of Arab Migrant workers into Western Palestine from 1880-1948
it is very difficult to make a case out for the
misery of the Arabs
if at the same time their
adjoining states could not be
kept from going
in to share that misery.
-- British Governor
of the Sinai from 1922 to 1936
... So far from being
persecuted, the Arabs have
crowded into the
country and multiplied till their
population has increased
more than even all world Jewry
could lift up the
-- Winston Churchill
Since the inception of modem Israel
in 1948, that perception has been embellished. The Jewish "aliens" came
as "refugees from Europe" and "stole" land from the Arab settled population,
it is claimed. No doubt the Jews did suffer from the monstrosities of the
Holocaust, but Jewish suffering should not be salved by inducing the suffering
of the "Palestinian people," and "excluding" or "expelling" them from their
land since "time immemorial," it is thought.
Immigration: Government Reports
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"
-- "Not quite two percent of the Moslem population are immigrants." By
1945, the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry would report that, although
the Jewish population had risen from 84,000 in 1922 to 554,000, and "three-fourths
of this ... [Jewish] expansion was accounted for by immigration," the Arabs
had increased "by a greater number" than the Jews.
and Their Contradictions
"The expansion of the Arab community by
increase has been in fact one of the most striking features of Palestine's
social history," the report stated. The same sponsor, in an earlier
report, has assessed that "the speed with which the Moslems have followed
Western patterns in reduction of mortality has been very remarkable, probably
more than could be expected by any observer twenty years ago."
The Arabs allegedly were following the
trends of improvements in the Jewish-settled areas and were "the gainers"
from the Jews' higher health standards;  the death rate, which is central
to determine the rate of natural population increase between 1922 and 1944,
decreased proportionately, as would be expected, since standards improved
as time passed. The Jews' death rate therefore was at its highest in 1922.
Contradicting that logic, in the 1922-1944 period the death rate for the
Arabs was reported at its lowest in 1922. According to demographic
experts, that phenomenon would have been incredible, considering the conditions
in Palestine and the factors influencing the inhabitants at that time.
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.
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.
Nevertheless, a pivotal report during the
same period concluded that
It must be observed that a smaller
population may overtake a larger population in numbers as time goes on.
This depends on the relative age-constitutions and potential fertilities
of the two communities considered. Jewish immigration adds a yearly increment
to the Jewish population which is potentially highly reproductive. The
time might come some scores of years ahead when the Jewish natural increase
exceeded the Arab natural increase, but it would take a very long time
for the Jews to obtain a majority in Palestine by that means alone.
The various reports usually acknowledge in
one place or another that the Arab population of Palestine would have remained
stable at the figure -- actually 300,000 to 400,000 -- where it had
remained for the last two centuries, if it were not for the better
conditions introduced by the Jewish settlements and/or the British administration.
"Fluctuations [were] cancelled out" by war, disease, natural disasters,
and so on. 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," commencing with the advent of both the Jewish and the
British mandatory influence. 
The actual thinly settled "existing" Arab
population of the early 1900s -- to which the Balfour Declaration and Mandate
give testimony -- would not have been "prejudiced" by immigration of Jews.
But the Arabs, it is claimed, had grown "naturally" by an unprecedented
number -- a number greater even than the enormous swell of Jewish immigration
between 1922 and 1944 could raise the Jewish population. Even Zionist histonians
accepted the phenomenon of the Arabs'soaring "natural increase" without
question, despite the fact that 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.
As late as the mid-1940s, the 1945-1946
Survey of Palestine stated that "It is probable that the high rate of natural
increase of the population of Palestine is a phenomenon of the mandatory
period. . . ."
One source cited earlier -- a population
expert who assumed that a populous indigenous Arab community had been in
Palestine for a millennium -- 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 progmss
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!
That same self-contradictory expert source
was heavily relied upon by the Palestine Partition Commission in 1938,
which tried to reconcile contradictory "facts": for example,
We thus have the Arab population
reflecting 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 bebrought about under an enlightened
modem administration, with both the will and the necessary funds at its
disposal to enable it to serve a population unable to help itself. It is
indeed an ironic commentary on the working of the Mandate and perhaps on
the science of government, that this result which so far from encouraging
almost certainly hindered close settlement by Jews on the land, could
scarcely have been brought about except through the appropriation of tax-revenue
contributed by the Jews."
The same report referred to "a combination
of circumstances unique in modem history." For the Jews, "an unusually
high (though not unprecedented) rate of immigration" and for the "Arabs,"
that is, Muslims, "an abnormally high (and possibly unprecedented)
rate of natural increase in the
existing indigenous population."
Note the words "existing" and "indigenous.
" They were not simply modifiers; their use, as we will see in following
chapters, became central to our seriously uncritical acceptance of Arab
propaganda's misrepresentation of migrants and immigrants as "displaced"
and "landless Arabs" deprived of their homeland by the Jews.
While the Arabs were reportedly growing
in number "naturally" by phenomenal leaps, the Jews were immigrating --
in all but depression times -- as heavily as the British immigration restrictions
on Jews would allow. The 1937 Palestine Royal Commission Report --
often called the Peel Report -- noted that
The pace and extent of the development
of the Jewish National Home must obviously depend on the rate and volume
of Jewish immigration over a series of years. Having regard to their fear
of being overwhelmed and therefore dominated by Jewish immigrants, the
Arabs watch the immigration figures with close and anxious concern.
Another practically unknown and unrecognized
condition was indicated: the same report observed also that Arab immigration
Palestine might exist.
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 reckened that roughly nine-tenths
of growth has been due to natural increase, and it has been a growth of
over 50 percent in 17 years. Those are remarkable figures especially in
view of the general belief that the population of Palestine under the Ottoman
regime was more or less stationary.
Other references reported similar observations.
Immigration has accounted in large
part for the increase of the Jewish section of the population, though the
Arabs have also received some reinforcement from this source .
Yet the possibility of substantial Arab
entry into Palestine was dismissed, despite the "remarkable" growth of
the Arab population compared to the admittedly "stationary" number of the
"Arab" population for centuries, before and until the "Jewish National
Home" was mandated.
The collection and compilation of the data
of migration are beginning to reach a tolerable degree of precision; but
in one main repect they remain incomplete since it has not yet been possible
to arrange for a reasonably complete record of the movement of people to
and from Trans-Jordan.
4,866 travellers who entered Palestine
during the year were registered as immigrants. Of these 4,114 were Jews
and 752 non-Jews.
Reported Arab Immigration
If there had not yet been sufficient time
for the improved health standards to affect the Arabs' rate of natural
increase, then another, artificial factor had to cause the otherwise scientifically
unexplainable Arab population increase.
The only demographic possibility remaining
was that Arabs, like the Jews, had immigrated to swell their numbers. Yet,
no record of substantial Arab immigration was recorded in Palestine by
the British government. According to all the reports of the period, Arab
"recorded" immigration to Palestine was minimal, casual, and unquantifiable.
Any observer at the time, however, might
have found strong indications that questioned the accuracy of the government's
assumptions from the beginning.
The British Department of Migration itself
quite candidly acknowledged that the "records" in respect to non-Jewish
from neighboring countries such as "Syria" and "the Lebanon" were "defective";
that defect was deemed "of no great consequence," however, because, as
the reports stated, the Department's records were intended to check only
immigration into Palestine according to the capacity of
the country to absorb immigrants." The report assured, "in
the matter that the statistics may be held to have a high degree of accuracy."
Thus we find that in the British immigration
system there was not even a serious gauge for considering the incidence
of Arab immigration into "Palestine." The verbose description of the "mandatory
policy" assumed that only "Jewish immigration" must be measured.
Yet, in the 1931 census, at least twenty-three
different languages were reported in use by "Moslems," and most of those
plus an additional twenty-eight were in use by "Christians"-many of whom
were known as, or represented as "Arabs" -- a total of at least fifty-one
And the non-Jews in Palestine in
1931 listed as their "birthplaces" at least twenty-four different countries,
in addition to the Americas and Europe. In Jerusalem alone, twenty different
places of birth (outside the Americas and Europe) were reported by the
"Moslems"; those plus another four countries were listed by "Christians."
The "illegal" Jewish immigration
was fastidiously reported-"One case is known in which a small party of
Jews endeavored to enter Palestine via Trans-Jordan" -- while the Arabs
who immigrated illegally were addressed only when their "detection" had
become "flagrant." The British Colonial officials were "thinking of
Jews" in matters of immigration as we will see later in some detail.
But the British Government, which recorded
comings and goings within Palestine, occasionally was forced by its prevalence
to give mention to the "illegal Arab immigration." The movement, however,
was underestimated and minimized, deemed "casual," and was never introduced
as a factor in determining the population increase in the portion of Palestine
area being settled by the Jews:
In addition to this increase by
recorded immigration, a number of persons are known to enter Palestine
from both adjacent and European countries and to remain there permanently.
