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Monday, March 18, 2013

Jews, The Original Sons of the Land; from King Hussein of the Hejaz

Nadene Goldfoot
Jews came from Israel and Judea which they lost by 135 CE after being there with Moses and entering the land called Canaan in 1271 BCE.  That's almost a 1,500 year history of living there.  Since then, they've not had a homeland for 2,000 years and had lived in misery and suffered from anti-Semitism.  People have lived in America for only 413 years and we know how we feel about our land.

The Ottoman Empire ruled Palestine from 1517 to 1917.  They were on the side of the Germans in WWI which started on July 28, 1914 and ended on November 11, 1918.  Germany greatly influenced the Arabs throughout WWII as well.  Already in 1916 the Ottoman Empire's southern region was to be mandated by France and Great Britain under the Sykes-Picot Agreement.  France was given the mandate over the  land mass  that became Lebanon and Syria,  and Britain was given the mandate over the land mass that became Trans-Jordan, then Jordan, Israel and Judea-Samaria.

On November 2, 1917, the British Government issued the Balfour Declaration.  This document pledged support for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.  They were in sympathy with the Jewish Zionist aspirations and had met many times with the Jewish leaders.  All the allied governments were parties to the antecedent negotiations and approved the Declaration.

 So did some of the main leaders of the Arab national movement such was Emir Feisal, born May 20, 1885,  who is an ancestor of the present day King of Jordan.   He became King of the Arab Kingdom of Syria or Greater Syria in 1920, and was King  of Iraq from 23 August 1921 to 1933. He was a member of the Hashemite dynasty. On January 3, 1919 an agreement was reached between Emir Feisal, also the chief Arab delegate at the Paris Peace Conference and the son of King Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of  Mecca, the Grand Sharif of Mecca which means he was a descendant of Mohammad,  and Dr. Chaim Weizmann of the World Zionist Organization.  This is when he endorsed the  Balfour Declaration  and Palestine was recognized as a separate Jewish entity.  The Arab State would maintain diplomatic relations with them on condition  that Britain and France met the Arab demands in other territories.   The mandate the Britain held was to see to it that this was carried out.

The Mandate extended over both sides of the river Jordan.  Judea and Samaria had existed there.  As early as 1922 Britain divided the Mandated territory in half and established an Arab emirate in Trans-Jordan. Winston Churchill, then the British colonial secretary,  negotiated this in 1922.   This deprived the Jews of any rights to the land east of the river.  Then Britain made it forbidden to Jews to buy land or settle there as well, clearly against the Mandate rules.

At the same time, leaders of the Arab national movement were negotiating with Britain for the recognition of Arab national rights in the former territories of the Ottoman empire throughout the Middle East. Not only did Emir Feisal want to be king of a large piece of the empire but his brother, Abdullah did also.

 King Hussein of the Hejaz, Hussein bin Ali,  was born in 1853 in Istanbul as the eldest son of Sharif Ali ibn Muhammad and his wife, Salha Bani-Shahar. He was the last of the Hashemite rulers over the Hejaz to be appointed by the Ottoman Sultan. As a Hashemite, he was highly respected in the Islamic world. It was his "noble" lineage which granted him the status he maintained in the Hijaz. As a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, even the British, during his period as Emir, recognized this special status. He wrote the following:

"We saw the Jews...streaming to Palestine from Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain, America...The cause of causes could not escape those who had the gift of deeper insight;  they knew that the country was for its original sons, for all their differences, a sacred and beloved homeland."  (Al Qibla, Mecca, #183, March 23, 1918;  George Antonius, Arab Awakening. p. 269)

The British were most ambivalent as to their policy.  At times they allowed Jewish immigration and at other times it was severely restricted and they prohibited Jews from even buying land at other times.  This was pre-holocaust era when European Jews needed to enter Palestine.  It meant life or death.

Today I see college history professors giving the Balfour Declaration a slight glance, telling students that it was not a serious document giving rights to the Jewish people which is completely incorrect.  All the nations, and they belonged to the League of Nations at that time, the precursor of the United Nations, had agreed that the Jews were to have this Homeland and to the land which was involved.  The Jews wound up with only 20% of the  original land promised because of the British finagling.

