by Wallace Brand
"It is right that Palestine should become a Jewish state, if the Jews, being given the full opportunity, make it such. It was the cradle and home of their vital race, which has made large spiritual contributions to mankind, and is the only land in which they can hope to find a home of their own;"
David, King of the united Kingdom of Israel and Judea following the civil war with Saul, created a strong and unified Israelite monarchy, reigning from c. 1000–961 BCE. Solomon, David's successor, maintained the unified monarchy, c. 961-922.
David established Jerusalem as its national capital in 1006 BCE.
Following Solomon's death in c. 926 BCE, tensions between the northern part of Israel containing the ten northern tribes, and the southern section dominated by Jerusalem and the southern tribes reached a boiling point. Solomon's successor dealt tactlessly with economic complaints of the northern tribes. In about 930 BCE (there are difference of opinion as to the actual year) the united Kingdom of Israel and Judah split into two kingdoms: the northern Kingdom of Israel, which included the cities of Shechem and Samaria, and the southern Kingdom of Judah, which contained Jerusalem; with most of the non-Israelite provinces achieving independence. The Kingdom of Israel (or Northern Kingdom, or Samaria) existed as an independent state until 722 BCE when it was conquered by the Assyrian Empire, while the Kingdom of Judah (or Southern Kingdom) existed as an independent state until 586 BCE when it was conquered by the Babylonian Empire. (From Wikipedia - Biblical version)
In that initial period the Jewish People had absolute political self-determination except for the rule of YHWH duly noted in the Decalogue. Later, under the rule of Herod, Rome was Judea’s suzerain. Others occupying the role of suzerain over the Jewish People’s state included the Greeks, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Assyrians.
Suzerainty is a situation in which a region or people controls the foreign policy and international relations of a tributary vassal state while allowing the subservient nation internal autonomy. The dominant entity in the suzerainty relationship, or the more powerful entity itself, is called a suzerain. The term suzerainty was originally used to refer to the relationship between the Ottoman Empire and its surrounding regions. It differs from sovereignty in that the tributary enjoys only some self-rule, often limited.
A vassal state would have been the status of Palestine if it had internal autonomy, but it did not. Prior to 1964, none of the Arabs in the Palestine territory had ever claimed statehood, even the status of a vassal state. At the beginning of the 17th century the Ottoman Empire contained 32 provinces and numerous vassal states. The territory of Palestine was simply land in one of these provinces.
So Palestine was not even a vassal state. If there was any self-rule it was limited to tribal rule. The Arabs in Palestine were not a unique “people” but an indistinguishable part of the Arab People. They did not claim a capital in Palestine. In comparison, The Jewish People had a sovereign state with a capital located within it for at least 400 years and governed as a vassal state for many more with its capital in Jerusalem.
This was the history faced by “The Inquiry”, a group of academics, assembled in 1917 by Col. House to help Woodrow Wilson in the Paris Peace Talks. The same was found 50 years later by Count Folke Bernadotte, investigating for the UN Special Committee on Palestine in 1947 who wrote in his diary “The Arabs in Palestine have no interest in nationalism and never had.” In the Hussein–McMahon correspondence, King Hussein Ibn Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, claimed he had been offered the entire Levant if he fought on the side of the British in WWI. He had proposed a Pan Arab uprising to help the Allies in return for independence from the Ottomans. Whether or not the British proposal included Palestine later became in dispute. According to Winston Churchill while Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula helped the British, the Arabs in Palestine and Syria did not. Many Arabs fought for the Ottomans, including the infamous Haj Amin al-Husseini who later became a friend of Adolph Hitler and had suggested in November, 1941 that genocide for the Jews would be better alternative than deporting them to Palestine. King Hussein had predicted a general uprising of Arabs throughout the Levant but never recruited more than about 5,000 regulars.
The so-called “Palestinians” were never a unique “people”. Palestine was never a state, not even a vassal state.
That they were not a unique people was admitted by Zahir Muhsein, a member of the Executive Board of the PLO in 1977 who said
“There is no such thing as the Palestinian People”. He referred to the term “Palestinian People” as a political ploy. You can find this in his interview by the Dutch newspaper Trouw in 1977.
