by Gerald A. Honigman
To begin with, please open http://q4j-middle-east.com and see a Roman coin of conquest for another of its very troublesome provinces.
Note please, a Iudaea (Judaea) Capta coin–not a Palaestina Capta one.
Vespasian would help subdue the early Brits as he had done with the Jews in Judaea as well. See accounts of contemporary Roman historians, Tacitus and Dio Cassius, regarding the latter.
While not a citizen nor subject of Great Britain (though if things turned out a bit differently about 225 years ago, that perhaps would not be the case), I can’t help hearing the upbeat music of Rule Britannia, without sensing pomp and glory.
At times, the song has taken on different meaning for different people, but it has certainly epitomized the heyday of British global imperial power…
Meanwhile, across the Channel, other European hypocrites having been in full bloom as well, adding to the Brits’ own audacity…
“…European Union foreign-policy chief Josip Borrell put forward a surprise resolution on Israel’s new government that included the following: ‘The E.U. does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied West Bank. The E.U. reiterates that any annexation would constitute a serious violation of international law’”…
Indeed, much if not most of the world is now have a conniption over the thought of Judeans–Jews–once again residing and ruling in parts of Judea and Samaria.
Along with those thoughts above, I recently had an opportunity to view The Iron Lady again, a movie about Great Britain’s Margaret Thatcher. Especially relevant was the episode involving her decision to go to war to “reclaim” the Falkland Islands (aka, Las Malvinas)–some 8,300 miles away from Great Britain off the Argentine Coast. I couldn’t help but ponder Argentina staking claim over the Isle of Wight…https://en.wikipedia.
So, while other nations have indulged in such duplicitous policies, it’s the Brits that I will again focus upon…
John Campbell’s biography of Great Britain’s former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher (1979 to 1990), hit the big screen in 2012. Meryl Streep took home another Best Actress academy award for her portrayal of the Iron Lady.
As hinted to above, and like her nation’s overwhelming and centuries’ old imperial past, there are multiple ways of viewing Prime Minister Thatcher’s own actions as well.
Ask people which empire, in all of recorded history, was the largest, and see if they know…
The British Empire beats them all by far–at one time comprising nearly a quarter of the land mass of Planet Earth, and about a quarter of its population up until the post-World War II era.
Name the location…all North America; British West Indies; Egypt and much of the rest of the Middle East and elsewhere in North and sub-Saharan Africa; Australia and New Zealand; Hong Kong; the former Burma, Ceylon, and the Indian sub-continent and its environs; islands off of South America; etc. and so forth… not to mention the earlier forced acquisition and consolidation of the Scottish, Welsh, and Irish peoples’ lands.
Rule Britannia’s realm dwarfed all others, and despite many of the Brits’ former possessions now having attained independence, the legacy of that imperial, neo-colonial experience is still very much with those former subjects today, with impacts on much of the rest of us as well. The late 19th century poem by Rudyard Kipling, The White Man’s Burden, sums much of this up nicely. While addressing America’s new dabbling in such enterprise after its war with Spain, it was indeed originally written with Great Britain in mind.
So, with this as background, let’s turn now to just a few events which transpired during the Iron Lady’s days as Prime Minister and which are relevant to this day as well.
A few years into Thatcher’s administration, in 1982 Argentina once again reached the boiling point over the audacity of British imperial and colonial policies which had resulted in its earlier snatching islands just a few hundred miles off the Argentine coast.
About 8,300 miles away from Great Britain, Las Malvinas–aka, the Falkland Islands–were perceived as a thumb in the eye of Argentine pride. As hinted to earlier, for example, think of the latter staking claim to the Isle of Wight or the Hebrides off of “Great Britain”– Scotland’s coast. Indeed, ask some Scots themselves how they feel about that forced union. Does the movie Braveheart ring a bell?
Anyway, after the Argentine invasion to “reclaim” Britain’s 8,300 miles-away possession, the Iron Lady’s military went to war to re-conquer the islands in the name of British sovereignty and national interests…once again, almost a third of the circumference of the world away from home.
For comparison, and related to the misnamed “annexation” issue regarding Judeans and Judea–let’s turn the clock back to the June (“Six Day”) 1967 War in the Middle East. And, to really understand the point, we’ll have to go back even further…to the break-up, after World War I, of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, which controlled much of region for some four centuries.
The Brits had made a lot of conflicting promises to lots of different peoples during those days.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt–and going beyond those who would claim just neo-colonial, divisive (to still remain in control) policies–there was also a sincere feeling, in at least some circles, that long-suppressed, different peoples should finally get a taste of freedom and independence themselves.
Arabia for the Arabs, Judea for the Judeans (Jews), Armenia for Armenians, and Kurdistan for Kurds was one way of expressing this view, and President Woodrow Wilson’s famous “Fourteen Points” emphasized this as well. The hopes and aspirations of other peoples, like Assyrians, have also periodically surfaced.
