, the anti-Zionists Gilad Atzmon and Stephen Sizer, among others, are widely described in Jewish publications as antisemites, and the anti-racist Atzmon also as a racist; Stephen Norwood’s “Antisemitism and the Far Left”, among other recent publications, seems to my own definition criteria to confuse anti-Zionism with antisemitism (while largely ignoring the earlier attraction to Jews, especially refugees from Russia in the USA, of communist movements); the “leftist” James Petras and the “rightist” Kevin MacDonald are equally condemned as “antisemites” because of their (documented and interesting) material on “Jewish” influences upon e.g. US foreign policy; suggestions that the claim to Jerusalem, “Judea and Samaria” is invalid because insufficient historical basis exists for territorial/ethnic ancient Judaism are also attacked ipso facto as antisemitism; and so on, and so forth, ad infinitum, nauseam and hitlerum.
I use the term antisemitism according to its common understanding as expressed in the Merriam Webster dictionary: “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group”.
(I see at least one United Nations document lists anti-semitism as a contemporary evil alongside alongside Islamophobia, Christianophobia and antiArabism.)
See e.g. Morris B. Abram, “Anti-Semitism in the UN”, Jewish Virtual Library on-line, and his references to “World Affairs”, Nov/Dec 2013, and the UN News Centre, January 22, 2015, esp. the “definition” of modern anti-Semitism by Bernard-Henri Levy, at
Can you be up-front and open — and to the point — about your point?
In briefest possible summary, the point is that “anti-Semitism” is not easily defined, at any rate so far as usage goes. It is a “term” that ranges from incitement to murder all Jews to criticism of Israeli actions, or of any practices and beliefs held by people who define themselves as Jews. As you ask, I regard irrational hatred of and/or derogatory falsehoods about any harmless individuals, groups, organizations or “races” as indefensible, but not sociological explanations of interactive cultural clash or ethnic competition, or of population-lineage differences.
For various reasons, mainly the Nazi experience, discussion of several Jewish-related issues has become a cross between a swamp and a minefield. If requested, but only if so, I am willing to elaborate on these complex matters. It is my tact and respect for your website, and avoidance of excessive detail, not some evil concealed motive, that made my previous submission seem less than “open”.
Having some time ago been suspected here of “racist” trolling, I have been reluctant to present opinions that invite labels rather than argument, and instead just to encourage attention to a variety of published material by others that discourage the taking of one side against another in matters as complicated, and sensitive, as the rights and wrongs of Israel, or for that matter the quasi-religious and political use to which the “Holocaust” has been put by various interested parties.
If this post is “offensive” to you or Mr Widowfield, I would prefer a simple deletion rather than a personal insult.
There are two contradictory statements about antisemitism in the news article you link to.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is quoted as saying in his opening address:
Further on a keynote speaker Bernard-Henri Lévy is said to have expressed a contrary view:
So criticizing a lingering form of race-based imperialism is described as “a delirium”; conservative rabbinic Jews and secular Jewish organizations like Jews for Peace who criticize state sanctioned propaganda techniques are lumped with Holocaust deniers.
I reject Bernard-Henri Lévy’s narrow politically motivated depiction of antisemitism as reported in this news article as a cynical insult against victims of real antisemitism and the Holocaust and join with those descendants of Holocaust survivors who likewise are on record as denouncing the view expressed by Lévy.
I concur fully with Ban Ki-moon’s explanation.
There is nothing complex about antisemitism. It is very obvious — as obvious as any other form of racism — as we all recognize from its ugly expressions in Arab countries and among certain Western groups.
Lévy’s attempt to have us think of antisemitism as different from other kinds of racism is yet one more effort set apart the Jews as belonging to a different class or standard from other peoples of the world. A couple of works on the reasons for antisemitism that I have read explain it well enough as a racist issue and the reasons for its various outbreaks. There is nothing “unique” about any form of racism or other particular human behaviour.
Is it really that simple, anti-Semitism is just like any other form of racism?
Then why do you devote dedicated Posts to a speech of a Jewish leader, thousands of words on Zionist meetings of the 30’s and 40’s – and not a single Post on Aboriginals in Australia, or the meetings that Australians had about them? Not a word about the Maori or the discussion among New-Zealanders? Or the Kurds in Turkey? Or de the native Indians in the US? have they not suffered racism?
