by Rod D. Martin
December 12, 2011
Newt Gingrich may have unnerved Mitt Romney by saying “Palestinian” is “an invented nationality”. But he spoke the truth.
“Palestine” (from the Greek for Philistine, the deadly enemies of ancient Israel) was a creation of the World War I Allies after they severed it from the Ottoman Empire, or Turkey. It was largely empty, and even then a large percentage of the people in the western portion (today’s Israel) were Jews.
In 1917 the British committed themselves in the Balfour Declaration to creating an independent Jewish homeland in Palestine, in the same way that the Allies shortly carved up Europe into independent homelands for the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Finns, Hungarians, Slovenes, Serbs, Bosnians, Montenegrins and Croats. This was based on Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the driving principle of which was the end of empire and the right of self-determination.
Hardly anyone opposed this. As Hussein ibn-Ali, the Hashemite Sharif of Mecca, a direct descendent of Muhammad and leader of the Arab Revolt against the Turks, wrote in 1918, “The resources of the country are still virgin soil and will be developed by the Jewish immigrants. [The Arabs know] that the country [is] for its original sons, for all their differences, a sacred and beloved homeland.”
The next year, Hussein’s son Faisal, newly King of Syria and chief representative of the Arab nations at the Versailles Peace Conference, signed a treaty of friendship with Chaim Weizmann, leader of the Zionist Organization, jointly adopting the Balfour principles. It said: “All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible….” King Faisal further wrote: “We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our delegation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist organization to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper.”
To implement this, Britain was given control over Palestine by the new League of Nations. But that “Palestine Mandate” covered neither what we think of as Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza, two concepts which did not yet exist) nor the PLO’s idea of Palestine (any territory held by a Jew). It meant historical, Biblical Israel, all of today’s Israel and Jordan. And the borders were drawn accordingly.
Then it all came unstuck.
In 1920, at the San Remo Conference, the Allies betrayed the Arabs and granted Syria to France, who promptly invaded and expelled Faisal. His brother Abdullah prepared to march on Damascus, but a young Winston Churchill persuaded him not to attack Britain’s ally, and instead offered to make him Emir of a new British protectorate, “Transjordan” (literally, “the other side of the Jordan”). With the stroke of a pen, and to pay off a betrayal, the Jews lost 80% of their land.
They didn’t complain much. The Zionists understood that what little population existed in Jordan was Arab, and there simply weren’t enough Jews to settle there anyway. They also hoped for continued peace and cooperation with the Hashemites: Hussein, Faisal and Abudullah, who had made peace with Weizmann and now ruled most of Arabia.
But the betrayals didn’t stop. The Saudis drove Hussein’s Hashemites out of the Arabian Peninsula, which meant out of control of Mecca and Medina. Despite long-promised support, the British did nothing. They did make Faisal King of Iraq, but Iraq was not Mecca, or even Syria, and multiple broken promises by the European powers increasingly soured the Arabs on their deal with the Jews.
Compounding stupidities, the British appointed the violent anti-Zionist Haj Amin al-Husseini (uncle of longtime PLO leader Yasser Arafat) Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. From this high post he not only incited ever-increasing hostility between Arab and Jew, but also, seeing the Germans as a superior alternative to the duplicitous British and French like most Arab and Persian nationalists of the time, he openly collaborated with Adolf Hitler to bring the “Final Solution” to Palestine, adopting much of Nazi ideology in the process. Rabid anti-Semitism thus became the dominant sentiment of Arab leaders throughout the Middle East. It still is.
By 1947, the situation had deteriorated beyond repair. The UN attempted to resolve matters by partitioning the remaining 20% of “Palestine” into a Jewish half and an Arab half, leaving Jerusalem neutral and under international control. The Jews readily agreed to this 10% solution, and to peace. The Arabs instead chose war.
Failing to annihilate the Jews, Jordan instead annexed the West Bank. Egypt annexed Gaza. Even though these territories roughly corresponded with the UN’s planned Palestinian state – to which Israel had agreed – no Arab power even considered that an option. No “Palestinian” wanted it. And Jordan already existed: as King Hussein put it as late as 1981, “The truth is, Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan.”
No, the only thing the Arabs wanted was the extermination of the Jews. Which is still true particularly of today’s so-called “Palestinians”, the ones on the west side of the Jordan.
So Newt Gingrich’s “inconvenient truth” remains: these “Palestinians” are Jordanians. Hardly any of them considered themselves “Palestinian” until the 1970s, and that only as part of a propaganda war against the Jews, one accompanied by a “hot” war of suicide bombings, airline hijackings and an average of five rocket or mortar attacks on Jewish homes daily, to this very day. The aim of that war is not “Palestinian liberation” but Jewish annihilation. And the Palestinian leaders say that daily too.
Chamberlain chose diplomacy over truth in 1938. The world would have been far better off if, like Churchill in 1940 and Reagan in the 1980s, he had simply chosen truth.
And therein may well lie the case for choosing Gingrich.