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Memoirs of a Zionist Realtor who sold lands to Jewish Funds: Youssef Nehmani

The original Hebrew title is “Youssef Nehmani: The Man of Galilee“.  The diary chapter spans the period 1935-1949, and the letters cover the period from 1912 to 1964.

Youssef Nehmani was born in Russia in 1891 and immigrated to Palestine in 1907. He worked in the vignard in Jerusalem, in the colony of Zakhroun Yaacov, and got engaged in the party of Bou Aali Tessyoun (Zion workers).

Many Palestinians, particularly large landlord Lebanese who owned vast properties in north Palestine, sold their lands to Zionists and Jewish organization, decades before the UN decided to partition Palestine. The total private land that the Zionist Funds managed to acquire was 5.7% of Palestine, and yet the UN gave the minority Jews 53% of Palestine in 1947!

What follows is an account that the Palestinian peasants hardly sold their properties: It is the foreign landowners such as the feudal families in Lebanon and Syria who sold the most fertile lands to the Zionist Funds.

A few sources are available, but no serious extensive research studies have been conducted, strong with documents, on the mechanism of selling lands to Jewish settlers…

There are the books published in English such as of Saleh Massoud Abu Basir “The struggle (Jihad) of Palestinian people, 1968”; Hind Amine Badiri “Palestinian Lands, 1998”; Yaacoub Khoury “Arab properties and the tied up money in Palestine”; Sami Hannawi…Zionist sources in Arabic are almost inexistent, save Jacques Cato “The problem of land in the Palestinian/Israeli cause (1917-1990)”; Tamar Goujansky “Development of capitalism in Palestine, 1987”

Sources mention that Zionist Organizations bought till 1948 over two million donom, and barely 70 thousand donom from private Palestinian peasants.

In the early 1920, the Jewish settlers used cavalry to protect their colonies (Hayrden in Galilee)from the bedouin of Houran who descended on the colonies such as Dagania in Tiberias, and these bedouin were called “Arab”, instead of “E3rab”. The Palestinian peasants refrained from attacking the Jewish colonies in north Palestine until much later, as the British mandated power started waves of harassment against the Palestinian people.

The author wrote that the Jewish Yishouf started transforming their German rifles to be compatible with Turkish ammunition, and that “the daily life among the Jews was poisoned because they could not withstand one another, and work was totally disorganized in the colonies”.

In 1911, Youssef joined the  Hashomer organization (the Guardian) till 1920 and relied the Hebrew cavalry in Galillee. He was successful in Real Estates and sold many properties to Israel National Fund (Hakirn Hakimet Israel).

Youssef Nehmani was appointed manager of the Israel National Fund for East Galili region (Hula, north of Bissan, up to the environ of Safad). Nehmani could not grasp the reason why Ben Gurion was not hot in buying more lands. Actually, Ben Gurion had decided to conquer these lands by force, and free of charge, after the Bell Paper suggested the partition of Palestine in 1937.

Nehmani had tight connections with Palestinian authority figures such as Khalil Francis, Bishop Akil (right hand of Lebanese Patriarch), Elias Nammour from Beirut, Abed Hussein Bezi (from Bent Jbeil, south Lebanon), abed Ghani Mardini and Na3im Choukeir (from Meiss Jabal, south Lebanon), Nassib Ghabriel (from Hasbaya, south-east Lebanon), Ali Abdallah, Khalil Farhat, and 3adel Badir…who sold their properties to him…

In late April 1997, the Nazareth daily “Fasl Makal” listed the Palestinian landlords who sold their properties to Jews between 1918 to 1945, and based on British archives. You have Muhammad Taher Husseini (father of Amine Husseini), Moussa Kazem Husseini, Moussa Alami, Ragheb Nashashibi, Ibrahim Fahou, Youssef Fahoum, Toufic Fahoum, Yacoob Ghoussein, family of Rock, Awni Abd Hadi (leader of the Independence Party and who sold the lands in Wadi Hawareth (3amik Hawfar), Judge Kanaan…and all these people were the leading Palestinian politicians before the Nakba of 1948.

Nehmani relates how he bought Hrawi Mountain and the lands in the town of 3adaissi (south Lebanon), Jahoula, and Buwaysieh in 1938, and the lands in Meiss Jabal, Muteleh, Manara, malikeyeh and Awlam in 1945…

He bought Kherbet Sobh from Elias Katit where the two colonies of Hanita and Yaalon were settled. The Emir of the “Arab” Faghour (bedouin) sold the lands of the village Khassass in 1939, where the terrorist Zionist Hagana committed genocide in 1947.

