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From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine (Part 1 of 6)

Paul Blair - Capitalism Magazine

From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over


Palestine (Part 1 of 6)
by Paul Blair (April 16, 2002)

In 1984 Joan Peters' book From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the
Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine appeared to much critical
acclaim. The book won the National Jewish Book Award; the New
Republic said it would "change the mind of our generation." The
jacket contains praise from Barbara Tuchman, Theodore H. White and
other notables. Today, the book continues to be recommended on
numerous websites including that of former Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu.

Soon after the book's appearance, however, attacks appeared in the


pages of left-wing journals such as In These Times and the Nation,
characterizing the book as a fraud. Some of the criticisms were
later repeated by scholars in the pages of such publications as the
London Observer and the New York Review of Books.
The following series of articles investigates charges that Joan
Peters' book From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish
Conflict Over Palestine is dishonest propaganda. As the purpose is
primarily to determine the truth of certain reviewers' accusations,
I did not originate most of the criticisms of the book. Likewise, I
have not sought to check every one of Peters' footnotes, which are
voluminous; I have focused on the critics' claims. Where relevant I
have included scanned images of the original so that readers may see
the evidence for themselves; hyperlinks in the text open these
images in a new window so that the reader's place is not lost.
The accusations of dishonesty originated with radical-left figures
who would naturally seek to discredit a book like Peters'; still, it
would be easy enough to determine the truth of their claims with
limited research. Such an investigation is all the more worthwhile
owing to the fact that scholars who had initially defended the book
later indicated that the charges had some merit. Ronald Sanders and
Daniel Pipes had both favorably reviewed Peters' book, Sanders in
the New Republic [1] and Pipes in Commentary [2] , both publications
with a decidedly pro-Israel editorial policy. In responding to an
unfavorable review of the book, however, both conceded its poor
scholarship. [3] Sanders writes:

Mrs. Peters has brought this upon herself to a large extent, for,
as I wrote in my review of the book in The New Republic of April
23, 1984, "many of its valuable points are buried in passages of
furious argumentative overkill," and too much of its more than 600
pages is given over to very conventional polemics. Since then,
some patient researchers have found numerous examples of
sloppiness in her scholarship and an occasional tendency not to
grasp the correct meaning of a context from which she has
extracted a quotation. All in all, her book is marked--and
marred--by an over-eagerness to score a huge and definitive
polemical triumph, which has caused her too often to leave
prudence and responsibility behind.
[http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5172]

According to Pipes,

Most early reviewers, including myself, focused on the substance


of Miss Peters's central thesis; the later reviewers, in contrast,
emphasized the faults--technical, historical, and literary--in
Miss Peters's book.
I would not dispute the existence of those faults. From Time
Immemorial quotes carelessly, uses statistics sloppily, and
ignores inconvenient facts. Much of the book is irrelevant to Miss
Peters's central thesis. The author's linguistic and scholarly
abilities are open to question. Excessive use of quotation marks,
eccentric footnotes, and a polemical, somewhat hysterical
undertone mar the book. In short, From Time Immemorial stands out
as an appallingly crafted book.
[http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5172]
Such embarrassing concessions by the book's prominent defenders
raise valid doubts about its integrity. On the other hand, both
Sanders and Pipes still defend Peters' central thesis. Besides
verifying the critics' claims, then, these pages will also weigh
their significance relative to the book as a whole.

Whatever the findings, Israel's right to exist does not hinge on


Peters' claims that the land was empty when the Jews arrived and
that the Palestinians are recent arrivals. The right of a country to
exist depends on its recognition of individual rights. By this
criterion, Israel--with all its imperfections--stands head and
shoulders above the Arab dictatorships of the region (including
Arafat's) as far as legitimacy is concerned.

Notes
1 New Republic, April 23, 1984.
2 Commentary, July 1984.
3 The two were responding to the review of the book by Yehoshua
Porath in the New York Review of Books on January 16, 1986, online
at <http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5249>. The responses, with a
rejoinder from Porath, appeared in the New York Review of Books on
March 27, 1986 and are online at
<http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5172>.
From Time Immemorial - Palestine on the Eve of Zionist Settlement:
An Empty Land? (Part 2 of 6)
by Paul Blair (April 17, 2002)

In 1901, Israel Zangwill wrote, "Palestine is a country without a


people; the Jews are a people without a country."1 Joan Peters takes
up this view, claiming a "profusion of evidence of an uninhabited
Palestine [p.170]," and citing many travelers through Palestine to
show that by the last half of the nineteenth century, the land was
deserted and desolate.

Critics contend that Peters neglects accounts by early Zionist


settlers who, in the words of one of her sources, "were genuinely
taken aback to find Palestine inhabited by so many Arabs."2 As
Porath notes, when Peters makes reference to Asher Druyanov's
collection of early Zionist settlers' writings, she does not mention
"the many passages in his two volumes referring to the presence of
Arabs living in the areas where Jews had settled."3 Other critics
cite the Jewish writer Ahad Ha'am, who visited the area and related
his experiences in an 1891 essay called "Truth from Palestine":

We abroad are used to believing that Palestine is now almost


totally desolate, a desert that is not sowed, and that anyone who
wishes to purchase land there may come and do so to his heart's
content. But in truth this is not the case. Throughout the country
it is difficult to find fields that are not sowed. Only sand dunes
and stony mountains that are not fit to grow anything but fruit
trees--and this only after hard labor and great expense of
clearing and reclamation--only these are not cultivated, because
the Arabs do not like to exert themselves in the present for a
distant future. For this reason the opportunity to purchase good
soil does not always exist. Both the farmers and the large
landholders are reluctant to sell good, productive land. Many of
our brothers who came to Palestine to buy land wait for months,
have criss-crossed the land and have not yet found what they seek.
4
While the evidence of Zionist settlers is no doubt more pertinent
than the descriptions of those who were just passing through,
Peters' omission is not as significant as it seems. In Palestine
under Ottoman rule, land left uncultivated reverted to the state.5
But Ottoman restrictions prevented Jews from purchasing state lands,
which made up a significant proportion of the available land.6 Thus
Jews would have been allowed to purchase only land already under
cultivation, even if large areas of the country were deserted.

Jewish Settlements as a Magnet for Arab Immigration

When Jewish colonization began, Palestine may have been sparsely


populated but it was not entirely uninhabited. Peters discusses how
the law recognized land titles; her population figures show how many
people lived in the country. Yet by her account the population was a
mix of nationalities, largely nomadic, having no distinct national
"identity." She adds that many more Arabs were attracted by the
early Jewish economic development, and that the Jews rapidly became
the largest religious group in the areas they settled.
Peters sets Palestine's population when Jewish settlement began at
between 300,000 and 400,000, a figure that had been stable for two
centuries [p. 223, p. 244].7 She then argues that natural increase
could not have accounted for growth in the settled Muslim population
between 1882 and 1895, so that Jewish development must have
attracted 82,000 foreign Muslims into Palestine [p. 245]. But her
argument depends on taking the low figure for settled Arabs in 1882
and ignoring the high end of the range she had established earlier.8
Since her population estimates vary by as much as 100,000, her
conclusion is tenuous at best.9

Peters goes so far as to defend her low-end figure of 300,000 for


1882 as "not incompatible" with another population estimate of
475,000 for 1875 [note 38]. In other words, she maintains that just
before its putative 1882-1895 increase at a "hardly possible" rate,
the population of Palestine diminished by 175,000 in only seven
years, a fall of almost 37 per cent. In percentage terms, this
exceeds the loss of one-third of Europe's population in the Black
Death between 1347 and 1352, yet Peters makes this assertion based
on nothing other than Colonel Conder's statement that the population
had "diminished sadly," hardly evidence for a decrease of this
magnitude. In other words, Peters' claim of massive Arab population
increase and immigration from 1882 to 1895 rests on wildly
unrealistic assumptions.
According to Peters, the impetus for this alleged Arab immigration
was Jewish development, yet no evidence supports her claim.10 In the
last half of the nineteenth century, most Jews lived in the four
"holy cities" of Jerusalem, Safed, Hebron and Tiberias, where a
large proportion lived off charity.11 Peters counts only fifteen
Jewish settlements by 1893, with a total Jewish population that grew
to reach 1100 [p. 253].12 Thus there is no reason to suppose Jewish
development was extensive enough to have lured eighty thousand Arabs
into the country.

Speculative Excess

A bit later, Peters erects another tower of speculation on the same


theme: According to a report from the Rishon l'Tsion settlement, by
1889 the forty Jewish families there "had attracted 'more than four
hundred Arab families,' most of them 'Bedouin and Egyptian' [p.
252]." On the basis of this one-to-ten ratio, Peters speculates that
by 1893 the 900 Jews in the other settlements might have attracted
9,000 more Arabs [p. 253]. She then wonders whether the settlements
may have continued to attract Arabs by at least a rate of
immigration similar to the Jews', so that by 1914 the 7,700 Jews on
settlements would have been surrounded by 77,000 Arabs. Thus she
concludes that her own study may have "counted many
thousands--anywhere from 45,000 to 350,000--of Arabs as long-time
'settled' population of 1893-and-their-descendants present in 1947,
when in reality that group may have followed the Jewish settlers
into Jewish-settled areas of Palestine [p. 254]."

Peters does not indicate how many of the Arabs near Rishon l'Tsion
were former peasants who had farmed the area before the Jews had
bought the land.13 Indeed, she misrepresents her source, which does
not say that most of the families were Bedouin and Egyptian, only
that many of them were [p. 201].

Even if most of the Arabs near Rishon l'Tsion came from elsewhere,
Peters' own citations do not support speculating on the basis of a
one-to-ten ratio of Jews to Arabs. Earlier she had provided examples
of two other settlements where the ratio of Jews to Arabs was closer
to one-to-one [p. 200].14 Clearly the one-to-ten ratio of Rishon
l'Tsion is not generally applicable, and Peters herself knows
better.
In sum, Peters has no basis for supposing that the Jewish
settlements had attracted even 11,000 Arab immigrants by 1893, let
alone the 82,000 she had argued for earlier.
Peters compounds the distortion with her claim that by 1947, the
descendants of these alleged immigrants would have numbered between
45,000 and 350,000. Based on the rate of natural increase from her
own population study, the descendants of 11,000 Arabs in 1893 would
have numbered only 30,700 in 1947.15 Peters is grossly exaggerating
her numbers; her claim that early Jewish settlement attracted
significant numbers of Arab immigrants is unfounded.16

A Jewish Majority?

Now consider Peters' claim that "Jews were perhaps a marginal


majority of the population" in the Jewish-settled areas of Western
Palestine in 1893 [p. 251]. (By "marginal majority" Peters means a
plurality, as her numbers show.) Ten pages later, the "perhaps" is
gone: "Jews were actually the largest religious group in the areas
that they settled near the end of the nineteenth century [p. 261]."
But Peters' support for this claim does not come from the official
Ottoman census figures; instead, she uses a source that she knows
undercounts Muslims significantly.17

One might be forgiven for understanding Peters as arguing that Jews


formed a plurality in the area that became Israel. But Peters' claim
applies only to an area within Palestine she calls "Area I," whereas
1948 Israel also included her Areas II and IV. If the Arab
populations of those areas are added in, the Jews remain a minority
[p. 425]. And even within Area I, the Jewish population was mainly
concentrated in four cities, with only a small number on
agricultural settlements--around which the number of Arabs was
roughly the same as, if not greater than, the number of Jews.
In sum, Peters has gerrymandered Palestine so as to be able to point
to a geographical area where Jews may have constituted a plurality,
but the area is geographically insignificant and has nothing to do
with the region that later became Israel.18
Summary

The issues mentioned in this section are not central to Peters'


thesis; it makes little difference to her overall point whether or
not Jewish development in the late nineteenth century attracted Arab
immigration, or whether or not Jews constituted the largest
religious group in the areas where they settled. Yet the way she
handles these issues shows how tendentious she can be in her use of
evidence. We have seen her:

choose only the number that suits her thesis out of a range of
figures for the 1882 Arab population maintain in passing that Palestine's
population declined by over a third in seven years, on the strength of a single
vague quote are the desire to accept two conflicting population estimates
entertain wildly exaggerated speculation about the number of Arabs
attracted by Jewish settlements, disregarding evidence she herself
had cited earlier suggest a number for the descendants of those immigrants inflated
far beyond what even her speculative premises would allow
support her reference to a Jewish majority using a source she knew
to undercount Muslims exaggerate the proportion of Jews in the region that became Israel
by considering only the small area where Jews were most concentrated

If these were the book's only flaws, they would be relatively minor.
However, as we will see, they form part of a larger pattern that
includes the book's principal contentions.
Notes
1 Israel Zangwill, "The Return to Palestine," New Liberal Review 2
(Dec. 1901) p. 627.

2 Neville Mandel, The Arabs and Zionism Before World War I


(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), p. 31 . Peters
refers to Mandel several times in chapters 8 and 9 and throughout
chapter 10, but never cites this passage.

3 Yehoshua Porath, "Mrs. Peters's Palestine: An Exchange," New York


Review of Books, March 27, 1986 (online at
<http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5172>). I have been unable to
verify Porath's claim about the passages in Druyanov's work
referring to the presence of Arabs, as the letters in the book are
mainly in Hebrew, with some in Russian and German. Peters cites
Druyanov's book several times: see her note 53 for p. 201, p. 503
note 74, note 81 for p. 204, and note 64 for p. 252.

4 The essay has apparently not been translated into English, but
besides the Hebrew (in Kol Kitve Ahad Ha-am) there is a German
translation, on which the translation above was based. Achad Haam,
Am Scheidewege: Gesammelte Aufsätze v. 1 (Berlin: Judischer Verlag,
1923), pp. 86-88. I am grateful to Dr. Michael Meyer for this
reference.

5 Peters notes this on p. 168; the law of mahlul, by which fallow


land was confiscated by the state, is documented by Granott. A.
Granott, The Land System in Palestine: History and Structure
(London:Eyre and Spotiswoode, 1952) pp. 76-77.

6 Peters refers to the restrictions on Jewish land purchase on p.


202; Mandel documents them, as well as the fact that most of the
land in Palestine was state land [Mandel, p. 8]. This latter point
is confirmed by Granott, pp. 88, 95, 102ff.
7 Finkelstein claims that "Peters quotes five different
'authoritative' figures... ranging from under 150,000 to 600,000,
for the Palestinian Arab population on the eve of modern Zionist
settlement, yet she hardly seems aware of the wide discrepancy among
them." Yet on p. 242 the various sources she cites are all for
1918-1919, significantly later. Furthermore, in note 16 she says:
"As the figures in Chapter 12 determine, there was not a consistent
'600,000,' as prevalent authorities stated." She is aware of the
discrepancy, and disputes the higher figures. The figure of under
150,000 Finkelstein cites applies only to Muslims, and only to
settled ones as opposed to Bedouin. The spread in the figures is a
non-issue.
Cf. Norman G. Finkelstein, "Disinformation and the Palestine
Question: The Not-So-Strange Case of Joan Peters's From Time
Immemorial" in Edward W. Said and Christopher Hitchens, eds.,
Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian
Question (London: Verso, 2001), p. 63, note 5.

8 When Peters calculates how many Arabs may have immigrated as a


result of Jewish colonization, she focuses on "settled" Muslims,
subtracting Bedouin Muslims, Christians, Druses and
foreigners--which based on her initial range would yield a figure
between 140,000 and 240,000 [p. 244]. She then adopts a figure of
141,00 settled Muslims from the French geographer Vital Cuinet,
whose estimate she characterizes as reliable, detailed and
scientific.
However, Cuinet is not as reliable as Peters wants to claim. In her
note 61, p. 527 she writes "Vital Cuinet's [1895] estimate of the
total non-Jewish population in Western Palestine is remarkably close
to the [1893] Ottoman census..." However, a comparison indicates
that Cuinet undercounts Muslims by about 15 per cent and overcounts
Christians by sixty-five per cent:

Cuinet (1895) Ottoman census (1893) Difference

Muslim (settled + nomad) 317,604 371,969 -54,365


Christian (Greek + Latin + 70,802 42,699 +28,103
Catholic + Protestant)
For Cuinet's numbers see Peters, note 61, p. 527; for the census
data see Kemal Karpat, "Ottoman Population Records and the Census of
1881/82-1893," International Journal of Middle East Studies 9
(1978), p. 262 for Akka (Acre) and Belka (Nablus) sanjaks and p. 271
for Kudus Special District (Jerusalem).

With regard to Cuinet's reliability, demographer Justin McCarthy


writes:
Quite simply, no population statistics other than Ottoman
governmental statistics were in any way reliable. Demographers
have established that the only accurate way to know a population's
size is to count the people, and the Ottomans were the only ones
in the position to count their own population. No journalist,
consul, or traveler, however astute, could have known enough of
any large geographic area to be able to estimate population
accurately.

Some European commentators did, however, provide fairly accurate


estimates of the Ottoman population. They did this by quoting,
with or without citation, from Ottoman records or publications.
The best known and most reliable European author on Ottoman
population was Vital Cuinet, who based most of his statistical
tables on Ottoman sources. The use of data such as these, however,
can only be justified when Ottoman statistics are unavailable.
European sources are at best second-hand and often are "corrected"
for real or imagined errors in enumeration without any mention of
how or why the "correction" was made. [McCarthy, p. 4.]

McCarthy cites some of Cuinet's arbitrary manipulations of Ottoman


figures on pp. 24-25 and pp. 36-37. Justin McCarthy, "The Population
of Ottoman Syria and Iraq," Asian and African Studies 15 (1981). For
more on Cuinet's unreliability see Porath,
<http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5172>
9 A study of the Ottoman census data by demographer Justin McCarthy
of the University of Louisville, published by the University of
Haifa in 1981, undermines Peters' argument entirely. For the
Jerusalem district (Quds-i Serif Sancak), the population figures
(excluding nomads) were as follows:

Time Period Total population [p. 27] % Muslim [p. 29] "Settled" Muslims

1882-83 250,682 .8428 211,275


1893-94 284,148 .8428 239,480

The population increase here is far lower than even the rate of
natural increase proposed by Peters. Note also that as many settled
Muslims lived in the Jerusalem district alone in 1893 as Peters
counts for all Palestine; the districts of Akka and Belka would have
added on the order of 250,000 to the total 1893 population (see
McCarthy pp. 19, 21).
No figures were available for the proportion of Muslims in the
population in 1882. Use of the 1893 proportion is conservative
however, as Jews had been immigrating into the country over the
period.

10 Peters repeatedly claims that Arabs flooded into Jewish-settled


areas owing to better wages there, though she does not prove it. Cf.
Peters pp. 201, 203, 205, 207, 211, 213, 217.

11 Peters notes that the Jews in the cities were largely living off
charity [p. 200] and that most of the population of Jerusalem in
1880 was made up of "mendicants and beggars [p. 203]." Zangwill
wrote in 1901, "It was not till the other day that these [Jewish]
bodies met in common council, and then Herr Bambus, of Berlin, read
a paper in which he denied that the bulk of the forty to sixty
thousand Jews of Jerusalem lived on charity. Probably not more than
half came under the influence of the chalukah!" "The Return to
Palestine," New Liberal Review 2 (Dec. 1901) p. 625.

12 Peters gives the settlements' population as 900 plus the 40


families at Rishon l'Tsion, which her note 67 takes to be 200
individuals. Mandel puts the 1893 population of the settlements at
2,000 [Mandel, p. 34].

13 Mandel relates a number of incidents where Arab peasants clashed


with settlers over land ownership; he describes how disputes ceased
when the peasants were able to rent back some of their former lands
or find work on the settlements. Mandel, p. 36-37 ; see also p. 22
for a case in which peasants attempted to get first option on the
property they had been renting so that Jewish settlers could not buy
it out from under them.
14 Peters writes, "At Zikhron Yaacov, founded in 1882, there were
twenty-one Jewish workers to six Arab workers in 1893; five years
later, in 1898, there were twenty-seven Jews to twenty-one Arabs."
This is a ratio of one Jew to 0.77 Arabs. Or again, "in 1914, Petach
Tikvah's population would number 2,600 Jewish settlers, 600 resident
Arab workers, and 1,100 'floating' Arabs [p. 201]." This would make
for a total of about 3,400 Arabs at Petach Tikvah, or 1.3 times the
number of Jewish settlers, estimated as follows: If the four hundred
Arab families at Rishon l'Tsion consisted of 2,000 Arabs, as Peters
estimates [p. 528, note 67], and if 1,000 of these were workers [p.
201], then the total Arab population surrounding the Jewish
settlements would be roughly twice the number of Arab workers.

15 In Peters' demographic study in Appendix V [p. 425], we see that


her figure for the initial Arab population of Area I in 1893 was
92,300 and that the indigenous Arab population in 1947 in Area I
("settled" plus Bedouin) numbered 258,000. Thus she has set the rate
of natural increase over the period 1893-1947 at a factor of 2.795.
Finkelstein incorrectly infers a multiplier of 2.7 (p. 50, p. 66
note 22, p. 67 note 25) by failing to add in the figure for Arab
nomads in 1947; Peters' 1893 figures in Appendix V include Arab
nomads.

Peters had arrived at her multiplier by assuming that "[t]he rate of


natural increase of the Arab population in the non-Jewish areas of
Western Palestine was applied to the Arabs in the Jewish area. That
rate was applied to the original settled Arab population." [p. 428].
Thus the figure of 258,000 Arabs in Area I in 1947 is a projection
of her study, based upon the multiplier she had calculated and the
initial figure.

16 Peters' high-end figure of 350,000 is even more exaggerated. The


Arab population between 1914 and 1947 approximately doubled from
natural increase. Thus Peters' 77,000 could have grown to no more
than 154,000 by 1947. (Peters provides no numbers from which to draw
a multiplier from 1914, but we can estimate: her number in Appendix
V for the sum of Areas I, II and III in 1915 is a bit more than 1.3
times the 1893 total, from which we can estimate that the Arab
population of Area I in 1915 was about 123,800. This would put the
1914 figure at about 122,400.)
17 Even if Peters' overall figure of 93,000 non-Jews can claim a
basis in the Ottoman census (but see note 18 below), her
apportionment of that figure into 55,000 Muslims and 38,000
Christians comes from Cuinet, who exaggerates numbers for Christians
and undercounts Muslims (see note 8 above). Peters could not have
avoided knowing this fact since she herself suggests the comparison
between Cuinet and official census figures.
Peters' number for Jews is probably exaggerated as well. The Ottoman
census counts only 9,817 Jews in Palestine in 1893; Peters does not
accept this figure because "the Ottoman census apparently registered
only known Ottoman subjects; since most Jews had failed to obtain
Ottoman citizenship...a representative figure of the Palestinian
Jewish population could not be extrapolated from the 1893 census [p.
424]." Yet the census does count 1,397 foreign citizens, which would
still leave the total far from Peters' 60,000.

According to Karpat, compliance with the census was insured by


issuing an identity card without which individuals could not buy,
sell or inherit property, be accepted in an occupation or
profession, or obtain travel documents [Karpat, p. 252]. Conceivably
the large proportion of Jews who subsisted on charity were thus able
to avoid the census; at any rate the Ottoman figure is almost
certainly too low. As Sanders writes, "A good deal of responsible,
if impressionistic, counting of the Palestine population had been
done by that time, and the general consensus among Western observers
was that the Jewish population of Jerusalem alone was something more
than double that of the official Ottoman figure for the Jewish
population of the whole country
[<http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5172>]."

Supposing the number of Jews to have been substantially higher than


the census figure does not however justify Cuinet's figure. Mandel,
for example, cites a Jewish population of 47,000 for all of
Palestine in 1890 [Mandel, p. 20]. Peters is evidently using a very
generous estimate of Jewish population.
18 The population figures Peters uses cannot simply be read out of a
table; she derives her own numbers by collating statistics for
different geographical areas according to an undisclosed method. As
Porath writes:

Karpat's figures are given, presumably as they appear in the


Ottoman census returns, according to subdistricts (Kaza). It is
impossible to ascertain from the figures he cites which of the
Ottoman subdistricts of Palestine correspond to what Mrs. Peters
defined as "the Jewish-settled areas" of Palestine. But one does
find such a characterization of Ottoman subdistricts in the work
by Vital Cuinet.... And if one consults Cuinet's book to find
where in Palestine, in 1893, 59,431 Jews (the number quoted by
Mrs. Peters on page 251 of her book) were living, one finds that
exactly the same number is given for the aggregate of Jews living
in the seven subdistricts (Kaza) of Acre, Haifa, Tiberias, Safed,
Nazareth, Jaffa, and Jerusalem. Consequently, we now know
precisely what Peters defines as "the Jewish-settled areas"; she
is evidently referring to the seven Ottoman subdistricts mentioned
by Cuinet.

Now we must consider the number of non-Jews living in those areas.


According to Mrs. Peters (again on page 251), and apparently Mr.
Sanders accepts her view, they numbered about 92,300, of which
nearly 38,000 were Christians (making the number of Muslims about
54,300). But the Ottoman census figures in Karpat's table (pages
262 and 271 of his article) give the number of Muslims as 158,379
and of the Christians as 39,884, making a total number of 198,263
non-Jews in "the Jewish settled areas." If we use Cuinet's own
figures we still do not get an estimate of the non-Jewish
population that brings us much closer to the number of non-Jews
claimed by Mrs. Peters. According to Cuinet's data on the seven
Ottoman subdistricts comprising "the Jewish-settled areas" we have
124,686 Muslims and 61,964 Christians, a total of 186,263
non-Jews.
Obviously, these figures are more than double the figure of 92,000
non-Jews given in Mrs. Peters's book. One could argue that the
actual area defined by Mrs. Peters as "the Jewish-settled areas"
is smaller than the total area covered by the seven subdistricts
listed above, and the map published on page 246 of her book
indicates such a possibility. But if this were the case, nowhere
in her main text or in the methodological appendices (V and VI)
did Mrs. Peters bother to explain to her readers how she managed
to break down the Ottoman or Cuinet's figures into smaller units
than subdistricts. As far as I know no figures for the units
smaller than subdistricts... covering the area of Ottoman
Palestine, were ever published. Therefore I can't avoid the
conclusion that Mrs. Peters's figures were, at best, based on
guesswork and an extremely tendentious guesswork at that.
[<http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5172>]

Erich and Rael Jean Isaac explain Peters' method as follows:


On being asked (by Erich Isaac) how she had arrived at the figure
of 92,300 Arabs in the Jewish-settled areas, Miss Peters described
a method which historical geographers would find broadly
acceptable. What she did was to superimpose the UN partition plan
on the map of the 1893 kazas [subdistricts], as well as on the
district map of the British Mandate government and on the
ceasefire lines of 1949. This enabled her to identify the main
areas of Jewish settlement; the purely Arab areas; and
"intermediate" areas that may have had no Jewish settlement but
became part of Israel, or had some Jewish settlement but came
under Jordanian control. Some of the 1893 kazas presented no
problem--they fell entirely out or entirely within the area that
became Israel. For kazas that fell only partly within her
"Jewish-settled areas," she first identified the towns that became
part of Israel, adding their Arab population to her figure for
Arabs in the Jewish-settled area. (For these town populations she
had to rely on a variety of contemporary reports.) Second, the
rural population was presumed by her to be uniformly distributed
throughout the kaza and the population was then proportionately
divided between Jewish and Arab areas on the basis of the relative
sizes of the territories assigned to each.
Historical geographers would have problems with Miss Peters's
assumption of a uniformly distributed rural population.... But
this means that her figures should have been presented
tentatively, as a suggestive and valuable way of looking at
population changes in these areas over time. The problem is not
with what she has done, but with her failure to explain her
method, and with the impression she leaves that her figures derive
directly from the census and are thus "scientific." (We set aside
the question of how reliable the Ottoman figures are, in itself
the subject of considerable dispute.) Moreover, the reader is not
informed that neither the Ottoman census nor Cuinet provides
figures broken down for the Jewish-settled areas. Miss Peters
writes: "The total of 92,300 'non-Jews' as recorded by the Turkish
census corroborates Vital Cuinet's estimate in 1895 of roughly
93,600 'non-Jews'--37,853 Christians and 55,823 Muslims--compared
to 59,431 Jews, in the Jewish-settled areas." Those numbers
actually represent Miss Peters's estimate for both the Turkish
census and Cuinet, neither of whom "records" them. ["Whose
Palestine?" Commentary, July 1986, p. 35]

In response, Porath writes:


[I]n a footnote the Isaacs add that, rather strangely, Miss Peters
arbitrarily chose which subdistricts (kazas) of Ottoman Palestine
should be included in her definition of the Jewish-settled areas.
To that I should like to add that Miss Peters omits another
subdistrict, Hebron, in which, according to the same Cuinet, 1,072
Jews lived. Miss Peters does not explain that omission, but one
can rather easily guess the reason: the Hebron subdistrict
contained 92,600 Muslims, and if she had included it, the number
of non-Jews would perforce have been much higher than the figure
stated in her book. [letter, Commentary, October 1986, p. 5]
From Time Immemorial - The British Mandate (Part 3 of 6)
by Paul Blair (April 18, 2002)

The British assumed control of Palestine as a result of World War I;


their administration of the territory was later recognized by League
of Nations mandate. Peters persistently interprets the Mandate as
having the goal of developing a Jewish state in Palestine:
"according to the Mandate's implications and the United States'
declaration in 1919, [free Jewish immigration] would have resulted
in 'a Jewish State as soon as it is in fact a Jewish State'--in
other words, when there was a Jewish majority [p. 350]." In fact,
neither the British nor the League of Nations had accepted any such
goal.

The League of Nations Mandate was granted not only for the
establishment of a Jewish National Home, but also simply for the
administration of the territory.1 Winston Churchill set out the
obligations the British had agreed to undertake in his "Statement of
British Policy" of June 1922 (before the League of Nations confirmed
the text of the Mandate on July 24, 1922):

Unauthorized statements have been made to the effect that the


purpose in view is to create a wholly Jewish Palestine. Phrases
have been used such that Palestine is to become "as Jewish as
England is English." His Majesty's Government regard any such
expectation as impracticable and have no such aim in view. Nor
have they at any time contemplated, as appears to be feared by the
Arab Delegation, the disappearance or the subordination of the
Arabic population, language, or culture in Palestine...
When it is asked what is meant by the development of the Jewish
National Home in Palestine, it may be answered that it is not the
imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of
Palestine as a whole, but the further development of the existing
Jewish community, with the assistance of Jews in other parts of
the world, in order that it may become a centre in which the
Jewish people as a whole may take, on grounds of religion and
race, an interest and a pride. But in order that this community
should have the best prospect of free development and provide a
full opportunity for the Jewish people to display its capacities,
it is essential that it should know that it is in Palestine as of
right and not on sufferance. That is the reason why it is
necessary that the existence of a Jewish National Home in
Palestine should be internationally guaranteed, and that it should
be formally recognized to rest upon ancient historic connection.2
Peters is aware of this document, but chooses to disregard its
implications [p. 344]. She complains, for example, that while the
Mandate instructed the British to "facilitate Jewish immigration,"
the British had immediately set up quotas to limit the immigration
of Jews [p. 275]. Peters should be arguing that these quotas had no
valid basis in justice or economics; instead she contends that they
violate the Mandate. She fails to mention that the Mandate states:
"The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and
position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced,
shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions..."

