The HyperTexts

Israel’s Transfer Committees: ethnic cleansing and an "enormous process of destruction"

based on declassified Israeli Documents and the diaries of prominent Zionists

Zionist leaders who became the founding fathers of the modern state of Israel created not one, but three Transfer Committees to plan and carry out the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Although many Israeli documents concerning the TRANSFER (ethnic cleansing) of the Palestinian people remain classified, there is ample evidence that the third Transfer Committee was instrumental in "an enormous process of destruction" and the wholesale eviction of Palestinian Arabs from the just-formed state of Israel in 1948. The third Transfer Committee was formed in early May 1948 and was headed by:

• Yosef (Joseph) Weitz, a man obsessed by the idea of compulsory population TRANSFER (ethnic cleansing)
• Eliyahu (Eliahu) Sasson, representing the Jewish Agency's Arab Affairs Department
• Ezra Danin, representing the Israeli War Cabinet

The Transfer Committee's main goals were:

• The TRANSFER (ethnic cleansing) of the Palestinian people
• The DESTRUCTION of their homes and EXPROPRIATION [theft] of their land
• Preventing their return at all costs

The third Transfer Committee, especially Weitz, had unfettered access to David Ben-Gurion, the Israeli Cabinet, and Haganah officials in the field, all of which enabled it to become extremely effective and efficient in achieving its main goals (stated above). As a result, during Israel's anti-Arab pogrom of 1948, hundreds of Palestinian villages and thousands of individual Palestinian homes were destroyed, leaving around 750,000 Palestinians homeless, destitute refugees. Many of them ended up in Gaza and other refugee camps. Today around 80% of the inhabitants of Gaza are refugees and their descendents. Millions of other Palestinians live in exile, denied the right of return to their native land, even though Jews who have had no physical association with Palestine for a thousand years or more can "return" on a whim to squat on Palestinian land. Does that seem fair to you?

The quotes on this page paint a clear but troubling picture of the mindset of the three Transfer Committees and their members. Their racist worldview led to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, beginning in 1948 and continuing to the present day, with more than 27,000 house demolitions tracked and reported by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions since 1967. The chronology of quotes on this page will help establish the fact that the Zionists were planning to dispossess and evict the Palestinians long before the war of 1948, making claims that Israel only acted in "defense" a bald lie.

There are two central figures in this racist madness. One is David Ben-Gurion, Israel's George Washington. The other is Yosef Weitz, who was a member of all three Transfer Committees, and the head of the third and most destructive one. The quotes immediately below, taken from Weitz's personal diaries, demonstrate the depth of his obsession with compulsory REMOVAL and TRANSFER of Palestinians:

"It is our right to TRANSFER the Palestinians!"—Yosef (Joseph) Weitz
"We must work out a secret plan based on the REMOVAL of the Arabs ... [and] include it in American political circles."—Weitz
"There is no other way than to TRANSFER the Arabs from here to neighboring countries, all of them."—Weitz
"Not one village, not one [Arab] tribe should be left."—Weitz
"If the Arabs leave, the country will become wide and spacious for us [Jews]."—Weitz
"Only after this TRANSFER will the country be able to absorb millions of our [Jewish] brothers."—Weitz
"The TRANSFER of Arabs from the Jewish state [serves two aims]: to diminish the Arab population and release Arab land to Jews."—Weitz

You may also want to read and consider Israeli Prime Ministers who were Terrorists; they include Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon and David Ben-Gurion.

The Testimony of the Architect of TRANSFER, Yosef Weitz

The following is an illuminating article written by Yosef Weitz, the man in charge of acquiring land for the Jewish National Fund and the head of Israel’s third Transfer Committee, which in 1948 was assigned the task of evicting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the fledgling Jewish state. Weitz was writing for a Davar newspaper on September 29, 1967, just three months into Israel’s now 44-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza:

The first problem is understood by all and needs no explanations ... the need to sustain the character of a state which will henceforth be Jewish, and obviously in the near future, by the majority of its inhabitants, with a non-Jewish minority limited to fifteen percent. I reached this fundamental conclusion already as early as 1940, concerning which it is entered in my diary as follows:

Among ourselves it must be clear that there is no place in the country for both people’s together ... With the Arabs we shall not achieve our aim of being an independent people in this country. The only solution is Eretz Israel, at least the west part of Eretz Israel without Arabs ... and there is no other way but to TRANSFER the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, TRANSFER all of them, not one village or tribe should remain, and the TRANSFER must aim at Iraq, Syria, and even Transjordan ... There is no other alternative.

From this perspective a solution of TRANSFER was then suggested which was advocated by B. Katznelson, Y. Vulkani, and M. Ussishkin, all of them now deceased; initial investigations were undertaken to help neutralise this concept concretely. After (some) years, consequent to the UN decision to partition the country, the War of Independence broke out to our great happiness, and in its course a double miracle took place: a regional victory and the escape [i.e., expulsion] of the Arabs [who fled the fighting but were not allowed to return]. In the Six Day War only one great miracle took place: a tremendous territorial victory but the majority of the population of the liberated territories remained ‘fixed’ to their places, which can cause the destruction of the foundations of our state.

Analysis of Weitz's Article

In other words, for Israel to acquire land and not ethnically cleanse it of non-Jews is an unmitigated disaster, but to acquire land and purify it of non-Jews is a "miracle." Weitz kept detailed diaries, which are now part of the public record; they reveal a man with a compulsion for compulsory population transfer (ethnic cleansing). The remainder of this page is a chronology, largely through direct quotations, of the planning and implementation of TRANSFER by the Zionists, led by David Ben-Gurion and Yosef Weitz.

The Genesis of the Palestinian Exodus

How did things come to transpire as they did? We can find the genesis of the Palestinian exodus an 1895 diary entry of Theodr (Theodore) Herzl, the founder, prophet and evangelist of modern Zionism. Herzl was clearly writing a recipe for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, long before the Holocaust or any major acts of Arab violence against Jews in Palestine:

"[We Zionists will] spirit the penniless population across the border [of the Jewish state] into transit nations by denying them employment ... Both the process of EXPROPRIATION [theft of land] and the REMOVAL [ethnic cleansing] of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly."—Theodore Herzl writing in his diary on June 12, 1895

Herzl's plan was simple but diabolical. He intended to rob non-Jews of their jobs and thus of their incomes. Once they were penniless paupers, they could be dispossessed of the land they could no longer afford to keep. At that point they could be forced to leave the Jewish state, meaning that other "transit" nations would be forced to take them in and care for them. (This actually happened, and nations like Jordan and Lebanon have been saddled with the care of millions of Palestinian refugees, to this day, while Israeli Jews squat on their land and prosper.) Obviously people and governments who are doing the right things do not need to be "discrete" and "circumspect." As we will see, the Zionist leaders would say one thing in public, another thing in private, and even edit the transcripts of their meetings to remove the word "transfer," but in such a clumsy and haphazard fashion that they were unable to get away with their subterfuge and dark deeds.

