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Israel Palestine

The Sykes-Picot agreement is a secret understanding concluded in May 1916, during World War I, between Great Britain and France, with the assent of Russia, for the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire.

The agreement led to the division of Turkish-held Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine into various French and British-administered areas. The agreement took its name from its negotiators, Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and Georges Picot of France.

Some historians have pointed out that the agreement conflicted with pledges already given by the British to the Hashimite leader Husayn ibn Ali, Sharif of Mecca, who was about to lead an Arab revolt in the Hejaz against the Ottoman rulers on the understanding that the Arabs would eventually receive a much more important share of the territory won.

Sykes-Picot agreement - text at UNISPAL

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was the first significant declaration by a world power in favour of a Jewish "national home" in what was known as Palestine.

Historians disagree as to what the then British Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, intended by his declaration. The letter has no mention of the word "state", and insists that nothing should be done "which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine".

The letter was addressed to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the Jewish community in Britain. It became an important arm of the movement to create a Jewish state in Palestine.

The Avalon Project : Balfour Declaration 1917

The 1920 Palestine riots, or Nebi Musa riots, were violent Arab disturbances against the Jews of Jerusalem under British rule on 4 and 7 April 1920 in and around the Old City of Jerusalem.

Named after the Muslim Nebi Musa holiday in which they took place, the riots followed tensions in Arab-Jewish relations and a number of anti-Jewish attacks. Crowds gathered in Jerusalem were incited by the Palestinian Arab leadership's speeches and engaged in violence aimed at the city's Jews. At the same time, the British military administration's erratic response failed to prevent and immediately contain the rioting, which continued for four days. As a result of the events, trust between the British, Jews, and Arabs eroded and led to the Jewish community's move to independent infrastructure and security.

Five Jews and four Arabs were killed, while wounded were 216 Jews, 18 critically; 23 Arabs, one critically; and seven British soldiers, all apparently beaten by an Arab mob. The majority of the victims were members of the old Yishuv, non-Zionist or anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews. About 300 Jews from the Old City were evacuated.

Some Arabs defended Jews and granted them refuge in their homes; many witnesses identified their attackers and murderers as their neighbours. Several witnesses said that Arab policemen had participated.

Jaffa riots 1921
Dozens of British, Arab, and Jewish witnesses all reported that Arab men bearing clubs, knives, swords, and some pistols broke into Jewish buildings and murdered their inhabitants, while women followed to loot. They attacked Jewish pedestrians and destroyed Jewish homes and stores. They beat and killed Jews in their homes, including children, and in some cases split open the victims' skulls.

An immigrant hostel run by the Zionist Commission was home to a hundred people who had arrived in recent weeks and days. At 1:00 pm it was attacked by the mob, and though the residents tried to barricade the gate, it was rammed open and the Arabs poured in. The stone-throwing was followed by bombs and gunfire, and the Jewish hostel residents hid in various rooms. Temporary relief at the sight of police vanished when it became apparent that they weren't shooting to disperse the crowd, but were actually aiming at the building. In the courtyard one immigrant was felled by a policeman's bullet at short-range, and others were stabbed and beaten with sticks. Five women fled a policemen firing his pistol; three escaped. A policemen cornered two women and tried to commit rape, but they escaped him despite his shooting. A fourteen-year old girl and some men managed to escape the building, but each was in turn chased down and beaten to death with iron rods or wooden boards.

The Haycraft Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate the Jaffa riots of 1921, but it's remit was widened and it's report entitled "Palestine: Disturbances in May 1921". The report blamed the Arabs for the violence, but identified a series of grievances concerning the way their interests were apparently being subsumed to the interests of the Jewish immigrants, who were then around 10% of the population and increasing rapidly. Some measures to ease Arab unhappiness were taken, but Jewish colonies were helped to arm themselves and ultimately the report was ignored.

Its report confirmed the participation of Arab policemen in the riots and also deemed the actions taken by the authorities adequate. The report angered both Jews and Arabs: it placed the blame on the Arabs, but said that "Zionists were not doing enough to mitigate the Arabs' apprehensions.

