Facts and stats about Israel

7.71 million

Population. Ranked 97th in 2013.


GDP per capita. Ranked 31st in 2011.


Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km
Largest city Jerusalem - 704,900
Capital city Jerusalem - 704,900
Major language Hebrew, Arabic
Major religion Judaism, Islam, Christianity
Monetary unit new Israeli shekel ; note - NIS is the currency abbreviation; ILS is the International Organization for Standardization code for the NIS
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Alternative names State of Israel, Yisra'el, Medinat Yisra'el, Israel
Groups Group object, Group object, Group object, Group object, Group object, Group object

Interesting observations about Israel


To #2,
The term "Palestine" is believed to be derived from the Philistines, an Aegean people who, in the 12th Century B.C.E., settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain of what are now Israel and the Gaza Strip. In the second century C.E., 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 Hebrews entered the Land of Israel about 1300 B.C.E., living under a tribal confederation until being united under the first monarch, King Saul. The second king, David, established Jerusalem as the capital around 1000 B.C.E. David's son, Solomon built the Temple soon thereafter and consolidated the military, administrative and religious functions of the kingdom. The nation was divided under Solomon's son, with the northern kingdom (Israel) lasting until 722 B.C.E., when the Assyrians destroyed it, and the southern kingdom (Judah) surviving until the Babylonian conquest in 586 B.C.E. The Jewish people enjoyed brief periods of sovereignty afterward before most Jews were finally driven from their homeland in 135 C.E.

Jewish independence in the Land of Israel lasted for more than 400 years. This is much longer than Americans have enjoyed independence in what has become known as the United States. In fact, if not for foreign conquerors, Israel would be 3,000 years old today.

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."

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.

In 1937, a local Arab leader, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, told the Peel Commission, which ultimately suggested the partition of Palestine: "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."

The representative of the Arab Higher Committee to the United Nations submitted a statement to the General Assembly in May 1947 that said "Palestine was part of the Province of Syria" and that, "politically, the Arabs of Palestine were not independent in the sense of forming a separate political entity." A few years later, Ahmed Shuqeiri, later the chairman of the PLO, told the Security Council: "It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria."

Palestinian Arab nationalism is largely a post-World War I phenomenon that did not become a significant political movement until after the 1967 Six-Day War and Israel's capture of the West Bank.

A common misperception is that all the Jews were forced into the Diaspora by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. 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.

The Jewish people base their claim to the Land of Israel on at least four premises: 1) the Jewish people settled and developed the land; 2) the international community granted political sovereignty in Palestine to the Jewish people; 3) the territory was captured in defensive wars and 4) God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham.

Even after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the beginning of the exile, Jewish life in the Land of Israel 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.

The Crusaders massacred many Jews 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.

The 78 years of nation-building, beginning in 1870, culminated in the reestablishment of the Jewish State.

Israel's international "birth certificate" was validated by the promise of the Bible; uninterrupted Jewish settlement from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israel's admission to the UN in 1949; the recognition of Israel by most other states; and, most of all, the society created by Israel's people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.

As for Jerusalem, Jews have been living in Jerusalem continuously for nearly two millennia. They have constituted the largest single group of inhabitants there since the 1840's. Jerusalem contains the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab entity. In fact, it was a backwater for most of Arab history. Jerusalem never served as a provincial capital under Muslim rule nor was it ever a Muslim cultural center. For Jews, the entire city is sacred, but Muslims revere a site — the Dome of the Rock — not the city. "To a Muslim," observed British writer Christopher Sykes, "there is a profound difference between Jerusalem and Mecca or Medina. The latter are holy places containing holy sites." Besides the Dome of the Rock, he noted, Jerusalem has no major Islamic significance.

Ever since King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel more than 3,000 years ago, the city has played a central role in Jewish existence. The Western Wall in the Old City — the last remaining wall of the ancient Jewish Temple, the holiest site in Judaism — is the object of Jewish veneration and the focus of Jewish prayer. Three times a day, for thousands of years, Jews have prayed "To Jerusalem, thy city, shall we return with joy," and have repeated the Psalmist's oath: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning."

Posted on 01 Jan 2006




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Posted on 02 Apr 2010

Kelsi Crome

Kelsi Crome



The origin of the Palestine- Israeli conflict

As the periodic bloodshed continues in the Middle East, the search for an equitable solution must come to grips with the root cause of the conflict. The conventional wisdom is that, even if both sides are at fault, the Palestinians are irrational " terrorists" who have no point of view worth listening to. Our position, however, is that the Palestinians have a real grievance: their homeland for over a thousand years was taken, without their consent and mostly by force, during the creation of the state of Israel. And all subsequent crimes- on both sides- inevitably follow from this original injustice. This paper outlines the history of Palestine to show how this process occurred and what a moral solution to the region’s problems should consist of. If you care about the people of the Middle East, Jewish and Arab, you owe it to yourself to read this account of the other side of the historical record.


The standard Zionist position is that they showed up in Palestine to reclaim their ancestral homeland in the late 19th century. Jews bought land and started building their Jewish community their. They were net with increasingly violent opposition from the Palestinian Arabs, presumably stemming from the Arabs` inherent anti-Semitism. The Zionists were then forced to defend themselves and, in one form or another, this same situation continues up to today. The problem with this explanation is that it is imply not true, as the documentary evidence in this booklet shall show. What really happened was that the Zionist movement, from the beginning, looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the indigenous Arab population so that Israel could be a wholly Jewish state, or as much as was possible. Land bought by the Jewish National Fund was held in the name of the Jewish people and could never be sold or even leased back to Arabs (a situation which continues to the present). The Arab community, as it became increasingly aware of the Zionists intentions, strenuously opposed further Jewish immigration and land buying because it posed a real and imminent danger to the very existence to Arab society in Palestine.Because of this opposition, the entire Zionist project never could have been realized without the military backing of the British. The vast majority of the Population of Palestine, by the way, had been Arabic since the seventh century (over 1200 years).

In short, Zionism was based on a faulty, colonialist world-view that the rights of the indigenous inhabitants didn’t matter. The Arabs` opposition to Zionism wasn’t based on anti-Semitism but rather on a totally reasonable fear of the dispossession of their people.

One further point: Being Jewish ourselves, the position we present here is critical of Zionism but is in no way anti-Semitic. We do not believe that the Jews acted worst than any other group might have acted in their situation. The Zionists (who were a distinct minority of the Jewish people until after WW II) had an understandable desire to establish a place where Jews could be masters of their fate, given the bleak history of Jewish oppression.

Especially as the danger to European Jewry crystalized in the late 1930s and after, the actions of the Zionists were propelled by real desperation.

But so were the actions of the Arabs. The mythic "land without people for a people without land" was already home to 700,000 Palestinians in 1919.

This is the route of the problem, as we shall see.


Before the Hebrews first migrated there around 1800BC, the land of Canaan was occupied by Canaanities.

"Between 3000 and 1100BC, Canaanite civilization covered what is today Israel, the West Bank, Lebanon and much of Syria and Jordan… Those would remain in the Jerusalem hills after the Romans expelled the Jews [in the second century AD] were a potpourri: farmers and vineyard growers, pagans and converts to Christianity, descendants of the Arabs, Persians, Samaritans, Greeks an old Canaanite tribes."

Marcia Kunstel and Joseph Albright, "Their Promised Land".

The Present –day Palestinians` ancestral heritage

" But all these [different peoples who had come into Canaan] were additions, sprigs grafted onto the parent tree…And that parentry was Canaanite…[the Arab invaders of the 7th century AD] made Moslem converts of the natives, settled down as residents, and intermarried with them, with the result that all are now so completely Arabised that we cannot tell whether Canaanites leave off and the Arabs begin."

Ilene Beatty, " Arab and Jew in the land of Canaan."

The Jewish kingdoms were only one of many periods in ancient Palestine

" The extended kingdoms of David and Solomon, on which the Zionists base their territorial demands, endured for only about 73 years… Then it fell apart…[Even] if we allow independence to the entire life of the ancient Jewish kingdoms, from David’s conquest of Canaan in 100 BC to the wiping out of Juda in 586 BC, we arrive at [only] a 414-year Jewish rule."

Ilene Beatty, "Arab and Jew in the land of Canaan."

How long has Palestine been specifically Arab country?

