History of Palestine and Green Line Israel

May 1, 2002

Historical Introduction

The land that later came to be called Palestine was first inhabited as early as 9,000 years ago. The city of Jericho, a few miles north of the Dead Sea and west of the Jordan River, is reported to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Canaan (the Biblical name for Palestine) later became inhabited by Semitic tribes from the inner Arabian Peninsula. The Jebusites, one of the Canaanite tribes, built a settlement 5,000 to 6,000 years ago called Urusalin (Jerusalem), meaning “the city of peace.” Peace is still “salaam” in Arabic and “shalom” in Hebrew. Around 2000 BC, another Semitic people, the Hebrews, headed by Abraham, passed through Canaan on their way south. About 1300 BC Hebrew tribes under the leadership of Moses returned from Egypt and engaged in wars with the Canaanite tribes for possession of the land. The Philistines in the south, the Canaanites (Jebusites), Phoenicians, Amorites, and Hittites in the north resisted the Hebrew (Israelite) invasion. Four centuries later, the Israelites, under David, were successful in uniting the Hebrew nation, conquering and substantially absorbing the Canaanites. From this point, Israelites, Philistines, Hittites, and Canaanites mixed races and have subsequently been a racially mixed, Semitic people.

Note: Semitic designates a subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic family of languages including Arabic and Hebrew, among others.

Canaan, later to be named Palestine by the Romans, was at different times ruled by the Egyptian Pharaohs, the Hebrews, and Assyrians, the Chaldaeans, the Babylonians and Persians, Macedonians (Alexander the Great), the Egyptian Empire of the Ptolemies, and the Seleucids from Syria.

The first Jewish dispersion occurred in 586 BC under the rule of the Chaldaeans (Babylonia), with thousands forced into exile to Babylon until the reconstruction in Palestine of a new Jewish state after 538 BC. During the Babylonia captivity, the Jews developed ideas and institutions that were subsequently to form the foundation of Jewish political and social life after the second dispersion in 135 AD. In 67 BC, a rebellion headed by Judas Maccabeus restored the Jewish state. However, the invincible Roman Empire seized Jerusalem and subdued the Jewish tribes in 63. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD and the Jews were expelled in 135 AD. All of Judea was destroyed, 985 towns and villages burned, and 50 fortresses razed to the ground.

The Romans had renamed Biblical Canaan, Palestine. Palestine was considered the land of the Philistines. In Arabic, Palestine is “Filastin.”

With the decline of Rome in 476 and Byzantine in 611, the Jews (descendants of Judah) began to migrate to Western Europe. The Muslim Arabs, also a Semitic people, conquered Palestine in 634 from the Persians. It was in Jerusalem that the prophet Muhammad reportedly rose to the heavens. Thus the city became holy land for the three great monotheistic religions. Palestine became predominantly Arab and Islamic by the end of the Seventh Century, and united the Semitic people with the exception of the Jews. The land was not even nominally Jewish after this point. With short intervals of partial domination by the Christian Crusaders and the Mongols in the 11th through 13th Centuries, Palestine was under Arab rule for approximately 1000 years and Islamic governments for 15 centuries. In 1516, Palestine came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

The Jews over the same period were to experience, with some exceptions, a long history of rejections, repression, and pogroms. They were expelled from England in 1290, France in 1392, and from Spain the same year of Columbus’ voyage in 1492 looking for India. They were then expelled from Portugal in 1497. They attempted, with varying responses, to live throughout Europe, including Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Hungary, Turkey, Morocco, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

The Emergence of Zionism

After the Russian riots 1881, and passage of the notorious “May Laws,” tragically forcing the Jews from their farms into town ghettoes, an increased impetus was created for the large number of Jews in Russia to initially emigrate through the formation of Lovers of Zion (at Odessa, Ukraine, 1882). This effort succeeded to the extent that there were 25 Jewish colonies by 1898, and 43 by 1915 in Palestine (Zion). Zion is the name of a hill on which Jerusalem stands, and has come to be a synonym for Jerusalem itself, and by extension to the whole of Palestine.

In 1896, the Viennese journalist, Theodore Herzl, published The Jewish State, influenced by 19th century European nationalism. The vision: creation of a Jewish nation-state. In 1897, Herzl convened a Congress of Jews at Basel, Switzerland and founded the World Zionist Organization to restore the Jewish National Home in Palestine, which at that time was a remote Turkish colony, but inhabited by over a half million Arab Palestinians.

The political program adopted at this 1897 Congress, that continues to provide its basis, begins: “Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a publicly recognized and legally secured home in Palestine.” Among the means identified for attainment of the objective: “Promotion of the settlement of Jewish agriculturalists, artisans and tradesmen in Palestine.” Zionism was envisioned as a “wall protecting Europe from Asia” and “an outpost of culture against barbarism.” It implied alliance with the great western capitalist powers and therefore was very Eurocentric. Thus it has always represented a western bias.

The federation of American Zionists was created in 1898 with Rabbi Stephen S. Wise as secretary. The first issue to split the Zionist movement was whether Palestine was essential to a Jewish state. A majority of delegates at the 1905 Congress agreed it was essential and rejected the British offer of a homeland in Uganda, at the time a British Protectorate in east-central Africa. Cypress had also been mentioned as a possible homeland.

