Yom Ha’atzmaut: Israel’s Founding Revisited


Happy Independence Day to all my Israeli friends and readers and anyone else celebrating. In remembrance of the struggle for Israel’s independence, here is an excerpt of an interview with Zev Golan in The Jewish Press. Mr. Golan recently translated Lehi activist Israel Eldad‘s The First Tithe from Hebrew into English:

People…often credit the UN vote of November 29, 1947 as instrumental in creating Israel. However, while many Jews in Palestine danced in the streets the night of November 29, Eldad walked around depressed. Why?

Eldad compares that night to the time when Israel danced around the Golden Calf and said, “This is the god who took you out of Egypt.” Here they were looking to the United Nations and saying, “This is the god who has given us the state,” and it wasn’t.

The people who created Israel were the people who sat in prison and the people who were shot or hanged by the British. The facts on the ground are that the British would have left even if the United Nations had not voted for a Jewish state.

Eldad also felt depressed that night because they were not celebrating the Jewish state that had been dreamt of for thousands of years and that he and others had been fighting for, but rather a truncated, shrunken Jewish state that would not have survived were it not for a miraculous war that followed.

[read the entire interview here]

You can read more of Golan’s translations of Eldad’s writings here.

4 responses »

  1. Zionists are terrorists – stealing land from the Palestinians was no different than Hitler’s invasion of Poland. A nation founded on war will never live in peace with its neighbors.

  2. James, you are a dunce. Educate yourself before you post a comment here. If you had, you would know that the early Zionists purchased land from absentee landlords. They did not steal the land, unless you are some sort of anarchist who considers property theft. If you are talking about the so-called “West Bank” or “occupied territories” (i.e. Judea and Samaria) that land was acquired by Israel in a defensive war and is more properly termed “disputed”.

    As to your comment about land acquired by conflict, how do you think Islam expanded throughout the Arabian peninsula? How did Islam expand out of this peninsula and arrive in India, Africa, etc.? If you do not know, read Efraim Karsh’s “Islamic Imperialism: A History,” it will definitely be an eye-opener for someone like you.

    “From the first Arab-Islamic Empire of the mid-seventh century to the Ottomans, the last great Muslim empire, the story of the Middle East has been the story of the rise and fall of universal empires and, no less important, of imperialist dreams. So argues Efraim Karsh in this highly provocative book. Rejecting the conventional Western interpretation of Middle Eastern history as an offshoot of global power politics, Karsh contends that the region’s experience is the culmination of long-existing indigenous trends, passions, and patterns of behavior, and that foremost among these is Islam’s millenarian imperial tradition.”

    Jabotinsky was right

    “Jabotinsky did not have any illusions about a peaceful return of the Jews to their historic homeland. It was clear to him that neither the historic bond of the Jews to their homeland nor the legal status conferred by the San Remo Conference and later ratified by the League of Nations would convince the Arabs to relinquish even a minimal part of their extensive territory.

    In order to avoid a conflict between its Marxist anti-nationalist and Zionist-nationalist ideologies, the Left had to ignore the presence and legitimate rights of the Arabs. However, for Jabotinsky, who was identified with the nationalist Liberalism of the nineteenth century, this conflict did not exist. In his view, the reconquest of the historic Jewish homeland was morally justified by virtue of a people’s right — one deeply-rooted in the liberal tradition (1) — to wage war and conquer, if this is necessary for the survival of the people.

    Therefore, Jabotinsky had no ideological need to ignore either the presence of the Arabs or their legitimate rights. In his understanding, the armed conflict between the two peoples was inevitable, simply because no people on earth will relinquish any part of its land without fighting (2). The hope of a peaceful realization of Zionism is, therefore, a dangerous fallacy. Nevertheless, Jabotinsky, guided by his liberal ideology, demanded a final, equitable solution for both peoples (3).”

    • NewCentrist, you are delusional. Only about six percent of the land obtained by Zionists was purchased. Most was in fact stolen.. Land confiscations are daily events in Israel. Are you familiar with the term “Present absentee”? That is a person who lost their land and their bank account because they moved away from areas of conflict but didn’t leave “Israel”. Israel is an apartheid state. An Arab Israeli must attend schools that are segregated and far from equal. Do you know how much more is spent to educate a Jew than an Arab citizen of apartheid Israel? You have a lot to learn.

