"A Land Without a People for a People Without a Land"
It ain’t necessarily so.
The phrase “A land without a people for a people without a land,” was not coined by a Jew, was never widely propagated by Zionists, and was not intended by the Victorian-era Christians who did use it to imply that Palestine was empty. It meant, quite specifically, that in the nineteenth century there was no self-identified Palestinian people in the land that would become Israel.
Edward Said even cited the phrase incorrectly, omitting the definite article to turn, “A land without a people,” into “A land without people,” and more effectively charge Zionists with falsely claiming that the land was empty.
But if Israel Zangwill didn’t coin this familiar phrase, who did?
A Scots Presbyterian in a frock coat, the Rev. Dr. Alexander Keith, who was sent to the Holy Land by the Church of Scotland on an 1839 fact-finding mission. His task: to determine whether the land was ready for the Jews to return (he thought that it was.) Keith published a book describing his trip and urging Christians to help the Jews, “a people without a country,” return to Israel, “a country without a people.”
An unsigned review of Keith’s book immediately put the phrase into the familiar “land without a people” wording.
Keith and the other Christians who used the phrase perceived the Holy Land as being the homeland of the Jews in the way that Greece was the homeland of the Greeks, and Scotland was the land of the Scots. They did not perceive the Arabs who lived in Palestinian as having a separate Palestinian ethnic or national identity, rather, they saw them as part of a larger Arab people. In this they were correct. The idea of a Palestinian people would not be proposed by Arab intellectuals until the twentieth century.
Rev. Keith urged Britain to “give Judea to the Jews” just as “Greece was given to the Greeks” in 1829. Greek independence was a wildly popular cause, idealistic young men sailed to Greece to join the fight. But even with Lord Byron and other romantic European volunteers shouldering rifles, the Greek rebellion would certainly have been put down by the Ottomans if Britain had not also sent the Navy, which secured Greek independence by defeating the combined Ottoman and Egyptian navies at the battle of Navarino. To many European and American Christians, the idea of creating a Jewish State seemed just as compelling as Byron’s dream that Greece might yet be free.
Keith’s political proposal failed to come to immediate fruition, but his slogan lived on, used by a fair number of Victorian-era Christians interested, like Keith, both in fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy of the return of the Jews to Israel and in relieving the oppression Jews suffered in Eastern Europe and in Ottoman lands.
Zionism, meanwhile, suffered no shortage of widely-propagated slogans. Read enough early Zionist literature and you may begin to suspect that there were once more Zionist slogans than there were Zionists. “Land without a people…,” however, was not a Zionist slogan.
Many of the most popular Zionist slogans used the phrases Jewish homeland or Jewish national home. The Zionist argument, after all, is not that Palestine was empty, but that Arabs, who have many holy cities and many homelands, have a lesser moral claim to Israel than the Jewish people, which has only this one national home.
We are left with a puzzle, how did the world persuade itself that a phrase once used by nineteenth-century Christians, was, as Professor Khalidi writes, “a widely-propagated Zionist slogan?”
The answer is that shortly after its founding in 1964, the PLO revived the old Christian slogan for the purpose of accusing Jews of falsely describing Palestine as empty. It is often quoted with the misleading wording employed by Edward Said “a land without people.” Thousands of books and articles have used the phrase in this way, many describing it at the most popular of all Zionist slogans. The truth is that it was only as a modern, anti-Israel propaganda tool that the phrase “A land without a people for a people without a land” ever became a “widely-propagated” slogan.
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Gerry Wong Pang - 1/18/2009
“We could also look at the official policy in Malaysia which discriminates against non-Muslims. What should we call that?? How come Malaysia's social reality is little discussed in the USA??”
Which policy “the so called discriminative” may I asked?. Caused being Malaysian and living in Malaysia for almost 32 years now , I did not experienced any discrimination by any policy, other than highlighted by our politicians to pursue their cause.
