HOME January-February 2007 Featured Stories Background Information News On The Web



by Dafna Yee


There are far-reaching consequences to accepting some media-perpetrated, and now commonly agreed-upon, terms, i.e., "Palestinians" and "Palestinian land." It's not just a matter of semantics. I'm not being picky or stubborn in not accepting the validity of these terms. And you shouldn't use them just because you read them in the papers or you heard them on T.V "from a reliable source." If you do use them, know that you may be committing yourself to ideas you probably don't believe in, as well as aiding Israel's sworn enemies in their goal to replace Israel with "Palestine."

Leaving aside for the moment the question of who the "Palestinians" are and, equally as important, when they came into existence, do you realize what the statement of Israel "occupying Palestinian land" really means? If you agree with that statement, then you are agreeing that Israel has no right to its land and therefore, no right to exist as an independent country! In fact, you are accepting the Arab contention that Israel does not exist at all, since two countries can't exist in the same place! (Unlike too many Westerners who continue to talk about a "two-state solution" or "Palestine and Israel side by side" which are clearly oxymorons, the Arabs realize the impossibility of having a "Palestine" as long as Israel exists!)

Now for some historical facts.

The sole purpose for the existence of the political group known as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964 and the deliberate creation of the "Palestinian people" as a separate entity in 1967 was the total destruction of Israel! It was NOT to achieve a homeland for the "Palestinian people"; that "cause" was a purposeful act of propaganda developed in order to cover up their real intentions from Westerners and achieve their goal of replacing Israel with "Palestine"! (Unfortunately, they've been so successful that even their enemies have adopted their terminology and are unwittingly helping them achieve their goals.)

There was NEVER a separate political entity among the Arabs for indicating an Arab group known as "Palestinians" until 1967 and this political group was not recognized by even other Arab countries until the Rabat Summit Conference in 1974. (

Here are three important points from the resolution at the Rabat Conference:

"The Rabat Summit declaration conferred a mantle of legitimacy on the PLO that was previously absent. It gave official Arab recognition to PLO territorial claims to the West Bank ... " Jordan's desire to finally -- after 20 years -- officially annex that land was given prior approval by the assembled Arabs but Hussein finally dropped his claim after he was promised $300 million annually instead! Therefore, the newly created "Palestinians" bought their claim; it certainly had no basis in either ancestry or "justice"! Another important overlooked point is that they bought it from a group of Arabs who had never owned it in the first place!

"In 1974, the 12th session of the Palestine National Council followed Arafat's script when it called for the establishment of a 'national authority' on any portion of Palestinian land liberated." It is very clear that the word "liberated referred to all of Israel and anything else that was currently up for grabs -- including Gaza -- that Arafat could obtain by ANY means.

"The resolution clearly states that the conflict would continue until Israel's destruction. Indeed, it explicitly states that any land the PLO took over would be used primarily as a base for attacking Israel." Therefore, the claim of the "Palestinians" to Israeli land goes no further back than 1974! In fact, the entire "history" of the "Palestinian people" doesn't even extend for half a century. Except in their mythology, of course.

When Arafat went to the border territory between Israel and Jordan in 1964 (it was not called the "West Bank" then), he decided that this unoccupied (by people) land would be perfect for him to establish his PLO. He intended this land to be his base from where he planned eventually to displace King Hussein of Jordan and completely destroy Israel to become the ruler of all "Palestine." By 1967, Arafat and his newly created "Palestinians" were engaging in terror tactics both east and west (against both Jordan and Israel). Hussein's response was to throw Arafat out of Jordan completely which he managed to do in 1970. (If only the Israelis had followed his example instead of acknowledging Arafat's position as head of the Palestine Authority in the very heart of Israel!) Therefore, that area was "Palestinian land" for less than four years and it never had a recognized government at any time before the Israelis gave control of it to the Palestine Authority! If you don't know about Black September and how Hussein rid himself of Arafat (who took himself and his "Palestinians" to Lebanon in 1970), then I suggest you read up on it. If for no other reason, you should see how the Arab countries defined "Palestinians" at that time and approximately how many Arabs were considered to be "Palestinians." (An excellent account can be found at:

