How did Israel get it's land?

"At the end of World War I, some of Palestine's land was owned by absentee landlords who lived in Cairo, Damascus and Beirut. About 80% of the Palestinian Arabs were debt-ridden peasants, semi-nomads and Bedouins.

Analyses of lang purchases from 1880 to 1948 show that 73% of Jewish plots were purchases from large landowners, not poor fellahin."

--The Peel Commission (1937)

"The arab charge that the Jews have obtained too large a proportion of good land cannot be maintained. Much of the land now carrying orange groves was sand dunes or swamp and uncultivated when purchased...there was at the time at least of earlier sales little evidence that the owners possessed either the resources or training needed to develop the land. Jews paid more than $20 million at 1936 rates) to arab landowners, mostly estate holders."

"In 1944, Jews paid between $1000 and $1100 per acre in Palestine, mostly for arid or semi-arid land; in the same year, rich black soil in Iowa was selling for about $110 per acre (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture)"

--Land Ownership in Palestine, 1880-1948

According to British government statistics, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, 8.6% of the land area now known as Israel was owned by Jews; 3.3% by Arabs who remained there; 16.5% by Arabs who left the country. More than 70% of the land was owned by the British Government. Under international law, ownership passed to Israel in 1948. The public lands included most of the Negev Desert --half of Palestine's post-1922 total area

--Survey of Palestine, 1946, British Mandate Government

Further UN estimates put the property loses of Jews kicked out of Arab countries after 1948 at 10 times those lost by Palestinian Arabs.

Most Jews in Israel are from Arab countries, not Europe. So the issue of the injustice done TO the Jews of Arab countries BY Arabs is relevant, as are reparations. Not all Jews are white New Yorkers. 60% of Jews are not what you might call caucasian.

All the way up until 1970 Israel had a policy of repayment or replacement for anyone who could prove his claim. I believe 10% of the refugees used this policy, while others refused .
From 1920 to 1948 Jewish organizations accepted partition plans that gave the Jewish state as little as 20% of the current state of Israel. The arabs refused.

From the 1850's to 1948, 90% of the land Jews lived on was purchased at high prices from Arabs. The rest was uninhabited land and passed from the british government to the Israeli government, under international law.

In 1948, any arab that stayed in Israel became Israeli citizens with full rights to vote, form political parties, etc. Most fleed, anticipating that the arab armies would quickly defeat Israel, and they could return home, without being thought of as traitors. Now whose fault is it for leaving?

In 1948 at the creation of the State of Israel, Jews form all the Arab countries were forced out or harassed. The land lost by Jews who fled was estimated by the UN to be worth 10X's that of any property lost by Arabs who fled Israel in 1948. When will they be reimbursed?

In 1948 Jordan expanded its borders and stole the West Bank, a piece that was never part of its borders. In 1967, Israel took it back as a buffer from the combined half a dozen Arab armies that were poised to attack the lone Jewish state. It was expected that Arab states would make peace and Israel would return the land within a few months. The Arab states refused to negotiate with Israel.

Copyright 1994 by David Carasso.