“The introduction of the Jewish State into the Arab heartland exalted many hearts and broke many more. More than anything in this century it was a triumph and a desolation. Full of high hopes it produced the most intractable conflict of our times.” So wrote journalist and world affairs commentator James Cameron, in 1976. What follows comes from his excellent, dispassionate, lucid and brief book ‘The Making of Israel.’ The quotes are his.
Where it began. Theodor Herzl a cultivated Viennese journalist outraged by the Dreyfus scandal when a Jewish officer in the French army was framed on a treason charge lit a flame under the idea of a Promised Land where Jewish people could live free of persecution and hostility, funded by rich Jewish interests. Zionism was born with the First Zionist Congress held in Basel 29 August 1897.
Chaim Weizmann, who later became the first President of Israel, joined. He was an eminent biochemist who gave great service to the British government during World War One. ‘It was he who extracted from the then British Foreign Minister through gratitude, expediency, absent-mindedness, not one will ever know – the famous Balfour Declaration.’
‘It was ambiguous, elusive, provocative, but it was the springboard.’ To the Arabs it was an act of outright imperialism to wilfully dispose of the future of a territory to which Britain had had no rightful claim, without any consultation with the 92% non-Jewish part of the population. ‘To the British it was an afterthought, to Jewish people a green light.’
During the British Palestine Mandate (1920 to 1948) the indigenous Arabs were constantly dispossessed from their land as the Jewish communities burgeoned. Conflicts grew and ‘Palestine becomes an arena of endless guerilla warfare.’ ‘The aspirations of the Jews and Arabs are irreconcilable.’
Along comes World War 11 and the Holocaust. Jewish immigration is still strictly limited by the British to 1500 a month. In desperation illegal ships bring in more, including the Exodus carrying 4500 survivors of the death-camps, which the British Navy inexplicably rammed and returned to Germany on the orders of Ernest Bevin, the Labour Foreign Minister, whose dislike to the Jews was well known backed by the traditionally Arabist UK Foreign Office.
‘Almost every independent newspaper in the world reported the Exodus with incredulous horror. Much of what happened in the Mandate must be considered against this dismal betrayal.’
In Palestine sections of the Jewish community have decided violence is the only way to make a difference to their cause. The British Mandatory Authority are now exasperated. ‘No conceivable proposal that suits the Arabs can possibly mollify the Jews.’ In 1947 the British government decides to toss Palestine back to the United Nations. The UN tries for partition which is turned down flat by the Arabs. ‘By now it is abundantly clear that no compromise any mortal man can devise is going to reconcile the Arabs to the legal existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East.’
There are attacks and counter-attacks inside Israel, roads are blockaded and the massacre at Deir Yassin follows. Mass panic sends Palestinian refugees fleeing from their villages – 6000 from Tiberias, 40,000 from Haifa.
‘The stage is now ready for the culmination of the story, of a sick and sorrowful conflict, not between right and wrong, but between two forms of right and, maybe two forms of wrong.’
In spring of 1948 there is no government and no mandate authority, the country was ‘a shifting mosaic of overlordships.’ ‘It is possible that there was no specific British intention to leave chaos behind them but is is sure that no particular effort was made to prevent it.’
In the US the partition principle was accepted but with diminishing enthusiasm. The State and Defence department were against it because it could open the Middle East to Russian interference and jeopardise Arab oil. While President Harry Truman wanted to conciliate the domestic Jewish vote.
As time wore on Harry Truman, like the British before him, became exasperated at being pounded by constant pressure from the Zionists. ‘The Jews are so emotional ,’ he wrote, ‘and the Arabs so difficult to talk with that it is impossible to get anything done.’
Truman dithered, his underlings put out conflicting messages, until eventually a school friend introduced him to Weizmann and he decided that he would look foolish to abandon his earlier acceptance of partition.
