The legitimacy of Zionism

Here is what bugs me. Because now I’m very interested in this part of history that I knew nothing about. Why would Britain even begin to listen to the Jews? How can a nation like the U.K. begin to feel obligated in the first place. It is like 30 rednecks decide to tell the U.S. government that they want their own country in western Australia. They wouldn’t even give it the time of day. Can someone with better perspective enlighten me?

essentially, britian gave the jews the land after WWII because the brits owned the land (as a result of WWI – treaty of paris; all the ruopean powers got slices of the middle east). even nazi germany, for a brief period and to a very small extent, supported jews relocating there. brits did it after the war because there were repeated opputurnities to intervene that were missed, and the zionist movement was already (partially) established.

i split the thread and started a new topic

This is true up to a point. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was the British Government’s promise to the Jewish people that they would establish a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. A copy of which can be seen here

In 1947 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted with a 2/3 majority to partition western Palestine into a Jewish area and an Arab area. This plan was accepted by the Jewish authorities but was rejected by the Arabs. In 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared the Independence of the State of Israel in the areas given to them by the United Nations

To answer your questions Smooth, there are a few reasons why the UK sympathised with the Zionists aspirations.

  1. Many of the British government were devout Christians and it fit in with their beliefs that the “Children of Israel” would live once again in their land. Probably for the same reason why the Christian right in American supports Israel today.

  2. Chaim Weizmann, a well known Zionist diplomat, had the ear of Arthur Balfour (foreign office and later prime minister) and then prime minister, Lloyd-George. In a book called “One Palestine Complete”, Tom Segev gives Weizmann a lot of credit for the drawing up of the Balfour Declaration.

This was all pre-WWII and the motions were already going but there’s no doubt that WWII had a huge effect on the whole process.

  1. The British, and indeed the whole world, sympathised with the Zionist struggle since they had seen the level of Anti-Semitism that there was in Europe. They were shocked and appalled at the Holocaust and probably felt guilty for not getting involved sooner. A Jewish Homeland was in some way compensation and guilt-ridding.

As I say, after the big British push and also a lot of help from Truman (then President of USA) the UN voted to divide Western Palestine (remember it had already been divided once) into two parts.

It’s interesting that many Anti-Israel activists (i’m talking about ones who don’t even think Israel should exist) use the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israel on many counts, yet they won’t accepted the same United Nations on its decision to create Israel in the first place. That is when you begin to question hidden agendas.

Hope I answered your question Smooth

  • ben

Thanks Ben, it sort of helped out. I still want to know more, but you are pointing me towards the right directions.

I just never knew any of this. It’s like a new movie or book just came out, but everybody knows the story. Everyone except one. Ignorance sucks!

But damn, it’s sort of f*cked up that they would just give this land to the Jews and in essence saying, “screw the Arabs that already live there”. No matter how guilty the world can feel, isn’t there something wrong with kicking the people that were already there out? I’ve read the Bible and I’m very aware that the tribe of Judah are meant, by God, to live in the holy land. But come on.


I think the current conflict in Israel is the most poorly understood current affair. It’s so complicated that people don’t bother to find out the real history behind it and instead just look at it in a very narrow context. I’m glad you are interested in finding more about it Smooth and believe me, you are definitely not alone, you are just the only person who stands up and admits he knows nothing about it! I hope we can get to grips with the finer details of the history in this thread.

The British government were split on their views on creating a Jewish State. In “One Palestine Complete”, the author quotes letters from British officials during the British Mandate of Palestine, some supporting the Jewish struggle, others supporting the Arab one. Presumably this boiled down to personal taste rather than political opinion. It is traditional Arab custom to treat guests well and to extend endless hospitality. Perhaps this swayed people in some cases and not in others?

Let’s be clear about this, when the British invaded the Middle East in 1917 they took it from the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The British were welcomed by both the Jewish and the Arab population living there. The Turkish rule was not an amicable one and both Jews and Arabs had hopes that the British would offer them some kind of autonomy. Which they did.

