A Founding Generation of Looters: New Research on Israeli Theft of Palestinian Property in 1948

Oct 20 2020



A Founding Generation of Looters: New Research on Israeli Theft of Palestinian Property in 1948

Recorded Tuesday, October 20th

11am – 12pm EDT


Adam Raz (Akevot: Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research)


Yousef Munayyer (Arab Center Washington DC)


Sarah Anne Minkin (FMEP)

In a newly-published book (discussed in recent blockbuster Haaretz article), Israeli historian Adam Raz shatters the “conspiracy of silence” that surrounds the widespread Jewish looting of Palestinian property that took place in 1948. Drawing from materials he found in more than 30 archives, Raz documents how in the period around the 1948 War, Jewish civilians – who after the war became the founding generation of the state of Israel – pillaged private Palestinian property throughout the land. Raz also documents how, as the looting took place in full public view, Jewish leaders – including David Ben Gurion – knew what was happening and, even as some expressed disapproval, did nothing to stop it. 

Raz’s research sheds light not only on this phenomenon of widespread theft by Israel’s founding generation, but also on the political impact this looting had on Israel’s relations with Palestinians and the fate of Palestinian refugees. As Raz observes, having robbed their neighbors, Israeli civilians became “accomplices to the political situation,” with a “vested interest” in preventing their former neighbors from ever returning. 

To discuss this research and what it means for both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the process of using archival materials and retelling history to achieve a more just future, we invite you to an FMEP webinar featuring: Adam Raz, researcher at Akevot: Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research and author of Looting of Arab Property in the War of Independence (Carmel Publishing House, in association with the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research; in Hebrew), and Yousef Munayyer, non-resident fellow at Arab Center Washington DC; in conversation with Sarah Anne Minkin, FMEP’s Director of Programs and Partnerships. 


Adam Raz is an Israeli historian whose field of research is political history of the twentieth century (especially the history of nuclear weapons, and Israel-Arab relations) and Marxist thought. His newest book, Looting of Arab Property in the War of Independence, was co-published by Akevot and Carmel Publishing House in September 2020 and addresses the looting of Palestinian properties in 1948. In 2015 he published his first book about Israel’s nuclear history, The Struggle for the Bomb, with an emphasis on the domestic debate inside Israel regarding Israel’s nuclear program. The book is part of trilogy and part two, The Strong Hand Regime, was published in 2019. Adam also wrote Herzl (2017) with Yigal Wagner on the history of the Zionist movement in the context of international relations. He also wrote Kafr Qassem Massacre: A Political Biography (2018) which is the first academic book on the subject. He has published peer review articles in academic journals and writes regularly in Ha’aretz

Yousef Munayyer, PhD, is a non-resident Fellow at Arab Center Washington DC (ACW). He writes on the Arab-Israeli conflict and is a member of the editorial committee of the Journal of Palestine Studies. Some of his published articles can be found in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Boston Globe, Foreign Policy, Journal of Palestine Studies, Middle East Policy, and others. Dr. Munayyer holds a PhD in International Relations and Comparative Politics from the University of Maryland.


Sarah Anne Minkin, PhD, is expert on the intersection between Israeli civil society and Palestinian civil rights and human rights advocacy as well as the ways that American Jews approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She leads FMEP’s programming, works to deepen FMEP’s relationships with existing and potential grantees, and builds relationships with new partners in the philanthropic community. She is an affiliated faculty member at University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Right-Wing Studies.