The British who were responsible for bringing into Malaya (Malaysia before independent) almost 2 million Chinese from mainland china to work in Tin mines in late 1800 and early 1900 irresponsibly tried to abandoned us here and imposing barrier during negotiation of independent of the then Federation of Malaya. Under the pretext that Chinese were under direct influence of Chinese Communist Party during Japanese occupation of Malaya where we fought tooth and nail to end the brutal Japanese rules while Brits fled like cowards. The result was that only about 200,000 Chinese had managed to become citizens out of a total of more than two million then resident in the former Federation of Malaya. One year after gaining independent (and the British force reduced in number) additional 1 million Chinese were absorb as citizens thru negotiations (not a drip of blood was spilled) citizenship awarded to those who was never detained on political ground related to communist. As a results of these negotiations, what we termed as Social Contracts formed part of our constitutions, special privileges was given to people to the land which is the Malay race, while the people like my forefather who was initially abandoned by the British were given citizenship and allowed to roam this country freely without any issue.
To me, my family and my circles of friends, that seem reasonable, we (Malaysian Chinese) have moved on and progressed very well since. If discrimination was intended in any of these policy could we (Malaysian Chinese) today statistically own 75% of Malaysian economy?. There are calls here and there for people of other race to be given more opportunity to the economy, but never ever the Chinese restricted from carrying their daily businesses freely (inclusive of religious practise).
My second question to you is why can’t Israeli do the same to the people of Palestine?, and by the way not all of them Moslems, some are Christians as well. Why chase them away from their lands, evade their homes, deny their basics human rights, and rain them with bombs etc?
Please addressed this issue fair and square as a civilise human beings and stop quoting things out of context to justify your means.
John Hubers - 5/22/2008
I'm not sure if you are deliberately missing my points, or simply don't understand them. I think the second is probably the case as you are unable to understand how the arrival of European Jews (not matter how they were perceived racially in Europe itself) was seen to be a threat to the Arabs who lived there not because they were arriving to settle in the area, but because they made it clear that their purpose was to create a Jewish state. Here it matters little if they planned to "allow" the Arabs to remain or not. The point was, this represented what could only be seen (rightfully it turned out) by the local population as an attempt to create a state governed by Europeans.
This is the point you refuse to grant - the Palestinians could see the arrival of these people in no other terms than that of yet another group of Europeans arriving to control their lives just at a time when their hopes for independence from the Turks was about to happen.
The problem you have here is the problem Israelis and American commentators have had for years - the inability to understand how this was perceived by the Arabs. It is in this way much like the way American history was written for years where the perception of Native Americans was not given any consideration. That has changed here. It remains unchanged in Israel - and among those who support the mythology as you apparently do.
Elliott Aron Green - 5/8/2008
I find the whole East-West, Europe-Middle-East distinction to be much exaggerated and artifical, especially if we limit East to what is now called the Middle East, the Roman Oriens. Indeed, in ancient times there was much less distinction than now. Much of the hostility and cultural distinction between the two areas was due to the Arab conquest, which destroyed the previous Oriental [that is, Middle Eastern] civilizations, and submerged cultures, languages, peoples, etc.
The Jews were part of the ancient East. Under the Muslim Arab dispensation, the Jews as a people and religious group were dhimmis, a people subject to the Arabs/Muslims, humiliated, exploited, and oppressed.
I would like to point out to John that the Arab nationalist leadership, including the top palestinian Arab leader, Haj Amin el-Husseini, British-appointed mufti of Jerusalem, were pro-Nazi during the 1930s and the Holocaust. Husseini indeed urged the Germans to kill more Jews in the Holocaust, taking part in it in various ways. He spent most of the war years in the Nazi-fascist domain in Europe and was a useful Nazi ally. That is, leaders of the Arab East allied with exponents of the Nordic supremacy theory.
By the way, Husseini had reddish hair and blue eyes. John should also study just how Europeans saw Jews in the period before the Holocaust. The German philosopher Kant called the German Jews "the Palestinians who live among us." This just illustrates that Jews were seen as aliens, inter alia.
Of course, if John H and anyone else believes that settlers should not continue to live in countries where their forebears may have settled, then he should stick to his principles and leave the United States. Give it back to the Indians. Don't you think that would be the right thing to do, John?? As far as the Jews are concerned, they have returned to their homeland.
Diane Muir - 5/8/2008
According to Huber's article "Palestinians, Christian Zionists and the Good News Gospel," published in the Journal of Lutheran Ethics (http://www.elca.org/jle/article.asp?k=7160) Nahum Goldman published this remark in 1983, citing it - incorrectly as far as I and others who have searched for it in Herzl's work have been able to determine - to Herzl.
By 1983 the idea that this was once a popular Zionist slogan had beocme widely accepted.