When the British (and French) had conquered the region they split up the area between them and created some new countries; Syria was created under the French Mandate and Iraq was created under the British Mandate. Arab leaders were put in charge of both these areas by their respective Mandates. The rest of the area under the British Mandate was split into two; Trans-Jordan (later to be called just Jordan) and Palestine.
You can see a map here: . Trans-Jordan was also appointed an Arab leader, King Emir Abdullah. The Arabs living in that area became Jordanians.

Remember that previous to this time, the whole area was under Turkish Ottoman rule. There was no such thing as an Iraqi, Jordanian, Palestinian, they were collectively Arabs. Only after WWI did these identities come into being.

Ok, so far the area that has been captured by the British has been given to the Arabs who lived in the region and rules have been appointed. What’s left is the British Mandate of Palestine (not to be confused with the Palestine of today). During the Mandate, it was the Jews who identified themselves as Palestinians and not the Arabs. The Arabs considered themselves Arabs. The Jewish Daily Newspaper was called “The Palestine Post” and a prominent wine-making company (still around today) called themselves “Palwin” or “Palestinian Wine”. This is not to deny the identity of the people who call themselves Palestinians today. The word has changed meanings and now the people who WERE Palestinians now call themselves Israeli and now there is a new group of people who identify themselves with the name Palestinian. This is important when understanding the conflict.

This is one of the biggest debates of the conflict and one which every individual should research personally because both sides say something different. It would be too simplistic and wrong to say “The Jews kicked out the Arabs”.

Ok so, since the late 19th century and moreso after the Balfour Declaration there is mass Jewish Zionist immigration to Mandate Palestine in hopes of creating a homeland there. Note: There is no Arab Autonomy currently in place and there never has been in that area. That land is up for grabs and both sides are trying to get a piece of it. The early Zionist know perfectly well that they can’t just walk in and claim the land for themselves and so go about building the homeland using legitimate means. Even if they had wanted to fight/invade/kick people out they had absolutely no army to speak of in the early days. The army only came into being later on.

So the two methods were:

  1. Legitimate buying of land and building/working that land
    This included building agricultural villages called Kibbutzim as well as starting large cities like Tel-Aviv.

  2. World recognition. This came in the form of the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

By 1947 it is clear that both Jews and Arabs want a share of the land and so the British hand over the decision to the United Nations. The UN votes on a 2/3 majority to partition the land and give a share to the Jew and a share to the Arabs. Remember: The land has already been divided into Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Trans-Jordan, all Arab countries. Once again, the UN gives the Arab population a fair deal and creates another autonomous Arab state which until then had never existed in that region.

Here is the crux:No-one was thrown out of their land, it wasn’t their land to be thrown out of. It was owned by the British! And in that remote part of the world, in an area of 99% Arab countries, the WORLD decides to give the Jews a tiny homeland of their own. To understand how
tiny see:

The Zionists accepted the UN Partition Plan and declared Independence in 1948. The Arabs rejected it and instead declared war on the fledgling State of Israel the day after it’s Independence. Fifty years on, having been disowned by the Jordanians, the new Palestinians want the land that their Arab ancestors rejected all that time ago. Their struggle for land is on a par with the Zionist struggle for Israel, but the important factor is this. It is not their land. Just as much as the Zionists had to gain a homeland by legitimate means, so do the Palestinians. They deserve a homeland, but it is not theirs already.

Hope this clears some things up Smooth. Have a look at … p?t=138864 for a previous discussion. A good book to read is “One Palestine, Complete” by Tom Segev (mentioned above). I realise that this is an extremely sensitive subject, I ask anyone replying on either side to try and be academic about it so that we can try and come to grips with the history of the region.


  • ben


When I become super successful, and some journalist asks me who is responsible, I will point towards your Avatar.

Ladies and Gentlemen of Have you ever had a moment in time where you were informed of something so eye opening that your mind is doing back flips trying to process all this new information? I have had several, and right now is one of those moments. What I thought I knew about the situation in Israel was all wrong!

Now isn’t that an understatement.

I’m getting the feeling that this is a very touchy subject on your side of the world. I never was interested until all the talk about weapons of mass destruction arose. And even then it wasn’t about Israel. Regardless I’m going to try to limit my inquires until I get back to the states and can purchase that book, which by the way has been mentioned a few times in other similar posts.

