What might have been

I’m taking a couple of classes this summer on the Middle East. In some of my readings, I came across references to the Feisal-Weizmann agreement (links here or here, the first with a scanned copy of the letter) and the Feisal-Frankfurter correspondence. Here is what Ami Isseroff of MidEastWeb says about the background:

At the Paris peace conference in 1919, Zionist and Arab representatives pleaded their case, and met each other. The Zionists presented a map of the area they wanted for the Jewish national home. Remarkably, Dr. Weizmann and the Emir Feisal reached a signed agreement regarding Arab support for a Jewish national home. Feisal also assured the American Zionist representative, Chief Justice Frankfurter, of his support for the Zionist cause (see Feisal-Frankfurter Correspondence ). However, Feisal conditioned his support on satisfaction of Arab aspirations in Syria. Instead, Syria was given to the French as a League of Nations mandate and Feisal not only withdrew his support from the Zionist project, but claimed he had never signed any such documents.

Feisal (or Faysal) was the commander during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans during World War I that was supported by the British. After the war was over, he went to Syria to proclaim his kingship of an independent Syria and was then kicked out by the French, who had the right to the mandate there. The British then put him on the throne of the new Iraq, and made his brother the leader of Transjordan. Faysal was famously portrayed by Alec Guinness in Lawrence of Arabia.

One of the websites, MidEastWeb, is an Israeli peace site (perhaps on the left end of the Zionist spectrum?). Here is the About Us link. The other website is Zionism-Israel.com, and you can probably figure out the perspective that they’re coming from, although again, it is hardly militant.

It makes me wonder if early on there was a way to diffuse the conflict. But as Joel wisely said in one of his posts about a different matter, it was not in God’s wise providence. Humanly speaking, one obstacle might have been that Faysal’s father Husayn (or Hussein) portrayed himself as the leader of the Arab people in the famous Husayn-McMahon correspondence, but he did not really have the universal support that he suggested. I am skeptical that Faysal would have been able to deliver Arab support on this matter.


One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s