Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Restating the History of the Conflict's Beginnings

Excerpts from Alexander Zvielli's Divide, rule and appease where in asks: Did the Pan-Arab policy serve British imperial interests? based on Dr. Isaiah Friedman's research.

...McMahon was warned that even if Turkey lost the war, the Ottoman sultancaliph would still be admired. But both the September 10, 1915, arrival in Cairo of Muhammad al-Faruqi – the leader of the Arab secret societies, who promised the Allies a big Arab army – and the revolt started by Sharif Hussein, the emir of Mecca in 1916, won British recognition....Hussein aspired to become a caliph, a great political and religious leader of a united Arab empire, and on October 29, 1916, he proclaimed himself “king of the Arab countries.” London, however, appointed him as the king of Hejaz only, and was vague insofar as the Arab independence was concerned. But after an Arab Bureau was established in Cairo, Gen. Ronald Storrs – without the Foreign Office’s authorization and at variance with the official Whitehall policy – called on all Arabs to unite, get rid of the Turks and declare, with British help, their independence.

...Sir Arthur Hirtzel of the India Office and Lt.-Col. Walter Gribbon of British Intelligence found that the Arab contribution to the war effort was “practically nil,” while the cost was high. Palestine was freed by the Allies, supported by the Jewish “Nili” spies, Aharon Aaronson’s guidance in providing Gen. Edmund Allenby with maps indicating that advance through the littleknown road to Beersheba would be preferable to his former fatal frontal attack on the Turkish-German forces at Gaza, the Zion Mule Corps and three Jewish battalions of Royal Fusiliers – the 38th, 39th and 40th, recruited from the Yishuv itself.

SIR MARK SYKES, Gertrude Bell and other Middle Eastern experts found a deep ethnic and religious schism among Arabs, but hardly any evidence of nationalistic feeling. In 1919 Maj. J.N. Clayton stated in Damascus that in the eyes of the vast majority of Muslim Arabs, Arab nationalism and Islamism were “synonymous terms.”

...On March 8, 1920, the Syrian Congress recognized Hussein’s son, Feisal, as king of Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia...Feisal, guided by Lawrence, welcomed Chaim Weizmann’s and Felix Frankfurter’s plans for the development of Palestine. He was ready to grant Jews cultural autonomy and limited immigration.

But facing the growing tide of Arab nationalism, he, too, started making different promises.

British officials in London and Jerusalem differed in their interpretation of the Balfour Declaration. On September 19, 1919, The Times wrote that Jordan would not do as the eastern frontier of Palestine, and in the North it should include a good part of the Litani River, as well as Mount Hermon.

In November 1919, Lord Milner, secretary of war, advised Nahum Sokolow “to insist upon as large a portion of Trans-Jordan as possible.”

But France took over the Hermon and the Litani, and British officers in Jerusalem devised a Pan-Arab policy of divide, rule and appease.

...On March 28, 1921, Winston Churchill received a deputation from the “Third Palestine Congress,” claiming to represent all Palestine’s Arab people...The delegation demanded a stop to Jewish immigration, the abolition of the Jewish national home and the formation of a national Arab government.

Churchill replied that many of the Arab claims were not true. The Arabs had not overthrown the Turks, the British forces had. The Balfour Declaration had been issued at a critical stage of the war, when victory was still in the balance; it had been ratified by the Allied powers and was the basis of the Mandate. It was manifestly right that Jews should have a national center and home. Britain thought it was good for all, including the Arabs.

Churchill added pointedly that Palestine benefited from Jewish colonization.
On July 5, 1922, Arab leaders of the National Societies of Haifa, Nazareth, Ghor District, Beisan and the surrounding areas wrote in confidence to Churchill that the delegation of the “Third Palestine Congress” did not represent them and had no right to speak in their name, and that towns inhabited by Jews were making steady progress. They also protested to the League of Nations that the delegates to the “Congress” represented a minority among Palestinians. They supported the Rutenberg electricity concession and progress.

...Lord Samuel, the first high commissioner for Palestine, and his chief adviser Ernest T. Richmond, a passionate anti-Zionist, were chiefly responsible for stimulating the ensuing trouble.

Samuel, who tried to make everybody happy, had advised Jews to make sacrifices, and had diluted the meaning of the Balfour Declaration by temporarily halting Jewish immigration, in the wake of the riots that broke out in Jaffa on May 1, 1921, during which 27 Jews and three Arabs were killed, and 104 Jews and 34 Arabs were wounded. Arab police armed with rifles joined the rioters. But many Arabs took pains to dissociate themselves and described the rioters as hooligans.

Therefore Samuel’s step was both hasty and unprecedented.

He also invented the post of grand mufti to make Arabs faithful to one of their own, and on April 11, 1921, Haj Amin el-Husseini became the spiritual leader of Palestinian Muslims...


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