No issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict has proven more intractable than the status of the Palestinian refugees. This work focuses on the controversial question of the property left behind by the refugees during the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948. Beyond discussing the extent of the refugees'losses and detailing the methods by which Israel expropriated this property, the book also notes the ways that the property question has affected, and in turn been affected by, the wider Arab-Israeli conflict over the decades. It shows how the property question influenced Arab-Israeli diplomacy and discusses the implications of the fact that the question remains unresolved despite numerous diplomatic efforts.
From late 1947 through 1948, more than 726,000 Palestiniansover half the entire populationwere uprooted from their homes and villages. Though some middle class refugees were able to flee with liquid capital, the majority were small-scale farmers whose worldly fortunes were the land, livestock, and crops they left behind. This book tells for the first time the full story of how much property changed hands, what it was worth, and how it was used by the fledgling state of Israel. It then traces the subsequent decades of diplomatic activity on the issue and publishes previously secret UN estimates of the scope and value of the refugee property. Michael Fischbach offers a detailed study of Israeli counterclaims for Jewish property lost in the Arab world, diplomatic schemes for resolving the conflict, secret compensation efforts, and the renewed diplomatic efforts on behalf of property claims since the onset of Arab-Israeli peace talks.
Based largely on archival records, including those of the United Nations Conciliation Commission of Palestine, never before available to the public and kept under lock and key in the UN archives, Records of Dispossession is the first detailed historical examination of the Palestinian refugee property question.
About the Author
Michael R. Fischbach is professor of history at Randolph-Macon College. He specializes in land issues relating to Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians and is the author of State, Society, and Land in Jordan.
Table of Contents
Refugee Flight and Israeli Policies Toward Abandoned Property
UNCCP's Early Activity on the Refugee Property Question
Early Israeli Policies Affecting the Property Question
Early Arab and International Policies Toward the Property Question
UNCCP Technical Program
Follow Up to the Technical Program
Refugee Property Question After 1967
Appendix One: Comparison of Studies on the Scope and Value of Refugee Property
Appendix Two: Chronology of Events Relating to Refugee Property
What People are Saying About This
A path-breaking book. He presents an extraordinarily meticulous review of enormous amounts of previously unavailable data on property losses by Palestinian Arabs (and by Jews). The volume will finally make possible serious discussion over ways to alleviate the personal and political consequences of 55 years of what can only be described as continuing theft. This volume will surely take its place alongside other great books about Arab-Israeli relationsbooks by Benny Morris, Gershon Shafir, Baruch Kimmerling, Yael Zerubavel, Beshara Doumani, and others whose work has replaced ignorance with information and propaganda with analysis.
This thorough and balanced study will serve as the definitive and indispensable treatment of the important issue of compensation of the Palestinians who became refugees in 1948.
Rashid Khalidi, Middle East Institute, Columbia University
An invaluable resource for those in charge of conducting the predictable tutorial after any settlement of the underlying conflict....Fischbach's book will be a helpful resource in the implementation of any settlement of the conflict.
Arthur C. Helton, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations
Benjamin L. Hooks Outstanding Book Award Honorable mention:It is one of the most incisive, visionary, nuanced historical works I have read in over a decade. Hopefully, your pathbreaking, balanced work will inspire more equitable solutions to the troublesome questions of dispossession and redistribution.
D'Ann R. Penner, Ph.D., Co-Director, Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change
Michael Fischbach has produced one of the most thorough and authoritative studies of Palestinian refugee property archives to appear in many years. His critical examination of the UNCCP records will make this book a standard reference for both the specialized scholar and policy makers addressing the future of refugees in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Salim Tamari, New York University