Was Israel Founded on Stolen Arab Land?

by | Apr 9, 2022 | Israel & Jewish Roots, Standing With Israel

I was a workshop speaker at a Christian conference several years ago, and the topic was the history of Israel. In my short 20-minute message, I quickly reviewed how Israel was founded and the major wars and developments up to today. Afterward, a young man—probably a college student—approached me. Scratching his head and with a puzzled look, he said, “But I thought Israel was founded on stolen Arab land?”

It’s a common accusation and misunderstanding—but a critical one to disprove because if it were true, the very founding of Israel would be illegal. How could Christians support such a thing? Let’s consider a few facts to get to the truth.

Mark Twain’s Observations

The famous travel writer and author of Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain, went to the Holy Land in 1867 and documented the empty barrenness of the land in his book The Innocents Abroad. Here are a few of his observations:

“There is no timber of any consequence in Palestine—none at all to waste upon fires…. It is a hopeless, dreary, heart-broken land. … Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies.”

Palestine had been at the heart of successive Islamic empires for almost 1,300 years. Other writings from the 19th century confirm it had been neglected and taxed into a barren wasteland. Most of the small farms had gone bankrupt and were bought out by large absentee landowners living in Damascus, Beirut or Cairo.

Jerusalem had a majority Jewish population squeezed into the Jewish quarter of the walled Old City. In the late 1800s, Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia arrived, and farming settlements began to form, which produced jobs that drew Arabs to the area. An unskilled Arab worker in Palestine could make five times more than his relative with the same job in Cairo or Iraq.

Population Growth

Israel’s population increased from 700,000 to 1.7 million from 1922 to 1945. Muslims made up the largest segment (60% in 1945). Their numbers had increased roughly 500,000, as had the smaller Jewish population. Both communities were growing at about the same rate.

Jewish Land Purchases

Most Jewish land purchases were made through organizations and involved large tracts of land belonging to absentee landowners. Much of the land was uncultivated and swampy, rocky or sandy. Nevertheless, Jewish organizations were willing to pay exorbitant prices. For example, rich black soil in Iowa sold for $110/acre, while Jews paid $1,000/acre for arid and semi-arid land in Palestine.

1948 Land Ownership

The state of Israel was founded in 1948 largely upon public land passed from the Ottoman Empire through the British Mandate to the newly founded Jewish state. Only 30% of the land was privately owned by Jews and Arabs. Some of those Arabs remained and became citizens of Israel. Other Arabs fled and abandoned their property thereby losing title to it.

Why Some Arabs Abandoned their Land

Arab residents fled for several reasons, but most did so voluntarily. Many followed the call to flee by neighboring Arab leaders, who claimed they were sending in armies to destroy the Jews in a bloodbath. Though that did not happen, it was still a war—and people often flee for safety in times of war. In some instances, Jewish fighters forced them out for security reasons.

Refugees

Once the fighting was over, the approximately 500-700,000 Arab refugees who had fled Israel found themselves on the losing side. They had sided with Israel’s enemies and were not allowed back in. Today, fewer than 30,000 of those refugees are still alive, but their children and grandchildren still live in refugee camps because their own Arab leaders refused to absorb them and give them a future.

Additionally, 700,000 Jewish refugees were forced to leave their homes and properties in Arab countries and make their way to Israel when the nation was born. They left behind homes, properties and businesses with nothing but the coats on their backs. The difference is that Israel absorbed them into society and made them citizens. Even though their large number strained the new state and roughly doubled the size of the Jewish community in Israel, they were cared for and became productive Israeli citizens.

