MSNBC Uses Long-Discredited Map Showing 70 Years of 'Palestine' Land Shrinkage

October 17th, 2015 12:29 PM

Based on a map presented during a recent MSNBC broadcast, I'm left wondring why there's all this hand-wringing over a "two state solution" in the Middle East.

After all, according to that MSNBC map and the host of the program involved, "Palestine" has been around for almost 70 years, existing since 1946 (HT Sooper Mexican at the Right Scoop):


Here's the related broadcast segment:

Transcript (beginning at the 0:47 mark; bolds are mine):

HOST: Another bit of history to remember. If you look at the map, we have a map that shows historically the areas that used to be Palestine in 1946, and then the UN Plan there, and then as it shrunk down to basically Gaza and the West Bank, right, and then at present. And so what does that show you Martin, that the area where Palestinians are living has been growing increasingly smaller?

GUEST: Well absolutely. But this is what it's all about. It's all about the land. And what this map shows you — plus it's pretty shocking when you present it in this way — what it clearly shows is that if there's no peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel, more of those green areas, more of that Palestinian land will be eaten up by Jewish settlements. Although right now there is a freeze on settlements by Israel, because there's so much international pressure, the Palestinians say "If we don't have peace soon, then we won't have a Palestine left."

HOST: And the Israelis say, "we have every right to be in all of those areas."

GUEST: Well, the Israelis say, "Look, you know, this is our land, too, and we're Jews, and we have the right to live anywhere, same as anyone else in the world. We should be able to live anywhere we like. And it's hard to argue about, except it's taking the land of a future Palestinian state. Which that's what the frustration and the violence is all about for the most part — the occupation of their land.

There are at least three problems in the transcript's narrative:

  • There's the "trifling little detail" of Israel's right to exist, which Hamas and other terrorists who essentially control the Palestinian Authority have never recognized, and never intend to recognize. In other words, there's no reason to believe that a "Palestinian state" would be anything besides a launching pad for endless future wars against Israel.
  • Israel's territorial gains in 1967 and 1973 resulted from wars launched against it.
  • As seen here, the maps fail to show the substantial expanse of land Israel has given up in attempts to swap land for "peace." The land is gone, and the "peace" hasn't arrived.

In 2010, the left-leaning Economist reacted to the map's appearance at the time and debunked it as follows:

This map is not the territories

... the map fails to distinguish between land that is owned by Jews or Palestinians, and land that is controlled by Jewish or Palestinian political entities.

Take the vast triangular tract of land at the south of the map. That's the Negev desert. Apart from a few small oases, kibbutzes and towns, it's empty wasteland; it isn't owned by anyone. It represents almost half of the territory of Israel/Palestine. In 1946, the map represents it as "Palestinian land". That's silly. In 1949, it has somehow become "Jewish land". That's almost as silly, though Jewish irrigation projects did gradually, over a period of decades, turn an increasing (if still-small) portion of the desert into arable agricultural land claimed by Jewish owners. But the impression the map gives is that in 1947-8, Jews seized that land from Palestinian owners, which is absurd. What happened was that a piece of empty desert which had been under the control of the British Mandate (who got it after the Ottoman Empire fell apart) was awarded to the Jewish state. This is a question of political control, not land ownership.

Here's an even more obvious case. See that rightward bulge at the map's top right? In 1946, it too is green, and by 1949, it too has turned white. That bulge is the Sea of Galilee. It seems fairly straightforward that representing this body of water as "Palestinian land" in 1946 and "Jewish land" in 1949 is rather absurd.

Even within settled areas, like the coastal plain, the Galilee and the West Bank, it's impossible to tell from this map whether "Jewish land" refers to land owned by Jews or land under Israeli/Jewish political control. What about land that continues to be owned by its Palestinian owners while politically becoming part of Israel? Such land is not represented on this map. And so forth. The map needs to distinguish four categories of land: land owned by Jews under Israeli political control; land owned by Jews but under Palestinian political control; land owned by Palestinians but under Israeli political control; and land owned by Palestinians under Palestinian political control. On the 1946 map, furthermore, there would need to be a different means of representation entirely, since there was, at the time, no Jewish or Palestinian political control. This map blurs the distinctions incomprehensibly, and it does so in a way that tendentiously maximises the impression that Jews have seized Palestinian-owned land.

No wonder MSNBC continues to have horrible ratings.

Finally, like everyone else in the press, MSNBC fails to recognize that, as Golda Meir said, "There is no such thing as a Palestinian people," because, as Joseph Farah has demonstrated several times, "there is no distinct Palestinian cultural or national identity."

Cross-posted at