Lost in history

“We like people who will fight, even though we think they are entirely wrong—-The Arabs stand up and fight, and massacre. Make no mistake, they have killed, as many of their own people as they have Jews, and they are murderers. On the other hand, the Jews are always complaining and begging for justice. That, of course, is the result of 1800 years they have been dependent on the good graces of governments and never on their own right arm, and therefor they have the attitude which instinctively agonizes every Englishman in Palestine and a great many in this country. The attitude of supplication, of living on your knees, has a very bad effect among the respectable nations with the Jews.” [Josiah Wedgwood]

The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was a proposal by the UN, which recommended a partition of Mandatory Palestine at the end of the British Mandate. On 29th November, 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted the plan as Resolution 181.At the time, the existing areas of Jewish western Palestine and Arab eastern Palestine [Trans-Jordan] since 1921 was in place.

The Committee majority envisaged the division of Palestine into 3 parts; an Arab state, a Jewish state; and the city of Jerusalem, linked by extraterritorial crossroads. The proposed Arab state would include the central would include the central part of the western Galilee, with the town of Acre, the hill country of Samara and Judea, an enclave at Jaffa, and the southern coast stretching from north of Ashdod and the Gaza Strip with a section of desert along the Egyptian border.

The proposed Jewish State would include the fertile Eastern Galilee, the Coastal Plain, stretching from Haifa to Rehovot and most of the Negev desert including the southern outpost of Eilat. The Jerusalem Corpus Separatum included Bethlehem and the surrounding areas.

The Arab nations, including Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia denounced the plan on the General Assembly floor and voted as a bloc against Resolution 181 promising to defy its implementation by force. Every scheme since 1922 was rejected by the Arab side, including the decidedly pro-Arab ones, merely because these plans recognized Jews as a nation and gave Jewish citizens of Mandate Palestine representation. Arabs rejected the “unbalanced” Partition Plan.

The UN itself recognized that Resolution 181 had not been accepted by the Arab side, rendering it a dead issue. In fact, it had been tossed into the waste bin of history, along with the Partition Plans that preceded it.

The thoughtful words of Josiah Wedgwood, quoted at the introduction, have echoed throughout the years. Knowing his background is a testimony to their value. As a Unitarian, he accepted the right of individuals to develop their own religious opinion. In this, he followed his mother who taught him that “knowledge based upon reason, experience, and experiment was preferable to dogma.”

Throughout his life, Wedgwood expressed an ardent concern over the social and political upheavals which characterized the age in which he lived. This explains, when as a member of the British Parliament, his stalwart support of the Zionist cause. A man of action and great courage, he openly urged the Jews to disobey the infamous “White Paper” limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine. As one of British nobility and a Colonel in the British army, Jews owe much to his being.
Wedgwood’s wisdom was even extended to a criticism of Chaim Weizmann at the round table conference, who said, “We will not accept this solution—-we will resist [partition], to which Wedgwood responded, “but he did not say how the Jews were going to resist, and that is the key—-the entire Anglo-Saxon world goes to those who stand up for justice, stand up for equal treatment, and who will not continue petitioning for justice and whining for mercy. Humanity! What has this got to do with the present world?”

The Independence War of 1947 which followed the proclaimed Partition Plan and the 1967 Six Day War have prompted much discussion on “illegal settlements” and “occupation.” Most of the arguments have little bearing on the truth and are masked in “realpolitik.” They completely ignore international law and in some cases embrace a UN resolution, which does not have the weight of law. In the words of Judge Schwebel, a former President of the ICJ, “As between Israel acting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand and her Arab neighbors,acting aggressively in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has the better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem.

One would be mistaken to commence at 1947/1948, when the Arabs tend to base their claim on sovereignty to biblical times. Thanks to notable columnist Richard Mather, a factual account entitled, “So-called Palestinians have no history in Israel except as terrorists, “ which appeared in Israel News Online of January 7, 2017 sets the record straight. He introduces the subject with an observation that eludes most. His categorical statement to the effect that until it is acknowledged by the UN and other bodies that it is the Jewish people and not the Arabs who are the indigenous inhabitants of the Land of Israel, anti-Jewish prejudice will continue; presenting itself as the real obstacle to peace.

In a chronology format, Mather systematically tabulates the subject history:

[1] 1714, Hadriani Relandi, a mapmaker from Utrecht, published, “Palestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrata”, a record of his trip to the Land of Israel in 1695-9s. He surveyed approximately 2,500 places which are mentioned in the Hebrew Tanakh and Mishnah, conducting a census of the people who resided in these places. Among his interesting discoveries, he found that not a single settlement had a name that was of Arabic origin. Names were either in Hebrew, Roman or Greek languages.

Relandi noted the conspicuous absence of a sizable Muslim population verses most of the inhabitants being Jews, some Christians and a few Bedouins. Jerusalem consisted of a populous of 5,000 while Nazareth was home to about 1,000 Christians.120 Muslims dwelled in Nablus alongside a handful of Samaritans, whose ancestors belonged to the northern tribes of Israel.

[2] Roberto Bachi, a statistician and demographer estimated that there were only 151,00 non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine in 1540. By 1800 -268,00-, by 1890 – 489,000 and in 1922 – 589,000. The vast majority of migrants were recent Muslim immigrants, defusing their claims to having lived there for generations.

[3] The fast growing Arab immigration trend was propelled by external circumstances. These included [a] the success of the Zionist project which encouraged Arabs to migrate to Palestine for good wages, healthcare and sanitation offered by the Jews [b] thousands of peasant farmers moving to Palestine to escape Egypt’s military in the first half of the 19th century, the draft, forced labor and taxes and [c] the Ottoman authorities transferring a great many people from Morocco, Algeria and Egypt to Palestine in the early part of the 20th century, partly to outflank the Jewish immigration.

