Bethlehem University Sociologist Bernard Sabella reports that by 1966 Palestinian Christians had declined to 13 percent of the total Palestinian population in Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, a significant decline from the 18-20 percent that had held until 194



The Palestinian Christians represent 1.6 percent of the Palestinian population in Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and the West Bank. Palestinians and western Christians scholars said that the Palestinian Christian population will be on the verge of extinction within a generation



"Exploring The Powerful Issues & Emotions of The Middle East"
  Reaching out to 161,664 Viewpoint readers around the globe
               Thursday, November 29, 2001           
Questions...Comments...? Contact:
<a href="">Contact Viewpoint</a>

Editor's Note:
We have approximately 100,000 new subscribers in the last 60
days. We actually read every email that comes into the offic-
es, although we cannot answer them all. Many of the new
people have expressed an interest in the history of the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Finding sources that are devoid
of propaganda is not always easy. But we came across some-
thing written by Michael Palumbo. He is an author who writes
on human rights issues, the roots of nationalism and war

In this essay, he outlines the dynamics of the struggle from
the beginning. I had never known that before 1948, a com-
mittee was established to expel Palestinians from what would
be called Israel. The Population Transfer Committee was
established to forcibly expel the native population to reach
"demographic goals". This is one Viewpoint that will most
certainly shock the uninitiated.


Land Without a People - by Michael Palumbo

I shall not expel them from the land in one year for fear
that the land will become a desert... I shall expel them
slowly before they multiply and possess the land.
--Exodus 23, 29-30

'There is no hope that this new Jewish state will survive,
to say nothing of develop, if the Arabs are as numerous as
they are today." So spoke Menahem Ussishkin, at 75, one of
the oldest and most respected Zionist leaders. His audience
on the afternoon of 12 June 1938 was the Executive Commit-
tee of the Jewish Agency, which was considering a plan by
the British administration to divide Palestine between
Arabs and Jews. For decades there had been strife between
the two ethnic groups in the mandate territory and now the
British administration was considering partition as the
best way to end the conflict between the Jewish colonists
and the indigenous Arab population. But partition would
leave over 200,000 Arabs in the proposed Zionist state, and
the leadership of the Jewish community in Palestine was
grappling with the problem of how best to get rid of them.

None of the members of the Executive disagreed with
Ussishkin when he stated: 'The worst is not that the Arabs
would comprise 45 or 50 per cent of the population of the
new state but that 75 per cent of the land is owned by
Arabs.' This land was desired for the waves of Jewish immi-
grants who would populate the Jewish state. There were many
other reasons why the Zionists wished to get rid of the
Arabs. Ussishkin claimed that with a large Arab population
the Jewish state would face enormous problems of internal
security and that there would be chaos in government. 'Even
a small Arab minority in parliament could disrupt the
entire order of parliamentary life.'

For Ussishkin the solution to the problem of the large Arab
Population in the proposed Jewish state was for their re-
moval by the British army before the state was established.

'For this two things are required, a strong hand by the
English, and Jewish money. With regard to money, I am sure
that if the first requirement is met the Jewish money will
be found.'

Like most other Zionists at the time, Ussishkin believed
that the Palestinians could be coerced into leaving their
homes and settling on land that would be purchased for them
in Trans-Jordan, Iraq or Saudi Arabia. He made it clear that
he did not favor sending the excess Palestinians to the Arab
state that the British planned to create on the West Bank.

'If you wish ever to expand you must not increase the number
of Arabs west of the Jordan,' Ussishkin reminded his col-
leagues.  Ussishkin seems to have had no moral scruples
about dislocating tens of thousands of Arab families at gun
point and moving them out of villages their people had oc-
cupied for centuries. He firmly believed in the Jewish right
to all of Palestine; a belief he based on the Bible and the
promises made by the British. For Ussishkin, the
Palestinians were usurpers who deserved to be expelled.
'I am ready to defend this moral attitude before the
Almighty and the League of Nations,' he said.
All the other speakers at the Executive Committee meeting
voiced similar sentiments. Berl Katzenelson of Ben-Gurion's
Mapai party saw only disaster in a Jewish state with a large
Arab minority. 'There is the question of how the army will
function, how will the police, how will the civil service.
How can a state be run when part of its population is un-
loyal to the state.'[2] As a 'liberal' Zionist, Katzenelson
had a relatively tolerant attitude toward the Palestinians.

'I am willing to give the Arabs equal rights,' he said, 'if
I know that only a small minority stays in the land.' He
proposed for the new state a development plan that would
include a provision to eliminate thousands of Palestinians.
He made the position clear:

'A development plan means evictions.'

The Mapai party official urged negotiations, with neighbor-
ing Arab states that might be persuaded to receive the

The proposal to partition Palestine and to transfer the
Arabs out of the resulting Jewish state came from a Royal
Commission under Lord Peel, which had been appointed in Nov.
1936, in the wake of widespread Arab disturbances. Peel and
his colleagues decided that the only solution to the
Palestine problem was to divide the country, thus forming a
Jewish state that would include Galilee and most of the
coastal plain.

Though small in area, the Jewish state would have most of
he fertile regions of the country. The Peel Commission sug-
gested that, if necessary, force should be used to eliminate
the Arabs living in the proposed Jewish state. For several
decades the Zionists had favored the removal of the
Palestinians and so they attempted to persuade the British
to carry out the transfer. On 19 July 1937, Chaim Weizmann,
President of the World Zionist organization, spoke with
Ormsby-Gore, the British Colonial Secretary. Weizmann told
the British minister that the whole success of the partition
depended on whether the removal of the Arabs was

Weizmann later noted, 'The transfer could only be carried
out by the British government and not by the Jews. I ex-
plained the reason why we considered the proposal of such
importance.'[3] It would serve the purpose of the Zionists
to have the British carry out the expulsion for them.

But many British ministers, while favoring partition, had
serious reservations about the transfer of Arabs. At a
Cabinet meeting, the Secretary of State for India, 'pointed
out the great difficulty which lay in, the transfer into
Arab territory of some 250,000 Arabs now located in terri-
tory proposed for the Jewish state. It was clear from the
report of the Royal Commission that land was not available
for them in the proposed Arab state. What was to happen to
the quarter million Arabs in the interval?'[4]

In January 1938, the British government appointed a second
commission under Sir John Woodhead to consider the technical
implementation of partition. Sir Stephen Luke, a British
official in Palestine, noted that when the Peel Commission
had originally proposed the transfer, it had in mind the
1922 'vast exchange of population between Greece and Turkey.

They had hoped a similar situation could be found in
Palestine but even before the [Woodhead] partition commis-
sion left England, the Secretary of State had ruled out any
possibility of compulsory transfer of population and the
Woodhead Commission concluded after investigating the sit-
uation that the Prospects for a voluntary transfer were
slight indeed.' [5]

But despite the equivocal attitude of the British, most
Zionists were determined to implement the transfer of the
Arabs. David Ben-Gurion, head of the Jewish Agency
Executive, believed that the Zionists had to exert pressure
to force the British to act. But if necessary, he wrote in
his diary, 'we must ourselves prepare to carry out the
removal of the Palestinians.' [6]

A plan had been developed by Joseph Weitz, director of the
Jewish National Fund, who served on the Population Transfer
Committee of the Jewish Agency. He wrote in a report that
the transfer of the Arab population from the Jewish areas,

'does not serve only one aim - to diminish the Arab pop-
ulation. It also serves a second purpose by no means less
important, which is to evacuate land now cultivated by Arabs
and thus release it for Jewish settlement.'[7]


The rest of this essay, which is rather long, can be read
by visiting: