Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Palestinian Narrative: A Rational Examination, Part 2

The Palestinian File


[Part 1 is here.]

It has been said that whoever controls history, controls the present; this is undoubtedly true when it comes to the land of Israel and its history. Equally important is to have a compelling narrative of events; since today few care about history, most individuals receive their information from news sources, the majority inadequately knowledgeable about the past. This is notably true when it comes to the Palestinian narrative, which the international media has swallowed whole without much analysis or questioning. So much for "truth in journalism." In Part 2 of this article, Salomon Benzimra continues to present the facts as they are known; you decide for yourself after considering and weighing the evidence.

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by Salomon Benzimra

There is hardly a declaration, interview or article issued by a Palestinian Arab official which does not insert the word “occupation,” regardless of the context. Unfortunately, these statements are rarely, if ever, challenged by posing the three questions mentioned above.  This false notion of “occupation”——which runs against its proper definition in international law—is at the source of the new ant-Semitism, conveniently disguised as anti-Zionism. The so-called “occupation” supports all the ongoing anti Israel activities: “Israel Apartheid Week”, BDS movement, Gaza flotillas, etc. I submitted an article on this topic to the CPCCA in August 2009.

Brandishing the false notion of “occupation” has had a nefarious effect, as depicted graphically above. “Occupation” triggered a growing slanderous cycle against Israel. The characterization of Jews as “alien foreigners” in the Land of Israel was followed by accusations of “stealing the land,” building “illegal” settlements, pursuing an “imperialist project,” launching aggressive actions against the Palestinians in “violation of international law,” and creating in Israel a “Nazi-Apartheid state.”

Even reputable media organizations, like The New York Times, continue to promote one or more of these falsehoods with impunity. We are witnessing an Orwellian pattern where language corrupts thought. Regrettably, no Israeli government has vigorously challenged these false accusations.

In a nutshell, the Palestinian narrative is based on a fictitious people (whose existence is widely denied by Arab leaders) who claim self-determination and sovereignty in a land which has been stolen, occupied and colonized by foreign imperialists through the racist Zionist movement. One could hardly imagine a more mendacious construct. And yet, it has been accepted, promoted and staunchly defended by the media, by international institutions, by academia and even by Western diplomats and heads of government.

Fortunately, the tide is turning. The truth is slowly being restored by some witty satirists (Pat Condell), by distinguished international lawyers (Howard Grief), by a number of organizations in Israel, Europe and North America and, most importantly, by the political landscape of the State of Israel.

At the heart of this struggle against falsehoods, we believe that the relevant historical facts and legal documents must be spread to the widest audiences possible, Stressing Israel’s Legal Rights is the best— perhaps the only—way to counter the entrenched Palestinian myth of “occupation.” This is where Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights (CILR) have focused their efforts for the past three years.

A summary of Israel’s Legal Rights is presented here,  with an introduction on the the Ottoman Empire up to its collapse in 1918. At its apex, the Ottoman Empire spread from central Europe to south-western Arabia and from the Persian Gulf to Algeria. The Ottoman Turks were finally stopped in their advance at the gates of Vienna in 1683. During the 18th and 19th centuries, they gradually lost all their European and North African possessions.

On the eve of World War One in 1914, the Ottoman Empire was reduced when it joined the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria) against the Allied Powers (mainly France and the British Empire but also Italy and Japan among others). The United States entered the war in Europe in 1917 but did not fight the Turks in the Middle East. By the end of the war in 1918, Turkey had lost all its possessions in the Middle East. The Ottoman Empire collapsed, together with the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires, the latter through the Bolshevik revolution in 1917.

Before the end of WWI, the British Government issued the Balfour Declaration (Nov. 1917) in support of a Jewish National Home in Palestine. It was an expression of British foreign policy but it was also welcomed by various other governments. Two months later, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson presented his Fourteen Points in Congress (Jan. 1918), where he advocated the creation of an “Assembly of Nations” and the right of peoples to “self-determination” in order to promote world peace.

After WWI, the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers (Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the U.S.) convoked the Paris Peace Conference (Jan. 1919). The League of Nations was created, governed by a Covenant which instituted the Mandates System for the benefit of peoples aspiring to sovereignty, thus fulfilling President Wilson’s wishes. The Covenant of the League of Nations was included in Part I of the Treaty of Versailles which determined the fate of post-war Europe under international law.

