Israel - can someone tell me the facts?


  1. How did all the Jews end up there after WW2?

  2. Where the Palestinians peaceful before WW2? What country was it?

  1. Most of them came from Europe. They were, mostly, technically “illegal aliens” in that they were moving into what was then British Palestine in violation of British law.

  2. Before WWI, it was relatively peaceful by today’s standards. There was some conflict. Members of various Jewish organizations were buying land and encouraging Jewish immigration which created some tension. After WWII, things began to get hot, culminating in the 1948 war. Jewish militants took armed measures to drive the British out of what was then British Palestine. Most notoriously, the Irgun (led by future Israeli prime minister Menahem Begin) blew up the King David hotel in 1946. (The hotel was being used, in part, by the British military.) The attack killed 91 people.

Niobium try a search in GD as this topic has been discussed ad nauseum.

Hi Niobium Knight. There have been inumerable threads on this topic in just the last several months. In fact there was one just in the last week or two. But the SDMB is wallowing on my computer right now, so I’m afraid I can’t do a search for some links. I’m sure someone else with a broadband connection will be along to take care of that soon :slight_smile: . A very brief answer to your specific questions:

1.) Emigration, simply enough.

2a) It was a pretty quiet region, by and large ( though one can always find exceptions, I’m sure ). For the most part the local Arabs were farmers and small town dwellers and were no doubt far less troublesome ( to their “overlords”, anyway ) than some of the more independant-minded tribal people, like the Bedouin.

2b) Before WW I the region was a possesion of the Ottoman Sultanate, who had held it ever since they had conquered and incorporated the Mameluke Sultanate in 1516-1517 ( the Mamelukes had held the region from around 1260 on ). After WW I it became a British Mandate and so remained until 1948.

  • Tamerlane

I found this thread to be quite informative.

Actually there was a sizable populations of Jews already living in Israel prior to WWII. I don’t know the actual number though.

And, to echo everyone else here, I suggest you hit the search engine. There have been some great & very informative threads on this topic. I have learned more about this issue than I ever thought possible, and I owe this directly to some of those Great Debate threads…

Brief answer to both questions:

There were always Jews living in the area, continuously since about 1000 BC. They were not necessarily a majority of the population, but they were always a sizable minority. For the last thousand years or so, every time a nation decided to expel or persecute Jews (such as Spain in 1492), many of them emigrated to the Holy Land. However, the great waves of immigration began in the late 1800s, as Jews tried to escape persecution in Eastern Europe and as the notion of a Jewish state became more viable.

There were also great waves of immigration before WWI, after WWI, and after WWII.

The area was not a “nation” in the modern sense of the word, it was an area controlled by the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire until WWI, when it was made a protectorate under British control. Thus, there were no “Palestinians” per se, there were many Arabs living in the area.

In 1948, the U.N. allowed for the creation of two states, a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jewish state took immediate advantage of the U.N. declaration and announced its existence as the state of Israel. The Arab state never declared its existence. The Arab nations surrounding Israel launched various wars against the Jews, beginning in 1948 with the declaration of the independence of Israel.

Most of what are called Palestinians today were refugees from that war (1948) and their descendents. The Arab states called upon the Arab inhabitants of the area to join them in “pushing the Jews into the sea.” When Israel won that war, the Arabs who had believed the propaganda of the neighboring states (Jordan, Egypt, Syria, etc) were left in refugee camps. They were poor and destitute, with no land and no political power. Their brethren in the surrounding Arab states offered no aid and no assistance.

Following the war in 1967, Israel occupied a great deal of territory that had been held by Arabs, including the Golan Heights, the Sinai peninsula, the eastern part of Jerusalem, and the West Bank. In the years after that, the Palestinian Liberation Organization arose (PLO), as a terrorist organization – they blew up or hijacked planes in “protest” against the “Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.” Most westerners interpret that “occupation” to mean the territory occupied in the 1967 war; most Arabs interpret that “occupation” to mean any land held by Jews, including all of Israel.

The “successes” of PLO terrorism led the neighboring Arab states to start to send funds to the refugee camps. The name “Palestinian” suddenly appeared. So the question of whether the “Palestinians” were peaceful before WW2 is: (a) there were no “Palestinians” before WW2, but (b) the people who have since become “Palestinians” were about as peaceful as the U.S. south towards blacks before WW2 – that is, there were plenty of lynchings and murders, but most people would view those as isolated instances.

Hope that helps.

I wonder if we can get some Arabs to confirm that rather than putting words in their mouths.

[I can make a living off of correcting CKDH’s posts on this issue.

The term Palestinian goes back to this era, although it was not clearly used as a national as opposed to regional term. But then that is common to most of the world.

E.g. the Czech and Slovak ‘nations’ (at first Czechoslovak) were essentially created as living identities by the action of certain activists during the late 19th century / early 20th century. They won out over pan-Slavic ‘identity’ movement, as more local ‘national’ Slavic identities throughout the Balkan and E European area did.

A similar process occured in Germany earlier in the 19th century, say 1840s forward, as well as in France.

So the sly ‘denationalization’ of Palestinians is really as applicable --if one knows the history rather than the mythology-- to most modern “nations/peoples.”

I seem to recall making this point to Dex before.

Again, I believe Tamerlane and I have rather frequently pointed out some tendentious aspects of this rendition. I look forward to the day when Dex incorporates them in the ‘neutral’ presentation.

(a) While various Arab state’s propaganda had a large role in frightening the Arabic speaking populations out of Palestine, there were was also a real presence of inter-communal terrorism – that is attacks against civilian populations by both sides. While I would hazard the opinion that Jewish fighters tended to fight ‘cleaner’ than their opponents, there was hardly an absence of targeting of Arabs and I would say just enough to give credence to outside propaganda. When homes are being burned, if only in the cross-fire, people flee. It’s rather rational behavior. The continued representations that “Arab” propaganda is the sole source of this strikes me as, well, propagandistic.
(b) Surrounding Arab states certainly were not all that helpful in providing aid to refugees. However, one should put the early lack of aid in the context of most Arab states being dirt poor. Oil wealth doesn’t kick in until the late 1960s, at best, and really the early 1970s. Even given this, of course it should be clearly noted that most Arab governments talked big in aid but rarely came through. Right to this day promises run much larger than delivered aid. Part of this is part of the rhetorical structure of Arabic, part is the corruption of the government. Of course, early on Arab governments also thought the refugee problem was temporary and that they would win, so resettlement and the like of course were not part of their program – nor should they have been if one understands their perspective that Israel was a colonial imposition stealing their land. No aid and no assistance is, however, a false characterization. Little aid and even given their means, insufficient assistance would be an accurate characterization. In keeping with the piss-poor record of Arab governments in re their own subjects, sadly enough.

Again, I am glad that Dex can characterize what “most” Arabs believe, when I as a fluent Arabic speaker have trouble teasing this out.

It is clear that a goodly percentage of Arabs (Muslim or not) feel Israel is ‘illegit’ at some level. It is less clear to me that “most” consider occupied territories in real settlement terms / peace terms to be all of Israel rather than 1967 borders.

To my experience, and of course I am but a fluent Arabic speaker with long personal experience doing business in the region, even Arabs themselves are unclear on what they really mean. There is a lot of internal evasion on this issue, but my overall impression is that many could eventually live with 1967 borders. Now the Palestinians are harder to characterize. Here Dex is closer to what is probably correct, but again my sense was in the early and mid-1990s a substantial majority were willing to accept 1967 borders. However, intervening events may have poisoned the well.

But I’ve noted this, apparently in vain, before.

(a) To my understanding there were indeed “Palestinian” social organizations, ‘neo-nationalist’ movements dating to the early part of the 20th century, mixed in with the pan-Arabism essentially created out of whole cloth by Xtian Arabs (largely Lebs), to overcome the multiplicity of local / regional/ tribal identities. In fact, “Arab” as an identity is newer than regional and tribal identities, so if you want to put “quotes” around a national identity, Dex, it would be historically correct to do it around Arab.
(b) Certainly as a general label, like German or French as we commonly use it to refer to the modern nation-states back unto peoples that only 100, 150 or 200years ago would have self-identified as Provençal, Bayerische, Sorb etc, Palestinian is accurate and more accurate than your usage “Arab” which reflects the ultimately failed ‘pan-Arabism’ which probably took the similar ‘pan-slavism’ and other European linguistic/super-linguistic nationality-creating movements. Now I understand the propagandistic value here, and of course pan-Arabism set up that easy shot, however, it was never a reality (pan-Islamism was probably closer to real identity than pan-Arabism, despite all the emotional appeal that pan-Arabism has with Arabs, you’ll be hard pressed to find any examples of working application, the real identities and allegiances always trump it.).
© Your comparison with the US South strikes me as both ahistorical and tendentious, although in keeping with the general thrust of your argument. To really get at the accuracy, we’d have to have a close examination of the record.