Herzl described his preferred method of expropriation: "The voluntary expropriation will be accomplished through our secret agents. The Company would pay excessive prices. We shall then sell only to Jews, and all real estate will be traded only among Jews."—Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons

In other words, rich Jews would pay more for land than Arabs could afford, after they had been rendered penniless by the Zionists. Do Herzl's diaries accurately reflect his thoughts? Harry Zohn, the English translator of his diaries, says that Herzl's diaries are a "remarkably frank record of the incorruptible, outspoken Herzl who detested dissimulation and self-deception and who noted on the very first pages that his diary entries would be valueless if he attempted to play the hypocrite with himself. The Diaries are therefore a voluminous and unblushing compendium of Herzl's triumphs and tragedies, not merely in the arena of world politics but on a personal plane as well, presenting Herzl from within."—Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons

Herzl did more than just plot TRANSFER; he actively pursued it. In 1901, many years before Hitler, the Holocaust, or any major hostilities between Arabs and Jews, he presented his Draft Charter to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, which at that time ruled Palestine. Arminius Vambery, a Hungarian Orientalist who worked closely with Herzl, mentioned "a draft of the Charter which he [Herzl] intends to present to the Sultan and get it signed by him without any Secretary or Minister finding out about it." The highly secret plan was to offer the Sultan a non-refundable bribe of a million francs, in return for the option to establish a Jewish colony ("Jewish Colonial Trust") in Palestine. Paragraph three of the Charter discusses the right of Jews to TRANSFER non-Jews from the Jewish territory with the "exception of the Holy Places or places of worship" to "other provinces and lands throughout the Ottoman Empire." It is not obvious whether the TRANSFER was to be compulsory, but the wording "strongly indicates TRANSFER of a compulsory nature" and certainly does not prohibit it.

We also know that by 1934-1937, David Ben-Gurion was discussing compulsory population TRANSFER in his personal diaries and correspondence. In July 1937, Ben-Gurion, writing in his diary about the Peel TRANSFER proposal, said, "We should not assume that it is definitely impossible. If it were put into effect, it would be of tremendous advantage to us."

By July 12, 1937, Ben-Gurion had resolved any personal doubts to come out strongly in favor of ethnic cleansing, saying "if it [the Peel Report] does not remain a dead letter, is likely to give us something which we have never had ... namely the compulsory TRANSFER of Arabs from the Plains." In his diary entry of July 17, 1937, Ben-Gurion listed among the advantages of the Peel Commission's partition proposals: "All the Plains in the Jewish State will be cleared of their Arab residents." His goal was complete or near-complete eviction of Arabs from the Jewish state. He also listed among the disadvantages of the Report "the compulsory TRANSFER of all Jews from the Arab State." So according to the first Prime Minister of Israel, ethnic cleansing of Arabs was a very good thing, and ethnic cleansing of Jews was a very bad thing. How is that not racism?

The Jewish historian Benny Morris gives a number of examples of how Ben-Gurion supported the TRANSFER of Arabs from Palestine, then concludes: "... at no point during the 1930s and 1940s did Ben-Gurion ever go on record against the idea or policy of TRANSFER. On the contrary, Ben-Gurion left a paper trail a mile long as to his actual thinking, and no amount of ignoring, twisting and turning, manipulation, contortion, and distortion can blow it away."

This is a very important point: ethnic cleansing is morally wrong, a crime against peace and humanity. But David Ben-Gurion, even when he was in charge of Israel's military and government, never said or did anything to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Thus, the two most important figures in modern Zionism, Theodr Herzl and David Ben-Gurion, seemed to have a meeting of the minds, that the unthinkable, TRANSFER (ethnic cleansing) of non-Jews, was not only thinkable, but doable and good. Only the ethnic cleansing of Jews was a sin, and a crime ...

The Testimony of Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud and other Jewish Intellectuals

Anyone who doubts such assertions can verify the main gist by referring to the writings of two of the greatest Jewish thinkers of all time: Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, who both argued strongly against the racist excesses of the militant Zionists. Mohandas Gandhi, the great man of peace, also argued strongly against Zionist dispossession and displacement of Palestinians, saying, "What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct." Gandhi continued, "I wish they [the Palestinian Arabs] had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of such overwhelming odds."

When a Zionist tried to recruit Freud, the good doctor and founder of modern psychiatry dashed his hopes in a scathing letter, saying, "I concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust."

Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel in 1952. Why did Ben-Gurion say, "Tell me what to do if he says yes! I've had to offer him the post because it was impossible not to, but if he accepts we are in for trouble!" And why did Einstein turn down the presidency, saying, "I would have to tell the Israeli people things they would not like to hear"?

Einstein was remarkably consistent on his views about Palestine and Zionism: he always opposed the creation of a Jewish political state at the expense of good relations with the Palestinians. Einstein denied any superior rights for Jews, calling for "complete equality" for Palestinian Arabs as the "most important aspect" of Jewish policy: He said, "The most important aspect of our policy must be our ever-present, manifest desire to institute complete equality for the Arab citizens living in our midst ... The attitude we adopt toward the Arab minority will provide the real test of our moral standards as a people." Toward the end of his life, Einstein made it clear that he thought the Zionists and the nation of Israel had failed that litmus test of compete equality for Arabs.

When Einstein saw the initial stages of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, he was shocked and disturbed. He and 25 other Jewish intellectuals wrote an impassioned letter to the New York Times, which you can read at the link below, in which they accused militant Zionists like Menachem Begin of being racists, fascists and terrorists. Unfortunately, Menachem Begin later became a prime minister of Israel, as did other terrorists like Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon. What sort of nation keeps electing terrorists to its highest offices? Israel has had its George Washington, who owned slaves, and its Andrew Jackson, who forced Native Americans to walk the Trail of Tears. But isn't it past time for Israel to find and elect its Abraham Lincoln, and emancipate the victims of its racism and oppression?

If you are unfamiliar with the real history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, or have been told that Israel is "only defending itself," please read Albert Einstein's 1948 letter to the New York Times, then click your browser's "back" button to return to this page. If you want to understand how the theft of Palestinian land relates to Israel's latest offensive against Gaza, known as Operation "Pillar of Defense" or "Pillar of Clouds," please click here Amud Annan "Pillar of Fire." If you want to hear the opinion of the former U.S. president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who negotiated peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, please click here Jimmy Carter: "Israeli policy is to confiscate Palestinian territory."


A Historical Survey of Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 1895-1947 by Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons (available online)
International Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine, 1895-1947, A Historical Survey by Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons
Herzl to Eden by Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons
Expulsion Of The Palestinians by Nur Masalha
Zionism and the State of Israel: a Moral Inquiry by Michael Prior

Population TRANSFER is a very delicate subject. For this reason, many proposers confined the exposition of their ideas to diaries, private correspondence and closed meetings. In public they either ignored the subject of TRANSFER or spoke against it. Even those who did propose various schemes were often reluctant to specifically suggest compulsory TRANSFER. They relied on various euphemistic expressions to convey their intentions regarding compulsion ... One of the striking things to come to light during this research is the attempt to rewrite history and pretend that the Zionist leaders were completely opposed to the TRANSFER of Arabs, even to the extent of censoring portions of official minutes and amending of documents! This rewriting is reminiscent of the Russian Encyclopaedia.—Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons

In one of the first entries in his private diary dated June 1895, (even before he had decided on the final location of the Jewish State), Herzl wrote that it would be necessary to REMOVE the non-Jews from such a state. Herzl apparently realised that it would not be prudent to publicize such an idea, since there is not a hint of it in his famous book The Jewish State, which was published just a few months later.—Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons

The Genesis of the First Transfer Committee (1937): that "fateful" word, "transfer"

The twentieth Zionist Congress took place in Zurich, Switzerland, in August 1937. The speakers included three future Prime Ministers and a future President of Israel: David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Shertok (aka Sharett), Golda Meyerson (aka Meir) and Chaim Weizmann. The speeches given were translated into Hebrew and typed. Some of these typescripts still survive and are preserved in the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem. The speeches were also published in the Congress Newspaper and later in an official book entitled Stenographic Report of 20th Zionist Congress. So what was said at the time about population TRANSFER is well-documented. It seems obvious, however, that there were clumsy attempts to "edit out" many of the references to TRANSFER, which suggests that the editors know they were treading on very dangerous ground. But there were enough references of TRANSFER in non-deleted transcripts and in third-party commentary to verify that TRANSFER was, indeed, a hot topic of the day. The clumsy editing and its implications are discussed in The Collected Writings of Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simmons, which can be found and read online. The Jewish historian Benny Morris suggests that the editing may have been done by the speakers themselves, by the Zionist leaders, or by Moshe Kleinman, editor of the Congress Newspaper. In any case, the “editing” was quite amateurish. For example, while Ben-Gurion’s and Weizmann’s proposals on TRANSFER were deleted from the Congress Newspaper, a number of the deleted comments were referred to by other speakers in the same issue!

Here are a number of quotes by Congress luminaries that prove TRANSFER was being discussed abundantly:

According to the original transcript, Israel's future first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, said that one needed to examine the question of TRANSFER thoroughly, to see whether it was possible, essential, ethical and beneficial. “TRANSFER of population [i.e., Arabs] has taken place until now, in the Emek, in the Sharon and in other places. The work of the JNF on this subject is known to you. Now TRANSFER will have to be done to a completely different extent. In many parts of the country it will not be possible to have new Jewish settlement unless there is TRANSFER of Arab fellaheen ... Population TRANSFER will permit an extensive settlement programme.” He was obviously talking about much larger population transfers ("to a completely different extent") than the smaller transfers previously accomplished by the Zionists.

A study of the official minutes confirms that Ben-Gurion spoke about population TRANSFER. Yaacov Riftin, the Political Secretary of Hashomer Hazair, said that “a number of labour leaders have now spoken from the podium of this Congress in their agreement to the TRANSFER plan, which is anti-Socialist, and dangerous from the standpoint of Diaspora Jewry. If Ben-Gurion and Rubashov can say this, what can we expect from the Progressive Zionists?”

Various newspaper reports also confirm that Ben-Gurion spoke about TRANSFERS of Arabs. The Daily News Bulletin of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency dispatched from Zurich on August 8, 1937 quoted directly from his speech to the Zionist Congress. “For me, the decisive fact is that for the next 15 years the Jewish State will be able to receive another one-and-a-half million Jews and the possibility that Jewish-Arab understanding will be greater with the TRANSFER of the Arabs, ethically necessary and practicable ... TRANSFER of Arabs has repeatedly taken place before in consequence of Jews settling in different districts, and we shall have to provide the TRANSFERRED Arabs with money for settling under their own Government.”

Moshe Shertok, another future Israeli Prime Minister, also mentioned Ben-Gurion's reference to TRANSFER: “Ben-Gurion has already pointed out that the Kibbutz Mishmar Haemek owes its existence to the TRANSFER of Arabs from that place to another location.”

The official minutes reveal that Israel's future first President, Chaim Weizmann, told the Congress that he saw definite advantages in the partition plan: the size of the proposed Jewish State would be over a million dunums, the Jews would be in their own house, and “there will also be the possibility of population TRANSFER.”

Golda Myerson, a future Prime Minister of Israel, reminding the delegates that the Peel Report had proposed the TRANSFER of Arabs to other places, asked whether the Arabs had agreed to such a TRANSFER, or whether they were prepared to enter into negotiations on this proposal? She said that all this talk was wishful thinking. It would be fair for the Arabs who had plenty of other countries to leave Palestine for the Jews, but this would demand the consent and goodwill of the Arabs. (But she seemed to abandon all thoughts of consent and goodwill when on June 15, 1969 she told The Sunday Times: "There is no such thing as a Palestinian people ... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist." How anyone can obtain the consent and goodwill of people who don't exist, remains one of the unsolved mysteries of Zionism.)

Joseph Baratz, a leading figure in the Mapai party and a founder of the collective settlement movement in Palestine asked what Hashomer Hazair and the other opponents of TRANSFER feared: “Has not TRANSFER continued during our 40-50 years of work on the land? Have we not TRANSFERRED Arabs form Degania, Kinneret, Merchavia, Minhalel and Mishmar Haemek?” (In other words, ethnic cleansing was already being practiced, and it was working. A few days earlier in a lecture to the World Unity Council, Ben-Gurion had pointed out that in only a very few cases of Jewish settlement had it not been necessary to TRANSFER Arabs, adding that some of the TRANSFERS had been achieved by compulsion.) Baratz also mentioned Merchavia by way of example: “There, there was TRANSFER. In what way was that a sin?” Baratz then asked rhetorically, “What therefore is this artificial panic which is being created on this subject?”

Berl Katznelson spoke of the changes in attitude towards population TRANSFER that had been achieved under the British Mandate: “Years ago they said we were driving out the Arabs, but today they are speaking about the TRANSFER of tens of thousands of Arabs from one place to another.”

According to the official minutes Yitzchak Tabenkin did not mention TRANSFER. The original transcript, however, devotes a whole paragraph to his comments on TRANSFER. He said that Arabs would not leave voluntarily, concluding: “The only way remaining would be by force.”

Dr. Arthur Ruppin did not believe that Arabs would leave voluntarily. He pointed out that there were 300 Palestinian villages in question, with networks of relationships between people who had lived there for generations.

The first Hashomer Hazair speaker on the subject of TRANSFER was Eliezer Perry, a founder of Kibbutz Merchavia, who described this TRANSFER proposal as a “reactionary suggestion” which even if doomed to remain just an idle dream with no possibility of realisation, would “stain the flag of the Zionist movement” and show Jewish aspirations to be quite contrary to the needs of Palestinian Arabs.

Ya'acov Riftin, also representing Hashomer Hazair, felt the TRANSFER of Arabs from Palestine was an “attempt to kill the Zionism of today and would set up a barrier between Zionism and the 'latter days' of justice and social freedom ... The TRANSFER idea is dangerous.” He wanted the Congress to oppose partition and population TRANSFER strongly.

Mordechai Ben Tov of Hashomer Hazair wanted to know, “If, for example, we have here based the false, blemished and dangerous proposal of TRANSFER on the fact that a few Arabs near Mishmar Haemek moved a distance of a few metres to tend their fields.” He was very surprised that Weizmann, a man who carried a “dream in his heart,” could use this “fateful” word “TRANSFER.”

Mrs. Tamar De-Sola-Pool said that she spoke on behalf of the majority of the Young “Hadassah” Women of America. [“Hadassah,” the largest Zionist organisation in the world is a “voluntary, non-profit organisation dedicated to the ideals of Judaism, Zionism, American democracy, healing, teaching and medical research.”] She was disturbed that the Jewish people, who had learned through generations of suffering to be merciful, were speaking about the TRANSFER of the Arab inhabitants, people who had dwelt there for many generations.

