Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive
doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs. He has created and
conducted counter-Arab propaganda programs for college youth, has
lectured on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has publicly
debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been
published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and
websites all around the world.
January 16, 2012
John Campbell's biography of Great Britain's former
Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher (1979 to 1990),
has just hit the big screen. Meryl Streep is already
being talked about for another academy award for her
portrayal of the Iron Lady.
Like her nation's overwhelming centuries' old
imperial past, there are multiple ways of viewing
Prime Minister Thatcher's own actions.
Ask people which empire in all of recorded history
was the largest, and see if they know…
To save you the task of researching this (and as if
you haven't already guessed), the British Empire
beats them all by far, at one time comprising nearly
a quarter of the land mass of the earth and about a
quarter of its population up until the post-World
War II era in the last century.
Name the location…all North America; British West
Indies; Egypt, and much of the rest of the Middle
East and elsewhere in North and sub-Saharan Africa;
Australia and New Zealand; Hong Kong; the former
Burma, Ceylon, and the Indian sub-continent and its
environs; islands off of South America; etc. and so
forth… not to mention the earlier forced acquisition
and consolidation of the Scottish, Welsh, and Irish
His and Her Majesties' realm dwarfed all others, and
despite many of the Brits' former possessions now
having attained independence, the legacy of that
imperial experience is still very much with those
former subjects today with impacts on much of the
rest of us as well. The late 19th century poem by
Rudyard Kipling, speaking of the White Man's Burden,
sums much of this up nicely. While addressing
America's new dabbling in such enterprise after its
war with Spain, it was indeed originally written
with Great Britain in mind.
With this as background, let's turn now to just a
few events which transpired during the Iron Lady's
days as Prime Minister…
A few years into Thatcher's administration, in 1982
Argentina once again got peeved at the audacity of
British imperial and colonial policies which had
resulted in its earlier grabbing islands a few
hundred miles off the Argentine coast.
Almost 8,000 miles away from Great Britain, Las
Malvinas--aka, the Falkland Islands--were perceived
as a thumb in the eye of Argentina. Imagine, for
example, the latter staking claim to the Isle of
Wight or the Hebrides off of "Great
Anyway, after the Argentine invasion, the Iron
Lady's Brits went to war to re-conquer the islands
in the name of British national interests…almost a
third of the circumference of the world away from
Let's turn the clock back now to the days of the
June ("Six Day") War in the Middle East. And, to
really understand the point, we have to go back even
further, to the break-up, after World War I, of the
Ottoman Turkish Empire which controlled much of
region for some four centuries.
The Brits made a lot of conflicting promises to lots
of different peoples during those days.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt--and going
beyond those would claim just neo-colonial, divide
to still remain in control policies--there was also
a sincere feeling, in at least some circles, that
long-suppressed, different peoples should at long
last get a taste of freedom and independence
Arabia for the Arabs, Judea for the Judeans (Jews),
Armenia for the Armenians,www.ekurd.net
and Kurdistan for the Kurds was one way of
expressing this view, and President Woodrow Wilson's
famous "Fourteen Points" emphasized this as well.
Having said this, that view often clashed with the
actual folks running the British Foreign Office and
So, to not anger Arabs, for example, the Brits,
whose imperial navy had recently switched from coal
to oil, reneged on promises to the Kurds--currently
some 35 million truly stateless people who pre-dated
Arabs by millennia in the Mandate of Mesopotamia.
After receiving a favorable decision from the League
of Nations regarding the northern oil fields in
1925--London supported only Arab nationalist
interests in what would soon become a united Arab
Iraq instead. Specially designed British
Hawker-Hunter (anti-guerilla) attack aircraft took
care of the Arabs' Kurdish headaches afterwards.
A few years earlier, the Brits were involved in
similar imperial shenanigans…
While Jews had earlier been promised that they would
be able to live throughout the Brits' other, smaller
Mandate of Palestine, in 1922 almost 80% of the land
was handed over to Arab nationalism instead.
