Saturday, March 23, 2019

What is a 'Historical Connection'?

Great Britain's Ambassador to Jordan, Edward Oakden, was told two years ago by Jordan's Lower House Speaker, Atif Tarawneh, that Jordan attaches great importance to the Palestinian cause and believes that the Hashemite custodianship is the legitimate guardianship of Jerusalem's holy shrines. And he added:

"Jordan's custodianship is firm and historically entrenched and any attempt to circumvent that is bound to inflame the sensibilities of Arabs and Muslims around the world"

On that background, consider the statement of Jordan's King Abdullah II who is vowing to keep protecting Islamic and Christian holy sites in Occupied Jerusalem. He called it

a “red line” for his country

and admitted during a visit to the Zarqa governorate last week 

that he’s under pressure to alter his country’s historic role as custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites but that he wouldn’t. Abdullah says: “I will never change my position toward Jerusalem in my life.”

This is a consistent line. Last April. the King was quoted

Stressing that the Hashemite custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem is “a historical duty and responsibility that we are proud to carry”, King Abdullah said: “We will persevere in upholding this responsibility, in coordination with our brothers at the Palestinian National Authority and with your support.”

What "history" is he talking about?

The most compact statement is this, from the 2013 Jordan-PLO Agreement on the Jerusalem Holy Sites:

Recalling the role of King Al-Sharif Hussein Bin Ali in protecting, and taking care of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem and in the restoration of the Holy Sites since 1924; recalling the uninterrupted continuity of this role by His Majesty King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, who is a descendant of Al-Sharif Hussein Bin Ali; recalling that the Bay’ah (oath of allegiance) according to which Al-Sharif Hussein Bin Ali held the custodianship of the Jerusalem Holy Sites, which Custodianship was affirmed to Al-Sharif Hussein Bin Ali by the people of Jerusalem and Palestine on March 11, 1924; and recalling that the Custodianship of the Holy Sites of Jerusalem has devolved to His Majesty King Abdullah II Bin al-Hussein;

An expanded research booklet is here. That "custodianship" was based on some eight months that Ali claimed to be Caliph but was tossed out:

Two days after the Turkish Caliphate was abolished by the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 3 March 1924, Hussein declared himself Caliph at his son Abdullah's winter camp in Shunah, Transjordan.[10] The claim to the title had a mixed reception, and Hussein was soon ousted and driven out of Arabia by the Saudis, a rival clan that had no interest in the Caliphate.

That booklet first debunks Jewish history. Rather badly and so stupidly. On page 59, we read:

The present-day Israeli narrative seeks to justify the ethnic domination of Jews in the Holy Land by making the claim that the earlier 400-year connection of Jews to Jerusalem (and the later 100-year connection) gives Israel sovereignty over it. However, Jerusalem was founded by the Arab tribe of the Jebusites 2000 years before the arrival and brief rule of the Hebrews. In fact, many different nations and peoples have lived and ruled in Jerusalem, but for more than 1200 years of the last 1400 years since 638 CE, Jerusalem has been a predominately Arab and Islamic city. Moreover, in the 5000 years since Arabs founded the city, they have maintained a constant presence there (as Muslims or pre-Islam) and have ruled it for at least 3200 of the 5000 years of recorded history, compared with only about 500 years of Hebrew and Jewish rule.


Then, on pages 56-57, the Jordanian "historical connection" is explained:

...the Jordanian Hashemites took on the role of the guardians and custodians of the Muslim Holy Sites in Jerusalem. In 1918, British Commander Hogarth was instructed to deliver a guarantee to Sharif Hussein bin Ali — Emir of Mecca and father of the founding King of Jordan Abdullah I — that Muslim Holy Sites shall be considered a Muslim concern alone and shall not be subjected directly or indirectly to any non-Muslim authority. Since 1922, the Hashemites have undertaken three major restoration projects of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem and since 1948 Jordan has continuously maintained the Awqaf Administration in the Old City. The First Hashemite restoration of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque took place during the period of 1922–1924, under the auspices of Sharif Hussein and in cooperation with the Supreme Muslim Council. This exceptional historic role continued during the periods of the “British Mandate”, the period of Jordanian rule over East Jerusalem (1948–1967) and even after the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem (1967–present). Sharif Hussein bin Ali donated 24,000 golden lira to the first renovations of Al-Aqsa Mosque and requested to be buried there before his passing.  

History of less than a century.

Jordan was not officially a country, a sovereign and recognized country, until 1946, by the way.

There you have it.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Other Spies and Agents of Zionism

Alerted by this piece, I learned there's a new book out: ‘Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel’.

It treats the interesting chapter of Jews from Arab lands who enlisted in the Palmach's Shachar Unit. The unit was

the successor to the former Arab Platoon, sent, after the UN Partition Plan of November 29th, 1947, a number of teams behind enemy lines. Their goal: to gather intelligence in real time as to the future intention of the Arab neighbors.The unit was active inside Arab nations, as well as within Arab-controlled sectors within Israel.
One of the four spies Friedman deals with has described his childhood experience, when he was 12, that led him on his path

One day, in 1936, while I was working during the summer holiday in the Montefiore neighborhood, I saw three Arabs passing through a nearby field and a Jew walking in the opposite direction. They proceeded to stab him to death and as I watched the entire incident, I screamed my head off," Yakuba recounted about an incident that had a profound effect on him as a child.
I have blogged previously about one of his early operations, before the period which Friedman deals with, summarized here:

In 1943, Yakuba took part in the first operation in which the Arab Squad participated, which came to be known as "The Surgical Operation". It was a reprisal operation the objective of which was to castrate an Arab youth who had raped a Jewish girl. "The rape was shocking and the punishment also sounds shocking today. We were briefed by a physician in Afula, but encountered difficulties trying to anaesthetize the subject and the business became really nasty. Luckily, the 'operation' was successful and eventually the fellow even managed to recover," recounted Yakuba at the time. During the operation, he was assigned to guard the subject's family, while two of his comrades in arms, Yohai Bin-Nun (who subsequently became the commander of the IDF Navy) and Amos Horev (who later became the President of the Technion) "handled" the subject. Later on, Yakuba was involved in tracking, kidnapping and eliminating a sheik from Safed who had been accused of raping a mother and her daughter in Rosh-Pina.
But my point is that there were others, members of the Irgun and the Lechi, who also assumed he identities of Arabs to spy and even engage in offensive operations.

There even was an Arab from Tzfat who eventually converted to Judaism and fell in the line of duty. He was Baruch Mizrachi.

The Lechi hero, Elisha ("Shmuel") Ivzov (Hebrew resource) was killed in March 1948 on his way driving a truck bomb to the headquarters of the Arab Liberation Army led by Fawzi al-Qawuqji.

Their stories, and thos of others, deserve a good literary treatement.