Thursday, July 18, 2019

Southern Syria, aka "Palestine"

I have blogged several times (here and here;) that, historically, a specific Palestinianism, that is, an Arab nationalism based on a country called Palestine and one distinct from other forms of Arab nationalisms, was quite late in developing.

Palestine was a region of Syria. It never was an independent country or state and its borders altered over centuries as did its internal administrative boundaries.





The idea to rejoin Palestine to Syria was a staple of their propaganda.

Into the mid-1920s, the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission was receiving such requests. This line continued years later.

Here are some abstracts from a PhD dissertation relating to the subject:

...In December 1918, Hitti and George Khairalla established the New Syria National League. The group lobbied for the establishment of a Greater Syria under American protection, reaching from the Sinai to the Euphrates.229 These groups intensified their activities in light of the upcoming peace conference in Paris. Shatara and Hitti reached out to John Huston Finley, the chief of the Red Cross Commission in Palestine, asking Finley not to detach Palestine from Greater Syria.230 During the conference, Hitti’s New Syria National League also sent a telegram to Wilson, Lloyd George and Clemenceau advocating an American protectorate over Syria. 231 Abraham Mitrie Ribhany, the author of ‘America save the Near East’ (cited above) and a member of both the Palestine Antizionism Society and the New Syria National League, attended the Paris conference. His presence allowed for direct lobbying with the American representatives in Paris and the members of the King-Crane commission. On March 15, he sent a petition on behalf of the New Syria National League to the Americans, which was also read by commission chief Henry C. King. The petition made the case for an American mandate over a Greater Syria.

... On April 21, 1922 Fuad Shatara and the New York attorney Selim Totah testified alongside anti-Zionist Jews in front of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs with regard to the Lodge-Fish resolution.236 In 1921, the Palestinian National League, the successor organization of the Palestine Antizionism Society, also published the book ‘The Case against Zionism’, a collection of anti-Zionist
articles by Jewish and Arab-American thinkers. The book ended with a call for “Palestine not be separated from her neighboring sister states.”237 The case of the Arab-Americans was still  overwhelmingly pan-Syrian and not in favor of an independent Arab Palestinian state. This focus would only change much later.

... In summer 1936, the Palestinian National League was replaced by its successor the Arab National League (ANL) in New York.335 The bulk of politically active Arab-Americans were of Syrian origin. Most of them had been followers of a pan-Syrian ideology, as seen above, before their eventual conversion to Arab or even Palestinian nationalism. The establishment of the Arab National League signified such a shift towards Arab nationalism. However, the language of pan-Syrian ideology was still present in the ANL’s publications. A manifesto published in 1937, which lays out the founding principles of the organization, for instance calls for “complete independence of the Syrian nation as a united, coherent political unit within the natural geographic borders of Natural Syria.”336 The term ‘Natural Syria’ not only includes the territory of the modern state of Syria, but also those of Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.337 The same manifesto declared “effective resistance to Zionism, the biggest threat to Syrian Unity”, as imperative.338

...The leading spokesman for the Arab Cause in the 1950s, however, was Fayez Sayegh...who was born in 1922 in Syria, was the scion of a prominent Protestant family, which had settled in Palestine during the British mandate period. He was a graduate of AUB and Georgetown.1036 Fayez and his older brother Yusif had been active in leading positions in the Palestine branch of Antoun Saadeh’s Syrian Socialist National Party (PPS) during the 1940s, with Fayez chairing the Culture and Propaganda Committee. The party sought to spread Saadeh’s pan-Syrian ideology. By the 1940s, Pan-Syrianism  had by now lost the popularity it had enjoyed in Palestine twenty years before and the party apparently met little success, as recounted by Yusif: “There was not a great deal of readiness to accept the ideas of the PPS because it emphasized the Syrianness of Palestine; that Palestine was Southern Syria. The Palestinians always call themselves ‘Arabs’, and they thought of the Palestine problem as an Arab problem rather than a Syrian problem.”1037


