Date: Wed, 15 Apr 98 16:57:29 CDT
From: MID-EAST REALITIES <MeR@middleeast.org>
Subject: The Rape Of Palestine - 50th
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Hueeeini, was appointed by the British, much as Feisal Husseini plays a similar role in Jerusalem today on behalf of the Israelis and Americans.
MER - Washington - April 13 - One always has to be abit suspect with commentary coming from the Israelis these days. The Labor Party/Peace Now crowd are pretty crafty. And the Likud has picked up alot of the P.R. and journalistic tricks as well.
Even so, there are sometimes very interesting columns and editorials in the Israeli press; and as long as one puts them in perspective and remains alert for often subtle biases and slants they can be of considerable interest.
No doubt this recent article by Joel Bainerman has exceptionally
appologetic Zionist overtones, more overt than subtle in fact. But
even so, there's considerable history here that has been forgotten or
misplaced; and which should be revisted and repondered today by
those seriously involved.
For whatever ones views of the end-result of these past 50 years, and
peace process underway today, there are strong threads
of continuity in historyand remembering this is of considerable
importance to the present.
Zichron Yaacov, Israel -- Probably one of the most important books
for both Jews and Arabs to read is called
The Rape of Palestine
first published in 1938 by William Ziff by Argus Books in the US.
The cover says nothing about who William Ziff is.
The book documents the difference between the overall pro-Jewish sentiments of the British political elite who saw a strong Jewish presence in Palestine as being good for the British empire, and the group of high level anti-Jewish British officials who believed that the Jews would become so powerful (if Britain let them) that they would no longer have to accede to British demands.
The latter group was entirely right. A strong Jewish presence in
Palestine meant Jewish national independence which wouldn't serve
the British masters the way the Arab puppets did. Arab tribal
leaders were corruptible and this was the only way those running
Britain's colonial policies could control them. They realized
that controlling the Jews was not going to be so as easy. So they
placed obstacle after obstacle before any attempts to settle large
numbers of Jews in Palestine. The official reason for restricting
Jewish immigration was that the
economic capacity of the land could
not support more than a million people. This was a lie, but few
challenged the British when they proclaimed it in their various
The book also documents how one-sided the British were in doling out public funds. As the Jews in Palestine increased in number the economy boomed and in l935, the Yishuv, even though only comprising one-third of the residents, were paying 75% of the taxes to the British occupiers. Yet little of that money found its way back into roads or schools serving Jewish towns. Ziff must have gone through nearly every British government archive to document his claims that had the British left Palestine in the late 20's or early 30's, the Jews would have had a state before l948 and which would possibly have been established around (and thriving) before Hitler came to power thus saving the bulk of European Jewry. While no historian has ever blamed the British for the destruction of European Jewry, Ziff's book documents that claim.
Ziff's book (which was published first in l938 but probably took
three or four years of research to write) documents how the British
created the opposition to Zionism and that up until these so-called
radical Arab leaders came into the picture, most Arab residents of
Palestine wanted nothing more than to live in peace and prosperity with
the Jews which they believed was their good fortune.
The Moslem religious leaders, the Mufti, was openly friendly.
Throughout Arabia, the chiefs were for the most part distinctly
pro-Zionist: and in Palestine the peasantry were delighted at every
prospect of Jewish settlement near their villages. Commercial
intercourse between Arab and Jew was constant and steady. pp.13
The Arab National Movement was hated by the huge Levantine
population who continued to regard themselves simply as Ottoman
subjects, looked to the strong, influential Zionist Organization
for sympathy and assistance.
Hussein of the Hejaz looked to the Zionists for the financial
and scientific experience of which the projected Arab state would
standly badly in need. In May 1918, Dr. Chaim Weizmann and Hussein of
the Hejaz met in Cairo where the latter spoke of mutual cooperation
between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. In early 1919 a Treaty of
Friendship was signed to provide for
the closest possible
collaboration in the development of the Arab state and the coming
Jewish Commonwealth of Palestine. On March 3, l9l9, another Arab
leader, Feisal, son of Sherif, wrote:
We wish the Jews a most
hearty welcome home.