My questions might be personal Ben and you don’t have to answer, because I could understand if it troubles you. I notice that your Avatar is the Israeli flag, what seems to be the outline of Israel and another flag that I can’t identify. Ever since you changed your Avatar, I thought that was both your nationalities, or maybe some sort of political statement. But then I would think that you were Jewish, but knowing very damn well how you feel about God I just don’t know.

So my question is, where do you stand in all of this?


You truly are a mensch! As you have probably gathered this is a subject that I love talking about. It is very personal to me and I feel it is my duty and my honour to educated people on the current conflict and Israel’s complicated history. I am by no means an expert in the field and by researching for these posts I can educate myself at the same time. Now that’s ILP in action!

With regards to my avatar, it is a map of the State of Israel and the regions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. On either side is the Israeli flag and the Palestinian flag. My reasons for using it are two fold: firstly to declare my belief in the simultaneous existence of Palestine and Israel as peaceful neighbours and to hope that it will one day be so. Secondly it is to show that supporting Israel and supporting the Palestinian struggle for a state are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are inherently connected. How can an Israeli, who has been through the struggle of acquiring a sovereign state, deny that same right to the Palestinians. Likewise, a Palestinian’s cause is all the more supported when they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist and use it as an example of a nation becoming autonomous.

It is human nature to join one side of a struggle and it is only the few who ever come together in dialogue. My avatar proclaims that I can be Jewish and be a Zionist and support the creation of a Palestinian state. It condemns suicide bombing in Israel and human rights abuses in the occupied territories with the same vigour and tenacity. These two ideologies are not mutually exclusive and that is the crime of those who use words like “Us” and “Them”. I withhold my criticism for those living with the conflict since it is a very different reality for them and something I experienced for only a brief time. However, the way forward for the resolution of this conflict is to understand that supporting one side does not mean not supporting the other and that we should always be looking objectively for what is right and what is just and not just supporting “our side” over “theirs”

I realise I went on a bit of a diatribe there, apologies! As I say Smooth, I’m happy to answer any questions and to struggle with these difficult issues, especially with a best of men such as yourself.


  • ben

what’s a mensch?

n : a decent responsible person with admirable characteristics

Salam o Alaikum

Ben…I haven’t posted here in ages, but I have always kept up to date…ish…and reading ur posts was refreshing. To read someone jointly condeming suicide bombings and human rights abuses in the same sentence is refreshing. The answer to the Israel-Palestine problem, get rid of ALL the politicians ! And get some real people in there ! :wink:

Take care…AND…I haven’t forgotten that e-mail I promised u ! Plz forgive me for taking so long.



it is like watching history in front of your eyes.

:slight_smile: Wats that supposed to mean Smooth ?

Nothing much Muslim Rep. I’ve read all your posts, and I’ve read a good majority of the early threads on this forum. I’ve always wondered what had happened to some of the old school members like Macca and Louise. People that I’ve haven’t seen post anything new. Seeing you back, knowing somewhat of a background, is kind of cool. It’s like watching history unfold.

In a few years this thread and these words would be history. And some other person would read this curious about the individuals that have written these words. I’m just like that.

Are you sure? So far from what I’ve learned. It is the people, un-organized, that are doing the most damage. But then again, I’m still trying to understand the Balfour Declaration.

So because I’ve promised myself that I will understand the problems in Israel so that somehow I can help in which ever way I can (mostly in educating others), I have been trying to study up on it. Not having that book “One Palestine, Complete” by Tom Segev I have to refer to these posts. My reading comprehension isn’t the best, so I ask and ask until I am able to tell the story the correct way.

I would like to thank you once again Ben. This time it is for the manner in which you have recounted the facts of the situtation. In reading this thread for the fourth time, this time with a pad of paper and a pen, I have noticed that you carefully worded yourself as to not take a side. Something that would’ve guided me one way or another on this issue.

I have my list of questions on items brought up in this thread and in some things I saw in the Jewish Virtual Library.