There seems to something special about Israel/Jews.
I have explained many times why I wrote those posts so I don’t understand why you are asking me that question. I don’t think I could have been clearer about my reasons, my motivations.
On the Australian Aborigines — http://vridar.org/2012/02/11/ouch-my-own-beliefs-undermined-by-my-own-historical-principles/
Tim…your choice of words could be a bit better.
You’re “putting Joe on trial” because you don’t agree with his understanding of anti-Semitism?
Really, REALLY think how you come across there.
This is not the Soviet Union.
Or Nazi Germany.
We in Australia do NOT put people “on trial” merely because of intellectual disagreement. If we do…I’d have to defend Joe on simple PRINCIPLE.
Plus…unless you also want to come across as parochial…you don’t get to define anti-Semitism for those who’ve suffered through it. Nor tell even ethnic people of any other ethnic background you or any other intellectual defines racism or should act more anti-Racist than someone of an ethnic heritage. That’s outright PAROCHIALISM, and you’re coming across as a privileged white male.
I really would have loved to have put that more politer because i respect most of your work here, both you and Tim…but sometimes, there’s a fine line.
Empathy is something you can’t learn in any academic institution. Respect for learning is one thing…but this is one thing where learning from a book won’t help. I don’t care how many studies you’ve read on Social Movement…you don’t really know the experience.
George: “You’re ‘putting Joe on trial’ because you don’t agree with his understanding of anti-Semitism?”
No, because he’s a miserable troll who conflates Neil’s disagreement with the policies of the Israeli government with antisemitism. Further, he continually insinuates that Neil condones terrorism.
George: “Really, REALLY think how you come across there.”
I said exactly what I meant in exactly the tone I wished to say it. If it were up to me, Wallack would have been expunged from Vridar a long time ago. And you need to think about how you come across, George.
George: “This is not the Soviet Union.”
What the hell are you talking about? Joe is free to say whatever he wants in the public square. Joe is free set up any number of blogs and publish his screeds to his heart’s content.
Apparently you have forgotten that Vridar is not the public square. This is not a place where everything goes. We delete off-topic comments. We delete abusive, racist comments all the time. We don’t tolerate abusive behavior here.
And you know what’s abusive? Calling your host an antisemite, a liar, and a terrorist sympathizer.
George: “We in Australia do NOT put people ‘on trial’ merely because of intellectual disagreement. If we do…I’d have to defend Joe on simple PRINCIPLE.”
In case you missed the principle, it’s defaming the character of your host. George, we’ve gone well beyond “intellectual disagreement” and hit the troll zone.
George: “. . . you don’t get to define anti-Semitism for those who’ve suffered through it.”
Every oppressed minority has the right to define offensive terms, words, and, images, and has the right to demand equal protection under the law and equal status as citizens.
You may indeed claim the right to call any action you want antisemitism. For example, every time Neil discusses the plight of the Palestinians, somebody out there will no doubt think he’s doing it out of antisemitism. If I told you that I think it’s wrong for the state of Israel to fire a rocket into an apartment building full of civilians just to get one suspected terrorist, you may well accuse me of antisemitism.
But I reject your accusation. And I reject your claim that the term means whatever Joe wants it to mean. Does Joe’s right to define the term in any way and at any time he pleases extend to calling Neil a liar? Does it include the privilege of saying Neil condones terror and mass murder?
As for the rest of your comment, stop lecturing me, George. You are seriously not up to the task.
By the way, I’m fully aware of my tone, which could have been much more strident, given the fact that you casually threw the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in my face while defending a miserable troll. How could you have known that I spent ten years “fighting” the Cold War and that my dad fought in the European Theater and flew over France on D-Day?
You should have a little more empathy, but I’m afraid you won’t be able to learn it from a book.
“The Jewish Agency, which was the recognized representative of the Jewish community, accepted the plan. The Arab League and Arab Higher Committee of Palestine rejected it, and indicated that they would reject any other plan of partition.”
You need to confess immediately. I want to know which it is. You did not know this and commented out of ignorance or you did know this and knowingly mislead.
You are confusing the UN plan with the Peel Commission proposals that I am discussing at this point. I am not (yet) addressing the UN partition resolution but will do so with more than simplistic and decontextualized one-liners and polemics when I do.
Again, note the wikipedia rider warning of perceived bias in the section from which you are quoting.
