Joan Peters, wrote a book suggesting population of Palestine was under 100,000 people (From Time Immemoriall)- Alan Dershowitz pushed this number in his books. However this has been exposed as a fraud- along with the story that Arab leader broadcast pleas for Palestinians to abandon their homes. Palestine wasn't empty, in fact had a population of AT LEAST half a million. Considering that much of that is desert (Negev) that would give early 20th century Palestine's population density at higher than some modern countries. Trouble is people believed her. People felt better about themselves when they believed they supported Israel a country built by Jews and who just evicted a bunch of illegal immigrants recently trucked in from Syria and Tran-Jordan, rather than a bunch of European immigrants coming in and ethnically cleansing people who had lived in Palestine for thousands of years. The backlash is today many still think of Palestinians as Arab immigrants, which of course, is blatantly false and easily disproved.
@afhaghani, it was Mark Twain- Innocents Abroad, and he was being satirical, he was against Zionism and imperialism. He quoted the population at about 800,000 BTW (pg 203)
@kinkade, the drainng of the swamps was VERY limited in a TINY area around Tiberias. Your estimation of population is not backed up even by the Jewish Virtual Library! Which even in 1517 estimates the population at 300,000! Considering the area and lack of modern agriculture and medicine, that's still a fairly large population density, considering Britains population (incl Ireland Scotland and Wales was app 21/2 mil) with an area of 315, 134 km2 or 7.9 people/km2. Israel has an area of 20,770 km2(INCLUDING the Negev desert) for a population density of 14.4 people/km2 ALMOST TWICE THAT OF ALL BRITAIN in the sixteenth century. SURELY you are not suggesting that Britain was underpopulated with a few nomads wandering around pockets of Irish, Welsh, English and Scottish during the Elizabethan Era? Oh and the Arab Palestinians taught the mostly urban first Jewish settlers how to farm the land, (which was an exporter of olives, dates and oranges for centuries) and MUCH different than the cold European climate they were accustomed to.
@simple simon you forgot to mention that ALL Roman provinces suffered severe population losses, something to do with a couple of instance of a little thing called the bubonic plaque that decimated first Rome, then Byzantium under Justinian (HUGE loss of life) and again in 14th century 1/3 of Europe and the ME died. Major metropolitan areas in Italy, Spain and France as well as cities like Alexandria, did not reach previous Roman populations until modern times. But this must be hard for you, you see if you insist that the population was low, then you are admitting that there was no major influx of Arabs to the area, backed up by historical and archaeological evidence. Even after the Jews were expelled, the population was fairly high (by some accounts 1 million in early Byzantine times, as I said before, most Jews stayed and just converted) So what happened? As I mentioned a plaque hit Byzantium hard, there is evidence that it was worse then the 14th century plaque. Half the population of Byzantium was killed, entire villages were abandoned- between the years 541-700 CE. Some poorer areas experienced even higher mortality rates.