The image above is a depiction of Israeli expansionism that has been featured in several articles by University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a former Reagan administration official, included it in an article in Foreign Policy Journal, and it has also appeared in The Atlantic and the websites of numerous of organizations including Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel and the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations. Another article, at Salem-News.com considers it a picture “worth a thousand words.” It has been widely distributed and considered factually correct by public intellectuals and laymen alike.
Despite the Daily Dish’s contention that this sequence of maps “isn’t propaganda; it’s fact”, a map-by-map analysis found that these “four stages” were inconsistent with historical fact. In reality, the maps have been disingenuously labeled and deceptively arranged to paint an exaggerated picture of Israeli land expropriations.
More specifically, the first map, labeled “1946”, is actually a map of what the League of Nations in the 1920s predicted Palestine would be like in 1946. Since historical maps are generally more accurate when they portray past events rather than future events, I would recommend a UN map from 1950 that depicts the Jewish/Arab breakdown of land ownership in Palestine of 1945.
The UN map from 1945 shows a vastly different reality—it introduces a new category of land, “Public and Other.” While 47.06 percent of land in Palestine in 1945 belonged to Arabs and 5.15 percent belonged to Jews, the largest category of land was “Public and Other” at 47.8 percent. This is a rather large minor detail to leave out.
The second map seems irrelevant in this context. Why is the UN partition plan, which was accepted by the Zionist leadership but was never implemented because it was rejected by their Palestinian counterparts, part of this sequence? A plan that was never realized cannot be considered an historically accurate depiction of reality because it never historically was.
The third map erroneously attributes sovereignty to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It would be hard for any serious student of history to claim that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were sovereign Palestinian lands from 1949 to 1967. Seeing as Jordan annexed the West Bank in 1950 and held onto it until 1967, it’s clear that this land was not Palestinian. Likewise, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian military control for the large majority of that period.
The fourth map is an accurate representation of Israeli and Palestinian sovereignty so far as I can tell, but its context has been completely warped by the inaccurate depictions that precede it. It follows that the first three maps were intentionally arranged and distorted in a manner that would emphasize Israeli expropriation of Palestinian lands. With so many glaring inaccuracies, it is hard to believe that scholars, public intellectuals, and organizations would actually disseminate this image.