Guardian publishes historical fiction about Israel in ‘Letters’ section

Commenting on the UN’s egregious bias against the Jewish state, Abba Eban (who served as Israel’s ambassador to the UN and foreign minister, among other posts) once quipped: “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.”

To this I’d add: If the resolution was introduced today it would likely receive sympathetic coverage in the Guardian.

The latest anti-Israeli communique at the Guardian demonstrates that historical truth plays little if any role in Guardian editors’ decisions regarding which letters to publish.

The following letter, titled ‘UK’s responsibility to the Palestinians“, was published on November 1st and was signed by such sage anti-Zionists, and confirmed one-staters, as Ghada KarmiTim Llewellyn, Karl Sabbagh, John Rose, Kamel Hawwash, Naomi Foyle, Mona Baker, Mike Marquesee and Seni Seneviratne.

This thrifty polemic (196 words in three passages) may represent the greatest degree of anti-Israeli malice, and historical fiction, per word in quite a long time at the Guardian.

Here’s the first passage:

“Today is the 95th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, when the then foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, signed a fateful letter to Lord Rothschild announcing that the British government “view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people”. Britain thus gave the zionist movement carte blanche to transform the overwhelmingly Arab state of Palestine into a Jewish one.”

It may be tedious, but certainly necessary, to point out that there was not in the years preceding the birth of Israel – nor at any other time in history – an independent “Arab state of Palestine”.   There have only been Jewish states in the territory known as “Palestine” – two between 1020 and 586 BCE, and, of course, the modern state of Israel.

(Even after 586 BCE, the Jews enjoyed periods of sovereignty afterward, until most were driven from their homeland in 135 C.E.)

Even after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and the beginning of the exile, Jewish life in Israel continued. Indeed, there has been a continuous, uninterrupted, Jewish presence in the Land of Israel for over 3,000 years.

Further, Palestinian Arab nationalism did not become a significant political movement until after the 1967 Six-Day War.

To argue that “Arab Palestine” was transformed into a Jewish state is a lie.

Here’s the second passage:

“To further this aim, from 1920 onwards, Britain encouraged the mass immigration into Palestine of hundreds of thousands of European Jews, expressly against the wishes of the majority population. As Palestine descended into chaos, the British washed their hands of their responsibility for the mess they had caused and stood by while hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were terrorised into fleeing their homeland, as Palestine was transformed into Israel.”

Actually, not only is a lie to argue that Britain encouraged the mass immigration of Jews, but, bowing to Arab pressure, they consistently placed enormous restrictions (especially beginning in mid 1930s) on Jews who wished to emigrate to the land of Israel (historic Palestine).  The British gave in further to Arab demands by announcing (in the 1939 White Paper) that Jewish immigration would be limited to a total of 75,000 over the next five-year period.

These restrictions continued even during the the Holocaust.

The gates of Israel remained closed during WWII, stranding hundreds of thousands of Jews in Europe, many of whom became victims of Hitler’s Holocaust. After the war, the British, again fearful of angering Arab leaders, even refused to allow the survivors of the Shoah to find sanctuary in Palestine.

Here’s the final passage from the Guardian letter:

“We call for the British government to acknowledge publicly the responsibility of previous British administrations from 1917 to 1948 for the catastrophe that befell the Palestinians, when over three-quarters were expelled deliberately and systematically by the Zionist army. Most of them remain refugees today without redress. The truth about their expulsions is still not officially established, since Israel officially denies any responsibility for it.”

Actually, those Palestinians who fled during the War of Independence did so as the result of an Arab war of annihilation against the nascent Jewish state. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of Palestinian refugees from 1948 – roughly 600,000 people – did not flee as the result of Israeli military actions.

As Mitchell Bard wrote:

“The Palestinians left their homes in 1947-48 for a variety of reasons. Thousands of wealthy Arabs left in anticipation of a war, thousands more responded to Arab leaders’ calls to get out-of-the-way of the advancing armies, a handful were expelled, but most simply fled to avoid being caught in the cross fire of a battle.”

As far as “responsibility” for the Palestinians’ plight, had the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN resolution, there wouldn’t have been a single Palestinian refugee and Palestine would be 64 years old.

Further, had Arab states welcomed their Palestinian brothers with open arms in the years following 1948, and granted them full citizenship rights – as Jews expelled from Arab countries were granted full citizenship rights when they arrived in mass between 1947 and 1967 – instead of cynically keeping them segregated in refugee camps for political reasons, there wouldn’t be a Palestinian refugee crisis. 

The historical fictions contained in this recent Guardian letter about Israel are of such a magnitude that (to paraphrase Israeli historian Benny Morris’s review of the book, ‘The Israel Lobby’) if the letter was an actual person, we would have to say that he did not have a single honest bone in his body.

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