In 1917, there were about 84,000 Jews, 486,000 Muslims, 72,000 Christians and 7,000 others in Palestine. This means the Jews constituted 14 per cent of Palestine’s population. The Jews in Palestine at that time included those of European origin – especially the German Jews – who had been allowed to settle in Palestine because of the cordial relations between the Ottoman and German empires. So, statistically, the Arabic-speaking Jews accounted for less than 10 per cent of Palestine’s population.
On Dec 11, 1917, the Turkish mukhtar (custodian) appointed by the Ottoman Empire handed over the keys of the holy city (Jerusalem) to the conquering British general. Since then, a century has passed and yet Palestine has not known a day’s peace nor have its residents – Muslims, Christians and Jews alike.
The festering of a century-old feud, animosity, unrest, mistrust – whatever one cares to call it – can be ascribed to the diabolic vision of one shrewd man: James Arthur Balfour.
Lord James Arthur Balfour a British diplomat, was an intensely anti-Jewish man, so much so that as the prime minister of Britain, he had coerced the parliament to pass the Aliens Act, thus blocking the entry of Jews into Britain, who were fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe.
However, describing him as anti-Jewish, would be a gross historical error. That was a mere temporary mask that he had put on and masqueraded well. You see, he wanted to rewrite the history of the Middle East in particular and, of Muslims in general, much the same way as did Nebuchadnezzar for Israelites some 2500 years ago.
Balfour’s tenure as Britain’s prime minister ended in 1903. He joined Lloyd George’s war cabinet as the foreign secretary in 1916 and remained there till the end of world war I. In this capacity, on Nov 2, 1917, he wrote to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild – a Jewish banker – a brief letter that since has become the single biggest cause of incessant political instability, massacre and wars in the Middle East.
History refers to the contents of that letter as the Balfour Declaration – a declaration that boldly and unilaterally proclaimed: Palestine is for Jews!
The declaration consisted of mere eight sentences. It showed an exercise of very high caliber in diplomatic finesse and contained two extraordinary caveats that give a glimpse of Balfour’s far-reaching intents. All linguists, historians and political scientists now unfailingly agree that it was a brilliantly diabolic plot much beyond the intellectual devilry – by any standard – of the likes of Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, Radovan Karadžić in Bosnia and Vladimir Putin in today’s Russia!
The letter stated: ‘His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.‘
The subtlety of language used by Balfour was brilliant!
First, his letter spoke of ‘the civil and religious rights of (the) existing non-Jewish communities‘ – as if the Jews were already in a majority in Palestine, and in their magnanimity, they must not hurt the rights of the non-Jewish – viz., the Muslim and Christian minority. Second, while it talked of the ‘civil and religious rights‘ of non-Jewish communities, it very conveniently ignored their political rights. Yet, it did not fail to use the word ‘political‘ when it says that the declaration would not affect ‘the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country’.
When Balfour sent this to Rothschild, Jerusalem had not yet fallen in the hands of the British army, but its fall was imminent, nevertheless. It eventually did happen on December 9, 1917 to the commander-in-chief General Allenby – loving called The Bull. Balfour’s foresight just five weeks prior to this historic event had hit the bull’s eye!
Here is the irony though. A mere letter could not possibly turn a minority into a majority and vice versa. Authentic historical documents show – beyond a shadow of doubt – that brute force, sanctioned by diplomacy, was used. In 1922, the Covenant of the League of Nations (which later would become the United Nations Organization) not only gave Britain and France a ‘mandate’ over Arab territory taken from the Ottomans, but it also asked the mandatory power in Palestine to implement the Balfour Declaration, i.e. to turn the Muslim-Christian majority into a minority.
And thus, began a process that has not ended till this day – bringing Jewish settlers to Palestine from all over the world by systematically evicting, and if necessary massacring, the native Arab population. Haganah, Irgun Zvai Leumi and Palmach have long ceased to exist, but their names and records of brutality and massacre, including the one at Deir Yassin, still survive and tell the grim story of innocent sweat and blood that since has dried under the foundation of new Jewish settlements. In contrast, no one can come up with the name of a single Arab militia which could have sprung to action to defend Palestine’s takeover by foreigners.
Two and a half decades after the League issued its covenant, its successor, the UN would implement the covenant in a new style. Accepting the Peel Commission’s recommendations for unilateral and unjustified partition, the UN gave 60 per cent of the holy land to the Jews, who constituted 40 per cent of the population of Palestine, and 40 per cent of it to the Arabs, who were still in a 60 per cent majority.
During the 1948-49 skirmish, the Zionist militia flattened at least 400 villages, making almost 800,000 Palestinians flee en mass. Many of those who returned, were given the status of ‘present absentees’ and all their moveable and immoveable property till this day have remained frozen. Worth billions of dollars, these confiscated assets are still being spent on settling Jewish immigrants – again from all over the world – in the West Bank.
Whenever he would look at a map of the Middle East, the architect-in-chief of Israel Ben-Gurion used to say, ‘how small we are’! Ironically, from the expansion in that seized region, it can be said without any doubt that he and his successors have pursued with Nazi efficiency and cold-bloodedness the one aim they had set for themselves from the moment they landed in Palestine – lebensraum.