The word "position" is important: in effect, Jews were to be allowed


to immigrate as long as no Arab's trade was threatened by the
competition.3 Thus the Mandate would limit Jewish immigration in
accordance with the Divine Right of Stagnation. The British
immigration restrictions were designed to implement this provision
of the Mandate, and were accepted by the Mandates Commission. The
problem with the quotas is not that they violated the Mandate, but
that the Mandate's conditions were impossible and unjust.
Since Peters holds that the League of Nations had designated
Palestine as a future Jewish state, she accuses the British of
violating the Mandate by creating the Transjordan from the territory
east of the Jordan River: "Britain nevertheless quietly gouged out
roughly three-fourths of the Palestine territory mandated for the
Jewish homeland into an Arab emirate, Transjordan, while the Mandate
ostensibly remained in force but in violation of its terms [p.
239]." Had this move been illegal the League of Nations ought to
have protested, but Peters presents no evidence of any such protest.
Yet the League did resist other illegalities, such as the British
attempt to transfer the administration of Transjordan, as Peters
notes [pp. 521-522 note 19].

In fact, the separation of Transjordan did not violate the Mandate.


Both the original statement of British intentions in Balfour
Declaration and the Mandate say that the Jewish National Home is to
be established "in Palestine," not "throughout Palestine," as Peters
would have it [p. 330]. Churchill's statement of policy underscores
that the British government had no intention of making the entire
territory into a Jewish National Home; he writes that the government
"would draw attention to the fact that the terms of the Declaration
referred to do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be
converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a home should
be founded in Palestine."4 This was the openly stated policy of the
British Government when the League of Nations assigned it the
Mandate.
Consider further that the Mandate specifically allows the British to
exclude Transjordan from the provisions dealing with a Jewish
National Home:

ARTICLE 25
In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern
boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory
shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League
of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions
of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing
local conditions, and to make such provision for the
administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to
those conditions, and to make such provision for the
administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to
those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is
inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18.5

The British reported to the League of Nations in 1924 how they had
put this provision into effect:
His Britannic Majesty is the Mandatory for Transjordan to which
the terms of the mandate for Palestine, with the exception of the
provisions dealing with the establishment of a national home for
the Jewish people, are applicable.6

As disappointing as the separation of the Transjordan may have been


to Zionist aspirations, it violated neither the terms of the Mandate
or its spirit.7 Peters' accusations of bad faith are based on a
manufactured injustice. Overall, her book seriously distorts the
Mandate's intent and British responsibilities thereunder; given
Peters' knowledge of the relevant documents it is hard to believe
this distortion is inadvertent.

Looking the Other Way

Since the official British reports of the Mandatory period contended


that Arab immigration into Palestine was insignificant, Peters' case
depends on showing that these reports are wrong. She does so by
repeated attacks on their trustworthiness, claiming that official
British policy with regard to Arab immigration was to wink and look
the other way.
There is evidence that the British condoned a certain amount of
illegal Arab immigration, partly because of the difficulty in
controlling Palestine's borders8 and partly because the British
regarded Arab illegal immigration as temporary, seasonal, and
minor.9 (In the mid-1930s this temporary migration turned out to be
relatively large, as significant numbers of Hauranis entered the
country from Syria, later leaving in 1937.10) There is also evidence
that after the 1936 "Arab revolt," appeasement of the Arabs became a
significant element of British policy. However, Peters' attacks on
the British reports are less than creditable.

Consider Peters' reference to the Hope Simpson Report to support her


contention that the British only deported Arabs when their illegal
status was "flagrant." For example, she writes: "The pivotal Hope
Simpson Report literally admitted not only that it was the 'present
practice' of British officials to blink at all but the most
'flagrant' of the thousands of Arabs immigrating into Western
Palestine, but also acknowledged that the illegal Arab immigration
was an 'injustice' that was displacing the prospective Jewish
immigrants [p. 296]."

Now consider the original passage from the report. Note that no
reference is made specifically to Arab immigrants:
Discouragement of illicit entry. As to the treatment of such
[illegal] immigrants, when they are discovered, it should be the
rule that they are at once returned to the country whence they
came. The rule may possibly work harshly in individual cases, but
unless it is understood that detection is invariably followed by
expulsion the practice will not cease. It is probable that it will
cease entirely as soon as it is discovered that the rule is
actually in force.

The case of the 'pseudo-traveller' who comes in with permission


for a limited time and continues in Palestine after the term of
his permission has expired is more difficult. Where the case is
flagrant, recourse should certainly be had to expulsion. In case
of no special flagrancy, and where there is no special objection
to the individual, it is probably sufficient to maintain the
present practice, under which he is counted against the Labor
Schedule, though this method does a certain injustice to the
Jewish immigrant outside the country, whose place is taken by the
traveller concerned [Hope Simpson, p. 126].
As Finkelstein explains, this passage says nothing like what Peters
would have it say:
1) the Report evidently urges that illegal immigrants be deported
'at once'; 2) a single exception is made in the case of the
'pseudo-traveller' of 'no special flagrancy'--he may be
reclassified as a legal immigrant; 3) Jews were by far the main
beneficiaries of the latter special provision; 4) the British
included, in the total figure for recorded Arab immigration, all
Arab 'travellers' reclassified as legal immigrants. The special
case of the reclassified 'pseudo-traveller' is thus, for the
purposes of Peters's argument, completely irrelevant.11

In other words, if a traveler (usually a Jew) remained in Palestine


and the case was not especially flagrant, the person would be
reclassified as a legal immigrant, officially recorded as such, and
allowed to stay, displacing a prospective Jewish immigrant by
filling one of the places allotted by the labor quota. This is far
from a policy of turning a blind eye to illegal Arab immigration, as
Peters would have it.

Peters cites this passage from the Hope Simpson Report repeatedly to
underscore the untrustworthiness of British immigration figures.
According to Finkelstein, "She refers to it nineteen times,
implicitly or explicitly, saying it 'says' or 'admits' or
'acknowledges' the force of her thesis about Arab illegal
immigration."12 Yet the passage does nothing of the kind.
Peters' error is not simply an isolated case:

On p. 250, Peters writes, "As another report would underscore, for


the Arab population movements, 'different considerations from
those relevant to Jewish immigration' had been applied." And on p.
275, she cites the same source, the Anglo-American Survey of
Palestine: "From [1920,] the preoccupation of Palestine's
administration would be concentrated solely upon limiting the
immigration of the Jews. As a British report attested, for 'Arab
immigration' a 'different' set of rules applied." The Survey thus
apparently reveals a British double-standard on immigration
matters.
Yet, as Finkelstein points out, her citation from the Survey is
from a chapter on housing construction.13 The chapter discusses
the number of housing units needed for Jewish immigrants,
calculating the size of the typical immigrant family, etc.
[Survey, pp. 788-789]. Peters' citation comes from the subsequent
discussion of housing for Arab immigrants; the full context is:
"Although different considerations apply to Arab immigration,
special consideration need not be given to the latter as, out of a
total number of 360,822 immigrants who entered Palestine between
1920 and 1942, only 27,981 or 7.8% were Arabs. The number of room
units to house Arab immigrants has, therefore, been calculated on
the same basis as Jewish immigrants...[p. 795]." The "different
considerations" refer to the basis for estimating the number of
housing units for Arab immigrants as opposed to Jewish immigrants,
not to any British policy of ignoring Arab immigration.

On p. 298, Peters purports to find more evidence of a


double-standard in the Hope Simpson Report: "The Report protected
the so-called 'existing' indigenous Arab population, the same
community that the Report had proved was largely composed either
of immigrants or Arab in-migrants, who were not in fact indigenous
or 'existing' in Western Palestine's Jewish-settled areas--but it
was Jewish immigration that, according to the Hope Simpson Report,
should be reduced or 'if necessary, suspend(ed).'"

Leave aside the fact that nowhere in the Hope Simpson Report is
there any proof that the existing Arab community was largely
composed of immigrants (or in-migrants).14 Hope Simpson explicitly
rejects the double standard Peters ascribes to him, and recommends
that the British do more to prohibit Arab immigration:

Importation of other than Jewish labour.--Further, it is clear


that if unemployment is a valid reason for preventing Jewish
immigration, it is also a reason for preventing the importation
of other nationalities. At the time of writing, even with marked
unemployment among Arabs, Egyptian labour is being employed in
certain individual cases, and its ingress has been the subject
of adverse comment in the Press.
Prevention of illicit immigration.--Finally, in closing the
front door, steps should be taken to ensure that the backdoor
should not be kept open for would-be immigrants into Palestine.
The Chief Immigration Officer has brought to notice that illicit
immigration through Syria and across the northern frontier of
Palestine is material... It may be a difficult matter to ensure
against this illicit immigration, but steps to this end must be
taken if the suggested policy is adopted, and also to prevent
unemployment lists being swollen by immigrants from
Trans-Jordania. [Hope Simpson, p. 138].

Peters is not unfamiliar with this passage, as she cites it


several times.15 She can be expected to know, then, that the point
she is making is false.
On p. 346, Peters finds a contradiction in the British annual
report to the League of Nations: "One 1933 report, in
self-contradiction, noted that of 'illicit and unrecorded
immigration into Palestine, mostly of Jews' (totaling 2,000 by
official account) only half were 'Jewish.'" In the footnote we
find her evidence for the contradiction:

On page 35: "There was a considerable increase of illicit


immigration, mostly of Jews, entering as transit travellers or
tourists..." And on page 180, separated from the "immigration"
material by 145 pages, was the report that "The extent of
illicit and unrecorded immigration into Palestine from or
through Syria and Trans-Jordan has been estimated at about 2,000
and Jewish as to fifty percent." From "mostly Jews," the
estimate had dropped to fifty percent. [p. 548, note 26]

But Peters ignores that the lower estimate pertains only to


immigration from Syria and Trans-Jordan. Whereas most Arab
immigrants entered Palestine overland, Jewish immigrants were far
more likely to enter by sea; thus, the proportion of Jews among
overland immigrants would naturally be lower than their proportion
in immigration overall. The alleged self-contradiction is entirely
Peters' invention.

On p. 310, Peters goes after the 1937 Peel Commission report: "The
'Arab immigrants,' particularly 'Hauranis' from Syria, the Report
stated, 'probably remain permanently in Palestine.' But although
the number of Hauranis who illegally immigrated was
'authoritatively estimated' at 10,000-11,000 during a 'bad' year
in the Hauran, only the unrealistically, perhaps disingenuously
low Government estimate of 2,500 were concluded to be 'in the
country at the present time.'"
Here is the original passage from the Report:

A large proportion of Arab immigrants into Palestine come from


the Hauran. These people go in considerable numbers to Haifa,
where they work in the port. It is, however, important to
realize that the extent of the yearly exodus from the Hauran
depends mainly on the state of the crops there. In a good year
the amount of illegal immigration into Palestine is negligible
and confined to the younger members of large families whose
presence is not required in the fields. Most persons in this
category probably remain permanently in Palestine, wages there
being considerably higher than in Syria. According to an
authoritative estimate as many as ten or eleven thousand
Hauranis go to Palestine temporarily in search of work in a
really bad year. The Deputy Inspector-General of the Criminal
Investigation Department has recently estimated that the number
of Hauranis illegally in the country at the present time is
roughly 2,500. [Report, pp. 291-292]16

Peters here omits the fact that the immigration of 10,000-11,000


in a bad year is explicitly listed as temporary; i.e., most of the
immigrants in the "yearly exodus" return to the Hauran. Only the
younger members of large families "probably remain permanently in
Palestine." Thus nothing is obviously disingenuous or unrealistic
about the report's figure of 2,500 illegal Hauranis in the
country.

Peters goes so far as to claim that the British kept no records of


Arab immigration at all, yet as Finkelstein notes, the figures are
available in the very sources she claims to have consulted. He
writes:

To document the British Mandatory Government's indifference to


Arab infiltration of Palestine, Peters cites the 1935 annual
Report to the League of Nations in which, she asserts, "only
'Jewish Immigration into Palestine' was catalogued; that was the
only heading..." (p. 275). In fact, the British report in question
meticulously and exhaustively tabulates every conceivable aspect
of Arab immigration on nine consecutive pages. Peters could hardly
have overlooked these tabulations since the comparable statistics
for Jewish immigration appear on the very same pages in parallel
columns. Every annual British report on Palestine--and Peters
purports to have scrutinized thirteen of them--contains identical
exhaustive tabulations of Arab immigration under the same chapter
heading, "Immigration and Emigration."17
That this is not just a slip is confirmed by a story Peters tells
elsewhere, one she can't help but know to convey a falsehood. As
Finkelstein writes:
Peters and her reviewers make much of the alleged remarks of an
anonymous "thirty-year archivist--a specialist in the Foreign
Office and Colonial Office records on the Middle East for the
Public Record Office" in London. He purportedly told her that Arab
immigration into Palestine "did not exist. There was no such
thing. No one ever kept track of that" (p. 270; Peters's
emphasis). Yet, every British annual report to the League of
Nations and every major official British study of the period
includes an exhaustive tabulation and detailed commentary on Arab
immigration.18

Peters knows the standard reports discussed Arab immigration. Her


abovementioned citation of the Peel Commission report comes from a
section labeled "Arab Illegal Immigration" [Report, p. 291]. Or
again, on pages 378-379, Peters thoroughly discusses passages in the
Anglo-American Survey, also from a section titled "Arab Illegal
Immigration" [Survey, p. 210]. These are standard sources.
Furthermore, British concern with Arab immigration was not unusual
as the Jews had made an issue of it [Report, p. 297]. Peters is
misleading her reader here, albeit through the words of another.

Summary

The British were not blameless in their conduct in Palestine. Their


role in preventing Jews from entering Palestine during the
Holocaust, even while Arab labor was being imported as an "emergency
measure," was a crime. Nevertheless, British policy in the 20s and
early 30s does not deserve Peters' accusations of bad faith. Her
claim, for example, that the emirate of Transjordan was created in
violation of the League of Nations Mandate goes against the
historical record, not to mention the fact that without British good
intentions no "Jewish National Home" would have existed in the first
place.
In seeking to discredit the British, time after time Peters finds
what she is looking for only by distorting her sources:

She uses the Hope Simpson Report to support the idea that British
officials neglected illegal Arab immigration, when in fact her
quote concerns a case in which illegal Jewish immigrants were
allowed to remain in Palestine.

She cites an official report claiming that "different


considerations" applied to Arab immigration, but these turn out to
be considerations of how many housing units Arab immigrants would
require as opposed to Jewish immigrants.

She claims falsely that Hope Simpson had proved the existing Arab
community to consist of immigrants and in-migrants.

She accuses Hope Simpson of seeking to limit Jewish and not Arab
immigration, when in fact he sought to limit both.
She claims a British report buried evidence that it had
exaggerated the proportion of Jewish immigrants, whereas this
evidence in fact pertained only to immigrants coming overland,
among whom there were fewer Jewish immigrants.
She accuses a British report of disingenuousness for its low
estimate of illegal immigrants from the Hauran by ignoring its
qualification that large numbers of illegals remained only
temporarily.

She falsely claims that the British kept no records of Arab


immigration into Palestine, when her own sources contain this very
information.

Here we have a consistent pattern of falsification, all with the


same tendency, and with clear evidence that Peters knew what she was
saying was false, in at least some cases. Moreover, these
distortions relate to significant issues in her book. The charge of
dishonesty thus appears warranted.
Notes

1 The relevant parts of the text of the Mandate, confirmed by the


League of Nations, read

Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have agreed, for the purpose
of giving effect to the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant
of the League of Nations, to entrust to a Mandatory selected by
the said Powers the administration of the territory of Palestine,
which formerly belonged to the Turkish Empire, within such
boundaries as may be fixed by them; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the
Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the
declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the
Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said
Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national
home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that
nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and
religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine,
or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other
country; and

Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical


connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds
for reconstituting their national home in that country...

ARTICLE 2
The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under
such political, administrative and economic conditions as will
secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down
in the preamble...

ARTICLE 6
The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights
and position of other sections of the population are not
prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable
conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish
agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the
land...

See the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, online at the UN


documents site <http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/>.
2 "Statement of British Policy in Palestine Issued by Mr. Churchill
in June, 1922," reproduced in Walter Laqueur, ed., The Israel-Arab
Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict (New York:
Citadel Press, 1969) pp. 45-50. Citation from pp. 46-47.

3 See Article 6 of the Mandate in note 1 above. The Balfour


Declaration, the original statement of British intentions to
establish a Jewish National Home, does not overreach in this way:
"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in
Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people... it being
clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice
the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in
Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any
other country [Balfour Declaration, reproduced in Laqueur, ed., p.
18]." By the time of the Mandate, "civil and religous rights" had
changed to the "rights and position" of other sections of the
population.

On Peters' interpretation, "within the Balfour Declaration was the


asessment that the establishment of a home for the Jews would not
'prejudice the civil and reigious rights of existing non-Jewish
communities' [p. 339]." But the provision is clearly not an
assessment, but an injunction establishing British obligations to
Arabs, something Peters would apparently prefer to avoid mentioning.

4 Statement of British Policy in Palestine Issued by Mr. Churchill


in June, 1922," in Walter ed., p. 46. Cf. Balfour Declaration,
League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.

5 Article 15 guarantees "complete freedom of conscience and the free


exercise of all forms of worship," and prohibits discrimination
based on race, religion or language. Article 16 allows the Mandatory
to exercise "such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies
of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of
public order and good government." And Article 18 prohibits
discrimination against nationals of or goods from any State Member
of the League of Nations, guarantees free transit across the
mandated area, and allows for the imposition of taxes and customs
duties. See the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.

6 Report by His Britannic Majesty's Government of the Administration


Under Mandate of Palestine and Transjordan for the Year 1924.
Section II, Paragraph 2, online at
<http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/>.
7 The idea that Jordan is Arab Palestine has been criticized by
Daniel Pipes, who along with Adam Garfinkle published an article on
this subject in Commentary, October 1988 (the original
pre-publication version is available on the web at
<http://www.danielpipes.org/articles/199810.shtml>). Pipes and
Garfinkle provide the historical context that Peters leaves out:

Along with the rest of the Middle East, the modern political
history of Palestine and Jordan began with the First World War. At
the center of this transformation was the British effort to build
alliances for its war effort against Germany. London gave
vaguely-defined promises of Ottoman territory in the Levant to
three different parties. In the Husayn-McMahon Correspondence, ten
letters exchanged between July 1915 and March 1916, it promised
portions of geographic Syria to the Ottoman governor of Mecca, the
Sharif al-Husayn ibn 'Ali, but exact boundaries were not
specified. The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 1916 divided
the same area (and more) between Britain and France. The Balfour
Declaration of November 1917 endorsed "the establishment in
Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

Britain's three alliances served its wartime purposes fairly well;


in a two-year campaign that ended in October 1918, British forces
took control of the area stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to
Iran. But after the war, the apparent mutual exclusivity of these
agreements caused considerable trouble. In an initial effort to
balance commitments to Arabs, Frenchmen, and Zionists, the British
divided the Levant into three military administrations in October
1918. London administered a zone roughly equivalent to what later
became Israel and opened Jewish immigration to it. The French
assumed control of the coastal region between Israel and Turkey.
The sharif's son, Prince Faysal, received what became known as
Transjordan, as well as everything away from the Mediterranean in
today's Lebanon and Syria. Damascus served as his capital.

In accord with the Sykes-Picot agreement, however, the French


government aspired to control Damascus and the interior, so it
expelled Faysal from Damascus in July 1920. But the French did not
claim the southern part of Faysal's territory, which now fell
under British jurisdiction.

Here we arrive at a critical point for Jordan-is-Palestiners: the


British now for the first time called their whole territory in the
Levant the "Mandate for Palestine." In other words, starting in
July 1920, Jordan formed part of Palestine, as least as far as the
British were concerned.
But it did not remain so for long. In March 1921 Winston
Churchill, the colonial secretary, found it "necessary immediately
to occupy militarily Trans-Jordania." Rather than use British
troops to do this, he decided to control it indirectly. Toward
this end, Churchill divided the Palestine Mandate into two parts
along the Jordan River, creating the Emirate of Transjordan on the
east bank and excluding Jewish immigration there. Churchill
offered this territory to Faysal's older brother, 'Abdallah, who
after some hesitation accepted. The Hashemite dynasty of
'Abdallah, his son Tallal, and his grandson Husayn have ruled
Transjordan (or Jordan, as it was renamed in 1949) ever since.
After March 1921, the east bank was no longer Palestine.

8 Cf. Hope Simpson's claim in 1930 that "It is exceedingly difficult


to maintain any effective control of the various frontiers of
Palestine. At the present time such control as exists is carried out
at police posts on the roads. The immigrant who wishes to evade the
control naturally leaves the road before reaching the frontier and
takes to the footpaths over the Hills [p. 126]." John Hope Simpson,
Palestine. Report on Immigration, Land Settlement and Development,
1930, Command Paper #3686, p. 126.

9 Peters, p. 226: "According to all the reports of the period, Arab


'recorded' immigration to Palestine was minimal, casual and
unquantifiable." For original evidence, the Palestine Royal
Commission Report states: "Arab illegal immigration is mainly
casual, temporary and seasonal [p. 291]" and the Anglo-American
Survey of Palestine: "Arab illegal immigration is mainly of the
types described in the first paragraph of this memorandum as casual,
temporary and seasonal [p. 210]." Finkelstein points out in a note:

She has evidently "erred" in two respects:


the British assessments were explicitly not limited to
"recorded" immigration; and
no report ever stated that "recorded" immigration was
"unquantifiable."

See Norman G. Finkelstein, "Disinformation and the Palestine


Question: The Not-So-Strange Case of Joan Peters's From Time
Immemorial" in Edward W. Said and Christopher Hitchens, eds.,
Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian
Question (London: Verso, 2001), p. 64, note 9; Palestine Royal
Commission, Report, (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1937),
p. 291; Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, A Survey of Palestine
(London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1945-46) vol 1, p. 210.
10 See the citation from the Peel Commission Report later in this
section and the commentary by the Isaacs suggesting that the British
had underestimated the number of Haurani immigrants.
11 Finkelstein, pp. 39-40. The annual British reports to the League
of Nations show the number of travelers reclassified as legal
immigrants in selected years, and indicate that the provision
allowing "pseudo-travellers" to be reclassified as legal immigrants
benefited Jews most of all:

Jews Muslims Christians Others


1926 611 149 300 -
1927 705 85 430 -
1930 695 112 493 6
1931 939 137 502 2
1932 3730 109 719 -
1933 2465 63 344 4

Jews Non-Jews
1934 4114 752
1935 3804 625
1936 1817 467
1937 681 431
1938 1427 421
The 1928 report was unavailable; the 1929 report does not
record these figures. 1930 and 1931 figures are "those who had
entered without permission but were allowed to remain." Cf.
Finkelstein, note 11, p.65.

12 Finkelstein, p. 40. Cf. Peters, pp. 229, 232-3, 296-7, 326, 375,
376, 378, 379, 394, 402. In their article defending Peters, Erich
and Rael Jean Isaac agree that Peters is wrong here, but claim that
her error is understandable:

The chapter of the report in which this passage appears is devoted


to a discussion of the procedures used by the British Palestine
government in issuing immigration certificates to Jews. But
illegal Arab immigration was also an awkward problem for Hope
Simpson, and immediately before his discussion of (Jewish)
pseudo-travelers, he inserts a paragraph on the failure of land
border posts to control illegal crossings: "The immigrant who
wishes to evade the control naturally leaves the road before
reaching the frontier and takes to the footpaths over the Hills."
Actually, given the context, a reader might easily think he is
speaking of Jews here as well; the only way one can be sure is
that twelve pages on, in a passage explicitly concerning Arabs,
Hope Simpson mentions their illicit immigration through Syria and
across the northern frontiers and says, "This question has already
been discussed."
What presumably misled Miss Peters, then, was this paragraph on
infiltration across the land border. She correctly inferred that
Hope Simpson was speaking of Arabs here, but then incorrectly
concluded that the following section on pseudo-travelers referred
to Arabs as well. ["Whose Palestine?" Commentary, July 1986, p.
33]

Given the number of times Peters cites sources out of context,


however, it is rather much to believe that she had tried to
establish context by referring to Hope Simpson's reference twelve
pages later, while missing all the other indications that the
passage primarily concerned Jews.

13 Finkelstein, p. 41. Cf. the preceding pages in the Anglo-American


Survey, pp. 786-787, 788-789.

14 Neither I nor Finkelstein [p. 63, note 3] nor the Isaacs have
found any such claim in the Hope Simpson Report. As the Isaacs
write, "Actually, even if Hope Simpson had indeed been referring to
Arab pseudo-travelers, Miss Peters would have no justification for
claiming that the report 'proved' the Arab population was composed
'largely' of immigrants or in-migrants. It does no such thing."
Erich and Rael Jean Isaac, "Whose Palestine?" Commentary, July 1986,
p. 34.

15 For example, see Peters p. 297, p. 374.

16 Palestine Royal Commission, Report, pp. 291-292.

17 Peters is evidently referring to the subsection "Jewish


Immigration into Palestine" in the report's introduction, but this
subsection is not even listed in the table of contents. Chapter IV,
"Immigration and Emigration," is so listed and is hard to miss; it
contains extensive statistics on Arab immigration.
Here are scans of the relevant sections in four of the reports
across the period: 1926, 1931, 1935 and 1937. The rest of the
reports are similar. Note that the versions of the documents online
at <http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/> are truncated and do not
generally contain the sections dealing with immigration.

18 Finkelstein, pp. 46-47.


From Time Immeroial - Natural Increase and the Growth of Palestine's
Arab Population (Part 4 of 6)
by Paul Blair (April 19, 2002)

Peters' main contention is that many of the Arabs living in the area
that became Israel did not descend from Arabs who had been there
"from time immemorial" but were relatively recent arrivals. One
indication of this migration, she argues, is that the "natural
increase" (i.e., births minus deaths) of the original 1893
population could not have accounted for all the Arabs present in
pre-state Israel in 1947.

But Peters knows that the accepted view holds Arab population growth
to have been the result of natural increase. In a section entitled
"Immigration: Government Reports and Their Contradictions [pp.
223-5]," she cites many sources in support of the standard view,
including the 1931 British census, various government bodies, and
two Zionist historians.1

Peters counters this impressive array of sources with the argument


that the official sources contradict themselves and only assume, but
do not prove, that natural increase was the source of Arab
population growth. She writes: "Occasionally the British
administration, noting 'disproportions' and disparities in its data
on Arab population growth, attempted to justify the conflicting
assumptions in nonscientific terms, but the so-called
'unprecedented' rate of 'natural increase' among the non-Jews was
never satisfactorily broken down or explained [p. 223]." Later, she
continues: "the evidence which contradicted that assumption often
was noted on other pages of the same official British Government
report that had made the 'natural increase' assumption [p. 224]."
Peters never provides enough details about official figures to show
that the claim of natural increase is an "assumption"; this is
merely her assertion. At least one of her sources, Carr-Saunders'
World Population, explicitly bases its claims about natural increase
on observed birth rates and death rates among the Arabs
[Carr-Saunders, p. 308].2 If Carr-Saunders makes some assumption
that would mask immigration, Peters does not show it.
What of Peters' "disproportions" and contradictions? Peters uses the
term "disproportion" in reference to the 1937 British report to the
League of Nations:

A very great disproportion is evident between the Moslem and


Jewish death-rates and has been accentuated by a steady decline in
the Jewish death-rate over the period under review. [p. 223, note
14]
But there is nothing contradictory or surprising about a
disproportion between Arab and Jewish death rates. Nor does the
Muslims' higher death rate contradict the idea that Arab natural
increase was very rapid. The same report indicates that the Muslims
have the highest birth rate of all the religions and establishes
their high rate of natural increase [pp. 223-224, note 18].
Peters also cites a report that, whereas the Jewish death rate
declined between 1922 and 1944, the Arab death rate was at its
lowest in 1922: "According to demographic experts, that phenomenon
would have been incredible [p. 223, note 11]." Yet the relevant
table shows that the Arab death rate decreased steadily between 1923
and 1935.3 Furthermore, the anomalous figure for 1922 clearly has a
different statistical basis, as no figure for "others" is cited in
the rightmost column. There is nothing nefarious in this
inconsistency, and Peters is wrong to make anything of it.
Peters finds another "contradiction" in the work of A.M.
Carr-Saunders. She writes:

One source cited earlier--a population expert who assumed that a


populous indigenous Arab community had been in Palestine for a
millenium--noted elsewhere in the same chapter that, by the date
of his book, 1936, well into that Mandatory period, "fall in the
death-rate" was the "likely" cause of the Arabs' population
increase. And yet, he contradicted his own explanation by stating
that in fact by 1936, fourteen years into the Mandatory period,
"Medical and sanitary progress has made little headway among the
Palestinian Arabs as yet, and cannot account for any considerable
fall in the death rate." After disqualifying all other excuses,
that writer was left with one rather lame possibility: that
perhaps the phenomenal rate of increase among Arabs in Palestine
could be attributed solely to British "administrative measures"
like "quarantine"!

In other words, the new "phenomenal" rise in the Arab population


of Palestine, which had remained sparse and static for two hundred
years despite constant replenishing, was attributed to a sudden,
hyped natural increase of the "existing" long-settled indigenes.
That phenomenon, or so went the rationalization, resulted from new
conditions. Yet, it was also acknowledged that because of its
recent timing, the introduction of those new conditions could not
in fact have been responsible for the population increase in the
period of time for which it was credited! [p. 224]
But consider what Carr-Saunders had actually written:
Medical and sanitary progress, so far as it affects the personal
health and customs, has made little way among the Palestinian
Arabs as yet, and cannot account for any considerable fall in the
death rate. But general administrative measures, in the region of
quarantine, for example, have been designed in the light of modern
knowledge and have been adequately carried out. Measures of this
kind can be enforced almost overnight... Therefore we can find in
these administrative changes, brought about by the British
occupation of Palestine, what is in any case a tenable explanation
of the natural increase of population among the Arabs.
[Carr-Saunders, pp. 310-311]

Peters' quote omits Carr-Saunders' crucial phrase "so far as it


affects the personal health and customs" without even an ellipsis.
The alleged contradiction is entirely of her own manufacture:
Carr-Saunders does not claim that new conditions could not have
explained the Arab population increase, merely that new conditions
affecting personal health and customs could not have done so. He
explains the population increase in terms of new conditions such as
quarantine. Peters simply dismisses this explanation as an "excuse"
and a "lame possibility" which in the next paragraph becomes a
"rationalization." She clearly wants to believe that Carr-Saunders
has invented this explanation out of a desire to evade the
possibility that Arab population increase resulted largely from
immigration, but offers no evidence to support this attitude.

The last "contradiction" Peters finds is in the report of the 1938


Palestine Partition Commission, cited above, "which tried to
reconcile contradictory facts"; i.e., the high birth rate of a
peasant community and a death rate that "could only be brought about
under an enlightened modern administration [p. 224]." But there is
nothing necessarily contradictory in a population exhibiting these
two tendencies, nor does Peters explain further. She merely points
without comment to the report's claims that these circumstances were
"unique in modern history" and "possibly unprecedented [p. 225]."
The thesis that high Arab population growth came from hidden
immigration rather than natural increase is not original to Peters;
it was explicitly considered and rejected during the Mandatory
period. According to the Anglo-American Survey of Palestine:
That each [temporary migration into Palestine] may lead to a
residue of illegal permanent settlers is possible, but, if the
residue were of significant size, it would be reflected in
systematic disturbances of the rates of Arab vital occurrences. No
such systematic disturbances are observed. It is sometimes alleged
that the high rate of Arab natural increase is due to a large
concealed immigration from the neighbouring countries. This is an
erroneous inference. Researches reveal that the high rate of
fertility of the Moslem Arab woman has remained unchanged for half
a century. The low rate of Arab natural increase before 1914 was
caused by

(a) the removal in significant numbers of men in the early


nubile years for military service in other parts of the Ottoman
Empire, many of whom never returned and others of whom returned
in the late years of life; and

(b) the lack of effective control of endemic and epidemic


diseases that in those years led to high mortality rates.
[Survey, p. 211]4

All Peters has to offer in dispute of such findings is a series of


invented contradictions in the official British sources. As will be
seen in the next section, her allegations of massive undocumented
immigration rest on similar distortions and misinterpretations.
Summary

Peters' method for dealing with inconvenient evidence is becoming


clear: she tries to discredit the source by inventing
inconsistencies while insinuating dishonesty. The standard view that
rapid Arab population growth resulted from natural increase stands
is an obstacle to Peters' thesis of massive Arab immigration. Thus,
we see her :

argue without ground that official reports "assume" that high Arab
population growth resulted from natural increase

insinuate baselessly that a "disproportion" between Jewish and


Muslim death rates in a British report is a sign of "conflicting
assumptions"

find another "contradiction" in an obvious change in statistical


reporting methods

omit a crucial qualifying phrase in a quotation in order to create


the appearance of self-contradiction

dismiss without evidence (but with plenty of scorn) an expert's


assessment that public health measures had accounted for rapid
Arab population growth

insinuate groundlessly that the official sources evaded the


possibility of Arab immigration
imagine a contradiction in a report's claim of high birth rates
accompanying lowered death rates

What Peters does not do is offer any valid evidence that birth and
death data were misreported, or show why evidence of immigration did
not appear in Arab vital statistics. Instead, she modifies or
misinterprets evidence to fit her thesis.
Notes

1 She cites:
The British census of 1931 as saying that "not quite two percent
of the Moslem population are immigrants [p. 222, note 7]."
The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry as remarking on the
expansion of the Arab population by natural increase and the
remarkable "speed with which the Moslems have followed Western
patterns in the reduction of mortality [p. 223, p. 224, notes 8,9,
20]."

The Palestine Royal Commission Report as calling the rate of


natural increase among the Muslims "unprecedented" and as
crediting the fact to the higher health standards brought by Jews
[p. 223, notes 13, 10]. Later, the report raises the possibility
of immigration as accounting for some of the population increase:
"No accurate estimate can be made of the numbers of Arabs who have
come into Palestine from neighboring Arab lands and settled there,
but it may be reckoned that roughly nine-tenths of growth has been
due to natural increase... [p. 225, note 26]."

The 1937 British report to the League of Nations claiming that the
Muslim birth rate is the highest of all the religions and that
"the growth in their numbers has been largely due to the health
services, combating malaria, reducing the infant deathrate,
improving water supply and sanitation." Further, the report sets
the Moslem rate of natural increase at 2.5 per cent per year
between 1931 and 1935 [pp. 223-224, note 18].
Zionist historian Rony Gabbay: "The increase in the Moslem and
Christian populations is to be attributed mostly to their higher
rate of natural increase, due not only to the very high birth
rate, but also to the fall in the death rate of infants, as well
as a considerable increase in the life span... [p. 513, note 19]."

Zionist historian A. Granovsky: "The rate of natural increase of


the Arab population of Palestine is... among the highest in the
world, in fact [p. 513, note 19]."
Population expert A.M. Carr-Saunders as claiming that the "fall in
the death rate" was the "likely" cause of the Arabs' population
increase [p. 224, note 21]. Later, Carr-Saunders is quoted saying
that "the Arabs have also received some reinforcement" from
immigration [p. 225, note 27].
The 1938 Palestine Partition Commission (relying on Carr-Saunders)
claiming that the Arab population reflected "simultaneously two
widely different tendencies--a birthrate characteristic of a
peasant community in which the unrestricted family is normal, and
a death-rate which could only be brought about under an
enlightened modern administration... [p. 224, note 22]." Among the
Arabs this led to "an abnormally high (and possibly unprecedented)
rate of natural increase in the existing indigenous population [p.
225, note 24]."

2 A.M. Carr-Saunders, World Population (Oxford: Clarendon Press,


1936), p. 308.

3 Statistical Abstract of Palestine (Jerusalem: Office of


Statistics), 1936 p. 17, table 18.

4 Peters is surely aware of this reference, as it occurs one


paragraph after a passage she cites [p. 517 note 49] and is clearly
relevant to it.
From Time Immemorial - Evidence of Unrecorded Arab Immigration (Part
5 of 6)
by Paul Blair (April 20, 2002)

The central thesis of Peters' book is that a significant proportion


of Arabs living in the area that became Israel were actually
immigrants or migrants from other parts of Palestine, who made up a
large proportion of the 590,000 Palestinian refugees in 1948.
Peters' population study claims to show that 170,000 Arabs had
migrated inside Palestine into the Jewish-settled areas by 1948 [p.
257]. Some additional number had immigrated from outside Palestine,
but Peters regards the official count as inaccurate. On p. 381 she
estimates at least 200,000 immigrants by 1939, while on p. 275 she
had argued that the "incidence of Arab illegal immigration during
the British mandatory period... was evidently an immigration
movement great enough to compare with admittedly immigration-based
increase of the Jews," a figure of roughly 370,000.1 Thus Peters'
total from internal migration and immigration would lie between
370,000 and 540,000, a figure that would make most of the refugees
recent arrivals.2

Others have also argued that significant undocumented Arab


immigration occurred, but put the figure far lower.3 Arieh Avneri,
in Claim of Dispossession, estimates 100,000 legal and illegal
immigrants and their offspring.4 Moshe Braver, whom Peters cites,
also would put the number at around 100,000, and gives some
indication that internal migration was relatively minor.5 Peters'
immigration estimates run twice to four times as high.

No Hidden Immigration?

Finkelstein argues that Peters' own population study refutes all


such estimates, showing no net Arab immigration into Palestine.6 The
study calculates how many Arabs would have been living in different
parts of Palestine in 1947, had population growth been the result of
natural increase alone. Peters compares these results with the
actual 1947 population to show that Arab population growth in the
Jewish-settled areas had to have been supplemented by arrivals from
elsewhere.
Peters' study rests on figures from the 1893 Ottoman census and a
factor for the Arab natural increase between 1893 and 1947. Recall
that Peters believes the official figures for Arab natural increase
were exaggerated and masked hidden immigration. Instead, she uses a
figure she believes is more representative of the true rate: that of
the Arab population in non-Jewish areas, where population growth
would not be influenced by hidden immigration [p. 428]. Yet that
rate of natural increase turns out to match the overall rate of Arab
population growth in Palestine.7 In other words, taking the Arab
population in Palestine as a whole, Peters' own figures would show
that practically the entire growth in Arab population in Palestine
from 1893 to 1947 came from natural increase.

The explanation for this anomaly lies in Peters' figures for 1947,
which come from "British census data [p. 428]."8 But there was no
census in 1947. As Gottheil explains,
Census data for Palestine is available only for the years 1922 and
1931.... Since 1931, population estimates were derived by applying
natural rates of growth and registered immigration to the 1931
numbers. Because these population estimates make no attempt to
measure unrecorded immigration, the reliability of these numbers
is considerably less than those of the census years.9

In other words, the data Peters used for 1947 already assumes no
unrecorded immigration occurred; her population study can only
indicate a pattern of relative migration within Palestine (which she
calls "in-migration") and has nothing to say about immigration.
Finkelstein's criticism, then, is without merit.

In-migration and Peters' Population Study

Peters' study is only as good as her initial 1893 population


figures. As was seen earlier, her apportionment of the 1893 Arab
population to various geographical regions cannot be verified
because she does not specify her procedure. Given the
tendentiousness with which she handles evidence, there is reason to
be skeptical about her results.10

Finkelstein wrongly accuses Peters of falsifying the numbers in her


study because he errs in deriving the figure she uses for the rate
of natural increase.11 Nevertheless, he is correct that she misuses
her figures in estimating the number of 1948 Arab refugees
originally from outside Israeli territory. Peters' Areas I, II and
IV are the ones that became Israel; according to her study, this
area experienced a net in-migration of 99,100 Arabs [p. 425]. Yet in
her table "Actual Numbers of Arab Refugees--1948" on p. 257, she
lists an in-migration of 170,300.
Peters conveniently forgets to account for about 71,000 out-migrants
from Area IV, though she remembers to include Area IV in each of the
other columns in her table. Thus, according to her study, some of
her "in-migrants" actually came from inside pre-state Israel; fewer
than 100,000 came from elsewhere in Palestine.12
Peters' strange labeling of the various areas within Palestine lends
credence to the idea that she is trying to put something over on the
reader here. Why are the regions that eventually made up Israel
labeled I, II and IV and the rest of Palestine III and V? As
Finkelstein writes,

[I]n the chart on p. 425, Areas I, II and II are boxed off from
Areas IV and V. It is very easy to forget that the first of the
latter two regions (IV)--from which, as we have seen, there was
very significant out-migration--became part of Israel. Why did
Peters section off Area III, and not Area IV, with Areas I and II?
Another example: in the legend to Peters's Appendix V (p. 424),
Areas I, II and III are bracketed off and labeled "contained most
of Jewish population"; Areas IV and V are similarly bracketed off
and labeled "contained very little Jewish population." But... Area
III contained no Jews.13 By grouping the five regions in this
highly misleading and altogether erroneous fashion, the distinct
impression is again left that the first three areas became Israel
while the remaining two fell within the jurisdiction of the Arabs
in 1948: Area IV easily gets lost in the shuffle.[Finkelstein, p.
52]
Documenting Illegal Arab Immigration

Peters never indicates how she arrives at her estimate of at least


200,000 Arab immigrants entering Jewish-settled areas of Palestine
between 1893 and 1947; this figure is just a guess. Yet the evidence
she provides to document the existence of unrecorded immigration is
often misrepresented :
Peters' "smoking gun" is the Permanent Mandates Commission's
reference to 30,000-36,000 Hauranis entering Palestine during a
few months in 1934. As Finkelstein writes:

Peters cites the Mandates Commission reference to the report in


La Syrie on seven different occasions (pp. 230, 231, 272, 275,
297, 319, 431). She classifies this reference in the Commission
minutes as "hard evidence" (p. 297) and lists this reported
entry of 30,000-36,000 Hauranis into Palestine flat out as a
fact in her chronology of significant events in the history of
the British mandate (p. 319; see also p. 272, where this item is
again presented, without qualification, as fact)... [she] states
that the Mandates Commission "verified" (p. 231) and
"recognized" (p. 319) the influx, in the space of just a few
months, of 30,000 to 36,000 Hauranis, and that the Commission
"took special 'note'... that the Hauranese, not merely passing
through, had indeed settled" (p. 230).14
Yet here is what the Commission's minutes actually say:

Lord LUGARD said that La Syrie had published, on August 12th,


1934, an interview with Tewfik Bey El-Huriani, Governor of the
Hauran, who said that in the last few months from 30,000 to
36,000 Hauranese had entered Palestine and settled there. The
accredited representative would note the Governor's statement
that these Hauranese had actually "settled".

...Mr. MOODY expressed the view that the statement of the


Governor of the Hauran was a gross exaggeration.

M. ORTS did not know how much value could be attached to the
statement, but the statement itself was quite definite. The
Governor even referred to the large sums remitted by these
immigrants to their families, who remained in the Hauran.

Mr. MOODY said he had read the article in question. As he had


said, he thought that the figures must be grossly exaggerated,
because the Palestine Government had taken special measures on
the eastern and north-eastern frontier with a view to keeping
out undesirable people.15
Peters never notes that the figure was disputed nor does she
supply any other references to support it. Her claims that the
Commission "verified" or "recognized" the number are false.16
We have already seen the Peel Commission reporting that Haurani
migration was largely temporary and that approximately 2,500
illegal Hauranis remained in Palestine as of 1937. And Peters
herself documents the "hasty leavetaking" of the Hauranis in 1936
[p. 272].17 In a definitive gesture, the British bulldozed the
Haurani encampment after the Hauranis' departure.18
The Isaacs, in their article defending Peters, mention that she
has provided "very soft evidence indeed, for... there was no way
El-Hurani [sic] could know three months after the exodus whether
it was permanent or not.

Actually, Miss Peters has much better evidence on this point


which she ignores. In the testimony given before the Palestine
Royal Commission by the Jewish Agency's Eliahu Epstein and Moshe
Shertok, and on the very pages from which she elsewhere quotes
effectively and extensively, there is a lengthy discussion of
the immigrants who came from the Hauran in 1934. Epstein
complained to the Commission about this Haurani influx; his
estimate was that 20,000-25,000 had entered, of whom 6,000 to
8,000 had settled in Palestine. Epstein had done genuine
research on the issue, visiting 30 villages in the Hauran to
determine how many migrants had been seasonal and how many had
left permanently. (He published some of his findings in the
Journal of the Royal Asian Society in 1935.) One can only
speculate that Miss Peters felt El-Hurani's numbers--30,000 to
36,000--made her case more dramatically than Epstein's better
documented account of 6,000 to 8,000. But a serious scholar
obviously does not operate in this way.19
The same Haurani immigration is discussed by the Anglo-American
Survey of Palestine. Peters writes, "Under the heading 'Arab
illegal immigration,' a 1945-46 report noted that '...the "boom"
conditions in Palestine in the years 1934-36 led to an inward
movement into Palestine particularly from Syria.' [p. 517 note
49]" But the complete context is as follows:

Arab illegal immigration is mainly of the types described in the


first paragraph of this memorandum as casual, temporary and
seasonal.... For example, a crop failure in the Hauran may lead
to a movement into Palestine, almost entirely masculine in
character, so that the migrants may acquire funds with which to
recoup their losses and, on return to their own villages, invest
in their normal agricultural pursuits.... Similarly, the "boom"
conditions in Palestine in the years 1934-36 led to an inward
movement in Palestine particularly from Syria. The depression
due to the state of public disorder during 1936-39 led to the
return of these people and also a substantial outward movement
of Palestinian Arabs who thought it prudent to live for a time
in Lebanon and Syria.[Survey, p. 210-211]20
In other words, the Survey states that all the Haurani immigrants
eventually left Palestine. Even had Peters provided evidence to
the contrary, her use of the citation would still be misleading
and incomplete.

In another location, Peters again cites the Survey in support of


her claim of massive undocumented Arab immigration:

What the official Anglo-American Survey of 1945-6 definitively


disclosed... is that those tens of thousands of "Arab illegal
immigrants" recorded as having been "brought" into Palestine
were reported by an administration that was reluctant to record
Arab immigration at all. In addition, other unestimated
"considerable" numbers immigrated "unofficially" or as
"individuals" during the war, according to the report. Of the
combined masses of Arab illegal immigrants only a small number
were repatriated, and only near the end of the war ("October
1944") was there a token effort to "put the law into force and
deport to their countries of origin the Syrian, Lebanese,
Egyptian and other foreign labourers found to be illegally in
Palestine. Since the Palestine authorities, as documented
earlier, were under orders not to deport Arab illegal immigrants
unless they were embarrassingly noticeable, the number deported
was predictably minimal. [p. 379]
Now look at the Survey. The document records official arrangements
made to bring in 3,800 laborers from Syria and Lebanon for the
Army:

Of this number it is known that 713 deserted; 828 were


officially repatriated; and 178 remained in employment at 31st
December, 1945. The balance (2081) must be presumed to have been
discharged in Palestine and either returned to their countries
of origin of their own volition or remained in Palestine
illegally.

In addition to these Syrian and Lebanese labourers who were


brought to Palestine under official arrangements, inhabitants of
neighbouring countries, attracted by the high rates of wages
offered for employment on military works, entered Palestine
illegally in considerable numbers during the War.... No
estimates are available of the numbers of foreign labourers who
were so brought into the country by contractors or who entered
individually in search of employment on military works. [Survey,
pp. 212-213]

So the unestimated "considerable" numbers who emigrated


"unofficially" or as "individuals" were in addition to 3,800 legal
immigrants, not to Peters' "tens of thousands" of illegals.
Further on, the Survey catalogs the additional illegal immigrants,
yielding a total of about 14,000.21 The Survey later provides a
table of the number of non-Jews deported from Palestine, which
shows that almost 13,000 had been deported [p. 221].22 Thus out of
roughly 18,000 immigrants--3,800 "official" ones and about 14,000
illegals by best estimate--all but 5,000 or so had been deported.
This is far from Peters' "tens of thousands" of recorded
immigrants and additional "considerable numbers" of whom the
number deported was "predictably minimal."23

Referring to the Hope Simpson Report, Peters writes, "[A]ccording


to that Report, evidence of Arab immigration abounded: 'Egyptian
labour is being employed.' [p. 297]" Yet Hope Simpson had actually
written: "At the time of writing, even with marked unemployment
among Arabs, Egyptian labour is being employed in certain
individual cases, and its ingress has been the subject of adverse
comment in the press. [Hope Simpson, p. 138]"24 The omission of
the qualifier "in certain individual cases" exaggerates the
significance of the use of Egyptian labor.
In various places, Peters cites Hope Simpson's claim that the Arab
peasant "goes to any spot where he thinks he can find work [p.
201]." For example, she writes, "it has been possible to determine
the surge of Arab in-migrants into the Jewish-settled area of
Western Palestine, in the continuation of a traditional
pattern--moving into "any spot where he thinks he can find work
[p. 254]." Yet she never gives the full context of the quote, in
which Hope Simpson was speaking of peasants who were emigrating
from Palestine. He writes, "He is always migrating, even at the
present time. He goes to any spot where he thinks he can find
work. Many have left the country altogether [Hope Simpson, pp.
146-147]."

The Lure of Jewish Development

Peters' case appears to have common sense on its side: If the Jews
had created economic opportunity for Arabs in Palestine, and if the
borders were porous, one would naturally expect massive illegal Arab
immigration. But this account omits several crucial aspects of the
situation. First, Jewish employers resisted employing Arabs. Hope
Simpson notes that "[t]he General Federation of Jewish Labour has
adopted... the principle of self-labour. Where self-labour is
impossible, it insists on the employment of Jewish labour
exclusively, by all Jewish employers. It has been sufficiently
powerful to impose the policy on the Zionist Organization... [Hope
Simpson, p. 128]." Thus Peters' constant refrain that Arab
immigrants were "filling the places that the Jews were clearing for
other Jews [p. 175]" is untrue.25

Peters never discusses the economic opportunities Jewish development


offered Arabs after this principle of "self-labor" was adopted. Hope
Simpson contended that, although Jewish development had provided
additional employment opportunities for Arabs, significant Arab
unemployment nevertheless existed. He wrote:

At the same time there can be no doubt that there is at the


present time serious unemployment among Arab craftsmen and among
Arab labourers. For this unemployment there are several causes.
Motor transport, largely in the hands of the Jews, is driving the
camel and the donkey off the roads, and with them the Arab
camel-driver and the Arab donkey-man. The motor car, again largely
owned and driven by Jews, is displacing the horse-drawn vehicle
and its Arab driver. The increased use of cement, reinforced
concrete and silicate brick, all manufactured by Jews, is
replacing dressed stone for constructional purposes, and so
displacing a large number of stone-dressers and stonemasons,
nearly all of whom are Arabs. The Arab quarrymen are also being
displaced.
But probably the most serious cause of additional unemployment is
the cessation of conscription for the army, prevalent under the
Turkish Government. The young men now remain in the villages.
Formerly they were dispatched to the Yemen or to Anatolia, and
many, indeed the majority, of them, failed to return. [Hope
Simpson, p. 133]

Hope Simpson goes on for two pages [p. 134, 135] listing the
evidence for Arab unemployment, including the volume of applications
for various low-paying jobs as testified by various officials, and
the decline in wage rates among the artisans. One would expect this
unemployment to have tempered, if not deterred, Arab immigration.
This was the picture in 1930; we have already seen that the economic
"boom" several years later attracted large numbers of Hauranis from
Syria, who later left during the 1936 "Arab revolt." The
attractiveness of immigration into Palestine, then, would have
depended on general economic conditions, the state of public order,
and the trade of the prospective immigrant. The mere fact that
Palestine had a porous border is not enough to conclude that
significant numbers of Arabs were continually pouring into the
country in search of work. While some illegal immigration did occur,
the question is how much.

Peters uses the Hope Simpson Report to support the idea that Arab
claims of unemployment were bogus: "The Report had strongly
indicated...that the condition of Arab 'unemployment' was being
blown out of all semblance to reality by the Arab leaders who had
indeed found the 'method of blocking that [Jewish] immigration to
which they are radically averse' [p. 298]." Or again: "The illicit
Arab immigration from 'Syria and Transjordan'...had 'swollen
unemployment lists' and was 'used as a political pawn' toward
'blocking immigration to which they are radically averse'... [p.
374]."

Yet Peters herself cites enough from the Report at the top of p. 298
to show that Hope Simpson is speaking of a hypothetical situation,
one that would be easily defeated:

Arab unemployment is liable to be used as a political pawn. Arab


politicians are sufficiently astute to realise at once what may
appear an easy method of blocking that [Jewish] immigration to
which they are radically averse, and attempts may and probably
will be made to swell the list of Arabs unemployed with names
which should not be there, or perhaps to ensure the registration
of an unemployed man in the books of more than one exchange. It
should not prove difficult to defeat this manoeuvre. [Hope
Simpson, p. 138]
When Hope Simpson was writing, the Jewish immigration schedule took
into account only Jewish, not Arab, unemployment [Hope Simpson, pp.
122-123]. Thus the Arab unemployment rate was irrelevant in
determining the number of Jews to be allowed into Palestine; indeed,
one of Hope Simpson's recommendations was that the policy be changed
to account for Arab unemployment as well [Hope Simpson, p. 136].
Hope Simpson's reference to unemployment being used as a political
pawn concerned the possible consequences of his proposal, not
current conditions.

In fact, at the time of the Report no "unemployment lists" even


existed to be artificially swollen, nor were there any employment
exchanges. Creating such exchanges was another of Hope Simpson's
proposals: "[S]teps should be taken to create a machinery for the
registration of Arab unemployment. Government Employment Exchanges
should be created, without which determination of the number of Arab
unemployed is not possible [Hope Simpson, p. 152]." Thus Peters'
reference provides no evidence that Arab unemployment was simply an
invention intended to limit Jewish immigration.
Summary

Peters argues that the vast majority of the Arabs who became
refugees in 1948 were leaving an area where they had only recently
arrived. Her argument, however, rests on inflated numbers. Her
estimate for immigration is pulled out of the air and at least
double that of others who have studied the question. Her study of
migration within Palestine fails to include a figure that would
diminish her results by over forty percent, without explanation.
Given Peters' overall pattern of distortion and tendentiousness, it
is hard to take this as a simple oversight.

Peters' evidence of undocumented illegal immigration is full of


distortions:

Her key evidence is the immigration of 30,000-36,000 Hauranis as


verified by the Mandates Commission--which in fact did not verify
it, and before whom it was disputed.
She claims the Commission verified the Hauranis' settlement in
Palestine, when it could not possibly have done so.

Her own evidence that the Hauranis left Palestine two years later
is minimized.

She cites the Anglo-American Survey regarding the entry of the


Hauranis, but omits the sentence documenting their departure.
She inflates the number of immigrants documented by the
Anglo-American Survey by counting the same groups several times
over.
While the Survey documented the deportation of over two thirds of
the immigrants, she claims that it found only a minimal number
deported.

She exaggerates the use of Egyptian labor by truncating the quote


she cites as evidence

Peters simply assumes that Jewish development acted as a lure for


Arab immigration. She does not take into account Jewish policies to
hire only Jewish workers, nor observed unemployment among the Arabs.
Her claim that Arab unemployment was a fiction intended to block
Jewish immigration rests on a misrepresentation of conditions in
Palestine at the time, as well as of the report she uses as
evidence.

The true total for immigration plus in-migration probably lies


between 100,000 and 200,000. This figure is not insignificant, but
it does not rise to the level that justifies Peters' thesis that
most of the 1948 Arab population--or of the refugees--were recent
arrivals.

Notes

1 Peters' table in Appendix VII [p. 432] shows a figure of about


368,000 Jewish immigrants over the entire mandatory period.

2 This total is supported by other passages in Peters' text. On pp.


262-263 she says that "illegal Arab immigrants could account for a
very substantial number among the Arabs included in the 343,00
refugee figure" from which in-migration and recorded immigration had
already been deducted. On p. 264 Peters claims the number of
immigrants was at least as high as that of in-migrants. Later, on p.
337 she says that Arab population increase by in-migration and
illegal immigration "matched or possibly even exceeded the Jews'
immigration," which would be about 370,000. And on p. 298 she claims
that Hope Simpson had proved that the "so-called 'existing'
indigenous Arab population...was largely composed either of
immigrants or Arab in-migrants," or nearly 450,000 by 1930. (Peters
provides no 1930 figures, but Hope Simpson records almost 700,000
Moslems and over 82,000 Christians in Palestine [Report, p. 160].
Peters' table puts 57 percent of the Arab population of Palestine in
Areas I, II and IV in 1944 [p. 425]; applying this proportion to the
1930 figures gives almost 450,000.)

Peters' claim that the indigenous Arab population was largely from
elsewhere is not to be found in the Hope Simpson Report. See note 14
in the "British Mandate" section above.
3 "While there are no precise totals on the extent of Arab
immigration between the two World Wars, estimates vary between
60,000 and 100,000." Moshe Aumann, "Land Ownership in Palestine
1880-1948," in Michael Curtis, Joseph Neyer, Chaim I. Waxman and
Allen Pollack, eds., The Palestinians (New Brunswick: Transaction
Books, 1975), p. 27.

4 Arieh L. Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession: Jewish


Land-Settlement and the Arabs 1878-1948 (New Brunswick: Transaction
Books, 1984), p. 282.

5 Braver claims that during 1922-1945, 20 per cent of Muslim and at


least 28 per cent of the Christian population growth came from
immigration [Braver, p. 14]. If roughly ten percent of the
non-Jewish population of Palestine was Christian ["Palestine on the
Eve," note 8], then about 21 per cent of non-Jewish population
growth resulted from immigration. Applying this proportion to
Peters' numbers for Areas I, II and IV from 1893 (218,600) and 1947
(746,900) would give a result of about 110,900. This estimate is
probably too high, for it assumes the same rate of Arab immigration
all the way back to 1893, and also that Peters' 1893 figures are
accurate (see note 10 below).

With regard to internal migration, Braver writes:


It was found that there had been some migration from the Hebron
area to Jerusalem and a bit to Jaffa, but not to the coastal plain
villages. From Beth-Lehem, Bet Jalla and several neighboring
villages there had been some migration abroad, to Jerusalem, Jaffa
and Haifa, but not to other villages elsewhere.... In
conversations with the heads of the clans, the above assumption
was verified, namely, that coastal plain villages (and those in
the eastern foothills) received many "new residents", most of them
from neighboring countries and only a few from other regions in
the land. [Braver, pp. 19-20]

Moshe Braver, "Immigration as a Factor in the Growth of the Arab


Village in Eretz-Israel," Economic Review: Problems of Aliya and
Absorption (Tel Aviv) 28 (July-September 1975) pp. 10-21.

6 Norman G. Finkelstein, "Disinformation and the Palestine Question:


The Not-So-Strange Case of Joan Peters's From Time Immemorial," in
Edward W. Said and Christopher Hitchens, eds., Blaming the Victims:
Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question (London: Verso,
2001), p. 38.
7 Peters' study uses a factor of 2.795 for the natural increase of
Arab population between 1893 and 1947. Her value for the Arab
population of Palestine in 1893 was 466,400 [Appendix V, p. 425]--a
figure that, multiplied by 2.795, would yield an Arab population of
1,303,588 in 1947. But Peters' figure for the actual Palestinian
Arab population in 1947 (from the same tables) is 1,303,800. This
would mean that only 212 Arabs immigrated into Palestine over those
fifty-four years.

Peters argues that the rate of natural increase she uses is


conservative and overestimates growth due to natural increase:
The rate of natural increase applied to the Arabs in the
Jewish-settled area of Western Palestine was the total reported
increase of all the Arabs throughout the rest of Western
Palestine. Thus the study assumed all population increase among
Arabs outside the Jewish-settled area was natural. Since some
immigration into those areas from other lands also took place, a
number of newcomers were counted as "native" population who only
increased by reproduction; consequently, that rate of "natural"
increase which was applied probably is higher than the one that
actually obtained. [pp. 259-260]

Yet according to the demographer's note, the study does nothing of


the sort; it derives the rate of natural increase directly from
birth and death rates:
The first procedure [involved]...applying the percentages of
actual births and deaths as obtained from the British government
censuses and reports. Natural increase was calculated from birth
and death data.... The second procedure involved the following: A)
using data for Arab births and deaths available from the
Statistical Abstract of Palestine--1941 for the period of 1922 to
1927... [pp. 428-429]

Thus the rate of natural increase is not based on the total increase
of the Arab population including immigrants, but on observed birth
and death rates. If the demographer is telling the truth, Peters is
misrepresenting her study as conservative.
8 Edward Said claims that Peters demographics are done in ignorance
of the 1931 British census. He writes: "What neither [Farrell nor
Finkelstein] noted, however, is that the last census for Palestine
was done under British mandate in 1931. No population estimates of
twentieth-century Palestine can avoid its findings, which show a
vast native Arab majority. Peters totally ignores that census..."
Edward Said, "Conspiracy of Praise," in Said and Hitchens, eds., p. 26.
Yet Peters refers to that census, for example, on p. 222: "While the
'Jewish population' of Palestine was 'predominantly immigrant in
character,' according to the 1931 census of Palestine the Muslims
were assumed to be 'the natural population'..." She mentions it
again on p. 226 and uses it for the tables on the pages that follow
("Birthplaces of Inhabitants of Jerusalem District" and "Languages
in Habitual Use in Palestine"). The census is cited on p. 242 (see
note 33) as stating that in 1918 there had been less than 100,000
Jews and over half a million Arabs in Palestine. It appears in the
notes in several other places. True, the 1931 census is not referred
to in Peters' population study (she uses data for 1922, 1944 and
1947 [p. 428]). This omission may be questionable, but Said's claim
that she entirely ignores the 1931 census is not true.

Said also claims that Peters ignores Justin McCarthy's work, which
is true insofar as his study of the population of Ottoman Syria and
Iraq is concerned. She does, however, cite McCarthy's earlier
article on Egyptian population in the 19th century--e.g., on p. 529
note 79. This article is also cited in Peters' bibliography.
9 Fred M. Gottheil, "Arab Immigration into Pre-State Israel:
1922-1931" in Curtis et al. eds., The Palestinians, p. 31.

To be precise, Peters' study assumes all population increase after


1931 comes from natural increase. Between 1893 and 1931, her numbers
show no net immigration. Both Gottheil and Avneri use census data
from 1922 and 1931 to estimate illegal immigration during that
period. Gottheil puts the figure at about 55,000 [Gottheil, p. 32],
while Avneri estimates 44,500 of whom many may simply have been
uncounted in the 1922 census [Avneri, pp. 31-32]. From 1893 to 1922,
Avneri documents both immigration and emigration, as well as
banishments, desertions, famine and epidemics that caused
significant population fluctuations [Avneri, pp. 21-30].
10 Aside from questions about how she collated the Ottoman census
figures, there is reason to believe that the raw Ottoman figures are
too low. A study of the Ottoman census data by demographer Justin
McCarthy of the University of Louisville, published by the
University of Haifa in 1981, used statistical methods to establish
an undercount of 7.51 per cent in the district of Jerusalem and of
18.77 per cent in the Beyrut province (which contained the other two
districts that became part of Palestine). Farrell applies these
figures to the Ottoman census data to show that Peters' 1893 numbers
were short by 47,300 Muslims across Palestine; their descendants in
1947 would number over 132,000 at Peters' rate of natural increase.
(Christians were similarly undercounted, though exact figures were
not available.) Thus Arab migration within Palestine is likely to be
far smaller than Peters contends.