To establish that this phrase actually once was a popular Zionist slogan, Huber wouuld have to locate Zionists using this slogan in the pre-Balfoiur period. There are a few, although I would caution against over-hasty googling. Many uses are not what they seem. For example, some books and articles with "Jewish" in the title that do use this phrase turn out, on examination, to be Christian missionary tracts.
The Goldman quote as given by Huber merely shows that Nahum Goldman was no historian (many statesmen are not, more's the pity.)
If we dispassionately examine not only the pre-Balfour period, but the period between Balfour and statehood (as Hillel Cohen has brilliantly done in his just-translated "Army of Shadows," one of the vanishingly few dispassionately objective accounts of the Isaeli/Arab relationship that I have ever read) it becomes clear that the usual expectation not only of those proposing the creation of a Jewish State in the nineteenth century, but of Zionists on the ground in the pre-1948 period was that the Arab inhabitants would stay put. Israel would be a nation like almost all the others, i.e., with national minorities living within its borders as citizens.
This was an entirely reasonable expectation. Why should Israel not be a Jewish nation with a Muslim/Arab minority, as Persia is a Muslim nation with Azeri, Jewish, Christian-Armenian, and Zoroastrian minorities?
More to the point, out of the fading Ottoman Empire, Greece and Bulgaria were born, explicitly Christian nations with large Muslim-Turkish minorities. Egypt and Syria and other Muslim Arab states were born, with sizeable Christian minorities. The proposal of creating - on erstwhle Ottoman land - a Jewish State with sizeable Christian and Muslim Arab minorities would seem normal in this context.
What puzzles me is why Mr. Hubers finds the idea that Zionists generally anticipated not expulsion but the creation of a Jewish State with ed Muslim and Christian minorities inconceivable?
omar ibrahim baker - 5/7/2008
In may 2008 Israel, together with most of the Western World, will celebrate the sixtieth birthday of its implantation in Palestine with the same disregard and disdain for and intractable negation of the inalienable rights of OTHERS.
THE elation, ceremonies and glorification that will surround the memory of this 20th century colonialist conquest will overcome and submerge in Israel, and in the West but to a lesser degree, any feelings of guilt , regret or admission of responsibility for the Nakba (catastrophe) that befell the Palestinian Arab people as a result thereof .
I contend that this joy will turn out to be, historically, short lived and that this achievement will end up by being short sighted.
For despite the aura of humanism, progressivism and the upholding of human values which Israel claimed and with which it surrounded itself , and succeed to sell to the West , Israel IS and remains in history and, more importantly in intrinsic essence , character and future, a momentarily successful colonialist enterprise .
The Zionist colonialist project managed to supplant an indigenous people by aliens, screened and gathered on a racist basis and motivated by a racist doctrine, after dislocating, dispossessing , disfranchising and subjugation the indigenous Palestinian Arab people in his homeland .
Apologia for and of Israel irrespective of on which grounds they are made, including survival necessity and reality (fait accompli), will NEVER change the fundamental facts of Israeli genesis nor change its inevitable historical consequences.
NOR will it obscure or diminish the pernicious results of its implantation in Arab, Moslem and Christian, Palestine!
I-THE OUTCOME FROM ESTABLISHING ISRAEL IN PALESTINE
The net output from the success of this Zionist project, the implantation of an alien, and as such inevitably hostile, state in the Middle East was/ is:
-A destabilized Middle East
- A radically mobilized anti Zionist and anti West major human mass
-The bitter hostility of the Arab world both for the calamity inflicted on their dislocated, dispossessed, disfranchised and subjugated fellow Arab Palestinians and from the intractable expansionist and aggressive nature of this implant
-The virulent hostility of the Moslem world towards the alien nation/state that came to dominate the holy land housing the Al Aksa Mosque
-The creation of a fundamentally hostile major human block within the Israeli “nation/state”.
-The foundation of a western imperialist outpost in the Middle East
-The final and irrevocable severance of relations between world Jewry and a major human community, Islamdom, with which it historically had better relations than with any other, including Christendom.
However what will eventually overcome and outlast all these pernicious outputs is the catastrophic launch, the revitalization, of the up to then relatively dormant Moslem/Judeo-Christian hostility.
One has only to look at HOW Israel came into existence, HOW it is preserving that existence and what future lies ahead to reach all the inevitable conclusions.
II-HOW DID ISRAEL COME INTO EXISTENCE?
A Jewish community of less than 10% of the total population of Palestine, immediately pre and post WWI , became 48 % in the 1940s and was deemed entitled by the UNGA in 1947 to a sizable portion of Palestine to establish the state of Israel .
Israel was implanted in Palestine as a direct result of:
1- The British decision, in the Balfour declaration , to establish a “Jewish Homeland” in Palestine despite the fact that it was/is a relatively small country inhabited and populated continuously for the past 14 centuries by an indigenous Arab, Moslem and Christian people with a Jewish community that never exceeded, pre WWI, 10% of the total population .
2-Palestine then was NOT vacant nor was large enough to accommodate an alien people intent on colonizing part of it only..
The real Jewish/Zionist intention was, however, clearly perceived by the Palestinian Arab people for what it was from the very start as unmistakably and unequivocally proclaimed by Chaim Wieseman at Versailles namely “ to have a Jewish state as Jewish as France is French (in Palestine)”!
3-Britain’s decision was reached without any due consultation with and against the express will and incessant opposition of the indigenous .Palestinian Arab people (more than 80% of total population ) in the manner best described, by Arnold Toynbee, as” He who does NOT own promised, and gave away to he who does NOT deserve.”
4- The subsequent admission, by the British mandate, in collusion with the Zionist movement, of a vast number Jewish emigrants intent on establishing a Zionist colony, the so called “homeland”, always against the express will and the relentless opposition of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people both Moslems and Christians
5-The relentless repression of the Palestinian people by the British mandate which included, inter alia
5.1-The continued DENIAL of the Palestinian people HIS RIGHT TO SELF DETERMINATION pre and post WWII
5.2-The formation by the local and international Zionist movement, aided and abetted by the British mandate, of fully armed para military organizations one of which, the Haganah, easily developed into a considerable standing army .
5.3-The development with British, American and general Western support of a parallel civil administration (A shadow state), the Jewish Agency, that smoothly transmuted into the administrative set up of a nation/state .
6-The ethnic cleansing Of the indigenous Palestinian Arab people by direct population expulsion, in Lid (Lod), Ramla and Tiberias , to cite only a few, the systematic destruction of Arab villages and the imposition of a reign of TERROR by whole scale civilian massacres as in Deir Yassin.
III-HOW DID ISRAEL PRESEVE ITS EXISTENCE?
British withdrawal from Palestine which was succeeded by the declaration of the state of Israel in Palestine witnessed, was immediately followed by
-the 1948 war in which the Jewish/Israeli army, the Haganah and others, managed not only to hold the advance of several, outmanned and out gunned, formations from Arab official “armies” but to go on the offence and occupy more Palestinian territory than was allocated to the Jewish state in the UNGA Partition of Palestine resolution (72 % versus 52%).
-the 1967 war that ended with the Israeli occupation of the rest of Palestine and some Egyptian territories, Sinai, and the still occupied Golan.
Israel managed to maintain and to expand its “domain” of occupied Arab land
Israel managed to establish it self, to expand and to preserve its existence, hitherto, BY WAR with the unrelenting and ever widening and deepening total support of the WEST in general and the USA in particular.
IV-WHY WAS ISRAEL ESTABLISHED AT ALL
Israel was established in fulfillment of the old Jewish mythical aspirations, prophesies and pseudo (?), quasi (?), religious predictions/invocations to assemble the “Jewish People” , regardless of the high diversity of the ethnic, cultural and “nationalist” background of its constituents, the Jews, “to return to Palestine ( Eretz Israel) and have a Jewish “nation” of their own; as advocated by the Zionist creed and its corollary project.
The Zionist creed came to enjoy the unflagging support of the majority of Jews from all over the world.
The success of the Zionist project was, however, mainly due to:
- Western, American (US) / European, support born out from the desire to resolve the “Jewish Problem” which has plagued it for generations.
-The Western desire to establish an ALIEN, West friendly Arab/Moslem hostile, nation/state to act as a permanent Western foothold, i.e. advance military and otherwise base, in the Middle East to safe guard Western colonialist/imperialist interests in the region and frustrate Arab plans for unity ; a plan earlier launched in the Anglo/French, and USA supported, Sykes-Picot Agreement
-As an act of atonement for the horrible Holocaust which was implemented by Germany but was never seriously opposed by the rest of the West.
