To the Editor:
I do not disagree with the practical conclusions of Daniel Pipes and Adam Garfinkle’s article, “Is Jordan Palestine?” [October 1988], although I believe Israel and the United States should pursue a more active peace policy than the one they recommend. Even if the American opening to the PLO should produce a significant change in Soviet and Arab policy, it is most unlikely that a peace treaty can be achieved at this time, since the PLO and the Soviet Union have made it clear that they will insist on Israeli withdrawal from the whole of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem, in defiance of the territorial provisions of Resolution 242. This is an outcome Israel and the United States cannot consider. Nevertheless, solid steps toward peace might be achieved by carrying out the approach of the Camp David agreements. As the occupying power, Israel could take such steps unilaterally if no Arab interlocutors are willing to come forward. Actions of this kind, both in Israel’s military dispositions and in its arrangements for civil autonomy in parts of the West Bank, could lay the foundations for an eventual peace with Jordan and the people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip when the political atmosphere becomes more propitious. Until those parties make peace, however, Israel has no real choice but to stand on its right under Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 to continue to govern the West Bank and the Gaza Strip which it occupied in 1967.
Messrs. Pipes and Garfinkle devote a considerable part of their article to the question of whether Jordan is Palestine. Strictly speaking, the question they pose has nothing to do with the policy conclusions they reach, except, perhaps, as an excuse for creating an unnecessary and undesirable third Palestinian ministate in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In any event, Messrs. Pipes and Garfinkle are in error about the relationship of Transjordan, now called Jordan, to the Palestine Mandate. Transjordan was part of the Mandate not “for a few months” in 1921, as the authors state, but for twenty-five years until 1946, when it became independent and was recognized as a state. During that period, the State Department referred to Transjordan as “the Transjordanian province of the Palestine Mandate.” Defense, foreign relations, and other functions were in British hands, and the inhabitants carried British Mandatory passports. Most revealing of all, the Jewish right of settlement under the Mandate in Transjordan was not abolished in 1921, but only suspended.
In 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations, whose substantive resolutions can never be more than recommendations, recommended to the Security Council that the parts of the Mandated territory west of the Jordan River be partitioned between the Arabs and the Jews, with a special regime for Jerusalem. The Arab states rejected that proposal and went to war. The Security Council never acted on the partition resolution directly, but turned its attention to stopping the war and achieving peace on the basis not of the partition plan but of the agreement of Jordan and Israel first to an armistice and ultimately to peace. In 1950, Jordan attempted to annex the West Bank, but its decree of annexation was not widely recognized (and was recently repudiated by King Hussein). In 1967, the Security Council specified standards for the peacemaking process and in 1973 ordered the parties to make peace in accordance with those standards.
The Mandate was terminated as to the territories of Israel and Jordan by the diplomatic recognition of those states; a peace treaty between Jordan and Israel settling their boundaries would have the same effect as to the West Bank.
Thus there is no basis for claiming Jordanian or “Arab” sovereignty in the West Bank. The proposition that Jordan was part of the territory of the Palestine Mandate, and is the Palestinian Arab state intended to divide the remainder of the Mandate territory with Israel, is not an “eccentric” view or simply a matter of partisan politics in Israel. It is an indisputable fact, and a fact, moreover, which has consequences in international law and politics.
It follows that the Arabs who live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are not the only “Palestinians.” The Jordanians and the Israelis should be called Palestinians also, because the only conceivable definition of the word must be drawn from the territorial boundaries of the Mandate. This is the definition the PLO uses, and it is correct. There is no other source for the word.
Eugene V. Rostow
National Defense University
Washington, D. C.
To the Editor:
“Is Jordan Palestine?” The answer to the question asked by Daniel Pipes and Adam Garfinkle clearly cannot depend on the political views they or others hold on passing phases of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but must rest on the facts of history and international law. The authors, regrettably, have not done their homework, either on the political or the scholarly aspects of the issue.
