Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Caricatures from World War I and Later on the Holy Land Front

From here:





Poster promoting the production of Lowell Thomas' multimedia show, 
depitcting Lawrence's exploits in Arabia which made him a hero 
in the English-speaking world. 




Partridge, 'Punch', April 8, 1925

Lord Balfour was the guest of honor at the 
opening of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

LRH, 'Punch', June 17, 1925

 A.W. Lloyd, 'Punch', July 12, 1922


Strube, 'The Daily Express', September 4, 1922



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Palestine Arab Rejectionism

A very early example of the ongoing until this very day the preference of Arabs promoting "Palestine" to adopt rejectionism:

HL Deb 27 March 1923 vol 53 cc639-69


LORD ISLINGTON had placed the following Notice on the Paper:—

Legislative Council just concluded in Palestine it is not a fact that the whole Arab electorate refrained from voting in protest against the new Constitution...


Islington moved to cancel Britain's Mandate over Palestine the following year. He initiated several anti-Zionist debates in the House of Lords. He was one of a group of Lords that included Lamington, Sydenham, Curzon, Northcliffe and Beaverbrook who were unfavorably disposed to Jews and exhibited anti-Zionist positions and opinions.

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The 1921 Palestine Population Problem

From Viscount Bryce's speech, June 15, 1921:

"My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Duke who has just spoken whether he can give; the House any information upon one point of some interest in connection with his statement, I itself extremely interesting. Are any inquiries or surveys now being taken through Palestine with the object of ascertaining what is the area of the unoccupied or scantily populated areas in which it would be possible to settle immigrants? The. difficulty, as your Lordships know, is that in Palestine, while some areas —such as the middle and lower Jordan Valley and the coastal plain along the Mediterranean, which is very dry —are at present very thinly peopled, the rest of the country is pretty well populated. It is, of course, very difficult to introduce into peopled I areas any considerable number of immigrants, and it is not unnatural that much I disquiet and anxiety should have arisen I among the existing population, which is chiefly Moslem, upon that subject; but there are unoccupied areas..."

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A Status Quo for Jews Only

I have published many posts regarding the origin of Israel's post-1967 status quo.

Below is a short parliamentary exchange in late 1928 referring to a British White Paper of November that year which sought too placate Moslems by limiting Jewish rights at the Western Wall. Those rights were to bring chairs and benches in to the courtyard, hang lanterns and lamps, set u a prayer partition and blow the Shofar.

A British MP, using his logic, questioned whether any Moslem infractions of the status quo would be taken into consideration:

WAILING WALL, JERUSALEM.
HC Deb 03 December 1928 vol 223 cc813-4813

§12. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the White Paper Cmd. 3229, purporting to deal with recent incidents at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, contains no mention of alleged infringements of the status quo by the Moslem religious authorities; if he intends to issue a further White Paper on this aspect of the matter; and whether he is now in a position to make a statement as to the addition of further masonry courses to the wall itself by the Moslem religious authorities and the other alleged infringements of the status quo?

§Mr. AMERY The White Paper is confined to the incidents which formed the subject of the question put to me when I undertook to lay that Paper before the House. It does not deal with matters in regard to which, as I have already informed the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I am awaiting further reports from Palestine. I am not prepared to anticipate either the nature of those reports or the action which I shall take when I receive them. As I stated in my reply to the hon. and gallant Gentleman on 28th November, I am not satisfied that there has been a violation of the status quo by the Moslem authorities.

§Lieut. Commander KENWORTHY How will the right hon. Gentleman make the further information known? Will he issue a further White Paper?

§Mr. AMERY I will consider in what way.

§Lieut. Commander KENWORTHY Will the right hon. Gentleman let me know when he has the information, so that I can put a further question, if necessary?

§Mr. AMERY Yes, Sir.

Of course what happened was the Shaw Commission of Inquiry and the International Commission of Inquiry during 1930, investigting the 1929 Arab riots, permanently fixed those status quo rules and disallowed any Jewish ownership rights.

^

Monday, September 21, 2020

Rolling Back the Pan-Islam Anti-Peace with Zionism

The original article was published at JNS.

Here I have added some details as well as visual materials.
____________

There are several convincing factors as to why Israel, its supporters – both Jews and non-Jews – as well as all men and women of reason should be satisfied with the signing of two arrangements for peaceful relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. One of them is the historical handicap the conflict between Arabs and the state of Israel and its Zionist character has been cast for a century. 

Indeed, the frame of reference of the “Palestine conflict” has always been one that includes the entire Muslim world. That world’s identification with and sympathy for the “plight of Palestine” is now, in a sense, dissolving.

What was the historical backdrop to that phenomenon?

As Suleiman Mousa, writing in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2, notes that already in July 1922, at the time of the Haj,

a Palestine delegation arrived in Mecca to explain to the king [Hussein ibn Ali] the dangers inherent in the policy of the Jewish National Home. The British government of Palestine, perturbed at the activities of the delegation, sent a letter to the Hijaz government refuting its complaints and claiming that the Arabs in Palestine were faring well and prospering. The Hijaz government refused to accept this statement and insisted that the Balfour Declaration should be canceled.” (and see PRO, FO 686/110) for the correspondence)

Already in 1921 we see the theme of the Haram in danger being pushed:



The head of that 1922 delegation was Abdelqader Al-Muzaffar (arrested in 1930) who had led previous Haj pilgrimages to Mecca.  Its members sailed to Sudan and from there to Jeddah, arriving on July 11. It established pro-Arab Palestine committees at all the stops and sought meetings with leading political and religious personalities. Their theme was “Defend Al-Aqsa” 

"Defend Al-Aqsa" Banner on the Wall, 
Third Arab Congress, 1920

over which, supposedly, the Zionist flag flew




The 1922 delegation's report

As Doar Hayom reported on July 23, 1922, 


the Zionist Organization in Egypt published a response to the claims of the delegation in the al-Muqaṭṭam newspaper. It also dealt with the remarks of Alfred Mond 



as if he proposed in early 1921 during a visit in Jerusalem* an immediate rebuilding of "Solomon's Temple" 
remarks also reported in 1922:

LORD MELCHETT (then SIR ALFRED MOND) has declared in public (1922) that the day of the reconstruction of the Temple was very near.

purposely misrepresented by the Mufti  (see below)








and as how Haaretz reports, he was speaking figuratively that the new construction of the reconstituted Jewish national home will replae Solomon's edifice:


as well as the criticism directed at Norman Bentwich, the mandate’s Jewish legal secretary, who the Mufti considered as being too Zionist as he said "Palestine should be Jewish", as it were. This propaganda ploy by the Supreme Muslim Council was a repeat of the efforts that Chaim Weizmann had to counter in Egypt in April 1918, while on his was to Palestine, when it was asserted that the British had granted the Zionists the right to replace the Dome of the Rock with the Jewish Temple. 


Three days earlier, the Vaad Leumi in Jerusalem was forced to publish a denial that the Zionist flag had been unfurled from the top of the Golden Dome, a calumny to be revived in 1929.  Even the local Arabs denied it:




On July 17, the High Commissioner Herbert Samuel himself declared, as carried in Doar Hayom of July 19, 


that he was forced to address rumors that Omar and Al-Aqsa are in danger, a charge repeated throughout the years.



and would be removed from Muslim control, unfounded rumors spread by the delegation that was now in Mecca seeking assistance to “defend Muslim rights”. 


Two additional delegations followed the following year, one to the Hijaz again and another to India.  This third on consisted of Jamal Al-Husseini, a Haifa mufti, Imam Mohamed Rashid Reda, and Sheikh Ibrahim al-Ansari, a Temple Mount preacher.

They remained in India all during November 1923–June 1924, raised money and engaged in anti-Zionist activity. Oddly, Nicholas E. Roberts ignores the 1922 delegation as does Yehoshua Porath although Porath does include a fourth delegation in 1924. A huge sum was collected for major renovation work and construction within the Haram A-Sharif compound.

This charity was a significant instrument which tied Moslems across the world in a religious sense to an Arab Palestine as well as acting as a political mobilizing tool.

The selection of India was astute. As P.R. Kumaraswamy researched, India was quite able to recognize and admit the religious dimension of the Palestine question. In April 1921, a year before the Palestine Mandate confirmation at the League of Nations, Mahatma Gandhi observed: “The Muslim claim Palestine as an integral part of Jazirat-ul-Arab [the Islamic land of Arabia]. They are bound to retain its custody, as an injunction of the Prophet” (CWMG, 2000, p. 530). He continued and argued: “The Jews cannot receive sovereign rights in a place that has been held for centuries by Muslim powers by right of religious conquest. The Muslim soldiers did not shed their blood in the last war for the purpose of surrendering Palestine out of Muslim control.”

In other words, according to Gandhi, the non-Muslims could not acquire sovereign jurisdiction over Palestine.

The Indian National Congress similarly adopted an anti-Zionist position at a meeting in Lucknow in June 1921. Its All-India Congress Committee declared that “unless Jazirat-ul-Arab are freed from all non-Muslim control, there can be no peace and contentment in India” (Zaidi, 1985, p. 30) and a few years later, the party demanded “the removal of alien control from the Jazirat-ul-Arab” (Zaidi, 1985, p. 32). The Mufti Haj Amin El-Husseini met the Ali Brothers during the 1924 and 1926 Hajj pilgrimage (Kupferschmidt, 1987, p. 129), had Muhammad Ali, the head of India’s Muslims, buried in the Haram wall in January 1931. Shaukat (Shawkat) Ali was a central figure in the convening of the Jerusalem Conference in December that same year.

Thus, within a decade of being selected by Herbert Samuel to be the Mufti, El-Husseini had established a firm financial base throughout the Middle East and beyond, had created a dominant political force in the Mandate itself which disallowed any dissent from his violent and extremist line, had forced the British to create a new status quo at the Western Wall, had initiated the campaign of terror in 1920, 1921 and 1929 that would, until this day, serve as the sole means of “negotiating” with the Jews and had formed a support bloc of all the Arab states and countries with Moslem majorities.

One additional external reliance of the Mufti was the arrangement in 1937 with British assistance to have their regional Arab allies, Amir Abdullah of Transjordan, King Ghazi of Iraq, and King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, the “Arab Kings”, mediate an end to the revolt the Arab Higher Committee (AHC) had initiated in April 1936. Unfortunately, their involvement created serious pressure on Gt. Britain and by 1939, pan-Arab pressure led to the White paper that reneged on the original intent to reconstitute the Jewish national home carried increasing weight in London.

In 1948, Arab state invaded Israel and ever since then, the issue of Palestine has always been regional rather than a local conflict.

Recalling this history and grasping what the previous 100 years had fashioned, one can realize that the signing of the Abraham Agreements on the White House Lawn on September 15 with the abrogation of the boycott against Israel and the pledge “to establish peace, diplomatic and friendly relations, co-operation and full normalization of ties between them and their peoples”, is a major reverse of the Mufti’s and Yasser Arafat’s legacy and an opportunity for a promising future.

_________

On Mond and his remark in the House of Commons:

HC Deb 05 April 1921 vol 140 cc108-9108

§58. Commander BELLAIRS asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the proposal put forward at a meeting of the Palestine Foundation Fund to erect a great temple on the site of the Temple of Solomon; whether he is aware that the site is now occupied by the Mosque of Omar; and whether, in view of the difficulties which such proposals cause to the Mandatory Powers, he will state that in no circumstances will Mohammedan institutions be interfered with?

§Mr. AMERY My attention has been drawn to a passage in a speech delivered by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health [Alfred Mond], to which the hon. and gallant Member apparently alludes. I think it is clear that my right hon Friend was speaking figuratively and did not intend so literal an interpretation to be given to his words. In any case, I would draw attention to Article 13 of the draft Mandate for Palestine, which clearly sets forth the policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to all holy places, religious buildings, or sites in Palestine.

§Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that there is no intention whatever of interfering with any mosques by the Palestine Committees, and also that King Solomon is held in equal reverence by Mohammedans, Jews, and Christians?

§Earl WINTERTON Will my hon. and gallant Friend make it clear that so far from His Majesty's Government wishing to interfere with the holy places, a Mohammedan guard has always been placed over the Temple; and will he convey to the Minister of Health the un-desirability of making the sort of figurative speech which he did, in view of Mohammedan susceptibilities?


§Mr. AMERY I cannot be responsible for the extent of misinterpretation which may be put on figurative speeches, but it is certainly the case, as my Noble Friend stated, that a guard has been on the Mosque of Omar ever since the occupation, and there is every intention of safeguarding the holy places of every religion.

____________

*
By A.W. Lloyd, 'Punch', January 19, 1921



^

Luttwak Unloads on Bresheeth

Selections from this article, "Citizens in arms The defence of Israel" by Edward N. Luttwak in Times Literary Supplement, September 18, 2020.

Every author is entitled to their opinions but not to their facts, and An Army Like No Other is replete with facts absent from the public record, not because of carelessness, methinks, but because the author is not content to condemn Israel as the worst country in the world and its army as the SS redivivus. Instead he insists on being original. Thus on page 4 he writes that “the battle fought by [the] Golani had no real military objective: the [Syrian] men who had died like rats in a barrel had not represented a threat: their positions were isolated, their retreat was blocked”. He then quotes anonymous as telling him that the Golani had to earn its glory – through bloodshed.

The above is not merely implausible but absurdly counterfactual. With Israel victorious, the UN Security Council was suddenly hyperactive, imposing ceasefires on the Egyptian and Jordanian fronts on June 8, 1967 – the third day of the war – and at 3am on June 9, Syria also announced its acceptance of a ceasefire. Syrian artillery had been firing into Israel for years, and much more intensively since June 5 (as I experienced for myself – not Passchendaele, admittedly, but no picnic either). With a ceasefire, the until-then-unattacked Syrians would be able to exit the war with their artillery positions on the Golan escarpment intact, free to resume firing after matters calmed down in a month, or a year. And so, as the forces withdrawn from the two other fronts began to arrive, the Israelis attacked from 7am on June 9 with maximum, frantic urgency, because it could not be known how many hours would be allowed before the Security Council would impose that ceasefire to stop the attack midstride. (Israel, at this stage, it should be remembered, had lost support from France and was faced with the habitually unfriendly UK, the totally hostile Soviet Union and an ambivalent US, which was not yet the ally it would become.) The Golani assault up the escarpment therefore did have a “real military objective”, and one of the outmost strategic urgency: to secure the ridge line before the inevitable ceasefire. For the same reason, there was no logical room left for the mock-Homeric bit attributed to anonymous. Either anonymous was a total idiot who had no idea that Israeli military ventures were apt to be interrupted by the Great Powers, even though it had just happened on two fronts, or else the author made up the story.

Bresheeth-Zabner is one of those Israelis who are warmly welcomed in London by the academics and publicists who, for reasons on which we need not speculate here, studiously overlook every other conflict in the world (including Syria’s, amazingly enough, with its own Palestinian casualties numbering in the many thousands) to campaign relentlessly against Israel. That warm welcome is available in exchange for the acceptance of a simple axiom: Israel has no right to exist; hence everything about it is illegitimate, if not also atrocious, beginning with the Israeli army of course.

That is a bargain that Bresheeth-Zabner is very willing to fulfil. We thus read: “The Israelis are the greatest warmongers in the Middle East” – even though he must be aware that their Middle Eastern competitors in warmongering, from the Syrians to the Iraqis to the Iranians, have managed to kill many times more people, and continue, in some instances, to do so. Moreover, he insists on intellectualizing his consuming hatred, doing so with unintended comical effect when quoting Dalia Gavrieli-Nuri, who must be very famous because she is otherwise unintroduced, and who is presumably another member of the Israel-hating Israeli subtribe, whose innovation is the concept of WND, Israel’s “war- normalizing discourse”. I have lived in ignorance of WND until now, but I do wonder how much “normalization” is needed when war is a daily reality (a daily dose of rockets and fire balloons from Gaza persisted in recent months, Covid-19 and all, until the July ceasefire), and there remain voices calling for a war of extermination against Israel – very official voices in Iran’s case – which, let us not forget, is actually a unique locution in contemporary war-mongering discourse (WMD?), not even heard from the likes of Kim Jong-un.


Sometimes this author’s urge to blacken everything Israeli leads him to put both feet in it, deeply. One example that I will long cherish occurs when he writes that David Ben-Gurion’s model in establishing the Israeli army in 1948 was “the Prussian Das Volk in Waffen” – with all the implications of “Waffen you-know-what” that we are meant to make – which he further defines as “a centralized, authoritarian, ideological, and professional body – an instrument of occupation, expulsion and subjugation”. Well, he is totally right about the Prussian part, because the phrase was coined by the uber-Prussian Field Marshal Leopold Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz (1843–1916). But the army in question, which Ben-Gurion very greatly admired, was not the Prussian army, as might have been expected of a Prussian Junker, let alone the Waffen SS, but the French people’s army that emerged to resist the Germans after the defeat of Napoleon III’s professional army in 1870, volunteers all, raised by the radical Léon Gambetta, whose spirit would persist in the Paris Commune sacred to every gauchisteever since – and not the Waffen SS therefore.


As for the assertion that the IDF was created ab initio as an instrument of “occupation, expulsion and subjugation”, it might pass with some, but for the date: on May 15, 1948, the matters at hand were not exactly glorious conquest and cruel occupation but rather survival – that day, that night and on the morrow – because the Egyptian army, the British- officered Arab Legion, the Syrian army and sundry other militias were at that stage converging to fulfil the Arab League’s promise of a swift bloodbath. True, these armies were poorly trained and poorly led, but they were armies nonetheless, and they did have armoured vehicles, machine guns, artillery, radios and other useful accoutrements, whereas Ben-Gurion’s Volk in Waffen was pathetically short on waffen, owing to very strict British policing until the day before independence, which made even a single rifle valuable, and a single machine gun precious, followed by a very strict arms embargo thereafter, jointly imposed by the British Empire and the US (people went to prison for smuggling a few pistols to the Jews). As a result, and in the total absence of anti-tank weaponry, even the Arab Legion’s 4×4 armoured cars (the lowest form of life among armoured fighting vehicles) were an unstoppable threat, while the Egyptian army’s twenty-five pounders could smash the frontier kibbutzim unimpeded. 
In that war, as in most wars, there was a winner and loser, but the Palestinian losers did not move on, hence the existence of nth generation “refugees”, forever deluded by false reconquistapromises to hold on to a worthless prior residence claim denied to all other defeated nations in territorial conflicts in the years of their own defeat. But our author does not like the Palestinians enough to tell them the truth, thereby insisting on Palestinian exceptionalism, and there is no point in arguing with anyone’s exceptionalist illogic.

Still, that affords no licence for wild exaggerations, such as that the Palestinians in Israel (ie Israeli Arabs) have “few or no rights of any kind”. If this is the case, how is it, we might ask, that Israeli Arabs go to law like anyone else for matters large and small, in courts in which there are many Arab lawyers, and also Arab judges who rule on Arab cases, Jewish cases and any other cases according to the rule of law, regardless of identities? Nor can it be disputed that Israel’s Arab citizens are free to vote for parliamentary candidates of their own choice, who can actually represent them – a great rarity in the Arab world. 


And the author’s apparent need to blacken Israel affords him no licence for the countless factual errors – most of them easily avoidable via a little light googling. For example, the threatening 1967 overflight of the Dimona nuclear reactor by a pair of formidable Soviet MiG-25s – introduced by Bresheeth-Zabner to build up an extremely convoluted argument whereby Israel was really to blame for Nasser’s war-provoking decision to demand the withdrawal of UN troops in May 1967 – has that very fine Mach 3 machine flying as a potential bomber three years before it first became operational as an ultra-fast fighter with no bombing capability at all. 




Later on, the author again casts the Soviet leaders as mad bombers to demonstrate how, during the Yom Kippur War of October 1973, Israel actually threatened the survival of the entire world, if only by provoking nuclear attack against itself. To do so, he quotes a wonderfully quaint bit of fabricated reportage: “it was rumored in the highest corridors of power in Moscow [sic] that in response to [an Israeli air strike on the Aswan dam] the [Soviet] air force would have to land a nuclear blow on Israel” – thereby combining two impossibilities in one paragraph, derived from the miraculous source “in the highest corridors of power”. First, the Soviet Union’s attempt to remain a player during the 1973 war diplomacy was a million miles removed from a nuclear war decision. (It was Henry Kissinger who theatrically elevated the nuclear alert level to get the Soviets’ attention.) As for the Israeli airforce, it was not run by imbeciles who would waste good bombs on the Aswan High Dam, which is not a concrete wall that might be breached even by plain dive-bombing but a huge earthen embankment dam with a width of one kilometre, which could only be breached by many bombing runs with bomb loads impossible for Israel at that time.

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Friday, September 18, 2020

Ze'ev Jabotinsky's Death Certificate

The death certificate was obtained recently through the efforts of Israel's just retired Consul General for Israel in New York, Dani Dayan, himself a Betari from Argentina and Israel:


First, note: he actually died on August 3, just before midnight.

Secondly, the search for the exact location of Camp Betar goes on.  The doctor noted the town of Jewett in Greene County which is quite near but slightly north of Hunter:



____________

P.S.

From two Betarim:

BK -

On my day off, In the late 1960’s or early 1970’s when I was at Camp Betar in Neversink, NY, Tuvia Schwartz drove me and B B (K)  to what was left of the Camp Betar building in Hunter, NY.
I don’t remember the route he took, or the  towns we went through near the camp.  It was about 50 years ago.  It was a rainy day and the two-story building was quite dilapidated.  I do remember we climbed some rickety stairs and there was the remains of an office upstairs, with a filing cabinet that still had a few old documents.

BBK

I remember that day. It had to be 1967 or 1966 as in July 1968, I flew to Israel
I remember it was on the main road in Hunter, New York. I recall walking up the stairs and finding papers strewn on the floor of an empty office.

^

Monday, September 14, 2020

Justifying Jewish Underground Actions 1947

Arthur Koestler, the famous author, was quite sympathetic to Jabotinsky, his Revisionist movement and the Irgun. I have blogged about him here and I reproduce here his 1975 letter to me.

Having enrolled in  the Vienna Polytechnic University to study engineering in September 1922, he became attracted to the more militant Zionist student fraternity, 'Unitas' which also included duelling. student fraternity, 'Unitas.' On 1 April 1926 he left for Mandate Palestine. As he recounts in Arrow in the Blue, in lived for a few weeks on Kibbytz Heftziba and then for the next year worked at menial jobs in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. He also wrote or edited broadsheets and other publications, mostly in German, and credits himself for creating the first Hebrew crossword. In early 1927 he left Palestine briefly for Berlin, where he ran the Secretariat of Ze'ev Jabotinsky's Revisionist Party. He then returned to Jerusalem as the Middle East correspondent for the prestigious Berlin-based Ullstein-Verlag group of newspapers. For the next two years, he produced detailed political essays, as well as some lighter reportage and lived at 29 Rehov Hanevi'im.

However, he came to realise that he would never really fit into Palestine's Zionist Jewish community, the Yishuv, and particularly that he would not be able to have a journalistic career in Hebrew.

In June 1929, while on leave in Berlin, Koestler successfully lobbied at Ullstein for a transfer away from Palestine, He later published Thieves in the Night, dedicated to Tedy Kollek and his wife, and Promise and Fulfilment: Palestine 1917–1949 which includes the forgettable line: "Within a generation or two Israel will have become an entirely un-Jewish country."

As for "Theives in the Night, the New York Times reviewer opined in comparison to Ben Hecht's play, "A Flag is Born", was as a "novel...just as sympathetic to the cause of the Jewish state, just as opposed to the objections of the British and the Arabs, just as convinced of the necessity of force to defend what it believes".

On August 16, 1947, Koestler published in the British New Statesman a "Letter to a Parent of a British soldier in Palestine". As the weekly explained when it reprinted it in 2007:

Sixty years ago British soldiers were trying to keep the peace in Palestine. The hanging of two captured British sergeants by Jewish terrorists was an especially horrific crime that incensed British public opinion. Arthur Koestler sought to justify such an act in this anguished piece, which is still of painful relevance for our own times. The argument to explain Jewish terrorism in 1947 could be applied equally to Arab terrorism in Palestine today.

Here it is:

Dear Sir,

Every morning when you open your paper you feel sick with fear that your boy might have been kidnapped or blown to pieces by Jewish terrorists. I am a person who sympathises with terrorists, and though I disapprove of their recent methods, I might have become one of them – by force of circumstances. I am writing to you to explain those circumstances.

I am not speaking lightly of terror; during several years I have lived in the same anxiety, for persons near to me, which you feel for your son. The persons were my mother and her family; the danger which threatened them, as Jews in German-controlled territory, was death by poison gas or quicklime. My mother was the only one who escaped. Her sister, her sister’s daughter and two grandchildren were gassed. My mother’s brother managed to commit suicide. Every single Jewish terrorist in Palestine has a similar story. This is the first fact you have to let sink in; without this background you will understand nothing.

