EARLY ZIONISTS & ARABS
By Dr. Judea Pearl
The logical, self-evident conclusion of all the above is as follows: The agricultural community that the Arabs found in Eretz Israel in the Seventh. Century was none other than the Hebrew farmers that remained on their land, despite all the persecution and oppression of the Roman and Byzantine emperors. Some of them accepted Christianity, at least on the surface, but many held on to their ancestral faith and occasionally revolted against their Christian oppressors. After the Arab conquest, the Arabic language and Muslim religion spread gradually among the countrymen. In his essay "Ancient Names in Palestine and Syria in Our Times," Dr. George Kampmeyer proves, based on historico-linguistic analysis, that, for a certain period of time, both Aramaic and Arabic were in use and only slowly did the former give way to the latter.
The greater majority and main structures of the Muslim Falahin in western Eretz Israel present to us one racial strand and a whole ethnic unit, and there is no doubt that much Jewish blood flows in their veins the blood of those Jewish farmers, "lay persons," who chose in the travesty of times to abandon their faith in order to remain on their land.
Ben-Gurion's theory may not withstand modern DNA analysis, but his essay reveals a genuine attempt to establish an ancestral kinship with the Arab population and to bridge cultural and religious divides.
Perhaps anticipating future criticism that Zionism, while promising Palestinians human and civil rights, denied them national rights, Weizmann wrote in the newspaper Ha'aretz:
"The characteristic feature of a political movement is its ability to rally the masses behind it. In this sense, there is no doubt that we are witnessing a political movement. And we should not dismiss it, our way should not be through the [British] government. . . ."
"We should not attempt to turn the Arabs into Zionists. I do not see why an Arab need be a Zionist. But we must explain to him what Zionism is, what it aspires to achieve, on what it rests, what its power and promises are and what its attitude is toward the Arabs in this land and the Arab nation in our neighborhood. It is imperative that the Arab knows that we have not come here to dispossess him, to subjugate him, or to worsen his condition. The Arab must know that Zionism is not an accidental, temporary phenomenon, but a historical imperative, that it relies on the needs and strength of the entire Jewish nation, and that it is impossible to dismiss or silence it. . . ."
"In much the same way that we need to educate the Arab public to understand our interest, so also we need to educate our public to understand the Arabs and work toward decent neighborly relations ... mutual recognition is prerequisite to mutual understanding."
The total Arab rejection of his overtures, followed by the bloody riots of 1936-1939, eroded Ben-Gurion's confidence in achieving Arab understanding through education and cooperation. It remains an interesting exercise, though, to imagine what the Middle East would be like today had Arab leadership reciprocated with some recognition, however mild, of the Jewish right to self-determination.
"Every indigenous people, regardless of whether it is primitive or advanced, views its country as a national home and aspires to be and remain its sole and eternal landlord; it does not voluntarily agree to accommodate, not only new landlords, but even new partners or new participants. And our most misleading argument would be if we rely on the fact that our agricultural settlements bring them economical advantages; though this is an undisputed truth, there is no nation in the world that sold its national aspirations for bread and butter." 
"Many of us still think in full honesty that a terrible misunderstanding has occurred, that the Arabs did not understand us, and that this is the reason why they oppose us; but, if only we could explain to them how benevolent our intentions, they would stretch their hands back to us. This is a mistake that has been proven so again and again. I will bring up one such incident. Several years ago, when the late Nahum Sokolov visited Eretz Israel, and he was one of the most moderate and diplomatic Zionists at that time, he delivered an elaborate speech on this misunderstanding. He explained clearly how mistaken Arabs are in thinking that we wish to steal their property or dispossess them or oppress them. 'We do not even want to have a Jewish government; we want merely a government representing the League of Nations.' Sokolov's speech received an immediate response in the main editorial of the Arab newspaper Carmel, the content of which I convey here from memory:"
"'The Zionists, so wrote the Arab editor, are tormenting their nerves unnecessarily. There is no misunderstanding here whatsoever. The Arabs never doubted that the potential absorption capacity of Eretz Israel is enormous and, therefore, that it is possible to settle here enough Jews without dispossessing or constraining even a single Arab. It is obvious that this is all the Zionists want. But it is also obvious that this is precisely what the Arabs do not want; for, then, the Jews will turn into a majority and, from the nature of things, a Jewish government will be established and the fate of the Arab minority will depend on Jewish good will; Jews know perfectly well what minority existence is like. There is no misunderstanding here whatsoever.'"
The Arab editor's argument is rather compelling, but Jabotinsky confronts it with a moral dilemma that is no less compelling:
"Our planet is no longer blessed with uninhabited islands. Take any oasis in any desert, it is already taken by the native who inhabits that place from time immemorial and rejects the coming of new settlers that will become a majority, or just come in great numbers. In short, if there is a homeless nation in the world, its very yearning for a homeland is immoral. The homeless must forever remain homeless; all the land in the universe has already been divided that's it. These are the conclusions of 'morality.'"
"This sort of morality has a place among cannibals, not in the civilized world. The land belongs not to those who have too much land, but to those who have none. If we appropriate one parcel of land from the owners of mega-estates and give it to an exiled nation it is a just deed."
New Historians often cite anecdotal and secondhand evidence or diary entries lacking in context that depict an exaggerated, hostile attitude of early Zionist leaders toward the Arabs. In contrast, the quotations cited above were articulated in prominent and open public forums and published widely for Hebrew readers in Palestine and the Diaspora. It is these quotations, therefore, that are true representations of the dominant attitude of the Yishuv, the pre-1948 Jewish community in Palestine. They were annunciated broadly, with the aim of shaping public opinion, educational norms and cultural molds, which no doubt contributed to the culture of accommodation that governs the Israeli mindset today.
 Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1892.
 Diana Muir, "A Land without a People for a People without a Land," Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2008, pp. 55-62.
 "Zechuyot Ha'Yehudim Ve'Zulatam B'Eretz Yisrael," reprinted in Anachnu U'Shcheneinu, p. 31. For more on Zangwill, see Muir, "A Land without a People."
 Chaim Weizmann, Devarim, vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Mizpah Publishers, 1936), p. 99.
 Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv), Dec. 15, 1919, as reprinted in Devarim, vol. 1, p. 129.
 Anachnu U'Shcheneinu, p. 257.
 "Arviyey Eretz Yisrael," in Medina Ivrit (Tel Aviv: T. Kopp, 1937).
 Ibid., pp. 73-4.
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
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Islamism & Jihadism -- Radical Islam & Islamic Terrorism
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International Politics & World Disorder:
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Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
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Dr. Judea Pearl, a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, New York, N.Y., 1965), is Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Los Angeles, and President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, named after his son. With his wife, Ruth, Dr. Pearl co-edited, I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl (Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Light, 2004), winner of the National Jewish Book Award.
The foregoing article by Dr. Pearl was originally published in the Middle East Quarterly, Fall, 2008, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-ΰ-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (Article URL: http://www.meforum.org/article/2001)
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