Jeffrey Goldberg seems to be on a roll of late, furiously penning articles as the Palestinian Authority’s multilateral UN bid approaches, that propagate some long debunked falsehoods. His latest, entitled Palestine Won’t Be a State takes the proverbial biscuit. He begins by proclaiming that ‘The Palestinian national liberation movement has arguably been the least successful such movement of the past 100 years.’
Lets ignore the fact that this is nonsense (and a simple snipe by Goldberg) the ‘most unsuccessful’ national liberation movement is just days away from annoying the two nations most responsible for its lack of success, the United States and Israel, at the UN. Its easy for Goldberg to describe the Palestinian fight for independence is such terms because he chooses to ignore the reason for it’s lack of success. Namely no other resistance movement has been up against the worlds sole superpower (and its Lieutenant in the region) for quite as long.
Goldberg continues –
The Jews in Palestine, early in the arc of political Zionism, sought simply to live as an autonomous minority within an Arab entity. The Arabs rejected the idea — some violently — and the Jews abandoned the notion.
This is a gross distortion of the facts. From the time of the first aliyah, the indigenous Palestinians were viewed with contempt by jewish colonists. As cultural zionist Ahad Ha’am wrote of his experiences in late 1800’s Palestine
“They (Zionist pioneers) deal with the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, trespass unjustly, beat them shamefully for no sufficient reason, and even boast about their actions.”
Furthermore, those Jews who did oppose zionism and did want to live peacefully with their Arab neighbours, had their dreams shattered when Zionist terrorists murdered their representative Israel De Haan, precisely because he wanted no part of an ethnocentric state and wanted to live and work alongside his Arab neighbors. But Goldberg for some reason chooses to ignore this little fact. He continues –
‘The United Nations offered statehood to the Arabs in Palestine in 1947. The Arabs chose the path of war, and threatened the Jews with annihilation.’
Again a gross attempt at misinformation. What the United Nations did in 1947 was not offer statehood to the Palestinians, it recommended partition of their land, with the majority (and most fertile) going to the non-indigenous Jewish minority. Goldberg also declines to inform his readers that Zionists always viewed partition as a stepping stone, as First Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion admitted in a letter to his son-
“No Zionist can forgo the smallest portion of the Land Of Israel. Jewish state in part (of Palestine) is not an end, but a beginning ….Our possession is important not only for itself …through this we increase our power, and every increase in power facilitates getting hold of the country in its entirety. Establishing a (small) state …. will serve as a very potent lever in our historical effort to redeem the whole country.”
Not only has this aim come to fruition, but it demonstrates that the Arabs of Palestine were well aware of the aims of Zionism and were both legally and morally entitled to refuse the partition of their land as they did. The fact that staunch supporters of Israel routinely claim that Ben-Gurion’s acceptance and the Arab rejection show Zionists wanted peace and Arabs wanted war is predicated upon obscuring the two facts highlighted above.
Another important, oft-ignored aspect to United Nations resolution 181, is not only did it hold no enforcement power, but it was bullied and bribed through the United nations chamber by the USA. The crude tactics employed were recalled by the then US Secretary of Defence, James Forrestal –
‘I thought the methods that had been used by people outside of the Executive branch of the government to bring coercion and duress on other nations in the General Assembly bordered closely on to scandal.’
Not only did the Arabs refuse partition (as they were entitled to) they also questioned whether or not the UN had the power to even suggest as much. They made several applications to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to consider this issue, yet all were rejected. This rejection to refer the matter of whether or not the UN had authority over the issue of Palestine, to the ICJ ‘tends to confirm the avoidance of international law’ (Pittman B Potter).
This view was shared by a US State Dept official, who in a memo to the then US Secretary of State, George Marshall, wrote
‘These proposals [of the majority of UNSCOP proposing partition]…ignore such principles as self-determination and majority rule.’
Indeed in the words of one of the worlds foremost jurists of the time, Hans Kelsen (himself a Jew) UN General Assembly recommendations “do not constitute a legal obligation to behave in conformity with them”
This non-obligatory character of UN resolution 181 was also highlighted by Canada at a Security Council meeting on 17th December 1948 when their representative stated
“we regard the resolution of the general Assembly [Resolution 181] as having the force of a recommendation.”