It is impossible to understand what a "Palestinian" is, and is not, unless you read their charter. If you haven't read it (which means you are basing your definitions on what you heard in the media), I strongly suggest that you do so as soon as possible. You can find it at: Pay particular attention to THEIR definition of a "Palestinian" and you will see for yourself that a "Palestinian" is NOT just any Arab who has ties to "Palestine" for many generations as they would like the world to believe. This is true even if you are considering Palestine as defined under the British Mandate -- which they do not. They clearly define a "Palestinian" as someone who is willing to die to destroy Israel. (They even specify that their aim is to target schoolchildren.) That is why it is accurate to equate "Palestinian" and terrorist and why speaking of a "moderate Palestinian" is nonsense.

In one charter article, a "Palestinian" is defined as someone whose father had lived in the pre-Mandate territory of Palestine. Presumably, their definition was written this way so that Arabs like Arafat, who was born, raised and educated in Egypt, could be considered a "Palestinian." (His only "ancestral" ties to "Palestine" was that his father had lived in Gaza for several years before he was born!) Please also remember, that even if your father had lived in "Palestine" as the charter requires, he could just have easily have lived in what is now Jordan and immigrated there from anywhere else -- which the vast majority of "Palestinians" did -- and you could still call yourself a "Palestinian" today and claim Israeli land. Interestingly, no proof of residence of any kind has ever been required.

For an Arab to claim "Palestinian land," so long as it is in Israel, it is enough just to SAY you are a "Palestinian"! For the record, a "Palestinian" has no claim to land in Jordan, Syria or Lebanon; that was part of the concession that Hussein received in return for giving up all claims to the "West Bank." It is no coincidence that the world is interested in giving the "Palestinians" a "homeland" only where it concerns Israel. If all the "Palestinians" really wanted was their own country on their "ancestral lands," then they and their supporters would willingly create such a country out of unused areas in Jordan (which is more than twice the size of Israel and also was formed from the British Mandate). The fact that the "Palestinians" only want Israel's land and to destroy all its current non-Muslim residents proves that all their talk of a "homeland" is nothing but political propaganda.

Another reason for making the distinction between Arabs and "Palestinians" is that in order to be considered a separately identified people, they would need a common culture, history, often language, etc. that is different from other people. Today's "Palestinians" have none of those things; they are totally indistinguishable from any other Arab with the exception that their "history" goes back less than 50 years!! In fact, the only cultural identity that I can think of that is associated specifically with "Palestinians" as a group is their "suicide bombers" and their desire for their children to grow up to be "martyrs" rather than productive members of society. Although their actions may have given them an identity, it is not enough of a culture for them to claim land for their own country -- especially when that land already belongs to Israel!

Since the borders of the Palestine territory were never clearly defined, it is safe to assume that a great many, if not most, of the "Palestinians" never set foot in any part of what is now Israel and have as flimsy a claim to that identity as Arafat did. Yet, many people, often in the name of "humanity" and "justice," still insist that modern Israelis honor their "claim" to Jewish land just because they SAY that it is "Palestinian land"!

Under the Ottomans, the term "Palestinians" was not officially used at all for anyone (except Jews in the Diaspora referred to the Jews who lived there as "Palestinian Jews.") When the British controlled the area, the term "Palestinians" was ONLY USED FOR JEWISH RESIDENTS! (If you called an Arab a "Palestinian" before 1948, he would have been very insulted!) That is one reason for so much confusion and misinterpretation.

In the 19th century, what was referred to as Palestine was present-day Gaza and the rest of what is now Israel was referred to as southern Syria. (When I say "referred" I am speaking of tax records, which was really the only way of keeping records that told who lived where and what their status was throughout the empire.) Palestine under the Turks (and for centuries before that) was a territory; it was never a separate country, nation, or whatever with a recognized border and where its residents attained their identity from their government or even a shared history. Just so you know, when I say "territory," I mean a land mass with accepted geographical boundaries having nothing to do with politics. (Siberia is also a territory but the people who live there do not consider themselves to be Siberians.)

