So Jerusalem is now formally the capital of Israel, at least according to Israel and the United States of America.
It could have happened on so many different occasions in the past. All the Muslim threats of violence, buttressed, even encouraged by Europe’s fawning – obsequious and sycophantic rejection of President Trump’s announcement can help us to understand why this declaration is long overdue.
Manuel Hassassian, chief Palestinian representative to Britain, declared Trumps’ announcement to be “a war against hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel.” (Metro, page 5, December 7, 2017). But wait a minute. Christians have been tortured, murdered, and ethnically cleansed throughout the Near-East at the hands of Muslims, not Jews! Muslim extremists have committed genocide against the most ancient of the Christian communities of the Middle East. Muslims have destroyed churches and killed hundreds of Christians inside of churches in terror attacks. They have chased away most of the regions Christians just as they did the regions Jews. Only in Israel are they safe and only in Israel have their numbers increased. So I find this number “hundreds of millions” both comical and inflammatory. He may be trying to foster a heightened anti-Semitic reaction by the progressive churches in the non-Muslim world. But even his numbers do not add up. The big lie coupled with incendiary statements that cannot ever be possibly proven is consistent with Palestinian historical creativity. It is this creativity that by and large dismisses any Jewish connection to the Holy land and ignores any crimes that are committed in the name of Allah or his prophet.
We need to go back some considerable time to understand how we have arrived at this day.
The ending of the Ottoman Empire happened in parallel with the ongoing collapse of far more powerful European empires. The failure of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empire occurred along with the ongoing disintegration of the British, German, French, Italian and Belgian empires. All this created the global impetus for minorities to seek independence from their colonial overlords.
The Arabs were eager to supplant the Ottoman’s who were not so affectionately referred to as the Sick Man of Europe. Sharif Hussein ibn-Ali was keen to become the new dictator of the Muslim world. But he needed the British to achieve his aim. Armenia and Eastern Thrace were both Christian nations intended to be freed from Ottoman domination. Kurdistan and Anatolia should also have been freed. The problem was never that Sykes-Picot gave self-determination to Muslim nations. The real problem was always that the successor Arab nations (and Turkey) were incapable of respecting the minorities within their borders. And though initially both Turkey and Saudi Arabia’s leaders viewed with favour the establishment of a national Jewish entity in Palestine, it was their greed that inevitably overcame their rational judgment that a Jewish state would be a stabilizing influence in the region.
And it was a British desire to retain its influence in the region that undermined its credibility – and led to its betrayal of the British Mandate in Palestine. That mandate was supposed to lead to a national homeland for the Jews even as it was clear that it would protect non-Jewish rights in the allotted Jewish state.
Britain betrayed that mandate by choosing to appoint to its most important Arab liaison post in Palestine, Hajj Amin Husseini. This man was well suited to the elitist inclinations of the British ruling classes –he was from an old, wealthy Arab family that traced its roots back to Mohammed’s grandson Ali, he was a businessman and he was virulently anti-Semitic. Britain sentenced him to ten years imprisonment for inciting a murderous anti-Jewish pogrom in 1920 that kicked off the Palestinian National movement as an exercise in race riots and religiously inspired violence.
By handing over the top religious and administrative post in Jerusalem (and hence Palestine) to Husseini, Britain fatally undermined its own position in the area. While the Mufti of Jerusalem (as he was known) was very happy to make his fortune from selling land to Jews throughout modern day Israel he also had aspirations to become feudal dictator of a pan-Arab empire.
Why did Britain undermine its own position in the region? Perhaps one can only explain the inexplicable, by reference to a paragraph in Chaim Weizmann’s autobiography: he narrates how he met up with General (Sir Wyndham) Deedes (Chief Secretary to the British High Commissioner of the British Mandate of Palestine) who handed Weizmann “a few sheets of typewritten script…I read the first sheet asking what could be the meaning of all this rubbish…(he replied) ‘you had better read all of it with care; it is going to cause you a great deal of trouble in the future.’ This was my first meeting with extracts from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” he then said, “You will find it in the haversack of a great many British officers here-and they believe it! It was brought over by the British Mission which has been serving in the Caucasus on the staff of the Grand Duke Nicholas” (Trial and Error P273). And later (P279) “Jews were not trusted, and had to be turned out; Arabs, who were known to cross the enemy lines repeatedly, were left unmolested.”
Demographically, even as it went against the best interests of all Jews and Arabs in the area, this unregulated Arab traffic shifted the balance massively against Jewish immigration into Palestine. The hostility that Jews experienced was understood correctly, to provide a green light to violent confrontation against the Jewish presence in Palestine.