Highlights from the report:

"The racial strife was begun by the Arabs, and rapidly developed into a conflict of great violence between Arabs and Jews, in which the Arab majority, who were generally the aggressors, inflicted most of the casualties."

"A large part of the Moslem and Christian communities condoned it [the riots], although they did not encourage violence. While certain of the educated Arabs appear to have incited the mob, the notables on both sides, whatever their feelings may have been, aided the authorities to allay the trouble."

"The [Arab] police were, with few exceptions, half-trained and inefficient, in many cases indifferent, and in some cases leaders or participators in violence."

"The raids on five Jewish agricultural colonies arose from the excitement produced in the minds of the Arabs by reports of Arabs being killed by Jews in Jaffa. In two cases unfounded stories of provocation were believed and acted upon without any effort being made to verify them."

1929 Palestine riots
In the summer of 1929, a long-running dispute between Muslims and Jews over access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem escalated, and erupted into a series of violent demonstrations and riots in late August. During the week of riots, 133 Jews were killed and 339 wounded (mostly by Arabs); 116 Arabs were killed and 232 wounded (mostly by British-commanded police and soldiers)

The Hebron Massacre refers to the mass murder of sixty-seven Jews in 1929 in Hebron, then part of the British Mandate of Palestine, by Arabs incited to violence by false rumors that Jews were massacring Arabs in Jerusalem and seizing control of Muslim Holy Places

The carnage had a deep effect on the Jewish community. The survivors were forced to flee Hebron, and their property was seized by Arab residents and occupied until after the Six Day War of 1967. It also led to the re-organization and development of the Jewish defense organization, the Haganah, which later became the nucleus of the Israel Defense Forces.

The 1929 Safed massacre took place on 29 August during the 1929 Palestine riots. Eighteen Jews were killed (some sources say twenty) and eighty wounded. The main Jewish street was looted and burned.

The Shaw Report was a British report of a Commission of Inquiry, chaired by Sir Walter Shaw, into the 1929 Palestine riots.

The Hope Simpson Report was an investigation in the British Mandate of Palestine following widespread Arab riots of 1929 and subsequent to the Shaw Report. The commission was headed by Sir John Hope Simpson, and on October 21, 1930 it produced its report, dated October 1, 1930. The report recommended to limit the Jewish immigration due to the lack of agricultural land to support it.

The Hope Simpson Report, the complete text, at UNISPAL

December, 1930 - REPORT of the Commission appointed by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with the approval of the Council of the League of Nations, to determine the rights and claims of Moslems and Jews in connection with the Western or Wailing Wall at Jerusalem

The 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine was an uprising during the British mandate by Palestinian Arabs in Palestine which lasted from 1936 to 1939. It should not be confused with the Arab Revolt of 1916–18.

Despite the assistance of 20,000 additional British troops and several thousand Haganah men, the uprising continued for over two years. By the time it concluded in March of 1939, more than 5,000 Arabs, 400 Jews, and 200 Britons had been killed and at least 15,000 Arabs were wounded.

The revolt did not achieve its goals, although it is "credited with signifying the birth of the Arab Palestinian identity."

Another outcome of the hostilities was the disengagement of the Jewish and Arab economies in Palestine, which were more or less intertwined until that time. For example, whereas the Jewish city of Tel Aviv relied on the nearby Arab seaport of Jaffa, hostilities dictated the construction of a separate Jewish-run seaport for Tel-Aviv. Historians later pointed to the uprising as a pivotal point at which the Jewish population in Palestine became independent and self-sustaining.

The Peel Commission of 1936, formally known as the Palestine Royal Commission, was a British Royal Commission of Inquiry set out to propose changes to the Mandate for Palestine following the outbreak of the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. It was headed by Earl Peel.

On 11 November, 1936, the commission arrived in Palestine to investigate the reasons behind the uprising. It returned to Britain on 18 January 1937. On 7 July, 1937, it published a report that, for the first time, recommended partition. This proposal was declared unworkable and formally rejected by the government.

