A Jerusalem Post reader by the name of James Adler is a regular letter writer to the newspaper. Unfortunately Mr. Adler’s view of the Middle East tends to the extreme dovish left, even though he is obviously a Zionist and pro-Israel. The trouble seems to lie with his ignorance of facts, his distorted view of historical events, and his skewed way of putting all the onus on Israel. He therefore draws all the wrong conclusions about anything to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His last letter to the JPost was on Friday 20th April, and read thus:
Sir, – With regard to “Despite State Dept. frown, Israel to continue responding to PA unilateral moves” (April 13), it is unclear why Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is considered out of bounds in going to the United Nations.
The Palestinians should have been launched on their trajectory toward decolonization and statehood way back in 1922, when they were 95 percent of the people on their land. On fundamental talks like these we shouldn’t get into denial about fundamental truths, especially if we want to understand the Palestinians’ central narrative and motives that reflect these truths.
Now it is the Israelis who have a state on 80% of Palestine and occupy the rest of it. They have sent hundreds of thousands of settlers into that remnant and continue to expand settlements even during the negotiations. It is Israel (and its pre-state incarnation) that for nearly a century has had a crucial role in denying the Palestinians’ decolonization.
Why does it now get to decide whether they at last get this decolonization, and only on the small remnant of their original land? The Palestinians are trying for statehood through the UN in exactly the same, “unilateral” way Israel did.
I could not let these egregious mistakes and mis-statements pass, and I wrote a letter in reply, which was published today, albeit after being edited and shortened. Here’s what the Jerusalem Post published of my letter. The full text that I sent will follow afterwards.
Sir, – Reader James Adler (“Totally in-bounds,” Letters, April 20) wonders why Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is out of bounds in going to the United Nations. He forgets or ignores that by going to the UN the Palestinians have violated the terms of the Oslo Accords.
Adler remarks that “the Palestinians should have been launched on their trajectory toward decolonization and statehood way back in 1922,” but there was at the time no such trajectory because they did not consider themselves colonized. He claims “it is the Israelis who have a state on 80% of Palestine and occupy the rest of it,” but if you look at a map of the Jewish homeland as envisaged in the San Remo Convention you will see that by 1947 the Jews possessed only 22%.
Adler claims that Israel tried for statehood unilaterally. On the contrary, it had the backing of the entire Western world and the UN.
It also had built all the necessary infrastructure for statehood. The Palestinians have built only one infrastructure with all their billions in aid: the infrastructure of terror.
And here is the full text of the letter that I originally sent, including many links which clarify my meaning and give backing to my arguments:
The lack of facts and the distortion of historical events in James Adler’s letter of 20th April are quite breath-taking and demonstrate either an egregious one-sidedness in viewing the Middle East, or an enormous hole in his education.
- He wonders why Mahmoud Abbas out of bounds in going to the United Nations. Adler forgets or ignores that by going to the UN, the Palestinians have violated the terms of the Oslo Accords.
- When Adler remarks that “the Palestinians should have been launched on their trajectory toward decolonization and statehood way back in 1922, when they were 95 percent of the people on their land” he is at the very least being disingenuous if not outright dishonest. In 1922, the only people called Palestinians were the Jewish residents of then-Palestine, the land earmarked for a Jewish homeland by the Balfour Declaration and the San Remo Convention of 1920. The other residents were known simply as Arabs, whether Egyptians, Saudis, Jordanians, Syrians or Bedouin. If you had called them Palestinian they would have been highly offended. There was no “trajectory towards decolonization” at that time because they did not consider themselves colonized.
- Adler claims that “Now it is the Israelis who have a state on 80% of Palestine and occupy the rest of it”. On the contrary, if you look at a map of the Jewish homeland as it was envisaged in the San Remo Convention you would see that by 1947 the Jews possessed only 22% of what was intended for them. The rest of the land was ripped off by the perfidious British and given to the Hashemites in order to appease their Jew-hatred. This land became Trans-Jordan, later Jordan. After the UN partition plan resolution in 1947, 5 Arab nations invaded Israel and Jordan conquered Judea and Samaria and “East” Jerusalem, expelling all the Jewish residents in an egregious act of ethnic cleansing recognized by no country except for Britain, Pakistan and Iraq. Jordan maintained that territory (which they renamed the West Bank in order to remove any Jewish connection from the territory) Judenrein for 19 years. In 1967 Israel reconquered and liberated that territory from Jordan, Syria and Egypt – NOT from the non-existent Palestinians who did not exist yet as a separate entity.
- Adler also does not seem able to explain how land illegally occupied by Arabs for 19 whole years – 19 years out of a history of millennia – makes the territory “holy Palestinian land”, whilst the Jewish historical ties of 3,000 years are utterly ignored. For him, when the Jews are ethnically cleansed from the land they’d better stay ethnically cleansed! They are not afforded any of the rights he would afford any other ethnically cleansed nation.
- The Palestinians had their chance to settle their own territory in 1947, when resolution 181 was voted upon. But the Palestinians – or Arabs as they were known then – rejected it outright and declared war on Israel. Now that they have lost war after war, and Israel shows no sign of being defeated despite the constant drip-drip of terrorism, delegitimization, boycotts and lawfare – they are making their plea for international help in the same way as the person who claims mercy for killing his parents on the ground that he is now an orphan.
- Adler claims that Israel tried for statehood unilaterally. On the contrary, Israel had the backing of the entire Western World and the UN when it declared statehood. Israel had also built all the necessary institutions for statehood long before such independence was claimed or granted – and all this in the face of constant war, terror, boycotts and lack of resources, not to mention later absorbing millions of impoverished and traumatised refugees from Europe and the Middle East. The Palestinians have built only one infrastructure with all the millions and billions of foreign aid and petro-dollars: the infrastructure of terror. They also undertook not to stake their claim for statehood at the UN when they signed the Oslo Accords.
They have no right to renege on these now – and if they do, they cannot complain when Israel declares the Oslo Accords null and void too.
Yours sincerely, etc…
I wish the JPost had published my letter in its entirety but I suppose I should be grateful that at least some of it was published. I fear that their editing changed the meaning and intent of my words and might give the wrong impression about Israel’s historical right to the entire Land of Israel according to the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the terms of the Mandate as resolved at the San Remo Convention of 1920. At the very least I hope my letter gave readers some food for thought, even though (in my humble opinion) my unedited letter would have been preferable.