How Did We Get Here?
A History of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

3. The Palestinian Refugees of 1948

This is the third of a series of eight lectures, sponsored by A Jewish Voice for Peace. This lecture was videotaped on Nov. 4, 2002. The lecturers are Joel Beinin, a professor of middle east history at Stanford University, and George Bisharat, a professor at University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

About Joel Beinin

Professor of Middle East history at Stanford University. He is currently serving as the President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America, and is also involved with the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) and the Middle East Social and Cultural History Association.

His books include:

About George Bisharat

Professor at UC Hastings. His study of the impact of Israeli occupation on the Palestinian legal profession of the West Bank, Palestinian Lawyers and Israeli Rule: Law and Disorder in the West Bank, was published in 1989. In recent years, Professor Bisharat has consulted with the Palestinian Legislative Council over the structure of the Palestinian judiciary, reforms in criminal procedure, and other aspects of legal development.

His books include:


This is expanded from those events mentioned in the lecture, particularly including events from the British Mandate period (1920-48). The events of the 1947-49 war are representative but far from complete.


Historical Figures:

Suggested Readings

The following titles were recommended on the website:

The following are useful books that we are familiar with and recommend:



The map on the left below shows the UN Partition Plan of 1947, with the land actually owned by the Yishuv shaded darker. It should be noted that the UN Partition Plan actually called for the overwhelmingly Palestinian city of Jaffa to remain with Arab Palestine, and for Jerusalem and a surrounding area (including Bethlehem) to remain under international supervision and control.

The map on the right shows the same land ownership, but with the borders moved to reflect Israeli territorial gains in the 1947-48 war. The black dots represent Arab towns and villages which were depopulated during the war, and destroyed by Israel to prevent return.

UN Partition Plan 1947

Armistice Agreements 1949

This is a map showing the population breakdown between Jews and native Palestinians as of 1946.