The view that Jordan is a Palestinian state in history and law and that there can only be two states in formerly Mandated Palestine, between the Mediterranean and the eastern desert, . . . is held not only by Likud but is shared by practically all Zionist parties in Israel, including the Labor party. The authors are clearly not aware that the leaders of all Zionist factions, with Jabotinsky in the vanguard, have always seen the development of Jewish-Arab relations in Palestine within the context of the whole of historic and Mandated Palestine.
“No statesmanlike view of the duty of the Mandatory Power in regard to both Jews and Arabs,” wrote Chaim Weizmann in 1930, “could ignore the fact that Transjordan is legally a part of Palestine; . . . that in race, language, and culture its peoples are indistinguishable from the Arabs of western Palestine; . . . that it has been established as an Arab reserve, and that it would be just as easy for landless Arabs or cultivators from congested areas to migrate to Transjordan as to migrate from one part of western Palestine to another.” . . .
The acknowledgment of Jordan’s true status as a part of Palestine reconverts what is being presented as a . . . conflict between two peoples over one and the same small piece of land . . . into the problem of concluding boundary, human-rights, and peace agreements between two existing nation-states, not that unusual in international affairs.
To those in Israel who favor turning over territory west of the river to Jordan, the argument is of additional interest because it would make it easier to insist on the complete demilitarization of the area they may be willing to surrender, and it would eliminate any political-ideological justification for establishing there a minuscule PLO-dominated irredentist polity with special links to the Soviet Union and brooding over hostile plans against both Jordan and Israel. . . .
If the authors, before they started pontificating on an issue about which they clearly know very little, had troubled to look at the primary source, the “Mandate for Palestine,” they would have found that its full title adds, in smaller print, “and Memorandum by the British Government relating to its application to Transjordan, approved by the Council of the League of Nations on September 16, 1922.” . . . After spending, say, half an hour reading this document, they would not have had any doubt that Transjordan, when it proclaimed its independence in 1946, . . . was legally—and politically—a part of Palestine. . . . The word “Trans-jordan” is not to be found in the Mandate, and . . . there never existed a separate “Mandate for Transjordan” or even one for “Palestine and Transjordan,” on the lines of the Syrian Mandate, which became the “Mandate for Syria and Lebanon.”
Since to the authors considerations of international law, when dealing with a League of Nations Mandate, are “nitpicking,” they may perhaps be more willing to pay attention to the course of British policy in Palestine, until it lost control in 1948. British plans for the future of the country, once the concept of ending the Mandate by partition had entered political calculation, were always conceived within the context of the whole area of the Palestine Mandate, including Transjordan. . . .
The same was the case under the various partition proposals adopted by the Palestine subcommittee of the Churchill coalition cabinet during the war. . . . What they all had in common was the inheritance of the Mandate territory by two successor-states, one Jewish and the other Arab, the latter based in Amman. . . .
Even as late as the summer of 1948, . . . the British government . . . vigorously supported the plan presented by United Nations mediator Count Folke Bernadotte. In the Bernadotte plan Transjordan was referred to as part of “Palestine, as defined in the original Mandate entrusted to the United Kingdom in 1922.” Appearing before the UN Security Council, Count Bernadotte explained further: “. . . Transjordan is adjacent to Palestine over a long frontier, has common economic interests with Palestine, and was, in fact, included in the original Mandate for Palestine; . . . the Arab peoples of the two countries are homogeneous: . . . the two countries share a common currency; and . . . in general, the two countries have in the past, as now, been closely associated.” . . .
When the authors write that a “premise of the Jordan-is-Palestine argument refers to the fact that for a short time in 1920-21, the British government placed Jordan’s territory under the titular jurisdiction of the Palestine Mandate,” they are not just wrong, they succeed in putting at least three false statements into one very short sentence, and their elaboration is equally faulty. The core of the Jordan-is-Palestine argument is the status of Transjordan as a part of the Palestine Mandate throughout the lifetime of the League of Nations, and as a matter of international law, not of the vagaries of British policy. Nor is it true that the jurisdiction of the Palestine Mandate over Transjordan was ever “titular,” although the British government did delegate certain administrative powers to Emir Abdallah, to be exercised in the name of the High Commissioner for Palestine. . . . The only Mandate applicable throughout to Transjordan was the full Palestine Mandate, with only the Jewish National Home and Holy Places clauses “postponed or withheld.” . . .
“After March 1921, the East Bank was no longer Palestine,” the authors write, as though the appointment in that month of Emir Abdallah—Emir of the Hejaz, not Emir of Transjordan—as “governor” of the area, with St. John Philby as Palestine “district commissioner,” had separated it from the area of the Palestine Mandate. It was months after the appointment of Emir Abdallah that the British government introduced the new Article 25 into the draft of the Mandate text; this article defined Transjordan as “the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine,” a fact that the authors make a point of misstating, out of innocent ignorance. . . .
Mr. Pipes and Mr. Garfinkle are very categorical—and equally wrong—in dismissing the concept of a “historic Palestine.” . . . The British Royal [Peel] Commission in 1937 had no hesitation in basing the Palestinian Arab partition state which it recommended on Trans-jordan, with Amman as its capital, and in defining its area as a part of “historic Palestine,” to which the Balfour Declaration originally applied.
Why “historic Palestine”? The authors lack understanding of the dynamics of history when they write, “it is nonsense to speak of ‘historic’ Palestine as if it were a single longstanding polity,” while reminding their readers that “Palestine lived in the hearts of those who loved it.” However, not wanting to miss a single debating point, they add that “that was in a realm without clearly defined boundaries.” To those who loved it, whether Jews or Christians, millions throughout the centuries, the country had clearly defined dimensions, namely, “Palestine as it had been assigned to the Tribes of Israel,” including Ever Hayarden, the land of Gilead across the Jordan. It was on the basis of a biblical atlas also that the borders between Syria and Palestine were drawn, east and west of the Jordan River, and that the area north of Haifa was added to the British Mandate. Such were the uses of the Balfour Declaration. As Elizabeth Monroe has written, “1917 was the year that the British climbed onto the shoulders of the Zionists to get a British Palestine.”
Paul S. Riebenfeld
New York City
To the Editor:
In their article, Daniel Pipes and Adam Garfinkle have confused the history of Palestine during and immediately after World War I.
As the authors state, the modern history of Palestine begins with World War I. Palestine lost its separate character at the time of the Jewish dispersion by the Romans and its territories ultimately became anonymous parts of provinces of the Ottoman empire. Only with the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 did Palestine resume a specific role in history.
When the Balfour Declaration was issued, endorsing “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” the land referred to as “Palestine” in that Declaration included what is now Jordan. This was the finding of the Peel Commission in 1937 . . . This was also the testimony before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine in January 1946 of Leopold S. Amery, one of the Secretaries to the British War Cabinet that issued the Declaration. He said that when “. . . the Cabinet decided on the Balfour Declaration they regarded Trans-jordan [now Jordan] as being within Palestine.” . . .
Chaim Weizmann in his memoirs (Trial and Error), referring to a meeting that he had under British auspices in 1918 with the Arab leader, Feisal, said, “At this time, it must be remembered, Palestine and Transjordan were one and the same thing . . . ,” and he also noted that later, in 1922, the Balfour Declaration was limited “to Palestine west of the Jordan . . . ,” i.e., western Palestine.
The authors are therefore in error when they suggest that only starting in July 1920 did Jordan form part of Palestine “at least as far as the British were concerned.” . . .
The authors are also inaccurate in their attempt to describe how Jordan, or eastern Palestine, came to be detached from western Palestine.
The Arabs had been ruled for centuries by the Turks throughout the areas now known as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and Saudi Arabia—an area of some 1,280,000 square miles. . . .
