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Did Israel Steal the Ancestral Home of the Palestinians? Part 2

Did Israel Steal the Ancestral Home of the Palestinians? Part 2

We look at the claim of the Palestinians, that Israel stole their lands, is there any truth to this? If so, what does history teach us?

Before I start, in the last article I was asked why I didn’t bring religious claims into this, the reason is rather simple, religion is very subjective to what one believes in, it is not with tangible proof, and what I am dealing with is historical proof, not what religious writings have said about the matter. I am not advocating one faith over the other; I am not either looking to see who is the victim or the oppressor, what I am looking at is only the facts, looking for whom is perceived as whom, I will deal with that in another time.

Did Israel Steal the Ancestral Home of the Palestinians? Part 2

We have dealt with the claim that the Palestinians came from Philistines and the Canaanites, both would have been impossible, there is also a problem of a total lack of any historical documents of a Palestinian before 1900. The simple fact is before this time there is not one historical document that mentions a subgroup of Arabs with their own distinct culture known as Palestinians, in fact, if you had gone to an Arab before this time and called them a Palestinian they would have attacked you for calling them a Jew. But one may ask, what about the census if you are going to claim a lack of sovereign right, wouldn’t census show that there was an Arab presence in the land, they were the majority for over a thousand years as we have been taught?

Here lies the huge problem, the claim of census prior to 1800, the facts are there are none by the Ottomans, Ottomans until the 1800s had a fatwa against conducting a census if you look at any figure given out prior to 1800 they are backward projecting on the premise that the Arabs whom say their ancestors all along have lived in the land are speaking the truth, but were they?

There was a census taken in the land, the only actual recorded census, it was taken with Ottoman authority oversight, and what is amazing, there is no record of them ever disputing the findings of this census, in fact, many experts feel the census aided in their reversal of the Fatwa and start conducting census due to a lack of knowledge of the demographics of regions they controlled.


So, let’s look at the census, it was conducted by the same group who had conducted a census for hundreds of years in Europe, it was done by the Jesuits. The Census was recorded in “Palaestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrata” – a detailed geographical survey of Palestine in 1696 written in Latin by Adriaan Reland published by Willem Broedelet, Utrecht, in 1714. The findings were as follows:

Residents of the REGION mainly concentrated in cities: Jerusalem, Acre, Safed, Jaffa, Tiberius, and Gaza.
In most cities, the majority of residents are Christians, Jews, and others, very few Muslims who generally are Bedouin, who came to serve as Seasonal workers in agriculture or building.
Nablus: 120 Muslims, 70 Samaritans
Nazareth: 700 people – all Christians
Umm al-Fahm: 50 people-10 families, ALL Christian
Gaza: 550 people- 300 Jews,250 Christian(Jews engaged in agriculture Christians deal with the trading and transporting the products)
Tiberius: 300 residents, all Jews.
Safed: about 200 inhabitants, all Jews
Jerusalem: 5000 people, most of them (3,500) Jews, the rest- Christian (1000), Muslim (500)
Note* (no Muslims in Gaza) [1]!

Now, this taken by itself would seem to be in direct conflict with the narrative we are told, so is there any corroborating evidence to go with this? On would suggest you look to documented eyewitness accounts of people who visited the area at the time, the lack of population is told by all who wrote about their visit:

There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction… One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee… Nazareth is forlorn… Jericho lies a moldering ruin… Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation… untenanted by any living creature.”
– Mark Twain, “The Innocents Abroad”, 1867 –

“There are many proofs, such as ancient ruins, broken aqueducts, and remains of old roads, which show that it has not always been so desolate as it seems now. In the portion of the plain between Mount Carmel and Jaffa one sees but rarely a village or other sights of human life. There some rude mills here which are turned by the stream. A ride of half an hour more brought us to the ruins …”
– B. W. Johnson, in “Young Folks in Bible Lands”: Chapter IV, 1892 –

“The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil.”
– British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s –

“Palestine is a ruined and desolate land.”
– Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian

“The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants, and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population.”
– James Finn, British Consul in 1857 –

In 1844, William Thackeray writes about the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem: “Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride.”

“In Judea, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that for miles and miles there was no appearance of life or habitation.”
-Penrhyn Stanley, British cartographer, 1881-

In 1866, W.M. Thomson wrote: “How melancholy is this utter desolation. Not a house, not a trace of inhabitants, not even shepherds, to relieve the dull monotony … Much of the country through which we have been rambling for a week appears never to have been inhabited or even cultivated, and there are other parts, you say, still more barren.”

“Outside the city of Jerusalem, we saw no living object, heard no living sound … a complete eternal silence reigns in the town, in the highways, in the country.” -Alphonse de Lamartine, travel book, 1835-

In 1874, Reverend Samuel Manning wrote: “But where were the inhabitants? This fertile plain, which might support an immense population, is almost a solitude…. Day by day we were to learn afresh the lesson now forced upon us, that the denunciations of ancient prophecy have been fulfilled to the very letter — “the land is left void and desolate and without inhabitants.” (Jeremiah, ch.44 v.22)


So where did the Palestinians who today are claiming heritage for being there for centuries come from?

So we have Gaza, Jerusalem, Tiberius, and Sufed all either with a Jewish majority or in some cases just populated by Jews. It was due to this that the Ottomans started to push people to migrate to the area, they did not wish to see the Jews overtaking it population-wise. So where did the census we see in works like Encyclopedia Britannia? Research their data, it is projections, projections taking into account the claim by the “Palestinians” that they were there as a majority, but they refuse to address the fact of this census, the first one done of the land. After this, the Ottomans started to finally lift the ban on census taking, and you will find after 1800 they started to take them regularly.
What I am saying is not a lone voice, the British when investigating the area for strategic reasons also came to the same conclusion when investigating the area.

“The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880’s, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained “The Holy Land” in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants – both Jewish and Arab.”
– The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 –

People who claim the Arabs were in the land first fail to acknowledge the facts, the Arab migration to the land during the 1800’s up to the creation of Israel has been well documented. In fact, the British Hope-Simpson Commission addressed this issue in its recommendation of 1930.
The British governor of the Sinai (1922-1936) reported in the Palestine Royal Commission Report that illegal immigration to Palestine was not only occurring from Sinai, but also from Transjordan and Syria.
In 1939, British PM, Winston Churchill, stated: “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.”
In 1934, the Governor of the Syrian district of Hauran admitted that within just a few months, more than 30,000 Arabs left Hauran for Palestine.
The 1844 Ottoman Census shows a Jewish majority living in Jerusalem, Hebron, S’fat, and Gaza City. To claim that the Jews were not there before Israel’s establishment is simply false.
Due to the material and references shown, I will stop here, next post I will deal with the division of the land, the problem of claiming land theft, and the lack of deeds by people claiming theft, and the reason for it.



Part 1

Part 3

About The Author

Timothy Benton

Student of history, a journalist for the last 2 years. Specialize in Middle East History, more specifically modern history with the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Also, a political commentator has been a lifetime fan of politics.

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