Lecture delivered by
Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons
at the Israel Center, 10 Straus Street, Jerusalem
Since we are now in the season of the Bagrut examinations, let us start with some Bagrut-style questions, although I doubt whether they will be found in the Ministry of Education's Bagrut exams!
Who said the following:
Question no. 1: We must expel Arabs and take their place.
Question no. 2: The Jews ... will help in getting Arabs out of Galilee.
Question no. 3: Palestine should be for the Jews and no Arabs should be in it.
Question no. 4: Western Palestine should be handed over completely to the Jews, clear of Arab population.
By the end of this lecture, you should know the answers to these questions, and I suspect that you will get some surprises!
Let me begin by explaining how I became interested in this subject. In the middle of the last decade, Arab students in British Universities started to utilise the campuses to propagate anti-Israel propaganda. In order to combat this, I produced a booklet for Jewish university students entitled "How to Answer anti-Israel Propaganda". Whilst researching this booklet, I came across a rabidly anti-Zionist book which devoted a couple of pages to show that there had been various proposals in the past to transfer Arabs from Israel. I must admit, that at the time, this came as quite a surprise to me, and I decided that I would look more deeply into the question. I assumed that the entire literature on the subject would be limited to a handful of documents. After I began to research the subject, I could see that the material was snowballing and that it was a serious project. I therefore established a non-political institute which I called "The Nansen Institute" - I shall explain later why I chose this name - whose objects were to research proposals that had been made to transfer Arabs from Eretz-Israel, propagate the results by means of books, articles and lectures, and to build up an archives of documents on these transfer proposals. So far, in addition to a number of articles on transfer, I have published a book entitled "International Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine, 1895-1947, A Historical Survey". I have also assembled photocopies of thousands of documents from all over the world - from Jerusalem to Sydney, from Warsaw to Iowa, from London to Cape Town - on proposals for Arab transfer. All these documents are open to the public, at no charge, at our office in Kiryat Arba.
One of the most striking things to come to light is the attempt to rewrite history and pretend that the Zionist leaders were completely opposed to transfer of Arabs. The extent of this rewriting easily matches the Russian Encyclopaedia. After Beria's execution, the publishers of this encyclopaedia wrote to its subscribers, suggesting they cut out the pages dealing with "Beria" and in their place insert the enclosed pages on the "Bering straits" - which had the same alphabetical sequence! - (BERIa, BERIng)
As I have indicated, numerous proposals have been made for the transfer of Arabs from Eretz-Israel. In the short time at my disposal this evening, I can only mention a few of them.
I shall begin my survey at the start of the Modern Zionist movement - namely the end of the 19th century. The founder of Modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, began to take an interest in the Jewish question at the beginning of 1895. There had been a number of striking anti-Semitic episodes in Europe towards the end of the nineteenth century, and Herzl saw as the solution to this problem the establishment of a Jewish State, but it was only in about mid-1896 that he concluded that its location must be Eretz-Israel. However, even before determining its location, Herzl began working out the details. He began keeping a private diary in which he recorded his innermost thoughts. Amongst his plans for the Jewish State was his programme of what to do with the non-Jewish indigenous population. In those days, countries consisted of the few rich landowners and the multitude of poor. Herzl had plans for each of these classes of population. With regard to the landowners, Herzl wrote in his diary in June 1895: “We must expropriate gently, the private property on the estates assigned to us.”
Herzl realised that all this had to be done discreetly and circumspectly, and he devoted several pages of his diary to the ruses he would utilise to obtain these properties.
Ironically, today we are witnessing the reverse phenomenon. Arabs are purchasing in quantity, Jewish owned property and land within the so-called "green line"; in Jaffa, in Upper Nazareth, in Carmiel - just to quote a few of the many places. The money for these purchases pours in from the P.L.O. and the Arab states; it would not be an exaggeration to say that an I.N.F. - an Ishmaelite National Fund - has been established. Even left-wingers are concerned with this phenomenon!
To return to Herzl: With regard to the remainder of the population, Herzl wrote on the same date in his diary: “We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries while denying it any employment in our own country.”
Here we see that Herzl envisaged transferring the non-Jews out of the Jewish State, by denying them sources of livelihood in the Jewish State, but finding them employment elsewhere. However prior to their transfer, Herzl had other plans for them: “If we move into a region where there are wild animals to which Jews are not accustomed - big snakes etc. - I shall use the natives, prior to giving them employment in the transit countries, for the extermination of these animals.”
At the same time as these diary entries, Herzl was writing his book "Der Judenstaat" (The Jewish State). A comparison of his diary and his book show that all his plans for transfer and expropriation find absolutely no place in his book!
As we shall see, this phenomenon of restricting transfer plans to diaries, private correspondence and closed meetings, was not the prerogative of Herzl, but has been emulated by many other Zionist leaders.
Maintaining secrecy on Herzl's transfer plans was not limited to his lifetime. Even after his death, there was a serious attempt to prevent publication of his diary. One of his leading disciples, Max Nordau said: “You will ruin Herzl's name if you publish his diaries. Whoever reads them is bound to believe he was a fool and a swindler.”
