In describing the following encounter, Shabtai Teveth (one of Ben-Gurion's official biographers) briefly summarized Ben-Gurion's relations with the Palestinian Arabs, Teveth stated:
"Four days after the constituent meeting, on October 8, 1906, the ten members of the platform committee met in an Arab hostel in Ramleh. For THREE DAYS they sat on stools debating, and at night they slept on mats. An Arab boy brought them coffee in small cups. They left the hostel only to grab an occasional bite in the marketplace. On the first evening, they stole three hours to tour the marketplace of Ramleh and the ruins of the nearby fortress. Ben-Gurion remarked only on the buildings, ruins, and scenery. He gave no thought to the [Palestinian] Arabs, their problems, their social conditions, or their cultural life. Nor had he yet acquainted himself with the Jewish community in Palestine [which was mostly non-Zionist Orthodox Jews prior to 1920]. In all of Palestine there were [in 1906] 700,000 inhabitants, only 55,000 of whom were Jews, and only 550 of these were [Zionists] pioneers." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 9-10)This attitude of ignoring the political rights of the Palestinian people was (and still is) the rule among most Zionists. According to Ben-Gurion's biographer, it's not only that Palestinians were the majority in their homeland as early as 1906, it also should be noted that:
- The majority of Palestine's Jews were not citizens of the country, but guests from Tsarist Russia.
- The Jews in Palestinian were mostly Orthodox Jews who made up 7.8% of the total population.
- At the time, the majority of Orthodox Jews were non-Zionist. Actually, the majority were anti-Zionist.
- Zionist pioneers were almost absent in Palestine as of 1906, and constituted only 1% of the total Jewish population in Palestine.
As early as 1914, Ben-Gurion admitted secretly that Palestinian nationalism existed, at least among the working masses. He explained that Palestinians' hatred
of Zionism was based on their fear of being dispossessed. Ben-Gurion analyzed this hatred and stated:
of Zionism was based on their fear of being dispossessed. Ben-Gurion analyzed this hatred and stated:
"this hatred originates with the [Palestinian] Arab workers in Jewish settlements. Like any worker, the [Palestinian] Arab worker detests his taskmaster and exploiter. But because this class conflict overlaps a national difference between farmers and workers, this hatred takes a national form. Indeed, the national overwhelms the class aspect of the conflict in the minds of the [Palestinian] Arab working masses, and inflames an intense hatred toward the Jews." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 18-19)
By the turn of the 20th century, Ben-Gurion advocated exclusively Jewish labor (Avodah Ivrit) in Jewish businesses. He explained why a Jewish laborer should earn a higher salary because:
From the beginning, Zionists advocated a "Jewish State" not just in Palestine, but also in Jordan, southern Lebanon, and the Golan Heights as well. In 1918 Ben-Gurion described the future "Jewish state's" frontiers in details as follows:"[he was] more intelligent and diligent" than the Arab. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 12-13)
What if the average Christian American was more "intelligent and diligent" than his Jewish American, would that justify discrimination in the work force? How could the question of whether someone was more "intelligent and diligent" or not be measured in a fair and a balanced way?
"to the north, the Litani river [in southern Lebanon], to the northeast, the Wadi 'Owja, twenty miles south of Damascus; the southern border will be mobile and pushed into Sinai at least up to Wadi al-'Arish; and to the east, the Syrian Desert, including the furthest edge of Transjordan" (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 87)
In an article published by Ben-Gurion in 1918, titled "The Rights of the Jews and others in Palestine," he conceded that the Palestinian Arabs have the same rights as Jews. He explained that Palestinians had these rights since they had inhabited the land "for hundreds of years". He stated in the article:
"Palestine is not an empty country...on no account must we injure the rights of the inhabitants." Ben-Gurion often returned to this point, emphasizing that Palestinian Arabs had "the full right" to an independent economic, cultural, and communal life, but not political. (Shabtai Teveth, p.37-38)
But Ben-Gurion set limits. The Palestinian people were incapable by themselves of developing Palestine, and they had no right to stand in the way of the Jews. He argued in 1918, that Jews' rights sprang not only from the past, but also from the future. In 1924 he declared: "We do not recognize the right of the [Palestinian] Arabs to rule the country, since Palestine is still undeveloped and awaits its builders." In 1928 he pronounced that "the [Palestinian] Arabs have no right to close the country to us [Jews]. What right do they have to the Negev desert, which is uninhabited?"; and in 1930, "The [Palestinian] Arabs have no right to the Jordan river, and no right to prevent the construction of a power plant [by a Jewish concern]. They have a right only to that which they have created and to their homes." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 38)
In other words, the Palestinian people are entitled to no political rights whatsoever, and if they have any rights at all, these rights are confined to their places of residence. Ironically, this statement was written when the Palestinian people constituted 85% of Palestine's population, and owned and operated over 97% of its lands!
