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Letter to the Editor: Former acquiescence of Arab League to Palestine Partition Recalled

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Submitted by YJ Draiman (United States), Dec 10, 2017 at 19:21

Letter to the Editor: Former acquiescence of Arab League to Palestine Partition Recalled

"To the Editor of the New York Times: The current rumor of peace talks between the government of Israel and the Arab states make it pertinent to recall that the Arab League has not always opposed the creation or existence of a Jewish state. During the last few years, the League and its components have been so adamant and reiterate in their demand for Arab rule over all of Palestine that the public has likely forgotten, if it ever knew, how recent is this obstinacy.

In the fall of 1945, Azzam Bey, the secretary general and guiding mind of the Arab League, declared that the League was prepared to consider 'most carefully' the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state. His Declaration, however, must be viewed in it's proper setting in order to appreciate it's significance, to understand why it was subsequently consigned to oblivion and to extract from it some glimmer of hope for the future.

After the British government announced and enforced it's White Paper policy of 1939 – a policy which aimed to hold Jewish immigration and land purchases – the Arab states felt assured that the Jews would be 'frozen' as a permanent minority in Palestine. Therefore, in serene confidence, of British support, they froze solid their own opposition to any proposal except the conversion of that country into an Arab state.

But in December, 1944, their serenity was troubled. That month the annual convention of the British Labor Party adopted a Palestine plank which could well prove to be a rift in the lute; for it proposed a mass immigration of Jews in order to enable them to become a majority, the conversion of all Palestine into a Jewish state and to transfer of Arab Palestinians to other Arab lands.

Still, as long as the British Labor Party remained out of power, the Arab states could safely remain obdurate. In February of 1945, they rejected out of hand the rumored Churchill-Roosevelt project for a partition. In March, the Arab League was formally established and during the next three months it maintained this intransigent position at the San Francisco conference, which gave birth to the United Nations.

However, in July the threatened rift between British and Arab policy toward Palestine assumed the promise and prospect of becoming a reality. The British Labor Party was swept into power by an overwhelming majority. It seemed evident that anything the Labor Party had proposed to do would be done. One thing which the Labor Party had proposed to do, in which the Arab League could not ignore was to turn all of Palestine into a Jewish state.

At this juncture – after the British Labor party assumed office and before the new Labor government had announced its Palestine policy – the Arab League bethought itself that half of a loaf is better then crumbs. Accordingly, on October 5, 1945, Azzam Bey published in an Egyptian newspaper, Le Progress Egyptian the following statement:

'If you could assure me that the handling of Palestine to the Jews would mean peace everywhere, I should give them all of it. Such a solution would involve constant conflicts like those which developed in Ireland. But if a partition of the country is likely to effect a solution and put an end to the present disturbed situation, let us study such a possibility carefully.'

To emphasize this willingness to compromise on the basis of Jewish self-rule in part of Palestine, Azzam Bey is quoted (in the Tel-Aviv newspaper Haaretz) as saying on October 24th: 'the Arabs prepared to make far-reaching concessions toward the gratification of the Jewish desire to see Palestine established as a spiritual or even material homeland.'

As it turned out, the Arab League need not have worried into concessions for fear of a change in Britain's pro-Arab policy. Mr. Bevin's long awaited statement on Palestine appeared November 13th. This statement made it clear that the British government would perpetuate the throttling the Jewish immigration by limiting it to 1500 a month, and would postpone an ultimate decision on Palestine's fate through the familiar dilatory device of a commission of inquiry – of which there had already been seventeen.

From that date the Arab League, and its member states, relapsed into intransigence.

But neither the conciliatory proposal of the Arabs nor the circumstances of its immergence and disappearance can be expunged from the record. From these circumstances, it would not be unreasonable to assume that if the British government saw it fit to change its present attitude toward an already portioned Palestine and thereby recognize the State of Israel, the Arab League would – without damaging its prestige – revert to its former acquiescence.

As in the summer of 1945 and ever since, the key to a peaceful solution of the Palestine conflict hangs on an office wall in Number 10 Downing Street."

New York Times – Marvin Lowenthal, September 6, 1948.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Great letter to pull out of the archive.

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Reader comments (24) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
1Letter to the Editor: Former acquiescence of Arab League to Palestine Partition Recalled [835 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
YJ DraimanDec 10, 2017 19:21241525
2Balfour was an anti-semite [237 words]NeilJun 3, 2009 14:35156614
1Balfour [102 words]BertEDec 19, 2009 10:21156614
Moderate Muslims? [44 words]sfcmacApr 24, 2009 12:58154393
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400 years of Turkish Rule [52 words]Robert ArbetmanApr 16, 2009 09:24153965
Islam is a religious-cultural and not a geographical entity [91 words]o.wilhelmssonApr 27, 2009 04:27153965
Lamb living in the shadow of sleeping Lions [254 words]MansoorApr 15, 2009 13:45153922
The ultimate outcome [76 words]UgriApr 16, 2009 02:45153922
Jerusalem, if under Moslem rule would not be the same as now ! [113 words]Phil GreendApr 9, 2009 00:38153620
Jewish Palestine vs. Islamic Spain [222 words]Sunil SarangApr 6, 2009 01:08153378
Jesus predicted about Jerusalem [51 words]CugdApr 5, 2009 00:53153329
The article touches, timidly though, the truth by stating the joy of Zionists. [79 words]Isaac HaskiyaApr 2, 2009 05:32153164
2An Australian lighthorseman's perspective on the Jews of the Holy Land [777 words]DumbledoresarmyApr 2, 2009 04:39153162
1A strange view of progress you have [77 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Paul, England.Apr 1, 2009 11:45153106
If the West can travel so far in less than a century, why not Muslims as well? [8 words]SvetlanaMar 31, 2009 22:08153072
1Vagaries of 'a self-conscious "Christian world" ' [500 words]IanusMar 31, 2009 17:21153059
Comments on some comments [746 words]IanusMar 31, 2009 15:53153053
Self-interest of the Liberal West... [46 words]M.D'SouzaMar 31, 2009 15:46153051
Why the "Muslim world" won't travel where the West has. [84 words]Shawn CohenMar 30, 2009 23:50153001
Speaking as a Christian fanatic-- [42 words]Peter.HerzApr 1, 2009 15:21153001
why rejoice? [40 words]amirMay 4, 2009 16:02153001
Who's promoting hatred? [91 words]Shawn CohenMay 6, 2009 09:54153001
hatred [77 words]Amir Ali TayyabMay 7, 2009 09:27153001

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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