The first thing that I need a quick classification on is the damn United Nations. In essence the U.N. is just a bunch of representative’s from all the countries on planet Earth. But why is the UN spoken about in third person as if it was its own entity. It has its own military, and where does it get the money and / or the power to do things over countries that belong to it. Do you understand the question? I’m basicly wondering how does the UN become a world player in and by itself, when what makes up the UN are people that are sent to represent the countries they are from. Isn’t this the start of a one-world government?

And then when the UN decided to give the Jewish people the rights to live in their own autonomous state, the Jews went ahead and called it Israel. Now I’m curious in knowing if the Israel as I know it now, is it the same boundaries and/or location of the Israel mentioned in the Bible?

And even though this might seem like extremely off the topic, I’m very curious about when the Jews left the middle east. Obviously some stayed behind, but there were those that left to Europe. I guess centuries later they decided to go back. Why did they leave to begin with? Was it because of the Turkish Ottoman Empire?

By the way, I was reading in that Jewish Virtual Library that Lord Arthur James Balfour wrote his declaration to a certain Lord Rothschild. I’ve read alot of conspiracy theories that had the name Rothschild on it. Who was this Lord Rothschild? Was this the guy that coined the word Zionist? Or was he the Dr. M.L.K. of the jews?

I find that messed up! I’m not taking sides, yet at least, but these Arabs sound like children. With one autonomous Arab state being created after another, why can’t the Jews get their own? You also said that they didn’t want it, but all of a sudden they changed their mind. Are there more issues in their change of heart that I don’t know about yet. Or was it the case of an immature populace? With all these Arab countries, why did they care if the Jews received a country?

Now as well, I admit, I don’t know what the difference is between an Arab and a Muslim. Is it the same as French and Christian? And is Islam the relgion of some Arabs, and they are called Muslim? Just trying to understand every aspect of the situtation.

Now to go back to the start. The British invaded the middle east at the same time Lord Balfour wrote the declaration? How does that work?

Now the deep question. How, who, what, where, why and when did the word Palestinian change from the Jews to the Arabs? How in the world did the Jews go from saying they are Palestinian to rejecting it and saying they are Israelites instead. And why did the Arabs pick it up? Ben said that this is a key in understanding the conflict, and I would love to be enlighten.

Also, if there is no Palestine, just an area… how do the Palestinians have a flag? What’s the history of the Palestinian flag?

Also in reading this thread again, I want to blame the British. I want to say that all this happened because of the British. Why couldn’t the British choose who the land belonged to instead of giving it off the UN to choose?

Are you sure? Because it sounds to me that the Turkish Ottoman Empire occupied the land. Then the British fought them for it. But before all this, weren’t the Arabs and Jews already there? Saying that wasn’t their land to be thrown out of is like saying that the states where Native Americans live isn’t there land to be thrown out of. Yes, it isn’t there land now. But along time before it was. Or was it? Can you clear this possible misunderstanding up?

Now something that I guess I’m not getting off the top is this:

Am I missing something? How, to begin with, can suicide bombings and human rights abuses be different to begin with? Are they people out there that think one is worse than the others? In current Israel are their suicide bombings from one group, and human right abuses from another?

Also what is an Intafada? I know someone out there might be wondering why don’t I just go in the internet and find out myself. Well I am. But I have learned in the past year that I learn better this way. And also, the knowledge is here for me to go back and reference to. Also, what if there is a young teen out there that doesn’t know about this comes and read this? So I hope you guys can come and answer my questions.

***flares his hips and bumps these questions back into your attention…


Smooth…some clarity for you…most arabs are Muslims, all Muslims are not arab. There are 1.6 Billion Muslims spanning the globe. From the US to Australia, u’ll find most of them in the Arab countries, India…Pakistan…Bangladesh…Afghanistan…Indonesia and so on and so forth, its probably fair to say that the majority of Muslims are probably concentrated actually outside of the arab countries. Tho its prob a close run thing !

I too am very interested in this topic and have only done a little research.
I would suggest to look at the articles on … Watch.html
These articles are all going to have a liberal/pro-Palestinean-type slant to them. But the best way to find the middle ground is to define both extremes, and in the U.S. popular media and the government represtent the conservative/pro-Israel-type extreme.

