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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

 

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Beautiful Lies

Entry for Israel in the 1965 World Book Enclyclopedia

Thousands of years of neglect turned much of Israel's soil into wasteland. Long before the State of Israel was established, Zionist pioneers began to reclaim this wasteland. They drained swamps, sank wells, and planted forests. Land once worthless became fertile again. The Israeli government continued this reclamation work. Israel's industy is the most advanced in western Asia. Seldom, if ever before, in history has a people worked with such energy to build a modern industrial nation on the ruins of the past.

And this is from the 1965 Worldbook's Palestine entry:

The long series of conquests and increasing neglect turned Palestine into almost a wasteland. Cities crumbled and swamps formed over rich soil. The population was mostly Arabs. There was also a small number of Jews. All of them were miserably poor. In 1882, the first group of Jews from Europe came to settle in Palestine. Tht was the start of the Zionist pioneering movement that led to the creation of the State of Israel.

And a caption for a picture:

Ancient Deserts "Bloom" with Ripened Grain, as the energetic Israelis irrigate and farm the dry southern part of their country.

However, Ahad Ha'Am, who visited Palestine in 1891 made the following observation:

"Throughout the country it is difficult to find fields that are not sowed. Only sand dunes and stony mountains .... are not cultivated."

What was that about Palestinian textbooks?

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