Having said this, those magnanimous views, however, often clashed with the folks actually running the British Foreign Office and such.
Thus, to not anger Arabs, the Brits, whose imperial navy had recently switched from coal to oil, reneged on promises to the Kurds–currently some 40 million truly stateless people who pre-dated Arab and Turk conquerors by millennia in the Mandate of Mesopotamia and elsewhere.
After receiving a favorable decision from the League of Nations regarding the heavily Kurdish-populated northern oil fields in 1925 which awarded that territory to the British Mandate instead of to Ataturk’s new Turkish Republic, London supported only Arab nationalist interests in what would soon become a united Iraq instead. Specially designed British Hawker-Hunter (anti-guerilla) attack aircraft would help to take care of the Arabs’ Kurdish headaches soon afterwards…https://www.
A few years earlier, London was involved in similar Rule Britannia, imperial shenanigans…
While Jews had earlier been promised that they would be able to live throughout the Brits’ other, smaller Mandate of Palestine, in 1922 almost 80% of the land was handed over to Arab nationalism, in one of its many permitted subspecies, instead. How is it that Arabs get to have dozens of states, yet other peoples are still deprived of one?
The Emirate of “Transjordan” was thus virtually severed from the remaining 20% of the original April 25, 1920 Mandate of Palestine’s territory, while still technically being part of the Mandate until gaining independence in 1946.
Led by the Brits’ Sir John Bagot Glubb (“Glubb Pasha”), Transjordan’s Arab Legion seized lands west of the Jordan River in its attack on a minuscule reborn Israel in 1948; subsequently holding territory on both banks, it soon renamed itself Jordan.
Note: The conquest of historical Judea and Samaria (only recently thus being dubbed the “West Bank” as well), was an illegal occupation of non-apportioned (not “purely Arab”) territory in the Mandate, and no nations other than Pakistan and the Brits themselves recognized this.
Having been blockaded at the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba by Egypt and shelled by the Jordanians a bit later (casus belli), when Judeans took the land in their war for survival in 1967, they were thus re-taking it from an illegal occupier.
In his book upon which the movie, Iron Lady, is based, John Campbell refers to/insinuates that Israel’s defensive actions on the West Bank amounted, instead, to the illegal acquisition of “Palestinian” lands. It’s confusing as to whether those words are his thoughts or are actually those of the Iron Lady…Either way, they’re disturbing and simply wrong.
Contrary to Arab assertions, the disputed lands were indeed non-apportioned, and all the Mandate’s residents were allowed to live there. Consider, however, that Arabs also claim virtually the entire region to be just “purely Arab patrimony” as well. Much, if not most, of the area were state lands, and Jews had lived and owned property there until they were slaughtered by Arabs in the 1920s and 1930s; and Transjordan officially made its East Bank territories Judenrein (as it had made itself) after 1948.
Again, the Brits have been a mixed blessing on all of these matters, wavering back and forth between issues of real politik and fair justice, and in some ways have been better than some other folks across the English Channel. And the Iron Lady was no exception, despite her relative friendliness to Israel compared to what it has faced coming out of her nation since she left office.
Thatcher’s Britain–which could fight Argentina 8,300 miles from home in the name of Her Majesty’s national (if not also still imperial) interests–would, with other European Union folks, constantly press Israel to return the territories used to launch attacks against it and on which Judeans/Jews (unlike Brits on the Falklands, French Polynesia, American Samoa, Russian Chechnya, etc.) have thousands of years of history and land ownership connecting them to.
Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, and other EU nations (not to mention Russia and the Arabs’ own internal conquests and colonization of scores of millions of native non-Arab peoples themselves)–which acquired territories and conquered peoples all around the globe, while grabbing their natural resources as well–see no discrepancy threatening Jews and complaining about an allegedly “expansionist” Israel because, having been repeatedly attacked by Arabs who want their sole, minuscule nation destroyed, state that they need something beyond the 9-15 mile wide sardine can that Israel was left as after the UN-imposed Auschwitz/armistice lines were imposed in1949…In other words, the very territorial compromise that, ironically, the British Foreign Secretary, as will be discussed below, had promised Israel earlier himself.
As still goes on today, “land for peace” became the constant lecture–even from the friendly Iron Lady–though it was quite clear to all with eyes open and neurons intact that the only “peace” the vast majority of Arabs had in mind for Israel was the peace of the grave–regardless of its size. That Israel IS is the problem…
What makes this all the more confusing is that it was indeed an earlier British Foreign Secretary himself, Lord Caradon, serving as chief architect of the final draft of UNSC Resolution 242 in the aftermath of the June ’67 War, who deliberately built in a territorial compromise over the disputed territories so that Israel would, at long last, get more secure, defensible, and real political borders instead of the armistice lines imposed upon it in 1949 after the combined Arab attack the year before. Again, those lines had left Israel a mere 9-15 miles wide at its waist, where most of its population and industry were concentrated…an irresistible temptation to its rejectionist enemies. Find Israel on a world globe without a magnifying glass…I dare you.
