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Middle East Issues

Zionist Misquote: Moshe Dayan on Dispossessing Arabs in the Land of Israel

The following is an example of statements misquoted, taken out of context or otherwise manipulated to present a distorted view of Zionist intentions and actions. The misquotes are found in op-eds in campus newpapers and mainstream press as well as on anti-Israel websites.


Example 1 (as quoted in Riverdale Press, January 4, 2001):

We came to this country, which was already populated by Arabs, and we are establishing a Jewish state. Jewish villages were built in the place of the Arab villages. You don't even know the names of the Arab villages, because those geography books no longer exist. Not only the books do not exist, the Arab villages are not there either -- there is not one place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population. ( Moshe Dayan, as quoted in Ha'aretz 1978)

Example 2 (as quoted by Ralph Schoenman)

We came here to a country that was populated by Arabs, and we are building here a Hebrew, Jewish state. Instead of Arab villages, Jewish villages were established. You do not even know the names of these villages and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only the books, but also the villages do not exist. Nahalal was established in place of Mahalul, Gevat in place of Jibta, Sarid in the place of Hanifas and Kafr Yehoushua in the place of Tel Shamam. There is not a single settlement that was not established in the place of a former Arab village. (The Hidden History of Zionism, Veritas Press 1988,  p. 41. Also available online here.)  


The quote is taken from an address Dayan gave to Technion University students on March 19, 1969. A transcript of the speech appeared in Ha'aretz on April 4, 1969.

In answer to a student's question suggesting that Israel adopt a policy of punishing Arabs who commit crimes in the West Bank by deportation to Jordan, Dayan answers that he is vehemently opposed to this idea, insisting that the answer to the longstanding Arab-Israeli problem is to learn to live together with Arab neighbors. He goes on to say:

We came to a region of land that was inhabited by Arabs, and we set up a Jewish state. In a considerable number of places, we purchased the land from Arabs and set up Jewish villages where there had once been Arab villages. You don't even know the names [of the previous Arab villages] and I don't blame you, because those geography books aren't around anymore. Not only the books, the villages aren't around. Nahalal was established in the place of Mahalul, and Gvat was established in the place of Jibta, Sarid in the place of Huneifis and Kfar Yehoshua in the place of Tel Shaman. There isn't any place that was established in an area where there had not at one time been an Arab settlement.

Dayan's conclusion was that the solution to the Arab-Israeli problem is to learn to coexist with them.

In the misquote, the key phrase "we purchased the land from Arabs" is omitted, and thus Dayan's meaning is reversed. Dayan was not saying that Arabs were dispossessed. On the contrary, he was indicating that though Arabs sold the land of their own free will, given their presence in the region, the Israeli goal is to live peacefully together with them.

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