As WWI was ending, Ben-Gurion went on to draw a map of the "Jewish state" to be. This map clearly excluded Damascus (although it was part of Biblical "Eretz Yisrael"), and limited the "Jewish state's" future northern borders to 20 km south of the Syrian Capital. He rationalized this decision as follows:
A few months before the peace conference convened at Versailles in 1919 and after WWI ended, Ben-Gurion envisioned future Jewish and Palestinian Arab relations as follows:"It is unthinkable that the Jewish state, in our day and age, could include the city of Damascus...This is a large Arab city, and one of the four centers of Islam. The Jewish community there is small. The Arabs will never allow Damascus, their pride, to come under Jewish control, and there can be no doubt that the English, even were it in their power, would agree to such a thing." (Shabtai Teveth, p.34)If these are all sound reasons to exclude Damascus from being under Jewish control, then what makes Zionists think that occupied Jerusalem is any different? Although Damascus was never occupied by the Christian Crusaders, Jerusalem was occupied and pillaged, and to liberate it almost a million Muslim and Arab were martyred! Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims often wonder where the Zionist Jews were when their "Promised Land" needed them during the Crusaders' genocide!
"Everybody sees the problem in the relations between the Jews and the [Palestinian] Arabs. But not everybody sees that there's no solution to it. There is no solution!...The conflict between the interests of the Jews and the interests of the [Palestinian] Arabs in Palestine cannot be resolved by sophisms. I don't know any Arabs who would agree to Palestine being ours---even if we learn Arabic... and I have no need to learn Arabic. On the other hand, I don't see why 'Mustafa' should learn Hebrew...There's a national question here. We want the country to be ours. The Arabs want the country to be theirs." (One Palestine Complete, p. 116)
As WWI was winding down, Ben-Gurion clearly stated that Zionism's ultimate objective is to make Palestine (inclusive of Trans-Jordan) a land with a Jewish majority. He stated in November 1917:
"Within then the next twenty years, we must have a Jewish majority in Palestine." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 43)
From the start, Ben-Gurion wanted to segregate Arab and Jewish societies in all sectors. For example, Jews in Palestine had their separate economical, social, health, educational, media, and political sectors that were opened to Jews only. The segregation of Palestine's society was nurtured by the Zionists to make it easier to partition the country when the "appropriate" time comes. In that regards, he stated in the 1920s:
Similarly, he stated in theearly 1920s:"The assets of the Jewish National Home must be created exclusively through our own work, for only the product of the Hebrew labor can serve as the national estate." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 66)
"Without Hebrew labor there is no way to absorb the Jewish masses. Without Hebrew labor, there will be no Jewish economy; without Hebrew labor, there will be no [Jewish] homeland. And anyone who does anything counter to the principle of Hebrew labor harms the most precious asset we have for fulfilling Zionism." (One Palestine Complete, p. 288)
Early on, Ben-Gurion envisioned that Zionism would not be in conflict with Palestinian Arab rights. He stated in 1925:
"I am unwilling to forego even one percent of Zionism for 'peace'---yet I do not want Zionism to infringe upon even one percent of legitimate [Palestinian] Arab rights" (Shabtai Teveth, p. 70)As the Nazis rose to power in Germany in the early 1930s, the need to save European Jewry became more acute. Ben-Gurion then recognized that Zionism could not be realized without infringing Palestinian rights. The shift in Ben Gurion's opinion becomes clearer as you examine more quotes, especially the ones dated 1930 and onwards. It should be noted that the Palestinian people were a 2/3 majority of the population of Palestine as of 1946. Ironically, the demographic picture persists to this date, but with one exception. 65% of the Palestinian people are dispossessed refugees who live outside Palestine, mostly living in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
As the first popular response against the Balfour Declaration (in which Britain promised the Zionists to turn Palestine to a "Jewish National Home"), Palestinians organized their first commercial strike in 1922. Ben-Gurion acknowledged privately that a Palestinian national movement was evolving. He wrote in his diary:
"The success of the [Palestinian] Arabs in organizing the closure of shops shows that we are dealing here with a national movement. For the [Palestinian] Arabs, this is an important education step." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 80)
Similarly in 1929, he also wrote of the Palestinian political national movement:
"It's true that the Arab national movement has no positive content. The leaders of the movement are unconcerned with betterment of the people and provision of their essential needs. They do not aid the fellah; to the contrary, the leaders suck his blood, and exploit the popular awakening for private gain. But we err if we measure the [Palestinian] Arabs and their movement by our standards. Every people is worthy of its national movement. The obvious characteristic of a political movement is that it knows how to mobilize the masses. From this prospective there is no doubt that we are facing a political movement, and we should not underestimate it."