World War I ended (temporarily) the influx of Jewish settlers into Palestine. Jewish population had reached 100,000 in 1914. By secret agreements, including the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, France and England were to share the remains of the Ottoman Empire following the War, even though at that time neither country held any power at all in the region. Lebanon and Syria would become French Protectorates, while England would hold a Mandate over Iraq, including the Kuwaiti District of Basrah, and Palestine within which present day Jordan was included (TransJordan).

In 1916, Zionist leaders met with British authorities asking for creation of an autonomous Jewish settlement in Palestine. British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, in November 1917, declared that the British supported establishment of land for a “national home” for the Jewish people. This became known as the Balfour Declaration, perhaps regarded by the British as a method for preserving and extending their dominion in the region that was becoming strategic because of the emerging era of oil. However, since the Arabs had greatly assisted the British in defeating the Turks during the War, the Declaration included language that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine,” over 90 percent of the population at the time. The dream of a united Arab nation or kingdom had been kindled during WW I, significantly by T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), but was cruelly betrayed by the Treaty of Versailles (1919) which divided up the spoils among European powers Great Britain and France after the War. The Arabs claimed that the British had promised them an independent state as well. The ratio of Jewish settlers to Palestinian indigenous in 1918 was only one to ten.

The British Mandate

The British Mandate, originally an enunciation of the policy of Great Britain only (with the silent assent of France), was ratified by the allies at the 1920 Conference of San Remo (Italy). This conference ratified the decisions made at the May 1919 Paris Peace Conference, and June 1919 Versailles Treaty, at the conclusion of WW I. In effect the Mandate established a colonial government over the Palestinian people, while overseeing the immigration of Jews into Palestine. A special Jewish battalion was organized to assist in the re-conquest of the “Holy Land,” supported by the 1920 Zionist Congress in London.

Tensions had been mounting for years. The 1919 King-Crane Commission investigated Palestine and concluded: “Zionists look forward to a practically complete dispossession of the Palestinian people. It was increasingly clear at that time that Zionism meant both (1) the “return” of all Jews around the world to “Erzetz Yisrael” and their mass transfer to and settlement in Palestine, and (2) the exodus of indigenous Palestinian Arabs and their mass transfer from Palestine. In effect the situation was not that much different from the dispossession from the Americas of the Indigenous natives by the Europeans.

The first Arab anti-Zionist riots occurred in Palestine in 1920. Despite these problems, the League of Nations formally approved the British Mandate over Palestine in 1922. This Mandate by a foreign colonial power preempted self-government by the Palestinians, facilitated Jewish immigration, and oversaw the transfer of land to the settlers without the consent and against militant opposition of the indigenous Palestinians. Large tracts of land were purchased or “acquired” from the Arabs, massive electrification of the country was initiated, and a “model” town, Tel Aviv, inhabited completely by Jews was laid out, including construction of schools and other institutions.

Arab nationalism had been developing during the early part of the Twentieth Century in response to 4 centuries of Turkish/Ottoman rule. When the Turks were defeated in WW I, the Arabs were prepared to reclaim Palestine. The combination of Zionist colonization and the British Mandate necessarily provoked growing Arab nationalist sentiments even more. Jewish immigration and settlements continued under the Mandate, part of the function of the British charge. In 1929 there occurred serious Jewish-Arab violence at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

In 1930, Sir John Hope Simpson was dispatched by the British government to study the economic conditions in Palestine. He found that the Zionist land policy was displacing large numbers of Arab farmers while also causing neglect and deterioration of agricultural land. Throughout the 1930s, the Arabs conducted large-scale strikes and boycotts in protest. The Palestinian general strike in 1936 in protest of continued Jewish immigration, the latter spurred by Hitler’s persecutions, led to the creation of the British Peel Commission (1937). The Commission found British promises to Zionists and Arabs irreconcilable, declared its Mandate unworkable, and recommended partition of Palestine into Jewish, Arab, and British (largely the holy sited) states. The Zionists reluctantly accepted but the Arabs vehemently rejected the partition plan. Sporadic rebellion lasted until 1939, by when most Palestinian leaders had been killed, exiled or imprisoned, and the British dropped the plan. Instead, the British began strict controls over Jewish immigration for 5 years. In ten years a binational Palestine (one state) was to be established.

Shocked, the Zionists rejected the latest proposal. The Arabs demanded immediate creation of a secure Arab Palestine and prohibition of all further Jewish immigration. As World War II was unfolding, Zionists and most Arabs supported the British war efforts. The plan was scrapped but tensions inside Palestine continued to mount.

Intensification of Violence and Terrorism

As the Jewish community became better organized in defense of its immigration into and settlement of indigenous Palestinian land, the militant Zionists led by Vladimer Jabotinsky became more violent. At a World Congress in Prague, they declared that continued Arab resistance would be met by Jewish violence and that they (the Zionists) affirmed their right to establish a Jewish Majority on both sides of the Jordan River.

Haganah was a secret armed group organized by the Jewish Agency, the organization that officially worked with the Mandate. The Irgun, the most militant of all, and the Stern Gang also emerged as Jewish terrorist groups. Irgun, under the leadership of a Polish Jew, Menachen Begin, also announced in 1944 its war against the Mandate and specifically its goal to assassinate British officials because of their support for a limitation of Jewish immigration quotas. Virtually all current Israeli leaders were members or supporters of one or more of these terrorist organizations. Fifteen British officials had been murdered by October 1944. The terror campaign gathered momentum in 1945-46. The Kind David Hotel in Jerusalem was bombed with many killed. Thousands of Europe’s Jews sought admission to Palestine following the end of the war but the British blocked the immigration attempts and detained the migrating Jews in Cypress and other locations. The Jewish terrorist groups responded to the blockade with the escalation of violence, including the blowing up a number of buildings, bridges, and railways, while targeting British soldiers.

A 1947 London conference of British, Arabs and Zionists produced no agreement. The British then turned the Palestine problem over to the United Nations in February 1947. At this time there were about 1,100,000 Muslim Arabs, 615,000 Jews, and 145,000 Christian Arabs in Palestine. In April 1947, the UN General Assembly established a Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). In August the UNSCOP proposed partition into separate Arab and Jewish states, and an internationally administered zone including Jerusalem and the holy sites. This was similar to the plan proposed by the British in 1937 (Peel Commission). The UN plan was adopted on November 29, 1947. Great Britain abstained. The Arab representatives left the General Assembly session declaring they would resist the plan. Armed Zionist organizations began forcefully expelling Palestinians from their homes, claiming an attack by Arab armies was imminent.

On April 9, 1948, the Irgun terrorist organization, commanded by Menachen Begin, as a part of an increased campaign of violence, attacked the village of Deir Yasin, killing 254 Palestinian men, women and children. The intention was to terrify the Palestinians into leaving their land. Ten thousand Palestinians did leave the country in fear of their lives. Begin later declared: “There would have been no State of Israel without Deir Yasin.”

The Mandate Ends: Creation of State of Israel (without borders)

At midnight, May 14, 1948, the British High Commissioner for Palestine departed the country. (I bet he said, “Phew”!) At 4 p.m. that same day, the Jews held a ceremony in Tel Aviv at which time they read their Declaration of Independence of the Jewish State in Palestine, for the Jewish people (wherever they might be living at the time), to be called Israel. The new state had no boundaries and, to this day, more than five decades later, Israel is the only country in the world, the only member of the UN that refuses to accept any identified boundaries. It is worthy of note that Israel was established as a state for the “Jewish People,” and not as the state of its citizens. The UN partition plan, however, did identify the boundaries on a map, generally described as (1) a narrow strip of coast, including the ports of Haifa and Tel Aviv, but leaving Jaffa and Acre to the Palestinians, (2) most of the Negeb, a large arid sector in the south, and (3) eastern Galilee around Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee). Israel, without its borders, received immediate recognition by the United States and Russia.

The Arab states of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq invaded the new state of Israel on May 14, 1948. But the Jews had been preparing for war for many months. They had acquired many arms with soldiers to carry and fire them, had planted many land mines, and possessed abundant ammunition. Many of their weapons were Soviet made but purchased through Czechoslovakia. Nicaraguan dictator Somoza, created and protected by the United States, had also participated in a variety of schemes whereby arms were smuggled through the Central American country to the Zionists in various military training locations as early as 1939-40. Nearly 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and villages almost immediately from areas that were part of Israel’s partition. One hundred twenty thousand managed to remain living within this early version of Israel. This mass expelling became known to the world community as the first wave of Palestinian refugees, most living in wretched camps. They now number more than 2 million.

Of course this forced exodus exacerbated strong anti-British as well as anti-Jewish sentiment. In effect, Palestine was dismembered in May 1948. Hundreds of entire villages were destroyed.

An Armistice was signed in January 1949, ending the first Arab-Israeli War, by which Israel increased by over 40% the size of its partitioned territory. This came to be known as Green Line Israel, the pre 1967-borders. In January 1949 Israel conducted elections for its parliament, the Knesset (“assembly” in Hebrew), and its government was formed. On May 11, 1949 Israel was admitted to the UN. Within a year, 40 nations recognized the borderless state.

The Palestinian Diaspora

A much different, tragic situation was in store for the Palestinians. More than half had abandoned their homes. Most lived as refugees on the West Bank (of the Jordan River), a territory that was then annexed by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (from “Haslim,” family of Muhammad, claiming to be a direct descendent of the Prophet). The Gaza Strip came under Egyptian administration. Palestine ceased to exist as a political and administrative entity. In the eyes of the UN, and therefore international law, the Palestinians were, and are, stateless without any citizenship. Hardly a people. They are officially refugees, a “problem” awaiting resolution.

