Israeli Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz and British Foreign Secretary William Hague were at loggerheads this past week over the reason that the British people appear to be souring towards Israel. Yuval Steinitz told the Daily Telegraph on Thursday that there is a growing “animosity” towards Israel within the British Isles. He mentioned the main areas of contention as emanating from the British media, NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and academics with many supporting the BDS Movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions). Yuval Steinitz described these emotional animosities as a form of “disguised anti-Semitism.”
British Foreign Secretary responded claiming, “Israel has lost some of its support in Britain and in other European countries over time – this is something I’ve often pointed out to Israeli leaders – because of settlement activity, which we condemn.” Hague told Sky News, “We strongly disagree with settlements on occupied land. Israel is a country we work with in many ways but we do disapprove of settlements.” He concluded adding that, “We want to see both Israelis and Palestinians really commit themselves to the peace process while there is still a chance of a two-state solution.”
These two opposing views need to be rectified and the truth uncovered as they are typical of the divide between the two sides of the Israel Palestinian debate, the Zionists and the anti-Zionists. Probably the best way to attack this issue is to actually look into the history, all of the history which will reveal that the British should know better than any other nation the promises made to the Jewish people and how those solemn promises were broken, compromised, broken again, and finally have been completely negated and forgotten by even the same peoples whose names appear as a primary guarantor of these promises. Well, maybe not all the history but we’ll cover the history since the start of World War I. Going into World War I the Ottoman Empire held the lands of the Middle East as well as Northern Africa and Iraq. The Ottoman Empire sided with Germany and the rest of the losing side in World War I. The Ottoman Empire had been slowly weakening in the century or two before World War I and was being propped up by Czarist Russia and a general lack of interest in starting any conflicts which allowed the Ottoman Empire to continue to limp along. After their defeat in World War I it became obvious that the Ottoman Empire had completely collapsed so the lands were divided up between two of the European victors which started a brief colonialist period. Of course Turkey was reduced to its current borders and was all that was left of the Ottoman Empire. Egypt was placed under British sovereignty with Egypt gaining their independence in 1922. Britain was also awarded the Iraqi Mandate from which Iraq gained their independence in 1932. Libya remained an Italian possession administered by Britain and France and finally received its independence on Christmas Eve of 1951. Algeria had been and remained a French colony wining its independence in 1962.
This leaves the main areas of the Middle East which are of concern with the history of promises, declarations, conferences and treaties concerning Israel. The area which today makes up Syria and Lebanon were placed under the French Mandate while the areas making up Jordan, Israel, and the contested lands claimed by the Palestinians and Israel made up the British Mandate. Upon this division of the area which the Arabs referred to as greater Syria there was a great commotion among the Arabs who were within the borders of the British Mandate. These Arab populations had two significant problems with being placed under the British Mandate while Damascus was relegated to the French Mandate. The British Mandate Arabs were greatly troubled that they no longer had easy access to Damascus which they viewed as their main Muslim holy city in the area previously known as Greater Syrian Province of the Ottoman Empire. They also demanded that they be referred to as Syrian and refused to accept the title of Palestinian Arabs. They had no problem with the Arab part but vehemently refused to accept the use of Palestinian instead of Syrian Arabs. The Arabs in 1920 when the two Mandates were formed dividing Greater Syria into a northern French Mandate for Syria and a Southern British Mandate for Palestine was referred to as Year of the Catastrophe (Am al-Naqba) which protested both their divisions from Damascus and being referred to as Palestinian rather than Syrian. This original use of the word Naqba to protest being labeled as Palestinian really does make its current use protesting the failure of the combined Arab Armies to destroy Israel immediately after the declaration of independence in 1948 quite strange and almost a complete reversal as they now demand recognition as being the Palestinian state.
