Editorial from Irish Political Review, August 2006
Home And Colonial
A couple of Jewish soldiers were captured by Hizbollah in a tit-for-tat 'kidnapping'. Israel, which is a conquering Army more than it is anything else, responded with a prolonged bombardment of the infrastructure of the Lebanese state. Washington said that was OK. A British Jewish nationalist activist said on British television that Jewish lives were more valuable than Arab lives and nobody disagreed. David Quinn, former Editor of the Irish Catholic, said it was time the Palestinians were put down. The Pope (denounced as a Nazi by sexy choirgirl, Charlotte Church) maintains a studied silence on Israeli actions—unlike his predecessor. And a Jew, writing in the Washington Post, begins an article with these words:
"The greatest mistake Israel could make is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake" (Richard Cohen, Hunker Down With History, 18.7.06).
Cohen distinguishes his position from that of President Ahmadinejad by saying that the President regards the mistake as a crime, while it is his view that "no one is culpable". Of course Washington and Teheran have radically different viewpoints on the matter. Teheran faces the possibility of being bombed by Washington,or on its authority, as a direct consequence of this mistake.
If the thing was to be done over again, would even the maddest Biblical Neocon be in favour of doing it? Would anybody do it?
It could not do itself. Israel, unlike other states, is not the self-created product of its own nationalism. Jewish nationalism did not have the power to create a national state anywhere, except perhaps Eastern Europe, where there was a fairly extensive territorially-based Jewish population before the Great War—certainly not in Palestine.
The Jewish State in Palestine was a British Imperial construction, conceived in the first instance as a colony which would give a foundation for British hegemony in the Middle East. The Jews were to do for the Empire east of the Mediterranean what the Irish did in Australia, at least to the extent of providing bulk.
There was of course a Jewish nationalist movement in being before the Balfour Declaration. It had its rationale in the rise of nationalist movements all over Europe (often with British encouragement) into which the Jews did not fit. But, because of its fixation on Palestine, it lacked a realisable object—until Britain took it in hand in 1917.
The slogan of "a land without people for a people without a land" was sometimes used in connection with the project. But Palestine was far from being a land without people. It has been peopled from time immemorial. The project therefore was one of displacement of the native population to make space for colonists, as had been done in North America, and as had been seriously considered in Ireland in the time of Elizabeth.
The Home Rule movement was in alliance with the British Empire in the Great War when the project was launched late in 1917. But it does not seem that Redmondite Ireland uttered any protest against what was done in its name, as one of the British peoples in the Great War, by the Balfour Declaration.
The Jewish Palestine project was close to the heart of Liberal Imperialist England, of which Redmondism had become a mere adjunct. And Manchester, where the Guardian was published, seems to have been its point of origin.
The Manchester Guardian journalist, Herbert Sidebotham, wrote a book about it while the Balfour Declaration was being negotiated, and published it early in 1918. He reviewed the history of Jewish States in Palestine, and then wrote as follows in his conclusion:
"It matters very little whether the new Jewish State is under the sovereignty of Great Britain or under international sovereignty administered by Great Britain; in either case the same result should follow to ourselves and to the Jews. The British Empire will have in time a powerful buffer-state between itself and possible enemies. On the north side of Palestine will be a French Protectorate in Syria which will act as a secondary buffer… On the East we shall have a new and, it is to be hoped, liberalizing Arabian Empire, the natural enemy of Turkey…; and Persia, no longer dominated by the ambition of the Russian regime, will revive some of its former glory alike in politics, letters and in the arts. Our Indian Empire will thus be protected… by a group of Powers friendly to each other and to us, and indeed some of them owing their very existence to us…
"The appearance of a self-governing dominion in the Mediterranean will exercise an influence on the structure of the British Empire… The East has hitherto been the home of the Imperial as distinguished from its Colonial System of Great Britain. A new Jewish State arising in Palestine will break down this distinction… The Eastern Mediterranean will be endowed with a new racial and political type…
"In this new Eastern world the political and the commercial Jew will be the chief fact, and the possession of a State of his own will break the fetters that have hitherto cramped his genius…
"The colonists of Palestine, though most of them no doubt will come from Russia, will be drawn in a greater or lesser degree from all the nations of the world. It is impossible to imagine a nation so constituted ever becoming a disturber of the peace… or an aggressor on the rights of his neighbours… Its influence will make for peace and unity… for it is not to be supposed that the new Jewish State in Palestine will be a State disconnected from the countries out of which its population is drawn…