" Palestine became a predominantly Arab and Islamic country by the end of the seventh century. Almost immediately thereafter its boundaries and its characteristics – including its name in Arabic, Filastin – became known to the entire Islamic world, as much for its fertility and beauty as for its religious significance…In 1516, Palestine became a province of the Ottoman Empire, but this made it no less fertile, no less Arab or Islamic…Sixty percent of the population was in agriculture; the balance was divided between townspeople and a relatively small nomadic group. All these people believed themselves to belong in a land called Palestine, despite their feelings that they were also members of a large Arab nation…Despite the steady arrival in Palestine of Jewish colonists after 1882, it is important to realize that not until the few weeks immediately preceding the establishment of Israel in the spring of 1948 was there ever anything other than huge Arab majority. For example, the Jewish population in 1931 was 174, 606 against a total of 1,033,314."

Edward Said, "The Question of Palestine."

How did land ownership traditionally work in Palestine and when did it change?

"[The ottoman land Code of 1858] required the registration in the name of individual owners of agricultural land, most of which had never previously been registered and which had formerly been treated according to traditional forms of land tenure, in the hill areas of Palestine generally masha`a, or communal usufruct. The new law meant that for the first time a peasant could not be deprived of the title of his land, which he had rarely held before, but rather of the right to live on it, cultivate it and pass it on to his heirs, which had formerly been inalienable… Under the provisions of the 1858 law, communal rights of tenure were often ignored…Instead, members of the upper classes, adept at manipulating or circumventing the legal process, registered large areas of land as theirs…The fellhin [peasants] naturally considered the land to be theirs, and often discovered that they had ceased to be the legal owners only when the land was sold to Jewish settlers by an absentee landlord…Not only was the land being purchased; its Arab cultivators were being dispossessed and replaced by foreigners who had overt political objectives in Palestine."

Rashid Khalidi, " Blaming The Victims," ed. Said and Hitchens.

Was Arab opposition to the arrival of the Zionists based on inherent anti-Semitism or a real sense of danger to their community?

"The aim of the [Jewish National] Fund was ‘to redeem the land of Palestine as the inalienable possession of the Jewish people’…As early as 1981, Zionist leader Ahd Ha`am wrote that the Arabs ‘ understand very well what we are doing and what we are aiming at’ …[Theodor Herz, the founder of Zionism stated]’we shall try to spirit the penniless [Arab] population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country…Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly’… at various locations in northern Palestine Arab farmers to move from land the Fund purchased from absentee owners, and the Turkish authorities, at the Fund’s request, evicted them … The indigenous Jews of Palestine also reacted negatively to Zionism.They did not see the need for a Jewish state in Palestine and id not want to exacerbate relations with the Arabs.

John Quigley, "Palestine and Israel: A challenge to Justice."

Inherent anti –Semitism? – Continued

"Before the 20th century, most Jews in Palestine belonged to the old Yishuv, or community, that had settled more for religious than political reasons. There was little if any conflict between them and the Arab population. Tensions began after the first Zionist settlers arrived in the 1880`s…when [they] purchased land from absentee Arab owners, leading to dispossession of the peasants who cultivated it.

Don Pertz, " The Arab-Israel Dispute."

Inherent anti –Semitism? – Continued

"[During the Middle ages], North Africa and the Arab Middle East became places of refuge and a haven for the prosecuted Jews of Spain and elsewhere… In the Holy Land… they lived together in harmony, a harmony only disrupted when the Zionists began to claim that Palestine was the ‘rightful’ possession of the ‘Jewish People’ to the exclusion of its Moslem and Christian inhabitants."

Sami Hadawi, "Bitter Harvest"

Jewish attitude towards Arabs upon reaching Palestine

" Serfs they (the Jews) were in the lands of the Diaspora, and suddenly they find themselves in freedom [in Palestine]; and this change has awakened in them an inclination to despotism. They treat the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, deprive them of their rights, offend them without cause, and even boast of these deeds; and nobody among us opposes this despicable and dangerous inclination."

Zionist writer Ahad Ha`am, quoted in Sami Hadawi,"BitterHarvest."

