Saturday, September 29, 2012

Walking in the Mufti's Shoes 2

Orwell may have been silent on the subject of Palestine but other, now virtually forgotten, voices were raised, not just in defence of the Palestinian people but in defence of the Mufti himself.

British missionary and pro-Palestine activist Frances E. Newton made no bones about the fact that it was Britain which propelled the Mufti into Hitler's arms: 

"I am glad to claim the friendship of the much-maligned Hajj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. If ever Great Britain had a believer in our good faith it was he. It was only when he realised that the privileged position granted to the Zionists under the Mandate was inimical to Arab interests that he became the recognised leader of the patriotic Arab movement. The Royal Commission exonerated him from inciting the people to open revolt, but held him responsible for not being able to quench the unquenchable spirit of the Arab patriots. His words misinterpreted, his actions misconstrued, goaded into opposition to the policy we were pursuing, regarded as an enemy to be disposed of if found in any land under British influence, he was nowhere safe except among our former enemies, the Italians and the Germans, admittedly a most regrettable refuge - but where did the blame lie?" (Fifty Years in Palestine: The Case for the Arabs1948, p 293)

Newton's fellow activist, British journalist and historian JMN Jeffries, who was to Palestine what Orwell was to Spain, here brings his trademark moral clarity and eloquence to bear on the subject of the Mufti:

"There seems little doubt that the Mufti is a man of conspiratorial temperament, and that he may have come to have a hand in the propagation of armed resistance on the soil of Palestine is pretty likely. But the point to be put concerning the Mufti is this. What attitude exactly, and what action, was to be expected of him when it had grown absolutely plain that years upon years of pacific request and remonstration had not succeeded in winning discussion of the charges brought by him and other Arab leaders against the Mandate and its makers, much less the rebuttal of these charges. If he did take to intrigue after years of non-suited appeals and disallowed petitions, and if no reasoned arguments of his had obtained even consideration of the subject of appeal, then who is to judge him? Certainly not men in the high places of governments or Leagues with 20 solid years of intrigues with the Zionists behind them." (Palestine: The Reality, 1939, pp 674-675)

And here is Jeffries on allegations that the Palestinian rebels of 1936-1939 received German weapons:

"If any Arab leaders, or any sections of the people, have cultivated any kind of relations with Powers who are hostile to ourselves or are rivals to ourselves, it has not really been zealous cultivation, but enforced acceptance of the only relations they have been able to obtain. If any insurgents have turned to German gun-runners to obtain rifles, it is because since 1919 no Arab in Palestine has seen anything else (morally always and physically sometimes) but the barrels of our rifles and the immigrant ships coming up from the sea behind them." (ibid p 679)


Anonymous said...

Jeffries says so much, so elegantly, with so few words.

MERC said...

Jeffries is pure gold as far as I'm concerned. Check out the other Jeffries' quotes by clicking on the label below and treat yourself. And of course there'll be more to come.