Nordau did not elaborate, but it is very likely that he had in mind Herzl's plans for the non-Jewish population of the Jewish State, since at a later date, Nordau was to write a letter reprimanding a well-known Zionist for publicly proposing transfer of Arabs from Eretz-Israel.
It was nearly twenty years after Herzl's death that his diary was finally published. During the following half century - that is until the mid-1970s - the various biographers of Herzl made no mention whatsoever of these passages in his diary. This attempt to suppress history was in fact very effective, as we can see from the following incident. In 1972, the Press Officer of the British Zionist Federation received a letter from someone in London who had heard rumours about these passages in Herzl's diary, and wanted clarification. The Press Officer wrote in reply: “I feel it is very unlikely that these quotes are in fact genuine.”
If the Press Officer of the British Zionist Federation did not know about them, what can we expect from the ordinary man in the street?
Also, throughout the remaining years of his life, Herzl would put forward different views on what to do with the Arabs of Eretz-Israel, depending on whether it was intended for private or public consumption. In 1899, Al-Khalidi, the Arab Mayor of Jerusalem, wrote a letter to Rabbi Zadok Kahn, Chief Rabbi of France, complaining about Jewish plans for Eretz-Israel. Rabbi Kahn forwarded this letter to Herzl. Herzl replied to Al-Khalidi: “But who would think of sending away [the non-Jewish population of Palestine]? It is their well-being, their individual wealth which we increase by bringing in our own.”
However, in contrast, shortly afterwards Herzl drafted out a charter for a "Jewish-Ottoman Land Company", which he did not publish. At that time, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire and at that period this Empire was in dire financial straits. Herzl offered loans to relieve the debts of the Ottoman Empire in exchange for certain rights in Palestine. Amongst these was the right to acquire Arab land in Palestine, giving in exchange comparable plots of land within the Ottoman Empire, while financially assisting the former owners with emigration and resettlement. For example, under Herzl's proposals, the Jews would have the right to transfer an Arab from Jaffa to Constantinople, provided they paid his transfer expenses and gave him an equivalent parcel of land at his new destination.
A few years earlier, in 1897, a number of English Jews, including the novelist Israel Zangwill, went on a pilgrimage to Eretz-Israel. They arrived on Erev-Pesach at Jaffa, travelled by train to Jerusalem where they spent the first days of the Festival; this included the holding of an English style service at the Kotel prior to their Seder at a nearby Jewish hotel. During Chol Hamoed they toured the country. In the course of the visit, Zangwill had the opportunity to see the Arab question at first hand. A few years later, before audiences in the U.S. and Britain, he declared that the "real difficulty" concerning the return of the Jews to Palestine was its "present non-Jewish inhabitants". He thus concluded: “We must be prepared to drive out by the sword the tribes in possession as our forefathers did, or to grapple with the problem of a large alien population, mostly Mohammedan and accustomed for centuries to despise us.”
This was the period when Britain had proposed Uganda for the Jews as a homeland. During Herzl's lifetime, despite much opposition, the Zionist Congress had voted to investigate this territory. After Herzl's death they abandoned the Uganda project and limited their activities to Eretz-Israel. This caused a number of members to leave the Zionist movement and they became Territorialists, - that is working for the establishment of a Jewish autonomous settlement in any part of the world. The president of these Territorialists was Zangwill, and for this reason, for a decade after 1905, Zangwill ceased proposing the transfer of Arabs. During the First World War, Zangwill returned to the Zionist fold and resumed proposing on a regular basis the transfer of Arabs.
His proposals met stiff opposition in the Anglo-Jewish establishment. The opposition was not only to Zangwill's transfer plans but embraced the entire Zionist ideology, and came mainly from the old established Jewish aristocracy of England. Their reasoning was that they had fought for decades to gain Jewish equality in Britain and talk of establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine could destroy all these gains. It was during the latter part of the First World War, that the Zionist leaders in Britain were in earnest discussion with British Government Ministers to obtain a declaration favouring a Jewish Homeland. A draft was tentatively agreed between them for such a declaration. This draft declaration spoke of making the entire Eretz-Israel into a Jewish homeland. Also there was no mention of the non-Jews residing in Palestine at that time, even though they represented about ninety per cent of the population.
The Anglo-Jewish Establishment came out strongly against this draft. As a result, a watered-down version, which became known as the Balfour Declaration, was made. This declaration only spoke of a Homeland in Palestine - namely an unspecified area within Palestine - and it referred to the "civil and religious rights" of the non-Jewish population. Incidentally the term "Palestinian Arabs" is not mentioned - they are only a recent invention! Also, according to the Balfour Declaration, the non-Jews living in Palestine were to receive only civil and religious rights; no political rights were envisaged - they were reserved for Jews only.
The first draft went even further. Politicians and other statesmen who were involved at the time with its drafting, explain that the reason for the omission of non-Jews from its text, was because it was intended to transfer the Arabs to Transjordan.
Following the promulgation of the Balfour Declaration, a public meeting was held in the London Opera House. At this meeting Lord Robert Cecil, the British Assistant Foreign Secretary, made his famous declaration: “Our wish is that Arabian countries shall be for the Arabs, Armenia for the Armenians and Judea for the Jews.” This is incidentally the origin of the chant "Aravim l'Arav, Yehudim l'Zion".