Proposals for Arab-Jewish Cooperation

"An article by Yitzhak Epstein, published in Hashiloah in 1907… called for a new Zionist policy towards the Arabs after 30 years of settlement activity…Like Ahad-Ha`am in 1891, Epstein claims that no good land is vacant, so Jewish settlement meant Arab dispossession …Epstein `s solution to the problem, so that a new ‘Jewish Question’ may be avoided, is the creation of a bi-national, non-exclusive program of settlement and development. Purchasing land should not involve the dispossession of poor sharecroppers. It should mean creating a joint farming community, where the Arabs will enjoy modern technology. Schools, hospitals and libraries should be non-exclusivist and education bilingual… The vision of the non-exclusivist, peaceful cooperation to replace the practice of dispossession found few takers. Epstein was maligned and scorned for his faintheartedness." Israeli author, Benjamin Beit- Hallahmi, "Original Sins".

Was Palestine the only, or even preferred, destination of Jews facing persecution when the Zionist movement started?

"The pogroms forced many Jews to leave Russia. Societies known as ‘Lovers of Zion,’ which were forerunners of the Zionist organization, convinced some of the frightened emigrants to go to Palestine. There, they argued, Jews would rebuild the ancient Jewish ‘Kingdom of David and Solomon’ Most Russian Jews ignored their appeal and fled to Europe and the United States. By 1900, almost a million Jews had settled in the United States alone."

"Our Roots Are Still Alive" by The People Press Palestine Book Project.


The Balfour Declaration promises a Jewish Homeland in Palestine

" The Balfour Declaration, made in November 1917 by the British Government… was made a) by a European power, b) about a non-European country, c) in a flat disregard of both the presence and the wishes of the native majority resident in that territory…[As Balfour himself wrote in 1919], ‘ The contradiction between the letter of the Covenant (the Anglo-French Declaration of 1918 promising the Arabs of former Ottoman colonies that as a reward for supporting the Allies they could have their independence) is even more flagrant in the case of the independent nation of Palestine than in that of the independent nation of Syria. For in Palestine we do not propose to even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country… The four great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, irs rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, or far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of the 700, 000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.’ "

Edward said, " The Question of Palestine."

Wasn’t Palestine a wasteland before the Jews started immigrating there?

Britain’s high commissioner for Palestine, John Chancellor, recommended total suspension of Jewish immigration and land purchase to protect Arab agriculture. He said,’ all cultivable land was occupied; that no cultivable land now in possession of the indigenous population could be sold to Jews without creating a class of landless Arab cultivators’…The Colonial Office rejected the recommendation."

John Quigley, "Palestine and Israel: A Challenge To Justice."

Were the early Zionists planning on living side-by-side with the Arabs?

In 1919, the American King-crane Commission spent six weeks in Syria and Palestine, interviewing delegations and reading petitions. Their report stated," The commissioners began their study of Zionism with minds predisposed in it favour… The fact came out repeatedly in the Commission’s conferences with Jewish representatives that the Zionists looked forward to practically complete dispossession of the present non- Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, by various forms of purchase…

"If [the] principle [of self-determination] is to rule, and so the wishes of Palestine’s population are to be decisive as to what is to be done with Palestine, then it is to be remembered that the non-Jewish population of Palestine – nearly nine-tenths of the whole- are emphatically against the entire Zionist program…To subject a people so minded to unlimited Jewish immigration, and to steady financial and social pressure to surrender the land, would be a gross violation of the principle just quoted…No British officers, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms. The officers generally thought that a force of not less than fifty thousand soldiers would be required even to initiate the program. That of itself is evidence of a strong sense of the injustice of the Zionist program…The initial claim, often submitted by Zionist representatives, that they have a ‘right’ to Palestine based on occupation of two thousand years ago, can barely be seriously considered."

Quoted in " The Israel- Arab Reader", ed. Laqueur and Rubin.

Side-by-Side- continued

"Zionist land policy was incorporated in the Constitution of the Jewish Agency for Palestine… ‘ land is to be acquired as Jewish property and…the title to the lands acquired is to be taken in the name of the Jewish National Fund, to the end that the same shall be held as the inalienable property of the Jewish people.’ The provision goes on to stipulate that ‘the Agency shall promote agricultural colonization based on Jewish labour’… The effect of this Zionist colonization policy on the Arabs was that land acquired by Jews became extra-territorialized. It ceased to be land from which the Arabs could ever hope to gain any advantage…

"The Zionists made no secret of their intentions, for as early as 1921,Dr. Eder, a member of the Zionist Commission, boldly told the Court of Inquiry, ‘there can be only one National Home in Palestine, and that a Jewish one, and no equality in the partnership between Jews and Arabs, but Jewish preponderance as soon as the numbers of the race are sufficiently increased.’ He then asked that only Jews should be allowed to bear arms."

Sami Hadawi,"Bitter Harvest."

Given Arab opposition to them, did the Zionists support steps towards majority rule in Palestine?

"Clearly, the last thing the Zionists really wanted was that all the inhabitants of Palestine should have an equal say in running the country…[Chaim] Weizmann had impressed on Churchill that representative government would have spelled the end of the [Jewish] National Home in Palestine…[Churchill declared,] ‘ The present form of government will continue for many years. Step by step we shall develop representative institutions leading to full self- government, but our children’s children will have passed away before that is accomplished."

David Hirst, " The Gun and the Olive Branch."

Denial of the Arabs’ right to self- determination

"Even if nobody lost their land, the [Zionist] program was unjust in principle because it denied majority political rights…Zionism, in principle, could not allow the natives to exercise their political rights because it would mean the end of the Zionist enterprise."

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, " Original Sins"

Arab resistance to Pre-Israeli Zionism

"In 1936-9, the Palestinian Arabs attempted a Nationalist revolt …David Ben-Gurion, eminently a realist, recognized its nature. In internal discussion, he noted that ‘in our political argument abroad, we minimize Arab opposition to us,’ but he urged, ‘let us not ignore the truth among ourselves.’ The truth was that ‘politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves… The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country, while we are still outside’… The revolt was crushed by the British, with considerable brutality."

Noam Chomsky, "The Fateful Triangle."

Gandhi on the Palestine conflict – 1938

"Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French…What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct…If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs…As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds."

Mahatma Gandhi quoted in "A Land of Two Peoples" ed. Mendes-Flohr

Didn’t the Zionists legally buy much of the land of Palestine before Israel was established?

"In 1948, at the moment that Israel declared itself a state, it legally owned a little more than 6 percent of the land of Palestine…After 1940, when the mandatory authority restricted Jewish land ownership to specific zones inside Palestine, there continued to be illegal buying (and selling) within the 65 percent of the total area restricted to Arabs.

Thus when the partition plan was announced in 1947 it included land held illegally by Jews, which was incorporated as a fait accompli inside the borders of the Jewish state. And after Israel announced its statehood, an impressive series of laws legally assimilated huge tracts of Arab land (whose proprietors had become refugees, and were pronounced ‘absentee landlords’ in order to expropriate their lands and prevent their return under any circumstances)."

Edward Said, "The Question of Palestine."


Why did the UN recommend the plan partitioning Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state?

"By this time [November 1947] the United States had emerged as the most aggressive proponent of partition… The United States got the General Assembly to delay a vote ‘to gain time to bring certain Latin American republics into line with its own views.’ …Some delegates charged U.S. officials with ‘diplomatic intimidation.’ Without ‘terrific pressure’ from the United States on ‘governments which cannot afford to risk American reprisals,’ said an anonymous editorial writer, the resolution ‘would never have passed.’" John Quigley, "Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice."

Why was this Truman’s position?

‘ I am sorry gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands of who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents." President Harry Truman, quoted in "Anti-Zionism"

ed. By Tekiner, Abed-Rabbo and Mezvinsky.

Was the partition plan fair to both Arabs and Jews?

" Arab rejection was… based on the fact that, while the population of the Jewish state was to be [only half Jewish] with the Jews owning less than 10% of the Jewish state land area, the Jews were to be established as the ruling body-a settlement which no self-respecting people would accept without protest, to say the least…The action of the United Nations conflicted with the basic principles for which the world organization was established, namely, to uphold the rights of all peoples to self-determination. By denying the Palestine Arabs, who formed the two-thirds majority of the country, the right to decide for themselves, the United Nations had violated its own Charter."

Sami Hadawi, " Bitter Harvest"

Were the Zionists prepared to settle for the territory granted in the 1947 partition?

