“Fly KLM to Palestine” (1931 Ad)

“Palestine never existed.” Or so I’ve been told many times. A Google search of this phrase currently turns up 430,000 results. While it’s true that Palestine wasn’t a nation, it certainly was a region, a territory with its own flag, with hundreds of thousands of people living there who were called Palestinians (in the same way that people who live in America are called Americans).

Fly KLM to Palestine

Source: Duke University Libraries (1931 New York newspaper ad)

Can you imagine flying to a place that didn’t exist? Neither did the people who boarded those flights. 

Notice that these flights were bound for Lydda, Palestine. Tragically, Lydda was ethnically cleansed 17 years after this ad was featured in a New York newspaper. According to a Wikipedia entry (with 118 documented sources, “1948 Palestinian Exodus from Lydda and Ramle,” 50,000 – 70,000 Palestinian Arabs were expelled from the towns of Lydda and Ramle in July 1948. Although these towns were located “outside the area designated for a Jewish state in the UN Partition Plan of 1947, and inside the area set aside for an Arab state in Palestine,” they were “transformed into predominantly Jewish areas in the new State of Israel, known as Lod and Ramla.”

From the Israeli perspective, the conquest of the towns averted an Arab threat to Tel Aviv, thwarted an Arab Legion advance by clogging the roads with refugees, forcing the Arab Legion to assume a logistical burden that would undermine its military capacities, and helped demoralize nearby Arab cities.[6][7] On 10 July, Glubb Pasha ordered the defending Arab Legion troops to “make arrangements…for a phony war”.[8] The next day, Ramle surrendered immediately, but the conquest of Lydda took longer and led to an unknown number of deaths; Israeli historian Benny Morris suggests up to 450 Palestinians and 9–10 Israeli soldiers died.[9] Once the Israelis were in control of the towns, an expulsion order signed by Yitzhak Rabin was issued to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stating, “1. The inhabitants of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age.…”,[10] Ramle’s residents were bussed out, while the people of Lydda were forced to walk miles during a summer heat wave to the Arab front lines, where the Arab Legion, Transjordan‘s British-led army, tried to provide shelter and supplies.[11] Quite a few of the refugees died from exhaustion and dehydration. Estimates ranged from a handful to a figure of 350 based on hearsay, which is why the events are also referred as the Lydda death march.[12]

The events in Lydda and Ramle accounted for one-tenth of the overall Arab exodus from Palestine, known in the Arab world as al-Nakba (“the catastrophe”). Many Jews who came to Israel between 1948 and 1951 settled in the refugees’ empty homes, both because of a housing shortage and as a matter of policy to prevent former residents from reclaiming them.

…Father Oudeh Rantisi, a former mayor of Ramallah who was expelled from Lydda in 1948, visited his family’s former home for the first time in 1967: “As the bus drew up in front of the house, I saw a young boy playing in the yard. I got off the bus and went over to him. ‘How long have you lived in this house?’ I asked. ‘I was born here,’ he replied. ‘Me too,’ I said…”

[Father Rantisi’s heart-wrenching story can be read in more detail here.]

In Israel’s first months, largely Arab cities emptied as inhabitants were forced to flee.

(Source: The New Yorker – October 21, 2013 Issue – very informative article written by Ari Shavit, an Israeli reporter, writer, and Senior Correspondent for Haaretz)


(Refugees Escorted from Ramla; Source: Wikipedia)

Other details about this ethnic cleansing can be seen at Palestine Remembered.

Nazareth - الناصرة : NAZARETH - Late 19th, early 20th c. 55 - circa 1905 - Bird's-eye view (Per Reem Ackall)

(Nazareth in 1905; Source: Palestine Remembered)

Jaffa - يافا : Jaffa's famous al-Hamra Palestinian cinema (1937) in Jamal Basha street. Note the Palestinian flag at the tower.

(Jaffa’s al-Hamra Cinema with Palestinian flag on the tower, 1937; Source: Palestine Remembered)

A photograph from Bethlehem in 1880.

(Bethlehem in 1880; Source: Pinterest and Palestine Remembered)

Street scene inside Damascus Gate. Jerusalem, Palestine. 1900-1920. Photograph: Matson Collection

(Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, 1900 – 1920; Source: Pinterest and Palestine Remembered)

Bethlehem Christmas, early 1900s

(Bethlehem on Christmas Day, early 1900’s; Source: Pinterest and Palestine Remembered)

Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Armenian Christians, men and women, different clothing styles and a thriving cityscape of Jerusalem. In 1896, 85% of the population in Palestine was Muslim, 10% Christian and less than 5% Jewish (half the population of Jerusalem, however, was Jewish - this was also the period during the first aliyah).

(Jerusalem, around 1900; Source: Pinterest)

See many more photos of pre-1948 Palestine on Pinterest here.

8 thoughts on ““Fly KLM to Palestine” (1931 Ad)

  1. Hello Adam, thanks so much for producing the fact that Palestine existed, how some(John Hagee) can state that it wasn’t a region is beyond me. I was wondering what you thought about Stephan Sizers recent recantation? I was surprised that he caved to the Anglican pressure. Every site I visited was negative about him and his supposed anti-Semitic overtones…Have a blessed day.


    • Hi Jack. You’re welcome. It’s beyond me too.

      Regarding Stephen Sizer, I read the “9/11: Israel Did It” article that he linked to, and in my opinion it brought up a lot of legitimate questions/facts. If it was so preposterous, then I would have to wonder why the response/pressure (from the Israel Lobby in the UK) was so heavy-handed and desperate to silence him. Here’s the statement from the Bishop of Guilford:


      Partial quote:

      “I have welcomed Stephen’s apology, his recognition of the deep hurt caused by his actions, his acknowledgement of the gross insensitivity of their timing just prior to Holocaust Memorial Day, and his retraction of the ridiculous suggestion that Israel may have been complicit in the events of 9/11. I have also recognized that much of Stephen’s ministry in other areas and at other times has been good, wise and wholesome…

      In order for Stephen to remain in parish ministry, I have therefore asked for – and received from him – a solemn undertaking, in writing, that he is to refrain entirely from writing or speaking on any theme that relates, either directly or indirectly, to the current situation in the Middle East or to its historical backdrop.

      He has promised to refrain, with no exceptions, from attendance at or participation in any conferences which promote or are linked to this agenda; from all writing, tweeting, blogging, emailing, preaching and teaching on these themes, whether formally or informally – a prohibition which of course includes posting links to other sites; and from all background work in this area which may resource others to act as spokespeople in Stephen’s stead.

      “Should Stephen be deemed by the Diocese to have broken this agreement, in letter or in spirit, he has pledged to offer me his immediate resignation, which I will duly accept. He has also agreed to desist from the use of social media entirely for the next six months, after which he and I will review that prohibition.”

      It sounds like Stephen will be unable to speak about the Israeli/Palestinian situation (including Christian Zionist theology?) for as long as he’s in parish ministry. I was disappointed to see that he agreed to that. I wish he would become independent of the diocese. I’m not in his shoes, though.

      What do you think about it all?


      • Adam, i will not be surprised if he decides (down the road) to step away and resign from the diocese. I believe God has called him to shine a light on these issues which have affected the Church. Thankfully there are many of his articles available online, as well as books.

        Time will tell. In the meantime i pray God continues to use him, where-ever he is.

        Liked by 1 person

      • PJ,

        Due to a new comment being posted under this article earlier today, I came across this comment of yours from April 2015 in which you stated that you wouldn’t be surprised if Stephen Sizer stepped away from his diocese in the future. Indeed he has, as I’m sure you know, and he’s involved in a good work with Peacemakers Initiative. I’ve been glad to see it.


  2. I had bought a John Hagee book about ten years ago called “The Battle for Jerusalem”. After reading the book I was left with a sense that Israel had treated the people of Palestine with respect and dignity after they moved in.

    Also, although he admits the term “Palestine” was first used in 70 AD after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, he says “Palestine is no more real than Never-Never land. There is no language known as Palestinian, there is no distinct Palestinian culture and there has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians.”

    Flipping through the book now and seeing how incredibly wrong John Hagee is about Bible prophecy and Israel in general, I can no longer believe a word he says about anything. And although I still have this book on my shelf, I will advise my children against reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad, for your children’s sake, that you’ll be giving them that advice. 🙂

      I’ve seen or heard that same quote from Hagee. It’s so over-the-top false that it’s enough to leave a knowledgeable person speechless. There’s no language known as “American” either, so is America “no more real than Never-Never land”? LOL

      I haven’t read that book, though. I find it interesting that you say you were “left with a sense that Israel had treated the people of Palestine with respect and dignity after they moved in.” I’m curious how he whitewashed all the ethnic cleansing and massacres in that book, though I’ve gotten a taste of it in some of his other speeches, sermons, and articles.


  3. This post is inaccurate. The Lockheed Constellation in the ad didn’t go into commercial service until 1946, making the 1931 date a fabrication. So much for this site’s pursuit of truth.


    Further, during this period the people were called Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs. In 1947 the U.N partitioned the land into a separate Jewish and Arab states. There was never the mention of a Palestinian state because Palestinians did not exist. At least not until 1964 when they were invented by the PLO. There had never in history been a Palestinian state. Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab country. It has only been the capital of one country Israel, whose history has been closely tied to the Jews for 3,000 years.


    • Jerry, thank you for pointing out the inaccuracy of the 1931 date. I quoted a source and linked to that source, but had no way of recognizing the aircraft in that ad, much less when that aircraft went into commercial service. The ad itself, however, is accurate. It’s on file with a number of other sources, including another source I linked to in this post (Duke University Libraries). After digging around some more online, it appears that the correct year for that ad is likely 1947.

      I’m aware that there was never a Palestinian state, just as there was also never a state called “Israel” from AD 70 until 1948. To say that “Palestinians didn’t exist,” though, is a provably false claim.


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