The Holocaust and the West Bank

According to an international mandate, exiled Jews from all parts of the globe were legally entitled to repatriation to their ancient homeland in Israel. This mandate was agreed upon by the League of Nations and originally included both the west and east banks of the Jordan River. However, in 1921 the original mandate was altered by the League to exclude the East Bank. In other words, in 1921 the Mandate for Palestine (historic Israel, from the desert to the sea) was partitioned at the river, allowing for Arab sovereignty east of the river and Jewish sovereignty west of the river. This historic fact is incontrovertibly true.

Neither the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 nor the Arab state’s (Transjordan’s) illegal annexation of the West Bank in the war’s aftermath alters the reality of Jewish rights to the West Bank of the Jordan River. The Mandate for Palestine (from the river to the sea) as a Jewish political state had been international law before WWII and remained in effect with the creation of the UN. In 1947 the UN recommended a second partition of historic Israel (from the desert to the sea), in order to create a second Arab state on the West Bank and the Galilee. The Arabs of mandated Palestine rejected the second partition as they rejected the first, leaving the geographic area (from the desert to the sea) in a three-way geopolitical competition for supremacy. At that time, Israel had accepted both the first and the second partitions of the land and sought peace with its neighbors. However, just three short years after the Holocaust ended, the embryonic Jewish state was attacked by the armies of the Arab world (including the East Bank state of Transjordan and the Palestinians) in a war of sworn annihilation and genocide, where defeat would have meant a second Holocaust within a decade. These facts are also incontrovertible.

When the war ended in 1949, the army of Transjordan, the Arab Legion (which was British led, British trained and British equipped), occupied the West Bank high ground and stood just nine short miles from the Mediterranean Sea. At that geographic location an armistice line (the Green Line) was established. The British-financed government of Transjordan never recognized the line as anything other than an armistice line and refused to establish the line as its western border. This would have required a peace treaty with Israel and UN Security Council authorization. In fact, this East Bank state, renamed Jordan, continued its state of war with Israel and illegally annexed the West Bank, making all its Palestinian residents Jordanian citizens. Only two countries recognized the Jordanian annexation of the West Bank — Britain, which sat on the UN Security Council and could veto any measure to redress the illegal occupation, and the newly created state of Pakistan (another British dependent, whose border had been illegally created by colonial decree and not international law (the Durand Line).

Other than the international mandate which established Jewish sovereignty over the West Bank (the 1922 League of Nations Mandate), no other country can rightfully claim sovereignty under international law. This includes both the monarchy in Jordan and the Palestinians. Both of these entities rejected the West Bank in a vain attempt to conquer the entirety of the land. The Jordanians might have succeeded with the UN if they would have signed a peace treaty with Israel, either while in possession of the territory or later, after they lost the territory in another vain attempt to destroy Israel (1967). The Palestinians could have had a West Bank state from as early as 1937 (the Peel Commission partition) and certainly in 1947 when they rejected the UN partition. But in politics, the justice of international law is most often trumped by the anarchy of power. This has been certainly true in the case of the Arabs. Their complete and total rejection of Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the Holy Land was not only a rejection of international law (in favor of brute force) but was also in defiance of their own Holy Book (the very word of Allah, as they believe).

International law was certainly not on the global agenda in the 1930’s. When Hitler took Germany out of the League of Nations in 1933, the blueprint for the “Final Solution” of the Jews and global conquest of the world had not become clear. But by 1939, when British PM Chamberlain brought the infamous White Paper to the House of Commons, not only was war in the air, but the situation for Europe’s Jews was precarious, to say the least. The White Paper was indeed Britain’s most infamous historical moment. Not only was it a complete rejection of its mandatory obligations, but it was a death sentence for millions upon millions of innocent victims, whose only recourse should have been a one-way ticket to the Land of Israel. Instead the White Paper gave access to the Holy Land to only a miniscule number of applicants, a mere seventy-five thousand over a period of five years. At the time, Lloyd George (ex-British PM and one of the founders of the League of Nations) called the British action an “act of perfidy”. While Winston Churchill (an early enthusiast for the mandate and Jewish emigration to Israel) voted against the White Paper and his own government in which he was a minister. The Manchester Guardian newspaper called the action a “death sentence for tens of thousands of Central European Jews”.

