Yet again I have been compelled to the keyboard because of Jeffrey Goldberg’s mendacity. He posted a piece yesterday which regurgitates practically every long debunked falsehood surrounding the events of Palestine in 1948. Like other hardened supporters of Israel and Zionism, Goldberg opens his piece by engaging in the usual hyperbole
‘….but what I won’t do is label as a “nakba” a war that saw the 600,000 Jews of Palestine prevent their own slaughter at the hands of invading Arab armies.’
Israel declared statehood unilaterally, on 15th May 1948 using United Nations Resolution 181 as their basis for doing so. As I will demonstrate they had no moral or legal basis for this declaration of statehood. The Israeli/Zionist narrative posits the nascent Israeli state declaring ‘Independence’ and holding out against all odds from the invading armies of the surrounding Arab nations. Or as others would have it ‘Israel defended itself against a genocidal war of extermination’ (Dershowitz)
Undoubtedly there were startling statements emanating from some of the Arab elite, such as the oft cited alleged statmement from Secretary General of the Arab League, Abd al-Rahman Azzam – “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades”
Yet this statement has never been verified. However a war of defence cannot be credibly claimed to be in defence if it is launched on the basis of rhetoric alone. 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.
The Middle East suffers today from the crucial mistakes made by Arab leaders in the late 1940s. The United Nations, you’ll recall, voted to divide Palestine into two equal halves, one for a Jewish state, the other for an Arab state.
Ok, for the umpteenth time, UN Res. 181 was a recommendation only and as such held no enforcement power whatsoever. Furthermore the Jewish Agency had no right to declare statehood against the express will of the inhabitants of Palestine. The Arabs of Palestine were under no moral or legal obligation to accept 181, which advocated the partition of their land into a Jewish state and an Arab state, and as such were fully entitled to refuse it as they did. Not to mention the recommendation for partition sought to give the Jewish minority the majority of the land. This view was shared by a US State Dept official, who in a secret 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”. In this regard Kelsen was in agreement with the likes of Clyde Eagelton, Leland Goodrich and Edvard Hambro who stated “recommendations have no obligatory character.”
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.” For UN resolution 181 to succeed, it had to be accepted by both sides. As already stated, the Palestinians were perfectly entitled to reject it as they did.
With regard to UN resolution 181 (a recommendation only) Goldberg writes…
The Jews accepted the plan; the Arab leadership, thinking its armies were strong enough to annihilate the Jews, invaded, and then proceeded to lose.
A couple of issues here. First, the Zionists were on record as seeing the initial partition of Palestine as merely a stepping stone to a greater Israel as, in the words of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion…
The Jewish State now being offered to us is not the Zionist objective. Within this area it is not possible to solve the Jewish question. But it can serve as a decisive stage along the path to greater Zionist implementation. It will consolidate in Palestine, within the shortest possible time, the real Jewish force which will lead us to our historic goal.
Ben-Gurion was on record claiming that Zionists would accept partition..
on the assumption that after we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of the state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.
No mention of these Zionist aims from Goldberg of course, as for him to admit to these realities would highlight how his whole piece is built on sand. On his claim that the Arab armies simply ‘invaded’ to annihilate the Jews and lost. First thing to note, is that Zionist forces had begun ethnically cleansing Palestine of its indigenous inhabitants well before the Arab armies intervened. Even today, intervention is still seen as the best way to avoid such man-made humanitarian catastrophes. But it seems for some people, Arab nations are not allowed to intervene in the way Western states are.
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 ‘outside pressure’ being not just Jewish/Zionist groups, but also actual states, such as Czechoslovakia, which was selling arms to the Jewish Agency. The support that the Jewish Agency was in receipt of from outside elements, which it required in order to subvert the rights of the majority indigenous population, could be argued to have given the surrounding Arab states the right to intervene. As noted by eminent international jurist, Michael Barton Akehurst, who stated
“The Jewish community in Palestine…was being used by foreign interests to commit indirect aggression against Palestine. The Arab States were protecting Palestine against such subversion, it is generally agreed that one state may protect another against subversion, under the idea of collective self-defense
As mentioned above, the UN did not agree with nascent Israeli state that the actions of the surrounding Arab armies in entering Palestine amounted to aggression. In fact China’s representative Tsiang Tingfu 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.
As a consequence of the war, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians became refugees — some were expelled by Jewish forces in the course of fighting, some fled, others were encouraged to leave by their leaders.
Thats his way of putting it. More honest people might say Zionists ethnically cleansed large swathes of Palestine, as had been Ben-Gurion’s dream. Goldberg also dredges up the long debunked Arab leaders caused the exodus of Palestinians argument. He goes on to write The disaster, in other words, was the result of a series of mistakes made the leaders of the Arab states in 1948.
No Jeffrey, the Naqba was a premeditated land grab and ethnic cleansing project long envisaged by the early Zionists and indeed the man who became Israel’s first Prime Minister, who we would rightly label a war criminal today. What is patently obvious is that in your attempt to lay the blame for the Naqba with the Arab states, you seek to ignore declared Zionist intent to ‘transfer’ the Arabs out of Palestine, the immorality and illegality of the Jewish Agency’s declaration of statehood and the right of those Arabs not just to live on their own land, but to fight to uphold that right.
Goldberg continues his blatant falsehoods…
The war that brought the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank under Israeli control in 1967 was not of Israel’s making,
I have previously demonstrated this claim of Goldberg’s to be false, which resulted in his clicking on my profile page on Twitter and hitting ‘Block’. But to be fair he was no doubt already angered by previous posts of mine demonstrating his mendacity.
Goldberg concludes by mentioning the movement of 850,000 arab jews into Israel..
And speaking of nakbas, here is a report about another, more silent nabka, one that caused the movement of 850,000 people across the Middle East, but one that doesn’t get that much attention, in part because these refugees were cared for by their brethren.
What he doesn’t say, is that this took place over several decades, involved not just expulsion, but also messianic jews on Aliyah, and also Jews fleeing as a result of what has been termed ‘cruel zionism‘ working in tandem with British attempts to move Iraqi Jews to Israel.
If this threat [to expel Iraqi Jews] could be transmuted into an arrangement whereby Iraqi Jews moved into Israel, recieved compensation for their property from the israeli government, while the Arab refugees were installed with the property in Iraq, there would seem to be something to commend it.
(Foreign Office to British Embassy, Baghdad, Sept 5th 1949)
Instances like the Lavon affair also undermined the position of Arab Jews even further. Indeed as John Rose has written with regard to Zionism’s desire to artificially implant a settler population in Palestine, its ‘first victims were the Arabs of Palestine. The second were the Jews in Arab countries.’
It is a sad reflection that Jeffrey Goldberg has the standing he does among US commentariat. His piece is predicated upon his belief that his readers are not well informed about the issue. Unfortunately one does not need to examine his output that vigorously to see what a crude and unabashed propagandist the man truly is.