Saturday, September 17, 2011


Palestinian Statehood

I don't recall that there ever was a State of Palestine during my lifetime.  After World War I the part of the old Turkish Empire that now includes Israel and Jordan was assigned to the UK as the British Mandate.  The part east of the Jordan River was called Trans-Jordan.  The part between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea was called - what?  I don't remember any special name except British Mandate.  The name Palestine may have been used to refer to that part of the mandate.

Eventually, somehow, the mandate was split into two parts, Jordan and Palestine.  A member of the Hashemite family (or tribe?) took upon himself the obligation of being the King of Jordan.  A cleric, known as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, became the ruler, in a sense, of the "West Bank" part of the British Mandate.

As we know, after WWI the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the King of Saudi Arabia agreed to create in the British Mandate a "homeland" for the Jews.  Saudi Arabia agreeing to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine was a bit like the Canarsie Indians of Brooklyn selling Manhattan Island to the Dutch for $24 in the early 1600's, since they had no more claim to Manhattan than Saudi Arabia had to Palestine.  The Manhattan Indian tribes didn't like the deal; neither did the Palestinians.  In particular, the Grand Mufti didn't like it.  In WWII he sided with Hitler and was ready to get rid of the Jews who had settled in Palestine following the deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia.

After WWII the horrible tragedy of Hitler's "final solution" became known.  Americans felt guilty about refusing to admit German Jews before and during the war who had tried unsuccessfully to escape Hitler's gas ovens.  We enthusiastically supported the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine, where those Jews who wanted to practice their religion and be free from various pogroms and other annoyances could live and create a small religious state.  In 1948 the United Nations created the State of Israel.

Immediately the Grand Mufti and other Palestinians attacked and tried to crush the new state.  They didn't succeed.  With American support, the new state defeated the "invaders" (actually, natives trying to expel immigrants) and established Israel as a potent military presence in the region.  Another war, in 1967, allowed Israel to claim additional territory, including a section of Egypt east of the Suez Canal as well as control of all of the territory of Biblical Israel.  Part of this new territory was ceded to the control of Jordan.  A small piece was offered to Egypt, who refused to take it.  The rest was claimed as territory into which Jews from all over the world could come and settle.  Of course, in order for Jews to settle in Israel the former inhabitants had to be removed.  They were chased out and forced to live in refugee camps in the West Bank territory controlled by Jordan.  Many of them moved to the small territory that Egypt had refused, called Gaza.

Enough history.  I have summarized my view of it just for background.

At present we have the following situation:
The United Nations will vote on the question of recognizing Palestine as a member State.  The United States will veto the motion in the Security Council.  The General Assembly may vote to grant Palestine a non-member observer status.  In spite of talk about achieving peace through negotiation between the Palestinian Authority and the Likud government of Israel, negotiations will drag on and on and nothing will be agreed to.  More settlements will be constructed.  Eventually all Palestinians will be squeezed out, unable to reach their own farm land to grow and harvest their crops.  In the course of time, the Palestinian people will either die of starvation or move to other countries and establish new lives for themselves.

I do not know of any country that will take them.  They will be in the same position as the German Jews who tried to escape Hitler's gas ovens during WWII.  Should we call this Netanyahu's Final Solution?
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