If Ziff's words are accurate, there was no Arab opposition to Jewish immigration to Palestine at least as far back as l919.
With conscious design the Administration fostered hostility
between Arab and Jews. It directly advised the amazed Arabs of
Palestine and Egypt to abstain from any concessions to the Jews.
It formed the Moslem-Christian Association and used it as a weapon
against the Zionists. It instructed astonished Arab young-bloods to
the technique and tents (sic) of modern nationalism, in order to
resist Jewish 'pretenses.'
And in London it contacted reliable anti-Jewish elements to form
a liason which has endured to this day. The Arabs were not only
instigated and advised, but supplied with funds, and their
arguments ghost-written by Englishmen in high places. They proved a
Matters came to a head in l920 when Feisal staged a revolt
against the French in Damascus, with money and ammunition supplied
by the British General Headquarters. He had been proclaimed King by a
'Syrian Congress' which included Palestinians, and which asserted the
principle that Palestine was a part of Syria and couldn't be cut off
Almost simultaneously, in order to show how impossible it was to
implement the Balfour Declaration in the face of native
hostility, the Generals arranged a pogrom in Jerusalem.
Ziff believed that the stage was set charging that
the riots of
April l920 was perfectly timed. He reveals how Arab agitators ran
through the Moslem crowds gathered for the Nebi Moussa festival in
Jerusalem, urging 'death to the Jews' and that 'the government is with
Ziff discovered that all Jewish policemen had been relieved from duty in the Old City.
He says that such planned riots occured again in April l921 in
Jerusalem. Ziff charges that the British Commandant of Police was
conveniently out of the country. The few Jews on the police
force had been mysteriously taken off duty for the day. The Arab mob
Bolshevki! Bolseviki! The Zionists are flooding the country
with Bolsheviki! pp. 20
While many students of the Arab-Israeli conflict have heard the
the Mufti of Jerusalem most don't know how the Mufti became
the Mufti. Ziff writes:
Implicated in the disturbances was a political adventurer named
Haj Amin al Husseini. Haj Amin, was sentenced by a British court to
fifteen years hard labor. Coveniently allowed to escape by the police,
he was a fugitive in Syria. Shortly after, the British then allowed
him to return to Palestine where, despite the opposition of the Moslem
High Council who regarded him as a hoodlum, Haj Amin was appointed by
the British High Commissioner as Grand Mufi of Jerusalem for life.
Regarding the Arab pogroms of l929, Alif Beh, an Arab newspaper
in Damascus, wrote:
the uprising was the result of British
intrigue...the English were looking for an excuse to reject the demands
of the Jewish Agency to participate in the administration of the
country, and encouraged the Arabs to teach the Jews a lesson.
Regarding Arab views towards Jewish immigration, Ziff quotes
Count Carlos Sforza in his books, 'Europe and Europeans':
all classes, who had been watching Palestine's development with
envious yes, were anxious to have something of the same phenomena
duplicated in their country.
This desire is written in the clamorous petition sent to the
French in l935 by the inhabitants of Lebanon, begging them to encourage
Jewish immigration as that would bring prosperity. Said the Damascus
We ought to demand Jewish
immigration, for through it our situation will be saved.
Sensing that some crude agenda was being played out with their
collective destiny, in May l930, the Jerusalem-based Arab
newspaper 'Al Iqdam' in wrote:
We are led by a group of men who
bargain us away, buying and selling us like cattle. The Arab people
have not yet said their last word on the Arab-Jewish question. When
this word has been said, it will not be one of hatred, but one of
peace and brotherhood, as is suitable for two people who live in one
During a seminar of leading Moslems and Christians of Nazareth in
March l934, as statement given to the press read:
On behalf of the
majority of the property-owners and consumers, we declare that we
would welcome Jewish immigration and trust that the enlightened Jews
with their financial commercial associations bring.
