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December 8, 2014 8:23 am

Learning From History on the Jewish State Bill

avatar by Yoram Ettinger

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Jerusalem. Photo: Berthold Werner via Wikimedia Commons.

Col. Richard Meinertzhagen, the chief political/intelligence officer of the British “ŽMandate in Palestine, inspired the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, who laid the “Žfoundation for the landmark U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, which was “Žoverwhelmingly supported by Congress. The Act reflects Israel’s increasing and “Žunique strategic contribution to vital U.S. defense and commercial interests, and the “Žmutually beneficial, two-way-street nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship. “Ž

Col. Meinertzhagen’s Middle East Diary 1917-1956 is as relevant today for the “ŽUSA as it was 80-100 years ago for Britain, maintaining that a Jewish state would “Žbe the most reliable and effective beachhead of Western democracies in an area that is vital to their critical economic and national security interests. “Ž

In 1923, Col. Meinertzhagen stated: “Britain will not be able to sustain its control of “Žthe Suez Canal endlessly. … [Therefore], I’ve always considered the land “Žof Israel to be the key to the defense of the Middle East. … When a Jewish state will “Žbe established, Britain shall benefit from air force, naval and land bases … as well as “ŽJewish fighting capabilities … which will secure its long-term regional interests. … “ŽUnlike the Arabs, Jews are reliable and do comply with agreements. … Zionism is the “Žhope for the reconstructed Jewish homeland; it is also a clear strategic benefit to the “ŽBritish Empire. … The British policy in the Middle East bets on the wrong horse, when “Žappeasing the Arabs.” “Ž

In 1920, he wrote: “I firmly believe that a sovereign Jewish state shall be established “Žin 20-30 years, militarily assaulted by all its Arab neighbors.” In 1919, he assessed “Žthat a long-term, and possibly insoluble, clash between Jewish and Arab nationalism “Žwas inevitable. He expected the Jews to prevail due to their impressive military track “Žrecord in ancient times. Jewish quality would overcome the Arab quantity. “Ž

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In 1920, Meinertzhagen noted that the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict and “Žthe Palestinian issue was the Arab obsession with the existence — not merely the “Žsize — of a Jewish state, as evidenced by the systematic campaign of anti-Jewish “Žincitement by Arab leaders, especially the Jerusalem mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini (the “Žrole model for Mahmoud Abbas and Yassir Arafat). “Ž

He noted that while Zionism was relentlessly determined to re-establish Jewish “Žsovereignty in the land of Israel, the Arab worldview was dominated by a seventh “Žcentury fanatic Islam. Arabs displayed hopeless inter-Arab fragmentation, intrigues, “Žtenuous regimes and policies, as well as violent intolerance, featuring ruthless “Žincitement, toward the Christian and Jewish “infidel,” in a region that Muslims “Žperceived to be divinely ordained only for the followers of Islam.”Ž

Meinertzhagen opposed British policy, which egregiously violated legally binding “Žcommitments made to Jewish sovereignty over (at least!) the entire area west of “Žthe Jordan River, such as the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the 1920 San Remo “ŽConference British Mandate, and the 1922 League of Nations reaffirmation, which “Žwas integrated into Article 80 of the 1945 U.N. Charter. He claimed that British policy “Žwas driven by pro-Arab and anti-Semitic sentiments, discriminating against Jewish “Žaspirations, thus radicalizing the Arabs and minimizing the prospects of peace. “Ž

Meinertzhagen considered a sovereign Jewish entity a strategic and moral asset, “Žwhile the Arabs were defined as a strategic and moral liability, urging the British “Žgovernment to ally itself with the reliable and grateful party. “Ž

The conviction-driven British clairvoyant was convinced that the Jewish state was “Ždestined for a rosy commercial and military future due to boundless Jewish tenacity — “Žas evidenced by the survival of Judaism in defiance of historical adversity — and “ŽJewish brainpower, inspired by values that generated monotheism and Western “Ždemocracies. Moreover, in 1920, Meinertzhagen wrote that “the Zionist entity shall “Žprovide its Arab citizens with enhanced economy and security.” In 1949, he referred “Žto the newly born Jewish state as “one of the world wonders, and the only positive “Žoutcome of the Second World War.””Ž

Noting in 1937 that “a secure Jewish state would bolster the regional position of “ŽBritain,” while “a splintered land of Israel would weaken, and possibly, eliminate, the “ŽJewish state,” Meinertzhagen delineated the security lines of the Jewish state “Ž”Ž(before the intensified unpredictability, instability and threat generated by the Arab tsunami): from the Sea of Galilee to the Jordan River, the Dead Sea and the Gulf of “ŽAqaba in the east; from the Gulf of Aqaba to Rafiah (southern Gaza) in the south; the “ŽMediterranean in the west; and the Litani River (southern Lebanon) in the north. “ŽMeinertzhagen’s map was similar to the map of Israel’s minimal security “Žrequirements, submitted on June 29, 1967 to President Lyndon Johnson by Gen. Earl “ŽWheeler, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs-of-Staff. “Ž

Against the backdrop of the 2014 controversy over the Jewish state law, it is “Žinstructive to read that Col. Meinertzhagen indicated in 1932: “It is clear that the land of Israel will become a Jewish state no less than England “Žis English.”

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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