James Edward Johnson

my thoughts from right to left

How to Manipulate Maps

with one comment

Israel bashers often present a series of maps similar to the ones featured here that attempt to show the “loss of Palestinian land.”  Judged individually, each one is basically accurate.  But, in combination, the maps rely on shifting definitions, broad generalizations, and a lack of context to smear Israel.  They serve as examples of the willingness of opponents of Israel to promote falsehood to serve an agenda.

First Map

“Jewish land” = land purchased, owned, and inhabited by Jews.

“Palestinian land” = all land in the British Mandate except Jewish land as defined above.  The vast majority of this land is government public property controlled by the British.  Almost the entire southern half of the map is the Negev desert, where almost no one lived or owned property.  There are areas on this map, near Hebron for instance, owned by Jews who fled after the 1929 anti-Jewish riots.  There are other smaller plots of land where Jews lived. Those areas are marked here as “Palestinian land.”  Also included in the “Palestinian land” areas is land owned by the Druze Arabs.  Many Druze fought for Israeli independence in 1948.  Today, the Druze in Israel are full citizens who have elected to serve in the Israeli Defense forces on a compulsory basis.

Other Issues: The land is labeled “Palestine,” but it was formally recognized as the British Mandate of Palestine, a British protectorate carved out of the Ottoman Empire after WWI that had nothing to do with ethnic or other pre-existing boundaries.  During Ottoman times, there was no such area recognized simply as “Palestine.”

In 1946, Arabs in the British Mandate mostly regarded themselves simply as Arabs or as Syrians.  The word “Palestine” was identified more closely with the Jewish population of the British Mandate.

Conclusion: This map is created with a maximalist perspective of what was Arab or “Palestinian” and a minimalist perspective of what was Jewish. Words are used in the map to extend today’s concepts of “Palestinian” into a historical context where such concepts did not exist.  While using today’s terminology helps a modern reader understand the map, it also creates the impression of a historical continuity that misrepresents the reality of 1946.

Map2Second Map

“Jewish land” = all the land allocated by the UN to a Jewish majority state.  Much of it was, and continues to be, owned and inhabited by Arabs, Bedouin, and Druze.

“Palestinian land” = all the land allocated by the UN to an Arab majority state and the land allocated to an international area to be administered by the UN in and around Jerusalem.  Some of this area was owned and inhabited by Jews.  Several areas previously marked as “Jewish land” have disappeared, particularly between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and north of Haifa.

Other Issues: It is important to note that the Palestinians were led at this time by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.  The Mufti had been an ally of Hitler, pushed for the implementation of the Final Solution in the British Mandate, and sought to extend the Holocaust to Palestine.  No Jews would be able to remain in the areas marked as “Palestinian land.”  Many Arabs have been able to live in the areas marked as “Jewish land.”

The UN partition plan was never implemented.  The UN passed the plan.  The Jewish organizations accepted it, albeit reluctantly.  The Arab states and representatives rejected it and waged war on the Jews.

Conclusion: This map is less maximalist in that its principal omission is in regards to the status of Jerusalem.  Its bias appears most prominently in the context of why this map never represented reality.  The Arabs rejected this map, preferring instead to leave the division, or more likely total usurpation, of the land to the result of a war with the Jews.

Map3Third Map

“Israeli land” = land owned by Jews, Arabs and Druze, but under the control of the state of Israel.  Admittedly, it includes fewer Arabs than before the war.  Israel did not permit Arabs to return to Israel out of fear of further ongoing hostilities.

“Palestinian land” = land annexed by Jordan, marked as “West Bank,” and land occupied by Egypt, marked as “Gaza.”  The Arab states never created a Palestinian state in these areas.  The Jews who tried to remain in these areas were expelled after the war.  The Jordanians blew up the largest synagogue in Jerusalem, the Hurva, which had stood for centuries in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

Other Issues: There is no context regarding how we got to this map.  Jews accepted the UN partition and the Arabs rejected it.  War ensued and Israel won additional territory.

The map makes the Palestinian Arab areas appear to be autonomous.  They are shaded differently than Jordan and Egypt.  However, Gaza remained an occupied territory of Egypt and the West Bank was annexed by Jordan.  In both Palestinian Arab areas, and other Arab countries, Arab refugees were segregated in permanent refugee camps.  Those camps exist today, nominally administered by a UN entity separate from the main UN refugee organization.  Nothing is on the map to denote these segregated areas.

Conclusion: This map accurately indicates the borders of Israel after 1948, but has shifted the definitions in such a way that overstate the “loss” of “Palestinian land.”  Many Israeli Arabs retained control of their land after 1948 and, under this map, their land is considered “lost.”

Fourth Map

“Israeli land” = land controlled by Israel that is not “Palestinian land” as defined below.

“Palestinian land” = land administered by the Palestinian Authority and patrolled by Palestinian Authority police forces.  All Jewish settlement, even on land purchased by Jews, is strictly prohibited in these areas.

Other Issues: The most significant defect in this map is that it leaves a 30-plus-year gap from the prior map.  In 1967, Israel captured the areas labeled “Palestinian land” in the previous map.  Prior to 1993, there was no Palestinian Authority or territory administered by Palestinian organizations.  There should be a map prior to this one that, using these definitions, would have no area marked as “Palestinian land.”  The areas marked as “Palestinian land” here are not land that Israel failed to capture or control.  It is land where Israel began to transfer authority to the Palestinian Arabs in the hope of creating an independent Palestinian Arab state.  Some versions of this map are for 2005 instead of 2000.  In that case, the whole of Gaza is marked as “Palestinian land,” thereby additionally failing to recognize full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

The second most significant defect in the map is that it completely ignores the fact that Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in 1967 and later completely withdrew all Jewish settlement from it in exchange for peace with Egypt.

In 1967, the Arab nations launched a war against Israel, and Israel won, capturing the Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.  Israel controls the Golan Heights today.  The mapmaker has conveniently left out the Golan, which has never had a Palestinian Arab population.

Over time, the Dead Sea, the landlocked body of water on the map, had lost significant area due to evaporation and the southern section is now physically separate from the northern section. The failure to reflect this fact is simply sloppy mapmaking.

Conclusion: This map completes the distortion begun in the earlier maps.  It has taken us from maximalist Palestinian Arab claims to the land to a minimalist view of what Palestinian Arab land might be now.  In the process, it has erased the history of Israel returning land for peace.  It has manipulated Israeli efforts towards peace, the creation of Palestinian Arab administered areas, to appear as Israeli efforts to take Palestinian Arab lands.

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Written by JamesEJ

Friday, September 24, 2010 at 12:54 am

Posted in israel

Tagged with , ,

One Response

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  1. Very good summation. Thanks.

    Nico Black

    Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm


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