During a famous interview, Golda Meir said that she herself was a Palestinian and showed her pre-1948 passport as evidence. When she was asked about the Palestinian fighters, also known as fedayeen, being an important factor in the fighting in the Six Day War, she replied: "Important, no. A new factor, yes. There was no such a thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian State? It was either southern Syria before the First World War and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist." (The Times of London, dated June 15th 1969)
([]=956&voir[]=4615) (One of the reasons that Golda Meir referred to the fedayeen as a "new factor" was because having Arabs fighting under the identity of "Palestinians" had only been occurring for about two years at that time.)

When saying that "Palestinians" did not exist, she (and I) both meant that these Arabs did not exist as an separate group of people with their own CULTURAL identity as such. We never meant or implied that they didn't exist as individuals or even deny that there are Arab terrorists in various groups who identify themselves as "Palestinians."

There were indeed ARABS living in what is now Israel during the 19th and early 20th centuries but NOT millions of them, as too many people assume and accept! Indeed, there were not millions of residents in that area of any distinct culture/religion until the creation of modern political Zionism brought waves of Jewish immigrants to Eretz Yisroel. The total population of the entire area ranged from about 200,000 to about 450,000 from 1800 to 1880. ( Therefore, the vast majority of Arabs who are called "Palestinians" today, even those who did have ancestral ties to present day Israel, had actually resided in that area for less time than the Jews living there now. The increased Arab population was caused more by immigration that was stirred by the Jewish presence which created job/education opportunities than by birth rates. This is especially true for the disputed areas considered "Palestinian land" where new Arab settlements often grew faster than Jewish ones.

The Jews who went to the Palestine territory before the first world war, went to a deserted and barren land with the north being marshes and the south being desert. (Read Mark Twain's memoirs of his trip to the Holy Land or Henrietta Szold's travels around Palestine which led her to found Hadassah; the emptiness of the land figures prominently in both accounts.) There were many Jewish villages, and some cities, built near Arab villages during this period, particularly around cities like Jerusalem, but the Jewish villages did NOT replace the Arab ones when they were built. Ever! (There was NOTHING where Tel Aviv is now except sand dunes and new Jerusalem was created from digging enormous stones out of the barren ground.)

There is absolutely no parallel with the history of Native Americans and early settlers in the US with what is happening in Israel today; that is just another hoax. However, for the sake of argument, consider this. If a group of Native Americans whose ancestors had lived on the land where your house is now, decided to bomb your house and deliberately waited until your children were asleep in their beds to blow it up, would you really just shrug it off with the statement that, since you didn't have a clear title (at least in their eyes), you could understand why they killed your family and they shouldn't be arrested and stopped from killing anyone else? And if an entire group of Native Americans tried to take back their "ancestral lands," which included major cities and would displace thousands of people, do you really think the government of the United States, or any other government, would allow it? Yet, that is exactly what people who believe the Arab propaganda about "Palestinian lands," are saying that Israel should do when this lie is accepted as truth!

One way that I am sure of what I'm saying has been to use those sources written before 1967 and usually before 1948 or at least use ones that cite sources published before that time. There is not a single reference to the ARABS as "Palestinians" in the British Mandate of Palestine for example. (For the record, yes, I have read the entire document, nearly 1000 very boring pages; it took me nearly two weeks of sitting in the New York Public library!)

An important point to remember when checking sources on Israel: if you ever see a reference to "ancient Palestine" or "biblical Palestine" you should recognize immediately that it is bogus or a mark of the author's misinformation. The name "Palestine" was coined by the Romans when they conquered Judea in the first century BCE, which was six hundred years before there were ANY ARABS living there at all! This was done in order to deliberately erase records of the Jewish population. ANY source actually written before 1964, refers to "Arab-Israeli" or "Arab-Jewish" wars, riots, etc. and never uses the term "Palestinians" at all to refer to a separate or specific group of Arabs. (Just stick the words "1929 Hebron" into a search engine and see for yourself.)

