The ‘Disappearing Palestine’ Maps Are Absolute Nonsense

A pernicious campaign has been happening around this time for the past several years, called ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’. As Israel-bashers aren’t the brightest sparks, it actually has to go on for a fortnight. I don’t know or care at what stage we are at now, or even if its over. However, there are some important things folks should know when we are confronted by this particularly nasty and misleading campaign.

For one, I have always been annoyed at the sight of this map, which I see is doing the rounds again this time:

The Map That Lies

The maps are ridiculous. The 1946 map shows privately-held Jewish land in white, but the vast majority of the green territory (‘Palestinian Land’) could never have been privately owned in the same way. Surely not every inch of the lonely expanses of the Negev had an individual owner-occupier? Much of the land all over the country belonged to the state. They have even taken the Sea of Galilee off the map to make that ‘Palestinian’ too. The assertion that some of the white territory was owned by the military is a sneaky fabrication. In 1946, there was no IDF or standing army as Israel was not independent. I always thought this obvious, but lo and behold, and just in the nick of time, CiF Watch have done a more thorough and factual debunking, which I will quote at length:

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.

Subsequent maps are equally misleading, however:

While this [‘Stage 2’] 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.

One glaring oversight to me about the post-1948 maps is that they do not show privately-held Arab land within Israel. Today, half of the privately owned land in the country, i.e. that which does not belong to the Jewish National Fund or The Israel Lands Administration, is owned by Arabs.

I love CiF’s the cheeky suggestion of disseminating a counter-narrative showing the territorial compromises Israel has made for pieces of paper:

The organizers of ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ want you to believe that Zionism is chauvinistic and racist.

This includes one of the main organizers of this atrocity, Omar Barghouti. Unbelievably, while calling for a total renunciation of all academic ties to Israel, he is studying for a Doctorate at Tel Aviv University. These Israelis mustn’t be very good at apartheid if the keep forgetting not only to ban ethnic minorities from universities, but foreign political subversives as well. Oh, and black Africans are often shot by Egyptian police trying to flee to a better life in Israel, as Gabriel Latner pointed out in his immortal speech declaring that Israelis a rogue state – and why that’s a good thing.

Finally, have a glance at some great videos on the issue:


About Cranky Notions
Reactionary. That fella from the Norris scandal.

4 Responses to The ‘Disappearing Palestine’ Maps Are Absolute Nonsense

  1. cbfrmTH says:

    What a great ending to that post, very well written.

  2. Swami says:

    What gets me here is not the woman’s views, which are hers, and sensible. What gets me is the interviewer’s initial tone of astonishment. It is not just part of this issue, it is part of the overall thought-mode of the media, and especially the western, liberal media, and it reflects this thinking: “You should have beliefs appropriate to your gender and ethnicity, and you do not. I am surprised, please explain.”

    People should not ever be EXPECTED to have views based solely on these factors, and no one should be surprised when they do not.

  3. Reblogged this on Cranky Notions and commented:

    With every outbreak of violence between Israel and its enemies, these maps of ‘disappearing Palestine’ start doing the rounds quickly. Here’s a piece I did a few years ago on why they are a load of crap.

  4. Pingback: Nazis in disguise. How some anti-Israel messaging is extreme-right rhetoric – 24/6 Magazine

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