See Justin McCarthy, "The Population of Ottoman Syria and Iraq,"


Asian and African Studies 15 (1981), p. 10, 25 and Bill Farrell,
"Joan Peters and the Perversion of History," Journal of Palestine
Studies XIV no. 1 (Fall 1984), pp. 127-128.
Finkelstein notes that Peters' treatment of "in-migration" does not
inspire confidence in her abilities:

Peters reserves the term "in-migration" for the movement of


indigenous Palestinian Arabs from any other part of Palestine into
the Jewish-settled area. Her handling of this--not terribly
complex--concept is remarkably inept. See, inter alia,p. 245 (the
same page on which her definition appears!), where Peters
attributes the (alleged) aberrant growth in Palestine's overall
Arab population between 1882 and 1895 to Arab immigration and
in-migration; p. 376, where she condemns Britain's supposedly
"cynical policy" in Palestine, by which "illegal Arab immigrants
entered unheeded along with Arab in-migrants, and all were counted
as 'natives' unless they were 'flagrant'"; and p. 157, where she
surmises that, given the "acute decline" Palestine's population
suffered before modern Jewish settlement, "[a]n enormous swell of
Arab population could only have resulted from immigration and
in-migration." [Finkelstein's emphases. Finkelstein, p. 66, note
21]
11 Finkelstein, p.51. As mentioned earlier, Finkelstein's erroneous
figure is based on overlooking the fact that nomads were included in
Peters' 1893 population figures but listed separately for 1947. When
the correct figure of 2.795 is used, the table comes out as Peters
would have it [cf. p. 425]:

Area Actual 1893 Projected 1947 (1893 x 2.795) Actual 1947 Difference Notes I
92,300 258,000 462,900 +168,100

Actual 1947:
"settled" 249,200
nomads 8,800
legal immigrants 27,300
illegal immigrants 9,500
in-migrants 168,100
+ ----------
(total) 462,900

II 38,900 108,700 110,900 +2,200


III 14,300 40,000 39,900 -100
IV 87,400 244,300 173,100 -71,200

Actual 1947:
"settled" 125,100
nomads 48,000
+ ----------
(total) 173,100

V 233,500 652,600 517,000 -135,600

Actual 1947:
"settled" 507,200
nomads 9,800
+ ----------
(total) 517,000

Peters' table is not easy to understand as the actual population of


Area I equals the sum of the settled Arabs, nomads, immigrants and
in-migrants whereas the actual population of Area V equals only the
sum of the settled Arabs and nomads (the out-migrants, not being
present, do not comprise a part of the actual population). Yet in
both areas, the projected population equals the sum of the settled
Arabs and nomads; this is how the remaining figures for migration
are ascertained.
12 In their response to Finkelstein, the Isaacs argue that Peters is
correct to exclude the out-migrants from Area IV:
Area IV, which comprised chiefly the Negev and western and central
Galilee, had a large number of Bedouin (mainly in the Negev). Even
if 70,000 Arabs had migrated from Area IV to Area I and then
become refugees, her case would not have been "trivial."
In practice it is most unlikely that this happened. The nomads of
the Negev did not become sedentary dwellers in the Mandatory
period and thus did not become out-migrants to Area I. There were
peasant villages in the northern Negev but these were largely
settled by Egyptian fellahin. The area experienced little natural
growth, in part because of its misfortune in serving as a frontier
zone between the feuding Qaisi and Yamani factions. The Galilee
had an important Christian population component, which meant that
in practice its natural growth rate was lower than that of purely
Muslim areas. Thus it is unlikely that there would have been even
70,000 in-migrants to account for. [Erich and Rael Jean Isaac,
Commentary, October 1986, p. 15]

While this may be true, it is a possibility Peters never raises or


deals with, nor does it make her presentation any more objective;
she simply ignores the inconvenient figures. Furthermore, if the
Isaacs are correct, Peters' crucial assumption of a uniform rate of
natural increase across Palestine yields results significantly at
variance with reality. If so, her study is worthless.

13Finkelstein points to Peters' map on p. 246 as evidence for this


claim, but as he mentions on the next page, the map was revised
after the seventh printing of the book to read "some Jewish
settlement." Yet confirmation that there were few Jews in Area III
comes on p. 254: When Peters refers to "those regions that had
little Jewish development" she lists in her note 69 Areas III, IV
and V. On the next page, in Table G, Areas III and IV are listed as
"Intermediate" (in between "some Jews, mainly Arab" and "Main Areas
of Arab settlement--no Jewish settlement"). And in the table on p.
425, we see no 1947 figures for Jews in Area III.
As Finkelstein notes (pp. 54-56), Peters' areas undergo remarkable
changes. For example, Area V is labeled consistently as having had
little or no Jewish development, but in the table on p. 425 more
Jews are listed for Area V than for Area IV. Or again, on p. 254
Area II is taken to be heavily or mainly settled by Jews. On p. 255,
Table G, the region corresponding to Area II is listed as "some
Jews, mainly Arab," but in the table on p. 425, there are no 1947
figures for Jews in Area II.
That the regions in Table G correspond to Peters' five areas is
verified by the fact that the population figures match exactly, cf.
p. 425.
14 Finkelstein, p. 48. Note that Finkelstein's page references after
p. 425 are off by one with respect to the edition that was used for
this article, because of the inclusion of the map in the appendix in
later editions.

15 Lord Lugard and Mr. Orts were Commission members; Mr. Moody was
Assistant Chief Secretary to the Government of Palestine. League of
Nations Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the Thirty-Fourth
Session, June 18, 1935 (search for "Syrie"). Online in the UN
documents site at <http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/>.

16 Ernst Frankenstein (a pro-Zionist writer on whom Peters relies


heavily, as will be seen in the next section) cites the same source,
but makes no such claims: "The Mandates Commission discussed in 1935
a declaration of the governor of the (Syrian) Hauran district that
in 1934, in a few months, 30,000 Hauranese had entered Palestine and
settled there." Ernst Frankenstein, Justice for My People (New York:
Dial Press, 1944), pp. 128-9.

17 She says that a smaller number left than had entered, but
provides no evidence to prove it. Cf. Finkelstein, p. 48.

18 Jesse Zel Lurie, editor of the Long Island Jewish World, writes
in a letter to Commentary:
I witnessed the invasion of Haifa by the Hauranis in the 1930's,
which, as Miss Peters points out, was condoned by the British
authorities.... The Hauranis squatted in tin shacks without water,
sanitation, or municipal services on public land on the outskirts
of Haifa.... The British finally bulldozed the smelly Haurani
encampment as a health hazard, but only after the Syrian drought
ended and most of the Hauranis went home to plow their fields.
[Commentary, October 1986, pp. 12-14]
Avneri records that the government built a housing project that
lodged about a thousand Hauranis, who remained until at least 1948
[Avneri, p. 33].

19 Erich and Rael Jean Isaac, "Whose Palestine?" p. 34.


20 Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, A Survey of Palestine
(London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1945-46), vol. 1, p. 211.

21 Of the illegals, less than 4,000 were employed by the War


Department and 380 by the R.A.F. Of these not all could be replaced,
so 2,000 had been retained and the rest repatriated. On p. 214 the
survey claims to have no precise figures of the number employed by
private contractors, but gives a police estimate as to 9,687. This
group--those "working for contractors engaged on military or R.A.F.
construction or in other civil employment"--is the same as the group
for whom "no estimates are available"--those brought in "by
contractors or who entered individually in search of employment on
military works." Thus the context makes clear that by "no estimates"
is meant "no precise figures."
Peters apparently adds to the 4,000 employed by the War Department
another 3,000 employed by the Army, but from context it is clear
these are one and the same group: "(a) Those employed directly by
the War Department and the Royal Air Force. Recent surveys
undertaken by these authorities give a total of less than 4,000
employed by the War Department at 31st December, 1945, and about 380
employed by the R.A.F. at the same date. Over 3000 of those employed
by the Army and about 300 of those employed by the R.A.F. were
Egyptians... [Survey, p. 213]."

22 The table does not include those "repatriated under the official
emergency arrangement [applying to the 3,800 brought in from Syria
and Lebanon]." The total number so deported is listed as 12,165, to
which must be added the 828 repatriated under the emergency
arrangement.
23 Peters inflates the Survey's figures wildly by counting the same
groups several times over [p. 378-379]. She starts with the 3,800
officially admitted, then a bit later lists the 9,687 from the
police estimate. After that she refers to the paragraph concerning
the roughly 4,380 illegal immigrants working for the War Department
and the R.A.F. as "one group of nearly ten thousand" and says that
most of them "deserted" or "remained in Palestine illegally" (though
the Survey in fact says this about the first group of 3,800, not
this one).

Next she produces "another group of immigrants," referring to the


"considerable numbers" who entered "in addition to these Syrian and
Lebanese labourers who were brought to Palestine under official
arrangements"--but this is the already-mentioned group of 9,687 from
the police estimate plus the 4,380 working for the military. "Still
another group" is adduced, one for whom the authorities cannot find
replacements, yet this too is the same as the 4,380 working for the
military. Thus, by the end of the page, she is referring to "tens of
thousands" of immigrants and additional unestimated "considerable
numbers."

24 John Hope Simpson, Palestine. Report on Immigration, Land


Settlement and Development, 1930, Command Paper #3686, p. 138. To be
fair, Peters does provide the full citation in her note 3, but her
main text is nevertheless misleading.

25 Cf. Peters, pp. 211, 213, 233, 259, 295, 297, 326, 381. Some
Jewish employers did not follow the policy, however. According to
Jesse Zel Lurie:
I was a reporter on the Palestine Post from 1934 to 1937 and I
have some knowledge of how Jewish employers acted then. There were
pockets of Jewish unemployment. The Histadrut [General Federation
of Jewish Labor] tried to find jobs for unemployed Jewish labor by
carrying on a struggle for avodah Ivrit, the employment of Jews,
and not Arabs, in Jewish enterprises. This campaign was sometimes
violent and largely unsuccessful. Those Jewish employers...
preferred to hire lower-paid Arabs in order to save a pound or
two...[Commentary, October 1986, p. 12]

If Jewish employers chose to hire Arab labor, however, there is no


basis for asserting that the Arabs were usurping "places" that the
Jewish employers had "cleared" for Jews.
From Time Immemorial - Peters' Book From Time Immemorial Lacks
Objectivity (Part 6 of 6)
by Paul Blair (April 20, 2002)

The central contentions of Peters' book have been shown to be


undermined by her lack of objectivity. Time does not permit checking
the rest of her work with equal rigor; however, several examples
will serve to show that Peters' characteristic misuse of evidence
extends throughout the book:

In her treatment of Jews in Arab lands, Peters writes, "At the


beginning of 1955 the Nasser regime hanged two Egyptian Jews as
'Zionist spies,' an action the Egyptian Embassy in Washington
justified by distributing a pamphlet called 'The Story of the
Zionist Espionage in Egypt,' claiming that 'Zionism and Communism'
both sought 'world domination [p. 49].'" Yet in this particular
case the individuals were, in fact, Israeli saboteurs, as even
Israeli government sources attest. Peters here is betraying her
ignorance of Israeli history:

In 1955 Pinhas Lavon, Israel's defense minister, was forced to


resign his office as a consequence of a series of disastrous
sabotage operations carried out in Egypt the previous summer by
Israeli undercover agents, for whose acts he was ultimately
responsible. For five years he plotted a campaign to
rehabilitate himself.... Lavon's charge triggered the virtual
earthquake now known as the "Lavon Affair," which rocked Israel
and set in action a chain of events that in 1963 brought down
Ben-Gurion, the country's founding father. For nearly twelve
years the Lavon Affair was a hotly debated issue, the details of
whose inception, development, and conclusion became public
property; there was not a child who did not know of the failed
sabotage operations in Egypt (commonly referred to as the "Sad
Mishap") and of Lavon's accusations and his demand for
rehabilitation.1

It is as if Peters had written, "In 1972, 'Republican Party


operatives' were arrested on trumped-up charges of burglary at the
Watergate Hotel..." Evidently, Peters' research involved searching
through old pro-Zionist publications for supporting evidence,
without always grasping its historical context.
That Peters conducted her research in this manner is also shown by
the way she cribs material from pro-Zionist sources; certain
passages in her book are little more than a pastiche of material
lifted out of Ernst Frankenstein's Justice for My People or Joseph
Schechtmann's The Refugee in the World.2 Peters lists many of her
supporting references as "cited by" or "cited in" some other work,
but she sometimes "borrows" references without doing so. The fact
that she passes on errors in these references indicates that she
did not always check or verify the original sources.3

When Peters deals with the Arab refugees from Palestine in 1948,
she argues that most Arabs fled on the instructions of their
leaders. Yet Americans would know, from a prominent and relatively
recent New York Times report, that Yitzhak Rabin had written in
his own memoirs of giving the order to expel some 50,000 Arabs at
Lydda and Ramleh.4 Peters thus needs to show that most of the
refugees were not expelled in this fashion; as evidence she cites
a study: "According to a research report by the Arab-sponsored
Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut, however, 'the majority'
of the Arab refugees in 1948 were not expelled, and '68%' left
without seeing an Israeli soldier [p. 13, note 21]."
Leave aside the fact that the study's conclusions were based on a
sample size of 37 refugees. The study itself concerns the refugees
of the 1967 war, as is obvious from its title, and inspection of
the relevant passage shows that it does indeed refer to the 1967
Arab refugees, not those of 1948.5

These examples are not intended to be exhaustive. My goal has been


to check the claims of Peters' detractors, yet even then I
discovered distortions they did not mention. There is no reason to
assume, then, that the absence of criticism vindicates the parts of
Peters' book that have not been mentioned. Given her
untrustworthiness, one should credit none of her claims without
verifying them independently.6
Conclusion

From Time Immemorial is work of propaganda, with all the bad


connotations that term carries. Peters' case rests upon distortion
and fabrication. Time and again, she misconstrues sources in a
tendentious manner. She cribs uncritically from partisan works. She
conceals crucial calculations, and draws hard conclusions from
tenuous evidence. She speculates wildly and without ground. She
exaggerates figures and selects numbers to suit her thesis. She
adduces evidence that in no way supports her claims, sometimes even
omitting "inconvenient" portions of the citation. She invents
contradictions in sources she wishes to discredit by quoting them
out of context. She "forgets" undesirable numbers in her
calculations. She ignores sources that cast doubt on her
conclusions, even when she herself uses those sources for other
purposes. She makes baseless insinuations and misleading claims.
Peters' distortions apply, not simply to minor issues, but to the
central pieces of evidence for the principal contentions of her
book. Her claim that the majority of Arabs in pre-state Israel were
recent arrivals is false, as is her related assertion about the vast
majority of Palestinian refugees. Her contention that Arab
immigrants were filling the places Jews had cleared for other Jews
is untrue. Her view that the League of Nations Mandate was intended
to make Palestine into a Jewish state has no valid basis, nor is is
true that the British created the Transjordan in violation of the
Mandate. Peters' claim of a nineteenth-century Jewish majority is
misleading at best; her thesis that the first Jewish settlements
lured significant numbers of Arabs into Palestine is fiction.

As with all successful disinformation, the distortions are placed


within a wider context of truth; not everything Peters says is a
lie. Palestine was in fact sparsely populated when Jewish
colonization began. Arab nationalism did not yet exist, let alone
Palestinian nationalism. When the British took over they unjustly
restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine while Arabs immigrated
into the territory. After the Arab violence of the late 1930s,
British appeasement slowed Jewish immigration to a trickle.
Ultimately, Jews who sought to escape the Holocaust were turned away
from the Jewish National Home, even while "emergency arrangements"
were taken to bring in Arab immigrant laborers. Had Peters let the
facts speak for themselves, she would have had a dramatic,
compelling story to tell.
But Peters wishes to do more; she wants to destroy, definitively,
the claims of Palestinian nationalism--and she wishes to do so
without rejecting Jewish nationalism. Thus her focus on demography;
the essence of her case is: "The Arabs are latecomers to Palestine
and so have less right to be there than the Jews." But torture the
numbers as she will, she cannot escape the fact that the Arabs in
Palestine in the late nineteenth century outnumbered the Jews.

Hence, she contends that those Arabs had no national "identity,"


that they considered themselves Ottoman subjects or Southern
Syrians, but certainly not Palestinians. And if today's Arabs wish
to live in a Palestinian state, they should move to Jordan.
Peters' fundamental premise, then, is ethnic nationalism. Why else
waste ink trying to show, in essence, that the Palestinians are not
the descendants of the Canaanites, who inhabited the land before the
Israelites arrived? Such arguments are utterly pointless. Ethnicity
entitles no one to a state--not Arabs, and not Jews either. The
right of sovereignty does not reside in numerical superiority or
"peoplehood" or a "continuous presence in the land" or "ethnic
self-determination"; it rests on a government's respect for
individual rights. Once such a government exists, no ethnic
separatist has any valid claim against it.

Peters' book does not simply distort the facts, then; it is a


philosophically repugnant enterprise from the start. Ethnic
nationalism has produced most of the wars in the last half century;
Arab opposition to Israel rests largely on the same foundation. The
doctrine of ethnic self-determination has no valid intellectual
basis; given the bloodshed it has caused it deserves not respect but
unequivocal repudiation.
Notes

1 Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion's Spy: The Story of the Political


Scandal that Shaped Modern Israel (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1996) p. vii.

2 Click here for a comparison of Peters' text on pp. 158-159 with


Ernst Frankenstein's pro- Zionist tract Justice for My People, pp.
122-124, and here for a comparison of Peters' text on pp. 17-19 with
Joseph Schechtman's The Refugee in the World, pp. 200-207, 248-249.
See Norman G. Finkelstein, "Disinformation and the Palestine
Question: The Not-So-Strange Case of Joan Peters's From Time
Immemorial" in Edward W. Said and Christopher Hitchens, eds.,
Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian
Question (London: Verso, 2001), pp. 58-59; Ernst Frankenstein,
Justice for My People (New York: Dial Press, 1944); Joseph
Schechtman, The Refugee in the World (New York, A.S. Barnes and Co.,
1963).

Peters' reliance on Frankenstein extends to her argument, discussed


earlier, that roughly 82,000 Muslim Arabs moved into Western
Palestine between 1882 and 1895 [p. 244]. For her population figures
she cites Vital Cuinet's statistics and Murray's Handbook for
Travellers in Syria and Palestine [notes 40,41]. According to Vital
Cuinet's figures, there were 141,000 settled Muslims in 1882 and
252,000 of them in 1895.

The above figures for the Muslim population would indicate that
their number almost doubled in the thirteen years between 1882 and
1895. This hardly seems possible. Even if we assume a high rate of
natural increase of 1.5 percent per annum for that thirteen-year
period, the population would not have increased to more than
170,000 or so [p. 244].... The only plausible answer is that at
least the remainder of roughly 82,000 of the Muslim
Arabic-speaking 'settled' population in Palestine in 1895 had to
be immigrants and in-migrants, whose arrival coincided exactly
with the time Jewish development commenced [p. 245].
As Finkelstein points out [p. 60], "Ernst Frankenstein used the same
sources (even the same edition of Murray's Handbook!), did the exact
same calculations, and derived identical figures."
Even if we admit the possibility of a natural increase of 20-25
percent during these thirteen years [Frankenstein converts the
20-25 percent to the 1.5 per annum percentage used in Peters's
text in his next paragraph] ...the 141,000 settled Moslems of 1882
cannot possibly, by natural increase, have exceeded the figure of
170,000 to 175,000. Here, therefore, we are confronted... with a
large immigration of Arabic-speaking people which coincides with
the development of the Jewish settlements. [Frankenstein, p. 128]

Peters cites Frankenstein here [p.245, note 42] only to credit him
with assuming the "unlikely rate" of natural increase, even though
he offers his assumption in precisely the same hypothetical way as
she does. Peters mentions that his demographic breakdown is "based
on statistics of Cuinet and others," but not that it is exactly the
same as her own.

3 For example, Peters duplicates one of Frankenstein's errors


without acknowledging him. On p. 197, she writes: "In 1844, 'the
American expedition under Lynch' recorded fewer than 8,000 'Turks'
in Jaffa in a population of 13,000." Her note 7 cites Lynch directly
and does not mention Frankenstein. But Frankenstein cites the same
passage: "In 1844 the American expedition under Lynch found fewer
than eight thousand 'Turks' in Jaffa among a population of thirteen
thousand [Frankenstein, pp. 127-128]." Lynch's own words are: "The
population of Jaffa is now about 13,000, viz.: Turks, 8,000...
[Lynch, p. 446]." Lynch does not say "fewer than" 8,000; evidently,
Peters' source for this error and for the words "the American
expedition under Lynch" was Frankenstein--and she did not check his
source. W.F. Lynch, Narrative of the United States' Expedition to
the River Jordan and the Dead Sea (Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard,
1849).

Critics have made too much of another one of Peters' errors: She
references Makrizi (as cited in Frankenstein) regarding waves of
colonists arriving in Palestine in the nineteenth century [p.169,
note 207]. As Makrizi's dates are 1364-1442, he is useless as a
source for the nineteenth century. However, Peters' citation is just
a simple error, as is shown by her citation of the same passage in
the proper historical context on p. 152. (Frankenstein's original
passage had also cited Makrizi in the proper context [Frankenstein,
p. 122].)
4 David K. Shipler, "Israel Bars Rabin from Relating '48 Eviction of
Arabs," New York Times, October 23, 1979, p. A3.

5 Peter Dodd and Halim Barakat, River Without Bridges: A Study of


the Exodus of the 1967 Palestinian Arab Refugees (Beirut: Institute
for Palestine Studies, 1968). The passage cited by Peters states:
"The majority of the old refugees (68%) left without seeing the
Israelis. By contrast, 42% of the new refugees did so. This fact may
be seen in Table 5-1, which summarizes the refugees' description of
their experiences during the war [p. 43]." The war referred to is
the 1967 war.

Peters may have believed that "old refugees" meant the refugees of
1948, but this is not the case. The passage occurs in chapter IV,
"The 1967 Refugees." According to the study, "The West Bank sector
of Jordan, prior to June 1967, had nearly half of its population
classified as refugees from the 1948 conflict.... Many of these 1948
refugees took part in the 1967 exodus, thus becoming refugees for
the second time. In all, about 100,000 of these 'old refugees' moved
from the West Bank to the East Bank area of Jordan. These 'old
refugees' accounted for about one-half of the 1967 refugees [pp.
34-35]." The passage cited by Peters shows only that those 1967
refugees who had been refugees before were more disposed to flee
than those who had not been refugees.

6 Peters' book includes a lengthy discussion of the history of Jews


in Arab lands, a topic about which critics have said little. The
Gilmours refer to Marion Woolfson's book Prophets in Babylon: The
Jews in the Arab World, another history of Jews in Arab lands, but a
cursory glance does not inspire much confidence. Inter alia, the
book alleges that Zionists intent on increasing emigration to Israel
were behind tbe 1950 bombings of Jewish establishments and
meeting-places in Baghdad. Establishing the truth about such issues,
however, is beyond the scope of this article. Cf. Ian Gilmour and
David Gilmour, "Pseudo-Travellers," London Review of Books, February

7, 1985 p.10; Marion Woolfson, Prophets in Babylon: Jews in the Arab


World (London: Faber and Faber, 1980).
VOLUME 32, NUMBER 21 & 22 · JANUARY 16, 1986

Mrs. Peters's Palestine


By Yehoshua Porath

From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab–Jewish Conflict Over Palestine
by Joan Peters
Harper and Row, 601 pp., $12.95 (paper)

For centuries the future of the place called Palestine was the subject of a bitter struggle. Even the name was
controversial. Where the Arabs transformed the Roman name of Palestine into the Arabian name Filastin, the
Jews insisted on the traditional Hebrew name Eretz Israel, "The Land of Israel." Zealots of both sides continue
to refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the name used by the other side. In the early days of the British
Mandate, for instance, the Arabs successfully convinced the British that even in Hebrew the name should be
Palestina and not Eretz Israel. The British added the initials "El" to Palestina only over heavy Arab opposition.
On the other hand, some Israeli educators of the 1950s wanted only a transliteration of the Hebrew name to
appear in the textbooks that were used in the Arabic-speaking schools. Along with armed struggle, ideological
and propagandistic warfare of this sort has proliferated in the Arab–Jewish conflict over Palestine.

One feature of this battle of words and of history writing has been the two contrasting mythologies that the
Arabs and the Jews have developed to explain their situations. Like most myths these generally contain some
element of plausibility, some grain of historical truth, which through terminological ambiguity is then twisted
into a false and grotesque shape: The unfortunate thing about Joan Peters's From Time Immemorial (1984) is
that from a position of apparently great learning and research, she attempts to refute the Arab myths merely by
substituting the Jewish myths for them. Although she claims to have uncovered facts that show the historical
accuracy of the Jewish myths, there have appeared during the last year and a half, in addition to many
favorable reviews, a number of articles that dispute her collection and interpretation of this data.[1] I do not
propose here to go over the ground that these criticisms have already covered. Rather, I shall discuss both sets
of myths in the light of the political and social history of Palestine as it is currently understood.

T he Arab side tried to prove that first of all the Jews were not a nation in the modern sense of the term and
consequently did not require a state of their own. In the tradition of both Western liberal and doctrinaire
socialist thinking, the Arabs argued that the Jews were only a religious community; that peoples could not
return to their ancient homelands without turning the entire world upside down; and, most important, that
Palestine had been settled since the seventh century AD by Arabs. Over the years many Arab ideologists even
claimed that Arabs had occupied the land in pre-Biblical times because of the "Arab character" of Canaanites.

Zionism, the Arab argument continued, if it had any grain of historical justification at all, emerged only in a
European setting. It came about as a reaction to Western Christian or secular and racist anti-Semitism, with
which the Arabs had nothing to do; therefore, they should not be required to pay the costs of remedying it. In
Arab and Islamic countries Jews suffered none of the terrible treatment that Western Jews had suffered. On the
contrary, the Muslims in general and the Arabs in particular treated their religious and ethnic minorities with
full equality and enabled both Christians and Jews to take part in public life, to rise to high positions of state,
and, in recent times, to become full members of the modern and secular Arab nation living in its various states.
The Jews living in the Arab and Muslim countries, moreover, did not take part in the Zionist movement. They
even actively opposed it and did not want to emigrate to Israel. That most of them eventually did so the Arabs
attribute to the machinations of Israel working with corrupt Arab rulers who were "stooges of imperialism."

After the 1948 war Arab propaganda added an important new claim: since the Jews wanted Palestine empty of
Arabs, they used the opportunity of the war to systematically expel the indigenous Arab population wherever
they could do so. Some Arab writers, and others favorable to their cause, have gone so far as to claim that the
war itself was set off in December 1947 by the Jews in order to create the right circumstances for the mass
expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from their homeland.
Until the mid-1960s the Arab claims were usually presented as part of the ideology of Arab nationalism.
Palestine was (and ideologically speaking still is) considered part of the greater Arab homeland and the
Palestinians part of the greater Arab nation. The aim of the Arab struggle was to preserve the Arab character of
Palestine from the Jewish-Zionist threat. The Palestinian case was at best secondary when it was made at all.
Only since the middle of the 1960s and particularly after 1967 has the distinctively Palestinian component
become relatively stronger among the factors that shape the identity of the Palestinian Arabs.

J ews, and Zionists especially, developed their own myths about Palestine. First they interpreted ancient
Jewish history according to the ideology of modern nationalism, equating the old Israelite and Judean
kingdoms with modern nation-states. The Maccabean revolt and the period of Hasmonean rule were seen as
typical manifestations of the struggle for modern national liberation. During the years when most Jews lived in
exile, it was argued, they always kept a separate national identity: they never converted of their free will to
another religion, and they preserved the memory of their ancestral land, to which they always hoped to return.
Indeed, against all odds, some never left.

Special emphasis was put on this last group. Every bit of evidence that could be found, however trivial it may
have been, was used to prove the continuity of the Jewish presence in Eretz Israel and to show that it was
central to the life of Jews in exile. Very little was said of the Muslims who meanwhile had become the great
majority of the population and the masters of the land. The Zionists argued that Jewish identity and the
yearning to return to Palestine were strengthened by the persecutions of the Jews in all parts of the world,
including the Islamic and Arab countries.

The return itself was mainly perceived as a matter of Jewish resolve to establish a homeland, which required
struggle against Palestine's foreign rulers—the Ottoman Empire first, and then the British Mandate. The Arab
population was not presented as a major obstacle since, it was said, it was so small. Palestine during the late
Ottoman and early British periods was portrayed as a barren land, hardly inhabited, whose tiny Arab
population consisted mostly of wandering Bedouin tribes whose presence was only temporary.

According to the Zionist myth, only modern Jewish colonization brought about the economic development of
Palestine and improved the hard conditions there. These developments, it was said, attracted poor Arabs from
the stagnant neighboring countries. Their numbers grew faster than the Jewish immigrants because the
malicious British authorities always encouraged them to come and did much to help to absorb them, both
economically and legally.

The 1948 war, the Jewish argument continues, erupted because the Arabs rejected the UN partition plan
although it offered them much more land than they deserved. And since most of the Palestinian Arabs were in
fact aliens, they quickly left the country to return to their permanent homelands. Only the persistent refusal of
the rulers of the Arab countries prevented them from being absorbed there. The Jewish refugees from the Arab
countries were, on the other hand, cared for and rehabilitated. The result was an "exchange of populations"
which should have been confirmed in a political agreement; only Arab intransigence has kept this from taking
place.

B oth the Arab and the Jewish myths I have described have circulated widely for years. Nothing in either of
them is new or revolutionary. The more extreme you were in your Zionist beliefs the more thoroughly
you propagated the Jewish mythology. What is surprising is that Joan Peters still writes as if the Zionist
myths were wholly true and relevant, notwithstanding all the historical work that modifies or discredits them.
The surprise is even greater when one considers her claim to have done original research in the historical
archives and even to have discovered "overlooked 'secret' (British) correspondence files" in the Public Record
Office in London, among other sources of "neglected" information. Indeed, by looking for the "right" evidence
and by reading documents selectively one can "prove" virtually anything. But substituting Jewish-Zionist
myths for Arab ones will not do. Neither historiography nor the Zionist cause itself gains anything from
mythologizing history.

I will deal here only with the main historical questions raised in Mrs. Peters's book. No doubt, as she claims,
the Jews in Muslim countries were neither regarded nor treated as fellow countrymen and equal citizens. Islam
protected their lives and most of their religious rights but also kept them in a distinctively inferior position.
Legally, their status was defined by the famous "Covenant of Umar," which listed the various restrictions and
special taxes imposed on the "people of the book."
But the true historical situation cannot be described simply by referring to that covenant, as Mrs. Peters does,
or by citing the occasions and places where its provisions were most severely carried out. There was better and
worse treatment, and local considerations usually influenced the policy pursued by various rulers. It is typical
of Mrs. Peters's methods that she largely overlooks the position of the Jews under the Ottoman Empire—one of
the most important phases of all Islamic history. The reason would seem a simple one: the attitude of the
Ottoman authorities toward the Jews was generally fair and decent, and in some parts of the empire many Jews
held prominent positions.[2] This could not be squared with her description of the oppression of Jews under
Islam. (The few references Mrs. Peters makes to the Ottoman rulers emphasize their "anti-Jewish" activities
and give a distorted impression of conditions under the Ottomans.)

