Monday, September 13, 2010

Don Peretz, 1958: Abandoned Arab Property Critical to early days of Israeli State

"'Abandoned' Property"  insert from "Original Sin" by Zachary Lockman. in Middle East Report, May-June 1988,  Review Essay.

from Don Peretz, Israel and the Palestine Arabs (Washington, D.C.: Middle East Institute, 1958), p. 143

"Abandoned property [belonging to Arabs who had become refugees] was one of the greatest contributions toward making Israel a viable state. ... Of the 370 new Jewish settlements established between 1948 and the beginning of 1953, 350 were on absentee property.  In 1954, more than one third of Israel’s Jewish population lived on absentee property and nearly a third of the new immigrants (250,000 people) settled in urban areas abandoned by Arabs.  They left whole cities like Jaffa, Acre, Lydda, Ramleh, Baysan, Majdal; 388 towns and villages and large parts of 94 other cities and towns, containing nearly a quarter of all the buildings in Israel.  Ten thousand shops, businesses and stores were left in Jewish hands. ... In 1951-52, former Arab [citrus] groves produced one-and-a-quarter million boxes of fruit, of which 400,000 were exported.  Arab fruit sent abroad provided nearly 10 per cent of the country's foreign currency earnings from exports in 1951.  In 1949 the olive produce from abandoned Arab groves was Israel's third largest export, ranking after citrus and diamonds.  The relative economic importance of Arab property was largest from 1948 until 1953, during the period of the greatest immigration and need.  After that, as the immigrants became more productive, national dependence upon abandoned Arab property declined relatively."

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