Another excellent means for learning history (and far easier reading than most historical sources) is to study biographies, especially those which contain actual documents. Two of my favorites are Cast a Giant Shadow: the Story of Mickey Marcus Who Died to Save Jerusalem by Ted Berkman (1962) and Raquella: A Woman of Israel by Ruth Gruber (1978). I highly recommend both of them. Biographies can be tricky, however, since you have to be able to check the author's sources. (Both of these authors have sterling sources, by the way.) I also love studying maps; there are some excellent sites available on the Internet. (Check out the links at Jewish Delaware: These maps show very graphically and clearly how all nations -- and territories -- changed throughout the ages. (Incidentally, the territory named Palestine doesn't have any recognized borders for nearly 2000 years until the British Mandate on any contemporary map!)

Some people, when they are trying to be "fair," give Jews the benefit of the doubt for not knowingly stealing land from the Arabs. This position not only accepts the Arab propaganda of "Palestinian land" as fact, it also wrongly assumes that the Jews didn't have actual ownership of the land they built on. Well, as far as "clear title" goes, it so happens that the Jews who bought land prior to 1948 DID buy it from the owners of the land. (In point of fact, though, a great deal of the disputed territory today, including the "West Bank" and Gaza, was not owned by anyone; at least after the Ottoman empire no longer existed.)

Where many people get confused is that most of the Arabs who lived on the land in what is now Israel (or in any Arab country for that matter) almost never owned the land they lived on. In actuality, it was swampland and desert that was totally unoccupied, that the Arab landowners sold (for outrageous prices) to the "crazy Jews" as they called them. (FYI, I have seen copies of the actual deeds of sale along with the sums paid so this is not an assumption on my part that the Jews did have "clear title" to the land they bought.)

As you can imagine, these landowners were really angry when the Jews DID settle on the land and remain there permanently. But, their anger (which was fueled in a large part from fear of the Jews' teaching the Arabs new ideas which would spoil their lovely feudal system) does not negate the fact that the Jews did NOT steal the Arabs' land! It was a sop to wounded pride to tell people that the land was stolen rather than how they misjudged the Jews' abilities and determination when it was sold.

Another important point is that, even if the land had been occupied, it still doesn't mean that the Jews stole the land; occupation of property has no actual relationship to ownership or the sale of property. Even today, if you rent a house, the landlord can sell it at any time and you'd have no claim to that house no matter how attached to it you were or how long you had resided there. If your response to the sale was to bomb the people who bought the house because of your "humiliation," your "wounded feelings" would not stop you from being charged with murder and no one would consider the bombing justified! Yet, many people seem willing, even eager, to accept that exact same excuse from the Arabs for their terrorist acts and they are not even speaking of land that they or their families ever lived on let alone owned!

For the record, the reason for my putting words like "settlements" in quotations, is that many people use that term and others like it to deliberately create the impression that the neighborhood under discussion is both temporary and recent. Not a single Jewish "settlement" in Gaza or the "West Bank" was built on land that anyone was living on! The Arab villages that were there when the Jews started building their homes (nearly 50 years ago) are still there today. The Jews didn't raze the Arab villages; in fact, the economy of those villagers was vastly improved after the Jews came. (The same thing happened to other Arab villages when the Jews came to the Palestine territory in the late 19th and early 20th centuries! The Jews building towns, villages and cities did NOT displace the resident Arabs! That is why there are still Arab villages in Israel decades after the Jews made their homes nearby.)

