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Ethnic cleansing? The truth about Arabs in Israel and Jews in the Arab world
by Helen Mitchell | Aug 30, 2019 | BDS, Israel
A common myth people believe about Israel is that the Jewish state is guilty of ethnically cleansing its Arab population.

A quick look at the facts tells a very different story:

Fact 1: There never was an independent nation of Palestine

Many think that prior to the creation of Israel in 1948, there was a flourishing independent country called Palestine with an Arab population dating back thousands of years.

This isn't true. Before the First World War, the region known as Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, which included much of the modern-day Middle East. There was never a separate country called Palestine.

Nor did the people living in the region see themselves as distinctly Palestinian. Some described themselves as Syrian. Some were nomadic and moved between the different territories of the Ottoman Empire. The concept of Palestinian nationalism is something recent.

Fact 2: Many of the Arabs living in Israel in 1948 had not been there for long

Before the 20th century, Palestine wasn't a particularly rich or desirable place to live, and it didn't have a large population. Ottoman records show that in the year 1800, there were just 275,000 people living in the land.

This all changed in the twentieth century. Between 1922 and 1948, the Arab population of Palestine rose from around 670,000 to over 1,200,000. One reason for this growth was large-scale Arab immigration as the land became more prosperous.

It's true that thousands of Arabs left Israel during the 1948 War of Independence, but it's important to note that many of them had been in the land for less than a generation at the time.

Fact 3: The Arab population in Israel has increased since 1948

Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, the Arab population—far from being ethnically cleansed by the Jewish state— has risen dramatically. Even though 750,000 Arabs left Israel during the War of Independence, the total Arab population has still increased.

In 2019, the Arab Israeli population stood at nearly 2 million, compared to 1.2 million on the eve of Israel's independence.

Fact 4: Nearly a million Jews were forced to flee Arab lands and Iran after 1948

We hear so much about the Palestinian refugees that few people realize there were also Jewish refugees from Arab nations after 1948.

Prior to the formation of Israel, there were thriving Jewish communities in Arab countries such as Morocco, Iraq and Yemen. Nearly all these Jews were forced to flee for their lives in the face of violent persecution after the establishment of Israel. These Jews left behind them property and possessions, which were never recovered.

Today, there are fewer than 5,000 Jews in the Arab world and Iran. This is a stark contrast to the Arab population in Israel that continues to grow and thrive.

So, is Israel guilty of ethnic cleansing? The facts reveal that the answer to this question is a loud and resounding NO!