Israeli-Arab Antagonism Western historians are re-examining the troubled 20th century history of Israel and Palestine. Previously published revelations of Israel’s military strength and aggressive operations during the 1948 Israeli-Arab war remained confined to a select group of historians: (Simha Flapan, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities and Ilian Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951). Now, the established media is beginning to publish similar information. Washington Post editor, S. Rosenfeld, has published information that Israel’s former Defense Minister, Moishe Dayan, admitted to reporter Rami Tal that Israel provoked 80% of the border clashes between Israel and Syria and Syrian gunners on the Golan had only fired on Israel farmers who were illegally farming demilitarized lands( Israel and Syria: Correcting the Record, S. Rosenfeld, Wash.
Post., Dec. 24, 1999). As the Mid-East “peace process” approaches its final outcome, the American media and government are becoming aware that the deliberations may reveal a historical perspective that differs from a previously accepted perspective, and that an appreciation of this revised perspective may be essential in forming an acceptable solution to the Mid-East conflict. The Jewish people, Islam, the American people, and all Mid-East countries have been continually affected by the daily events in Israel and the West Bank. An optimistic atmosphere for peace presently prevails.
Unless the optimism translates into reality, the world may accept a longer term pessimistic scenario which predicts that, (1) Israel will eventually not be able to successfully repulse the far greater numbers of its antagonists. (2) Israel will be forced to use its full military capability to maintain its territory and could bring several countries into an atomic war. (3) Israel’s safeguards and defense will propel it into extreme human rights violations of the Palestinians and result in their possible dissolution. (4) The Jewish people, due to their consistent support of what the world could perceive as Israel’s tyrannical actions, will suffer greatly from antagonisms, almost to the point of extinction of Judaism as a strong religious force. (5) The United States people will suffer from terrorism, war and economic upheavals. (6) Islam will be forced to fight for its survival, especially for its holy sites in Jerusalem.
Famous Jewish luminaries have echoed these fears. The violinist Yehudi Menuhin, in a speech to the Israeli Knesset stated: Israel’s political intransigence and unwillingness to make concessions to the Palestinians will further suppress the old values of Judaism. The philosopher Martin Buber wrote in the publication Thud’s Ner, 1961: The world is captured by the mid-east turmoil and yet is complacent about the eventual results. And those concerned have not been able to evolve a workable strategy to prevent the great shock. One cause for the failure to evolve a workable strategy has been due to basing decisions on selective facts.
The final stages of a welcomed peace process demands that the historical facts are correctly portrayed so that knowledge and reasoning can dictate an equitable solution. Since Israel has been the protagonist in the mighty drama, the country that has occupied stage center, investigators will focus on significant Israeli actions during the past 50 years. Major aspects of the investigations will be: The establishment of the state of Israel, leading to The refugee problem, leading to The Mid-East Wars, leading to Israel’s population expansion, leading to The ignored UN Resolutions, leading to Democratic Compromises, leading to Some thoughts on the historical perspective. The establishment of the State of Israel The United Nations, which voted on November 29, 1947, to partition Palestine, might have wished they had more completely studied the situation and had appropriately prepared to respond to subsequent developments. The UN had a choice between recommending a bi-national state or partitioning the country into Jewish and Palestinian states. Considering that 85% of the Jewish population remained confined to three urban centers and their surrounding areas, Tel-Aviv/Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem, and that the Jews constituted only 1/3 the total population in all Palestine, the partition plan had no acceptable means to award the Zionists a viable state in which they would be a comfortable majority in a large sized territory. By voting a partition resolution, the UN unknowingly invited “population transfers” of the Palestinians from the territory awarded to the Zionists so that the Jews in that state could be a majority.
The resolution, which required a 2/3 vote by the General Assembly, and only received the 2/3 by one vote, never had the power for compliance or enforcement. By not providing enforcement and safeguards to all parties, the UN action permitted the future to be determined by predictable crises. It was predictable that a resolution that created states that were not viable, would stimulate Israel to take action to assure its viability. It was predictable that the Palestinian community would become submerged by Israel’s actions and that adjacent Arab countries would react to any perception of aggressive Israeli behavior and territorial extension. UN resolution 181 caused a more serious crisis than it attempted to contain.
President Truman expressed anguish at the lack of an enforcement body and noted its possible consequences. (Statement on the United Nation’s recognition of Israel by President Truman, March 25, 1948, Truman archives): The United Kingdom has announced its firm intention to abandon its mandate in Palestine on May 15. Unless emergency action is taken, there will be no public authority in Palestine on that date capable of preserving law and order. Violence and bloodshed will descend upon the Holy Land. Large scale fighting among the people of that country will be the inevitable result. Such fighting would infect the entire Middle East and could lead to consequences of the gravest sort involving the peace of this nation and of the world. The American president proposed a plan that has not been well publicized: The United States has proposed to the Security Council a temporary United Nations trusteeship for Palestine to provide a government to keep the peace..Trusteeship is not proposed as a substitute for the partition plan but as an effort to fill the vacuum soon to be created.
After Israel declared a provisional government on the day before Britain’s withdrawal from its mandate, Truman recognized the new state. Interestingly, the U.S. president changed several words in the original document. The document states; This government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the (Truman inserted the word “provisional”) government as the de facto authority of the new (Truman crossed out the words “Jewish state” and replaced them with the words “State of Israel.) After the Zionists proclaimed a provisional government on May 14 and British troops withdrew on May 15 1948, events happened as Truman had pessimisticly predicted. The UN sent Count Folke Bernadette, a Swedish diplomat who had earned respect from his work during the war as vice chairman of the Swedish Red Cross, to obtain truces between the combatants and ameliorate the situation.
On September 17,1948, after Bernadotte had composed his report, and before he had the opportunity to submit the report to the UN, members of the Stern gang, an extremist Zionist organization, assassinated him and French air force officer, Andre P. Serot in Jerusalem. Count Bernadotte’s Specific Conclusions (in his words): The following conclusions, broadly outlined, would, in my view, considering all the circumstances, provide a reasonable, equitable and workable basis for settlement: 1) Since the Security Council, under pain of Chapter VIII sanctions, has forbidden further employment of military action in Palestine as a means of settling the dispute, hostilities should be pronounced formally ended either by mutual agreement of the parties or, failing that, by the United Nations. The existing indefinite truce should be superseded by a formal peace, or at the minimum, an armistice which would involve either complete withdrawal and demobilization of armed forces or their wide separation by creation of broad demilitarized zones under United Nations supervision. 2) The frontiers between the Arab and Jewish territories, in the absence of agreement between Arabs and Jews, should be established by the United Nations and delimited by a technical boundaries commission appointed by and responsible to the United Nations, with the following revisions in the boundaries broadly defined i …