Who Took Whose Lands?
Although the British were instructed in 1920 to help the Jewish people resettle into land that had been designated for a Jewish national home, they did just the opposite. Instead of facilitating Jewish immigration and helping the Jews already there, they restricted immigration, prevented Jewish people from purchasing land, and beckoned Arabs from outlying areas to flood into Palestine to take land cleared and cultivated by Jewish people for Jewish people.
The result is that most of the so-called Palestinians who today claim they have lived in the land “from time immemorial” and that Zionists stole their land are not even from Palestine.
Who took whose land? Joan Peters answers the question definitively in her 600-page, award-winning book, From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine (J. KAP Publishing, 1984). The Arabs, she said, took the Jews’ land.
Peters, a former White House consultant on the Middle East, painstakingly researched the history of the Holy Land’s population and found that most of the so-called Palestinians arrived from many other countries within the last 80 years, whereas the Jewish people have lived there for more than 3,000 years—since the days of Joshua.
“History did not begin with the Arab conquest in the seventh century,” wrote Ms. Peters. “The people whose nation was destroyed by the Romans were the Jews. There were no Arab Palestinians then— not until seven hundred years later would an Arab rule prevail, and then briefly [22 years, A.D. 639–661]. And not by people known as ‘Palestinians’” (p. 155). Nor did today’s so-called Palestinians descend, as they claim, from the small number of Arabs whom the Arabian conquerors imported, because almost all those died from disease (p. 151).
So where did these “Palestinians” come from—these people who have been in the land “from time immemorial”?
Among the peoples who have been counted as “indigenous Palestinian Arabs” are Balkans, Greeks, Syrians, Latins, Egyptians, Turks, Armenians, Italians, Persians, Kurds, Germans, Afghans, Circasians, Bosnians, Sudanese, Samaritans, Algerians, Motawila, and Tartars (pp. 155-56).
Furthermore, wrote Ms. Peters, during World War II the British severely curtailed Jewish immigration but allowed Arabs to flood into the land from virtually everywhere:
[The British] Government not only encouraged or winked at, but officially enacted illegal immigration of thousands of Arab indigents from neighboring and more distant lands, to take jobs in the Jewish National Home that might have saved the lives of Jewish concentration camp victims (pp. 381–82).
“It was the Jews,” Ms. Peters wrote, ”who were displaced by Arabs—the Arab immigrant flocks would migrate into the Jewish areas of development, filling the places that the Jews were clearing for other Jews—on land designated at that very time as the mandated ‘Jewish Homeland.’” Ms. Peters also said she discovered that, with regard to the Arabs, the United Nations had significantly broadened the definition of refugee to include “any persons who have been in ‘Palestine’ for only two years before Israel’s statehood in 1948.” Almost universally, people were not considered refugees unless they left “permanent” or “habitual” homes (p. 4).
Furthermore, for twelve and a half centuries, until the 1880s when Jewish people began to cultivate it, the land was virtually desolate. Under Muslim rule, trees, topsoil, canals, and irrigation systems had all been destroyed. “The ‘masses’ of Jerusalem,” wrote Ms. Peters, “were estimated at less than 15,000 inhabitants, of whom more than half the population were Jews” (p. 157).
Then the Jewish immigrants of the late 1800s arrived and laboriously began restoring the arid ground and malaria-infested swamps, buying the worthless land at hugely inflated prices from rich, absentee landlords who had no stomach for cultivating it.
As the land began to yield its fruit under Jewish labor, Arabs began flooding into Palestine. When the British took control in 1917, they drew up boundaries for a Jewish homeland.
But by World War II, the British had changed their tune. Instead of letting Jewish people into Palestine, the British imported Arabs:
While the Jews were working furiously at clearing land that had been ignored or dismissed by [British] Government “authorities” as “uncultivable,” and creating places that Government insisted “did not exist,” those opened-up places . . . were taken by illegal Arab immigrants . . . Syrians, Egyptians, Hauranis, Algerians, Hejazis, and others camouflaged as “natural indigenous Palestinian population since time immemorial” (p. 381).
However, the Jews continued their efforts, “lest the British halt Jewish immigration entirely” (p. 381). Joan Peters concluded,
Had those places in the country been left open for the Jews instead of being usurped by illegal Arab immigrants falsely represented as part of the “original” and “existing” Palestinian population for “thousands of years” . . . the Jewish population would have grown . . . by, at the very least, 200,000 more, . . . [and] there would have been at least 200,000 fewer “Palestinian Arabs” (p. 381).
How has such an enormous lie been perpetuated? Turnspeak. Turnspeak, wrote Ms. Peters, is “the cynical inverting or distorting of facts, which, for example, makes the victim appear as culprit” (p. 173). The real victims, she wrote, are the Jewish people.