The Nakba anniversary: Land, myths and the Zionist 'miracle'

Ahmed El-Sayed Al-Naggar , Sunday 25 May 2014

Without massive foreign assistance, and the complicity of Western powers, Zionists would not have been able to establish Israel on lands they did not buy but rather usurped from Palestinians

Whenever the anniversary of the Zionist rape of Palestine comes, Arab memory in general, and Egyptian memory in particular, recalls images of Palestine under occupation or the British Mandate letting hordes of rapists of all nationalities pass to its lands. Nothing unified those hordes except the Zionist dream of raping Palestine. The British Mandate gave them public lands and granted them all forms of assistance with the consent and support of the US and the West in general. It allowed them to have the most advanced weapons to form criminal gangs for intimidating and expelling the Arabs and committing heinous massacres against them.

Memory also recalls Zionist and Western myths around Zionist superiority that established an "advanced state" in a developing region and the myth, which is more false still and mean-minded, about Palestinians selling their lands, as if Zionists established Israel on lands they bought, not through raping the land, state and rights of another people. They have transformed a large part of its people into the homeless in their own lands, or in the lands of other neighbouring Arab countries and the world in general.

While Arab states offered one concession after another in an attempt to deal with the colonial de facto reality, building a peace based on co-existence and to keep what has remained of the Palestinian people's rights after the Nakba (or catastrophe), Israeli authorities practiced, during a quarter of a century of negotiations since the start of 1990s, a policy of prevarication and evasion of the moment of truth. This moment of truth requires either the acceptance of a democratic state without any religious or racial discrimination, and ending the Zionist occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights, or accepting the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip based on the UN Partition Resolution, to which the Arabs made another concession, replacing that formula with the lands before the aggression of June 1967.

However, the Israeli authorities did not accept either, putting the region in perpetual state of tension through embracing a colonial logic in dealing with the occupation of Arab Palestinian and Syrian lands and its inability to comprehend the realities and prerequisites of building a political settlement based on rights and viability.

Apart from the existing realities, it's important to tackle the falsehood of the Palestinians selling their lands and the role of foreign assistance in constructing the Zionist entity and transforming it into an industrial state closer to a "turnkey" state, even if it nowadays owns significant foundations for military and industrial might. This reality is what imposes on Egypt and the Arab countries the task of working to achieve economic development as a backbone of power, and excelling in the economic game with states neighbouring the Arab world as the cornerstone of safeguarding of Arab states' security.

Falsehoods of Palestinians selling their lands

The Zionist media kept repeating, and for a long time, that it had bought the lands occupied from Palestinians. Unfortunately, a sector of the Arab media echoed such statements sometimes, especially when disputes escalated between Arab states regarding their standpoint towards the Zionist state and the details of the Arab-Israeli conflict, where propagandist talk begins and lies are repeated explicitly or suggestively. The crime of repeating those Zionist lies isn't lessened when some point out that this happened under the threat of Zionist terrorism.

However, the truth was totally different from this claim. Palestine was subject to the yoke of the Ottoman occupation, which is one of the main reasons for the backwardness of the Arab countries, especially Egypt and the Levant. Europeans and foreigners enjoyed the right of owning agricultural and non-agricultural lands in Arab countries that Ottoman Turkey occupied after a firman (decree) was issued in 1876 that granted them such a right. As a result of the wide spread of European — and especially Jewish — usurers in Arab countries under the Ottoman occupation, mortgaging agricultural lands then selling it to foreigners after failing to repay debts was expanded extraordinarily. This is due to the foolish luxurious spending of a considerable section of land owners, and due to extremely difficult circumstances in which smallholders and medium farmers were obliged to borrow or mortgage their lands because of the disturbed conditions of agriculture attributable to climate or flood or drought. This also occurred due to imposed taxes or the fluctuation in agricultural export crops' prices, or as a result of crops being burnt or damaged by any party.