"A national movement mobilizes masses, and that is the main thing. The [Palestinian] Arab is not one of revival, and its moral value is dubious. But in a political sense, this is a national movement."(Shabtai Teveth, p. 83)
When it was proposed that the Jews in Palestine organize an army and seize power in November 1929, Ben-Gurion offered these objections, first,
"The world will not permit the Jewish people to seize the state as a spoil, by force." Second the Jewish people did not have the means to do so. And third and most important, it would be immoral, and the Jews of the world would never by this immoral cause. "We would then be unable to awaken the necessary forces for building the country among thousands of young people. We would not be able to secure necessary means from the Jewish people, and the moral and the political sustenance of the enlightened world...Our conscience must be clean... and so we must endorse the premise in relation to the [Palestinian] Arabs: The [Palestinian] Arabs have full rights as citizens of the country, but they do not have the right of ownership over it." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 97)
Similarly in 1928, Ben-Gurion stated that there is no contradiction between Zionist and Arab aspirations. He stated that Zionism stands for absolute justice for both parties. He explained that:
"our sense of morality forbids us to deny the right of a single [Palestinian] Arab child, even though by such denial we might attain all that we seek." (Shabtai
Teveth, p. 159)
It is not only that Ben-Gurion was 100% wrong with his earlier assessments, but also:
- The world permitted the "Jewish state" to occupy and seize by force the spoils of war.
- Western World) supported the "Jewish state" regardless of whether it was
moral or immoral. This support was successful because of an effective propaganda campaign that carefully exploited the tragedy of the holocaust. After the holocaust, most Jews (along with the whole
- Palestine's lands, and as of 1946 they owned 93% of the country.
As of 1929, the Palestinian people owned and operated over 96% of
- are even today denied their basic human rights because Zionism had to "attain all that it
The mass majority of the Palestinian children, if not all, seeks."
This fear triggered the First popular Intifada between 1936-1939, examine the following few quotes for more details. According to Ben-Gurion, the survival of the European Jewry was in question, and he looked at the matter as a life or death one for Zionism (and maybe for the "Jewish people" as well). For example, he
stated in the early 1930's:
stated in the early 1930's:
The concept of a "Jewish Majority" in Palestine is one of Zionism's major pillars. This point was eloquently articulated by Ben-Gurion when he stated in 1929:"If Zionism returns to be what it was ten or fifteen years ago-with Jews entering the country one by one- then the issue of Palestine is liable to be dropped from the Jewish people's agenda. The Jews of Germany must be gotten out of there, and if it's impossible to bring them to Palestine, then they will go somewhere less, and Palestine will become the hobby of enthusiasts.""If Zionism over the coming years does not provide an answer to the calamity which has befallen the Jewish people, then it will disappear from the Jewish stage." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 154)
In the context of the 1929 disturbance, Ben Gurion spoke of the emerging Palestinian nationalism, and the main goal of Zionism (where Palestine's population becomes a "Jewish majority") to the secretariat of the major Zionist groupings. He said:"A Jewish majority is not Zionism's last station, but it is a very important station on the route to Zionism's political triumph. It will give our security and presence a sound foundation, and allow us to concentrate masses of Jews in this country and the region." (Shabtai
Teveth, p. 103)
"The debate as to whether or not an Arab national movement exists is a pointless verbal exercise; the main thing for us is that the movement attracts the masses. We do not regard it as a resurgence movement and its moral worth is dubious. But politically speaking it is a national movement ...The Arab must not and cannot be a Zionist. He could never wish the Jews to become a majority. This is the true antagonism between us and the Arabs. We both want to
be the majority." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p.18) Since Jews in Palestine (Yishuv) could not become a majority as of 1948 (click here for Palestine's demographic map as of 1946), Zionists resorted to compulsory population transfer (Ethnic Cleansing) to solve what they referred to as the "Arab demographic problem". To hide their basic goals and intentions, they have concocted the myth that Palestinians left their homes, farms, and businesses on the orders of their leaders.
Finally, Ben-Gurion admitted the mistake of trying to buy off the Palestinian national movement. In the early 1930s, he stated during a Mapai forum:
"We have erred for ten years now ...the crux is not cooperation with the English, but with the [Palestinian] Arabs." By this he meant not merely a relationship of friendship and mutual aid, but political cooperation, which he called the "cornerstone" of the "Arab-Jewish-English rule in Palestine. Let's not deceive ourselves and think that when we approach the [Palestinian] Arabs and tell them 'We'll build schools and better your economic conditions,' that we have succeeded. Let's not think that the [Palestinian] Arabs by nature are different from us." In the heat of the argument, Ben-Gurion said to one of his critics and asked: "Do you think that, by extending economic favors to the [Palestinian] Arabs, you can make them forget their political rights in Palestine?" Did Mapai believe that by aiding the Palestinian Arabs to secure decent housing and grow bumper crops they could persuade the Palestinian Arabs to regard themselves "as complete strangers in the land which is theirs?" (Shabtai Teveth, p. 114)
As the numbers of Jews in Palestine (the Yishuv) doubled between 1931-1935, Palestinians feared future dispossession and displacement. In opposition to this, the Palestinian national movement was becoming more vocal and organized, which surprised Ben-Gurion. In his opinion, Palestinian demonstrations represented a "turning point" important enough to warrant Zionists' concern. He told his Mapai comrades:
"... they [referring to Palestinians] showed new power and remarkable discipline. Many of them were killed...this time not murderers and rioters, but political demonstrators. Despite the tremendous unrest, the order not to harm Jews was obeyed. This shows exceptional political discipline. There is no doubt that these events will leave a profound imprint on the [Palestinian] Arab movement. This time we have seen a political movement which must evoke the respect of the world. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 126) Ironically, often Zionists claim that Palestinian nationalism never existed as a justification for denying them the right of self determination. On the other hand, as we have seen in the previous quote, Palestinian nationalism was alive and well as early as 1936.