Here were the Iron Lady’s colleague, Lord Caradon’s, very words on this subject…
“…It would have been wrong to demand Israel return to positions of June 4, 1967 … those positions were … artificial … just places where soldiers of each side happened to be on the day fighting stopped in 1948 … just armistice lines. That’s why we didn’t demand Israelis return to them…” http://www.israel.org/MFA/
With this in mind, Jews would obviously have to repopulate areas in Judea and Samaria in which they indeed had lived earlier…for millennia. Until the Jordanians destroyed numerous synagogues and such, this included East Jerusalem as well, the location of Judaism’s holiest of sites, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
To get what 242’s final accepted draft promised–territorial compromise–it’s thus a no brainer that Jews would have to actually live on the land. Hence the confusion over this next alleged statement from the Iron Lady in 1980, recorded in a secret diplomatic cable written by Ambassador John Robinson on May 4, 1980:
“…Efforts to convince (Prime Minister) Mr. Begin that his West Bank policy was absurd, and that there should not be Israeli settlements on the West Bank, had failed to move him… His response was that Judea and Samaria had been Jewish in biblical times and that they should therefore be so today…”
To her credit, however, she also made the following statement on page 246 in her book, Statecraft: Strategies For A Changing World:
“…Israel must never be expected to jeopardize her security: if she was ever foolish enough to do so, and then suffered for it, the backlash against both honest brokers and Palestinians would be immense – ‘land for peace’ must also bring peace…”
As a relevant footnote to this overall topic and discussion, please also consider that the Minutes of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations and other solid documentation show that the vast majority of Arabs were newcomers into the Mandate themselves…i.e., Arabs settlers setting up Arab settlements in Palestine.
Indeed, after the combined Arab invasion in 1948 backfired on the Arabs themselves, so many Arabs in the Mandate were indeed newcomers that the United Nations Relief Agency set up to assist Arab refugees had to adjust the very definition of that word to assist those people.
So many Arabs were recent arrivals—settlers–themselves that UNRWA had to change the very definition of “refugee” from its prior meaning of persons normally and traditionally resident to those who lived in the Mandate for a minimum of only two years prior to 1948…Please understand what this is saying.
And there was no special agency set up to help numerically more Jewish refugees, fleeing so-called “Arab”/Muslim lands, than Arabs who were fleeing in the opposite direction due to a war which Arabs started over Israel’s rebirth on less than one fourth of one per cent of the region. Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews make up more than half of Israel’s Jewish population–with numerous others having fled elsewhere as well.
While the Iron Lady is missed for her relative fairness towards Israel in the midst of a Europe which spews much animus and duplicitous hostility towards the Jew of the Nations, besides the troubling example mentioned above, there were other disturbing episodes as well…like when she joined American political leaders, such as George H.W. Bush, James Baker, and others, in condemning Israel’s surgical destruction of Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq.
Just imagine if Saddam had the bomb when he invaded Kuwait, went to war with Iran, and so forth…
Working non-stop on behalf of freedom for the Soviet Union’s Jewish refuseniks, Mrs. Thatcher then made the painful, incorrect leap, however, comparing them to allegedly “stateless” Arab refugees. The plight of the latter was indeed largely a self-inflicted wound…that of the former folks was not. http://www.icjs-online.org/
Furthermore, to date, Arabs have almost two dozen states–including one that Great Britain itself awarded to them on almost 80 % of the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine–today’s Jordan. Arabs refused another proposed partition in 1947 which would have given them about half of the 20% that was left.
Question: What compromises have Arabs ever been willing to make with any of their own national competitors?
90% of the total territory was not enough…
Jews were entitled to nothing in this vision self-centered vision of justice…the same subjugating Arab mindset which victimizes scores of millions of other non-Arab peoples in the region to this very day as well. Ask Kurds, the Amazigh/”Berbers,” Copts, Assyrians, black Africans in the Sudan and elsewhere, Semitic–but pre-Arab conquest–Lebanese, native “kilab yahud” Jew dogs, and others as well what they think about this matter… https://ekurd.net/arabism-
No doubt, it’s very disappointing when folks like the Iron Lady fail to see such differences.
In the broader perspective, however, and despite all of the above and other “flaws” (just ask the Irish), when judging world leaders, the world would be a better place if Margaret Thatcher was still in her office at 10 Downing Street today…
And the good news is that with Prime Minister Boris Johnson now at that residence, the Iron Lady’s legacy may not only live on, but perhaps may improve as well.