One is sure to ask, how and when did I become interested in such a subject? It was during the 1970s when I was Director of Jewish Studies at the King David High School in Liverpool, which is in the North of England. This was the period when Arab students at the various British Universities began to utilise the campuses to propagate anti-Israel propaganda. The Jewish students at the Universities were the first line of Israel’s defense, but at the time they had not been briefed on how to answer the Arab students. I therefore brought out a booklet entitled “How to Answer Anti-Israel Propaganda” and this booklet was used with some success on the campuses.
Whilst researching this booklet, I came across a book review for the book by David Hirst entitled “The Gun and the Olive Branch.” This seemed an interesting book and I suggested that the local library purchase it which they did. On reading through it, I saw that Hirst had devoted a couple of pages to show that there had been various proposals in the past to transfer Arabs from Eretz Israel. These included proposals by the British Peel Commission, the British Labour Party, ex-American President Herbert Hoover and Joseph Weitz who was the Director of the JNF’s Land Development Division. I must admit, that at the time, this came as quite a surprise to me, and I decided that when I had some time available I would look more deeply into the question. I assumed that there were just a few stray statements on this subject and that after I had researched them, I would publish an article on the topic.
This “time available” only arose after I had returned to Israel. Unfortunately, by that time, although I remembered clearly these transfer proposals, I had forgotten both the title and the author of the book! Whenever I went into a library, which had a section on modern Zionism, I would scan the shelves for this book, but to no avail.
It was towards the end of 1984, that a neighbour of mine suggested that I look at the open shelves of the Hebrew University Library at Mount Scopus. I took his advice, went to that library and a few minutes after scanning the appropriate shelves – Eureka!
The library had photocopying facilities and I photocopied the appropriate pages of this book. Details of the numbered references appeared at the end and I copied them out underneath the text of my photocopy. I also added details of the book – title, author, publisher, date and its exact library location. I should mention that since then, I have developed a simpler, speedier and more efficient method when I photocopy. In addition to photocopying the actual text I require, I would in addition photocopy the page with the appropriate references and also the title page of the book. On the first page of the photocopy, I would write the library where I found it and the “call-number” of the book.
Hirst had brought about six references on this question of transfer. Some of them I found in the Mount Scopus library. These included Walter Laqueur’s book “A History of Zionism” and Chaim Weizmann’s “Trial and Error.” I accordingly photocopied the appropriate pages and went home with these photocopies tucked in my inside jacket pocket. I make this latest comment, since over twenty years later, I have in my apartment a shelf and a half full of these transfer proposals extending to well over a metre of shelf space!
To investigate the other references brought by Hirst, I went to the Jewish National and University Library, (henceforth I shall refer to it for brevity as the Jewish National Library) which is situated on the Givat Ram Campus of the Hebrew University. This was the first time that I had been to this Library and it was on a Thursday afternoon. Unknown to me, it then closed early on Thursdays and almost as soon as I arrived I had to leave. I returned a few days later to continue my research.
Let me now explain the method I developed for utilising any potentially new references I might find in the course of my research. These I often obtained from the footnotes of previous references, by reading the “Book Reviews” in the various newspapers and by looking on the shelves of “New Books” in various libraries and other places.
I would then make a list of all the possible references that I wanted to check out, headed by the name of the library or archives where I thought that they may be found. I would also head such a page with that day’s date, since I might afterwards find this information to be useful.
I shall now give an example using the Jewish National Library of how I would then proceed. I would first go into the catalogue room and look up whether this library had the books I wanted. They almost always did, at least in theory since sometimes the staff could not find them! When I began my research the entire catalogue was on cards. Today much, but not all, is computerised.
In the catalogue room are order forms for books. After looking up in the catalogue the “call-number” of a book and completing the order form, one puts it in a slot on the librarian’s desk and it is “drawn by suction” into the repository below. About an hour later one receives the books one has ordered in one of the reading rooms on the first floor. There are different colour order forms for the different reading rooms and one uses the form for the reading room which is most convenient for the reader. Sometimes the book one has ordered is helpful – other times, no!
Since it usually takes well over an hour for the book to arrive in the designated reading room, I would after putting in my orders often go to the periodicals room and “catch up” on the news from the newspapers and periodicals.
When the books finally arrived in the reading room, I would look through them and see if they were relevant to my research. If so, I would put a narrow slip of paper which I had previously prepared at the appropriate page. Having finished going through all the books I had ordered, I was ready to photocopy the material.
On the lower ground floor of the library are the photocopying facilities. Until recently, one did one’s own photocopying on one of the machines and then paid at the desk. Now, with many of the machines, one inserts one’s “Visa” card and one is charged automatically. One can still use the old method of paying at the desk but to discourage this, one pays more for the photocopy.
When one wants to take a book to photocopy, one informs the librarian in the reading room, they note the books you wish to photocopy from, take your “teudat zehut” (identity card) and you can then go to photocopy. If you have a lot of books to photocopy from, there are trolleys available to cart all the books. Don’t worry – one has not got to wheel the trolley down two long flights of stairs. There is a lift which usually works!
There was one occasion when I took a gigantic heavy tome – it was a bound copy of the Yiddish newspaper “Der Tog” to the photocopying room. I “manipulated” it onto the photocopier, made a photocopy of a particular article and then returned it to the reading room. When I got home with my photocopy, I discovered to my consternation that this article continued on another page. So the next occasion that I went to the library I had to repeat this entire performance! The moral – Look before you leave!
A problem that sometimes occurs when photocopying from bound copies of newspapers is that they may have been bound too tightly and so one will be unable to photocopy the entire inner columns. Under “Murphy’s Law” it is always these inner columns that one wants! To solve this problem, I would on the back of my photocopy write in a vertical row, the word or words which were missing from the photocopy.
After doing the photocopying, I would write on each photocopy the library I had found the particular book and its “call number.” This was important since at a later date one might want additional pages from this book. In addition, on my list that I had prepared for references to look up that day, I would write the “call numbers” of the books I had ordered and I would keep all these pages in case I required them in the future.
Even when I began my research, the daily newspapers were on microfilm. During the subsequent years more and more newspapers have been transferred to microfilm. The photocopying department has machines for photocopying from microfilms. The sting in the tail is that it is far far more expensive than photocopying from a book. In addition, the price seems to increase from day to day. Today it is nearly 20 times the price of an ordinary photocopy!
In 1984, bound copies of the “Jewish Chronicle” were to be found on the shelves in the “Judaica Reading Room” but the librarian told me that one was not allowed to photocopy from them. They were considered too fragile. If one wanted photocopies, one had to do so from the microfilm. At that stage of my research, I decided that I would instead of using a photocopier to copy from the microfilm, use my hand to copy out what I wanted direct from the newspaper itself. As I recollect the major items I wanted at that period from the “Jewish Chronicle” were “Letters to the Editor” regarding Israel Zangwill’s transfer plans. Today such letters have to be brief in order to have a chance of publication. In those days it is an understatement to say that it was not the case. And I wrote and I wrote and I wrote to make copies of these letters. My right hand certainly had good exercise! I also copied out Editorials on Zangwill’s plans and they were also very long!
In this library there are a number of reading rooms. In addition to the numerous tables in these rooms, each place having its own reading light, there are numerous bookshelves containing books, which in general, are the most sought after books and this thus saves the time of both the readers and the library staff. The reading rooms are a “General Reading Room,” a “Judaica Reading Room” and an “Eastern Studies Reading Room.” In fact these latter two are on either side of one large room but they are administered as two separate reading rooms. All these rooms also have a balcony where there are further bookshelves and tables. In addition, on this same floor are a “Periodicals Room” and the “Gershom Scholem Reading Room.” This latter room largely contains Scholem’s library. In addition, when one wants a book which is marked “rare” – usually, but not always – a very old book, one fills up a special order form and the book is delivered and must be read in this room. Because, unfortunately there have been a number of thefts of these books, there is closed circuit cameras in this room to monitor those ordering these rare books.
One room I have always considered to be lacking in this Jewish National Library is a Synagogue. Minchah services are held every day but they don’t have a permanent location. During the more than twenty years that I have used this library, the Minyan has been moved from room to corridor, from corridor to room…. Even before that period, in a report dated 1968 by the religious students’ organisation Yavneh, they commented on this situation. Surely a “Jewish National Library” whose objective is to assemble all Jewish materials under one roof, should have a room which is specifically a Synagogue.
An advantage of the Mount Scopus Library over the Jewish National Library is that almost all the books are on the open shelves and one can thus visually scan the books and get them immediately. On the other hand and there are fewer books there than in the Jewish National Library.
During the course of this research, I came across numerous personalities. I intended that when I would bring out the results of my research, I would give brief biographical notes of these people. To accomplish this, I would utilise such reference works such as encyclopaedias and the set of 18 volumes by David Tidhar on Zionist personalities.
When researching, one needs to find “leads.” One article in a journal can give numerous further references, which in turn will snowball into a massive number of references and then one has to determine which are relevant to one’s research! Two of the first books from which I got leads were Laqueur’s book referred to above and Schechtman’s book “Population Transfers in Asia.”
Laqueur did not quote sources for all the proposals he brought for transfer. I therefore wrote him a letter asking if he could supply me with the references, but since his book had been written many years before, he wrote back that he was unable to assist me. He also told me that he was then engaged in some research and whether I was from the Simons family connected with some banking enterprise. The answer is in the negative. My family are not millionaires!
He also wrote in his book, “Ben-Gurion emphatically rejected it [population transfer], saying that even if the Jews were given the right to evict the Arabs they would not make use of it.” After reading this, at the time I assumed Ben-Gurion never proposed transfer of Arabs. This fact is correct for 1931. However, as my further research on this subject soon showed, Ben-Gurion’s view soon changed radically on transfer of Arabs and to quote the words of Benny Morris on how Ben-Gurion repeatedly proposed the transfer of Arabs, “Ben-Gurion left a paper trail a mile long as to his actual thinking, and no amount of ignoring, twisting and turning, manipulation, contortion, and distortion can blow it away.”
Another early lead for references on transfer came from a paper by Professor Joseph Nedava. I was at the Jabotinsky Archives in Tel-Aviv looking up some reference (I cannot remember which) when I met Nedava. He saw that I was interested in transfer of Arabs and he told me he had written a paper and he either gave me a copy or I ordered a photocopy of it. At the end of this paper, there were nearly 50 references.
One of the photocopies I received from the Jabotinsky Archives is probably quite rare. It is a news-clipping entitled “A Conversation with Zangwill” by Jabotinsky and it appeared in the Warsaw Yiddish newspaper “Der Moment.” What possibly makes it rare is that this edition of the newspaper was published just over a month before Hitler invaded Poland. Even the Jewish National Library which has files of this newspaper does not have this edition.
At about that period I also paid visits to the Weizmann Archives which are situated at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot. At that visit I found several relevant documents which included a report of Weizmann’s meeting with the British Colonial Secretary Ormsby-Gore – a report which was later extracted from Weizmann’s office and leaked at the 20th Zionist Congress, to the disgust of Ormsby-Gore. Surprisingly, they only had a summary note of a meeting between Weizmann and the High Commissioner. I required the full version and this I ordered from the Public Record Office (PRO) in London - at a price! The PRO would pack up a few pages of photocopies with such a lot of packing material (almost as if they were packing fragile china!) and then add on a whopping charge for airmail postage.
The book by Joseph Gorny “The British Labour Movement and Zionism” gave me a number of leads for the Labour Party Resolution on Palestine of 1944, which “encouraged” the Arabs to leave Eretz Israel. Some of these were to be found in the Mapai Archives at Bet Berl. It is not an easily accessible place, if one does not have a car. One takes a bus to Kfar Saba and from there a very infrequent bus to Bet Berl. Amongst the material I photocopied there were some Minutes of the Mapai Party and an interview given in 1960 by Berl Locker, who was “in the picture” at the period of the formulation of this Labour Party Resolution. I think that this was the only archives I went to where there was no photocopying machine on the premises and I had to take the documents I wanted photocopied to another part of Bet Berl.
Gorny’s book also gave references to a few diary entries of Hugh Dalton, the Labour party official who formulated the resolution. During the war years, Dalton wrote a massive amount of material in his diary. Even the printed volume (which I only discovered many years later) which contains only extracts is a massive volume! Dalton’s method during this period was to dictate his diary to his secretary and thus the original diary is in typescript. His archives, which includes this diary is to be found at the London School of Economics (LSE), which was one of the places where he was educated. I ordered from LSE photocopies of the diary entries brought by Gorny.
The archives which I have used the most frequently throughout this research are unquestionably those of the Central Zionist Archives (CZA). When I began my research, it was situated in the basement of the Jewish Agency building situated at the corner of King George V Street and Keren Kayemet Street in Jerusalem. Indeed the CZA belongs to the Jewish Agency – one can see this from its bureaucracy!
In these archives there are countless files - (I don’t know how many). These comprise “institutional archives” and “personal archives.” In some cases there are just a few files and in others tens of thousands of files. The “institutional archives” include, for example, files of the Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish National Fund and Zionist Federations around the world. The “personal archives” contain more than a thousand personal archives, some just containing one file whilst others reach the hundreds. Some are of very well-known personalities such as Herzl, Sharett, Motzkin and Zangwill, whilst others are of people barely heard of outside their limited circle.
In addition to these archives, there are in the CZA a large number of books on Zionist and Jewish interest and numerous past bound copies of Jewish newspapers and periodicals. They are in bound form and not in microfilms and thus take up a lot (and that’s an understatement) of room. I understand that because of this, several years ago they had to dispose of the bound volumes of Ma’ariv and Yediot Acharonot! On the other hand, not being on microfilm, the newspapers (which they still have!) are easier to read.
As at the mid-1980s they had not yet begun to catalogue their archives on computer. Generally they were catalogued in hand-writing on small pieces of paper and they were stored in library type catalogue drawers. Some of these drawers were in the reading room and others in the offices. Each file had a number and to order one from the store room, one filled up an application form. One is limited to ordering only 5 files at a time and the orders went in on the hour. In later years the number of times each day that the orders went in was reduced. In addition, their closing time has progressively got earlier and earlier and now one has to leave at a quarter to four each afternoon, although the notice board (as at summer 2005) still states that the closing time is quarter to five!
Naturally researchers want photocopies of this archival material and this can be ordered with payment in advance. The orders are not processed on the spot but are usually ready some days later. At first they would only allow photocopying of archival material and not of books and other materials. However I recollect a couple of occasions when a booklet was to be found in the CZA but not in Jewish National Library, that they agreed to photocopy for me some pages from these booklets. Today their policy is to allow photocopying from almost all their materials, although not from their newspaper files.
Soon after I began my research, I was in the CZA and found some references to a transfer plan by a certain Edward Norman mentioned in Weizmann’s printed volume of letters. On the same day, I also found in an archival file a letter sent by Norman. Coincidentally at that time, there was someone else in this reading room searching for material on Edward Norman. I asked him his name and he told me Rafael Medoff.
In addition I found a reference to this plan in Schechtman’s biography of Jabotinsky where he quoted from “Norman’s unpublished diary.” At a later date, I saw that Nedava in his paper had brought down Norman’s plan and had given some references from British Colonial Office files. I asked Nedava whether he had seen Norman’s diary and he said that he had searched all over America for it, but without success. I also asked whether he had photocopies of these Colonial Office documents. He answered me that they were on microfilms in the Israel State Archives. This gave me another location to find primary materials.
