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Tanks in the distance by By Akiva Eldar
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Posted on July 24, 2001

The below article has been quoted from Ha'aretz.Click here to read the full article

Apparently, Benjamin Netanyahu's public opinion polls show that if he wants to return to the Prime Minister's Office, it won't be enough for him to give Ariel Sharon advice about how to "eradicate terrorism." Sharon's polls, by the way, show that most Israelis still support the policy of restraint. As peace with the Palestinians fades, along with the Jewish majority in the Land of Israel, Netanyahu is offering Israelis the ultimate solution. He has a theory that once and for all will free the Jews, including the leftists, of the occupier's complex and fear of apartheid.

Netanyahu investigated and found that most of the Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean are the offspring of foreign workers attracted to the country at the beginning of the 20th century by the Jewish pioneers who made the desert bloom (
click here to read our response to this argument) - moths attracted by the light, so to speak. The logical conclusion is that there's no reason to get hot and bothered about a demographic threat. No country gives national rights to its foreign workers, even if they are the absolute majority in a particular district. It doesn't matter when the natives, the Jews, invited the Arabs to plow their fields; they were day workers who exploited the generosity of the Jews and got stuck like a bone in their throat and don't deserve self-determination.

A report by Yossi Verter in Ha'aretz from July 17, about a meeting of Netanyahu supporters in Eilat, describes how the former prime minister won applause by telling his listeners that he gave a knock-out blow to a CNN interviewer who told him the Palestinians claim Israel stole their land. "I told her it wasn't their land," he revealed to his supporters, and that until the start of the return of the Jews "there wasn't a living soul here." In a letter published yesterday in Ha'aretz, Netanyahu reiterates the claim that at least half the growth of the Arab population in the country, in the first half of the 20th century, was because of Arab immigration. And he adds: "Not only did the Jewish pioneering bring with it technological and medical progress and raise the life expectancy of all the population, it also brought masses of Arab immigrants."

Netanyahu didn't invent this theory. It can be found in the writings of the leaders of the Revisionist movement. He probably found it in Joan Peters' book, which, like Netanyahu, buttresses the claim with quotes from Winston Churchill. In the 601 pages of "From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict," published in 1984, the freelance journalist tries to prove that the Arabs of Israel are not anything more than the offspring of foreign workers who exploited the generosity of their employers. Peters, who underwent a transformation from Arab-lover to Zionist, uses quotation marks around the term Palestinians.

If Netanyahu had telephoned the Middle East historian Yehoshua Porat, from the Hebrew University, he would have saved himself the severe criticism we heard from the Jerusalem professor yesterday. Porat would be happy to send Netanyahu a copy of a 1986 article that appeared in the New York Review of Books about the old-new theory Netanyahu is now promoting. Porat, like others who reacted to Peters' book, tore its thesis into shreds.

It's important to note that Porat is not suspected of being a leftist or a Netanyahu-hater. He was one of the more prominent academics who backed Netanyahu in the election campaign of 1996 against Shimon Peres.

Porat says that the foreign Arab workers who settled mostly in the Ashdod and Ashkelon area, as well as Circassians and Muslims who came from Bosnia, were a tiny minority. Arabs from Syria did indeed come to work for Jews "but when the work was done they went home," says Porat.

You don't have to be a big expert, says Porat, to understand that most of the growth of the Palestinian population was a result of natural birthrates. "It's enough to look at the Arab population of Israel, which has grown five-fold since the establishment of the state, from 150,000 to 800,000 (not counting East Jerusalem). And that was in a society that wasn't eager to absorb them."

The veteran Orientalist also ridicules Netanyahu's theory that it was the work of the Jewish pioneers who made the desert bloom and that this drew the Arab workers. "The Jewish settlement needed donations from Rothschild and then, under the Mandate, there was an orderly administration that controlled immigration. And with the numbers, Porat demolishes the Peters-Netanyahu theory. "The census of 1922 showed there were 600,000 Palestinian residents in the country. The high birthrate, together with modern medicine and improved nutrition, were what contributed to the growth of the population.

To put things in perspective, Porat mentions that Napoleon's expedition to Egypt at the beginning of the 19th century estimated there were two million people in the country. "Look how many there are now in Egypt," he asks and answers himself, "and that's all without any foreign workers." Porat concludes that Zionism doesn't need prevarication to justify its existence.


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Posted by Brent on February 6, 2011 #130212

Joan Peters is a lying, fraud whose fraudulent book was torn to shreds by academic refutations from all over the world; including again Zionist "Israel" itself evidenced by the thorough refutation of Mrs. Peters by Yehoshua Porath (an "Israeli" academic and Netanyahu political supporter). Some good articles refuting Joan Peters; "There Were No Indians By ANTHONY LEWIS (NYT) Published: January 13, 1986", Porath, and all the work of the great scholar Norman Finkelstein. A good block quote:

Quote- From Time Immemorial is work of propaganda, with all the bad connotations that term carries. Peters' case rests upon distortion and fabrication. Time and again, she misconstrues sources in a tendentious manner. She cribs uncritically from partisan works. She conceals crucial calculations, and draws hard conclusions from tenuous evidence. She speculates wildly and without ground. She exaggerates figures and selects numbers to suit her thesis. She adduces evidence that in no way supports her claims, sometimes even omitting "inconvenient" portions of the citation. She invents contradictions in sources she wishes to discredit by quoting them out of context. She "forgets" undesirable numbers in her calculations. She ignores sources that cast doubt on her conclusions, even when she herself uses those sources for other purposes. She makes baseless insinuations and misleading claims. ...

end quote.