Ben-Gurion and Tewfik Toubi Finally Meet (October 28, 1966 )1
Israel Studies, Volume 8, Number 2, Summer 2003, pp. 45-69 (Article)
Published by Indiana University Press
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Tewfik Toubi Finally Meet
(October 28, 1966 )
This paper records a conversation between David Ben-Gurion and Arab MK (Member of Knesset) Tewfik Toubi, from the Rakach (New Communist) list. The fact that Ben Gurion rarely met with Israeli Arab public figures makes this a unique record. Like many of Israel’s leaders, Ben-Gurion was deeply suspicion of the country’s Arab population, especially with regard to their loyalty to the state. Indeed he believed that any dialogue with Arabs was a waste of time, since both sides would tend to remain unconvinced of each other’s viewpoint, and become more deeply entrenched in their own positions. Further, he felt that encounters between Jews and Arabs would have supplied the latter with an opportunity to accuse state officials and security forces of repressive activity.2
The Rakach party was established in 1965, on the eve of elections to the Sixth Knesset and as the result of a split within Maki (Israel Communist Party). Although the break-away group consisted mostly of Arabs, there was also a number of Jews, including the party’s leader, Meir Wilner. Thenew party quickly became a meeting ground for Arabs with a distinctly nationalist orientation, as was expressed by its leadership’s statements, and the composition and activism of its members and other supporters. On international issues Rakach members obediently toed the official Soviet line, and especially vis-a-vis the Arab-Israel conflict. The party’s dominant ideology blamed Israel for the absence of peace in the Middle East.3
At the time of his 1966 meeting with Toubi, Ben-Gurion had been out of government for almost three and half years. He had resigned from office on June 16, 1963 and was succeeded by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. A deep rift had developed between the two men during the years prior to Ben-Gurion’s resignation, which eventually forced Ben-Gurion and his supporters to leave Mapai (Israel Workers Party) and establish a new platform, known by the acronym “Rafi ” (Israeli Workers’List). Ben-Gurion led his new party in the November 1965 elections as an independent faction and suffered an electoral trouncing. The split in Mapai grew after the electoral defeat of Rafi and Ben-Gurion found himself increasingly isolated, as many of his supporters began to cast doubt, secretly and openly, as to the wisdom of his political maneuvering.
Under these political and personal circumstances, Ben-Gurion felt that the time had come to initiate a candid dialogue with a Rakach MK, whom he regarded as a tough but honest political rival.
Tewfik Toubi, a Christian Arab Communist, was a member of the Israeli Knesset from 1949 to 1990. Like other Israeli Arabs who had first hand experience of the painful rupture of the 1948 war, Toubi behaved, for all practical purposes, as if he had reconciled himself to the existence of the Jewish state of Israel. Nonetheless, he insisted that Israel fulfill its obligation to grant equal rights to the Arab minority.⁴
Toubi was born in Haifa in 1922. He joined the Palestine Communist Party (PCP) in 1941 and two years later, together with other Arab figures, such as Emile Tome and Emile Habibi, founded the “National Liberation League,” that vehemently opposed the United Nations Partition Plan. However, after hearing Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly in favor of partition, Toubi decided to support the plan as being the only practical solution for the region. After Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, Toubi and his colleagues blamed the “imperialistic powers, the “reactionary Arab leadership,” and the government of Israel for failing to establish a Palestinian state in part of Palestine. Once Israel became a fact, Toubi served in the PCP secretariat and became the party’s representative in the first Knesset. In July 1990, having served forty-two years in the Knesset, Toubi resigned as a result of a dispute in the party.⁵
Much information on Ben-Gurion’s eclectic dialogue with Tewfik Toubi can be found at the Ben-Gurion Archives at Kiryat Sde Boker. Ben-Gurion made a point of documenting Toubi’s statements and views in great detail, and always gave lengthy and detailed replies to Toubi’s numerous questions regarding the status of Israel’s Arabs. Ben-Gurion even had Toubi’s 1959 election speech filed in his private archives. A particularly serious “clash” with Tewfik Toubi is noted in 1956, when Ben-Gurion presented the Knesset with a report on the Kfar Kassem incident (in which forty-nine Israeli Arab villagers were massacred by the Israeli border police) and Toubi shouted at him: “Murderers!” Ben-Gurion responded with a complaint to the Knesset Speaker.⁶
In the 1950s Tewfik Toubi harshly criticized the methods used by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) in searching for infiltrators in Arab villages in the Galilee. His invective stirred up a storm of protest in the Knesset. The underlying message was that an Arab MK should be grateful for being allowed to take an equal part in Israeli democracy. It was considered “chutzpa” for an Arab Israeli to criticize the behavior of Israeli authorities toward Arabs in the Knesset. Against this background, Nathan Alterman the Israeli poet, whom some erroneously mark “spokesman for the establishment, ”criticized those persons who challenged Toubi’s right to serve in the Knesset, while simultaneously criticizing the government and the IDF. Toubi, wrote Alterman, serves in the Knesset “by right and not by grace. . . His presence is legal and authorized; it is a basic freedom.” Alterman went on to chastise those who constantly celebrate the “magnanimity” of Israeli democracy that allows a non-Jew like Tewfik Toubi to be elected to parliament and speak his mind freely. “This is the essence of democracy,” asserted Alterman, “if it is not instinctively understood, then we have no inkling of what it is about.” It is unlikely that Alterman’s views refl ected Ben-Gurion’s on the subject, although the two were close.⁷
The conversation on which this paper is based, was, as expected, dominated by Ben-Gurion, who was more passionate about presenting his own position, and less willing to lend an ear to Toubi’s views. On several occasions, the conversation came to a conclusion, usually on Toubi’s initiative, but Ben-Gurion managed to “revive” it by raising new issues or returning to those only partially discussed.
Toubi claimed repeatedly that, through its policies toward the Israeli Arabs, the government had lost the chance to use this population as a bridge for paving over its differences with the Arab world. Ben-Gurion was taken aback and could only express his skepticism at the feasibility of such an option. He seemed fixed in the idea, that was prevalent in security circles, that Israeli Arabs should be regarded as inherently hostile and of questionable loyalty to the state. A clear manifestation of this thinking was given by Issar Harel the head of the secret services, who claimed, during a session of the Knesset’s Foreign Aff airs and Security Committee that, “the vast majority of Israeli Arabs support Arab nationalism, and hope and believe that [Israel] will eventually be destroyed . . . This includes even quiet, good, and moderate people . . . [the] Maki [party] appears in the Arab sector as a key element for expressing Arab nationalism . . . In mid-1958 Maki tried to establish an Arab National Front . . . a kind of Arab Higher Committee, that was based on the idea that Arabs in Israel would pressure [Israel] domestically [by instigating] internal uprising, [while at the same time] Nasser [Egypt’s leader] would pressure [Israel] abroad.⁸
Ben-Gurion’s attitude throughout most of the conversation was apologetic. Indeed, he emphasized his awareness that Toubi’s positions “inhibit” him from being won over to standard Zionist arguments. Ben-Gurion admitted that, while he had no intention of convincing Toubi of the justifi -cation of Zionist positions, he would have liked to have been able to facilitate his understanding of them. In fact, Ben-Gurion did just the opposite, and endeavored to prove to Toubi that Zionist policy toward Israeli Arabs was the result of circumstances that prevented Israel from acting diff erently. The two key issues on which Ben-Gurion dwelled were the Military Government in Arab areas, and “right of return” of the 1948 Arab refugees.
Levi Eshkol’s decision in 1966 to cancel the Military Government caused Ben-Gurion some displeasure. He acknowledged personal responsibility for having instigated military government, and admitted to Toubi that it flouted the principle of civil equality, the bedrock of democracy to which he was devoted. He explained the unwelcome necessity for military government in Arab areas as a result of Israel’s precarious security condition since the founding of the state. At the same time he appeared aware of injustices beyond security needs that were committed against the Arab sector. Ben-Gurion could only concede that it had been beyond his capacity to oversee everything that occurred within the framework of the military government. The impression from reading between the lines is that, while not totally rejecting the Eshkol cabinet’s decision to cancel the military government, Ben-Gurion felt the timing was wrong.
