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ISBN: 9781771861830-10

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From: Israel, A Beachhead in the Middle East


Chapter Ten focuses on Syria. Before the British and French divided Turkey’s West Asian possessions in 1920, Syria comprised territory covering today’s Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, and parts of Turkey. Until the 1930s, Palestinians called themselves southern Syrians, and Hafez al-Assad, the Arab socialist leader of the Syrian Arab Republic from 1971 to 2000, consistently claimed Palestine as Syrian territory. The 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica agreed with Assad. Palestine, it said, was “the southern third of the province of Syria.” The territory was called Southern Syria. The international frontiers that partitioned Syria into four separate countries date to 1918-1923, when the British and French carved up the historically united region into entities they could control indirectly through imposed leaders. Jewish settlers were given Palestine. The French created Lebanon as a country to be ruled by their Maronite Christian allies. And the British created Jordan as a kingdom for a Hashemite prince. By this argument, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon are the products of colonialism, and inasmuch as colonialism is illegitimate, so too are Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon. The Syrian Arab Republic, then, plays the lead role in Arab opposition to Israel.



Stephen Gowans

Stephen Gowans is an independent political analyst whose principal interest is in who influences formulation of foreign policy in the United States. His writings, which appear on his What’s Left blog, have been reproduced widely in online and print media in many languages and have been cited in academic journals and other scholarly works.