The Myth About The Indigenous Arab “Palestinian” People

A train of donkeys and Arabs crosses from Transjordan into Palestine on a bridge over the Jordan River, July 3, 1936. Waves of immigration from other Arab countries brought many to the territory. In 1936, a French high commissioner for Syria asserted that Arabs were moving from Damascus to Palestine because of the prosperity there. Via crethiplethi

Before we start, it is very important to know that Palestine is a geographic region that includes Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jordan.

For decades we hear the myth about the indigenous Arab Palestinian people. But are they? Lets examine some facts and numbers.

The Arab conquest of Palestine begun in 634 CE. Since that conquest Palestine never became a country or someone’s legal entity. Until Jews (the indigenous people to that land which is confirmed by many archaeological evidence, history and all the Holy books of the three Abrahamic religions) claimed it back no one wanted nor needed that land or an Arab country with the name Palestine. The population in that land under Islamic rule never grew much, and most of the land was desolated and almost uninhabited. Important to mention, no one ever said that the land was totally without people. There were people,but not many and not everywhere like it is presented by the myth.

Lets examine who are those “millions of indigenous people that are called Palestinian refugees”


The Tulunides brought in Turks and Negroes. The Fatamids introduced Berbers, Slavs, Greeks, Kurds, and mercenaries of all kinds. The Mamelukes imported legions of Georgians and Circassians. Each monarch for his personal safety relied on great levies of slave warriors. Saladin, hard-pressed by the Crusaders, received one hundred and fifty thousand Persians who were given lands in Galilee and the Sidon district for their services.

In the fourteenth century, drought caused the immigration into Palestine of eighteen thousand “tents” of Yurate Tartars from the Euphrates. Soon followed twenty thousand Ashiri under Gaza, and four thousand Mongols under Moulai, who occupied the Jordan Valley and settled from Jerusalem south. Kaisaite and Yemenite tribes followed in their trail.

In 1830 the Albanian conqueror Mehemet [Muhammad] Ali colonized Jaffa, Nablus, and Beisan with Egyptian soldiers and their Sudanese allies. Fourteen years later, estimation of the thirteen thousand inhabitants of Jaffa to be composed of eight thousand Turco-Egyptians, four thousand Greeks and Armenians, and one thousand Jews and Maronites. That estimation did not consider that there were any Arabs at all in that city

Significant Egyptian migration to Palestine happened at the end of the 18th century due to a severe famine in Egypt, some Egyptian immigrants came even earlier to escape natural disasters such as droughts and plagues, government oppression, taxes, and military conscription. In the 19th century, large numbers of Egyptians fled to Palestine to escape the military conscription and forced labor projects in the Nile Delta under Muhammad Ali.

Following the First Egyptian-Ottoman War, more Egyptians were brought to Palestine as forced laborers. Following the Second Egyptian-Ottoman War, many Egyptian soldiers to permanently settle in Palestine. Egyptians settled mainly in Jaffa, the Coastal plain, Samaria and in Wadi Ara. In the southern plain there were 19 villages with Egyptian populations, while in Jaffa there were some 500 Egyptian families with a population of over 2,000 people. The largest rural concentration of Egyptian immigrants was in the Sharon region. According to David Grossman, statistics show the number of Egyptian immigrants to Palestine between 1829 and 1841 exceeded 15,000, and he estimated that it was at least 23,000 and possibly up to 30,000.

In 1860, there was significant immigration to Safed by tribes from Algeria and a small number of Kurds. Also, some 6,000 Arabs from the Beni Sakhr tribe immigrated to Palestine from what is now Jordan to settle in Tiberias. In addition, considerable numbers of Turks stationed in Palestine.

In 1878, following Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, many Bosnian Muslims, emigrated to the Ottoman Empire, and significant numbers went to Palestine, where most adopted the surname Bushnak. Bosnian Muslim immigration continued throughout the following decades and increased after Austria-Hungary formally annexed Bosnia in 1908.

The number of Bedouins who started settling the Negev region from the 7th century considerably increased during Ottoman rule as a result of immigration of both Bedouin tribes from south and east and peasant farmers (fellahins) from Egypt. The Egyptian fellahins settled mostly in the region around Gaza and received protection from Bedouins, in return for goods. Bedouins brought African slaves (abid) from Sudan who worked for them. To reduce frictions and to stabilize the boundaries between Bedouin tribes, the Ottomans established an administrative center in Beersheba around 1900, as the first planned settlement in Negev since the Nabatean and Byzantine times. In the beginning of the 20th century, most of the population of Hebron were descendants of Bedouins who migrated to Palestine from Transjordan in the 15th and 16th century.

Bernard Lewis in a study of Ottoman registers of its early rule reports that in 1550 the total population was about 300,000 souls.

Walter Lowdermilk gives the total number of 200,000 people residing in Palestine in 1850 (page 76 – Palestine Land of Promise 1944) it includes Jews, Christians, travelling nomadic Bedouins and settled Muslims. It also includes Arabs that immigrated after the war of 1831.

According to Alexander Scholch, Palestine in 1850 had about 350,000 inhabitants.

Arthur Ruppin estimates the total population in year 1882 as 300,000 Palestinian inhabitants, including nomadic and settled Muslims, Christians and Jews (The Jews in the Modern World, MacMillan – 1934 page 368).