Abba Hillel Silver, after referring to Dr. Ruppin's views on the difficulties inherent in TRANSFERRING three hundred thousand Arabs, concluded that “the TRANSFER of the Arab population can not be achieved and from the ethical aspect it should not be supported.” (But eight years later, Silver would support ex-President Hoover's plan to TRANSFER Arabs from Palestine to Iraq.)

Dr. Moshe Glikson, the editor of the newspaper Ha'aretz, pointed out that there was a great vagueness regarding TRANSFER and thus many wild illusions about it. He quoted Dr. Weizmann, who had said it was possible to TRANSFER one hundred thousand Arabs over a period of twenty years. While others believed a complete TRANSFER could be accomplished more quickly, Glikson regarded this as wishful thinking, and dangerous wishful thinking at that. He was of the opinion that not many Arab fellahin would be found who would agree to leave the Jewish State. Glikson's concluding paragraph on TRANSFER does not appear in the official minutes. In it he stated that “by way of compulsion we will not be able to remove the Arabs from the Jewish State and no settlement plan will rouse the Arab fellahin to leave the Jewish State and go to the impoverished Transjordan. And the Arab leaders and the nationalistic Arab youth for their part will make sure not to weaken the Arab irredenta in the Jewish State.”

Earlier in his speech, Glikson made a statement which also did not appear in the official minutes. He said that Shmuel Zuchovitsky, a leading figure in the agricultural sector, had asked Weizmann not to show any mercy on the question of a complete TRANSFER of Arabs in a short period of time. Furthermore, in the official minutes, the statements on TRANSFER which Glikson reports Weizmann as saying do not appear. Also, the Jewish Chronicle report on Weizmann's address to the Congress mentions a TRANSFER proposal which is missing from the official minutes.

Menachem Ussishkin, a member of the Central Committee, was also extremely skeptical about the possibility of putting the proposed TRANSFER plan into operation: “Suddenly Mohammed will leave our State. Why?” he asked. Ussishkin doubted whether in the probable event of the Arabs not agreeing to TRANSFER voluntarily, there was any hope that someone would compel them to depart from the country, leaving their land to the Jews.

The newspaper The New Palestine reproduced the text of the address by Stephen Wise, President of the Zionist Organization of America, to the Congress. In it, Wise devoted a paragraph to TRANSFER. He regarded a comparison of the proposed TRANSFER in Palestine to the Greco-Turkish population TRANSFER as “utterly illogical.” According to Wise, both the Greeks and the Turks were “eager” to be TRANSFERRED, as they were both “passionately yearning to return to their own land.” However, in the case of Palestine, there were two reasons why there could not be an exchange: (1) since there were few Jews living within the area designated to be the Arab State, there could hardly be any “exchange” of populations; (2) the Arabs would not want a decrease in their standard of living, which would accompany their TRANSFER from the Jewish to the Arab State. This paragraph of Wise's on TRANSFER is also missing from the official minutes.

After about two weeks of deliberations, nearly two-thirds of the delegates voted for a resolution which rejected the proposals of the Peel Commission on partition and empowered the Executive Committee to negotiate with the British Government about the precise terms for the proposed establishment of a Jewish State. As far as the accuracy of the minutes of the Congress are concerned, it is more than obvious that what is described as the “official” minutes are minutes which have been greatly tampered with, and it would therefore be more accurate to describe them as “censored” minutes. Benny Morris was very critical on this “doctoring” of historical documents, claiming that “the Zionist movement is perhaps one of the most skillful practitioners of this strange art.” He added that a “large part” of “the historic Zionist documents and protocols” which have “been opened up now appears to be deficient and faulty, if not patently false.” At the end of his article, Morris claimed that “the speeches, debates, diaries and memoranda that the Zionist bureaucrats issued wholesale passed through the sieve of political censorship on the way to publication: a large portion disappeared or was distorted. What happened to the 1937 documents also happened to Zionist documents from other years.”

A British Foreign Office minute summarizing the general consensus of the Congress regarding compulsory TRANSFER stated that “great stress was laid on the necessity for the enforced evacuation of the Arabs from the proposed Jewish area. However, even were Britain not to implement any forcible eviction of Arabs, it would be of little real practical significance, since the refusal of the Jews on principle, to employ Arab labour and the urgency of the Jews to claim all available land for new immigrants would make the position of any Arabs left in the Jewish area most difficult so that they may well be driven out by Jewish economic pressure in almost as disastrous a way as if they were removed by us by force.”

The First Transfer Committee (1937-1938): "Let them live anywhere but here!"

Although a number of the delegates had spoken of the impracticability of TRANSFERRING Arabs from Palestine, the Jewish Agency took the TRANSFER idea very seriously. Towards the end of 1937, they established a “Committee for the Transfer of Population” [the first of three such committees] which, as part of its work, commissioned a number of memoranda and statistical surveys on various aspects of TRANSFER.

On October 25, 1937, a conference was held in order to discuss a number of subjects including the “Transfer of Population.” The handwritten notes contain the initials of the participants, who seem to have included Zionist luminaries like David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Shertok and Dov Joseph. The “Committee for the Transfer of Population” had the following membership:

Dr. Jacob Thon, Director of the Palestine Land Development Company
Dr. Abraham Granovsky, who had made a special study of population TRANSFER and was on the Directorate of the Jewish National Fund
Joseph Weitz, Director of the Jewish National Fund's Land Development Division
Dr. Alfred Bonne, an economist who had directed the Economic Archives for the Near East in Jerusalem
Joseph Nachami, Director of the Jewish National Fund Land Office for the Galilee area
Eliahu Epstein (later Elath), Director of the Middle East Section of the Jewish Agency's Political Department, acted as secretary

The Population Transfer Committee held its first meeting on November 15, 1937. Dr. Joseph opened the meeting by telling its members that their function was to “prepare a programme for the TRANSFER of population and to coordinate the information required for this.” Their foremost task was to assemble comprehensive details on the Arab population dwelling in the area designated as the future Jewish State.

Weitz asked whether the Committee was to express its opinion on the expediency of existing possibilities for the TRANSFER of the Arab population, or just to assemble information. Thon answered that the Committee must first assemble and digest the information. Only then would it be possible to discuss Weitz's question. Granovsky wanted the Committee to examine the possibility of granting the Arabs some favour in exchange for any concessions they might make to the Jews. He was very concerned with the mechanics of TRANSFER and felt that the Committee should discuss “how the TRANSFER of population will be carried out” and “by what means the TRANSFER will be implemented.” Thon said that the activities of the Committee should be divided between assembling information concerning the Arab population, and investigating opportunities for agriculture in Transjordan. This, said Thon, was the only way to solve the problem of the TRANSFER of the Arabs living within the borders of the proposed Jewish State. Nachmani said that the Committee “needs to find a solution to the question of the means of TRANSFER. This forces us to deal not only with the details and minutiae concerning a plan for the REMOVAL of the residents but also to concern ourselves with the possibilities for their resettlement elsewhere.” Weitz disagreed. He felt that the Committee's first consideration should be how to free more land for Jewish settlement in areas of Arab concentration “and what is the optimum solution for the REMOVAL of the Arab residents from these areas.”