-The total absence of cogently well organized, military and otherwise, Palestinian Arab public/popular resistance movement.
-The half hearted Arab officialdom’s military intervention guided mainly by inter Arab , official, rivalries
V-THE FATAL MISTAKE
However both the Jews and the West, in general , did thereby commit a fatal mistake that will plague all concerned, in the region and world wide, for generations to come and possibly lead to cataclysmic results.
The mistake was their inability to anticipate, or to actually anticipate but underestimate, the generational relentless opposition and virulent hostility their project, the implantation of Israel in Palestine, will be met with.
Contrary to all expectations that opposition and hostility has increased in intensity and geographical reach with the passage of time and has come to include the highly motivating , masses moving and historically epoch making religious element now that it encompasses all of Islamdom from Morocco , in the West, to Indonesia in the East .
Anti Israel hostility and existential opposition to a Zionist Israel in Palestine has evolved into a crucial, deadly security threat shared by, in order of occurrence, the Palestinian Arab people, the Arab nation and the Moslem World who has progressively come to unanimously perceive Israel as their mortal strategic adversary and foe!
omar ibrahim baker - 5/7/2008
Sixty years on and the real people of the land, the Palestinians Arabs, are still fighting the good fight for their land.
It, the fight, is now against Israel and the USA of Bush/Wolfowitz and Cheney; so be it !
Conversely it is no longer only the people of the land : it is now the whole of Islam Dom , the 1.5-1.7 billion human community whose battle it became to liberate Palestine from the Zionist colonialist project outgrowth: Israel!
For all that we know they might be still fighting sixty years from now!
WHY NOT?? Palestine certainly deserves the effort and the sacrifice!
An earlier battle for Palestine lasted as much in the past.
One think is sure though : they, the indigenous people of Palestine and their descendants neither forgive nor forget and the usurper will NOT enjoy the fruits of his plunder.
He who dislocated, dispossessed, disfranchised and subjugated the indigenous people of Palestine from and in their homeland, to supplant them with aliens screened and gathered on strict racial/racist criteria, will NOT be rewarded nor will be allowed to retain the loot.
That is history, that is elemental justice, that is applied morality!
We have been here before!
Elliott Aron Green - 5/7/2008
John, to use your logic about Mark Twain, I would point out that when Hitler had an interview with Haj Amin el-Husseini in 1941, he promised him that when the German forces crossed the Caucasus, "then will strike the hour of Arab liberation." There, Hitler explicitly favored "Arab Liberation." Does that disqualify "Arab Liberation" in your view??
Now, I don't follow your logic about the Land of Israel. Yes, there were Canaanites in the Land too in the First Temple period. Reading between the lines in the prophetic books and Chronicles, I infer that these people were absorbed by the Jews. What you seem to be complaining about is a Jewish assertion of exclusive rights to live in the Land, whether in ancient times or by Zionists. Actually, Herzl wrote a book called Old-New Land [Altneuland in the original] in which he describes a society where Arabs live alongside Jews in the Land and enjoy equal civil rights. Maybe you should read exactly what Herzl said rather than anti-Zionist tendentious claims. What you seem not to pay enough attention to is that when Arabs or other Muslims ruled the Land, the Jews were definitely in an oppressed, exploited, humiliation condition, although this was somewhat mitigated in the late 19th century by Western pressure in favor of dhimmi peoples [Jews and Christians].
Getting back to your position on Mark Twain's testimony. You say:
It is also specious to say that because Stalin held a particular position on this point that it therefore negates any Arab claim to the land.
Why is it not likewise specious to say that because Mark Twain held a certain position that you find obnoxious that his description of the Land as he saw it on his trip is invalidated???
As to Arab claims. The Arabs were imperialist conquerors of the Land who subjugated the native population at the time of the Conquest, shifting population around, confiscating lands belonging to Jews and other non-Muslims, imposing the dhimmi status on them, etc. So do you say that the Jews lost their rights to live in the Land, and to become a majority there, because the Arab occupation had lasted so long, albeit the Arabs/Muslims had oppressed Jews in the Land all along??
N. Friedman - 5/7/2008
You misread Mr. Green's point. His point was and is that Jews were not considered by Europeans to be European. They were generally considered to be Orientals.
The point made by Ms. Muir is that the saying asserted by Israel's enemies did not means what Israel's detractors take it to mean and that it was not the saying used to attract immigrants. For what it is worth, I think Ms. Muir is half correct: the saying does not mean what Israel's enemies assert. The saying was, so far as I know, used by at least some of those supporting the Zionist cause.
Your last point that we are dealing with a colonial state does not pass the laugh test. Colony of what country, praytell? In fact, Israel was founded by an oppressed people and much of its population consisted of refugees and their offspring. There was no plan to dispossess the Arab population within the country.
By contrast, there was a clearly stated plan to dispossess the Jewish population in the Arab regions, most particularly in the land that is now Israel. I think it might be argued more precisely that there was a plan to Islamicize the Arab regions so that, as a result, the Christian and Jewish population of the Arab regions has largely been displaced. That includes tens of millions of Christians and it includes just under 1 million Jews.
John Hubers - 5/7/2008
This is a selective reading of history. Have your forgotten the Balfour Declaration which was the declaration which gave legitimacy to the Zionist project. The British, in fact, wavered throughout the period in question.
I would agree with what you say about the Jewish ties to the land in question throughout history. But your blindness to the racism reflected in Twain's statement also blinds you to the fact that even in biblical times the land was never purely Jewish. There were always Canaanites present.
It is also specious to say that because Stalin held a particular position on this point that it therefore negates any Arab claim to the land.
The point I was making here and in the other post is that the writer of this article, who wishes to distance herself from the fact - and it is a fact - that claims such as those made by Twain and early Zionists, that the reason Zionists had the "right" to take the land and claim it as their own, was because it was empty is a deliberate misreading of history borne out by reference to the early Zionists themselves who recognized from the outset that the Jewish state could only be established by dispossessing the Arabs of their land.
John Hubers - 5/7/2008
The point remains that the creation of the state of Israel was by Europeans, whether white or otherwise (the racial designation was not the issue raised here). The issue is that what you rightfully identify as Arab nationalism was a move to say that the Arab people had the right to establish the independence of their own states in the place where they lived. It is disingenous at best to say that Europeans had more right to the land upon which the Arabs were living than those who were, in fact, living there at the time.
It is telling that you ignore the main point that is being made, that the same justification was used to create European colonial states in Africa, the Americas and Australia - the argument that the peoples who lived in these places had no right to the land in which they were living because they did possess a nationalist identity as Europeans did. This is the worst kind of racist identity logic.
You are apparently choosing to ignore what Goldberg is saying here.
Elliott Aron Green - 5/7/2008
The "palestinian" Arabs are not and were not a separate nation or people, not by some colonialist notion. They themselves saw themselves throughout the 20th and 21st centuries as part of the Arab nation. I suggest that you read Article One of the PLO covenant which makes the point that the country that they began to call "palestine" only after 1948 was part of the Great Arab Homeland/Fatherland, and that the Palestinian Arab people is part of the Arab nation. Don't argue with me, please, argue with them.
Now all of a sudden the Jews are "white Europeans" belonging to several "different nationalities." But the British 100 years ago did not see Jews that way, nor did Russians, Germans, Poles, French, etc. You really do need to learn more about the modern, pre-Holocaust history of Jews in Europe. The Jews were considered alien in most European countries, alien to specific countries and alien to Europe. The Nordic racial theorists saw the Jews as not quite white, or not white at all. Read the British novel Trilby, a best seller about 100 years ago, by Geo DuMaurier, for a view of the Jews as swarthy aliens.
Elliott Aron Green - 5/7/2008
John, it seems to me that characterizing the Jewish return to the Land of Israel, which the Jews had always kept up links with over the centuries, where Jews were oppressed by Byzantine Christians, Arab Muslims, Western Christian Crusaders, and post-Crusades Muslim rulers [Mamluks & Turks], that Jews never stopped believing was their homeland --it seems that such a characterization is Judeophobic racism. It was also the position of Stalin, who called Zionists allies of imperialism. So if you want to judge a political position by those who may have provided evidence in its favor, and if you think that Mark Twain testimony's is discredited for whatever reason, well, Stalin was on your side. So where does that leave your position?
In fact, the British rulers/administrators in the Land of Israel [which the Arabs DID NOT call "palestine"] favored the Arabs against the Jews, thereby violating the terms of their mandate from the League of Nations. In 1948, British forces [you would call them "colonialists" & "imperialists," wouldn't you] collaborated with the Arabs and even fought for the Arabs against the Jews.
