Israeli history RFK Dispatches

Kennedy Dispatches From Mandate Palestine: Part III…….

The Tundra Tabloids continues its review of the ‘RFK Dispatches’.

This is third segment of a four part series that centers on Robert Kennedy’s articles, concerning his observations and experiences in British Mandate Palestine as a correspondent for the Boston Post in 1948.

As I have stated before in prior postings on the subject, the RFK articles offer a unique window into a time period when the British Mandate was in its last stages. Both sides, Arab and Jew alike, were preparing for the upcoming hostilities that would erupt once the British had finally departed.

The Jews had been consistently pleading for Arab and Jewish coexistence, all the while the Arab demand for the Jews’ complete and utter annihilation had increasingly become the unified rallying cry for the majority of the Arab world. Read on.

RFK: (05.06.48)

British Position Hit in Palestine

I was in Palestine over Easter week and even then people knew there was absolutely no chance to preserve peace. They just wanted the British out, so that a decision could be reached either way. An early departure of the British has been far more important strategically to the Jews than to the Arabs.

The City of Jerusalem has more Jews than Arabs but the immediate surrounding territory is predominately Arab. Through part of that hilly territory winds the narrow road that leads from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is by this road that the Jewish population within Jerusalem must be supplied, but it is fantastically easy for the Arabs to ambush a convoy as it crawls along the difficult pass. On my trip from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem I saw grim realities of the fact and while in Jerusalem the failure and destruction of another Jewish convoy made meat non-existent and lengthened food queues for other items.”

One of the reasons why RFK states that the early departure of the British would be “far more important strategically to the Jews than to the Arabs“, was that the British had embarked on a policy of confiscating weapons from Jewish hands after a series of sabotage were conducted against the railway system throughout the countryside. The sooner Jews were able to arm themselves before the neighboring Arab armies became fully mobilized, the better the chances were for the survival of the Jewish resistance.

RFK continues:The Arabs living in the old city of Jerusalem have kept the age-old habit of procuring their water from the individual cisterns that exist in almost every home. The Jews being more “educated” (an Arab told me that this was their trouble and now the Jews were going to really pay for it) had a central water system installed with pipes bringing fresh hot and cold water. Unfortunately for them, the reservoir is situated in the mountains and it and the whole pipe line are controlled by the Arabs. The British would not let them cut the water off until after May 15th but an Arab told me they would not even do it then. First they would poison it.”

Here is a stark reminder of how water, and the lack of it, can be used as a weapon by one side against the other. In the Middle-East, the situation over water is of major importance, especially over who controls it. Palestine Facts has plenty of info the subject, just click here.

What’s worth noting is the mindset of the Arab that Kennedy mentions, according to which, poisoning a fresh water source is more desirable than simply cutting it off. The ramifications from such a tactic to the general population as a whole, meaning for both Jew and Arab alike, are great for all the obvious reasons. Both peoples would be the target of much deprivation and suffering for a long time to come, but that scenario was of little concern to the Arab. Little has changed since that time.

RFK:Within the Old City of Jerusalem there exists a small community of orthodox Jews. They wanted no part of this fight but just wanted to be left alone with their wailing wall. Unfortunately for them, the Arabs are unkindly disposed toward any kind of Jew and their annihilation would now undoubtedly have been a fact had it not been that at the beginning of hostilities the Haganah moved several hundred well-equipped men into their quarter.”

That’s the trouble with the notion that the Arab/Israeli conflict is about borders (at least from the Arab perspective), it’s always been about the religious supremacy of Islam, and the need for Muslims to keep their second class subjects of Jews and Christians…as second class “dhimmis”. Those religious Jews RFK mentions, would not offer any pretense of loyalty to the new state of Israel, because they deemed the notion of a modern secular Jewish state as a treacherous breach of their own religious understandings of both the Torah and the Talmud.

The ultra-Orthodox Jews living in the Mea She’arim seemed unaware of the fact that Islam would soon seek their destruction as well as the “Zionists”, just as some Jews today have no problem in schmoozing with the Iranians. Pure suicide, and it’s chilling to see how some people, no matter how well intentioned that they may be, refuse to learn from past events.

Continued:This inability to make any long range military maneuvers because of the presence of the British has been a great and almost disastrous handicap to the Jews. If the brief but victorious military engagement on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road had not taken place, the Jewish cause would have suffered such a setback as to be virtually lost. If the Haganah had waited for May 15th and the withdrawal of British troops, there would be few alive in Jerusalem today. Strong units of that body had moved into the hills on either side of that strategic road and repelled Arab counterattacks long enough for several hundred truckloads to make the 40-mile trip into the city, and then, only after threats from the British commander to use force against them, had withdrawn from their positions. As a Jew said to me at the time, “This is our battle of the Atlantic.” The maneuvers had to take place and took place despite the British.”

Here is another reason why the Haganah were happy for the British departure, the Brits presence acted as a buffer to Arab military and terrorist attacks against Jews, as well as being a major obstacle to Jewish operations that were aimed at the replenishment of blockaded Jerusalem. For more about the history of Israel’s War of Independence click here.

RFK continues: […] “In addition to these handicaps that the Jews suffered through the presence of the British, there are many more far-reaching aspects of British administration which unfortunately concern or, rather involve us in the United States. Having been out of the United States for more than two months at this time of writing, I notice myself more and more conscious of the great heritage and birthright to which we as United States citizens are heirs and which we have the duty to preserve. A force motivating my writing this paper is that I believe we have failed in this duty or are in great jeopardy of doing so. The failure is due chiefly to our inability to get the true facts of the policy in which we are partners in Palestine.

The British government, in its attitude towards the Jewish population in Palestine, has given ample credence to the suspicion that they are firmly against the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. When I was in Cairo shortly after the blowing up of the Jewish Agency [March 11, 1948] I talked to a man who held a high position in the Arab League. He had just returned from Palestine where he had, among other things, interviewed and arranged transportation to Trans-Jordan for the Arab responsible for that Jewish disaster. This Arab told him that after the explosion, upon reaching the British post which separated the Jewish section from a small neutral zone set up in the middle of Jerusalem, he was questioned by the British officers in charge. He quite freely admitted what he had done and was given immediate passage with the remark “Nice going.”

Here is an eye witness account of the British attitude towards the Jews in Mandate Palestine, many of whom being survivors of the Nazi organized Holocaust of Jews in Europe. Is it any wonder that some Jews, like those in the Lehi and Stern gangs, took to violence against the Brits after narrowly surviving a genocide perpetrated by the German National Socialists? The Brits were seen as being accomplices to yet another Jewish holocaust, and RFK gives his own accounting that validates that viewpoint.

Also worth considering is the US’s continued self defeating policy of “even handedness” between the two sides, as if the Arabs have ever shown themselves capable of even governing themselves in a rational and reasonable way, let alone being rational and reasonable at the bargaining table.

What RFK was getting at, was the US’s great moral responsibility to ensure the protection of a people who show the same moral character, and democratic outlook as the US’s own founding fathers. By ensuring their survival, the US ensures it own. The fact that the Brits were not amazed or upset that Arab armies were moving into better position to kill the nascent Jewish democratic state of Israel, showed RFK that the Brits were not learning from history, and that the US was in danger of following suit. Read on…..

RFK: “When I was in Tel Aviv the Jews informed the British government that 600 Iraqi troops were going to cross into Palestine from Trans-Jordan by the Allenby Bridge on a certain date and requested the British to take appropriate action to prevent this passage. The troops crossed unmolested. It is impossible for the British to patrol the whole Palestinian border to prevent illegal crossings but such flagrant violations should certainly have led to some sort of action.

Five weeks ago I saw several thousand non-Palestinian Arab troops in Palestine, including many of the famed British-trained and equipped Arab legionnaires of King Abdullah [of Trans-Jordan]. There were also soldiers from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Trans-Jordan, and they were all proudly pointed out to me by a spokesman of the Arab higher committee. He warned me against walking too extensively through Arab districts as most of the inhabitants there were now foreign troops. Every Arab to whom I talked spoke of thousands of soldiers massed in the “terrible triangle of Nablus-Tulkarem-Jenin” and of hundreds that were pouring in daily.”

The fact of the matter is, Arabs had been streaming into Mandate Palestine for decades, which is interesting from a historical perspective, since any mention of immigrants in relation to Mandate Palestine cum Israel/Trans-Jordan, has always to do with Jews. The Arab populations on both sides of the Jordan River are built primarily from the influx of immigrants during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, as are the populations of Jews and Arabs in Israel. Frankly put, both Palestine and Mandate Palestine are a history of immigration …of both Jew and Arab.

RFK’s last parting words in this segment:Our government first decided that justice was on the Jewish side in their desire for a homeland, and then it reversed its decision temporarily. [Editor’s note: In March 1948 the State Department reversed its support for partition and called for a UN trusteeship.] Because of this action I believe we have burdened ourselves with a great responsibility in our own eyes and in the eyes of the world. We fail to live up to that responsibility if we knowingly support the British government who behind the skirts of their official position attempt to crush a cause with which they are not in accord. If the American people knew the true facts, I am certain a more honest and forthright policy would be substituted for the benefit of all.”

It’s time that the world dumps the false, pseudo science of “New Historian” revisionism of Israeli history, and return to the hard cold facts of the proven historical record. JFK himself would approve of such had he not been cut down by a Palestinian’s bullet. *L* KGS

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