"A Jewish State that is a dominion of the British Empire or is under international guarantee would be saved from the dangers that ruined it in the past. Of these its powerful foreign enemies were not perhaps the most fatal to its welfare. It is a hard thing to say, but had the Jewish State under the Romans been faithful to the policy of Herod there is no reason whatever why it should have been destroyed by Rome… The Jewish nation in Palestine began as a theocracy, continued as a kingdom, and after the return from the Captivity became once more a theocracy, though a theocracy more bigoted than the old, surrounded by still more powerful enemies, and in consequence narrower and more intolerant. The period of the Maccabees in which the Jewish State attained its greatest military glory was politically the most unprogressive. Its numerical weakness and its internal dissensions between the Hellenizing and the Nationalist parties drove it into a policy of religious persecution and bigotry. The treatment of its Arab neighbours by the revived Jewish State was possessed by a cruelty only possible to religious bigots. The same spirit of fanaticism, the same clerical hatred of compromise, ruined the chances of a second restoration under the Roman Empire. In this respect there is not the smallest chance of history repeating itself. The attitude of the Jews on the question of Church and State is now definitely Erastian…
"The other two causes of the failure in the past were military and economic… They would be fatal even now to any attempt on the part of the Jewish State to stand alone. Without a protecting Power a Jewish Palestine would not be strong enough to resist its powerful neighbours… Under a strong Protectorate, on the other hand, …Palestine would be free from these drawbacks… With a strong frontier towards the north and on the side of the desert, Palestine would become the Belgium of the East… She holds the doors between two continents…
"England's position in Egypt makes her the ideal protector of the new Palestine… As protector of Palestine, she could wish for no higher privilege than that of keeper of the world's conscience to a great and sorely tried people" (England And Palestine by Herbert Sidebotham, Constable; written in 1917, Preface dated January 1918; extracts are from the concluding chapter).
The very thing that Sidebotham warned against became the thing that happened.
Britain, having won its greatest Imperial war, suffered a collapse of Imperial will. The collapse disguised itself as democracy—or democracy brought about the collapse—it amounts to the same thing. Democratised Imperialism decided to break up the Arab Middle East into a serious of spurious nation-states and maintain British hegemony by stimulating and manipulating nationalist antagonisms. The "Arab Empire" was killed at birth. Palestine, which was part of Syria, was cut off from it. Jewish migration was funnelled in, and the Jewish Agency was recognised as a state institution while the Arab majority was curbed. At the outset the Arab leaders who had made an alliance with Britain in 1916 were persuaded to agree to a "Jewish Home" in Palestine, but they added a clause to the Agreement making it conditional on the rest of the Middle East being recognised as an Arab State. Since Britain and France suppressed all attempts to form the Arab State, the Agreement was null and void.
The extensive Jewish colonisation under British authority naturally led to Arab resistance, culminating in a general revolt in 1936.
Britain suppressed the revolt with its customary methods, but then, finding itself contemplating a second war on Germany, and not wishing to drive the Arab world into the arms of Germany, tried to call off its Zionist project. In 1939 the National Government published a White Paper scaling down Jewish immigration and setting an absolute number of further immigrants, after which Jewish immigration could only be by agreement with the Arabs. But it was too late.
The British Labour Party had become thoroughly Zionist by this time. On the Labour Left, Michael Foot and Richard Crossman published a pamphlet denouncing the White Paper as a Second Munich. That is to say, it compared the stopping of the Jewish colonisation of Palestine at the expense of the native Arab population with the handing over of a chunk of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany.
The Jewish nationalist movement co-operated with Britain in the war against Germany, and gained the military expertise which enabled it to launch an effective terrorist war on Britain in 1945.
The leading British Zionist propagandist, Melanie Phillips (who writes for the Daily Mail and the Jewish Chronicle) and is a regular performer on the BBC, recently condemned the British tendency to give in to terrorism. She gave a couple of doubtful examples of this, but did not give the clearest example—the capitulation to the Jewish terrorism in Palestine. In the face of incidents like the massacre at the King David Hotel, Britain declared that it would no longer govern Palestine. It had set the Jewish colonisation in motion on the basis that Imperial power would be exercised to keep it functional within some semblance of order. Then it surrendered to a comparatively brief spurt of Jewish terrorism, knowing very well what the consequences would be for the Palestinians.
Formally this failure of nerve took the form of relinquishing its League of Nations 'Mandate' to the United Nations. But that was make-believe. It had inaugurated the Zionist project entirely on its own responsibility in 1917, before there was any League. And, when abdicating responsibility in 1947, in the form of handing the matter over to the United Nations, it ensured that the Security Council could not deal with it. And so it was referred to the General Assembly, which had no authority and no power of action. It could only pass motions. The motion to set up a a Jewish State in Palestine was carried by the USA and USSR, with their client states, supported by the British Dominions (with Britain itself abstaining), and by the handful of European states which were then members of the UN. It was opposed by every state in the Middle East.
