- Probably one of the most important books for both Jews
and Arabs to read is called The Rape of Palestine, by William Ziff first
published in 1938 by Argus Books in the US. The cover says nothing about
who William Ziff is.
- The book documents the difference between the overall
pro-Jewish sentiments of the British political elite who saw a strong Jewish
presence in Palestine as being good for the British empire, and the group
of high level anti-Jewish British officials who believed that the Jews
would become so powerful (if Britain let them) that they would no longer
have to accede to British demands.
- The latter group was entirely right. A strong Jewish
presence in Palestine meant Jewish national independence which wouldn't
serve the British masters the way the Arab puppets did. Arab tribal leaders
were corruptible and this was the only way those running Britain's colonial
policies could control them. They realized that controlling the Jews was
not going to be so as easy. So they placed obstacle after obstacle before
any attempts to settle large numbers of Jews in Palestine. The official
reason for restricting Jewish immigration was that the "economic capacity
of the land" could not support more than a million people. This was
a lie, but few challenged the British when they proclaimed it in their
various "government commissions." The book also documents how
one-sided the British were in doling out public funds. As the Jews in Palestine
increased in number the economy boomed and in l935, the Yishuv, even though
only comprising one-third of the residents, were paying 75% of the taxes
to the British occupiers. Yet little of that money found its way back into
roads or schools serving Jewish towns. Ziff must have gone through nearly
every British government archive to document his claims that had the British
left Palestine in the late 20's or early 30's, the Jews would have had
a state before l948 and which would possibly have been established around
(and thriving) before Hitler came to power thus saving the bulk of European
Jewry. While no historian has ever blamed the British for the destruction
of European Jewry, Ziff's book documents that claim.
- Ziff's book (which was published first in l938 but probably
took three or four years of research to write) documents how the British
"created" the opposition to Zionism and that up until these so-called
"radical Arab leaders" came into the picture, most Arab residents
of Palestine wanted nothing more than to live in peace and prosperity with
the Jews which they believed was their good fortune.
- "The Moslem religious leaders, the Mufti, was openly
friendly. Throughout Arabia, the chiefs were for the most part distinctly
pro- Zionist: and in Palestine the peasantry were delighted at every prospect
of Jewish settlement near their villages. Commercial intercourse between
Arab and Jew was constant and steady." pp.13
- "The Arab National Movement was hated by the huge
Levantine population who continued to regard themselves simply as Ottoman
subjects, looked to the strong, influential Zionist Organization for sympathy
and assistance." "Hussein of the Hejaz looked to the Zionists
for the financial and scientific experience of which the projected Arab
state would standly badly in need. In May 1918, Dr. Chaim Weizmann and
Hussein of the Hejaz met in Cairo where the latter spoke of mutual cooperation
between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. In early l9l9 a Treaty of Friendship
was signed to provide for "the closest possible collaboration in the
development of the Arab state and the coming Jewish Commonwealth of Palestine.
On March 3, l9l9, another Arab leader, Feisal, son of Sherif, wrote: "We
wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home."
- If Ziff's words are accurate, there was no Arab opposition
to Jewish immigration to Palestine at least as far back as l919.
- Ziff writes:
- "With conscious design the Administration fostered
hostility between Arab and Jews. It directly advised the amazed Arabs of
Palestine and Egypt to abstain from any concessions to the Jews. It formed
the Moslem-Christian Association and used it as a weapon against the Zionists.
It instructed astonished Arab young-bloods to the technique and tents of
modern nationalism, in order to resist Jewish 'pretenses.' And in London
it contacted reliable anti-Jewish elements to form a liason which has endured
to this day. The Arabs were not only instigated and advised, but supplied
with funds, and their arguments ghost-written by Englishmen in high places.
They proved a good investment."
- "Matters came to a head in l920 when Feisal staged
a revolt against the French in Damascus, with money and ammunition supplied
by the British General Headquarters. He had been proclaimed King by a 'Syrian
Congress' which included Palestinians, and which asserted the principle
that Palestine was a part of Syria and couldn't be cut off from it. Almost
simultaneously, in order to show how impossible it was to implement the
Balfour Declaration in the face of native hostility, the Generals arranged
a pogrom in Jerusalem."
- Ziff believed that the stage was set charging that "the
riots of April l920 was perfectly timed." He reveals how Arab agitators
ran through the Moslem crowds gathered for the Nebi Moussa festival in
Jerusalem, urging 'death to the Jews' and that 'the government is with
us.' Ziff discovered that all Jewish policemen had been relieved from duty
in the Old City.
- He says that such planned riots occured again in April
l921 in Jerusalem. Ziff charges that the British Commandant of Police was
"conveniently out of the country. The few Jews on the police force
had been mysteriously taken off duty for the day. The Arab mob shouted:
"Bolshevki! Bolseviki! The Zionists are flooding the country with
Bolsheviki!" pp. 20 While many students of the Arab-Israeli conflict
have heard the name "the Mufti of Jerusalem" most don't know
how the Mufti became "the Mufti." Ziff writes: "Implicated
in the disturbances was a political adventurer named Haj Amin al Husseini.
Haj Amin, was sentenced by a British court to fifteen years hard labor.
Coveniently allowed to escape by the police, he was a fugitive in Syria.
