|The Mufti and the Führer.
Haj Amin al-Husseini, leader of the Palestinian nationalist movement, with Adolf Hitler, November 28, 1941.|
Heinrich Hoffman/ Wikipedia.
By 1914, if not earlier, politically engaged Arab nationalists in Greater Syria agreed with Azuri that no accommodation with Zionism was possible. Any further Jewish settlement and nation-building, they concluded, would be harmful to the prospects of an Arab Muslim Palestine. One of these leaders, Haqqi Bey al-‘Azm, argued that “by employing means of threats and persecutions – and it is this last method which we must employ – by prodding the Arab population into destroying their farms and setting fire to their colonies, by forming gangs to execute these projects,” the Zionists could be compelled to leave Palestine. One hundred years later this logic still shapes the strategies and tactics of Fatah, Hamas, and the Ayatollah Khamenei.Two important phenomena, similar in nature and yet opposed to each other, which have not yet attracted the attention of anybody, are now manifesting themselves in Asiatic Turkey, namely the awakening of the Arab nation and the concealed effort of the Jews to reestablish the ancient monarchy of Israel on a grand scale. These two movements are destined to a continuous struggle, until one of the two prevails over the other. On the final outcome of this struggle between these two peoples, representing two opposing principles, will depend the destiny of the entire world.
|Vladimir Jabotinsky, 1935. Jabotinsky Institute.|
That the Arabs were determined to oppose Jewish nation-building and preserve the Arab character of Palestine as part of the dar-al-Islam, should not have come as a surprise to the Zionists. No people have ever voluntarily consented to sharing their land with another people, even one with deep historical and religious ties to it. Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist (right-wing) Zionism, unlike the Labor (left-wing) Zionists, had no illusions about this. “Any native people,” Jabotinsky insisted, “views their country as their national home, of which they will always be the complete masters. They will not voluntarily allow, not only a new master, but even a new partner.” Jabotinsky warned that Zionism could succeed only by confronting and pushing back against the opposition of the Palestinian Arabs.
We cannot offer any adequate compensation to the Palestinian Arabs in return for Palestine. And therefore, there is no likelihood of any voluntary agreement being reached. So that all those who regard such an agreement as a condition sine qua non for Zionism may as well say “non” and withdraw from Zionism.Jabotinsky’s assessment was confirmed by Awni Bey Abd al-Hadi, who told the Peel Commission:
Since the Palestinian Arabs would violently resist the Jewish return to Zion, the Zionist halutzim (pioneers) would have to respond with “an iron wall of Jewish bayonets.”There is not one nation in the world that would accept voluntarily and of its own desire that its position should be changed in a manner which will have an effect on its rights and prejudice its interests. . . . We as a nation are human beings with our own culture and civilization and we feel as any other nation would feel. It will have to be imposed on us by force.
Britain’s Peel Commission, the first body to recommend a two-state solution, showed great insight when it explained the intractable nature of the conflict in words that apply just as much in 2016 as they did in 1937:
An irrepressible conflict has arisen between two national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country. About 1,000,000 Arabs are in strife, open or latent, with some 400,000 Jews. There is no common ground between them. The Arab community is predominantly Asiatic in character, the Jewish community predominantly European. They differ in religion and in language. Their cultural and social life, their ways of thought and conduct, are as incompatible as their national aspirations. These last are the greatest bar to peace. Arabs and Jews might possibly learn to live and work together in Palestine if they would make a genuine effort to reconcile and combine their national ideals and so build up in time a joint or dual nationality. But this they cannot do. The War and its sequel have inspired all Arabs with the hope of reviving in a free and united Arab world the traditions of the Arab golden age. The Jews similarly are inspired by their historic past. They mean to show what the Jewish nation can achieve when restored to the land of its birth. National assimilation between Arabs and Jews is thus ruled out. In the Arab picture the Jews could only occupy the place they occupied in Arab Egypt or Arab Spain. The Arabs would be as much outside the Jewish picture as the Canaanites in the old land of Israel. The National Home, as we have said before, cannot be half-national. In these circumstances to maintain that Palestinian citizenship has any moral meaning is a mischievous pretence. Neither Arab nor Jew has any sense of service to a single State.
The 130-year war between Israelis and Arab Palestinians has always been a war of identity, a a war of blood and faith, an existential clash between irreconcilable national and religious aspirations.