With regard to the refugee problem, Ben-Gurion reiterated the official line that the Palestinians living in the country at the time had not been evicted from their lands but had left of their own free will. It is diffi cult to determine whether Ben-Gurion really believed this to be the main reason for the Arabs’flight or whether he reiterated it out of loyalty to the official position that was designed to absolve the government of responsibility for the refugees’ fate. Ben-Gurion did not evade the matter of the outrages suffered by the Palestinians during the 1948 War, especially Dir Yassin. His only defense was that the latter operation had been carried out by “Jewish dissidents” who were not under his full command, and that he personally was ashamed of what happened. The roughout the conversation with Toubi, he tried to present the Palestinian refugee problem as part of a dynamic exchange of population between Israel and the Arab world, in which Jewish “refugees” from Arab countries fled to Israel and Arab refugees from Palestine left for Arab countries.⁹
In the course of the conversation Ben-Gurion severely criticized the burgeoning Arab radicalism that had perpetuated the Arab-Israeli conflict. At the same time, however, he expressed satisfaction with this same Arab radicalism and even with the Arab world’s decision to resort to violence in order to achieve its objectives. Arab expectations that violent struggle would lead to the collapse of the state of Israel had resulted in the exact opposite. Paradoxically, it was this uncompromising position that had prevented a reconciliation that would have been disastrous to the vital interests of both the Yishuv [pre-state Jewish community in Palestine] and the state of Israel. Because of Arab intransigence, the Yishuv had been forced to exercise its full capacity for progress and construction while increasingly separating itself from the “Arab sector.” Ben-Gurion listed some of the fortuitous “gains” produced by Arab rejections—the establishment of Tel Aviv; construction a Tel Aviv sea port; the expanded borders, the result of the 1949 armistice lines; and Israeli control over half of Jerusalem.
PROTOCOL OF MEETING BETWEEN MR. DAVID
BEN-GURION AND MR. TEWFIK TOUBI
Ben-Gurion House, Tel-Aviv, October 28, 1966
Ben-Gurion: Many changes have occurred in the Communist Movement.
Things would be a lot different if Lenin were alive today. Lenin had courage
. . . Not that I want to turn him into a non-Communist, heaven forbid. I
would rather not discuss this issue with you, but prefer [to talk about] the
problems between Jews and Arabs.
Tewfik Toubi: [The subject certainly is] a Jewish and Communist one, Mr.
Ben-Gurion, and the best way to handle relations [between our sides] . . .
We [Arab Communists] believe there was an element that left its mark on
the development of Jewish-Arab relations in Palestine and between Israel
and the Arab states later—I’m referring to the British, whom we term
imperialists, who created the [Arab-Israeli] conflict, who sought benefit
from it, and who still derive benefit from it.
Ben-Gurion: A personal question: Is the name Tewfik Toubi a first name
or is one a family name?
Tewfik Toubi: Toubi is [my] family name; Tewfik is [my] first name.
Ben-Gurion: Does everyone [in your community] have a family name? [I
ask this] because there were no family names in the time of the Turks.
Tewfik Toubi: Each village is an extended family (hamula) . . . a large
family referred to by the father’s name. The designation is still retained,
[for example] Abu Yousef [Yousef’s father]. It’s like a nickname. It creates
a bonding [between family members].
Ben-Gurion: Does everyone have a family name, did families always have
Tewfik Toubi: Always. In one village someone is called Muhammad
Yousef; that is, his father’s name was Yousef, and everyone hails from the
same family. That’s how he’s referred to.
Ben-Gurion: Is Toubi a family name? Should I call you Tewfik or Toubi?
Tewfik Toubi: (Seemingly tired of Ben-Gurion’s repeated irrelevant questions)
Whichever you like, Mr. Ben-Gurion. Let me tell you, I’ve been
thinking about this conversation that you requested. I would like to speak
frankly for a minute. We have different views, not only because you’re a Jew
and I’m an Arab [but] because of all kinds of [other] problems.
Ben-Gurion: (Evading Toubi’s remarks) I no longer see a great difference
between a socialist and communist.
Tewfik Toubi: It depends which kind of a socialist. It depends on who supports
socialism, what he’s working towards, what he hopes to achieve with
[the socialist] banner he’s dedicated to. Therefore I asked myself what could
be clarified in this conversation. Eighteen years we sat in the Knesset.
Ben-Gurion: You were in the Knesset eighteen years?
Tewfik Toubi: I’ve been serving in the Knesset since January 1949.10 We
had a political dispute, differences of opinion, and sharp words on the
[Knesset] podium and from the seats [in the House]. For all those years
Mr. Ben-Gurion was prime minister. Now he wants to talk. Then he could
have done something [but never had the time to meet and talk]. I’m not
saying that you can’t do [things] now. But when you were in a key position
in the state [you never wanted to meet me].
Ben-Gurion: I didn’t talk with you?
Tewfik Toubi: You didn’t talk with me. You didn’t think it proper to hear
my personal opinion. Th is is not a private issue [insult] of Tewfik Toubi,
but of an Arab who represents a particular population . . . [who] also represents
a political party, a particular political view. And during all that time
you exhibited a kind of [alienation toward us]. I’ll tell you why this didn’t
hurt me personally. [Because] it is not a personal matter. I would say that
a statesmen who stands at the helm of a government and desires to arrange
relations between two peoples, has to begin internally, here, from inside the
country. A large [Arab] population dwells here, not a small one, and it can
serve as a perspective in the historical process, [for establishing] and provide
a stable bridge in relations between Israel and the Arab countries.
Ben-Gurion: Do you believe this?
Tewfik Toubi: I believe this as I believe that the sun will set this evening.11
Ben-Gurion: And this [the desire to serve as a bridge between Israel and the
Arab states, expresses] an honest aspiration [on the part of Israeli Arabs]?
Tewfik Toubi: It is what we’ve been saying all along.
Ben-Gurion: Do you really believe that Israeli Arabs can serve as a bridge?
Tewfik Toubi: Th at depends on Israel’s policy toward the Arab population.
Now, if you agree to hear me out on this issue, which is an opening question,
I’ll remind you that we supported partition in 1947. We [probably the
P.C.P.—Z.S.] supported partition. We adhered to the [officially] declared
Ben-Gurion: At that time Russia supported [partition].
Tewfik Toubi: We supported the United Nations resolution because we
saw it as the least of all evils. Mainly we wanted to get rid of the British and
believed that this could offer an opportunity for developing the two nations
[Jewish and Arab] . . .[Despite] all sorts of opposition to partition, the Jews
said they would help the Arabs . . . If an understanding had existed [among
the Jewish leaders] they would have established relations with the [local]
Arab population that would have been . . . an example of what could take
place between Israel and its neighbors. This is especially true [in the face
of Arab] opposition to the renewal of Israel and the establishment of the
state. Understanding requires that [Israeli leaders] first gain [the support]
of the [Arab] population so that it is with them, under their control . . .
This could have created many openings for ending the hatred [between
Arab and Jew] and I believed that it is how [you] would have conducted
To tell the truth . . . there was a trend at the time [among the Jewish
leaders] to banish Arabs from Israel, and expulsions occurred in many villages.
I know that [many members of] the Arab population who left the
country were influenced by propaganda. The British also expelled [Arabs].
Arabs were removed from their villages by armed forces and evicted as part
of all manners of outrage. I can’t say if this was an order from above. I don’t
know. But there was that [infamous] operation.
Ben-Gurion: Dir Yassin?
Tewfik Toubi: There were more operations [than this one] Mr. Ben-
Gurion. I know of acts in the village of Elut for example, near Nazareth
. . . People were loaded on trucks and sent [across the borders]14
Ben-Gurion: During the [British] Mandate?