The second meeting of the Population Transfer Committee took place less than a week later on November 21, 1937, when Weitz delivered the opening lecture to the Committee. He explained that the purpose of the TRANSFER of Arabs from the proposed Jewish State was not only to “decrease the Arab population” but also to “vacate land at present settled and held by Arabs, and free it for Jewish settlement.” According to Weitz's plan, about 87,000 Arabs were to be TRANSFERRED to the areas of Palestine designated as the future Arab State, to Transjordan and to Syria. Weitz's plan allowed for the REMOVAL of up to a third of the Arab population from the area of the planned Jewish State. Bonne, however, stressed the need “to TRANSFER the maximum possible number of Arabs and not be satisfied initially with a partial solution.” Joseph said that the Committee should not limit themselves to the TRANSFER of the tenant farmers and the Bedouins alone: “We must work on a programme of TRANSFER for the remaining classes of Arabs as well.” Thon agreed and said that the Committee's chief concern should be establishing the order of priority for the TRANSFER of the various classes of Arabs. Ashbel pointed out that this could be done by utilizing existing research on the social structure of the Arab population. Towards the conclusion of the meeting, Weitz added that “the possibility of TRANSFERRING all the Arabs must be investigated,” but if this were not possible, then the Committee would have to decide “who it will be possible to TRANSFER in the near future.” He thought that the TRANSFER would be a lengthy proposition but that the aim should be the speediest possible completion of the TRANSFER. Weitz concluded by proposing that the Committee set up two sub-committees, one of which would look into procedural matters and the other assemble information regarding land and population. His suggestion was accepted. Regarding this meeting Weitz wrote in his diary, “I opposed the view that on the one hand we must increase the number of Arabs to be TRANSFERRED and on the other hand (accordingly) increase the time period (for its implementation). I said that in my opinion we will gain no benefit from this. The objective must be to decrease the [Arab] population by one third but during a period of two to three years.” He also commented that Dr. Dov Joseph would use compulsion to implement the TRANSFER were the matter to be put into his hands.

At the following meeting held on November 29, 1937, Dr. Mendelsohn, an expert on population TRANSFER, gave a lecture on the experiences and conclusions to be gained from past population TRANSFERS. Experts in Greece were of the opinion that the TRANSFER of villages on a large scale was almost impossible without compulsion or the threat of compulsion. The large scale TRANSFER which had taken place in the Balkans could only be implemented by the use of intensive agrarian reform, and this would likewise have to be the case in Palestine. In addition, financial incentives would have to be given and specific financial arrangements made. With regard to the time span to implement such a TRANSFER, Mendelsohn said that the TRANSFER of Turks from Greece involved 300,000 people and was accomplished in 12 months. One would have to see that at least the first stage of the Arab TRANSFER from Palestine would be finished within a ten year period, otherwise the TRANSFER would be offset by natural population growth. After very briefly discussing the methods of resettlement in the Balkans, he went on to explain the special requirements regarding Palestine, namely: the order in which different classes of Arabs should be TRANSFERRED; the development of Transjordan for the purpose of resettlement; the special arrangements for the TRANSFER of Druze villages from the upper Galilee to Syria and Lebanon; and the moral responsibility towards the Arab TRANSFEREES. Mendelsohn concluded his lecture on a comment regarding the financial aspects of such a TRANSFER. Following the lecture, various other speakers briefly mentioned a few of the points discussed by Mendelsohn in his lecture. These included agrarian reform and the question of the TRANSFER of other minority groups such as the Druze and Christians. In a letter written on the following day by Thon to the Political Department of the Jewish Agency, he pointed out that “one of the foremost and decisive conditions for the success of the proposed Jewish State is the TRANSFER of the Arab population from its area.” Thon said that public opinion in Europe and America and amongst the Diaspora Jews could be influenced positively by publicizing the parallel between the successful compulsory Greco-Turkish population exchange and the proposed Arab population TRANSFER.

A meeting of the Sub-Committee on Procedure for the Transfer of Arabs was held on December 1, 1937. In the course of his opening speech, Thon pointed out the differences between the Peel Commission Report, which spoke of the possibility of compulsory TRANSFER of the Arabs, and the comments of Ormsby-Gore at the Permanent Mandates Commission, rejecting compulsion. Thon said that in view of the importance of TRANSFER for the successful establishment of the Jewish State, various inducements such as monetary grants should be used to urge the Arabs to TRANSFER voluntarily and within a set period of time, “and only after all these methods fail should compulsion be considered.”

The meeting continued on December 5, 1937, and “after a prolonged discussion it was decided unanimously to propose the following formula as the stand of the Committee on the question of compulsion. The proposed Jewish State will not be viable as long as a large Arab minority remains. The TRANSFER of the Arab population in large numbers is therefore a pre-condition for the establishment of the State,” [because] Arabs in the Jewish State would form a fifth column and the land occupied by the Arabs was needed by the Jewish State. In the event of not achieving the agreement of the Arabs to their TRANSFER or of its non-implementation by England with or without the co-operation of international bodies, the TRANSFER will not be realised.”

The second Sub-Committee which dealt with the details of resettlement also met on December 5, 1937. Opening the meeting, Weitz said the Sub-Committee had to decide “if the population TRANSFER must be total or if we should be satisfied in the early stages with a partial TRANSFER.” Ben-Ami, a representative of the Jewish Farmers' Federation of Palestine felt that for practical reasons the TRANSFER of population was impossible. Nachmani, in considering candidates for TRANSFER said that there was “full justification” for the REMOVAL of homeless and unemployed Arabs from the area of the proposed Jewish State. “Now”, he said, “we must concentrate on that point and consider both a maximal and minimal plan.” Epstein said, “This Sub-Committee must prepare material concerning the question of a total TRANSFER,” while admitting the right of the Sub-Committee to determine the order of priority in the TRANSFER of the various classes of Arabs. The meeting discussed other problems which would need verifying, such as land ownership, size of rural and urban populations, and social classes among the Arab population. Towards the end of the meeting, Nachmani proposed investigating the possibilities of settlement in Syria and Transjordan. Ben-Ami was against TRANSFERRING Arabs to Transjordan as he required that this area be left empty for future Jewish settlement. However, he agreed that in the case of absolute necessity, the Arabs could be settled in the southern part of Transjordan. The meeting resolved that within a fortnight, Nachmani and Epstein should present material on the possibilities of settlement in Syria and Transjordan, after which the Committee would make a general inspection of the various sites in Syria.

The minutes of the next meeting of the Sub-Committee on Procedure, held on December 19, 1937, again quoted the resolution on “compulsion” but very little else was reported.

In late December, the British Government issued a dispatch “Policy in Palestine” presenting a complete volte-face. According to this document the British Government had “not accepted the Commission's proposal for the compulsory TRANSFER in the last resort of Arabs from the Jewish to the Arab area.”

On February 3, 1938, Simon wrote to Thon informing him that Shertok wanted the Sub-Committee on Procedure to investigate the possibility of finding suitable vacant land in the proposed Arab State, in Transjordan and in Syria and to prepare a plan for the resettlement of the Arabs TRANSFERRED there from the Jewish state. He continued, “Such a plan is a pre-condition for all negotiations on our part on the question of compulsion.” So even though the British Government had rejected compulsory TRANSFER, the Jewish Agency still proposed to consider the question.

