Recovering Evangelicalism – Seeking a Justice-based peace in the Middle East –

Archive for the ‘democracy’ Category

Balfour 100

For those who follow my blog, for the next 100 days leading up to the centenary of the Balfour Declaration Here

 

Flying Saucers, antisemitisim, & the Labour Party

I think I might have seen a flying saucer — and Chuka Umunna thinks Labour has a problem with antisemitism. I don’t know anything about UFO’s but here’s my definition of antisemitism: antisemitism is hatred of Jews because they are Jews; simple. Islamophobia is hatred of Muslims simply because they are Muslim and the same test may be applied to any distinctive ethnic or religious or political group. Hatred, even dislike, of a person because of what they are, race, culture, creed, is quite simply, stupid. Criticism of people (of whatever race, creed or culture) because of what they believe or what they do is a totally other matter.

So:

  • Criticism of Jews because they support Israel’s illegal occupation,
  • Criticism of Jews because they support Zionism,
  • Criticism of Jews because they hate Palestinians,
  • Criticism of Jews because they support Chelsea FC

These are NOT antisemitic.Neither, surprisingly (?), is criticism of Christians because they support Israel’s illegal occupation. (When Christians support oppression anywhere they are playing dangerously with fire)

When anti-Zionism is equated to antisemitism the effect — and it is intentional — is to close down discussion of the impact of Zionism on the peoples of the Middle East, most notably, of course, the Palestinians. So, the Israeli government can put out lies about the Palestinians, and our governments say nothing. Israel breaks international agreements and ignore international law and our governments say little and do less.

But when some of us point out that these are lies and double standards we are accused of antisemitism. We are hearing all too frequently across the globe reminders of the 1930’s, of the East German Stasi, of the ‘McCarthy’ inquisition, of police state language.

The equation we are expected to make, subliminally, is that of  Judaism and Zionism. We are being taught — brain-washed — that they are one and the same. Here’s the contradiction our political leaders want to ignore. Semites, (the term ‘semitic’ was originally coined to define a group of languages), in this context taken to be Jews, have been around for about 2500 years. Antisemitism has been present, mainly in Europe and not necessarily so-described, for about 1700 years. Zionism was invented as a political doctrine  in 1896 so less than 150 years ago.

You like contradictions? Here’s another — Zionism, a response to European antisemitism, based its nationalistic demand for a nation state in Palestine on a religious history it rejected. Thus, “secular zionism has an inalienable right to possess the land of Palestiine because 3500 years ago a god we don’t believe in gave it to a tribe there’s a chance we may be loosely related to”. Which to me sounds more like an imperialistic justification than faithful Judaism. (And it certainly aint Christian!)

Flying Saucers? Well, if I thought I saw one, or wanted to believe I saw one and reported I saw one, it must be true, mustn’t it? And since you ask, no I did not. And what we should be asking is why so many of the ‘antisemitism’ reports to CST don’t get reported to the police, and why reports investigated don’t result in prosecution. Why, for instance, have none of the recent allegations resulted, so far as I can gather, in even a police caution?

The McMahon – Hussein correspondence

A Final (I hope) post on this subject!

Any fair-minded person reading the correspondence between the Sharif of Mecca (Husayni, or Hussein) and Sir Henry McMahon, HM High Commissioner in Egypt, must conclude that Hussein had been promised an independent Arab nation in the whole of the Arabian peninsula bounded on the West by the Red Sea and Mediterranean, on the South by the Indian Ocean, on the East by the Arabian Gulf and the border with Iran-Persia, and the North along a line just south of parallel 37, subject to the following exceptions.  Britain claimed special rights over Basra and Bahgdad; the Trucial States were excluded and it was claimed by Britain that districts to the west of Damascus, Homs, Ham and Aleppo, not being wholly Arab and being a French interest must also be excluded. As far as Palestine was concerned, it didn’t rate a mention, although special international arrangements were suggested for Jerusalem.