Under these circumstances, the agricultural lands owned by foreigners in Egypt, the biggest Arab country, were around 713,100 feddans in 1917, which was about three million dunam (the dunam is a unit of land area used in Palestine and Jordan and equals 1,000 m²). There was also in Egypt in 1930 around 3.4 million feddans, or about 14.3 million dunam, mortgaged to real estate, agricultural and land banks. Great areas of these were mortgaged to foreigners. Were it not for the Five Feddans Law issued in 1913 that banned sequestration on agricultural property less than five feddans, and also on Waqf (inalienable religious endowment) lands, large lands of Egypt would have been subject to sequestration and selling.

This vicious circle of foreigners looting Egypt in this field didn't cease except after the issuance of a law forbidding the sale of agricultural lands to foreigners in 1951. Then Egypt's real independence was established after 1952 following the evacuation of British troops from Egypt, ushering in a new era of national sovereignty under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Certainly, any country subject to foreign occupation that has no law prohibiting the sale of lands to foreigners may suffer from a draining of its lands if the foreigners offer exorbitant sums that exceed much more any return the land can generate. In this case, the aim of buying is existence and control. But even in such a case, selling land operations will have a ceiling that it won't go above. Because when the existence of foreigners increases and the country's population feels that their ownership of their country's land is threatened, selling and buying operations stop for political-social reasons. At this time, it becomes a national issue.

This was a necessary introduction to perceive what happened in occupied Palestine and to know whether Israel was established on lands it bought or lands it raped. And if it did buy any lands, who sold them?

As a matter of fact, when the vast operation of raping Palestine commenced with Jewish immigration in 1904 on a large scale, surpassing that of the "Bilu" religious groups that started in the 1880s, Palestine at that time was subject like many Arab countries to the Ottoman occupation that permitted Europeans to own lands in countries subject to Ottoman Turkey.

During the period from 1904 until 1914 around 40,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine. Some of them settled in Palestinian lands while a quarter lived in a settlement built on a 420,000 dunam (about 100,000 feddans) that was bought from non-Palestinian Arab owners.

The Jewish Baron Edmond de Rothschild financed the buying of most of these lands. It constituted the nucleus of the Jewish agricultural economy in Palestine. This economy expanded rapidly with new waves of immigrants during the British Mandate era, which granted public lands to the Zionists. This also coincided with Jewish buying of agricultural lands from non-Palestinian Arab owners or non-resident Palestinian owners through the temptations of money or under threat, or because of Zionist massacres against Palestinian Arabs that intimidated some of them and drove them to sell their lands and flee with their lives and their families.

In spite of all selling operations, Jewish ownership of the Palestinian agricultural lands didn't exceed 1.6 million dunam (about 380,000 feddans) on the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. This area constitutes 11.4 percent of the total agricultural lands in Palestine, which amounted to 14.1 million dunam from the entire lands of Palestine, which is 26.2 million dunam. The percentage of foreigners' ownership of agricultural lands in Palestine was less than the percentage of foreigners' ownership of agricultural lands in Egypt, which was 13 percent in 1917.

As for the booty that the Zionists seized during the war of 1948, when Israel seized 6.6 million dunam of new Palestinian agricultural lands between mid-May 1948, when the state was declared and war broke out, and the spring of 1949, when the truce was declared, this is in addition to around 1.6 million dunam of agricultural lands that was in its possession. Thus, Israel's share of the agricultural lands in Palestine from the sea to the river increased to 58.2 percent when the truce was declared in 1949.

This obviously means that the Zionists didn't buy Palestine but rather raped it in the 1948 War and what preceded it — aggressions on Palestinians and committing massacres against them. These are unequivocal facts and are enough to smash the falsehoods that Zionists propagate and some repeat, unknowingly or in bad faith.

Even for the lands the Zionists obtained before the 1948 War, most of it was bought or granted through the British Mandate authorities, or sold by non-Palestinian owners or Palestinian owners who were absent.

