In The War On Terror
The Common View Is That Jews Immigrated to Palestine After World War II. In Reality, Jews Had Been Struggling To Establish A Homeland For Decades.
Part Three of Four
By Perry Hicks
As mad as the Islamists may sound to our 21st Century ears, their rhetoric is actually founded on history; some date back to medieval times as in their references to “Crusaders;” some as recent as the 19th Century when they speak of Zionists.
Previously in this series, we have learned that one of a long list of western sins is to not have listened. The British didn’t listen when Ibn Saud wanted Arabia’s boundaries to be tied to people rather than land; nor did they heed common sense which said that a nation divided, or more accurately in the case of Iraq, stratified, could not stand. Now, in Part Three, we will add to our list, duplicity.
The Notion of Restoration
The average American may be surprised to learn that there is in fact a World Zionist Organization (WZO). Therefore, there are in fact “Zionists.” The original Zionist Organization (ZO) was founded by Theodor Herzl, in Basle, Switzerland, in 1897.
The idea of a Jewish homeland was not original to Herzl. The Roman Emperor, Julian had announced his intent to repatriate the Jews however he died before any action could be taken. Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed the same while encamped outside of Acre. Still later throughout the whole of the 1840s, the notion of a “Jewish restoration” was floated over and over again.
Much of the fuel for creating a Jewish state was borne by the rise of evangelical Protestantism which contended that Christ’s second coming could not occur until Jews returned to Palestine. This new Protestant endorsement was a 180 degree shift from Catholic thinking as the Crusaders had actually expelled Jews from Palestine. Thus, it is naïve to assert that the present Middle East conflict is not based on religion.
During the 1870s, German hatred of Jews took on racial dimensions with the emergence of anti-Semitism. This special hatred gained momentum in 1881 when Czar Alexander II launched a series of violent attacks against Jews called pogroms (Russian for destruction.) Jews began to seek refuge elsewhere, many even migrating as far west as the United States.
In France, the Alfred Dreyfus affair despaired Herzl (a Jewish atheist) and others of Jews ever being able to overcome the ravages of world-wide anti-Semitism. Thus, the first Zionist Congress both established the ZO and set the goal to create a Jewish nation state. Sites in Africa and South America were considered but the obvious choice was sparsely populated Palestine.
Beyond the association with their religion, Palestine was a logical choice in that Jews had been immigrating there since the mid-1800s anyway. While the number was probably not great, the actual size of the Jewish population in Palestine has been a bone of contention between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups. Some peg the number of Jews as high as 10% of the total Palestinian population. Others would place it no higher than 5% out of a total population of 500,000. In this last estimate, the portions of Arabs and Christians is set at 80% and 15% respectively.
Still others peg the total population to be no higher than 100,000. Regardless, Zionists argue that the sparse population of Palestine gives credence to the slogan that Palestine was a “land without a people for a people without a land.” Samuel Clemens, in his 1869 Innocents Abroad, chronicles how utterly desolate much of the biblical lands were, and the extent to which Jerusalem had fallen into poverty.
Jewish immigration into Palestine resulted in a new vitality returning to Palestine with new towns and villages being established, such as Tel Aviv in 1909. Ancient towns such as Jerusalem and Haifa actually began to grow in population. However, as the number of Jews climbed, Arabs became more and more restive.
Legacy of World War I
Because of its strategic geographic value and the growing western interest in oil, both the French and the British sought control of the Middle East. At the outbreak of World War I, when the crumbling Ottoman Empire sided with Germany, Britain promised the Arabs autonomy in return for assisting Britain in the war effort. However, just weeks before the war ended, British Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour, also promised the Jews a “national home” in Palestine.
At the San Remo Conference in 1920, The League of Nations gave Britain a “mandate” to rule Palestine as well as some other lands in the Middle East. This mandate would have enabled Britain to proceed with the Balfour Declaration if it were not for the prewar promise of autonomy made to the Arabs.
A compromise was struck when Britain divided Palestine into two parts. The eastern “transjordan” side, comprising approximately 80% of the mandate, went to Emir Abdullah in consideration for his assistance in defeating the Turks. The western 20% remained open to Jewish immigration.
Rise of National Socialism
The oppressive Treaty of Versailles left Germany economically prostrate. As would then be expected, many left-leaning political parties sprung up offering the German public both solutions, and scapegoats. To some Germans, the root cause of all of their problems was the Jews.
In the socio-political turmoil that followed the war, the various political parties literally fought for the hearts and minds of the German people. Large street marches, or demonstrations often ended in violence. There was a particular enmity between Communists and National Socialists, or Nazis. As the 1920s progressed, the Nazis were able to repress their rivals through violence. And although their leader, Adolph Hitler, had been imprisoned, The National Socialists went on to became the most powerful political party in Germany.
If financially able, many Jews continued their exodus from Europe. Arabs saw the potential for Jewish immigration as almost unlimited.
As a result, Arab-Jewish violence escalated. Jews were massacred both at the Wailing Wall and at Hebron. Though initially forbidden by the British from defending themselves, the Jews organized and fought back committing atrocities of their own. This is where history becomes very difficult to follow. Depending on whose accounts you read, either the Jews or the Arabs were the aggressors.
Birth of Modern Terrorism
Haj Amin al-Husseini (1893-1974) began to organize fedayeen to bring terror to Palestine’s Jews in 1919. The tactic had worked for the Kemal in driving Greeks from Turkey so Husseini had great hope it would work in Palestine. When the British were given a mandate over much of the Holy Land, riots broke out in 1920 and again in 1921. The latter was overtly organized by Husseini, reportedly at the behest of a British officer, Col. Waters Taylor. After the riots, the British then arrested al-Hussenini who then somehow escaped to Jordan. Even more bizarrely, al-Husseini was convicted in absentia, later pardoned, and then was made the mufti of Jerusalem!
Husseini’s most notable achievement while mufti was the retoration of the al-Aqsa Mosque. This is the mosque that sits atop the dome of the mount, the site of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Husseini had raised so much money from throughout the Muslim world it enabled him to guild the dome in gold.
Jewish enclaves found it necessary to arm and protect themselves even as the British denied them the right to keep arms. As a result, each town and village developed protective militias. The Haganah emerged as a loosely organized defense force in the 1920. It later reformed into a full blown military force after the Arab riots in 1929.
A Succession of Reports and White Papers
In 1921, Husseini wrote the British Colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill, demanding that Jewish immigration be curbed and Palestine rejoined with Syria and Transjordan. Churchill issued the White Paper of 1922 in an effort to reassure the Palestinian Arabs. Nothing much came out of the paper so sporadic Arab rioting through the 1920s should be no surprise. As stated earlier, Arabs staged a major riot in 1929.
In 1930, Britain formed the Shaw Commission which found the violence stemmed from Arab animus toward the rapidly growing Jewish population and “consequent upon the disappointment of their political and national aspirations and fear for their economic future.”
The report issued by the Shaw Commission referred to Britain’s duplicitous promises made first the Arabs and then later to the Jews as “ambiguities.” The commission recommended halting Jewish immigration until after a clarification of British policy could be made.
These Shaw Commission recommendations were then taken up in the Hope-Simpson report. Sir John Hope-Simpson found that the depressed economic condition of the Palestinians was due to certain Jewish employment and economic policies. Hope-Simpson recommended a temporary halt to Jewish immigration.
The Passfield White Paper took up the issue of clarifying Britain’s policy toward both the Jews and Arabs in Palestine. The paper criticized the Jewish General Federation of Labor (Histadrut) and the ZO, now called the Jewish Agency. In both cases, the policy of Jews only hiring Jews was criticized as negatively impacting Arab economic development. The paper also claimed that the land was not able to support larger populations and so it also recommended halting Jewish immigration.
Rather than clarify matters, the Passfield White Paper went on to reaffirm Britain’s commitment to a Jewish homeland.
At each instance of Arab rioting, the British formed bodies of inquiry which universally found the unrest was due to Arab fear of being overwhelmed by the mass immigration of Jews. And, although the Jews remained a minority, the influx of international money had badly placed the Palestinian Arabs behind the economic power curve. Still, the Arabs learned that, if only temporarily, violence could stop Jewish immigration.
The Jews React
The Arab riots of 1920-21 exposed how vulnerable the small but growing Jewish population was to coordinated violence. The British were not only unable to defend the Jews; it was unclear as to their level of commitment toward the same. The obvious was a need for an independent security force and so by June 1920 the Haganah was established.
In the beginning, the Haganah was, as a militia, somewhat of disjointed organization. However, the Arab Riots of 1929 underscored the need for a comprehensive and well armed defense force. Over the next few years, command and control was strengthened and training camps and arms depots were established all over Palestine.
This was made possible by the level of capitalization enjoyed by the growing Jewish community. Funds poured in from global sources and so very quickly the Haganah grew to the point that it encompassed nearly everyone in the settlements and several thousand in the cities. Thus, the Arab revolt of 1936-39 only tempered the Haganah making it truly a military body. After the World War II, the Haganah would be taken in by the new nation of Israel as its official army called the Israeli Defense Force (IDF.)
If officially unrecognized by the British, the Haganah did exist and grow as an arm of the Jewish establishment. As would be expected, some individuals were driven to greater extremes and so the Haganah did spin off more radical organizations.
The first major spin-off was the Irgun, also called by its Hebrew acronym, Ertzel, in 1931. Secretly supported by the Polish government from about 1936, it became increasingly radical through the Arab Revolt, and the outbreak of World War II. One of Israel’s future prime ministers, Menachem Begin took control of Irgun in 1943.
The Irgun was credited with the infamous 1946 bombing of British Headquarters within the King David Hotel. Ninety-two people were killed in the attack. After the founding of Israel, the Irgun was integrated into the IDF.
An even more violent group spun off from Irgun was what the British called the Stern Gang, named after its founder, Avraham Stern. The original name was Irgun Zvai Leumi be-Yisrael, but after Stern’s death in 1942, it was reconstituted as Lehi (Lohamei Herut Israel.) Yitzhak Shamir was one of the founding Lehi leaders who would also go on to become an Israeli prime minister.
The Stern Gang viewed British occupation of Palestine to be illegal and so concentrated its violence on the British. In 1944, it assassinated Lord Moyne, one of the authors of the anti-Zionist White Paper of 1939. It was also responsible for the civilian massacre at Deir Yassin during the Israeli War of Independence. About 100 Palestinian Arabs were slaughtered resulting in the Palestinian refugee flight and the entry of the Arab states into the conflict.
A letter bomb campaign targeting British politicians ensued in 1947. Lehi also assassinated British soldiers and policemen.
Lehi also assassinated U.N. mediator Folk Bernadotte in 1948 who strenuously argued for the Palestinian right of return.
The most outrageous attempt to repel Brtish came in 1940-41 when an offer was made to fight on behalf of Germany in World War II.
After all of that, surviving members of the Stern Gang were given general amnesty in 1949. In 1980, Israel awarded the Lehi ribbon to former members of the Lehi “underground.”
The Birth of Israel
As the first shots were fired in World War II, Britain was faced with a Mid-East crisis made of its own duplicity. The Arabs were in revolt and the Jewish Agency was steadily marching toward a Jewish nation-state. With Germany overrunning Europe and threatening the homeland itself, Great Britain had few resources to spare.
During the Arab Revolt of 1936-39, Britain attempted to separate the Arabs and Jews by abandoning the League of Nations Mandate of 1921. The new plan was to partition the territory leaving only Jerusalem and Jaffa under British control. Jews were as divided as the land over the plan but Arabs rejected it outright.
Further confusing the situation, the British Government issued still another White Paper in 1939 where the formation of an independent Jewish nation-state in Palestine was refused as well as the formation of an independent Arab Palestinian state.
What was called for in the white paper was the mandate being replaced by an independent Palestinian state formed from a unified political base comprising both Arab and Jewish populations. Immigration was to end after a further 75,000 Jews and the land transfers were to be strictly regulated. Of course, both parties rejected this political fantasy out of hand.
World War II exhausted Britain and so after the War, the idea of the United Nations taking up the problem of Palestine was quite welcome. As the British pulled out, Jewish militia and other fighters attacked and drove out many of the remaining Palestinians. Of the approximately 800,000 Palestinian Arabs living in the mandate before 1948, only about 170,000 remained afterwards.
The Jewish Agency was quick to proclaim independence which the U.N. recognized in 1947. The new nation was not called Palestine, but instead, Israel.
In Part 4, we will bring all of this history together in order to survey the present situation and evaluate the Bush Administration’s plan to completely reshape the Middle East. We will also see how Iran is the central focus of America’s grandiose plan and how Iraq is vital to realizing it.
Related: The Coming Conflict - It Has Finally Dawned On The Liberal Press That The Incursion Into Iraq Was More About Iran Than Saddam Hussein. The Real Question Is Can Establishing Western-style Democracies Alone Contain Iranian Mullahs?
About the Author.....
Perry Hicks is the senior writer for GCN. He is a former Mississippi Coast resident and was a correspondent for the old Gulfport Star Journal. He has appeared on Fox News Channel. Perry has also hosted his own radio talk show on the auto industry with a mix of politics. Perry is a former college professor and a frequent contributor to GCN writing on stories of national importance with local interests. His articles can be found in the GCN Archive.
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