How did Israel get established if the Palestinians were already there?

Just curious. How did the land get carved out? What’s a good history of how this went down?

Google wikipedia Israel. :slight_smile:

I’d summarize a bit, but haven’t the time to read it for myself right now.


Exodus, by Leon Uris, is a great read and it will answer your question in the detail that the question deserves.

And when you’re done with Exodus, pick up the Haj, also by Leon Uris.

Real short answer: Land purchases from Arabs and the Ottomans got them started.

Seconded on The Haj.

I never found much use for Exodus, personally. But I didn’t care for it as a book, so that might be tainting my historical view of it.

For a good short history of the conflict which avoids demonizing either side, I recommend Healing Israel/Palestine, by Rabbi Michael Lerner, available cheap at, maybe cheaper on Amazon.

They bought the land??? So what’s the prob?

They started with buying the land; after WWII, the British promised to hand over a portion of the lands taken from the Ottoman empire to the Jews. Unfortunately, they had also promised to hand the same land to the Arabs who lived there, whom we now call Palestinians. Whoops.

So it was more analagous to “eminent domain” than a willing sale by the occupants. In short, the world said to the occupants, “Here’s XXXX shekels, the land now belongs to those guys over there?”

This site makes an interesting read.

I understand (don’t take my word for it) that land was often bought from major, non-resident landowners, resulting in locals actually cultivating it under very long term leases being evicted “en masse” from places where they had been living for generations.
Plus, there are many other problems like land and buildings seized from numerous absentees (people who had fled during the fights, and a lot did) after the 1948 war. Those were deprived of their property (and they, or nowadays their descendants, are still claiming it back).

In the end, the Brits didn’t hand over any land to anyone - they simply left. Got on their boats and let the natives fight over the spoils.

Anyway, you have to remember that most Israeli pre-WW2 settlement was in areas that were largely uninhabited. While the Arab population of Palestine tended to live in the country’s central highlands (the center of poplulation of the land since biblical times), the coastal plain and northern valleys were thinly-populated marshlands and sand dunes. The neighborhood where I’m sitting right now, for instance, was just sand until the 1920’s - I’ve seen the pictures. Even today, something like two thirds of the Jewish poulation of Israel lives within 20 miles of the sea.