It’s hard to fathom that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been going on for well over a century but when people offhandedly make the assertion that this land has been in conflict for ions and it’s far too complicated for anyone to resolve. I ask people to pause and imagine if it was your land that was in conflict and the international community collectively and repetitively ignored and or exacerbated the conflict, how would you feel?
“The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.” – Exodus 15:14
The Rise of Zionism
Zionism emerged in the early 1900’s in Central and Eastern Europe as a national revival movement that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish Homeland. The core issue of this premise is that this was not a vacant land nor was it unsettled, it was and indeed still is someone else’s homeland.
In the 1900’s Palestine is predominately Arab and the majority of them were Muslim. Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire but as World War 1 raged on the Ottoman Empire was losing its stranglehold on the region to the British and the French. Zionism wasn’t born in Israel, some would say Zionism “settled” in Palestine.
Jewish Settlers began settling in Palestine to seek refuge from religious persecution most of these Jewish Settlers were of European descent and little later, but no later than 1916 Jews of Middle-Eastern descent began settling in Palestine as well.
The Hussein-McMahon Letter’s
Eight letters were sent during the years of 1915 and 1916 between Sharif Hussein who was the governor of the Hijaz province of Arabia (Mecca) and Sir Henry McMahon who was the British high commissioner to Eygpt. These letters were detailed in Deborah J. Gerner’s 1994 book entitled “One Land Two Peoples” and these letters are commonly referred to as one of the most controversial aspects of British involvement in the Middle
Sharif and McMahon negotiated a plan that involved Sharif encouraging Arabs to revolt against the Ottoman Empire and enter World War 1 on behalf of the Allies. In return, McMahon would coax other European Nations to recognize the independence of the Arab areas within the Ottoman Empire known today as Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Saudi Arabia.
Israel won their independence in the Arab-Israeli War in 1947, but before this Israel is not mentioned as a state or a country. Before 1947 the Israeli Jews bought land from the Ottoman Empire, this land was located within Palestine which was mostly agricultural community that fell within the Fertile Cresent.
During this time history tells us that Arabs, Jews, and Christians lived in harmony in Palestine, but looking behind mainstream historical records and researching newspaper articles dating back to the same time frame which reveal that some tensions between Arab’s and Jews did exist in the early days of the rise of Zionism as European Jews began to settle in Middle-Eastern Arab communities.
As you may assume Palestinians were not happy with these Zionist rejoicings, after all, what were they celebrating? The colonization of a free people?
On May 16th, 1916 diplomats, Francois Georges-Picot for France and Sir Mark Sykes for Britain negotiated for five months from November 1915, to March 1916 as they worked out the Asia Minor Agreement which was crudely drawn up on a plain white piece of paper with a grease pencil which is a far stretch from the one peddled the public.
This is the “agreement” drawn on a piece of paper that solidified the borders of Arab country’s we know today with Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine under British control and Syria and Lebanon under French control.
History tells us that the Arabs revolted against the Ottoman Empire because of years of oppression and because they were opposed to the Ottoman Empire joining World War 1 on the side of the Central Powers against the Allies.
This would make perfect sense if we weren’t already informed of the Sharif-McMahon letters which clearly detail an effort by the Britsh to create a revolt within the Ottoman Empire and in return, the Arab nations would be recognized by the Europeans as Arab states.
Sharif Hussein bin Ali, Emir of Mecca and King of the Arabs, great-grandfather of King Hussein, launched the Great Arab Revolt, but this was not Arabs suddenly coming to the realization that they wanted to free themselves from Turkish oppression, it was clandestinely orchestrated by the British who seemingly always fawned over capturing this fertile land from the Ottoman Empire.
In late 1916 Sharif was head of the Arab Nationalist revolt and his sons Abdullah and Faisal led ground forces in their assault to liberate Damascus from Ottoman rule. As previously stated this revolt was not only backed by the British and the French, but it was orchestrated by them.
According to “The Map That Ruined the Middle East” a book by Gabriel Scheinmann World War 1 dramatically changed the political geography of the Middle-east stating the Ottoman Empire had always been the “sick man” of Europe. The Ottoman Empire was losing territory long before World War 1, it had lost control of its European possessions before the war and lost its territories after the war.
The Allies morphed the Middle-East into its current form giving the territories European names and flags, Ottoman provinces became Arab kingdoms and areas within Palestine and Lebanon were created by the Allies for Jews and Christians.
As Gabriel Scheinmann describes in his book; “The borders of the new states were determined neither by topography nor demography. The infamous 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, the secret Franco-British-Russian pact that allocated regional zones of control, became the blueprint.”
The King-Crane Commission
The King-Crane Commission was set in motion by President Woodrow Wilson when he presented the idea to the Council of Four entente powers Britain, United States, France and Italy. The commission would travel to the Middle East “to elucidate the state of opinion and the soil to be worked on by any mandatory, they should be asked to come back and tell the Conference what they found with regard to these matters” but France and Italy did not send delegations on the Commission to Syria.
Representing the United States was Henry Churchill King, president of Oberlin College in Ohio, and Chicago businessman and Democratic Party activist Charles R. Crane. With no other country participating the commission became a U.S. commission. King and Crane traveled to Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Anatolia in mid-1919 to meet with local representatives. Their findings were filed with the U.S. delegation at Paris, were subsequently ignored by the peace negotiators.
Written by Joziah Thayer – Twitter @dapeaple – wedacoalition.org