Pre Palestinian Arab thoughts on Zionism

Jerusalem cityscape
Photo by Evgeni Tcher, CC0

Before the 1950’s, Arabs themselves had literally no concept of a Palestinian nationality or ethnicity.

The Emir Hussein of the Hejaz replied “with an expression of goodwill towards a kindred Semitic race”, when the Balfour Declaration was communicated to him in 1918, and his son Feisal, acting officially for the Arab movement, wrote on March 3, 1919:

Throughout Arabia, the chiefs were for the most part, distinctly pro-Zionist, as were the Palestinian peasantry, who were delighted at the benefits that Jewish immigration was bringing them. The Muslim religious leader, the Mufti, was openly friendly, even taking a prominent part in the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

And what of “Arab nationalism”? At that time, no one had heard of a “Palestine Arab people”; the term was not invented until after 1964, entirely for political reasons. The British Peace Handbook No. 60, published in 1918, declared that “the people west of the Jordan are not Arabs, but only Arab speaking… In the Gaza district they are mostly of Egyptian origin; elsewhere they are of the most mixed race…they (the Arabs of Palestine) have little if any national sentiment…they hide their weapons at the call of patriotism.”

The idea that Palestine should be Arab was never even contemplated. On the contrary, the attitude of the Arabs to the Jewish National Movement was one of almost unanimous approval. In 1906, Farid Kassab, a famous Syrian author, expressed the view uniformly held by the Arabs: “The Jews of the Orient are at home. This land is their only fatherland. They don’t know any other.” A year later, Dr. Moses Gaster reported that he had “held conversations with some of the leading sheiks, and they all expressed pleasure at the advent of the Jews, for they considered that with them had come ‘barakat’ – blessing, since the rain came in due season.”

The Emir Hussein of the Hejaz replied “with an expression of goodwill towards a kindred Semitic race”, when the Balfour Declaration was communicated to him in 1918, and his son Feisal, acting officially for the Arab movement, wrote on March 3, 1919:XX

“We Arabs look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organization to the Peace Conference and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will do our best, insofar as we are concerned, to help them through. We will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home.”

– A letter from his His Royal Highness Prince Feisal Husseini, king of Syria and Iraq to Felix Frankfurter, associate of Dr. Chaim Weizmann

_________________________________

Merrimack Valley Havurah Coffeehouse Logo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s