The French Mandate for Syria eventually led to the formation of the modern states of Syria and Lebanon who would become completely independent in 1943 with all French forces removed by the end of 1946. Syria was established to continue as an Arab state while Lebanon was intended to be controlled and under the rule of Arab Christians remaining in that form through the end of the Twentieth Century. The entire of the British Mandate for Palestine was intended to fulfill the promise of the Balfour Declaration for the formation of a Jewish Homeland. Some have posited the notion that the sole reason that Israel was formed was due to the Holocaust, but that is impossible as it clashes with the fact that the Balfour Declaration was written in 1917, well before the Holocaust or the rise of Nazi Germany. The Balfour Declaration was formalized and codified by the League of Nations when establishing the British and French Mandate systems. In 1922 Britain issued the first of the White Papers. This one is often referred to as the Churchill White Paper. In this agreement the Zionist received promises that in exchange for their conceding the Mandate lands east of the Jordan River for the establishment of an Arab entity that the remainder of the Mandate lands west of the Jordan River would be reserved and indivisible for the future Jewish State. There were subsequent commissions and White Papers which mostly dealt with numbers of Jews allowed to immigrate each year, usually made in response to Arab violence in order to calm the situation. Such solutions never seemed to install a proper and lasting peace but that did not prevent the British from their constant attempts to pacify Arab anger. After World War II the Arabs were in a somewhat weakened position with the British as they had sided with Germany during the war. This situation did not persist and the British simply wished to be free of the entire problem. The United Nations General Assembly proposed a division of the Mandate lands west of the Jordan River into equal Arab and Jewish states with full British support despite their promises to the Zionist Agency. The Zionists accepted this proposed split feeling that any homeland was preferable to their current situation but the Arab League refused the proposed formation of two states as they refused to recognize any land being made into a Jewish State. The Zionist Agency and other Jewish groups declared their independence on May 14, 1948, and the combined armies of seven Arab countries (Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and militias and additional troops from Yemen and the Palestinian Arab militias) attacked the nascent Jewish state of Israel on the morning of May 15, 1948.
The genocidal intent of the war was made evident in the Arab leadership proudly claiming that this was to be a war of annihilation and that not a single Jew would be spared. When the Armistice was initiated, Israeli troops controlled over two-thirds of the lands west of the Jordan River. The Arab forces held on to some of the lands from the Mandate lands west of the Jordan River with Syria holding the Golan Heights, Jordan holding Judea, Samaria and portions of Binyamin (aka the West Bank), and Egypt held the Gaza Strip. Syria annexed the Golan Heights and this was recognized by most countries, Egypt never annexed Gaza and just ruled it as a semiautonomous colony, and Jordan annexed what they called their West Bank but this was recognized by all of two countries, Britain and Pakistan. When the combined armies of Syria and Egypt massed on Israeli borders threatening to once again hold a war of annihilation and Egypt cut off access through the Straits of Tiran, thus having committed a casus belli making war inevitable. During the first day’s fighting Jordan declared their intent to join the war reacting to the Egyptian and Syrian transmissions reporting on their glorious victories and the routing of the Israeli army and approaching Tel Aviv. The Israelis pleaded with Jordan not to enter the conflict telling them that the Egyptian and Syrian transmissions were lies and propaganda and that the reality was the Israelis were winning and winning convincingly. The Jordanians took the Israeli pleading as proof that Israel was losing and doing so badly and they first launched their attack into Western Jerusalem. By the end of the War after six days the Israelis held the Golan Heights and were on their way towards Damascus, held all of Judea and Samaria and all of Jerusalem holding everything west of the Jordan River, and held Gaza and the entire Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. Since then Israel pulled back to the Golan Heights on the Jordanian front, made a peace with Egypt and returned the Sinai Peninsula while Egypt refused to reoccupy Gaza and made peace with Jordan who surrendered all lands west of the Jordan River.
Subsequent to the Six Day War in 1967, there has been an additional war with Syria and Egypt in 1973 and two wars with Lebanon due to Fatah and Hezballah terrorism across the Israeli northern border. During the nineteen years for which Egypt and Jordan held between them Gaza and the West Bank there had been absolutely no mention or attempt to form a Palestinian state. Such an idea came only after Israel liberated these lands in 1967. The reason the Arab League stated for not recognizing the Jordanian annexation of the area they named the West Bank after the war in 1948 was because to have done so would have also meant recognizing borders for the state of Israel. Since the Arab League refused to recognize the existence of Israel they stated they could not recognize any Jordanian border with a state of Israel which does not exist. This makes their desire in the Saudi Plan to recognize borders for a Palestinian state which also denotes borders for Israel a real change of heart. There are other events which also never seem to be recognized such as the over three-quarters of a million Jews who were evicted and thrown from their properties, homes, businesses, and lives from one Arab nation after another from 1948 on through 1959 many of whom were absorbed into Israel. There have been other absorptions such as the Russian Jews from the old Soviet Union, the Ethiopian Jews brought out from wars and famines in Ethiopia, the gathering of the Menashe Tribe of Jews from India and the initial ingathering of the survivors of the Shoah in Europe. There are likely to be more ingatherings above the steady flow of Jews returning home making Aliyah from all over the world. There are those who predict, and we agree, that there is likely soon to be such from much of Europe and there are others who see the same eventuality to occur with the Jews of the United States. As we often end articles, let us just say, time will tell.
Beyond the Cusp