Reading the submissions and conclusions of the Parliamentary Committee of March 1939 into this affair is fascinating.  Included are extracts from a debate in Parliament held in 1923. Earl Grey, Foreign Secretary during WW1 is quoted, “I think we are placed in considerable difficulty by the Balfour declaration itself. … it promised a Zionist home without prejudice to the civil and religious rights of the population of Palestine. A Zionist home, my Lords, undoubtedly means or implies a Zionist Government over the district in which te hoome is placed, and if 93% of the population of Palestine are Arabs, I do not see how you can establish other than an Arab Government without prejudice to their civil rights. … I do see that the situation is an exceedlingly difficult one, when it (Balkour) is compared with the pledges which were undoubtedly given to the Arabs.”  Quite so!

In the same debate Lord Buckmaster remarked that there was nothing “in the nature of casual inconsistency”  but “that a deliberate pledge has been given on the one hand, which has been abandoned on the other”. He then summed up his view, ” I think we ought to say what we mean, and I think we ought to do what we say…. We certainly meant what we said in 1915. We did not do what we said in 1918″ and concluded that the British government should “go back to obedience to the promise that we gave at a moment when we were gravely beset by difficulties, to the relief of which the Arab help in no slight degree contributed”

Buckmaster was naive, Britain did not mean what it said in 1915, at least as far as the Eastern portions of the peninsula. In 1915 Britain had already concluded a treaty with Bin Saud who was to rule the Nejd, a significant area of East-Central Arabia. In a speech of 5th January 1918 the British Prime Minister declared “Arabia, Armenia, Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine are, in our judgement, entitled to a recognition of their separate national identities.”  There is much more, but how much evidence do we need. Britain promised Palestine to the Arabs, we either lied, or we broke covenant,

If you who are still wondering why the Mufti hated the British and sought help from Hitler in the 1930’s perhaps you should seek help not from history but an analyst, (you may interpret that however you wish).

In Memorium – a Response

Shortly before Nakba day I posted In Memorium.   One response seemed to accuse me of defending, even celebrating immorality.  I don’t propose to ‘approve’ the comment since it would occupy the equivalent of 2 pages. But the assertions within it cannot be allowed to stand without response, for the Palestinians are found collectively culpable, through their leaders, for the Holocaust. ‘They knew, they could have acted, they didn’t because of anti-Semitism’. This is the kind of ‘history’ that is taught to Israeli children and it simply is not true.

So, if you are interested, I am making the ‘Comment’ available,together with my response. It runs to 7 pages. The pdf can be found here Memorium-response .

 

Shopping with the Mufti

My wife hates going to a souk. It’s not just the noise, it’s the constant hassle – people trying to sell you stuff, in broken English. I love it. What we have to understand is that the Arabs do it differently.  On holiday, tourists want the experience and maybe to buy a few souvenirs. We see something beautiful and want to look at it. The shopkeeper sees us looking and thinks, “Ah, that’s what she was looking for”, so when he tries to sell it to us he gets confused because we don’t seem to understand the process. Buying and selling in the Arab world is not merely a business transaction it is personal and, often, communal.

Read the account of Abraham’s purchase of a cave to bury his wife, Sarah, in Genesis chapter 23. From the first seven verses we could get the impresion that Abraham is asking and the Hittites are agreeing  the land as a gift.  Verse 8 to 11 continue the impression with Abraham saying “I’ll give you the market price” & Ephron’s reply “No, I give it”.  In the end, there is agreement, Abraham will have the field and cave and Ephron will receive his asking price of ‘four hundred shekels of silver’.

It is worth bearing that in mind when reading the McMahon-Husseini correspondence. (this can be found as an appendix in ‘The Arab Awakening: the story of the Arab National Movement’ by George Antonius. pub.1938 or in the British Library Archives).  Whilst couched in ‘diplomatic niceties’, from the first letter, from Amir Abdullah to Mr. Ronald Storrs and the subsequent ‘Notes’ between Sharif Husain (sic) and Sir Henry McMahon, they are very much to the point.  In my view McMahon’s Note dated October 24, 1915 gave Husain to understand that Great Britain agreed to independence for the larger part of the Arabian peninsula, excepting Baghdad and Basra, Alexandretta, and ‘portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo’.  That is to say, an independent Arab state including today’s Saudi Arabia, the Sinai, Israel-Palestine, Jordan, Syria, excepting the coastal regions, Iraq, excepting Baghdad & Basra, Kuwait and a small portion of southern  Turkey.

