Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gerard Henderson: Greenhorn on the Green Line

My God the Sydney Morning Herald is a sad case these days. Having had nothing to say, apart from its news reports, on the latest bloody Israeli rampage in Gaza (not even an editorial - but then, judging by the Herald's editorial record on the Middle East conflict, that's probably a blessing) since hostilities commenced, it wasn't until November 20 that it finally chose to publish an opinion piece on the issue.

Better late than never, you might say, but what if I tell you it's by Gerard Henderson?

The very title of the piece, Hamas will never achieve a Palestinian state while killing Israeli civilians, indicates the epic scale of Henderson's historical amnesia, managing as it does to completely overlook the monumental fact that Israel's creation was based on the mass murder and expulsion of the majority of Palestine's indigenous Arab population and the wholesale theft of their homes and ancestral lands.

That elephant-in-the-room aside, however, I intend to concentrate on just the following paragraph as evidence of the man's utter unfitness to be allowed anywhere near this subject:

"Around this time last year, I visited Sderot in south-west Israel, not far from the Israel/Gaza border. Sderot is within the Green Line. That is, it is part of the state of Israel that was created by the United Nations in 1948."

First things first: Is this a first ever admission by Henderson that he's been rambammed? I ask this because, despite, as you know, always being on the alert for instances of this corrupting practice, he hasn't until now come to my attention.

However, it's to the heart of the paragraph - Henderson's tender concern for the integrity of the so-called 'Green Line' - that I wish to address. Not that this concern is anything new for this pompous pundit, having once complained that one of the problems of the BDS campaign is that it doesn't "distinguish between Israel's pre- and post-1967 borders..."*

The implication seems to be that the occupied, blockaded and undernourished Palestinians of the Gaza Ghetto (some of whom, incidentally, are the descendants of parents/grandparents ethnically cleansed by Israeli forces in 1948 from the village of Najd, on whose lands the Israeli town of Sderot has been built) have neither right nor reason to hit back at their oppressor because, extrapolating from what he's written, the UN decreed, in 1948, that something called the 'Green Line', situated between the Gaza Strip and Sderot, has the imprimatur of international law and the same status as, say, the border between Canada and the United States.

This is, of course, bunkum.

The state of Israel was not created by the United Nations in 1948. It was declared by David Ben-Gurion on behalf of the Jewish Agency on 14 May 1948 as Zionist forces were busy overrunning and establishing control over as much Palestinian territory (whilst expelling as many of its inhabitants as they could in the process) prior to various armistice agreements with the Arab states coming into force in early 1949.

It is these armistice lines - referred to collectively as the Green Line - that constitute Israel's de facto borders. Nor has Israel, following Ben-Gurion's refusal to spell out Israel's borders in his May 14 declaration of independence, ever been interested in any other than de facto borders. This is because, for Israel, borders have always been a moveable feast. The hoot here is that while Henderson may take the Green Line seriously, no Israeli government ever has. Does the word lebensraum mean anything to you, Gerard?

Where the United Nations came in was to pass a resolution on November 29, 1947, partitioning Palestine into a Jewish (56%) and an Arab (44%) state. During the fighting which followed, Zionist forces, ignoring the UN-proposed borders, despite the Provisional Government of Israel, in a letter to US President Truman, describing the new state as "an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947,"** and the US recognising Israel 11 minutes after it was declared "[w]ithin frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947," went on to take significant areas of land allotted to the Arab state, giving them final control over a whopping 78% of historic Palestine.

Needless to say, having ethnically cleansed and occupied by force a further 22% of Palestine, Israel went on to claim that the UN partition resolution of November 29, 1947 had no legal force because of its rejection by the Palestinians.

The clueless Henderson has clearly confused the UN partition resolution of 1947 with Ben-Gurion's declaration of Israeli statehood in 1948.

Quite apart from his errors of fact, and in view of his reverence for the Green Line, both with regard to Sderot and, presumably, throughout Israel, it is interesting to note that nowhere, to my knowledge, has Henderson ever spoken out against either Israel's Apartheid Wall or its West Bank settlements, both of which lie beyond the Green Line.

Having cleared that up we are left to reflect on just why it is that the Herald has seen fit to publish, as its sole commentary thus far on the current flare-up of the world's longest-running (1917-?) foreign policy saga, the views of someone who is clearly not on top of the subject and whose only acquaintance with it would seem to come from trips to Palestine/Israel sponsored by Israel lobby organisations.

[*See my 23/2/11 post A Day in the Life of the Herald; **See Letter from the Agent of the Provisional Government of Israel to the President of the United States, May 15, 1948,]

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