Zangwill reacted, that with a large Arab population, it was not possible to set up a Jewish State, and he epigrammatised Cecil's statement to read: “The Arabs were to have a State in Arabia, the Armenians a State in Armenia and the Jews A STATE - OF FRICTION.” Time has amply shown the accuracy of Zangwill's predictions!
A couple of years later, following another talk on transfer, the anti-Jewish British newspaper the "Morning Post" vigorously attacked Zangwill's proposed solution of the Arab problem. However, despite the paper's very strong reaction against his views, it afforded him the right of reply - I wish newspapers of today would display the same toleration to opposing views - and Zangwill answered that one could not jib at the use of a "little force for real ends", such as the solution of the Jewish problem.
During the 1920s, very little was said on the question of transfer. There were, however, two notable exceptions. One was the comments by King Feisal of Iraq, who said in 1927: “I would welcome with great pleasure an immigration of Mohammedan Arab fellahin from Syria and Palestine.”
The second was in a meeting between Jabotinsky and Baron Edmond de Rothschild. After the meeting Jabotinsky said: “[Rothschild] wants Palestine to be completely Jewish.... He is prepared to give the Arabs money to enable them to buy other land on condition that they leave Palestine.”
A further transfer proposal by Rothschild was made in a meeting he had with Shabtai Levy, Mayor of Haifa. Levi reported him as saying: “It is better not to transfer the Arabs to Syria and Transjordan since they are parts of Palestine, but to Iraq.”
Rothschild had in the 1880s patronised the first settlements in Eretz-Israel and saved them from collapse. He became the major address for all problems in the Yishuv - the Jewish areas of settlement - and thus became known as "Father of the Yishuv". To his memory his family donated the money for the Knesset building, and his portrait hangs in the building, despite his views on transfer of Arabs! It is not difficult to imagine the pandemonium that would erupt in that plenum should a right-wing Knesset member follow in the footsteps of Baron Edmond de Rotschild by making a transfer proposal!
During the early 1930s, some proposals were made to transfer Arabs from Western Eretz-Israel to Transjordan. The original draft of the League of Nations Mandate gave the right of Zionist colonisation over the entire area of Eretz-Israel which included Transjordan. However, before its final ratification, there were some dramatic changes in the Middle East. During the First World War, Britain had made contradictory promises to the Arabs and to the French regarding the future of Syria. The San Remo conference finally decided the issue, and Syria went to France as a Mandated territory. Meanwhile Feisal had been already crowned king of Syria and on receiving the Mandate, France expelled him. His brother Abdullah threatened to attack Syria, and in order to appease him, Britain persuaded Abdullah to administer Transjordan. Since this could conflict with unrestricted Jewish settlement in Transjordan, Britain had a paragraph inserted into the Mandate document which had not yet been finalised. This gave Britain the right "to postpone or withhold application" but not cancel, certain paragraphs of the Mandate in the area of Transjordan.
Arising from this paragraph, Zionist colonisation in Transjordan was eliminated, although this suspension did not apply to individual Jews settling in Transjordan. In practice, however, Jews were prevented from settling.
In passing we should mention that the right granted by the Mandate for unrestricted Jewish settlement anywhere in Western Eretz-Israel - and this of course includes Judea, Samaria and Gaza district - still applies today. In the words of Professor Eugene Rostow, former U.S. assistant Under-Secretary of State: “Since the Palestine Mandate conferred the right to settle in the West Bank on the Jews, that right has not been extinguished, and under Article 80 of the [U.N.] Charter, cannot be extinguished unilaterally.”
Needless to add, this right of settlement applies equally to Russian Olim as to veteran Israelis. Thus anyone trying to stop settlement of the Russian Olim over the "green line" - be it the government of the U.S.A., Britain, U.S.S.R., Egypt or even Israel - is in breach of the U.N. Charter to which they are signatories.
Ironically, the people who use every opportunity to scream out at every alleged infraction of human rights for the Arab population, are the very same people who demand transfer of Jews from Judea and Samaria! Some of them have now realised that it is not palatable to demand transfer of Jews, whilst describing transfer of Arabs as racist. They therefore have a different nuance, "We don't want transfer of Jews, we want to return them home."!!
One should also mention that the unilateral termination of the Mandate by Britain over the area of Transjordan and its conversion to a "sovereign state" - in inverted commas - in 1946, was, and is still illegal. Any talk of Jordan having rights over Judea and Samaria is just nonsense. In fact, Jordan has no rights over Transjordan!!
To return to the question of transfer of Arabs to Transjordan. Zionist leaders saw that settlement of Jews in Transjordan would, despite the Mandate, not be permitted, and they therefore suggested transfer of Arabs from Western Eretz-Israel to Transjordan. The first to do so was Chaim Weizmann who proposed this, first in a meeting with representatives of the British Cabinet, and a few months later with the High Commissioner to Palestine. Just as Herzl spoke with two voices on transfer - one in private and the other in public - so was Weizmann to do so, even to a much greater extent. About the same time as Weizmann was quietly proposing transfer of Arabs to Transjordan, in a news conference, he would virtuously state: “I have no sympathy or understanding for the demand for a Jewish majority [in Palestine].... The world will construe this demand only in one sense that we want to acquire a majority in order to drive out the Arabs.”
