We originally posted this review of a book published in 1992 on our web site on December 20, 2010. With what appears to be a new push to expel the native Palestinians by force from Gaza, based upon a terrorist attack in Israel of questionable provenance, the book and the article have taken on a new relevance.
Whatever public pronouncements they might have made on the subject, the Zionist leaders, from the beginning right up to the present day, have had the intention of supplanting the non-Jewish resident population of Palestine, to be replaced with Jewish immigrants. In deliberations among themselves there has been little dissent from this goal; the differences have arisen only in how the goal should be accomplished. There has also been a serious disconnect between what they have said among themselves and what they have said for public consumption.
Those are the main conclusions that one reaches from Nur Mashalha’s 1992 book, Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of “Transfer” in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948, published by the Institute for Palestine Studies in Washington, DC. The ideal Jewish state as envisioned by Zionist leaders was one that was essentially cleansed of the longtime resident Muslims and Christians or anyone else who could not be defined as a Jew. Taking that view, they recognized that the hundreds of thousands of residents of Palestine, with their farms, towns, and cities represented a serious problem for them. Some interesting insight into Zionist thinking in general is provided by examination of the transfer ideas of Edward A. Norman (1890-1955), a Jewish millionaire living in New York City.
Norman, who was a governor of Hebrew University and from 1939 to 1943 was president of the Zionist American Economic Committee for Palestine, “was preoccupied with the idea of transfer and left considerable documentation concerning the vigorous efforts he made between 1934 and 1948, with the collaboration of the most important Yishuv and Zionist leaders to bring about its implementation.” His plans went through a number of changes, but they boiled down essentially to conspiring with the king of Iraq and paying off the Palestinians to move to his country.
…Norman concluded: “If the Jews must have Palestine, but cannot have it while more than 800,000 Arabs live there, the Arabs must be induced to give it up and a considerable proportion of them to move elsewhere,” possibly to the “Shatt-el-Gharaff” area of Iraq. He ruled out Transjordan (now called just Jordan ed.) because it was “not conceded by the Jews as being permanently outside their colonizing area, and in view of the number of Jews requiring emigration from Europe they can be expected to need it, and therefore it would be wasteful and unintelligent to think of settling the Palestine Arabs in Transjordan.”
Norman exhibited a good deal of prescience as he contrasted his inducement scheme with the brutish alternative that was eventually instituted:
If the Jews ever succeed in acquiring a major part of Palestine a large number of Arabs perforce will have to leave the country and find homes elsewhere. If they are forced out inexorably as the result of Jewish pressure they will go with ill-will and probably will cherish an enmity towards the Jews that might persist for generations and that would render the position of the Jewish homeland precarious. The rest of the world, too, easily might come to sympathize with the Arabs.
Note that his problem with what he euphemistically calls “pressure” is purely tactical. It is not out of any basic humanitarian considerations.
Norman’s plans received favorable attention from various Zionist leaders in the United States. Among them was the powerful Wall Street banker, Felix Warburg. Warburg encouraged him to go to England to pitch his transfer plans to Zionist leaders there and to find someone who could gather the additional information needed on the ground in Palestine and Iraq. Norman heeded Warburg’s advice and in late November and early December of 1937 met with several top Zionists, including the intellectual godfather of today’s Likud Party in Israel, Vladimir [later Ze’ev] Jabotinsky. Here is what Norman wrote in his diary after the Jabotinsky meeting:
He [Jabotinsky] has already read a copy of my memorandum on Iraq…He is very much in favor of the idea. He said, however, that it will be very difficult to move the Arabs to leave the Land of Israel…Jabotinsky raised an original idea according to which, if the plan will reach a point at which Iraq would be willing to collaborate and issue an invitation for the Palestinian Arabs to it, the World Zionist Organization would be clever if it pronounced itself publicly to be against Arab immigration, then the Arabs will be certain that the plan is not originally Jewish, and that the Jews want them to stay in the country in order to exploit them, so they will be very eager to go to Iraq. There is a very Machiavellian nature to this, but this could be a healthy policy towards suspicious and ignorant Arab public. Jabotinsky said that if his Revisionist New Zionist Organization will issue an announcement at the right moment against Arab transfer from the Land of Israel, this will create a very great impact on the Arabs to the extent of creating the opposite and they will get out.
Yes, “Machiavellian” is one word for it. “Duplicitous” and “perfidious” are two other adjectives that come to mind. This suggestion, directly from Jabotinsky’s own mouth, spoken to a Zionist confidant, should be kept in mind when one reads that he actually believed in integrating the Arab minority (majority at the time) into the public life of his proposed Jewish state. Those who suspected a Zionist trick at the time may now be forgiven.
Notice as well the tone of smug superiority as this revered figure in the creation of the state of Israel, this man who has more streets, parks and squares named for him in Israel than any other person, speaks of the “suspicious and ignorant Arab public.” Substitute the word “gullible” for “suspicious” and “American” for “Arab,” and the utterance might have been made yesterday by one of Jabotinsky’s intellectual heirs, although some other adjectives like “powerless” and “docile” might also be thrown in.
Jabotinsky must have known that his suggested deceit would find a sympathetic audience in Norman. Deception, as he details in his own report, was integral to the planning of his project:
Warburg encouraged me to go to England and find someone who would be capable of obtaining the information still needed. It was assumed that I could not obtain the information by going to Iraq myself, since under the prevailing conditions in the Near East, the motives of any Jews would be suspect, and instead of obtaining information he probably would arouse antagonism. Therefore, it was essential to send a man who was not a Jew and who at the same time would be “persona grata” to the Iraqians [sic].
The man selected for the job—and no doubt handsomely paid for it—was H.T. Montague Bell, former editor-in-chief of the British weekly Great Britain and the East. As a recognized journalist he was an ideal person for gathering information, but he did a good deal more than that. He went to Iraq with the public objective of writing some articles on the progress of the country since independence in 1932. He had been advised by Norman not to promote to the Iraqis the plan of bringing Palestinian agricultural immigrants into the country but to “make it seem that the idea had originated in their own minds.” He was to accomplish this by asking “searching questions of all the leading people, and thus cause them to formulate the answer along the lines we desired.”
Bell pulled off his subterfuge in exemplary fashion, though to little eventual effect. He had an audience with the king and was entertained at a dinner by the prime minister that was attended by the entire cabinet of the Iraq government, all the while planting Norman’s ideas in the guise of gathering information for articles in Britain.
Upon his return to London, while still on Norman’s payroll, Bell duly wrote the articles, which appeared in The Times. Their common thrust was that Iraq’s economic future depended upon the encouragement of more immigration into the country. The articles were sent to all the leading politicians in Iraq.
Unfortunately for Norman and his fellow schemers no one was buying his “amateurish and impractical” plan, as it was characterized by J.S. Bennett of the British Colonial Office. In due time more direct and barbaric means for driving the people of Palestine from their ancestral land, which Norman had realized could cause long-term problems, had to be resorted to. Such measures continue to the present day. The main thing they have in common with the Norman project is the accompanying duplicity.