As you will have read in the Bidstrup piece, the Israelis were given a plot of land after the second world war. The term “given” is probably inaccurate as the “givers” were not in fact the owners of the land. What really happened was that the Allies were pretty shocked by the ethnic cleansing that the Nazis had attempted so they said they’d turn a blind eye while the Israelis went and took it.
My Collins Clear School Atlas showed the area coloured yellow so it was clear to me that it was desert and there weren’t a lot of people around. Here is a map of the land that Israel was given permission to settle.
You might wish to compare it with this one:
Please take note of the small map on the left.
There are some nice pictures on the Israeli Tourism site. I think my clear school atlas was deficient.
Not all Israelis made a beeline back to Israel. Otto Preminger opted for the U.S. and became a movie producer. He made a movie called Exodus which I saw when I was about twelve. It made a huge impression on me although I didn’t understand the bits about the Irgun and Hagganah. I don’t think the Stern gang featured. I didn’t know that another Exodus was taking place while I watched Paul Newman defending the holocaust survivors against the Arabs.
Nearly a million Palestinians fled.
This is from Le Monde Diplomatiqe, Dec 1997:
“In the opening pages of "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem", Benny Morris offers the outlines of an overall answer: using a map that shows the 369 Arab towns and villages in Israel (within its 1949 borders), he lists, area by area, the reasons for the departure of the local population (9). In 45 cases he admits that he does not know. The inhabitants of the other 228 localities left under attack by Jewish troops, and in 41 cases they were expelled by military force. In 90 other localities, the Palestinians were in a state of panic following the fall of a neighbouring town or village, or for fear of an enemy attack, or because of rumours circulated by the Jewish army - particularly after the 9 April 1948 massacre of 250 inhabitants of Deir Yassin, where the news of the killings swept the country like wildfire.”
There are more accounts of the Palestine exodus here:
Here is a piece written by Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, founder and president of the London-based Palestine Land Society who was eight years old when his own family fled their home in Beir al-Sabe' (Beersheba) in 1948:
Ahh. They don’t make movies like they used to.