Our Israeli correspondent MC presents some historical background on the decades preceding the creation of the State of Israel, focusing on the Balfour Declaration, the British Mandate, and Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini.
The tie-up between the Fatah/PLO/PA factions and the Nazi party is a moderately well-known historical fact, but one would never get the likes of Unite Against Fascism or CAIR to accept it.
Haj Amin al-Husseini was a scion of one of the four Ottoman ‘Effendi Families’ that effectively ruled the Ottoman province of Southern Syria in which the current Israel, Judea and Samaria (West Bank) lie.
These families were absentee landlord families. They ruled over the peasants of the area, lending them money against future crops at high interest, causing untold poverty and hardship to ‘Palestinian’ families.
As Jewish agencies became interested in buying land in ‘Palestine’ from about 1880 onwards, it was these Effendi Families from whom they bought it. The land sold was useless swampland (if you are a lazy rich parasitic landowner) and these families were only too happy to sell.
But the Jewish agencies were buying the water rather than the land, and with the herculean efforts of the early (mainly Russian) Jewish immigrants (the much maligned ‘Zionists’ ) the swamps were drained and the land put under irrigation and reclaimed, so that the desert bloomed.
Then came 1917. The British had declared a Jewish Homeland in the Balfour Declaration comprising what is now Israel, Jordan, Gaza and the ‘West Bank’. But now they had second thoughts.
The League of Nations mandated Britain to create a Jewish Homeland, but Britain decided to do something else and immediately gave about 80% of the land (now Jordan) to a Saudi princeling in the hope of securing the oil revenues. Unfortunately, they chose the Hashemite clan, and it was the Bin Sauds who held the oil.
Israel, in effect (though not in name), came into existence in 1923 via the Treaty of Lausanne ratified by the League of Nations and including the Balfour Declaration. Criticism is often made of Mussolini’s violations of the Charter of the League of Nations over Abyssinia, but the British paved the way for this by giving away the majority portion of the Jewish Homeland to the Arabs in defiance of the League. By this act, they laid the foundations of the Arab-Israeli war.
Haj Amin was not idle during this period. In collusion with the British, he was founding the Arab Nationalist cause.
The Arabs are a disparate set of tribes and clans with a common language and religion. In many ways they are like the concept of ‘Europe’ where the English hate the French, the Germans hate the Poles etc. etc., but are held together by a common culture based upon their common Judeo-Christian heritage.
Haj Amin struck at Jerusalem in 1920, with the intention of massacring all the Jews in the Old City. Jewish policemen were sent on leave, and the others threw a cordon sanitaire around the Jewish Quarter whilst Haj Amin incited a mob intent on murder. The cry went up: “The government is with us, kill the Jews!”
The British Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA) was the military administration of Palestine, in anticipation of the grant of a League of Nations Mandate. OETA military command was criticised in the Palin Report into the riots, particularly the withdrawal of troops from inside Jerusalem early in the morning of Monday, 5 April and that, once martial law had been proclaimed, it was slow to regain control. As a result of the riots, trust between the British, Jews, and Arabs eroded. One consequence was that the Jewish community increased moves towards an autonomous infrastructure and security apparatus parallel to that of the British administration. (Wikipedia)
It should be borne in mind that the timing of this event, just prior to the San Remo Conference, is significant. Colonel Bertie Harry Waters-Taylor, Allenby’s Chief of Staff has been accused of colluding with Haj Amin, an old crony.
From then on, the British Mandate crumbled into chaos as factions within the British administration struggled to assert their various influences on the picture. The closet anti-Semitism of the current British administration is not unlike the more open and honest anti-Semitism of the time. Interested parties should read the excellent novel by Leon Uris called Exodus (the film was ‘enhanced’ by Hollywood).
It was at this point that the Jewish authorities realised that the British no longer had their best interests at heart, and they too split into two factions. The Weitzman faction advocated co-operation with the British to try to gain acceptance, while the Jabotinsky ‘Revisionist’ group wanted to force compliance with the mandate.
The first members of my family came here in the early 1930s from Baghdad. Some were denied entry as ‘Jews’, but the British were not very good at distinguishing between Sephardic Jews and Arabs and there were no restrictions on Arab immigration.
Amateur historians might also like to read NYT journalist Joan Peter’s excellent book From Time Immemorial which is somewhat dry, but again very accurate (the critics could only find fault with the interpretation of some minor statistics, which for a book of this impact — completely undermining the accepted leftist history — is amazing).
Most critics of Israel only look at history from the time of UN resolution 181 in 1947, the founding of the’ Jewish State of Israel’. However, the land that became Israel actually was made a legal entity in 1923 as ‘The Jewish Homeland’, but illegal acts, particularly by Britain, have obfuscated the issues. None of the so-called ‘Occupied Territories’ are outside of the ‘Jewish Homeland’ except maybe a bit of the Golan, which was the subject of some political wrangling between France and Britain.
I will write a second essay on the period up to WW2, and maybe a third about the doings of Haj Amin in the War of Independence and after. But for those wishing to get a flavour of the true History of the area I would recommend the two documentary films put out by Hatikva Film Trust, Destiny and Forsaken Promise They are very watchable and also feature the Australian Light Horse and their charge on Beersheva in 1917.