The leading Arabs in the Middle East during World War I were the Hashemites, the protectors of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. They lived in the Hejaz, the western part of the Arabian Peninsula, not in what is now Jordan. . . . The British idea was that the Hashemites would rule the large Arab area except for Palestine. Feisal was to rule Syria and his brother Abdallah (the present Hussein’s grandfather) was to rule Iraq. But after Feisal had been crowned King of Syria, the French deposed him in July 1920. The British then set him up as King of Iraq. . . . Abdallah had meanwhile come up from the Hejaz to attack the French in reprisal for Feisal’s dethronement, and had reached Amman. The British were afraid that Abdallah would cause the French to come down into an area of British interests. They therefore asked Abdallah not to move against the French, and in March 1921 agreed not to apply the Jewish National Home policy to the Palestine territories that lay east of the Jordan but to turn them over to Abdallah to be administered under the Mandate for Palestine. . . .
At the time of this agreement, the British government had already approved the Mandate, had submitted it to the League of Nations on December 6, 1920 for ratification, and had published it as an official document. It called for application of the Jewish National Home policy throughout all of Palestine (eastern and western). The Mandate had not yet been approved by the League when the arrangements with Abdallah were made, so the Mandate was amended to cover them. . . .
The new version consisted principally of the addition of a new Article 25 which provided that “In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled . . .” to postpone or withhold some of the provisions of the Mandate. In practice, the British withheld all of the provisions applicable to the Jewish National Home. Eastern Palestine was renamed Transjordan, but it was administered under the Mandate for Palestine and the High Commissioner for Palestine was also the High Commissioner for Transjordan. . . .
The authors are also in error in stating that these new arrangements “exclud[ed] Jewish immigration there [Jordan].” There was no exclusion of Jews by the Mandate; in fact there were anti-discrimination provisions which forbade the exclusion of Jews. Jews were legally entitled to settle in Jordan, but in practice, the British and the Arabs, did exclude all Jews. . . .
The important political fact to note is that Palestine and the area of the Jewish National Home have already been partitioned to the Arabs’ gain and the Jews’ loss; that the appeasement of Abdallah by the British cut down the area of the Jewish National Home from 45,000 square miles to 10,000 square miles (including the West Bank and Gaza), or less than 1 percent of the vast lands marked for Arab independence after World War I. . . .
Lawrence R. Eno
New York City
To the Editor:
Daniel Pipes and Adam Garfinkle . . . confirm that both Israelis and Arabs agree that Jordan is Palestine. Yet they themselves disagree with this view. . . . Messrs. Pipes and Garfinkle are entitled to then-opinion, of course. But they should then substantiate their conclusions by providing correct legal and historical facts, not out-of-context quotations here and there—and certainly not by presenting falsehoods as facts.
Until the British Mandate, there never was a defined country named “Palestine.”. . . The British Mandate for Palestine, as issued by the League of Nations, covered, roughly, what is today Israel and Jordan. While the Emir Abdallah was imposed by the British on eastern Palestine and given local rule for the Tran s Jordanian part of Palestine, the country was ruled by one British High Commissioner in Jerusalem (to whom the Emir reported), had one currency and one central British administration in Jerusalem. I lived there from 1935 to 1947. I know. We had one passport for all citizens, east and west of the Jordan. I still have my Palestinian passport and I am sure it is no rarity.
Those Israelis who now speak of “transfer” (not “tranference”) base their view on the legal fact that such an act would be a de-facto transfer of population from one part of Palestine to another. We may or may not agree with their recommendations, but the legal basis for their view is there, including worldwide precedents (East to West Germany, India/Pakistan, North to South Korea, etc.). There are two successor states to the Mandate of Palestine. One Jewish Palestinian state named Israel in cis-Jordan and one Arab Palestinian state now named Jordan in trans-Jordan. The former occupies about 23 percent and the latter about 77 percent of the original Palestine Mandate.
King Hussein is a Hashemite. That does not, however, prevent him from being a Palestinian. He was born in 1935 in Amman, Palestine! King Haakon of Norway was a Danish prince. That did not prevent him from being the King of Norway. This situation is not unusual in history; there are many precedents. . . .