Transjordan was thus virtually severed from the
remaining 20% of the original April 25, 1920 Mandate
of Palestine's territory while still technically
being a part of the Mandate until gaining
independence in 1946.
Led and formed by the Brits' Sir John Bagot Glubb ("Glubb
Pasha"), Transjordan's Arab Legion seized lands west
of the Jordan River in its attack on a minuscule
reborn Israel in 1948 and, now holding territory on
both banks, soon renamed itself Jordan instead.
Note please…the conquest of Judea and Samaria (only
recently thus being dubbed the "West Bank" as well),
was an illegal occupation of non-apportioned (not
"purely Arab") territory in the Mandate, and no
nations besides Pakistan and the Brits themselves
Having been blockaded at the Straits of Tiran and
the Gulf of Aqaba by Egypt and shelled by the
Jordanians a bit later (casus belli), when Israel
took the land in its war for survival in 1967, it
was thus taking it from an illegal occupier.
In his book upon which the movie, Iron Lady, is
based, John Campbell refers to and/or insinuates
that Israel's defensive actions on the West Bank
amounted, instead, to the illegal acquisition of
"Palestinian" lands. It's a bit confusing as to
whether those words in his book are his own thoughts
or are actually those of the Iron Lady…Either way,
they're simply wrong.
The disputed lands in question were indeed
non-apportioned, and all of the Mandate's residents
were allowed to live there…not just Arabs. Much, if
not most, of the area was state lands, and Jews had
lived and owned property there until they were
slaughtered by Arabs in the 1920s and 1930s and
Transjordan officially made the territories
Judenrein (as it made itself) after 1948.
Again, the Brits are a mixed blessing on all of
these matters, wavering back and forth between
issues of real politik and just reasoning…And the
Iron Lady was no exception, despite her relative
friendliness to Israel compared to what it faces
coming out of her nation these days.
Thatcher's Britain--which could fight Argentina
8,000 miles from home in the name of Her Majesty's
national ( if not also still imperial)
interests--would constantly press Israel to return
the territories used to launch attacks against it
and on which Jews (unlike the Brits on the
Falklands) have thousands of years of connecting
A Great Britain, which acquired territories and
conquered peoples all around the globe while
grabbing their natural resources for its own good as
well, saw and still sees no trouble complaining
about an allegedly "expansionist" Israel because,
having been repeatedly attacked by Arabs who want it
destroyed, says it needs to become something beyond
the nine-to fifteen mile wide sub-rump state that it
was left as after 1949…in other words, needs the
very territorial compromise the British Foreign
Secretary, as will be discussed below, had promised
Israel just a bit earlier himself.
"Land for peace" became the constant lecture even
from the friendly Iron Lady…even though it was quite
clear to all with eyes open and neurons intact that
the only "peace" the vast majority of Arabs had in
mind for Israel was the peace of the
grave--regardless of its size.
What makes this all the more confusing is that it
was an earlier British Foreign Secretary himself,
Lord Caradon, serving as chief architect of the
final draft of UNSC Resolution 242 in the aftermath
of the June '67 War, who deliberately built in a
territorial compromise over the disputed territories
so that Israel would, at long last, get more secure,
defensible, and real political borders instead of
the armistice lines imposed upon it in 1949 after
the combined Arab invasion the year before. Again,
those lines had left Israel a mere 9-15 miles wide
at its waist, where most of its population and
industry were concentrated…an irresistible
temptation to its rejectionist enemies.
Here were the Iron Lady's colleague, Lord Caradon's,
very words on the subject…
It would have been wrong to demand Israel return to
positions of June 4, 1967 … those positions were …
artificial … just places where soldiers of each side
happened to be on the day fighting stopped in 1948 …
just armistice lines. That’s why we didn’t demand
Israelis return to them.