In the mid-1980s, these State Archives were situated in the same building as the Prime Minister’s Office. Several years later, these archives moved to Mekor Chaim, which as far as I am concerned is miles from anywhere. I have to take a bus from Kiryat Arba to Jerusalem, get off in Talpiot and then walk for about quarter of an hour. As least the walk is good for one’s health. On one occasion in the middle of my research, the staff went on an hour’s strike. Out the building we had to go, wait or wander around for an hour and then return. At least the workers did their Histadrut duty!
Although primarily, the material situated in these archives is files from the various Government Offices of the State of Israel and from the British rule in Palestine during the period of the Mandate, it also contains many microfilms and microfiches of files from British Government Offices – primarily the Colonial Office and the Foreign Office - from the period of the Mandate, in connection with Palestine. All over these microfilms it is written that they may not “be reproduced photographically,” yet the Israel State Archives which is a Government Office provides a machine precisely for this purpose!
The machine for viewing these microfilms is also the machine for making photocopies from them. When I first began my research, it was an old machine and could only copy about half a normal size page at a time. In addition, it would seem that the chemicals in it needed changing, since the copies were on the faint side. At a later date, when they had a more modern machine, I tried to make better copies of some of these pages but unfortunately by that time, some of these microfilms had got scratched and as a consequence there were some black lines running across the copies.
The majority of the microfilms which I viewed and copied concerned Edward Norman’s plan. These comprised the final version of his plan, his report on the progress of the plan, Colonial and Foreign Office minutes and internal notes, and extracts of many letters between Norman and his helper the non-Jewish journalist Montague Bell.
It was in 1986 that a senior member of the CZA staff came to me excitedly with an un-numbered file which he had found amongst the papers of Joseph Weitz. This file contained the three versions of Norman’s plan, his reports and a few other items. One might well ask how such a file got mixed up with Weitz’ papers? After the establishment of the State of Israel and the removal of almost all the Arabs, a Transfer Committee was established to ensure that they did not return. Weitz was a member of this Committee. At about this time, Schechtman wrote a letter to an official of the Israel Foreign Office enclosing Norman’s papers for them to be put at the disposal of the Israeli Government. These papers were obviously passed on to Weitz to study and they got mixed up with his own papers. Presumably it was Norman’s intention that his papers should now be in the Israel State Archives rather than in the CZA! Beware CZA that the State Archives don’t catch onto this!
Earlier I commented that from Laqueur’s book, one might conclude that Ben-Gurion was strongly opposed to transfer of Arabs but as I then found this was certainly not the case. Before he died Ben-Gurion started editing his life’s work and reached 1938. These memoirs have been published in a number of thick tomes.
A lead (I cannot remember which) directed me to this source, in particular to the period surrounding the publication of the Peel Report in the summer of 1937, which recommended transferring Arabs, even compulsorily, from the proposed Jewish state. In these memoirs Ben-Gurion quotes extensively from his diary and the various letters he wrote. I should mention that throughout most of his life, Ben-Gurion kept a detailed diary and he never went back to change anything he had written. At first, I was satisfied to utilise these printed memoirs but as time went on I would go back to the primary source, namely his handwritten diary. This was kept in “Moreshet Ben-Gurion” which is situated in his residence at Sede Boker, although I have found a few handwritten pages of his diary in the CZA. In addition, a typewritten copy of his diary entries has been made. But errors always crop up when copying a large-scale document and indeed I found one in this copy of his diary. This occurred when I was unable to understand something in the typed copy and when I compared it with the handwritten copy, the name of a person – just two letters long in Hebrew - had been omitted. This was one of the few Israeli archives which I utilised but have not personally visited.
Another archive I utilised at that period was the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Archives in Iowa. Needless to say, I didn’t travel to Iowa! Hoover’s transfer plan was published in the newspaper the “New York Telegram.” This is a newspaper which had ceased publication before I even started my research. I therefore wrote to these archives for a copy of this news clipping and to let me know of any other material they had on this plan. They sent me a list with barely a handful of items which I then ordered. On the first occasion that I ordered material from them, I sent them a sterling cheque for payment, (since I didn’t have a dollar cheque account) but they returned it to me – it had to be a dollar cheque! To avoid “astronomical” bank charges, I had to find someone with a dollar account in order to pay. Later on I discovered that they in fact had numerous items on this plan and it thus seems that their cataloguing on this subject was in serious need of revising.
Following the publication of his plan in the “New York Telegram” there was an extensive exchange of “Letters to the Editor” in the “New York Times.” Ironically this latter paper had refused to publish Hoover’s transfer plan and this exchange of letters gave it far more publicity than in any other paper!
Although most of the newspaper clippings that I required, I found in the Jewish National Library on microfilm, there were a few cases where I had to order such clippings from the British Newspaper Library in London. They processed these orders by photocopying whole pages of a newspaper in its original size. I have never seen such large photocopies anywhere!
Of the many proposals put forward by an individual, one was by Ely Culbertson. What was intriguing about this proposal was that it was accompanied by diagrams resembling celestial bodies rotating around each other. This proposal had originally appeared in the “Readers’ Digest.” I tried to track down this “Readers’ Digest” in the Jewish National Library. There are in fact many editions of this journal but unfortunately the edition I wanted was not there. I then tried faxing a letter to the “Readers’ Digest” in the United States but received no reply.
Another proposal had been made by the Nobel Peace prize winner Norman Angell. It had originally appeared in the “Daily News Bulletin” of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 1941. I first looked for it in the bound copy of this paper in the Jewish National Library, but this transfer item had been censored, almost certainly by the British Mandatory Government since this item dealt with transfer of Arabs. Likewise the microfilm copy had been censored. I then went to the CZA but again a censored version! The British Newspaper Library in London was my next destination, but they wrote to me that they did not keep files of this paper.
Leopold Amery, one of the architects of the Balfour Declaration put forward a transfer proposal during the Second World War. What is interesting about him is some research which appeared in 1999 in the journal “History Today.” On the basis of genealogical research it was found that Leopold Amery was according to Jewish Law a Jew, but he carefully hid this fact.
In addition to proposals made by numerous individuals, both Jewish and non-Jewish, there were also instances of them being made by official bodies, one of them being the members of the Peel Commission in 1937. The Report of this body (which included a population transfer proposal) was an official document and was discussed in many forums, and this involved my going through the verbatim minutes of these forums to see what the speakers said about this transfer proposal. These included a House of Lords and a House of Commons Debate, and from it we see that Members of Parliament who were pro-Arab saw that the solution was to transfer Arabs out of the proposed Jewish state. Since Britain was the Mandatory Power as designated by the League of Nations, this body’s Permanent Mandate Commission made a detailed investigation of the Peel Report at which various comments and criticisms of the transfer proposal were made. The British Colonial Secretary also underwent a grilling there.
A number of Zionist bodies also considered this Report, amongst them the 20th Zionist Congress which met a few months after the Report’s publication. When I began my research I assumed that what was called the “stenographic report of the Congress” was a genuine verbatim report of what was said. However from various inconsistencies between the speeches of various speakers and the press reports at the time, I did suspect that there were some deletions in the official minutes. In fact many years later, I discovered that the deletions were of a far more serious nature. I believe it was Benny Morris who discovered a file in the CZA which gave theoriginal verbatim text of many of the speakers. A comparison with the “official” verbatim report showed that many of the proposals for the transfer of Arabs had been deleted by the time the “official” report was published. It would be more accurate to describe the “official” minutes as the “censored” minutes!
Sadly this was not the only case I came across of doctoring of documents! This was one of the striking things to come to light during my research on this subject – an attempt to rewrite history and pretend that the Zionist leaders were completely opposed to the transfer of Arabs. This rewriting is reminiscent of 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).
Whilst I was involved in this research, a senior worker at the CZA showed me several files which were the minutes, memoranda and correspondence of an official Committee called the “Population Transfer Committee,” which had been set up by the Jewish Agency to work out a plan for the maximum transfer of Arabs from the Jewish state. From these files we can see that over the course of nine months the Jewish Agency spared no pains in assembling information and statistical data and held numerous meetings in order to prepare a programme for the transfer of Arabs from Eretz Israel.