In fact, in some instances the conclusion
that Jews were increasing through immigration while Arabs were increasing
only through natural increase was alleged in the same reports which observed
elsewhere in their pages that "considerable" illegal Arab immigration was
indeed proceeding without restriction or record from such areas as Syria,
Egypt, TransJordan, and Lebanon, among others.
Most Government acknowledgments of Arab
immigration" were concealed from recognition by the cryptic nonspecific
heading of "Unrecorded Illegal Immigration" or were obscured by discussion
of "Jews and Arabs" together. When "illegal entry" of
recognized separately in that regard, invariably the report in question
would note that the volume "must be insignificant."
Although the Jewish "illegal" inunigration
-- comparatively small until Hitler rose to power in the 1930s -- was meticulously
recorded, minutely detailed, and later even estimated in advance and deducted
from the government's strict Jewish quota, the references to Arab "illegal
immigration" were always presented ambiguously. Almost without exception,
the matter was obscured, negated, and overwhelmed by preponderant concentration
on Jewish immigration as the primary issue.
Hints of Substantial Unrecorded Immigration
It was while studying documents pertinent
to Palestine among the Winston Churchill papers that the author first
noticed a statement that challenged the very foundation of the current
claim that Jewish settlement in Palestine had caused the uprooting of hundreds
of thousands of Arabs. Churchill said in 1939,
... So far from being persecuted,
the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied till their population
has increased more than even all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population.
For the British statesman -- a veteran of
the first days in Britain's administration of the Mandate -- to make that
statement, surely he had to have become aware of significant evidence to
back his assertion. And indeed, buried by the more recent propaganda campaign,
politically targeted "fact sheets" distributed by organs of the United
Nations and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the gospel according
to the British Foreign Office, substantial evidence does exist to support
Churchill's challenge of the Arab propaganda.
For example, according to the Minutes
the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, La Syrie
published, on August 12, 1934, an interview with Tewfik Bey El-Hurani,
Governor of the Hauran. Governor El-Hurani stated that "In the last
few months from 30,000 to 36,000 Hauranese [Syrian] had entered
Palestine and settled there."
The Mandates Commission -- which was overseer
to all League of Nations Mandatory Administrations -- took special "note"
in its Minutes of the fact that the Hauranese, not merely passing
through, had indeed "settled." Yet no official account of that important
wave of Arabs who entered illegally appears in British immigration records.
In "private" and "secret" British correspondence
files, however, there were innumerable references to Syrians from the Hauran
district "admitted" freely to "Palestine" "without passport or visa"
from the beginning of the British Mandate after World War I and consistently
into the 1940s . British reports were at times obliged by the prevalence
of "Syrian countrymen in Palestine" to acknowledge the "illegal ... large
proportion of Arab immigrants from the Hauran."
But the data quoted from directly above
were not included in any official report until after extensive evidence
had been given in 1937 [See Chapter 14] and consequent pressure exerted
by the Permanent Mandates Commission. Even then, in that belated acknowledgment,
the recorded "number of Hauranis illegally in the country" was grossly
underestimated." Some of them had "fled" back to Syria and elsewhere to
avoid prosecution for violence in the riots of 1936 -- but that factor
will be examined later, along with more detailed evidence of the British
policy of benign blinking.
The Permanent Mandates Commission had also
addressed the incidence of illegal Arab immigrants from "Trans-Jordan."
Its members had spoken of "free admission of TransJordanians into Palestine,"
which might "lead to abuse" since a number of them "remained in the country";
Commission had indicated Arab illegal immigration from other countries
as well, all of which is addressed in following pages.
For the moment, however, we turn back to
the Syrian-Haurani influx, of "thirty to thirty-six thousand" Arab illegal
immigrants from one area in just "a few months" of 1934, verified by an
official international document and attested to by a Syrian leader.
That is, from spring to summer of 1934,
from just one area in only one of the many depressed neighboring Arab countries
from which impoverished citizens were known to be emigrating into Palestine-particularly
into the Jewish-settled portion of the country-an Arab official's unequivocal
report indicated that more Arabs illegally entered and remained in Palestine
than the total number of Jews for twice that length of time in 1934 who
were "approved" to immigrate into their designated "Jewish National Home.
