It’s complicated

“It is simplistic and misleading to suggest that the Zionist Jews used the pretext of religion and ancient historical tradition to eject the legal occupants of Palestine from their homes by force and terror, and then illegally expropriated their land. It is equally simplistic to suggest that the sole Israeli answer to such accusations is that they made better use of the land than did the Arab former occupants. These interpretations ignore the facts that the original Zionists came legally to Palestine in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, that they legally bought the farmlands which they caused to bloom so spectacularly, and that until the late 1930’s their immigration into Palestine was a legal way for them to escape from the anti-Semitic environments of their former homes to a land where they were at first welcomed, and later at least tolerated, by governmental authorities as well as by a majority of their new neighbors. These arguments conveniently forget also that the war [for Israeli independence] was precipitated by Arabs who had as their avowed aim the extermination or expulsion of these peaceful Zionist settlers from their lawful property, and forget also that, during this war started by the Arabs, those who lost their property to Israelis fled the country voluntarily, while those that remained were allowed to keep the houses and land they owned and occupied before the war. Unfortunately, however, these answers to accusations of critics of Israel (and the Zionism on which it is founded) are also simplistic. Because, in fact, a majority of Israelis do believe that the possession of much of modern Israel by their ancestors thousands of years ago is a major and valid basis for them to reclaim their ancient homeland from the modern occupants, and that their appropriation of the property of the displaced Arabs is not only legitimized by right of conquest, but excused by the Nazi Holocaust, and further that their right to the land is affirmed by their ability to get more out of it. These answers also overlook the fact that the Arabs who fled their homes did so as civilians endeavoring to escape from the dangers and horrors of open warfare.” – Trevor N. Dupuy, Elusive Victory: The Arab-Israeli Wars, 1947-1974 (emphasis in original)

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