One of the problems I had was a semantic one – should I use the term Eretz Israel or Palestine? Since a large amount of the primary material was in English and would use the term “Palestine,” I decided to use it. However, in every volume I brought out I wrote at the beginning, “Throughout this book the term ‘Palestine’ has been used for Eretz Israel. No ideological or political significance should be inferred from this.”
Almost all the material I used for my research was in English or Hebrew and this created no problems for me. However some of the earlier material was in German. This was the language used in the early years of the modern Zionist movement. In fact all the official minutes of the Zionist Congresses until and including the 18th in 1933 were entirely in German. The one semester of German which I had learned thirty years earlier when at school was obviously of no help! I had to call on the good services of some relatives and friends who knew German to assist me here.
Amongst those writing in German was Herzl. Fortunately his diary had already been translated into both English and Hebrew. However, at the time, this was not the case with his Draft Charter. Although there had been many biographers of Herzl, until the 1970s they conveniently totally ignored (or, let us be charitable, were unaware of!) his proposals to transfer non-Jews out of the Jewish state. When in the 1970s, a biographer brought down this proposal of Herzl’s, he was dubbed a “hostile” biographer.
Following several years research on this subject, I felt I had enough material for a book. In those days home computers were only in their infancy and compared with today’s prices expensive! I therefore wrote up the first draft of my book by hand. I decided to divide the book into four sections:
(i) Proposals by Individual Jews – Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Weizmann, Moshe Sharett, Leo Motzkin, Edward Norman, Israel Zangwill, Berl Katznelson, and many others.
(ii) Proposals by Individual non-Jews – U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, U.S. ex-President Herbert Hoover, President Eduard Benes, King Abdullah of Transjordan, Glubb Pasha, Rev. Dr. James Parkes, Bertrand Russell, Harry St. John Philby, and many others.
(iii) The Peel Commission Report.
(iv) The Resolution of the British Labour Party.
These were followed by a Conclusion, an Appendix which summarised the proposals in chronological order, Notes (References) and a Bibliography.
After a revision and an editing of the text, it was ready for typing. I knew a typist who lived near me and had a computer and gave him a number of pages to type. Meanwhile a friend of mine, who had bought a new computer, loaned me his old one and I decided to see if I would be successful in typing a part of the book. This would save me quite a lot of money! The “Word” programme was still a thing of the future and the program in this computer was “Word-Star.” I got hold of a book which taught one how to use “Word-Star” and I soon mastered the technique. I found that typing with a computer was much easier than I expected. Unlike a typewriter, if you make a mistake using a computer you can correct it with no problems – one doesn’t have to mess around with rubbers or “Tippex” whiteners. I therefore decided that I would do the remainder of the typing myself and this certainly saved me a lot of money. The computer had no hard disk and I had to store all my work on floppy disks. The programs were not up the standard of today and occasionally when printing out, one got some “incomprehensible hieroglyphics” instead of words, and so one thus had to carefully read over what had been printed out.
Having typed out the book, it was necessary to try and find a publisher. As I soon found out, this is easier said than done. Almost all academic books are not financially profitable and if one wants publication, one has to put up most, if not all, of the cost oneself.
In the summer of 1986, I began writing to a number of publishers in England and the United States, including with my request a synopsis of the book. Some answered that they “do not publish material of this nature” or “it sounds too academic for general trade publishing” or it “does not fit into our present publishing schedule” or “it is not suitable for our list.” One publishing company, Frank Cass of London did indeed express a serious interest and even asked for a hard copy of the book. But in the end even they declined to publish.
During the following summer I was in contact with Professor Ed Sturm of New York. I don’t remember who put me in contact with him – I cannot thank them enough! He suggested as a potential donor, Irving Taitel, an American millionaire aged about 87, who was then visiting Israel. I met with him, gave him a copy of my manuscript and he agreed to contribute $1,000 towards publication costs.
I realised that another potential sponsor was Monroe Spen. Spen had a particular interest in the Temple Mount and I had for some time been sending him news cuttings from the Israeli newspapers dealing with the Temple Mount and, when they were in Hebrew, I would add an English summary. Both myself and Sturm were in contact with Spen and he gave $2,000 towards publication costs. Sturm also found some other donors who wished to remain anonymous. He did not even tell me their names.
Meanwhile during the autumn of 1987, Sturm was in contact with a number of publishers in New York and the surrounding area. One of them, it seems, was reluctant to publish a book on this subject because of the political backlash. Finally he chose Ktav Publishing House in New Jersey. They wanted about $5,000 provided I could provide the text on computer diskettes. I sent them the diskettes. I heard that at first they were unable to read them, but they soon solved this problem.
During this period, I found some additional material for the book, which I put right at the end as an addendum. This included some material on Yitzchak Tabenkin which I found at the Kibbutz Hameuchad Archives in Ephal, which is in the greater Tel-Aviv area.
I had titled the book “Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine” and Ktav asked whether I objected to calling it “International Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine” and adding a subtitle “A Historical Survey.” I agreed, but later on I was sorry on the use of the word “International” since it wasn’t completely accurate for most of the contents of the book.
The publishers requested from me a short biography and a summary of the book for the dust cover, and I accordingly sent them this material. At first they thought it would be a good idea to have a forward written by a prominent figure but on second thoughts they decided to dispense with this since “every known personality is associated with a given political orientation – a fact that might weaken the neutral perspective of the book.”
The first stage of the publication was to print out the book from the diskettes using a laser printer. A galley copy of the book was then made and it was sent to me to proof-read. I found one major and a few minor errors and I accordingly notified the publishers.
The actual printing was done, I believe in Taiwan. It was cheaper for them to send the plates to Taiwan than do the printing in the United States! Unfortunately the printing was not all it could be. The print on the pages was not of uniform blackness.
The binding was done in the United States but because that summer was unusually hot, the factory closed down during this heat wave. (Wouldn’t it have been more profitable to the management to install air-conditioning?!) All these things caused a delay in the publication of the book and it was not until the autumn of 1988 that the book reached the market.
There is little point in bringing out any book if the general public does not know it exists. Therefore already in the summer of 1988, the publishers wrote to me for the “names of the book reviewers and political writers of the major newspapers in Israel.” This I compiled and sent them.
They then asked me for the names of the correspondents for certain American newspapers in Israel. To obtain this information I went to the Government Press Office at Bet Agron in Jerusalem and made a list of the correspondents of over 70 foreign (and not only American) newspapers in Israel.
A few months earlier, a reporter, Michael Dallen, who was the vice-chairman of the Detroit Chapter of Americans for a Safe Israel had heard about my book. He came to my apartment and we spoke for nearly three hours. He promised to give it publicity in the U.S.A. He sent an article to the “Detroit Jewish News.” It appeared at the beginning of September 1988 under the heading “The Removal Of The Arabs Is The Kindest Action for Israel” and it mentioned my research on transfer proposals. However, in Dallen’s words, “I’m very unhappy with the headline, and less than pleased with the rest of the editing.”
Soon after the book came on the market, I was in the Periodicals Room of the Jewish National Library reading that day’s “Jerusalem Post” (13 December 1988) when I noticed an Editorial on my book entitled “Lexicon of Transferology” by a certain Nissim Rejwan. It attacked the book in a completely non-objective manner. My book contained numerous transfer proposals. In some cases the authors made strong proposals (namely, all Arabs to be transferred compulsorily) whilst others were much weaker (namely, maybe some Arabs would be happier if they voluntarily transferred). Rejwan brought two examples of the latter kind and said they were “fairly representative of the majority of those assembled by Mr. Simons.”
