Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Palestine - Pantomime and Paradox


[Published 13 June 2013]


Any cynicism or disbelief that Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu was seriously interested in trying to reach a two-state solution with the PLO was dispelled this week with the revelation that Netanyahu last year offered to free 50 long term Palestinian security prisoners sentenced before the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 - in a vain bid to entice Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table.

Abbas’s three year refusal to resume negotiations without a prior commitment from Netanyahu to freeze all building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank continues to cause US Secretary of State John Kerry growing frustration - after investing considerable time and putting the prestige of his office on the line attempting to get Abbas to backdown.

Netanyahu has always made it clear that he will not commit to any such building freeze - for good reason.

A unilateral decison by Netanyahu to do exactly that for 10 months in November 2009 proved to be a farce. Abbas turned up shortly before the expiry date of the freeze and then had the temerity to request an extension.

Once bitten - twice shy.

In the bizarre bazaar that comprises these negotiations - refusing to agree to a building freeze as a condition for resuming talks apparently does not preclude Netanyahu offering an inducement to get Abbas back to the table by offering to release 50 long term prisoners with blood on their hands.

The Times of Israel report on the proposed prisoner release and the bargaining that surrounded the offer was particularly informative:
“Prior to the offer of 50 releases, Israel had offered to release smaller numbers of the pre-Oslo veterans. Israel’s initial proposal was to free only five or six prisoners, but that number went up over time. A later proposal was to free 25 prisoners in several phases, again conditioned on direct Netanyahu-Abbas meetings, with five more prisoners to go free after each such meeting

Abbas, for his part, did agree to meet with Netanyahu — but only if all pre-Oslo prisoners were released, and not as part of resumed peace talks. Rather, Abbas was willing to meet Netanyahu, after all the prisoners were freed, in order to make clear to Netanyahu, face-to-face, his terms for restarting the negotiations.”

Once again Abbas apparently overreached and ended up a loser yet again - as has occurred on so many occasions with the Palestinian Arab leadership since the Mandate for Palestine was established by the League of Nations in 1922.

After this latest rebuff one can be excused for being slightly bemused when learning that Netanyahu told his cabinet last Sunday that he and Secretary of State Kerry would:
“try to make progress to find the opening for negotiations with the Palestinians, with the goal of reaching an agreement”

However Netanyahu also made it clear that he would not deviate from the position he has consistently adopted since 2009:
“This agreement will be based on a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, and on firm security arrangements based on the IDF (Israeli military)”

It must be crystal clear that the PLO can never agree to these conditions - which would undermine the PLO Charter claiming all of former Palestine to be an indivisible part of the Arab homeland.

So too - Israel can never accept the two-state solution propounded by the PLO - a Jew-free Arab state in all the territory lost by Jordan to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War - having its capital in Jerusalem - its current 500000 Jewish population having to abandon their homes - whilst millions of Palestinian Arabs are allowed to emigrate to Israel.

The two-state solution to be artificially created for the first time ever in history - as contemplated by the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap - is dead in the water.

Is the international community so blind in failing to recognise the impossibility of creating a second Arab state in former Palestine - in addition to Jordan - given the totally divergent and unyielding positions that both Israel and the PLO hold?

How many more years must these “negotiations” continue before the penny drops?

More winks, nods, understandings and attempted back room deals leading nowhere seem to be the order of the day - whilst a vicious and unrelenting effort to undermine and delegitimise Israel continues with ever increasing ferocity and intensity.

Airlines, hotels and restaurants will be the only sure winners as the “negotiators” and their entourages flit from capital to capital in the never ending quest to never achieve their very different conceptions of the “two state solution”.

Waiting in the wings is another ” two-state solution” - based on history, geography and demography - that offers hope for the resolution of the long running Jewish-Arab conflict. It involves allocating sovereignty in the West Bank between Israel and Jordan - the two successor states to the Mandate for Palestine.

Not one Arab or Jew need move from his existing home under this scenario.

Jordan must first replace the PLO as Israel’s negotiating partner before this solution can be addressed and progressed.

International diplomatic pressure coupled with financial, military and humanitarian aid to Jordan - rather than the PLO - would materially help in achieving this solution.

Meantime - the paradox of “negotiations with the PLO that are not negotiations” will continue going south until their inevitable denouement.

