Friday, February 10, 2017

THE ARAB VIEW OF ZIONISM 1900-1920 - Posted by YJ Draiman


During all the period that the Zionists had been without benefit of Balfour Declaration or Mandatory 'assistance the attitude of the Arabs toward the Jewish National Movement had been one of almost unanimous approval. In 1906, Farid Kassab, famous Syrian author, had expressed the view uniformly held by Arabs: "The Jews of the Orient are at home. This land is their only fatherland. They don't know any other." 28 A year later Dr. Gaster reported that he had "held conversations with some of the leading sheikhs, and they all expressed themselves as very pleased with the advent of the Jews, for they considered that with them had come barakat, i.e., blessing, since the rain came in due season." 29

The Muslim religious leader, the Mufti, was openly friendly, even taking a prominent part in the ceremony of laying the foundation stone for the Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus. Throughout Arabia the chiefs were for the most part distinctly pro-Zionist; and in Palestine the peasantry was delighted at every prospect of Jewish settlement near their villages. They let few opportunities slip to proclaim in flowery oriental rhetoric the benefits that Jewish colonization was bringing them. Land acquisition was easy. Commercial intercourse between Arab and Jew was constant and steady. In the face of the practical regard with which the impoverished natives viewed these queer Moskubs 30 who brought with them manna from heaven, the anti-Zionist elements, if they existed, kept silent. Remarkably enough, the incoming Zionists, vigorous, modern, and capable, were treated with high respect, while the native Jew still remained despised.

The Arab National Movement itself, puny, inexperienced, and 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 who had been booted upstairs by the British into a position of recognized authority in the Arab Nationalist Movement after the War, distrusted European nations and their statesmen to the very marrow of his bones. He looked
to the Zionists, as a kindred folk, for the financial and scientific experience of which the projected Arab state would stand badly in need. When the Balfour Declaration was communicated to him in January 1918, he had replied "with an expression of good will towards a kindred Semitic race." 31

In May of the same year, at Aqaba where he held court and made camp, Hussein was visited by Dr. Weizmann, head of the Zionist Commission. At this desert conference the British Government and the Arab Bureau in Cairo were well represented.
Feisal, dark, majestic son of the Sherif, spoke as the Arab representative. Intimate mutual cooperation between the two Movements was pledged. The Zionists were to provide political, technical and financial advisers to the Arabs; and it was agreed
that Palestine was to be the Jewish sphere of influence and development. This alliance fitted perfectly with Hussein's ideas.
Basic hostility to all Christian powers characterized father and son, who felt that the Jews were the indispensable allies, and indeed the instruments, of a new Arab renaissance. They regarded a dominantly Jewish Palestine as the necessary foundation to a greater Arabia; and were anxious for a rapid development of the Peninsula if it were to become capable of resisting the attacks which their weakness must sooner or later invite.

When Feisal came to Europe in 1919 representing the Arab cause, the Zionists submitted their plans to him. Both Feisal and Lawrence approved of them, and early in 1919 these conversations culminated in a Treaty of Friendship. Solemnly signed, this convention provided for the "closest possible collaboration" in the development of the Arab State and the coming Jewish Commonwealth of Palestine. National boundaries were considered; 32 Mohammedan Holy Places were to be under Mohammedan control; the Zionist Organization undertook to provide economic experts to the new Arab State; and the Arabs agreed to facilitate the carrying into effect of the Balfour Declaration and to "encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale." 33 On January 3rd, 1919 a formal Agreement was signed by Faisal representing the Arabs and Weizmann representing the Jews. This Agreement confirmed the understanding by King Faisal and the Arabs that Palestine is to be the National Home of The Jewish People.

On March 3, 1919, Feisal acting officially for the Arab movement wrote: "We Arabs look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organization to the Peace Conference and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will do our best, insofar as we are concerned, to help them through. We will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home."

The Arab leaders placed themselves on record everywhere in an obvious effort to attain Zionist support for their own aspirations, then under the cloud of European Imperialist ambitions. A representative example is Feisal's public communication to Sir Herbert Samuel, pleading the need to "maintain between us that harmony so necessary for the success of our common cause."

On meticulous English records, carefully buried in the Government vaults, the entire story is written in comprehensive detail. At all discussions British representatives were present. Lawrence was the official translator at almost all of them. Officially, Major Ormsby-Gore was liaison officer on the ground. It was he who pulled the strings between Arab and Jew, at a time when Zionism was still persona grata to the gentlemen who rule Whitehall.


Whatever the mighty deeds and feats of derring-do by English arms elsewhere in the Great War, it is not a fact that they alone conquered Palestine. It is only a fact that an English general led the attacking forces, much as Marshal Foch commanded the Allies on the Western Front.
When with pennants flying, Sir Edmund Allenby made his historic entry into Jerusalem on December 9, 1917, the Hebrew battalions were also there. Sir John Monash's Australians were the bulk of his effectives. Under his command, among others, were a contingent of French Colonials and a force of Italian Bersaglieri from Lybia. As he victoriously entered, Allenby was flanked on one side by M. Francis Georges-Picot and on the other by Major d'Augustino, the French and Italian representatives respectively.

It was understood all around that the expressed Jewish wish was to have the British in control during the early period when the foundations of the Jewish National Home were to be laid. The Zionists were at the time much afraid of the practical results which might follow from the International control favored by the French and Italians; and they looked on the English as their friends and sponsors. Under this Jewish insistence the Latins generously allowed their interests to lapse, and the English military was left in complete authority.

The surrender of Jerusalem coincided exactly with the Feast of Chanukah, which commemorates the recapture of the Temple from the heathen Seleucids by Judas Maccabeus in the year 165 B.C. Lending color to this coincidence, General Allenby
said on entering: "We have come not as conquerors but as deliverers."

But hardly had the Turks been driven out when it became apparent to Jew and Arab alike that the entire Administration was uncompromisingly opposed both to the letter and the spirit of the Balfour Declaration. In his solemn proclamation after taking the Capital, Allenby spoke as if the Balfour Declaration had never been issued. In fact no mention was made of the Jewish National Home in any official announcement in Palestine until May 1, 1920. Even all references to the Jewish Legion, unstintingly praised in the military dispatches for its gallantry in action, were suppressed by G.H.Q. from the dispatches as published in the Palestine and Egyptian papers. The amazed Zionists suddenly discovered that "the Military Administration . . . was anti-Zionist and perhaps anti-Jewish." 34

80 THE RAPE OF PALESTINE by William Ziff

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