MUFTI: It may be that the difference was due to the fact that many lands were bought by contract which were not registered.
SIR L. HAMMOND: There is a lot of difference between 100,000 and 650,000.
MUFTI: In one case they sold about 400,000 dunams in one lot.
SIR L. HAMMOND: Who? An Arab?
MUFTI: Sarsuk. An Arab of Beyrouth.
SIR L. HAMMOND: His Eminence gave us a picture of the Arabs being evicted from their land and villages being wiped out. What I want to know is, did the Government of Palestine, the Administration, acquire the land and then hand it over to the Jews?
MUFTI: In most cases the lands were acquired.
SIR L. HAMMOND: I mean forcibly acquired-compulsory acquisition as land would be acquired for public purposes?
MUFTI: No, it wasn’t.
SIR L. HAMMOND: Not taken by compulsory acquisition?
SIR L. HAMMOND: But these lands amounting to some 700,000 dunams were actually sold?
MUFTI: Yes, they were sold, but the country was placed in such conditions as would facilitate such purchases.
SIR I HAMMOND: I don’t quite understand what you mean by that. They were sold. Who sold them?
MUFTI: Land owners.
SIR I HAMMOND: Arabs?
MUFTI: In most cases they were Arabs.
SIR L. HAMMOND: Was any compulsion put on them to sell? If so, by whom?
MUFTI: As in other countries, there are people who by force of circumstances, economic forces, sell their land.
SIR L. HAMMOND: Is that all he said?
MUFTI: A large part of these lands belong to absentee landlords who sold the land over the heads of their tenants, who were forcibly evicted. The majority of these landlords were absentees who sold their land over the heads of their tenants. Not Palestinians but Lebanese.
SIR L. HAMMOND: Is His Eminence in a position to give the Commission a list of the people, the Arabs who have sold lands, apart from those absentee landlords?
MUFTI: It is possible for me to supply such a list.
SIR L. HAMMOND: I ask him now this: does he think that as compared with the standard of life under the Turkish rule the position of the fellahin in the villages has improved or deteriorated?
MUFTI: Generally speaking I think their situation has got worse.
SIR L. HAMMOND: Is taxation heavier or lighter?
MUFTI: Taxation was much heavier then, but now there are additional burdens.
SIR L. HAMMOND: I am asking him if it is now, the present day, as we are sitting together here, is it a fact that the fellahin has a much lighter tax than he had under the Turkish rule? Or is he taxed more heavily?
MUFTI: The present taxation is lighter, but the Arabs nevertheless have now other taxation, for instance, customs.
LORD PEEL: And the condition of the fellahin as regards, for example, education. Are there more schools or fewer schools now?
MUFTI: They may have more schools, comparatively, but at the same time there has been an increase in their numbers.
The Hajj Amin el-Husseini, the intractable opponent of Zionism, a Jew-hater on par with Hitler, admitted under questioning that no Arab land was stolen; no Arabs were wiped out, no villages destroyed. Rather, the Jews bought hundreds of thousands of dunam (about ¼ of an acre) of land from willing sellers, often from absentee Arab landowners. Moreover, thanks in part to the Zionists and the British, the quality of life for Palestine’s Arab peasantry was vastly improved, with less taxation, more schools, and an increase in Arab population.
The next time someone spouts the Arab line about how Zionists came and stole Arab land and drove Arabs out, just quote the Mufti.
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