A week before the British mandate ended there was still no certainty of a dominantly Jewish state although many Arabs had fled by this time. Various Arab armies stood at the ready including a Jordanian one backed by the British aiming to capture the areas laid down in the Partition for the Arabs. There was a massacre at Etzion killed 70 Jewish settlers in retaliation for Deir Yassin. Two days before the mandate ended another Arab attack on a medical convoy killed 77 Jewish doctors, nurses and helpers. The British refused to intervene pointing to Deir Yassin.
At this point Jerusalem was under siege so the administration of the new country was moved to Tel Aviv.
On the day itself the British moved out and the Jewish government, under David Ben Gurion, declared itself in charge.
‘And no one lived happily ever after.’
What an unholy mess. It all sounded so simple and celebratory Ben Gurion cutting the ribbon and announcing Israel open until you look at what was actually going on.
James Cameron’s epilogue from 1976
“Three times in the last quarter century I have personally seen the endless tensions of the Middle East build up their content of hate and fear until it burst across the Israel-Arab borders, in one direction or another, leaving its predictable residue of triumph and defeat and sorrow and recrimination and solving nothing. Each time the world knew uneasily that the next time would be worse, and it was. Each times the wounds were deeper and the scars more brutal. Each time the world protested this could not go on, while perpetuating the factors that made it inevitable.
By and by a new generation will grow up in the Middle East, both Arab and Israeli, which will reject the role of pawns in the Power Game, refuse the importunities and persuasions of the strong and cynical, and recognize, as many voiceless patriots already recognize, that what is done is done, and that both sides must make a future together, if there is to be one at all. Amen.”
The Sabra Chatila Camp massacre of 16 September 1982 happened after Israeli troops had invaded Lebanon in an effort to wipe out the Palestine Liberation Organisation. With the tacit support of the US, Sharon paid siege to Beirut for two months which was then embroiled in a civil war. Israeli troops sealed off the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila while right-wing Lebanese militiamen went on a killing spree, targeting unarmed civilians and killing anywhere between 500 and 3500 refugees and those living in the locality.
Kim Ghattas writes in the FT: “We are still living with the consequences of Sharon’s hubris and (USA) Haig’s wink, including the birth of an axis of resistance from Damascus to Tehran.”
The chart for the Sabra Shatila Camp Massacres does echo with the present Solar Eclipse with Saturn on the exact 21 Libra degree conjunct Mercury and Pluto. The SA Mercury is exactly conjunct the Mars at the moment as is the SA Saturn conjunct the Uranus – stirring up old anger and grievances.
Theodor Herzl, 2 May 1860 1.30 am Budapest, was a very determined Sun Pluto in Taurus square a crusading Aquarius North Node and square Saturn in Leo.
Chaim Weizmann, 17 November 1874 Motol, Belarus (birthdate may be iffy) on this is a Sun Mercury in Scorpio opposition Pluto with Saturn in Aquarius opposition Uranus.
The First Zionist Congress, 29 August 1897, Basel, has a Virgo Sun square Pluto and an idealistic Jupiter square Neptune with a crusading Aquarius Node and Saturn Uranus in Scorpio.
Nahum Sokolow, 10 January 1859, also instrumental in getting international support for a Jewish homeland, was a Sun Capricorn with Pluto in Taurus square Saturn in Leo and Uranus in Taurus square a crusading Aquarius North Node.
What is notable is the proliferation of Fixed signs – obstinate to the nth degree and enduring.
Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, was a Sun, Jupiter, Venus in Leo with an innovative, disruptive Uranus Pluto in Aries. His Mars in Leo falls close to the Israel Mars; and his Leo planets to the Israel Moon. When it came into existence in 1948 (he being long dead) tr Uranus was conjunct his Midheaven with Jupiter in his 4th. His declaration may have been incidental in his mind but proved to be the catalyst for what followed. On his astrocartography, birth time being sound, his Sun, Jupiter, Venus midheaven line runs through Israel.