  3. I don’t expect you to be open to learning anything but read this page, in particular the section on Jewish Land Purchases:

    Despite the growth in their population, the Arabs continued to assert they were being displaced. The truth is from the beginning of World War I, part of Palestine’s land was owned by absentee landlords who lived in Cairo, Damascus and Beirut. About 80 percent of the Palestinian Arabs were debt-ridden peasants, semi-nomads and Bedouins.

    Jews actually went out of their way to avoid purchasing land in areas where Arabs might be displaced. They sought land that was largely uncultivated, swampy, cheap and, most important, without tenants. In 1920, Labor Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion expressed his concern about the Arab fellahin, whom he viewed as “the most important asset of the native population.” Ben-Gurion said “under no circumstances must we touch land belonging to fellahs or worked by them.” He advocated helping liberate them from their oppressors. “Only if a fellah leaves his place of settlement,” Ben-Gurion added, “should we offer to buy his land, at an appropriate price.”

    It was only after the Jews had bought all of this available land that they began to purchase cultivated land. Many Arabs were willing to sell because of the migration to coastal towns and because they needed money to invest in the citrus industry.

    When John Hope Simpson arrived in Palestine in May 1930, he observed: “They [Jews] paid high prices for the land, and in addition they paid to certain of the occupants of those lands a considerable amount of money which they were not legally bound to pay.”

    In 1931, Lewis French conducted a survey of landlessness and eventually offered new plots to any Arabs who had been “dispossessed.” British officials received more than 3,000 applications, of which 80 percent were ruled invalid by the Government’s legal adviser because the applicants were not landless Arabs. This left only about 600 landless Arabs, 100 of whom accepted the Government land offer.

    In April 1936, a new outbreak of Arab attacks on Jews was instigated by a Syrian guerrilla named Fawzi al-Qawukji, the commander of the Arab Liberation Army. By November, when the British finally sent a new commission headed by Lord Peel to investigate, 89 Jews had been killed and more than 300 wounded.

    The Peel Commission’s report found that Arab complaints about Jewish land acquisition were baseless. It pointed out that “much of the land now carrying orange groves was sand dunes or swamp and uncultivated when it was purchased….there was at the time of the earlier sales little evidence that the owners possessed either the resources or training needed to develop the land.” Moreover, the Commission found the shortage was “due less to the amount of land acquired by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population.” The report concluded that the presence of Jews in Palestine, along with the work of the British Administration, had resulted in higher wages, an improved standard of living and ample employment opportunities.

    In his memoirs, Transjordan’s King Abdullah wrote:

    “It is made quite clear to all, both by the map drawn up by the Simpson Commission and by another compiled by the Peel Commission, that the Arabs are as prodigal in selling their land as they are in useless wailing and weeping (author’s emphasis).”

    Even at the height of the Arab revolt in 1938, the British High Commissioner to Palestine believed the Arab landowners were complaining about sales to Jews to drive up prices for lands they wished to sell. Many Arab landowners had been so terrorized by Arab rebels they decided to leave Palestine and sell their property to the Jews.

    The Jews were paying exorbitant prices to wealthy landowners for small tracts of arid land. “In 1944, Jews paid between $1,000 and $1,100 per acre in Palestine, mostly for arid or semiarid land; in the same year, rich black soil in Iowa was selling for about $110 per acre.”

    By 1947, Jewish holdings in Palestine amounted to about 463,000 acres. Approximately 45,000 of these acres were acquired from the Mandatory Government; 30,000 were bought from various churches and 387,500 were purchased from Arabs. Analyses of land purchases from 1880 to 1948 show that 73 percent of Jewish plots were purchased from large landowners, not poor fellahin. Those who sold land included the mayors of Gaza, Jerusalem and Jaffa. As’ad el­Shuqeiri, a Muslim religious scholar and father of PLO chairman Ahmed Shuqeiri, took Jewish money for his land. Even King Abdullah leased land to the Jews. In fact, many leaders of the Arab nationalist movement, including members of the Muslim Supreme Council, sold land to Jews.

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