Nehmani bought lands from the family of Farhat in 1944, Ahmad Al Assaad, Mahmoud Al Assaad, and Salib Sobh (from Safad), Kamel Hussein, Ahmad Mardini, and Zaki Rokabi in the village of Kyam al Walid. Kamel Hussein, leader of the tribe Ghawarina sold properties in Hula.

The Lebanese feudal lord, Khaled Chehab, had very strong ties with the Zionist movement and sold his properties in the village of Ghabissieh.

The Lebanese landlords of Sursok, Salam, Tayan, Tuweini, Khoury, Biham, Kabbani, Omran, Sabbagh, Keir Dine Ahdab,…sold the Zionist Funds the most fertile lands.

The same goes to famous Syrian families who owned vast fertile lands in Palestine…These feudal landlords sold prior to election campaigns and they ruled Lebanon and Syria for many decades, and still bear heavy influence in the social/political structure.

The Palestinian peasants barely sold his properties, and the few ones who did were executed during the first Palestinian Intifada of 1935-38.  The foreign lanlords were living away from Palestine and they could not be reached for exactions.

The total private land that the Zionist Funds managed to acquire was 5.7% of Palestine, and yet the UN gave the Zionist State 53% of Palestine in 1947!

Note 1: Review was published by Sakr abu Fakhr in the Lebanese Daily Al Safir.  The book was assembled and published by Youssef Faytz in Hebrew in 1969, and translated in Arabic byElias Shoufani in 2010.

Note 2: Below is the Arabic list of the Lebanese and Syrian landlords who sold their vast properties to the Zionist Funds, along with the size of the lands and when, as published by the daily Al Safir:

«» (  لقد حصلوا عليها، عدا البائعين الفلسطينيين، من بعض أفراد العائلات التالية
1- آل سرسق اللبنانيون (ميشال ويوسف ونجيب وجورج) وهؤلاء باعوا أراضي الفولة ونورس وجنجار ومعلول في سنة 1910، ثم باعوا مرج ابن عامر بين سنة 1921 وسنة 1925، وبلغ مجموع ما باعه أفراد هذه العائلة 400 ألف دونم.
2- آل سلام اللبنانيون الذي حصلوا في سنة 1914 على امتياز تجفيف مستنقعات الحولة من الدولة العثمانية، واستثمار الأراضي المستصلحة، لكنهم تنازلوا عنها للوكالة اليهودية. وبلغت المساحة المبيعة 165 ألف دونم.
3- آل تيان اللبنانيون (أنطون وميشال) الذين باعوا وادي الحوارث في سنة 1929 ومساحته 308 آلاف دونم.
4- آل تويني اللبنانيون الذين باعوا أملاكاً في مرج ابن عامر وقرى بين عكا وحيفا مثل نهاريا وحيدر وانشراح والدار البيضاء. وقام بالبيع ألفرد تويني.
5- آل الخوري اللبنانيون الذين باعوا أراضي قرية الخريبة على جبل الكرمل والبالغة مساحتها 3850 دونماً. وقام بالبيع يوسف الخوري.
6- آل القباني اللبنانيون الذين باعوا وادي القباني القريب من طولكرم في سنة 1929، وبلغت مساحته 4 آلاف دونم.
7- مدام عمران من لبنان التي باعت أرضاً في غور بيسان في سنة 1931 مساحتها 3500 دونم.
8- آل الصباغ اللبنانيون الذين باعوا أراضيَ في السهل الساحلي.
9- محمد بيهم (من بيروت) الذي باع أرضاً في الحولة.
10- أسوأ من ذلك هو أن خير الدين الأحدب (رئيس وزراء) وصفي الدين قدورة وجوزف خديج وميشال سارجي ومراد دانا (يهودي) والياس الحاج أسسوا في بيروت، وبالتحديد في 19/8/1935 شركة لشراء الأراضي في جنوب لبنان وفلسطين وبيعها. وقد فضحت جريدة «ألفباء» الدمشقية هذه الشركة في عددها الصادر في 7/8/1937.
11- آل اليوسف السوريون الذين باعوا أراضيهم في البطيحة والزويّة والجولان من يهوشواع حانكين ممثل شركة تطوير أراضي فلسطين.
12- آل المارديني السوريون الذين باعوا أملاكهم في صفد.
13- آل القوتلي والجزائرلي والشمعة والعمري السوريون وكانت لهم ملكيات متفرقة باعوها كلها.
هؤلاء هم مَن وضع مساحات كبيرة من الأراضي بين أيدي الصهيونيين، علاوة على الأراضي التي كانت بين أيديهم أو التي منحتها لهم سلطات الانتداب الإنكليزي مثل امتياز شركة بوتاس البحر الميت (75 ألف دونم)، وامتياز شركة كهرباء فلسطين أو مشروع روتنبرغ (18 ألف دونم)، وقبل ذلك ما نالوه من الدولة العثمانية (650 ألف دونم)… وهكذا. أما الفلاحون الفلسطينيون، ولا أقول المالكين الفلسطينيين الأثرياء الذين باعوا وقبضوا مثل غيرهم من المالكين العرب الغائبين، فقد جرى التحايل عليهم بطرق شتى، فسلبوهم القليل مما كان بين أيديهم من الأرض، وهو يتراوح بين 68 ألف دونم و150 ألف دونم.
في معمان ثورة 1936 جرى الاقتصاص من بعض بائعي الأرض ومن السماسرة العرب، فاغتيل عدد منهم، وامتنع الباقون عن الاستمرار في هذا العار. لكن الاقتصاص من المُلاّك الغائبين كان من المحال، فلم يقتص منهم أحد، بل باعوا أراضيَ ليست لهم في الأصل، بل آلت إليهم من خلال حق الانتفاع لا من ملكية الرقبة في العهد العثماني. ولعل فضح انحطاط أصحاب تلك الأسماء، وكشف اللثام عما فعلوه في فلسطين، هما نوع من القصاص الرمزي، وهو الأمر الوحيد الممكن في هذا الميدان.
كاتب وصحافي فلسطيني
[ جمع الكتاب وحرره يوسيف فايتس ونشره بالعبرية في سنة 1969. ثم أعده للترجمة العربية وقدّم له الياس شوفاني، وأصدرته دار الحصاد في دمشق سنة 2010.

Black and White (April 11, 2009)

 

            Human nature has been indoctrinated through religious ideologies that permeate daily living to view contentious events in black and white; you are either totally with us or you are an enemy and spy to our foes.  This is true regardless of cultural differences, western or oriental, rich or poor.  The only difference is that you have got States that managed to institute private or semi-private social and political facilities to function almost independently of the power to be; even within the political structures and constitutions there are alternatives for check and balance among the executive, legislative, legal, and the press.  These modern States enjoy possibilities for change, critical thinking, rules and regulation to evaluate, recomand, and change policies and programs.  Thus, regardless of human tendencies institutions come in place to rectify and reform any one sided views and policies.

            In the Middle East, people cannot hope for better rational future; not because of religions but because we failed to erect autonomous institutions backed by appropriate funding and constitutional laws that preserve the continuity and development of institutions that could be taken seriously.  When we say that everything is politized we don’t mean it in a positive understanding of reality but as an extremely bad negative connotation of very restricted and short term policies of individual or sectarian interests.  Even medium-term policies do not fly off and are killed before taking off and we have ready made excuses that foreign meddling in our affairs were the main causes for any failure.  We always want to fool the citizens that our shortcoming is not an inherent failure of institutions but because of outsider causes that hate us to develop and progress.  The truth is every political party or coalition that comes to power target institutions that were established by the previous political power because black and white atitudes have be transferred to institutions as well.

            For example, International Zionism had plans for a State; within Palestine, Zionism had a balck and white attitudes to any British policies and reacted violently accordingly through terrorist attacks; but its foreign policy could sustain many shades of gray requiring taking into account joint interests.  Ironicaly, after Israel secured its State internal policies accept wide arrays of gray but its foreign policies are completely balck and white; either a government is pro Israel or against and in such case hell fires are launched by the Zionists lobbies and anti-semitic labels are thrown right and left.

            It is redundant to confirm that the Bush Junior Administration was a cult and that its policies were in black and white; either you are with the Bush Administration or you are a debil and archaic State.

            On the Palestinian side is almost the reverse. Sure, before the recognition of Israel in 1948 the majority of Palestinians could not see but black and white, except Ragheb Nashashibi who wanted to negotiate with the British on step by step resolutions for future stronger positions. As the State of Israel got established the internal policies within the Palestinian factions remained black and white but their foreign policies was too gray and lenient with no substantive power to back any comprehensive policy.  The policies of the Arab States were no different than the Palestinian attitude and the failures are succeeding at great speed. There are no sustainable institutions that proceed regarless of political changes.  There is no sense of institutional continuity with autonomous status. It is fundamentally always sort of a one-man show of dictators, oligarchs, monarchs, and one party rule.

            For example, the Communist parties in the Middle East had black and white directions; what Stalin wanted was good and what Satlin refused was wrong regardless of the effects of the Soviet policies to our region.  Even today, communists could not change their language to ease off the apprehension of people in a highly religious region. It is as if “scientific materialism” is necessarily an atheistic ideology because it is in struggle with sacerdotal ideologies.


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