International Terrorism in the Contemporary World

By Marius H. Livingston; Lee Bruce Kress et al. | Go to book overview

EDWARD S.ELLENBERG

The PLO and Its Place in Violence and Terror

Background

During the last few years, it has become more and more evident that the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO, is playing a central role in the steadily developing international terrorist community. Although its so-called raison d'etre is within the Middle Eastern political and historic context, the PLO has lately achieved the role of the main center of international terrorist linkup.

To better understand how this development was possible, it is necessary to take a look at the continuous Jewish-Arab conflict over Palestine. It was this conflict that generated events such as the establishment of the state of Israel, the Arab-Israeli wars, and the birth of the PLO. More tempers are lost in arguing the Arab-Israeli conflict than over any comparable political issue; they usually expire in ignorance and irrelevance as both the proIsraeli or pro-Zionist and the pro-Arab or pro-Palestinian refuse to understand each other's point of view and to accept that Jewish colonization of Palestine and Arab nationalism emerged almost simultaneously. On the political scene, Zionism and the Arab national movement appeared at about the same time, but Arab Palestinians needed a lot more time to organize themselves than did the Jews.

Before 1917, the date of the Balfour declaration proclaiming that the British government “view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, ” there was no specific Arab Palestinian national consciousness. On the contrary, it was even possible for Emir Faisal, the son of Sharif Hussain of Mecca, who in 1921 became King of Iraq, to sign, while “representing and acting on behalf of the Arab Kingdom of Hejaz, ” an agreement with the leader of the Zionist movement, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who was to become the first president of the state of Israel thirty years later. This agreement, signed on January 3, 1919, was “mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people, ” and proposed that “immediately following the completion of the deliberations of the Peace Conference, the definite boundaries between the Arab State and Palestine shall be determined” and that “all necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land.”

In 1921 and 1929, the first Arab revolts in Palestine took place as a consequence of the growing Jewish immigration in accordance with the terms of

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