Tewfik Toubi: No.
Ben-Gurion: After the establishment of the state?
Tewfik Toubi: Yes, after the establishment of the state. The villagers of
'Elabun recount how [some of their neighbors] were placed before
machine guns and several of them were killed in order to cause the others
Ben-Gurion: At 'Elabun? By the army?
Tewfik Toubi: Yes at 'Elabun, Mr. Ben-Gurion. These were the kinds
of operations [carried out] and they had a great influence on [the Arabs’
flight] . . . Th re were cases of villagers who were ordered to leave their
villages . . . and not to return.
Ben-Gurion: Which village?
Tewfik Toubi: Ba’ane. In the Galilee. On the Safed-Tiberias road . . . Perhaps
someone did not [want] Arabs [to remain] in Israel . . . At any rate
from my current knowledge of the events, I see it as a blessing, that Jews
and Arabs can live and work together in such difficult times, facing the
perplexity of the present state of [Arab-Jewish] relations. But it is [also] a
blessing for the future, when the two peoples, different kinds of citizens,
are able to coexist. You [the Jews] of the country, of the government, treat
the Arab population [in Israel as] a fifth column. [You think] that [we are]
connected by blood to [all] the Arabs, to the [entire] Arab nation? . . . [You
treat us as though we] are not part of [the state] structure, as though [we are]
a foreign element. This [outlook] has given rise to the Military Government.
I know your view of the military government. Conditions today are not as
[bad as] they were. But for a decade [when the Military Government was
in force] sick people could not get to a doctor . . . [or] leave their villages
without permission. And sometimes this caused great bitterness . . . Later
came the expropriation of agricultural lands.15
Tewfik Toubi: In all of the villages, Mr. Ben-Gurion. I’ll give you one
example: Umm al-Fahm. You’re familiar with the village of Umm al Fahm,
one of the largest villages in the country. [It] was annexed to the state of
Israel as part of the Armistice Agreement that guaranteed the population
[civil] rights and the protection of property. But people’s lands were seized
. . . in Wadi Ara. [Land expropriation] was carried out by various means.
At first, [the land] was administratively added to the state. Then came the
law, it was called the Land Law, and [although] there was compensation
. . . there is [still] no justification for grabbing [Arab] land. This happened
not only in Umm al-Fahm, but in almost all of the Arab villages . . .
During this period 500,000 dunam [125,000 aces] were confiscated from
the Arabs . . . You can tell me [that the land was needed] to build [Jewish]
settlements and development towns. But there is more than enough land
in the state [for that] and [I am convinced] that [it was entirely unnecessary]
to [dispossess] Arabs of their land. [This] was done according to the
Mandatory law for land purchase for public needs. [But] this land was being
farmed. Today [the authorities] say that it furnishes employment and village
development. Some of this may be [justified] . . . But land that belonged
to the Arabs was sold to private citizens, to contractors in Haifa, to land
speculators. [State officials] opened offices for distributing the land to various
companies. Greater areas are still vacant. In Carmiel [a Jewish town in
the Western Galilee], local Arabs look at their land but are prohibited from
entering [the town]. Try to understand an Arab who has his land seized
from him; he doesn’t want monetary [compensation] for it [he only wants
his land back]. I’m not talking about [political issues] the homeland and
Palestine. I’m talking about land wrested from the Arabs in Israel. It hurt
[them] terribly. Until 1959 the Histadrut [Jewish labor federation] refused
to accept Arab workers into its ranks.16
Tewfik Toubi: The Histadrut’s constitution was amended eventually, but
only after a decade when [the Histadrut leaders realized] they could no
longer justify [the discrimination]. But why did [the situation] have to go
on for so long?
Ben-Gurion: A long time before statehood, [Yitzhak] Ben-Zvi [second
president of Israel] and I organized Arab and Jewish workers’ cooperation.
Tewfik Toubi: I know that [but] I’m speaking about today [when] the government
is in [Jewish] hands. Do you need half a million dunam [of land]?
Excuse me for speaking this way. There are one million [vacant] dunam. I
claim [that the policy of land expropriation] was a specific[ally] [designed]
policy, [that stemmed from] your desire to build [Jewish] settlements in
the Galilee and alter the demographic fabric of the Galilee. I stated that I
didn’t oppose . . . a [Jewish] settlement here and there, and if things worked
out with a fallah [Arab peasant], but that this [should] not [be the result]
of the forced revocation of [collective] rights. As for education and culture,
do you know Mr. Ben-Gurion, how many Arab students are currently
enrolled in higher education?
Ben-Gurion: Do you mean that [the universities] don’t accept them, or
that [they] don’t [apply]?
Tewfik Toubi: That they are not accepted. They apply en mass. [But] Arabs
make up one and a half percent of the student body in Israel. In 1965–1966
no more than three hundred Arab students attended [Israeli universities].
Ben-Gurion: At the universities?
Tewfik Toubi: In all of the institutions of higher education. They apply,
and are rejected . . . you or anyone else can tell me that Jews who apply
are also rejected. [But] there’s a difference. This situation can’t continue,
in which young people from the [Arab] minority, today ten percent of the
population, are refused [the right to higher education].17
Ben-Gurion: [Is it true that there are] no more than three hundred [Arab
students in Israeli universities]?
Tewfik Toubi: Today they may number fifty more [they are now] three
hundred and fifty . . . [Arabs are being flagrantly discriminated against]
in the fi elds of education, health, labor and public administration. When
you were prime minister you heard complaints on more than one occasion
that Arabs are refused employment in government institutions, public
enterprises, and various other areas. Arab intellectuals are not accepted
to [academic] institutions. In government institutions Arabs make up no
more than one half of one percent. I’m not talking about teachers. How can
such a situation be acceptable when even the Arab educational bureaucracy
is run by a non-Arab? [I’m referring to] the Education Ministry official
appointed for Arab education.
Ben-Gurion: Who is this?
Tewfik Toubi: Gavish.
Ben-Gurion: He’s in charge of Arab education?
Tewfik Toubi: Yes. [You see] an Arab can’t be found to administer Arab
education? This is only one example. [Arabs] are denied [entry] not only in
the general [administration] of the state, but even [in] the administration
of Arab affairs. This, too, naturally, degrades [them] very much and arouses
[negative] feelings. [What of] the continued authorization of closed areas
[areas expropriated for IDF needs]? Eighteen years [after the War of independence],
the inhabitants of [Arab] villages such as Biram [were promised]
resettlement, but still cannot return . . . I would say that the state is the
loser in this matter, Mr. Ben-Gurion. I mention these things not only [in
reference] to democracy and equality. [Government policy toward Israeli
Arabs] is a mistake [and has serious implications for] Israel’s relationship
with the Arab states. Such policy implies the rejection of [Arab-Israeli]
cooperation. Israeli Arabs [should be seen] as partners, [in] a relationship
of equality and not treated [as aliens]. I do not wish to insult [you, Mr.
Ben-Gurion], but [we are treated] like ‘natives.’ This is the sort of relationship
that has been created, Mr. Ben-Gurion.18
Ben-Gurion: [Under] British policy everyone was a native’ except [the
Tewfik Toubi: [Israel’s policy] has not contributed to [better] relations
[between Jew and Arab] . . . Isn’t this a question of where [this policy]
is headed, and where it should be headed? Partnership of [an alternative]
nature would create an entirely different climate for both Israel and the
Ben-Gurion: Are you still certain of this?
Tewfik Toubi: I think so. And I say this to you not as a propaganda
Ben-Gurion: Yes, yes.
Tewfik Toubi: I am convinced that the state lost a great opportunity to
create such a partnership. Contact could have been made with the Arab
people, and the Arabs in this country would have felt themselves partners
with equal rights in the creation of state institutions [and] the life of the state
. . . I am speaking of us Mr. Ben-Gurion, those Arabs who . . . supported
the establishment of the [Jewish] state. . . . When I attend international
conferences and meet with Arab representatives, . . . not just with communists,
I speak my mind [on the Arab-Israeli conflict]. I present my ideas for
a peace solution based on the recognition of Israel and of course [on Israel’s]
recognition of the Arab Palestinian population, and they assail [me]. They
accuse me of having renegade [positions]. [They] say to me: ‘How can Arab
lips demand recognition of the State of Israel and a solution [based on]
co-existence?’We [have had to] withstand an onslaught from all kinds of
elements who [believe] that coexistence is impossible. We understood the
need for living in peace, though we harbor reservations over government
policy [toward Israeli Arabs] . . . and its position on the Arab states and
Arab liberation movements . . . but [the Arabs I met with at international
conferences] called us traitors . . . I think that here too you missed a great
opportunity. Where will you find people with [political] weight [like ours,
Rakach] whom you can work with on the basis of partnership and [mutual]
Ben-Gurion: Show me one Arab communist who spoke of peace?
Tewfik Toubi: I can assure you that all the communists in the Arab countries
Ben-Gurion: Would they say this openly?
Tewfik Toubi: On occasion they did. There were also cases during the
founding of the state when they organized peace demonstrations in Jordan
. . . But many elements suppress the public manifestation [of Arabs who
support peace with Israel] . . . and [as long as Israel’s repressive policy
toward the Arabs] continues . . . you alienate [those supporters from you]
. . . [Israeli Arabs] . . . now number three hundred thousand . . . [and] if
you treat [us] as a full partner, [we] could assist in forging a new path to
cooperation between Israel and the Arab states. You probably doubt this
[and think] that it’s impossible . . . but let me tell you that it depends on
the state of Israel . . . [Uri] Loubrani [personal secretary to Prime Minister
Eshkol] once said: ‘Too bad the Arabs can’t remain hewers of wood and
drawers of water.’
Ben-Gurion: When did he say this?
Tewfik Toubi: He said it. It has appeared in print. He meant that [the Jews
should take measures to ensure that] the Arabs remain hewers of wood
and drawers of water. It would have been better if we could [allow them
to remain that way] . . . And you said in the Knesset, or outside it . . . and
this is engraved in the public brain: We are not the western extremity of
Asia, we are the eastern extremity of Europe. Dayan expressed it differently:
we are an extension of the West on which the waves of Arab nationalism
Ben-Gurion: When did he say that?
Tewfik Toubi: Read Ha’aretz [newspaper]. It was on 12 December 1958 . . .
What he said is not important. [But it reflects] the policy and operational
thinking. . . . What kind of picture [has been created from] the policy that
you, Mr. Ben-Gurion, were responsible for [?] . . . That Israel was established
in order to assist the western powers, Britain, France, and America—to
prevent the liberation and independent political and social progress of the
Ben-Gurion: (Completely evading Toubi’s remarks) I would like to tell you
something. There were three or four things that the Arabs did to help us
unintentionally. We waged a major struggle for ‘Jewish labor’[persuading
Jewish landowners to hire Jews, rather than Arabs]. When we arrived in the
Second Aliya [the second wave of Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel,
1904–1914] . . . manual labor was almost entirely in the hands of Arabs.
We fought for Jewish labor. [But] it was futile until [the Arabs] massacred
the Jewish pioneers in Jaffa. Then the [remaining] Jews fled Jaff a, and the
Arabs left Tel Aviv. When the Arabs fled Tel Aviv, it was necessary to hire
Jewish labor, so the [Jewish] workers stayed in Tel Aviv and turned it into
a Jewish city. That was the first time [the Arabs] helped [us]. The second
time was in the construction of the Port of Tel Aviv—[again] not because
they intended to. The greatest assistance—though I regret [what it cost us]
. . . the flower of our youth—was when [the Arabs] rejected the United
Nations [partition] resolution. Had they accepted [it], Jerusalem would not
be ours [today], Jaff a would not be ours, Lod would not be ours, and most of
the Galilee would not be ours. And there would be four hundred and fifty
thousand Arabs [now] living in the Jewish state. The Arabs multiply faster
than we do. Despite [Jewish] immigration a large Arab sector [would have
remained in the country if the Arabs had not been so violently opposed to
our presence]. The Arabs committed acts that resulted in the flight of Arabs.
On November 30  the evacuation began of Arabs from villages in the
Sharon and Samaria. [The Arabs] fled to the part [of country designated
for] the Arab state. Why they did this is beyond my reckoning. Why did
fi fty-six thousand Arabs in Haifa take flight?
Tewfik Toubi: Because of Dir Yassin. That had a powerful influence on
Ben-Gurion: I know about Dir Yassin. [Incidents] like this [were also
perpetrated against] Jews. [The Jewish village of] Hulda was destroyed;
[the Jewish community in] Hebron was destroyed. For us Hebron was
associated with many things: our ancestors, the graves of our forefathers
. . . But not one Jew remained [in Hebron following the 1929 massacre] . . .
I was against Dir Yassin no less than you, perhaps even more so because of
the disgrace. I’m against the murder of [civilians]. As a Jew I was ashamed
that Jews did this. [However] the Arabs [too] committed many Dir Yassins
. . . and we didn’t flee. What is fear? I am not criticizing the Arabs;
I am [just] stating a fact. You can’t ignore the fact that the Arab refugees
fled of their own free will. What happened? . . . Jews were living in Iraq
before the Arabs came, [Jews were there] for two thousand five hundred
years . . . when they spoke Babylonian and not Arabic. [Despite this, the
Arabs] expelled them and seized their property. [Iraqi Jews] are [now] in
this country. Will we evict them? Will we send them back to Iraq? We
brought over all of Yemenite Jewry [to Israel] . . . [They had been living
under] abominable [conditions]. For centuries the Jews in Yemen [suffered]
in a dark exile, worse than the Russian exile because the Arabs treated them
as inferiors. [Although] they did not murder [them] [the Jews] were forced
to undergo religious conversion, [Jewish children] were abducted and [the
Jewish population in Yemen] was oppressed, humiliated, and forbidden
to dress like Arabs. [Yemenite Jews] were forbidden to ride [animals] like
the Arabs . . . the Jews of Morocco were [also] oppressed. Morocco was
already independent. Will we expel them [from Israel]? Of course we’ll let
Tewfik Toubi: Nobody is talking about expelling them.
Ben-Gurion: Let me continue, Jaff a is now inhabited by Jews [as well as]
the Arabs who didn’t flee. Will we expel [the Arabs]? Of course they’ll
stay. When an [Israeli] Arab says: I have a son in Syria or Lebanon who
wants to return. We reply: Let him come back. And forty thousand Arabs
returned as a part of the family reunification program. But today we cannot
allow in 1,200,000 Arabs (and I don’t even know where such a figure came
from.) [In 1948] the whole Jewish section [of Palestine] contained 450,000
Arabs. We don’t intend to commit suicide. We can’t allow [the return of
refugees]. What really took place [was a population exchange between the
Jewish people and the Arab world]: we took in five hundred thousand Jews
from Arab countries. [At the same time] almost five hundred thousand
Arabs left Israel for Arab countries. I know I can’t change your mind. I
only hope you can understand our position. We expelled no one. We regard
Dir Yassin as a disgrace. You cannot blame us for Dir Yassin. And I will
not make you responsible for the murder of Jews. You didn’t take part [in
their murder]; I didn’t participate [in Dir Yassin]. I know what happened
at Dir Yassin. And not only Dir Yassin. [Jewish rogue paramilitary groups]
tossed bombs into an Arab crowd in the Haifa market place and murdered
many Arabs; then Arab terror began in Haifa. Until this [incident] Arab
terror was non-existent in Haifa because [the Arabs there] did not want
terror. But after [the Jewish dissidents’ attack], [the Arabs] commenced
[acts of terrorism]. Dir Yassin is not our responsibility. We were against it
much more than you. In addition to the Arabs who were murdered, as a
Jew I was abashed [by the carnage] because it degraded the name of the
Jews. [Let’s not forget, though,] many [attacks similar to] Dir Yassin [were
also perpetrated against] Jews, nevertheless Jews did not fl ee. Nor did they
come complaining. [Th ese things happened on both sides] and it’s over. If
the Arabs had stayed in Haifa, Beit She’an, Safed, and Jaffa, and villages
in the Sharon, they would be living in them [today] like other citizens [in
Israel] . . . and there would be no [major refugee] problem. But today [their
return] is impossible. If you were the prime minister of the State of Israel,
you wouldn’t agree [to the return of Arab refugees] because you know it’s
impossible. It would mean the liquidation of the State of Israel. This we
shall not allow.21
[It is a major question] whether Israeli Arabs are a factor in the mutual
understanding [between Israel and the Arab world]. There are reasons for
and against it . . . Twenty-five years ago nobody talked about Egyptian
Arabs. The Egyptians did not [even] think of themselves as Arabs [but
only as Egyptians] . . . Nasser expunged the name: Egypt. [Ben-Gurion
is referring to the new name—United Arab Republic] Egypt no longer
exists in the world.