" While the Yishuv`s leadership formally accepted the 1947 Partition Resolution, large sections of Israeli society- including…Ben Gurion- were opposed to or extremely unhappy with the partition and from early on viewed the war as an ideal opportunity to expand the new state’s borders beyond the UN-earmarked partition boundaries and at the expense of the Palestinians. "Israeli Historian, Benny Morris, in "Tikun", March/April 1998.

Public vs. private pronouncements on this question

‘ In internal discussion in 1938,[David Ben-Gurion] stated that’ after we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine… The state will only be a stage in the realization of Zionism and its task is to prepare the ground for our expansion into the whole of Palestine’… In 1948, Menahem Begin declared that: ‘The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature of institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel) will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.’ "

Noam Chomsky, " The Fateful Triangle"

The war begins

" In December 1947, the British announced that they would withdraw from Palestine by May 15, 1948.Palestinains in Jerusalem and Jaffa called a general strike against the partition. Fighting broke out in Jerusalem’s streets almost immediately…Violent incidents mushroomed into all-out war …During that fateful April of 1948, eight out of thirteen major Zionist military attacks on Palestinians occurred in the territory granted to the Arab state."

"Our Roots Are Still Alive," by the People’s Press Palestinian Book Project.

Culpability for escalation of the fighting

"Menachem Begin, the Leader of the Irgun, tells how ‘in Jerusalem, as elsewhere, we were the first to pass from the defensive to the offensive…Arabs began to flee in terror…Hagana was carrying out successful attacks on other fronts, while other Jewish forces proceeded to advance through Haifa like a knife through butter’ …The Israeli’s now allege that the Palestine war began with the entry of the Arab armies into Palestine after 15 May 1948.But that was the second phase of the war; they overlook the massacres, expulsions and dispossessions which took place prior to that date and which necessitated Arab states’ intervention."

Sami Hadawi,"Bitter Harvest."

The Deir Yassin Massacre of Palestine by Jewish Soldiers

" For the entire day of April 9, 1948,Irgun and LEHI soldiers carried out the slaughter in a cold and premeditated fashion…The attackers ‘lined men, women and children up against the walls and shot them,’…The ruthlessness of the attack on Deir Yassin shocked Jewish and world opinion alike, drove fear and panic into the Arab population, and led to the flight of unarmed civilians from their homes all over the country."

Israeli author, Simha Flapan, "The Birth Of Israel"

Was Deir Yassin the only act of this kind?

" By 1948, the Jew was able not only to ‘defend himself’ but to commit massive atrocities as well. Indeed, according to the former director of the Israeli army archives, ‘in almost every Arab village occupied by us during the War of Independence, acts were committed which are defined as war crimes, such as murders, massacres and rapes’…Uri Milstein, the authoritative Israeli military historian of the 1948 war, goes one step further, maintaining that ‘every skirmish ended in a massacre of Arabs’ "

Norman Finkelstein, "Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict."


What was the Arab reaction to the announcement of the creation of the state of Israel?

" The armies of the Arab states entered the war immediately after the State of Israel was founded in May. Fighting continued, almost all of it within the territory assigned to the Palestinian state …About 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled in the 1948 conflict."

Noam Chomsky, " The Fateful Triangle."

Was the part of Palestine assigned to a Jewish state in mortal danger from the Arab armies?

" The Arab league hastily called for its member countries to send regular army troops into Palestine. They were ordered to secure only the sections of Palestine given to the Arabs under the partition plan. But these regular armies were ill-equipped and lacked any central command to coordinate their efforts…[Jordan’s King Abdullah] promised [the Israelis and the British] that his troops, the Arab Legion, the only real fighting force among the Arab armies, would avoids fighting with Jewish settlements…Yet Western historians record this as the moment when the young state of Israel fought off ‘ the overwhelming hordes’ of five Arab countries. In reality, the Israeli offensive against the Palestinians intensified."

"Our Roots are Still Alive" by the Peoples Press Palestine Book Project.

Expulsion of the Arab population of Palestine

"Joseph Weitz was the director of the Jewish National Land Fund… On December 19, 1940, he wrote: ‘It must be clear that there is no room for both peoples in this country… The Zionist enterprise so far… has been fine and good in its own time, and could do with ‘land buying’ – but this will not bring about the state of Israel; that must come all at once, in the manner of a salvation (this is the secret of the Messianic idea); and there is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries, to transfer them all; except maybe for Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem, we must not leave a single village, not as single tribe’…There were literally hundreds of such statements made by Zionists."