226 Knee, The Concept of Zionist Dissent in the American Mind, 1917-1941, 201–2.
227 “Untitled,” New York Times, November 9, 1917; cited in Davidson, “Debating
Palestine,” 230; see also Knee, “The King-Crane Commission of 1919,” 204.
228 Davidson, “Debating Palestine,” 231.
229 The Formation of Modern Iraq and Syria (Routledge, 2013), 147.
230 Knee, The Concept of Zionist Dissent in the American Mind, 1917-1941, 205.
237 Davidson, “Debating Palestine,” 232.
335 Bawardi, The Making of Arab Americans, 187–89; Davidson, “Debating Palestine,”
230–32.
336 Arab National League of America, “Declaration of the Arab (National) League”
1937; cited in Bawardi, The Making of Arab Americans, 190–91.
337 Daniel Pipes, Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition (Oxford University Press,
1990), 142.
338 Arab National League of America, “Declaration of the Arab (National) League”;
cited in Bawardi, The Making of Arab Americans, 190–91.
1035 “The Executives’ Club of Chicago Urges You to Hear Dr. Fayez Sayegh Counselor, Arab States Delegations, ‘Arab Nationalism and the West’” September 18, 1959, FSAC Mid001 Bx 239 Fd 4,
https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=842916.
1036 Mattar, Encyclopedia of the Palestinians, 359.

Palestine is Southern Syria.

Only the Jews conceived of it as a separate entity in recognizable borders.

^

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Projection alert. The following statement from the Ph.D. Dissertation sounds remarkably similar to Arab claims about a Greater Israel plan to conquer all the lands between the Nile and Euphrates rivers. “In December 1918, Hitti and George Khairalla established the New Syria National League. The group lobbied for the establishment of a Greater Syria under American protection, reaching from the Sinai to the Euphrates.”
Given the background to the creation of Palestinian "nationalism" and the inherent ambiguity one finds in the PLO Charter linking it to the Arab nation generally, one is left with the distinct impression that this was a PR tactic to level the playing field. If you look at the Arab war against Israel as Arabs versus Israeli Jews, then it’s 300 million against 7 million, hardly a fair fight. But if you push something called the Palestinian people versus Israeli Jews, then - presto - the Arabs are the minority. You can refocus the narrative away from pesky questions such as (1) why wasn’t a state of Palestine established by Jordan and Egypt which controlled every inch of what the Palestinian Arab leadership demands as of right today, (2) why the 1964 PLO Charter explicitly relinquished Palestinian claims of sovereignty to those very same lands and (3) Arab refusal to acknowledge the history and connection of the Jewish people to the land - going so far with their Temple Denial as to call into question the narrative of the Christian Bible accounts of Jesus.

Mr. Cohen said...

Another excellent blog post by Mr. Medad!

===================================

Yigal Carmon
[President of MEMRI dot org] said:


A popular Arab saying goes,
“The Americans are good people —
they can easily be deceived.”

SOURCE:
Americans are good people —
just ask the Qatari Emir

by Yigal Carmon, 2019/7/14
www.jns.org/opinion/the-americans-are-good-people-just-ask-the-qatari-emir

===================================

Yigal Carmon
[President of MEMRI dot org] said:


“For over two decades, Qatar has been
fostering and advancing nearly every
terrorist organization that has murdered
Americans. It praised Osama bin Laden,
and after him Ayman Al-Zawahiri
[leader of Al-Qaeda after Osama
bin Laden], to the skies.”

SOURCE:
Americans are good people —
just ask the Qatari Emir

by Yigal Carmon, 2019/7/14
www.jns.org/opinion/the-americans-are-good-people-just-ask-the-qatari-emir/

===================================

Yigal Carmon
[President of MEMRI dot org] said:


Two months before 9/11, on Qatar’s
state-run Al-Jazeera TV, bin Laden
was lionized in a show dedicated to him.

He was called “the No. 1 Arab and Islamic hero”
and “the conscience of the Arab and Islamic world.”

The program host underlined that as
“the [Islamic] nation thirsts deeply
for someone who will confront America...
not with words and slogans,”
and said that bin Laden was
“the right man for this important role.”

And indeed he was.

SOURCE:
Americans are good people —
just ask the Qatari Emir

by Yigal Carmon, 2019/7/14
www.jns.org/opinion/the-americans-are-good-people-just-ask-the-qatari-emir

===================================

Yigal Carmon
[President of MEMRI dot org] said:


...Qatar cultivates anti-Semitism,
even allowing Muslim Brotherhood
spiritual leader Yusuf Al-Qaradawi,
hosted and protected for decades by Qatar,
to call on its airwaves for a
NEW HOLOCAUST to be carried out
at the hands of the Muslims.”

SOURCE:
Americans are good people —
just ask the Qatari Emir

by Yigal Carmon, 2019/7/14
www.jns.org/opinion/the-americans-are-good-people-just-ask-the-qatari-emir/

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