The entire Arab-Israeli conflict is based on a narrative fabricated by the Arabs that they had lived in Palestine from “time immemorial” until, in the 20th century, Jews from Europe invaded Palestine and drove them out, creating the Palestinian Refugee Problem.
Joan Peters Caro, z”l, a beloved friend whose remarkable life ended unexpectedly a few weeks ago, had set out to write a book about “the plight of the unfortunate Palestinian Refugees.” However, in the course of her research she discovered the true facts, and her book evolved into a refutation of that theme. She came across a remark Winston Chuchill made in 1939, challenging the common notion that Jewish immigration into Palestine had uprooted its Arab residents. To the contrary, according to him, “So far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied till their population has increased more than even all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population.”
In her book, From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine, Ms. Peters cites historical documents showing that Arab settlers had flocked to Palestine beginning in the late 1800s, drawn there by economic opportunities in areas that were being developed by Jewish settlers. The data unearthed by Peters indicates that Arabs so benefited economically by the presence of Jewish settlers from Europe that they traveled hundreds of miles from their natural habitat in the southern region of the Arabian Peninsula. The widely accepted narrative of displaced Palestinian refugees had been fabricated to justify the planned destruction of Israel.
The book gained widespread attention and was awarded a National Jewish Book Award from the Jewish Book Council in 1985. It received positive reviews from Commentary, The New Republic and The Atlantic; the book’s jacket included praise from Elie Wiesel, Saul Bellow, Theodore H. White and others. Barbara W. Tuchman wrote: “This book is a historical event in itself, a discovery that has lain in the dark all along until its revelation by Joan Peters’ unrelenting research. It could well change the course of events in the Middle East.”
This brilliant woman was born Joan Sydney Friedman on April 29, 1936, in Chicago. She attended Roosevelt High School and the University of Illinois. Even before graduating, she became a freelance writer for publications like Harper’s Magazine and The New Leader. Her fascination with the Middle East began while covering the Yom Kippur War as a freelancer for CBS News in 1973.
Joan Friedman married Gary Peters and became a mother to daughter Lore. Her second marriage, to Stanley Kaplan, lasted until his death in 1991. Six years later, Joan married Dr. William A. Caro. The Caros lived in Chicago where Joan was greatly admired for the enormous contribution she made to Jewish history by revealing the true facts about the Hashemite Arabs’ false claim on Palestine.
Joan Peters Caro, may you have eternal rewards for your deeds.