Restructuring History by Start Date

By selecting a start date to an epic of history, it is possible to control the arguments on good and bad.

Thus if a speaker insists that any date prior to June 6, 1944 in World War II is immaterial, then he can say that US soldiers invaded France to kill Germans who were valiantly fighting to protect Europe against the invasion. If you accept the premise, the conclusion is correct.

The Palestinians use this technique. Their start date is usually 1948, the Nakba, or perhaps July 1967, Israel’s “conquest” of the Arab West Bank. But a little review of history can put things in perspective.

Following on WWI the Sykes Picot borders were more or less accepted and Britain was given its Palestine Mandate. By 1920 the Jews were about 10-12% and the total population still under 1 million. Today the area has about 12 million so it then was near empty.  Although that occupied by the Jews had been bought, there was ongoing Arab hostility with pogroms.

Why the Arab start date of 1948?

Jews were about 30% of the population in 1937 when Britain, seeking peace between Jews and Arabs, commissioned the Peel Commission. After study, this Commission recommended separation of the Jews and Arabs and yielding to the Jews about 25% of the Mandate, mostly Tel-Aviv and its suburbs. This was accepted by the Jews as a starting point for negotiations but rejected entirely by the Arabs.

By 1947, soon after World War II, Jewish population In the Mandate reached about 45%. Again seeking peace, this time via the UN, Resolution 181 was passed; this divided the territory roughly 50/50 between Arabs and Jews. Although again accepted by the Jews, it was again rejected by the Arabs. The next year, a just-declared State of Israel was attacked by at least 3 Arab States plus the indigenous Arabs. In the ensuing war to wipe out Israel, Israel instead was victorious, ending with 80% of the Mandate. During this war which ended in 1948 many Arabs were displaced.

So a start date of 1948 ignores the Peel Commission, the UN resolution, the attack on Israel, and focuses attention only on the now displaced Arabs, the Nakba. (Also ignored, of course, are the near 700,000 Jews displaced from Arab countries soon after this War, Jews, who, for the most, were absorbed into a then destitute Israel).

Some Arab sympathizers use late June 1967 as a start date. This date marks the move into the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Israel and ignores the antecedents to the June 1967 war.

It is surprising that even this latter date cannot obscure Palestinian refusal to accept the Israeli offers of 1999, 2000, and 2006 all of which would have given them that which they now claim: virtually the entire West Band and much of E. Jerusalem.

As of this writing, there has not been any Palestinian proposal in writing for terms to initiate discussion on a resolution of the conflict. No doubt Palestinian supporters are waiting for a new Start date: that when such a proposal will be made.

About the Author
Arnold L. Flick was born 1930 of secular, Zionist, Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. He has followed events in Israel since age seven when he first solicited for the “Jews of Palestine” on the streets of Los Angeles as a young member of Habonim. He was in Israel for four months 1990-91 and for two months 2002. He is active in the House of Israel Balboa park, a non-profit museum in Balboa Park, San Diego, that provides information about Israel to its 15,000 annual visitors.