According to Professor Efraim Karsh, “As far back as 1978, Arafat told his close friend and collaborator, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, that the Palestinians lacked the traditions, unity, and discipline to have a successful state.” Dr. Karsh also concluded: “…it was the total lack of communal solidarity — the willingness to subordinate personal interest to the collective good — that accounted for the collapse and dispersion of Palestinian Arab society as its leaders tried to subvert partition.”
The Inquiry academics accompanied Wilson to Paris in 1919. For Palestine, they recommended that the dispersed Jewish People settle there and later, rule in Palestine. Initial rule was to be carried out by a trustee.
American Proposal for Jewish Homeland, January 21, 1919
An excerpt from the Tentative Report and Recommendations of the Intelligence Section of the American Delegation to the Peace Conference, in accordance with instructions, for the President and the Plenipotentiaries, January 21, 1919*
It is recommended:
1) That there be established a separate state of Palestine.
2) That this state be placed under Great Britain as a mandatory of the League of Nations.
3) That the Jews be invited to return to Palestine and settle there being assured by the Conference of all proper assistance in so doing that may be consistent with the protection of the personal (especially the religious) and the property rights of the non-Jewish population, and being further assured that it will be the policy of the League of Nations to recognise Palestine as a Jewish state as soon as it is a Jewish state in fact.
4) That the holy places and religious rights of all creeds in Palestine be placed under the protection of the League of Nations and its mandatory.
1) It is recommended that there be established a separate state of Palestine.
The separation of the Palestinian area from Syria finds justification in the religious experience of mankind. The Jewish and Christian churches were born in Palestine, and Jerusalem was for long years, at different periods, the capital of each. And while the relation of the Mohammedans to Palestine is not so intimate, from the beginning they have regarded Jerusalem as a holy place. Only by establishing Palestine as a separate state can justice be done to these great facts.
As drawn upon the map, the new state would control its own source of water power and irrigation, on Mount Hermon in the east to the Jordan; a feature of great importance since the success of the new state would depend upon the possibilities of agricultural development.
2) It is recommended that this state be placed under Great Britain as a mandatory of the League of Nations.
Palestine would obviously need wise and firm guidance. Its population is without political experience, is racially composite, and could easily become distracted by fanaticism and bitter religious differences.
The success of Great Britain in dealing with similar situations, her relation to Egypt, and her administrative achievements since General Allenby freed Palestine from the Turk, all indicate her as the logical mandatory.
3) It is recommended that the Jews be invited to return to Palestine and settle there, being assured by the Conference of all proper assistance in so doing that may be consistent with the protection of the personal (especially the religious) and the property rights of the non-Jewish population, and being further assured that it will be the policy of the League of Nations to recognise Palestine as a Jewish state as soon as it is a Jewish state in fact.
It is right that Palestine should become a Jewish state, if the Jews, being given the full opportunity, make it such. It was the cradle and home of their vital race, which has made large spiritual contributions to mankind, and is the only land in which they can hope to find a home of their own; they being in this last respect unique among significant peoples.
At present, however, the Jews form barely a sixth of the total population of 700,000 in Palestine, and whether they are to form a majority, or even a plurality, of the population in the future state remains uncertain. Palestine, in short, is far from being a Jewish country now. England, as mandatory, can be relied on to give the Jews the privileged position they should have without sacrificing the rights of non-Jews.
4) It is recommended that the holy places and religious rights of all creeds in Palestine be placed under the protection of the League of Nations and its mandatory.
The basis for this recommendation is self-evident.
1. David Hunter Miller, My Diary at the Conference of
Paris, Vol. iv, pp. 263-264. Full text.
Scroll down to DOCUMENT 246 263 ♦26.
2. J.C. Hurewitz (ed.), The Middle East and North
Africa in World Politics: A Documentary Record, Vol.
2, British-French Supremacy, 1914-1945 (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), p. 103.
It is clear from the San Remo Resolution, and the Palestine Mandate that the Allied Principal War Powers followed this view at San Remo. SSRN.com/abstract=2679399
Wallace Edward Brand, JD Harvard 1957
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.