What cost to human suffering - both Jewish and Arab - will this pantomime continue to wreak until it finally becomes political history?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Palestine - The Abhorrent Arab Aberration


[Published 5 June 2013]


Continuing international demands for an Israeli withdrawal from every square metre of the territory occupied by Israel in the Six Day War - now misleadingly termed ”The occupied Palestinian Territories ” (OPT) in countless UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions - acquires particular resonance on the 46th anniversary of the outbreak of that War on 5 June.

This territory - in which 500000 Jews now live - had not one Jew or Jewish settlement located within it between 1948 - 1967.

Transjordan had occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem whilst Egypt had occupied Gaza after their invasion of Palestine along with five other Arab armies in May 1948.

Jews then living there had been driven out whilst Jews generally were denied their legal entitlement to “close settlement” on that land including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes - as prescribed by article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the UN Charter.

Nineteen years was surely long enough for a Palestinian Arab state to have been created in this Jew-free territory- the identical area of land that PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab League now consider to again be made Jew free to end the Arab-Jewish conflict.

After all - with all the Jews gone and their legal right to live there eliminated by the power of the gun - it would have been very easy to declare a Palestinian Arab State there - seek membership in the UN and its agencies - and live happily ever after in peace with the Jewish state.

Yet it didn’t happen.

Instead the Arab residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem voluntarily chose to unify these territories in 1950 with Transjordan to form a new territorial entity renamed Jordan.

In 1964 demands by the Palestinian Arabs to rid former Palestine of any Jewish presence became entrenched in the Charter of the PLO.

Article 24 of the Charter clarified that the unification of the West Bank with Transjordan was nevertheless to remain unchanged:
” This Organization (PLO) does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area.”
What is now deemed so essential for peace in 2013 - the so called “two-state solution” was never even contemplated in 1964 - when it could have been created with the stroke of an Arab League pen within the next three years.

Instead the Arab states placed their support behind the newly constituted PLO and its proclaimed aim to wipe Israel off the map.

Promises of yet another 1948 style Arab invasion to wipe out the Jewish State were threatened - at a time when Jews and Jewish settlement in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza were not an “obstacle to peace” - since no Jews lived there.

Cairo Radio’s Voice of the Arabs proclaimed on 18 May 1967:
“The Zionist barrack in Palestine is about to collapse and be destroyed. Every one of the hundred million Arabs has been living for the past nineteen years on one hope – to live to see the day Israel is liquidated…There is no life, no peace nor hope for the gangs of Zionism to remain in the occupied land ….The sole method we shall apply against Israel is a total war which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence”.

On 20 May 1967 Syrian Defence Minister (later President) Hafez Assad stated:
“Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse any aggression, but to initiate the act ourselves, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland of Palestine. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united. I believe that the time has come to begin a battle of annihilation.”

Assad was backed up by Syrian President Dr Nureddin al-Attasi on 22 May 1967 - when he told his assembled troops:
“We want a full scale, popular war of liberation… to destroy the Zionist enemy”

Not to be outdone - Egypt’s President Nasser told the General Council of the Confederation of Arab Trade Unions on 26 May 1967:
“Taking over Sharm el Sheikh meant confrontation with Israel (and) also meant that we were ready to enter a general war with Israel. The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel”

On 30 May 1967 Nasser declared:
“The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel ... to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not of more declarations.”

Nasser’s bellicosity was matched by Iraqi President Aref on 31 May 1948:
“The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear - to wipe Israel off the map”

PLO head - Ahmed Shukairy confidently predicted the fate awaiting Jews on 1 June 1967:
“Those who survive will remain in Palestine. I estimate that none of them will survive.”

The rest is history - yet the world currently suffers from memory deficit in failing to understand that what was possible between 1948-1967 cannot be achieved in 2013.

Lest we forget…

Monday, August 3, 2015

Palestine - Pouring Money Into A Bottomless Pit


[Published 2 June 2013]


US Secretary of State John Kerry at a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Jordan this week proposed investing another four billion dollars in trying to resolve the 130 years old Jewish-Arab conflict.

Why these billions would succeed - when tens of billions given at previous international aid meetings failed - remains a mystery.

