Towards the end of Peter Kosminsky's powerful television drama, The Promise, depicting the final years (1946-1948) of the British Mandate regime in Palestine, Sergeant Len Matthews, leaving behind a land now completely given over to Zionist terror, rapine and plunder, writes in his diary: "The Jews have their precious state, but it has been born in violence and cruelty to its neighbours. I'm not sure how it can hope to survive."
Based primarily on the hitherto largely forgotten testimony of British troops who had served in Palestine at the time, The Promise cannot help but constitute an indictment of the ruthlessness and rapacity of the movement that gave birth to the modern state of Israel. "Overwhelmingly, the veterans [interviewed by Kosminsky] told a similar story," says the Wikipedia entry for the series, "they had started out 'incredibly pro-Jewish'; but, almost to a man, they had shifted their allegiance and by the end of their stay 'were feeling a great deal of sympathy for the Arabs'. A big change came in the final months, as they saw what would happen to the Palestinians, and realised both sides were to be abandoned to a war'."
Len's words, if anything, are understated. While the native Palestinians might be factually described as neighbours to individual Jewish settler communities, with whom some form of coexistence had perforce developed, there is no ignoring the fact that the Jewish community in Palestine, the bulk of whom had arrived from Europe over the previous 30 years in the teeth of opposition from Palestine's indigenous Arab majority, were sponsored and led by an extremist movement that aimed, all rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, at the wholesale dispossession and expulsion of that majority, and its replacement by a Jewish supremacist regime over as much of Mandate Palestine as could be secured by force of arms at the time. Sgt Matthews and his fellow soldiers, leaving behind the train wreck which was British Mandate Palestine in mid-May, 1948, could hardly have been aware of the extent of the ethnic cleansing of Arab Palestine still to come. Had they been so, they may well have concluded, to adapt Len's final diary entry: The Jews have their precious state, but it has been born in such violence and cruelty to Palestine's indigenous majority as to fall into the category of a Crime against Humanity.
Matthews and his colleagues were well-placed to deliver such a verdict on the Zionist movement at the end of the Mandate era, but, as it happens, the British troops who had helped the Arabs wrest Palestine from the Turks in the First World War, many of whom formed the nucleus of the military administration which governed the country from 1918 to 1920, had a verdict of their own on the earliest manifestations of Zionist arrogance and bullying which followed the movement's official insertion into Palestine in the form of a 'Zionist Commission'. While the British military government was bound by the laws of war to maintain the status quo in a newly occupied enemy land, the Zionist Commission, in effect a parallel government with its own cabinet and government departments, immediately set about attempting to implement their aim of reconstituting Palestine as a 'National Home' for 'the Jewish people' under the aegis of the British Government's ill-conceived 1917 Balfour Declaration, despite the opposition to their plans of 90% of the country's population. A clash, both with the British military administration and the Arab population, was inevitable.
Suffice it to say that the behaviour of the Commission was such as to elicit the following extraordinary condemnation from a clearly exasperated Sir Louis Bols, the last British military governor of Palestine:
"I cannot allocate the blame [for the 1920 Jerusalem riots]," wrote Bols, "to any section of the community or to individuals while their case is still sub judice, but I can definitely state that when the strain came the Zionist Commission did not loyally accept the orders of the Administration, but from the commencement adopted a hostile, critical and abusive attitude. It is a regrettable fact that with one or two exceptions it appears impossible to convince a Zionist of British good faith and ordinary honesty. They seek, not justice from the military occupant, but that in every question in which a Jew is interested discrimination shall be shown in his favour. They are exceedingly difficult to deal with. In Jerusalem, being in the majority, they are not satisfied with military protection, but demand to take the law in their own hands. In other places where they are in a minority they clamour for military protection... It will be recognized from the foregoing that my own authority and that of every department of my Administration is claimed or impinged upon by the Zionist Commission, and I am definitely of opinion that this state of affairs cannot continue without grave danger to the public peace and to the prejudice of my Administration. It is no use saying to the Moslem and Christian elements of the population that our declaration as to the maintenance of the status quo on our entry into Jerusalem has been observed. Facts witness otherwise: the introduction of the Hebrew tongue as an official language; the setting up of a Jewish judicature; the whole fabric of Government of the Zionist Commission, of which they are well aware; the special travelling privileges to members of the Zionist Commission; these have firmly and absolutely convinced the non-Jewish elements of our partiality. On the other hand the Zionist Commission accuses me and my officers of anti-Zionism. The situation is intolerable, and in justice to my officers and myself must be fairly faced.
"This Administration has loyally carried out the wishes of His Majesty's Government, and has succeeded in so doing by strict adherence to the laws governing the conduct of the Military Occupant of Enemy Territory, but this has not satisfied the Zionists, who appear bent on committing the temporary military Administration to a partialist policy before the issue of the Mandate. It is manifestly impossible to please partisans who officially claim nothing more than a 'National Home', but in reality will be satisfied with nothing less than a Jewish State and all that it politically implies. I recommend, therefore, in the interests of peace, of development, of the Zionists themselves, that the Zionist Commission in Palestine be abolished." (Cited in Palestine, the Reality, JMN Jeffries, 1939, pp 358-359)
As to the Army as a whole, Jeffries had this to say:
"Various Zionist controversialists, with their usual skill, when dealing with [the] matter [of the British Military Administration of Palestine], do not so much blame or attack the Army as write regretfully of its ignorance and its lack of comprehension. They say that the Army never really grasped the merits of Zionism, or 'only half understood the Balfour Declaration' (Leonard Stein) or did not appreciate the policy of the 'National Home'. The suggestion is that if only the Army had not been quite so dull, it would have perceived the value of all these things, and then would have thrown all its weight upon the Zionist side or at the very least have shown itself entirely sympathetic to Zionist claims.
"Now the truth is that far from not grasping or only half-understanding or not appreciating Zionist policy, the British Army in Palestine grasped and appreciated it and understood it all too well. That is the absolute clue to the Army's attitude.
"Nor was the Army a dull body, drilling unappreciatively through life. It had eyes and ears and used these organs. It was composed of a sound average body of British citizens. Sir Ronald Storrs records that 'apart from a few professional soldiers our administrative and technical staff included a cashier of a Rangoon bank, an actor-manager, two of Messrs. Cook's assistants, a picture-dealer, an Army-coach, a clown, a land-valuer, a boatswain, a distiller, an organist, a cotton-broker, various architects, British civil-servants, a taxi-driver, two schoolmasters and a missionary'. This was the staff of his Governate, inherited from the Army, a sample of the diversity of the whole military body.
"The Army, therefore - and this is what is so important - was the sole large category of average British citizens which had direct access to the facts of the so-called 'Palestine problem', the sole such category which had encountered Zionism in Palestine and had experienced what it meant. It was the sole such category which was aware of the Arabs' true situation, which knew that they were not the fantastically dubbed 'non-Jewish community' which the home politicians called them, but the people of the land of Palestine, whose native rights had been guaranteed and now were about to be betrayed. The humblest of private soldiers possessed a first-hand acquaintance with the realities of the subject which was denied to the united faculties of all the learned societies of the British Isles. Those privates' commanders, the authorities of the military administration, had a knowledge of the subject which the Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers of Great Britain had not acquired, and indeed had steadfastly refused to obtain.
"So the undoubted fact that the Army in all its ranks was, with the fewest exceptions, anti-Zionist, that hostile catchwords borrowed from the Arabs, such as 'Yehoudi Mushquais!' ('Jews no good!') were on the lips of the soldiers, that, as the Zionist executive complained, 'jeers and gibes at the Zionists, at the Jewish colonies, at the [Zionist] Commission, were heard in every officers' mess from Dan to Beersheba', is but the most convincing proof that officers and men were alert to what was going on around them. They reacted, more earnestly than politely, against the great wrong planned in the interests of the 'National Home' against the population amidst which they lived. Their estimation of the wrong may be traced in their behaviour. It takes something phenomenal to cause the easy-going British soldier, who never even hates his foes, to turn to gibes and jeers.
"One of the least politically minded units amid all our institutions, our Army when it gives attention to politics must have a very powerful reason to impel it. In Palestine it had one, and the lessons of its espousal of the Arabs' cause is instructive beyond anything. There never will be a better proof of the justice of that cause than this favour shown to it by the one mass of ordinary Britons who came into contact with it and knew more than any other persons about it. As the Army at that time was constituted, its soldiers sprang from every class and were of every type of the British people, and the whole evidence was before them. In a way, they were empanelled by their presence upon the scene, and it was in a great trial by jury that they returned their verdict of 'Guilty' upon Zionism as practised in Palestine." (pp 368-370)
NB: On the experience of our own ex-Tommy, Peter Cundall, see my 7/7/08 post Peter Cundall's Palestine; on Israel lobby misrepresentation of our Light Horse Brigade, see my posts Anzac Day Special: Diggers Die for Israel (25/4/08) and Zionist Myth In-formation (1/5/08).