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The Brief History of the Israeli-Arab Conflict (A Jewish Perspective)

ByJoshua Diaz-Bend

Mar 27, 2021
Explained: The Nakba 70 years on – Middle East Monitor
Image: Political Cartoon depicting the event that essentially destroyed a culture by Carlos Latuff

March 27th, 2021 – As we approach 73rd year of Israel’s Yom Ha’atzmaut on May 15th, 2021 or what the Palestinian’s refer to as al-Nakba. A lot of people do not know that both Israel and Saudi Arabia was encouraged by the Western powers, especially Great Britain. Is

Yom Ha’atzmaut (Hebrew: יום העצמאות ‎“Day of Independence” lit.) is the day Israelis celebrate their War of Independence which was the founding of the State of Israel on May 15th, 1948, but unfortunately for the Palestinians, that day was known as al-Nakba or al-Nakbah (Arabic: النكبة “disaster”, “catastrophe”, or “cataclysm” lit.). Also known as the 1948 Palestinian Exodus, occurred when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs – about half of pre-war (WW2) Palestine’s Arab population – fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Palestine war which occurred from November 30th, 1947 until July 20th, 1949.


post-Ottoman World

Image: U.N. Resolution 181 (Partition Plan)

After World War II, the decision of Great Britain to establish a Jewish Homeland for the refugees fleeing Europe back in 1917 led to Arthur Balfour drafting the (Balfour Declaration), they needed someone who could make a Jewish State possible and decided to send the issue to the U.N. Security Council in the late fall of 1947. The U.N. General assembly issued Resolution 181 on November 29th, 1947 also known as the “Partition Plan”, which divided the British Mandate of Palestine to the west of the Jordan River into three separate entities, a JEWISH state, an ARAB state and an international protected (UNESCO) site.

UNESCO known as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture. The 1967 Six-Day War created the right climate for Israel to annex Golan Heights, West Bank, Gaza and Sinai Peninsula which led to the United Nations issuing U.N. Resolution 242 on November 22nd, 1967 – for the return of the occupied territories captured during this conflict.

No photo description available.

After World War II, the decision of Great Britain to establish a Jewish Homeland for the refugees fleeing Europe back in 1917 led to Arthur Balfour drafting the (Balfour Declaration), they needed someone who could make a Jewish State possible and decided to send the issue to the U.N. Security Council in the late fall of 1947. The U.N. General assembly issued Resolution 181 on November 29th, 1947 also known as the “Partition Plan”, which divided the British Mandate of Palestine to the west of the Jordan River into three separate entities, a JEWISH state, an ARAB state and an international protected (UNESCO) site.

UNESCO known as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture. The 1967 Six-Day War created the right climate for Israel to annex Golan Heights, West Bank, Gaza and Sinai Peninsula which led to the United Nations issuing U.N. Resolution 242 on November 22nd, 1967 – for the return of the occupied territories captured during this conflict.

al-Nakba and the “Solution to the Jewish Question”

Displaced Palestinians leaving into neighboring Arab States by British Forces and Irgun Militia

The precise number of refugees, many of whom settled in refugee camps in neighboring states, is a matter of dispute but around 80 percent of the Arab inhabitants of what became Israel (half of the Arab total of Mandatory Palestine) left or were expelled from their homes. About 250,000–300,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled before the Israeli Declaration of Independence in May 1948, a fact which was named as a casus belli for the entry of the Arab League into the country, sparking the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

The causes are also a subject of fundamental disagreement between historians. Factors involved in the exodus include Jewish military advances, destruction of Arab villages, psychological warfare, fears of another massacre by Zionist militias after the Deir Yassin massacre, which caused many to leave out of panic, direct expulsion orders by Israeli authorities, the voluntary self-removal of the wealthier classes, collapse in Palestinian leadership and Arab evacuation orders, and an unwillingness to live under Jewish control.

British and Extremist Jewish Militia Collusion

Image: Group Photo of the original Haganah Militia (circa. 1909)

There were two forces in play that helped bring about the State of Israel, it was British Military and Irgun/Haganah Movement Members. The Irgun Movement (Hebrew: ארגון‎; full title: Hebrew: הארגון הצבאי הלאומי בארץ ישראל‎ Hā-ʾIrgun Ha-Tzvaʾī Ha-Leūmī b-Ērētz Yiśrāʾel, lit. “The National Military Organization in the Land of Israel”) was a Zionist paramilitary organization that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948.

Think of the Irgun movement as a Jewish resistance with Romantic Nationalistic views which slowly degraded into the most violent and aggressive form known as “Expansionist Nationalism“.

Expansionist nationalism, is an aggressive radical form of nationalism or ethnic nationalism (ethno-nationalism) that incorporates autonomous, heightened ethnic consciousness and patriotic sentiments with atavistic fears and hatreds focused on “other” or foreign peoples, framing a belief in expansion or recovery of formerly owned territories through militaristic means.