At a meeting held on March 10, 1938, to discuss the collation of material for the Woodhead Commission, Simon was requested to convene an early meeting of the Transfer Committee, to invite Shertok, Hexter and Joseph to attend, and to ask this Committee to compile figures regarding the absorptive capacity of Palestine and Transjordan. At this meeting which took place on March 23, 1938, Thon reported to the Committee on the assemblage, then in progress, of data on Arab villages situated in the proposed Jewish State. A discussion on the report followed, after which Thon mentioned the search for vacant land, especially in Transjordan and Syria, for the resettlement of the Arabs leaving the Jewish State.

At a meeting of the Population Transfer Committee held about a week later on March 23, 1938, Epstein delivered a report on the material he had assembled concerning the settling of Arabs from Palestine in Syria. He felt that the Syrian Government might be interested in increasing its Arab population near the border with Turkey, which was in constant danger from the Kurds and the Bedouins who lived there.

On March 31, 1938, Simon wrote a letter to David Horowitz, who at that time was Director of the Economic Department of the Jewish Agency, informing him that at a meeting of the Borders Committee the question was raised regarding the possibility of TRANSFER of Arabs from the cities of Jaffa, Ramleh and Lod to the proposed Arab State. It had been agreed to refer the matter to Horowitz for a report on the economic and financial possibilities of such a TRANSFER.

On April 28, 1938, Epstein submitted a twenty-four page memorandum in Hebrew to Thon, which included topographic, demographic, economic and political information and also “suggestions regarding TRANSFER of the Arab population from the proposed Jewish state [to the Jazirah in Syria].”

The next meeting of the TRANSFER Committee seems to have taken place on May 22, 1938. Wilhelm Hecker delivered a lecture on the question of fixing the borders of the proposed Jewish state and the TRANSFER of Arabs. In his opinion “from 40,000 to 50,000 thousand families should be TRANSFERRED to Iraq.”

On June 12, 1938, the Sub-Committee on Population Transfer met and were presented with technical information on various matters pertaining to TRANSFER, including the size of land-holdings among the Arabs.

In oral testimony given by Eliahu Epstein to the historian Yossi Katz in September 1987, the former stated that the last meeting of this Committee was the meeting held on June 12, 1938. The Committee was never formally dissolved and no memorandum by it was ever presented to the Woodhead Commission. In summarizing the reasons for this Committee not being able to “translate theoretical discussion into practicality,” Katz wrote that they had “insufficient data in their possession.” To obtain such further data would have required “vast amounts of time and capital.” In addition, there was no “body, either in Palestine or in the international arena” who “would impose a coerced TRANSFER, which was a necessary condition for implementing any TRANSFER whatsoever, given the Palestinian reality of that period.” On June 14, 1938, a meeting of the Committee for Determination of Agricultural Absorptive Capacity of Different Areas of the Country took place. At this meeting, Thon said that without the TRANSFER of Arab agricultural workers to the neighbouring countries, there could be no large scale Jewish immigration: “in short, without TRANSFER there can be no absorption.” Granovsky felt that there were two alternatives; “Either we will be given the opportunity of TRANSFERRING a decisive number of the Arab agricultural workers to the neighbouring countries, or in the event of this being impossible, that the Jewish State is given unlimited powers for agricultural legislation.” He said that, discounting the matter of population TRANSFER, the Committee must arrange a temporary settlement programme, a programme of agrarian reform based on compulsory EXPROPRIATION of excess land, and a development programme. At the end of July 1938, Bonne sent Joseph a twelve-page confidential memorandum on the financial aspects of the TRANSFER of the Arabs. The subjects in this memorandum included the Arab population in the Jewish State, the classes of peasants, the cost of resettlement of the Arabs, various problems regarding land prices, the methods and sources of finance and the purchase of land and other immovables belonging to Arabs within the Jewish State. As we have seen, over the course of nine months, the Jewish Agency spared no pains in assembling information and statistical data, and held numerous meetings, in order to prepare a programme for the TRANSFER of Arabs from Palestine. But, lacking any way to impose transfer on Palestinians at the time, it more or less gave up.

What were the Committee's ultimate conclusions? To resettle Arabs, the Committee calculated that 1.15 million dunums would have to be purchased in Transjordan and that it would take nearly 10 years to complete the TRANSFER. Ben-Gurion opted instead for a total evacuation of Arabs from the proposed Jewish state. He said that he looked at the Jewish partition only as a provisional solution “on the basis that after we build a strong force following the establishment of the state, we will abolish the partition of the country and we will expand to the whole Land of Israel.” He also opined at one point that “we will not achieve this by preaching sermons on the mount, but by machine-guns which we will need.” Fearing a moral backlash from world opinion against forced expulsion of the Palestinian population, the Committee considered ways of containing such a backlash. But the Committee members did not seem to have moral objections themselves. One Committee member said: “If you ask me whether it is moral to remove 60,000 families from their place of residence … I will say to you that it is moral. I am ready to come and defend the moral side of it before the Almighty and the League of Nations.” Ben-Gurion obviously agreed, saying: "I support compulsory TRANSFER. I do not see anything immoral in it."

The Second Transfer Committee (1941-1942): "very cautious" secrecy

On July 10, 1941, Moshe Sharett advised Yosef Weitz, one of the architects of the "TRANSFER solution" about how to conduct the second Transfer Committee's work without attracting attention. He told Weitz: "The Committee must work quietly and without publicity ..." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 134)

Weitz had proposed to Sharett and Eliezer Kaplan that the Jewish Agency appoint a committee to investigate ways of implementing the TRANSFER of Palestinian Arabs to Syria, Iraq and Transjordan. Weitz proposed himself, Zalman Lifschitz and Yosef Nahmani as members of the second Transfer Committee. Berl Katznelson approved of Weitz’s plan on August 28, 1941, confiding that he believed TRANSFER was the only solution, and would be possible at the end of WWII. Katznelson, the "conscience" of Jewish nationalist socialism, nonetheless was a firm advocate of TRANSFER right up to his death in 1944.

In August 1941, Weitz was given the go-ahead to "very cautiously" survey al-Jazirah in north-eastern Syria, a region which had been featured in earlier TRANSFER proposals, with a view to establishing it as a destination for Palestinian Arabs. After visiting the region, Weitz concluded that Syrian and Iraqi Jazirah could absorb up to two million Palestinian Arabs. He recommended that he report on his visit in a meeting with Sharett, Katznelson, Bernard Joseph and others, to decide general lines of action. Kaplan suggested that Joseph prepare material for implementation in the post-war period. Joseph set off on a secret mission to Syria later in October, and by late November, Kaplan, Weitz, Joseph and others were further discussing Syrian and Transjordan options for the TRANSFER. Meetings continued throughout 1942. On May 31, 1942, Weitz discussed the TRANSFER plan with Avraham Granovsky, the new chairman of the JNF. Granovsky informed Weitz that a committee of himself, Kaplan, Sharett and Joseph had been set up to work out a plan for TRANSFER activities, but warned that such planning should be carried out very cautiously. Weitz agreed to prepare an outline of the investigation work for population TRANSFER, and on the following day informed Kaplan of the need to formulate a detailed plan to evacuate the Hula region of its Arab inhabitants at the end of the war.