I’ve lost track on how many blogposts you have now devoted to re-typing Nur Masalha’s book. Surely, those who are so interested in the memoranda of committees in the 1930’s can buy the book themselves(and help the author make a living)?
If your objective is to show that – in those days and in those conditions – policies were discussed that we would now find unacceptable, then you have succeeded with me.
What you have not done – by any means – is to make plausible how this serves your objective to “helps us understand the current situation in Palestine”.
How are these pre-WWII policy discussions relevant to present-day Israel?
If you don’t present us with any evidence, or plausibility, that these policies are still -somehow – supported by the Israeli government, then you risk creating the impression that you are only demonising Jewish policy makers, then and now.
You don’t share the views or interests of the scholarly reviewers that I cited above, then. I do. For some people history is bunk. I disagree.
The history of Australian pioneers and early settlers has a profound significance for today for similar reasons. Some Australians don’t like to hear about that history and want to replace it with a fantasy. It clearly is of relevance if they want to silence it.
(You can see how many blog posts I’ve done on this book by opening up the Archives & Index of Topics drop down box in the right hand margin.)
We Americans also like fantasy history put forward by patriots and have no clue why so many people hate us!
What I do not fully understand is why it is so easy to interpret information about the other side of past events as “demonization”. Why is it “demonization” to bring to attention facts that have been kept in secret archives for many decades?
I think I agree with the person who said that antisemitism since WW2 has bifurcated: instead of demonizing Jews the new targets of demonization are the other branch of Semites, the Arabs; while Jews are still dehumanized but in the opposite direction: they are now portrayed, one might say, as “angelic”. Yes we are allowed to point to their “faults” but only if we suffocate such points with copious explanation that what they have done is “understandable” or “out of character” or “unfortunately necessary” or “forgivable”. Never fundamentally bad or ill-intentioned. In other words, we must set one race on a pillar of virtue that applies to no other race. Meanwhile, the voices of the Arabs must be suppressed because we “know” they all support terrorism and wickedly want to destroy the Jews.
I don’t believe this black and white view, or suppression of any facts relevant to all sides, is helpful. That applies to any conflict including situations I have said are relevant to Australia. I have in my family tree some people who have had some very bigoted views against other races: I do not believe their sins should be whitewashed but I don’t believe that I am demonizing them either. None of us are demons or angels.
The question is of relevance to “us” because those who are our representatives, and on whom we have some potential influence, are perpetuating a situation where one people’s voice is being silenced while the other’s is filtered.
I’d like to save the series in correct chronological order. How can the order be reversed?
When it’s all completed I’ll do up a page with the titles linked in order. Or maybe I could do that sooner the same way I have done up pages for the series by Roger Parvus. I have long term plans to do a lot more of these pages. Also to post them on a website.
Jim West apparently understands the importance of history:
Zwinglius Redivivus: Mike Huckabee and the ‘Palestinian’ Deniers Don’t Know History, citing the Salon.com article: Mike Huckabee: There’s no such thing as the Palestinians.
These posts of mine are an attempt to demonstrate that this denial of the existence and identity of Palestinians and their historic ties to Palestine were not always denied. These were facts that were once well understood by all parties involved.
And it’s not getting any easier with time: The overlooked Israeli-Palestinian conflict that threatens the entire Middle East
“The reason for this series is to make readily accessible the evidence that helps us understand the current situation in Palestine.”
Here are my major objections to this post:
1) As previously mentioned, the most important issue regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is each side’s willingness to accept a two State solution.
2) Nur Mashala is a Palestinian Apologist. If you are using mainly/only him as a source, everything he quotes and concludes needs to be confirmed with an objective source. His supposed quotes may be contradicted, out of context, SELECTIVE or just plain wrong. Plus the side he is defending by implication may have even worse quotes available. And do you provide that context that you value so much for what seem to be bad quotes? You have no problem trying to provide context for Palestinian terrorism.
With your Christian experience I would think you would know how the game is played by now.
3) “Benny Morris who fully justifies the events that led to the dispossession of the Palestinian Arabs.”? Nur Mashala confesses that Benny Morris is a better known historian than him. Benny Morris, concludes that there was no Israeli Transfer policy. Quite a difference. Maybe you should have also included Benny’s case.