We shall now move to the year 1936, the year in which the Arabs started their intifada which was to last until 1939. As a result of the Arab acts of terrorism, Britain set up a Royal Commission, chaired by Lord Peel and comprising six highly qualified and respected Englishmen. This Commission, popularly known as the "Peel Commission" came to Eretz-Israel and over the course of two months took evidence from over one hundred witnesses. They then returned to England, took further evidence, and after several months work produced a unanimous report comprising over 400 pages. The document recommended the division of the country into three areas; a Jewish State which included the coastal plain and the Galilee; an Arab State containing the remaining areas; and a British enclave containing the Holy Places.
There were nearly a quarter of a million Arabs within the boundaries of the proposed Jewish State, and the members of the Peel Commission saw this fact as a serious problem. Their solution was transfer. From the Plains the transfer of Arabs would if necessary be compulsory, but from the Galilee, whose population was almost entirely Arab, the transfer would be voluntary.
The Report quoted the precedent of a compulsory exchange of population between Greece and Turkey, which had been proposed by the Nobel Peace prizewinner Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, and had been implemented nearly fourteen years earlier. The Report noted that: “Dr. Nansen was sharply criticized at the time for the inhumanity of his proposal, and the operation manifestly imposed the gravest hardships on multitudes of people. But the courage of the Greek and Turkish statesmen concerned has been justified by the result. Before the operation the Greek and Turkish minorities had been a constant irritant. Now the ulcer had been clean cut out, and Greco-Turkish relations, we understand are friendlier than they have ever been before.
We can see that for the sake of solving a mixed population problem, Nansen was prepared to propose a bold yet unpopular solution, and put up with a lot of personal criticism. This is the sign of a great and brave man. We accordingly named "The Nansen Institute", whose aim is to research, collate and publish all the material on proposals to transfer Arabs from Eretz-Israel, after Dr. Fridtjof Nansen.
The Peel Report was officially published during the first week of July 1937, although it was already in the hands of cabinet ministers by about mid-June.
Towards the end of June, a meeting was held at the Colonial Office between Weizmann, Ben-Gurion and the Colonial Secretary, William Ormsby-Gore. The Zionist leaders had not yet seen the Report, but during the meeting Ormsby-Gore informed them of the transfer proposal. Weizmann's original reply, as written in the Zionist minutes of the meeting was: “This was a procedure which we had recommended long ago, but it had so far been regarded as impracticable.”
However, in the Weizmann Archives copy of these minutes, this sentence has been deleted. It is not known who authorised this deletion, but since there is no deletion in the copy at the Central Zionist Archives, it would seem that it was made after distribution of these minutes. Possibly it was made to try to disown the fact that Zionist leaders had suggested such a proposal in the past!!
Also, prior to the publication of the Report, the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office were asked for their observations. It is interesting to note that although they criticise a number of the recommendations of the Peel Commission, there is not a word of criticism on the proposal to transfer Arabs, compulsorily if necessary. We shall come back to this point later.
On 19 July, Weizmann had a secret meeting with Ormsby-Gore, in which they discussed the Report. Weizmann said that if the points he had raised at that meeting could be satisfactorily settled, he would personally support acceptance of the partition scheme.One of these points was the transfer of Arabs. In his confidential report of this meeting, Weizmann wrote: “Transfer of Arab population: I said that the whole success of the scheme depended upon whether the Government genuinely did or did not wish to carry out this recommendation.... I explained the reasons why we considered this proposal of such importance.”
A copy of Weizmann's report was abstracted from his office in London and produced in a dramatic way at the Zionist Congress. It was immediately reproduced in full by the London "Jewish Chronicle" and a few days later by the London national paper the "Evening Standard". Weizmann denied authorship of the document, and claimed that it was only the rough uncorrected notes of his secretary. What in fact was the authenticity of the document reproduced in the British press? The opening of the Weizmann papers to the public has now made this document available. The document which is marked "secret" is written entirely in the first person, and at the end is initialed Ch. W. - Weizmann's initials. A comparison of the text of this document with the text published at the time in the press, show the two to be word-for-word identical. So much for Weizmann's denial of authorship!
Ormsby-Gore also wrote up minutes of this meeting and on the question of transfer he quotes Weizmann as saying: “The Jews can't take [an] active part though they will help in getting Arabs out of Galilee.”
This comment is of particular interest, since the Peel Report limits transfer from Galilee to a voluntary basis, and Weizmann is thus exceeding these recommendations.
In a number of letters written by Weizmann at that period, he again wrote of the crucial importance of implementing transfer. However in a talk which he gave to some American Zionist leaders a few years later, Weizmann stated: “You remember one of the decisions of the Royal Commission carried dynamite - the transfer of the Arab population, and I think you will bear it out, in camera audience, I was speaking against it.”
