Jewish Soldiers and Civilians Looted Arab Neighbors' Property en Masse in '48. The Authorities Turned a Blind Eye

Refrigerators and caviar, champagne and carpets – a first-ever comprehensive study by historian Adam Raz reveals the extent to which Jews looted Arab property during the War of Independence, and explains why Ben-Gurion stated: ‘Most of the Jews are thieves’

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Haganah soldiers with property looted from Arabs after the takeover of Haifa, April 1948.
Haganah soldiers with property looted from Arabs after the takeover of Haifa, April 1948.Credit: Fred Chesnik / IDF and Defense Establishment Archive
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

“We turned a mahogany closet into a chicken coop and we swept up the garbage with a silver tray. There was chinaware with gold embellishments, and we would spread a sheet on the table and place chinaware and gold on it, and when the food was finished, everything was taken together to the basement. In another place, we found a storeroom with 10,000 boxes of caviar, that’s what they counted. After that, the guys couldn’t touch caviar again their whole life. There was a feeling on one hand of shame at the behavior, and on the other hand a feeling of lawlessness. We spent 12 days there, when Jerusalem was groaning under horrible shortages, and we were putting on weight. We ate chicken and delicacies you wouldn’t believe. In [the headquarters at] Notre Dame, some people shaved with champagne.”

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