by Joseph Farrah
November 19, 2002
As the most visible Arab-American critic of Yasser Arafat and the phony "Palestinian" agenda, I get a lot of hate mail. I've even received more than my share of death threats. Most of those who attack me at least those who bother to get beyond the four-letter words and insults say I just don't understand or have sympathy for these poor Arabs who were displaced, chased out of their homes and turned into refugees by the Israelis.
Let me state this plainly and clearly: The Jews in Israel took no one's land.
When Mark Twain visited the Holy Land in the 19th century, he was greatly disappointed. He didn't see any people. He referred to it as a vast wasteland. The land we now know as Israel was practically deserted. By the beginning of the 20th century, that began to change. Jews from all over the world began to return to their ancestral homeland the Promised Land Moses and Joshua had conquered millennia earlier, Christians and Jews believe, on the direct orders of God. That's not to say there wasn't always a strong Jewish presence in the land particularly in and around Jerusalem. In 1854, according to a report in the New York Tribune, Jews constituted two-thirds of the population of that holy city. The source for that statistic? A journalist on assignment in the Middle East that year for the Tribune. His name was Karl Marx. Yes, that Karl Marx.
A travel guide to Palestine and Syria, published in 1906 by Karl Baedeker, illustrates the fact that, even when the Islamic Ottoman Empire ruled the region, the Muslim population in Jerusalem was minimal. The book estimates the total population of the city at 60,000, of whom 7,000 were Muslims, 13,000 were Christians and 40,000 were Jews. "The number of Jews has greatly risen in the last few decades, in spite of the fact that they are forbidden to immigrate or to possess landed property," the book states. Even though the Jews were persecuted, still they came to Jerusalem and represented the overwhelming majority of the population as early as 1906. And even though Muslims today claim Jerusalem as the third holiest site in Islam, when the city was under Islamic rule, they had little interest in it.
As the Jews came, drained the swamps and made the deserts bloom, something interesting began to happen. Arabs followed. I don't blame them. They had good reason to come. They came for jobs. They came for prosperity. They came for freedom. And they came in large numbers.
Winston Churchill observed in 1939: "So far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied till their population has increased more than even all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population." Then came 1948 and the great partition. The United Nations proposed the creation of two states in the region one Jewish, one Arab. The Jews accepted it gratefully. The Arabs rejected it with a vengeance and declared war.
Arab leaders urged Arabs to leave the area so they would not be caught in the crossfire. They could return to their homes, they were told, after Israel was crushed and the Jews destroyed. It didn't work out that way. By most counts, several hundred thousand Arabs were displaced by this war not by Israeli aggression, not by some Jewish real-estate grab, not by Israeli expansionism. In fact, there are many historical records showing the Jews urged the Arabs to stay and live with them in peace. But, tragically, they chose to leave.
Fifty-four years later, the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of those refugees are all-too-often still living in refugee camps not because of Israeli intransigence, but because they are misused as a political tool of the Arab powers. Those poor unfortunates could be settled in a week by the rich Arab oil states that control 99.9 percent of the Middle East landmass, but they are kept as virtual prisoners, filled with misplaced hatred for Jews and armed as suicide martyrs by the Arab power brokers.
This is the modern real history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. At no time did the Jews uproot Arab families from their homes. When there were title deeds to be purchased, they bought them at inflated prices. When there were not, they worked the land so they could have a place to live without the persecution they faced throughout the world.
It's a great big lie that the Israelis displaced anyone one of a series of lies and myths that have the world on the verge of committing yet another great injustice to the Jews.