With British control during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries came greater material stability and economic growth. As a result of the construction of railroad lines that led to the sea, the population of Haifa and Jaffa more than doubled from 1880 to 1910. But while the population shifted toward these areas, the overall growth rates for the country stayed low. According to British investigations, there were 689,275 persons in Palestine in 1915, this still represents only a 0.8% per year growth rate.

During World War I, the Ottomans tried to muster troops from the region, prompting many of the upper classes to flee. According to contemporary surveys, the Arab population declined by 35,000 during the years 1915 to 1919. While many Arabs may have fled to escape the draft, others were expelled by force. To defend against the British, the Ottomans, still nominally in control, expelled both Jews and Arabs from cities across the coast on the assumption that their nationalistic intentions could lead them to sympathize with the British invaders. This effort was massive: twenty-eight thousand Arabs were forced out of Gaza alone. By 1922, however, the Arab population had increased by 80,000 above the 1919 level. Also, British preferred cheaper foreign labor; and in the period leading up to 1922 they employed fifteen thousand foreigners (mostly from Egypt and Syria).

With the Jewish immigration and improvement of conditions, the Arab immigration grew even more. And while British limited Jewish immigration, they closed their eyes on the Arab illegal immigration. Claiming the Arab population is growing due to natural growth, which was suddenly much higher than ever before, and higher than in the surrounding Arab countries.

By 1948, the population had risen to 1,900,000, of whom 68% were Arabs, and 32% were Jews.

Another interesting fact, Jewish development served as an incentive not only to Arab entry into Palestine from Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and other neighboring countries, but also to Arab population movements within the country—to cities and areas where there was a large Jewish concentration.

The Arab population in predominantly Arab towns rose only slightly (if at all) between the two World Wars: in Hebron—from 16,650 in 1922 to 22,800 in 1943; Nablus—from 15,931 to 23,300; Jenin—from 2,737 to 3,900; Bethlehem—from 6,658 to 8,800. Gaza’s population actually decreased from 17,426 in 1922 to 17,045 in 1931.

On the other hand, in the three major Jewish cities the Arab population shot up during this period, far beyond the rate of natural increase: Jerusalem—from 28,571 in 1922 to 56,400 (97 per cent); Jaffa—from 27,437 to 62,600 (134 per cent); Haifa— from 18,404 to 58,200 (216 per cent).

The population of the predominantly Arab Beersheba district dropped between 1922 and 1939 from 71,000 to 49,000. In the Bethlehem district the figure increased from 24,613 to about 26,000 (after falling to 23,725 in 1929). In the Hebron area it went up from 51,345 to 59,000 (the natural increase rate dictated a rise to 72,000).

In contrast to these declines or comparatively slight increases in exclusively Arab-inhabited areas, in the Nazareth, Beit Shean, Tiberias and Acre districts—where large-scale Jewish settlement and rural development was underway—the figure rose from 89,600 in 1922 to some 151,000 in 1938 (by about 4.5 per cent per annum). In the largely Jewish Haifa area the number of Arab peasants increased by 8 per cent a year during the same period. In the Jaffa and Ramla districts (heavily Jewish populated), the Arab rural population grew from 42,300 to some 126,000—an annual increase of 12 per cent, or more than four times as much as can be attributed to natural increase (L. Shimony, The Arabs of Palestine, Tel-Aviv, 1947, pp. 422-23).

If we look at the income we might get an idea why so many Arab came from neighboring countries came to Palestine after Jews and why the already living population moved to places closest to Jews.

The numbers of the indigenous Palestinian people

Joan Peters in her research calculated that in 1882, just the non-nomadic, settled Muslims in Palestine numbered 141,000. Among them, those that resided in Palestine before the 1831 Egyptian invasion numbered 75 percent, or 105,700.

If we calculate these 105,700 indigenous Muslims population based on natural rates of population growth according to the same rate as the populations of neighboring Syria, Egypt and Lebanon for which rates we have reliable data. That rate of growth was 1.1% per annually. Using a compounded interest formula the number of total Muslims descendants of those native people in 2015 yields a total number of 453,000.

According to the 2015 World Almanac, the “Palestinian” population, including Israeli Arabs, and Arab residents of Gaza, Golan, Judea and Samaria totals 10,523,715 people. 453,000 descendants of indigenous Muslim residents constitute only 4.3% of these “Palestinian” population. Therefore the other 95.7% of present-day “Palestinians” are clearly those Arabs and their descendants who migrated to Israel between 1831 and 2015.


*Ziff, The Rape of Palestine, pp. 368-9. Italics in original. *Rural Arab Demography and Early Jewish Settlement in Palestine: Distribution By David Grossman, pp. 45-52 *Rural Arab Demography and Early Jewish Settlement in Palestine: Distribution By David Grossman P 60 *Merry, Sidney: How the State Controls Society, p. 220 *Cohen, Philip J.; Riesman, David (1996). “Serbia’s Secret War: Propaganda and the Deceit of History”. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 978-0-89096-760-7, p. 123 *International Handbook of Research on Indigenous Entrepreneurship By L. -P. Dana P:117 *Hamidian Palestine: Politics and Society in the District of Jerusalem 1872-1908 By Johann Büssow P.195 *Jpost * *Land Ownership in Palestine, 1880-1948 by Moshe Aumann

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