Smooth, i think what you’re actually refering to here is far older than the Ottoman Empire. It gets really complicated so i’m just going to copy the passage from Encarta Encyclopedia:

I did some editing, but it’s still a long bit 'o reading. But I think we can come to at least one conclusion from this article, Nobody has any real claim to that piece of land between The Mediterranean and the Jordan River, except the Canaanites.

I will reply to this thread properly very soon but just wanted to reply to some initial points.

Firstly that website you gave Pope Lanky, i’m not sure “pro-palestinian slant” is the right word to use considering the opening quote compares the situation in Israel at the moment to the Holocaust. We’ve seen this sort of rhetoric before and I don’t think it’s helpful as an informative source. Still, it’s up to you what you read!

To your point about no-one having a claim to the land, you seem to suggest that a claim to a land rests on who was there first. Presumably you don’t think that every country in the world should be given back to the people who were there “first”? I.e. America to the native americans, UK to the anglo-saxons and Australia to the Aborigines? Claims to land based on “someone vaguely related to me lived here once” just doesn’t hold much sway and never has done. That’s not how nationhood and sovereignty is dished out, for better or for worse.

hope to answer more of smooth’s questions very soon…

  • ben

I didn’t mean to imply that i’m an advocate of anything on that website, that i linked just that it is a source of information that offers a veiwpoints far different to those presented in most popular mass media.

The website has just as much fact as it does rhetoric and vise-versa, and like all information i suggest that one take it to mind before taking any of it to heart. Like I said, define both extremes to find the middle ground, that site just represents an extreme.

As to my comment about who does or doesn’t have a claim on the land, I was trying to make the point that it is useless to solve this conflict by determining who has the ultimate claim to the land or by who got their first. I think you’ll agree with me that the best way to solve disputes like this is to look at the situation as it is now, and put as much of the past behind us as possible.

I just wanted to clear that up, I’ll do some more research and if i have something relevent i’ll post it.

Hey Smooth,

As promised here are some answers to your questions,

My knowledge of the UN is extremely limited but the idea of a world united body probably stems from the same reasons that individual nation governments do. It’s good for trade, security, control, good relations etc. Because the UN doesn’t have a country to govern it usually takes the moral highground on things and just calls for “peace and understanding”. See the Kofi Annan thread in Mundane Babble for similar thoughts on this.

Good question, one that is central to the whole conflict. Let’s first make a distinction between the “Land of Israel” and the “State of Israel”. The Land of Israel is all the land between the Nile and the Euphrates as promised to Abraham in the Bible,

Genesis 15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates. … elbce.html ← map of Land of Israel

The “State of Israel” is the Israel that we see on the news today and is significantly different to the Land of Israel. … os/is.html ← State of Israel

Lord Rothschild was (and the family still is) a big philanthropist contributer to the Zionist cause and to supporting Israel. Yes there are a lot of conspiracy theories concerning the Rothschild mainly involving the freemasons and mostly fueled by anti-semitism. I won’t go further into it here because I don’t believe they have any credibility. He didn’t coin the word Zionist since he came a long time after the Zionist movement had started in the late 19th century. As far as I know he was more of a money supporter than a leader.

Yes, a lot of the blame is on the British who were still in “Empire” mode when they conquered the region. Towards the end of their Mandate the British weren’t getting any benefit from being there and both the Zionists and the Arabs were lobbying them to give them the land. For diplomatic reasons they handed it over to the UN (a world body) to decide. Probably a wise idea politically!

The distinction to be made here is between individual people’s homes and land, and between sovereignty of the land as a whole. When I said that the Arab population weren’t thrown out of their land I mean they weren’t the sovereign body of the land. When people attack Israel they say “They kicked the Arabs out of their country”. The truth of the matter is, the Arab population never ever governed the country. The land was populated by many Arabs and Jewish people, both of whom did not govern the area. In terms of individual land owning, Arab land was bought by Zionist settlers in the early days of the British Mandate and slightly before.

Intafada is an arabic word which means “Uprising”.

I’ve written those responses really badly but hopefully you can get a sense of what I’m saying Smooth. As always…any more questions…i’m sure you’ve got a lot more since this discussion was a long time ago!


  • ben