Tewfik Toubi: It is the official name of that country.
Ben-Gurion: Don’t fool yourself; Egypt is no more. It has an Arab name.
One time an Egyptian was an Egyptian and not an Arab. No Arab that
I spoke with considered Egypt [an Arab state]. But [if] they define and
perceive themselves as Arabs, then they are Arabs . . . forever. [before
1948] I often traveled to Egypt, and felt no hatred toward Israel. Nor did
I encounter Egypt-Jewish antagonism. I imagine that even now many
Egyptians reject [Nasser’s hostile policy toward Israel]. I can’t accept the
lack of freedom of speech in Egypt. In Russia too freedom of speech is
non-existent and you are a Communist. This doesn’t invalidate Russia for
you, [but] for me it does.
Tewfik Toubi: This is what you say, but it’s not a fact.
Ben-Gurion: Does freedom of speech exist in Russia?
Tewfik Toubi: Yes. Anyone who wants to, can always speak his mind
Ben-Gurion: Can he criticize the government in Russia?
Tewfik Toubi: Even the government.
Ben-Gurion: Why have the [Russian authorities] imprisoned two writers? 22
Tewfik Toubi: Didn’t they criticize the government?
Ben-Gurion: . . . You just said that there’s freedom of speech in Russia.
I can’t argue with you. I know that freedom of speech doesn’t exist there.
In Lenin’s time the Communists were allowed freedom of speech. Today
even the Communists are not allowed freedom of speech . . . [but] I don’t
want to waste your time or mine over this [issue] . . . it’s of no importance
right now. In Lenin’s time freedom existed . . . because Lenin was a great
man . . . and comrades could debate with him, and he with them . . . Lenin
was a genius . . . I saw Lenin’s greatness in one thing: until the [Bolshevik]
revolution all his articles contained excerpts from [Karl] Marx. After the
revolution—no more Marx. Marx was gone. [Lenin] writes what he thinks
. . . He sees the Russian reality and follows it. But this is another matter.
In the past your comrades disagreed with me that there was oppression
[under] Stalin. I remember their words when I wrote an article, under
a pseudonym, and “Hashomer Hatza’ir” [Marxist-socialist youth movement]
criticized me. Later when Khrushchev said the same things, it was
. . . [Regarding the status of Israeli Arabs] we are in [a state of] siege,
and a siege requires special acts that sometimes violate the [civil] freedom
and principles [of equality]. Every country commits such acts. But it is
necessary to examine if [the military government] is [still] necessary, then
we can decide whether or not to cancel it. I would reassess the military
government. I hear [the government] is planning to annul it. Good. I’m no
[longer] involved in government matters . . . I am no longer a representative
[of any political body]. I am now but one of two and a quarter million
Jews in this country . . . [But] I [was] responsible for the [establishment of
the] Military Government. In my opinion [it] was necessary. [Unjustified]
things may have occurred under it that I didn’t know about . . . This is
possible. I can’t know everything . . . I don’t know if there is still a necessity
for the [military government]. I think [it still is] . . . We may have gone
too far, at first, in our disregard for equality—this is possible. But [on the
other hand] Arabs do not serve in the military.24
Tewfik Toubi: Who is it that prevents their enlistment? The government.
You were defense minister for ten years. You didn’t call up [the Arabs] to
[serve in] the military.
Ben-Gurion: [Ben-Gurion seemed completely taken aback by Toubi’s
stance in support of the recruitment of Israeli Arabs to the I.D.F, and found
it difficult to respond immediately]. Just a minute now . . . you remember
[what one of your communist colleagues told me]: ‘If we knew that you
would fight the British and the French, then we would have gone to the
army like everyone else. But we knew that any war [in the region] would
be against the Arabs. [How can you expect] us to fight our brethren?’I
said: ‘I understand this. ’This is the reason why I didn’t want Arabs to be
forcibly drafted into military service.25
I [assume] you understand our point of view. [Even though] you won’t
agree [with it] . . . Anyone who comes to discuss peace on the condition
that all of the [Arab] refugees [be allowed to return], [should realize] that
there will be no peace . . . Without peace—things will go very badly . . .
I am not only a Jew, I am [also] a human being, and [peace] is no less
important [for me] than being a Jew. I learned this from the Bible. I live
by the Bible . . . not because I have to . . . I’m a pupil of the Bible, but I’m
[also] a human being . . . No [inherent] difference exists among nations
. . . One nation may be more developed or less developed than another.
Until the middle of the nineteenth century Japan was a provincial country.
Within fifty years it became a developed state like America, and developed
more than any European state. I’m certain that in twenty years China will
be more developed than either America or Russia . . . I [also] envision a
possibility of peace in our time . . . and let me say that if you, the Israeli
Arabs, can be the catalysts for peace, then you will be blessed. But if you
stipulate the return of the refugees, then this means that you do not want
peace . . . I’m not trying to convince you. There are some things I cannot
convince you about. I [just] want us to understand each other.
Tewfik Toubi: I think that we have just been rehashing an eighteen year
Ben-Gurion: Through debate we grow closer. I’ve hardly ever debated
Tewfik Toubi: That is true.
Ben-Gurion: I argued with Sneh and Mikunis [Jewish Communists]. I
don’t believe them . . . I told them [Ben-Gurion is apparently referring to
members of the Hagana—Z.S.]: ‘What do you have against Sneh?’ They
told me that he’s a liar. Every single person I spoke with said this. I went
to Sneh and asked him, ‘what’s this all about? Everyone says you’re a liar?’
He said, ‘I’ll tell you why. The Hagana is . . . divided. There’s Mapai and
Mapam [United Workers’ Party] . . . and other groups . . . I say things [to
one group] that sound acceptable to them. Afterwards the [different groups]
meet and talk. And it turns out that I said one thing to this group and
something else to another group. ’I accepted [Sneh’s] explanation. Afterwards,
you may recall, the King David Hotel was blown up. I happened
to have been abroad, in France, at the time. [The British] rounded up the
entire [Jewish Agency] executive. And Sneh fled the country. He arrived [in
France]. We were together for quite a while. I had to travel to America. Sneh
also traveled to America. This was prior to the postwar Zionist Congress. I
wanted to organize a large power block against those still tied to England.
I realized there was no longer any reason to rely on England. Th en [Sneh]
said to me, ‘Let me speak with the Zionists first. I’ll prepare the ground
works and you can meet with them afterwards. ’One, two days passed and
I said to him: ‘Well!’ And he said, ‘Not yet. Wait.’ But I had to return [to
Palestine] in eight days. I became a little suspicious . . . and I said,
‘Listen Sneh, I’ve lost my faith in you.’26 . . .