Palestinians who continued to live in Mandate Palestine on the day of the 1949 census, acquired, through Israeli decrees, a new legal designation, “Israeli Arabs” (or Arab Israelis). Those physically present in the territory incorporated by Israel, but who were not in their homes at the moment of the 1949 Israeli census, became known as “absentee-present” persons. Palestinians living on the West Bank were naturalized according to Jordanian law, as well as those who sought refuge on the east bank of the Jordan River. Those remaining in Gaza, or who sought refuge in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt, remained stateless but subject to the control of the countries in which they resided. Over a million presently are in this explicit stateless status.

As a result of this fragmentation and dispersion, a plight familiar to the Jews, the Palestinians have ceased to possess any real authority to live a national or self-determinative life.

Loss of All Historical Palestine and Post-1967 Israel

With U.S. weapons instead of Soviet ones, Israel blitzed, during 6 days in early June 1967, and seized all of the West Bank from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. At this moment the whole of historical Palestine came under the military control of Israel.

There continue to be other tragic consequences of the 1967 blitz war. Israel’s policy of building colonial settlements on the West Bank and in Gaza has meant shameless confiscation of Palestinian lands, annexation of Jerusalem, the annexation of the Golan Heights, and the settling of over 100,000 Jews within annexed Jerusalem. Israel has confiscated precious water resources of the West Bank for its settlements, while prohibiting Palestinians from seeking desperately needed new water sources. Severe drought exists in Arab villages, compelling further exodus of Palestinian farmers. The occupation has caused serious economic dislocation and large-scale unemployment, while forcing the remainder to work for minimum wages in harsh conditions. And Israel found a captive market in the West Bank and Gaza for its manufactured goods, these areas becoming in effect “trading partners” of Israel.

The 1967 War led to the October War of 1973, the Camp David Agreements in 1979, and the Israeli invasions of Lebanon in 1978 and 1982.

The repression required to “successfully” occupy the Palestinian people in their indigenous country is nothing short of a comprehensive and systematic effort to destroy the Palestinian people. In continuing their policies of occupation and regional aggression, Israel has defied dozens of separate United Nations Resolutions since 1967.

Conclusion

This tragedy of two peoples gripped in a seemingly hopeless struggle over the same territory, with the U.S. politically and financially sustaining the occupation of one people by another, forms the continuing context for much of the political dynamics effecting the Middle East. Of course, without the presence of the vast quantities of oil in the Middle East region upon which most of the “developed” world is totally dependent upon, the U.S. and other Western nations would not have been supporting Israel at the expense of Palestinian and other Arab peoples.

Sources Consulted

Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia. Chicago: F.E. Compton & Co., 1951 Edition.

Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Encyclopedia. New York & London: Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1931.

The New Columbia Encyclopedia. Edited by William H. Harris and Judith S. Levey. NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 1975.

The above sources were utilized for the following subjects: Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Jews, Zionism, WW I, Versailles Treaty, San Remo Conference, British Mandate.

Cockburn, Andrew and Leslie. Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991.

Said, Edward, and Hitchens, Christopher. Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question. London & NY: Verso, 1988. (Introduction, pp. 1-19; Ch. 5, pp. 97-147; Ch. 11, pp. 235-296.)

Third World Guide. Grove Press, 1986. (Sections on Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt.)

In addition, much information was gathered from several personal trips to Palestine/Israel, especially in April 1989 and September-October 1991.


14 Comments

  1. sylvia
    Posted March 16, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Great article! I am the daughter of Jewish holocaust survivors and have viscerally understood the problems with the Jewish State. This succinct, articulate article has informed my position. One would think that a self proclaimed chosen people would aspire to a higher standard that overcomes vengefulness, guilt, racism, intolerance and other such base instincts. Thank you.

  2. Posted March 16, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Sylvia,
    Thanks for your comments. The fact is that the USA as a nation-state has no moral or legal authority with which to judge Israel. But we as a citizens of the earth must condemn all egregious, barbaric behavior such as that exhibited by Israel, the USA, and many other vertically oriented nation states.

    It is heart wrenching, and I think our species will, if we are to survive, experience an evolutionary epistemological shift from narcissism that masks our insecurities, to a deep eco-consciousness that viscerally feels the Connection with everything, and thus behaves with that wisdom.

    Brian

  3. Posted March 17, 2010 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    Sylvia, with all due respect to Brian, you need to go much further than this collection of half-truths, outright historical errors and omissions, and simplistic conclusions before forming an opinion. I would implore you to look at as many original source materials as possible, and get more recent information. Brian’s sources are politically biased and decades out of date failing to include declassified documents of the past few years.

    While we would agree that mistakes have been made along the way, both sides in this sad conflict bear responsibilities for their actions; and both Jews and Arabs have been manipulated by outside forces, including foreign governments and sponsored extremist groups. It’s a much more complex issue than this ‘article’ makes out. I’m happy to suggest a few less biased sources to both of you. Brian, I applaud your commitment to a non-violent resolution of this conflict (and your service to your country – my father-in-law is also a Vietnam veteran so I appreciate where you’re coming from) – but you must respect everyone’s rights equally; demonizing one side while whitewashing the actions of the other is, frankly, dishonest.

  4. Posted March 17, 2010 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Morey,

    I appreciate you taking the time to comment on this. I did write this as a summary piece, not as an academic treatise. However, to enable your accusations of my “half-truths,”"outright historical errors,” and “simplistic conclusions,” to possess credibility, it would be constructive for you to present your “unbiased” “full” truths, corrections, and “complex” conclusions such that a layperson can understand. Thanks.

  5. Posted March 18, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    That’s fair. I’m in the middle of an article, but I’ll post next week. Unfortunately, I’m too busy to respond to every problem, but I’ll give you a few examples of what I’m concerned about. And for the record, I’m not ‘unbiased.’ No one is. But I prefer first-hand sources to third-hand, politically motivated opinions which I think you’ve given too much credence to.

  6. Posted March 18, 2010 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Yes, first hand sources are superior to third hand ones. I will be able to get into many first hand experiences during my three visits to Palestine/Israel during the first Intifada when I spent time in several Palestinian Camps and witnessed IDF forces brutality and arresting me and placing me in the Ramallah jail.
    I do not approach Israel’s occupation from a USAmerican perspective, but from a world citizen view. The USA has no moral or legal authority to tell anyone anything. This piece you are commenting on was a summary to attempt to place my experiences in an historical context. Several Jewish friends looked it over and concluded it was a reasonably good overview.

  7. Posted March 22, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I can’t comment on your experiences during the intifadah, having no knowledge of why you were arrested, or the general situation. As for who looked at your summary, the religion of your critics is irrelevant; and most American Jews are woefully ignorant when it comes to Jewish history.

    Ok, I said I would give you a few examples of half-truths and historical omissions. Here are a few examples, and I’ll try to indicate where I think the problem lies:

    Historical Introduction

    “Canaan, later to be named Palestine by the Romans.” This is extremely misleading. The term Canaan referred to a geo-political region which hadn’t existed for centuries; the Romans renamed the Province of Judea to Syria-Palestina.

    You suggest that this area was ruled by many different groups (true enough) but fail to mention a 400-year Kingdom of Judea, and the splinter Kingdom, Israel, in the north. With the exception of the Greeks and Romans, foreign rule was brief, and almost without exception the Kingdom of Judea survived as an autonomous province of a larger empire, with a Governor and High Priest, but did not disappear, just as Poland continued to exist during the decades of denomination by the USSR.

    “Palestine was considered the land of the Philistines. In Arabic, Palestine is “Filastin.” You’re attempting to suggest that the Romans considered this place to be Philistina. In fact, the Romans deliberately assigned the name to Judea to humiliate the Jews, who they knew had fought with the Philistines in the past. Historically speaking, however, they didn’t live in the same place; the Philistines were a sea people, living along the southern coast where Gaza is today. I don’t know if I understand your need to mention that Palestine is “Filistin.” There were no Arabs in the region at the time (except, perhaps, the Nabateans, an Arab tribe which converted to Christianity), and Palestinian Arabs only adopted the use of this word in the 20th century.

    “the Jews (descendants of Judah)” This may or may not be true but is, in any event, irrelevant. The nomenclature ‘Jews’ appeared as an abbreviation of ‘Judeans.’ Ethnicity was a secondary consideration; Jews were the ancestors of the Judean people, a united nation with a common belief system, language and history.

    “All of Judea was destroyed, 985 towns and villages burned, and 50 fortresses razed to the ground.” This is from Dion Cassius who lived decades after the events. Even if exaggerated, Dion Cassius was writing about the province of Judea. The historical and archaeological record suggests that many Jews relocated to Samaria and the Galilee, where a new Sanhedrin and academy was founded. Throughout the area, archaeologists have found the remains of synagogues built between the First and Fourth centuries CE. In fact, it was during this period that the Palestinian Talmud was compiled, evidence that Jewish life and thought continued in Palestine.

    “Palestine became predominantly Arab and Islamic by the end of the Seventh Century, and united the Semitic people with the exception of the Jews. ”

    What Semitic people are speaking of? Hittites? Moabites? Philistines? Jerusalem was occupied by Christians (descendants of pagans, who the Romans has transferred into Judea after the expulsion of the Jews, and a handful of Jewish residents).

    “Palestine was under Arab rule for approximately 1000 years and Islamic governments for 15 centuries.” Very nonfactual.

    Palestine was captured by Arab Muslims, under the leadership of the Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab in 638. After years of infighting between Arab tribes, the area was briefly – as you wrote – under the control of Turks and Crusaders, until Saladin conquered the area in 1187. Saladin, however, was Kurdish, not Arab, and most of his soldiers were black slaves from the Sudan. And within a few years, Mamelukes, Asian-Egyptian soldier-slaves who overthrew the Egyptian monarchy, took Palestine and ruled from the 13th through to the 16th centuries until the Ottoman Empire defeated the Mamelukes in 1517. Arab rule, then, appears to be quite brief – just a few centuries after the arrival of Omar.

  8. Posted March 22, 2010 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    The British Mandate

    “The 1919 King-Crane Commission investigated Palestine and concluded: “Zionists look forward to a practically complete dispossession of the Palestinian people. ” The use of this document is particularly misleading. The commission was commissioned by President Woodrow Wilson under the supervision of two wealthy Arabists, one of whom – Charles R. Crane – was described in a biography of him as being biased by “… a most pronounced prejudice…his unbridled dislike of Jews.” Several members of the commission actually filed a formal dissent, and advocated a Jewish state in Palestine. In any event, Wilson suffered a catastrophic, disabling stroke while President in 1919 and apparently never saw the report.

