The Origins of
Arab Settlers in the Land of Israel
By Rotem Nimkovsky
May 16, 2018
The Arabs mark May the 15th as a day of
remembrance for the catastrophe, the “Nakba” in Arabic, that befell them
with the creation of the State of Israel. They claim the “indigenous” Arab
inhabitants had to flee their “homeland” as a result. They conveniently fail
to mention the reason for the “catastrophe” and where these supposed
indigenous Arab inhabitants actually came from and when.
UN General Assembly resolution 181 of
1947 called for the partition of the British Mandate in Palestine into separate
Jewish and Arab entities. The Jewish leadership accepted the resolution. The
Arabs countries rejected it, which is their right. What they had no right to,
was to declare war on the Jewish population in the area.
The armies of seven Arab countries set
out to destroy the Jewish state, which they outnumbered a hundred to one. They
also persecuted the Jewish citizens who lived in their own countries for
hundreds of years, forcing them to leave and take refuge in the newly created
State of Israel.
The Arab nations, together with the
Arab population in the British Mandate area, sought to annihilate the Jews in
the region and failed. The only catastrophe for them in this scenario was that
they lost the war.
As in any war, people were uprooted and
made to relocate. Nearly a million Jews – who were not even involved in the
hostilities – were expelled from Arab countries; and over 600,000 Arabs from
Israeli territory, many of whom were actually told to leave by the advancing
The Jews brought back the original name of
“Israel” (ישראל) after almost 2000 years. To
counter that, the Arabs adopted the Roman term “Palestine”, a word which is
has no meaning in Arabic. Although the original founding document of the
Palestine Liberation Organization terror group, the “PLO” said in 1964
They claimed indigenous status as
“Palestinians” who lived in the area for generations. A review of history
though, shows that from the time of the expulsion of the Jews by the Romans, the
inhabitants of the area fluctuated.
From the time of the conquest of the
land by the Muslim Arabs in 636 CE, the rulers of the land constantly shifted between
Muslims, Crusaders, Arab Tribes among themselves and even the Mongols. This
until 1517, with the Ottoman conquest that brought a measure of relative
stability to the country, but also not for long.
The waves of conquests and wars;
natural calamities such as earth quakes, harsh living conditions; as well as the
periodic plundering of Arab Bedouin tribes from the desert, made the area
undesirable. There are relatively few elements that can prove continuity of
settlement in the Land of Israel whether Jew or Arab.
Thus, on the eve of the Zionist
settlement, which began with the founding of Petah Tikva in 1878, the country
was mostly deserted and abandoned. Its population was sparse and partly nomadic.
Famous tourists who visited Israel at the time testified separately to this
situation: They found a small rural Bedouin population living in muddy huts
and described the place as a marshland, mostly uncultivated terrain, used as a
grazing fields for goats and sheep. The local inhabitants were not the owners of
the land. The owners were wealthy families from throughout the Ottoman Empire,
who had no use for the land beyond the titles and honors it bestowed upon them.
With the migration of Jews to the Land
of Israel between 1870 and 1947, the Arab population in the area grew by 270%,
nearly three times that of Egypt, the Arab country with the highest natural
birthrate at the time. In other words, the increase was mostly due to migration.
The mass immigration was the result of
economic development and modernization following Jewish immigration. The Arab
immigrants came in search of a livelihood.
Tawfiq Bey al-Hourani, the Syrian
governor of Hauran, said in 1934 that “over 30,000 Syrians invaded Palestine
within a few months.”
Winston Churchill, on May 22, 1939,
stated that Arab immigration during the Mandate period to Palestine was so great
that their numbers grew by such a rate that even the Jews of the entire world
could not match.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of
the United States, said on May 17, 1939 that the immigration of Arabs to
Palestine since 1921 was far greater than the immigration of Jews in recent
According to the British census in
1931, the Muslims in the country were not necessarily Arabs, judging from the
languages they spoke: Afghan, Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian, Circassian, Kurdish,
Persian, Sudanese and Turkish.
The Arabs themselves admit that Palestinian
identity is forged as we showed in a previous
It is clear from this that Arabs
migrated en masse to the area around the same time as Jews immigrated here. But
there is another, very simple way to identify the origins of the Arabs, and that
is according to their surnames. In the Arab communities, the surnames identify
the tribe, or clans which one belongs to, a country or a region of their roots,
and in some cases a profession.
It is important to stress that in the
tribal culture the loyalty of each individual is first and foremost to their
tribe and family. The western concept of nationalism is foreign to the Arabs’
tribal cultural. This is one of the reasons that with the fall of the central
authority in Arab countries in the past decade, those nations have fallen into
Yasser Arafat’s full name for
example, is Yasser Yusuf Arafat, Al-Qudwa, Al-Husseini. While he claimed he was
born in Jerusalem, he was born in Cairo and his father’s family
originates from the tribe of Al-Qudwa, which is in Syria. His mother, Husseini,
was an Egyptian citizen, though the name exposes her roots in the region between
Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Here are some of the origins of common
Arabic surnames one can easily find in any phone book in Israel, as well as on
the map which reveals their location of origin (Since these names are all in
Arabic, some might be spelled differently in other places):
These are the locations of some of the
Arab tribes in Israel who are mistakenly referred to as “Palestinians”:
Natshi, Ja’abri, Abu Sanina, Qawasma
– Erekat (Arikat)
– Touqan , Shak’ka
* (Nablus) – Al-Masri
– Baraguthi, Tawil, Abbas
(Israeli citizens) – Jabrin
– Hejazi (The Hejaz region is the
eastern shoreline by the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia)