Palestinian Propaganda Map Deconstructed

This is cross posted by Elder of Ziyon

Anti-Israel  (and now other*) organizations are fond of showing the following graphic on their websites:

This map is a lie.

The first panel has the biggest lie:

While I presume that the white sections are indeed the land that was privately owned by Jews, the land in green was not privately owned by Arabs.

Only a tiny percentage of land in Palestine was privately owned. The various categories of land ownership included:

  • Mulk: privately owned in the Western sense.
  • Miri: Land owned by the government (originally the Ottoman crown) and suitable for agricultural use. Individuals could purchase a deed to cultivate this land and pay a tithe to the government. Ownership could be transferred only with the approval of the state. Miri rights could be transferred to heirs, and the land could be sub-let to tenants. If the owner died without an heir or the land was not cultivated for three years, the land would revert to the state.
  • Mahlul: Uncultivated Miri lands that would revert to the state, in theory after three years.
  • Mawat (or Mewat): So-called “dead”, unreclaimed land. It constituted about 50 to 60% of the land in Palestine. It belonged to the government. …If the land had been cultivated with permission, it would be registered, at least under the Mandate, free of charge.

By the early 1940s Jews owned about one third of Mulk land in Palestine and Arabs about two-thirds. The vast majority of the total land, however, belonged to the government, meaning that when the state of Israel was established, it became legally Israel’s. (I believe that about 77% of the land was owned by the government, assuming 6 million dunams of private land as shown in this invaluable webpage on the topic from which I got much of this information.)

To say that the green areas were “Palestinian” land is simply a lie.

Now the next one:

While this is an accurate representation of the partition plan, it has nothing to do with land ownership. The entire purpose of this map is to make it appear that Israel has been grabbing Arab land consistently, to serve as a bridge between maps 1 and 3. What is not said, of course, is that Israel accepted the partition and the Arabs did not, so as a result Israel in 1949 looked like it does in map 3.

Map 3 is still a lie, however, because in no way was the green land “Palestinian” at that time. Gaza was administered by Egypt and the West Bank annexed by Jordan. No one at the time spoke about a Palestinian Arab state on the areas controlled by Arab states – only in Israel.

In other words, this progression of maps is a series of lies meant to push a bigger lie, and it is tragic that a lot of people believe them to be the truth.

Here is a small attempt on my side to show a more accurate picture of Israel’s giving land it controlled up for peace since 1967:

This map shows that Israel gave up control of the Sinai, Gaza, Southern Lebanon and much of the West Bank over the years. Rather than falsely accusing Israel as a land-grabbing rogue state, it accurately shows Israel as perhaps the only state in history that has voluntarily given up more than two-thirds of the areas it controls in exchange for nothing more than a paper agreement – or sometimes not even that. All at the risk of serious security concerns for her people, no less.

This is all because Israel wants, desperately, to live in real peace with her neighbors. This desire is not reciprocated by those neighbors, unfortunately.

The real map shows the truth of Israel’s incredible concessions in the often vain hope for peace.

*I saw this one at a Colin Firth fan-site, as he is planning to star in a movie about The Stern Gang.

29 replies »

  1. I can’t describe this refutation as anything but complete, and give kudos to you for it.

    Does it suffer from a flaw? In itself, no. However, it has a weakness in that it addresses a position that the anti-Zionists do not take. You write:

    “The vast majority of the total land, however, belonged to the government, meaning that when the state of Israel was established, it became legally Israel’s.”

    That is so. But the anti-Zionists argue that political ownership doesn’t count. Their argument is that the Ottoman and British governments were only custodians for a land which belonged and still belongs to the nation that has been on it “from time immemorial,”, the [faux-]Palestinian Arab nation. The analogy they seek to push is that of the American Indians: perpetual owners of the land by virtue of being the indigenous, regardless of which political entity is officially in charge of the land.

    My refutation of this latter anti-Zionist claim involves the denial of indigenous nation status to the local Arabs and the fervent claim of that status for the Jews and only from the Jews. Whatever you may think of my line of argumentation, it is borne out of awareness of what the anti-Zionist position is. Your deconstruction of the propaganda maps is excellent, but it addresses an argument the anti-Zionists don’t make.

  2. I think these maps are Richard Hamilton’s works, no? Here is the Guardian on the Hamilton exhibition at the Serpentine last year:

    Not only do they tell us what we already know, or think we know, they also tell many of us what we already think, politically speaking, which might make us feel smug, but doesn’t do much more. We know Blair is a dupe; we know Israel behaves monstrously; we know about the dirty protest and hunger strikes in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. But that, of course, does not mean that art can’t be made of these subjects.

    Shades of Michael White… ‘We know Israel behaves monstrously’….