Tewfik Toubi: During the Sinai Campaign we said that this [military]
operation is not a good thing. We were the only ones at the time [who voiced
this opinion]. I know that you still believe [the operation was essential].
But there are many who think like us today, that [the Sinai Campaign]
was a political mistake.
Ben-Gurion: Who are the many?
Tewfik Toubi: Today even Moshe Sharett writes [articles expressing his
reservation over the campaign].
Ben-Gurion: Sharett was also against it at the time.
Tewfik Toubi: I know.
Ben-Gurion: Moshe Sharett [also] wrote against the Gaza raid . . . I can
reveal this to you. The [Gaza raid] was decided by Prime Minister [Moshe
Sharett]. I was not prime minister at the time. I was defense minister . . .
Th e Gaza aff air was done according to Sharett’s wishes. He complained
later that he didn’t know so many [Egyptian] soldiers would be killed. I
told him that it’s impossible to know these things before they happen.
Why were the soldiers killed? In operations like these we always dispatch
a blocking unit . . . [this time] it was impossible [to deploy] blocking units.
But there is a road over which [Egyptian] reinforcements could pass. The
road was mined [by us]. And the [Egyptian] reinforcements came in a large
truck with 38–40 soldiers. They went over the mine and were blown up.
They were almost all killed. This is something that can’t be known ahead
of time. [Our troops] had to use any means available to prevent the arrival
of that [Egyptian] reinforcements.27
Tewfik Toubi: Nowadays many people besides Moshe Sharett [have reservations
about the operation].
Ben-Gurion: If Moshe Sharett were alive, he would not have published
an article about this.
Tewfik Toubi: Perhaps not.28
. . .
Ben-Gurion: If you see us as an imperialistic tool, then there’s no end [to
where this line of thinking will lead to].
Tewfik Toubi: I said that according to the policy that was taken and the
acts that were carried out, this is how things have been understood; this
is what they implied.29
Ben-Gurion: It’s true that we didn’t oppose the French [policy] on Algeria.
It’s true, and I admit it. And I am not saying that this was not justified.
We couldn’t oppose the French. France was the only country that helped
save us from annihilation.
Tewfik Toubi: But it is a weak backing.
Ben-Gurion: No, it is not . . . You have to see it from an historical perspective
. . . the difference between our situation and yours . . . The Arab
people are in no danger of mass destruction. [But] there is a danger of the
Jews being destroyed . . . six million, not two million, were liquidated [just
two decades ago]. This could have been avoided. No one prevented it—not
England, France, America or Russia . . .
Tewfik Toubi: Circumstances are different [today].
Ben-Gurion: Things have not changed. I know how Arab leaders felt during
World War II. All of them, without exception, were Nazis . . . [and I] do
not know what tomorrow will bring . . .30 I don’t wish to win your heart
Tewfik Toubi: I didn’t expect you say things you don’t believe . . .
Ben-Gurion: I didn’t try to explain all the problems to you . . . but I’m
willing, if you’re interested, to continue the conversation in other directions
. . . because it’s very important to me that Arabs understand [us]—even
if they don’t accept my position. I see some things [you] can’t agree with.
Just as I don’t agree with your views . . . It is hard for an Arab to fathom
the Jewish position. I understand this. When I spoke with Arabs, the first
thing I told them was that I understand the Arab position. Before the
establishment of the state, I once stated in the Zionist Executive that talks
with the Arabs demanded only those people who have two qualities: no
Jewish inferiority complex (many Jews [suffer from this]), and second, that
they understand the Arab position as [the Arabs] understand it. Whoever
cannot grasp that, shouldn’t speak. I understand the Arab position. Not
only the position of our [Israeli] Arabs, but of Arabs much [more hostile] to
us than you. I perceive this. And it is very natural that Arabs should think:
what do these Jews want here? What do they want from this country? We
have been here for twelve hundred years. I can understand this.31
Tewfik Toubi: Mr. Ben-Gurion, I want to say that I demand that the
government of Israel change this kind of thinking. I know that changes
also have to be made in the Arabs’ policy in order to bring an end to [the
. . .
Ben-Gurion: You can [speak to me] without using “Mr.”
Tewfik Toubi: All right.
Ben-Gurion: Even just David is fine. The first time I came to [Kibbutz]
Sde Boker I said to [the young members]: My name is David only. And
it was written on the work roster each evening: David—such and such a
job. This pleased me.
Tewfik Toubi: We shall meet again in the Knesset.
Ben-Gurion: Yes, of course.
Tewfik Toubi: We’ll find the time.
Ben-Gurion: I don’t attend every session of the Knesset. But I’ll come and
look forward to seeing you there. Do you live in Haifa? I’ll be staying in
Haifa for two weeks.
Tewfik Toubi: I live in Haifa. But most of the time I’m in Jerusalem in the
Knesset or in Tel Aviv with our party.
. . .
Ben-Gurion: I want to tell you my position on the establishment of the
state. You know that we accepted the November 29 [Partition] Resolution,
although it was very painful for us. It meant [the internationalization of]
Jerusalem. But we decided to accept [partition] and that was that.32 [The
Arab side rejected partition and war broke out.] . . . If we had not won
the war, we would have been destroyed . . . six million had [recently] been
annihilated, and the Mufti had a hand in this . . . I said to the army: God
forbid we have to fight again, don’t think that this will lead to peace or end
the danger. The Arabs can destroy us. We cannot destroy the Arabs.
. . .
When I was in government, I made three attempts [to reach an
arrangement with] Nasser, [and all three failed].
(Translated from the Hebrew by Moshe Tlamim of the Ben-Gurion Research
1. Protocol File, Meetings, 28 October 1966, BGA (Ben-Gurion Archives)
2. According to Ben-Gurion’s diary the meeting took place one week earlier.
In the 24 October 1966 entry Ben-Gurion writes: “On 21 October 1966, a long
conversation in the morning with Tewfik Toubi on Jews and Arabs in Israel. The
conversation was recorded and also taken down in Hebrew by Tewfik Toubi’s secretary,
Tamar, a Rakach member.” Ben-Gurion Diary, 24 October 1966, BGA.
3. See: Amos Carmel, All Politics: Israeli Political Lexicon, Vol. 2 (Tel-Aviv,
2001) 1044–45 [Hebrew]. See also: Binyamin Neuberger, “Trends in the Political
Organization of Israeli Arabs,” in Eli Rekhess, Tamar Yagnes (eds.), Arab Politics
in Israel at a Turning Point (Tel-Aviv, 1995) 35–45 [Hebrew]. On the background of
the establishment of Rakach see: Eli Rekhess, Th e Arab Minority in Israel: Between
Communism and Arab Nationalism, 1965–1991 (Tel-Aviv, 1993) 27–34 [Hebrew].
4. In his article on Israeli Arabs, Dan Schueftan writes that Tewfik Toubi’s
thinking characterized the Arab leadership in Israel until the 1980s. According to
Although the past generation of leadership displayed pride in its Arab
identity, it expressed concern for its brethren, relentlessly criticized Israel’s
policy, and even the most zealous of them declared their loyalty to the
state, and more than once expressed understanding for the nationalist
needs of the Jewish majority. An outstanding example of this was the ex-
MK from Rakach, Tewfik Toubi, who served in the Knesset forty years,
and was prominent as a tenacious and assiduous parliamentary fighter for
his people. Toubi defined himself an Israeli patriot and emphasized that
he saw no contradiction between his Arab identity and his Israeliness. He
reiterated in the 1980s that even prior to the establishment of the state he
had calculated that the Palestinian National Movement’s opposition to the
partition plan would lead his brethren to national catastrophe. His political
path refl ects a view that was accepted by Arab civilian leadership in Israel
for many years, and according to which the Arab minority accepted the
basic game rules of the Jewish state.
