The 1947 UN resolution to partition Palestine irrevocably changed the political landscape of the Middle East, giving rise to six full-fledged wars between Arabs and Jews, countless armed clashes, blockades, and terrorism, as well as a profound shattering of Palestinian Arab society. Its origins, and that of the wider Arab-Israeli conflict, are deeplyrooted in Jewish-Arab confrontation and appropriation in Palestine. But the isolated occasions of violence during the British Mandate era (1920–48) suggest that the majority of Palestinian Arabs yearned to live and thrive under peaceful coexistence with the evolving Jewish national enterprise. So what was the real cause of the breakdown in relations between the two communities?In this brave and groundbreaking book, Efraim Karshtells the story from both the Arab and Jewish perspectives. Heargues that from the early 1920s onward, a corrupt and extremist leadership worked toward eliminating the Jewish national revival and protecting its own interests. Karsh has mined many of the Western, Soviet, UN, and Israeli documents declassified over the past decade, as well as unfamiliar Arab sources, to reveal what happened behind the scenes on both Palestinian and Jewish sides. It is an arresting story of delicate political and diplomatic maneuvering by leading figures—Ben Gurion, Hajj Amin Husseini, Abdel Rahman Azzam, King Abdullah, Bevin, and Truman —over the years leading up to partition, through the slide to war and its enduring consequences. Palestine Betrayed is vital reading for understanding the origin of disputes that remain crucial today.
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In a book titled “Palestine betrayed” the author presenting himself as the Professor & Head of Middle East & Mediterranean Studies at King’s College University in London tackled number of issues. These were presented, according to the author, from both Arab & Jewish perspectives.
To my disappointment however, the book is as far as it can get from a neutral let alone a historical or an academic point of view. The author’s points are summarized below as well as my responses which for the great majority of it, will be using and quoting other Jewish and Arab historians and intellectuals:
1. Author claims the right of occupation since they were in a state of self-defense against the Arab invasion.
The UN Resolution on the Partition gave Israel 56% of the country. As a result of the 1948 war and by early 1949, Israel expanded to include 78% of Palestine.
In 1967, Israel occupied all of Palestine and parts of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.
The author leads readers with the old Zionism’s old school of thought that Jews were faced with Arab violence and opposition based on anti-semitism which is simply not true .
The author also failed to refer to the Knesset at the time when it passed, on 22 September 1948, the Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordnance (5708-1948) by which it officially added to Israel’s size all land it had captured since the war began. It also declared that from then on, any part of Palestine captured by the Israeli army would automatically become part of Israel . The author didn’t also mention that Israel has never given an official definition of its boundaries (which is the reason why Ben Gurion refused to formulate a constitution for Israel) .
One would also expect some reference to the many UN Security Council Resolutions. The famous one of 242 of 22 November 1947 emphasizing on the inadmissibility of acquisition of territories by war also slipped the author’s mind.
Karsh referred also to Balfour Declaration (November 1917). Though issued by a European Power offering a non-European territory, it is also true that the declaration viewed the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people “in” Palestine and not “of” Palestine.
2. Towards the end of the book, the author concludes that May 1948 pan-Arab invasion of the nascent state of Israel was more a scramble for Palestinian territory than a fight for Palestinian national rights.
To claim right of occupation because State of Israel was in self-defense contradicts with the conclusion that the author reached towards the end of his book i.e. Arabs betrayed Palestine because they had political and territorial interest in the Arab part of Palestine (according to the UN partition) and didn’t come to its rescue (as the title of the book suggests).
In confirmation to his conclusion above, he provided evidence and details on an agreement stipulating that no attack to take place on Israel’s part of land as per the partition. Such an agreement on non-interference can only conclude that Israel had thus no threat to its existence.
3. The author claims that majority of migrants arrived the country three decades preceding the first World War not as individuals but as members of a national movement seeking to restore Jewish sovereignty in Palestine.
An article on “Jewish Emigration in the 19th century” by Shmuel Ettinger indicated that “the effect of political discrimination on migration is attested to by the increase in the number of emigrants after each new wave of programs. Migration from Russia increased greatly after the expulsion from Moscow in 1891 (in 1891 some 111,000 Jews entered the United States, and in 1892 137,000 as against 50,000-60,000 in previous years). He continues that “in worst program year, from mid 1905 to mid 1906, more than 200,000 Jews emigrated from Russia (154,000 to the United States, 13,500 to Argentina, 7,000 to Canada, 3,500 to Palestine and the reminder to South America and Several West and Central European countries