Israel’s founding was legal and upon public lands previously part of the Ottoman Empire. The accusation that it was founded on stolen land is based upon a small percentage of properties abandoned by fleeing Arab owners. The unnecessary loss of their homes was certainly an injustice of war as was the loss of properties abandoned by Jewish owners in Arab countries. The greater injustice in this story is Arab leaders did not, and have not, absorbed the Arab refugees into their countries. {eoa}

Dr. Susan Michael is USA director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and host of the Out of Zion podcast. Listen to her Israel Answers series on the Out of Zion podcast to learn more about Israel and related issues. For more on this topic, listen to this episode of Out of Zion.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Why God Will Sometimes Hesitate to Give Your Mountain

Why God Will Sometimes Hesitate to Give Your Mountain

Recently, I was having a discussion over coffee with a group of friends when one of them asked the question: “Can you believe how much the world has changed in what seems to be a very short time?” My answer was: “Yes. Yes, I have no problem believing how much the...

8 Reasons for You to Speak in Tongues

8 Reasons for You to Speak in Tongues

If a person were to ask, “Why speak in tongues?” couldn’t we also ask, “Why pray?” The Word of God shows a definite value in praying with an unknown tongue. Jesus tells us that “it is necessary always to pray” (Luke 18:1, MEV). Later, in speaking of prayer, Paul...

What ‘The Jetsons’ and Cindy Jacobs Prophetically Got Right

What ‘The Jetsons’ and Cindy Jacobs Prophetically Got Right

Just as the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons depicted a future full of video phones, robotics and Google-style office space, some modern-day prophets have prophesied about a future full of exposing corruption, fighting for individual freedom and shining a light on truth. One...

The Blueprints for Building a Powerful and Abundant Life for Jesus

The Blueprints for Building a Powerful and Abundant Life for Jesus

Have you ever seen blueprints? If not, blueprints are detailed drawings, containing specifications approved by the builder of a home. A blueprint fully outlines the quality of the materials needed to build a stable and trustworthy home. For a Christian, the Bible is...

9 Reasons Why God Never Tries to Prove His Existence

9 Reasons Why God Never Tries to Prove His Existence

God is self-authenticating. He never tries to prove His existence because it is already evident through the created order. Since He is the only objective being, all other living and nonliving objects emanate from His creative fiat word hence all reasoning (different...

How Prophetic Evangelism Is Impacting Change in Today’s Culture

How Prophetic Evangelism Is Impacting Change in Today’s Culture

Dr. Candice Smithyman, host of Manifest His Presence on the Charisma Podcast Network, recently interviewed apostle Stacey Campbell, founder of Shiloh Global about how prophecy can impact today’s culture. Apostle Campbell is passionate about teaching young people and...

RECENT ARTICLES

Joyce Meyer’s Daughter: ‘I Tried Until I Almost Died!’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xc14ip0XyOw Growing up as the daughter of Dave and Joyce Meyer, Sandra McCollom knew about God’s goodness and unconditional love. “At eight years old, I remember...
Prophet: 10 Essential Guardrails for Hearing God’s Voice

Prophet: 10 Essential Guardrails for Hearing God’s Voice

In the journey of hearing God's voice today effectively and accurately, you need the practical and personal work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus clearly told his followers that those who hear His words and put them into practice are wise! "Whoever hears these sayings of...

Prophetic Vision: Three Tables Are Set

Prophetic Vision: Three Tables Are Set

Recently as I was worshipping the Lord, I went into a vision where I could see I was in a dark and very deep valley. It was nighttime, and the valley was surrounded by tall mountains. On the top of each I could see the outlines of men and instinctively knew they were...

Is He a God of Wrath or a God of Love?

Is He a God of Wrath or a God of Love?

Do you think the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath, and the God of the New Testament is a God of love? The truth is that God is the same throughout the entire Bible. His wrath and His love are revealed in both the Old and the New Testaments. So why, then, did...

How You Can Have a Perfect Heart

How You Can Have a Perfect Heart

Your heart is the most important part of you. It’s not only a physical organ that keeps your blood pumping, but when the Bible refers to the heart, it’s talking about who you really are. Each person has an inner and an outer life. There’s the person we show to...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]