And the motion set boundaries for the Jewish State which were overrun by it within a year and have rarely been mentioned since.
Cohen's insistence that this was "an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable", is absurd. It was a deliberate act committed by Britain. If the President of Iran has described it as criminal, one can see his point, particularly with regard to the abdication of governing responsibility in 1947—which was done by a Labour Government, with the Labour Left making the running.
That was the best Government there has ever been in Britain in many respects, as far as internal affairs went. But for the victims of British foreign policy it has never made any difference which party was in office, or whether the regime was aristocratic or democratic—the former being, if anything, rather better than the latter.
Daily Mail writer Ruth Dudley Edwards, who is the official historian of the ultimate British Establishment journal, The Economist, likes to dabble in Irish affairs as well, for old times' sake. On 23rd July she contributed an article to the Sunday Independent with the title, Muslim Brotherhood Convinced The West Has No Heart For Battle. She says that she—
"…briefly feared that they [the Israelis] might be reacting disproportionately. Since then I've recovered my wits. Yes, the suffering and the destruction is terrible but the alternative is worse. The issue of whether Israel should ever have come into being is not one I'm prepared to argue about. It's there, and the only hope for the Middle East is that Arab states should acknowledge Israel's right to exist, allow it to withdraw from contentious territory knowing it will be safe from heavily-armed crazies and let the world get going on trying to give the poor Palestinians some kind of life. But this isn't what's going to happen. Attacks on Israel are merely a small part of what global Islamism is about."
Edwards purports to be a historian, and has said she is not a journalist. But Irish nationalists who become British through ambition or inferiority complex can only be journalistic propagandists on the jingoistic wing of Imperialism. They lack the ballast to sustain a position on the other wing. And so Edwards, the would-be historian, will not discuss the history of the matter—presumably she senses that the establishment of Israel is indefensible on any terms she is prepared to state—and she treats the history of the matter as being somehow disconnected from its present condition—as if there was not a continuum from the founding outburst of Jewish-nationalist terrorism in 1945 down to the present day.
Zionism is essentially Biblical. And the Bible did not give the West Bank to "the poor Palestinians" any more than it gave them Gallilee—less so in fact. And there has never been a Zionist Party which sets its sights on anything less than regaining what the Lord told Moses he could have. That Lord had little concern for the poor Palestinians. Joshua had strict instructions abut what should be done to them.
If the "poor Palestinians" are quiescent (as they have been at times) their territory is colonised under one pretext. If they resist, it is colonised under another.
The title of David Quinn's article referred to earlier is High Time We Brought The Palestinians To Book (Irish Independent 20.7.06). Isn't that precisely what is being done?—the book being the Book Of Joshua.
And "we" have finally signed up for the great work. At least the Government has by its celebration of the Somme as a great battle in the Great War which leaves us the powder-keg of the Middle East as its heritage. And the Irish Independent (Editorial, 1.7.06) praises the Government for ceasing to do it own thing, and falling into line with the power structure of the world:
"The Somme and British identity are all part of us.
"British history has been shaped by war. The country's power in the world was spread by battle, and sustained and extended by the use of war or the threat of war.
"Out of this there grew a concept of war as 'glorious'.
"It is unfashionable now to think of war in that way… But this turning away from unfashionable concepts in respects of armies and heroism, of death and sacrifice, is a recent part of modern memory.
"It is sustained in many ways, one of them being the rather crude interpretation of the Battle of the Somme as some kind of ghastly mistake by the generals who set it in motion, and sacrificed tens of thousands of men in a largely futile engagement.
"Yet it was in keeping with the larger landscape of the war on that and other fronts and it was undoubtedly in keeping with what was to follow in the wars… that have been an unbroken constant of power and politics since that time…
"Those who survived the Somme are singular in claiming that they would do it again, in exactly the same way, if the circumstances demanded it. And the circumstances were justified then and later on many grounds, some of them entirely legitimate, some exaggerated and false.
"The legitimate motive, like it or not, is self-interest. Britain, at the precise time when Irish moves towards independence were about to lead to the 1916 Rising, was the greatest power in the world, with a dominant navy and a far-flung empire.
"Its concerns with the balance of power, the control of Germany, the containment of Russia, the alignment of allies in defence of itself, as well as the longer-term threats of nationalism, were entirely legitimate reasons for conflict.
"They remained so long after the Somme. The Somme changed nothing except tactics and strategy.
"The First World War did change more than that, and did so in a compelling way that changed the balance of power fundamentally.
"In 1900, Lord Salisbury, three times Britain's Prime Minister, explained the necessity of being hated if you want to retain power.
"By the Treaty of Versailles British greatness had slipped and another force, the United States, was beginning the slow process towards becoming the most powerful and the most hated nation in the world.
"Hitler interrupted that transition, and once again the justification for warfare plunged much of the world into a conflict with far greater numbers of casualties… but with an outcome that sustained the doubtful concept of 'glorious war' in the minds of those who fought it and the experience of those who were, in the end, protected by it.
"Ireland was protected. We owed a debt to the British which were were undoubtedly churlish about acknowledging. This churlishness was a product of many things.
"There was Partition which soured relations, neutrality which divided North and South even more…
"There were economic differences…
"Every level in Irish society owed debts to the British for employment…
"The dominant position of the Roman Catholic Church… created a hopelessly distorted view of a special kind of 'purity'…
"Much of the detail is shameful political and social history.
"Our education system wrote out of existence the world that suffered at Flanders, fought at the Somme…
"And Britain went on giving employment, allowing immigration…, welcoming… Irish writers and artists in institutions like the BBC…
"When all of this headed us towards European membership and the beginnings of an economic miracle, what happened?
"With the connivance of politicians in the South we were plunged into thirty years of conflict, violence, terrorism and death.
The IRA savagery got us nowhere.
"It failed… and we are back where we started, with Partition, with the unionists raw, noisy and triumphant, and Sinn Fein-IRA struggling to discover a new formula…
"And now at last we have recognised the Somme, at least in one formula, that of Irishmen having been unwillingly involved, sacrificed needlessly on the anvil of power.
"We are part-way there. It is remarkable how swift and how recent have been the processes of reconciliation between Ireland and Britain…
"What we failed, as a country, to do in the relationship with Britain, during the First World War, in the period between the wars and then in the post-war era, we have accomplished with the United States in their pursuit of international objectives.
"With what ease have we moved into the international accords required by the US global strategy against terrorism.
"What positive and willing clients we are now for a role that is pan-American and pan-European."
Presumably the newly-appointed Irish Independent Editor, Gerard O'Reagan (a former Editor of the Star), was present at a meeting of Sir Anthony O'Reilly's International Advisory Board Of Independent News And Media at which British Chancellor and would-be Imperial leader Gordon Brown was a special guest, see Sunday Independent 2.7.06. (Vincent Doyle, the retiring Editor, was not exactly an O'Reilly man.) The Irish Independent, by far the biggest selling Irish daily newspaper, is certainly back where it started—or at least where it was in 1914 when it acclaimed the first British invasion of Mesopotamia in November 1914 as making the Great War launched by Britain in August into a war of universal liberation. And it now sees Ireland's facilitation of what by our reckoning is the fifth British invasion of the region as signifying the arrival of Ireland at a state of maturity in which it accepts things as they are and is happy to play fourth or fifth fiddle to the dominant Great Power.
But, in the North, are we really "back where we started"?
The "we" here is a doubtful entity in the pages of the Independent. There was a time—in the decades when James Kelly was its man in Belfast—when the Fine Gael middle class and the Northern Catholic community were embraced in a common "we". But those days have gone. The Independent's "we" is now exclusive of the Northern Catholics and it rather holds them in contempt. And, while the Independent has reason to feel that all its schemes for the North have come to nothing—abrasive and ill-considered schemes that they were there are very few Northern Catholics who would now say "we are back where we started". And the Protestant community is painfully aware that it is now somewhere else. And the Republic's postage stamp glorifying the slaughter at the Somme is small comfort to them.
As to the British protection referred to : it protected Ireland in both World Wars from dangers which only existed because it chose to launch those wars : and insofar as it protected Ireland it only did so in the course of protecting itself. And as to economic gratitude, it took Irish agricultural produce and Irish labour only because it needed them. In the 1950s it was too affluent to do its own manual work, as is largely the case with Ireland today. The concept of gratitude is misplaced in relationships of that kind.
Editorial Note: The Jewish activist mentioned in the first paragraph is Maureen Lipman on the Andrew Neill Show, 13th July 2006. Full story at: http://www.redress.btinternet.co.uk/caabu2.htm
Home And Colonial.
Keeping Loyalists On Board.
To Be Or IRB.
Protestants During The War Of Independence.
Lebanon Is Made To Pay.
Redmond On Armed Struggle.
Shorts From The Long Fellow.
The Kenny Report: McDowell To Resign
Rosneft—A Significant Russian Coup.
Justice For Captain Kelly.
On The Take? How Haughey Refused Money From
The Casement 'Black Diaries' (Part One).
The Difficulties Of The Left Movement In A
Sectarian Society (Part One).
Hold Your Nose Minister, The Paparazzi Are
On Your Side.
Peter Hart Tries Again—And Gives Up?
Killings In County Cork In 1920s.
Social Partnership: 10 Year Plan.
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