Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Geography of Mandatory Palestine

Last time I talked to him, Seth Frantzman was completing his doctoral dissertation in geography. He had been digging up old maps and traveling around the country, trying to figure out the stories of the many Palestinian villages which were gone after the 1947-48 war. As you'd expect, careful examination of factual evidence was giving a different story than the boilerplate accusations regularly aimed at Israel. I told him I hoped he'd soon finish, and I'd love to read the whole dissertation.

If the Jerusalem Post is to be believed, either he still isn't finished or perhaps a committee of professors hasn't yet finished their reading. Still, in today's column he gives a little taste of the sort of things he was coming up with. I recommend.


NormanF said...

The point is there is very private land in Israel. Most of what the British in Mandatory Palestine didn't survey was for the most part state lands. Perhaps the Palestinians are owed compensation for the dwellings as Frantzman has documented but not for the land. He is right the Palestinian "right of return" has been the most successful political propaganda in history. Which doesn't make it true.

AKUS said...

Frankly, there is little new in the article, though it is alays good to have more academic and documentary proof of what is well knwon, and has, in fact, been documented many times over.

Many of the Arabs lving in Mandatory Palestine had arrived as recently as the Jews who had emigrated from Europe or arrived after the Holocaust, attracted by the econmic opportunities the Jewish Yishuv was created.

This is actually quite extensively documented by Martin Gilbert in his book "Churchill and the Jews", via his reports of Churchill's speeches in Parliament, before the various commissions sent to investigate the situation, and his writings.

The fact that much of the Arab land was owned by absentee landlords is also well-known and extensively documents - apart from showing pictures of the records themselves its hard to know what more can be done to lay to rest the idea that the land the KKL bought was frequently sold at enormous markups by absentee feudal landlords who employed many of the Arabs who were later transmuted into Palestinians by Arafat.