Sunday, October 22, 2023

Secure homelands for Jewish and Palestinian people

In James Joyce's 'Ulysses' the character Mr Deasy says "Ireland, they say, has the honour of being the only country which never persecuted the Jews. Do you know that? No. And do you know why?"

"- Why sir?" Stephen Dedalus asked, beginning to smile.

"- Because she never let them in," Mr. Deasy said solemnly.

Leopold Bloom, the Jewish protagonist is believed to have been modelled on a Jewish friend of Joyce in Trieste, in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city had many nationalities and Jews were more welcome there than in other cities of the empire.

The Irish minister in Berlin in 1933-1939, Charles Bewley, was a Nazi admirer and an anti-Semite while Ireland had a postwar welcome for Nazi war criminals.

It took 50 years for a French president to acknowledge without any equivocation the extent of the French state and citizens' complicity in collaboration with the Nazis in deporting some 76,000 French and foreign Jews.

“France, the homeland of the Enlightenment and of the rights of man, a land of welcome and asylum, on that day committed the irreparable,” President Jacques Chirac (1932-2019) said on July 16, 1995, on the roundup in the Paris area of some 13,000 Jewish men, women and children, on July 16, 1942. “Breaking its word, it handed those who were under its protection over to their executioners.” France owes the victims “an everlasting debt.”

Chirac's predecessor, François Mitterrand (1916-1996) — socialist president in 1981-1995, who had been a right-wing extremist as a student — had worked for the Vichy government and he was so devoted to its chief, Marshal Pétain, that he was awarded a high decoration attesting to his loyalty.

Jewish populations were mainly concentrated in Eastern Europe including Russia.

Pogrom is a Russian word meaning “to wreak havoc, to demolish violently.” Historically, the term refers to violent attacks by local non-Jewish populations on Jews in the Russian Empire and in other countries.

Theodor Herzl, an Austrian journalist, viewed assimilation as most desirable but, in view of anti-Semitism, impossible to realise. In 1897 Herzl convened the first Zionist Congress at Basel, Switzerland, which drew up the Basel program of the movement, stating that “Zionism strives to create for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured by public law.”

The Jewish population in Palestine was about 94,000 in 1914 and the region was ruled by the Ottoman Empire.

In 1917 a statement in the form of a letter from Britain’s then-foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, addressed to Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, a figurehead of the British Jewish community, confirmed that the government supported “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Oxford University: "Poland’s era of independence between the two world wars was bookended by waves of pogroms. The first section of this chapter concerns the more than 130 pogroms of 1918–1921; many of them initiated by Polish military troops as they entered towns and cities of the new Poland. The second section concerns the pogroms of 1935–1937 instigated by right-wing nationalists, the most infamous being the Przytyk pogrom of March 9, 1936."

US president Harry Truman recognises the State of Israel

The Jewish people in 15 years had the nadir of the Holocaust and the triumph of nationhood. The Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria all later declared war on Israel (albeit not to defend the Palestinians). Israeli forces defeated the Palestinian militias and Arab armies.

According to the UN "Over half of the Palestinian Arab population fled or were expelled. Jordan and Egypt controlled the rest of the territory assigned by UN resolution 181 to the Arab State. In the 1967 war, Israel occupied these territories (Gaza Strip and the West Bank) including East Jerusalem, which was subsequently annexed by Israel. The war brought about a second exodus of Palestinians, estimated at half a million. Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) formulated the principles of a just and lasting peace."

An article published by the US Council on Foreign Relations says "The United States has long tried to negotiate a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but several factors, including deep divisions between and within the parties and declining US interest in carrying out its traditional honest-broker role, have hurt the chances of a peace deal."

The US also has paid lip service for decades to building on Arab land on the West Bank of the River Jordan.

The War in Gaza and the Death of the Two-State Solution

In the late 1990s, it was hoped the Oslo Accords would get an agreement to give the Israelis and Palestinians their own territories. But now, various factors have left many believing the prospect of a two-state solution is further away than ever.

Israel's hard-right government triggered massive protests and one politician with a history of inciting racism was appointed national security minister.