It’s Beyond Time -- To Set the Record Straight

It’s Beyond Time -- To Set the Record Straight

A Response to SPHR’s Commentary: “It’s Beyond Time” published in The McGill Daily, 07/01/20

On July 1, 2020, The McGill Daily published a letter attributed to the SPHR (Students for Palestinian Human Rights, McGill) that made a number of allegations against the State of Israel. These allegations consist of fabricated narratives couched in inflammatory language and intended to demonize Israel, delegitimize its entirely valid rights, and inflame readers who, through no fault of their own, are entirely unfamiliar with the realities of Middle-Eastern history; both ancient and over the last century. This response provides evidence that contradicts these contrived and repeatedly stated accusations that are in compliance with Goebbels’ famous dictum that “Even a big lie will be believed if it is repeated often enough.”

Triggering this latest regurgitation of familiar Palestinian Arab myths is the possible imminent “annexation” (more accurately application of sovereignty) of areas west of the Jordan River and inhabited by Jewish Israelis, under President Trump’s “Deal of the Century.” The first allegation states,

“Illegal under international law, annexation poses a grave threat to Palestinian life; it would deprive thousands of Palestinians of life-sustaining resources they depend on, by formalizing and intensifying Israel’s decades-old theft of their homes, their lands, and their water.”

The reality is that the Jewish people’s rights to the land of Israel has been enshrined in international law since 1920, although given the bias shared by mainstream media and unfortunately many academics, this inconvenient reality has been under-reported if not silenced, explaining why so few, if any, readers of the McGill Daily were previously aware of it. Prior to the First World War, the approximately 600-year-old Ottoman Empire stretched from Bulgaria and the Black Sea on the north, Greece and the Aegean Sea on the west, Russia and Persia (present day Iran) on the east, and much of the Arabian Peninsula (extensive parts of current Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the Gulf States) to the south-east. The Ottomans were on the losing Axis side in World War1, and as is the fate of losing countries, they lost their colonial possessions. In an historical first, the victorious allies did not simply turn the Ottoman colonies into colonies of the victors. They actually wished to end the colonial system. The method chosen, whether ideal or not, was to administer the previous colonial provinces as “Mandates” with strict guidelines leading to having the various Mandates become independent countries when they became capable of governing themselves.

France took Mandatory responsibility for what became Syria and Lebanon, while England took Mandatory responsibility for “Palestine”, which included present-day Israel including areas west of the Jordan River, (i.e.what Jews since ancient times have called Judea and Samaria), and the Arabs (since after the War of 1967,) call the West Bank) along with contemporary Jordan and Iraq.

Critical from the international law perspective is that the “Principle Allied Powers” (Britain, France, Italy and Japan) fashioned this “San Remo Resolution” (April 25, 1920), with the agreement of the Turkish government (as the residual of the Ottoman Empire) that included the creation of a National Homeland for the Jewish People.

The League of Nations (precursor to the present United Nations) incorporated the San Remo Resolution into its Article 22, establishing the National Homeland of the Jewish People under international law, just over a century ago. This happened almost two decades prior to the Holocaust, rendering the notion that the State of Israel was born by European guilt over the Holocaust absurd. International law does not countenance abrogation of previous decisions and commitments, and consequently the provisions of Article 22 were retained when the United Nations superseded the League of Nations.

Professor Jacques Gauthier:

Professor Avi Bell:

Professor Eugene Kontorovich:

The historical realities of the area since ancient times are captured well by Professor Rashid Ismail Khalidi, Director of the Middle East Institution, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, Columbia University. Professor Khalidi notes:

“The word Palestine derives from Philistia, the name given by Greek writers to the land of the Philistines, who in the 12th century BCE occupied a small pocket of land on the southern coast, between modern Tel Aviv–Yafo and Gaza. The name was revived by the Romans in the 2nd century CE in “Syria Palaestina,” designating the southern portion of the province of Syria, and made its way thence into Arabic, where it has been used to describe the region at least since the early Islamic era. After Roman times the name had no official status until after World War I and the end of rule by the Ottoman Empire, when it was adopted for one of the regions mandated to Great Britain; in addition to anarea roughly comprising present-day Israel and the West Bank, the mandate included the territory east of the Jordan River now constituting the Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan, which Britain placed under an administration separate from that of Palestine immediately after receiving the mandate for the territory.”

It is historically noteworthy that the Roman conquerors imposed the name “Palestina” on the original Jewish homeland approximately 1800 years ago. Jews have an unbroken record of dwelling in that land throughout the intervening history despite the exile of the majority of the Jewish people across the globe (aka, the Diaspora.”) Throughout the often-tortuous and prolonged national displacement, in three daily prayers, observant Jews repeat the plea to return to Zion (Jerusalem.) We also see from Professor Khalidis’ exposition that the British, in possible violation of their mandatory commitment “to establish a National Homeland for the Jewish people,” unilaterally undertook to partition the Palestine Mandate, forming contemporary “Trans-Jordan” from the land ostensibly assigned for the Jewish National Homeland.

In fact, approximately two-thirds of the Mandate for Palestine was given to a non-native Bedouin tribe, the Hashemites, who were seeking a share of the burgeoning petroleum resources and power in their native Arabian peninsula. This act of removing a potential political rival bought the British political standing with the dominant House of Saud in what became Saudi Arabia. It is important to note that the name “Trans-Jordan” refers “the other side of the Jordan”…the east side, while the entire area west of the Jordan River (i.e., Judea and Samaria/the “West Bank) remained an intrinsic part of the area designated as the reduced Jewish National Homeland.

In concert with the November 29, 1947 United Nations’ General Assembly vote, favouring Israeli independence by a 33-13 margin with 10 abstention, Israel declared its independence, on May 14, 1948. Notable among countries voting for Israeli independence were the Soviet Union and its Eastern European “Soviet satellite states,” Poland, Ukraine, and Byelorussia. Of the 13 which voted against it, 10 were Islamic states (Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen) with only 3 non Muslim republics, India, Cuba and Greece, voting against Israeli Independence.

In response to Israel’s Declaration of Independence, the Arab world decided to initiate a war of extermination against the nascent Jewish state. Christian Heller notes,

“Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, proclaimed, ‘This will be a war of extermination, a momentous massacre.’ [43] Hassan al-Banna, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, stated, ‘All Arabs shall arise and annihilate the Jews. We shall fill the sea with their corpses.’ [44]” citing Saul S. Friedman, A History of the Middle East (pg. 248; North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2006.)