What was not understood was that the Arab world would take what it could from the British but rather than assist in furthering the Anglo-Arab relationship it was always viewed as no more than demonstrating the weakness of Britain. Appeasement, particularly when it relates to violence, never works. What it does encourage, in every case, is a vortex of bloodshed that spirals out of everyone’s control. It suited the Arab thugs pouring into Palestine because they could only profit from the inevitable chaos. And Husseini was at the centre of this web of violence and death.
Historically, the Jewish residents of Palestine were referred to as Palestinians. The Arabs identified themselves either as South Syrian Arabs or Muslims of the greater Ottoman Empire. It was only in 1964 when the original Palestine National Charter was written by the first PLO Chairman, Ahmed Shukeiry, that the wholesale theft of Jewish identity was brilliantly achieved – in naming the Arabs ‘Palestinians’ they not only stole Jewish Palestine’s identity, they stole its history as well. George Orwell would have been proud. His book cynically predicted the ease with which societies can choose to believe (and disbelieve) anything and will enthusiastically embrace every lie if it reinforces their existing prejudices.
Books aside, it is instructive that in reflecting the pan–Arab nationalism that was rampant throughout the region (though mainly with intellectuals and secular Arabs) the main objective of the Palestinian National Charter was shown to be the destruction of the State of Israel.
Jerusalem had a Jewish majority from the 1820’s or 1860’s depending on how you count the population. In the 1820’s Judaism was the majority religious faith. By the 1860’s Jews ‘enjoyed’ a numerical majority presence in Jerusalem. They did not enjoy the rights of either Muslims or Christians and were occasionally persecuted but this was par for the course in both the Ottoman Empire and in Europe.
It is under these conditions that a movement for self-determination based on changing demographics and global opportunities for minority independence should be understood when reviewing Israeli history. Zionism was tangential but not a primary basis for Jewish sovereignty in Palestine. It became the engine for accelerated self-determination exacerbated by British policies that ran counter to its mandated responsibilities. If the horrific occurrences in World War 2 expedited a positive decision on Jewish independence, Britain’s “Arabs-only” open-border policy, with its concomitant revocation of Jewish rights in Palestine, was its parallel set of negative activities and it is not possible to divorce one from the other without being accused of historical sectarianism, historical fallacy and unmitigated bigotry and prejudice.
In the early 1990’s in the heady days of optimism, when the Oslo accords were still young and reality was momentarily discarded, Yasser Arafat’s minions in the United Nations ensured that over 90 per cent of all Security Council resolutions condemned Israel and the General Assembly was only marginally less focused on attacking Jewish rights. To this day, some 25 per cent of all resolutions at the UN are dedicated to condemning Israel.
Its pinnacle may not yet have been reached. December 2016 saw a resolution that totally ignored the Jewish connection with Jerusalem. Within the last month or two a total of 1,300 million dollars has been allocated to the Palestinians for their legal fight against Israel – to be spent over the next five years. This is paid for by the USA, Canada, fourteen or so European nations and Japan. They provide almost all of the United Nations’ budgetary needs.
Not the Vatican nor France nor Germany nor Britain, nor any other country seems willing to stop this obscenity, the United Nations, as it continues its war against the Jewish nation. If conflict has created some 500 million refugees since the end of the Second World War in 1945, and some 100 million deaths from war in the same period of time, the Israel-Arab wars are but an infinitesimal percentage of the total. Unfortunate and immoral to deal in numbers but also a beacon of injustice in this world.
For the first 19 years of Israel’s independence and after the Jordanians had committed cultural genocide against the Jews of Jerusalem the world said nothing; the United Nations did not offer us a single resolution in protest. There was not a lone diplomat who visited the region to protest the destruction of Jewish cultural property in East Jerusalem. No politician or diplomat demanded to know why Jews were barred from Judaism’s holiest sites. We forget this past and the Western public does not care, but they will always tell us that we are ungrateful for not trusting them to protect us, (as they always have done!)
Can you imagine a history of the twentieth century that describes it as peaceful and uneventful? The spotlight on Israel is breath-taking in its failure of international will. The focus on the Jewish State is the reason that the United Nations Organization does not deserve to exist in any form.
The old-guard of the Palestinian national movement is incapable of accepting the legitimacy of Jewish people-hood. Abbas has played out his professional life in the pursuit of delegitimizing our history, we should appreciate that this is the real reason there has not ever been a genuine peace process.
The legality of a states’ right to protect its cultural and religious heritage are not questioned except when it come to Israel. Recognizing the centrality of Jerusalem to Judaism goes against the current global ‘consensus.’
It is time to fight back against the rewriting of history. All of Israel’s diplomats and all of its knowledgeable supporters must be united in correcting this conspiracy against history.
I will leave you with a quote from the current Palestinian President for Life, Mahmoud Abbas: “I will never recognize the Jewish state, not in a thousand years!”
This is the reason there is no peace process.
President Trump’s correction of an historic anomaly is a long overdue correction. And only a first step.