    More importantly, one should be asking what the people of the region were saying. There’s no question that Arab landowners were unsettled by a change to the status quo, and a number of anti-Zionist groups formed in Arab capitals, but opposition to Zionism was not universal even in the Middle East. Yusef Diya al-Khalidi, a veteran liberal member of the first Ottoman parliament acknowledged the Zionist position in a letter to the Chief Rabbi of Paris, Zadok Kahn, writing: “My God, historically it is certainly your country.”

    In 1919, Chaim Weizmann signed an agreement with Feisal, the son of Sharif Hussein from the Hashemite family, to work together to establish a Jewish province of an Arab Kingdom. Faisal wrote, in 1919, “We Arabs, especially the educated among us look with deepest sympathies on the Zionist movement…we will wish the Jews a hearty welcome home.”

    There was a lot of support for Zionism from the Arabs back then. For example, the editor of the Egypt’s daily al-Ahram wrote: “The Zionists are necessary for this region. The money they will bring in, their intelligence and the diligence which is one of their characteristics will, without doubt, bring new life to the country.” In the same vein, the former Egyptian minister Ahmed Zaki wrote in 1922 that, “The victory of the Zionist idea is the turning point for the fulfilment of an ideal which is so dear to me, the revival of the Orient”. Thus, in 1926 the Egyptian government extended a cordial welcome to a Jewish teachers’ association delegation from the British mandate territory. Later, students from the Egyptian University travelled on an official visit to Tel Aviv to take part in a sports competition there. When the conflict in Palestine escalated in 1929, the Egyptian Interior Ministry ordered its press office to censor all anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish articles. Even in 1933, the Egyptian government allowed 1,000 new Jewish immigrants to land in Port Said on their way to Palestine. (from German historian Matthias Kunzel.)

    “Large tracts of land were purchased or “acquired” from the Arabs” What do you mean by acquired? Are you implying that land was stolen? In fact, all of the land occupied by Jews before 1948 was legally purchased as a British Land Survey from the period details. It also confirms that very few Arabs were displaced by Jewish land purchases (the British offered compensation to displaced families. Only 3,000 families applied and all but 600 were dismissed as fraudulent claims), and both the British and Zionists made efforts to relocate or lease back land to Arab farmers. (See the Survey of Palestine, prepared by the British mandate for the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry)

    “In 1929 there occurred serious Jewish-Arab violence at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.” Vague and misleading. In fact, attacks against Jews by thugs loyal to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Al-Husseini weren’t limited to the Old City. They also included a massacre of Jews in Hebron and other places. Between 1929 and 1936, the Mufti’s gang-members drove the Jews out of Gaza, Jenin and Shchem.

    “In 1930, Sir John Hope Simpson was dispatched by the British government to study the economic conditions in Palestine.” The report also noted significant illegal immigration of Arabs from Syria and Transjordan, as well as importation of Egyptian labor. It failed to take into account improved irrigation practices, suggesting that Palestine could accommodate no more than 20,000 families in all into Palestine. Considering that the population of Israel is now around 7.5 million, the report was obviously out of touch with reality and biased.

    “In ten years a binational Palestine (one state) was to be established. Shocked, the Zionists rejected the latest proposal.” The Zionists protested the quota placed on Jewish immigration; the White Paper advocated only 75,000 Jews be admitted over five years while hundreds of thousands of Jews were fleeing persecution in Europe. In truth, both the Zionists and the Al-Husseini unilaterally rejected the proposal, which apparently surprised other members of the Arab Higher Committee who felt that he rejected it only because “it did not place him at the helm of the future Palestinian state.” (The Tangled Truth by Benny Morris, The New Republic, May 07, ‘08)

    You’ve also failed to mention several British and Jewish offers to Partition Palestine all rejected by the Arabs.

  9. Posted March 22, 2010 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Mandate Ends

    “Haganah was a secret armed group organized by the Jewish Agency” True, but the Haganah (“The defence”) was established to defend Jewish settlements, not attack civilians. The British were well aware of its existence, and even approved (in June 1938) a British officer named Orde Wingate permission to create the Special Night Squads (SNS) unit of the Haganah. During the war, the British initially arrested Haganah members but then amnestied them in order to aid the British war effort. Beginning in 1944, Haganah assisted the British with arresting members of Irgun and Stern gang. This cooperation ended in 1945, as a result of British intransigence, and Haganah entered into a cooperative effort with Irgun and Lehi, as a means of controlling them. This effort was abandoned after the King David Hotel Bombing when it was clear Irgun would not abandon attacks against the British, which Haganah disapproved of, and publicly denounced (along with the Yishuv, the Jewish community. It is unfair and misleading to lump these groups together; indeed, the showdown which occurred over the Altalena, in 1948, when Ben-Gurion prevented Irgun from illegally importing weapons was a defining moment for the country.