When Ben-Gurion heard of the Passfield White Paper in 1931 (which proposed halting the implementation of the Balfour Declaration), he was furious with "these cowardly traitors" who were responsible for the proposed new policy. He stated:
"England is a great power, the greatest empire. But to shatter even the largest stones on earth, it takes only a small quantity of explosive powder. Such powder packs tremendous force. If the creative force within us is capable of stopping this EVIL EMPIRE, then the explosive force will ignite, and we will topple this blood-stained imperium...We will be those who take this war upon ourselves and beware thee, British Empire!" (Shabtai Teveth, p. 111) Ben-Gurion called on his colleagues to "prepare for a long and difficult road, if we are left with no alternatives, a road of alliance with the Arabs against these despicable powers." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 112) Although
the British Government nullified the Passfield White Paper soon after, and the alliance between Great Britain and the Zionists continued to flourish until 1945, Ben-Gurion (who commanded the Haganah), Yitzhak Shamir (who commanded the Stern Gang), and Menachem Begin (who commanded the Irgun Gang) all joined forces to wage a war of terror against the British forces in Palestine and the Palestinian people between 1945-1947. Similarly, we predict that when Israel's alliance with the United States outlives its usefulness (especially when the American people recognize that supporting Israel, right or wrong, would not be in their national interests), then the American people will come face to face with a tyrant whom they have armed, financed, and trained. Now Israel has several hundred A-Bombs, and bulling it may not be an option! Time will tell if this "holy alliance" will last and won't collide with America's strategic national interests in the Middle East! In such a case, we wonder how America might react?
Ben-Gurion had strange ideas to justify why Jews have the right to settle in Palestine. He explained that the right of the Jews to Palestine rested on their capacity for developing its resources. He declared in 1930:
"We do not recognize any form of absolute ownership over any country. Any group of diligent persons, every industrious people, is entitled to enjoy the fruits of labor, and do with its talents as it pleases. it has no right to prevent others from doing the same, or to close the doors leading to nature's gifts in the faces of others. The five million inhabitants of Australia have no right to close the gates of their continent--which they alone cannot fully exploit-- and so exclude the masses of desperate people seeking a new place to work. This is the principle behind the right of free migration, championed by international socialism." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 37) If this argument is sound for Jews to settle Palestine against the wishes of its indigenous population, why isn't it a good argument for Germans, Italians, and Palestinian refugees to immigrate and settle Israel? It's worth noting that over 85% of Israelis live in under 14% of the land and that Israel has the highest ratio of urban dwellers in the world.
On May 27, 1931, Ben-Gurion recognized the role Zionism played in maturing the Palestinian national movement. He explained that the "Arab question" is a
"tragic question of fate" that arose only as a consequence of Zionism, and so was a "question of Zionist fulfillment in the light of Arab reality." In other words, this was a Zionist rather than an Arab question, posed to Zionists who were perplexed about how they could fulfill their aspirations in a land already inhabited by a Palestinian Arab majority. (Shabtai Teveth, p. xii, Preface)
Ben-Gurion had set down the principal policy for Zionism with the British and the Palestinian people. He stated in January 1930:
"Zionist policy must be in agreement with the English and the [Palestinian] Arabs...[However,] without an agreement with the English, there is no point in talking about an agreement with the [Palestinian] Arabs, as long as we are not a majority." (Shabtai
Teveth, p. 126)
To bring the maximum number of Jews to Palestine, Ben-Gurion was prepared to
collaborate with the devil (the father of all evildoers). He stated in 1931 that he was prepared to:
collaborate with the devil (the father of all evildoers). He stated in 1931 that he was prepared to:
"sup with the devil," so he hardly would have shunned a tactic of dissimulation for moral reasons. (Shabtai Teveth, p. xiii, Preface)
In a book Ben-Gurion published in 1931 (titled: We and Our Neighbors), he admitted that Palestinian Arabs had the same rights as Jews to exist in Palestine. He stated:
"The Arab community in Palestine is an organic, inseparable part of the landscape. It is embedded in the country. The [Palestinian] Arabs work the land, and will remain." Ben-Gurion even held that the Palestinian Arabs had full rights in Palestine, "since the only right by which a people can claim to possess a land indefinitely is the right conferred by willingness to work." They had the same opportunity to establish that right as the Zionists did. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 5-6)
When Hitler rose to power in 1933, Ben-Gurion predicted a world war. This war might threaten not only the Jewish citizens of Europe, but also the Yishuv as well. The sense of responsibility loosened his tongue, and he began to say things in public that he had kept to himself in the past. He no longer offered convoluted explanations for the Palestinian Arab resistance against Jews and British occupation. He stated in 1938:
"Almost every [Palestinian] Arab" opposed Zionism, "because he is an Arab, because he is a Muslim, because he dislikes foreigners, and because we are hateful to him in every way." The conflict had lasted thirty years, and was liable "to continue for perhaps hundreds more." This was a "real war, a war of life or death."( Shabtai Teveth, p.184)