The White Paper had been Britain’s answer to the Nazi and European Holocaust of the Jews. It was an intentional act of participation in a genocide that had adherents across an entire continent. If Britain would only have kept to its mandatory responsibility under international law, an unlimited number of visas could have been extended to Jews throughout Europe and the Middle East. An extreme tragedy could potentially have been averted. There was room for millions of Jews in Israel. It would not have been an easy emigration, but it would have been light-years better than the alternative. But Britain was playing power politics, and it thought it had to appease the Arab world. The Arabs had rejected Jewish sovereignty and equality in the Middle East from the very beginning.

Although the Koran itself calls for a Jewish return to its rightful place in its Holy Land, the nationalism of the Arabs had been a rejection of the Koran. The British wanted to protect its Arab allies (Egypt, Iraq and Jordan) and eschewed its obligations under international law.
The Palestinians sided with Germany during WWII. The White Paper had not been enough for them. They required certainty. Adolph Hitler would be their ticket to a Palestinian state encompassing both banks of the Jordan River. With the defeat of Britain, both the Jews and Jordan would become eliminated as physical entities. The Palestinian leader, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, met with the German Chancellor and worked tirelessly throughout the war for the Nazi side. This too has been documented as an incontrovertible fact. The Palestinians had placed their geopolitical bet on the genocide of the Jews, and lost.

By 1967, the Arabs and their Soviet patrons felt themselves prepared for a second round. Even with Jordan in control of eighty percent of the original mandated territory (including the West Bank), it wasn’t enough. At that time, there was never an international call for a Palestinian state on the West Bank. On the contrary, the Europeans remained eerily quiescent with respect to the West Bank. No one told King Hussein of Jordan to leave. There were no European boycotts of Jordanian products. In fact, Jordan was still a British protectorate and on the payroll of the CIA. But the democratic Left in Europe raised no objection to Jordan’s illegal occupation. They didn’t rise to the Palestinian cause because they remembered where the Palestinian leadership had stood during the “big war” and the Holocaust.

Everyone in Europe knew that the only reason Jordan had marched into the West Bank in 1948 was because the area had been free of any legal, mandated Jewish settlements. The British White Paper and the European Holocaust had seen to that. The Arabs had also contributed to a “Judenfrei” West Bank. In 1929, they massacred the one Jewish settlement on the West Bank at Hebron, the burial place of the founder of all three monotheistic religions, Abraham. This was done in the name of Allah at the command of the Muslim leader of the Palestinians (the same Hajj Amin al-Husayni who later met with the German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler).

The West Bank should have been a place of vibrant Jewish habitation according to the international law of the 1930’s. This was the history and the guilt that all of Europe felt on the eve of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War (with the exception of the Soviets and their East German comrades). Instead, the West Bank became a launching pad for another attempt at genocide against the Jews. The King of Jordan, a Western ally, relinquished control of the territory to a pro-Soviet, Egyptian general, and the war began. However, instead of victory, the Arabs once again suffered defeat. But Israel was prepared for negotiations. It was the Arabs who refused to talk. This too is an incontrovertible fact.

Then came the European and American “New Left”. This youthful movement was without an historic context. Like all communists, they were blind to Jewish nationalism and depicted it as “colonial” (where was the “mother country”?). These new leftists were perfect fodder for an ongoing Palestinian propaganda war, whose narrative has ripened over time, It encompasses the perception that the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank has been the “causa sine qua non” for all problems in the Middle East, and the Palestinians will be satisfied with only a West Bank state. Furthermore the New Left, the Soviets and the PLO adopted the complete fiction that Israeli homes and cities on the West Bank were “illegal”. As time has eroded the real truth, the Palestinian “big lie” has once again proven that Herr Goebells was correct — “If you tell a lie big enough, and keep repeating it, people will come to eventually believe—”
Now Europe and Israel have come full circle. Even the “New Germany” has bought into the Palestinian “big lie”. I hope when Chancellor Merkel visits the West Bank, she will remember that we Jews call the place Judea, and that’s why we’re called Jews. I hope she remembers that according to international law we have every right to live in this land. I hope she remembers that Jesus, the Jew, was born in this land. I hope she remembers that the Arabs have attempted to annihilate us twice through this land and could, with Iranian help, try again. And finally, as she views the Jewish settlements, I pray that she remembers the legal settlers who could have been there if not for the British White Paper and the Holocaust. When we Jews say “we will never forget”, we mean it.

About the Author
Steven Horowitz has been a farmer, journalist and teacher spanning the last 45 years. He resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. During the 1970's, he lived on kibbutz in Israel, where he worked as a shepherd and construction worker. In 1985, he was the winner of the Christian Science Monitor's Peace 2010 international essay contest. He was a contributing author to the book "How Peace came to the World" (MIT Press).
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