by Rod D. Martin
January 24, 2017
Fifty years after the Six Day War, its memory invariably produces a deluge of propaganda attacking “the Zionist Entity” and promoting “an independent Palestine”, which English-speaking audiences are told will be restricted to the West Bank and Gaza, and which Arabic and Persian listeners are promised will “drive every last Jew into the sea.”
Lost in the din – greatly magnified by Barack Obama’s incalculable betrayal of Israel at the UN – are some particularly “inconvenient truths”, both historical and contemporary, but none more so than this: that there already is a Palestine, and it’s called Jordan.
“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, in the famous Balfour Declaration, the British committed themselves to creating an independent Jewish homeland in Palestine, just as the Allies shortly carved Europe into independent homelands for the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Finns, Hungarians, Slovenes, Serbs, Bosnians, Montenegrins and Croats. This was in accord with Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the driving principle of which was the end of empire and the right of every people to self-determination.
Virtually no one opposed this. As Hussein ibn-Ali, the Hashemite Sharif of Mecca 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.” Implicit in his statement was the emptiness of the land, largely depopulated since 70 A.D.
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 went on: “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 clearly enlightened position, 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 currently held by any Jew). “Palestine” meant what Weizmann, Faisal, Hussein, Churchill and all the powers at Versailles understood it to mean: Biblical Palestine, all of today’s Israel and Jordan.
The borders were drawn accordingly. Today’s Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, fully 80% of the Palestine Mandate, was set aside with the rest of Palestine for the Jews. And all parties, Arabs included, were happy with that result.
It was only afterward that things began to go awry.
The problem began when France was granted Syria at the San Remo Conference the following year. It promptly invaded its new “mandate”, made it a French colony, and expelled the aforementioned Faisal. His brother Abdullah prepared to march on Damascus, but 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, the Jews lost 80% of their land.
They didn’t complain much. The Zionists understood that Jordan was filled (to the degree it was filled at all) with Arabs, 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 of course the rest is history. The rising House of Saud 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 is not Mecca, nor even Syria, and multiple broken promises by the European powers increasingly soured the Arabs on their deal with the (largely European) Jews.
Compounding stupidities, the British appointed the violent anti-Jewish Haj Amin al-Husseini (uncle of longtime PLO terrorist leader Yasser Arafat) Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. From this high post he incited ever-escalating hostility between Arab and Jew. Moreover, seeing the Germans as a superior alternative to the duplicitous British and French (like most Arab and Persian nationalists of the Thirties and Forties), he openly collaborated with Adolf Hitler to bring the “Final Solution” to Palestine, adopting much of Nazi ideology in the process.
It was al-Husseini who made rabid anti-Semitism the dominant sentiment both in Palestine and throughout much of the Middle East. It remains so to this day.
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 preferred war. Six Arab nations invaded tiny Israel on its first day of freedom. Miraculously, they failed in their quest to complete the Holocaust, but not for lack of trying.
In the aftermath, only al-Husseini wanted the “Palestinian state” the UN had suggested and Israel had accepted; and al-Husseini only wanted it if there were no Israel. Instead, Jordan annexed the West Bank, Egypt annexed Gaza. There was no need for more: as Jordan’s King Hussein himself 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. And that is still true, particularly of the “Palestinians”, the ones to the west of the Jordan at least. To this day, Hamas (in Gaza) and the Palestinian Authority (in the West Bank) hold the extermination of Israel as their highest goal, enshrined in their founding documents, taught in their schools.
20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs: they live as equals and in peace. But for the official “Palestinians”, the ones Obama and the UN glamorize, there can be no peace. There can never be peace.
It is often said that “three religions are battling over the Holy Land”. But “battle” is an interesting term. A Christian army last took Jerusalem almost a thousand years ago, and there aren’t any Christian armies today. The British army (which you could argue was “Christian”) took Jerusalem in 1917, but only because the Ottoman Empire had declared war on Britain. No Christian “battles” over this area at all.
The Jews didn’t either. They gave up the four-fifths of the country east of the Jordan. They gave up half of what was left. They agreed to international control of Jerusalem until the Arabs conquered it and shut them out, barring them even from visiting the Temple Mount. And once they again possessed the Holy Sites, they freely gave access to all, even leaving some of them under direct Muslim authority.
Three religions are not battling for this land. One is. One religion, represented by one portion of its people, a portion which already has 80% of the land allocated to the other and won’t stop its campaign of murder and terror until the last Jewish schoolgirl lies dead.
It is indeed an inconvenient truth. But truths frequently are.
This article was originally published as part of my “Beyond the Church Door” series in the Florida Baptist Witness.