    “The Kind David Hotel in Jerusalem was bombed with many killed.” You completely fail to mention that the hotel was the site of the British authorities. It was without a doubt a despicable attack, but it was carefully aimed at a military target, although civilian staff were killed (despite a phone call to the British, which was ignored). You also fail to mention that throughout this period, Arab attacks against Jews were incessant. In the 12 days alone following the Partition vote (November 1947), 79 Jewish civilians had been murdered. As a result, Irgun and Stern Gang escalated reprisals against Arabs and the British who they saw as complicit.

    Between November 1947 and May 1948, the country was racked by what was essentially a civil war. Arab fighters attacked more than a dozen kibbutzim between December 1947 and March 1948. Arab rioters killed 39 Jews at Haifa’s oil refinery on December 30, 1947, and two weeks later Arab irregulars killed 35 Jews trying to reach Gush Etzion. On February 1, 1948, an Arab terrorist blew up The Palestine Post building and, three weeks later, a terrorist’s bomb killed 44 Jews on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street. Massacres continued for weeks both inside Palestine and in the neighbouring states. On March 21, the bodies of 11 missing Jews were found; three had been burned. Local Arab villagers or Bedouins may have precipitated the autumn 1947 violence, but by spring 1948, Arab volunteers from Iraq and Syria were increasingly participating.

    “On April 9, 1948, the Irgun terrorist organization, commanded by Menachen Begin, as a part of an increased campaign of violence, attacked the village of Deir Yasin, killing 254 Palestinian men, women and children. The intention was to terrify the Palestinians into leaving their land. Ten thousand Palestinians did leave the country in fear of their lives. Begin later declared: “There would have been no State of Israel without Deir Yasin.”

    Much has been said on Deir Yassein. You still managed to leave out many salient facts.

    The attack on the village of Deir Yassin followed months of violence despite the Jewish Agency warning the UN on January 15 that an international police force was needed to implement partition. Although everyone agrees civilians were caught in the crossfire, the attack was directed at Iraqi fighters who had holed up in the village, according to Irgun. Unfortunately, as is often the case in war, this claim can never be verified, nevertheless, the vast majority of residents fled before the attack after hearing a warning on an Irgun loudspeaker.

    The number of victims has always been a contentious issue but a 1987 study undertaken by Birzeit University’s Center for Research and Documentation of Palestinian Society found “the numbers of those killed does not exceed 120″.

    Haj Ayish had been a schoolboy during the war in 1948. “We heard shooting. My Mother did not want us to look out the window. I fled with my sister, but my mother and my other sisters could not make it. They hid in a cellar for four days then ran away.” He said he never believed that more than 110 people had died at Deir Yassin, and accused Arab leaders of exaggerating the atrocities. There had been no rape, he said. “The Arab radio at the time talked of women being killed and raped, but this was not true. I believe that most of those who were killed were among the fighters and the women and children who helped the fighters.”(War Without End, pg 199-200)

    A 1998 BBC television program featured Hazem Nusseibeh, an editor of the Palestine Broadcasting Service’s Arabic news in 1948, admitted that he was told by Hussein Khalidi, a prominent Palestinian Arab leader, to fabricate claims of atrocities at Deir Yassin in order to encourage Arab regimes to invade the expected Jewish state. Nusseibeh “describes an encounter at the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City with Deir Yassin survivors and Palestinian leaders, including Hussein Khalidi… ‘I asked Dr. Khalidi how we should cover the story,’ recalled Nusseibeh. ‘He said, “We must make the most of this.” So we wrote a press release stating that at Deir Yassin children were murdered, pregnant women were raped. All sorts of atrocities.’ ”

    The BBC program also features an interview with Abu Mahmud, a Deir Yassin resident in 1948, who says: “… the villagers protested against the atrocity claims.” We said, “There was no rape.” [Khalidi] said, “We have to say this, so the Arab armies will come to liberate Palestine from the Jews.” Khalidi was one of the originators of the “massacre” allegation in 1948. It was Khalidi’s claims about Jewish atrocities in Dir Yassin that were the basis for an article in the New York Times by its correspondent, Dana Schmidt (on April 12, 1948), claiming a massacre took place. The Times article has been widely reprinted and cited as “proof” of the massacre throughout the past 50 years.

    Nearly 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and villages almost immediately from areas that were part of Israel’s partition.

    There are two issues: the figure of 800,000 has been disputed and was probably no higher than 600,000. The more important issue is the flight of Palestine’s Arabs. Undoubtedly, it was caused by many internal and external factors. It is absolutely true that a number of Arab villages were attacked by Jewish forces; other villagers fled because of nearby conflict. In particular this happened along vital transportation routes as Arab villagers and Arab irregular forces had a habit of shooting down from mountain villages into conveys attempting to bring supplies to isolated Jewish communities. But, in many cases, “the Arab civilians panicked and fled ignominiously. Villages were frequently abandoned BEFORE they were threatened by the progress of war.” (General John Glubb “Pasha,” The London Daily Mail, August 12, 1948.)

