Thursday, October 03, 2013

So Easy to Rewrite History

I found this Historical Overview from the 1995 publication of "Palestine and Transjordan Administration Reports 1918–1948", a 16 volume work of a comprehensive collection of British administrative reports and associated documents.  It includes the pre-Mandate reports of 1918-1923, the Mandate and Departmental Annual Reports from 1923-1947/8, including the unpublished Mandate Reports for 1940 and 1941, the extensive Survey of Palestine 1946/47 and the formal papers covering the termination of the Mandate in 1948. 

Note what I underline:

Palestine, having previously been part of the Ottoman Empire, was occupied in 1917-18 by British forces under the command of General Allenby. A military administration was established for the whole of Syria and Palestine under the general title of Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA) with Palestine as OETA South. The military government was essentially a holding operation until the war was over and a final political solution was agreed. At the 1919 Peace Conference it was decided by the victorious powers that the mandates system should be applied to the non-Turkish parts of the Ottoman Empire; and at the San Remo Conference on 25th April 1920 the mandate for Palestine was given to the United Kingdom. Shortly afterwards, on 1st July 1920, the military administration was replaced by a civilian administration under a High Commissioner.

Although the Palestine mandate had been assigned to the United Kingdom by the victorious powers at the San Remo Conference in 1920, the actual terms of the draft mandate were not agreed by the Council of the League of Nations until 24th July 1922. Even then the Mandate did not come into operation as peace still had not been officially concluded between the Allied Powers and Turkey. It was not until 29th September 1923, after the Treaty of Lausanne had become operative and the war between Turkey and the Allies was officially ended, that the Council of the League was able officially to begin the British Mandate over Palestine.

The position of Transjordan provided some difficulty, especially concerning the question of a Jewish homeland. It was agreed that the Balfour declaration should not apply to Transjordan, and that there should be a separate High Commissioner for Jordan although he should be the same person as the High Commissioner for Palestine.

The Mandate was to remain in force from 29th September 1923 until 15th May 1948, but the whole period was bedevilled by the incompatibility of the aspirations of the Jewish settlers and the rights of the Arab inhabitants. Serious civil disorders caused by tensions between Arabs and Jews had broken out in 1920 and 1921 before the official beginning of the Mandate. In April 1936 the Arab Rebellion began and lasted until 1939, influenced by the recent example of nationalist movements in neighbouring Arab countries...

...The British Government´s White Paper of May 1939 was intended to put an end to uncertainty as to the objectives of their policy in Palestine, and to prepare the way for the termination of the Mandate. The general objective was to be the establishment within 10 years of an independent Palestine State in which Arabs and Jews shared in government in such a way as to ensure that the essential interests of each community were safeguarded; in the meantime, Jewish immigration was to be restricted as were the sales of Arab land to Jewish settlers. It was the intention of the British Government to seek the approval of the Council of the League of Nations for their new policy, but they were prevented from doing so by the outbreak of war in September 1939...

Let's go over those points, concisely and to the point:

a) Gt. Britain "occupied" Palestine.  It's a legal term, neutral.  Like when I an occupying the chair I am now sitting on.  They did so because they were at war with the Ottoman Empire.  The Turks lost and they lost territory.  It happens.  It also happened in 1967.

b)  Syria and Palestine were considered one unit but due to the diplomacy and Balfour Declaration, Palestine was immediately assigned a unique definition.

c)  for what purpose was Great Britain awarded the Mandate over Palestine at San Remo?  Balfour Declaration is mentioned only later.

d)  what type of "difficulty" did TransJordan provide?  What was the link to the Jewish homeland?  Who agreed that TransJordan be separated from the terms of the Balfour Declaration?  Why?

e)  what is the difference between "Jewish settlers" and "Arab inhabitants"?  Is that difference correct?  Is it perhaps anachronistic?   There were no "Arab settlers"?

f) "civil disorders broke out"?  Is that a reflection of the historical truth - or did Arabs initiate violent riots with intent to kill Jews, any Jew?

g)  were the terrorists of among the Arabs of Palestine influenced by neighboring countries, or did they kill Jews earlier, in the 19th century?

See how easy it is to rewrite history?


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