Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Zionists Bought and Built Eretz-Israel
by Daniel Pipes
Zionists stole Palestinian land: that's the mantra both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas teach their children and propagate in their media... The accusation of theft also undermines Israel' s position internationally. But is this accusation true?
No, it is not. Ironically, the building of Israel represents about the most peaceable in-migration and state creation in history... Zionist efforts to build a presence in the Holy Land until 1948 stand out as astonishingly mild, as mercantile rather than military. Two great empires, the Ottomans and the British, ruled Eretz Yisrael; in contrast, Zionists lacked military power. They could not possibly achieve statehood through conquest.
Instead, they purchased land. Acquiring property dunam by dunam, farm by farm, house by house, lay at the heart of the Zionist enterprise until 1948 (including most of the land in Judea and Samaria, as well as some Jewish land which is still occupied by Syria and Jordan). The Jewish National Fund, founded in 1901 to buy land in Palestine "to assist in the foundation of a new community of free Jews engaged in active and peaceable industry," was the key institution - and not the Haganah, the clandestine defense organization founded in 1920.
Only when the British mandatory power gave up on Palestine in 1948, followed immediately by an all-out attempt by Arab states to crush and expel the Zionists, did the latter take up the sword in self defense and go on to win land through military conquest. Even then, as the historian Efraim Karsh demonstrates in Palestine Betrayed, most Arabs fled their lands; exceedingly few were forced off.
This history contradicts the Palestinian account that "Zionist gangs stole Palestine and expelled its people" which led to a catastrophe "unprecedented in history" (according to a PA 12th-grade textbook) or that Zionists "plundered the Palestinian land and national interests, and established their state upon the ruins of the Palestinian Arab people" (writes a columnist in the PA's daily). International organizations, newspaper editorials, and faculty petitions reiterate this falsehood worldwide. (All those inflammatory accusations are made in violation of the Oslo accord!)
Israelis should hold their heads high and point out that the building of their country was based on the least violent and most civilized movement of any people in history. (Most of so-called Palestinians, who claim that they owned the land, had been working for or renting it from Arab, Turkish or Egyptian landlords who sold it to Jews with a hefty profit!)