CUTTING THE GORDIAN KNOT

By Boris Shusteff

There is a story in Greek mythology about a Phrygian peasant named Gordius who very skillfully tied an ox yoke to his chariot. The legend said that the man who could loosen the difficult knot would become a ruler of all Asia. Many people tried but none succeeded. Finally Alexander the Great cut the knot with his sword, and declared that he had fulfilled the prophecy.

The time is long overdue for Israel to cut the Gordian knot of the Oslo agreement. The more the Israeli leaders try to stick to this self­invented mantra, the more land they transfer to the Palestinian Arabs ­­ the more they obfuscate the truth. And the truth is very simple: if Americans have the right to America, Canadians to Canada, and Australians to Australia, then the Jews have a hundred times more rights to Palestine.

For almost two thousand years Palestine and the Jews were inseparable in the minds of civilized mankind. Palestine, or, as it was called before, Judea, was known to everybody as the land of the Jews. Lord Lindsay wrote in Letters on Egypt, Edom and the Holy Land, published in London in 1847 that, "the Jewish race may once more obtain possession of their native land The soil of Palestine still enjoys her sabbaths, and only waits for the return of her banished children."

American President John Adams confessed in a letter to Mordechai Noah in 1818: "I really wish the Jews in Judea an independent nation." Abraham Lincoln said in 1863 during his meeting with Canadian Christian Zionist Henry Monk that, "Restoring the Jews to their homeland is a noble dream shared by many Americans." Benjamin Harrison, yet another American President, wrote in 1891 that, "It is impossible for one who has studied all the services of the Hebrew people to avoid the faith that they will one day be restored to their historic national home."

The two millennia of continued Jewish presence in Palestine amidst ruthlessness, discrimination, persecution and massacres have no equal in history. It is this heroic and desperate clinging to the Land that convinced the world community at the beginning of this century to give the mandate to Palestine to Britain in order to facilitate the restoration of the Jewish national home.

Two additional reasons were behind this decision. When, in the year 70 AD the Jews lost their independence, their population in Judea numbered between five and seven million people. In the middle of the nineteenth century according to J. De Haas History of Palestine, the Last Two Thousand Years, the estimated population of the whole of Palestine was between 50,000 and 100,000 people. Thus, the Zionist slogan of the country without the people was not an exaggeration.

Another reason was explained by Sir George Adam Smith who wrote in 1891: "Nor is there any indigenous civilization in Palestine that could take place of the Turkish except that of the Jews who have given to Palestine everything it has ever had of value to the world." The absence of the "indigenous civilization" was confirmed by the prominent Palestinian Arab Professor Rashid Khalidi. In the recently published book Palestinian Identity, he wrote, "So profound a transformation of the sense of self of the Arab population of Palestine, which began during the years immediately before World War I, resulted in the emergence of a Palestinian national identity where a few decades before no such thing had existed."

This "sense of self" was discovered by the Arabs through the Jewish ethos. Khalidi quoted a "remarkable article" written in 1919 by no other than Hajj Amin al­Husayni (later to become the Mufti of Jerusalem), who in "an unmistakable reference to Zionism and Palestine argued that the Arabs should take heart from the experience of a people long dispersed and despised, and who had no homeland to call their own, but did not despair and were getting together after their dispersion to regain their glory after twenty centuries of oppression."

Thus, not just the Europeans and Americans, but the Arabs too were well aware of the unique Jewish ties with Palestine. This is why there were no objections on their part when the Jews were called the "Palestinian settlers," the Jewish newspaper was called "The Palestine Post" and the Jewish symphonic orchestra was called the "Palestinian orchestra." The Arabs were the Arabs, and the Jews were the Palestinians. Because of another well known truth, it is outrageous to actually say that the Jews occupied Palestine. The tiny sliver of territory including the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza constitutes only slightly more than 20% of historic Palestine.

For an unbiased view of history it is important to look at events at the time when they were not yet marred by political considerations. Nothing can serve this purpose better than browsing through the pages of old books. The book "The Forgotten Ally" written by Pierre Van Paassen, a Dutch born newspaper correspondent, belongs to this category. It was written in 1943 and published by the Dial Press in New York. The author, who came from a family with a long line of Protestant clergymen on both sides, wrote this book at a time when Israel did not exist. To the contrary, the Jewish people was on the brink of extinction. For this reason, the facts presented in this book deserve even greater attention.

One episode is especially relevant to our theme. In spring of 1927 Van Paassen visited the retired French General Sarrail, who prior to his retirement served as a High Commissioner in Syria. Explaining why it was necessary for Britain to elevate Emir Abdullah "to the throne in a country that was arbitrarily detached from Palestine," General Sarrail said:

"That is the significance of making him Emir of Trans­Jordan. Some day the Arabs in Trans­Jordan and Palestine will clamor for a reunion, or be made to clamor for it, which amounts to the same thing. The two countries, now separated arbitrarily, do in fact belong together. They are both Palestine. It is merely that Jordan divides the country into two parts. When the British Colonial Office thinks they are ripe for reunion, it will set the Arabs yearning for reunion. Their separation will be made unbearable."

The seventy two years that have passed since Sarrails prediction have not changed the facts. Palestine is not occupied by the Jews. It is occupied by the Arabs. Almost 80% of Palestine belongs to the Arabs while the Jews are huddling together on a tiny piece of land that they have miraculously managed to preserve. It is not the Jews but the Arabs that usurped Palestine. As it was during the darkest time in their history the Jews are not permitted to live in four fifths of their historic homeland. Every new transfer of land to the Palestinian Authority makes this forbidden territory bigger.

The Arabs are well on their way to making Sarrails prediction come true. The civilized world the British Colonial Office of our days encourages the "Arabs yearning for reunion." If another Arab state is created in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, then, very soon, the Arabs of this new state, the Israeli Arabs, and the Arabs of Jordan "will clamor for a reunion."

As General Sarrail warned: "What can the Jews say if and when the Arabs of the two countries want to reunite? What argument can they have if England demonstrates to the whole world that the Arab claims are legitimate and that if they don't give in to these aspirations there will be trouble?"

The Gordian knot tied around the neck of the Jewish state strangles its more and more. One cannot untie it. The only way to prevent complete suffocation is by cutting the knot. This can only be done through the abrogation of the Oslo agreement and immediate annexation of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. If one says that nobody expects from Israel these kinds of actions then they should be reminded that the expression cutting the Gordian knot means solving a difficult problem in an unexpected way. [1/14/99]

NOTES

1.Quotes by Lord Lindsay, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin

Harrison are from Eliyahu Tal's book "Whose Jerusalem?"

2. Quote by Adam Smith is from S. Katz's book "Battleground"

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Boris Shusteff is an engineer in upstate New York. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.


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