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Emet m'Tsiyon

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

British Fake Experts Falsify Jewish Population in Israel before the State in 1948

Everyone should know by now that we cannot always trust experts or authorities. That includes respected "newspapers of record" like the NY Times, and all sorts of "newsweeklies" and commentators on TV and supposedly scientific public opinion polls, not to mention professors of the Humanities and Social Sciences. As to the news media, they can lie or falsify in several ways. One is an outright, direct lie, an explicit lie. Another way is by omission. The NY Times has used this technique, sometimes hinting at a truth but minimizing its importance or pretending that it is just a rumor whispered in the corridors whereas the fact had been openly proclaimed, even boasted of by an official of a government guilty of a contemptible atrocity. Another way to falsify is to use insinuations through the skillful use of adjectives, adverbs, verbs and nouns, etc.

In English speaking lands, especially the United States. media cover ups and falsifications both subtle and blatant  are aided by the general ignorance of languages other than English. I have often found a totally different picture of an event or phenomenon which took place outside the United States when reading the newspapers in French or Hebrew or Italian, etc, than I got from American English- language media. Such as the NYT. This ignorance induced the Times to think it could get away with falsifying a statement by no less a personage than the Pope. The Times reported falsely that the pope had called Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] an "angel of peace" on his visit to the Vatican. When I checked how the Italian press had reported the Pope's statement, I found that he had told Abbas that he "could be an angel of peace [= Lei possa essere un angelo della pace]," if only he made peace with Israel. Not quite the same.

Of course, reference books and dictionaries, encyclopedias and lexicons. can also falsify. This brings me to A Dictionary of Politics published by the respected British  Penguin Books (F Elliott & M Summerskill, eds, 1961), as an aid to understanding current international affairs. It should come as no surprise that a blatant lie in the book concerns Israel, Jews and Zionism.
On  page 267 under the rubric "Palestine" we find this:
. . . . the population of which [of "Palestine"] had in 1919 been almost entirely Arab.

This is a gross lie. The Jewish population before WW One has been variously estimated at between 12% and 14% of the total population. The absolute number of Jews in the Land of Israel [not a distinct political/administrative entity under the Ottoman Empire] was estimated between 75,000 and 90,000. Since the whole country had a total estimated population of 650,000 to 750,000, then even the low estimate of 75,000 Jews in the Land was no small, insignificant number. Unfortunately many Jews fled the country during the war or were expelled on account of being citizens or subjects of enemy countries to the Ottoman Empire in WW One. These enemy states included Russia, France and Britain. The French Jewish citizens likely included Jews from Algeria and Tunisia. 
Hence, the Jewish population of the country was less in 1918 than in 1914, going down from 85,000 to 56,000,  according to Michael J Cohen. The causes were expulsion, flight, starvation and disease. The expelled Jews included not only enemy aliens but Jews expelled from the new city of Tel Aviv in 1917 and forced to wander the roads of the country. To be sure, the starvation also affected the Arab population due to Ottoman confiscations of food for the army from the civilian population. This significantly lowered the numbers of the population generally.

The historian Yehoshua Kaniel cites the overall population figures of 300,000 for the beginning of the 19th century, 400,000 for the 1870s and 700,000 for the eve of WW One. These numbers refer to the territory west of the Jordan River. The number of Jews in that same period, according to Kaniel, was about 5,000 at the start of the century, about 10,000 around 1850 and 85,000 on the eve of WW One. There are other estimates but they are not especially dissimilar. See below for other authorities and for bibiographic data. Now if Jews were 85,000 on the eve of WW I, making up about 12% of the total population, then at that time, the Land west or the Jordan was hardly "almost entirely Arab," not to mention other nationalities living there, such as Bosnian and Circassian Muslims, Greeks, Armenians, and Europeans and Americans belonging to various religious communities, some of them churchmen, some diplomats, some civilian residents like the German Templars who later mostly became pro-Nazi and therefore aided the Arab Revolt of the mid-1930s, politically led by Haj Amin el-Husseini and supported materially by Nazi Germany. Much of the  money and weapons supplied by Germany went through the Templars to the Arab forces led by Husseini. [To be sure, the Revolt was called a "revolt by leave," an uprising by permission of the British ruling authorities, according to some Jewish observers].

Long before 1914, Jews were already a majority in Jerusalem. This majority status goes back to the year 1853 in the middle of the 19th century, if not earlier. The numbers were cited  by none other than Karl Marx in an article for the New York Tribune on 15 April 1854. Marx took the numbers from a book by the French diplomat and historian Cesar Famin  published in 1853. In that year, Jews also lived elsewhere in the country, in Hebron, Safed, Tiberias, Gaza and in several villages and towns. 

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Michael J Cohen, "The Mandatory Period", in Israel: People, Land, State (edited by Avigdor Shinan; Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben Zvi 2005),  p 275.
Yehoshua Kaniel, "The Late Ottoman Period (1775-1917," in Shinan, ed., Israel: People, Land, State; pp 257-258.
Yehuda Slutsky, "Ottoman Period," in History from 1880 (Israel Pocket Library; Jerusalem: Keter 1973), p 24.  The Israel Pocket Library collection is taken from the Encyclopedia Judaica.

        Slutsky's figures are approx. 90,000 for 1914. He writes that 11,300 Jews left the country during the war and this number represented "over an eighth" of the pre-war Jewish population. I have simply multiplied 11,300 by eight. Slutsky does not give numbers of Jews dying of starvation or disease during the war.