This document was reproduced in the "Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann". The Editor could not allow such an obviously untrue statement to go uncommented upon, that he added in a footnote: “Perhaps this was imperfectly recorded, as the meaning is obscure. Weizmann did not express opposition to the Peel recommendation of a transfer of population.”
The Editor of Weizmann's papers has indeed put it mildly!
After reading the Peel Report, Ben-Gurion came out strongly in favour of immediate implementation of the compulsory transfer of Arabs from the proposed Jewish State. He wrote in his diary: “With the removal of the Arabs from the Plains, we are getting for the first time in our history a truly Jewish State.... Any wavering on our part as to the necessity of this transfer, any doubt on our part as to the possibility of its achievement, any hesitation on our part as to the justice of it, are likely to lose us a historic opportunity which will not reoccur.... We must do this transfer now.”
As the year progressed, Ben-Gurion's views became more extreme and in a letter he wrote to his son Amos, he stated: “We must expel Arabs and take their place.” One should mention here that in the published version of this letter, the Editor took it upon himself to omit this sentence!
The importance that Ben-Gurion attached to having the Negev as part of the Jewish State is well known. Yet few people know, that when in the summer of 1937, he weighed up either transfer of Arabs, or the Negev as part of the Jewish State, he concluded that transfer was more important.
On 20 and 21 July, the two Houses of the British Parliament debated the recommendations of the Peel Commission. Some of the speakers referred to this transfer proposal, some supporting it whilst others opposed it. It is of interest to note that no fewer than three Members of Parliament, who were pro-Arab supported it, since they realised that the transfer of Arabs from the area of the proposed Jewish State would prevent friction in the future. Two of these pro-Arab members were concerned that the Galilean Arabs would find themselves in a Jewish State and they therefore proposed transferring them to Syria and Lebanon. They were thus exceeding the Peel recommendations which limited transfer of the Galilean Arabs to a voluntary basis.
A couple of months later, the Report was considered by the League of Nations. During the debate, the Norwegian delegate, Christian Lange, proposed adding the area of the Negev to the Jewish State. But what should be done with the Arabs living there? On this Lange said: “[They] could be transferred elsewhere at a relatively low cost.”
Was Lange just another politician, or did he have any claim to fame? In fact, some years before, Christian Lange had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Lange was not a lone wolf. There were two other Nobel Peace Prizewinners - Sir Norman Angell and Philip Noel-Baker - who also put forward proposals for the transfer of Arabs from Eretz-Israel. Surely this fact should once and for all dispel the idea that a person proposing transfer of Arabs is a racist. Or, maybe, a pre-condition to receive a Nobel Prize for Peace is that one must be a racist!!
About the same time as the international bodies were considering the Peel Report, several Jewish organisations were doing likewise. One of these was "World Unity" - an amalgamation of Zionist socialist parties throughout the world. At their conference held in Zurich just prior to the Zionist Congress, about twenty speakers spoke on the transfer proposal. Most favoured it, a few opposed it, whilst the remainder considered it to be impracticable, or that it would have dangerous repercussions for World Jewry. Since today, the Israeli socialist parties are very vocal in their opposition to transfer, it is worth quoting the words of some of their mentors at this "World Unity" conference:
Berl Katznelson, who was the conscience of the Zionist labour movement: “My conscience is completely clear. A distant neighbour is better than a close enemy. They will not lose by their transfer and we certainly will not.... For a long time, I have been convinced that this is the best solution.... Their future lies in Syria and Iraq.”
Golda Meir, who later became Prime Minister of the State of Israel: “I would agree that the Arabs leave Eretz-Israel and my conscience would be completely clear.” Towards the end of 1937, the Jewish Agency set up a committee, whose function was to prepare a programme for the transfer of Arabs from Eretz-Israel. The members of this Committee included directors from various departments of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund. Over the course of nine months, it held numerous meetings, and spared no pains to assemble information and statistical data in order to accomplish its task.
A number of subjects were discussed by this Committee: Was a partial transfer of Arabs sufficient, or should one strive for a complete transfer? Many of the members opted for a total transfer. Should compulsion be used to accomplish transfer? On this the Committee unanimously decided: “The proposed Jewish State will not be viable as long as a large Arab minority remains. The transfer of the Arab population in large numbers is therefore a pre-condition for the establishment of the State.”
What should be the destination for the Arab transferees? In answer, a number of the members stated: “We must strive to transfer the Arabs as far as possible from our borders, if possible to Iraq.”
In June 1938, the Executive of the Jewish Agency devoted a whole session to discuss the transfer question. All those who spoke at this closed meeting were in favour of transfer and many were in favour of compulsory transfer. Amongst the speakers was Ben-Gurion who stated: “I favour compulsory transfer. I see nothing unethical in it.”
Dr. Arthur Ruppin stated: “I do not believe in the transfer of individual Arabs. I believe in the transfer of complete villages.”
David Senator stated: “I am of the opinion that we should strive for maximum transfer.”
What is specially noteworthy about the comments of Ruppin and Senator is that they were members of Brit Shalom - the group advocating a bi-national Jewish-Arab State. This did not however stop them advocating in private - and there were many more Brit Shalom members who did likewise - the transfer of Arabs from Eretz-Israel - even to the extent of "complete villages" and "maximum transfer"!!
