Jan 05,2022 – JORDAN TIMES / MICHAEL JANSEN
Over the holidays I began a book I read many years ago. The book is “Dust in the Lion’s Paw,” by Freya Stark, a British-Italian fluent Arabic speaker who served as propaganda and intelligence officer in Yemen, Egypt and Iraq during World War II. While based in Yemen in 1939-40, she tried to persuade Yemenis to back the British side in the conflict with Germany, but found they were more concerned about events in Palestine than Nazi Germany’s military advances in Europe and Britain’s precarious situation.
During Germany’s intensive bombing campaign of Britain, Stark wrote that her efforts to persuade Arabs to support the British/Allied fight against Hitler had failed because propaganda could not mend the damage done by British policy in Palestine. In April 1941, she wrote to British Vice Admiral Edmund Rushbrook, “..the Palestine question is at the root of all our troubles. Everyone who knows these lands has been saying this for years..” In 1942, he became head of British naval intelligence.
At the opening of hostilities in the world war, the 1936-39 Palestinian revolt against Britain and the colonising Zionists had wound down and the British were compelled to curtail Jewish immigration. This did not, however, diminish Palestinian and Arab hostility to the Zionist project and Jewish immigration or criticism of the shift in British policy by powerful people in countries allied with Britain in the struggle against Hitler.
In 1943, Stark was sent to the US to cultivate support for Britain among influential people who, knowing nothing of Palestine, generally backed the Zionists. During this tour she was accused of being anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish racism), epithets still too readily applied to anyone or any country critical of Israel. She failed to convince anyone of note to accept the British position as the US was then, as now, totally committed to the Zionist enterprise. Time has not dimmed Washington’s ties to Israel and all its works.
Last month, the UN General Assembly voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of a resolution endorsing the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Five countries, including Israel and the US, voted against and ten abstained. Palestine’s UN Ambassador Riyad AlMaliki urged the UN to “to assume its responsibilities to safeguard this inalienable and non-negotiable right and take practical steps that would end the occupation and dismantle Israel’s settlements”. Knowing full well that the general assembly can and will do nothing, Israel will carry on with its colonial project.
Following the assembly’s vote, UN special rapporteur Michael Lynk reiterated his criticism of the UN over its failure to take action over Israel’s violations of international law. He said, “On the fifth anniversary of the adoption of Resolution 2334 by the United Nations Security Council, the international community has to take its own words and its own laws seriously.”
This resolution, adopted by 14 council members on December 23rd, 2016, with the US abstaining for the first time on such a measure, reaffirmed “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force”, and reminded Israel of its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention to protect the civilian Palestinian population. The resolution condemned Israel’s efforts “to alter the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967” by building colonies and transferring its citizens into occupied territory, expropriating Palestinian land, demolishing Palestinian homes and displacing Palestinians.
While this resolution was not unique in the history of international avoidance of tackling Israel over its behaviour, there might, just might, this year be some reckoning. At the end of 2021 125 UN members backed funding for an open-ended probe into Israel’s bombing of Gaza during May Last year. Furthermore, the mandate of the commission conducting the probe has been extended to include human rights violations of Palestinians within the whole of colonised Palestine. This amounts to a dramatic departure for the UN which, until now, has supported the Zionist project and accorded Israel with impunity for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinian people.
For example, UNRWA, the agency established to provide for 750,000 Palestinians driven from their homes and their country by Israel in 1948-49 — relieved Israel of responsibility for caring for and resettling the refugees. UNRWA’s budget has always been funded by the international community which does not press Israel to contribute. Therefore, Israel has got off free for creating the refugee problem in the first place and expanding it by driving another 250,000 Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in the wake of the 1967 war. Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon as well as the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza have been forced to host these refugees indefinitely. There is no call on Israel to allow them to return home.
Little wonder that Arab citizens from the Gulf to the Atlantic have for decades been angered and alienated by countries like Britain, the US, their allies and fellow-travellers which claim the moral high-ground and to have “values” but continue to allow Israel to colonise Palestine and violate the rights, lands and lives of its indigenous people.