Yosef Weitz

Yosef Weitz

Yosef Weitz (1890 – 1972) was the director of the Land and Afforestation Department of the Jewish National Fund. From the 1930s, Weitz played a major role in acquiring land for the Yishuv, the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine.

Biography

Weitz was born in Burmel, Volhynia in 1890. In 1908, he immigrated to Palestine with his sister, Miriam, and found employment as a watchman and an agricultural laborer in Rehovot. In 1911, he was one of the organizers of the Union of Agricultural Laborers in Eretz Yisrael. [ Encyclopedia Judaica, "Weitz, Joseph," vol. 16, p. 421, Keter, 1972] . Weitz married Ruhama and their eldest son, Ra'anan, was born in 1913. Two years later, in 1915, he was appointed foreman of the Sejera training farm (now Ilaniya) in the Lower Galilee. Weitz helped to found Yavniel, one of the first pioneer colonies in the Galilee, and later, the Beit Hakerem neighborhood in Jerusalem. Another son, Yehiam (Hebrew for "Long Live the Nation") was born in October 1918. Yehiam joined the Haganah and was killed in a Palmach operation on June 16, 1946. Kibbutz Yehiam was established in his memory. [Tom Segev, "1967, Israel, the War, and the Year that Transformed the Middle East", [http://www.holtzbrinckpublishers.com/henryholt/Search/SearchBookDisplayExerpt.asp?BookKey=1536323] ]

Ideology

Weitz was one of the chief advocates of "transfer" of Palestinians from Jewish to Arab areas. He believed that ethnic cleansing - moving the Arabs to Arab territory to create contiguous Jewish settlement - was the only solution for the establishment of a Jewish state in a land already populated by non-Jews. On June 22, 1941 he wrote in his diary: "The land of Israel is not small at all, if only the Arabs will be removed, and if its frontiers would be enlarged a little; to the north all the way to Litani, and to the east including the Golan Heights. ... while the Arabs be transferred to northern Syria and Iraq. ... From now on we must work out a secret plan based on the removal of the Arabs from here ... to include it into American political circles. ... today we have no other alternative... We will not live here with Arabs." [Masalha, 1992, p. 134-135]

As an advisor to David Ben-Gurion, Weitz proposed the transfer of Arabs during the 1948 war [Pappe, 2006, p. 61-64] . In April 1948, he wrote in his diary: "I have drawn up a list of Arab villages which in my opinion must be cleared out in order to complete Jewish regions. I have also drawn up a list of land disputes that must be settled by military means." [Weitz Diary, 18 April 1948, p. 2358, Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem]

Transfer Committees

Weitz spoke of establishing a Transfer Committee. According to Karsh ["Benny Morris and the Reign of Error" http://www.meforum.org/article/466] Ben-Gurion rejected the idea, and no such committee was ever established, but according to Nur Masalha [Masalha, 1992, "Expulsion of the Palestinians", p. 188] and Morris [B. Morris, "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited", 2004, p.312] an unofficial Transfer Committee composed of Weitz, Danin and Sasson was established in May 1948.

Forestry

In 1966, Yatir Forest was planted at Weitz's urging. He described the project as "rolling back the desert with trees, creating a security zone for the people of Israel." [http://bustan.org/TIMELINE%20-%20%20WEB.pdf] Named for the biblical town of Yatir, it is now Israel's largest forest. [ [http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1189411437799&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter KKL-JNF combats desertification and global warming | Jerusalem Post ] ]

Published works

* "My Diary and Letters to the Children", vols 1-6, Masada, Ramat Gan, 1965, 1973 (the original diaries are in the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem).
* " HaYa'ar V'haYiur B'Yisrael" (The Forest and Forestry in Israel), Masada, Ramat Gan, 1970 p. 140-141.
* Journal entry from June 26, 1946 published in "Tlamim Ahronim", Jerusalem, Keren Kayemet, 1974, p. 24-25.
* "From Small to Large - The History of Land Reclamation in Eretz-Israel," Ramat Gan, 1972
* "Creating a Land Legacy - Chapters from a Diary," Tel Aviv, 1951
*"Our Settlement Activities in a Period of Storm and Stress, 1936-1947," Tel Aviv, 1947

References

Bibliography

* Nur Masalha (1992). "Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of "Transfer" in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948", Institute for Palestine Studies, ISBN 0-88728-235-0
*Benny Morris: 1948 and after; Israel and the Palestinians, 1994, chapter 4: Yosef Weitz and the Transfer Committees, 1948-1949.
* Alon Tal, Pollution in a Promised Land, An Environmental History of Israel, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2002.
* Tom Segev, 1949, The First Israelis, New York, The Free Press, 1986, p. 29-30.


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