Jinnah and Palestine: A long forgotten history

Jinnah and Palestine: A long forgotten history

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The Palestine-Israel issue has been in the headlines since the birth of the Israeli State, and the recent situation in the Gaza Strip has again placed this issue at the global center stage. However, Muslims of the Indian subcontinent expressed their serious concerns 106 years ago under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1917, when the infamous Balfour Declaration was announced.

Credible research works available today explain that Barrister Muhammad Ali Jinnah who was qualified from Lincoln's Inn London, was concerned over legal points included in the Balfour Declaration and understood that the declaration document would ruin the future of Muslims in the Middle East.

P.R Kumaraswamy in his papers “The Strangely Parallel Careers of Israel and Pakistan” and “Beyond the Veil: Israel-Pakistan Relations” has explained that Jinnah had a firm position against the Balfour Declaration and raised his voice at international forums during 1917 and thereafter. Kumaraswamy is a Professor of Contemporary Middle East at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India, and was a research fellow (from 1992 to 1999) at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Jerusalem.

The paper of M. Macdonald: “India-Pakistan through the Israel– Palestine Mirror” further discussed the historical perspective of Pakistan-Israel relations within the guidelines Jinnah provided before his death. Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, further explained the stated position of the All-India Muslim League (AIML) over the Palestinian issue. He writes that Jinnah ardently opposed the Balfour Declaration and AIML called for the annulment of the Declaration as well as the British Mandate over Palestine and warned that in “consonance with the rest of the Islamic world” Indian Muslims would treat the British as an enemy of Islam if the latter ‘fails to alter its present pro-Jewish policy in Palestine.’

Credible research works available today explain that Barrister Muhammad Ali Jinnah who was qualified from Lincoln's Inn London, was concerned over legal points included in the Balfour Declaration over 100 years ago.

 Shazia Anwer Cheema

Pirzada, while referring to documents of AIML mentioned that in April 1934, Jinnah attended the League’s Council meeting, where he proposed to send a delegation to notify the viceroy over the Palestinian issue, the unfair Balfour Declaration, and deprivation of the Arab populations in Palestine. In 1936, AIML observed "Palestine Day" to show solidarity with the Palestinian people, and in its Lucknow Session of 1939, AIML criticized the British role in slicing Palestine. Jinnah stated that “the British policy of deception was destroying trust over the proclamations and honor of the promises which were made to the Arabs”.

After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Jinnah sent his first foreign minister Sir Zafrullah Khan to the United Nations in 1947 during the debate on Palestine partition in the UN General Assembly and stated that “Western forces were forcibly driving a Western wedge into the heart of the Middle East.” He warned that they would have to face the consequences of their approval of the creation of Israel.

In its edition of October 25, 1947, the state-run newspaper “The Pakistan Times” reported a speech by Jinnah in which he hoped that the partition (Palestinian) plan would be rejected by the UN. Otherwise he said,“there is bound to be the gravest disaster and unprecedented conflict, not only between the Arabs and the authority that would undertake to enforce the partition plan, but the entire Muslim world will revolt against such a decision which cannot be supported historically, politically or morally.”

Now, even after 75 years, one can see Jinnah was truly a visionary  who read what was written on the walls of history and his words still echo.

These points prove that the mere proposal of Israeli recognition by Pakistan would defy the stated position of the country's founder. This is why political governments will find it hard to touch this sensitive issue.

This historical perspective also answers why Pakistan is one of the only countries in the world whose passport is not valid for entry into Israel. This is because Pakistan’s foreign policy cannot defy the vision of its founder, with his principled, categorical stance against Israel even before the creation of Pakistan.

These historical facts also challenge the popular cliche that Pakistan stands with Palestine because its position would otherwise weaken over Indian-administered Kashmir.  Both conflicts have several similarities. There is no doubt that Palestine and Kashmir have historical and political similarities, but Pakistan’s stated position over Palestine is deep-rooted in its creation and will remain an integral part of its foreign policy towards the Middle East.  

– The writer is an author, columnist, and foreign affairs expert who writes for national and international media. She can be reached at @ShaziaAnwerCh Email: [email protected]

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