About a year earlier, in the autumn of 1937, the Arab acts of terrorism in Eretz-Israel increased and this resulted in the British having second thoughts about implementing the Peel recommendations. They thus set up a partition commission under Sir John Woodhead, ostensibly to prepare a plan for partition, but they quietly told Woodhead that he could recommend that partition was impracticable. Wags called it the Re-"Peel" commission.
Its formation and objectives were officially stated in a "Statement of Policy" issued in December 1937. This document included the strange phrase: “In particular [the British Government] have not accepted the [Peel] Commission's proposal for the compulsory transfer in the last resort of Arabs from the Jewish to the Arab area.”
In fact, as we saw earlier, in the various British governmental memoranda at the time of the publication of the Peel Report, nowhere was there any criticism on the recommendation for compulsory transfer! Suddenly the British Government rewrote history!
The Woodhead Commission went to Eretz-Israel. In its Report it wriggled out of any form of transfer or population exchange. It even added in a footnote: “On behalf of the Jews it was also made clear to us that Jewish opinion would be opposed to the exercise of any degree of compulsion.”
Who this "Jewish opinion" was, was conveniently not stated! We have already seen that Weizmann and Ben-Gurion were strongly in favour. Many of the Jewish leaders at the "World Unity" and Zionist congresses were in favour. Even a Minute of the British Foreign Office stated: “[At the Zionist Congress] great stress was laid on the necessity for the enforced evacuation of the Arabs from the proposed Jewish area.” What a pity the members of the Woodhead Commission were not given access to Foreign Office Minutes!
It is true that there were other Jewish leaders who were opposed to compulsory transfer. It would therefore have been much more accurate and fair for the Woodhead Commission to have written that Jewish opinion was divided on this question.
This was the period when proposals were being made by a number of Jews and non-Jews to transfer Arabs to Iraq. Iraq was a country which was seriously lacking population to utilise its great irrigation potential. Amongst the proposers was Ben-Gurion, who wrote in his diary: “We will offer Iraq ten million pounds to transfer one hundred thousand Arab families from Eretz-Israel to Iraq.”
Ben-Gurion records that he discussed this transfer proposal with the Hadassah women of America and they were very enthusiastic about it. This was in 1939... Forty years later, in order to re-establish the Jewish community in Hebron, a group of women from Kiryat Arba entered the Bet Hadassah building in the centre of Hebron, in the dead of night. This building had served as a Hadassah clinic prior to the Hebron Jewish community coming to an abrupt end, as a result of the 1929 Arab pogroms, in which 67 Hebron Jews were brutally murdered. The American news media described these ladies from Kiryat Arba as "Hadassah women". Instead of giving encouragement, the American Hadassah women issued a statement dissociating themselves from the "Hebron sit-in". I ask: Who were the true Hadassah women - those sitting in their luxurious apartments in New York, or those sitting without water and electricity in Hebron's Bet Hadassah?
We shall now move to the autumn of 1939, when a meeting took place between Zionist leaders and leaders of the British Labour Party. The minutes of this meeting state: “Dr. Weizmann then put the Zionist case quite briefly.... Clearly, populations would have to be shifted, and the world would become more accustomed to this idea.... We must have some territorial base there... possibly Palestine west of the Jordan, with some transfer of a part at least of the Arab population.”
From these minutes we can see that Weizmann had become more extreme in his views on transfer. Two years earlier, he had attributed the small area allocated to the Jewish State as the reason for the necessity to transfer the Arabs. Now, in 1939, Weizmann was asking for "Palestine west of the Jordan" whilst still insisting on "transfer of part at least of the Arab population". About a decade ago, a nineteen part series on the history of modern Zionism entitled "Amud Ha'esh" was produced for Israeli Television. This opinion of Weizmann's was incorporated - that is - the first part, dealing with the area of the future Jewish State - the second part, on transfer of Arabs, was conveniently omitted!
Also, at about the same period, Harry St. John Philby, (who was incidentally father of the spy Kim Philby), proposed transfer. What is so noteworthy about it, was that Philby was staunchly anti-Zionist. He had embraced Islam, become a confidant of Ibn Saud, king of Saudi Arabia, and he held that the Jews had absolutely no rights to Palestine. However, Philby was a pragmatist and he realised that the British would not give up on their promises to the Jews for a National Home. He therefore put forward a plan that: “Western Palestine should be handed over completely to the Jews clear of Arab population except for a 'Vatican City' in the old city of Jerusalem.”
The Jews were to pay Ibn Saud twenty million pounds sterling for resettlement of the Arabs. They were even prepared to bribe the Mufti to keep quiet. Towards the end of 1939, Philby discussed his plan with Zionist leaders, including Weizmann and Moshe Sharett, and they were enthusiastic about it. Ben-Gurion told the Jewish Agency, that their office in London was preparing explanatory material on transfer.
At the beginning of 1940, Philby went to Saudi Arabia to discuss his plans with the king. Oil was not yet a serious factor in the economy of the country, and the Second World War had decreased revenues from Moslem pilgrims travelling to Mecca. Ibn Saud was therefore prepared to give serious consideration to Philby's plans. However, as the oil revenues drastically increased during the early years of the war, so Ibn Saud's interest in the plan drastically decreased, and he began to describe the Jews as "vagrants" and their claim to Eretz-Israel "imaginary". Philby, however, continued with his efforts until at least mid-1944, and he was strongly encouraged by the Jewish Agency in London all along the route.
Another important personage who was proposing transfer at this period was the President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In early 1939, Roosevelt proposed the transfer of hundreds of thousands of Arabs from Palestine to Iraq. This was to be financed jointly by the U.S., Britain and the Jews.
A few years later, Roosevelt told his Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau: “I would begin to move the Arabs out of Palestine.... Each time we move out an Arab we would bring in another Jewish family.... There are lots of places to which you could move the Arabs. All you have to do is drill a well because there is a large underground water supply, and we can move the Arabs to places where they can really live.”
At the same time, Roosevelt said that he would have Jerusalem run by a Committee of Jews, Protestants and the Orthodox Greek Catholic Church. Since then, this Greek Church seems to have come under other influences! For some reason it objects to Jews, but not to Moslems, living in the so-called Christian Quarter. All this idea of dividing the Old City of Jerusalem into four quarters on the basis of religion was in fact only a quaint idea of map-makers. It bears absolutely no relation to distribution of population within the Old City. Jews lived in all four quarters, until they were transferred by the British due to the Arab pogroms of the 1920s and 1930s. With regard to the so-called Christian Quarter, in 1875, a German named Gott wrote about Jerusalem, street by street; when he came to Christian Street, he said that unfortunately all the shops on this street were owned by Jews and it could just as well be called the Jews' Street. So much for the quarter labelled Christian!
In the Nazi era, signs were displayed in Germany, "No dogs or Jews allowed in this area." Today the world has progressed. Dogs are allowed in the so-called Christian Quarter; only Jews are forbidden. Even so-called pro-Israeli Congressmen demanded the immediate transfer of Jews from the so-called Christian Quarter.
We will now return to Roosevelt and transfer. In November 1944, Roosevelt was elected President for an unprecedented fourth term, and a few days later he discussed the Palestine situation with his Under-secretary of State, Edward Stettinius, who wrote in his diary: “[Roosevelt] thinks Palestine should be for the Jews and no Arabs should be in it.”
As we can see, Roosevelt's views on this subject became more extreme as time progressed. He began with transfer of hundreds of thousands of Arabs, and a few years later held that no Arabs should be in Palestine.
One year before the end of the Second World War - in April 1944 - the National Executive of the British Labour Party published a document entitled "The International Post-War Settlement" which gave the Labour Party programme for after the defeat of Hitler. Included in this document was a paragraph on Palestine. It recommended giving at least the area of Western Palestine to the Jews. With regard to the indigenous Arab population, the document stated: “Let the Arabs be encouraged to move out, as the Jews move in.”
Publicly, the Zionist leaders reacted by stating that the transfer of Arabs was "inconsistent with the Zionist programme". However, from the minutes of closed meetings, which are now available, we see rather a different picture. Ben-Gurion summed up his views: “It seems to me that we need not be sorry that the word "transfer" was used by non-Jews.”
The British newspaper the "Jewish Chronicle", which today uses every opportunity to attack any nationalistic proposal, was then quite different. It described this transfer proposal as "sane realism" and was very critical indeed of those Zionist leaders whose opposed the resolution.
Normally, the British Labour Party held its Annual Conference in May of each year. However, May 1944 was only a few weeks before D-Day - the landing of allied forces at Normandy - and as a result the 1944 Conference was postponed until December. This gave time for the Arabs to launch a concerted campaign against this Palestine recommendation; their efforts were to no avail. When the Conference took place that December, this document was put before the delegates. No delegate suggested any amendment to the Palestine paragraph, nor was there any criticism of it. When it was put to a vote, it was overwhelmingly carried. Thus, encouraging transfer of Arabs from Eretz-Israel, became part of official British Labour Party policy.
No-one can suggest that this resolution was passed without due deliberation. Before the National Executive of the Party published their report, it had been considered in no fewer than five meetings of the International sub-Committee, and it was then discussed in a number of meetings of the National Executive. The delay in holding the Annual Conference gave ample time for the Party to consider the criticisms and draw the necessary conclusions. Yet they did not alter even one word of the Palestine paragraph. Furthermore, at the Annual Conference of 1945, held in May of that year, it was announced that this policy regarding Palestine still held.
A few weeks later, General Elections were held in Britain. The Labour Party was swept into power and Ernest Bevin was appointed Foreign Minister. When he entered his office, his senior civil servants, who had a tradition of being anti-Zionist and even anti-Semitic, persuaded him to abandon the pro-Zionist platform.
The reversal in the British Labour policy resulted in the American government taking an interest, which was to turn out to be pro-Zionist. In November 1945, ex-President Herbert Hoover gave an interview to the "New York World Telegram" which appeared under the headline: “Hoover Urges Resettling Arabs to Solve Palestine Problem.”