    In other places, Arab forces initiated combat but were unable to withstand the Jewish response. ‘[The] Jewish attack at Haifa was direct consequence of continuous attacks by Arabs on Jews in Haifa over previous four days’, the British High Commissioner in Palestine cabled the Colonial Secretary, Arthur Creech-Jones, on 25 April 1948. ‘Attack was carried out by Hagana and there was no “massacre”. Arabs in Haifa were thus themselves responsible for this outbreak in spite of our repeated warnings.’

    “As long as mortar bombs are fired from Jaffa at Tel-Aviv, life in that city is…precarious,” wrote the British High Commissioner in a special report (‘An Analysis of the Palestine Situation, April 1948′, Cunningham Papers, IV/5/33)

    When Jewish defenders attacked Jaffa, Arab forces quickly retreated.

    “Really the Arabs are rabbits,” Sir Henry Gurney, Chief Secretary to the Palestine Mandate Government and no friend of Zionism or Jews, recorded in his diary on May 5:

    “Ninety percent of the population of Jaffa have just run away, and only some 5,000 now remain. Yesterday the municipal engineer locked the door of the water-supply pumping station, and walked off. The [British] army have taken it on. The mayor has gone, without even saying goodbye, and the remnants of the [Arab irregular] Liberation Army are looting and robbing. This is what the Palestine Arabs get from the assistance provided by the Arab states.”
    [Cunningham was actually wrong about the attackers; it was a force of 600 men from Irgun that carried out the attack.

    Irgun Commander (and future PM) spoke before the battle: “[...] Soldiers of the Irgun!
    We are going to conquer Jaffa. We are setting out on one of the decisive battles in the struggle for Israel’s independence. Know who stands before you, remember who you have left behind. You face a cruel foe, who wishes to destroy us. Behind you are our parents, our brethren, our children. Strike at the foe! Aim well! Spare ammunition! In this battle, show no mercy to the enemy, as he knows none towards our people [but] Spare women and children. Spare the life of anyone who raises his hands in surrender. He is your captive. Do not harm him…”

    In Jerusalem, the situation was similar. ‘It may interest you to know that the Arab in command in the Katamon battle [in Jerusalem] also left in the middle. The Arabs had been shooting at the Jews from this quarter for weeks and really brought the attack on themselves.’ (Cunningham to Creech- Jones, 1 May 1948, telegram 1217, Cunningham Papers, IH/5/25)

    And, it is equally true that Arab forces were attacking and destroying Jewish settlements in both Judea and Samaria and land designated to be part of a Jewish state. Arab forces destroyed Jewish communities in Kfar Etzion, Revadim, Ein Tzurim, Massu’ot, Bet HaAravah, Atarot, Neveh Yaakov, Kfar Darom and Mishmar HaYarden as well as the industrial sites at Neharayim (electricity) and the Dead Sea (phosphates) and thus rendered Judea and Samaria Jew-free.

    By February 1948, the British estimated that at least 10,000 Arab irregulars had already illegally entered Palestine. (Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 61 of February 13, 1948, issued by Hq. British Troops in Palestine.) The Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 62, Hq. Palestine, dated February 27, 1948, further says: “the question is whether so many men, possibly ten thousand of them at present in this country, with their bitter hatred of the Jews and their excitable character, whose sole raison d’etre is the killing of Jews, can hold themselves in check until the British forces have quitted.”

  10. yesspam
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    “The Kind David Hotel in Jerusalem was bombed with many killed.” You completely fail to mention that the hotel was the site of the British authorities. It was without a doubt a despicable attack, but it was carefully aimed at a military target, although civilian staff were killed (despite a phone call to the British, which was ignored).

    This is the standard excuse used by terrorist organisations such as the IRA, and it no more relevant when used here.

    The event was described by British authorities, major international publications including the New York Times, and academics as a terrorist attack aimed at civilians (the British HQ was only on part of the site). Even Ex-Prime Minister Winston Churchill, a committed Zionist, criticized the attack.

    There is great controversy over whether or not warnings were given. What is truly shocking is the claim by the terrorist Begin who claimed in his memoirs that the British had deliberately kept civilians in so that they could vilify the Jewish militant groups, although no evidence has ever been produced to support this.

  11. yesspam
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    As Israeli historian Benny Morris wrote, “Deir Yassin is not remembered as a military operation, but rather for the atrocities committed by the IZL and LHI troops during and immediately after the drawn-out battle: Whole families were riddled with bullets and grenade fragments and buried when houses were blown up on top of them; men, women and children were mowed down as they emerged from houses; individuals were taken aside and shot. At the end of the battle, groups of old men, women and children were trucked through West Jerusalem’s streets in a kind of ‘victory parade’ and then dumped in (Arab) East Jerusalem. Your article does not mention this aspect of the massacred.

  12. Sonia
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    please help free Palestine and let us be fair and balanced. Nice article. Thank you.

  13. Posted May 10, 2011 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    In all this issue where does african feet to call themself CHRISTIAN are they not in a wrong ship?
    Can realy some one who have brain agree that realy african could go for the christianism?

  14. Posted April 27, 2014 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Hello! I’m at work surfing around your blog from
    my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog
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