As European Jewry's immigration doubled the number of Jews in Palestine, Yishuv, between 1931-1935, Chancellor Judah Leon Magnes (the president of the Hebrew University who favored a bi-national state) asked Ben-Gurion to make concessions to Palestinians over Jewish immigration. Ben-Gurion explicitly told Magnes in 1935:
"The difference between me and you is that you are ready to sacrifice immigration for peace, while I am not, though peace is dear to me. And even if I was prepared to make concession, the Jews of Poland and Germany would not be, because they have no other option. For them immigration comes before peace." Ben-Gurion left no doubt that he identified, heart and soul, with this ordering of priorities. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 159)
Ben-Gurion was impressed with Izz al-Din al-Kassam's heroism in the mid 1930s, and he predicted Kassam's example would have a far-reaching effect on the Palestinian national movement. Ben-Gurion stated two weeks after Kassam's fateful battle with the British occupation nearby Ya'bad-Jinin:
During the early stages of the First Palestinian Intifada in 1936, Ben-Gurion was not free of ambivalence toward the Palestinian Arabs. He stated:"This is the event's importance. We would have educated our youth without Tel-Hai [an encounter with Palestinians in the Galilee in the early 1920s], because we have other important values, but the [Palestinian] Arab organizers have had less to work with. The [Palestinian] Arabs have no respect for any leader. They know that every single one is prepared to sell out the Arab people for his personal gain, and so the Arabs have no self-esteem. Now, for the first time, the [Palestinian] Arabs have seen someone offer his life for the cause. This will give the [Palestinian] Arabs the moral strength which they lack."Ben-Gurion also stressed that"this is not Nashashibi and not the Mufti. This is not the motivation out of career or greed. In Shaykh Qassam, we have a fanatic figure prepared to sacrifice his life in martyrdom. Now there are not one but dozens, hundreds, if not thousands like him. And the Arab people stand behind them." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 126)
"I never felt hatred of the Arabs and none of their actions ever awakened vengeful emotions in me." On the other hand, he felt that Jaffa should be defaced: "The destruction of Jaffa, the city and the port, will happen and it will be for the best. This city, which grew fat on Jewish immigration and settlement, is asking for destruction when it swings a hatchet over the heads of its builders and benefactors. When Jaffa falls into hell I will not be among the mourners." (One Palestine Complete, p. 383)On April 16, 1936, Ben-Gurion informed the Mapai party that no understanding could be reached with the Palestinian people until they reach one with the British. He explained that:
"... there is no chance for an understanding with the [Palestinian] Arabs unless we first reach an understanding with the British, by which we will come a preponderant force in Palestine. What can drive the [Palestinian] Arabs to a mutual understanding with us?...Facts [meaning achieving Jewish majority through immigration and increased military strength] Only after we manage to establish a great Jewish fact in this country...only then will the precondition for discussion with the [Palestinian] Arabs be met." (Shabtai Teveth, p.155)
In the mid-1930s, Ben-Gurion met George Antonius (an advisor to al-Mufti, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who was one of the few Palestinians whom Ben-Gurion had contacts with), and suggested that Palestinians should help the Zionists to expand the borders of their future "Jewish state" to include areas under French control, such as southern Lebanon and the Golan Heights. In response, Mr.Antonius burst laughing and answered:
"So, you propose that what England did not give you [as stated in the Balfour Declaration), you will get from us." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 162)According to Ben-Gurion, Antonius had complained about Zionists who "want to bring to Palestine the largest number of Jews possible, without taking [the Palestinian] Arabs into consideration at all. With this type," said Antonius, "it is impossible to come to an understanding. They want a 100% Jewish state, and the [Palestinian] Arabs will remain in their shadow." By the end of their talk, Antonius could, with reason, conclude that Ben-Gurion belonged precisely to this category of Zionists. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 163)According to Ben-Gurion, Palestine was a "matter of life and death" for the Jews. "Even pogroms in Germany or Poland, and in Palestine, we prefer the pogroms here." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 163)
Before the 1931-1932, Ben-Gurion had once viewed Zionism as a just ideology. As the Nazis rose to power in Germany in 1933, he started to lower his moral sight, according to him "these days it is not right but might which prevails". In April 1936, Ben-Gurion concluded that no people on earth determined its relations with other peoples by abstract moral calculations of justice. He stated that :
"There is only one thing that everyone accepts, Arabs and non-Arabs alike: facts." The Arabs would not make peace with the Jews "out of sentiment for justice," but because such a peace at some point would become worthwhile and advantageous. A Jewish state would encourage peace, because with it the Jew would "become a force, and the Arabs respect force." Ben-Gurion explained to the Mapai party "these days it is not right but might which prevails. It is more important to have force than justice on one's side." In a period of "power politics , the powers that become hard of hearing, and respond only to the roar of cannons. And the Jews in the Diaspora have no cannons." In order to survive in this evil world, the Jewish people needed cannons more than justice. (Shabtai Teveth, p. 191)This racist and belligerent remark, about Arabs being respectful of force, became a radioactive cancer that infected all sectors of the Israeli society. Ironically, many Arabs respond to this form of racism with their own version of racism, meaning that "Israelis respect the language of force" as well.