Edward Said, "The Question of Palestine."

Expulsion – continued

"Ben- Gurion clearly wanted as few Arabs as possible to remain in the Jewish state. He hoped to see them flee. He said as much to his colleagues and aides in meetings in August, September and October [1948]. But no [general] expulsion policy was ever enunciated and Ben-Gurion always refrained from issuing clear or written expulsion orders; he preferred that his generals ‘understand’ what he wanted done. He wished to avoid going down in history as the ‘great expeller’ and he did not want the Israeli government to be implicated in a morally questionable policy…But while there was no ‘expulsion policy’, the July and October [1948] offensives were characterized by far more expulsions and, indeed, brutality towards Arab civilians than the first half of the war."

Benny Morris, "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949.

Didn’t the Palestinians leave their homes voluntarily during the 1948 war?

"Israeli propaganda has largely relinquished the claim that the Palestinian exodus of 1948 was ‘self-inspired’. Official circles implicitly concede that the Arab population fled as a result of Israeli action – whether directly, as in the case of Lydda and Ramleh, or indirectly, due to the panic that and similar actions (the Deir Yassin massacre) inspired in Arab population centers throughout Palestine. However, even though the historical record has been grudgingly set straight, the Israeli establishment still refuses to accept moral or political responsibility for the refugee problem it – or its predecessors – actively created."

Peretz Kidron, quoted in "Blaming The Victims," ed. Said and Hitchens.

Arab orders to evacuate nonexistent

"The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) monitored all Middle Eastern broadcasts throughout 1948 was ‘self-inspired’. The records, and companion ones by a United States monitoring unit, can be seen at the British museum… There was not a single order or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine, from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine, in 1948. There is a repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put."

Erskine Childers, British researcher, quoted in Sami Hadawi, Biter Harvest

Expulsion – continued

That Ben Gurion`s ultimate aim was to evacuate as much of the Arab population as possible from the Jewish state can hardly be doubted, if only from the variety of means he employed to achieve this purpose…most decisively, the destruction of whole villages and the eviction of their inhabitants …even [if] they had not participated in the war and had stayed in Israel hoping to live in peace and equality, as promised in the Declaration of Independence."

Israeli author, Sinha Flapan, " The Birth Of Israel"

The Deliberate destruction of Arab villages to prevent return of Palestinians

"During May [1948], ideas about how to consolidate and give permeance to the Palestinian exile began to crystallize, and the destruction of villages was immediately perceived as a primary means of achieving this aim…[Even earlier’]

On 10 April, Haganah units took Abu Shusha…The village was destroyed that night…Khulda was leveled by Jewish bulldozers on April 20…Abu Zureiq was completely demolished…By mid- 1949, the majority of the [350 depopulated Arab villages] were either completely or partly in ruins and uninhabitable."

Benny Morris, " The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949.

After the fighting was over, why didn’t the Palestinians return to their homes?

" The first UN General Assembly resolution – number 194- affirming the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property, was passed on December, 19948. It had been repassed no less than twenty-eight times since the first date. Whereas the moral and political right of a person to return to his place on uninterrupted residence is acknowledged everywhere, Israel has negated the possibility of return…[and] systematically and juridically made it impossible, on any grounds whatever, for the Arab Palestinian to return, be compensated for his property, or live in Israel as a citizen equal before the law with a Jewish Israeli.

Edward Said, " The Question of Palestine."

Is there any justification for this expropriation of land?

" The fact that the Arabs fled in terror, because of real fear of a repetition of 1948 Zionist massacres, is no reason for denying them their homes, fields and livelihoods. Civilians caught in an area of military activity generally panic. But they have always been able to return to their homes when the danger subsides. Military conquest does not abolish private rights to property; nor does it entitle the victor to confiscate the homes, property and personal belongings of the noncombatant civilian population. The seizure of Arab property by the Israeli’s was an outrage."

Sami Hadawi, "Bitter Harvest."

How about the negotiations after the 1948-1949 wars?

