by Judea Pearl*
Many Arab officials and Israeli “New Historians” describe early Zionist attitudes toward the Arab population of Palestine as dismissive or arrogant. Books and pamphlets from the time tell a different story.
Ben-Gurion: Our Arab Brethren
During World War I, Israel’s future first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, spent three years in New York, exiled from Palestine “for conspiring against Ottoman rule.” He devoted most of his time to organizing the He-Halutz youth movement with Yitzhak Ben Zvi, but he also published, a few months before issuance of the Balfour Declaration, an interesting treatise: “On the Origin of the Falahin,”  the Arab peasants in Palestine. In this work, Ben-Gurion, the scholar and historian, argued that the falahin are descendants of Jews who remained in Palestine after the Roman expulsion and who later converted to Islam: