The dark role of Britain’s past in Israel
By Justin Amler
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the other day that he was “taken aback” by what he had seen on visits to the “occupied territories” in Jerusalem. Shocked, I believe was the word he also used.
Well, since he was so traumatised by what he saw, maybe it’s time to take him back to this utopian era he seems to think existed and his country’s role in it.
It’s time for a history lesson.
Under British control, and according to their own Lord Balfour, Britain promised to work towards the creation of a Jewish homeland. However, rather than facilitate this undertaking, they did everything in their power to do quite the opposite. Ships carrying Jewish refugees to pre-state Israel from the Holocaust were turned away. People – Jewish people – severely traumatized and who had somehow survived a horror few in this world will ever know, were attacked and pushed away from the only place on earth where Jewish sovereignty ever existed. And for the ones that somehow did make it to the Holy Land, they were interned in prison camps. The barb wired fences of Europe created by the Nazis had been swapped for the barb wired fences created by the British. This was a dark stain on British history.
Then afterwards, in the United Nations partition plan of 1947, it was proposed to divide the area known as Palestine into two main areas: a Jewish one and an Arab one. However, this was a smaller area than the original Mandate of Palestine, because Britain decided to unilaterally slice off 75% of the area and give it to an Arab clan as a reward for their support – that clan is the one that currently rules Jordan. The city of Jerusalem was supposed to be an open kind of city under international control. The Jews accepted this and the Arabs rejected it, while Britain abstained from voting. But since the Arabs rejected it, those details and specified areas are no longer relevant. The Arabs cannot claim one inch of land based on a resolution that they rejected.
Then in 1948, after Israel declared its independence, five Arab armies invaded the country with the stated of goal of wiping it out. This included Jordan, whose military was trained by the very same Britain. But at the end of the war, the Arab armies had failed to destroy the Jewish state. Jerusalem, meanwhile, was left divided. The eastern part of the city was left on the Jordanian side of the border. And in case you’re not aware, the eastern part contained some of Judaism’s most sacred and holiest sites, including the Western Wall of the old Jewish Temple.
And so between 1948 and 1967, Jordan illegally controlled all of this area in the east of Jerusalem. Jordan, not Palestine, because there was no sovereign country called Palestine – not then or ever before. During this illegal occupation by Jordan, Jews were denied access to the Western Wall, the Jewish cemetery and all religious sites in Jerusalem.
But that is not the whole story. Because when the Jordanians captured the Old City which lay in eastern Jerusalem, they destroyed the Jewish Quarter and expelled its residents. They destroyed fifty eight synagogues, looted their contents and desecrated them. They turned Jewish religious sites into chicken coops and animal stalls. They ransacked the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where Jews had been buried for 2500 years. They desecrated the graves and smashed the tombstones, using them as building material. They turned this holy Jewish site into a slum.
If you want to know what ethnic cleansing is, Mr Cameron, then this is it.
Here’s another bit of information for you – a British officer by the name of Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb, led the British trained Arab Legion across the River Jordan to occupy what you call the West Bank. And he remained in charge of that illegal occupation of Jerusalem allowing the ethnic cleansing to take place. Not exactly a moment basking in British glory, would you say?
The fact is Mr. Cameron that no people in the world throughout history have claimed Jerusalem as their capital – save for one – the Jewish people. And while the Palestinians may claim it now, it is not a claim based on any historical connection, but a claim based on their often publically stated goal – the destruction of the State of Israel. Throughout the illegal Arab Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria, there was never a demand for a Palestinian state, only the destruction of the Jewish one.
Instead of buying into this fantastical claim by the Palestinians, Britain should right the wrongs of their past history and remove the dark stains that accompany it. Because that is what I find “genuinely shocking.”
[The opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Jewish Media Agency.]