Pre-war events ex­plain Is­rael-Pales­tine di­vide

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

IS­RAEL’S vic­tory in the Six-Day war saved it from de­struc­tion and re­u­nited Jerusalem. Ul­ti­mately, it also de­liv­ered peace with Egypt and Jor­dan.

The Pales­tini­ans, by con­trast, are mourn­ing a half-cen­tury of suf­fer­ing, blam­ing Is­rael’s oc­cu­pa­tion of the West Bank and Gaza, coloni­sa­tion and a de­nial of state­hood.

The rea­son for the dif­fer­ence in out­look can be ex­plained only by events that pre­ceded it. The Is­raeli-Palestinian dis­pute is in fact about 1917, 1937 and 1947. Those an­niver­saries can teach us much about the ori­gins of the Is­raeliPales­tinian dis­pute long be­fore 1967.

A cen­tury ago Bri­tain, an­tic­i­pat­ing Turkey’s de­feat in the Mid­dle East, where they were the oc­cu­py­ing coun­try via their 600-year-old Ot­toman Em­pire, is­sued the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion. En­dorsed by the League of Na­tions, the dec­la­ra­tion pledged to cre­ate in Pales­tine a “na­tional home for the Jewish peo­ple”. The Arabs ve­he­mently re­jected the doc­u­ment.

The Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion for­malised the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity’s recog­ni­tion of a Jewish na­tion and its 3 000-year at­tach­ment to its home­land.

The Zion­ist lead­er­ship recog­nised in July 1937, through the Peel Com­mis­sion, which divided Pales­tine into sep­a­rate Jewish and Arab states, that the Palestinian Arabs were a peo­ple with sov­er­eign rights. Although the Jews were al­lot­ted only one-third of the land, they sup­ported the plan. The Arabs re­jected it, and, buck­ling to Arab pres­sure, the Bri­tish cut off al­most all Jewish im­mi­gra­tion to Pales­tine, shut­ting Euro­pean Jewry’s last es­cape route from Hitler.

Fi­nally, in 1947, af­ter 6 mil­lion Jews had been mur­dered in Europe, the UN stepped in. This Novem­ber marks 70 years since the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly passed the Par­ti­tion Res­o­lu­tion cre­at­ing in­de­pen­dent Arab and Jewish states in Pales­tine.

The Zion­ist lead­er­ship em­braced the plan. But the Palestinian Arabs’ leader, Haj Amin al-Hus­seini, a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor, met Hitler in­sist­ing that he ex­tend his Holo­caust plan into the Mid­dle East.

Hus­seini swore that the Arabs would “con­tinue fight­ing un­til the Zion­ists were an­ni­hi­lated”.

The “Nak­bah,” or catas­tro­phe, would not have oc­curred if the Arabs in Pales­tine had ac­cepted par­ti­tion.

In­stead, the sur­round­ing states sup­ported this in­tran­si­gence and in­vaded Is­rael at the mo­ment of its birth. Is­rael, with no army or equip­ment, was forced into a de­fen­sive war, which against all odds, they won. The rest, as they say, is his­tory. WIL­LIAM Saun­der­son-Meyer hit the nail on the head in his col­umn, (“Idiocy marks DA lead­er­ship’s push to dump Zille”, Week­end Ar­gus, June 10). I have fol­lowed pol­i­tics since my school days in the 1940s and have sup­ported the Progs and all their sub­se­quent deriva­tions into their present form, the DA.

The witch-hunt against He­len Zille based on an in­abil­ity to un­der­stand what she said in pretty plain and un­der­stand­able English does not re­flect well on her crit­ics.

She never praised colo­nial­ism. Read and un­der­stand what she said!

This is the most mon­u­men­tal shoot­ing in the foot I have seen in decades. All other par­ties are glee­fully watch­ing the im­mi­nent de­struc­tion of our best po­lit­i­cal party.

Will it re­cover? Who knows!

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