The disposition of Turkish territories in the Middle East took place in San Remo, Italy, in April 1920, under the authority of the same Supreme Council (the U.S. acting as an observer). The San Remo Resolution combined Article 22 of the Covenant to the Balfour Declaration, thus making the latter a binding act of international law with regard to the Jewish National Home in Palestine under a British Mandate. The San Remo Resolution also allocated Syria (later split into Syria and Lebanon) and Mesopotamia (Iraq) to French and British mandates, respectively. Two years later, the Mandate for Palestine was confirmed by the Council of the League (July 1922) and approved by its 52 members.

The importance of the San Remo Conference cannot be overstated. For the first time in history, Palestine became a legal entity in 1920, notwithstanding the wishful thinking of the Arabs who now call themselves “Palestinians.” The Jewish people became the national beneficiary (self-determination) of the trust awarded to the British under the Mandate, a “sacred trust of civilization” according to Article 22 of the Covenant of the League. Sovereignty of Palestine (de jure) was vested in the Jewish people but was kept in abeyance for the duration of the Mandate. The acquired legal title in Palestine by the Jewish people cannot be revoked by the League or its successor, the United Nations.

San Remo also marks the end of the longest colonization period in history. After 1,850 years of Jewish exile from Palestine—and a concurrent succession of foreign occupiers from the Romans to the Turks— the Jewish nation was reconstituted in San Remo (not “created”) and the Jewish State was proclaimed 28 years later.

To mark the 90th anniversary of the San Remo Conference, a two-day commemoration was jointly organized by the European Coalition for Israel (ECI), based in Brussels, and Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights (CILR) of Toronto. After a series of lectures, the celebration of the event was held at the site where the San Remo Conference took place. This document was issued by WAFA, the official press agency of the Palestinian Authority, on the 91st anniversary of the San Remo Conference. It expresses the serious concern that the Palestinians have with the implications of San Remo.

As usual, it seems that no official Palestinian document can be free of falsehoods. It is not the “Zionist gangs” who viewed the San Remo Resolution as the “Magna Carta of the Jews.” It was British Foreign Secretary Lord George Nathaniel Curzon—not exactly an ardent Zionist—who aptly coined this phrase in the early 1920s to highlight the inalienable rights of the Jewish people in Palestine.

Lord Balfour, British Foreign Secretary during World War One, was a staunch pro-Zionist Christian. His support for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine was also driven by several political considerations. He feared that the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, with whom Britain was at war at the time, would issue a similar declaration to entice Jews in Allied countries. Also, Balfour’s idea was to rally American and Russian Jews to influence their governments in the Allied war effort.

The Balfour Declaration received support from U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, French Prime Minister George Clemenceau, and even Arab leader Faisal ibn-Hussein. Ironically, some of the most virulent opponents to the Balfour Declaration were among British Jews, led by Sir Edwin Montagu.

Conclusion

The Palestinian narrative reflects the real aspirations and objectives of the Palestinian Arabs. This narrative is echoed in their three foundational documents: the Fatah Constitution (1964), the PLO Covenant (in its final version of 1968) and the Hamas Charter (1988).

A cursory reading of these documents—which have never been amended, contrary to popular belief— shows clearly that peace is not what the Palestinians intend to achieve. In their various iterations, these three documents call for the eradication of Israel through armed aggression, the use of violence as a strategy and not as a mere tactic and, in the case of Hamas, a relentless, genocidal campaign against Jews, peppered with Islamic overtones.

Regrettably, these objectives and their malicious intent have remained largely unreported in the mainstream media. After twenty years of a lame “peace process,” Israelis, together with a growing number of Jews and many groups worldwide, are beginning to have second thoughts about the idyllic project of creating “two states living side by side in peace and security.”

Historians will wonder why it took so long. In the early stages of the Oslo process, the structural flaws of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were detected by some bright analysts. Boston University Professor Angelo M. Codevilla was one of them. As early as 1997, he highlighted the inherent incompatibility of objectives pursued by the two parties and he characterized the whole process as “a pernicious utopian virus.”

Some fundamental changes in dealing with peace in the Middle East are necessary. Indications are that the Israeli Government will be receptive to the recommendations of the Edmund Levy Report, which casts a new, truthful light into the nature of the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria and the legality of Jewish settlements. New developments in this area may be expected after the Israeli elections of January 22, 2013.

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Salomon Benzimra is a chemical engineer based in Toronto, where his professional work includes process design of water-pumping stations, energy systems and project economic analysis. He is interested in Middle East politics, and, accordingly, he co-founded Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights (CILR), which has been in existence since 2009. In November 2011, CILR presented the legal rights of Israel in a concise, comprehensive handbook, available in Amazon-Kindle edition.

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Copyright ©2013. Salomon Benzimra. All Rights Reserved.