The question of what constitutes defence and what constitutes aggression is very important. The common failure of those who claim Israel acted in self-defence in 1948, is that they leave out the context of Israel’s declaration of statehood. It is a vital area which requires close examination to truly decide whether or not 1948 was a war of defence, as far as Israel is concerned. Ben-Gurion and the Jewish Agency, as we have seen, actually had no legal basis for their unilateral declaration. Undoubtedly to declare the existence of a new nation on a land whose majority indigenous population were not desiring of such a state, can in itself be viewed as aggressive. No mention of any of this from Goldberg.
When the surrounding Arab armies entered Palestine on 15th May 1948, the day after Israel’s declaration of statehood, Israel (or rather the Jewish Agency) petitioned the UN that this move by the Arab states amounted to aggression. Unfortunately for the Jewish Agency, the UN did not make such a deliberation. In point of fact, the surrounding Arab nations stressed that they were coming to the aid and at the request of the lawful bearers of sovereignty in Palestine, namely, the Palestinians. It is worth remembering also that the League of Arab States had adopted a charter on March 22nd 1945 which recognized the rights of the Palestinians and identified Palestine as a state.
The Arab Higher Committee also submitted a memorandum to the UN in June of 1948 in which they explicitly defended their entry into Palestine. It was entitled ‘Why the Arab States Entered Palestine: Their Action Justified in Fact and in International Law’. Part of which reads –
The Arab armies entered Palestine on the invitation of the native Arabs of Palestine who are ‘resisting attempted subjugation by the armed (Jewish) minority and outside (Jewish) pressure.
This received wisdom that it was the Arab’s who were the aggressors in 1948 does not hold up against close examination of the facts. Zionist contempt for the rights of the indigenous (and overwhelming majority) population of Palestine through their unilateral declaration of statehood and their use of violence to enforce that declaration were the catalyst for war in 1948. It is worth recalling how China at the UN, highlighted the aggressive nature of the Jewish Agency’s unilateral declaration of statehood –
“The prompt proclamation of the Jewish state last evening reduced considerably the prospects for peace in Palestine.”
Obviously Goldberg will make no mention of these uncomfortable facts to his readers. He continues by referring to Camp David 2000 and Ehud Olmert’s supposed similar offer to Abbas. Well Jeffrey if it was similar Abbas was right to reject it, as even Israeli delegate to Camp David 2000, admitted “if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well”. Again no mention of this by Goldberg.
Goldberg continues that with regard to a Palestinian state – ‘there are only two member states of the UN that can bring it about: Israel and the U.S.’
Right, gotcha. So on the one hand Goldberg would have us believe that the state which continually dispossesses the Palestinians, ignores its UN obligations and its larger benefactor who bankrolls much of this and protects its crimes by continually employing its veto at the UN, are the two entities that the Palestinians must hinge their hopes on. What sheer unadulterated nonsense. Goldberg’s claim wouldn’t be nearly as nonsensical as it is, if the US was a neutral arbiter. But the US simply represents Israeli interests in its dealings with the Palestinians.
Another nugget from Jeffrey is that in the West Bank, Salam Fayyad has…‘created an increasingly viable economy’
Really? Lets see what the CIA World Factbook has to say on the issue –
The West Bank – the larger of the two areas comprising the Palestinian territories – experienced a high single-digit economic growth rate in 2010 as a result of inflows of donor aid, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) implementation of economic and security reforms, and the easing of some movement and access restrictions by the Israeli Government. Nevertheless, overall standard-of-living measures remain near levels seen prior to the start of the second intifada in 2000. The almost decade-long downturn largely has been a result of Israeli closure policies – a steady increase in movement and access restrictions across the West Bank in response to Israeli security concerns which have disrupted labor and trade flows, industrial capacity, and basic commerce, both external and internal
Goldberg goes on to claim – ‘(Salam)Fayyad has the potential to be the David Ben Gurion of the Palestinians’. I doubt very much Goldberg would want this. As that would mean he would be a man in favour of ethnic cleasning, or as Ben-Gurion called it ‘compulsory transfer‘.
Jeffrey then writes this beaut – ‘Two points have been obscured by the drama at the UN: Abbas, not Netanyahu, is the leader who has refused to enter negotiations without conditions‘
Really? So Netanyahu prior to entering negotiations, demanding
‘that the Palestinians have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, solve the refugee problem outside Israel and accept a permanent Israeli army presence in a demilitarized Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank that does not include Jerusalem.’
One wonders who Goldberg thinks he can fool with this nonsense.