“Jewish Soldiers and Civilians Looted Arab Neighbors’ Property en Masse in ’48. The Authorities Turned a Blind Eye” Haaretz


"Refrigerators and caviar, champagne and carpets – a first-ever comprehensive study by historian Adam Raz reveals the extent to which Jews looted Arab property during the War of Independence, and explains why Ben-Gurion stated: ‘Most of the Jews are thieves’"

"We turned a mahogany closet into a chicken coop and we swept up the garbage with a silver tray. There was chinaware with gold embellishments, and we would spread a sheet on the table and place chinaware and gold on it, and when the food was finished, everything was taken together to the basement. In another place, we found a storeroom with 10,000 boxes of caviar, that’s what they counted. After that, the guys couldn’t touch caviar again their whole life. There was a feeling on one hand of shame at the behavior, and on the other hand a feeling of lawlessness. We spent 12 days there, when Jerusalem was groaning under horrible shortages, and we were putting on weight. We ate chicken and delicacies you wouldn’t believe. In the headquarters at Notre Dame, some people shaved with champagne.”"  Haaretz


Well, pilgrims, soldiers loot, or "liberate" or take "souvenirs."  American soldiers are particularly prone to this. 

I never looted anywhere.  It would have been a personal fault and contrary to my code of behavior.  It is true that where I fought, the enemy and civilian people had nothing worth taking.  We gave them the means of life rather than the opposite.

But, in WW2, in Europe, US soldiers helped themselves to German civilian goods.  The APO shipped it home for them as "souvenirs."  I have seen a lot of German heirloom silver in the homes of WW2 veterans.  

I am not surprised that Israeli soldiers of the Palmach, Hagganah, Irgun, Stern Gang, etc. looted.  I am a little surprised that Israeli Jewish civilians participated so enthusiastically and that churches and mosques were also looted.  

BTW, "Notre Dame" as mentioned in the last line quoted. is the Notre Dame hostel for pilgrims.  It operates as a hotel in normal times and of course has a kitchen and wine cellar.  It was on the front line right across the street from the wall of the Old City which was then defended by Glubb Pasha's beduin soldiers of the Arab Legion of Jordan.

A friend of mine who was present at the taking of Baghdad in 2003 laughed and said "we took a little and left a little."  A sad and shameful thing.  I thought I had taught him better.

New subject – I see that Israel is now swamped with COVID cases and hospitalizations.  Perhaps Trump can issue an order from his sickbed to send a navy hospital ship to Tel Aviv.  IMO a condition would have to be that the Israelis actually use the ship unlike what happened in New York City.  pl


This entry was posted in Israel, Palestine. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to “Jewish Soldiers and Civilians Looted Arab Neighbors’ Property en Masse in ’48. The Authorities Turned a Blind Eye” Haaretz

  1. Babak makkinejad says:

    That was analogous to what happened to the properties & belongings of Pontics when Ataturk expelled them to Greece from their ancestral home of 2500 years, to the Turk’s who were expelled to Turkey from Greece, to the American Loyalists who were expelled to Canada, to the Jews of Europe and the Arab world, to the Armenians and, I imagine, to numerous people all over the world throught Historical Progress.
    It goes to show you that Jews are just like everyone else, and not some sort of Special People; contrary to what so many Protestants in the WASP Culture Continent believe.

  2. turcopolier says:

    Yes, not different from other people.

  3. JohninMK says:

    I read an account by a Professor from Chicago who took a trip through Germany straight after the war ended. My strongest memory of his report was his description of the Zeiss factory in Stuttgart. Anything resembling a binocular was missing. But the factory floors were littered with considerably more valuable and expensive but bust microscopes and other scientific gear. Trampled underfoot in the rush to get, as you say, souvenirs.
    Whilst France and the UK did similar and were closer, the US had by far the most efficient and effective loot repatriation system. This applying to both personal stuff and the legal/technical/patents etc that specialist units went hunting for. The airbrushing or minimising these events as far as possible from history, so as to not upset the general German population, was one of the very good strategic reasons why so many of the ‘managers’ of the Third Reich continued in positions of power into the 50s and beyond.

  4. turcopolier says:

    none of your business what I quote.

  5. turcopolier says:

    Ah, I see. Sensitive about Israel. a hasbara. if you think you are going to intimidate me about Israel, you are a sad sack of …

  6. Serge says:

    Reminds me pf an article I read ealier this year:When the jews left Tunisia en masse in the 60s for France and Israel, many left their property behind in haste, often very valuable property that was seized and sold on the black market by other Tunisians after years of vacancy. Since 2011 some jews in Israel/France have reclaimed their deeded property, most choose to sell it back to the new owners of course.

  7. turcopolier says:

    At the Oran naval base the FLN brought the Algerian base workers, welders, etc. down to the pier as the last French Navy ship pulled away. They cut all their throats and threw the still thrashing bodies into the water alongside the ship.

  8. English Outsider says:

    Colonel – that stirred a dim memory of a novel I’d seen referred to somewhere long ago about the Nakba. Very dim – it took me a while to track it down. Ethel Mannin – the Road to Beersheba. Apparently written as an attempt to put the record straight after “Exodus” came out, the book describes the ethnic cleansing that accompanied the first Arab-Israeli war.
    Ethel Mannin was a popular novelist. Now long forgotten, or at least I’ve never seen her referred to elsewhere. Google comes up with some references –
    On the end of the second World War, the family had elderly relatives who had lived through that initial time of occupations, some in what was to become the Eastern Zone and some in the Western. Not all experienced the depredations you mention. We inherited some nineteenth century silver that had been buried when it was clear which way things were going. When it was recovered, some time later, it had been a sad return to the garden where it had been hidden in – the house had been bombed and had burned to the ground.
    The occupation in the East was I think the worst. Some had hidden themselves in a little space behind the chimney breast when the troops entered their town. Almost in passing, as they told of those times, they mentioned they had not slept the first night for the screaming.
    They were lucky. They got out soon afterwards and escaped to the British Zone. They went back to visit old friends soon after Die Wende. They found they had grown very far apart.
    Colonel – I wish all that were just history. But the Syrians and many others have experienced worse in our times, and some still living it. So it continues. Presumably such events as those will get their novels and remembered stories too.

  9. Serge says:

    Not surprising, knowing Algerians and the circumstances of the tail end of that war both. Your anecdote is evocative of Hemingway’s On The Quai At Smyrna:
    “The Greeks were nice chaps too. When they evacuated they had all their baggage animals they couldn’t take off with them, so they just broke their forelegs and dumped them in the shallow water”

  10. turcopolier says:

    I once lived a couple of blocks from there in Izmir.

  11. James says:

    Soldiers loot? Yes – but usually only what they can carry. In Iraq, UK forces were searched before they were recovered; anyone found with loot was punished.
    It’s difficult to think of many other theatres in which the civilian inhabitants had their homes looted from them (West Sahara and Northern Cyrpus, perhaps.)
    “I am not surprised that Israeli soldiers of the Palmach, Hagganah, Irgun, Stern Gang, etc.” The Irgun and the Stern Gang were not soldiers; they were terrorists.

Comments are closed.