By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, the Chief Political/Intelligence Officer of the British Mandate in Palestine, inspired the late Senator Daniel Inouye, who laid the foundation for the landmark US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, which was overwhelmingly supported by Congress. The Act reflects Israel's increasing and unique strategic contribution to vital US defense and commercial interests, and the mutually beneficial, two-way-street nature of the US-Israel relationship.
Col. Meinertzhagen's Middle East Diary 1917-1956 is as relevant today, for the USA, as it was 80-100 years ago, for Britain, maintaining that a Jewish State would be the most reliable and effective beachhead of Western democracies in an area, which is vital to their critical economic and national security interests.
In 1923, Col. Meinertzhagen stated: "Britain will not be able to sustain its control of the Suez Canal [1882-1956] endlessly…. [Therefore], I've always considered the Land of Israel to be the key to the defense of the Middle East…. When a Jewish state will be established, Britain shall benefit from air force, naval and land bases… as well as Jewish fighting capabilities…. which will secure its long-term regional interests…. Unlike the Arabs, Jews are reliable and do comply with agreements…. Zionism is the hope for the reconstructed Jewish homeland; it is also a clear strategic benefit to the British Empire…. The British policy in the Middle East bets on the wrong horse, when appeasing the Arabs…."
In 1920, he wrote: "I firmly believe that a sovereign Jewish State shall be established in 20-30 years, militarily assaulted by all its Arab neighbors." In 1919, he assessed that a long-term, and possibly insoluble, clash between Jewish and Arab nationalism was inevitable. He expected the Jews to prevail due to their impressive military track record in ancient times. Jewish quality would overcome the Arab quantity.
In 1920, Meinertzhagen noted that the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue was the Arab obsession with the existence – not merely the size – of a Jewish State, as evidenced by the systematic campaign of anti-Jewish incitement by Arab leaders, especially the Jerusalem Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini [the role model for Mahmoud Abbas and Arafat].
He noted that while Zionism was relentlessly determined to reestablish Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, the Arab worldview was dominated by a 7th century fanatic Islam. Arabs displayed hopeless inter-Arab fragmentation, intrigues, tenuous regimes and policies, as well as violent intolerance, featuring ruthless incitement, towards the Christian and Jewish "infidel," in a region which Muslims perceived to be divinely ordained only for the followers of Islam (Waqf).
Meinertzhagen opposed British policy, which egregiously violated legally-binding commitments made to Jewish sovereignty over (at least!) the entire area west of the Jordan River, such as the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the 1920 San Remo Conference British Mandate, and the 1922 League of Nations reaffirmation, which was integrated into Article 80 of the 1945 UN Charter. He claimed that British policy was driven by pro-Arab and anti-Semitic sentiments, discriminating against Jewish aspirations, thus radicalizing the Arabs and minimizing the prospects of peace.
Meinertzhagen considered a sovereign Jewish entity a strategic and moral asset, while the Arabs were defined as a strategic and moral liability, urging the British government to ally itself with the reliable and grateful party.
The conviction-driven British clairvoyant was convinced that the Jewish state was destined for a rosy commercial and military future due to boundless Jewish tenacity - as evidenced by the survival of Judaism in defiance of historical adversity – and Jewish brainpower, inspired by values that generated monotheism and Western democracies. Moreover, in 1920, Meinertzhagen wrote that "the Zionist entity shall provide its Arab citizens with enhanced economy and security." In 1949, he referred to the newly-born Jewish State as "one of the world wonders, and the only positive outcome of the Second World War."
Noting in 1937 that "a secure Jewish State would bolster the regional position of Britain," while "a splintered Land of Israel would weaken, and possibly, eliminate, the Jewish State," Meinertzhagen delineated the security lines of the Jewish state [before the intensified unpredictability, instability and threat generated by the Arab Tsunami]: from the Lake of Galilee to the Jordan River, the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba in the east; from the Gulf of Aqaba to Rafiah (Southern Gaza) in the south; the Mediterranean in the west; and the Litani River (Southern Lebanon) in the north. Meinertzhagen's map was similar to the map of Israel's minimal security requirements, submitted on June 29, 1967 to President Johnson by General Earl Wheeler, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff.
Against the backdrop of the 2014 controversy over the Jewish State Law, it is instructive to read that, Col. Meinertzhagen indicated in 1932: "it is clear that [for the sake of Britain] the Land of Israel will become a Jewish State no less than England is English."