The House of Windsor, with Prince William’s projected summer arrival, will make its first official visit to Israel since David Ben-Gurion proclaimed independence on May 14, 1948, a nice birthday present for my own arrival on Planet Earth on May 8th and, coincidentally, also the birthday of the American President who would fight his own State Department in recognizing the resurrected Jewish nation.
In good times and in bad, pre-and post-statehood Israel has been tied to Great Britain.
From the days of 19th and early 20th century British Christian Zionists culminating in Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour’s 1917 Declaration; to the separation of almost 80% of the original land envisioned by Balfour in the post-World War I 1920 Mandate of Palestine (all the land east of the Jordan River) in 1922, engineered by Colonial Secretary Churchill as a gift to Arab nationalism for Hashemite support for London’s war effort; to Lt. General Sir John Bagot Glubb’s British-led Transjordanian Arab Legion’s attack on a reborn Israel in 1948; to London’s White Papers limiting entrance of Jews fleeing for their lives from Nazi gas chambers; etc. and so forth, the Jews’ and the Brits’ histories have been closely intertwined.
Add to this the irony that right now, today, as London joins most others in the United Nations assailing Israel for refusing to return to its pre-’67 war existence as a 1949 armistice line-created, 9-15 mile wide sardine can of a state, it was Great Britain’s own Lord Caradon, the chief architect of the final draft of carefully-worded UNSC Resolution 242 after the ’67 fighting, who saw to it that Israel would not have to return to the status quo ante and withdraw to the ’49 lines. As corroborated by 242’s other architects, like Professor Eugene Rostow, Israel was to get real, more defensible, secure, and (wishful thinking) recognized borders instead.
Here’s Lord Caradon…
“It would have been wrong to demand Israel return to positions of June 4, 1967 (the day before the start of the Six Day War) … those positions were … artificial … just places where soldiers of each side happened to be on the day fighting stopped in 1948 … just armistice lines. That’s why we didn’t demand Israelis return to them…”
Besides the Jews’ own millennial connections to the lands in question, the above issue is the crux of the settlement disagreement in the disputed, not “purely Arab,” territories. It comes down to whether Israel gets the territorial compromise necessary for its defense envisioned by 242 or not. Arabs consider the entire region, let alone Judea and Samaria, as “purely Arab patrimony”—just ask scores of millions of conquered native Kurds, Imazighen (“Berbers”), Copts, black Africans, Assyrians, native Jews, and others as well.
Yes, this article is full of ironies…
I recall years ago when Prince William, second in line to the throne, was being deployed to Las Malvinas. The latter largely became known as the Falkland Islands the same way that Judea and Samaria became renamed the “West Bank”--as a result of British imperial shenanigans.
Recall that to distinguish the roughly 20% remaining western part of the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine from the Emirate of Transjordan the Brits created in 1922, the term “West Bank” came into use. This was further reinforced after Transjordan grabbed that non-apportioned area (where all the Mandate’s peoples were allowed to live) of the Mandate for itself when it joined other Arab states in the invasion of Israel in 1948. Holding both banks of the river, the Emirate renamed itself Jordan soon afterwards.
If there is a difference between the Jews’ experience and that of the Brits, it’s that long before there was either an Argentina or Great Britain, Jews were living, making history, and changing the world forever in the moral and spiritual legacy they left behind in Judea (including Jerusalem) and Samaria.
David was born in Bethlehem and was crowned King of Israel in Hebron and had children there. He would later make Jerusalem his capital--over three millennia ago. Jerusalem is mentioned over six hundred times in the Hebrew Bible–not even once in Arab Islam’s Qur’an.
Earlier, Abraham made Hebron known to the world in the first place by purchasing a burial plot there for many of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. Hannah dedicated her son, Samuel, to the service of G_d in the care of the High Priest, Eli, in Shiloh, and G_d renewed the promise of the Promised Land to Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, at Bethel. Jacob made peace with his brother, Esau, at Penuel and by doing so was thus transformed by G_d into his higher self--Israel--in the process.
The oldest known version of Biblical scripture ever found was a gift from G_d amazingly found on the virtual eve of Israel’s rebirth and located in the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran in the Judean (not “West Bank”) Wilderness; and the Jews held off the mighty Roman Empire for years at the fortress of Masada, and did so later again until Shimon Bar Kochba fell at Beitar. The ancient Roman and Roman-sponsored historians (Tacitus, Pliny, Josephus, Dio Cassius, etc.) wrote of the struggles of the Jews for their freedom and independence millennia ago. The list goes on…How many other countries criticizing Israel today can point to such a long, documented, corroborated history?
All of those places above are in Judea--which most Arabs and much of the rest of the world want to make Judenrein.
While most of the world was still worshipping idols (including Arabs, who--until Muhammad fled from enemies in Mecca to the Jewish date palm oasis of Medina in the Hijra) and practicing human sacrifice and fertility rights, the Jews--despite their own self-documented imperfections--were spreading the knowledge of one ethical G_d Who demands justice, loves mercy, and commands that man should love his neighbor as himself to the rest of mankind.
When Royal Air Force pilot, Prince William, set off to defend Her Majesty’s claim to islands over 8,000 miles away from home, recall that this was land first acquired almost two centuries earlier at a time when Great Britain was expanding its empire far and wide. Think about that when you consider London’s finger wagging at Jews simply wanting to live beyond the 9 to 15-mile wide state Israel was left as via the 1949 armistice lines which the Brits--and others--now expect Israel to return to.
When Jews dig in the soil of Judea, Samaria, and 1948 Israel--despite their forced exile, forced conversions by Byzantines, Diaspora, and forced Arabization of the land and its people after the Jihadi invasions of Muhammad’s successors in the 7th century C.E.--Jews continuously find their own roots and history…They are indeed home.
What do Brits find when they dig on the Falklands? Or Russians in Chechnya? Or the United States in Samoa? Or the French in Polynesia? Or Turks or Arabs in the mountains of Kurdistan?
Yet the above and other nations’ leaders act as if Jews are being “expansionist” (find Israel on a world globe if you want a laugh) and unreasonable when they claim that they should once again be allowed to live in East Jerusalem and elsewhere—indeed, where their ancient holy sites are located and they owned land and lived until the Arab massacres of the 1920s and 1930s.
Regardless of the conflicting Argentinean and British claims to the territory Prince William was assigned to, the plain fact is that the archipelago sits just a few hundred miles off the coast of Argentina--and thousands of miles away from Great Britain. Yet the latter fought a war and acquired them in the first place in the name of its own sovereignty.
Judea and Samaria are on Israel’s side porch.
Perhaps the Windsors should keep this in mind as they embark for Israel some months from now.
As Israel continues to fight the hypocrisy of much of the rest of the world to gain its own sliver of justice, please consider the double standards which it will undoubtedly continue to be subjected to in the days which lie ahead.
Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs, created and conducted counter-Arab propaganda programs for college youth, lectured on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has publicly debated many Arab and other anti-Israel spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and websites all around the world. He is the author of The Quest for Justice in the Middle East.