The belief that economic prosperity for the Arabs living in the West Bank will bring a lasting end to the conflict has proved worthless in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

When the international community pledged $7.4 billion dollars at the Paris Donors Conference in December 2007 to achieve the creation of the two state solution by the end of 2008 - my article in this journal headlined - “Paris Produces Palestinian Funding Frenzy” - made the following observations:
“Creating two separate States for one Arab population living in the territorial boundaries of former Palestine always was an artificial invention that had no basis in history, geography or demography. It was a fiction contrived by the international community at a particular time to solve a particular problem.

There are two questions that remain unanswered - when will the international community stop pursuing this fiction and when will they turn off the money tap trying to make it happen

Solutions - other than another Arab State - are possible and achievable.

Pursuing those solutions - and throwing money at them in amounts similar to the Paris pledges - have a far better chance of success than the continued promotion of a 70 years old concept that has well passed its 1967 expiry date

Surely the time is fast approaching for these donors to cut their losses and simply say “enough is enough”.

The Paris Conference final communique declared:
“The Paris Conference has made evident the high degree of confidence of the international community in President Abbas and PM Fayyad’s reform and development programme”

Arafat has since then repudiated the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap.

Fayyad is no longer Prime Minister - having left his reform and development programme in tatters as the International Monetary Fund makes clear in its report released in Brussels on 19 March 2013:
” the economy has deteriorated markedly and the public finances are on an unsustainable track. Economic growth has weakened, the unemployment rate has increased, and the fiscal position has deteriorated to the point where core government functions have been affected, with ongoing cash rationing eroding public financial management institutions. Unsustainably high fiscal deficits combined with aid shortfalls are resulting in a large buildup of arrears and increased bank borrowing in the context of a slowing economy. Worryingly, with donor aid receding, the government‘s ability to finance large deficits is becoming more and more circumscribed. Thus, arrears, many with private suppliers, are causing them to become progressively more reluctant to provide the PA with goods and services while also causing distortions in the private sector. Arrears in the form of delayed or partial payment of wages risk social unrest and strikes, while additional recourse to the banks would further increase banking sector vulnerabilities.”

Yet just two months after this alarming IMF report - Secretary of State Kerry and the 300 Israeli and Palestinian industrialists and entrepreneurs gathered at the World Economic Forum are still prepared to keep this rapidly sinking fiction afloat - no matter how much it costs.

No doubt they are well intentioned in their desire to see the two state solution concluded between Israel and the PLO - but they completely ignore the following political realities:
1. Palestine is an economic basket case - run by an unelected and unconstitutional self styled head of State - Mahmoud Abbas - who refuses to sit down and negotiate with Israel without pre-conditions.

2. Elections have not been held since 2006 and there is no prospect in sight for the people to have their say as to who should govern them.

3. Hamas and the PLO remain at loggerheads allowing the West Bank and Gaza to become separate fiefdoms under different power structures that brook no opposition.
In this mire - even if Abbas returned to the negotiating table - the negotiations would founder on the following two demands made by Israel - which Abbas refuses to concede:
1. That Israel be recognized as the Jewish National Home as determined by the San Remo Conference, the Treaty of Sevres and the League of Nations.

2. That any Palestinian Arab State be demilitarised
.
Israel’s raison d’etre and right to live in freedom and security free of any future Arab threats are non- negotiable.

Abbas - on the other hand - has made it clear that:
1. He will never agree to abandon the right of return for millions of Palestinian Arabs and their descendants to what is now Israel.

2. He will not countenance Jews remaining as equal citizens with Palestinian Arabs in any Palestinian state
These demands can never be accepted by Israel.

So Senator Kerry’s four billion dollars will only serve as a pinprick in the demand for continuing financial aid to prop up entrenched institutions of power bringing little relief to a long suffering population which could have had its own independent state in 1937, 1947, at any time between 1948-1967, in 2000/2001 or 2008.

Apparently this never ending game seems set to continue - as are the casualties of terrorism, violence and social upheaval.

Jordan - not the PLO - still remains the key to ending the conflict.

Continuing to pour money into the bottomless pit represented by Abbas is certainly not the answer.

Palestine - Beware The Snake Oil Salesman


[Published 26 May 2013]


Paul Larudee - one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement - has made some incredibly misleading statements in his latest article “The Palestine Liberation Movement is not about Anti- Semitism” - published in Dissident Voice on 23 May.