    The Guardian’s Rachel Cooke then interviews Hamilton (caution Pseuds’ column alert):
    Hamilton hands me a colour copy of a piece of new work that will hang at the Serpentine. It is a political piece, and consists of two maps: one of Israel/Palestine in 1947, one of Israel/Palestine in 2010, the point being that, in the second map, Palestine has shrunk to the size of a cornflake. I hold the image in my hands, and give it the attention befitting a new work by an artist of Hamilton’s reputation. In other words, I look at it very closely, and I notice something: on these maps Israel has been spelt ‘Isreal’. Slowly, my cogs turn. Hamilton loves wordplay. One of my favourite pieces of his is a certain iconic French ashtray subtly tweaked so that it says, not “Ricard”, but “Richard”. So presumably this, too, is a pun. But what does it mean? Is-real? Hmm. This must be a comment on the country’s controversial birth. Either that, or he wishes to suggest that the Israel-Palestine conflict is a nightmare – can it be real? – from which we will one day wake up. How clever.

    The cogs turn in the usual direction.

  3. The anti-Zionists are very wrong. I understand the concept of being a custodian in the personal and restricted sense of owning a very old house as I used to. There was always an awareness of multiple generations before me and the almost certainty that generations would come after. Some 18c artifacts were uncovered. I repaired a very ancient boundary wall. Great!

    But there were title deeds saying whose house it was and whose it had been. Its earlier owners had no rights. I could trace the history of the site back 800 years but it was still mine and no-one else’s.

    Israel has that 22% of the Mandate and the right to defensible borders. Israel’s title deeds, if you like.

    I read somewhere that Arabs had control of the area for a total 22 years a few centuries back. Obviously before the Ottomans. There were patches owned by Bedouin somehow in the Ottoman period. But there were squabbles and people doing one another out of land.

    And above all there was World War One and its result. And did anyone try kicking out Ibn Saud? If the anti-Zionists applied the rules to all the post-WWI mandates they might have an argument but since they are applied to Israel only I think we can just call these antis Jew-haters.

  4. Who cares? Let’s assume Israel did steal the land. Let’s assume, for arguments sake – Israel massacred thousands of Arabs and stole their land.

    So WHAT? Is this not what Turkey did? Is this not what the Russian communists did to the Muslims? Is this not what the American did?? Is this not what the British did? Is this not what the Arab states did – stealing a land four times the size of Israel that belonged to Jews and expelling nearly 1 million?

    People die and are displaced in civil wars. The “purity of arms” is B.S and the Jews did some nasty things, but compared to everyone else the Zionists were humanitarians.

    Israel’s legitimacy continues to be held hostage over events many decades ago, while its Western and Muslim critics are not only forgive but immune. They have crowned themselves judge and jury of Israel’s right to exist.

    If Israel has no right to exist because some say it sits on Arab land, then America has far less of a right to exist.

  5. ‘Shades of Michael White… ‘We know Israel behaves monstrously’….’

    Here’s Adrian Searle last December:

    ‘Palestinian artist Sharif Waked’s 2003 Chic Point video, a fashion show of specially designed clothes to wear when going through Israeli checkpoints – to avoid the humiliation of having to undress before leering soldiers – is great,’


    Ah, yes, the Jew as sexual demon. Now where have I heard that one before?

  6. Notwithstanding his brilliant and apparently sympathetic Oscar-winning portrayal of King George VI in “The King’s Speech” and the ultra-rich gentleman landowner Mr Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice” that made his name, Colin Firth is actually a radical hard lefter, with a typical guilty-son-of colonialists patronizing guilt complex about tribal peoples. He would prefer that Britain should be a republic– which puts him to the left of all but a tiny minority. And, like so many hard lefters, he has utter contempt for the ordinary people of his country:

    Firth shows no signs of backing down when the subject of politics comes up. He opens up with a couple of shots at Tony Blair for pandering to the electorate with his pop-culture prime ministership, then launches into a series of prolonged attacks: on the British resentment of immigrants and refugees; on the damage that the continuing march of industrialization is doing to tribal peoples around the world; on the actions of companies which harm labourers around the world. He is about to help kick off an Oxfam campaign on the need for a Fair Trade movement, which educates consumers about the sources of the products they buy.

    He finishes in a manner that would make his parents proud. A man of two faces, he seeks to rip off the proper, reserved mask his own nation wears on the international stage.

    “I come from a country where the literacy rate is extremely low,” he declares, seeking to correct the North American perception of Britain as a nation of high culture—Oscar Wilde and all that. “A lot of English people wouldn’t be able to understand a word of spoken Shakespeare,” he says. “There are people who do, but it’s a far more philistine country than people think. The soccer hooligans are not a weird little aberration. They are very highly representative, I can tell you. I went to school with guys like that.”

    The fact that he’s apparently putting his energy into what will no doubt be a brilliant portrayal in a film that essentially takes exactly the same line in lying political revisionism as “The Promise” is depressing. Unlike “The Promise” this film will have a worldwide reach. And its fundamental premise will be to present the end of the British mandate and the struggle for the establishment of Israel as:

    one in which the British favor the Jews over the Arabs, the Jews repay British kindness with cruelty, and Arab violence against civilians and support for the Third Reich are airbrushed out of the picture.”

    And here’s a telling quote from one of the screenwriters for the film, Laurence Coriat:

    Ms. Coriat and the other signers promised “to express through our films, with our raised voices, and in our personal actions our vehement opposition to the occupation, and we will continue to express our desire for freedom, justice, and equality among all the peoples of the region.”