"[At Lausanne,] Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinians were trying to save by negotiations what they had lost in the war- a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Israel however…[preferred] tenuous armistice agreements to a definite peace that would involve territorial concessions and the repatriation of even a token number of refugees. The refusal to recognize the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and statehood proved over the years to be the main source of the turbulence, violence, and bloodshed that came to pass."

Israeli author, Sinmah Flapan, "The Birth of Israel."

Israel admitted to the UN but then reneged on the conditions under which it was admitted

" The [Lausanne] conference officially opened on 27 April 1949. On 12 May the[U.N`s] Palestine Conciliation Committee reaped its only success when it included the parties to sign a joint protocol on the framework for a comprehensive peace… Israel for the first time accepted the principle of the repatriation [of Arab refugees] and the internationalization of Jerusalem…[but] they did so as a mere exercise in public relations aimed at strengthening Israel’s international image…Walter Eytan, the head of the Israeli delegation,[ stated] …"My main purpose was to begin to undermine the protocol of May 12, which we had signed only under duress of our struggle for the admission to the U.N. Refusal to sign would… have immediately been reported to the Secretary – General and the various governments.’"

Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe`, "The making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951."

Israeli admission to the U.N. – continued

" The Preamble of the resolution of admission included a safeguarding clause as follows:’ Recalling its resolution of 29 November 1947(on partition) and 11 December 1948 (on repatriation and compensation), and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the representative of the Government of Israel before the ad hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions, the General Assembly …decides to admit Israel into membership in the United Nations.’

"Here, it must be observed, is a condition and an undertaking to implement the resolutions mentioned. There was no question of such implementation being conditional on the conclusion of peace on Israeli terms as the Israeli’s later claimed to justify their non-compliance."

Sami Hadawi, "Bitter Harvest"

What was the fate of the Palestinians who had now become refugees?

"The winter of 1949, the first winter of exile for more than seven hundred fifty thousand Palestinians, was cold and hard… Families huddled in caves, abandoned huts, or makeshift tents…many of the starving were only miles away from their own vegetable gardens and orchards in occupies Palestine- the new state of Israel…At the end of 1949 the United Nations finally acted. It set up the United Nations Relief Works Administration (UNARWA) to take over sixty refugee camps from voluntary agencies. It managed to keep people alive, but only barely."

"Our Roots Are Still Alive", by The People’s Press Palestine Book Project


Did the Egyptians actually start the 1967 war, as Israel originally claimed?

" The former Commander of the Air Force, General Ezer Weizmann, regarded as a hawk, stated that there was ‘no threat of destruction’ but that the attack on Egypt, Jordan and Syria was nevertheless justified so that Israel could ‘exist according to the scale, spirit and equality she now embodies.’…Menachem Begin had the following remarks to make: ‘In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.’ "

Noam Chomsky, "The Fateful Triangle."

Moshe Dayan posthumously speaks out on the Golan Heights

"Moshe Dayan, the celebrated commander who, a Defense Minister in 1967, gave the order to conquer the Golan…[said] many of the firefights with the Syrians were deliberately provoked by Israel, and the kibbutz residents who pressed the government to take the Golan Heights did so less for security than for their farmland…[Dayan stated ‘They didn’t even try to hide their greed for their land… WE would send a tractor to plow some area where it wasn’t` possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that’s how it was…The Syrian’s, on the fourth day of the war, were not a threat to us.’ "

The New York Times, May 11, 1997.

Israeli expansionism

" The acceptance of partition does not commit us to renounce TransJordan; one does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. ‘We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today, but the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.’"

David Ben Gurion, in 1936, quoted in Noam Chomsky, " The Fateful Triangle"

Expansionism- continued

" The main danger which Israel as a ‘Jewish state’, poses to its own people, to other Jews and to its neighbours, is its ideologically motivated pursuit of territorial expansion and the inevitable series of wars resulting from this aim…No Zionist politician has ever repudiated Ben-Gurion`s idea that Israeli policies must be based (within the limits of practical considerations) on the restoration of the Biblical Borders as the borders of the Jewish State."

Israeli Professor, Israel Shahak, "Jewish History, Jewish religion: The Weight of 3000 years."

Expansionism – continued

((((go to


Posted on 20 Feb 2013



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