This was not an off-the-cuff proposal put out by Hoover, but he had been working on this transfer proposal for a considerable period before giving the interview. A committee of experts was then set up to consider how to implement his proposal.
Throughout the years, Hashomer Hazair would use every opportunity to vigorously attack any transfer proposal, desribing them as "reactionary suggestions" and "a stain on the flag of the Zionist movement". They also favoured a bi-national state in Eretz-Israel. All this, however, was only on paper! In practice, whilst others were just talking about transfer, Hashomer Hazair was displacing Arabs in its own settlement programme. A list of the Hashomer Hazair kibbutzim and a list of Arab villages which they displaced illustrates transfer of Arabs "par excellence". The members of Hashomer Hazair were not able to live in harmony with other Jews, let alone with Arabs! In the 1930s, the members of the kibbutzim Bet Alfa and Ramat Yohanan comprised Jews who had different nuances of socialist ideology; some followed the Hashomer Hazair ideology, whilst others followed Mapai ideology. These differences in ideology spilled over into the social life of the kibbutzim, poisoning personal relations to such an extent that members of the kibbutzim found it impossible to live together. After a long period of growing tension, a population transfer was implemented in 1939 between the two kibbutzim, with the members of the Hashomer Hazair ideology transferring to Bet Alfa, and those with the Mapai ideology transferring to Ramat Yohanan.
In the months immediately preceeding and following the establishment of the State of Israel, there was a mass exodus of Arabs. The official explanation of the Israeli government was that this was as a result of the Arab leaders who told them to leave. Recently however, with the opening of classified documents, a different picture emerges. Although a nunber did leave of their own freewill, others were expelled on the orders of Ben-Gurion.
So long as the British ruled Eretz-Israel, Ben-Gurion could only talk about transfer - he could not act. In May 1948, the British left the country, and Ben-Gurion was made Prime Minister.
Following the capture of Nazareth, the Prime Minister visited the city. On seeing so many Arabs, he asked: “Why are there so many Arabs? Why didn't you expel them?”
The Arab riots in Nazareth, which occurred a few weeks ago, surely illustrate the great foresight of Ben-Gurion.
In the case of Lod and Ramleh, however, Ben-Gurion met with his army chiefs to plan the capture of these cities. The Commander of the Palmach, Yigal Allon, asked Ben-Gurion, "What shall we do with the Arabs?" Ben-Gurion retorted, "Expel them". This was immediately communicated to the Army Headquarters and the expulsion implemented.
Forcible transfer has not been limited to Arabs - Jews in Eretz-Israel have also been forcibly transferred. The first case was the forcible transfer of Jews from Elon Moreh in Samaria. Immediately after Menachem Begin was elected to power, he announced that there would be many more Elon Morehs... Jews were forcibly transferred from Yamit. Jews were forcibly transferred from Talmei-Yoseph. Jews were forcibly transferred from Sadot. Jews were forcibly transferred from Atzmonah. Jews were forcibly transferred from Hatzar-Adar. Indeed, there were many more Elon Morehs!
In all fairness, needless to say, Begin's declaration that there would be many more Elon Morehs, was not made in connection with transfer of Jews, but with the establishment of new settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Happily, this undertaking was, on the whole, honoured. However, at the same time, Begin agreed to, and implemented the forcible transfer of Jews from settlements in the Yamit area. His statement regarding "many more Elon Morehs", which was the location of the first forcible transfer of Jews, thus got an ironic twist.
During the short history of the modern State of Israel, two political parties have successfully contested seats to the Knesset, on the platform of transfer - the Kach party and the Moledet party. Both parties have complained that Israeli television denied them the same coverage afforded to other parties in the Knesset. Kach took the matter to the Courts, who ruled that they were entitled to the same coverage as given to other parties. But the Israeli Television Authority never implemented the Court's ruling, and there was not so much as a peep from the left on this defiance of the Courts!
Suppression of Kach was not limited to television. Realising the number of seats that the Kach party could gain, the Knesset enacted a law to disqualify Kach from contesting future elections. Following the utilisation of this law by the Central Knesset Elections Committee, Kach appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that this law negated democracy. The Supreme Court replied that this was the law and they had to enforce it. But, surely this law is just the thin edge of the wedge. Let us suppose that in a particular election, a party were to gain 61 seats - an absolute majority - and they would then use this majority to pass a law banning all other parties. Would the Supreme Court still uphold such a law, and thus convert the country into a dictatorship?
In addition to members of transfer-orientated parties, individual members of the Knesset, belonging to a variety of parties, have at one time or another spoken up in favour of transfer of Arabs from the Jewish State. Amongst these was Abba Eban, who, in a secret meeting of the Israeli Cabinet held immediately after the Six Day War, supported a proposal to transfer the Arab refugees to Syria and Iraq. Transfer of Arab refugees was not just debated, but hundreds of families were actually quietly transferred by the Israeli Government, under the premiership of Levi Eshkol, to the countries of South America.
Another personage favouring transfer was Chaim Herzog, now President of the State of Israel, and it is appropriate to end this lecture with President Herzog's pronouncement: “Were it possible for us to take a million Arabs and move them out, it would be good.”
FILM OF LECTURE