Meanwhile, the Irgun and Lohamei Herut Yisrael (LEHI, also called the ‘Stern Gang’ after its founder, Avraham Stern) both advocated TRANSFER. Stern promoted the TRANSFER of not only Palestinians, but of Lebanese, Transjordanians and Syrians who lived in what would become the land of Israel. He made contact with fascist Italy in the hope that if Mussolini conquered the Middle East he would allow a Jewish state in Palestine. When Mussolini’s troops were defeated in North Africa, Stern tried to make contact with Hitler to ensure the same end after Germany had defeated Britain (Gilbert 1998:111). In its memorandum to the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine in 1947, and in its political programme of July-August 1948 in preparation for the first Knesset elections, LEHI called for the compulsory evacuation of the entire Arab population of Palestine, preferably to Iraq, and proposed a population exchange between Palestinian Arabs and Jews from Arab countries (Masalha 1992:30).

The Third Transfer Committee (1948): an "enormous process of destruction"

In a letter by Ezra Danin to Yosef Weitz in May 1948 regarding the establishment of a Transfer Committee, it was described as "an institution whose role will be ... to seek ways to carry out TRANSFER of the Arab population at this opportunity when it has left its normal place of residence ... Let us not waste the fact that a large Arab population has moved from its home, and achieving such a thing again would be VERY difficult in NORMAL times ... if we do not seek to encourage the return of the Arabs ... then they must be confronted with faits accomplis." Among the faits accomplis he proposed were the destruction of Palestinian houses, "settling Jews in all areas evacuated" and expropriating Palestinian properties. (Benny Morris, p. 135; Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p.187)

On May 28, 1948 Yosef Weitz met Moshe Sharett (who played an important roll in the first and second Transfer Committees between 1937-1942) and asked whether "action should be taken to turn the flight of the Arabs from the country and blocking their return into an established fact?" If so, he proposed to entrust two or three persons "to deal with this according to a premeditated plan." He also suggested that "a three-person committee" composed of Danin, Sasson and himself, be appointed to "work out a plan of action directed [at achieving] the TRANSFER goal." Sharett congratulated Weitz on his initiative and declared that he, too, believed that this "phenomena [of Palestinian flight] must be exploited and turned into an established fact. (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p.188)

Two days later, Yosef Weitz noted in his diary: "From now on, I shall call it the Transfer Committee. It seems that [Moshe] Sharett [the first Israeli foreign minister] took measures approving the appointment of this committee the day before yesterday [on May 28, 1948] in talks with secretaries. In the evening I discussed this question [population TRANSFER] with [Eliezar] Kaplan [the first Israeli finance minister] and he also thinks that the TRANSFER fact should be consolidated and the departing [Palestinian Arabs] not allowed to return." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 188)

On June 5, 1948, Weitz met Ben-Gurion in Tel Aviv and gave him the Blueprint of the Transfer Committee. The Blueprint caption was "Scheme for the Solution of the Arab Problem in the State of Israel." The Blueprint was contained in a three-page memorandum signed by Weitz, Danin, and Sasson. It called for:

"Retrospective TRANSFER"
Preventing Palestinian Arabs from returning to their homes
Destroying Palestinian Arab villages during military operations
Preventing cultivation and harvesting of Palestinian Arab lands
Settling Jews in Palestinian Arab towns and villages
Instituting legislation barring the return of the refugees
Launching a propaganda campaign for the resettlement of the refugees in other places

According to Yosef Weitz, Ben-Gurion "agreed to the whole [TRANSFER policy] line," but thought that the Yishuv (Palestinian Jewish community before 1948) should first take care of the destruction of the Palestinian villages, establish Jewish settlements and prevent Palestinian cultivation and only later worry for the organized resettlement of the Palestinian refugees in the Arab countries. (Benny Morris, p. 136-7; Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p.189)

According to Ben-Gurion in the early May 1948, he approved establishing the Transfer Committee to oversee "the cleaning up of the Arab settlements, cultivation of [Arab] fields and their settlement [by Jews], and the creation of labour battalion carry out this work." (Benny Morris, p. 137)

Although the Israeli official Cabinet had not been yet given, the Transfer Committee continued functioning, supervising the systematic destruction of villages in various sections as part of a policy designed to further Palestinian exodus and the return of the refugees. The actual destruction was the joint effort of the army and the Jewish settlements. The Israeli historian Benny Morris described the influence Yosef Weitz and the Transfer Committee had on the Cabinet and the implementation of its goals: "At this stage [early June] Weitz was not to be deterred by the lack of formal, written permit for his [Transfer Committee's] activities... [He talked] with Danin about how to go about destroying the abandoned villages—where would the money come from, the tractors, the dynamite, the manpower? And where it best to begin? ... With most able-bodied men in the Yishuv conscripted into the IDF, with most equipment, such as tractors and tracked caterpillars, in use by the army or in agriculture, and with dynamite is perennially short supply, Weitz had the job of organizing what amounted to an enormous project of destruction ...

But there is no doubt that Ben-Gurion agreed to Weitz's scheme. Finance Minister Elizer Kaplan said as much to Weitz when they met on 8 June, adding his own endorsement of the plan ... On 13 June, Weitz traveled north to the Beit Shean and Jezreel valleys, where he saw: "Our people ... reaping in the fields of [the Palestinian Arab village of] Zarin. In Kibbutz Beit Hashita, Weitz met Goldenberg, Savid Baum from Kfar Yehezkeel, and the commander of the IDF's (Golani Brigade) battalion in the
Jezreel valley, Avraham Yoffe. From the start of our talk, Weitz recorded, it became clear that there is agreement among us on the question of the abandoned villages: destruction, renovation, and settlement [by Jews] ..." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p.190)

On Jun 16, 1948 Yosef Weitz noted in his diary while watching the destruction of a Palestinian village (al-Mughar): "Three tractors are completing the destruction. I was surprised nothing moved in me at the sight ... NO REGRET AND NO HATRED, as this is the WAY of the world... The dwellers of these mud houses did not want us to exist here." (Benny Morris, p. 162; Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 190)

And on the same date, Yosef Weitz reported to Ben-Gurion a progress report on the destruction of the Palestinian towns; he wrote: "[al-]Mughar, Fajja,
Biyar Adas have been destroyed. [Destruction is proceeding in] Miska, Beit Dajan (east of Tel Aviv), [in] Hula [Valley], [in] Hawassa near Haifa, As Sumeiriya near Acre and Ja'tun [perhaps Khirbat Ja'tun] near Nahariya, Manshiya ... near Acre. Daliyat ar Ruha has been destroyed and work is about to begin at [al-]Buteimat and Sabbarin." (Benny Morris, p. 162)

Late October 1948, as the mass majority of the Palestinian refugees were already ethnically cleansed, the Transfer Committee submitted its final memorandum to the Cabinet; it stated: "The EXODUS of the Arabs beyond the boundaries of the State of Israel was not from the start an impossible occurrence and its occurrence is not among the surprises that have never been predicted ... On the contrary, much had been said about such a possibility, which has come out of planned
considerations, in recent years, as a solution to the problem of the whole Land of Israel." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p.196)

