In his sour stemwinder at the UN General Assembly, as part of its observance of Nakba Day on May 15, Mahmoud Abbas likened Israel to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, in its use of the big lie which, if repeated often enough, begins to be believed. What were those “ big lies” told by Israel that reminded him of Goebbels? Abbas didn’t say. Nor did Abbas refer to his own monstrous lie, contained in his doctoral thesis — that first denied the Holocaust ever happened and then, in the slightly revised published version of his thesis, he engaged in Holocaust minimization, by insisting there could not have been more than a few hundred thousand Jews, or — at the very most – 800,000, who died in Nazi camps, and that of those, many were not killed but succumbed to typhus and other diseases. A serial liar, Abbas was last year widely criticized for a speech accusing Israel of perpetrating “50 Holocausts” — a charge for which he offered not the slightest evidence. “The UN Must Not Repeat Its ‘Nakba Day’ Farce,” by Colin Rubenstein, Algemeiner, May 30, 2023:
He also blamed the US and Britain for the “Nakba,” saying that Israel was created for their own “colonial goals” and “these countries wanted to get rid of their Jews.”…
Israel was not created by anyone except the Jews themselves. The British did not fulfill their solemn commitment, as holders of the Palestine Mandate, either to “facilitate Jewish immigration” or to “encourage close Jewish settlement on the land,” both of which were required of it by Article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine. In fact, in the British government’s White Paper of 1939, at a time of maximum peril for the Jews of Europe, Great Britain limited immigration to Palestine to 15,000 Jews a year for each of the next five years, after which all Jewish immigration would be subject to an Arab veto. More than a million Jews might have been saved had they been allowed into Palestine in the late 1930s, and during the first years of the war. But the British didn’t allow them to come, despite being required to “facilitate Jewish immigration” into Mandatory Palestine.
After the war, the British continued to prevent Jewish refugees, survivors of the Nazi camps, from entering Palestine. Instead, the Royal Navy turned back a total of 142 vessels of varying sizes, carrying desperate Jewish refugees who wanted to go to Palestine after spending time in DP camps in Europe. The Exodus was the most famous of these ships. It carried 4,500 Jewish men, women, and children from DP camps in Europe to Palestine, but the British navy intercepted it on its voyage. Eager to make an example of it, the British forced the ship to land at Haifa, but instead of letting the passengers disembark, they were forcibly loaded onto three British navy transports which returned them to Europe. The ships first tried to unload their passengers at Port-de-Bouc, France, but they refused. And then those passengers. including many orphaned children, forced the issue by declaring a hunger strike which lasted 24 days, hoping they would be brought back to Palestine. The British government instead transported the passengers to Hamburg, where they were again interned in German camps like those they had fled. The British record as holder of the Mandate for Palestine was shameful; instead of encouraging Jewish immigration, they tried – beginning in the late 1930s – to prevent Jews from arriving. When Arabs attacked Jews in Mandatory Palestine, the British were largely indifferent, or in some cases, arrested Jews, such as Vladimir Jabotinsky, whose only crime was to help organize a Jewish defense force. When Arab mobs began to systematically murder Jewish men, women, and children in Hebron in 1929, the British police never arrived to stop the slaughter of 67 Jews, and the expulsion of the rest. Only during the Arab Revolt (1936-1939), when the Arabs attacked British soldiers as well as Jews, did the British suppress – arrest or kill – Arab attackers. Otherwise the Jews of Mandatory Palestine were on their own, without British protection. The one British officer who sympathized with the Jews, and helped them form self-defense groups, the “Special Night Squads,” that could take the fight to the Arab enemy, was Captain Orde Wingate. For having sided with the Jews, Wingate was sent back to London. Yet Abbas claims that Great Britain helped, with the US, to “create” Israel “for their own colonial goals.”
As for the US, as a nation it did very little to help create the Jewish state. Individual Americans, both Jews and non-Jews, did help, contributing money, and smuggling small arms into Israel which helped during the 1948 war, when a universal embargo on arms was imposed, supposedly on both sides. But in reality, the British continued to send weapons to Jordan’s Arab Legion, which was led by British officer Lt.-General John Bagot Glubb, “Glubb Pasha.”And the Arab Legion was the only Arab fighting force that was not roundly defeated by the Haganah, but managed to hold onto the West Bank. The Arab armies of Egypt and Iraq had been well-supplied with British arms; the Jews were desperate for weapons. Fortunately, one country, Czechoslovakia, was willing to ignore the embargo and sell arms to the Jews of Palestine.
The first deal between the Jews of Israel (the Yishuv) and Czechoslovakia was signed in January 1948 and it was not cheap. The Israelis obtained some 400 tons of mortars and other heavy machinery, aerial bombs, rifles, ammunition, machine guns, flamethrowers, explosives, tanks, and combat vehicles from the Czechs. In subsequent deals, the Israelis bought twenty-four Czech-built Avia S-199 fighters, a lesser version of the German Messerschmitt, that helped stop an Egyptian attack on Tel Aviv. In the fall of 1948, .the Israelis bought another 61 surplus Spitfires from the Czechs. Without those Czech arms, in the opinion of David Ben Gurion, Israel would have lost the war.
Abbas claimed that Israel’s membership in the UN was conditioned on its acceptance of a Palestinian right of return, but this is complete nonsense. Israel became a member of the UN in May 1949. No Arabs then spoke of a “right of return.” They spoke only of their desire to destroy the Jews of Israel, who had just humiliated the defeated Arabs. Nor, in 1949, was there any mention of the acceptance by Israel of a Palestinian state being one of the conditions for Israel’s admission into the UN. Let’s remember that after the 1948 war, Egypt held Gaza, and Jordan held the entire West Bank, but there was not a peep from either country, or from any other Arabs, about creating a “Palestinian” state from those two territories. Egypt and Jordan were not about to yield the territories they had managed to seize in the 1948 war in order to create a Palestinian Arab state. Mahmoud Abbas knows this perfectly well, but was counting on his UN audience to be both ignorant, and confused, about such critically important facts.
More attention is given to Israel at the UN Human Rights Council than is devoted to the entire rest of the world. Two permanent UN committees are “devoted to demonizing” Israel. That is their only task. In addition, within the Secretary-General’s office there is now a “Division of Palestinian Rights.” And at the UN there will now be two “special days” concerning the Palestinians. First, there is the newly-created “Nakba Day,” that was first celebrated this past May 15; second, there is an annual Day of International Solidarity with the Palestinian People, that is held on November 29, the same day, in 1947, when the UN Partition Plan was put up for a vote, and unanimously rejected by the Arabs.
One good bit of news is that Abbas’ speech at the UN was widely boycotted. Forty-five countries – including, as one Israeli journalist put it, almost all of the “countries that count,” boycotted Abbas’ speech. The U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and 10 members of the EU joined Israel and 30 other countries in that boycott. That must have stung Abbas and his fellows: where was that “international solidarity with the Palestinian people” that they had assumed would be displayed?
The Palestinians received generous peace offers from Israel in 2000, 2001, and 2008. In the 2008 offer, made by Ehud Olmert to Mahmoud Abbas, Israel offered to give the Palestinians 93.7% of the West Bank, 100% of Gaza, and to compensate for the 6.3% of the West Bank that Israel would retain, territory where all of its major settlements were located, Olmert offered as compensation to give the Palestinians Israeli land that was equivalent to 5.8% of the West Bank. In addition Olmert offered to withdraw from Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and, most important of all, he agreed to surrender the Old City to rule by an international body. Yet this offer, like the two previous ones made to Arafat, was turned down. And ever since, when Israel has tried to restart bilateral peace talks, Mahmoud Abbas has not responded. He spends his time not trying to make a deal with Israel, but in whipping up international hostility toward the Jewish state, sometimes with ridiculous alarums about how “Al-Aqsa is in danger,” in the hope that other countries will be able to pressure Jerusalem into yielding all of the West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City, as well.
It would be pleasant to think that the Biden Administration will spend some of its political capital during the next year to try to persuade enough members of the General Assembly to refuse to renew the “Nakba Day” observance that Abbas wants to be made permanent. Or if that turns out to be impossible to achieve, then at least the American government should be persuading or pressuring more countries to join the 45 member states of the UN that this year refused to listen to Abbas’ rant. But is the Biden Administration capable of exerting such pressure? We’ll see, next May, how well the Bidenites have done in minimizing the attention paid to “Nakba day.” Don’t get your hopes up.