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Professor Porath on Arab Nationalism

Reader comment on item: The Year the Arabs Discovered Palestine [Long version]

Submitted by Wallace Edward Brand (United States), Sep 29, 2011 at 18:05

Dr. Pipes relies on Professor Porath's book "The Emergence of the Palestinian Arab National Movement 1918-1929" for his conclusion on the early emergence of Nationalism in the Arab population of Palestine. Copies of Professor Porath's book are hard to find. It is out of print and you will have to pay at least $60 for a used copy. Fortunately I was successful in getting a copy through an inter library loan. Porath's book doesn't document a nationalism movement of the kind that the Basques and Kurds have had for many years. It documents the rise of a movement in Palestine of a national anti-Zionist movement. Professor Porath's student, Professor Efraim Karsh, in his recent book Palestine Betrayed, also says that there wasn't the commonality in 1948 that I think is needed for the Basque and Kurd kind of nationalism motivated by a positive movement for political self determination and not solely a negative movement against Zionism See. pp 239-241. And see: his "Misunderstanding Arab Nationalism", Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2001, pp. 59-61.

The Arabs in Palestine had, prior to 1920, preferred the rule of the Ottoman Turks to self rule as they showed when they fought in WWI on the side of the Ottomans, even after the British offered them political self determination provided they fought on the side of the Allies against the Germans and Ottomans. The Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula did fight on the side of the British and the participation of Lawrence together with its documenting by Lowell Thomas to sell newspapers, influenced public opinion greatly even though many historians agree that the role and success of the Arab Tribes' participation was overstated.

There was some movement toward the Basque and Kurd kind of nationalism for political self determination by a pan Syrian-Palestine group when the choice of Ottoman rule was no longer available. The Palestine group broke off, according to Professor Porath, because they thought the Syrian group was too soft on Zionism and they could be more effective anti-Zionists without it.
Professor Porath was a leftist but he has now shifted to the right -- it has been suggested that he did so when the Arabs claimed that Rachel's Tomb was a mosque. The UN recently honored the Arab claim, designating it as a mosque, -- on the day in May, 2011 that I visited it. This was also a day in which an Arab mob attacked the site.

One interesting little noted feature of Professor Porath's book can be found on pp. 245, 246. He is discussing a group he calls The Arab Executive and members of the opposition who were considering in June, 1926 attempts to reach agreement for participation of the Arab community in the Mandate government. Article 4 of the Mandate provided for Zionist participation but there was nothing in the Mandate to provide for Arab participation in the Mandate government.

According to Professor Porath, the interpretation of the Arabs, according to Eric Mills, the Assistant Chief Secretary of the Arab Executive was:
"They [the Arab representatives in the talks] know that the Mandate imposes on the Mandatory state international obligations not to clash with the civil, NATIONAL, POLITICAL, and religious rights of the Arabs and they desire that the inhabitants take an active part in making the laws and in governing the country" [emphasis supplied in text but in italics that are not available here] -- Porath notes "... i.e. here was an attempt to impose further restrictions on the Balfour Declaration (the italicized -- CAPITLIZED HERE -- words) which were likely to make it a dead letter in fact if not in theory". The only rights the mandate specifies be preserved are the civil and religious rights of the non-Jews. This honored a similar provision in Art. 95 of the Treaty of Sevres transferring Ottoman sovereignty to the Mandate and in the Balfour Declaration. They could not require preserving their "national" or "political" rights because the Arabs local to Palestine never had any; there was never local sovereignty since the time of the Jews. It appears that Professor Porath believes that the Balfour Declaration, and therefore the San Remo Agreement and League of Nations "Mandate" that adopted that policy and made it International Law, had granted exclusive national and political rights to the Jews. The US Congress and later the Anglo American Convention, a treaty between the US and the UK also confirmed its terms, the latter adding to its status by making it the domestic law of the US and the UK.
I discuss this further on the internet at www.Salubrius-HiddenTruth.blogspot.com under the topic "Arab Extortion of Jewish National Rights to Palestine".


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