Obviously you will answer that these regrettable deeds were committed by the Nazis and not by the British; that one of the reasons your boy fought this war was precisely to save those unfortunates; and that there is no excuse for the criminal madness of the thugs who, instead of showing gratitude, throw bombs at their benefactors. As against this, allow me to mention some facts, based on official British sources, which, I submit, prove that the Jews of Palestine have no reasons for gratitude to your country, and many reasons for bitterness against it. There is a legend that in 1917 Mr. Lloyd George’s government, in the kindness of their hearts, promised Palestine to the Jews; since then the Jews have insisted on this somewhat rash promise like Shylock on his pound of flesh; while the unfortunate British, caught between the conflicting claims and bullets of Arab and Jew, carried heroically the White Man’s Burden.

This is the legend; the facts about the motives which prompted the Lloyd George Cabinet to launch the Balfour declaration were explained by Mr. Lloyd George himself in his statement before the Royal Commission in 1937. In the autumn of 1917, at the time of the Russian collapse, the Allies were in a critical position. “In this critical situation it was believed that Jewish sympathy or the reverse would make a substantial difference one way or the other to the Allied cause.” Thus originated the promise of a “National Home”; the meaning of this term was interpreted by Lloyd George, President Wilson, Cecil, Smuts, Winston Churchill, etc., as equivalent to a future Jewish state (Royal commission Report, pp. 23-25). The Zionist leaders, according to Lloyd George’s statement, promised in exchange “to rally Jewish sentiment and support throughout the Allied cause. They kept their word.” (ibid., p.23). It was an honest deal, supported on both sides by long-standing sympathies, not an act of charity, and the question of gratitude does not arise.

The second part of the story is the period between the two wars. I have no space to go into details, only to point out some salient facts. It is not true that the Jews came to Palestine under the protection of British bayonets, or at the expense of the British taxpayer, or with British help under any form, as many countrymen seem to believe. The transformation of Palestine within twenty years from a malaria-infested stretch of swamp and desert into the most fertile country of the Middle East is due to Jewish labour and capital. The part played by the British Administration was to run the public services, on taxes mainly levied from the Jews.

“But,” you will object, “after all we did let the Jews come to Palestine in spite of Arab opposition didn’t we? We could just as well have locked them out, and saved ourselves all this trouble…” You are again misinformed. Palestine never was a Colony or Protectorate of yours: your job and raison d’être in that country was to administer a Mandate on behalf of the League of Nations and that Mandate put you under the obligation “to facilitate Jewish immigration,” to help the “close settlement by Jews of the land “ and finally the establishment of the “National Home.” The deal, concluded in 1917 and known as the Balfour Declaration, had been ratified by fifty-two nations and had become the legal basis, and the only basis, of your presence in Palestine.

The third part of the story starts in 1939, with the White Paper which Mr. Morrison, in the name of the Labour Party, called “a cynical breach of faith, a breach of British honour,” and Mr. Churchill “a base betrayal, the filing of a petition in moral bankruptcy.” You have probably heard about this famous document which, leaving details aside, amounted to the barring of Palestine to the Jews (after a last batch of 75,000) for ever, and led to the prohibition of the buying and cultivating of land by Jews in 95 per cent of the country’s total area (Land Transfer Act of February 1940). Thus at the very moment when the extermination of the European Jews began, the doors of Palestine were slammed in their faces; while those already inside Palestine were condemned to live in one more cramped, Oriental ghetto. This policy was not only inhuman, it was apparently also illegal in the terms of International Law, and this point is essential for the understanding of all further developments in Palestine. For legally, as already mentioned, Britain’s presence in Palestine was based on the Mandate. The League’s Permanent Mandate Commission met on June 16th, 1939, and found unanimously that the new policy contradicted the terms of the British trusteeship. Now according to Article 27 of the Mandate “the consent for the Council of the League of Nations is required for any modification of the terms of this mandate.” The Council of the League was to meet in September, 1939, but meanwhile the war broke out and it never met. As the Mandatory Commission (and leading politicians of all parties in this country itself) had found that the White Paper was not only a “modification” of the Mandate but directly contradicted it, it could only gain legal validity by the League’s consent; and this consent was never given. This is the reason why terrorists refuse to recognize the jurisdiction of British Military Courts and prefer to be hanged without defending themselves; and they claim that Britain’s status in Palestine is that of an occupying Power, based on force, not on law. For similar reasons the Jewish Agency denies the validity of any discrimination between “legal” and “illegal” immigrants.

I am not an expert in International Law, but it seems incontestable, as a matter of common sense, that the pretence of administering a Home which people are not permitted to enter, even when in danger of their lives, is a moral and legal perfidy. The story of Palestine from 1939 to this day is essentially the story of people struggling to save their skins, and of British efforts to prevent this by force and diplomatic pressure. Here are a few examples.

