The Nakba and betrayal of the Arab Rulers

The tragedy of the nakba and its continuation to today’s assault on Gaza stems from the inadequacies and treachery of Arabs regimes.
17th May 20246 min

The widely quoted tweet by Edy Cohen, Israeli researcher, journalist and specialist in the Arab–Israeli conflict and former employee of Israel’s current prime minister boldly states “…we (The Israelis) would not of reached the Rafah crossing without the collusion and silence of the Arab regimes”.[1] Although true for all Arab rulers it holds special significance for King Hussein the now deceased ruler of Jordan. Not trusting any of his acolytes with an errand of such personal importance, he personally piloted his plane and flew to Tel Aviv to warn his close associate and then Prime minister of Israel Golda Meir about the upcoming Syrian and Egyptian offensive.[2]

In a meeting, which up to this day is still considered too sensitive in Israeli intelligence circles to disclose, King Hussein accompanied by, Ziad Rifai, met with Meir and the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mordechai Gazit, whilst two high level Jordanian intelligence officials met with their Israeli counterparts in a separate room. After idle chit chat Hussein warned Meir about the impending offensive and an impending war on two fronts.[3]

It seems that betrayal of the Palestinian and in fact Arab cause may have a genetic origin and is somewhat hard wired into the Hashemite Dynasties genes. From his imposition as Emir of Transjordan in 1921 to his eventual assassination in 1951, King Hussein’s grandfather maintained clandestine diplomatic, political and military ties with senior Zionists including Golda Meir, from whom he received occasional payments for his services. At the heart of his treachery was the promise by Zionist leaders of lands west of the river Jordan, which he annexed during the 1948 war at the expense of a Palestinian state. In his estimation he would rather see a Zionist state with the west bank in his hands than an Arab state with the west bank in Palestinian or Egyptian hands.[4]

At the time, Jordan had the strongest and most professional army in the Middle East established and equipped, paradoxically, by the authors of the Balfour declaration, the British. King Abdullah’s Arab legion commanded by John Baggot Glubb, a serving British military officer had no intention of freeing the whole of Palestine; rather it confined its operation to securing the partition line agreed by the UN. Glubb Pasha as he was known highlights the duplicity of King Abdullah and his British controllers to the Palestinians cause, he states “All of this is really going back to the original scheme before May 15th of holding the Arab areas and doing nothing.”[5]

The betrayal of the Palestinian cause extends beyond the Hashemite dynasty and covers most if not all of the Arab world, despite gratuitous and wild displays of feigned solidarity, chants of blood and soul the beating of chest and the tearing of clothes, its rulers and elites give little credence to the Palestinian cause specifically or Arabism in general, Glub pasha remarked before the outbreak of hostilities. “The internecine struggles of the Arabs,” reported Glubb, “…are more in the minds of the Arab politicians than the struggle against the Jews. Azzam Pasha, the Mufti and the Syrian Government would sooner see the Jews get the whole of Palestine than that King Abdullah should benefit.”[6]

Meeting between Hashemite sheikh’s and Zionists at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, 1933.

The stark reality of the Middle East in 1948 was that Britain was the real power in the region increasingly challenged by the US. For Arab rulers, played with like dolls by an adept colonial administration, personal ambition and securing one’s seat in the face of British imperial control and machinations took precedence to any support extended to Palestinians and their plight. 

King Farooq of Egypt was infinitely more concerned about the prospect of King Abdullah taking control of all of Palestine than a Zionist take over. Like Abdullah he preferred a Zionist Palestine with moderate gains in Gaza and the Negev than a King Abdullah takeover of the whole of Palestine, robbing him of the legitimacy by which he could install himself as the de facto leader of the Arab world, of course all under strict British suzerainty.

Like his fellow monarch, King Farooq had limited goals in Palestine. His objective was simply to deny king Abdullah the opportunity to capture all of Palestine by occupying the Negev and coastal region up to Gaza. During the course of the war the Egyptian expeditionary force inexplicitly stopped its advance north of Isdud. Had the Egyptians wished to continue their advance northward, towards Tel Aviv, there would have been no Israeli force to block them.[7] Catastrophe for the Palestinians would have been averted. When eventually the Zionists freed of their involvement on the northern fronts by Arab infighting turned their attention south to the Egyptian presence in the Negev, they easily routed the Egyptians. Ben-Gurion correctly surmised that the Abdullah’s Arab legion was unlikely to intervene to save the Egyptians as  Abdullah and his British general Glubb Pasha would delight in an Egyptian defeat.

Many Zionist sources proclaim the involvement and subsequent defeat of five great Arab armies from Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Iraq, and Lebanon, with the Gulf States and Saudis playing no significant part. However, all of these states sent only expeditionary forces composed mostly of volunteers. By mid may 1948 the Arabs could only muster 25,000 regular and irregular troops, as fearful of rebellions at home, the Arab regimes lacking any legitimacy kept the bulk of their forces at home to guarantee their own survival rather than that of their Palestinian brethren.[8]

The tragedy of the nakba and its continuation to today’s assault on Gaza stems from the inadequacies and treachery of Arabs regimes. The utter and complete failure of Arab nationalism underlines the fact that Israel is simply the shadow of these regimes, their demise will inevitably lead to its demise. 




2 Jordan King Hussein’s extensive contact, intelligence sharing with Israel prior to 1973 war – Middle East Monitor

3 Account of King Hussein’s 1973 war warning still deemed too harmful to release | The Times of Israel

4 Collusion across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist movement, and the partition of Palestine Avi Shlaim.

5. Glubb to Lash, 9 July 1948, 2006 Accession, Box 83, File November 1948, GB165–0118 Glubb Papers, MEC.

6 Glubb to Burrows, Secret and Personal, 22 September 1948, FO 371/68861, PRO.

7 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War”, Yale University Press, New Haven, ISBN 978-0-300-12696-9, p.219).Mordechai Weingarten

8 The War for Palestine: Rewriting the United States and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict History of 1948. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001, 79-103.

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