And I hope my balancing comments help. I look forward to you incorporating past factual corrections, it would have a certain novelty value if nothing else.

In regards to the land comment above, please see the linked threads. The characterization leaves something to be desired in re full-accuracy.

It occurred to me that I can characterize actual Arab application of the term “Occupied Territories” through the news.

Let me preface my remarks by noting that as a matter of professional concern, I follow the Arab media relatively closely, including the radio and TV. (The wonders of subscribing to DSL services allow the former with great ease) And I consider myself a fairly fluent Arabic speaker with a mastery of the major dialects, including North African. Now, I’m not a native speaker, but I feel I can characterize usage on this level.

In general, I have observed in the major media, both private and state-controlled (be it semi-private or public) – whether located abroad or in the MENA region – that the term “al-Araadi (al-filistiniyah) al-muhtellah” the Occupied (Palestinian) Territories in Arabic – is used in cases of events which occurred in the “Occupied Territories” – that is Gaza and the West Bank, as well as Jerusalem. Events inside Israel (1967 borders) are typically referred to as inside Israel or daoulet Israel (the Isreali Nation/State) or if the newscaster is being really nasty, araadi al-adou al-Israeli (the lands of the Isreali enemy).

Now then the last one, which I don’t hear that often in the major media, is a bit ambiguous in usage. It gets towards the usage in Arabic in the 1960s and 1970s when no one would refer to Israel but would call it the Zionist Entity, an amazingly childish formulation in my mind. During that era, and through the early to mid-1980s, Dex’s characterization would have been spot on. Indeed Dex’s comments reek of the 1970s and 1980s. In the late 1980s, and early 1990s, the period when I came to the region, things began to change. First, the realization sank in that they (Arabs) were not going to win. Came hand in hand with a wave of pessimism in re their own states. Rather pitibable what one will here on this topic, like folks seriously and sincerely arguing that al-Qaeda but have Jewish (Mossad) backing because no Arabs are competent enough to run such a well organized operation. It would be funny if the person didn’t sincerely believe it. What does that say about a people who truly believe they’re fuck ups? (Sadly with some reason)

In any case, from the early 1990s forward Israel and the name and concept became normalized. The whole “Zionist Entity” silliness dropped out except among the extremists, and even they tend to say Israel now. In the Islamist (read al-Qaeda sympathetic) press you do get arguments along the lines of drive them into the sea, but that’s not mainstream.

On the other hand, what I have noted is the return of the word “al-adou” – the enemy – into broadcasts. This in the past year or so, as the Intifada part II has dragged on and Arab perceptions they’re getting reamed again have risen. I do have a sense that the acceptance/legitimacy of Israel in the Arab world, where it was on the rise and solidifying through 2000(*), is on rapid decline.

What I would like to see here is some posters updating their views. The Arab world ain’t pretty, but this is also no longer the 1970s and 1980s, let alone the 1960s. There has been change.
(*: I base this on personal observation and conversations up and down the social spectrum in a number of Arab states. Oddly, I have generally found, outside of Palestinians, that acceptance of Israel, and admiration thereof, goes up as one goes down the social ladder, with Arab intellectuals being most wedded to “pan-Arabist” ideas and most anti-Zionist –to use their charged and silly language. This other than the Islamist fringes.)

Collounsbury comments, somewhat snidely,

eYou think someone would pay you a meaningful wag for the kind of nit-picking irrelevancies that you think are “corrections”?

The problem with the Mideast is that one either writes a book, or makes a short statement. And any short statement can be “corrected”. If I said “The sun comes up in the east,” I am sure that Collounsbury would rush to correct that the sun doesn’t actually “come up”, and that “east” is a relativisitic term, or that this is not new, or …

I will respond, then, by showing this nit-pickery for what it is, point by (sigh) point.

