Thursday, September 29, 2011

Professor Porath's book on Arab Nationalism

In my blog at, entitled ,  Soviet Russia, The Creators of the PLO and the Palestinian People, I show through the reports of Major General Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest ranking defector from the Soviet bloc, that the Arabs didn’t discover Palestinian Arab Nationalism.  The Soviet “dezinformatzia” or experts on disinformation discovered it for them.  I show it was discovered in 1964 when it first appeared in the preamble to the PLO charter, drafted in Moscow.   The year 1964 also marked the creation of the Palestine National Council.  Its 422 members, each hand picked by the KGB affirmed the existence of the Palestine Arab People in that preamble and their motivation to obtain political self determination. 

Inconsistent with this view is Professor Porath’s book in 1976 entitled “The Emergence of the Palestinian Arab National Movement 1918 – 1929 that suggests such a movement emerged much earlier.

Dr. Pipes relies on Professor Porath's book  "The Emergence of the Palestinian Arab National Movement 1918-1929" for his conclusion on the early emergence of Nationalism in the Arab population of Palestine.   
Copies of Professor Porath's book are hard to find.  It is out of print and you will have to pay at least $60 for a used copy. Fortunately I was successful in getting a copy through an inter library loan.  Porath's book doesn't document a nationalism movement of the kind that the Basques and Kurds have had for many years.  That is the kind motivated by a desire for political self determination limited to a specific ethnic, cultural, or religious group.  It documents the rise of a movement in Palestine of a national anti-Zionist movement.  Professor Porath's student, Professor Efraim Karsh, in his recent book “Palestine Betrayed”, also says that there wasn't the commonality in 1948 that I think is needed for the Basque and Kurd kind of nationalism motivated by a positive movement for political self determination and not solely a negative movement against Zionism See. pp 239-241. And see: his "Misunderstanding Arab Nationalism",  Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2001, pp. 59-61.  
 The Arabs in Palestine had, prior to 1920, preferred the rule of the Ottoman Turks to self rule showed by their fighting in WWI on the side of the Turkish Ottomans who had been their rulers for 400 years.  This despite the British offer of political self determination provided they fought on the side of the Allies against the Germans and Ottomans.  The Turks had ruled from Constantinople.  The Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula did fight on the side of the British and the participation of Lawrence together with these tribes and its overstated documenting by Lowell Thomas to sell newspapers, influenced public opinion greatly even though many historians agree that the role and success of the Arab Tribes' participation was overblown.  Those tribes did seek freedom from Turkish Rule.
There was some movement toward the Basque and Kurd kind of nationalism for political self determination by a pan Syrian-Palestine group when the choice of Ottoman rule was no longer available.  The Palestine group broke off, according to Professor Porath, because they thought the Syrian group was too soft on Zionism and they could be more effective anti-Zionists without it. 
By 1948, England had announced it could no longer be the Mandatory Power or the trustee of the sovereignty over Palestine that had been transferred to it by cession of the Ottoman Empire in Article 95 of the Treaty of Sevres and its later choice by the League of Nations as Mandatory Power or trustee. [Article 95 of the Treaty of Sevres was not altered in the later Treaty of Lausanne.] 

The UN had  asked Count Folke Bernadotte to investigate for them into the matter of what should it do as the Jews still only had a population of about one third that of the Arab Population west of the Jordan.  Count Bernadotte who died in the course of his investigation,  had noted in his diary that there was no movement towards nationalism by the Arabs in Palestine and there never had been.
Still later, in 1973, a member of the PLO Executive Board, Zahir Muhsein, admitted in an interview by the Dutch newspaper Trouw that there was no “Palestinian people”, the term was used only for political reasons.  He said also as to political self determination, that just as soon as the Jews in Palestine had been annihilated, the PLO would merge with Jordan. 
Professor Porath was a leftist but he has now shifted to the right -- it has been suggested that he did so when the Arabs claimed that Rachel's Tomb was a mosque.  The UN recently honored the Arab claim, designating it as a mosque, -- on the day in May, 2011 that I visited it.  This was also a day in which an Arab mob attacked the site, fortunately after I had left. 
Finally, one last reason for relying on Pacepa rather than Porath is based on my former experience as a lawyer.   Porath was stating his opinion without any opportunity for voir dire examination to show if there were bias or error.  However Pacepa was reporting facts from personal knowledge.  He was personally involved in Soviet bloc management of its affairs in the Middle East.  Lawyers and judges will undoubtedly prefer facts from personal knowledge to opinion, no matter how much expertise has been gained from training or experience.  Former CIA Director James Woolsey has stated that Pacepa is personally credible.

Professor Porath's support of Jewish national rights to Palestine.
One interesting but little noted feature of Professor Porath's book can be found on pp. 245, 246.  He is discussing a group he calls The Arab Executive and members of the opposition who were considering in June, 1926 attempts to reach agreement for participation of the Arab community in the Mandate government.   Article 4 of the Mandate provided for Zionist participation but there was nothing in the Mandate to provide for Arab participation in the Mandate government.
As written by Porath, the interpretation of the Arabs, according to Eric Mills, the Assistant Chief Secretary of the Arab Executive was:
"They [the Arab representatives in the talks] know that the Mandate imposes  on the Mandatory state international obligations not to clash with the civil, national, political, and religious rights of the Arabs and they desire that the inhabitants take an active part in making the laws and in governing the country" -- Porath notes "... i.e. here was an attempt to impose further restrictions on the Balfour Declaration (the italicized words) which were likely to make it a dead letter in fact if not in theory".   The rights the mandate specifies be preserved are the civil and religious rights of the non-Jews.  This honored a similar provision in Art. 95 of the Treaty of Sevres transferring Ottoman sovereignty to the Mandate.  They could not require preserving their "national" or "political" rights because the Arabs local to Palestine never had any, there was never local sovereignty since the time of the Jews. It appears that Professor Porath believes that the Balfour Declaration, and therefore the San Remo Agreement and League of Nations "Mandate" that adopted that policy and made it International Law, had granted exclusive national and political rights to the Jews.  The US Congress and later the Anglo American Convention, a treaty between the US and the UK also confirmed its terms, the latter adding to its status by making it the domestic law of the US and the UK. 
I discuss this further on this blog under the topic "Arab Extortion of Jewish National Rights to Palestine". 

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