Relevant History in Brief
In 1922, following the Allied victory in World War I, the organized international community of the time, the League of Nations, with the special concurrence of the U.S. (not a member), established the Palestine Mandate as a matter of binding international law, based on the “historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine”. It intended to establish “a National Home for the Jewish people”, specifically including all the territory of what later became Jordan and Israel, explicitly designated in Article 6, for “close settlement by Jews on the land” of Palestine. (The league similarly established French mandates for territories that became Syria and Lebanon, and another British mandate for Mesopotamia-Iraq.)
In 1923, however, for her own imperial interests, Britain cut off 78% of the original Mandate territory to establish the Arab Emirate of Trans Jordan and installed as Emir a World War I ally, Abdullah, whose forces had been expelled from Arabia by the Wahabi Saudis. Abdullah, with some 2,000 Hashemite troops, took control of the territory in Palestine where Jews no longer would be permitted to live. The territory for the Jewish national home in Palestine was thus reduced to a mere 22% of the original Mandate.
But Haj Amin El Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem, (who later collaborated with Hitler in World War II) and other Arab elites belligerently opposed opening any part of Palestine for Jewish development. Their political theology dictates that Palestine, like other territory once conquered by Muslim forces, is “Holy Land”, never again to be controlled by non-Muslims. Accordingly, despite conclusive archeological evidence supporting volumes of probative testimony, they minimalized or denied the multi-millennial connection of the Jews with the land of Palestine.
In 1937, concerned by escalating Arab violence, the British created the Peel Commission to investigate the Palestine problem. The Peel Commission subsequently called for further subdivision of the remaining 22% of the original Mandate territory into two states, one Arab, one Jewish, as “a chance for ultimate peace”. The Arabs emphatically rejected the two state proposal.
In 1946, with British support, Abdullah converted the Emirate of Trans-Jordan into the Kingdom of Jordan, an Arab state within the Palestine Mandate, with himself as King.
(Palestine and Jordan were both under British Mandate, but as my grand-father pointed out in his memoirs, they were hardly separate countries. Trans-Jordan being to the east of the river Jordan, formed in a sense, the interior of Palestine.” [King Hussein Jordan, Uneasy Lies the Head, New York, 1962, p.118])
Israel and the Wars that Followed
In 1947, after Britain had surrendered its Mandate, it was transferred as a “sacred trust” to the United Nations, successor to the League of Nations. The U.N. General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, calling for partition of the remaining 22% of the Palestine Mandate. This “Two-State Solution” provided for a second Arab state in Palestine (Jordan being the first). Although disappointed by the reduced portion of territory they would receive, the U.N. proposal was accepted by the Jews as “Israelis”. It was rejected forcefully by the Arabs.
The U.N vote was timely and critical, and it affirmed Israel’s legal and historic right to statehood. But the U.N. could not create the State: Britain opposed the U.N. plan and the U.S., France, and others failed in an attempt to have the U.N. General Assembly rescind the Partition Resolution. Contrary to hostile propaganda, Israel was neither created by nor imposed by the West, but arose in spite of obstruction, opposition, or inaction by most of the great Western powers. It was created by Jews who had settled the land, organized and built a functioning economy, society and governmental structure and demanded sovereignty for themselves and for their fellow Jews in Europe and in Moslem lands seeking security and dignity in the historic home of the Jewish people.
In 1948, five Arab armies undertook an avowed “War of Extermination” against the greatly outnumbered nascent Jewish State. To world-wide surprise, the Arabs were defeated. Under the subsequent armistice agreement when combat ceased, Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt occupied Gaza, but Israel had distinctly established its presence as a sovereign state in the Middle East.
*Dr. Arnold M. Soloway, President Emeritus and Founder of the Center for Near East Policy Research, earned a Doctorate degree in Economics at Harvard University in 1952, taught on its faculty until 1960, and was elected Chairman of the Graduate Society Council in 1982. Following his 1952 analysis of Boston’s financial problems, he was asked to and did serve on the Mayor’s Committee on Boston’s Finances from 1953-1957. From 1961-62 he served as Special Advisor on Fiscal Affairs to Governor John A. Volpe. From 1964-1966 he was Special Consultant to the (U.S.) Economic Development Administration. From 1974-1979 he was Director-at-Large, National Bureau of Economic Research. In 1978-79 he served as Chairman, Mayor’s Special Commission on Boston Public Housing. He was principal author of Truth and Peace in the Middle East, Friendly House, New York, 1971 and The Role of Arab Political Culture and History in the Conflict with Israel, Center for Near East Policy Research, April 1985.