Documented sources show there was about 444,100 dunam that was sold between the years 1936 and 1945 through sales that weren't recorded in the ownership registry until the end of the British Mandate era. These sales are most likely sales or grants made by British Mandate authorities. The Mandate authorities, religious institutions and foreign companies also sold 91,000 dunam to Jews in an official way. Lebanese owners sold Palestinian agricultural lands with a total area 388,800 dunam, including 240,000 dunam sold by the Lebanese family Sarsaq alone — leading to the displacement of a large number of Palestinian families that belonged to Arab Al-Ramel, who heldAl-Ghor lands near Haifa.

Non-resident Palestinian land owners sold an area of 359,000 dunam and resident Palestinian big land owners sold an area of 167,800 dunam while 64,200 dunam were sold by small land owners and Syrian land owners sold 56,500 dunam. There are marginal sales amounting to 8,000 dunam sold by Egyptian owners and 8,000 dunam sold by Iranian owners.

As well as those economically exploited agricultural lands, Israel seized the Negev within the War of Rape in 1948. In addition to all the aforementioned, it controlled all the water supplies in occupied Palestine and ran its distribution entirely, exploiting it to develop its agricultural economy.

It also seized, during the aggression of 1967, the remainder of Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza Strip). Since then and until now it took by force public Palestinian lands and a lot of private properties upon which it constructed Israeli settlements within its strategy of raping all the lands of Palestine.

"Turnkey" economic miracle

Western media tries to create an image of Israel as an economic miracle in a developing region, imparting racial and sectarian characteristics that justify this "superiority." In fact, foreign assistance played a decisive role in establishing Israel through financing the absorption of Jewish immigrants to Palestine, who constituted the foundations of establishing the state afterwards, and in financing the formation of the Israeli army and arming it.

After establishing Israel, foreign assistance also played a crucial role in financing the development, diversification of its economy and upgrading it technologically. Moreover, it contributed to providing foreign markets for its exports and contributed to financing the enhancement of the living standards of the Israelis and making different services available in a way that surpasses the Israeli economy's abilities. All this was done with the aim of making the Zionist state attractive for potential immigrants whose flow to Israel is regarded as a permanent objective and a demographic necessity.

Israeli industry began on a primitive and small scale until the 1920s when it started taking initial steps towards modernisation. But the big leap came in the early 1930s after the Haavara Agreement with Nazi Germany in 1933. According to this agreement, German Jewish immigrants to Palestine, or those desiring to immigrate, are enabled to do so through transferring their capital in the form of German goods to Palestine on condition that they transfer their goods with the value of £1,000 as a minimum. By means of this agreement, 60,000 Jews emigrated from Germany and Austria, which was under German influence at the time.

According to initial accounts, the immigration of 60,000 German and Austrian Jews, everyone of them transferring more than £1,000 according to the agreement, means the flow of German goods valued at the least £60 million for the interests of the Jewish immigrants in Palestine.

However, the Jewish Encyclopaedia says that the sum didn't exceed £8.1 million, while Arab estimates say the amount reached 140 million German Marks. Even if we took the minimum estimate — ie £8.1 million — this would be a huge sum in comparison to the Palestinian economy in the 1930s, which is evidenced by the fact that the volume of circulated Palestinian cash did not go beyond £5 million in 1938.

These transfers were done in the form of modern German machinery upon which the Zionist industry in Palestine was built. The Haavara Agreement fulfilled a mutual interest for the Jews and Nazi Germany, where the Zionist Jews were able to transfer large sums of money in the form of technologically advanced machinery to Palestine as a vital element for supporting their Zionist project of establishing the State of Israel on its lands. Moreover, it allowed a number of the German Jews to depart their country with their money, fleeing German nationalist and racist extremism during a period where the Nazis were in power. In return, it permitted Germany to move hoarded German Jewish money and transfer it into demand on German commodities in a way that contributed to Germany's economic recovery. This came at the time when the capitalist world, with Europe and the US in its heart, was ground to a halt by the Great Depression that began in 1929 and continued through the 1930s. Furthermore, by signing the Haavara Agreement, Nazi Germany supported the Zionist solution to the Jewish problem in Europe. This solution was based on establishing a Jewish state through raping Palestine — a solution that was favoured among extremist nationalist trends in Europe on the account that it would rid Christian European societies of rejected Jewish minorities.  