Ziff is suggesting that the opposition to Jewish immigration to
Palestine by Arabs was not nearly as widespread as conventional
wisdom and standard history books on the subject has led us to believe.
By the time the Peel Commission was in full swing in l937, Arab desires
for rapprochment began appearing, there had begun appearing in the
press Arab desires for rapprochment with the Jews. From the New York
Times of August 5th, l937, we read:
For the first time in the twenty
years since the Balfour Declaration, the Arabs openly censured the
Palestine Government for never having attempted to bring the two
The Arab newspaper 'Falastin,' claimed in an editorial that,
despite British allegations of an unbreachable enmity between Jews and
Arabs, we cannot recall a single instance since the British occupation
here when they made the slightest effort to bring the Arabs and Jews
together. Pre-war Jewish residents lived here peacefully with
Arabs for hundreds of years. To this day these Jews, in addition to the
Arabs, maintain that if it were not for British policy of divide and
rule the Arabs and Jews would again live in Palestine in peace and
On November 15th, l937 the Arab daily 'Ad-Difaa' asserted that
the British Government had categorically rejected all proposals for a
round-table discussion between Jews, Arabs and British, through
the Jews and Arabs alike were anxious for such a meeting. After
talking toall sections of the Arab population, the Near East
correspondent for the New York Times reported on November 21st, that
their unnaminous cry was
we've suffered enough and we don't wish to
have any more trouble. May Allah curse them and cut off the lives of
these intruders from the outside who are disturbing our existence.
Pamphlets were distributed in Arab villages throughout Palestine
violently attacking Great Britain as being
the cause of their
Dr. Gustavo Gutierrez, former President of Cuba's Chamber of
Deputies, stated after his visit to the Holy Land in late l936, that
no evidence of friction or disagreement between the Arab and
Jewish people in Palestine, and that
if Arabs and Jews were let to
their own councils they could settle the Palestine problem wisely
Contrary to what history books tell us, there was Arab opposition to British rule - and a genuine desire to live in peace with the Jews - even as late as l937.
Describing the Arab predictment, which has not changed in the six
decades since he wrote his book, in the epilogue Ziff states:
The Arabs are compelled to free themselves from the present despotic
and feudal regimes under which all the Arab peoples suffer. In
Arab countries, despite the paper constitutions, which exist in
several of them, there is little in the way of liberty. Poverty and
ignorance are endemic.
What is important about Ziff's book is that it was written close
to when the events were taking place. It is a version of history
that few of us who believe ourselves to be students of the
conflict have ever come across. It is the first revisionist
historical account of the role the British played in the modern Middle
East in general, and in the Arab-Israeli conflict in specific. Its main
premise, that the Arab-Israeli conflict was created and stoked by
the British, and isn't the result of ethnic hatred of the participants,
is in a sense a revolutionary new perspective in Zionist history.
If nothing more, Ziff's book should encourage the Israeli government to establish a body that aims to change all of the street names in the country that are named after British Mandate personalities. The British government was the reason why it took Israel until l948 to reach independence. Considering the state of the Yishuv's economy in l937, independence then was possible. Had the British not ruled Palestine, by l930 unrestricted Jewish immigration and the hard work and creativity of the new Jewish immigrants would have created an economy twice as large as it was at the time. in 1930. The Arabs themselves acknowledge that they would have participated fully in this unprecedented economic boom.
Instead, the British government created phony Arab
Haj Amin, to stoke the conflict. The British government was also to
blame for corrupting Arab leaders and conspiring to keep all Arabs poor
and their economy undeveloped.
Just as French collaborators and Nazis are still brought before
tribunals and charged with
crimes against humanity so too
should members of the British colonial office who directed the overall
policy in Mandated Palestine to pit the Jews and the Arabs against each
other. As this policy kept the Jews from being able to help their
brothers fleeing from Nazi Germany, the crime is also of Genocide.