2018: The 100 Year spin on a century-old story

The current media support of something called a “return march” and the alleged genocidal attacks of the Zionist state against Arabs from Gaza who want to push down an Israeli border fence in order to massacre Jewish inhabitants on the other side is generating a lot of interest.

Leading the chorus of outrage and indignation in Europe is the EU which include quotes like this one: “We strongly condemn Israel´s flagrant violations of the human rights of Palestinians. We call for an end to Israel´s criminal behaviour and for the respect of the decisions of the international community and of UN resolutions.”

Of course, the EU may have forgotten that Israel exists BECAUSE of decisions of the international community and international law back in 1947-48. This however does not dissuade suitably blinkered others from stating that Israel is “…responsible for “calculated” killings of unarmed civilians in violation of international law, the human rights group states, warning that Israeli leaders could face prosecution abroad.”

Others like Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch reaches two key conclusions: the Israeli violence against Palestinians was premeditated, illegal under international law.

In similar high dudgeon HRW states, “While some protesters near the border fence burned tires and threw rocks, Human Rights Watch could find no evidence of any protester using firearms or any IDF [Israeli army] claim of threatened firearm use at the demonstrations,” the group’s report states.”

This short exploration uses ideas and words by Martin Sherman and Kenneth Stein writing about 2018 and 1918 respectively. The reader will draw her/his own conclusions.

The Zionist intention at the Peace Conference in Paris in 1919 was to give statutory effect to the implications of the Balfour Declaration. Zionists wanted a trusteeship or mandate system for Palestine that would protect and enhance the rights of the Jewish minority. The wording of the British Mandate’s articles reflected the Zionists’ success.

British policy objectives, however, were more encompassing: they wanted to
strengthen their strategic presence in the Middle East while finding compromise solutions to Arab aspirations for independence in the Levant and in the Arabian peninsula.

Having courted Sharif Husayn during World War I, the British maintained their relationships with him and his son Faysal, who emerged as the diplomatic spokesman of Arab independence at the conclusion of the war.

In Jan 1918 the British reaffirmed their intent to see the formation of an independent Arab nation.  However, to make things worse, where the British had been vague about the inclusion of Palestine in the Husayn-McMahon correspondences of 1915 and 1916 , now the British and French failed to mention Palestine specifically as a geographic area where indigenous governments would be encouraged.

Since the French made no secret of their aim to control all of Syria, Husayn and Faysal had little choice but to cast their lot with the British. But in so doing, they reluctantly but tacitly accepted the attendant political ramifications of Britain’s Zionist entente.

Additionally, Arabs of British Mandate Palestine lacked a distinctive and cohesive nationalist movement at this time. In stark contrast, the Zionist movement was extremely clear in its focus on transforming policy into reality. Thus, it sought amicable relationships with the British military administration and the Arab community in Palestine. However, the individuals who staffed the British military administration did little to foster cordial Arab-Jewish understanding, let alone amiable intercommunal relations.

Together with this, during the Ottoman period, and during the Mandate, Jews and committed Zionists clearly realized that restrictions and regulations placed by the Ottomans and, later, the British, could be circumvented, in that, despite vocal protests, Arab sellers were willing and even eager to sell their land, and that therefore political opposition to the Zionist enterprise was insincere and artificial.

So much so that when Arab public condemnation of land sales to Jews rose in crescendo, and in 1940, when the Land Transfer Regulations were enacted, Zionists continuously received offers to purchase from large and small landowning Arabs and landlords in absentia who were glad to be paid so handsomely for plots of stone and thorns.

That was in 1918.

In 2018, the myth of the “Palestinian” ‘Indigeneity’ and “march of return” is also insincere. It is a (very successful) part of that same Arab strategy over a 100 years ago of speaking out of both sides one’s mouth.

It is what Martin Sherman alludes to when he quotes T.E. Lawrence in his latest article, Palestine – failing the test of history: “Freedom is enjoyed when you are so well armed, or so turbulent, or inhabit a country so thorny that the expense of your neighbour’s occupying you is greater than the profit. –From  a letter by T.E. Lawrence (a.k.a. “Lawrence of Arabia”) published July 22, 1920, in The Times of London setting out a case for the political independence for the Arabs (from the Ottomans) in the Middle East.

Even Lawrence had never heard of the Palestinians.

Lest you forgot.



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