To say that Jordanians are not Palestinians is not correct. . . . The population of today’s Jordan is made up of people from the Palestine Mandate and their descendants, some of cis-Jordanian origin, some of trans-Jordanian origin, and some of Hashemite origin. . . .
In his most recent proclamation, King Hussein simply flipflopped for expediency’s sake. . . . But this does not change the historical and legal facts, it only changes his approach. Whether we like it or not, Jordan is Palestine. To state the opposite is disinformation.
Jordan Is Palestine Committee (New York)
New Hyde Park, New York
To the Editor:
In “Is Jordan Palestine?” Daniel Pipes and Adam Garfinkle state correctly that CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) has run ads in national publications arguing the position that historically and demographically Jordan is Palestine. However, they characterize CAMERA implicitly as an organization whose raison d’être is the promotion of this concept as well as, presumably, the advocacy of particular related policies by the Israeli and American governments. For the record, it should be understood that CAMERA is a media-watch and informational-resource organization. It is an apolitical group that does not advocate policy in any of its activities. . . .
CAMERA ads address a variety of Middle East topics, including the nature of the region’s Arab states. Prominent among the organization’s concerns is the stunning underreporting of repression inside these countries. With the expulsion of NBC news correspondent Rick Davis from Jordan in April for reporting on internal upheaval and on aspects of the country’s political system, history, and economy, not a single full-time American television reporter remains in the entire Arab world.
As to substance, the article . . . strikingly underplays the issue of the demographic makeup of Jordan and its implications. Unremarked, for instance, was the restiveness this past spring and summer among the large majority of the population who are Palestinians and who threatened to rise against their king in tandem with the uprising in the West Bank against the Israelis. Although reports on these popular demonstrations were suppressed by the Jordanian government, enough of the story eluded censorship to suggest the deep kinship felt by the Palestinians in Jordan with those in the administered territories. The kinship, it would seem, extends to a wish to be free of respective overlords. On this point also the authors may have inadvertently attributed a policy aim to CAMERA. They speak of adherents of the Palestine/Jordan viewpoint as seeking the overthrow of King Hussein. Such is emphatically not the case with our organization.
“Common sense,” as the CAMERA ad puts it, suggests that a country comprised of a large majority of citizens who are Palestinian Arabs living in territory constituting more than 70 percent of Mandatory Palestine is Palestine. Arguments based rather arcanely on the declining rapidity of the Jordan River or even on the varying divisions of ancient Palestine by Roman, Mamluk, or Ottoman rulers seem less germane than the imperatives of demography and the history of this century.
Any prospective solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict—whether conceived of in terms of a redivision of the West Bank or autonomy arrangements or shared sovereignty or some other formula—must take account of the facts: that there is a Palestinian majority in Jordan, that the Palestinians on each side of the Jordan River regard their brethren on the other bank as co-nationalists, and that these sentiments have a dynamic political force which must be considered if a prospective peace is to be founded on arrangements that have any chance of enduring.
To the Editor:
In “Is Jordan Palestine?” Daniel Pipes and Adam Garfinkle quote me as believing that the lands east and west of the Jordan River are part of a single country which has existed throughout history. By implication, people who relocate from east to west or vice versa remain in the same land; they are migrants, not immigrants. . . . This “crystal brook,” as pilgrim Mark Twain called the Jordan River, is not a barrier at all. . . .
I have written extensively on the Jordan-is-Palestine thesis in an effort to demonstrate that modern population movements and profound socioeconomic changes point toward the Hashemite kingdom as a Palestinian-Arab entity. . . . This development coincided with early British colonial policy and hopes in Palestine and served the interests of both Israel and Jordan. People make history in spite of geography: more than half-a-million Arabs from the western side have settled in Transjordan to the east since 1948. . . .
