Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ten Notes on Margalit's Book Review

Palestine: How Bad, & Good, Was British Rule? is Avishai Margalit's review of the book of Hadara Levy,  Out of Palestine: The Making of Modern Israel , which is an oral history work published 13 months ago.

I'll deal with but a few of the themes and charges (the NYRB has the King David hotel as an illustrative photo).

Here we go:

1.  "The British made Jerusalem the capital city of Palestine;"

That could have better been written so:  "the British made Jerusalem their administrative capital".  For the Jews, it always was.  For the Arabs, not so.

2.  "...a mandate conferred on Britain by the League of Nations...to prepare the country to be a 'national home for the Jews,' without 'impairing the civil and religious rights of the indigenous Arab people.' This contradictory task is at the heart of the story of the British Mandate."

The Mandate decision does not include the phrase "indigenous Arab people".  This is the phrase that appears: "nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine".

There is nothing contradictory in this task.  After all, the basis and raison d'etre of the Mandate was "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people...[and] recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country;"  That was the primary and overriding purpose.  No Arab or any other ethnic group had preference over or even equal to the Jews.

3.  "On May 15, 1948, the British soldiers evacuated their barracks and went home. Jews and Arabs in Palestine were left to their own devices"

Absolutely.  There were no "Palestinians" in the sense of Arabs only.

4.  "The southern wing of the [King David] hotel was rented by the British to accommodate the chief secretariat of the British Mandate Administration. On July 22, 1946, the Irgun paramilitary group, headed by Menachem Begin, blew up the southwestern corner of the hotel..."

He ignores the fact that it was also the HQ of the British Army Command in the Mandate.  So, it was a legitimate military target.

5.  "Baron Martin Charteris, who was the head of British Military Intelligence in Palestine between 1945 and 1946, tells Lazar: “The Jews were united in their passion to return to Palestine, something pushed them there.” But at the same time, he acknowledges: “In a certain way the Arabs belonged there more than the Jews. Most of the Jews came from outside, not so?” When Charteris tries to account for what that “something” was that pushed the Jews to Israel, he finds that it was the “romantic element” of the Zionist idea. “The Arabs, too, are a romantic people,” he says."

That is immensely important as a confirmation of why the underground war for liberation from British rule was just, correct and necessary.

6.  "The Zionists’ yearning for homecoming was to a place where they believed Jews had once led authentic, independent, and pristine lives,"

"Believed"?  It was.  Historically proven not only from the Bible, and subsequent archaeological finding but by external foreign accounts

7.  "This intense [Arab] intimacy with the pre-1948 landscape of Palestine resonates strongly with the Jewish natives of pre-1948—the landscape Canaanites, if you will—..."

So, we're back to the empty false "Canaanite" narrative.

8.  "In her book The Future of Nostalgia, Svetlana Boym draws a useful distinction between “restorative” nostalgia and “reflective” nostalgia.3 Restorative nostalgia concentrates on the nostos—returning to the lost home; while reflective nostalgia concentrates on the algos—the longing and the sense of loss. Zionist nostalgia transformed the Jewish nostalgia derived from religion and exile from the reflective to the restorative..."

I can accept that for it proves the worthiness of Jewish intention.

9.  "[Sir Harold] Beeley...says that Bevin had a plan to establish one state in Palestine with an assured Arab majority but he couldn’t find supporters for his plan among the Palestinian leadership. One reason, according to Beeley, was the Palestinians’ belief that they had a good chance of winning a military fight against the Jews over Palestine. Why compromise? Bevin’s plan was the Palestinians’ best shot—and they botched it.

Thank you for that.

10.  "...after the war of 1973...a terrible ugliness of Israeli colonial rule was born...one of the main reasons behind the change was that Israeli settlements were built in the West Bank and Gaza. British colonial rule in Palestine never threatened to displace the indigenous population and to disinherit it (though it did infamously prohibit Europe’s displaced Jews from entering Palestine). But Israeli colonial rule did threaten and disinherit the Palestinians, and continues to do so."

Not true.  In the first place, Arabs viewed, and still do, all Jewish communities - whether pre-state 'colonies' or 1948-1967 Israel, as "settlements", foreign and unacceptable.  Secondly, Jewish communities were first established in 1967, in Judea, in the Golan and in Jerusalem's newer neighborhoods.


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