by Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger, Americans For a Safe Israel
December 14, 2011
Contrary to political correctness, Palestinian Arabs have not been in the area west of the Jordan River from time immemorial; no Palestinian state ever existed, no Palestinian People was ever robbed of its land and there is no basis for the Palestinian “claim of return.”
Most Palestinian Arabs are descendants of the 1845-1947 Muslim migrants from the Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, as well as from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Morocco, Bosnia, the Caucasus, Turkmenistan, Kurdistan, India, Afghanistan and Balochistan.
Arab migrant workers were imported by the Ottoman Empire and by the British Mandate (which defeated the Ottomans in 1917) for infrastructure projects: The port of Haifa, the Haifa-Qantara, Haifa-Edrei, Haifa-Nablus and Jerusalem-Jaffa railroads, military installations, roads, quarries, reclamation of wetlands, etc. Illegal Arab laborers were also attracted by the relative economic boom, stimulated by Jewish immigration.
According to a 1937 report by the British Peel Commission (Palestine Betrayed, Prof. Efraim Karsh, Yale University Press, 2010, p. 12), “The increase in the Arab population is most marked in urban areas, affected by Jewish development. A comparison of the census returns in 1922 and 1931 shows that, six years ago, the increase percent in Haifa was 86, in Jaffa 62, in Jerusalem 37, while in purely Arab towns such as Nablus and Hebron it was only 7, and at Gaza there was a decrease of 2 percent.”
As a result of the substantial 1880-1947Arab immigration – and despite Arab emigration caused by domestic chaos and intra-Arab violence – the Arab population of Jaffa, Haifa and Ramla grew 17, 12 and 5 times.
The (1831-1840) conquest, by Egypt’s Mohammed Ali, was solidified by a flow of Egyptian migrants settling empty spaces between Gaza and Tul-Karem up to the Hula Valley. They followed in the footsteps of thousands of Egyptian draft dodgers, who fled Egypt before 1831 and settled in Acre. The British traveler, H.B. Tristram, identified, in his 1865 The Land of Israel: a journal of travels in Palestine (p. 495), Egyptian migrants in the Beit-Shean Valley, Acre, Hadera, Netanya and Jaffa.
The British Palestine Exploration Fund documented that Egyptian neighborhoods proliferated in the Jaffa area: Saknet el-Mussariya, Abu Kebir, Abu Derwish, Sumeil, Sheikh Muwanis, Salame’, Fejja, etc. In 1917, the Arabs of Jaffa represented at least 25 nationalities, including Persians, Afghanis, Hindus and Balochis. Hundreds of Egyptian families settled in Ara’ Arara’, Kafer Qassem, Taiyiba and Qalansawa.
Many of the Arabs who fled in 1948, reunited with their families in Egypt and other neighboring countries.
“30,000-36,000 Syrian migrants (Huranis) entered Palestine during the last few months alone” reported “La Syrie” daily on August 12, 1934. Az-ed-Din el-Qassam, the role-model of Hamas terrorism, which terrorized Jews in British Mandate Palestine, was Syrian, as were Said el-A’az, a leader of the 1936-38 anti-Jewish pogroms and Kaukji, the commander-in-chief of the Arab mercenaries terrorizing Jews in the 1930s and 1940s.
Libyan migrants settled in Gedera, south of Tel Aviv. Algerian refugees (Mugrabis) escaped the French conquest of 1830 and settled in Safed (alongside Syrians and Jordanian Bedouins), Tiberias and other parts of the Galilee. Circassian refugees, fleeing Russian oppression (1878) and Moslems from Bosnia, Turkmenistan, and Yemen (1908) diversified the Arab demography west of the Jordan River.
Mark Twain wrote in Innocents Abroad (American Publishing Company, 1969): “Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, Palestine must be the prince…. Palestine is desolate and unlovely.”
Analyzing Mark Twain’s book, John Haynes Holmes, the pacifist Unitarian priest, the co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union and the author of Palestine Today and Tomorrow – a Gentile’s Survey of Zionism (McMillan, 1929) wrote: “This is the country to which the Jews have come to rebuild their ancient homeland…. On all the surface of this earth there is no home for the Jew save in the mountains and the well-springs of his ancient kingdom…. Everywhere else the Jews is in exile…. But, Palestine is his…. Scratch Palestine anywhere and you’ll find Israel…. There is not a spot which is not stamped with the footprint of some ancient [Jewish] tribesman…. Not a road, a spring, a mountain, a village, which does not awaken the name of some great [Jewish] king, or echo with the voice of some great [Jewish] prophet…. [The Jew] has a higher, nobler motive in Palestine than the economic…. This mission is to restore Zion; and Zion is Palestine.”
The Arab attempt to gain the moral high ground and to delegitimize the Jewish State – by employing the immoral reinvention of history and recreation of identity – was exposed by Arieh Avneri’s The Claim of Dispossession (Herzl Press, 1982) and Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial (Harper & Row, 1986), which provide the aforementioned – and much more – data.