With this in mind, Jews would obviously have to
repopulate areas in Judea and Samaria in which they
indeed had lived earlier…for millennia. Until the
Jordanians destroyed numerous synagogues and such,
this included East Jerusalem as well, the location
of Judaism's holiest of sites, the Temple Mount and
the Western Wall.
To get what 242 promised--that territorial
compromise--it's a no brainer, as my students would
say, that Jews would have to actually live on the
land. So, please explain this next alleged statement
from Thatcher in 1980 recorded in a secret
diplomatic cable written by Ambassador John Robinson
on May 4th 1980…
Efforts to convince (Prime Minister) Mr. Begin that
his West Bank policy was absurd, and that there
should not be Israeli settlements on the West Bank,
had failed to move him… His response was that Judea
and Samaria had been Jewish in biblical times and
that they should therefore be so today.
To her credit, however, she also made the following
statement on page 246 in her book, Statecraft…
Israel must never be expected to jeopardize her
security: if she was ever foolish enough to do so,
and then suffered for it, the backlash against both
honest brokers and Palestinians would be immense -
'land for peace' must also bring peace.
By the way, the Minutes of the Permanent Mandates
Commission of the League of Nations and other solid
documentation show that the vast majority of Arabs
were newcomers into the Mandate themselves, Arabs
settlers setting up Arab settlements in Palestine.
Indeed, after the combined Arab invasion in 1948
backfired on the Arabs themselves, so many Arabs in
the Mandate were newcomers that the United Nations
Relief Agency set up to assist Arab refugees had to
adjust the very definition of that word to assist
So many Arabs were recent
arrivals--settlers--themselves that UNRWA had to
change the definition of "refugee" from its prior
meaning of persons normally and traditionally
resident to those who lived in the Mandate for a
minimum of only two years prior to 1948...Please
understand what this is saying.
And there was no special agency set up to help
numerically more Jewish refugees, fleeing so-called
"Arab" lands, than Arabs who were fleeing in the
opposite direction due to a war which Arabs started
over Israel's rebirth.
While the Iron Lady is missed these days for her
relative fairness towards Israel, besides the
troubling example above, there were some other
episodes as well…like when she joined American
political leaders, such as George H.W. Bush, James
Baker, and others (and most of the rest of the
world) in condemning Israel's surgical destruction
of Saddam Hussein's Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq.
Just imagine if Saddam had the bomb when he went
invaded Kuwait, went to war with Iran, and so forth…
Working non-stop on behalf of freedom for the Soviet
Union's Jewish refuseniks, she then made the leap,
however, comparing them to allegedly "stateless"
Arab refugees. The plight of the latter was mostly a
self-inflicted wound…that of the former was not.
Read this to see what I mean…
And Arabs already had one state created for them in
the lions' share of the Palestine Mandate--Jordan.
They were not "stateless." Arabs next refused
another proposed partition plan in 1947 which would
have given them about half of the 20% that was left.
90% was not enough for them…Jews were entitled to
nothing in this vision of "justice"--the same
subjugating Arab mindset which victimizes scores of
millions of other non-Arab peoples in the region as
No doubt, it's disappointing when folks like the
Iron Lady's fail to see such differences.
On the overall balance sheet, however, and despite
the above and other "flaws" (just ask the Irish, for
example), when judging world leaders, the world
would be a better place if Margaret Thatcher was
still in her office at 10 Downing Street.
Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has
done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern
Affairs. He has created and conducted counter-Arab
propaganda programs for college youth, has lectured
on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has
publicly debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles
and op-eds have been published in dozens of
newspapers, magazines, academic journals and
websites all around the world. Visit his
Gerald A. Honigman, a longtime contributing writer
for ekurd.net. Honigman has published a major book,
Quest For Justice In The Middle East--The
Arab-Israeli Conflict In Greater Perspective."
By Gerald A. Honigman for eKurd.net, January 16, 2012. You may reach the
author via email at: honigman6 (at) msn.com.
Copyright © 2012 ekurd.net.
All rights reserved
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