According to the Peel Commission report, Arab allegations regarding Jewish land purchase were unfounded. "Much of the land now carrying orange groves was sand dunes or swamp and uncultivated when it was purchased...There was at the time of the earlier sales little evidence that the owners possessed either the resources or training needed to develop the land." The land shortage decried by the Arabs "was due less to the amount of land acquired by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population."

Summary section of the Report of the Palestine Royal Commission (from the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine - UNISPAL)

aljazeera: The history of Palestinian revolts

Aug 1947 - UK DELEGATION TO THE UN "summary of the principal recommendations made by the Shaw commission".

The United Nations General Assembly decided in 1947 on the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem to be an international city. The plan, which was rejected by the Palestinians, was never implemented.

On 29 November 1947 the United Nations voted to terminate the British Mandate of Palestine by 1 August 1948 and, to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict in the British Mandate of Palestine, for a plan for the partition of the Mandate territory. The plan came to be called the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine or United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181. The plan was approved by the United Nations General Assembly by 33 votes to 13, with 10 abstentions.

The plan would have partitioned the territory of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with the Greater Jerusalem area, including Bethlehem, coming under international control.

On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions, in favour of the Partition Plan, while making some adjustments to the boundaries between the two states proposed by it.

██ In favor

██ Abstaining

██ Against

██ Absent

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 - November 29, 1947

Declaration of Israel's Independence 1948

Although Israel’s independence on May 14, 1948, triggered the first full-scale war, armed conflicts between Jews and Arabs had been frequent since Great Britain received the League of Nations mandate for Palestine in 1920. From 1945 to 1948 Zionists waged guerrilla war against British troops and against Palestinian Arabs supported by the Arab League, and they had made substantial gains by 1948. The 1948–49 War reflected the opposition of the Arab states to the formation of the Jewish state of Israel in what they considered to be Arab territory.

As independence was declared, Arab forces from Egypt, Syria, Transjordan (later Jordan), Lebanon, and Iraq invaded Israel. The Egyptians gained some territory in the south and the Jordanians took Jerusalem’s Old City, but the other Arab forces were soon halted. In June the United Nations succeeded in establishing a four-week truce. This was followed in July by significant Israeli advances before another truce. Fighting erupted again in August and continued sporadically until the end of 1948. An Israeli advance in Jan., 1949, isolated Egyptian forces and led to a cease-fire (Jan. 7, 1949).

Protracted peace talks resulted in armistice agreements between Israel and Egypt, Syria, and Jordan by July, but no formal peace. In addition, about 400,000 Palestinian Arabs had fled from Israel and were settled in refugee camps near Israel’s border; their status became a volatile factor in Arab-Israeli relations.

The 1948 hostilities witnessed thousands of Palestinians fleeing their homes in Palestine to take refuge in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and neighbouring Arab countries.

The hostilities that accompanied the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 led to the flight of some 750,000 refugees from Palestine. Most of these refugees fled to the West Bank, then held by Jordan, to the Gaza Strip, held by Egypt, and to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and even further afield. The Arab-Israeli war of 1967 led to yet another displacement, this time of more than 500,000 Palestinians, nearly half of whom were refugees uprooted for a second time.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip became distinct geographical units as a result of the 1949 armistice that divided the new Jewish state of Israel from other parts of Mandate Palestine.

From 1948 to 1967, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was ruled by Jordan. During this period, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian military administration.

In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Israel took control of the western part of Jerusalem, while Jordan took the eastern part, including the old walled city containing important Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious sites.

BBC: Key Maps

BBC: Key Documents

1956: The Sinai campaign

The 1956 War
From 1949 to 1956 the armed truce between Israel and the Arabs, enforced in part by the UN forces, was punctuated by raids and reprisals. Among the world powers, the United States, Great Britain, and France sided with Israel, while the Soviet Union supported Arab demands. Tensions mounted during 1956 as Israel became convinced that the Arabs were preparing for war. The nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egypt’s Gamal Abdal Nasser in July, 1956, resulted in the further alienation of Great Britain and France, which made new agreements with Israel.

