Monday, March 23, 2015

Jewish Property Ownership in Israel since the 1800 - Palestine

Jewish Property Ownership in Israel since the 1800

The Ottoman land registration law of 1858 provided the data which ascertained that over 90% of the land in Palestine was owned by the Ottoman government. Some small percentage was leased to the locals as sharecroppers.
After WWI a provisional mandate was granted to Britain in 1920 which extended the Jordan River. In 1922, the boundary of Palestine was restricted to the area west of the river by the British. The area east of the river was named Transjordan which later received independence and became a new Arab state Jordan. Zionist movement felt a loss at losing such large area. It was 91,000 square kilometers of the original 118,000 square kilometers (46,000 sq, miles) where the new Arab state of Trans-Jordan was created. This area was declared out of bounds for still-to-be-declared land for the Jews. This mandate was an international recognition of the purpose which Jews had stated for reestablishing a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.
One of the major obstacles faced by Jewish immigrants who tried to purchase land prior to 1948 was the unique system of property ownership established in much of the country. In 1932, 117,869 dunam of land (which is about 30,000 acres) was held by absentee landowners. In most cases, tenant farmers worked the land, creating a dilemma for land purchasers.
Even after buying the land from the “real” owner, the tenant farmers would generally remain in place. In 1927, the British passed a law preventing the transfer of land without first securing new land for the tenant farmer or making a cash settlement.
Yet this had already been the policy of the Jewish Agency, which had explicitly sought to avoid controversy in its land purchases. The Shaw Commission reported:
We think that the Jewish Companies are not open to any criticism in respect of these transactions. In paying compensation, as they undoubtedly did, to many of the cultivators of land which they purchased in the Plain of Esdraelon [Jezreel Valley] those companies were making a payment which at the time of the transactions the law of Palestine did not require. Moreover, they were acting with the knowledge of the Government.
Despite this careful attention to the tenant farmers’ reimbursement, Arab fellaheen often claimed that Jews had given them little or no compensation. In response, the British launched investigations into over 3000 claims, of which about 2900 were ultimately rejected. For the 100 or so claims that were accepted, the Development Department was required to provide 60 dunam of irrigable land or a cash settlement that would presumably allow the farmer to move to a city. The immigration of Jews to Palestine was thus done both legally and ethically.
But the local Arab elite’s complaints about Jewish immigration were not about legality anyway. These leaders claimed that the presence of outsiders would destroy the Arab nature of the country, a claim that can still be heard among Arab-Palestinians and pro-Arab-Palestinian advocates today. Ironically, however, many of the strongest opponents of Jewish land purchases were also the people who profited most from them. A brief list of Arab leaders who sold land to Jews includes Fahmi el-Husayni, mayor of Gaza; Ragheb Nashashibi, mayor of Jerusalem and founder of the “National Defense Party”; Mussa el-‘Alami, Government Advocate of the Arab-Palestine Government and a member of the Arab Higher Committee; As’ad el-Shuqairi, father of Ahmed Shuqairi, the first chairman of the P.L.O.; and Jamal el-Husayni, who is quoted at the beginning of this essay. Of course, the Arab leadership attempted to suppress this information, but it was brought to public attention by Lewis French, the first director of the British Mandatory Government’s Department of Development. The news of the Arab leadership’s hypocrisy eventually led to the collapse of the Arab Executive (the governing Arab body in the Mandate) in the early 1930s. It would not be until 1936 that another body of political leadership would come to exist, in the form of the Arab Higher Committee.
Husayni’s claim of 1300 years of uninterrupted Arab presence in Palestine is clearly a convenient simplification. (There was also over 2,000 years of uninterrupted Jewish presence in Medina an Mecca) Any statements about the demographics of Palestine before 1948 must recognize the country’s dynamic history. The first half of the twentieth century was a period of sweeping changes for the land and all the people living on it—Arab and Jew. After remaining nearly stagnant for centuries, the population exploded in modern times due to the Jewish improved infrastructure, agriculture, and immigration and capital by the Jewish influx and the hiring of Arab labor from neighboring countries. As a result, from 1890 to 1947, in less than sixty years, the population grew from 532,000 to 1,845,560.42. The Arab population of Palestine grew more from 1922 to 1947 than it had over the previous 400 years. The Jews developing the country from a dessert into a flourishing and producing land and improved infrastructure, the Jews needed the Arab labor force. With the improved economic conditions, the Arab labor force stayed in Israel. But the population shift that would occur over the following three years, as a result of the U.N. partition plan and the Arab-Israeli war, would be so momentous that it almost makes this prior data seem irrelevant. Each side blames the other for the consequences of the war, including some who point to the war as proof of “Zionist aggression.” But even Benny Morris, the historian who argued that the Arab-Palestinian refugee problem was caused in part by Israeli military actions points out that “the [refugee] problem was a direct consequence of the war that the Arab-Palestinians—and, in their wake, the surrounding Arab states—had launched.” From the beginning, it was Arab intolerance of the Jewish presence that caused the widespread opposition to Israel, an intolerance that resulted in the war of 1948. Jews, of course, had not chosen arbitrarily to immigrate to this area of the world. Moreover, they did so legally and with positive effects. As evidenced by the massive growth in population, the improvement of agriculture, and increased wages, the claim against Jewish return to Palestine was not pragmatic but ideological. The idea of a Jewish State as such was, from the beginning, anathema to the Arabs living there, and they sought to discredit and defeat it by any means possible. It is in this context that the birth of the Arab-Israeli conflict must be considered.

Arab violence against Jews in Israel started in the 1600 Sefad riots and more.

Arabs expelled a million plus Jews from all their countries and confiscated their assets.
The forced Jewish exodus from Arab lands refers to the 20th century expulsion or mass departure of Jews (who have lived in those Arab countries for over 2,000 years), primarily of Sephardic and Mizrahi background, from Arab and Islamic countries. The forced migration started in the late 19th century, but accelerated after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. According to official Arab statistics, over 989,000 Jews were forced out of their homes in Arab countries from 1948 until the early 1970’s. Some 650,000 resettled in Israel, The Arab governments confiscated their assets, businesses, home and Real estate estimated at 120,000 square kilometers - 46,000 sq, miles (5-6 times the size of the State of Israel). Valued today in the trillions of dollars.
Let the 21 Arab countries resettle the Arab Palestinians in the land they confiscated from the Jews which is 5 times the size of 
Israel. Provide them with funds they confiscated from the million Jewish people they expelled and let them build an economy, This will benefit both the Arab-Palestinians and the hosting countries, The other alternative is relocate the Arab-Palestinians to Jordan, (originally land allocated for the Jewish people) which is already 80% Arab-Palestinians, and give them funds to relocate and build an economy. This will solve the Arab-Palestinians refugee problem once and for all. It will also reduce hostility and strife in the region.

YJ Draiman

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