See: Dan Schueftan, “The New Identity of the Arab MK’s,” T’chelet, 13,
2002. On the website:
5. In the 1949 Knesset elections Maki won four seats [out of 120]; in the 1951
elections it received fi ve seats; and in the 1955 election—six seats. See: Moshe Sneh,
Introduction in: Shmuel Mikunis, In the Storm of the Period: Selected Writings and
Speeches, 1942–1969 (Tel-Aviv, 1969) no page numbers. See also the websites:
On the place of Christian leadership in Rakach see: Uri Stendahl, Th e
Christian Communities. On the website:
See also: Daphna Tsimhoni, “The Christians in Israel: Between Religion
and Politics,” in Eli Rekhess (ed.), The Arabs in Israeli Politics: Identity Dilemmas
(Tel-Aviv, 1998) 63–73 [Hebrew]. See also: Amos Carmel, All Politics: Israeli Political
Lexicon, Vol. 2 (Tel-Aviv, 2001) 481 [Hebrew].
6. See: Ben-Gurion Diary, November 22 1949, July 11 1950, August 24 1950,
January 3 1952, December 12 1956, January 9 1957, November 12 1958, July 15 1959,
July 29 1959, January 31 1960, February 22 1960, December 2 1960, Ben-Gurion
Archives. See also: Ben-Gurion’s letters to Tewfik Toubi, February 13 1950, May 17
1950, June 13 1950, July 23 1950, October 10 1950, January 8 1951, February 13 1951,
January 23 1952, June 3 1952, March 23 1953, March 24 1953, July 13 1953, December
24 1953, March 30 1959, Correspondence File, Ben-Gurion Archives. It was
exceptional of Ben-Gurion to have kept in his archives Tewfik Toubi’s election
speech on the Voice of Israel; see General File, October 10 1959, BGA.
7. See Natan Alterman, “A Reprimand to Tewfik Toubi,” Hatur Hashvee’ee,
Book One (Ramat Gan, 1969) 276–78 [Hebrew].
8. Protocol of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, 29 September
1961, File A 7567/8, Israel State Archives. On viewing Israeli Arabs as a “bridge
to peace” with the Arab world, see: Eli Rekhess, “Israeli Arabs as a ‘Bridge to
Peace’—Evolution of a Concept,” The New Middle East, 37 (1995) 79–86 [Hebrew].
On dilemmas of loyalty of Israeli Arabs see: Eli Rekhess (ed.), The Arabs in Israeli
Politics: Identity Dilemmas (Tel-Aviv University, 1998) 9–17 [Hebrew]. See also:
Arnon Sofer, “Israeli Arabs Link with the Palestinian State,” Nativ: Ktav Et
Limachshava Midinit, Chevra Vitarboot, 1–2, 54–55, January–April 1997, 77–81
[Hebrew]. On the political-security positions of Maki see: Shmuel Mikunis, In
the Storm of the Period: Selected Writings and Speeches, 1942–1969 (Tel-Aviv, 1969)
255–94. On Jewish-Arab relations in Maki see: Eli Rekhess, “Th e Question of
Jewish-Arab Relations in Maki,” Medina Memshal Veyachasim Beinle’umiyim, 27,
Winter 1968, 67–96.
9. On the incident see: Sara Ussetzky-Lazar, “A Plot in October—the Sinai
Campaign and the Kfar Kassem Incident in the Eyes of Israeli Arabs,” Yahadut
Zmanenu: Tzionut, Midinat Yisrael Vihatfutzot, 13 (Jerusalem and Haifa, 1999)
10. The first elections to the Knesset were held on January 25 1949.
11. On the Israeli Arabs’concept of peace see: Sara Ussetzky-Lazar, Th e Israeli
Arabs’Concept of Peace (Givat Haviva, 1993) [Hebrew].
12. On the Arab positions regarding the partition plan in November 1947
see: Barry Rubin, Th e Arab States and the Palestine Conflict (New York, 1981)
13. On Israeli Arabs and the State of Israel’s attitude toward them during the
War of Independence and after see: Shimon Shamir, “The Historical Perspective:
Introductory Words,” in Eli Rekhess (ed.), Israeli Arabs after 1967: The Intensification
of the Orientation Problem, (Tel-Aviv, 1967) 2–8 [Hebrew]. On the studies
dealing with the Israeli Arabs issue see: Oren Yiftachel, “Jewish-Arab Relations
in Israel in the Mirror of Research: Public Policy, Gaps, and Political Implications,”
in Midina Mamshal Viyachasim Beinle’umiyim, 40, Summer 1995, 185–224
14. On the evacuation of Arab villages in the north during the War of Independence
see: Sara Ussetzky-Lazar, “Ikrit and Biram,” Skira, 10, The Institute for Arab
Studies, the Institute for Peace Research, (Givat Haviva, 1993) 8–11. [Hebrew].
15. On property loss caused to Israeli Arabs during the War of Independence
see: Sami Hadawi, Palestinian Rights and Losses in 1948: A Comprehensive Study
(London, 1988) 117–88. See also: Joseph B. Schechtman, The Arab Refugee Problem
(New York, 1952) 95–115. On living conditions of Israeli Arabs in the first years
after statehood see: Ian Lustik, Arabs in the Jewish State: Israel’s Control over a
National Minority (Haifa, 1985) 54–76 [Hebrew].
16. In dealing with the integration of Israeli Arabs in the heart of the decision
making process in Israel, Avner Regev writes the following: “The weight of Israeli
Arabs in the center of major decision making in the state is small. They have almost
no representation in the higher levels of government service, in the Histadrut’s
Central Committee, and in the elected bodies of the large parties. Although there
are some industrialists and financiers in the Arab sector they are not members of
the executive committees of the industrialists’, tradesmen’or merchants’unions.
No Arabs are on the leading directorate of the workers’ company or government
companies. Arab industry is practically nil and the Arabs lack control over the
means of production or economic production in the Israeli economy.” See Avner
Regev, Israeli Arabs: Political Issues (Jerusalem, 1989) 1. On the question of land
expropriation see: Oren Yiftachel, “Research on the Arab Minority in Israel
and the Attitude of the Jewish Majority: Survey and Analysis”, Skira, 12, (Givat
Haviva, 1993) 9–14. See also: Sabri Jiryis, The Arabs in Israel (New York, no date)
17. On the socio-economic condition of Israeli Arabs until the establishment
of the state see: Avraham Cohen, The Economy of the Arab Sector in Eretz Israel
in the Mandate Period (Givat Haviva, 1986) [Hebrew]. See also: Uri Stendahl.
Emanuel Hareuveini, The Minorities in Israel (Tel-Aviv, 1973) 8–19 [Hebrew].
18. On the limitations of Israeli democracy within the context of Israeli
Arabs’status see: Oren Yiftachel, Assad Ghanem, Nadim Ruchana, “Is ‘Ethnic
Democracy’Possible? Jews, Arabs, and the Israeli Regime,” Jama’a‘, 6, 2000, 58–78
[Hebrew]. On the process of the Israeli Arabs’integration into the Israeli political
system, see: Boaz Shapira, “An Arab Minister in Israel: Past Obstacles—Future
Exigencies,” in Eli Rekhes, Tamar Yagnes (eds.), Arab Politics in Israel at a Turning
Point (Tel-Aviv, 1995) 55–63. [Hebrew]. See also: Assad Ghanem, “The Arabs’
Participation in the Knesset—A Renewed Study and Look at Alternatives,” Ibid.,
65–70. On the process of building self-government among Israeli Arabs see: Majid
Al-Haj, Henry Rosenfeld, Arab Local Government in Israel (Haifa, 1988) 20–36.
19. On the attitude of Arab states toward Israeli Arabs until the Six-Day War
see: Gideon Shiloh, Israeli Arabs in the Eyes of the Arab States and the PLO (Jerusalem,
1982) 9–36 [Hebrew].