When Israel became under increased UN and international pressure to allow the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes, farms, and business, Eliahu Sasson
wrote Moshe Sharett in September 1948: "I would advice reconsidering the [Palestinian] refugee problem ... I do not by this advise mean, heaven forbid, the return of all the refugees. No, again no. My meaning is the return of a small part of them, forty to fifty thousand, over a long period ... [starting] immediately, to silence a lot of people in the next meeting of the UN [General Assembly]." (Benny Morris, p. 147)

In August 1948, a report reached the leadership of the Mapam party describing the destruction of the Palestinian villages based on the instructions of Yosef Weitz and the Transfer Committee. The report stated: "The destruction of the Arab villages has been going on for some months now. We are on the Syrian border and there is a danger that Arabs will use [the abandoned villages] for military operation if they get the chance. But I spoke to a number of members from [kibbutz] Ma'ayan Baruch and nearby Kibbutzim and I got the impression that there exists the possibility that there is a desire to destroy the villages and [the Palestinian] houses so that it will be impossible for the Arabs to return to them. A week ago a representative of the JNF [possibly Yosef Nahmani, director of the JNF's Galilee district office and Weitz's agent in the area] came to visit. He saw that in the [abandoned Palestinian] village of As Sanbariya, which is a kilometer from Ma'ayan Baruch, several houses are still standing, albeit without roofs. He told the secretariat of the kibbutz to destroy the houses immediately and he said openly that this will enable us to take tithe village's lands, because the Arabs won't be able to return there. I am sorry to say the kibbutz agreed immediately without thinking about what they were doing." (Benny Morris, p. 168)

The disjuncture between what actually happened to the indigenous Arab population of Palestine in 1947–49 and the official Israeli version is striking. The Israeli government pamphlet on the refugee question, first published in 1953, proclaimed that the Palestinian Arabs were induced or incited to leave temporarily by express instructions broadcast by the president of the Arab Higher Executive (the Mufti, Haj Amin Husseini) and surrounding Arab states, to afford the Arab forces the opportunity to defeat the Zionist invaders without Palestinian losses. The charge is a component of the standard Israeli myth of origins, notwithstanding the absence of corroborating evidence, and the presence of abundant proof to expose it as false. Even the report of the intelligence branch of the Israel Defence Force (‘Emigration of the Arabs of Palestine in the Period 1.12.1947–1.6.1948’) ascribes the flight of 72 per cent of the Palestinian refugees (some 391,000 people during that critical period) to Israeli military force. It stresses that the exodus was contrary to the desires of the Arab Higher Committee and the neighbouring Arab states. In fact, Arab broadcasts encouraged the population to stay put, to the extent of issuing threats to stave off the exodus (see Hitchens1988:75). The myth is still repeated, despite the fact that already in 1961 Erskine Childers revealed that as a guest of the Israeli Foreign Office in 1958 he requested to see the primary evidence for the charge that the Palestinians had been urged to flee by the Arab leadership. Despite claims of ‘a mountain of evidence’ and a ‘wealth of evidence’, no evidence, though promised, was produced then, or since (London’s Spectator 12 May 1961).

The evidence customarily offered is a recourse of desperation. The allegation of an ‘announcement made over the air’ by the Arab Higher Committee to account for the flight of Arabs in the Deir Yassin ‘incident’ appears to have emanated from a Cyprus-based correspondent, who depended on an uncorroborated Israeli source. The second plank, the contention that the Greek-Catholic Archbishop of Galilee had urged his flock to leave has been denied categorically by the Archbishop himself. In an effort to clear up the matter, Childers examined both the BBC records which had monitored all Middle East broadcasts throughout 1948, and a corroborating American monitoring unit, and found that there is repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put. (Hitchens 1988:77) Moreover, there is abundant evidence for systematic ‘horror recordings’ and a ‘psychological blitz’ on the part of the Yishuv to clear the area of Arabs (Childers 1987:183–202). Yitzhak Rabin, who presided over some of the most ruthless expulsions of the1948 war, sought to perpetuate the myth that the expulsion of the Palestinians was brought about by the Mufti ‘s alleged call to the Arabs to leave (N. Finkelstein 1995:195). On 12 July 1948, after the slaughter of more than 250 Arabs in Lydda—they were caught in cross-fire according to Gilbert (1998:218)—Head of Operations Rabin ordered: The inhabitants of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age ... Yiftah (Brigade HQ) must determine the method’. A participant in the ‘death march’ from Lydda recalls, ‘I cannot forget three horror-filled days in July of 1948. The pain sears my memory, and I cannot rid myself of it no matter how hard I try’ (Rantisi 1990:23) Although a similar order was issued for the expulsion of the inhabitants of neighbouring Ramle, Israeli historians during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s insisted that the inhabitants had violated the terms of surrender, and ‘were happy at the possibility given them of evacuating’ (Morris 1990a:2–3). Rabin’s admission that what happened in Lydda and Ramle had been ‘expulsions’ was excised from his text by Israeli government censors, but to his embarrassment the New York Times later published the offending passage (23 October 1979—see Kidron 1988:90–94).

Israel’s real, but publicly undeclared intentions are confirmed by its ongoing insistence up to the present day on not allowing the Palestinians to return: ‘Israelis like to argue whether the Arabs escaped voluntarily or were expelled by us. As if this made any difference. We could always have let them return after the war’ (‘The 1948 Refugees are the Original Sin of Israeli Society’, Ha’aretz, December 5, 1993). Whether they left ‘under orders, or pressure’ or not, justice and international law demand that their right to return on the cessation of hostilities be honoured (Zionism and the State of Israel: a Moral Inquiry:194-196).

Soon after the war's end in 1949, Yosef Weitz pleaded with Ben-Gurion to take a firm and unequivocal stand against any possibility of restoring the Palestinian refugees to their homes. In September he proposed a series of measures which would drive the refugees farm from the border areas, deep into the Arab hinterland. He insisted that Palestinian refugees: ". ... must be harassed continually." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 29-30)

In mid-1949 the Transfer Committee recommended that if Israel was to be compelled to repatriate Palestinian refugees in the future, she must categorically refuse to return them to their villages—only to the towns, where they should not exceed 15% of the Jewish population. (1949, The First Israelis, p. 29-30; Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p.199)

Related pages: Christians may want to consider the ethical question What would Jesus do? If you are unfamiliar with the real history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, or have been told that Israel is "only defending itself," please read Albert Einstein's 1948 letter to the New York Times and Einstein on Palestine: the Prophet of Peace. If you want to understand how the maps below relate to Israel's new offensive against Gaza, known as Operation "Pillar of Defense" or the biblical "Pillar of Clouds," please click here Amud Annan "Pillar of Fire." If you want to hear the opinion of the former U.S. president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who negotiated peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, please click here Jimmy Carter: "Israeli policy is to confiscate Palestinian territory."

Map 1 of 1946 Palestine shows more than 90% of the land belonging to Palestinians; at this point Jewish settlers had paid for most of the land they occupied
Map 2 of 1947 U.N. partition plan of Israel and Palestine; the land in the white areas was not "given" to Israel; Israeli Jews took the additional land
Map 3 of 1967 borders of Israel and Palestine; these are the "1967 lines" aka as the "1949 armistice lines"; once again Israeli Jews took the additional land
Map 4 of 2000 borders shows how Israel keeps taking land outside its legal borders, creating discontiguous Palestinian bantustans

The HyperTexts