I said that:

Collounsbury has responded that this is an attempt to “denationalize” the Palestinians somehow, and that there was a similar process throughout the 1800s, he mentions France and Czechoslovakia and Germany, but he could well have mentioned the Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Let me be perfectly clear: I WAS NOT TRYING IN ANY WAY TO “DE-NATIONALIZE” THE PALESTINIANS. I was only noting that the nationalization movement there is fairly recent. I used quotes around the word Palestinian to indicate that it was not in widespread use pre-1970. The OP asked about the differences between pre- and post-WWII, and I was trying to describe those differences.

So, Collounsbury “corrects” my statement by adding irrelevant detail about nationalism as a movement from 1815 through WWII. Great. Thanks.

The remainder of Collounsbury’s “corrections” are in a similar vein.

I said:

He “corrects” me by saying that:

So, again, he’s not disagreeing with my statement, he’s just adding the modifying “correction” that I didn’t describe every single action of every single person on both sides. Hell’s bells, if I had done that, he would have complained that I didn’t include what the USSR was doing. Yes, yes, there were a few incidents of Jews returning terrorism and using propaganda against the Arabs. That wasn’t relevant to my point in the least.

The list of nits goes on.

I said the Arab states gave “no aid” to the refugees, which Collounsbury corrects to “very little.”

I characterize “most westerners” believe X and “most Arabs” believe Y, and Collounsbury condemns me for over-simplifying and then agrees with my point, essentially changing “most” to “a substantial majority.” My point was that there are massive differences hidden under linguistic game-playing in the diplomatic arena, primarily on the Arab/Palestinian side, trying to cover up the widespread beliefs that war against the Jews is “holy” and that the entire area (all of Israel) should be cleansed of Jews. (There was a report on NPR yesterday about how Palestinian schools teach exactly this to the young students; this was a side comment made by a representative of the Palestinian Authority being interviewed.)

No, I don’t speak Arabic. No, I did not live among Arabs. I did meet several and have had pleasant and interesting discussions with many Arabs who are Israeli citizens (admittedly, it’s been several years since then.)

The final nit-pick: In responding to the OP of whether the Arabs were peaceful before WW2, I likened the situation to the U.S. south. That is to say, Arab gangs frequently preyed on Jewish settlers, murder and robbing them, during that period*. But it was relatively peaceful. I used the U.S. South pre-WW2 as an analogy – was that area “peaceful”? Sure. Were there incidents of murder and beatings of blacks. Sure. I meant the analogy to be only that an area (or people) can be described as “peaceful” and yet have severe outbreaks of “internal violence” or social unrest. Collounsbury has said this is ahistorical and implied that it is inaccurate. (I’m not sure what he thinks is inaccurate, does he think there weren’t lynchings and murders of blacks in the U.S. South?)

Well, duh. I was not trying to draw any deep historical parallels, I was only trying to make the point that words like “peaceful” are not well-defined.

In short, Collounsbury, this is not debate, this is nit-picking. I have neither time nor inclination to engage it in further, or ever again. Pfaugh.
FOOTNOTE: * - YES, Collounsbury, there were also occasional reprisals by Jews against Arabs. The OP’s question was, however, very specifically whether the Palestinians were “peaceful” pre-WW2.

Thanks for that unbiased report:rolleyes:

Yes, in a serious manner that is what I get paid to do by my employer, come up with realistic views on the region rather than some of the hysterical ones one gets here and there.

I said that:

Indeed, I think an ordinary reading of your prose, the usage of Arab, underlining a contrast between Arab and Israel, the usual repeating of the Arabs fleeing because of agitprop without mention of communal violence, suggested a denationalization. Moreover, you incorrectly indicated that Palestinian was not used.

Two more paragraphs, hardly a book Dex

Irrelevant detail? As you wish Dex old boy, given that in my experience few people realize the recent emergence of nationalism and the manner in which you constructed your presentation, I rather think it was both useful and enlightening for the average reader.

Nor would it have been terribly difficult for you to have characterized the situation more accurately with a mere adjectival addition here and there.