20. On the Dir Yassin Incident and response of the Israeli leadership see: Yehuda
Lapidot, “50 Years of the Dir Yassin Myth,” Nativ: Ktav Et Limachshava Midinit,
Chevra Vitarboot, 1, 60, (January 1998) 61–65 [Hebrew]. Yoram Nimrod, “Golda
Meir Between Abdullah and Ben-Gurion,” in Yosef Nevo and Yoram Nimrod
(eds.), Th e Arabs Versus the Zionist Movement and the Jewish Yishuv: The Jewish-
Arab Encounter (Kiryat Tivon, 1987) 59–98 [Hebrew]. See especially 82–87. See
also Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal, Palestinians: The Making of a People
(Cambridge, MA, 1994) 151–52.
21. On Jewish-Arab relations in Haifa in the period prior to and during the War
of Independence see: Yosef Vashitz, “Jewish-Arab Relations in Haifa 1940–1948,”
in Yosef Nevo and Yoram Nimrod (eds.), The Arabs Versus the Zionist Movement
and the Jewish Yishuv: Th e Jewish-Arab Encounter (Kiryat Tivon, 1987) 21–38
22. This refers to Andre Siniavsky and Yuri Daniel who were arrested and
brought to trial in 1965 for publishing anti-soviet material in the West. See:
Gregory L. Freeze (ed.), Russia, A History (Oxford, 1977) 370–71.
23. On expressions of admiration for Stalin in Maki see: Shmuel Mikunis,
Israel’s Battle for Peace and Independence: Political Report of the Central Committee,
Delivered at Maki’s Twelfth Congress (Tel-Aviv, 1952) 15–17. On the process of
sobering up from Stalin adulation by Moshe Sneh and others in the Maki leadership,
see: Berl Balti, Th e Battle for Jewish Survival: The Portrait of Moshe Sneh
(Jerusalem, 1982) 37–41 [Hebrew].
24. On Israel’s official position regarding the military government, the background
for its inception, and functioning, see: Israel Ministry for Foreign Affairs,
Th e Arabs in Israel (Jerusalem, 1961) 12–14. See also: Moshe Gabai, Israeli Arabs, A
Question of Identity (Givat Haviva, 1984) 6–8 [Hebrew] On the annulment of the
military administration, see also: Yair Boymal, “Th e Military Government and
the Process of its Annulment, 1958—1968,” Hamizrach Hachadash, 43 (Jerusalem,
2002) 133–56 [Hebrew]. See also: Sara Ussetzky-Lazar, “The Military Government
as a Control Mechanism over Arab Citizens: Th e First Decade, 1948–1956,”
Hamizrach Hachadash, 43 (Jerusalem, 2002) 103–32 [Hebrew].
25. On Israeli Arabs as a national minority and their link to Arab countries
see, Sami Samoocha, “Autonomy for Arabs in Israel,” (Raanana, 1996) 51–56.
[Hebrew]. On other national minorities in democratic countries see: Shlomo
Avineri, “National Minorities in National Democratic States,” in Eli Rekhes, The
Arabs in Israeli Politics: Identity Dilemmas (Tel-Aviv, 1998) 17–27 [Hebrew].
26. On Moshe Sneh see: Eli Shaltiel, Always in Revolt: Moshe Sneh—A Biography
(Tel-Aviv, 2000) [Hebrew]. See also: Moshe Sneh (ed.), Later as at the
Beginning: Selected Speeches 1972–1976 (Tel-Aviv 1982). [Hebrew]. See also: Moshe
Sneh, Writings (Tel-Aviv, 1995) [Hebrew]. On various aspects of Moshe Sneh’s
political-security positions and his relationship with David Ben-Gurion see: Meir
Avizohar, “Three Hourglasses in the Preparations for the War of Independence,”
Iyunim Bitkumat Yisrael, 1 (Sede-Boker, 1991) 41–60 [Hebrew]. See also: Yoav
Gelber, “Intelligence and Arab Preparations for the War of Independence,” Iyunim
Bitkumat Yisrael, 1 (Sede-Boker, 1991) 61–102 [Hebrew]. See also, Meir Avizohar,
“Moshe Sneh’s Pro-Soviet Advances in 1949—Th e Path to Them, Background,
and Ideological Motives,” Iyunim Bitkumat Yisrael, 3 (Sede-Boker, 1993) 399–426
[Hebrew]. See also: Zeev Tzachor, “Mapai, Mapam, and the Establishment of the
First Government in Israel, 1949” Iyunim Bitkumat Yisrael, 4 (Sede-Boker, 1994)
378–99 [Hebrew]. See also: Henry Near, “Men and Women Pioneers in the State
of Israel, Semantic and Historical Aspects, 1948–1956, Iyunim Bitkumat Yisrael, 2
(Sede Boker, 1992) 116–140 [Hebrew].
27. On the Gaza operation see: Motti Golani (ed.) Black Arrow, The Gaza
Operation and Israel’s Retaliation Policy in the 1950s (Haifa, 1994) [Hebrew]. Mordechai
Gur, “The Gaza Raid: Leadership, Friendship, Operational Discipline,”
Ma’arachot, 173 (February 1966) 3–6 [Hebrew]. Shraga Gafni, “Black Arrow in
Gaza,” Ma’arachot 254 (February 1977) 41–48 [Hebrew]. Benny Morris, Israel’s
Border Wars 1949–1956, Arab Infi ltration, Israeli Retaliation, and the Countdown
to the Suez War (Oxford, 1993) 672–673. See also: Mordechai Bar-On, Th e Gates
of Gaza: Th e Security and Foreign Policy of the State of Israel, 1955–1956 (Tel-Aviv,
1992) 35 [Hebrew]. See also: Zaki Shalom, Policy in the Shadow of Debate: Israel’s
Daily Security Policy, 1949–1956 (Ma’arachot, 1996) 43–48 [Hebrew].
28. On Sharett’s political positions see: Zaki Shalom, “Ben-Gurion’s and
Sharett’s Rejection of Territorial Demands from Israel, 1949–1956” Iyunim Bitkumat
Yisrael, 2 (Sede-Boker, 1992) 197–213 [Hebrew]. On Sharett’s Ouster from
Government on the Eve of the Sinai Campaign see: Zaki Shalom, “Sharett’s Resignation
from Government (June 1956)—Personal, Partisan, and Political Aspects,”
Hazionut, Me’asef Litoldot Hatnu’a Hazionit Vihayishuv Hayihudi Bieretz Yisrael,
20, 1996, 259–289 [Hebrew].
29. On the claim by the Communists regarding the fascist danger threatening
the State of Israel see: Shmuel Mikunis, Th e Danger of Fascism in Israel (Tel-Aviv,
30. On Arab support of Nazism see: Dafna Alon, “Arab Radicalism,” The Israeli
Economist (Jerusalem, 1969) 13–34. On the implications of World War II on the
nature of the relations between Jews and Arabs in the Land of Israel, see: Yosef
Nevo, “The Influence of World War II on the Patterns of Arab Involvement in
Eretz Israel,” in Yosef Nevo and Yoram Nimrod (eds.), The Arabs Versus the Zionist
Movement and the Jewish Yishuv: The Jewish-Arab Encounter (Kiryat Tivon, 1987)
31. Ben-Gurion repeatedly stressed the need to see the Middle East reality from
the Arab world’s point of view in order to understand the serious dangers facing
the State of Israel. See: Zakai Shalom, David Ben-Gurion, the State of Israel, and
the Arab World, 1949–1956 (Brighton, and Portland, OR, 2002) 4–6.
32. On the struggle at preventing the transformation of Jerusalem to an international
city see: Zakai Shalom, “Th e Struggle of the State of Israel in Foiling
the Decision of the UN General Assembly Regarding the Internationalization
of Jerusalem in the Fifties,” Iyunim Bitkumat Yisrael, 3 (Sede-Boker, 1993) 75–97
[Hebrew]. See also: Zakai Shalom, “Ben-Gurion’s and Sharett’s Rejection of Territorial
Demands from Israel, 1949–1956” Iyunim Bitkumat Yisrael, 2 (Sede-Boker,
1992) 197–213 [Hebrew].