Chaim Weizmann, Zionist leader, had helped the British to win the war against the Ottoman empire in 1917-1918 with his organic chemical invention relating to the fermentation of acetone-butyl which improved the weaponry used by Britain.  Without it, no matter how many weapons were used, they could have lost the battle.

At any rate, Jewish political rights were restricted.  Arab objectors were often favored if not fostered.  Immigration of Jews were limited.  Jews went ahead anyway and founded new villages,  towns and cities, drained swamps, and planted forests.  Tel Aviv was expanded.  Arabs enjoyed the advantages they were receiving from all this.  However, by 1936 Arab rioting started in which was stimulated by the German and Italian Fascist governments who wanted to embarrass England in the Middle East.  Jews developing the country continued anyway without interruption.  The reaction of the British was to restrict immigration and the rights of Jews.  In the 1920s most of the Jews came from Eastern Europe.  In the 1930s, many Jews had escaped to Palestine from Nazi Germany.

By 1936 there were 384,000 Jews and 983,000 Arabs in Palestine. By 1948 the Yishuv numbered 650,000 Jews.  This was an awesome number as Moses had gone into Canaan with 600,000 men.   Had immigration been more open for Jews, the number would have been much higher.  Most of the Jews lived in the Tel Aviv area which is on the seacoast.  November 1947 was when Britain turned to the new United Nations who said to divide Palestine into independent Arab and Jewish states.  Jews said yes to their piece and Arabs said no and have been saying no ever since.  They won't settle for half; they want the whole piece.

Leaders of the Palestinians refused to recognize any Jewish national rights in the land and wanted complete Arab control over all.  They erupted into violence in 1920, 1921, 1929 and 1936-39 when 517 Jews were killed  in  terror attacks against Jewish villages and towns.  In 1929 they massacred 67 Jews in Hebron, destroyed their synagogues. Jews had lived there for 2,000 years.  The most influential Arab dissenter was the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.   During WWII, he joined up with the Nazis and spent the war years in Berlin.

Countries today created out of the Ottoman Empire include more than just all the Middle East countries.  Algeria, Bahrain, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territory, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Republic and Yemen were part of the empire.  Arab countries occupy 640 times the land mass as does Israel.  The Arabs outnumber the Jewish state of Israel 50 to 1.  In the world of 6.7 billion people, 1.48 billion are Muslims.  That's 1/4 of the world population.  Jews number 12.9 million which is 0.2% of the world population.  Arabs aren't in any danger of being wiped out, except by each other.  Israel is a tiny but important state that must be recognized by the Arabs as having the right to exist in their ancient land.  

The Jews lived up to their part of the deal with the Balfour Declaration but the British did not.  Emir Feisal had also turned against the Jews, but not because of any action on their part.  Feisal Ibn Hussein  was the eldest son of Hussein, sherif of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.  He had led the uprising of Arabs against Turkey (Ottoman Empire) from 1916 to 1918.  He had been sympathetic to Zionism and hoped to receive help in building his future kingdom from the Jews this way.  Later, after meeting with Weizmann, he was expulsed in 1920 from Syria by the French, who also held the mandate on that part of the Ottoman Empire.  His brother, Abdullah, became King of Iraq on April 1,  1921, so he was rewarded right away by the British.  This Abdullah is the gggrandfather of the present day King of Jordan.  The other Palestinian leaders, influenced by the Germans, who the Ottoman Empire supported in WWI, then influenced Emir Feisal who turned against the Zionists.  Thanks to the French-British connection, all the good plans fell apart that had been reached by Weizmann and Feisal.

When Jordan attacked Israel in 1967, they kissed good-bye to their hold on Judea-Samaria and east Jerusalem.  They had lost that war along with all their Arab neighbors. Israel didn't kick out any Palestinians but Israelis felt freer to move to Judea and Samaria, holy places to Jews.  Since when do countries keep land when attacking another and losing?  Israel gained rights that they should have had in 1948 .  What would have happened to Israel if she had lost that war?  What was the purpose of the Arab's attack in 1967 if not to end Israel?  What is the purpose of the Palestinians not sitting down to make peace with Israel  for 65 years and establish their Palestine in an acceptable manner?

Resource: excellent with maps
Facts About Israel 1973, division of information, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia,_Sharif_of_Mecca by Ruth Wisse.  Ruth R. Wisse is Peretz Professor Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature.

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