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Ben-Gurion and Tewfik Toubi Finally Meet (October 28, 1966 )1

Shalom, Zakai.

Israel Studies, Volume 8, Number 2, Summer 2003, pp. 45-69 (Article)

Published by Indiana University Press

For additional information about this article

Access Provided by Bar-Ilan University at 03/12/11 7:09PM GMT


Zakai Shalom

Ben-Gurion and

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 WorkersList). 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.

     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.

      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 Toubis statements and views in great detail, and always gave lengthy and detailed replies to Toubis numerous questions regarding the status of Israels Arabs. Ben-Gurion even had Toubis 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.

      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 Toubis 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.

    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 Toubis views. On several occasions, the conversation came to a conclusion, usually on Toubis 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.

     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 Arabsflight or whether he reiterated it out of loyalty to the official position that was designed to absolve the government of responsibility for the refugeesfate.  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.

     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.




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 fathers name. The designation is still retained,

[for example] Abu Yousef [Yousefs father]. Its 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. Thats how hes referred to.

Ben-Gurion: Is Toubi a family name? Should I call you Tewfik or Toubi?

Tewfik Toubi: (Seemingly tired of Ben-Gurions repeated irrelevant questions)

Whichever you like, Mr. Ben-Gurion. Let me tell you, Ive been

thinking about this conversation that you requested. I would like to speak

frankly for a minute. We have different views, not only because youre a Jew

and Im an Arab [but] because of all kinds of [other] problems.

Ben-Gurion: (Evading Toubis 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 hes working towards, what he hopes to achieve with

[the socialist] banner hes 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: Ive 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 cant do [things] now. But when you were in a key position

in the state [you never wanted to meet me].

Ben-Gurion: I didnt talk with you?

Tewfik Toubi: You didnt talk with me. You didnt 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

Communist position.12

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

to flee.

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: Baane. 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

Ben-Gurion: Where?

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

Ben-Gurion: Really?

Tewfik Toubi: The Histadruts 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: Hes 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

desire peace.’

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

will crash.

Ben-Gurion: When did he say that?

Tewfik Toubi: Read Haaretz [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

Arab peoples?

Ben-Gurion: (Completely evading Toubis 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 [1947] 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

the population.20

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 didnt 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

them remain.

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 cant 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 Shean, 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 doesnt 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 Hatzair” [Marxist-socialist youth movement]

criticized me. Later when Khrushchev said the same things, it was

suddenly kosher.23

. . . [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 Toubis

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

long conversation.

Ben-Gurion: Through debate we grow closer. I’ve hardly ever debated

with you.

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 hes a liar. Every single person I spoke with said this. I went

to Sneh and asked him, ‘whats this all about? Everyone says youre a liar?’

He said, ‘Ill tell you why. The Hagana is . . . divided. Theres 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 [Snehs] 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. Ill 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, Ive 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 Sharetts wishes. He complained

later that he didnt 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 dont wish to win your heart

through deceit.

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

Arab-Israeli conflict].

. . .

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: Well 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 Toubis 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, 19651991 (Tel-Aviv, 1993) 27–34 [Hebrew].

4. In his article on Israeli Arabs, Dan Schueftan writes that Tewfik Toubis

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,” Tchelet, 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, 19421969 (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 Toubis election

speech on the Voice of Israel; see General File, October 10 1959, BGA.

7. See Natan Alterman, “A Reprimand to Tewfik Toubi,” Hatur Hashveeee,

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, 19421969 (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 Beinleumiyim, 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)

105–122 [Hebrew].

10. The first elections to the Knesset were held on January 25 1949.

11. On the Israeli Arabsconcept of peace see: Sara Ussetzky-Lazar, Th e Israeli

ArabsConcept 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 Beinleumiyim, 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: Israels 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 Histadruts

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’, tradesmenor merchantsunions.

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

Arabsstatus see: Oren Yiftachel, Assad Ghanem, Nadim Ruchana, “Is ‘Ethnic

DemocracyPossible? Jews, Arabs, and the Israeli Regime,” Jamaa‘, 6, 2000, 58–78

[Hebrew]. On the process of the Israeli Arabsintegration 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,

Israels Battle for Peace and Independence: Political Report of the Central Committee,

Delivered at Makis 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 Israels 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 SnehA Biography

(Tel-Aviv, 2000) [Hebrew]. See also: Moshe Sneh (ed.), Later as at the

Beginning: Selected Speeches 19721976 (Tel-Aviv 1982). [Hebrew]. See also: Moshe

Sneh, Writings (Tel-Aviv, 1995) [Hebrew]. On various aspects of Moshe Snehs

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 Snehs 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 Israels Retaliation Policy in the 1950s (Haifa, 1994) [Hebrew]. Mordechai

Gur, “The Gaza Raid: Leadership, Friendship, Operational Discipline,”

Maarachot, 173 (February 1966) 3–6 [Hebrew]. Shraga Gafni, “Black Arrow in

Gaza,” Maarachot 254 (February 1977) 41–48 [Hebrew]. Benny Morris, Israels

Border Wars 19491956, 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, 19551956 (Tel-Aviv,

1992) 35 [Hebrew]. See also: Zaki Shalom, Policy in the Shadow of Debate: Israels

Daily Security Policy, 19491956 (Maarachot, 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, Measef Litoldot Hatnua 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,

1953) [Hebrew].

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)

5–17 [Hebrew].

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, 19491956 (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 Sharetts Rejection of Territorial

Demands from Israel, 1949–1956” Iyunim Bitkumat Yisrael, 2 (Sede-Boker,

1992) 197–213 [Hebrew].