Monday, December 3, 2012
Myth busters (Part 2)
With the UN rewarding Mahmoud Abbas for his intransigence it is timely that I issue part 2 of “Myths Lies and Damn Lies - Myth Busters” (see November 7th 2012). On this subject I was recently privileged to engage in an online debate with a member of the extreme left. The experience was worth the pain. I shall pass on my conclusions (and hopefully my insights) in the near future.
Myth busters (Part 2):
6) Israel started it all with its aggressive settlement policies that forced out the indigenous Arab population
Israel was part of the feudal Middle East where large landowners owned most of the land and most peasants had no rights of ownership. Israel settled most of its territory prior to 1948 on land that was dollar for dollar the most expensive and least productive agricultural property in the world. Fantastic profits were made by landowners who sold the land to Jewish farmers and that included the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (Muslim leader of Mandate era Palestine) the Nazi Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini. It is difficult to justify calling all of the Palestinian Arabs ‘indigenous’ because Arabs were primarily conquerors and indigenous to Arabia. Many of those that fled in 1948 were themselves immigrants from Arab nations seeking a better economic future in Jewish areas of Palestine who were then betrayed by their Arab leaders. They were actively prevented from returning to their homes in neighbouring countries.
7) Israel was the aggressor in 1948
Wrong. Israel accepted the UN proposal for a much diminished Jewish State within indefensible borders. It accepted an internationalised Jerusalem under UN control. The Arab States rejected an independent Palestinian Arab state living peacefully beside Israel out of a malevolent desire for conquest. Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria (the 6 original members of the Arab League) rejected Jewish independence and said they would destroy the nascent Jewish state. Britain retained refugee camps in Cyprus for the anticipated but limited number of Palestinian Jewish survivors. Transjordan offered Israel limited autonomy within its greater Arab empire but effectively ruled out any negotiation with Israel on independence. Egypt and Transjordan intervened to prevent the emergence of an independent Palestine. Similarly Syria aspired to conquer as much of Israel as possible for its own Greater Syrian empire.
The Arab League Army was corruptly mismanaged. In contrast to the Arab League Army, the Arab Legion was the Arab worlds’ most effective fighting force. Created by Britain in 1920, the Arab Legion was financed, armed and administered by Britain and commanded by British officers. Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb, (aka Glubb Pasha) was the Legion's commander. The Arab Legion actively participated in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Jewish Jerusalem; they were also responsible for the massacre of 129 people at Kfar Etzion, just outside of Jerusalem, on May 13, 1948 the day before the formal declaration of Independence. The murdered included a Palestinian Muslim family living in peace and co-existence amongst their Palestinian Jewish brothers and sisters.
In the case of a massacre carried out by British forces Britain suffered only momentary diplomatic embarrassment but it was also a message of what Britain was offering its Arab friends in support of their genocidal cause and against Jewish self-determination.
8) Jerusalem belonged to the Arab people prior to Israel’s conquest
To extract from an earlier article “JfJfP and the failure of Hasbara”: In May 1948, Jerusalem had enjoyed a Jewish majority since around 1828, 120 years prior to Israel’s War of Independence. The British officered Arab Legion captured the Old City and the remainder of East Jerusalem. It proceeded, one must assume with British Foreign Office agreement, to ethnically cleanse the city of its Jewish residents and then to obliterate the physical evidence of a Jewish presence. Only the Western Wall was left intact. But no Jew would be permitted access to its holiest site for 19 years, until its recapture by Israel in 1967.
9) There would be no Israel without the Shoah
See my previous post “Colonialism, Palestine and Israel” The second last paragraph states “Israel would have come into existence as a modern nation state with or without the Shoah. The means of its tumultuous birth was an issue for diplomatic recognition only. It does not detract from the need for and therefore the inevitability of Jewish independence that Israel achieved on May 15, 1948” as an expression of its self-determination in Palestine.
10) Israel should take back all the refugees.
A refugee is usually someone who has lived in a country their whole life before being expelled, or, whose existence in their country of birth suddenly becomes precarious. If a refugee is accepted as a permanent resident the next stage is to permit them to become citizens of their new home country, thus resolving their refugee status. Their children become citizens of the country in which they were born or the country to which they are resettled. In 1948, the definition of a Palestinian Refugee was created and it is unique in history and continues to be so to the current day. According to the definition set by the UN it is anyone living in Palestine between 1st June 1946 and 15th May 1948. Any immigrant was defined as a refugee and was liable to support from the UN agency set up uniquely for Palestinians.
This is bizarre because it meant that Iraqis refused permission to return to Iraq and Egyptians in Egyptian refugee camps likewise refused permission to return to their Egyptian homes became refugees. All of their descendants also became Palestinian refugees.
Depending on the degree of radicalism of the Palestinian political movement the definition of Jewish Palestinian can be anyone born in Palestine prior to 1881 (George Habash’s group) or any Jew who can prove their family originated in Israel prior to the Balfour Declaration of 1917. There may be some who accept the UN definition of 1948 (which included Jews) but this is a mute point as all Jewish Palestinian refugees became Israeli citizens. The last Ma’abarah (refugee camp) formally closed in 1958 but I was living in Netanya in 1976 when the last group of Jewish refugees living in a shanty town on the outskirts of my own wretched neighbourhood were forcibly moved into proper housing.
The total number of Arab refugees in 1948 was declared to be somewhere between 300,000-400,000 and 950,000 but even the Quakers admitted that the 250,000 refugees they had on their books in 1948 included a significant number of people who were technically not classifiable as refugees, even under the UN definition. The unbelievable thing about the UN Palestinian definition is that it is virtually eternal – refugee status is passed from generation to generation. It has been said that this refugee definition was adopted to punish ‘the Jews’ for the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte in September 1948.