The crux of the Pipes/Garfinkle analysis, in itself an interesting review of the materials, is the political question of rule and people on both sides of the Jordan River. The authors raise the issue of “transferring the Arab population of western Palestine to the eastern part” (even they admit these areas are part of a whole) to warn that the . . . costs of this action “would be staggeringly high.” So while Bulgaria expels Muslims and Rumania drives out Hungarians—not to speak of all the other massive population transfers in this century—. . . a sober discussion of this hard problem would seem to be called for. Instead, the authors issue a proclamation of war against Israel or which, I guess, it hardly matters if Jordan is or is not Palestine.
Messrs. Pipes and Garfinkle advocate a rethinking of positions for all relevant actors in the Middle East—all except the Israeli Right, that is. And Israeli voters did indeed rethink their position: on November 1 there was a further move to the Right in the national electorate. It is the Israelis who have had to pay the costs of Arab violence, which have been “staggeringly high” already. The murder, the burning alive of women and children, the mutilation of the dead, the burning of property, the trepidation wrapped in gloom the Israelis are experiencing in their own country—all this and more is a cost that elicited “major rethinking” among certain Israelis whom the authors would seemingly deny the right (let alone the moral obligation) to think, or rethink, or to act. It is these people who have had a surfeit of folly in waiting “for a change of course from the Arabs”—which Messrs. Pipes and Garfinkle believe people “should plead for.” Studying history as a means to life, Israeli voters on November 1 . . . answered the question of whether Jordan is Palestine . . . by saying that Israel is Jewish.
To the Editor:
“Is Jordan Palestine?” appears to be another of those attempts to shoot Israel in the foot The entire land mass of present Israel and Jordan was part of the original British Mandate. That is the portion of land that must be divided between Jews and Arabs. . . .
So why are Daniel Pipes and Adam Garfinkle interested in limiting Israel’s capacity to deal with the Arab population bomb? It appears that they are not interested in Israel’s problems but in what they see as the problem of preserving Jordan as an Arab state friendly to the West. . . .
Israel is facing a demographic time bomb within all its boundaries. The exceedingly fruitful Arabs are a threat both inside the green line and in the territories. These Arabs demand a Palestinian state, an aspiration cultivated by Jordan and the other Arab nations. Let these countries now satisfy this aspiration through Jordan or defuse it by dispersing this population when it gets to Jordan. It is sufficient that Israel take responsibility for ensuring its own existence. Messrs. Pipes and Garfinkle think an unfriendly Palestinian Jordan would be a great threat to Israel, greater than the internal threat of a major hostile Arab population in its bosom. That would not be my judgment and I hope not the sane judgment of Israel. . . .
West Hartford, Connecticut
Daniel Pipes and Adam Garfinkle write:
The letter-writers object to two matters: our argument that Israelis should not try to direct Palestinian nationalism toward Jordan, and our view of the extent and duration of the British Mandate for Palestine. Let us begin with the first, more contentious, issue.
We hold that attempts to deal with Palestinian nationalism by redirecting it to Jordan—especially if this involves the “transfer” of Arabs there—are counterproductive to Israel’s security and well-being, and to U.S. interests in the region. Our critics disagree. They argue that Palestinians in “western Palestine” who want to live in a Palestinian state should go to Jordan. This is nonsense, for Palestinians do not think of the East Bank as their homeland.
On the delicate matter of “transfer,” David Basch argues that moving the Arabs east of the Jordan River is a way for Israel “to deal with the Arab population bomb,” and he asks why we would limit Israel’s capacity to cope with this problem. Our article explained that very clearly: because the practical costs of his solution far outweigh any conceivable benefits. We listed both costs and benefits on page 41 and we see no reason to repeat the list here. If Mr. Basch disagrees with these points, he should refute them, not attack our motives.
Mr. Basch accuses us of shooting Israel in the foot and of not being “interested in” the country’s problems. He is insulting on the first point and wrong on the second. Mordechai Nisan goes much farther, accusing us of having issued “a proclamation of war against Israel.” This is a bizarre interpretation, for our article contains not a single word antagonistic to Israel.
