The relationship between Jordan and Palestine is the relationship of one people living in two states.
– Mahmoud Abbas, Al-Quds news outlet, Feb. 6, 2015
Your Majesty [King Hussein of Jordan], you claimed to defend the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and a state of their own. … But you were responsible for the Palestinian homeland on the West Bank from 1948 to 1967. Why in all that period did you not give them their rights and statehood? … Facts are stubborn things.
You are a very intelligent man, Your Majesty. … You say the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border is disputed and based on a historical record created by the colonial British. Your Majesty, you should be the last one to say that. Not only all your borders but your whole country was created by the colonial British. Facts are stubborn things, indeed, Your Majesty.
– Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud, New York Times, Sept. 26, 1990
First the camp leader told me how rich [the Arabs] had all been in Palestine … and how much land they had all owned. I do not doubt for one minute how much land some of them owned, nor how rich some of them were, and I did not point out this subtle distinction: If everyone owned the land claimed, Palestine would be the size of Texas; if everyone had been so rich, it would have been largely populated by millionaires. To gild the past is only human … and to guild it with solid gold is even more human if you are a refugee.
–Martha Gellhorn, war correspondent, 1961
Sidney Zion was a well-known New York journalist in the sixties and seventies. On assignment for newspapers and magazines, he covered stories across the globe. In 1978, he was covering the stalled peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt – an important story for him, both personally and professionally. Although he claimed not to be a very observant religionist, he was a proud Jew and a Zionist, and an admirer of Ben Hecht.
The negotiations, taking place at Anwar Sadat’s villa in Egypt, were not going well. During a break, Zion had walked out of the reporters’ room, and standing alone, in contemplation, was Sadat. “Unlike Nasser,” observed Zion, “Sadat had no pan-Arab agenda. Sadat didn’t even think of himself as an Arab; he was a proud Egyptian. … Now the Palestinian issue was threatening to gut his efforts to retrieve the Sinai from Israel.” Zion asked Sadat a simple question: Isn’t Jordan really Palestine? “Sadat’s eyes flashed,” recalled Zion, “and he began nodding vigorously. ‘How come only the Jews don’t know that?’ he said. The answer surprised me; I loved it, but it surprised me. I said, ‘I think only the Arabs know.’ Sadat smiled ruefully. He said, ‘But if the Jews say nothing about it, how can we say anything?’ I nodded; who could argue it? An Arab leader could hardly be more Zionist than the Jews. Inwardly, I smiled at Sadat’s Zionism.” (Sidney Zion, Isn’t Jordan Really Palestine? – The Zionism of Anwar Sadat, Argonaut, pp. 198-199).
A recent poll by the Maagor Mohot Research Institute in Israel, directed by Professor Yitzhak Katz, found that 75 percent of Israelis support sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, while only 7 percent support a Palestinian state. (Arutz Sheva, Jan. 20, 2017). The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that two-thirds of Palestinians believe a two-state solution to their conflict with Israel is no longer possible. (Arutz Sheva, Dec. 13, 2016). In a March 5, 2017 column in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, Saudi Arabian columnist Yousef Nasser Al-Sweidan calls upon the Arab states to give up trying to arrange the transfer of the families of refugees from the Israeli War of Independence into the Jewish State. Rather, Al-Sweidan writes, “the Arab states hosting the refugee families have the obligation to absorb them.” On May 6, 2017, the Jerusalem Post reported that Israelis back settlements, saying, “Occupation is a myth; two-thirds of Israeli Jews say Israeli control of Judea and Samaria is not occupation; and settlements are not an obstacle to peace.”
And so, after over 24 years of Oslo-ing and the myriad of lies, excuses, rationalizations, outright fabrications and over 1600 dead Israeli Jews (a.k.a. “sacrifices for peace”), how did we get to where we are today?
Fact: Jordan, originally part of the Balfour Declaration, was included in the Mandate for Palestine destined to be included in the reconstitution of the Jewish homeland. Fact: The various Arab tribes had been given 99 percent of the Ottoman Empire after its defeat in World War I. His Majesty’s Government was willing to give the Jews one percent for their homeland. (How generous!) There were no “Palestinian Arabs” around in 1920. Fact: What is today called “Jordan” was originally (by international agreement and by a vote of 51 to zero in the League of Nations) to be part of the “national home of the Jewish people” under British obligations as part of the mandate. Through perfidious betrayal of those obligations, and in order to appease the Arabs, Britain in 1922 divided the mandate into two distinct areas: one for the Jews, west of the Jordan River; and one for the Hashemite Arab tribe, east of the Jordan River.
After World War I, Britain and France were creating the modern borders for the benefit of Arab tribal leaders. In the words of Alec Kirkbride, the colonial governor at the time, “A mandate over Palestine, a geographical term which included Transjordan also, was granted to Great Britain in July 1920. At the time of the issue of this mandate, His Majesty’s Govern- ment were too busy setting up a civil administration in Palestine proper, west of the river Jordan, to be bothered about the remote and undeveloped areas which lay to the east of the river and which were intended to serve as a reserve of land for use in the resettlement of Arabs once the National Home for the Jews in Palestine, which they were pledged to support, became an accomplished fact. There was no intention at that stage of forming the territory east of the river Jordan into an independent Arab state. (Alec Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns, pp. 19-20).
And so it was that “the Amir Abdullah actually took over control of the whole country [area east of the river] in March 1921, and it was not until the following July that His Majesty’s Government decided to follow its usual policy of accepting a fait accompli and announced that they were prepared to recognize the Amir Abdullah’s rule over that part of the mandated territory which lay east of the river Jordan, provided (a) he recognized the validity of the mandate in question and (b) renounced his avowed intention of attempting to conquer Syria. Being well content with the way matters had fallen out, the Amir accepted both conditions without argument. Whether his bellicose intentions towards Syria had ever existed was a moot point. In due course, the remarkable discovery was made that the clauses of the mandate relating to the establishment of a National Home for the Jews had never been intended to apply to the mandated territory east of the river.” (Ibid, p. 27).
Obviously, Kirkbride – another British Arabist and close friend of T. E. Lawrence (a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia) – missed the “s” on the mandate, where it stated that the National Home would be created on the banks of the Jordan. But the consistently perfidious British, never good at honoring their agreements, could always rationalize wherever necessary in order to appease their Arab friends. Later, under pressure from the Arabs, they would issue the infamous White Paper of 1939, which effectively closed the door to Jewish rescue, leading to the extermination of our Six Million. A fact that is rarely cited is that, as Prime Minister of Britain, Winston “Mr. Zionist” Churchill — reputed friend of the Jews — controlled the Palestine Mandate and the gates to Palestine during the Holocaust, and obviously refused to alter the deadly British policy. He was also the Colonial Secretary who in 1922 signed off on separating 78 percent of the mandate, the land east of the Jordan River, creating Transjordan – the fictitious country that never existed before. Some friend of the Jews!
Now, if there’s one word that Jews seem to really get upset about, it’s when Arabs accuse Israel of being an “apartheid” state. It conjures up images of racism and slavery and a discomfort for which there are no good explanations – except, of course, the truth. Israel being an apartheid state is an obvious lie for anyone who understands the meaning of the term.
“Apartheid” is an inflammatory word often used to vilify Israel, but few people understand what it actually means. In reference to South Africa, it has been used to describe that country’s policy of “strict racial segregation and discrimination against non-whites,” says Webster. The term is meaningless in the case of Israel. Not only do Israeli Jews and Muslim Arabs live together; the fact that over half of Israel’s Jewish citizens are Sephardic (Jews coming from Arab countries) renders race a non-issue.
What apartheid really means, in the political sense, has to do with minority rule. In the case of South Africa, the 8 percent white population was ruling – undemocratically – over the 85 percent black population. So apartheid is not just racial segregation. It encompasses the concept of non- democratic minority rule – again, not the situation in Israel, which is 75 percent Jewish versus 20 percent Muslim. Minority rule obviously runs contrary to the concept of democracy. These are important distinctions, especially where the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” is concerned.
More importantly, if truth and facts matter, there is one state in the Middle East that clearly qualifies as an apartheid regime: Jordan. There is no argument that the ruling Hashemites (of which King Abdullah is the latest potentate) comprise only about 15 percent of Jordan’s population, while almost 80 percent are Palestinian Arabs – Arabs who lived in the area during the period of the Palestine Mandate. In this textbook case of minority rule, the Hashemites would obviously lose if there were a democratic election. These are just the facts, whether acknowledged or not. “Facts are stubborn things, indeed, Your Majesty,” as Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud observed. And I don’t believe he’s a Jew or a Zionist. For the facts are hiding in plain sight.
IN HONOR OF THE VOTE IN THE UNITED NATIONS ON NOVEMBER 29, 1947
Shabbat Shalom, 11/17/2017 Jack “Yehoshua” Berger
** Back issues archived at Times of Israel.com