No matter how many times the UN called upon Israel to vacate the territories it occupied in 1967, the resolutions have remained unimplemented. In fact, Israel would mock the world by systematically annexing Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and defy all peace treaties signed on the lawns and gardens of the White House. If anything, it has only made its usurping of land in the West Bank and Gaza more intense in the intervening years.
The book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid‘, comes from the pen of a man – President Jimmy Carter – who did the greatest service a statesman could possibly do to Israel by making the Arab world’s most important country, Egypt, recognize the Jewish state in exchange for the latter’s withdrawal from the Sinai.
The Carter book was condemned by the Zionist media right away, because it held Israel responsible for violating the Camp David accord. As Mr. Carter put it, Israel used the Camp David accord to ‘confiscate, settle and fortify the occupied territories’.
In her book ‘The Other Side of Israel: My Journey Across the Arab-Jewish Divide’, Susan Nathan – an Israeli herself – writes, “The modern state of Israel has come to represent a compulsive, racist and colonial hunger for land and the control of resources in the face of opposition from a largely powerless but implacable Palestinian population.”
What is to be broken, she says, is not the cycle of violence, ‘but a cycle of lies we Jews tell ourselves to persuade us that we have a two-thousand-year-old title deed to this land.‘ As she succinctly observes, ‘my state (Israel) was built on lies‘ and that ‘Israelis and Jews (must) accept that this was not their land to begin with, and that they are living uninvited in someone else’s house.‘
On the topic of ‘apartheid’, the predominantly white regime in South Africa was ironically more liberal: it left 27 per cent of the land with the native blacks. In contrast, Jews in Israel own 97 per cent of the land. Whether it is a question of health or education, or such services as water, sewerage, electricity and telephone, it is Israeli policy to keep the Palestinians deprived. And now, Nicki Haley vociferously screams at the UN non-stop in support of that very apartheid!
That is how the Zionists are guarding the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine – a century after Balfour sent the letter to Rothschild. Both are dead but their bloody legacy has gone on to flourish on the bed of crushed olive trees and the land on which they once grew. No Israeli is prepared to admit that ‘in 1948 we ethnically cleansed the Arabs from their villages‘, says Susan Nathan. Haley ought to read this book.
What is more amazing, disturbing and unfathomable is this.
Just as exactly a century ago Balfour had no business acting God and deciding the fate of the Palestinian territory, a century since, an American president – full of political naïveté and totally unschooled in foreign policy subtleties – has no authority today to unilaterally and individually declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Even more insane is the justification given by him and his administration that it is simply the fulfillment of a promise he made to mere 35% of the electorate who voted for him in the 2016 Presidential election. Most of these diehard electorates who live almost 6,000 miles away from Jerusalem, wouldn’t even know where Jerusalem is located: Namibia (or Nambia) perhaps!
In fact, only two other people – Benjamin Netanyahu and Nicki Haley – believe in this unrealistic ‘recognition’. A week ago, Federica Mogherini, EU’s foreign policy chief said right in the face of Netanyahu that there was ‘full EU unity’ against the solitary American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and firmly believes in Jerusalem becoming the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state, when a final status peace agreement is in place.
It was an awkward and opportunist ploy by Netanyahu to be in Brussels to seek favor from EU foreign ministers – a ploy that was thwarted given that an Israeli prime minister chose to visit the city for the first time in 20 years, to curry favor for such a contentious issue.
Trump’s gamble that this unwise announcement will be hailed as a landmark peace victory lap and that statesmen in the capitals around the world and the fiefdoms of Arabs would rush to support him was given a fitting rebuke by the United Nations General Assembly who overwhelmingly rejected Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by a 128-9 vote. The diplomats ignored U.S. objections, defied the threats and political bullying to approve a nonbinding resolution calling on other countries to avoid moving their embassies to Jerusalem, under the classic ‘because I said so’ rhetoric.
United Kingdom and France were among the countries that voted in favor of the resolution. Seven other ‘allies’ – Guatemala, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo – took Haley’s threat literally. Four of these allies – Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau – are nobodies and so small, so obscure and so puny that all of them put together can literally be fitted within Boise – still leaving plenty of farm land to grow enough potatoes to serve French Fries at all of McDonald’s franchises.
Haley’s threats at the behest of her boss that “the United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly,” and that “she’ll take note of those countries who vote against us,” sound more like an intimidation one would expect from the Salvadoran, Honduran, and Guatemalan members of the notorious MS-13 gang! Her verbal threat to the voting member countries at the UN was a pathetic and sad reminder of the demise of civility in the corridors of arbitration through wisdom, civil dialogue and mutual respect.
Menacing overtures – be physical or political – convey only one message: message of negativity bordering on fostering hatred and mistrust among participants. Yet, a very fitting and civilized reply came from none other than the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki: History records names. It remembers names – the names of those who stand by what is right and the names of those who speak falsehood. Today we are seekers of rights and peace.
Since its inauguration almost a year ago, this administration is facing increasing isolation on international platforms on this and many such thorny issues. It is high time that the United States, for once, came out from behind Israel and stood between her and the Palestinians.
That’s what a good mediator with a fair grasp of the real situation, good conscience of right and wrong and a benign will for arbitrating with fairness, does. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Palestine-Israel issue, the US policies have always suffered from perpetual jaundice.