Please forward this error screen to cp6. The goal of the present is to examine the claims in the light of the best available statistical data, without supporting the contentions of either side, and without any intention either to denigrate from the tragedy of Palestinian refugees or to use the data to question Jewish claims to Palestine. The moral claims of the sides should not depend on percentages of population. Uncertainties population essays the data – Debates about the population of Palestine flourish because of the lack of good information and confusion over the meaning of census figures, and the will of partisans to distort history.
Census figures of the Ottoman Empire were unreliable. Economics and Immigration – Under the British Mandate, which began after WWI, Jewish population increased due to immigration, especially in the 1930s. Arab population also increased at an exceptional rate. According to records, about 18,000 non-Jews entered Palestine between 1930 and 1939 when there were more or less reliable figures. In the same period, about 5,000 non-Jews left. Joan Peters, in her book “From Time Immemorial,” argues that most of the increase in Arab population was in fact due to illegal Arab immigration.
Her figures are not accepted by most demographers and historians, including Zionists. Norman Finkelstein and others have criticized her thesis and shown evidence of poor scholarship. Refugees – The UN figure for Palestinian Arab refugees that is most often quoted by pro-Arab sources is 726,000. This number was later revised downward to 711,000 by the UN, but almost nobody pays attention to the change. On the other hand, pro-Zionist sources like to quote a much lower figure that was contained in an interim report by Ralph Bunche. About this page – This page is the result of an ongoing analysis.
It is not intended to be an exhaustive demographic study. Corrections and additions are most welcome. Many of the figures presented on this page must be incorrect, because they conflict with other reports. Th purpose of showing these data is to examine the discrepancies. It is an abuse of the intent of this essay, and it is intellectually dishonest, to post one table or set of figures from this page in isolation, and to use those numbers to “prove” a political point about Jewish or Arab rights in Palestine. The nature of the data do not permit precise conclusions about the Arab population of Palestine in Ottoman and British times, and the relative contributions of natural increase and immigration, imprecision in the counts and other issues. Palestine was not an empty land when Zionist immigration began.