Jewish return caused regeneration of Palestine

Sana Ansar’s Nov. 26 column, “Israeli policies are unjust for neighbors,” is laced with inaccuracies. Palestinians, far from being the “indigenous” population of the country are recent immigrants, just like their Jewish brothers.

The Jewish return to the land of Israel brought unprecedented prosperity to a land that used to be a desert. In 1937, the Report of the Palestine Royal Commission, (a British inquiry commission that investigated the Arab-Jewish conflict and proposed solutions) illustrates the state of affairs in 1913: “No orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached (the Jewish village of) Yabna. … The yields were very poor. … The sanitary conditions in the (Arab) village were horrible. Schools did not exist. … The western part, towards the sea, was almost a desert. … The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants.”

The development is probably best illustrated by the words of Sherif Hussein, the guardian of the Islamic Holy Places in Arabia: “The resources of the country are still virgin and will be developed by the Jewish immigrants. One of the most amazing things until recent times was that the Palestinian used to leave his country. Ö His native soil could not retain a hold on him. … At the same time, we have seen the Jews from foreign countries streaming to Palestine from Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain, America. The cause of causes could not escape those who had a gift of deeper insight. They knew that the country was for its original sons (abna’ihilasliyin), for all their differences, a sacred and beloved homeland. The return of these exiles (jaliya) to their homeland will prove materially and spiritually (to be) an experimental school for their brethren (Al-Qibla, March 23, 1918).”

As Hussein foresaw, the regeneration of Palestine and the growth of its population came only after Jews returned in massive numbers, bringing prosperity to all its inhabitants. Israel and its close neighbors are a spot of green in the middle of the Arabian desert.

Koby Nahmias, graduate student, biomedical engineering