(continued from 1)

You wanted a source on my land ownership figures. I used Mideastweb. But then after you asked, I decided to look around some more. First of all, with respect to your land ownership figures, they are entirely misleading. The Ottomans had five categories of land usage ranging from private ownership to “dead land” to communal land inside villages. Essentially what your pro-Palestinian sources did was to take everything that wasn’t Jewish-owned but fell into any of these 5 Ottoman categories and call them “Palestinian owned.” Thus, if only 30% of the entire land was settled, somehow your sources called 23% of that plus the other 70% that were unsettled and most of which were un-owned “Palestinian owned land.”

But I’m a pedantic guy and decided to look around. It seems there are many issues with identifying what was owned by whom. In fact the only number everybody seems to agree about is that Jews bought and owned 7-8% of the land which represented 20% of land that could be cultivated.

Otherwise, you get differing sources on the pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli sides. You’ve listed a pro-Palestinian source, so I’ll mention a pro-Israel source like Myths and Facts that quotes a section in a Michael Curtis book called The Palestinians. In it, he uses an article by Moshe Aumann who quotes page 257 of the Survey conducted by the British Mandatory government in 1946 and which proclaims 8.6% of the land is Jewish and another 70% is controlled by the British: Of the remainder, 3% remains in Arab hands and 18% is abandoned:

According to Mitchell Bard (citing Moshe Aumann, “Land Ownership in Palestine, 1880-1948,” in Michael Curtis, et al., The Palestinians, (NJ: Transaction Books, 1975), p. 29, quoting p. 257 of the Government of Palestine, Survey of Palestine), in terms of the land that would eventually become Israel, 9% of the land was owned by Jews, 3% by Arabs who became citizens of Israel, and 18% by Arabs who left the country.


Another article lists similar stats: (important stuff coming up, click on the More link! You know you want to…)

“By the eve of statehood, the Jewish National Fund had acquired a total of 936,000 dunums of land; another 800,000 dunums had been acquired by other Jewish organizations or individuals.11 These holdings amounted to some 8.6 percent of the total land of what would later be Israel; of the rest, more than 70 percent were public lands vested in the British Mandatory authorities.”

But I thought that since we had two contradictory versions, I should go to a source I could trust. I wrote to an Israeli professor who is employed by a significant university inside Israel and who has published scholarly articles on the subject that are considered fair and unbiased. This professor was kind enough to write back briefly and in essence confirmed what I have read in a number of other scholarly sources more recent than Aumann.

Dear Mr. The Middle,

Answering your question requires a serious study.

Shortly I can tell you that out of the total land area of Mandatory Palestine – 26.3 million metric dunams, the total area of Mandatory Palestine, well over half was state land (the Negev is 12.5 million dunams [ed. By TM, obviously these lands are almost impossible to cultivate] and state lands in other parts of the country as well + Waqf endowed lands etc.).

The Jews bought and owned in June 1947 over 1.8 million dunams which were about 7%.

Apart from that there were lands in the hand of Christian Churches and missions, private effendis from the Middle East, and almost a million dunams [4%] were ex-private lands of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II.

The UN partition plan allocated 11.4 m. dunams to the Arab State and 14.92 m. dunams to the Jewish state [ TM says that if the Negev is 12.5 million dunams and the Jews already owned 1.8 million, then the UN gave the Jews a lot of crappy land + land they already bought + another 0.62 million dunams. Sounds like a good deal for the Palestinians since they seem to get over 75% of the cultivable land!!!!!!]

When the fighting ended [1948], the land area of Israel had grown to 20.6 m.d. [The Middle says, so the Jews ended up with another…4 to 6 million dunams because the Arabs launched a war, and my friendly scholar confirms:]
According to various estimates, Palestinian abandoned land ranged from 4.2 million dunams to 5.8 million dunams.
867,000 dunams were cultivated by Israeli Arabs in 1949 [The Middle says, that’s all?!].

I hope you enjoyed the response and the enlightening research, even if it refutes your figures by a considerable amount. Nobody is saying Palestinians didn’t lose land…because they did. They did not however lose anything close to the entire land and of what they did lose, there have been mechanism allowing them to claim compensation. Again, I remind you that more compensation was on the table in 2000. I also remind you they lost that land because they attacked and because they refused any form of sharing of the land.

Remember, however, there is still a chance to divide the land and make peace. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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  • great post!

    … however, i found it a bit hard to follow with all those numbers floating around.

    any way that you could combine the two posts into a simple chart that takes the various sources into account?

    i really think that dumbing this down into a simple linkable chart would be extremely beneficial.

    anyway, great post…

  • We are at war. Many stubbornly and foolishly don’t put the pieces together and refuse to identify the evil doers as evil.

    We are at war. Many stubbornly and foolishly do not put the pieces together and refuse to identify the evil doers as evil; they delude themselves that the Arabs do not want to destroy us. We are disgracefully politically correct to our detriment and at the cost of life to our people. Throughout history the Jews were bullied, used as scapegoats and persecuted by the various nations of the world. The world is not used to seeing a Jew who is strong, armed and fights for his freedom and rights, well the time has come for the world to realize the Jew will never again cower to atrocities and pogroms as happened in the past, since the destruction of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, with the Almighty’s help we will shall persevere against all odds.
    There are no Luftwaffe overhead or Panzer divisions on our borders. But make no mistake; we the Jewish people are under attack—our values, our tolerance, our freedom, our virtue, our land, and I specify our ancestral land for 4000 years – it was never in history an independent Arab country. Did anyone imagine in the 1920’s what Europe would look like in the 1940’s?
    We dare not wallow in complacency, in a misguided tolerance and naive sense of security. We must not be lulled into inaction for fear of offending the offenders. Radical Islam is the curse of the world and this must be cried out from every house of worship. ISIS MUST BE DESTROYED. Iran is our enemy and they are a destabilizing factor in the Middle East which ignite a third World War. They are the new 21st century Nazis.
    These murderers, these barbarians are radical Islamists.
    This is an all out war. Show no mercy on them. They must be utterly destroyed. They want to murder Jews and we must destroy them first. WHY ARE PEOPLE AFRAID TO STATE THIS? MOST OF THE WORLD HATES US JEWS for no reason. We should stop appeasing the world and protect ourselves and Israel. Yes we have a few countries such as the U.S.A. to turn to and we have some friends from different religions, yet another holocaust is coming if we Jews remain silent and a third Intifada has begun., never again, never forget, never forgive. I am a son of holocaust survivors. The nation of Israel and its people have survived for thousands of years and will continue to survive.
    Have Israeli Arabs ever tried to integrate into Israeli society as have the Druze? Or is it the opposite? Except when it comes to medical care and welfare, do they even see themselves as Israeli Arabs or do they see themselves as Arab-Palestinians residing within Israel? Yes, there are exceptions among the educated; fine doctors, lawyers, etc., but they are the exception. Muslims mission is to occupy other countries and than enforce their Sharia laws and their customs on the population at large and take over the hosting country.
    Israeli Arabs could have in the past, and now still could find the same acceptance and appreciation that the Druze have found. Why haven’t they? I think the answer is painfully clear. They want to destroy Israel and the Jews and they declare unashamedly those intentions to the world at large.
    YJ Draiman

    “In Israel; We have to undue and reverse the decades of nonsense that the peace industry has fermented, which led us to the position where the world thinks we the Jews are occupiers in our own ancestral land.
    If something is false and it is repeated enough times it becomes sort of common wisdom.
    We have to undo that.”