I immediately wrote a letter of complaint to the Editor of the “Jerusalem Post” adding, “In order to restore the balance, I would like to write an article on transfer for publication in the Jerusalem Post.” I received a reply that I could write a “Readers’ Letter” or an “Op-Ed article,” adding that they had no obligation to print it! I wrote such an article. Indeed they did not print it. They wrote to me “The Op-Ed Editor did not find your article suitable for publication and thus I returning (sic) it to you.” In addition I know that they received at least five “Letters to the Editor” criticising Rejwan’s editorial but the Editor did not deign to publish even one of them. How is all that for fair play?!
However there were a number of newspapers and journals which gave positive reviews. “The Jewish Press” of New York, after quoting from some of the proposals, concluded, “The title of the book is intimidating. But do not judge this book by its cover; it is interesting reading.”
“The Jewish Western Bulletin” of America summarised the contents of the book, describing it as a “fascinating study” and reproduced its dust-cover with the caption “JACKET of International Proposals, ‘a well documented exposition’.” The review concluded, “The transfer idea lay moribund for 40 years, but now in the wake of the intifada, it has gained renewed strength as Israelis grapple with a new kind of Palestinian belligerency.”
“Jewish Book News” after describing the contents of the book concluded, “… the problem of the Palestinians is both vexing and timely. Simons’ book should provide some useful background information for those trying to understand the present predicament.”
A review even appeared in an Australian paper “News Weekly” from Melbourne. It described the book as “a straightforward, non-polemic survey of what responsible Zionist and Gentile statesman who foresaw the future recommended, and the background today haunts this collection of forebodings from yesterday.”
In contrast to this description of the book as “non-polemic,” a review in the journal “Middle East Studies,” claimed that it was “a polemic cleverly parading as a cool and reasoned historical survey.” It may be significant that the reviewer used the expression “expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from the lands controlled by Israel” rather the word “transfer.” He did admit however that “Simons succeeds extremely well in the tasks of assembling an impressive array of relevant evidence and making his case. The numerous quotations which Simons draws from archives and other primary materials are indeed fascinating.”
The expression “expulsion” was also used in a brief book review brought in the “Middle East Journal.” In it the review stated, “…. argues that the notion of expulsion of the Palestinian population has been a constant feature of Zionist thinking, which has transcended the traditional left-right political divide. The author quotes at length statements in favour of expulsion made by Herzl, Ben-Gurion, Sharett, Jabotinsky, Weizmann and others.”
Whilst all this was in progress, it had been suggested that the research would look more impressive if it were to be within the framework of an institute. I opened an institute which I called the “Nansen Institute.” I chose the name after Fridtjof Nansen, who had proposed the population transfer between Greece and Turkey and which later the Peel Commission considered a precedent for an Arab-Jewish population transfer. To get material on Nansen, I first wrote to the Norwegian Embassy in Israel and they gave me the name and address of “The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.” I wrote to them and they sent me a book on Nansen in Norwegian, (I fully admit that I couldn’t understand a word of it!) and some large photographs of him.
The letters of the word “Nansen” written in Hebrew, also had a meaning, “We will built and settle on the strength of our inheritance.”
One of the earlier purchasers of my book was a person connected with (or possibly even the head of) the “Jordan is Palestine” movement. I had a meeting with him, - (I don’t remember who initiated the meeting) - and there I saw that in his copy, he had marked all the passages mentioning Transjordan.
As I stated earlier, some of the material I had copied out by hand from the original sources rather than photocopy it. I then decided that I would make a point of photocopying all this and any subsequent material - this is far more professional! Also I had kept all my photocopies in large labelled envelopes which in turn were put in a large crate. I then went and bought a number of large ring files and card dividers and transferred all the material to these files.
Up to that period, I had been satisfied with books whose content was diaries or letters written by famous personalities such as Herzl or Ben-Gurion. I decided that it was far better to have photocopies of the original materials. For example, amongst my references were extracts from Herzl’s diary, the original of which was kept in the CZA. They allowed me to look at the original diary and they photocopied the pages I requested. There were also references to Ben-Gurion’s diary and his letters and I accordingly ordered photocopies of these items from Moreshet Ben-Gurion.
Following the publication of my book, I received reactions of disbelief. “Surely Herzl or Ben-Gurion didn’t make such proposals?!” I also received the suggestion to bring out my book in a condensed and eye-catching form. In response, in 1989 I produced a book which contained photocopied extracts from 43 documents proposing transfer, by a whole cross-section of individuals and institutions. Where the document was not in English, I appended a translation. I also wrote a brief introduction to each document.
Let me now mention an aim and objective of this research. Since the issue of population transfer is a very delicate subject, many proposers confined the exposition of their ideas to diaries, private correspondence and closed meetings. In public they either ignored the subject or spoke against it. Even those who did propose various schemes were often reluctant to specifically suggest compulsory transfer. They relied on various euphemistic expressions to convey their intentions regarding compulsion. I therefore made it an important aim in this research to ascertain the private views of the proposers on this subject. The wording of their proposals was also carefully analysed to determine whether the transfer of the Arabs from Eretz Israel was intended to be compulsory or voluntary.
On one occasion Rabbi Meir Kahane came to Kiryat Arba and gave a lecture in the Matnas. I was sitting next to the aisle and as he passed me on entering, I showed him a copy of my book which I was holding and asked him whether he knew about it. Had he said no, I would have given him this copy. However he answered that he already had two copies.
As to be expected Rachavam Ze’evi (“Gandi”), head of the then recently formed “Moledet” party was also very interested in my book and he offered to have it translated into Hebrew and then published. The only problem was that he said he had no budget to pay a translator and he hoped he would find one who would do it on a voluntary basis. Soon after, he said that he had found someone and I should send the translator the quotations which were originally in Hebrew and I had thus translated into English. However this translator finished before she even started! The next person he found did a bit better. He did several pages but then retired! I then looked for a translator. I found one but when I told his name to Gandi, he rejected him outright, since he claimed he was connected with Kach. So that was the “finis” of the Hebrew version.
Even though my book had been published, I realised there was a lot more research that could be done in that field and I immediately began this.
One of my references to Herzl’s transfer proposals was from a news-clipping from the London “Jewish Tribune” which reported on a lecture delivered by a Mark Braham in Australia in 1974. I managed to find Braham’s address and I wrote to him requesting a full copy of his paper together with any relevant correspondence or material he had on this subject. He immediately sent me his paper and following further correspondence sent me photocopies from his extensive correspondence (as much as hundreds of letters, but I only requested those connected with transfer) with Desmond Stewart who had written a biography of Herzl.
When I wrote my book, the papers of Israel Zangwill which were in the CZA had not been sorted out – and there was a large quantity of material! During the following years, the material was organised and catalogued and as a result I was able to find many letters and news clippings which were connected with his many transfer proposals.
In 1990 Rafael Medoff who was then in the United States, brought out a paper on Hubert Hoover’s transfer plan. This paper gave me a number of further leads on this plan and I wrote to the Hoover Library in Iowa and ordered a large number of photocopies.
I also ordered photocopies from a number of other archives in the United States in connection with the various transfer plans brought in my research. These included such archives such as the National Archives, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, and Columbia University.
I had felt that the chapter in my book on Edward Norman’s transfer plan was too condensed, especially regarding the three versions of his plan. I therefore rewrote the chapter on Norman, considerably expanding it, and in 1991 brought out a 59 page book just on Norman’s transfer plan.
For those interested in the technicalities of word processing, I might mention that about that time, “Einstein” had come into fashion in Israel and I accordingly, using a computer program, converted my book on transfer which was then on “Word-Star” to “Einstein.”
By 1993, I had accumulated a large amount of additional material and I wrote it up as “Supplement Number 1” to my book. The major additions included material on the transfer proposals by Zangwill, Hoover, the Peel Commission, the Revisionists and a proposal to transfer some of the Druze. In the Preface, I wrote that “to fully understand it [the Supplement], the reader is strongly advised to read it in conjunction with” my books on transfer and on Norman’s transfer plan. Where appropriate, I quoted in this supplement the page references to these two books.
My research in this field was not limited to bringing out these books. It was towards the end of 1986 that the “Jewish Press” of New York was bringing out an Israeli edition “Jerusalem Times/Jewish Press.” I went to their office and there I spoke to a person whose name was “Happy.” I told her what research I was doing and whether she was interested in articles on this subject for the paper. I should add that this was on a purely honorary basis. She was very enthusiastic and during the following months I sent her several articles which were duly published. The subjects were Herzl on Transfer of Arabs, Weizmann on Transfer of Arabs, Ben-Gurion on Transfer of Arabs, and Proposals by Anti-Zionists to Transfer Arabs from Eretz-Israel. About three years later, the newspaper “Moledet” translated some of these articles into Hebrew and published them in that newspaper. In 1992, I brought out a booklet called “Transferology” in which I reproduced all these articles, together with some “Letters to the Editor” on the subject of transfer which I had sent to various Israeli newspapers and had been published.
One of the groups meeting at the “Israel Center,” which was then located in Strauss Street in Jerusalem was “The Center for Jewish Activism.” In the summer of 1990, I was invited to give a lecture there on the subject “Transfer: History and Dilemma.” The lecture was publicised (in amongst other places) in the “In Jerusalem” supplement of the “Jerusalem Post.” On the evening of Wednesday 6 June I delivered my lecture. My talk lasted for about an hour and was followed by a period of discussions and questions. In my lecture I gave a historical overview of some of the transfer proposals which had been made since the founding of the Modern Zionist movement. My talk was filled with numerous verbatim quotes (where necessary translated into English) of proposals which had been made by various individuals or organisations. Towards the end of my talk, I mentioned that transfer was not limited to Arabs – Jews were forcibly transferred from the Yamit area. I concluded my talk with a pronouncement by the then President of the State of Israel, Chaim Herzog, “Were it possible for us to take a million Arabs and move them out, it would be good.”
I had seen this quote of Herzog’s in the book “The Jewish State and the Arab Problem” by Dr. Mordechai Nisan. He gave the source from a booklet brought out after a study evening held in April 1970. The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Abba Eban, and Chaim Herzog was one of the speakers. It was during the course of his talk that Herzog had made this statement.
As I have already stated, I make a point of tracking down and photocopying original documents. I therefore asked Nisan if he had this original document. He told me that he had not photocopied it but he assured me that it was an accurate quote. For nearly 20 years, he and I have spent countless hours trying to track down this booklet, but as yet without success.
During a general election campaign, at the time when Chaim Herzog was President, the “Moledet” party brought this quote in their television election propaganda. I then got a telephone call from Gandi (or his office) asking me whether I had the source of this quote. Apparently they had been contacted by the President’s office. I could only tell them that I had seen it in Nisan’s book. The end of the story is that the “Moledet” party was made to remove this quote, since it drew the President into politics.
About the summer of 1993, I was visiting my brother’s family who live in Haifa. I took the opportunity to visit the Haifa Municipal Archives, since I had read that they had material on a meeting between Baron Rothschild and Shabetai Levy. I found this material quite easily but when I came to order some photocopies I found I did not have any small money and they did not have change! To solve the problem, I went to some neighbourhood kiosk, bought something (not that I really wanted it) and hence got change to pay for the photocopies.
Amongst the material I found that day was a passage worth quoting for different reasons. Rothschild had just told Levy his transfer plan for Arabs and Levy had taken out his notebook to write it down, but he was immediately rebuked by Rothschild, “Don’t you know it is the Sabbath and that it is forbidden to write? You have a good memory and you will surely remember what I am telling you until tomorrow.”
In 1994, I decided that it was not convenient to use a book together with a supplement. It was necessary to integrate all the material I had into one book. I also utilised the opportunity to renumber the references to avoid having to put in A’s, B’s and so on. I also decided to incorporate into this book, photocopies of extracts of a large number of original documents. I called the book “Herzl to Eden.” The reason was that chronologically the earliest proposal appearing in it was made by Theodor Herzl and the latest by Anthony Eden.
On the back cover I gave four quotes with the heading “Who said the following?” Two examples of these were, “The Jews will help in getting Arabs out of Galilee,” and “Palestine should be for the Jews and no Arabs should be in it.” The answers are Chaim Weizmann and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. Unlike here, those reading my transfer book didn’t get the answers straight away. They were told to read the book for the answers!
At that period there had been great developments in word processing. “Einstein” which gave just a typing font was being superceded by “Dagesh” which could give a print-like font. My initial thought at that time was to use “Dagesh” in producing this book, but I did not yet have it in my computer and in any case had not yet learned how to use it. So this book had to come out in “Einstein.” Together with all the reproduced documents, the book had 442 pages.
A book of this sort requires an index. In the edition brought out by “Ktav,” the publishers themselves prepared the index. For the “Herzl to Eden” edition, I had to prepare it. Anyone who has ever prepared an index will tell you that it is a very tedious job. To accomplish this, I first had to go through the book page by page, listing all the words that I felt needed indexing. Fortunately I had a program which arranged all these words in alphabetical order. (For my latest book on the subject, I had to go through the entire process again, since any addition to a book will cause havoc with the original pagination.)
I decided to bring out about 30 copies and this I accomplished using a Gestetner duplicator. To run off so many pages was a very tedious task indeed and it took me countless hours. I then had to take the thousands of duplicated pages home, sort them out and then make them into books. Finally I did some amateur binding of each copy.
Two years later I converted my book from “Einstein” to “Dagesh” and brought a new edition, although this time I did not include the documents. The local Pedagogic Centre had meanwhile purchased a laminating machine and I used it to laminate the front and back covers.
Towards the end of 1991, I heard from Mordechai Nisan that Rafael Medoff was researching Edward Norman’s transfer plan and I sent him a copy of my book on Norman. Three years later, Medoff brought out his doctoral thesis at Yeshiva University entitled “American Zionist leaders and the Palestinian Arabs, 1898-1948.” There was a quite a bit about Norman’s plan in this thesis. I myself discovered in this book a number of references on various transfer plans which I was not aware of.
In his thesis, Medoff had made a glancing reference to a transfer plan by the British industrialist Israel Sieff. Until this time, I had never heard of a plan by Sieff and I began researching it by looking up files of British Jewish newspapers of that period. I found a large amount material regarding the contents of a speech (and the considerable follow-up) which Sieff had made in the United States, although Sieff made no mention of this speech in his memoirs. I even wrote to the Marks and Spencer Archives in London (Sieff had been a Director) to see if they had an original copy of the speech but they didn’t. Sieff’s transfer proposal in this speech even caused a Parliamentary question to be asked in the House of Commons.
An index to correspondence of the British Foreign Office states in which file each item is to be found. In this index I found recorded two files concerning this Parliamentary question on Sieff’s American speech. I wrote to the Public Record Office in London for copies of the relevant papers on this Question. They replied that they had not preserved these files. I should mention that this was not the first time that I had received such an answer from them. I am rather surprised that they just destroyed these files. Maybe they regarded them of no historical value, but for some historians they are history. If they lacked room to store them, why did they not transfer them to microfilms?
Medoff also brought references from the Hadassah archives in New York. I wrote to these archives for some photocopies and they sent me a form to fill up with my order. On it I answered that my research was about “population transfer.” From their “fee schedule” I calculated how much the order would come to and enclosed the money. Soon after, they returned the money with a note that my “request for photocopies of material from Hadassah’s archives has been denied.” A couple of years later on 22 February 2002 there was an article in the “Jerusalem Post” quoting the President of Hadassah as saying “we’re so open about what we do.” I wrote a “Letter to the Editor” of the “Jerusalem Post” explaining what had happened and asked, “Does Hadassah’s policy of ‘openness’ exclude the subject of transfer of Arabs?” but they did not publish it.
