Israel is the only nation on Earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. –Charles Krauthammer
Most people either don’t know the history behind the formation of Israel and the Arab states or have forgotten it. Here’s a brief refresher.
The British Muck Things Up
After WWI and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations gave the British control of what was called Mandatory Palestine. This consisted of quite a large block of land, and the plan, as stated in the 1917 Balfour Declaration, expressed the British commitment to carve out a national homeland in the Holy Land for the Jews—a plan supported by the Allies as well, including President Woodrow Wilson. France was very much on board. Here’s an excerpt from a letter from the French Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry Jules Cambon:
…it would be a deed of justice and of reparation to assist, by the protection of the Allied Powers, in the renaissance of the Jewish nationality [nationalité juive] in that land from which the people of Israel were exiled so many centuries ago.
Winston’s Hiccup And Britain’s Slight Of Hand
Then came “Winston’s hiccup.”
Churchill was Britain’s Colonial Secretary at the time, and legend has it that due to his drinking more than usual, his pen slipped—hence the odd zigzag of the Transjordanian border.
Colorful legend aside, Britain did some fancy footwork in 1922, perhaps caving to Arab pressure, because suddenly, the large block of Mandatory Palestine that encompassed tracts on both sides of the Jordan River shrunk to only the narrow strip west of the Jordan—about 25% of the original territory. And now that 25% was slated to be split into two countries.
What happened to the other 75% so generously carved out of British Mandatory Palestine?
It went to the Arabs. We know it today as Jordan.
This was all the more surprising since:
The Mandate’s primary purpose was to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine, and since Israel’s ancient tribes had existed on both sides of the Jordan River, the Zionists anticipated the national home would extend beyond the eastern bank of the river and into Transjordan.
Indeed, when the Mandate was finally approved by the League of Nations in 1922, to the chagrin of the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, it contained a revised text enabling Britain to detach Transjordan from the Jewish national home. (Emphasis mine)
In other words, 75% of British Mandatory Palestine was awarded to the Arabs under the pretense that it hadn’t been in the Mandate in the first place! This was an astonishing betrayal of the British promise to create a Jewish homeland in the ancestral land of the Jewish people. Evidently, the Brits had essentially promised much of the same land to both the Jews and the Arabs and had to weasel out of it.
Peeling The Pie
So how to divide the remaining slender slice of the pie? British Lord Peel came up with the Peel Partition that proposed about 85% of the remnant of British Mandatory Palestine to the Arabs and about 15% to the Jews. This was followed by similar slivers for the Jews and most of the land to the Arabs in the 1938 Woodhead Partition.
By now, the Jews were willing to settle for anything they could get. And the Arabs? Refusal after refusal. Ironically, had they accepted the Peel Partition, most of what is Israel today would have been an Arab state! At least in that instance, Arabrecalcitrance actually served to benefit the Jews they sought, and still seek, to destroy.
In 1946, ten years after the Arab Revolt of 1936, and after proposing various ways to divide the remainder of the territory to no one’s satisfaction, the British washed their hands of the whole affair, summarily handing it over to the United Nations.
How The Deck Was Stacked Against The Jews
Two facts muddied the waters in the decade or so prior to the UN taking over British Mandatory Palestine.
Much to the shame of the Brits, they actually caved to Arab pressure and denied entry into the Jewish homeland to Jewish refugees from Europe who were fleeing the Nazis! Not only that, but as Victor Sharpe puts it:
During its administration up until 1947, Britain severely restricted Jewish immigration and purchases of land while turning a blind eye to massive illegal Arab immigration into the territory from neighboring failed and stagnant Arab states. These illegal alien Arabs were the originators of those Arabs today who primarily call themselves Palestinians. (Emphasis mine)
The second mind-boggling fact I learned while leafing through Joan Peters’ masterpiece of investigative journalism, From Time Immemorial.
In 1948, the UN changed the definition of…wait for it…”refugee”! Instead of people who were forced to leave a “permanent” home, the UN, in an underhanded Orwellian maneuver, redefined the term solely for Arab refugees as “any persons that had been in Palestine for [a minimum of] only two years before Israel’s statehood in 1948.” (Peters, From Time Immemorial, p.4) Hence, grandfathering in nearly all the recent illegal Arab immigrants as “refugees”—who would later claim the “right of return.” Not to be outdone, UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, further redefined “refugee” to include the descendants of those Arabs! Talk about fishy…
The Jews Finally Get Their Homeland