Saturday, October 01, 2011

Supporting the Arabs with Unsound Arguments

Suppose someone argues this:
The first is McMahon-Hussein Correspondence, which promised that the Arabs would have their own state in Palestine. This promise was given in hopes of gaining Arab support for the British war efforts against Turkey. The British High Commissioner Sir Henry McMahon promised the following to the Arabs (Oct 24, 1915) in a letter to Hussein Ibn Ali, Sherif of Mecca: (quotation) So the British promised the Arabs an independent stable state – presumably the land/or within the land of Palestine.
Notice that I've omitted the quotation that was in the original. We'll come to it in a second. If this use of sources is proper, what should the quotation show? It should show:
  • A promise.
  • To "the Arabs"
  • That they would have "their own state"
  • That it would be "in Palestine."
  • That it would be "independent"
  • That it would be "stable"
After all, that is how this evidence is being sold: "promised that the Arabs would have their own state in Palestine" and "promised the Arabs an independent stable state – presumably the land/or within the land of Palestine."

What does the quotation actually say?
(1) Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognise and support the independence of the Arabs in all the regions within the limits demanded by the Sherif of Mecca.
(2) Great Britain will guarantee the Holy Places against all external aggression and will recognise their inviolability.
(3) When the situation admits, Great Britain will give to the Arabs her advice and will assist them to establish what may appear to be the most suitable forms of government in those various territories…
I am convinced that this declaration will assure you beyond all possible doubt of the sympathy of Great Britain towards the aspirations of her friends the Arabs and will result in a firm and lasting alliance, the immediate results of which will be the expulsion of the Turks from the Arab countries and the freeing of the Arab peoples from the Turkish yoke, which for so many years has pressed heavily upon them.
So, it actually promises the Arabs freedom from the Turks (one group of Muslims from another group of Muslims).  Does it promise to build any Arab states?  No.  What about anything Palestinian?  Palestine isn't even mentioned as such.

It seems that that author of the argument is blissfully unaware of the reality of the massively powerful and expansive Ottoman Empire (based in Turkey, but expanded all over) and the perceived English need to have the Arabs fight the Turks during World War I.  Whether the author of the argument is unaware or not is hard to be sure, but his argument does not seem to recognize the difference between declaring that the Ottoman empire has to let a region go (what the cited McMahon-Hussein Correspondence was all about) and some kind of Arab nation-building (which wasn't the topic of the correspondence).

The author of the article writes:
Of course, “Palestine” isn’t specifically mentioned. 22 years later the High Commissioner 22 would say he never technically promised a Palestinian Arab state with these words (see McMahon’s letter in London Times, 1937), even though that’s how the Arabs understood it.
But the letter he references actually states:
I feel it my duty to state, and I do so definitely and emphatically, that it was not intended by me in giving this pledge to King Hussein to include Palestine in the area in which Arab independence was promised. I also had every reason to believe at the time that the fact that Palestine was not included in my pledge was well understood by King Hussein.
So, the author of the letter didn't say X, later says he didn't mean X, and also claims that his correspondent understood that.

(original article to which this post responds)



Gene Clyatt said...

Excellently researched and reasoned. Thank you.

David Ancore said...

What's your point? That we ought to support Avigdor Lieberman?

Natamllc said...


pardon me for adding my response to your question. I will quote the verse and you go to God and get some understanding, hopefully?

Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they/TF shall be called the , known as the, and are the Sons of God!

But I digress.