Israel Versus Palestine: Punctuating History And Narratives In The Middle East

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22 responses

  1. Ron Barak says:

    Re: [Feature Image Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.]

    What image?

  2. Suri says:

    Epic. Brilliant. Well said..

  3. Sue Boyde says:

    When you said –

    “You know that Jordan was created out of over 70% of the British Mandate of Palestine and that the Jews were supposed to build their nation on the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. You know that the Arabs rose up in protest against that and so the UN offered to partition the part of Palestine still left to the Jews and offer more than half of that to the Arabs as another Palestinian Arab state; and you know that the Arabs rejected that, meaning that the modern State of Israel was still supposed to have been between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.”

    – I don’t think that ‘between the Jordan and the Mediterranean’ was perceived as the fall-back position if the Arabs rejected the UN partition plan. I think there is still a perception that the Jews’ share was the UN partition plan area. Given the fact of Arab attack and that the UN plan area was indefensible, the Jewish state expanded its boundaries.

    • Sheri Oz says:

      It was not the “fall-back” position. It was what Israel was supposed to be. Only because the Arabs put up such a fuss was another partition of the Mandatory territory suggested and they rejected that because THEY wanted it all. Given that the Arabs attacks, the Jews defended themselves and the ceasefire lines were where the armies were when the fighting ended. Nothing more nothing less. Had the Arabs not attacked, Israel would not have sought to expand her boundaries because there would have been no need.

  4. sheldan says:

    Sheri, I definitely fall into the category of remembering when it was the Arab-Israeli conflict. (I’m 61.) I do remember the Six-Day War and the time when Israel had to deal with the hostile neighbors. I also remember the Yom Kippur War and how shocking it was when it was declared. I also remember the Israel-Egyptian treaty and how we all hoped that this would lead to a greater peace.

    Now, well after Oslo, I am wondering if the Arabs still think it’s 1948 and the War for Independence never really ended. The focus has been on Israel and the Palestinians, but after all this effort I am not sure if all the peace gestures accomplished anything, or (to use an expression my wife’s friend coined) we will see peace “when Moshiach comes.” Sadly, I have a feeling we will be fighting the Arabs until then.

    • Sheri Oz says:

      Perhaps part of the problem with really understanding what is going on is that there are only us dinosaurs who remember when it was the Arab-Israeli conflict and some of our dinosaur peers seem to have forgotten that fact. And yes, I agree with you that the Palestinian Arabs (and perhaps other Arabs as well) seem to think they are still fighting back in 1948.

  5. Scott alexander says:

    Thanks for this. While I agree that the Palestinians are largely an invented people, they are still people with homes, properties, businesses, memories and history with the area they have lived in for many decades. The tragedy that Arabs and the Palestinian subset of Arabs rejected offers of two states for two peoples is overshadowed by the tragedy of a population today that, for the most part, hates Jews, hates Israel and loathes the West. From what I have read, most efforts to build a peace movement among Palestinians or to normalize relationships with Jews are brutally quashed. Are there any independence movements as fueled by hate that have been able to “move on” and build a civil society? It is difficult to conceive of a Palestinian state that would not become infested with Islamic state or similar hate based wretches of the earth.

    • Sheri Oz says:

      You ask an interesting question – are there any independence movements as fueled by hate that have been able to move on and build a civil society?

  6. Excellent, Sheri! A good departure from the usual “Israel is Palestine, Palestine is Arab” dissertation. We need new ways of showing the truth so that those who don’t know it — and want to know it — have a different viewpoint on the subject. Thanks!

  7. Michael Caplan says:

    Brilliant! What a relief to read essays like that. Thank you, Sheri.

  8. david singer says:


    An excellent article – but I would question your following statement:
    ” And absolutely nowhere you look will you find a Palestinian Arab entity by that name or any other, other than the modern state of Jordan that decidedly is a UN creation.”

    Jordan is not a UN creation.

    Transjordan (renamed Jordan in 1949) was created as an independent State out of the Mandate for Palestine by Great Britain on 22 March 1946 as acknowledged by the League of Nations at its last meeting before it was dissolved on 18 April 1946 in this resolution:.

    “The Assembly…Recalls the role of the League in assisting Iraq to progress from its status under an “A” Mandate to a condition of complete independence, welcomes the termination of the mandated status of Syria, the Lebanon, and Transjordan, which have, since the last session of the Assembly, become independent members of the world community.”

    Duncan Hall (1948). Mandates, Dependencies and Trusteeship. p. 267.

    Whilst article 25 of the Mandate had acted to “postpone or withhold” the right of the Jews to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in an area covering 77% of the Territory covered by the Mandate – Britain’s action in granting Transjordan independence in 1946 sounded the death knell for any such Jewish claims being made.

    Britain’s action breached article 5 of the Mandate:
    “The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power.”

    77% of the Mandate territory of Palestine had thus become an independent Arab State in 1946 before the United Nations Partition resolution was proposed in November 1947 to create the remaining 23% into one Jewish State and a second Arab State – in addition to Transjordan.

    This plan was accepted by the Jews but rejected by the Arabs.

    Ironically a reverse Balfour Declaration had taken place in 1946 with the Arabs gaining an independent State in 77% of Palestine two years before the Jews.

    What decidedly was a UN creation however was article 80 of the UN Charter which preserved the rights of Jews to reside in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem under the rights vested in them by article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine.

    Resolution 2334 is clearly in breach of article 80 and is not worth the paper it is written on. The Security Council cannot act outside the limits of the UN Charter.

    • Sheri Oz says:

      OK. I accept your clarification – so I can revise my last paragraph to say that Jordan is a British-League of Nations creation. That should do it, eh?

  9. david singer says:

    Yes that would be a fair revision.

    Jimmy Carter summed up the creation of Jordan in these terms in Time on 11 October 1982:
    “As a nation, it is a contrivance,arbitrarily devised by a few strokes of the pen”

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