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Howard's End: The Original Sin

It is a catastrophe when evil triumphs, but it is an even greater catastrophe if it compels the just to resort to injustice in order to combat it. Time has never settled the Anglo-American differences over the major responsibility for the Middle East debacle. Maree Howard writes.

In the midst of the 1946 congressional election campaign, U.S. President Harry Truman called for the immediate admission of 100,000 Jews into Palestine. This caused British Prime Minister Clement Attlee to charge: " U.S. policy in Palestine was moulded by the Jewish vote and by party contributions of several big U.S. firms."

In defending his foreign minister, Ernest Bevin, against charges of anti-Semitism, Attlee also said that Truman had gone against the advice of his own State Department and military people: " The State Department would tell us one thing, then the President would come out with the exact opposite," he said.

From his home in Independence, Truman acidly commented on the British criticism against his administration saying: " The British were highly successful in muddling the situation as completely as it could be muddled."

To which Attlee promptly replied: " There is no Arab vote in America."

It would seem, then, that American concern for the Jewish vote, particularly in New York, forged the final disastrous and unjust decision in the 1947 UN partition plan for Palestine.

Indeed, the story of manipulation surrounding the UN vote requires a book in itself.

Suffice to say, the affirmative UN vote of Haiti, whose representative only twenty-four hours previously had fiercely attacked the petition proposal during the Lake Success debate, was one of three last-minute shifts (Liberia and the Philippines were the other two) to bring about the 33-to-13 two-thirds majority the partition plan for Palestine required.

Big money was talking and those three countries were under immense pressure because they had U.S. aid programmes awaiting congressional approval.

Truman later said that what he really wanted was a "trusteeship for Palestine" but those words do not match his deeds. The documentary evidence of the State Department dealing with Palestine developments of 1948 was delayed for more than two years and then came out in a 1,730-page volume which reveals the subordination of the national interest to U.S. domestic political pressures.

At the time of the UN partition vote there were 650,000 Jews in Palestine while there were 1.3 million indigenous Palestinian Arabs, either Christian or Muslim.

Under the partition plan, 56.4 percent of Palestine was given for a Zionist state to people who constituted 33 percent of the population and owned about 5.67 percent of the land. (Source UN maps of Palestine's land ownership (1945) and population distribution (1946) prepared on the instructions of Sub-Committee 2 of the ad-hoc committee on the Palestinian question)

Whatever motivation history may finally ascribe to Anglo-American politicians for their role in the affair will never be truly discovered.

What is clear is that western politicians of the time did not equate the difference in meaning between the terms "home" and "state."

What is also shatteringly clear is the crying injustice inflicted upon Jews and Arabs by Anglo-American politicians along with the deep harm wrought to Jews and Judaism and Arabs and Islam. That was the original sin.

This disgrace has few parallels in the annals of humankind. American or British politicians of today will not solve it because too many people of the Middle East see that, metaphorically speaking, as the rat making his own poison.

For me, the people in the Middle East are not Jews Arabs, Christians or whatever. They are human beings and I would gladly give my life if I could help bring lasting peace to all of them.

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