John Hubers - 5/7/2008
So we are now using a novelist who showed disquieting racist tendencies to justify what was essentially a colonial venture? You do know, don't you, that Twain also put these words in the mouth of Tom Sawyer to explain why Jews and Christians had the right to take this land for themselves?
"They own the (Holy) land, just the mere land, and that's all they do own; but it was our folks, our Jews and Christians, that made it holy,
and so they haven't any business to be there defiling it.
It's a shame and we ought not to stand it a minute. We ought to march against them and take it away from them."
Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894)
John Hubers - 5/7/2008
Two points need to be made here:
1) The argument you use here is exactly the same argument used to dispossess Native Americans (they were not a "true nation"), Aborrigines in Australia, and African peoples by the Dutch in South Africa. What you are proposing here is, in fact, a purely colonialist argument - we (that is white Europeans, which, of course, is who the early Zionists were) have the right to dispossess people who do not hold to our understanding of what it means to be a nation. Ironically the Zionist movement itself had to create the concept of nationalism for the Jewish people where none had existed as they represented a number of different nationalities.
2) This phrase was, indeed, used by early Zionists. Proof is in a speech given by Dr. Nahum Goldman, former president of the World Zionist Organization. Given the nature of the mis and dis-information being perpetuated by this article, the full quote from Dr. Goldman is necessitated:
“One of the great oversights of Zionism is that when the Jewish homeland in Palestine was founded, sufficient attention was not paid to relations with the Arabs. . . Even Theodore Herzl’s brilliantly simple formulation of the Jewish question as basically a transportation problem of “moving people without a home into a land without a people” is tinged with disquieting blindness to the Arab claim to Palestine. Palestine was not a land without a people even in Herzl’s time; it was inhabited by hundreds of thousands of Arabs who, in the course of events, would sooner or later have achieved independent statehood, either alone or as a unit with a larger Arab context.”
Dr. Nahum Goldman
Co founder of World Jewish Congress and former president of World Zionist Organization
Elliott Aron Green - 5/6/2008
Charles, what does it mean that 20-odd Arab states formally designate themselves as Arab states [and all but Lebanon designate themselves as Muslim states] by their membership in the Arab League, although millions of non-Arabs and non-Muslims live in those states??? Is that exclusivity?? Or what?? Did the US State Dept exclude most Jewish refugees who wanted to come to the United States to seek refuge in the 1930s before WW2 began and then during WW2?? Could that be exclusiveness or exclusivity or what?? Do you know about the prominent Canadian personality who stated One Is Too Many regarding Jewish refugees in that same period?? What does that represent?? What about the Arab demand of the British, which the British complied with, that Jews be prevented from migrating to the internationally designated Jewish National Home [Israel]?? Was that exclusivity?? Or merely a desire to exclude?? The British complied essentially with this demand in the 1939 "Palestine White Paper."
How about how the British set up Pakistan as a separate state within India which was to be dominated by Muslims?? This was done at the demand of the Indian Muslims. After the great population transfers in India/Pakistan in 1947, about 12 million or more non-Muslims were left in Pakistan. Now, there are only about 3 or 4 million, as far as I know. How would you describe that, Charles?? Pakistan of course is regularly described as a Good Friend of the United States.
We could also look at the official policy in Malaysia which discriminates against non-Muslims. What should we call that?? How come Malaysia's social reality is little discussed in the USA?? We could also look at Europe where Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania regularly discriminate against the ethnic Russian population. What does that add up to, Charles?
Charles S Young - 5/6/2008
While the specific phrase "land without a people" may or may not have been used heavily by Zionists, the underlying sentiment certainly dominates. That sentiment being: no one who counted was in the way of a greater Israel.
Golda Meir's famous comment about the Palestinians not existing (and yes, I know she meant this in a nationalist sense)and the book _From Time Immemorial_ are just two examples of the claim that Israel didn't really do anything bad.
The whole point of Israel is Jewish exclusivity, so to quibble over the origins of the phrase "people without a land" is captious.
Judith Apter Klinghoffer - 5/5/2008
From Innocents Abroad to today.
Elliott Aron Green - 5/5/2008
This very interesting article, iconoclastic in terms of today's conventional myths, fills a gap in the knowledge of the rebirth of Israel.