Yet the official British record of immigration to Palestine for the entire
year of 1934 reports "recorded immigration" of just 1,784 "non-Jews,"
with only about 3,000 as "travelers remaining illegally," and those figures
supposedly included Arab immigrants from all points into all of Palestine.
Although carefully categorized records
were kept for age groups, occupations, amount of capital, etc. of those
Jews who immigrated, there was no specific accounting of the "non-Jews"
in the official reports. None except for one phenomenon -- despite the
mandatory government's rigorous application of immigration laws for Jews
and the official winking at the incidence of Arab illicit entry, the number
of "non-Jews" recorded as having been "deported for immigration offences"
was more than twice as great as the number of Jews. The question arises:
if there were so many illegal Arab immigrants that even an official policy
which concentrated almost solely on limiting Jews was forced to identify
and deport more than twice as many Arabs as Jews, then is it not possible
or even likely that the number of illegal Arab immigrants had to be so
much larger than recorded that it constituted a massive wave of entry?
Yet, in autumn of 1934 the Palestine High
Commissioner stated that during that year "We do not consider that the
numbers of those illegal immigrants exceed 100 per month." In 1935,
the number of deportations of non-Jews was even more significant: in a
system admittedly overlooking all but the most blatant cases of illicit
Arab immigration, the 1935 Annual Report stated that of 2,455 deported,
2,152 were "non-Jews. "
Churchill's recognition of massive Arab
immigration into Palestine was confirmed by many, including the British
Governor of the Sinai from 1922 to 1936, who wryly observed that
This illegal immigration was not
only going on from the Sinai, but also from Transjordan and Syria and it
is very difficult to make a case out for the misery of the Arabs if at
the same time their compatriots from adjoining states could not be kept
from going in to share that misery.
Nonetheless, Arab leaders and their British
supporters attempted to make exactly that case. In order to appease the
small but powerful Arab effendi
community, the Mandatory power began
imposing stricter limitations upon Jewish immigration.
While counting the newly arrived Arab illicit
immigrants as indigenous deeply rooted Palestinians, the Biltish explained
that it was the Jews who were flooding the country beyond its "absorptive
capacity" and crowding out Arabs. The Hope Simpson Report of 1930 announced
its seminal conclusion that Arabs were being "displaced" by Jews, even
though in its own pages the report revealed that there was an uncontrolled
influx of illegal Arab immigrants from Egypt, Trans-Jordan and Syria.
Speaking unmistakably of "other than
Jewish labour," the report states
The Chief Immigration Officer
has brought to notice that illicit immigration through Syria and across
the northern frontier of Palestine is material.
Further, the Report speaks of "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" as being "present practice," a method that was "injustice"
to the Jews.
The broad implications of that seemingly
casual observation within the Hope Simpson Report will become evident in
the following pages. If large-scale Arab immigration was a recognized "practice,"
how could official reports justify a conclusion that only Jewish population
was increasing through immigration and forcing out Arabs? If Arabs were
incoming also, then might their increase in number be attributable not
to the natural increase of natives present since time immemorial on the
land, but instead, an increase swelled as importantly-perhaps even more
importantly-by immigration than that of the Jews?
One British official conducted an investigation
on the "displaced" and "landless" Arab situation. Despite an enormous unrecorded
Arab influx-and even adding the illicit Arab immigrant community into the
category of "native population" that had supposedly been displaced-the
official concluded, after investigating the areas, that the allegation
was largely inaccurate, as we will see later from excerpts of his testimony
during an official investigation.
The official would be slain shortly thereafter.
The land being cleared by Palestinian Jews, for Jewish victims of persecution
in Europe, had been and still was being appropriated by Arabs. Yet the
White Paper of 1939 was in the works. That legislation by the British at
the instigation of the Arabs would so harshly restrict Jewish immigration
to Palestine that hundreds of thousands of Jews would be prevented from
entering what was to have been their sanctuary and thus be condemned to
the fateful inferno of the Nazis. And that White Paper would be justified
by the premise that the Jews were usurping the Arabs' places in "Palestine."
According to the British Government's 1937
Report to the League of Nations  the number of Arabs in Palestine had
indeed soared higher, in Churchill's words, than "even all world Jewry
could lift up the Jewish population." Yet this crucial and incompatible
evidence went disregarded or unrecognized and was never figured into the
political equation of Palestine.
This page was produced by Joseph
Middle Eastern Political and Religious
Brooklyn, New York
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Source: "From Time Immemorial" by Joan
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