Israel, the Hashemites, and the Palestinians: The Fateful Triangle

Israel, the Hashemites, and the Palestinians: The Fateful Triangle

Israel, the Hashemites, and the Palestinians: The Fateful Triangle

Israel, the Hashemites, and the Palestinians: The Fateful Triangle

Synopsis

The essays that make up this study provide a wide-ranging survey of the special relationship that exists between the Israelis and the Hashemite family. This relationship is shown to have far-reaching implications for Middle Eastern affairs.

Excerpt

No regional group has exerted greater influence on the fortunes of the modern Middle East than the Hashemite family of the Hijaz. Not only did one of its prominent scions, Hussein Ibn Ali, the sharif of Mecca and perpetrator of the 'Great Arab Revolt', succeed in inducing Britain to surrender to his family substantial parts of the collapsing Ottoman Empire; he also drove British officialdom to seriously entertain the destruction of that empire. As late as June 1915, nearly a year after the outbreak of the First World War, British policymakers were still amenable to the continued existence of Turkey-in-Asia, as evidenced by the recommendations of an interdepartmental committee, headed by Sir Maurice de Bunsen of the Foreign Office, that regarded the preservation of a decentralized and largely intact Ottoman Empire as the most desirable option. Four months later, the British high commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon, had been sufficiently impressed by Hussein's false pretence to represent 'the whole of the Arab nation without any exception' to accept, albeit in a highly equivocal fashion, his demand for the creation of a vast Arab empire on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, stretching from Asia Minor to the Indian Ocean and from Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean.

When this grandiose vision failed to materialize in its full scope, the Hashemites quickly complained of being 'robbed' of the fruits of victory promised to them during the war. (They were, as it happens, generously rewarded in the form of vast territories several times the size of the British Isles.) Thus arose the standard grievance that Arab intellectuals and politicians levelled at the Western powers, Britain in particular, and thus emerged the doctrine of pan-Arabism which postulates the existence of 'a single nation bound by the common ties of language, religion and history …behind the facade of a multiplicity of sovereign states'. The territorial expanse of this supposed nation has varied among the exponents of the ideology, ranging from merely the Fertile Crescent to the entire territory 'from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf'. But the unity of the Arabic-speaking populations inhabiting these vast territories is never questioned.

To be sure, this doctrine was already articulated by a number of pre-First World War intellectuals, most notably the Syrian political exiles Abd

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