On Oct. 29, 1956, Israeli forces, directed by Moshe Dayan, launched a combined air and ground assault into Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. Early Israeli successes were reinforced by an Anglo-French invasion along the canal. Although the action against Egypt was severely condemned by the nations of the world, the cease-fire of Nov. 6, which was promoted by the United Nations with U.S. and Soviet support, came only after Israel had captured several key objectives, including the Gaza strip and Sharm el Sheikh, which commanded the approaches to the Gulf of Aqaba. Israel withdrew from these positions in 1957, turning them over to the UN emergency force after access to the Gulf of Aqaba, without which Israel was cut off from the Indian Ocean, had been guaranteed.

In a pre-emptive attack on Egypt on 5 June 1967 that drew Syria and Jordan into a regional war, Israel made massive territorial gains capturing the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula up to the Suez Canal.

The principle of land-for-peace that has formed the basis of Arab-Israeli negotiations is based on Israel giving up land won in the 1967 war in return for peace deals recognising Israeli borders and its right to security. The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt as part of the 1979 peace deal with Israel.

The Six-Day War began after a series of complex and disputed events between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Border incidents:
Attacks from Palestinian guerrilla groups (fedayeen) supported by Syria, Egypt, and Jordan increased during the early 1960s.

Israel retaliated against attacks by going into Arab territory. One such reprisal was the incident at Samu on November 13, 1966.

Syria regularly shelled Israeli farms from its Golan Heights region. Israel aerially attacked Syrian emplacements on the Golan Heights. In April 1967 Israel shot down six of Syria’s MiG fighter planes.

Israel's National Water Carrier:
The Arabs started work on the Headwater Diversion project in 1965. Israel declared that it would regard such diversion as an infringement of its sovereign rights. According to estimates, completion of the project would have deprived Israel of 35% of its contemplated withdrawal from the upper Jordan, constituting one-ninth of Israel's annual water budget.
In a series of military strikes, Israel hit the diversion works. The attacks culminated in April 1967 in air strikes deep inside Syria. The increase in water-related Arab-Israeli hostility was a major factor leading to the June 1967 war.
more here

May 17 - President Nasser asks the UN to remove the UNEF from the Egyptian-Israeli frontier in Sinai.

May 18 - UN withdraws peace forces from Sinai, at President Nasser's request.

May 22 - President Nasser closes the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.

May 29 - President Nasser declares "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight."

May 30 - Egypt and Jordan unite against Israel.

May 31 - Jordan moves tanks towards Israel.

June 5 - Israel launches attack on Egypt, destroying nearly 400 Egypt-based military aircraft. Israeli planes attack airfields in Jordan, Egypt and Syria, nearly destroying the Arab air forces.

Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were involved in the fighting. They were aided by Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Algeria.

Israel captured the Sinai peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria and the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan.

1973: October War

The 1973–74 War (The Yom Kippur War)
During 1973 the Arab states, believing that their complaints against Israel were going unheeded (despite the mounting use by the Arabs of threats to cut off oil supplies in an attempt to soften the pro-Israel stance of the United States), quietly prepared for war, led by Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat. On Oct. 6, 1973, the Jewish holy day Yom Kippur, a two-pronged assault on Israel was launched. Egyptian forces struck eastward across the Suez Canal and pushed the Israelis back, while the Syrians advanced from the north. Iraqi forces joined the war and, in addition, Syria received some support from Jordan, Libya, and the smaller Arab states. The attacks caught Israel off guard, and it was several days before the country was fully mobilized; Israel then forced the Syrians and Egyptians back and, in the last hours of the war, established a salient on the west bank of the Suez Canal, but these advances were achieved at a high cost in soldiers and equipment. Through U.S. and Soviet diplomatic pressures and the efforts of the United Nations, a tenuous cease-fire was implemented by Oct. 25. Israel and Egypt signed a cease-fire agreement in November, but Israeli-Syrian fighting continued until a cease-fire was negotiated in 1974. Largely as a result of the diplomatic efforts of U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Israel withdrew back across the Suez Canal and several miles inland from the east bank behind a UN-supervised cease-fire zone. On the Syrian front too, Israeli territorial gains made in the war were given up. After the war Egyptian and Syrian diplomatic relations with the United States, broken since the 1967 war, were resumed, and clearance of the Suez Canal began. The 1973–74 War brought about a major shift of power in the Middle East and ultimately led to the signing of the Camp David accords.

1982: Lebanon invasion

The 1982 War
In 1978 Palestinian guerrillas, from their base in Lebanon, launched an air raid on Israel; in retaliation, Israel sent troops into S Lebanon to occupy a strip 4–6 mi (6–10 km) deep and thus protect Israel’s border. Eventually a UN peacekeeping force was set up there, but occasional fighting continued. In 1982 Israel launched a massive attack to destroy all military bases of the Palestine Liberation Organization in S Lebanon and, after a 10-week siege of the Muslim sector of West Beirut, a PLO stronghold, forced the Palestinians to accept a U.S.-sponsored plan whereby the PLO guerrillas would evacuate Beirut and go to several Arab countries that had agreed to accept them. Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 1985 but continues to maintain a Lebanese-Christian–policed buffer zone north of its border.

1987: First Intifada

1993: Oslo agreement

Text: 1993 Declaration of Principles

2000: Second intifada

2005: Gaza withdrawal

2006: Lebanon war

4 major issues today are Jerusalem, Borders, Security, and Refugees.


Jews for Justice in the Middle East said...

The standard Zionist position is that they showed up in Palestine in the late 19th century to reclaim their ancestral homeland. Jews bought land and started building up the Jewish community there. They were met with increasingly violent opposition from the Palestinian Arabs, presumably stemming from the Arabs' inherent anti-Semitism. The Zionists were then forced to defend themselves and, in one form or another, this same situation continues up to today.

The problem with this explanation is that it is simply not true, as the documentary evidence in this booklet will show. What really happened was that the Zionist movement, from the beginning, looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the indigenous Arab population so that Israel could be a wholly Jewish state, or as much as was possible. Land bought by the Jewish National Fund was held in the name of the Jewish people and could never be sold or even leased back to Arabs (a situation which continues to the present).

The Arab community, as it became increasingly aware of the Zionists' intentions, strenuously opposed further Jewish immigration and land buying because it posed a real and imminent danger to the very existence of Arab society in Palestine. Because of this opposition, the entire Zionist project never could have been realized without the military backing of the British. The vast majority of the population of Palestine, by the way, had been Arabic since the seventh century A.D. (Over 1200 years)

In short, Zionism was based on a faulty, colonialist world view that the rights of the indigenous inhabitants didn't matter. The Arabs' opposition to Zionism wasn't based on anti-Semitism but rather on a totally reasonable fear of the dispossession of their people.

One further point: being Jewish ourselves, the position we present here is critical of Zionism but is in no way anti-Semitic. We do not believe that the Jews acted worse than any other group might have acted in their situation. The Zionists (who were a distinct minority of the Jewish people until after WWII) had an understandable desire to establish a place where Jews could be masters of their own fate, given the bleak history of Jewish oppression. Especially as the danger to European Jewry crystalized in the late 1930's and after, the actions of the Zionists were propelled by real desperation.

But so were the actions of the Arabs. The mythic "land without people for a people without land" was already home to 700,000 Palestinians in 1919. This is the root of the problem, as we shall see.

Eagle said...

The standard Zionist position is NOT that "they showed up in Palestine in the late 19th century to reclaim their ancestral homeland."

What really happened was NOT that the Zionist movement, from the beginning, looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the indigenous Arab population. The Balfour Delaration determined that there should be a Jewish homeland in Palestine. According to the Peel Commission report, Arab allegations regarding Jewish land purchase were unfounded. SUMMARY

The Partition plan for Palestine divided Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem to be an international city. The plan, which was rejected by the Palestinians [Arabs], was never implemented. This did not pose "a real and imminent danger to the very existence of Arab society in Palestine." the United Nations General Assembly voted 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions, in favour of the Partition Plan.

See the above post for Arab violence against Jews.

Israel declared independance in 1948, and from the beginning Arab states began attacking Israel.

The Arabs even tried to divert water from Israel.

Your post is in fact anti-Semetic, and the book you reference is propaganda, representing historical facts in a way more favorable to a particular cause.

Anonymous said...

Shaw Report