P art of Mrs. Peters's confusion derives from her misunderstanding of Zionist history. Zionism was basically
a modern secular ideology and movement, a response to the situation of European Jews after their
emancipation early in the nineteenth century. Although they had been promised equality as fellow citizens
many of them found themselves rejected. That they were ready to adopt their countries' languages and cultures
and sometimes even religions did not help them. Instead of—or in addition to—being rejected on religious and
cultural grounds, as they had been since the end of the eleventh century, they were now rejected racially.
Zionism offered an alternative. Its ideologists stressed that although in the post-emancipation period most Jews
had stopped practicing their religion, they still remained a corporate unit, a distinct people. In order to
safeguard their national identity and defend themselves from anti-Semitism the Jews had to return to their
ancestral land, restore their national independence, and revive their language and culture.

This position was directly opposed both to the traditional religious attitude of waiting for the Messiah and to
the belief in God's miraculous intervention in history that produced such false messianic movements as
Shabbetai Zevi's. Because Zionism was predominantly a European and secular phenomenon, many Oriental
Jews in the Middle East and North Africa have never felt at ease with it and have tried to derive their own
sense of Jewish history and identity. In Israel, under the guidance of the former Israeli minister of education,
Zevulun Hammer, they have formulated a new Zionism that belittles the ideological and political revolution of
European secular Zionism and argues that Theodor Herzl and the Zionist organization had hardly any effect on
Jewish history. According to this interpretation Zionism began with Abraham and has been continued by
practically all the Jews who have come to the Holy Land, whether to spend their old age and be buried there, or
to engage in study or in business. All these are now regarded as Zionists in Oriental Jewish religious circles.

Most historians now consider this view as in fact the opposite of Zionism, but, astonishingly, it has been
adopted in its entirety in Mrs. Peters's book without any serious discussion of its implications. What seems to
have been decisive for Mrs. Peters is that the conception fits the myth of Oriental and religious Jewish history
she has adopted: since in her view Oriental Jews were always persecuted, they must always have been active
Zionists. For her there was no fundamental difference between, on the one hand, a prayer to return to Zion
made in Wilna or Marrakesh or the messianism of Shabbetai Zevi, and, on the other, a modern movement that
actively organized immigration, established youth organizations, and launched a political struggle for getting
political rights in Palestine.

M uch of Mrs. Peters's book argues that at the same time that Jewish immigration to Palestine was rising,
Arab immigration to the parts of Palestine where Jews had settled also increased. Therefore, in her
view, the Arab claim that an indigenous Arab population was displaced by Jewish immigrants must be
false, since many Arabs only arrived with the Jews. The precise demographic history of modern Palestine
cannot be summed up briefly, but its main features are clear enough and they are very different from the
fanciful description Mrs. Peters gives. It is true that in the middle of the nineteenth century there was neither a
"Palestinian nation" nor a "Palestinian identity." But about four hundred thousand Arabs—the great majority of
whom were Muslims—lived in Palestine, which was divided by the Ottomans into three districts. Some of
these people were the descendants of the pre-Islamic population that had adopted Islam and the Arabic
language; others were members of Bedouin tribes, although the penetration of Bedouins was drastically
curtailed after the mid-nineteenth century, when the Ottoman authorities became stronger and more efficient.

As all the research by historians and geographers of modern Palestine shows, the Arab population began to
grow again in the middle of the nineteenth century. That growth resulted from a new factor: the demographic
revolution. Until the 1850s there was no "natural" increase of the population, but this began to change when
modern medical treatment was introduced and modern hospitals were established, both by the the Ottoman
authorities and by the foreign Christian missionaries. The number of births remained steady but infant
mortality decreased. This was the main reason for Arab population growth, not incursions into the country by
the wandering tribes who by then had become afraid of the much more efficient Ottoman troops. Toward the
end of Ottoman rule the various contemporary sources no longer lament the outbreak of widespread epidemics.
This contrasts with the Arabic chronicles of previous periods in which we find horrible descriptions of
recurrent epidemics—typhoid, cholera, bubonic plague—decimating the population. Under the British
Mandate, with still better sanitary conditions, more hospitals, and further improvements in medical treatment,
the Arab population continued to grow.

T he Jews were amazed. In spite of the Jewish immigration, the natural increase of the Arabs—at least twice
the rate of the Jews'—slowed down the transformation of the Jews into a majority in Palestine. To account
for the delay the theory, or myth, of large-scale immigration of Arabs from the neighboring countries was
proposed by Zionist writers. Mrs. Peters accepts that theory completely; she has apparently searched through
documents for any statement to the effect that Arabs entered Palestine. But even if we put together all the cases
she cites, one cannot escape the conclusion that most of the growth of the Palestinian Arab community resulted
from a process of natural increase.

The Mandatory authorities carried out two modern censuses, in 1922 and 1931. Except for some mistakes
committed in 1922 in counting the Negev Bedouins, which were corrected in 1931, the returns showed the
strength of the "natural process" of increase. The figures for the last years of the mandate are based on
continuous collection of data by the department of statistics. These figures showed that in 1947 there were
about 1.3 million Arabs living in Palestine.

The strength of the process of natural increase was finally proved not elsewhere but in Israel itself. In 1949
there were about 150,000 Arabs in Israel within the 1949 armistice lines. To that number, one has to add the
20,000-odd refugees who returned to the state as part of the government's scheme for the "reunion of families."
The Israeli authorities cannot be blamed, as the British "imperialists" were, for helping the Arabs enter the
country. And despite the strict control of Israel's borders, the number of Arabs living in Israel proper has more
than trebled since. The rate of the Israeli Arabs' natural increase rose sharply (between 1964 and 1966 it
reached the world record of 4.5 percent a year) and brought about the remarkable increase in the size of that
community. No Egyptians, Bedouins, Syrians, Bosnians, etc. were needed.

N o one would doubt that some migrant workers came to Palestine from Syria and Trans-Jordan and
remained there. But one has to add to this that there were migrations in the opposite direction as well. For
example, a tradition developed in Hebron to go to study and work in Cairo, with the result that a
permanent community of Hebronites had been living in Cairo since the fifteenth century. Trans-Jordan
exported unskilled casual labor to Palestine; but before 1948 its civil service attracted a good many educated
Palestinian Arabs who did not find work in Palestine itself. Demographically speaking, however, neither
movement of population was significant in comparison to the decisive factor of natural increase.

Most serious students of the history of Palestine would accept that the number of Arab refugees from Israel
during and after 1948 claimed by Arab and UN sources—some 600,000 to 750,000—was exaggerated. It is
very easy to refute that estimate and many have already done it. Very few historians would accept the claim
that all of the refugees, or even most of them, were deliberately expelled by the Israelis any more than they
would accept the Israeli counterclaim that all left of their own accord. Mrs. Peters has gone to great lengths to
collect the statements made by Arabs in which they admit that the Palestinian Arab refugees left Palestine
because they expected Arab military victory, after which they intended to return. Nevertheless, although she
admits that in sporadic instances Arabs were expelled, she ignores evidence of Israeli intentions to expel them.
I would like to draw her attention to one document which proves that the Haganah did in certain circumstances
have such an intention.

As historians of the 1948 war know well, the Haganah prepared in March 1948 a strategic plan (the Dalet or
"fourth" plan) to deal with the imminent invasion of Palestine by the Arab countries. A major aim of the plan
was to form a continuous territory joining the lands held by the Jewish settlements. The plan clearly states that
if Arab villages violently opposed the Jewish attempt to gain control, their populations would be expelled. The
text was first made public in Israel in 1972 as an appendix to the last volume of the semiofficial History of the
Haganah.

I do not know why Mrs. Peters overlooked this important document. That the plan existed, of course, is not in
itself evidence that it was carried out. Neither, however, is the admission of the Syrian leader Khalid al-Azm
that the Arab countries urged the Palestinian Arabs to leave their villages until after the victory of the Arab
armies final proof that the Palestinian Arabs in practice heeded that call and consequently left. Since Mrs.
Peters supposedly took the trouble to read Khalid al-Azm's Arabic memoirs, she at least should have consulted
the appendix of the History of the Haganah's last volume.[3] (I am afraid though that her command of both
Arabic and Hebrew is far below the standards required of anyone who is engaged in original research in
Palestinian history.)

Mrs. Peters puts great emphasis on the claim that during and after the 1948 war an "exchange of populations"
took place. Against the Arabs who left Palestine one had to put, in her view, about the same number of Jews,
most of them driven by the Arab rulers from their traditional homes in the Arab world. And indeed there is a
superficial similarity between the two movements of population. But their ideological and historical
significance is entirely different. From a Jewish-Zionist point of view the immigration of the Jews of the Arab
countries to Israel, expelled or not, was the fulfillment of a national dream—the "ingathering of the exiles."
Since the 1930s the Jewish Agency had sent agents, teachers, and instructors to the various Arab countries in
order to propagate Zionism. They organized Zionist youth movements there and illegal immigration to
Palestine. Israel then made great efforts to absorb these immigrants into its national, political, social, and
economic life.

For the Palestinian Arabs the flight of 1948 was completely different. It resulted in an unwanted national
calamity that was accompanied by unending personal tragedies. The result was the collapse of the Palestinian
community, the fragmentation of a people, and the loss of a country that had in the past been mostly Arabic-
speaking and Islamic. No wonder that the Arabs look at what happened very differently. When Mrs. Peters
argues, as many Israeli and pro-Israeli spokesmen once did, that all refugees should live and be rehabilitated in
their new countries, the Arabs reply that all refugees should go back to their countries of origin. When, in
1976, they invited former Jewish citizens to return, they did so not only from the mistaken belief that Oriental
Jews' attachment to Israel was weak, but also from the need to refute the Israeli argument, now repeated
forcefully by Mrs. Peters, that there was a symmetry between the two movements of population.

B y stressing and strengthening the claim of symmetry Mrs. Peters plays, at least from an ideological point
of view and certainly against her own wishes, into the hands of Arab propaganda. Many Israeli agents in
such Arab countries as Iraq, Yemen, and Morocco made courageous efforts to bring about the aliyah
(ascendance, the usual Hebrew word for immigration to Israel) of the Oriental Jews of Arab countries. Did this
dangerous work count for nothing? Were the immigrants merely ordinary refugees and not people ascending to
Zion? By attempting to equate the Arab refugees with the Jewish immigrants, Mrs. Peters, in my view,
tarnishes a heroic chapter in Zionist history.

Mrs. Peters's use of sources is very selective and tendentious, to say the least. In order to strengthen the
impression that the "hidden hand" of history somehow brought about the reasonable solution of exchange of
Jewish and Arab populations, Mrs. Peters evidently wanted to show that the concept had an honorable lineage.
She quotes an "Arab leader" who talked of a population exchange in a leaflet distributed in Damascus in 1939,
and gives his name as Mojli Amin. I challenge any reader to identify this "leader." He is not mentioned in any
of the books on Syria I know of, although I have read many. And if some wholly unimportant writer made
such a statement, how can any serious importance be attached to it? But beyond that, I think that the leaflet is a
fake. During the spring of 1939 internal dissent was at its most intense among the factions of the militant
Palestinian Arabs, which included anti-British rebels, anti-Jewish rebels, and the "Peace Companies," which
opposed rebellion. In Damascus, where the headquarters of the rebels were located, faked leaflets were often
distributed in order to add to the dissension. I suspect that this leaflet was another example of the same literary
genre. If Mrs. Peters had more thoroughly investigated the files of the Arab section of the political department
of the Jewish Agency, she would, I hope, have seen why the evidence she cites should be used more
cautiously.

One flawed source was not enough, however. Mrs. Peters claims that "the British had proposed the exchange
of 'Arab population in Palestine' for Jews elsewhere." If one looks for the evidence for this claim, one suddenly
realizes that "the British" are none other than William Ormsby-Gore (not yet Lord) who had privately
supported the idea. It is odd to conclude from this that "the British" supported such an idea, all the more so
when one recalls that when Ormsby-Gore served as British colonial secretary in charge of Palestine he never
used his official position to promote that idea as such. The only exchange of populations he officially
envisaged was to have been a part of the 1937 partition plan that allocated 15 percent of Palestine to the Jews
and recommended that the Arabs be forcibly removed from the territory on which the proposed Jewish state
would be founded.

If Mrs. Peters had spent more than "weeks" in the Public Record Office (the official British archives) or if she
had read the relevant historical research she would have known that a similar offer was brought to the members
of the British cabinet but rejected. We now know that between 1939 and 1941 Churchill favored a diplomatic
initiative that would have included the transfer of the Palestinian Arabs to a federal Arab state under Ibn Saud.
He had been convinced that such a transfer was desirable by Chaim Weizmann, who had discussed the
possibility with H. St. John Philby. Churchill presented a version of Weizmann's proposal to his colleagues on
May 19, 1941. He succeeded only in provoking a hostile reaction on the part of the foreign secretary, Anthony
Eden, who made his famous pro-Arab speech of May 29, 1941, in reaction to Churchill's proposition. Several
days afterward Eden's speech was endorsed by the British cabinet. So much for the "British" origins of the
concept of exchange of populations.

O f course there was no separate state called Palestine before the British Mandate and there is no need to
demonstrate this at length, as Mrs. Peters tries to do. Nonetheless a large majority of Muslim Arabs
inhabited the land; and the desire to keep it that way was the goal of the Arab struggle in Palestine
against the Jews and the British. Of what possible significance, therefore, is Mrs. Peters's claim that Arab
domination of Palestine after its conquest by the Muslims in 635 AD lasted only twenty-two years? Was the
land empty of any population? Such a vague claim is typical of many others made in the book. What is more
surprising is the authority on which it is based. We are told that a statement to this effect was made in February
1919 to the Paris Peace Conference by "the Muslim chairman of the Syrian delegation." An innocent reader
would take it that this delegation was representing the Arab population of Syria, who were then struggling for
independence. In fact the delegation was organized by the French as a device to oppose the nationalist struggle,
and its chairman would have said anything required by his masters. Whether the Palestinian Arabs saw their
identity as having local roots or whether they saw themselves more as part of the larger Arab world, they
undoubtedly wanted Palestine to remain Arab. That the name of the country in Arabic, as in most other
languages, is derived from the name of the Philistines does not matter to them any more than the fact that the
name of Jerusalem, even in Hebrew, is derived from the Jebusees. All such terminological claims, and there
are plenty of them in Mrs. Peters's book, are worthless.

M rs. Peters puts forward yet another familiar Zionist argument—which has the advantage of being true—
that already in the nineteenth century Jews made up the majority in Jerusalem, Safed, and Tiberias. But
if we say that having a majority is the key factor in determining the national character of any given town
or area, why not apply this principle, the Arabs may ask, to the land as a whole?

Surprisingly enough, Mrs. Peters does just this when she implies that in 1893 the Jews were virtually the
majority community in the parts of Palestine where Jews had settled. Her very tendentious reasoning on this
point has already been exposed.[4] What she has done, to put it briefly, is to compare the figures for non-Jews
in the 1893 Ottoman census of Palestine with the estimate of the Jewish population proposed by the French
geographer Vital Cuinet in 1895. She dismisses the Ottoman figures for the Jews because, she says, "the
Ottoman Census apparently registered only known Ottoman subjects; since most Jews had failed to obtain
Ottoman citizenship, a representative figure of the Palestinian Jewish population could not be extrapolated
from the 1893 Census."

This may sound plausible, until one discovers, first, that Cuinet's estimates are generally considered to be
unreliable, and, second, that Professor Kemal Karpat of the University of Wisconsin, whose analysis of the
Ottoman census Peters relies on, does not find the census estimate of the Jewish population to be inaccurate in
the way she claims. (Even with the numbers that she does arrive at, incidentally, Mrs. Peters does not make a
case for a Jewish majority. Although she argues there were more Jews than Muslims or Christians—59,500 as
compared to 56,000 and 38,000—there were more Muslims and Christians than Jews by her own account.)

If the Arabs had indeed been as few as Mrs. Peters claims, one wonders why the letters, official reports,
diaries, and essays of the early Zionist settlers—the "Lovers of Zion"—from the last two decades of the
nineteenth century were filled with references to the Arabs surrounding them everywhere in Palestine. Those
writings were collected many years ago and published by Asher Druyanov.[5] Republished several years ago
they are now easily accessible, but apparently not for Mrs. Peters. Similarly, she has overlooked two of the
most important articles by Jewish writers dealing with the Arab problem, which even around the turn of the
century troubled the Jewish immigrants to Palestine. The first was written in 1891 by Ahad Ha'am, perhaps the
greatest modern Jewish thinker, and was called "Truth from Palestine"; the second, called "Hidden Question,"
was written in 1907 by Y. Epstein and published in Ha-Shiloah. Both writers exhorted their fellow Jews in
Palestine to take seriously the large Arab population and its feelings; the Ottoman Empire might go, they
wrote, but the Arabs would remain. Anyone who believes Mrs. Peters's book would have to conclude that these
distinguished writers, a philosopher and an educator with close experience of life in Palestine, had simply
invented the existence of the many Arabs there.

I am reluctant to bore the reader and myself with further examples of Mrs. Peters's highly tendentious use—or
neglect—of the available source material. Much more important is her misunderstanding of basic historical
processes and her failure to appreciate the central importance of natural population increase as compared to
migratory movements. Readers of her book should be warned not to accept its factual claims without checking
their sources. Judging by the interest that the book aroused and the prestige of some who have endorsed it, I
thought it would present some new interpretation of the historical facts. I found none. Everyone familiar with
the writing of the extreme nationalists of Zeev Jabotinsky's Revisionist party (the forerunner of the Herut
party) would immediately recognize the tired and discredited arguments in Mrs. Peters's book. I had
mistakenly thought them long forgotten. It is a pity that they have been given new life.

Notes

To mention only a few of the reviews, Walter Reich in The Atlantic (July 1984), Ronald Sanders in The New
[1]

Republic (April 23, 1984), Bernard Gwertzman in The New York Times (May 12, 1984), and Daniel Pipes in
Commentary (July 1984) were among the more favorable. Alexander Cockburn and Edward Said in The
Nation (October 13, 1984 and October 19, 1985), Norman G. Finkelstein in In These Times (September 5–11,
1984), Bill Farrell in the Journal of Palestine Studies (Fall 1984), and Ian and David Gilmour in The London
Review of Books (February 7, 1985) have been critical of Peters's book.

[2]See, for example, Bernard Lewis's The Jews of Islam (Princeton University Press); reviewed by Norman
Stillman in The New York Review (October 25, 1984).

She should also consult the evidence in Tom Segev's 1949—The First Israelis, published in Israel in 1984
[3]

and to be published in the US by Macmillan in 1986. It was reviewed by Avishai Margalit in The New York
Review (September 26, 1985).

[4] See, for example, the articles cited above by Farrell and the Gilmours.

Ketavim le-Toldot Hibbat Zion, Vol. I (Odessa, 1919) and Vol. II (Tel Aviv, 1925). These were republished
[5]

by the Institute for Zionist Research at Tel Aviv University: Vol. I, 1980–1981; Vol II, 1984–1985.

Letters

March 27, 1986: Ronald Sanders, Mrs. Peters's Palestine: An Exchange

Copyright © 1963-2009, NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher.
VOLUME 33, NUMBER 5 · MARCH 27, 1986

Mrs. Peters's Palestine: An Exchange


By Daniel Pipes, Ronald Sanders, Reply by Yehoshua Porath

In response to Mrs. Peters's Palestine (JANUARY 16, 1986)

To the Editors:

It has become open season on Joan Peters's From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict
Over Palestine, although Yehoshua Porath's review [NYR, January 16] is one of the more restrained of the
attacks upon it made in the past fifteen months or so. Mrs. Peters has brought this upon herself to a large
extent, for, as I wrote in my review of the book in The New Republic of April 23, 1984, "many of its valuable
points are buried in passages of furious argumentative overkill," and too much of its more than 600 pages is
given over to very conventional polemics. Since then, some patient researchers have found numerous
examples of sloppiness in her scholarship and an occasional tendency not to grasp the correct meaning of a
context from which she has extracted a quotation. All in all, her book is marked—and marred—by an over-
eagerness to score a huge and definitive polemical triumph, which has caused her too often to leave prudence
and responsibility behind.

But the fact remains that there is an original and significant argument at the heart of her book, and this has
scarcely been dealt with by critics, apart from Mr. Porath, who only weakly challenged it. He writes:

Much of Mrs. Peters's book argues that at the same time that Jewish immigration to Palestine was
rising, Arab immigration to the parts of Palestine where Jews had settled also increased.
Therefore, in her view, the Arab claim that an indigenous Arab population was displaced by
Jewish immigrants must be false, since many Arabs only arrived with the Jews.

This is a correct summary of her main point, which, as Mr. Porath justly recognizes, stands on very
problematical terrain—the demographic history of modern Palestine, a subject that "cannot be summed up
briefly," according to Mr. Porath, who adds however that "its main features are clear enough and they are very
different from the fanciful description Mrs. Peters gives." But except for mentioning one widely criticized
statistic of Mrs. Peters's regarding Palestine demography in the 1890s—with which I shall deal below—Mr.
Porath does not go on to demonstrate any significant difference between her view of that history and his own.
On the contrary, he joins her in accepting clear indications of what the British Mandatory authorities deemed
an "abnormally high (and possibly unprecedented)" rate of increase in the Arab population in modern times.
The difference between them lies simply in the reason assigned for this growth. Mr. Porath agrees with the
British authorities in attributing it to "natural increase" at a rate greatly accelerated by improvements in health
facilities, whereas Mrs. Peters insists it can only be accounted for in full by the immigration factor.

Unfortunately, the British, while keeping thorough records of Jewish immigration, did not keep any for Arabs
migrating overland into the country, so Mrs. Peters has had to resort to circumstantial evidence, inference, and
deduction to make her case. As Mr. Porath puts it, "she has apparently searched through documents for any
statement to the effect that Arabs entered Palestine." And it must be granted that she has achieved ample
results, though, of course, the statements she has collected are impressionistic and have no statistical value.
Mr. Porath therefore maintains that "even if we put together all the cases she cites, one cannot escape the
conclusion that most of the growth of the Palestinian Arab community resulted from a process of natural
increase." But he goes no further than this flat assertion of his opinion against hers in challenging Mrs. Peters's
main argument.

Y et neither he nor any of the detractors I have read has taken on the most striking of her demonstrations in
favor of her case, dealing with the phenomenon she calls "in-migration"—that is, the movement of Arabs
from other parts of Palestine into the main areas of Jewish settlement. She shows that in the years 1893 to
1947, while the Palestinian Arab population slightly more than doubled in areas where no Jews were settled, it
quintupled in the main areas of Jewish settlement. How can this difference be accounted for without including
Arab migration as a factor?

This particular demonstration, it should further be pointed out, is in no way affected by the debate that has
arisen over Mrs. Peters's use of a source on Palestinian population in the 1890s that some have found
questionable (including Anthony Lewis, in a woeful misparaphrase of the relevant passage, in The New York
Times of January 13, 1986). Still, it is worth dwelling on that matter for a moment, since Mrs. Peters's
approach to the problem had more merit than her critics have allowed. Pursuing her case back to the earliest
significant example for which there was evidence, Mrs. Peters states that in 1893 about 92,000 non-Jews were
living within the main areas of Jewish settlement, alongside a Jewish population that she gives as just under
60,000. If correct, these figures would indicate that, as far back as 1893, the Jews not only were already far
from being a small minority in the areas where they had settled, but were even—if one divides the non-Jewish
population into Muslim and Christian—the largest single group there.

But here is the problem. Whereas her figures for non-Jews in this passage are based on the official Ottoman
census of 1893, which is generally considered by scholars to be reliable with certain qualifications, her Jewish
population figure does not come from that source—which counts only 9,817 Jews in all of Palestine! Instead,
she has turned for her Jewish figure to a French traveler and geographer of that era, Vital Cuinet, whose
statistical estimates have undergone some severe scholarly criticism in our own time. Yet Mrs. Peters offers
instances in which Cuinet's figures are not far from those of the Ottoman census, and the only serious
discrepancy between the two sources regarding the material she uses is in the Jewish population count. Why,
then, in this one instance, has she considered it permissible to eschew the Ottoman statistic in making her case?

Obviously because, in this instance, the Ottoman figure is patently absurd. A good deal of responsible, if
impressionistic, counting of the Palestine population had been done by that time, and the general consensus
among Western observers was that the Jewish population of Jerusalem alone was something more than double
that of the official Ottoman figure for the Jewish population of the whole country. But how could such a huge
discrepancy have come about? Mrs. Peters offers an explanation, quoted in all fairness by Mr. Porath, that
makes a good deal of sense: "The Ottoman Census," she writes, "apparently registered only known Ottoman
subjects; since most Jews had failed to obtain Ottoman citizenship…, a representative figure of the Palestinian
Jewish population could not be extrapolated from the 1893 census." It is a pity that Mrs. Peters has buried this
sound bit of reasoning in an obscure part of her book—as a footnote within an appendix—so that her
unheralded switch in the main text from the Ottoman figures to Cuinet's has the look of a suspect sleight-of-
hand maneuver, which has therefore generated a good deal of hostility. I can only add in this connection that,
even if Cuinet's figure for the Jewish population of Palestine in the mid-1890s is not the last word, it is at any
rate much closer to correct than the Ottoman one.

But the only place at which I find Mr. Porath's otherwise fair-minded review descending into the kind of
imbalance that has been displayed by Mrs. Peters's more vehement detractors is in his remarks about
"references to the Arabs surrounding them everywhere in Palestine" made in the writings of early Zionist
settlers. In the first place, Mrs. Peters has not overlooked Asher Druyanov's collection of some of these
writings, as Mr. Porath suggests she has: she quotes from it on page 252, with full citation in the end notes.
But, what is far more important, Mr. Porath's image of "Arabs surrounding them everywhere" is tendentious.
Let me quote two relevant passages from the memoirs of one of those early Zionist settlers, Rachel Yannait
Ben-Zvi. Describing her first arrival in Palestine in 1908, she writes of walking through the utterly Arab port
town of Jaffa:

The stream of pedestrians pushed us into the main street. Up the street strode a camel, stretching
its neck, its nostrils quivering, sniffing, its hump heaving and falling. A Beduin led it on a rope. I
felt like greeting the man of the desert because our forefathers had been so like him.

So much for Arab-filled Jaffa and many smaller communities besides. Now here she is a few days later, on the
train from Jaffa to Jerusalem, just past the Ramle station:

Desolate stretches of uncultivated fields spread all the way to the horizon, up to the far off
Samarian hills visible through a bluish haze. The sight of all the barren ground filled me with a
kind of joy—joy that fate had kept the soil of Judea uninhabited and unworked…. In my mind's
eye I saw it brought back to life by the hands of Jews returning from far away.

In the light of richly human observations like these, it seems fatuous to depict a Palestine at the turn of the
century either empty of Arabs or covered all over with them, depending on the position one takes in the debate
about Mrs. Peters's findings.

Ronald Sanders

New York City

To the Editors:

Joan Peters's From Time Immemorial has, broadly speaking, been received in two ways at two times. Early
reviews treated her book as a serious contribution to the study of the Arab-Israeli conflict and late ones
dismissed it as propaganda. Coming almost two years after the book's publication, Professor Yehoshua Porath's
review in your January 16, 1986 issue probably closes the second round. As one of those who reviewed the
book when it first appeared—and who was referred to for this reason in Professor Porath's review—I should at
this time like to comment on the debate.

The difference between the two rounds is not hard to explain. Most early reviewers, including myself, focused
on the substance of Miss Peters's central thesis; the later reviewers, in contrast, emphasized the faults—
technical, historical, and literary—in Miss Peters's book.

I would not dispute the existence of those faults. From Time Immemorial quotes carelessly, uses statistics
sloppily, and ignores inconvenient facts. Much of the book is irrelevant to Miss Peters's central thesis. The
author's linguistic and scholarly abilities are open to question. Excessive use of quotation marks, eccentric
footnotes, and a polemical, somewhat hysterical undertone mar the book. In short, From Time Immemorial
stands out as an appallingly crafted book.

Granting all this, the fact remains that the book presents a thesis that neither Professor Porath nor any other
reviewer has so far succeeded in refuting. Miss Peters's central thesis is that a substantial immigration of Arabs
to Palestine took place during the first half of the twentieth century. She supports this argument with an array
of demographic statistics and contemporary accounts, the bulk of which have not been questioned by any
reviewer, including Professor Porath.

Nonetheless, Professor Porath dismisses her argument as "fanciful." He says that "the main reason" for Arab
population growth is that Arab births remained steady while infant mortality decreased. He concludes that the
movement of population was not significant in comparison with natural increase.

Now, there can be no question that improvements in medical conditions contributed to the increase in Arab
population. But it is not immediately clear that declining infant mortality was more important than
immigration. Professor Porath asserts this but he does not provide the evidence necessary to convince a reader.

The disproof of Miss Peters's thesis requires a detailed inquiry into birth and death records, immigration and
emigration registers, employment rolls, nomadic settlement patterns, and so forth. She may be wrong; but this
will be proven only when another researcher goes through the evidence and shows that immigration was
unimportant. The existence or absence of large-scale Arab immigration to Palestine has nothing to do, of
course, with Miss Peters's motives or the obvious short-comings of her book. The facts about population
change will not be established by heaping scorn on Miss Peters, only by going back to the archives.

Faulty presentation notwithstanding, Miss Peters's hypothesis is on the table; it is incumbent on her critics to
cease the name-calling and make a serious effort to show her wrong by demonstrating that many thousands of
Arabs did not emigrate to Palestine in the period under question.

Until such happens, what is one to think? Is there reason to accept Miss Peters's version of events? I believe so:
even though From Time Immemorial does not place Arab immigration to Palestine in a historical context, it is
not hard to find a rationale for their movement. The Arabs who went to Palestine sought economic opportunity
created by the Zionists. As Europeans, the Zionists brought with them to Palestine resources and skills far in
advance of anything possessed by the local population. Jews initiated advanced economic activities that
created jobs and wealth and drew Arabs. Zionists resembled the British, Germans, and other Europeans of
modern times who settled in sparsely populated areas—Australia, southern Africa, or the American West—and
then attracted the indigenous people to themselves.

There is really nothing surprising in all this; and because it makes such good sense, I put credence in the
argument that substantial numbers of Arabs moved to Palestine. I will adjust my views, of course, should
compelling evidence be found to show otherwise. But this will require that Miss Peters's critics go beyond
polemics and actually prove her thesis wrong.

Daniel Pipes

Naval War College

Newport, Rhode Island

Yehoshua Porath replies:

In reply to Mr. Sanders, I am sorry to have overlooked the one reference in Mrs. Peters's book to Druyanov's
collection. It is, however, characteristic of her to have ignored all the many passages in his two volumes
referring to the presence of Arabs living in the areas where Jews had settled.

That is of course a minor point. Much more significant, as Mr. Sanders rightly notes, is Mrs. Peters's
demographic argument. I did not want to devote a large part of my review to discussing the 1893 statistics on
the numbers of Muslims, Christians, and Jews living in all of Palestine or in the areas where Jews settled.
Unlike other reviewers I preferred to argue with Mrs. Peters's basic concepts, explanations, and methods.
However, Mr. Sanders's fair-minded letter requires some comment on demographic issues. As he notes, Mrs.
Peters's claims about Arabs entering Palestine "are impressionistic, and have no statistical value." Mr. Pipes
apparently believes they do but he gives no specific evidence of a "substantial migration of Arabs to Palestine."
I will therefore consider what Mr. Sanders calls "the most striking of her demonstrations in favor of her
case"—her claim that between 1893 and 1947 the Palestinian Arab population quintupled in the main areas of
Jewish settlement, contrary to the statistics in the Ottoman census.

