One of the many myths of the Arab "perspective" regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the myth that UN Partition resolution 181
gave the "Zionists" the best land in Palestine. It turns up in unlikely places.
Writing about a proposal to federalize Iran, George Hismeh
Moreover, the word "partition" has an ugly ring in Arab ears, especially after what happened in Palestine in 1948 where the Jewish immigrants from Europe who owned much less than 10 per cent of the land were accorded by the United Nations more than 50 per cent of the country, especially the more fertile regions and the coveted coastal areas overlooking the Eastern Mediterranean.
This diatribe incorporates all the worst Arab myths about Palestine, delivered gratuitously in the context of a discussion of Iraq. My grandmothers, who were born in Jerusalem, would be very surprised to learn that the land was given to the "Jewish immigrants from Europe." Surely, our claim to Israel was as good as that of Izzedin el Qassam or Fawzi el Kaukji, who were born and raised in Syria?
The "Zionists" owned less than 10% of the land because most of the land in Palestine was not privately owned and could not be sold, because Palestinian leadership forbade the sale of land to Jews and enforced their ban by killing those when they could do so, and because the British emergency laws forbade Jewish land purchases in many areas after the riots of 1936-1939. The land allotted to the Jews by the partition plan was not "the more fertile regions." Well over half the land area of the Jewish state in the partition plan was Negev desert (see map here) . The Negev coast, the Gaza strip, was alotted to the Arabs of Palestine. The seaport of Jaffa was to be a Palestinian Arab enclave. The "coveted" coast where Tel-Aviv, Herzliya, Nethanya and Hadera were built was alloted to the Jewish state because Jews had purchased these lands as worthless sand dunes and built cities there. The northernmost part of the Galilee coast and the best parts of the Galilee were to have been part of the Arab state. The Jews were awarded those parts which they were able to purchase, the swampy and rocky fields of the Jezreel valley that had not supported much agriculture.
The chief areas of Palestine in the 19th century, before the coming of the Zionists, had been the cities of the northern West Bank (Samaria) and especially Nablus, which was the Palestinian city of first importance. These areas were not sold to Jews and were not awarded to Jews. The sand dunes of Herzliya gave way to the great towers of hi-tech corporations many years after Israel achieved independence. Now they are "coveted" by George Hismeh. Had they been awarded to the Arabs of Palestine, they would remain as barren as had been for hundreds of years. One day after Israel celebrated its fifty-eighth year of independence, it is appropriatet to remember: The part of Palestine that was awarded to Jews became the most coveted part because the Jews developed it.
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