A book published in 1992 was by Nur Masalha, and was entitled “Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of ‘Transfer’ in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948,” and it was published by the “Institute for Palestine Studies.” I learned about this book from Gandi who loaned me his copy to read. In a number of instances, Masalha quotes from my first book on transfer as the source for the material he brings in his book. In fact in a review on this book which appeared on the Internet, the reviewer wrote, “It seems to me that his book is mostly ‘lifted from Dr. Chaim Simons earlier (1988) well researched book available at Amazon, ‘International Proposals to Transfer the Arabs of Palestine; 1895-1947. A Historical Survey’.” Even so, I did find a few references in this book which I did not know of.
From all the above and from other sources, I found by 1997 that I had enough material for a supplement to my 1994 edition of my book and I accordingly brought it out. The main material contained in it was on transfer proposals by Zangwill, Norman, Sieff, the Peel Report and Lehi. Later I integrated this supplement into the 1994 addition and renumbered all the references in the same way as I had done some years previously. However I did not at the time bring out a hard copy but left it on my computer.
Advances in word processing are so fast today that just a few years after “Dagesh” came into fashion it was largely superceded by “Word” and I accordingly changed my files for this book of mine.
This was the period when opening a website on the Internet was become fashionable. It was with the great assistance of Ariel Pasko, and maybe it was even at his suggestion, that I opened my own website. It was first necessary to change my “Word” files to HTML files. On the Internet I found a site which taught one the most elementary basics of HTML – for example, how by adding certain symbols one can change the size of letters, add new paragraphs, italics, bold face, underlining and so on. I then added all the appropriate symbols to my word files and then by trial and error learned how to bring these files into my website. When I began this work, the size of every file in my website had to be relatively small and my transfer book took up about 60 files. (At a later date one could use much larger files, and I accordingly halved the number of my files.) I also had to add instructions so that the reader on my website could move from one file to the next one or from a file to the footnotes, and so on, by just a click on the “mouse.”
It is no good opening a website if no-one is going to know that it exists! I therefore had to inform search engines to put it on their lists. This I did and gradually it appeared on search engines. (Today websites are taken up much quicker by the various search engines.)
One of the reviewers of my original book had commented that its format was closer to that of an encyclopaedia than a work set in an integrated historical framework. In fact when I began writing this book, I carefully weighed up these two alternative formats and came to the conclusion to keep the various transfer plans distinct. However, towards the end of the 1990s I decided to begin the book with “A Historical Overview” which put the various transfer proposals brought into a historical framework.
My research for additional material on transfer proposals still went on ….
Towards the end of 2002 I felt that there was much more material to be found on the “Labour Party Resolution on Palestine.” My wife had to go to London for a family tombstone consecration and whilst she was there, she managed to go to the London School of Economics and there she went through several months’ diary entries of Hugh Dalton, the architect of the Labour Party Resolution. She succeeded in finding several additional references to Dalton’s Palestine proposal which she then had photocopied.
Towards the beginning of my research I had seen in Gorny’s book that a certain A. Sargent had written a thesis entitled “The Labour Party and Palestine” and had been awarded a doctorate for it from London University. At the end of 1988, I had written to this University requesting his address which they promptly sent me. I then wrote to Dr. Sargent requesting photocopies of the material from his thesis dealing with this Palestine paragraph, but I received no answer. Quite possibly he had meanwhile changed his address. Here the matter stood until the autumn of 2002. I then telephoned London University and they told me his thesis was not on record.
The Jewish National Library tries to obtain all material on Judaica. I thus went to their purchasing department and suggested they purchase this thesis. They looked it up and said that it was not a London University thesis but one from Nottingham University. (I therefore often wonder how London University knew his address in 1988!) They ordered it on microfilm and within a short period it was in the library. This thesis gave me a number of references of archival material in the Labour Party Archives and in LSE.
Many archives have put their catalogues on the Internet and I found the catalogue of the archives of High Dalton at LSE. In addition, extracts of the War Diaries of Dalton have been published. Although the Jewish National Library did not have a copy, there was one at Tel-Aviv University and I borrowed it via an inter-library loan - for a fee.
From the above sources I made a list of the archival materials I required from LSE and the Labour Party Archives and ordered photocopies. From this and other material which I then assembled, I was able to considerably expand on my account of the “Labour Party Resolution on Palestine.”
In my original book, I had a brief mention of a resolution on Palestine advocating transfer by the Common Wealth Party, which was a left-wing splinter party in Britain. My information had been gleaned from just a couple of newspaper clippings – nothing else! From the Internet I learned that the archives of the Common Wealth Party were to be found at Sussex University. I wrote to them requesting and specifying certain material I wanted but they replied that I should send someone to their archives to pick out the material.
I thus began to search for somebody in the Brighton area. I had started to make contact with Chabad in Brighton, when I suddenly received an e-mail from a Gerald Adler in Brighton. I told him what research I was interested in and asked if he could go to the archives and have the material photocopied. He very kindly obliged and I was able to include a considerably expanded account of the Common Wealth resolution quoting primary sources.
A further book by Rafael Medoff called “Baksheesh Diplomacy” published in 2001, is devoted largely to Edward Norman. In this book, Medoff quoted extensively from Norman’s diary and even brought a photocopy of one of its pages. This was the first positive evidence I had that this diary was extant and it stated that it was in the possession of the Norman family
. I searched on the Internet and found the Norman Foundation – the Norman family were multi-millionaires. In October 2001, I telephoned the number given there and succeeded in speaking to Andrew Norman – the son of Edward. He told me that he thought his father’s archives were somewhere in his house. I suggested that they be transferred to the CZA. At first he was not receptive to this idea since his said that his father was not a Zionist but later he agreed and that when he had time he would look for them. The next time I spoke to him he said that they must have been transferred to his summer house in Massachusetts and when he would be there the following August he would look for them. I contacted him again the following September but he had forgotten to search for them. However he did send someone to this summer home and he returned with what he thought was these archives. However on looking through this box he found it was something quite different.
About a year later, I received a telephone call from someone in New York who had seen my book on the Internet and suggested I come the following summer to the United States to lecture on this subject – a suggestion which never materialised. I utilised the opportunity to tell him of the difficulties I was experiencing in trying to get the Norman archives and he promised to help. He reported to me that he had invited Andrew Norman to lunch with him in a restaurant and there Andrew had promised to make a further search for these papers. I sent several e-mails to this person in New York to ask if there was any progress but received no answer. Some months later, I tried again to contact Andrew Norman but the person answering the telephone told me that he had passed away. I therefore had to be satisfied with the material brought in Medoff’s book.
Other material I found about this period about the Norman plan was from the catalogue of the Churchill papers which were housed in Churchill College in Cambridge University. I had found this catalogue in March 2003 on the Internet. In it were a number of items concerning the appeal of Montague Bell (Norman’s helper) directly to Churchill to grant him permission to leave Britain for Iraq. I ordered these pages. This was the first time that an archive I had ordered material from, had photocopied the document onto yellow paper and moreover had stamped each page with the archive’s stamp in such a way that the stamp went over some of the text. Maybe they wanted to make sure that no-one reproduced these pages!
As I found additional material I would insert it in the appropriate place on my computer files and I would then transfer it to the equivalent place on my website. Since it was on the Internet, the entire world could view it and indeed I would receive e-mails or even telephone calls from all over the world. On one occasion in the middle of the night – yes, in the middle of the night - I received a telephone call from San Francisco. I asked the caller if he knew what time it was in Israel!
In August 2002, I received a letter from a Mohammed Alwalidi from Hyderabad India asking me where my book on transfer had been published. I accordingly informed him that it was only on the Internet. He was shocked to hear this and wrote, “How come such a very well research [sic] and great work still not published.” He himself had a Publication House “Khalid ibn Alwalid Publications” but they were a very small company which only published in Arabic. However he promised to advertise my research and try and find a publisher.
Some writers had heard about my original book published in 1988 and asked where they could get a copy. I pointed out that it was a very out of date edition and they could find the latest edition on the Internet.