  7. The vast majority of the total land, however, belonged to the government, meaning that when the state of Israel was established, it became legally Israel’s.

    There’s no way you can argue that Israel also legally inherited the 45% of Mandate Palestine that had been planned for an Arab state. So cut the bold type and be careful when talking about lies – even if, of course, the reference to “Palestinian land” in Map 1 is indeed complete bullshit.

  8. Pretzelberg, there’s no way that you can legally justify the trail of the 70% of Mandate Palestine that was given to Transjordan and then go on to claim an area of the remainder as being obviously destined for another Arab state. It’s all just at the whim of the UN and votes of the members. Had the Arab states won any of the wars there’d be no Israel, no Jews (as in Jordan) and no discussion.

  9. @Pretzelberg
    Legally speaking there was no need for any inheritance because the Mandate for Palestine provided the legal basis for the rights to the land. In fact, the Mandate for Palestine has full legal force to this day.

  10. @ Arabella Meller/Hawkeye

    You’re claiming that (as the author would suggest) “the vast majority of the total land [i.e. everything west of the Jordan] … became legally Israel’s”??

    Oh please.

    As I said above: the claims about “Palestinian land” from Map 1 are obviously ludicrous. But so are those cited by the author.

  11. @Pretzelberg

    No. It did not “become” anything in the 1940s. The legal status of the land was established in the Mandate for Palestine in the 1920s. As the Mandate for Palestine has never been abrogated, Israel’s legal claims to land West of the Jordan are, among other things, grounded in the rights granted in that document. Bear in mind I’m speaking from a legal perspective not from a political/moral/ethical perspective which is an entirely different matter.

  12. @ Hawkeye

    So you’re saying that the vague talk of a Jewish homeland justifies Jews settling in the West Bank. Did the Balfour Declaration and the mandate forbid native non-Jews from moving west – or indeed returning to where they were born? From a legal perspective, of course …

  13. @ Hawkeye

    The mandate forbid native non-Jews from returning to where they were born?

    You seem to be saying that Jews born on other continents have the right to settle wherever they want in the Holy Land – but native non-Jews don’t?

    Please do cite the smallprint.

  14. Pretzelberg
    What happened was that firstly Great Britain regarded the Mandate territory as its private fiefdom and gave a huge portion away to the Hashemites in payment of services rendered, without taking the rights of the the Jews and the San Remo Treaty into account at all.

    That was exacerbated by the lack of support given to the Jews by this same Great Britain which escaped its obligations by handing them over to the UN, which proceeded to attempt to give away a goodly portion of the remaining land to the Arabs, who refused it in pique because they wanted it all.

    Now if you’re going to tell me that you know what things should have/could have been on the basis of some ad hoc resolutions by the same UN (which includes such bodies as Libya) then you will have a hard row to hoe.

  15. Arabella Meller

    Now if you’re going to tell me that you know what things should have/could have been on the basis …

    Not at all. I was merely responding to Hawkeye’s strictly-legal perspective.

    Arabella Meller

    I agree that the British government dealt in its own interests when giving Trans-Jordan to the Hashemites – but in what sense were “the rights of the the Jews” overruled?? Are you claiming that Israel’s eastern border should have met Iraq??

  16. Pretzelberg
    The direct opposite of what you suggested. Jordan/transjordan has/had no Jewish citizens and the death penalty (like the PA) for selling land to Jews. What rights have Jews there? NONE

  17. @Pretzelberg

    “The mandate forbid native non-Jews from returning to where they were born?”

    Citation please.

  18. @ Hawkeye

    Citation please.

    The onus is on you – or is that not what you’re saying?

    You’re arguing that Jews have the right to move into the West Bank – while non-Jew natives have no right to move into what is now Israel?

  19. @Pretzelberg

    This is getting tiresome. You (not me) make a claim that “The mandate forbid native non-Jews from returning to where they were born?”.

    I ask you for a citation in the Mandate for Palestine as to where it said that and you say the onus is on me. So I again ask you, show me where in the Mandate for Palestine it says that.

    “You’re arguing that Jews have the right to move into the West Bank – while non-Jew natives have no right to move into what is now Israel?”

    Thats not what I’m arguing. Why are you setting up strawman arguments? I’m clear about what I said. Suggest you re-read what I wrote.

  20. Israeli’s didn’t give up jack shit, in order to give up something you have to have legitimately owned it in the first place. The people who called themselves Jews were just one of many peoples who lived in the area, in small scattered populations, thousands of years ago… what a bunch of spineless apologists you are, The divisions of land were made by the British, and had nothing to do with the Zionists giving up anything… pack of intellectually dishonest retards.

  21. Quite liked the article, but this strikes me as odd:
    ‘it accurately shows Israel as perhaps the only state in history that has voluntarily given up more than two-thirds of the areas it controls in exchange for nothing more than a paper agreement – or sometimes not even that. All at the risk of serious security concerns for her people, no less’

    Giving up Sinai was hardly sacrifice – its an enormous barren desert.
    Victor nations often withdraw from defeated territories e.g. both Iraq wars, Kosovo, Germany, France (1870) etc…