Israel, Palestine and our fading memories
The ancient Greeks believed history was like a river — constantly flowing. A problem today is that people and media have forgotten where history has flown and lose historical memory. This leads to acceptance of falsely pernicious beliefs such as the widely accepted one that Jewish settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan River are illegal.
On Dec. 11, 1917, the victorious British General Allenby entered Jerusalem in triumph after the city had surrendered two days before to a British sergeant. Within a year the Turkish Ottoman Empire had come to an end at the cost of hundreds of thousands of Allied lives and the murder of 1,500,000 Armenians by Turks and Kurds.
Palestine was now under British control. The Turks had controlled it for 500 years. It was Ottoman land and not Arab land.
On Nov. 17, 1917, The British government issued the Balfour Declaration, as part of Allied war aims, which stated that Jews could have a national home in Palestine. On April 24, 1920 the San Remo Conference of the League of Nations assigned Palestine to the British as a Mandate (temporary ruler until independence). The official Mandate document of July 24, 1922 stated that there would be a Jewish national home in Palestine.
In 1922 the British gave 80 percent of mandated Palestine to the Arabs, land east of Jordan River, That area’s name was changed from Palestine to Trans-Jordan. Jews were forbidden to live there.
The British Palestine Royal Commission (Peel Commission) offered in 1937 to divide the remaining 20 percent of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. That offer was accepted by the Jews and refused by the Arabs.
It was the League’s position that the 3,000-year-old ties of the Jewish people to the land of Israel should be recognized. The United Nations, the League’s successor, accepted all the provisions of the League’s mandates.
On Nov. 28, 1941, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, leader of the Palestinian Arabs, met with Hitler in Berlin and agreed with his plans for the Jews. 1,500,000 Jewish children were murdered in the Holocaust, the equivalent of 75,000 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
On Nov. 29, 1947, the U.N. passed a Partition Resolution for Palestine. Once again the Jews accepted a two-state solution and the Arabs refused.
On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence and was immediately invaded by five Arab armies. Israel did not invade Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan.
The 1948-1949 war ended with an armistice after the 600,000 Palestinian Jews suffered 6,000 dead, an equivalent of today’s America losing 3,200,000 dead in a war.
The Palestian refugee problem is too complex for this essay. Suffice it to say that the British High Commissioner Cunningham and the Iraqi General Ismail Safwat, who led the Arab Liberation Army in the 1948-49 war, both agreed that the Jews were not primarily responsible for the Arab refugee problem.
Israel’s boundaries from 1948 to 1967 are not recognized international borders. They are the 1949 armistice lines. At its narrowest point Israel is nine miles wide, the distance from the 202/119 intersection in Rindge to Grove Street in Peterborough.
By 1949 Arab nations controlled 3,295,204 square miles of the former Ottoman Empire (99.76 percent), Israel controlled 8,019 square miles (0.24 percent). Within a few years almost all of the Jews living in Arab controlled lands, communities that existed for 2,500 years, were forcibly expelled. There were more Jewish refugees than Arab refugees.
Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a result of the 1967 War caused by Egypt’s blockade of the Gulf of Aquaba and Egypt’s leader Nasser threatening war in three public speeches given on May 25, 26, and 29, 1967. Despite Israel’s warnings to stay out, Jordan entered the war on Egypt’s side.
After the war, Israel offered to negotiate peace but Arab leaders refused (Khartoum, Sudan, August, 1967).
In July 2000, at the Camp David Summit, Israel offered the Palestinians a state to consist of the Gaza, most of the West Bank, and east Jerusalem. The Arabs refused that offer.
At Taba, Egypt in 2001, Israel offered more, 88 percent of the West Bank, more of Jerusalem including the Temple Mount. The Palestinians refused that offer.
It should be noted that when Jordan controlled east Jerusalem all the Jews living there were expelled and 58 Jewish temples were destroyed.
It was the intention of UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), according to the authors of that resolution, Lord Caradon and Arthur Goldberg, that Israel’s final borders would be negotiated. The Arabs refused. Security Council Resolutions are binding international law. General Assembly actions are not.
Article 49 (6) of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Conference was designed to prevent forcible expulsions of populations, what the Nazis did for slave labor and extermination. The Danish Jew, Georg Cohn, formulated this article. It does not apply to Jewish settlements on the West Bank, which occupy only 5% of that land.
In 2008 Israel offered 94 percent of the West Bank , land in Israel to compensate for 6 percent of West Bank, and Muslim control of Jerusalem’s holy sites. This offer was also refused.
In 1978 Dalal Mughrabi murdered 37 Israeli civilians including 12 children. The Palestinians named two summer camps after her. Palestinians name streets and sports teams after murderers of Jewish children.
How would you feel if a summer camp in Rindge was named for Adam Lanza?
Rick Sirvint lives in Rindge.