Having studied linguistics and earned a PhD - Larudee should be the first person to understand that the written language is one of the prime means of communication between humans and requires precision in its use to avoid ambiguity and misunderstanding.

Larudee has in his choice of words created a false and misleading impression of the Palestinian cause that bears no relationship to the conflict between Jews and Arabs that has remained unresolved for the last 130 years in relation to the former territory called Palestine.

Larudee claims:
“The Palestinian cause has nothing to do with Jews…

Hamas exposes the falsity of Larudee’s claim - as the Hamas Covenant makes clear in article 15:
“The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.”

The PLO also discredits Larudee’s statement - as article 20 of its Charter explicitly states:
“Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong”

Jew-hatred permeates the “Palestinian cause” - and Larudee’s attempt to whitewash this pernicious conduct is specious and false.

Who is Larudee trying to fool and for what purpose?

Larudee further states:
“It (the Palestinian cause) has everything to do with the expulsion of Palestinians from their land and with denial of their right to sovereignty, to self-determination and above all their Right to Return. It does not matter who expelled them. It is their land and they have the right to return. It does not matter who denies their existence. They have a right to return.”

Larudee’s claim that “Palestine” belonged to the “Palestinians”, that it is their land, that they were denied the right to sovereignty and self determination and have the right to return there is not borne out by the historical record.

Palestine had belonged to the Ottoman Empire for 400 years - forming a very small part of the territories lost by Turkey to the Allied Powers in World War 1.

The Arabs were offered self determination and sovereignty in 99.99% of such conquered territories by the Allied Powers - whilst the Jewish National Home was to be reconstituted in the biblical and ancient homeland of the Jewish people within the remaining 0.01% - then called Palestine.

The civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish communities in Palestine were not to be prejudiced - but the Arab residents of Palestine rejected this decision of the Allied Powers and subsequently the League of Nations

Indeed the territory set aside for the Jewish National Home in 1920 was to be further restricted to just one-quarter of Palestine in 1922 - whilst the remaining three-quarters was to become an exclusively Arab state that is today called Jordan.

This minuscule area left for Jewish self-determination was earmarked to be further emasculated when the United Nations recommended its partition into Jewish and Arab states in 1947 - which the Arabs also rejected.

Larudee’s use of the term “Palestinians” is not inadvertent or unintentional but serves to mask his support for the Arab claim to sovereignty in the entirety of former Palestine to the exclusion of all its other non-Arab residents

The term “Palestininans” was only defined for the first time in 1964 when the PLO Charter proclaimed:
“The Palestinians are those Arab citizens who were living normally in Palestine up to 1947, whether they remained or were expelled. Every child who was born to a Palestinian Arab father after this date, whether in Palestine or outside, is a Palestinian.”

The operative words are “Arab citizens” - disqualifying any non- Arab citizens from being classified as “Palestinians”

Larudee’s claim that Palestine belongs to the Palestinians underscores his support for this racist and exclusivist claim by the PLO - negating the decisions supporting Jewish claims that had been recognized by the League of Nations in 1922, the Peel Commision in 1937 and the United Nations in 1947.

The PLO claim to sovereignty in all of Palestine continues to be the major obstacle to ending the conflict between Jews and Arabs.

Larudee has every right to support this spurious claim - but it continues to plague the “Palestinian cause” and prolong the resolution of the long running conflict between Arabs and Jews.

Larudee pleads to remove anti- Semitism from the discussion of Palestinian rights.

He should be encouraging Hamas and the PLO to remove their overt declarations of unabashed Jew-hatred from their respective Charters as an essential first step.

Hopefully the removal of these vile provisions could lead to the end of a conflict that could and should have been resolved in 1947 or in the following 20 years when sovereignty for Palestinian Arabs in Palestine was denied by their Arab brethren.

The last thing the “Palestinian cause” needs is snake oil salesmen peddling false claims - a sure prescription for continuing disaster.

Palestine - Turning Unreality Into Reality


[Published 19 May 2013]


A TV show - “The President” - now being aired on Maan TV - a popular independent Palestinian radio station - presents an opportunity for the election-starved Palestinian Arabs to have their say on what they would do on a variety of subjects if they were elected as the President of Palestine.

Since elections to appoint a President were last held in 2005 - this show offers the ordinary man in the street the opportunity to have his say on how to resolve the conflict between Arabs and Jews that has been ongoing and unresolved for the last 95 years.

On the Jewish side there are opinions and policies galore for ending that conflict that translate into the creation of many political parties vying for power to implement such policies at least once every four years.

There appears to be no popular political movement on the Arab side calling for fresh elections to be held to test the support enjoyed by Mahmoud Abbas - the current unelected and unconstitutional President since his term expired in 2009

Indeed there appears to be no dissenting voices criticising policies adopted since 1967 by the PLO - that Abbas also now heads - rejecting any form of territorial compromise with Israel in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem - the territories occupied by Jordan between 1948-1967 until captured by Israel in the Six Day War.

Sovereignty in these areas has remained unallocated since Great Britain handed its internationally recognised control of these territories back to the United Nations in 1948 - terminating its role as Mandatory under the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine unanimously vested in it by the League in 1922.

Y Net reports that 1200 young Palestinian Arabs aged 20-35 applied to go on “The President” and the number of contestants has now been cut to 15.

The contestants have to face a panel of politicians, professionals and businessmen who together with the audience vote the contestants on and off from the show.

The winner will travel the world as a mock Palestinian ambassador and perhaps receive a car as well.

With negotiations between Israel and the PLO stalled for the last two years because of Abbas’s refusal to sit down with Israel without preconditions - some kind of circuit breaker is certainly required.

Judges on the show include Palestinian spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi, Arab member of the Israeli parliament Ahmed Tibi and Khouloud Idabis a former Palestinian Cabinet Minister.

Idabis explained the following rationale for the show:
“We are building a new generation of politicians. They are gaining skills from practice,”

The contestants are publicly identified, appear undisguised and their voices are not distorted to avoid recognition.

Hussein al-Deik, 31, - as reported by Y News - said he would oppose the type of violence espoused by Palestinians last decade when they carried out hundreds of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israeli civilians. He said he would promote peaceful demonstrations against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and even oppose stone throwing at Israeli soldiers and settlers – a common Palestinian practice.

Other candidates echoed his support for non-violence - a contrast to wider Palestinian society where support for “armed struggle” remains a common sentiment.

The show’s producer -Seema Rasool - said that if there are no elections in practice, at least there should be on TV.
“We wanted to create a new spin on reality TV – reality TV with a purpose. For decades, Palestine has only had two presidents, Abu Amar (Yasser Arafat) and Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), thus we hope this show drives the Palestinian people to truly have a democratic state. This show in itself models democracy in practice.”

The show is reportedly funded by an American organization called Search for Common Ground.

Raed Othman, Maan’s director, reportedly told Y News that the show is popular because it has tapped into the larger sense of civic involvement in politics following the upheavals taking place across the Arab world. He said entertainment shows often backfire, since viewers dealing with hardships do not want to be merely entertained.
“We found this show fits our conditions. We need elections, and there are no elections. We need an Arab Spring, and the show is our spring.”

Waad Fararieh - one of the three women remaining on the show added:
“We don’t see President Abbas in town. He spends most of his time flying when we really need his presence here. If I become a president, I will focus on the economy. Our economy is bad, and there are no real efforts to revive it.”

Three of the finalists are reportedly from Gaza, participating by video conference, since travel between Gaza and the West Bank is virtually impossible.

Sabri Saydam - an adviser to Abbas and a jury member for some of the episodes - commented
“President Abbas is aware of the show, and he was happy, because he is interested in seeing new faces, youthful faces, in the political arena."

Hopefully the eventual winner will be asked the following three questions:
1. Are you prepared to sit down and negotiate with Israel without preconditions?

2. Are you prepared to pledge that elections for President will be held at least once very four years?

3. Are you prepared to recognise Israel as the Jewish National Home?
If the winner answers “yes” to all three questions - maybe “The President” could positively contribute towards ending the current impasse in resuming negotiations.

Any TV show that turns unreality into reality is indeed money well spent.

Palestine - Hawking Needs To Do More Talking


[Published 13 May 2013]


The decision by eminent physicist Stephen Hawking to not attend the Presidential Conference organised by Israel’s President - Shimon Peres - has aroused dismay by his Israeli hosts and applause from the Palestinian academic community.

This year’s Presidential Conference is expected to attract 5,000 attendees from around the world, including academics, artists and former heads of state.