I never claimed, however, that the 1893 Ottoman census figure of the number of Jews living in Palestine
(9,817) is correct; nor do I accept that the Ottoman figure for the Muslims (371,959), also cited by Mrs. Peters
from an article by K. Karpat,[1] is correct. As all students of Ottoman history know, only after 1909 did the
"Young Turks" government begin to draft Christian and Jewish subjects of the Ottoman Empire into the army.
Therefore, until that date, it was mainly the Muslims who had good reason not to register their names with the
census authorities or, for that matter, with any other official authorities, since registration made them easy prey
for the draft officers. The same fear prompted them to avoid the land registers too—with disastrous results for
their property rights.

As a result the official Ottoman figure for the Christian population (42,689) looks fairly accurate, whereas the
figure for the Muslims is underestimated. The Jews were certainly undercounted in that census, since all the
Jewish newcomers were foreign nationals who cherished their privileged status under the capitulatory regime
and would have refused to have anything to do with the census authorities.

We do have plausible estimates of the population in Palestine in the very thorough analysis by A. Ruppin of
the economy and society of Syria and Palestine on the eve of World War I (Syrien Als Wirtschaftsgebiet,
Berlin, 1917 and 1920). Professor Ruppin was an outstanding demographer and sociologist and the head of the
Palestine Office of the World Zionist Organization in Palestine. No one could accuse him of superficial work
or of anti-Zionist bias. His figure for the population of all Palestine (the three districts of Acre, Nablus, and
Jerusalem) is 689,275, as against 425,802 in the 1893 Ottoman census, the number presented in Karpat's
article. Ruppin and all other Jewish sources I am aware of agree that the number of Jews living in Palestine just
before World War I was between 80,000 and 85,000.[2] That makes the number of non-Jews living in Palestine
a little more 600,000, as against the Ottoman census figure of about 415,000.

The main flaw in Mrs. Peters's arguments, which Mr. Sanders seems to accept, is her statement (in Mr.
Sanders's words) "that in 1893 about 92,000 non-Jews were living in the main area of Jewish settlement;
alongside a Jewish population that she gives as just under 60,000." By 1947, she argues, the number of non-
Jews in those areas had quintupled while in other areas of Palestine it only slightly more than doubled. This
difference, in her view, can be accounted for only by the factor of Arab migration. But how did Mrs. Peters
arrive at the number of the non-Jews in "the Jewish-settled areas" of Palestine for 1893? Her claim that there
were about 92,000 non-Jews is made on page 250 of her book and the reader is referred there for the source to
Appendix V. However, in the appendix no source is given. Only in the next appendix devoted to methodology
does she claim that she used "Turkish census figures" (p. 427). But in the footnotes to chapters 10–12, where
the composition of the Palestine population during the nineteenth century is discussed, no reference is made to
the Ottoman archives where Mrs. Peters would, if she had consulted them, have found the returns of the
Ottoman censuses of 1893 and 1915 that she uses in Appendix V.

The Ottoman census returns, in fact, were never published. Therefore Mrs. Peters could use them only by
referring to a secondary source based on research in the Ottoman archives. And indeed that is the case with the
article by Kemal Karpat quoted by Mrs. Peters and cited above. Karpat's figures are given, presumably as they
appear in the Ottoman census returns, according to subdistricts (Kaza). It is impossible to ascertain from the
figures he cites which of the Ottoman subdistricts of Palestine correspond to what Mrs. Peters defined as "the
Jewish-settled areas" of Palestine. But one does find such a characterization of Ottoman subdistricts in the
work by Vital Cuinet mentioned in Mr. Sanders's letter. And if one consults Cuinet's book to find where in
Palestine, in 1893, 59,431 Jews (the number quoted by Mrs. Peters on page 251 of her book) were living, one
finds that exactly the same number is given for the aggregate of Jews living in the seven subdistricts (Kaza) of
Acre, Haifa, Tiberias, Safed, Nazareth, Jaffa, and Jerusalem. Consequently, we now know precisely what
Peters defines as "the Jewish-settled areas"; she is evidently referring to the seven Ottoman subdistricts
mentioned by Cuinet.

N ow we must consider the number of non-Jews living in those areas. According to Mrs. Peters (again on
page 251), and apparently Mr. Sanders accepts her view, they numbered about 92,300, of which nearly
38,000 were Christians (making the number of Muslims about 54,300). But the Ottoman census figures
in Karpat's table (pages 262 and 271 of his article) give the number of Muslims as 158,379 and of the
Christians as 39,884, making a total number of 198,263 non-Jews in "the Jewish settled areas." If we use
Cuinet's own figures we still do not get an estimate of the non-Jewish population that brings us much closer to
the number of non-Jews claimed by Mrs. Peters. According to Cuinet's data on the seven Ottoman subdistricts
comprising "the Jewish-settled areas" we have 124,686 Muslims and 61,964 Christians, a total of 186,263 non-
Jews.[3]

Obviously, these figures are more than double the figure of 92,000 non-Jews given in Mrs. Peters's book. One
could argue that the actual area defined by Mrs. Peters as "the Jewish-settled areas" is smaller than the total
area covered by the seven subdistricts listed above, and the map published on page 246 of her book indicates
such a possibility. But if this were the case, nowhere in her main text or in the methodological appendices (V
and VI) did Mrs. Peters bother to explain to her readers how she managed to break down the Ottoman or
Cuinet's figures into smaller units than subdistricts. As far as I know no figures for the units smaller than
subdistricts (Nahia; the parallel of the French commune), covering the area of Ottoman Palestine, were ever
published. Therefore I can't avoid the conclusion that Mrs. Peters's figures were, at best, based on guesswork
and an extremely tendentious guesswork at that.

I would add that even a superficial glance at Cuinet's figures should make any serious historian recoil from
using them. While the official Ottoman figures for the Muslims are underestimated for the reasons I earlier
explained, Cuinet's are much more so. As far as his figures for the Christians are concerned, their main flaws
are not only their inflated character but also the distortion in the estimates he gives for the various Christian
communities. First, Cuinet found hardly any Greek Orthodox Christians living in Palestine (450 in the Haifa
subdistrict and 169 in the Jama'in subdistrict of the Nablus district). But by all other accounts, this community
was the largest single Christian community living in Palestine at the end of the nineteenth century; indeed, it is
still the largest such community in the combined territory of present-day Israel, the occupied West Bank, and
the Gaza strip.

Secondly, Cuinet claimed that substantial numbers of Syrian Orthodox Christians (about seven thousand) were
living throughout Palestine, whereas in fact this Christian community was hardly to be found in Palestine at all.
Its only presence in the country was a small monastery in Jerusalem. And thirdly and most absurdly, Cuinet
claimed that precisely five thousand Maronites, who amounted to 10 percent of the population of the district,
were living in the district of Nablus. But as everyone knows Maronites were to be found in the Middle East
only in Mount Lebanon. The only exceptions were a cluster of villages in Cyprus and one village and half a
village in the upper-most Galilee in northern Palestine (Bir'am and Jish in Israel of today), a direct extension of
the Lebanese stronghold. No Maronites were to be found in the Nablus district and no other writer claimed that
they were. Cuinet's mistakes were deliberately made in order to prove that Palestine, as much as Lebanon and
Syria, should be put under French protection. His attitude is well known and requires that his material be used
with great caution.

Since we are left with no sound basis for Mrs. Peters's figures for the population in the "Jewish-settled areas"
in 1893, there is no need to account for the supposed quintupling of the Arab population in those areas by
1947; so dramatic an increase did not take place. It is true nevertheless that during the Mandatory period the
Arab population of the coastal area of Palestine grew faster than it did in other areas. But this fact does not
necessarily prove an Arab immigration into Palestine took place. More reasonably it confirms the very well-
known fact that the coastal area attracted Arab villagers from the mountainous parts of Palestine who preferred
the economic opportunities in the fast-growing areas of Jaffa and Haifa to the meager opportunities available in
their villages.

The coastal area had several main attractions for the Arab villagers. They found jobs in constructing, and later
working in, the port of Haifa, the Iraq Petroleum Company refineries, the railway workshops, and the nascent
Arab industries there. They also took part in the large-scale cultivation of the citrus groves between Haifa and
Jaffa and found jobs connected with the shipment of citrus fruits from the Jaffa port. Contrary to what Mr.
Pipes claims, all these developments had almost nothing to do with the growth of the Jewish National Home.
The main foreign factor that brought them about was the Mandatory government. The Zionist settlers had a
clearly stated policy against using Arab labor or investing in Arab industries. At the same time, the natural
increase in the Palestinian Arab population I referred to is made clear in the statistical abstracts and quarterly
surveys published by the Mandatory government in the years following the census of 1931.

As for the evidence quoted by Mr. Sanders from Rachel Yannait Ben-Zvi's reminiscences, it should be enough
to say Mrs. Ben-Zvi was a founding member of the Greater Israel Movement. Mrs. Ben-Zvi could hardly be
expected to recall any positive impression the Arabs made on her, all the more so if one remembers that she
published her memoirs during the 1960s when the Israeli-Arab conflict had become intense.

Notes

[1]
K. Karpat, "Ottoman population records and the Census of 1881/82–1893," IJMES, Vol. 9 (1978), pp. 237–
274.

[2]
See pages 14 and 15 of Ruppin's book and also, for example, Alex Bein, The History of the Zionist
Settlement (Tel-Aviv, 1954), pp. 34–35 and Y. Slutsky et al., The History of the Haganah, Vol. 1 (Tel-Aviv,
1960), p. 315 (both in Hebrew).

[3] V. Cuinet, Syrie, Liban et Palestine (Paris,1896),pp. 100, 106, 110, 114, 117, 627, and 663.

Copyright © 1963-2009, NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher.
Alan Dershowitz Exposed: What if a Harvard Student Did This?

Editor's note: For more documentation see Appendix I of Beyond Chutzpah.


Finkelstein used Harvard's own style manual, used to teach Harvard
students, that can be obtained online here: Writing With Sources. See
also: Crimson Cuts Columnist for Lifting Material (10.27.2006, The Harvard
Crimson, By ANTON S. TROIANOVSKI, Crimson Staff Writer)

In the introduction to The Case for Israel, Professor Alan Dershowitz of


Harvard Law School asserts that his account is supported by "facts and
figures, some of which will surprise those who get their information from
biased sources" (p. 2). Yet, the evidence Dershowitz adduces will
surprise no one familiar with the most notorious source of historical bias
on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ever published in the English
language. The charts below document Dershowitz's wholesale lifting of
source material from Joan Peters's monumental hoax, From Time Immemorial.

Dershowitz not only copies Peters shamelessly, but knowingly does so from
a book serious scholars have uniformly condemned. (For details on the
Peters hoax, see Norman G. Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the
Israel-Palestine Conflict, and Yehoshua Porath, "Mrs. Peters's Palestine,"
The New York Review of Books, 16 January 1986.) He is effectively no
different from a professor lifting sources wholesale from a leading
Holocaust revisionist in a book on the Holocaust. On a note both humorous
and pathetic, Peters, in From Time Immemorial and claiming to be inspired
by George Orwell, coins the term "turnspeak" to signal the inversion of
reality (pp. 173, 402). Dershowitz, apparently confounded by his massive
borrowings from Peters, credits the term "turnspeak" to Orwell [1],
accusing critics of Israel of "deliberately using George Orwell's
“turnspeak” (p. 57) and "Orwellian turnspeak" (p. 153). Is this
scandalous scholarship, or is it plagiarism, or is it both?
Norman G. Finkelstein

1. Changed from “turnspeak” to “newspeak” on Amazon Online Reader* in 2007


because the Online Reader displays only the later paperback edition; see
original hardcover 2003 edition & debate.

* Amazon has since corrected this and added the original hard cover
edition back to Online Reader with George Orwell's “turnspeak” and
Orwellian 'turnspeak' alongside the revised paperback edition (October
2007).

Plagarized No : 1

Dershowitz : In the sixteenth century, according to british reports, "as many as


15,000 jews" lived in safad, which was a "center of rabbinical
learning." (p. 17)
Source cited: palestine royal commission report, pp. 11-12.

Peters : safad at that time, according to the british investigation by lord


peel's committee, "contained as many as 15,000 jews in the 16th
century," and was "a centre of rabbinical learning." (p. 178)
Source cited: palestine royal commission report, pp. 11-12.

Plagarized No : 2

Dershowitz : [a]ccording to the british consul in jerusalem, the muslims of


jerusalem "scarcely exceed[ed] one quarter of the whole population."
(p. 17)
Source cited: james finn to earl of clarendon, january 1, 1858.

Peters : in 1858 consul finn reported the "mohammedans of jerusalem" were


"scarcely exceeding one-quarter of the whole population." (p. 197)
Source cited: james finn to earl of clarendon, january 1, 1858.

Plagarized No : 3

Dershowitz : by the middle of the nineteenth century [...] jews also constituted a
significant presence, often a plurality or majority, in safad,
tiberias, and several other cities and towns. (p. 17)
Source cited: james finn to viscount palmerston, november 7, 1851.

Peters : meanwhile, the jewish population had been growing. they were the
majority in safed and tiberias by 1851. (p. 199)
Source cited: james finn to viscount palmerston, november 7, 1851.
Plagarized No : 4

Dershowitz : in 1834, jewish homes in jerusalem "were sacked and their women
violated." (p. 18)
Source cited: jacob de haas, history of palestine (new york: 1934), p. 393.

Peters : [i]n 1834, [...] "forty thousand fellahin rushed on jerusalem...the jews
were the worst sufferers, their homes were sacked and their women
violated." (p. 183)
Source cited: jacob de haas, history of palestine (new york: 1934), p. 393.

Plagarized No : 5

Dershowitz : the british consul, william young, in a report to the british


foreign office [...] painted a vivid and chilling picture of the life
of the jews in jerusalem in 1839: "i think it is my duty to inform
you that there has been a proclamation issued this week by the
government in the jewish quarter - that no jew is to be permitted to
pray in his own house under pain of being severely punished - such
as want to pray are to go into the synagogue… there has also been a
punishment inflicted on a jew and jewess - most revolting to human
nature, which i think it is my duty to relate. in the early part of
this week, a house was entered in the jewish quarter, and a robbery
was committed - the house was in quarantine - and the guardian was a
jew - he was taken before the governor - he denied having any
knowledge of the thief or the circumstances. in order to compel him
to confess, he was laid down and beaten, and afterwards imprisoned.
the following day he was again brought before the governor, when he
still declared his innocence. he was then burned with a hot iron
over his face, and various parts of the body - and beaten on the
lower parts of his body to the extent that the flesh hung in pieces
from him the following day the poor creature died. he was a young
jew of salonica about 28 years of age - who had been here but a very
short time, he had only the week before been applying to enter my
service. a young man - a jew - having a french passport was also
suspected - he fled - his character was known to be an indifferent
one - his mother, an aged woman, was taken under suspicion of
concealing her son - she was tied up and beaten in the most brutal
way…. i must say i am sorry and am surprised that the governor
could have acted so savage a part - for certainly what i have seen
of him, i should have thought him superior to such wanton inhumanity
- but it was a jew - without friends or protection - it serves well
to show, that it is not without reason that the poor jew, even in
the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his
life." (p. 18)
Source cited: wm. t. young to colonel patrick campbell, may 25, 1839.
Peters : in may 1839, for instance, the complaints registered with the
british foreign office by consul young in jerusalem were appalling.
in one day, in one report: "i think it is my duty to inform you that
there has been a proclamation issued this week by the government in
the jewish quarter - that no jew is to be permitted to pray in his
own house under pain of being severely punished - such as want to
pray are to go into the synagogue… there has also been a punishment
inflicted on a jew and jewess - most revolting to human nature,
which i think it is my duty to relate - in the early part of this
week, a house was entered in the jewish quarter, and a robbery was
committed - the house was in quarantine - and the guardian was a jew
- he was taken before the governor - he denied having any knowledge
of the thief or the circumstances. in order to compell him to
confess, he was laid down and beaten, and afterwards imprisoned.
the following day he was again brought before the governor, when he
still declared his innocence. he was then burned with a hot iron
over his face, and various parts of the body - and beaten on the
lower parts of his body to that extent that the flesh hung in pieces
from him. the following day the poor creature died. he was a young
jew of salonica about 28 years of age - who had been here but a very
short time, he had only the week before been applying to enter my
service. a young man - a jew - having a french passport was also
suspected - he fled - his character was known to be an indifferent
one - his mother, an aged woman, was taken under suspicion of
concealing her son - she was tied up and beaten in the most brutal
way…. i must say i am sorry and am surprised that the governor could
have acted so savage a part - for certainly what i have seen of him,
i should have thought him superior to such wanton inhumanity - but
it was a jew - without friends or protection - it serves well to
show, that it is not without reason that the poor jew, even in the
nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his life."
(p. 184)
Source cited: wm. t. young to colonel patrick campbell, may 25, 1839.
Plagarized No : 6

Dershowitz : nor could the jew seek redress, as the report observed: "like the
miserable dog without an owner he is kicked by one because he
crosses his path, and cuffed by another because he cries out - to
seek redress he is afraid, lest it bring worse upon him; he thinks
it better to endure than to live in the expectation of his complaint
being revenged upon him." (p. 20)
Source cited: wm. t. young to viscount palmerston, may 25, 1839.

Peters : [t]he life for jews described in 1839 by british consul young: "[...]
like the miserable dog without an owner he is kicked by one because
he crosses his path, and cuffed by another because he cries out - to
seek redress he is afraid, lest it bring worse upon him; he thinks
it better to endure than to live in the expectation of his complaint
being revenged upon him." (p. 187)
Source cited: wm. t. young to viscount palmerston, may 25, 1839.

Plagarized No : 7

Dershowitz : several years later, the same consul attributed the plight of the
jew in jerusalem to "the blind hatred and ignorant prejudice of a
fanatical populace," coupled with an inability of the
poverty-stricken jewish community to defend itself either
politically or physically. (p. 20)
Source cited: wm. t. young to viscount canning, january 13, 1842.

Peters : in palestine, [it] was reported: "it is a fact that the jewish
subjects...do not enjoy the privileges granted to them ... this evil may
in general be traced... : i. to the absence of an adequate protection
whereby they are more exposed to cruel and tyrannical treatment. ii.
to the blind hatred and ignorant prejudices of a fanatical
populace....iv. to the starving state of numerous jewish population."
(p. 188; peters's emphasis)
Source cited: wm. t. young to viscount canning, january 13, 1842.
Plagarized No : 8

Dershowitz : mark twain, who visited palestine in 1867, offered this description:
"stirring scenes . . . occur in the valley [jezreel] no more. there
is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent - not for
thirty miles in either direction. there are two or three small
clusters of bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation.
one may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. . .
. come to galilee for that . . . these unpeopled deserts, these
rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never, never do shake the
glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague
perspective; that melancholy ruin of capernaum: this stupid village
of tiberias, slumbering under its six funereal palms. . . . we
reached tabor safely. . . .we never saw a human being on the whole
route. nazareth is forlorn. . . . jericho the accursed lies in a
moldering ruin today, even as joshua's miracle left it more than
three thousand years ago; bethlehem and bethany, in their poverty
and their humiliations, have nothing about them now to remind one
that they once knew the high honor of the savior's presence, the
hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and
where the angels sang, `peace on earth, good will to men, is
untenanted by any living creature. . . . bethsaida and chorzin have
vanished from the earth, and the `desert places round about them,
where thousands of men once listened to the savior's voice and ate
the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is
inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes." (pp. 23-4)
Source cited: mark twain, the innocents abroad (new york: 1996), pp.
349, 366, 375, 441-442.
Peters : mark twain [...] visited the holy land in 1867. in one location after
another, twain registered gloom at his findings: "stirring scenes .
. . occur in the valley [jezreel] no more. there is not a solitary
village throughout its whole extent - not for thirty miles in either
direction. there are two or three small clusters of bedouin tents,
but not a single permanent habitation. one may ride ten miles
hereabouts and not see ten human beings. [...] come to galilee for
that . . . these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of
barrenness, that never, never, never do shake the glare from their
harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague perspective; that
melancholy ruin of capernaum: this stupid village of tiberias,
slumbering under its six funereal palms. . . . we reached tabor
safely. . . .we never saw a human being on the whole route.
nazareth is forlorn. . . . jericho the accursed lies in a moldering
ruin today, even as joshua's miracle left it more than three
thousand years ago; bethlehem and bethany, in their poverty and
their humiliations, have nothing about them now to remind one that
they once knew the high honor of the savior's presence, the hallowed
spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where
the angels sang, `peace on earth, good will to men, is untenanted
by any living creature. . . . bethsaida and chorzin have vanished
from the earth, and the `desert places round about them, where
thousands of men once listened to the savior's voice and ate the
miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited
only by birds of prey and skulking foxes." (pp. 159-60)
Source cited: mark twain, the innocents abroad (london: 1881), pp.
349, 366, 375, 441-442.

Plagarized No : 9

Dershowitz : a christian historian has reported that several villages throughout


palestine "are populated wholly by settlers from other portions of
the turkish empire within the nineteenth century. there are
villages of bosnians, druzes, circassians and egyptians." (p. 26)
Source cited: james parkes, whose land?, p. 212.

Peters : "in some cases villages [in palestine] are populated wholly by
settlers from other portions of the turkish empire within the
nineteenth century. there are villages of bosnians, druzes,
circassians and egyptians," one historian has reported. (p. 156)
Source cited: james parkes, whose land?, p. 212.
Plagarized No : 10

Dershowitz : the 1911 edition of encyclopaedia britannica described the


population of palestine as comprising widely differing
"ethnological" groups speaking "no less than fifty languages." it
was daunting therefore to "write concisely" about "the ethnology of
palestine," especially following the influx of population from egypt
"which still persists in the villages." in addition to arabs and
jews, the other ethnic groups in palestine at the end of the
nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century included
kurds, german templars, persians, sudanese, algerians, samaritans,
tatars, georgians, and many people of mixed ethnicities. (p. 26)
Source cited: no volume or page number cited.

Peters : another source, the encyclopaedia britannica, 1911 edition [...] finds
the "population" of palestine composed of so "widely differing" a
group of "inhabitants" - whose "ethnological affinities" create
"early in the 20th century a list of no less than fifty languages" -
that "it is therefore no easy task to write concisely . . . on the
ethnology of palestine." in addition to the "assyrian, persian and
roman" elements of ancient times, "the short-lived egyptian
government introduced into the population an element from that
country which still persists in the villages."... "there are [...]
persians [...] kurds...german `templar' colonies [...], a large algerian
element [...] sudanese, [...] the samaritan sect." (pp. 156-7)
Source cited: encyclopaedia britannica, 11th ed., vol. xx, p. 604.

Plagarized No : 10

Dershowitz : an 1857 communique from the british consul in jerusalem reported


that "the country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants
and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population."
(p. 26)
Source cited: james finn to the earl of clarendon, september 15,
1857.

Peters : the british consul in palestine reported in 1857 that "the country
is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its
greatest need is that of a body of population." (p. 159)
Source cited: james finn to the earl of clarendon, september 15, 1857.
Plagarized No : 11

Dershowitz : it also noted that although the arabs tended to leave and not
return, the jewish population was more stable: "[w]e have jews who
have traveled to the united states and australia," and "instead of
remaining there, do return hither." (p. 26)
Source cited: james finn to the earl of clarendon, september 15, 1857.

Peters : finn wrote further that "[…] we have jews here , who have been to
the united states, but have returned to their holy land - jews of
jerusalem do go to australia and instead of remaining there, do
return hither." (p. 485)
Source cited: james finn to the earl of clarendon, september 15, 1857.

Plagarized No : 12

Dershowitz : four years later, it was reported that "depopulation is even now
advancing." (p. 26)
Source cited: j.b. forsyth, a few months in the east (quebec: 1861), p. 188.

Peters : in the 1860s, it was reported that "depopulation is even now


advancing." (p. 159)
Source cited: j.b. forsyth, a few months in the east (quebec: 1861), p. 188.

Plagarized No : 13

Dershowitz : and four years after that, it was noted that in certain parts of the
country "land is going out of cultivation and whole villages are
rapidly disappearing . . . and the stationery population extirpated." (p. 26)
Source cited: h.b. tristram, the land of israel: a journal of
travels in palestine (london: 1865), p. 490.

Peters : h.b. tristam noted in his journal that "the north and south [of the
sharon plain] land is going out of cultivation and whole villages
are rapidly disappearing [...] and the stationery population
extirpated." (p. 159)
Source cited: h.b. tristram, the land of israel: a journal of
travels in palestine (london: 1865), p. 490.
Plagarized No : 14

Dershowitz : other historians, demographers, and travelers described the arab


population as "decreasing," and the land as "thinly populated,"
"unoccupied," "uninhabited," and "almost abandoned now." (pp. 26-7)
Sources cited:

➢ samuel bartlett, from egypt to palestine (new york: 1879), p. 409.

➢ cited in fred gottheil, "the population of palestine, circa 1875,"


middle eastern studies, vol. 15, no. 3, october 1979.

➢ edward wilson, in scripture lands (new york: 1890) p. 316. cited in gottheil

➢ w. allen, the dead sea: a new route to india (london: 1855), p. 113. cited in gottheil.

➢ william thomson, the land and the book (new york: 1871), p. 466. cited in gottheil.

Peters : report followed depressing report, as the economist-historian


professor fred gottheil pointed out: […] "wretched desolation and
neglect"; "almost abandoned now"; "unoccupied"; "uninhabited";
"thinly populated." (p. 160)
Sources cited:

➢ s.c. bartlett, from egypt to palestine (new york: 1879), p. 409.


cited in fred gottheil, "the population of palestine, circa 1875,"
middle eastern studies, vol. 15, no. 3, october 1979.

➢ w. allen, the dead sea: a new route to india (london: 1855), p. 113. cited in ibid.

➢ w.m. thomson, the land and the book (new york: 1862), p. 466. cited in ibid.

➢ e.l. wilson in scripture lands (new york: n.d.), p. 316. cited in ibid.
Plagarized No : 15

Dershowitz : the plain of sharon [...] was described by reverend samuel manning in
1874 as a "land without inhabitants" that "might support an immense
population." (p. 27)
Source cited: reverend samuel manning, those holy fields (london:1874), pp. 14-17.

Peters : many writers, such as the reverend samuel manning, mourned the
atrophy of the coastal plain, the sharon plain [...]: "this fertile
plain, which might support an immense population, is [...] `the land
[…] without inhabitants." (p. 160)
Source cited: reverend samuel manning, those holy fields (london:
1874), pp. 14-17.

Plagarized No : 16

Dershowitz : j.l. burkhardt [sic] reported that as early as in the second decade
of the nineteenth century, "few individuals...die in the same village
in which they were born. families are continually moving from one
place to another...in a few years..they fly to some other place, where
they have heard that their brethren are better treated." (p. 27)
Source cited: john lewis burckhardt, travels in syria and the holy
land (new york: 1983), p. 299.

Peters : john lewis burckhardt graphically described the migratory patterns


he found in the early 1800s: "[...] few individuals...die in the same
village in which they were born. families are continually moving
from one place to another [...] in a few years [...] they fly to some
other place, where they have heard that their brethren are better
treated." (p. 163)
Source cited: john lewis burckhardt, travels in syria and the holy
land (london: 1882), p. 299.
Plagarized No : 16

Dershowitz : a study of the jewish settlement of rishon l'tzion, first


established in 1882, showed that the 40 jewish families that settled
there had attracted "more than 400 arab families," many of which
were bedouin and egyptian. these families moved into areas around
the jewish settlement and formed a new arab village on the site of
"a forsaken ruin." the report observed a similar pattern with
regard to other settlements and villages. (p. 27)
Source cited: a. druyanov, ketavim letoldot hibbat ziyyon
ve-yishshuv erez yisra'el (writings on the history of the hibbat
ziyyon and the settlement of the land of israel) (odessa, tel aviv,
1919, 1925, 1932), vol. 3, pp. 66-67.

Peters : [i]n the jewish settlement rishon l'tsion (founded in 1882), by the
year 1889 the "forty jewish families" settled there had attracted
"more than four hundred arab families," most of them "bedouin and
egyptian." they had come to "surround the moshava" (settlement) in
a "now-thriving village" that, before the founding of rishon
l'tsion, had been sarafand - "a forsaken ruin." the report from
rishon pointed out that many other arab villages had sprouted in the
same fashion. (pp. 252-3)
Source cited: a. druyanov, ketavim letoldoth hibbat ziyyon
ve-yishshuv erez yisra'el) (odessa, tel aviv, 1919, 1925, 1932),
vol. 3, pp. 66-67.

Plagarized No : 17

Dershowitz : according to one historian, "at least 25% of [the muslims who lived
in all of palestine in 1882] were newcomers or descendants of those
who arrived after [the egyptian conquest of 1831]." (p. 28)
Source cited: ernst frankenstein, justice for my people (london:1943), p. 127.

Peters : one historian deduced that of 141,000 settled muslims living in all
of palestine (all areas) in 1882, "at least 25% of those 141,000...were newcomers
or descendants of those who arrived after 1831 (egyptian conquest)." (pp. 196-7)
Source cited: ernst frankenstein, justice for my people (london: 1943), p. 127.
Plagarized No : 18

Dershowitz : british official reported in 1937 that "the growth in [the numbers
of arab fellahin] had been largely due to the health services
combating malaria, reducing infant death rates, improving water
supply and sanitation." (p. 28)
Source cited: report to his britannic majesty’s government to the
council of the league of nations on the administration of palestine
and trans-jordan for the year 1937, colonial no. 146, pp. 223-224.

Peters : an official 1937 report found that "the growth in their numbers
[arab fellahin-peasants] has been largely due to the health
services, combating malaria, reducing the infant deathrate,
improving water supply and sanitation." (pp. 223-4)
Source cited: report to his britannic majesty’s government to the
council of the league of nations on the administration of palestine
and trans-jordan for the year 1937, colonial no. 146, pp. 223-224.
Alan Dershowitz, Plagiarist?

By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Let's start with a passage from Alan Dershowitz's latest book, The Case
for Israel, now slithering into the upper tier of Amazon's sales charts.
On page 213 we meet Dershowitz, occupant of the Felix Frankfurter chair at
Harvard Law School, happily walloping a French prof called Faurisson,
charged by the FF prof from Harvard U as being a fraud and a holocaust
denier: "There was no extensive historical research. Instead there was the
fraudulent manufacturing of false antihistory. It was the kind of
deception for which professors are rightly fired--not because their views
are controversial, but because they are violating the most basic canons of
historical scholarship.."

You want an example of Dershowitz's canons of scholarship, base rather


than basic?

On pages 233-4, he writes, "In September 1970, King Hussein of Jordan


killed and injured more Palestinians in one month than Israel has during
three years of responding to the suicide bombing intifada." The
corresponding endnote reads: "Estimates vary as to the number of
Palestinians killed during "Black September," with some estimates as high
as 4,000." His two cited sources for this claim? a Sony movie, One Day in
September, and a chronology for a high school course outline on the Middle
East conflict.

If Justice Frankfurter had fuelled decisions with this kind of scholarship


he'd have been citing Marvel Comics as useful repositories of case law and
precedent. If, in writings off the bench, he'd used the sort of research
procedures displayed elsewhere in Dershowitz's Case for Israel he'd
probably have been forced off the Supreme Court for ethical considerations
of a sort that I imagine Harvard's president, Lawrence Summers, will soon
be pondering in the case of Prof. Dershowitz.

Let me now usher into the narrative an important member of our cast in
this drama: "From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the ArabJewish Conflict
Over Palestine", a 60l- page book by Joan Peters, published in l984.
Peter's polemical work strove to buttress the old Zionist thesis that the
land of Israel had been "a land without people, awaiting a people without
land". There was no substantial Palestinian presence, Peters claimed,
before the Jewish return. Initially given an ecstatic reception by
publications such the New York Times the book was soon discredited as a
charnel house of disingenuous polemic. The coup de grace was administered
by Professor Yehoshua Porath in the New York Review of Books for January
16 and March 27, 1986.
Though neither Peter's nor her book appear in the index to The Case for
Israel, they do get a mention in note 3l of chapter 2, where Dershowitz
cites the work of a 19th century French geographer called Cuinct, and
adds, "See Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial (Chicago, JKAP Publications,
1984). Peters's conclusions and data have been challenged. See Said and
Hitchens, p. 33. I do not in any way rely on them in this book. "Them"
clearly refers to Peters' conclusions and data.