It is cited as an early example of characterizing political projects in the Middle East in terms of a logic of sectarian divisions. It has played a role in both conflict resolution analysis by scholars who regard it as having influenced the formulation of policies adopted by the American administration under George W. Bush, and also in conspiracy theories according to which the article either predicted or planned major political events in the Middle East since the 1980s, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the Syrian Civil War and the rise of the Islamic State.

The claim has been made that Yinon’s article was adopted by members of the Institute for Zionist Strategies in the American administration until it was putatively taken up as a way to further American interests in the Middle East, as well as achieving the Jewish dream of a state, “from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates“, encompassing the majority of the Middle East, as written in the Hebrew Bible. Which is why there are two horizontal blue bars surrounding the “Star of David”.

The organization is also referred to as Etzel (Hebrew: אצ”ל‎), an acronym of the Hebrew initials, or by the abbreviation IZL. It was an offshoot of the older and larger Jewish paramilitary organization
Haganah (Hebrew: הגנה‎, Defense).

When the group broke from the Haganah it became known as the Haganah Bet (Hebrew: literally “Defense ‘B’ ” or “Second Defense”, Hebrew: הגנה ב‎), or alternatively as ha’Haganah ha’Leumit (Hebrew: ההגנה הלאומית‎) or Hama’amad (Hebrew: המעמד‎).Irgun members were absorbed into the Israel Defense Forces at the start of the 1948 Arab–Israeli war.

Lawrence of Arabia

Bullet helps take TE Lawrence's Arab revolt story off the line of fire | TE  Lawrence | The Guardian
Image: T.E. Lawrence; the implementer of Wahhabi Saudi Arabia and Zionist Israel and the man behind the “Arab Revolt” of 1916-18

T.E. Lawrence, known as “Lawrence of Arabia”, has provoked controversy for a hundred years. His legend was promoted in the 1920s by the American Lowell Thomas’s travelogue; renewed in 1935 through his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom; and revived in 1962 by the epic film Lawrence of Arabia.

The hype should not blind us to the fact that Lawrence’s contribution to the Arab Revolt of 1916-18 against the Turks was indispensable. His skills in organizing and coordinating, his daring and courage, his intuitive grasp of guerrilla warfare and how to harness it, his influence over Emir Feisal (the leader of Arab forces in the field), and his talent for manipulating his own leaders if necessary, were all crucial to the hollow success of the revolt.

Yet Lawrence was a team player. In particular, there was a nexus of influence over the revolt that has stayed below the radar. While Lawrence and other British, Arab, and French officers were blowing up the Hejaz Railway, a forgotten band of British officers at Jeddah, far from the desert campaign, carried out vitally important diplomatic and intelligence work that prevented the revolt from collapse. This untold story centres on Colonel Cyril Edward Wilson, the British representative at the Jeddah Consulate. Wilson was a dependable officer of the old school—the antithesis of the brilliant and mercurial Lawrence. But his strong relationship with Sherif Hussein of Mecca, the leader of the revolt, drew this suspicious and controlling man back from the brink of despair, suicide, and the abandonment of the revolt. Wilson’s undervalued influence over Hussein during critical phases of the revolt was at least as important as the well-known influence of Lawrence over Emir Feisal, Hussein’s son.

Image: Brief Description of the inception of Wahhabism (Fundamental Islam)

Wilson’s core team included Captain Norman Bray, a highly-strung Indian Army intelligence officer who rooted out anti-British and anti-Hussein jihadists. These men were incensed that Hussein dared to rebel against the Turkish sultan, who was also the Caliph (leader of an Islamic Caliphate(State)) of all Sunni Muslims. The stakes were high because the jihadists based at Jeddah and Mecca wanted to discredit both Hussein and the British by disrupting the Hajj— the Muslim pilgrimage —and encourage Indian pilgrims (passing through Jeddah on their way to Mecca in Saudi Arabia) to rebel against British rule in their homeland. Bray helped keep the revolt on course by neutralizing the Jihadists, with the aid of a resourceful Persian spy named Hussein Ruhi, and had their leader deported to prison in Malta.

Ruhi is one of the most intriguing and influential players in the Arab Revolt. His cover was as Wilson’s Arabic interpreter, and he did invaluable intelligence work for the colonel in other respects too— even at times putting his life in danger.

Image: Emir Abdullah (seated), Hussein Ruhi (far left), and Colonel Cyril Wilson (third from left) at Jeddah. Used with permission of Anthea Gray.

Wilson’s two deputies, both with intelligence backgrounds, helped him with vital diplomatic work. In the colonel’s absence, the eccentric, half-deaf Major Hugh Pearson helped steady Hussein when he lost his nerve. Later, the genial and imperturbable Colonel John Bassett stood in for Wilson, while he spent five months recovering in Cairo from life-threatening dysentery. Bassett encouraged and cajoled Hussein when Hussein fell out with his son Feisal, resigned as King of the Hejaz, spoke of suicide, and threatened to withdraw all of Feisal’s Bedouin tribesmen from the planned advance into Syria. If those fighters had returned to the Hejaz (Hussein’s territory) the revolt would have dissolved.