After Ben-Gurion's encounter with George Antonius in May 1936, he was willing to concede the existence of a conflict between Palestinian and Jewish nationalisms for the first time. He stated in public that:
"There is a conflict, a great conflict." not in the economic but the political realm. "There is fundamental conflict. We and they want the same thing: We both want Palestine. And that is the fundamental conflict." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 166)"I now say something which contradicts the theory which I once had on this question. At one time, I thought an agreement [with Palestinians] was possible." Ben-Gurion attached some reservation to this statement. A settlement might be possible between both peoples in the widest sense, between the entire "Jewish people" and the entire Arab people. But such an agreement could be achieved "once they despair of preventing a Jewish Palestine." (Shabtai
Teveth, p. 171)This statement signaled a shift in Ben-Gurion's mind set. Ironically, his conclusion is in complete agreement with Ze'ev Jabotinsky's IRON WALL doctrine. When Jabotinsky first published his famous doctrine in the early 1920s, Ben-Gurion and other Zionists in the Labor movement branded him as a "racist". As the previous quote demonstrates, Ben-Gurion finally recognized that Zionism had to rely on the IRON WALL doctrine for it to become a reality. Unfortunately for the Palestinian people, according to Ben-Gurion this was a matter of "life or death" for Zionism and Jews.Over no issue was the conflict so severe as the question of immigration. On the same subject, he also stated:"Arab leaders see no value in the economic dimension of the country's development, and while they will concede that our immigration has brought material blessings to Palestine [where exclusively Jewish labor was always the rule], they nevertheless contend – and from the [Palestinian] Arab point of view, they are right – that they want neither the honey nor the bee sting." (Shabtai
Teveth, p. 166)
As the First Palestinian Intifada was erupting in 1936, many Zionists complained that the British Mandate was not doing enough to combat Palestinian resistance (which often was referred to as "terror") to the British Mandate. In that regard, Ben-Gurion argued that:
Ben-Gurion stated how Zionists should be self-reliant in response to the Palestinian commercial strike, which was the prelude to the First Palestinian Intifada in 1936. He stated:"no government in the world can prevent individual terror...when a people is fighting for its land, it is not easy to prevent such acts." Nor did he criticize the British display of leniency: "I see why the government feels the need to show leniency towards the [Palestinian]
Arabs ...it is not easy to suppress a popular movement strictly by the use of force." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 166)In rare situations, Ben-Gurion EMPATHIZED with the Palestinian people. He stated in a letter to Moshe Sharett in 1937:"Were I an Arab, and Arab with nationalist political consciousness ...I would rise up against an immigration liable in the future to hand the country and all of its [Palestinian] Arab inhabitants over to Jewish rule. What [Palestinian] Arab cannot do his math and understand what [Jewish] immigration at the rate of 60,000 a year means a Jewish state in all of Palestine." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 171-172) Ben-Gurion also clearly stated that it was the Zionists who were the aggressors, at least from the political point of view. He stated in the contexts of the First Palestinian Intifada in 1938 :"When we say that the Arabs are the aggressors and we defend ourselves – that is only half the truth. As regards our security and life we defend ourselves... But the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict, which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves." (Righteous Victims, p. 652)
"The first and principal lesson of these disturbances...is that we must free ourselves from all economic dependence on the [Palestinian] Arabs...We must not find ourselves in situation where our enemies are in a position to starve us, to block our access to the sea, to deny us gravel and stones for construction." (Righteous Victims, p. 130)Soon after the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1936, Ben-Gurion explained the reasons why Palestinians feared Zionism. He stated in a meeting with his Mapai party:
"The Arabs fear of our power is intensifying, [Palestinians] see exactly the opposite of what we see. It doesn't matter whether or not their view is correct...They see [Jewish] immigration on a giant scale...they see the Jews fortify themselves economically .. They see the best lands passing into our hands. They see England identify with Zionism...[Arabs are] fighting dispossession...The fear is not of losing land, but of losing the homeland of the Arab people, which others want to turn it into the homeland of the Jewish people. There is a fundamental conflict. We and they want the same thing: We both want Palestine...By our very presence and progress here, [we] have matured the [Arab] movement." (Righteous Victims, p. 136& Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p.18)On the other hand, he denied the Palestinian any political rights. As a justification,
"There is no conflict between Jewish and Arab nationalism because the Jewish nation is not in Palestine and the Palestinians are not a nation." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 19)Ben Gurion advocated exclusively Jewish labor in Jewish run enterprises. He stated in 1936:
"If we want Hebrew redemption 100%, then we must have 100% Hebrew settlement, a 100% Hebrew farm, and 100% Hebrew port." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 24)