Well, it is a rather important correction. I rather think Dex protests a bit too much. After all, one could have said, “after much communal violence all around and Arab incitation, many Arabs fled….” Or any number of other formulations which would have briefly recognized there was more than one component to the events. See Dex, your omissions, for “brevity” of course, follow a clear pattern. A very clear pattern, they all go in one direction. I am sure that incidents of Jewish terror attacks on Arab civilians wasn’t relevant to your point but is relevant to a balanced presentation. Nor does it require more than a word or two.

I don’t know Dex, where I come from very little and none are two different concepts. I also noted for the record that the early period, Arab states were dirt poor so very little aid is in context.

No, I didn’t agree with you. Not at all, if you read my follow up I essentially disagree with your hugely over broad characterization. I believe someone with ordinary skills in reading will note the substantial difference between my characterization of Arab opinion and yours.

Good, it might behoove you to be a mite bit more chary in painting with such broad brush strokes. Above all when informed persons have disagreed with your characterization. You may accept or reject my own as you wish, but I rather do feel they have rather more substance.

Is it? Nit picking. Shrug, I see some substantive and given the complexity of the situation, important differences in fact as well as interpretation of those facts.

Yes Dex, and we are all aware of the various prejudices surrounding this discussion. I rather think that in attempting to answer these questions that we have an obligation, insofar as we are trying to fight ignorance, to craft answers which may, just may, give readers of the discussion a balanced view of the situation. I myself strive to make sure that I give Israelis and P’s a fair shake in my comments, and even when making a factual notation in re say an Israeli measure which might appear objectionable, I try to make sure to add in some context. Try, and I fully accept correction when I fail.

Damn it, that I said is Dex’s sorry.

While I don’t disagree with your “factual” representation of the situation, I do take great offense at the fact that you call it “balanced”. Let me explain: Dex, even though I should probably not be speaking for him, is not saying that incedents of Jewish reprisal didn’t occur but…what is extremely disturbing is the historical significance you place on those ISOLATED acts. Let me explain even further. You and I can go toe to toe on who did what and when but I will predict that your list is going to be quite short while mine on the other hand will be extremely long. I am sure you are going to bring it up but if Deir Yassin is the best you have then I will be glad to point you to a cite that will put some clarity to the situation for you.

I will close this in stating that you seem to imply that the “palestinian” nationalist movement is not a new phenomina well I am here to dispell that. Read the political writings from 1920-1999 you will see that after the Yom Kippur war ALL of the Arab countries started using the phrase “the only legitimate representative of the palestinian people” in fact they use it so much one starts asking him/herself what is the point of all this damn insistent repetitivness.

Quote: Yes, in a serious manner that is what I get paid to do by my employer, come up with realistic views on the region rather than some of the hysterical ones one gets here and there.

Please oh please tell me you don’t work for the US govenment.

Quote: I can make a living off of correcting CKDH’s posts on this issue.

You don’t happen to post on any other message boards under a different handle do you? I only ask because the condesending tone of your post sounds familiar.

Take away. Half price sale.

Well this should be fun, Deir Yassin is hardly the only incident and of course there are always explanations. Everyone has explanations.

However, I rather believe that if you review my comments here, I generally put a proper balance on the issue, including notes in regards to the weights. If not, well we’ll just have to hash it out, although I would say that if you’re trying to paint me as a propagandist, you’re quite wrong. Now if you want to go through laundry lists, we can start that.

It’s not a new phenomena, however it is a phenomena that lost out to pan-Arabism through the 1970s/1980s as the pitiful failure of pan-Arabism became more and more clear, esp post-Nasser. Lots of different ideas were fermenting about in the late 19th century, the big boys were pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism, but local plays were also evident, there and elsewhere.

I have. The point was (a) to back away from failed pan-Arabism, (b) to try to give legitimacy to whomever the backer was talking to in re the impossibly, ridiculously fragmented Palestinian groups (the whole Life of Brian gag was based on the sad truth of Palestinian infighting.)

Heheh. No. Don’t get your knickers all bunched up, I rather like my own pay scale.

Nope, I don’t. Why? I am going to be accused of something?

Not hardly. This is a hijack of the first water. Is it even theoretically possible to ask a question about the average annual rainfall in Jerusalem without having to discuss the entire history of the middle-east and its likely future?

Here’s an excellent index link with what appears to be a relatively unbiased description of the Mideast conflict. Supporters of both sides will find things here they’ll agree with and disagree with.

Damned good resume. Thanks Zwald, it’s a link we should use frequently.

I regularly read what Collounsbury has to say on this issue with great interest. In general it has seemed that s/he, though clearly exhibiting some measure of bias, has truly endeavored to present “the facts.” The bias presented has not seemed to be of a propagandist nature, but rather something relatively mild that has simply come forward in choosing “facts” that back up his or her impression of reality and “right.”

Except for a few specific examples, I could only have nitpicked at what s/he presented as fact. I would say the same about CK’s post actually. All but a very small percentage of the ideas the two presented are not mutually exclusive. Though I also have much experience in this area, make it a point to read a variety of media sources, and have known personally many people who are intimately involved in the situation, I admit my natural bias as a Jew. Having said that, I believe that there is plenty of blame to go around and plenty of ideas presented by both sides that cannot be called fact. Under the circumstances, I usually refrain from responding to Israel posts, as I believe that somewhere between CK’s and Collounsbury’s posts lies a fairly accurate picture of the truth. I am also not interested in being a part of the back and forth nitpicking, citing, and quoting that most of the similar posts seems to degenerate into, so I remain quiet. I guess I just don’t think that this methodology is actually advancing any debate or hitting upon the issues that really matter.

I have, however, on at least one occassion learned from something that Collounsbury has said. I was going to reply here to ask s/he to present actual information, rather than simple assertions, about Palestinian nationalism that existed prior to the 1970s, as I have never seen any such meaningful evidence.

Then I saw that Collounsbury agreed that the CBC link posted by zwaldd was unbiased and something to which everyone should refer. Are you kidding me? That article is biased in so many places, I’m not sure where to begin. Were I interested in nitpicking and discourse for discourse’s sake, I would point out a sentence or two that could even be called factually incorrect.

If you want to ignore my post as merely whining, rather than contributing to the debate such as it is, be my guest. Perhaps it might even be fair to say that this belongs in a different forum. I suppose I could go ahead and say that I disagree with how recent Collounsbury terms Arab nationalism and the fact that he defines it primarily as pan-Islamism, and I suppose if I must, I could go ahead and find several websites that agree with my perspective, but, not only is it not on topic with the OP, what would be the point as s/he would do just the same in return.

Very fair. His by the way, just by way of information.

Very true, my irritation with Dex comes from certain key points which I think could be more fairly presented without doing harm to his POV.

Again I would agree. I admit a tendency to over-correct when responding to “Israeli” views, as when in other circumstances I think I do the same arguing against Arabs. My naturally contrarian nature, and I think the above is quite a fair estimate.

Quite right, let me go to my source(s), it might take me a few days.

Well, I didn’t agree it was unbiased, I gave it a rapid read and it seemed fairly even-handed to me as a quick primer. Perhaps I didn’t read closely enough.

Perish the thought. I’m not a monster, just an inveterate contrarian.

Well, here we get into a rather deeper debate.

Let me rephrase to be more precise. Pan-Arabism began as secular nationalist movement among Xtian Arabs, by instigation, largely in Leb-land and Egypt (by Maronites largely IIRC). It was intended to span over internal differences in the Arab world and (a) help unite Arabic speakers to confront colonial power (b) give more opps to Xtian Arabic speakers (perhaps also Jewish ones, I don’t recall that however).

However, in the 1950s gradually the “Muslim” part of Arab identity started to trump the other components. Certainly pan-Arabism is a secular movement in general, however the Islamic component has always been strong, and given the majority religion (Islam) has tended to trump Xtian concerns such that many Xtian Arabs (not all, I wouldn’t know if it would be a majority, notable though in Leb and Egyptian circles) have come to repudiate or abandon the idea.

As such, if I implied pan-Islamism and pan-Arabism is the same, that was an error on my part and I apologize. What I meant to say, evidently not well, was that pan-Islamism began to influence and transform pan-Arabism.

However, pan-Islamism is a different beast, one which is decidely non-secular (obviously!) and even at odds with pan-Arabism, even its somewhat religious form insofar as pan-Islamism pretends to greater universality. Arabs, however, are oft blind to the fact they’re not the best or only Muslims in the world. An incredibly tedious habit of theirs, among the many.