4) “This post covers the Jewish Agency’s response to the question of Arab transfer after their rejection of the Peel Commission’s plan for partition of Palestine.”
As previously mentioned the Jews accepted the Peel Report in principal. The Arabs rejected and condemned it and refused to negotiate. It would also be informative to mention that while there was violence and even terrorism on both sides, generally the Jewish violence was in reaction to Arab violence. This may have influenced thinking on all sides regarding the splitting of territory.
5) The Woodward Plan was the best offer for the Arabs. The Arab side would be five times larger than the Jewish State. The Jews rejected it because they would have received one fifth of what the Peel Plan had. The Arabs again rejected and refused to negotiate. This was the best offer the Arabs had.
6) As previously mentioned the Jews had an exponentially greater need for a Jewish State at the time (which Great Britain acknowledged) than the Arabs had for a Palestinian State.
7) Regarding criticism of Jewish leaders from 70 years ago that they only wanted to agree to a two State solution as the first step to one State, this is what most Palestinians think now regarding their obtaining a State. Yet again, no mention of the other side. Speaking of trying to criticize religious leaders from 70 years ago, there was that Grand Mufti. Did Jews have a reason to feel more threatened by Arabs at the time.
8) Here’s a point you somehow missed:
“Addressing the “Arab charge that the Jews have obtained too large a proportion of good land cannot be maintained,” noting that “Much of the land now carrying orange groves was sand dunes or swamp and uncultivated when it was purchased.”
9) Here’s the practical problem the British saw with simply splitting the country up equally:
“The report stated that Jews contribute more per capital to the revenues of Palestine than the Arabs, and the Government has thereby been enabled to maintain public services for the Arabs at a higher level than would otherwise have been possible. Partition would mean, on the one hand, that the Arab Area would no longer profit from the taxable capacity of the Jewish Area.”
10) This was the British recommendation regarding Transfer:
“The report stated that if Partition is to be effective in promoting a final settlement it must mean more than drawing a frontier and establishing two States. Sooner or later there should be a transfer of land and, as far as possible, an exchange of population. Citing as precedent the 1923 Greek and Turkish exchange, which addressed the constant friction between their minorities.”
No doubt we should be talking about the big political question of “the two state solution” and not letting ourselves get distracted by details affecting peoples’ lives, livelihoods and homes.
Why you chose the term “Palestinian Apologist”? What does the term mean to you. Do you have some specific criticisms of his work?
I agree sources should always be checked. Now I have only personally cross-checked a handful of his sources for myself. So what I have done to compensate is to search the scholarly databases for reviews of his book. I would expect that peers would alert us to any misrepresentations in his handling of sources. I have read reviews by Steve Cox (British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies), Scott D. Johnston (International Journal of Middle East Studies), Charles S. Kamen (American Historical Review), Fouad Moughrabi (Journal of Palestine Studies) and William B. Quandt (Foreign Affairs) — I even cited extracts from them above — and have seen no indication that Masalha can be accused of unprofessional conduct or writing. If you have evidence that he has misused sources then I expect you to make it known here.
The mere fact that you raise the possibility that he is a dishonest historian without citing a shred of evidence suggests to me that you know of no reason to believe “his supposed quotes may be contradicted, out of context, SELECTIVE or just plain wrong.”
As for context, I have stated the context of each quotation. How much of the post did you actually read?
Do you have specific concerns on any particular quote as somehow being ripped from context?
Sometimes we rely more heavily on one historian than another for the simple reason that a particular historian has undertaken the labour of the research into a particular question that others have not had time to do. That’s standard practice.
To make a constructive point, Joe, it would help if you actually read my posts.
I am well aware that there “was no [official] Israeli Transfer policy” and have never said that there was. Masalha has made the same point. I do indeed hope to post in depth of Benny Morris’s findings — and I really do have to wonder if you have even read his books on the 1948 war given how so much of what he writes is entirely consistent with what Masalha himself has written.
Read the introduction to the latest post in my Masalha series where I explain:
I added the word “official” to your own objection because that is how Benny Morris himself qualifies his findings. Morris writes:
— the context of this statement are the 1947/48 military orders given to local commanders to decide for themselves in each case whether to destroy an Arab settlement, or expel its occupants, or occupy it. Many chose to expel the occupants — not because of an official policy but because this was a viable option that the prevailing thinking among Zionist leaders encouraged.
