Did the Nakba Begin in 1948 - or 1920?

(Jerusalem Post) Daniel Pinner - May 15 saw demonstrations and ceremonies throughout the world to mark the 65th anniversary of the Nakba - the Disaster, the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Yet in The Arab Awakening: The Story of the Arab National Movement, George Antonius writes: "The year 1920 has an evil name in Arab annals: it is referred to as the Year of the Catastrophe," when European colonial powers partitioned the Ottoman Empire into a series of separate states. That year saw the first armed risings in protest against the post-war settlement imposed by the Allies on the Arab countries. The Arab uprisings of 1920 in British-mandated Palestine were largely instigated and led by Mohammed Amin el-Husseini, who had been an artillery officer in the Ottoman Army in the First World War. Following the Ottoman defeat in 1918 he founded the Jerusalem branch of the Syrian al-Nadi al-Arabi in 1919, and began writing for the Jerusalem newspaper Suriyya al- Jannubiyya ("Southern Syria"). Husseini, and indeed the Arab population as a whole, saw the entire region as "Syria." After the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, suddenly the Arabs of southern Syria found themselves with a new and unwanted foreign identity imposed on them by Europeans. They had become Palestinians. As a local Arab leader, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, testified to the British Peel Commission in 1937: "There is no such country as 'Palestine'; 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented!...Our country was for centuries part of Syria." As late as May 31, 1956, Ahmed Shukeiri, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council: "It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria."

2013-05-31 00:00:00

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