Since the Zionist flow to Palestine was aiming at raping it, the industry was basically military, starting in 1934 through manufacturing landmines and hand grenades. In 1935, it was producing 350 hand grenades daily. After obtaining new Polish machinery, this industry began in 1939 in churning out 15,000 bullets daily. In the same year, the 3-inch calibre mortars were developed and 48 pieces of this caliber were produced, in addition to 5,000 bombs. All these weapons were used in arming Zionist gangs. In contrast, Palestinians were forbidden from carrying even an ordinary pocket knife.

During World War II, the British army depended on the Jewish military industry in manufacturing some of its military needs. Between 1942 and 1944, Jewish factories in Palestine produced around 3.6 million anti-tank mines and around 7.9 million steel pots. The total value of Jewish manufactured products in Palestine for the British army, during the war, was about £33 million.

With the end of World War II, the Zionist military industry in Palestine made a leap when in July 1945 David Ben Gurion directed Jewish parties to make contracts with the US War Materials Administration for purchasing hundreds of tons of military waste (scrap). For instance, if the cost of a machine was $10,000, it was sold for $125 and all this machinery arrived to Palestine intact. Thanks to these American machines, and before them German and Polish machines, the Zionist military industry began to work with increasing vigour and produced in the period from 1945 until the issuance of the UN Partition Resolution in November 1947, around two million bullets for the Sten machine gun, 4,750 sub-machine guns, more than 100 two-inch calibre mortars and 53,000 hand grenades. On 23 October 1947, the military industries were ordered to manufacture 4,000 mortars, four million bullets and 130,000 hand grenades.   

Thus, the West provided the machinery and financing, and even the demand, to vitalise the Zionist military industry. In addition, Zionist gangs provided a permanent and increasing source of demand on the Zionist military industry and its products in Palestine. This demand turned into a flood with Zionist preparation for the War of Rape of Palestine by the end of the British Mandate, and more so still when the war broke out. The necessary technology for founding a Zionist military industry in Palestine before 1948 came from the US and from Europe, especially from Germany and Poland.

After the 1948 War, 686,7000 Jews immigrated to Palestine during four years, 1948-1951 — ie about 105.6 percent of the total number of Jews in occupied Palestine in 1948. It received colossal assistance from the West, on top of which the US that became the main sponsor for it. Israel also signed the Brussels Agreement with West Germany and received enormous reparations for Jewish persecution by Nazi Germany, although other peoples also were subject to Nazi occupation, and the millions of citizens slaughtered, such as in the former Soviet Union (24 million), Yugoslavia (six million) and Poland (eight million) didn't receive any reparations.

West Germany offered about 80 percent of its reparations to Israel in the form of investment commodities, such as tools and machinery of all kinds and types. Israel has used these to construct the main foundations of modern Israeli industry, in addition to using the German reparations in establishing projects in the fields of irrigation, water lines, road-laying, communication networks and infrastructure. It also purchased 60 maritime vessels that formed the backbone of the Israeli mercantile fleet in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Israel received American and European financial and technological support, especially from France, which helped in its nuclear project, in retaliation for Egypt's support for the Algerian Revolution. The Zionist entity didn't face any obstacles worth mentioning hindering the transfer of Western technology. Moreover, a significant segment of the colonial immigrations, which constituted this entity, belonged to technologically advanced environments in Europe and the West in general. And Western markets were open without any restrictions in the face of Israeli exports in order to help the Israeli economy develop and progress.

Despite the small size of its economy, Israel received foreign aid that surpassed many times the aid a big country like Egypt got, and this is another topic which deserves tackling at some other time. Vast financial assistance remains an essential element in financing the Israeli economy and Zionist military capabilities. In contrast, Arab states neighbouring Palestine only received marginal and conditional aid. Egypt and those states have no choice, even under the existing political settlement, but to depend on themselves to achieve the balance that guarantees their country’s security and rights.

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