It is interesting to note Chaim Weizmann’s conversations with Husseini’s brother, Feisal and their agreement that the Jews and Arabs could work together. Weizmann obscures the Zionist intent to create a Jewish state, while his attitude to democracy and to Arabs is evident in his reaction to the British proposal for a legislative council with Arabs (by far the majority of the population) as a majority; ‘I had pointed out that to talk of elected Arabs representing their people was to contradict the democratic principle which it was supposed to further’.  This at a time when in Britain women had not yet been granted the vote might be regarded as typical imperialist arrogance. And from a European from Russia where even today democracy is a strange animal.  For the Zionists democracy must wait until they formed the majority, or, when war in 1939 prevented, they would wait, continue with terror then obtain the land by force.

 

A right mess you got us into – from the British archives 1917-1922

Found in the British Archives:

‘Reply of His Majesty’s Government to the Memorial of Seven Syrians in Egypt, July 1918

HIS Majesty’s Government have considered the memorial of the seven with the greatest care … The areas mentioned in the document fall into four categories:-
1. Areas in Arabia which were free and independent before the outbreak of war.
2. Areas emancipated from Turkish control by the action of the Arabs themselves during the present war.
3.Areas formerly under Ottoman dominion occupied by the allied forces during the present war.
4. Areas still under Turkish control.

In regard to the first two categories, His Majesty’s Government recognise the complete and sovereign independence of the Arabs inhabiting these areas, and support them in their struggle for freedom.
In regard to the areas occupied by Allied forces, His Majesty’s Government draw the attention of the memorialists to the texts of the proclamation issued respectively by the General Officers Commanding-in-Chief on the taking of Baghdad (19th March 1917) and Jerusalem (11th December, 1917). These proclamations embody the policy of His Majesty’s Government towards the inhabitants of those regions. It is the wish and desire of His Majesty’s Government that the future government of these regions should be based upon the pinciple of the consent of the governed, and this policy has and will continue to have the support of His Majesty’s Government.
In regard to the areas mentioned in the fourth category, it is the wish and desire of His Majesty’s Government that oppressed peoples of these areas should obtain their freedom and independence, and towards the achievement of this objective His Majesty’s Government continue to labour.’
(pages 16 & 17 of a series of memoranda contained in the Archives)

(1922 memo on Syria- Palestine. Lord Curzon to a colleague);

‘This brings into clear relief what I fear is the unhappy truth – namely that France, England and America have got themselves into a position over the Syrian problem so inextricably confused that no really neta and satisfactory issue is now possible for any of them.
The situation is affected by five documents, beginning with our promise to the ruler of the Hedjaz in 1915; going on to the Sykes-Picot agreement with France of September, 1916; followed by the Anglo-French Declaration of November, 1918; and concluding with the Covenant of the League of Nations of 1919; and the directions given to the Commission sent out to examine the Arab Problem on the spot – directions which, it must be observed, were accepted by France, Britain and America, though the Commission itself was, in the end, purely American in composition. These documents are not consistent with each other … Each can be quoted by Frenchmen, Englishmen, Americans, and Arabs when it happens to suit their purpose. Doubtless each will be so quoted before we come to a final arrangent about the Middle East.’ … (my emphasis)
In 1915 we promised the Arabs independence; and the promise was unqualified except in respect of certain territorial reservations. In 1918 the promise was repeated by implication …

NOTE: this dispels the Zionist claim that trans-Jordan was regarded as part of their ‘Palestine’. Taken with the reply to the ‘Seven Syrians’ it is clear that the stated intention was for the inhabitants of the region to be governed by people of their choice.

Why is the Middle East in such a mess…..?

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