Former US president Bill Clinton, former UK prime minister Tony Blair, former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, Prince Albert of Monaco and Barbra Streisand have accepted invitations - according to organisers.

Hawking’s reasons for cancelling his earlier acceptance of the invitation were set out in writing to the event organisers:
“I accepted the invitation to the Presidential Conference with the intention that this would not only allow me to express my opinion on the prospects for a peace settlement but also because it would allow me to lecture on the West Bank.

However, I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference.

Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.”

Were the reasons Hawking gave really those that led to his refusing to attend?

What does Hawking mean by stating that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster?

After all the current Israeli Government has reiterated it stands ready to resume negotiations with the PLO without pre-conditions - which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected.

Hawking must surely be aware that Abbas has taken unilateral steps outside the negotiating processes laid down under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap including:
1. Disbanding the Palestinian Authority - the party designated by the Oslo Accords to negotiate with Israel on a final peace treaty

2. Seeking and gaining admission of Palestine as a member state of UNESCO and a non-member State observer at the UN

3. Declaring himself President of the country of Palestine on 3 January this year and traversing the world’s capitals seeking recognition and the establishing of ambassadors and embassies in the world’s most recently created country.
What steps does Hawking believe Israel must now take to avert disaster?

How can Israel be expected to do anything to advance Oslo and the Roadmap when Abbas has repudiated both signed agreements by proclaiming a country outside the terms of those agreements?

What in the emails from the Palestinian academics persuaded Hawking to not attend the conference?

Samia al-Botmeh of Birzeit University in the West Bank provided a clue when she told the Guardian:
“We tried to communicate two points to him. First, that Israel is a colonial entity that involves violations of the rights of the Palestinians, including academic freedom, and then asking him to stand in solidarity with Palestinian academic colleagues who have called for solidarity from international academics in the form of boycotting Israeli academia and academic institutions,”

Was Hawking persuaded that Israel is a colonialist entity and not entitled to remain a member state of the United Nations?

Does Hawking- like the PLO - regard the decisions of the League of Nations and the United Nations illegal and void?

Does Hawking believe in collective punishment of the entire population of Israel for the decisions of a democratically elected Government that a large segment of that population did not vote for?

Hawking visited Iran in 2007 for the International Physics Olympiad. His conscience was then apparently untroubled by the stoning of adulteresses, imprisonment without trial, torture and the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities — to say nothing of arming terrorists and threatening to wipe countries off the map.

Will Hawking now boycott Chinese academia in the future while China continues to occupy Tibet and repress the Falun Gong?

Has Hawking ever spoken to his academic contacts in the West Bank about the indiscriminate firing of tens of thousands of shells into Israeli population centres - acknowledged as war crimes by his academic colleague UN Special Rapporteur Professor Richard Falk?

Asked by The Jerusalem Post about Hawking’s boycott - Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:
“He should investigate the truth, he is a scientist. He should study the facts and draw the necessary conclusions: Israel is an island of reason, moderation and a desire for peace.”

Hawking certainly must have made some investigations to come to the decision he has. It would help to understand his position if he were to share the results.

Perhaps Hawking’s conduct was best summed up by analyst Nathan Harden:
“When one’s disagreement with a nation’s political regime justifies the shunning and boycott of that nation’s scientists and scholars, we are on dangerous ground. Hawking and other politically liberal scholars who participate in the academic boycott of Israel are hypocrites. They are quick to profess devotion to tolerance and academic freedom, but they don’t live up to those ideals — not when it comes to Israel, anyway.

If it has become acceptable to support an academic boycott of an entire nationality (all Israelis), we aren’t far off from a future in which it will be acceptable to back an academic boycott of an entire ethnicity (all Jews).”

Every man is entitled to express his opinion - but he should be prepared to justify and defend his decisions with detailed and reasoned arguments when those decisions are challenged.

Hawking’s failure to adequately answer his hosts is regrettable

Palestine - Balfour Declaration Raises Arab Hackles


[Published 28 April 2013]


The Palestinian Arabs are up in arms at the news that the original 1917 Balfour Declaration will be released by the British Library for display in Israel alongside Israel’s Declaration of Independence at the opening of a new museum in Tel Aviv in 2015 on the site where Israel declared its independence in 1948.