Image: Sherif Hussein (seated centre) on board HMS Hardinge. Bassett is third from right and Hussein Ruhi second from right, both seated. Used with permission of Anthea Gray.

Another member of Wilson’s small team at Jeddah was a junior intelligence officer, who at first sight had less influence than his comrades at Jeddah. Yet the amiable Lieutenant Lionel Gray, who knew almost all the key British players in Arabia, helped Wilson by gaining the trust of Sherif Hussein himself and was even invited by Hussein to photograph him in his palace. Gray is also important for another reason: his hundreds of remarkable photographs, intelligence documents, and letters home, including those to his fiancée from whom he was to be parted for nearly five years. This collection offers unparalleled insights into the twists and turns of the revolt.

The compelling story of Wilson and his close-knit band points to an inescapable conclusion: the Jeddah Consulate was a vitally important hub of the revolt whose influence has been considerably undervalued. The military campaign in the desert was important, but Jeddah—with its artery to Mecca and Sherif Hussein—was the beating heart of the revolt, whose irregular rhythm needed the vital interventions of Wilson and his team. Without their quiet diplomacy and intelligence work, the revolt would have collapsed and the world would never have heard of “Lawrence of Arabia”.

Cyril Wilson was the outstanding forgotten shaper and sustainer of the revolt. Near the end of Wilson’s life, General Reginald Wingate wrote to him praising his indispensable role and his “great work” in the Arab Revolt, without which, he said, it could never have succeeded. Wilson and his circle deserve to be commemorated, a century after their vital work fell through the cracks of history. It is not unreasonable to believe that Lawrence—complex and unfathomable as he was—would have acknowledged that this was so.

Source of Lawrence of Arabia Chapter: https://blog.oup.com/2018/02/te-lawrence-forgotten-men-arab-revolt/

Chopping up the Middle East into Pieces (Sykes-Picot Agreement)

Image: Diagram of the Sykes-Picot Agreement that essentially destroyed any chance of a pan-Arab bloc that could challenge Saudi Arabia and Israel. Source: Economist.com

Sykes-Picot Agreement, also called Asia Minor Agreement, (May 1916), secret convention made during World War I between Great Britain and France, with the assent of imperial 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.

Negotiations were begun in November 1915, and the final agreement took its name from the chief negotiators from Britain and France, Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot. Sergey Dimitriyevich Sazonov was also present to represent Russia, the third member of the Triple Entente.

The agreement was initially used directly as the basis for the 1918 Anglo–French Modus Vivendi, which provided a framework for the Occupied Enemy Territory Administration in the Levant. More broadly it was to lead, indirectly, to the subsequent partitioning of the Ottoman Empire following Ottoman defeat in 1918. Shortly after the war, the French ceded Palestine and Mosul to the British. Mandates in the Levant and Mesopotamia were assigned at the April 1920 San Remo conference following the Sykes–Picot framework; the British Mandate for Palestine ran until 1948, the British Mandate for Mesopotamia was to be replaced by a similar treaty with Mandatory Iraq, and the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon lasted until 1946. The Anatolian parts of the agreement were assigned by the August 1920 Treaty of Sèvres; however, these ambitions were thwarted by the 1919–23 Turkish War of Independence and the subsequent Treaty of Lausanne.

Zionism and Wahhabism: Two SIDES of the SAME Coin
Joshua M. Diaz-Bend on Vimeo.

The agreement is seen by many as a turning point in Western and Arab relations. It negated the UK’s promises to Arabs regarding a national Arab homeland in the area of Greater Syria in exchange for supporting the British against the Ottoman Empire. The agreement, along with others, was made public by the Bolsheviks in Moscow on 23 November 1917 and repeated in the British Guardian on 26 November 1917, such that “the British were embarrassed, the Arabs dismayed and the Turks delighted”. 

The agreement’s legacy has led to much resentment in the region, among Arabs in particular but also among Kurds who were denied an independent state.

Part Two (Coming Soon)

Joshua Diaz-Bend

Joshua M. Diaz-Bend is the main author for Awakening The Globe. Started in Jan. 2014 and re-opened this year, we strive for impartiality in the news. Joshua is a Jewish-American freelance writer and outspoken critic to the Israeli government. He chooses not to call himself "anti-Zionist" or "anti-Semitic/self-hating Jew", and states, "I will criticize the Israeli government because the anti-Zionist label makes people assume I am against Israel's right to exist and I have never aligned myself with the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel that my people have yearned for, for a very long time." Joshua is also a freelance graphics and web site designer when he is not working on Awakening The Globe.