This brazen declaration is preceded in chapters one and two by wholesale,


unacknowledged looting of Peters' research. I have before me a devastating
comparative archive of these plagiarisms, compiled by Norman Finkelstein,
author of "The Holocaust Industry: The Exploitation of Jewish Suffering"
and "Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict". Here are but
four instances, out of no less than 20 thus far discovered in the first
two chapters alone.

Plagarized No : 1

➢ "In the sixteenth century," Dershowitz remarks on the seventeenth page of


his book, "according to British reports, "as many as 15,000 Jews" lived in
Safad, which was a "center of rabbinical learning." Source cited by
Dershowitz: Palestine Royal Commission Report, pp. 11-12.

➢ Turn now to page 178 of Ms. Peters' book, published nineteen years earlier:
"Safad at that time, according to the British investigation by Lord Peel's committee,
"contained as many as 15,000 Jews in the 16th century," and was "a centre
of Rabbinical learning." Source cited by Ms Peters: Palestine Royal
Commission Report, pp. 11-12.

Plagarized No : 2

➢ Same page of Dershowitz: "[A]ccording to the British consul in Jerusalem,


the Muslims of Jerusalem "scarcely exceed[ed] one quarter of the whole
population." Source cited: James Finn to Earl of Clarendon, January 1,
1858.

➢ Peters (page 197): "In 1858 Consul Finn reported the "Mohammedans of
Jerusalem" were "scarcely exceeding one-quarter of the whole population."
Source cited: James Finn to Earl of Clarendon, January 1, 1858.
Plagarized No : 3

➢ Dershowitz (page 18): "In 1834, Jewish homes in Jerusalem "were sacked and
their women violated." Source cited: Jacob de Haas, History of Palestine
(New York: 1934), p. 393.

➢ Peters (page 183): [I]n 1834, [] "Forty thousand fellahin rushed on


JerusalemThe Jews were the worst sufferers, their homes were sacked and
their women violated." Source cited: Jacob de Haas, History of Palestine
(New York: 1934), p. 393.

Plagarized No : 4

➢ Dershowitz (page 20): "Nor could the Jew seek redress, as the report
observed: 'Like the miserable dog without an owner he is kicked by one
because he crosses his path, and cuffed by another because he cries
out--to seek redress he is afraid, lest it bring worse upon him; he thinks
it better to endure than to live in the expectation of his complaint being
revenged upon him.' Source cited: Wm. T. Young to Viscount Palmerston, May
25,1839.

➢ Peters (page 187): [T]he life for Jews described in 1839 by British
Counsel Young: "[] Like the miserable dog without an owner he is kicked by
one because he crosses his path, and cuffed by another because he cries
out--to seek redress he is afraid, lest it bring worse upon him; he thinks
it better to endure than to live in the expectation of his complaint being
revenged upon him." Source cited: Wm. T. Young to Viscount Palmerston, May
25, 1839.

Plagarized No : 5

➢ Dershowitz ( page 26): "A Christian historian has reported that several
villages throughout Palestine "are populated wholly by settlers from other
portions of the Turkish Empire within the nineteenth century. There are
villages of Bosnians, Druzes, Circassians and Egyptians." Source cited:
James Parkes, Whose Land? (1971), p. 212.

➢ Peters (page 156): "In some cases villages [in Palestine] are populated
wholly by settlers from other portions of the Turkish Empire within the
nineteenth century. There are villages of Bosnians, Druzes, Circassians
and Egyptians," one historian has reported. Source cited: James Parkes,
Whose Land?, (1971) p. 212.
Plagarized No : 6

➢ Dershowitz (page 26): "Four years later, it was reported that


"depopulation is even now advancing." Source cited: J.B. Forsyth, A Few
Months in the East (Quebec: 1861), p. 188.

➢ Peters (page 159): "In the 1860s, it was reported that "depopulation is
even now advancing." Source cited: J.B. Forsyth, A Few Months in the East
(Quebec: 1861), p. 188.

Plagarized No : 7

➢ Dershowitz (page 27): J.L. Burkhardt [sic] reported that as early as in


the second decade of the nineteenth century, "Few individualsdie in the
same village in which they were born. Families are continually moving from
one place to anotherin a few years they fly to some other place, where
they have heard that their brethren are better treated." Source cited:
John Lewis Burckhardt, Travels in Syria and the Holy Land (New York:
1983), p. 299.

➢ Peters (163): "John Lewis Burckhardt graphically described the migratory


patterns he found in the early 1800s: "[] Few individualsdie in the same
village in which they were born. Families are continually moving from one
place to another [] in a few years [] they fly to some other place, where
they have heard that their brethren are better treated." (p. 163) Source
cited: John Lewis Burckhardt, Travels in Syria and the Holy Land (London:
1882), p. 299.
For those, on the monkeys-writing-Shakespeare analogy, who may speculate
that Dershowitz somehow replicated Peters's researches unknowingly, I
should add that in two very long passages, one from a letter from Wm. T.
Young to Col. Patrick Campbell (May 25, 1839), and the other from Mark
Twain's Innocents Abroad, Dershowitz reproduces the quotes with ellipses
in exactly the same place as Peters.

Plagarized No : 8

➢ Dershowitz (page 18):

The British consul, William Young, in a report to the British Foreign


Office [] painted a vivid and chilling picture of the life of the Jews
in Jerusalem in 1839: "I think it is my duty to inform you that there
has been a Proclamation issued this week by the Government in the Jewish
quarter--that no Jew is to be permitted to pray in his own house under
pain of being severely punished--such as want to pray are to go into the
Synagogue.. There has also been a punishment inflicted on a Jew and
Jewess--most revolting to human nature, which I think it is my duty to
relate. In the early part of this week, a House was entered in the
Jewish Quarter, and a robbery was committed--the House was in
quarantine--and the guardian was a Jew--he was taken before the
Governor--he denied having any knowledge of the thief or the
circumstances. In order to compel him to confess, he was laid down and
beaten, and afterwards imprisoned. The following day he was again
brought before the Governor, when he still declared his innocence. He
was then burned with a hot iron over his face, and various parts of the
body--and beaten on the lower parts of his body to the extent that the
flesh hung in pieces from him The following day the poor creature died.
He was a young Jew of Salonica about 28 years of age--who had been here
but a very short time, he had only the week before been applying to
enter my service. A young man--a Jew--having a French passport was also
suspected--he fled--his character was known to be an indifferent
one--his mother, an aged woman, was taken under suspicion of concealing
her son--she was tied up and beaten in the most brutal way. I must say I
am sorry and am surprised that the Governor could have acted so savage a
part--for certainly what I have seen of him, I should have thought him
superior to such wanton inhumanity--but it was a Jew--without friends or
protection--it serves well to show, that it is not without reason that
the poor Jew, even in the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in
terror of his life." Source cited: Wm. T. Young to Colonel Patrick
Campbell, May 25, 1839.
➢ Peters (page 184):

In May 1839, for instance, the complaints registered with the British
Foreign Office by Consul Young in Jerusalem were appalling. In one day,
in one report: "I think it is my duty to inform you that there has been
a Proclamation issued this week by the Government in the Jewish
quarter--that no Jew is to be permitted to pray in his own house under
pain of being severely punished--such as want to pray are to go into the
Synagogue. There has also been a punishment inflicted on a Jew and
Jewess--most revolting to human nature, which I think it is my duty to
relate--In the early part of this week, a House was entered in the
Jewish Quarter, and a robbery was committed--the House was in
quarantine--and the guardian was a Jew--he was taken before the
Governor--he denied having any knowledge of the thief or the
circumstances. In order to compell him to confess, he was laid down and
beaten, and afterwards imprisoned. The following day he was again
brought before the Governor, when he still declared his innocence. He
was then burned with a hot iron over his face, and various parts of the
body--and beaten on the lower parts of his body to that extent that the
flesh hung in pieces from him. The following day the poor creature died.
He was a young Jew of Salonica about 28 years of age--who had been here
but a very short time, he had only the week before been applying to
enter my service. A young man--a Jew--having a French passport was also
suspected--he fled--his character was known to be an indifferent
one--his mother, an aged woman, was taken under suspicion of concealing
her son--she was tied up and beaten in the most brutal way. I must say I
am sorry and am surprised that the Governor could have acted so savage a
part--for certainly what I have seen of him, I should have thought him
superior to such wanton inhumanity--but it was a Jew--without friends or
protection--it serves well to show, that it is not without reason that
the poor Jew, even in the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in
terror of his life." Source cited: Wm. T. Young to Colonel Patrick
Campbell, May 25, 1839.
Plagarized No : 9

➢ Dershowitz (pages 23-4)

Mark Twain, who visited Palestine in 1867, offered this description:


"Stirring scenes . . . occur in the valley [Jezreel] no more. There is
not a solitary village throughout its whole extent--not for thirty miles
in either direction. There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin
tents, but not a single permanent habitation. One may ride ten miles
hereabouts and not see ten human beings. . . . Come to Galilee for that
. . . these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness, that
never, never, never do shake the glare from their harsh outlines, and
fade and faint into vague perspective; that melancholy ruin of
Capernaum: this stupid village of Tiberias, slumbering under its six
funereal palms. . . . We reached Tabor safely. . . .We never saw a human
being on the whole route. Nazareth is forlorn. . . . Jericho the
accursed lies in a moldering ruin today, even as Joshua's miracle left
it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their
poverty and their humiliations, have nothing about them now to remind
one that they once knew the high honor of the Savior's presence, the
hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and
where the angels sang, 'Peace on earth, good will to men,' is untenanted
by any living creature. . . . Bethsaida and Chorzin have vanished from
the earth, and the 'desert places' round about them, where thousands of
men once listened to the Savior's voice and ate the miraculous bread,
sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey
and skulking foxes." Source cited: Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (New
York: 1996), pp. 349, 366, 375, 441-442.
➢ Peters (pages 159-60)

Mark Twain [] visited the Holy Land in 1867. In one location after
another, Twain registered gloom at his findings: "Stirring scenes . . .
occur in the valley [Jezreel] no more. There is not a solitary village
throughout its whole extent--not for thirty miles in either direction.
There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin tents, but not a single
permanent habitation. One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten
human beings. [] Come to Galilee for that . . . these unpeopled deserts,
these rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never, never do shake the
glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague
perspective; that melancholy ruin of Capernaum: this stupid village of
Tiberias, slumbering under its six funereal palms. . . . We reached
Tabor safely. . . .We never saw a human being on the whole route.
Nazareth is forlorn. . . . Jericho the accursed lies in a moldering ruin
today, even as Joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand years
ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliations,
have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high
honor of the Savior's presence, the hallowed spot where the shepherds
watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang, 'Peace on
earth, good will to men,' is untenanted by any living creature. . . .
Bethsaida and Chorzin have vanished from the earth, and the 'desert
places' round about them, where thousands of men once listened to the
Savior's voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a
solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes."
Source cited: Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (London: 1881), pp. 349,
366, 375, 441-442.

No, I'm afraid it's beyond doubt, and any jury would remain unpersuaded by
charges of prosecutorial malfeasance from Dershowitz's defending counsel:
he plagiarized Peters , while simultanously claiming he hadn't used her
for any historical material. One fraud ripping off another, the former at
last giving the latter justifiable grounds for arguing maltreatment.
Amidst this orgy of plagiarism, Dershowitz understandably gets confused
about sources . Claiming to be inspired by George Orwell, in her book
Peters coined the term "turnspeak" to signal an inversion of reality.
Dershowitz is apparently so nervous of citing Peters in any way that he
credits the term "turnspeak" to Orwell, accusing critics of Israel of
"deliberately using George Orwell's 'turnspeak'".

Over to you President Summers, or will the man so happy to dress down Prof
Cornel West be more timid when it comes to confronting the occupant of the
Felix Frankfurter chair?
SPECIAL DOCUMENT FILE

ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND


PALESTINE-ISRAEL: THE CASE OF
BEYOND CHUTZPAH

A. University of California Press, Statement on the Publication of Beyond


Chutzpah, Berkeley, 14 July 2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86

B. Alan M. Dershowitz, Letter to Niels Hooper, Acquisitions Editor of the


University of California Press, 19 November 2004. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86

C. Avi Shlaim, Confidential Peer Review of Beyond Chutzpah for the Uni-
versity of California Press, 9 February 2005.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88

D. Jon Wiener, “Giving Chutzpah New Meaning,” Nation, 11 July


2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

E. Alan M. Dershowitz and Jon Wiener, “Tsuris over Chutzpah,” Nation,


29 August 2005. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94

F. Jennifer Howard, “Calif. Press Will Publish Controversial Book on


Israel,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 22 July 2005 (excerpts) . . . . 97

During the past year JPS has devoted two Special Document Files (JPS 134
and 136) to academic freedom, specifically the campaign Campus Watch and
other pro-Israel organizations orchestrated against Columbia University’s De-
partment of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC).
At stake was the issue of who decides how the Palestine-Israel conflict is to
be taught in the academy—certified specialists or interested outside parties.
Almost the same issue is addressed in the current Special Document File: who
decides what university presses can publish on the Palestine-Israel conflict—
certified specialists or interested outside parties? Specifically, the file focuses on
the campaign waged by Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz to
suppress publication of Norman Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse
of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. Finkelstein’s study inventories how
Dershowitz’s best-selling book, The Case for Israel, misrepresented the documen-
tary record and that the widely publicized allegation of a “new anti-Semitism”
was contrived to deflect criticism of Israel.
This file covers only the controversy surrounding the publication of Beyond
Chutzpah. The subsequent fate of the book poses equally troubling questions
about the American intellectual culture. Since its release in late August, and
despite massive pre-release publicity as well as the respectability conferred by
University of California Press’s imprint, Beyond Chutzpah has not received a
single review in a mainstream U.S. publication. The fact that a legendary trial
lawyer was unable to make good on his threat to sue the press for libel and

Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. XXXV, No. 2 (Winter 2006), pp. 85–99 ISSN: 0377-919X; electronic ISSN: 1533-8614.
C 2006 by the Institute for Palestine Studies. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission

to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s


Rights and Permissions website, at http://www.ucpress.edu/journals/rights.htm.
86 JOURNAL OF PALESTINE STUDIES

that major Israeli and American academics provided powerful endorsements


for the book, further attests to the accuracy of Finkelstein’s findings. That his
book is being ignored while The Case for Israel continues to be cited as a
reference is a vivid illustration of what seems to be the growing gap between
the facts on the Middle East as accepted by scholars and the representation of
the Middle East situation to the wider public.

A. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS, STATEMENT ON THE


PUBLICATION OF BEYOND CHUTZPAH, BERKELEY, 15 JULY 2005.
The following statement was released by the University of California Press in an-
ticipation of the release of Norman G. Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah. This statement,
as well as “Questions and answers about UC Press’s decision to publish” Beyond
Chutzpah, are available online at www.ucpress.edu.

The University of California Press is pleased to publish Beyond Chutzpah: On the


Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History by Norman Finkelstein. Since 1893,
UC Press has been especially well known for pioneering books on critical social and po-
litical issues. As one of the largest, most distinguished scholarly publishers in the world,
we are respected for attracting authors whose work transcends traditional academic
boundaries. We have built a reputation for publishing books that matter. We think this
one does.
Beyond Chutzpah scrutinizes what Norman Finkelstein describes as “the prolif-
eration of distortion masquerading as history” around the Israel-Palestine conflict. He
questions this scholarship and asks why, in his view, it receives uncritical acclaim within
the academy. To support his thesis, Finkelstein uses Alan Dershowitz’s recent bestseller
The Case for Israel as a springboard from which to investigate controversial human
rights cases involving Israel over the last few decades. Sifting through thousands of
pages of reports, and presenting the first accessible distillation of key human rights
findings, Finkelstein argues that Dershowitz has misstated the facts. Most integral to
this argument, Finkelstein claims that a long and lasting solution to the Israel-Palestine
conflict will never be attained without a basis in truth.
Anticipating the publication of Beyond Chutzpah, Professor Alan Dershowitz
launched a letter-writing campaign, targeting our Board of Directors, the UC Admin-
istration, and Governor Schwarzenegger. We take this seriously. We are confident in our
processes of factual and scholarly review, a protocol we follow as one of the leading
university presses and as a publisher of critical, incisive scholarship on politics, inter-
national studies, and domestic issues. We are also buttressed by enthusiastic reviews of
this book from several scholars in Middle Eastern and Jewish Studies, who see this book
as a critical work in the field.

B. ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ, LETTER TO NIELS HOOPER, ACQUISITIONS


EDITOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS, 19 NOVEMBER
2004.
The following letter is one of several that Alan Dershowitz sent to editors at the
New Press, which was originally contracted to publish Beyond Chutzpah, and to
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND PALESTINE-ISRAEL 87

editors and lawyers at the University of California Press on the subject of Beyond
Chutzpah. This letter and those addressed to the New Press are available on the Web
site of Norman G. Finkelstein at www.normangfinkelstein.com.

Dear Mr. Hooper:


I have just been advised that you are planning to publish a book by Norman
Finkelstein containing false and defamatory information about me. The book, entitled
Beyond Chutzpah (an obvious reference to my book Chutzpah), claims to expose “spu-
rious scholarship” and mendaciousness on my part. This Letter is to put you on notice
that Finkelstein has repeatedly and deliberately distorted the facts in describing my writ-
ings. I am enclosing, as an attachment to this letter, a draft of an article I am publishing
which summarizes Finkelstein’s distortions, as well as the letters I previously wrote to
the publisher who was originally supposed to be publishing his book. I don’t know
whether Finkelstein showed you this correspondence before you agreed to publish the
book, but you are now on notice as to its contents.
I have no desire to prevent publication of anything, but I do insist that anything
published about me be factually correct. Finkelstein has a long documented track record
of publishing malicious falsehoods about me (as well as about others who write favorably
about Israel or about compensation for Holocaust survivors). I am not speaking about
differences of opinion, but rather, as the attached material clearly proves, demonstrably
false statements of fact that no one can possibly dispute. He claims to quote material,
but he makes up words and phrases in the allegedly quoted material. He makes up facts
from whole cloth. In a recent speech in Canada, which has even tougher defamation
laws than the United States’ Finkelstein repeatedly alleged facts about me (and others)
which are entirely false, including the claim that I did not even write The Case for Israel.
(I don’t type or use a computer, so that the entire manuscript of my book was written
by me by hand. I wrote every single word of the text.) I note that in your advertisement,
you say that Finkelstein’s book will be “available worldwide.” Finkelstein’s book, as
presently written, contains defamatory material that is actionable not only in America,
but in many other countries in which this book will be distributed. I suggest that you
check with lawyers in those countries as well as with American lawyers, in deciding
the nature of the fact checking process that you are obligated to undertake, especially
in light of Finkelstein’s documented history of defamation against me.
Because of this extensive track record, which is easily accessible to you, you are
under a professional, moral and legal obligation to check every single claim he makes
about me for its accuracy. This check must be completely independent of Finkelstein. In
the past he has hired fact-checkers (including a man named Rohit Goel) who simply does
his bidding and provides no independent check on Finkelstein’s willful and malicious
distortions. In one case his fact checker willfully misrepresented himself as my research
assistant to Dr. Michael Baden, in an effort to persuade Baden to change something he
had written. You are on notice of this as well.
You are also on notice of Finkelstein’s demonstrated personal malice toward me.
Although he has stated he never engages in ad hominems and that his criticism of me is
purely academic, he has publicly called me an “imbecile,” a “raving maniac,” a “shyster,”
“evil,” a “pathological fraudster,” and a “Nazi” comparable to “Adolph Eichmann.” When
88 JOURNAL OF PALESTINE STUDIES

criticized for analogizing Jews to Nazis (he never analogizes them to Stalinists or even
Mussolini fascists—only Nazis), Finkelstein has said: “Nazis never like to hear they’re
being Nazis.”
I am confident that when you read the entire file that I am sending you, you will
agree that you have a heavy burden to check independently every defamatory state-
ment Finkelstein makes. As of this time, no fact checker has called me (other than the
notorious Rohit Goel, who acknowledged that he works for Finkelstein, and is anything
but independent). Please advise me as to what steps you are taking to assure that you
are not knowingly publishing defamatory material.
I want to emphasize once again that I am not interested in stopping the publication of
anything Finkelstein seeks to write, since everything he writes further discredits him and
his publishers among serious people. Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry was
devastated by the New York Times reviewer who called it “indecent,” “juvenile,” “stupid,”
“reckless,” “ruthless,” “irrational,” and “insidious.” I fully anticipate similar reactions to
this book. My sole interest is in assuring a fair process for checking the accuracy of
defamatory statements he has made in the past and seems intent on repeating in this
book. I await your reply.
Sincerely yours,
Alan Dershowitz

C. AVI SHLAIM, CONFIDENTIAL PEER REVIEW OF BEYOND CHUTZPAH


FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS, 9 FEBRUARY 2005.

Avi Shlaim, noted Israeli historian (author of, among other works, Collusion across
the Jordan [Columbia University Press, 1988] and The Iron Wall [W. W. Norton, 1999])
and long-time professor of international relations at St. Antony’s College, Oxford
University, was one of the eight scholars asked by the University of California Press
to review Finkelstein’s book. This confidential review was made available by Professor
Shlaim.
I strongly recommend this book for publication by California University Press. I read
the entire text but only glanced at the appendixes and notes.
Norman Finkelstein is no stranger to controversy. This book is vintage Finkelstein. On
display are all the sterling qualities for which he has become famous: erudition, original-
ity, spark, meticulous attention to detail, intellectual integrity, courage, and formidable
forensic skills.
Finkelstein has a most impressive track record in exposing spurious American-Jewish
scholarship on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He established his credentials when he was still
a doctoral student with a savage review article of Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial
(1984). This book set out to prove the Zionist claim that Palestine was “a land without
a people for a people without a land.” It received a long list of endorsements from
prominent American Jews. Finkelstein demonstrated conclusively that the book was
preposterous and worthless. His evidence was irrefutable and his case against Peters
was unanswerable.
The present book is a frontal attack on more recent books and articles by American
Jews about Israel that are written in the tradition of “my country right or wrong”
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND PALESTINE-ISRAEL 89

except that they vehemently refuse to admit any wrong on the part of Israel. Finkelstein
places this literature under an uncompromising lens, highlighting the biases, distortions,
misquotations, selective use of evidence, fabrications, and downright dishonesty of the
authors. As the subtitle indicates, Finkelstein places particular emphasis on the misuse
of history and on the use of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism to confer upon Israel moral
immunity against criticism.
Above all, the book is a devastating indictment of Alan Dershowitz, The Case for
Israel (2003). Finkelstein seems to have read everything that Dershowitz has ever said
or written on the subject and related matters such as the role of the advocate. Finkelstein
exposes Dershowitz beyond any reasonable doubt as a liar, a bigot, a racist, a plagiarist
(from Joan Peters!), and an out-and-out opportunist. Dershowitz’s lies and fabrications
are nailed down one by one, systematically and comprehensively. By the time Finkelstein
has finished, nothing is left of Dershowitz’s reputation as a scholar or of the spurious
case he built up for Israel. In my 34 years as an academic, I have never come across a
more thorough and comprehensive demolition job.
Beyond Chutzpah does not make a substantive contribution to the study of the Arab-
Israeli conflict. It is part of the war of the American Jews about Israel and the Arabs.
Here lies its real contribution to scholarship. It is a strident polemic but also a brilliantly
illuminating study of the lengths to which some American Jews would go to present
Israel in a favorable light. I find Finkelstein’s case against his opponents completely
persuasive and indeed compelling. His book is a landmark in the exposition of spurious
scholarship on the Middle East. I recommend it very enthusiastically for publication.

D. JON WIENER, “GIVING CHUTZPAH NEW MEANING,” NATION,


11 JULY 2005.
The following article by Jon Wiener, professor of history at University of California,
Irvine, is available online at www.thenation.com.

What do you do when somebody wants to publish a book that says you’re completely
wrong? If you’re Alan Dershowitz, the prominent Harvard law professor, and the book
is Norman Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the
Abuse of History, you write the governor of California and suggest that he intervene
with the publisher—because the publisher is the University of California Press, which
conceivably might be subject to the power of the governor.
Schwarzenegger, showing unusual wisdom, declined to act. The governor’s legal
affairs secretary wrote Dershowitz, “You have asked for the Governor’s assistance in
preventing the publication of this book,” but “he is not inclined to otherwise exert
influence in this case because of the clear, academic freedom issue it presents.” In a
phone interview Dershowitz denied writing to the Governor, declaring, “My letter to
the Governor doesn’t exist.” But when pressed on the issue, he said, “It was not a letter.
It was a polite note.”
Old-timers in publishing said they’d never heard of another case where somebody
tried to get a governor to intervene in the publication of a book. “I think it’s a first,”
said Andre Schiffrin, managing director at Pantheon Books for twenty-eight years and
90 JOURNAL OF PALESTINE STUDIES

then founder and director of the New Press. Lynne Withey, director of the University of
California Press, where she has been for nineteen years, said, “I’ve never heard of such
a case in California.”
But if you’re Alan Dershowitz, you don’t stop when the governor declines. You try
to get the president of the University of California to intervene with the press. You
get a prominent law firm to send threatening letters to the counsel to the university
regents, to the university provost, to seventeen directors of the press and to nineteen
members of the press’s faculty editorial committee. A typical letter, from Dershowitz’s
attorney Rory Millson of Cravath, Swaine, and Moore, describes “the press’s decision
to publish this book” as “wholly illegitimate” and “part of a conspiracy to defame”
Dershowitz. It concludes, “The only way to extricate yourself is immediately to termi-
nate all professional contact with this full-time malicious defamer.” Dershowitz’s own
letter to members of the faculty editorial committee calls on them to “reconsider your
decision” to recommend publication of the book.
Why would a prominent First Amendment advocate take such an action? Dershowitz
told Publishers Weekly that “my goal has never been to stop publication of this book.”
He told me in an e-mail, “I want Finkelstein’s book to be published, so that it can be
demolished in the court of public opinion.” He told Publishers Weekly his only purpose
in writing the people at the University of California Press was “to eliminate as many
of the demonstrable falsehoods as possible” from the book before it was published.
Everyone knows who Alan Dershowitz is—the famed Harvard professor, part of the
O.J. Simpson defense team, author of the number-one bestseller Chutzpah, portrayed
by Ron Silver in the film Reversal of Fortune, about his successful defense of accused
wife-murderer Klaus von Bülow. He’s also one of the most outspoken defenders of
Israel, especially in his 2003 book The Case for Israel; it reached number twelve on
the New York Times bestseller list. That’s the book Finkelstein challenges in Beyond
Chutzpah.
Norman Finkelstein is not so famous. The son of Holocaust survivors, he is an as-
sistant professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago. He’s the often
embattled author of several books, of which the best known is The Holocaust Indus-
try: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering—an exposé of what he calls
“the blackmail of Swiss banks.” It was originally published by Verso in 2000, with an
expanded second edition in 2003, and has been translated into seventeen languages.
The book was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review by the distinguished
Holocaust historian Omer Bartov, who holds a chair at Brown University; he wrote that
the book “is filled with precisely the kind of shrill hyperbole that Finkelstein rightly
deplores in much of the current media hype over the Holocaust; it is brimming with the
same indifference to historical facts, inner contradictions, strident politics and dubious
contextualizations; and it oozes with the same smug sense of moral and intellectual
superiority.” (A positive review, written by Neve Gordon, appeared in these pages on
13 November 2000.)
Finkelstein’s Holocaust Industry, however, has some prominent supporters, and
not only leftists like Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn. Most significant is Raul
Hilberg, the semi-official dean of Holocaust studies and author of the classic The De-
struction of the European Jews, who wrote of The Holocaust Industry, “I would now
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND PALESTINE-ISRAEL 91

say in retrospect that he was actually conservative, moderate, and that his conclusions
are trustworthy. . . . I am by no means the only one who, in the coming months or years,
will totally agree with Finkelstein’s breakthrough.”
Dershowitz did not see the manuscript for Beyond Chutzpah before writing his
letters, which were based instead on statements Finkelstein had made in interviews
and lectures. Dershowitz’s attorney objected first of all to Finkelstein’s statements that
Dershowitz “almost certainly didn’t write [The Case for Israel], and perhaps didn’t
even read it prior to publication.” He also objected to the charge that Dershowitz is
guilty of plagiarism—more on that later—and that “every substantive sentence” in the
Dershowitz book “is fraudulent.” Finkelstein has been telling this to anyone who will
listen, and wrote as much in an e-mail to me: “I devote some 200 pages to documenting
that every substantive fact in the book is a flat-out lie.” (Emphasis in original.)
Now that the “uncorrected pages” of Beyond Chutzpah are being sent out to re-
viewers, it’s possible to see what Finkelstein’s book actually says. (Disclosure: A senior
editor of the Nation served as a freelance editor of Beyond Chutzpah.) The claim that
Dershowitz didn’t write The Case for Israel has been removed—the UC Press explained
in a statement accompanying review copies that “Professor Finkelstein’s only claim on
the issue was speculative. He wondered why Alan Dershowitz, in recorded appearances
after his book was published, seemed to know so little about the contents of his own
book. We felt this weakened the argument and distracted from the central issues of the
book. Finkelstein agreed.”
But the rest of the claims Dershowitz and his attorney railed against are still there:
Beyond Chutzpah describes Dershowitz’s Case for Israel as “among the most spectac-
ular academic frauds ever published on the Israel-Palestine conflict.” In Dershowitz’s
book, “It’s difficult to find a single claim . . . that’s not either based on mangling a rep-
utable source or referencing a preposterous one, or simply pulled out of the air.” He
charges that Dershowitz “plagiarizes large swaths” of his book from Joan Peters’s From
Time Immemorial, whose scholarship Finkelstein had debunked in an earlier book.
The introduction concludes by calling The Case for Israel “rubbish.”
The body of Beyond Chutzpah shows Finkelstein to be an indefatigable researcher
with a forensic ability to take apart other people’s arguments. The core of the book
challenges Dershowitz’s defense of Israel’s human rights record by citing the findings
of mainstream groups, including Amnesty International, the Israeli human rights orga-
nization B’Tselem, and Human Rights Watch.
The most important part of the book examines Israel’s treatment of Palestinian civil-
ians during the second intifada, which began in September 2000. Since then Israel has
killed three Palestinians for every Israeli killed. Dershowitz tries to defend this ratio,
writing that “when only innocent civilians are counted, significantly more Israelis than
Palestinians have been killed.” But Finkelstein cites Amnesty International’s conclusion
that “the vast majority of those killed and injured on both sides have been unarmed
civilians and bystanders.” That means Israel has killed something like three times as
many unarmed civilians and bystanders as Palestinians have.
Dershowitz has a second argument: While Palestinian terrorists have targeted Is-
raeli civilians intentionally, the killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israel Defense
Forces is “unintended,” “inadvertent” and “caused accidentally,” because the IDF follows
92 JOURNAL OF PALESTINE STUDIES

international law, which requires the protection of civilian noncombatants. For exam-
ple, Dershowitz writes, the IDF tries to use rubber bullets “and aims at the legs whenever
possible” in a policy designed to “reduce fatalities.” But Finkelstein’s evidence to the
contrary is convincing: Amnesty International reported in 2001 that “the overwhelming
majority of cases of unlawful killings and injuries in Israel and the occupied territories
have been committed by the IDF using excessive force.” Amnesty cited the use of “heli-
copters in punitive rocket attacks where there was no imminent danger to life.” As for
the rubber bullets, Amnesty reported in 2002 that the IDF “regularly” used them against
demonstrators who were children “at distances considerably closer than the minimum
permitted range . . . and the pattern of injury indicates that IDF practice has not been to
aim at the legs of demonstrators, as the majority of injuries suffered by children from
rubber-coated bullets are to the upper body and the head.”
Another of Dershowitz’s examples of Israeli protection of Palestinian civilians con-
cerns Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh. Dershowitz writes that on several occasions, the
army passed up opportunities to attack him “because he was with his wife or children.”
But in July 2002 an Israeli F-16 dropped a one-ton bomb on Shehadeh’s apartment build-
ing in Gaza City, killing Shehadeh and fourteen Palestinian civilians, nine of whom were
children.
Most of Beyond Chutzpah consists of these kinds of juxtapositions—arguments
by Dershowitz on Israeli practices of torture, assassinations, treatment of Palestinian
children, and water and land rights, refuted by documentation from human rights orga-
nizations. The cumulative effect is a devastating portrait of widespread Israeli violations
of human rights principles and international law.
Finkelstein has won support for his book from leading scholars, whose statements
appear in the book’s publicity materials: Baruch Kimmerling, who holds a chair in so-
ciology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and whose book on Palestinian history was
published by Harvard University Press, calls Beyond Chutzpah “the most comprehen-
sive, systematic and well documented work of its kind.” Sara Roy of the Center for Middle
Eastern Studies at Harvard, whose book on political Islam in Palestine has just been pub-
lished by Princeton University Press, calls Beyond Chutzpah “a vigorous, intelligent,
succinct and powerfully argued analysis.” Avi Shlaim, professor of international relations
at Oxford, calls it a work of “erudition, originality, spark, [and] meticulous attention to
detail.” Daniel Boyarin, professor of Near Eastern studies at UC Berkeley, calls the book
“accurate, well-written, and devastatingly important.”
The argument about plagiarism, which has figured prominently in the pre-publication
controversy over the book, has been relegated to an appendix. Finkelstein’s evidence
has already been presented in these pages by Alexander Cockburn and debated by
Dershowitz in letters exchanges with Cockburn [13 October, 27 October, and
15 December 2003]; thus it can be summarized here briefly. In the Dershowitz book,
twenty-two out of fifty-two quotations and endnotes in the first two chapters “match al-
most exactly” material quoted in Joan Peters’s From Time Immemorial—including the
placement of ellipses in quotations. Beyond Chutzpah has an eleven-page chart compar-
ing these quotations. They are virtually identical. But Dershowitz never acknowledges
Peters as the source for these quotations; instead, he cites the original sources that
appear in Peters’s footnotes.
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND PALESTINE-ISRAEL 93