An angry Palestinian Legislative Councillor Abdallah Abdallah is reported by Ben Lynfeld in the Scotsman this week as stating:
“Britain should not be proud of this declaration. It is a declaration which deprived Palestinians of their national home and led to the expulsion of two-thirds of the Palestinians. Britain should be apologising to the Palestinian people for the Balfour Declaration rather than sending it to Israel.”

Lynfeld inflates Abdallah’s claim when he writes:
“The document (Balfour Declaration) promised British support for the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine, whose inhabitants at the time were almost entirely Arab.”

Abdallah and Lynfeld’s claims repeat unsubstantiated allegations that need to be challenged whenever they appear.

They are nothing but propaganda made with the intention of ultimately becoming accepted as incontrovertible statements of fact in the long running and unresolved conflict between Arabs and Jews.

Looking at the historical documentary records - both Abdallah and Lynfeld’s claims are groundless.

The “Palestinians” or the “Palestinian people” are defined in Article 5 of the 1968 PLO Covenant as follows:
“The Palestinians are those Arab nationals who, until 1947, normally resided in Palestine regardless of whether they were evicted from it or have stayed there. Anyone born, after that date, of a Palestinian father - whether inside Palestine or outside it - is also a Palestinian”

All other residents of Palestine and their descendants - non-Arab Moslems and Jews - are not regarded as “Palestinians” according to the racist provisions of this Charter.

This “Arabs only” view is supported by Article 1 of the PLO Charter:
“Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.”

“Arab ” is clearly the key word that identifies those claiming to be “Palestinians” or claiming to be part of the “Palestinian People” in 2013.

Yet at the time of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 - there were very few Arabs living in Palestine - as the Interim Report on the civil administration of Palestine between 1st July 1920 and 30th June 1921 makes very clear:
“There are now in the whole of Palestine hardly 700,000 people, a population much less than that of the province of Gallilee alone in the time of Christ.* (*See Sir George Adam Smith “Historical Geography of the Holy Land”, Chap. 20.) Of these 235,000 live in the larger towns, 465,000 in the smaller towns and villages. Four-fifths of the whole population are Moslems.

A small proportion of these are Bedouin Arabs; the remainder, although they speak Arabic and are termed Arabs, are largely of mixed race. Some 77,000 of the population are Christians, in large majority belonging to the Orthodox Church, and speaking Arabic. The minority are members of the Latin or of the Uniate Greek Catholic Church, or—a small number—are Protestants.

The Jewish element of the population numbers 76,000. Almost all have entered Palestine during the last 40 years.”

The myth that there was an overwhelming majority of Arabs living in Palestine in 1917 is clearly exposed as false in this Interim Report.

This conclusion is supported by the following further facts:
1. Censuses conducted in Palestine at the time divided the residents into “Moslems”, Jews”, “Christians” and “Others”. The term “Arabs” never rated a mention.

2. The Balfour Declaration itself only spoke of “the existing non- Jewish communities in Palestine”.

3. Circassian immigration into Palestine in the 1870’s after their expulsion from their homeland in the northern Caucasus.
Arabs certainly lived in Palestine in 1917 - but they comprised no more than 10% of the population according to the Interim Report.

Lynfeld further reports that the Arab League, in a statement condemning the British library’s decision, said Palestinians were in control of 98 per cent of the territory at the time of the Balfour Declaration.

Again, such a claim is unsustainable.

Who controlled the remaining 2% of Palestine is not stated by the Arab League. The Palestinian Arabs certainly did not control the other 98%.

Palestine at the time of the Balfour Declaration formed part of the Ottoman Empire which was under the total control of Turkey for virtually the whole of the previous 400 years - until it was lost in World War 1.

The Allied Powers who met in San Remo in 1920 and subsequently signed the Treaty of Sevres with a vanquished Turkey in the same year allocated 99.99% of the captured Ottoman Empire for Arab self-determination and just 0.01% for Jewish self determination.

The Arab League is indulging in pure fantasy and delusion in claiming otherwise.

The unanimous vote of the League of Nations in 1922 endorsing the Balfour Declaration recognising the right of the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine rebuts any claim that there was at the time of the Balfour Declaration any group of residents calling themselves the “Palestinians” or the “Palestinian people”.

The existence of such a people before this claim first appeared in the original PLO Charter in 1964 is false and misleading.

But isn’t that what propaganda is precisely about?