Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Palestinians: A Detailed Documented Eyewitness History of Palestine under British Mandate

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Palestinians: A Detailed Documented Eyewitness History of Palestine under British Mandate

Article excerpt

By Dr. Izzat Tanous. I.G.T. Company, 1988. 779 pp. List $45; AET: $30 for one, $45 for two.

No evidence in the book of Job supports the contention of Job's friends that his sufferings stemmed from his own transgressions. Convinced of his own righteousness, Job sought a clarifying conversation with God. He received no satisfactory answers, even from the Divinity. Job (Ayyoub) became a symbol for the innocent victim. And few would deny the status of victimhood to the persecuted Jews.

The quietly angry theme of Dr. Izzat Tannous's massive The Palestinians is that this is more consideration than the Palestinians ever got from their persecutors, Israel, Britain and the United States.

Throughout the book the author, a 94-year-old Christian Palestinian physician, asks an unarticulated question, "How can you do this to us? How could you teach me in your Christian schools in Nablus and Jerusalem; train me in medicine at your incomparable American University of Beirut, where I grew to love so many fine Americans; and then, Britain and America, take away my country and turn my people into pariahs in our lands?"

There is no satisfactory answer to his question, just as there was none to Job. Dr. Tannous' nearly 800 pages cover three-quarters of a century, from 1876 to 1949, of the Palestinian tragedy with a scope never before equaled. Even for Americans who know the problem well, reading The Palestinians is a not-very-pleasant catharsis.

First Britain and then the US desecrated Palestine. Now, as its people suffer psychological and physical brutalization by Israelis, Israel's American supporters defame Palestinians with multitudinous lies designed to portray the Palestinians themselves as responsible for their miserable fate.

A brilliant physician, Dr. Tannous gave up his medical practice while still a young man to devote, literally, the rest of his life to Palestine. His accounts of the Palestinian Rebellion (1936-1939) are far more detailed than any seen before. Generally called "The Great Strike" by Palestinians, it kept Palestine in turmoil for three years.

This first of the Arab-Jewish wars, an attempt by the Palestinians to slow Jewish immigration from Europe into Palestine, cost the Palestinians 5,032 dead (including 112 executed by the British authorities) and 14,760 wounded, according to Palestinian historian and Harvard professor, Dr. Walid Khalidi.

Jewish immigration did not stop, but the Palestinians did prove that they were ready to fight and die to preserve their country. That bloody era in Palestine just prior to the outbreak of World War II also proved the ruthless determination of a politically dominant Britain to turn Palestine over to another people, no matter how disastrous for its native inhabitants.

Dr. Tannous believes that there might have been an independent Palestine long ago if the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Ameen al-Husseini, had accepted Britain's promises in 1939 to limit future Jewish immigration to Palestine. For readers who have seen at first hand the power of the Zionist lobby in Britain and, especially, in America, it is hard to concur. …

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