Liberation, Not Colonization, Motivated the Creation of the Jewish State

According to a common anti-Zionist refrain, Great Britain stole the land of Israel from the Palestinian Arabs and then, without permission, gave it to the Jews—blatantly disregarding Arab interests and national aspirations. But, writes Douglas Feith, the reality was very different:

The Balfour Declaration, like Israel’s recent nation-state law, distinguished between a people’s national rights and the civil and religious rights of individuals. After endorsing “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” the Balfour Declaration said, “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

[The British government] didn’t consider Palestine in isolation. It was a small part of a vast region that British forces were conquering from Ottoman empire. Though most Arabs had fought for the Turks, the Allies would put the Arab people on the path to independence and national self-determination throughout that vast region. But the tiny Holy Land had a unique status. It was territory in which Christians and Jews worldwide had profound interests.

That the Arabs composed a single people was a basic principle of the Arab nationalist movement. In February 1919, for example, the first Palestinian Congress took pains to explain why Palestine was not a country. Its resolutions said that Palestine had never been divided from Syria. It declared that Palestinians and Syrians were one people connected “by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic, and geographical bonds.” Palestine’s Arabs were not viewed—either by British officials or by their own leaders—as a separate nation. (This changed later, of course, but that was later.)

The idea that a small segment of the Arab people—the Palestinian Arabs—would someday live in a Jewish-majority country was not thought of as a unique problem. There were similar issues [throughout] Europe. . . . The Arab people would eventually rule themselves in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Arabia. They were going to end up in control of virtually all the land they claimed for themselves. They naturally wanted to be the majority everywhere. But then, the Jews could be the majority nowhere. The victorious Allies did not consider that just.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Arab nationalism, Balfour Declaration, History & Ideas, Israel & Zionism, United Kingdom


Spain’s Anti-Israel Agenda

What interest does Madrid have in the creation of a Palestinian state? Elliott Abrams raised this question a few days ago, when discussing ongoing Spanish efforts to block the transfer of arms to Israel. He points to multiple opinion surveys suggesting that Spain is among Europe’s most anti-Semitic countries:

The point of including that information here is to explain the obvious: Spain’s anti-Israel extremism is not based in fancy international political analyses, but instead reflects both the extreme views of hard-left parties in the governing coalition and a very traditional Spanish anti-Semitism. Spain’s government lacks the moral standing to lecture the state of Israel on how to defend itself against terrorist murderers. Its effort to deprive Israel of the means of defense is deeply immoral. Every effort should be made to prevent these views from further infecting the politics and foreign policy of the European Union and its member states.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel, Palestinian statehood, Spain