One of the reoccurring themes in the propaganda war against Israel is that the Palestinians are the indigenous people and that they are resisting a Jewish European colonial invasion. Its part of an effort to frame the conflict in a way that presents the Palestinians as the victims, rather than the perpetrators of this conflict.
This myth flies in the face of the historic, linguistic and archaeological record. Although some Palestinian Arab families can trace their lineage back hundreds of years, the vast majority are recent economic migrants who arrived in pre-state Israel in recent years.
Our friend Daniel Grynglas answers the question “Are Arabs the Indigenous People of Palestine?” in the Jewish Press. He highlights the fact that much of the Arab immigration to the Holy land was recent. Rather than being the indigenous inhabitant of the land, the Arabs migrated to this land to take advantage of the economic opportunities offered by the Jewish population.
“The Arab population shows a remarkable increase ….. partly due to the import of Jewish capital into Palestine and other factors associated with the growth of the [Jewish] National Home..” The (Peel Commission Report – 1937)
“..in the Jewish settlement Rishon l’Tsion founded in 1882, by the year 1889, the forty Jewish families settled there, had attracted more than four hundred Arab families…. Many other Arab villages had sprouted in the same fashion.” (Joan Peters – From Time Immemorial p. 252 – referenced further as: FTI)
British PM Winston Churchill said in 1939: “.. far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country [Palestine]..”
A young journalist reporting for the Boston Post from 1948 Palestine, also highlighted the influx of Arab immigration, writing,
The Jews point with pride to the fact that over 500,000 Arabs in the 12 years between 1932 and 1944, came into Palestine to take advantage of living conditions existing in no other Arab state. This is the only country in the Near and Middle East where an Arab middle class is in existence.
Read all of Robert F Kennedys' reports from Palestine here
Arab immigration to pre-state Israel during the British Mandate period has also been well documented in the "Rape of Palestine" (1938) by William Ziff, who has written:
"We should expect to find an exodus of Arabs from lands where Jews are settled. But exactly the opposite is true: it is precisely in the vicinity of those Jewish villages that Arab development is most marked. Arab Haifa, profiting from the Jewish boom grew from 1922 to 1936 by 130%, Jaffa by 80% and Jerusalem by 55%...In the vicinity of the Jewish villages Arab workers earn twice the wage paid in other parts of Palestine.
Once the poorest , sorriest population in this whole section of poverty stricken masses, the Arabs of Palestine are now the richest per capita of their race"
Soon at Petach Tikvah a thriving agricultural colony was established. Jewish resettlement had begun in dead earnest. By 1883, three thousand of these hardy dreamers had landed in Jaffa .
Progress continued quietly and steadily. Arabs attracted by the magnetizing vitality of the returning Jew began to drift in from impoverished Syria , from Egypt , and from the desert wastes. Palestine was making enormous strides.”
Read Daniel's article in its entirety here.
For more information on Arab immigration to pre-state Israel, see