Joe, I showed you from your own source that your “previous mention” was baseless. You have a very liberal understanding of the expression “in principal”. The Zionists had no intention of accepting the Peel Report “in principle” as you must know if you only read beyond the introductory paragraph of your Wikipedia source.
? Again, Joe, did you read anything in the post about the Woodward Commission’s report that you would like to actually respond to? Or did you just see buzz words and switch to dehumanizing auto-pilot telling everyone that the Jews and the whole world are utterly reasonable and generous while the Arabs are in every case utterly unreasonable and mean? Comments with no engagement with the post in question are normally considered trolling.
“Which Great Britain acknowledge”? Source, please, Joe. Again, I have made Britain’s position clear in these posts from the documented sources. Have you read any of them?
Do you mean that the Palestinian Arabs did not need to continue living in Palestine because the Jews needed their homes and lands more than they did? Or do you mean that Palestine should have been divided into two states as proposed by the Peel Commission — with one side having something they needed and the other getting something they didn’t really need? And what did Ben-Gurion say about that Plan again? What were the documented reasons the Zionist leadership said they would pretend to go along with the two state proposal in the immediate moment?
Documentation and evidence, please, Joe. You’re just making all this up or repeating the fantasies of others.
No mention of the other side? These posts have been documenting the responses of both the Arabs and the Zionists and even the different Zionist factions where they vary, and the responses of the British . . . . You really don’t bother to read these posts, do you Joe. Do you read as far as a line that freaks you out and then stop reading and rush to Wikipedia and find a line there that you need to supposedly refute my whole post?
I would find your comments more interesting if you actually demonstrated that you had read them.
Yes, Joe, that Grand Mufti really gave Ben-Gurion a reason to feel more threatened by all those Arabs back then. Here is what Ben-Gurion wrote of the Mufti:
. Source? C. Weizmann, “Palestine’s Role in the Solution of the Jewish Problem,” Foreign Affairs 20, no. 2 (January 1942), p. 336.
So influential was this Grand Mufti that he spent much of his time in exile, and hated (and snubbed) as much or more by the Arab states than the British — as you well know from your reading of Benny Morris’s historical works.
Ah, yes, of course! The Zionists were only purchasing sand dunes and swamps from the Arab landowners prior to 1948! That explains everything!
Are Wikipedia secondary references to summaries of original documents really the best you can do? Do you know anything about the history of Israel?
Again you seem to be content with the most superficial glance at the sources, Joe. The Peel Commission was a body set up to report to the British government. You take a secondary source referencing a summary document (not even the full original document) of a commission and interpret that as “the practical problem as the British saw” it. The British government in the end rejected the Peel Commission’s report and they gave their reasons. You have ignored those reasons — did you even read them? You seem to wish to avoid addressing them.
Oh my god, Joe. You haven’t read the above or any related posts at all, have you. Then you think a glance at a few scattered lines in a Wikipedia article is all you need mine a quote that will supposedly address anything I have said.
And you don’t even know the difference between a committee’s suggestion of options available from an official government position.
When you actually read the series and what we have been saying about transfer proposals and the various positions (including that of the British) related to these, and especially in the context of the Greek-Turkish exchange, then come back and say something sensible.
I really did think you were a more intelligent and a far more serious researcher and engager of intellectual discussions than this. You do not even read what you think you are denouncing!
(But then again, I knew something was terribly wrong when you tried to palm off a Judaism Is the Answer source as your “scholarly authority” for a translation of a Hebrew text in ErrancyWiki!)
But given your track record I expect you will ignore this reply of mine (maybe you won’t be able to bring yourself to read it?) and some time later on another venue simply resume your denunciations as if I have no come-back whatever.
For the record: I have put Joe Wallack on moderation not because he wishes to respond here but because he does not choose to respond here.
Joe is welcome to respond here to anything in my posts or comments that are of concern to him.
His moderated posts are personal accusations and attempts to deflect readers from the discussions and perspectives as initiated on Vridar. And Vridar does not tolerate links to hate sites.
(Joe Wallack joins Jerry Coyne, James McGrath and a few others who refuse to engage in dialogue on Vridar, preferring to restrict their discussions to their own preferred audiences. Let them play their games. They presumably feel they get more of the spotlight if they pull the discussion elsewhere and also enjoy the support of their own networks elsewhere.)