Ben-Gurion emphasized that Zionism should seek peace with Palestinians ONLY as means to realize Zionism, not as an ultimate goal. He explained the policy in 1937 as follows:
On July 29, 1937, Ben-Gurion stated to the World Convention of Ihud Po'alei Tzion in Zurich that Maronite ruled Lebanon would serve the Christian minority better if it allied itself with the future "Jewish state." He said:"We do not seek an agreement with the [Palestinian] Arabs in order to secure the peace. Of course we regard peace as an essential thing. It is impossible to build up the country in a state of permanent warfare. But peace for us is a mean, and not an end. The end is the fulfillment of Zionism in its maximum scope. Only for this reason do we need peace, and do we need an agreement." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 168)
"Having Lebanon as a neighbor ensures the Jewish state of a faithful ally from the first day of its establishment. It is not, also, unavoidable that across the northern side of the Jewish state border in southern Lebanon the first possibility of our expansion will come up through agreement, in good will, with our neighbors who need us." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 88)
In February 1937, Ben-Gurion was on the BRINK of a far reaching conclusion, that the Arabs of Palestine were a separate people, distinct from other Arabs and deserving of self-determination. He stated:
Ben-Gurion predicted a decisive war in which the neighboring Arab countries"The right which the Arabs in Palestine have is one due to the inhabitants of any country...because they live here, and not because they are Arabs ...The Arab inhabitants of Palestine should enjoy all the rights of citizens and all political rights, not only as individuals, but as a national community, just like the Jews." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 170)
would come to aid Palestinians. He said in 1937 :
"It is very possible that the Arabs of the neighboring countries will come to their aid against us. But our strength will exceed theirs. Not only because we will be better organized and equipped , but because behind us there stands a still larger force, superior in quality and quantity...the whole younger generation [ from Europe and America]". (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 66)Ben-Gurion commented on the proposed Peel Commission Partition plan as follows in 1937:
"We must EXPEL ARABS and take their places...and, if we have to use force-not to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan, but to guarantee our own right to settle in those places-then we have force at our disposal." (Expulsion Of The
Palestinians, p. 66). Note the premeditated plan to ethnically cleanse the Negev and Transjordan which were not allocated to the Jewish State by the Peel Commission
During the tour which the Peel Commission did in Palestine in 1937, Ben Gurion told the commission that the Bible was the Jewish people's "Mandate." (One Palestine Complete, p. 401)
On July 12, 1937, David Ben-Gurion wrote in his diary explaining the benefits
of the compulsory population transfer (which was proposed by the British Peel Commission):
"The compulsory transfer of the [Palestinian] Arabs from the valleys of the proposed Jewish state could give us something which we never had, even when we stood on our own during the days of the first and second Temples...We are given an opportunity which we never dared to dream of in our wildest imaginings. This is MORE than a state, government and sovereignty – this is national consolidation in a free homeland." (Righteous Victims, p. 142)Similarly on August 7, 1937 he also stated to the Zionist Assembly during their
debate on the Peel Commission:
"...In many parts of the country new settlement will not be possible without transferring the [Palestinian] Arab fellahin...it is important that this plan comes from the [British Peel] Commission and not from us...Jewish power, which grows steadily, will also increase our possibilities to carry out the transfer on a large scale. You must remember, that this system embodies an important humane and Zionist idea, to transfer parts of a people to their country and to settle empty lands. We believe that this action will also bring us closer to an agreement with the Arabs." (Righteous Victims, p. 143)On the same subject, David Ben-Gurion wrote in 1937:
"With compulsory transfer we [would] have a vast area [for settlement]...I support compulsory transfer. I don't see anything immoral in it." (Righteous Victims, p. 144)And in 1938, he also wrote:
"With compulsory transfer we [would] have vast areas...I support compulsory [population] transfer. I do not see anything immoral in it. But compulsory transfer could only be carried out by England...Had its implementation been dependent merely on our proposal I would have proposed; but this would be dangerous to propose when the British government has disassociated itself from compulsory transfer. .... But this question should not be removed from the agenda because it is central question. There are two issues here : 1) sovereignty and 2) the removal of a certain number of Arabs, and we must insist on both of them." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians,117)
In August 1937, the 20th Zionist Congress rejected the Peel Commission proposed partition plan because the area allotted to the "Jewish state" was smaller than expected. On the other hand, the concept of partitioning Palestine into two states was accepted as a launching pad for future Zionist expansions, and to secure unlimited Jewish immigrations. In September 1938, Ben-Gurion explained why he advocated partitioning the country NOW, and to accept the Peel Commission's proposal:
"The ONLY reason that we agreed to discuss the [Peel commission proposed] partition plan," Ben-Gurion wrote Moshe Sharett, "is mass immigration. Not in the future, and not according to abstract formula, but large immigration now." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 184)
And in October 1938, he wrote to his children that :
"I don't regard a state in part of Palestine as the final aim of Zionism, but as a mean toward that aim." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 188)
In September 1937, he stated to a group of American Jewish labor leaders in New York:
On July 30, 1937 Yosef Bankover, a founding member and leader of Kibbutz Hameuhad movement and a member of Haganah's regional command of the coastal and central districts, stated that Ben-Gurion would accept the proposed Peel Commission partition plan under two conditions: 1) unlimited Jewish immigration 2) Compulsory population transfer for Palestinians. He stated that :"the borders [of the Jewish state] will not be fixed for eternity." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 188)
"Ben-Gurion said yesterday that he was prepared to accept the [Peel partition] proposal of the Royal commission but on two conditions: [Jewish] sovereignty and compulsory transfer...As for the compulsory transfer-- as a member of Kibbutz Ramat Hakovsh [founded in 1932 in central Palestine] I would be very pleased if it would be possible to be rid of the pleasant neighborliness of the people of Miski, Tirah, and Qalqilyah." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 70)
Similarly, he also stated to his son Amos in October 1937 that a "Jewish state" in part of Palestine was:
"not the end, but only the beginning." Its establishment would give a "powerful boost to our historic efforts to redeem the country in its entirety." For the "Jewish state" would have "outstanding army- I have no doubt that our army will be among the world's outstanding-and so I am certain that we won't be constrained from settling in the rest of the country, either by mutual agreement and understanding with our Arab neighbors, or by some other way...I still believe...that after we become numerous and strong, the Arabs will understand that it is best for them to strike an alliance with us, and to benefit from our help, providing they allow us by their good will to settle in all parts of Palestine." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 188)
Regarding settling the Negev desert, which was allotted to the Palestinian state according to the Peel Commission, Ben-Gurion stated:
"It is very possible that in exchange for our financial, military, organizational and scientific assistance, the [Palestinian] Arabs will agree that we develop and build the Negev [which as of 2002, the Negev is still mostly populated by Palestinian-Israeli citizens]. It is also possible that they won't agree. No people always behaves according to logic, common sense, and best interests." If the Palestinian Arabs "act according to sterile nationalist emotion," and reject the idea of Jewish settlement, preferring that the Negev remain barren, then the Jewish army would act. "Because we cannot stand to see large areas of unsettled land capable of absorbing thousands of Jews remain empty, or to see Jews not return to their country because the [Palestinian] Arabs say that there is not enough room for them and us." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 188-189) It is worth noting that the Negev is still a barren desert, and under populated by Israeli Jews.During a lecture in Tel-Aviv in front of Mapai activists in 1938, Ben-Gurion divided the realization of the "historic aim of the Jewish state" into two stages. The first stage, which would last ten to fifteen years, he called "the period of building and laying foundations." This would prepare the state for the second stage, "the period of expansion." The goal of both stages was the "gathering of the exiles in all of Palestine." And so "from the moment the state is established, it must calculate its actions with an eye toward this distant goal."
When Zionists were debating the Peel Commission's partition plan, Ben-Gurion advised his colleges to accept the concept of partitioning ONLY as a first stage of a complete conquest. He stated in 1937:
"Just as I do not see the proposed Jewish state as a final solution to the problems of the Jewish people, so I do now see partition as the final solution of the Palestine question. Those who reject partition are right in their claim that this country cannot be partitioned because it constitute one unit, not only from a historical point of view but also from that of nature and economy" (emphasis added). (Simha Flapan, p. 22)
and while addressing the Zionist executive, he again emphasized the tactical nature of his support for partition and his assumption that:
Similarly he also stated:
And regarding the Peel Commission, he also stated on June 9, 1937:"The acceptance of partition does not commit us to renounce Transjordan. One does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today--but the boundaries of the Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them." By 1949 Ben-Gurion had proved that he was as good as his word. (Simha
Flapan, p. 52-53)
"In my opinion we must insist on the Peel Commission proposal, which sees in the transfer the only solution to this problem. And I have now to say that it is worthwhile that the Jewish people should bear GREATEST material sacrifices in order to ensure the success of transfer." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 70)And on July 12, 1937 he also wrote how Zionists should insist on implementing the proposed compulsory population transfer.