This brings us to the second category of complaints. The key difference between our view and that of our critics has to do with the importance of fine legal points. We respect the law enormously but remember that international law is not the same as domestic law and never can be. Nor can law displace politics. When we date the attachment of what became Transjordan to the Mandate in 1920 and its detachment in 1921, we are not making a legal argument. Rather, we are looking at the shifting circumstances that followed the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the end of World War I. And we stand by that argument.
On the issue of the attachment of Transjordan to Palestine: it may be, as Lawrence R. Eno says, that many British officials in 1917-18 saw Palestine as including the eastern side of the river, but the Balfour Declaration had no map attached to it and specified no borders. Further, the Declaration was issued in November 1917, at a time when the British did not control the territory in question. By the time British forces actually did control the Levant, one year later, political circumstances had changed so dramatically that the territorial musings surrounding the Balfour Declaration ceased to have much meaning.
Similarly, Mr. Eno and others should note that although the detachment of Transjordan from Palestine was not a formal matter—we mention some of this in our note on page 37—it was nonetheless thorough and permanent. When the East Bank was made off-limits to Jewish settlement (whether by suspension or prohibition, legal or illegal, is quite beside the point), its fundamental relation to the Zionist enterprise was irrevocably altered. And with the exception of the Revisionists, the Zionist leaders at the time understood and, however reluctantly, accepted this as a necessary compromise. Indeed, Mr. Eno quotes Chaim Weizmann in 1922 noting that the Balfour Declaration was limited “to Palestine west of the Jordan.” That makes our point rather well.
While accepting most of Paul S. Riebenfeld’s assertions, we dispute their relevance. Our article dismissed the sorts of points he raises as “nitpicking,” and his letter only confirms this assessment. How can anyone think that these minor points matter more than the deep tapestry of historical reality? Mr. Riebenfeld suggests we reread the Mandate for Palestine; we urge him to catch up with seven decades of passion and war. He reminds us of those who say the United Nations created the state of Israel. This is false; the sweat, sacrifice, and love of Jewish pioneers created Israel. The UN only legitimated that state in the eyes of others.
Andrea Levin tells us that because “a large majority” of the Jordanian population is Palestinian, that land has become Palestine. Ignore her exaggerated demography, but think what this principle means for world politics: the northwest of Pakistan becomes Afghanistan, the southern Sudan becomes Ethiopia, and Miami certainly becomes Cuba. As for H.Z. Born-stein’s point that Arabs who live on the East Bank are all Palestinians—including King Hussein—because the East Bank is technically Palestine, this is a wonderful example of legal pedantry. Our response takes the form of a question: how exactly does Mr. Bornstein suggest imposing the Palestinian nationality on the king?
Let us assume for a moment that Eugene V. Rostow is correct in saying that there is no legal basis for claiming Jordanian or Arab sovereignty over the West Bank. But what about the almost one million Arabs who live on the West Bank who think they are entitled to sovereignty? Does he imagine they will change their minds because of unilateral decisions taken in London many decades ago? When Mr. Rostow holds that Israelis “should be called Palestinians also, because the only conceivable definition of the word must be drawn from the territorial boundaries of the Mandate,” we again point to the irrelevance of the argument. National definitions are acts of collective existential consciousness; there are Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians today, and all three know who they are and who the other two groups are. If everyone did as Mr. Rostow does, and called Israelis “Palestinians,” you can be sure the Palestinian Arabs would quickly find another name for themselves.
Our critics insist that Israelis are Palestinians; that King Hussein is really a Palestinian; and that those who say they are Palestinians are really Jordanians. How convenient! They insist that Jordan is the real apple of the Palestinian eye, when it plainly is not. In these and other ways, they deny reality in pursuit of their dream for Israel. We share their dream of a safe Israel, but we suggest pursuing it by dealing with facts, rather than by dredging up the legalisms of a vanished age.