Exchange of Populations
For every refugee - adult or child - in Syria,
Lebanon, or elsewhere in the Arab world who compels our sympathy, there
is a Jewish refugee who fled from the Arab country of his birth. For every
Arab who moved to neighboring lands, a Jew was forced to flee from a community
where he and his ancestors may have lived for two thousand years. The Jews
escaped to their original homeland, where their roots are even older; the
Arabs also arrived where they were in the majority, where they shared the
same language and culture with fellow Arabs, and often only a few dozen
miles from their places of origin.
An exchange of populations has in actuality
taken place and been consummated; by coincidence, even the total number
of Arabs who reportedly left Israel is almost exactly equaled by the number
of Jews exchanged. There has been a completed exchange of minorities between
the Arabs and the Jews, and a more-than-even tradeoff of property for the
Arabs. The Jews who fled Arab countries left assets behind in the Arab
world greater than those the Arabs left in Israel.1
Jewish property that the Arabs confiscated in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Egypt
apparently has more than offset Arab claims of compensation from Israel.
In fact, the concept of an "exchange of Arab and Jewish populations" was
introduced by an Arab leader as a solution to the "disturbances" in the
Middle East long before Israel or the actual exchange came about. In 1939,
Mojli Amin, a member of the Arab Defense Committee for Palestine, drew
up a proposal, published in Damascus and distributed among Arab leaders,
entitled "Exchange of Populations." Amin proposed that
all the Arabs of Palestine shall
leave and be divided up among the neighboring Arab countries. In exchange
for this, all the Jews living in Arab countries will go to Palestine....
At least a decade before the 1947 resolution
to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, the British had
proposed the exchange,of "Arab population in Palestine" for Jews elsewhere."3
In 1945 Herbert Hoover stated that "The Arab population of Palestine would
be the gainer from better lands in exchange for their present holdings.
Iraq would be the gainer, for it badly needs agricultural population. Today
millions of people are being moved from one land to another." Therefore,
Hoover suggested "financing" Iraq to "complete" the population transfer
with greater facility.4
The exchange of populations should be carried
out in the same way thar Turkey and Greece exchanged their populations.
Special committees must be set up to deal with the liquidation of Jewish
and Arab property....
I fear, in truth, that the Arabs will not
agree.... But in spite of this, I take upon myself the task of convincing
From the time Israel attained modem statehood,
independent humanitarian pleas attempted to reveal the actualities of all
the "Middle East refugees" and to spotlight the potential permanent relief.
One example was clergyman Carl Hermann Voss, who hoped through his books
to change the world's faulty perception. He wrote,
Some appeals for aid have implied
that there is only an Arab refugee problem, enabling Arab propagandists
to blame the Arab refugee plight on Israel. If proper attention is called
to both Jewish and Arab refugee problems, much ill-will may be avoided
and genuine human need, regardless of race or creed, will be served.5
The Case ofthe Jewsfrom Arab Countries. A NeglectedIssue, with Deborah
Goldman and Helene Korn, vol. 1, World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries
(WOJAC), Jerusalem, 1975, p. 82.
from Damascus, political agent, Political Department of the Jewish Agency,
to Elialm Sasson, Political Department, Palestine, May 16, 1939 (from the
English translation), CZA-525/5630 (Central Zionist Archives).
3. For example,
see Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the 32nd Session, pp. 111-118;
particularly August 13, 1937: Lord William Ormsby Gore advocated the transfer
of the Arab population of Palestine, who "had not hitherto regarded themselves
as 'Palestinians' but as part of Syria as a whole, as part of the Arab
world. ... They would be going only a comparatively few miles away to a
people with the same language, the same civilisation, the same religion
. . . " cited by Martin Gilbert, Exile and Return: The Strugglefor a Jewish
Homeland (Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1978), p. 185. Also
see reactions to Ormsby Gore, PRO FO, 371/E71 34/976/31, minute, E.W. Rendel,
December 8, 1937: According to British Foreign Office official Rendel,
the transfer of "the Arab population from the Jewish state ... seems clearly
to have been regarded as a matter of enforcement by his Majesty's Government,"
judging from Lord Ormsby Gore's statements in the cabinet and his interview
in the Jewish Chronicle of August 13, 1937. Rendel feared it would "be
very difficult to answer the Saudi Minister's inquiry." In 1944, the British
Labor Party officially endorsed the proposed transfer of Palestinian Arabs
to Arab countries, and a year later the British Commonwealth passed a similar
resolution. Schectman, European Population Transfers 1939-1945 (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1946), p. 457.
New York World Telegram, November 19, 1945.
Voss, The Palestine Problem Today: Israel and Its Neighbors (Boston: Beacon
Press, 1953), p. 36.
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