Mather makes the point that the Arab population increased mostly where cities were populated by large numbers of Jews, undoubtedly a strong indication that Arabs were attracted to Palestine because of the Zionists. In Haifa, between 1922 and 1947, the Arab population grew by 290%, in Jaffa 158%, in Jerusalem 131%. Not surprisingly, the growth in Arab-majority towns was far less dramatic e.g. Bethlehem 37%, Nablus 42% and in Jenin 78%.

The period between 1920 and 1948 was marked by the British increasing restrictions on Jewish immigration to appease the Arabs. This is recorded by historian Freddy Liebreich, the Hope Simpson Inquiry [1930], the British Governor of the Sinai [1922-1936] and the UN Relief and Works Agency.

It is a known fact that not until the mid-1960’s – nearly two decades following Israel’s declaration of independence, a semi-coherent [and terroistic] Palestinian Arab identity came into being. Even Egyptian born Arafat acknowledged this truth; “The Palestinian people have no national identity, I Yasser Arafat, man of destiny, will give them that identity through conflict with Israel.” In a conversation with the Dutch newspaper Trouw during March 1977, the leader of the pro-Syria as-Sa’iqa faction of the PLO, Zuheir Mohsen, remarked: “It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity [—-] yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.”

Indeed, by redefining the Arab-Israel conflict as an Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Israel appeared as a Samson pounding a weak enemy. Yet, a further ploy for weakening Israel following the Six Day War was the introduction of the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force” replacing, “to the victors go the spoils.”, a declaration which had existed throughout the years.

Richard Mather points to the need for the Arabs and the international community to be reminded that the Jews are the true Palestinians. By way of comprehension, he points to the landmarks of the past. “Why does the 1939 flag of Palestine have a Star of David on it?” “Why did philosopher Immanuel Kant refer to Jews in Europe as “the Palestinians among us”? “Why did Jewish campaigners in the early 20th century produce posters calling for Jews of America to register as members of the Zionist Organization of America “for the freedom of Palestine”? “Why else would there be a Palestinian Talmud or Jewish newspaper called The Palestine Post?”

In “Transcending all other considerations” by Sarah Honig, published in the Jerusalem Post of 28, November, 2014, she draws attention to the seemingly co-incidence of the 67th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s Partition Resolution and the support by several European countries for a State of Palestine. She suggests that these countries misguided acceptance of the bogus axiom that a Palestinian state had existed from time immemorial, which was cruelly overrun consequent to unprovoked aggression by Israel, rather than a growing Muslim electorate, dictated their beliefs.”No one wants to know that there never-ever was a Palestinian state – not in all annals of mankind. Nor that the conflict isn’t and never was about a Palestinian state.

Forgotten, is the 1948 observation by Sir Alexander Cadogan, who could never be accused of pro-Jewish tendencies, that the commission’s international status “will mean little or nothing to the Arabs in Palestine, to whom the killing of Jews now transcends all other considerations.”

As Honig recognized, the Arabs were never interested in a Palestinian state. All they ever wanted and still want, is to destroy the Jewish state. She recalls the declaration of the Arab League’s Secretary-General as the seven Arab armies set out to wipe out the “Zionist entity”; “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.”

In yet another gem, which appeared in the Jerusalem Post of 12 ht September, 2014, Sarah Honig reminds us that no Transjordan nation appears in human annals and neither does Jordan as the kingdom id now known. What today parades under the Jordanian moniker was “conceived on Palestinian soil by Perfidious Albion.” Her rhetoric abounds in numerous questions of great validity. For one, she questions asks why the international community does not view Hamas with the same repugnance and dread it reserve for Islamic State.

Her conclusion speaks volumes and deserves quoting in full. “Some things just never change”: otherwise sterling democracies still hold fast to their archaic prejudices despite the dizzying flux and “scary savagery of our times.”

Attorney Yossi Fuchs, head of Legal Forum for the Land of Israel firmly blames Israeli governments for the status quo as regards the conflict with the Arabs. He correctly point to the fallacy of discussing security issues as opposed to values and legal issues “where Israel holds strong cards.” He feels s, since international law is “on our side.”

Capturing the essence of his article
[1] The Palestinians speak of justice and we speak about terror and when you continue to speak about self-defense, the world tells you that the simplest solution is to give them back their land and you will have quiet.

[2] We seem to say that actually, the territory is not ours and we are only concerned with the security issue.

[3] The message from Levi Eshkol and Moshe Dayan following the Six Day war was “—-we had defended ourselves and we were now holding territories as a bargaining chip.”

[4] The British Mandate specifically states that “—–this territory [Palestine] is designated for the establishment of a national home for the People of Israel. It also speaks of the right of “close Jewish settlements” There is not even one word about the national rights of the Arab people in the British part of the Mandate. Of course, the British granted sovereignty to the Arabs in the entire territory west of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Libya etc.
[5] Since the borders of an Palestinian state are not dealt with,Israeli leaders can still say that it refers to a Palestinian state inJordan.

At San Remo in 1920, the Allied Powers agreed to entrust “administration to a mandatory, whose duties are defined by a verbatim repetition of Mr. Balfour’s Declaration of November, 1917.Later,added;: “Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country—–.” further, it should be known that it is in Palestine as of right, and not on sufferance.”

As the San Remo resolution has never been abrogated, it was and continues to be legally binding between the several parties who signed it.

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.
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