Shortly after, the British then allowed him to return to Palestine where,
despite the opposition of the Moslem High Council who regarded him as a
hoodlum, Haj Amin was appointed by the British High Commissioner as Grand
Mufi of Jerusalem for life." pp. 22
- Regarding the Arab pogroms of l929, Alif Beh, a Syrian
newspaper, he wrote: "the uprising was the result of British
intrigue...the English were looking for an excuse to reject the demands
of the Jewish Agency to participate in the administration of the country,
and encouraged the Arabs to teach the Jews a lesson."
- Regarding Arab views towards Jewish immigration, Ziff
quotes Count Carlos Sforza in his books, 'Europe and Europeans': "Syrians
of all classes, who had been watching Palestine's development with envious
yes, were anxious to have something of the same phenomena duplicated in
their country." This desire is written in the clamorous petition sent
to the French in l935 by the inhabitants of Lebanon, begging them to encourage
Jewish immigration as that would bring prosperity. Said the Damascus newspaper,
"Iissan Alkhar": "We ought to demand Jewish immigration,
for through it our situation will be saved."
- Sensing that some crude agenda was being played out with
their collective destiny, in May l930, the Jerusalem-based Arab newspaper
Al Iqdam in wrote: "We are led by a group of men who bargain us away,
buying and selling us like cattle. The Arab people have not yet said their
last word on the Arab-Jewish question. When this word has been said, it
will not be one of hatred, but one of peace and brotherhood, as is suitable
for two people who live in one country."
- During a seminar of leading Moslems and Christians of
Nazareth in March l934, as statement given to the press read: "On
behalf of the majority of the property-owners and consumers, we declare
that we would welcome Jewish immigration and trust that the enlightened
Jews with their financial commercial associations bring."
- Ziff is suggesting that the opposition to Jewish immigration
to Palestine by Arabs was not nearly as widespread as conventional wisdom
and standard history books on the subject has led us to believe. By the
time the Peel Commission was in full swing in l937, Arab desires for rapprochment
began appearing, there had begun appearing in the press Arab desires for
rapprochment with the Jews. From the New York Times of August 5th, l937,
we read: "For the first time in the twenty years since the Balfour
Declaration, the Arabs openly censured the Palestine Government for never
having attempted to bring the two peoples together."
- The Arab newspaper Falastin, claimed in an editorial
that, "despite British allegations of an unbreachable enmity between
Jews and Arabs, we cannot recall a single instance since the British occupation
here when they made the slightest effort to bring the Arabs and Jews together.
Pre-war Jewish residents lived here peacefully with Arabs for hundreds
of years. To this day these Jews, in addition to the Arabs, maintain that
if it were not for British policy of divide and rule the Arabs and Jews
would again live in Palestine in peace and harmony."
- On November 15th, l937 the Arab daily Ad-Difaa asserted
that the British Government had categorically rejected all proposals for
a round-table discussion between Jews, Arabs and British, through the Jews
and Arabs alike were anxious for such a meeting. After talking to all sections
of the Arab population, the correspondent for The New York Times reported
on November 21st, that their unnaminous cry was "we've suffered enough
and we don't wish to have any more trouble. May Allah curse them and cut
off the lives of these intruders from the outside who are disturbing our
- Pamphlets were distributed in Arab villages throughout
Palestine violently attacking Great Britain as being "the cause of
their ruin. (pp.104)" Dr. Gustavo Gutierrez, former President of Cuba's
Chamber of Deputies, stated after his visit to the Holy Land in late l936,
that he saw "no evidence of friction or disagreement between the Arab
and Jewish people in Palestine," and that "if Arabs and Jews
were let to their own councils they could settle the Palestine problem
wisely and permanently." Contrary to what history books tell us, there
was Arab opposition to British rule- and a genuine desire to live in peace
with the Jews- even as late as l937.
- Describing the Arab predictment, which has not changed
in the six decades since he wrote his book, in the epilogue Ziff states:
"The Arabs are compelled to free themselves from the present despotic
and feudal regimes under which all the Arab peoples suffer. In Arab countries,
despite the paper constitutions, which exist in several of them, there
is little in the way of liberty. Poverty and ignorance are endemic."
- What is important about Ziff's book is that it was written
close to when the events were taking place. It is a version of history
that few of us who believe ourselves to be students of the "Arab-Israeli
conflict" have ever come across. It is the first revisionist historical
account of the role the British played in the modern Middle East in general,
and in the Arab-Israeli conflict in specific. Its main premise, that the
Arab-Israeli conflict was created and stoked by the British, and isn't
the result of ethnic hatred of the participants, is in a sense a revolutionary
new perspective in Zionist history.
- If nothing more, Ziff's book should encourage the Israeli
government to establish a body that aims to change all of the street names
in the country that are named after British Mandate personalities. The
British government was the reason why it took Israel until l948 to reach
independence. Considering the state of the Yishuv's economy in l937, independence
then was possible. Had the British not ruled Palestine, by l930 unrestricted
Jewish immigration and the hard work and creativity of the new Jewish immigrants
would have created an economy twice as large as it was at the time in 1930.
The Arabs themselves acknowledge that they would have participated fully
in this unprecedented economic boom.
- Instead, the British government created phony Arab "radicals"
like Haj Amin, to stoke the conflict. The British government was also to
blame for corrupting Arab leaders and conspiring to keep all Arabs poor
and their economy undeveloped.
- Just as French collaborators and Nazis are still brought
before tribunals and charged with "crimes against humanity" so
too should members of the British colonial office who directed the overall
policy in Mandated Palestine to pit the Jews and the Arabs against each
other. As this policy kept the Jews from being able to help their brothers
fleeing from Nazi Germany, the crime is also of Genocide.