The official policy on plagiarism at Harvard, where Dershowitz teaches, is clear on


this issue: “Plagiarism is passing off a source’s information, ideas, or words as your own
by omitting to cite them.” Dershowitz in an e-mail made three arguments in his defense:
first, for three of the quotations in question, “I have incontrovertible evidence that I
was using those quotations in the 1970s in debates,” and thus “I did not originally find
them in the Peters book.” Second, although he did not cite Peters for the quotations
listed by Finkelstein, he did cite her as the source of “at least eight” others. As to
why he failed to cite Peters for the quotations in question, Dershowitz acknowledges
that he found them originally in Peters, but “I then went to the Harvard library, read
them, and cited them in the original,” without indicating that he found them first in
the Peters book—a citation practice that he (and some of his defenders) regards as
proper.
But Finkelstein somehow obtained a copy of the uncorrected page proofs of The
Case for Israel containing some devastating footnotes, which he reproduces in Beyond
Chutzpah—including one that says “Holly Beth: cite sources on pp. 160, 485, 486 fns
141–145.” Holly Beth Billington is credited on Dershowitz’s acknowledgments page as
one of his research assistants; the pages to which he refers her are from Peters’s book.
The note doesn’t tell Holly Beth that Dershowitz is going to the Harvard library to
check the original sources, nor does it tell Holly Beth that she should go to the library to
check; it says she should “cite” them—copy the citations from Peters into his footnote,
presumably to give readers the impression that he consulted the original source. That’s
not plagiarism in the sense of failing to put in quotation marks the words of somebody
else, and the Harvard administration has taken no action in response to Finkelstein’s
charge. But it’s clearly dishonest for Dershowitz to have passed off another scholar’s
research as his own.
The Finkelstein book was originally under contract to the New Press, and Der-
showitz claims he succeeded in persuading the New Press to drop it. He told me in an
e-mail that after he wrote the New Press pointing out “numerous factual inaccuracies in
Finkelstein’s manuscript, New Press cancelled it’s [sic] contract with him.” New Press
publisher Colin Robinson says that’s not true: “We did not cancel the agreement to
publish Norman’s book and never wanted to do so.” Finkelstein said the same thing in
an e-mail: “I was the one who pulled out of the contract when publication was delayed
due to Dershowitz’s letters. In fact, Colin urged me to reconsider the decision and stay
with New Press.”
Now, despite Dershowitz’s best efforts, UC Press is publishing the book—to the
great credit of director Withey and history editor Niels Hooper. The book is appearing
in August rather than June—because, according to the press statement, “editing and
production took longer than we hoped.” Hooper explained that California published
the book not as part of a personal feud between Finkelstein and Dershowitz but because
the chapters on human rights “show what is going on in the occupied territories and
Israel.” Dershowitz is relevant as a prominent defender of Israeli policies and practices.
Will Dershowitz now sue for libel in federal court in Boston, or in London, where the
law makes it easier for libel plaintiffs to win—as his attorney at Cravath, Swaine and
Moore has threatened? That would be another shameful act by a man who claims to be
a defender of free speech.
94 JOURNAL OF PALESTINE STUDIES

E. ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ AND JON WIENER, “TSURIS OVER


CHUTZPAH,” NATION, 29 AUGUST 2005.
The following exchange of letters, prompted by Jon Wiener’s article “Giving
Chutzpah New Meaning” in the 11 July 2005 issue of the Nation, is available on-
line at www.thenation.com.

Cambridge, Mass.

Jon Wiener’s screed [“Giving Chutzpah New Meaning,” 11 July 2005] is based on a
misrepresentation of my correspondence. I wrote to the directors of the University of
California Press (with a copy and cover note to the Governor) emphasizing that “I have
no interest in censoring or suppressing [Norman] Finkelstein’s freedom of expression.”
In a further letter, I made it clear that “I am not trying to get the Governor to prevent
the publication of Finkelstein’s book.” The purpose of my letters was to encourage the
UCP to give “serious consideration” to its decision to publish a defamatory lie (that I
did not write The Case for Israel).
My letter was stimulated by an e-mail Finkelstein sent to the dean of Harvard Law
School stating that he was “completing a manuscript for the University of California
Press” that will “demonstrate that [Dershowitz] almost certainly didn’t write the book,
and perhaps didn’t even read it prior to publication.” Finkelstein has gone even further,
asserting that I didn’t write any of my books: “[Dershowitz] has come to the point where
he’s had so many people write so many of his books. . . . it’s sort of like a Hallmark line
for Nazis. . . . they churn them out so fast that he has now reached a point where he
doesn’t even read them.” (This was after he compared me to Adolf Eichmann.)
Finkelstein knows that I wrote every word of the text of The Case for Israel by hand
(I do not type, and I sent my handwritten manuscript to his publisher). He also knows
that Harvard—after an investigation, which I sought—dismissed his absurd charges
of plagiarism. Indeed, I was awarded a “dean’s prize” for “exceptional scholarship”
for a subsequent book. Neither the First Amendment nor academic freedom protects
knowing falsehoods, as the Supreme Court said in New York Times v. Sullivan and as
Finkelstein knows, since he threatened to sue the Washington Post in 2002 for calling
him a “Holocaust revisionist.”
The other purpose of my letter was to inform UCP what Professor Peter Novick,
whose work stimulated Finkelstein’s book on the Holocaust, had said about Finkelstein’s
reliability as a scholar: “As concerns particular assertions made by Finkelstein . . . the
appropriate response is not (exhilarating) ‘debate’ but (tedious) examination of his
footnotes. Such an examination reveals that many of those assertions are pure invention.
[. . . ] No facts alleged by Finkelstein should be assumed to be really facts, no quotation
in his book should be assumed to be accurate, without taking the time to carefully
compare his claims with the sources he cites.”
Novick also concluded that the book, with its concoction of an international Jewish
conspiracy, is a “twenty-first-century updating of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”
and a piece of “trash.”
I questioned whether a university press should be lending its imprimatur to a sequel
to what the Times also characterized as “a novel variation on the anti-Semitic forgery,
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND PALESTINE-ISRAEL 95

‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ which warned of a Jewish conspiracy to take over
the world.”
I wrote the UCP that “Finkelstein will have no difficulty having his defamatory big-
otry published by the kind of publisher who specializes in this kind of material and
whose imprimatur will not be misused by Finkelstein.” Imagine if a university press
were contemplating the publication of a racist, homophobic, or sexist book. Many of
Finkelstein’s supporters would be demanding that it be censored in the name of “speech
codes” and “political correctness.”
In my sequel to The Case for Israel, titled The Case for Peace—to be published in
September—I demolish Finkelstein’s claims, proving that he has made up quotes and
facts. Finkelstein himself acknowledges that he has never been to Israel, knows “very
little about Israel” and conducts no original research or interviews. It certainly shows
in his work. I challenge Nation readers to read my book and then judge.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ

Cambridge, Mass.

It is one thing for Jon Wiener to launch a tendentious attack against Alan
Dershowitz. Professor Dershowitz thoroughly deals with the Wiener-Finkelstein line
of argumentation in his forthcoming book, The Case for Peace. It is another matter
altogether for Wiener to insinuate—without any substantiation at all—that Professor
Dershowitz’s research assistants are guilty of academic dishonesty. We are deeply of-
fended by Wiener’s implications that we would not check the original sources cited
in Professor Dershowitz’s books. For as long as any of us can remember, the standard
operating procedure in Professor Dershowitz’s office has always been for us to check
out or request the original sources from the Harvard libraries.
It was journalistically inappropriate for Wiener not to interview any of Professor
Dershowitz’s research assistants, who would have firsthand knowledge of what his
instructions to “cite” a source actually mean.

HOLLY BETH BILLINGTON (research assistant 2002–2004)


ALEXANDER J. BLENKINSOPP (2004–2005)
ERIC CITRON (2003–2004)
C. WALLACE DeWITT (2004–2005)
AARON VOLOJ DESSAUER (2004–2005)
MITCH WEBBER (2005)

Wiener Replies
What Alan Dershowitz did had previously been unthinkable: ask a governor—in
this case, Arnold Schwarzenegger—to intervene with a publisher’s decision to publish
a book—in this case, the University of California Press’s decision to publish a book
by Norman Finkelstein criticizing Dershowitz. The governor, to his credit, refused. His
office replied to Dershowitz, “You have asked for the Governor’s assistance in preventing
the publication of this book,” but “he is not inclined to otherwise exert influence in
this case because of the clear, academic freedom issue it presents.” Thus the star of The
Terminator sought to teach a lesson about academic freedom to a Harvard law professor.
96 JOURNAL OF PALESTINE STUDIES

Dershowitz now quotes from what he says is a “further letter” to the governor explaining
that he didn’t really mean what he said in his original letter. When I interviewed him, I
asked for a copy of this “further letter,” but he refused to let me see one—which made
me and my editors wonder whether it was real.
Dershowitz says he didn’t want to prevent UC Press from publishing the book in
question, but other letters show this isn’t true. He had his lawyers send belligerent
letters to dozens of people who might have power to block the book. For example,
a letter from Dershowitz’s attorney Rory Millson of Cravath, Swaine, and Moore was
sent to Lynne Withey, director of the UC Press, declaring that “the press’s decision
to publish this book” was “wholly illegitimate” and “part of a conspiracy to defame”
Dershowitz. It concludes, “The only way to extricate yourself is immediately to termi-
nate all professional contact with this full-time malicious defamer.”
The UC Press decided to publish Finkelstein’s book after a demanding review pro-
cess. The manuscript was sent out for peer review by six leading scholars in the field;
then publication was recommended by a committee of twenty UC faculty members.
This manuscript was also reviewed by several libel attorneys. Dershowitz apparently
hasn’t seen the forthcoming book, but nevertheless he’s sure the dozens of people who
reviewed it for the press are wrong. But even if he’s right about that, seeking to stop
its publication is a violation of the author’s freedom of speech and a challenge to the
academic freedom of the University of California. The appropriate response to speech
that is wrong is not to silence it but to argue against it—because nobody has a monopoly
on the truth, not even Alan Dershowitz.
But all this is not really about Alan Dershowitz. It’s about Israel. Norman
Finkelstein’s book, Beyond Chutzpah, which I’ve read in galley form, is harshly critical
of Dershowitz’s book The Case for Israel, taking on his defense of Israel’s occupation of
the West Bank and Gaza. Finkelstein challenges Dershowitz by citing mainstream groups
like Amnesty International, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, and Human
Rights Watch. The book is a series of juxtapositions—arguments by Dershowitz on
Israeli practices of torture, assassinations, treatment of Palestinian children, and water
and land rights, followed by refutations from human rights organizations. The cumu-
lative effect is a devastating portrait of widespread Israeli violations of human rights
principles and international law.
Dershowitz leaves it to his student research assistants to respond to charges of aca-
demic dishonesty. Finkelstein argued that Dershowitz lifted twenty footnotes in his
book The Case for Israel from another book (Joan Peters’s From Time Immemorial),
without indicating that’s where he found them. According to the definition of plagiarism
at Harvard, where Dershowitz teaches, plagiarism is not just quoting someone without
attribution—it is “passing off a source’s information, ideas, or words as your own by
omitting to cite them.”
My article quoted Dershowitz’s instructions to Holly Beth Billington: “Holly Beth:
cite sources on pp. 160, 485, 486 fns 141–145.” He was referring to footnotes in Joan
Peters’s book—thus claiming Peters’s research as his own work. That would make him
guilty of academic dishonesty. When I asked Dershowitz about this, he said, “I went to
the Harvard library,” found and read the original sources—which made it OK, he said,
not to run a footnote that included the phrase “cited in Peters.” Now Billington et al. say
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND PALESTINE-ISRAEL 97

they are the ones who went to the library—not Dershowitz himself. If they are right,
that makes his statement to me untrue.
Billington et al. say I should have asked them about this. But I don’t need to interview
Holly Beth to find out what “cite” means; that’s in the dictionary—and it’s different from
“go to the library and check.”

JON WIENER

F. JENNIFER HOWARD, “CALIF. PRESS WILL PUBLISH CONTROVERSIAL


BOOK ON ISRAEL,” CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, 22 JULY 2005
(EXCERPTS).
The following article, excerpted here, originally appeared on page A1 of Chronicle
of Higher Education 51, no. 46 (22 July 2005) and is available in full online at
www.chronicle.com. Richard Byrne contributed to this article.

The University of California Press announced this month that it would proceed with
the publication of a controversial book by Norman G. Finkelstein, an assistant professor
of political science at DePaul University, that attacks some pro-Israel scholarship on the
continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
The press will release Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the
Abuse of History, next month, despite the threat of legal action by one of the chief
targets of the book, the Harvard University law professor Alan M. Dershowitz.
The wrangling over the book has put Lynne Withey, director of the press, to a highly
public test of the resolve she publicly expressed last month in remarks to the Association
of American University Presses. In her first speech as president of the association,
Ms. Withey called on members to continue publishing on controversial topics despite
“a political culture that seems bent on suppressing information.”
The fight over Beyond Chutzpah has embroiled the press in a pitched battle be-
tween Mr. Finkelstein and Mr. Dershowitz, himself the author of many books, including
Chutzpah (Little, Brown) and The Case for Israel (John Wiley and Sons). But it is also
a case study in how hard it can be for an academic press to publish a book that deals
with such charged material. . . .
But just as the book was poised to go to press in late June, lawyers for the university
abruptly halted publication to take another look at it. At issue were the specific charges
and the definition of plagiarism, including Mr. Finkelstein’s claim that Mr. Dershowitz
had lifted portions of The Case for Israel (2003) from Joan Peters’s 1984 From Time
Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine (Harper and
Row). . . .

Shelf Lives
The 11th-hour delay was far from the first hurdle that Beyond Chutzpah had to
clear on its road to publication. Mr. Finkelstein had originally planned to publish the
work with the New Press, an independent commercial house, but under pressure from
Mr. Dershowitz and his lawyers, the press delayed publication in order to review the
plagiarism charges. That decision bumped the projected publication date from the
spring of 2005 to the fall of 2005.
98 JOURNAL OF PALESTINE STUDIES

Frustrated by the delay, Mr. Finkelstein took the project to the University of California
Press and its history editor, Niels Hooper, with whom he had worked when Mr. Hooper
was at Verso, an independent press based in London and New York. California engaged
six outside reviewers, instead of the standard two, to complete the peer-review process.
Some of the six are in the United States, others in Israel; their identities have not been
disclosed. “Our peer review is confidential,” Ms. Withey says.
The press’s editorial committee, which is made up of 20 faculty members from the
University of California’s nine campuses, also had to sign off on the decision to publish,
as it does with all the press’s titles. Because of the sensitive nature of the material
and the risk of a libel action, Ms. Withey alerted the press’s Board of Directors as
well.
“It was more a matter of sharing information than asking for permission,” Ms. Withey
says. Beyond Chutzpah was then dispatched to lawyers for review. In addition to con-
sulting its in-house counsel, the University of California retained several outside lawyers,
including American and British legal experts, to examine the manuscript.
Mr. Hooper, the book’s editor, describes the vetting and editing of the book as “a
very arduous process because of Dershowitz’s threats. We had to be very, very careful.
We know how meticulously opponents of this book will go through this.” At his old
house, Verso, he says, it was much easier to put out controversial books.
Representatives of the human-rights groups cited in the book reviewed the
manuscript, too. “Every comma, every full stop” in the book has been checked,
Mr. Hooper says.
All in all, the manuscript went through some 15 drafts in the past eight months, says
Mr. Finkelstein.

Letters and the Law


The University of California Press gave Mr. Finkelstein a contract in October 2004.
Mr. Hooper says he first heard from Mr. Dershowitz in November, when the Harvard
professor forwarded him a package of letters he had sent to the New Press when Beyond
Chutzpah was under contract there. “I heard from him first, before we even cataloged
the book,” Mr. Hooper says. According to Ms. Withey and reports elsewhere, letters to
the press’s board, university administrators, and the governor of California followed.
In late May, as publication drew nearer, Mr. Dershowitz’s letters to university offi-
cials as well as the press’s defense of its decision to publish Beyond Chutzpah domi-
nated news accounts about the book in The New York Times and Publishers Weekly.
Mr. Dershowitz denies that he sought to block the book’s publication. In an e-mail mes-
sage to The Chronicle, he wrote, “In my letters I specifically said: ‘I have no interest
in censoring or suppressing Finkelstein’s freedom of expression. . . .’ In a further letter,
I made it clear that ‘I am not trying to get the governor to prevent the publication of
Finkelstein’s book. . . .’ I did say that I believed it was inappropriate for a university press
to publish the bigoted falsehoods in which Finkelstein specializes.”
In Mr. Dershowitz’s view, “University presses should have higher standards of ac-
curacy and scholarship than other presses.” The book and the statement that the
press sent out with galleys about academic freedom being under assault “were clearly
designed to garner publicity,” he says. In a forthcoming book, The Case for Peace
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND PALESTINE-ISRAEL 99

(John Wiley and Sons), Mr. Dershowitz devotes a chapter—“A Case Study in Hate and
Intimidation”—to disputing Mr. Finkelstein’s allegations.
Would he have sued the California press if it had allowed publication to proceed
without further changes in Mr. Finkelstein’s manuscript? Although Mr. Dershowitz’s
letters have not been made public, it is clear that the press and its lawyers considered
legal action from him a clear and present danger. “The threat to the press was real,” says
Mr. Hooper.
The final changes in Beyond Chutzpah focused on specific phrases concerning
plagiarism and how to define it. “There was a question about how to raise the issue
of plagiarism without incurring very costly litigation,” Mr. Finkelstein says. “What they
asked me to do, and what I agreed to do, was provide the Harvard definition of plagiarism
and reiterate my own findings in the appendix and let readers judge for themselves.”
In the body of the book, the word “plagiarizes” has been replaced with such phrases
as “lifts from” or “appropriates from without attribution,” the author says. An appendix
now refers readers to the definition of plagiarism laid out in Harvard University’s Writing
with Sources: A Guide for Students. . . .
The final negotiations took place among the lawyers, the press, and representatives
of the author. (Mr. Finkelstein did not engage lawyers during the last round of talks
with the press. Instead he relied on two mediators he describes as “interlocutors”: a
Palestinian, whose identity he would not disclose, and Roane Carey, a senior editor at
the Nation, who also served as a freelance editor for Beyond Chutzpah.)
The university administration agrees that its role was limited. “The press has a general
charge to publish books of scholarly interest,” says Julius M. Zelmanowitz, a senior
vice provost at the University of California. “Within that, the press has a good deal of
autonomy.” He was brought in late in the process, he says, to help in the three-way
negotiation among author, press, and lawyers, but otherwise the university did not
intervene. . . .
Ms. Withey says that at the press itself, “people were very, very upset” about the
possibility that California would not finally publish the book. When the announcement
came down that an agreement with the author had been reached, she says, “there was
lots of cheering here.”. . .
Several people interviewed for this article, including Mr. Finkelstein; Mr. Hooper, the
editor; and Mr. Zelmanowitz, the vice provost, expressed concern that the bad blood
between Mr. Finkelstein and Mr. Dershowitz would continue to get more attention than
the book’s analysis of the scholarship on Israel’s human rights record. Those arguments
should “not be overshadowed by what seems to be an intense personal dispute between
these two people,” Mr. Zelmanowitz says.
“We all feel here it’s a very important book, and it’s about how limited the discussion
is on Israel in this country,” Mr. Hooper says. “The difficulty in publishing it demonstrates
how difficult it is.”
New Age Zionism and the Discourse War: The Lessons of Joan Peters' From
Time Immemorial
Chris Shortsleeve

With the recent emergence of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,”


there has been much talk in U.S. and Israeli government and media circles
of what is called “the demographic problem.” While the meaning of this
term is often mystified by its development and humanitarian connotations,
it essentially functions as Zionist code for the following question: “What
are we going to do about the increasing number of brown people who are not
pleased to live in our ‘democratic’ white, white Israel?”

That is to say, what are “we,” meaning Zionists far and wide – from devout
Israeli Jewish Zionists to secular U.S. State Department Zionists to
anti-Semitic Christian Right Zionists – going to do to protect the ethnic
and cultural purity of the Israeli polity? What needs to be done in order
to preserve that polity as a specifically white, Ashkenazi-dominant and
normative space? Or in other words, “how can we maximize our use and
colonization of Palestinian lands, without the uncomfortable prospect of
having to deal with actual Palestinian people?”
This is not a new question.

The Israeli state apparatus and ruling class has been debating “the
demographic question” since 1948. In 1948 the demographic question was
solved through ethnic cleansing; 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically
cleansed from the region. In 1967 it was solved through bantustanization;
Palestinians in the West Bank were corralled into militarily controlled
ghettoes, issued identity cards, and declared to be official wards of the
Israeli military. As opposed to the ethnic cleansing of 1948, 1967 ushered
in the era of ethnic policing, of hardwiring the Palestinian population to
the Israeli state through a system of internal surveillance and control.
Neither solution, however, has made “the demographic problem” go away.
Since 1967, the Israeli state has continued to employ complex variations
of both of these tactics (ethnic cleansing and ethnic policing) on the
Lebanese frontier and Palestinian ghettoes respectively. But the
Palestinian movement along with international solidarity is still vibrant,
inhibiting the Israeli state and ruling class from fully solving their
demographic problem.
One of the solutions to this crisis of Israel’s legitimacy has been to
wage a war on the epistemic level, on the level of knowledge production. A
new age of Zionist historians, activists, scholars, and politicians
(conservative and liberal alike), realizing that they cannot defeat the
Palestinian resistance to their colonization on a purely military level,
have begun since the 1980s to attack the very discourses and
historiographic legitimacy of the Palestinians themselves. Enter Joan
Peters and her trail-blazing exercise in Zionist doublethink (fittingly
published in 1984), From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish
Conflict Over Palestine. In this mammoth work of historical and
demographic “scholarship,” Peters dedicates herself to one central task:
"proving" that the Palestinians are not in fact native to Palestine, that
the very term “Palestinians” is an historical myth perpetrated by the
contemporary Palestinian movement to justify a false claim to the land. As
Edward Said bitterly remarked with the publication of Peters’ book, “our
very existence, the very existence of the Palestinians, has become
propaganda.”

Peters’ central thesis is that a significant portion of the 700,000 Arabs


residing in the part of Palestine that became Israel in 1948 immigrated to
the Jewish settled areas of Palestine between 1920 and 1948. Essentially,
according to Peters, the Palestinians are a fabrication, like the tooth
fairy, for no such people really exist. She implies that during Jewish
colonization, Palestine really was a virgin wasteland, “a land without a
people for a people without a land.” The Arabs that live there now, says
Peters, moved to the area during colonial times, attracted to the region
by the prosperity brought by the industrious Ashkenazi settlers from
across the sea. Or in other words, the Palestinians are a demographic
fabrication who have no historic claim or right to the land.
Peters attempts to prove this thesis by documenting a massive wave of
illegal Arab migration to Palestine during the colonial period, and more
specifically during the 1920s and 30s. However, as a number of more
sober-minded scholars have pointed out (Said being the first who comes to
mind), the amazing thing about From Time Immemorial is that its own
demographic research contradicts this central thesis. The entire
legitimacy of the book revolves around the magic number 2.7, for Peters
maintains that between 1893 and 1947, in both the Jewish and Arab areas of
Palestine, “natural” (i.e. non-immigrant) population growth was 2.7
percent per year. The funny thing is Peters puts the indigenous
Palestinian Arab population at 466,600 in 1893. Unfortunately for her, and
for her second grade math teacher, 466,600 times 2.7 percent over the
54-year time span turns out to be 1,146,902. And unfortunately again,
Peters confirms that the total Arab Palestinian population in 1947 was
1,303,800. This means that according to Peters’ own research, 1,146,902 of
the total 1,303,800 Palestinians living in Palestine during 1947 (88%)
were not immigrants, were not the descendants of immigrants, but were
purely and simply the result of Peters’ magic natural growth rate of 2.7
percent. In other words, only 156,898 (12%) of the Arabs living in
Palestine were immigrants, thus rendering Peters’ book, as even Ha’aretz
was forced to concede, “one of the more lamentable propaganda efforts in
recent years.”

It has been both a relief and a distraction for the Palestine solidarity
movement that many scholars have diverted time and energy from other
issues in order to expose the illogic of From Time Immemorial. In most of
the world outside of the U.S. (including Israel itself), Peters’ thesis
that the Palestinians are an historical myth, and that the Arabs who live
in Palestine today are the first generation descendants of mid-20th
century immigrants, has been shown to be utterly without merit. However,
many of these solidarity activists and scholars have framed their
condemnation of From Time Immemorial within a more general condemnation
that exclusively targets right-wing Zionists.

Conservative and right-wing Joan Peters certainly is, but to dwell on this
fact is to miss the point entirely. The lesson in From Time Immemorial is
not that “the religious right” or “the neo-cons” need to be opposed. For
this talk of “the demographic problem” is by no means an exclusively
right-wing phenomenon. Both historically and contemporarily, it is and has
always been the stated intention of all Zionists, liberal and
conservative, to protect the explicitly Jewish character of Israel, and
more specifically, the Ashkenazi (white) character. No Zionist today, from
the rabid right-wingers of the Likkud party to the tie-dyed rank and file
of Tikkun (who speak of kibbutzim as if they were multi-racial socialist
communes that allowed Arabs), disagrees with the fundamental principle on
which the state of Israel rests: that Israel must remain a Jewish state,
and any population increases on the part of the Palestinian Arab
population are a threat to the existence of Israel and the ethnic and
cultural purity of that polity, as defined by Zionism.

From Time Immemorial was published 21 years ago and has been for the most
part satisfactorily defeated. Thus, the challenge for the Palestine
solidarity movement is not to further beat Peters’ pathetic conclusions
into the ground. The challenge is to recognize that Peters’ tactic of
discursive and historiographic subversion is not a tactic utilized solely
by “the right” or “conservative Zionists.” The challenge is to recognize
From Time Immemorial as a text which is emblematic not of a specific
conservative tendency on the Zionist pH scale, but of the acidity of the
era in which we live, of the new mainstream strategy employed by all
Zionists in their efforts to subvert the Palestinian liberation struggle’s
legitimacy.
The strategy I speak of is the new age Zionists’ attempt to control the
historical, geographical, and discursive terms of debate that govern this
conflict. For example: one, the term “Palestine” used to mean “all of
historic Palestine” (presently termed Israel). Now it means the West Bank
and Gaza. Two, Israel’s ethnic cleansing of 1948 used to be an undisputed
historic fact. This has been recently called into question, and now we
have a new generation of holocaust deniers. These discursive victories
have not been waged nor won by conservative Zionists only. It is the
liberal Zionists, the new age conflict resolution types which call for
phony “peace” and “dialogue,” which have been in the forefront of this
struggle.

Take the mainstream Zionist terms “Arab-Israeli conflict” or “Arab-Jewish


conflict” which the international community has largely accepted as
appropriate labels for this issue. This is extraordinary, because there
are Arabs that are Israeli residents and citizens. There are Arabs that
are Jews. They’re called Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews. And the terms
“Arab-Israeli conflict” or “Arab-Jewish conflict” reveal a blatantly
racist fact: that as far as Israel is concerned, Arabs are not really
Jews, and Arabs are not really Israelis. The Arab Jews don’t count as full
Jews. The Arab Israelis don’t count as full Israelis. They are actually
second class citizens under those conceptions. They are on the Arab side
of “the Arab-Israeli conflict.” So we see in this very terminology that
Zionism frames conflict as an opposition between white Ashkenazi Jews (the
real Jews) and “the Arabs” (which, no matter how religiously Jewish, will
never have what it takes to be fully Jewish and Israeli: whiteness). This
very terminology reveals the open white supremacist nature of the Israeli
state and Zionist philosophy in general.

Yet, for the most part, much of the Palestine solidarity movement seems to
be less concerned with confronting all Zionists for the white supremacists
that they are, and more concerned with confronting only the conservative
ones or the ones sponsoring the latest wall. If the Palestine liberation
struggle is going to be victorious, then the solidarity movement must
start taking back key ground in the realm of geographical, historical,
and, dare I say, “demographic” discourse. We have to draw out Zionism for
the white supremacy that it is, and talk about this conflict not as the
“Arab-Israeli” conflict, or even as a “conflict” at all, but as the
Zionist colonization of Palestine, paid for and sponsored by U.S. Empire.
Israeli Apartheid is not just Joan Peters, George Bush, Ariel Sharon, or a
wall; Israel Apartheid is a system of institutionalized white supremacy
designed to suffocate the Palestinian people’s capacity to be
self-governing. Unless we challenge and defeat the State Department line,
and the murky left-wing Zionist definitions of what this conflict consists
of, of what Palestine consists of, of where the borders are, of who is
Jewish and who is Arab – then the Palestine solidarity movement will never
win the war of public opinion.