By Boris Shusteff
"Let no Gentile hand abuse our rights, but first and foremost, let not Jewish hands forfeit those rights which are eternal and indivisible. (Zeev Zhabotinsky, 1937)
In order to better understand Israel's current tragic situation, one should revisit the events that led to the reestablishment of the Jewish state. In the beginning of the twentieth century it was obvious to the international community that the Jewish people needed a National Home. The "recognition [of the] historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine" raised the hope that the eternal wandering of the Jews would end. By giving the Mandate to Palestine to Great Britain, the world community recognized the legitimacy of the Jewish "colonization." The word "colonization" was not a dirty word at that time. As Zeev Zhabotinsky said, addressing the members of the British Parliament: "The history of the world is a history of colonization. Every civilized country, except perhaps Germany, is the result of some colonization in the past" (1).
The League of Nations put the stamp of approval on Jewish "colonization" by "encouraging close settlement by Jews on the land." The fact that in the middle of the nineteenth century the "estimated population of the whole of Palestine was between 50,000 and 100,000 people" (2) made the task of the Jews easier. Zhabotinsky said that "there has never been in the whole history of the world, which is a history of colonization, one example were the population on the spot 'agreed' to their country being colonized." He continued in his speech to the members of the British Parliament:
"That is how all colonizations have been done - and, should that be a crime, then it follows that America is a crime, this country is a crime, all Europe a crime, and our Bible history is the story of a crime, because it is the story of the colonization of a country against the will of the population that lived there. Therefore the question is: is the Jewish colonization necessary or not? Is it just or not?" (1)
The answer to both questions was an unequivocal and loud "Yes." Nobody at that time questioned the necessity of the Jews to settle again in their historical homeland. The issue at stake was not the question of whether the Jews should take procession of Eretz Yisrael, but whether they would be able to establish their state there. Lord Balfour said in 1918, "My personal hope is that the Jews will make good in Palestine and eventually found a Jewish State. It is up to them now; we have given them their great opportunity" (3).
Balfour uttered these words with an absolutely clear conscience. He knew well enough that while the Jews were given a tiny sliver of land, the Arabs received territory 170 times bigger in size. Several years later, after carving out Transjordan from Palestine, when the Arab portion of the land became 680 times bigger than the one slated for the Jews, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George wrote in his memoirs:
"No race has done better out of the fidelity with which the Allies redeemed their promises to oppressed races than the Arabs. Owing to the tremendous sacrifices of the Allied Nations... the Arabs have already won independence in Iraq, Arabia, Syria, and Trans-Jordania, although most of the Arab races fought throughout the War for the Turkish oppressors" (4).
However, it was not any moral hesitation that stopped the Jewish leaders from exercising their more-than-legitimate rights of establishing the Jewish National Home in all of Palestine. It was their internal weakness and the lack of faith in the Almighty and the Jewish people. The Jewish leaders behaved like serfs, ready to pick up any crumbs they were dropped from the Master's table, while the Master (Britain at the time) did not hesitate to reduce the size of the scraps handed to the Jews. First, in 1922, Britain severed Jordan from the Mandate, taking away with one sweeping move 76% of the Mandate's territory. Later, in 1938, she proposed the Partition Plan, according to which the future Jewish state was to receive only four percent (!) of the original territory of the Mandate.
Those who are surprised today by Israel's territorial squandering should recall that in 1937 at the Zionist Congress in Zurich the official Zionist movement adopted the Partition Plan and even welcomed it. Zhabotinsky, outraged by this submissiveness said on July 12, 1938 in his speech in Warsaw:
"The remainder of the Land of Israel - all that embraces the soul of the Bible, the Zionists wish to give to the Arabs - and all that for the sake of Partition. But why in fact is it called Partition? If I have 25 guilders and 24 are taken away from me, this is not partition but outright robbery. What the Peel Commission has proposed and the Zionists have enthusiastically acclaimed is not Partition but the Arab state in all of Palestine with the exclusion of four percent" (1).
The leaders of the Zionist Organization not only welcomed the Partition of the mandated territory, they were silent about Arab immigration to Palestine as well. While the Arabs and the British were counting every single incoming Jew, the huge increase in the Arab population went practically unnoticed. Speaking before the House of Commons, on May 23, 1939, Winston Churchill told the truth, "So far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied till their population has increased more then even all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population" (5).
It was not so much the Gentiles who abused the rights of the Jews, but the Jews themselves who were easily forfeiting their rights in Palestine. Fighting against the Partition Plan, on July 19, 1938, in his speech in Warsaw, Zhabotinsky explained the major danger of this shortsighted policy,
"I don't believe in the implementation of Partition and am convinced that it will not be accomplished But what will remain in this great wide world is the fact that the Jews were prepared to give up 96 percent of their country" (1).
All those who today demand that Israel give up land for "Peace" simply obfuscate the truth. The Jews do not have much land. What they still have is a pitiful remainder of their forgotten glory. The Jews were robbed of their land. By constantly carving pieces out of Eretz Yisrael, mankind committed a terrible injustice against the Jewish people.
This eventually led to the current situation, in which the Jewish presence in the heart of Eretz Yisrael is termed by the world community as illegitimate. A situation in which the same world community, via the UN, invites Yasser Arafat to its Millennium Summit, and he declares that he has "accepted a Palestinian state on less than a quarter of the historical territory of Palestine," well aware that this is the current size of Israel including Yesha. Although, why should anyone be surprised? In July of 1982, UNESCO, one of the UN's agencies, "passed a resolution demanding that the history related by the (Jewish) Bible be rewritten so that the Jews were left out of it"(6). Perhaps robbing the Jews of the Jewish land is a first step in this direction?
To be accurate, the Jews themselves are even more at fault: they are accomplices in the robbery themselves. It is the Jewish indifference to their land in 1922, 1938 and 1947 that has allowed the Palestinian Arabs to demand the Jewish patrimony. It is the Oslo-initiated readiness of the Jewish state to forfeit the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (collectively known as Yesha) that will be remembered by the world community even if the Oslo process is stopped. And it is the betrayal of Jerusalem by Barak, Beilin and Ben-Ami that will leave eternally festering wounds in the soul of the Jewish people, even if an undivided Jerusalem remains under full Israeli sovereignty.[09/09/00]
1. The Political and Social Philosophy of Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Selected writings. Vallentine Mitchell. London 1999.
2. Jacob De Haas. History of Palestine, the Last Two Thousand Years. New York. Macmillan, 1934.
3. Colonel R. Meinertzhagen. Middle East Diary 1917 - 1956. London. The Cresset Press, 1959.
4. David Fromkin. A Peace to End all Peace. Henry Holt and Company. New York, 1989.
5. Martin Gilbert. Jerusalem in the Twentieth Century. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York, 1996.
6. Jillian Becker. The PLO. St. Martin's Press, New York, 1984.
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies)