Records of Dispossession

Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Michael R. Fischbach

Columbia University Press

Records of Dispossession

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Pub Date: November 2003

ISBN: 9780231129787

520 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£50.00

Pub Date: November 2003

ISBN: 9780231503402

520 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£50.00

Records of Dispossession

Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Michael R. Fischbach

Columbia University Press

No issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict has proven more intractable than the status of the Palestinian refugees. This work focuses on the controversial question of the property left behind by the refugees during the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948. Beyond discussing the extent of the refugees'losses and detailing the methods by which Israel expropriated this property, the book also notes the ways that the property question has affected, and in turn been affected by, the wider Arab-Israeli conflict over the decades. It shows how the property question influenced Arab-Israeli diplomacy and discusses the implications of the fact that the question remains unresolved despite numerous diplomatic efforts.

From late 1947 through 1948, more than 726,000 Palestinians—over half the entire population—were uprooted from their homes and villages. Though some middle class refugees were able to flee with liquid capital, the majority were small-scale farmers whose worldly fortunes were the land, livestock, and crops they left behind. This book tells for the first time the full story of how much property changed hands, what it was worth, and how it was used by the fledgling state of Israel. It then traces the subsequent decades of diplomatic activity on the issue and publishes previously secret UN estimates of the scope and value of the refugee property. Michael Fischbach offers a detailed study of Israeli counterclaims for Jewish property lost in the Arab world, diplomatic schemes for resolving the conflict, secret compensation efforts, and the renewed diplomatic efforts on behalf of property claims since the onset of Arab-Israeli peace talks.

Based largely on archival records, including those of the United Nations Conciliation Commission of Palestine, never before available to the public and kept under lock and key in the UN archives, Records of Dispossession is the first detailed historical examination of the Palestinian refugee property question.
[Fischbach] presents the most detailed and extensive discussion of the issues related to Palestinian refugee property available to the public to date... The volume is an important guide to primary data and is itself a source of previously unpublished information concerning Palestinian refugee property and the compensation issue. Don Peretz, Middle East Journal
The book will undoubtedly figure in discussions of the Palestinians' 'right of return.' Publishers Weekly
definitive work...this is an excellent book which contributes new data and insight into the land question in the early years of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict Sally Bland, The Jordan Times
This meticulously written book is the first of its kind to present a comprehensive description of the Palestinian refugee property issue. It is highly recommended... This book will no doubt form a basis for further research. Daphne Tsimhoni, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Digest of Middle East Studies
Fischbach's work is a thorough academic research based on ample Israeli, Arab, U.N., and other primary sources. Arnon Golan, Shofar
Fischbach, a professor of history at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, has stepped into this minefield with an important book. The Canadian Jewish News
This book is valuable and important in covering ground not investigated... and in offering readers access to materials largely unstudied. Ylana N. Miller, American Historical Review
An important piece of revisionist history. International Journal of Middle East Studies
Refugee Flight and Israeli Policies Toward Abandoned Property
UNCCP's Early Activity on the Refugee Property Question
Early Israeli Policies Affecting the Property Question
Early Arab and International Policies Toward the Property Question
UNCCP Technical Program
Follow Up to the Technical Program
Refugee Property Question After 1967
Conclusion
Appendix One: Comparison of Studies on the Scope and Value of Refugee Property
Appendix Two: Chronology of Events Relating to Refugee Property

About the Author

Michael R. Fischbach is professor of history at Randolph-Macon College. He specializes in land issues relating to Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians and is the author of State, Society, and Land in Jordan.