Again, I am not denying that Arabs lived in what is now Israel prior to 1948, but the "millions" that are frequently referred to did not live there prior to the 20th century and they certainly didn't consider themselves "Palestinians" before 1967. In actuality it was the immigration of Eastern European Jews who brought the population of present-day Israel into the millions. The ravaged land could not support millions of people until the Jews came and revitalized it.) So, I see no reason (except popular opinion) to recognize these Arabs as "Palestinians" from "Palestine" (which would be recognizing "Palestine" as a nation) or to concede that the millions of Arabs today who call themselves "Palestinians" have any claim whatsoever to ISRAELI LAND!

Therefore, when anyone reiterates that Israel is built on "Palestinian land," they are only continuing to perpetrate a myth which deliberately changed history in order to destroy Israel. Deciding that the Arabs have a right to "Palestinian land" means that you agree with the people who feel that the "Palestinians" are justified in removing Israelis from their homes. There is no middle ground; you can NOT believe that Israel has a right to exist on its ancestral lands at the same time as accepting the myth that Israel is really built on "Palestinian land" which was gotten by displacing "Palestinians.".

I, for one, refuse to take the oxymoronic position about the so-called "Palestinians" and non-existent "Palestinian land." ISRAELIS HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO LIVE ON THEIR LAND IN THEIR COUNTRY! THEY ARE NOT LIVING ON SOMEONE ELSE'S LAND!


Here are just some of the sources that I have used in studying Israel's history and writing my articles, including this one. You're more than welcome to check them out for yourself. (If you want others, I'll be glad to supply them.)

Amiran, D.H.K. (1939). The geographical regions of Palestine. Geographical Review, 29, 61-80.
Amiran, D.H.K. (1947). A letter from Palestine. Geographical Review, 37, 457-460.
Amiran, D.H.K. (1953). The pattern of settlement in Palestine. Israel Exploration Journal, 3, 65-78.
Amiran, D.H.K., and Shachar, A. (1960). Estimates of the urban population of Palestine in the second half of the nineteenth century. Israel Exploration Journal, 10, 181-183.
Ben-Arieh, Y. (1975). The population of large towns in Palestine during the first eighty years of the nineteenth century, Studies of Palestine Under Ottoman Rule (pp. 49-69). Jerusalem.
Amiran, D.H.K. (1963). Nomadic and Bedouin population in the census returns of mandatory Palestine. Israel Exploration Journal, 13, 247-252.
Biger, G. (1979). The role of British regime in changing the landscape of Palestine, 1918-1929, Occasional Papers, 35, London: Department of Geography, University College.
Gavish, D., and Kark, R. (1993). The cadastral mapping of Palestine 1858-1928. The Geographical Journal, 159, 70-80.
Gavish D. and Biger, G. (1985). Innovative cartography in Palestine, 1917-1918. The Cartographical Journal, 22, 38-44.
Kark, R. (1984). Changing patterns of land ownership in nineteenth century Palestine: The European influence. Journal of Historical Geography, 10, 357-384.
Kark, R., Aaronsohn, R., and Shillony, Z. (1984). Land Ownership and Settlement in Palestine 1800-1948. Jerusalem: Academon.
Kark, R., and Gerber, H. (1984). Land registry maps in Palestine during the Ottoman Period. Cathedra, 21(1), 30-32. (Hebrew)
Kark, R. (1986). Annual reports of the United States consuls in the Holy Land as a source for the study of nineteenth century Palestine. In M. David (Ed.), With Eyes Towards Zion, Vol. 2 (pp. 127-177). New York: Praeger.
Kark, R., and Shilloni, T. (1988). The Bergheim family and the farm in Abu Shusha. In C. Issawi (Ed.), The Fertile Crescent 1800-1914. A documentary Economic History (pp. 332-336). New York: Oxford Press.
Kark, R. (1988). Agricultural land in Palestine: Letters to Sir Montefiore, 1839. Transactions: Institute of British Geographers, 29, 207-230


Dafna Yee is director of Jewish Watch Dog (JWD); its website address is:


Return_________________________End of Story___________________________Return

HOME January-February 2007 Featured Stories Background Information News On The Web