In July 2000, the historian Benny Morris contacted me to ask if I had a hard copy of my latest book. I told him that it was on the Internet and told him where he could find it. He answered that he preferred a hard copy since he could then give a reference in his planned book. When his book was published I saw that he had not brought my website as a reference but had brought my original book from 1988 and one of my supplements. A number of other authors have also quoted my book in the bibliography of their works. For example: Mark Tessler in “A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” and Abraham Edelheit in “The Yishuv in the Shadow of the Holocaust.”
In the “Maccabean” of February 2002, which is published by the Freeman Center in Houston Texas, Boris Shusteff published a two part article entitled “The Morality of Transfer” showing that population transfer is moral and he begins both parts with a quote from Zangwill which I had brought in my book, “One single act of compulsion is better for both sides than perpetual friction.” In these articles, Shusteff quotes extensively from my book.
In February 2004 I received an e-mail from an Elias Davidsson. After commenting that “by coincidence” he came across my “impressive study” he went to compare the transfer of Arabs with the Nazi transfer of Jews from Germany and that “International law not only prohibits the forcible deportation of populations but designates such actions as crimes against humanity.” He requested my “observations on his “critique.”
My first reaction to comments I receive on my e-mail is to try and find out information about the writer which I usually do from a search on the Internet. I indeed found information about Elias Davidsson. He had been born in Eretz Israel but now lived in Iceland. He had once belonged to Hashomer Hazair, but left it disillusioned. In Iceland he worked in music and was also the church organist
He was a founder of the Association Iceland-Palestine and a supporter of a secular-democratic State in Palestine. When I asked him why not Association Iceland-Israel, his answer was, “I consider the name of my homeland as Palestine.”
My reply to his e-mail was very long and I shall therefore just bring a very brief summary of it. At length I discussed the difference between transfers which were done solely for “ethnic cleansing” such as by the Nazis and those which were done to prevent friction between different peoples living together, showing how these latter were proposed and supported by the most respectable of people. I went on to show how the Arabs want to destroy Israel completely and that the Geneva Convention does not apply to Judea, Samaria and Gaza since they are not territories occupied by Israel.
His reply was even longer than mine. Here are a few quotes from it. “The State of Israel was established on their [Arab] land, against their will. It’s a name that is directly linked to one religion, not to the religions of all Palestinians.”…. “If Jews have any purpose in living in the Middle East, their best contribution would be to establish a secular democracy in historic Palestine.”…. “Suicide bombings against Israeli military targets are lawful under the laws of warfare. They are not lawful against civilians in Israel. The question whether suicide bombings are lawful against Israeli settlers in the occupied territories is a disputed matter.” ….“I would think it would be far more ethical to transfer the foreign-born Jews from Palestine and send them back to their original countries than to transfer indigenous Arabs from their country.”….”After all the Jews came there [to Israel] as uninvited guests.”
In the letter I had written to him I had stated “If you consider all transfers of population, whether of Jew or Arab, to be illegal and a crime against humanity, then Yossi Beilin and his friends’ ‘Geneva Accord’ to transfer one hundred thousand Jews from their homes and Ariel Sharon’s proposal to transfer seven and a half thousand Jews from their homes, must come under this definition.”
Here he replied, “Here you are totally right. I do, of course oppose the removal of the settlers from the West Bank and Gaza.”
I concluded my letter, “You have written to me opposing the transfer of Arabs. Please let me know all the steps you have taken with regard to these proposed transfers of Jews. In addition, please let me know what you did, when Jews were forcibly transferred from their homes in Yamit and the surrounding area in 1982.”
His answer, “Regarding your last question, I must admit that I was at that time little involved in the Palestine question.” We should note that Davidsson despite answering all my other points at great length did not supply an answer as to what he is doing regarding Sharon’s plan to expel Jews from Gush Katif and the other settlements. Furthermore I have never seen anything in the paper of Elias Davidsson fighting against this expulsion of Jews!
Eight months later in October 2004, I received an e-mail from a person in Massachusetts asking me where he might be able to locate the descendants of Ernst Frankenstein, who was one of the proposers of transfer brought in my book. He informed me that during the Second World War the Frankensteins lived in Hendon in London and I suggested that he contacts the Hendon Synagogue which was established in 1922. I added I would be interested to hear if anything came of this research but I never heard from him again.
It was interesting to see how people reviewing or discussing my book on the Internet described me and my book! In a website headed “Palestine: Information with Provenance” appeared, “This is an attempt, by a right-wing Zionist settler in the West Bank, to justify what is forbidden in International Law – the expulsion of the Palestinians. This means, however, that it is a credible source for quotations showing that transfer was always part of the Zionist agenda: many Zionists claim that transfer was never part of the Zionist project, that it was something forced on them by the exigencies of war in 1948 – this book, written by a Zionist, shows otherwise.”
At least this review called me a “Zionist.” There was another review which said the opposite! There the reviewer writes, “As the title implies this book, compiled by anti-zionist jew Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons reviews the multiple zionist policies to expel, ethnically cleanse or ‘transfer’ the native Arab population from their Palestinian homeland, from Theodor Herzl all the way up to modern jews and their lackeys. Some proposals are polite, some not very nice at all.” [In the original, the words Jew and Zionist are written with small letters.]
In addition to these “reviews” on the Internet, my book was copied in its entirety in 2004, under the general heading of “The Zionist Crime” Collection and published by “Gengis Khan Publishers,” the location of the publishers, being “Ulaan Baator” – according to my atlas this is in Mongolia! Why go to Mongolia to reprint it, is anyone’s guess!
It was by chance that I saw on the Internet in 2005 that my original book had been mentioned in “Letters” in the New York journal “Commentary” of February 1990. A correspondent Zalman Gaibel of Chicago had written to the journal taking Shabtai Teveth to task for comments he had made on transfer. Gaibel had commented that transfer is something that nearly everybody thinks about privately, would “have preferred not to do without it” and that “everybody maintained a discreet and embarrassed silence with respect to it.” He then continued, “If it were otherwise, Chaim Simons could not have unearthed the 64 population transfer proposals he documents in his book.”
In reply Teveth answered, “Chaim Simons did not unearth ‘64 population-transfer proposals’… A closer scrutiny … would reveal that of the sixteen so-called Jewish proposals hardly three were worthy of the title and none was an official proposal put forward by a Zionist party or approved by either the Zionist World Congress or the Israeli government. For the most part the proposals Simons deals with are nothing more that fleeting, unpublished ideas…”
Had Teveth cited chapter and verse” from my book, instead of rattling off numbers such as 16 or 3, his comments might have carried more weight. However, anyone reading my book objectively would soon see that the comments on my book brought by Zalman Gaibel (and not those brought by Shabtai Teveth) accord with the facts brought in my book.
I have already stated that a number of people were interested in a hard copy of my book and in 2004 I brought out such a hard copy which contained 360 pages. It has 1,749 footnotes and about 260 items of Bibliography. I also felt that it would give the book more credence if I brought out a companion volume containing photocopies of extracts of a large selection of the actual documents quoted in my book. I thus selected about 400 such documents, photocopied brief relevant extracts and incorporated them into a bound volume. Under each photocopy I added the reference in my book and recommended that the reader use this volume in conjunction with my book.
This is how my research on transfer now stands.
I wrote above how in June 1990, I had delivered a lecture at the Israel Centre in Jerusalem on the subject of transfer. I heard at the time that the lecture had been videoed, and that the tape had run out before the end of my lecture. I never saw the video and I even forgot about it. It was in January 2016 – nearly 26 years after delivering this lecture, that one of my daughters informed me that she had just learned that this lecture had been put on YouTube four months earlier in September 2015. I immediately went to YouTube and looked at the recording. The quality was quite good and I saw that the tape had run out just about a couple of minutes before the end of my lecture. The YouTube film had a place where the general public could add their comments. Fortunately, I had a verbatim text of my lecture, and I utilised the place for comments to write in the missing part of my lecture. I also made a link from my website to this YouTube film.