Published on the Legacy of Colonialism email-list on 4 December 2012
Another Legacy of British Colonialism: Israel and Palestine
by Sheldon Drobny
Posted: July 7, 2006
I just finished the book All The Shah’s Men by Stephen Kinzer, a book about the first CIA overthrow of a democratically elected government in Iran. The Prime Minister of Iran was Muhammad Mossadegh, a secular leader who was a nationalist dedicated to removing Great Britain’s exploitation of the Iranian oil industry. Mossadegh nationalized the oil industry in Iran that had been run by the forerunner to British Petroleum, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The Dulles brothers under the newly elected Eisenhower administration helped the Brits and succeeded in sponsoring a 1953 coupe that restored the Shah of Iran’s tyrannical rule until the 1979 Islamic revolution. And we are stuck with this legacy today.
After World War I, a war that I believe was a foolish war involving colonial combatants, the victorious Brits were left to oversee the remnants of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire that had occupied what is now Iraq and Palestine. Since the British and French had no interest in the Wilsonian doctrine and the Republican isolationists failed to ratify the U.S. participation in the League of Nations, England became the sole administrator of what was then called Palestine. Palestine was actually a name given to the area by the Romans after the defeat of the Hebrew zealots in the 2nd century. Palestine was a so-called British protectorate. Iraq, another remnant of the Ottoman Empire, became a sovereign state in 1933. At the end of World War I, the League of Nations granted the area to the United Kingdom as a British mandate. It was formed out of three former Ottoman vilayets (regions): Mosul, Baghdad and Basra, under the control of King Faisal. However, for three out of four centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule, the vilayets of Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra were administered from Baghdad.
The colonial formation of Iraq by the Brits has again stuck us with a terrible legacy. But the worst of the Brits legacies is the British occupation and administration of Palestine. While promising the Arabs independence from their former occupiers, the Turks, the Brits had made another promise to the Zionist movement founded by Theodore Herzel. That was called the Balfour Declaration.
The declaration, a typed letter signed in ink by Balfour, reads as follows:
November 2nd, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.
“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours 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.”
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour
The Balfour Declaration created some horrible consequences to the Arab independence movement and the growing Zionist movement. The collision course between the Arabs and the Zionists was further exacerbated by the set up of puppet regimes friendly to British interests in the region which caused many Arab leaders to align themselves with Hitler and the threatened annihilation of the Jews as proposed in Mein Kampf and The Protocals of Zion. Coincidentally, the Zionists in the 1930s were hoping that Hitler would deport 500,000 German Jews to Palestine and even signed an economic agreement called The Transfer Agreement with Hitler’s Germany to help promote the deportation of German Jews. Edwin Black has written a very good book about this little known agreement that has been redacted from the American and Israeli history books.
Though the Arabs and the Zionists were arch enemies, they had one thing in common. They both hated and distrusted the Brits. Unfortunately both sides moved towards a German solution. The Zionists in good faith thought that Hitler would deport the Jews and the Arabs believed that Hitler would annihilate them and prevent them from occupying Palestine. The Holocaust created the imprimatur for the formation of the Jewish state in 1948 and the Western allies who were in support of Great Britain did not help the Israelis in their war of independence in 1948 when all bordering Arab countries attacked Israel. Ironically it was the Soviets and their bloc that helped arm the Israelis in their war for independence. The Soviets had just lost 25 million lives in their war against Germany and were in full support of an independent Jewish state.
Since that time Israel aligned itself with the United States as a natural consequence of its substantial financial support by American Jews. Despite the previous help from the Soviet bloc countries, Israel made this decision which my father believes was one of the worst diplomatic decisions made by that young country. It put Israel at odds unnecessarily with a super-power in the midst of the Cold War and turned Soviet support to the former fascist Arab leaders. To this day, most of the Arab world has been dedicated to the destruction of Israel with the exception of Egypt and Jordan.
The culmination of hostile Arab relations occurred in the 1967 war which put Israel in the position of being an occupying country. And that occupation was fully justified due to the aggressive and hostile nature of Israel’s enemies. However, as is the case with long occupations, the people under occupation are the ones who have suffered, not their leaders. And the deaths of the Palestinian people is tragic no matter what the policy of their leaders. But the truth is that most of the Arab states have corrupt and anti-Jewish leaders out to destroy Israel and the Jewish people. They have scapegoated the Israelis and the Jews to justify their oppression of their own people as Hitler did in the 1930s. And the Arab population has been so propagandized that they are generally hateful of Israel and the Jews.
If the remaining Arab states would recognize Israel, the Palestinian problem would be solved immediately. But, it is not the objective of these oppressive dictators to make peace with Israel. In order to justify their oppression of their own people, including the Palestinians, they must keep alive the myth of the Protocols of Zion. And the rest of the civilized world is held hostage by these oil rich regimes that foster this hatred because of their dependence on oil. With the exception of Japan, there is very little invested in hybrid or alternative energy technology which would end this blackmail to both Israel and the oil consuming countries.
Israel has been criticized for its human rights violations to the Palestinians citizens. And they should be. But, they are the innocent victims of their leaders’ policy towards Israel and Judaism. When the U.S. and Great Britain bombed German and Japanese cities during WW II killing millions of innocent civilians, there was no condemnation. The leaders of the Red Army did not advocate carpet bombing of cities during the war because they recognized that bombing cities does not win wars. Airpower is effective to support ground troops in combat. Yet American generals have continued this inhumane means of conducting warfare for the last 60 years. Today in the U.S. we are constantly reminded of the terrorist threat by the Bush Administration. How would we feel if that threat were coming directly from countries that were surrounding us dedicated to our destruction?
Israel has received more condemnations by the U.N. than all the other members combined. And many liberal Jews abhor the bloodshed caused by the Palestinian conflict. But, let’s put this situation in perspective as to the attitudes and leaders of the hostile Arab states. Until the members of the U.N. and especially the permanent members of the Security Council recognize the true cause of this conflict, the killing will continue. The fact remains that Israel is surrounded by hostile Arab states and a United Nations permanent Security Council that have put Israel at a much higher standard of human rights than the permanent members composed of the U.S., China, Russia, England, and France.
But, I put the blame mostly on the U.S. taking the position of quasi-colonialism that they inherited after WW II starting with the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran. Since that time our country has made treacherous alliances as the Brits did with the neo-Nazi Arab leaders and the appeasement of Germany before the war. Despite my dislike for the attitudes of militant Jewish right wingers such as Wolfowitz, Pearle, Scooter Libby and the rest of these neo-cons, let us not forget that at least 70% of the Jews vote Democratic. That is why I caution the liberal bloggers to carefully look at the whole picture before comdemning Israel. I assure you that if the hostile Arab countries would make peace with Israel, the Palestinian problem for which these countries have done nothing, would have been solved 50 years ago. And for non-Jewish liberals who criticize Israel, I would suggest looking into your own heart as to your objectivity about Israel.