In March and April, 1939, three refugee ships – S.S. Assandu, Astir and Assimi, packed with Jews who had escaped, mainly from Germany, reached Palestine, and were refused permission to land. In the House of Commons Mr. Noel-Baker asked the then Colonial Secretary, Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, what would happen to these people. Mr. MacDonald said that they had been sent back from where they came. Mr. Noel-Baker: “Does that mean to concentration camps?” Mr. MacDonald: “The responsibility rests on those responsible for organising illegal immigration.” (Debate in the House of Commons, April 26th-27th, 1939.)

Do you recognise the tune? It is unchanged to this day. The responsibility rests with the “racketeers” who tried to save these condemned people, not with those who sent them back to their death. There was also much talk in 1937 about the insanitary conditions on these hell-ships. The gas chambers, the quicklime – and the dry rot of the D.P. camps to-day, were and are doubtless sanitary.

Try to put yourself into the place of a Jew of your own age on the jetty of Haifa, shouting and waving to a relative – your son for instance – on the deck of one of those ships; he is not permitted to land; the ship lifts anchor to take its doomed hysterical load back to where it came from. The figure of your boy grows smaller; a few years later you hear that he has been gassed in Oswiecim. If, instead of Smith, your name were Schmulewitz, it might have happened to you. Something on the same lines happened, among others, to a man whom I met in Palestine two years ago; he told me that his mother and three brothers had been killed “by German sadism and the British White Paper.” His name is Friedman Yellin, and he is head of the so-called Stern Gang.

More examples? On November 24th, 1940, the passengers of the steamer Patria, who had been refused admission to Palestine, blew their ship up in Haifa harbour. Over two hundred people were blown to bits or drowned a hundred yards from the promised shore. They were not even to have been deported back to Europe, which, owing to the war, was impossible; only to a tropical island in the Indian Ocean. But these people had become allergic to barbed wire. When a person reaches that state, like the survivors in the D.P. camps to-day, he is past listening to the reasonable voice which tells him that he should never have escaped, or saved his wife and children, without a permit in triplicate to do so.

One last example. The year is 1942; the crematoria in Europe had started to work, when another hell-ship, the 180-ton cattle-boat Struma, hailing from Constanza, floundered into the harbour of Istanbul. There were 769 escapees on board, several of whom had lost their reason. The Turks were prepared to let them land in transit, on condition that the British would permit their entry into Palestine. This the Palestine Government, after consultation with London, refused; so the Turks sent the boat back to Rumania. The rest of the story you can guess: the ship blew up within a few miles of the Turkish coast; one man survived; all other passengers, including 250 women and 70 children were drowned.

The Black Sea was the Jews’ main life-line of escape from the European crematorium. The Struma cut that life-line. Those who, against law and morality, refused to grant its passengers entry into Palestine, did not want them to be drowned. They were presumably even sorry and surprised. All they wanted was that they should be sent back to their “port of embarkation,” where they could wash their hands of them, and thus discourage others from trying to save their skins. In the parliamentary debate of April, 1939, from which I have quoted, the Colonial Secretary had said that the Government had the fullest sympathy with Jewish refugees, but if they allowed one shipload, more would follow. This has been the guiding principle of British policy in Palestine from 1939 to this day. It was a policy of deliberately obstructing by active and passive measures, by force and by diplomatic pressure, the escape of Jews from extermination by a mass exodus into Palestine. I have quoted to you a few examples of this policy; they could be multiplied. Further evidence of the deliberate character of this policy is available, but cannot be published at this moment. But perhaps some future commission of inquiry into the administration of the Palestine Mandate will find it useful to ask, i.a., H.M. former ambassador in Anka to disclose the instructions he received during the critical period before and after the Struma episode.

The White Paper of 1939 has been described as the Palestine Munich. After the Labour victory of 1945 everybody expected that his last relic of Chamberlain’s policy would be wiped out. No party was so deeply committed to support Jewish immigration into Palestine as the Labour Party. On no fewer that eleven occasions, from 1917 to 1945, the Annual Party Conference had reaffirmed this obligation. In 1939 Philip Noel-Baker had prophesied that, if the White Paper was adopted, the only way to stop refugees would be “to tell those kindly British soldiers to shoot them down.” In 1944, the Party conference had affirmed that “there is surely neither hope nor meaning in a ‘Jewish National Home’ unless we are prepared to let the Jews enter if they wish.” In 1945, just before the Labour Government took office, this policy was once more confirmed, and Hugh Dalton declared that “it is morally wrong and politically indefensible to impose obstacles to entry into Palestine now of any Jews who desire to go there.” You know the rest of the story. It is the story of yet another broken pledge; of the triumph of a Foreign Office clique and Ernest Bevin’s pigheadedness over Labour’s honour.

But this time the Jews’ patience is exhausted. On practically every hell-ship which approaches Palestine one or two survivor are shot down because they resist the boarding parties which carry them off to yet another cage, in the name of a policy which is “morally wrong and politically indefensible”. As a result, the Jews have shown that they can fight as ruthlessly and as savagely as any other people driven to despair. Political terrorism has not been invented by them, as the penny press tries to make people in this country believe; it is as old as injustice and oppression, which is its cause. From the days of Spartacus to the French and Yugoslav maquis, the men who fought oppression by violence were called bandits by those who turned Law and Order into a mockery; and patriots and heroes if they succeeded. But this romantic halo is only given them by posterity, or distant sympathisers. Looked at from close to, the deeds of the Paris Commune, or the Russian Social-Revolutionaries, or Tito’s Partisans, all shows the same ugly and revolting details: retaliations, expropriations, armed robberies, bombs, execution of hostages. And it is always the innocents who foot the bill, like Sergeants Martin and Paice, like your boys, who have to carry out a loathsome and immoral policy; for they are under orders, and they know not what they do.

