31

Jan

2016

Palestine and The Zionist Movement

Written by: John Quigley

 
Smoke from buildings damaged in Gaza Strip, 2008. Photo: Amir Farshad Ebrahimi via Creative Commons.

Gaza Strip. Photo: Amir Farshad Ebrahimi via Creative Commons

John Quigley, author of The International Diplomacy of Israel’s Founders: Deception at the United Nations in the Quest for Palestine (2016), examines how history has shaped Palestine.

 

The 2014 war in Gaza is still playing itself out as Gazans try to re-build out of the rubble. The war has brought in its wake a hopelessness on the part of the Palestine Arabs that in turn has sparked random individual attacks that one sees now with great frequency in the news.

The mindset of the Palestine Arabs is hard for many to understand. How they maintain their opposition to Israel decade after decade when the major players at the international level try to convince them to compromise.

To make sense of it all, you need to step back and see how the situation developed.

The Zionist Movement

In the early twentieth century, the Ottomans who controlled Palestine were on their last legs. The British Army drove them out of Palestine during the First World War. That opened the way to what could have been a state like others that emerged from colonialism in later decades of the twentieth century.

Instead, the Palestine Arabs, who were 90% of the population of Palestine at the time, found themselves displaced by the Zionist movement, most of them forced out of the country.

I had always been intrigued at how the advocates of Zionism were able to gain support for their project of a Jewish state in Palestine. The time period was one in which colonialism was on the wane.  Indigenous populations were making claims to rule themselves. Zionism seemed to go in the opposite direction.

The Zionist project started only at the turn of the twentieth century. Its methodology was to gain the ear of a government that could give them a territory. The first principal figure, Theodor Herzl, failed, but his successor Chaim Weizmann and colleagues were remarkably successful. First Britain, then the League of Nations were brought on board. And this with a constituency of no great size.

As I probed their modus operandi, one thing I noticed was that they were adept at convincing the movers and shakers of the era with claims that bore little relation to reality and promises they had no intention of keeping. The pattern, as I went through their communications with various governments, was quite consistent.

“..one thing I noticed was that they were adept at convincing the movers and shakers of the era with claims that bore little relation to reality and promises they had no intention of keeping”

Bringing Jews to Palestine

When the League of Nations was considering whether to support Zionism, the individuals whom I call Zionist diplomats in The International Diplomacy of Israel’s Founders: Deception at the United Nations in the Quest for Palestine claimed to represent world Jewry, whereas they represented only a tiny minority of Jews. They said that bringing a population of Jews into Palestine from Europe would be beneficial to the Palestine Arabs, even as the Palestine Arabs kept telling world leaders that the result would be disaster.

Their assertions were not challenged, and the Zionist diplomats succeeded in enlisting the League of Nations into supporting their project.

The charade continued when the United Nations became the forum for international action on Zionism and Palestine. The Zionist diplomats said they would work on repatriating the Arabs they had forced out of Palestine.

They had no intention of doing so and even denied forcing the Arabs out. They promised to compromise on Jerusalem, again having no intention of doing so. They were only believed half way, but it was enough to get Israel on its feet.

My book is written as a fact-check, much as reporters are doing with the speeches of presidential candidates.  Anyone who finds Benjamin Netanyahu to be less than a paragon of truth-telling will see that he learned his trade from his predecessors.

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About the Author: John Quigley

John Quigley is the author of The International Diplomacy of Israel’s Founders: Deception at the United Nations in the Quest for Palestine (2016). He is the President's Club Professor in Law at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. After earning his AB, LLB and MA d...

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