The reason, according to Mr. Bevin, for using men o’ war and paratroopers to fight the inglorious battle of the Palestine beaches, is Britain’s duty to protect Arab interests – another version of the White Man’s Burden. In fact, the situation between Jew and Arab in Palestine is much the same as between Moslem and Hindu in India. The proportion of Moslem to Hindu is roughly 1 to 3; of Jew to Arab roughly 1 to 2. In some fields, where their interests are parallel, they collaborate; in all major points their culture and political aspirations clash. As there is no hope of reconciling these for a considerable time, the inevitable solution is to partition the country. This is hard luck on the Arabs; but they have thrived on this hard luck and grown in health and prosperity as never before in history. It is also hard luck on the Jews; for the Mandate gave them Palestine including Transjordan, and now they will have to be content themselves with a fraction of one-half of it. It may be argued that it was wrong to promise in 1917 a predominantly Arab country to the Jews, but this argument leads nowhere; for to-day the Jewish third in Palestine is a fact which cannot be undone, nor can their fields and orange groves be reconverted into desert and marsh. Since the Royal Commission recommended partition in 1937, every level-headed observer has agreed to this – except the Labour Party, which urged a Jewish State in the whole of Palestine.

But, you will object, all this may be true and very regrettable; however, now that we have passed the whole problem on to Uno it is for them, and no longer for us, to decide. Again you have been misled. The Uno Commission is not the first which has been asked to suggest a policy for Palestine – it is, if I remember rightly, the seventeenth or eighteenth. The Royal Commission in 1937 suggested partition; the Chamberlain Government issued the White Paper instead. Last year we had the Anglo-American Commission; your Foreign Secretary pledged himself to carry out their suggestion if they were unanimous; they were unanimous; they were not carried out. The methods which Mr. Bevin used to sabotage any constructive solution, to get out of his Party’s, his Government’s, and his personal commitments, sounded more than anything like the subterfuges of a Jewish pettifogger. The terms under which he passed the matter on to Uno contain the same loopholes as the previous invitations to other bodies to make “suggestions.” He referred to Uno as an International Tribunal – but reserved the right to accept or reject the Tribunal’s verdict. In the light of their past experiences, it is not surprising that the Palestine Jews suspect this latest move of being another subterfuge to gain time and to continue a policy based on principles which Mr. Bevin’s colleagues in the Cabinet have branded as morally and politically indefensible. The one proof of the honesty of his intentions would be for him to state unequivocally that Britain will either accept Uno’s verdict or surrender the Mandate and clear out.

Meanwhile two things can be done to stop the vicious circle of terror and retaliation. The first is to go to Uno with constructive proposals for a just partition of the country, to be enforced if need be with international help – instead of presenting a record of impotency and bankruptcy. The second is to raise the monthly immigration quota from 1,500 to 5,000 during the period of transition without political conditions, as a minimum gesture of good will. I can assure you, on the strength of many years of experience in Palestine, that this alone would be enough to lead to an immediate suspension of terrorism and at least to a kind of armistice while Uno’s decision is pending.

Is it as simple as that? It is as simple as that. And if public opinion still has a say in your country, now is the time to stop disaster. For the Jews of Palestine fight for one thing only, for the oldest slogan in their history: Let My People Go. There were six million of them in Europe; only one of ten is left. Your countrymen are very fond of the word decency; if you have any left, let them go.

If you refuse, you will have to take the consequences, which may be more serious than you think. For you should understand that there is more at stake here than meets the eye. A great Empire which rules the seven seas can afford to flaunt the world’s opinion. But you are no longer that; you cannot afford to put might before right; and you have already antagonised on this issue public opinion in just the two countries you need most: the U.S.A. and France. The future of a country which is on the downward grade in terms of power depends more than on anything else on its moral integrity. Palestine is a test for your integrity; and in more than one sense your fate is linked with hers.

Yours truly,

ARTHUR KOESTLER

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

When Did the 1947-1949 War in Palestine Begin?

If you read the Wikipedia entry on the First Arab-Israel War, besides finding out it has a new name - the 1947-1949 Palestine War - (Wikipedia anti-Israel/Zionism editors at work), you'll read that its 

"first phase is the 1947–1948 civil war in Mandatory Palestine. It began on 30 November 1947..."

Already in August and September, Arab violence against Jews was on the rise.  There was the Cafe Hawai incident on August 10.

From Palestine Post August 12:





August 13:




August 14:


August 15:




August 18:




August 20 (Beit Dajan was an Arab village):





Inter-communal violence, spurred by the upcoming UN deliberations on the question of Palestine, began in August and sporadically continued for the next three months as the lead-up to the war that would begin in earnest on November 30.

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