Tuesday, March 05, 2019

  • Tuesday, March 05, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
Issa Amro describes himself as a "Palestinian activist based in Hebron, Palestine, Recognised Human Rights Defender by the UN and European Union."

He tweeted this on Monday:




So I did a fact check. And everything he wrote was wrong, although in the end, in important ways, the US diplomats in Jerusalem helped create the Palestinian cause, but not until the 20th century.

All US Consulates in the Middle East in the 18th and 19th centuries were meant primarily to help the US increase trade with the region, and secondarily to help US travelers to the area. The main US consul in the first part of the 19th century was in Beirut, and all others reported to that one.

In 1844, based on the recommendation of a Congressman, US Secretary of State John Calhoun appointed a Judeophile named Warder Cresson as the first Consul of Jerusalem, a position Cresson desired. But he was considered a strange person by others who knew him - perhaps because of his love of Jews and his determination that their ingathering would help bring the Messiah in a few years - and the appointment was rescinded before Cresson took up the post, but after he divorced his wife and departed to the Holy Land.

Cresson went anyway under the illusion he was Consul, even helping out the Jews of the area by providing what appears to be bogus papers giving them US citizenship and therefore protection. Finally the Ottomans saw that he had no credentials and he was informed that he had no title in 1848. Cresson then converted to Judaism and went back to the US to settle his affairs, where his relaives tried to get him declared insane because of his conversion. Cresson ultimately won the case in what was seen as an important early case of religious freedom in America.

The first real Consul General, John Warren Gorham, was appointed in 1856 and opened the Consulate in 1857. He hated the post, bored out of his mind and taking up alcohol, to be quickly followed by a series of equally unhappy Consuls who wanted to find ways to increase US trade with Palestine and couldn't figure out how the US could profit at all from the backwards region.

From what I am reading, the Arab residents of Palestine were of little interest to these diplomats. A number of them, notably Victor Beauboucher and Richard Beardsley, did provide protection to the Jews of Jerusalem, although Beauboucher was involved in a case where a Jewish orphan girl who was being pressured to convert to Christianity was being protected by a rabbi and the diplomat forcibly arrested the rabbi with no permission.

Frank S. DeHass (1873-1877) protected hundreds of Russian Jews who were left without protection because of a war between Russia and Turkey. He and met with Moses Montefiore.

It appears that during and after World War I, the American diplomatic role changed. Protestant missionaries and educators who went to Palestine became friendly with the local Arabs and soon became the backbone of the next generation of diplomats to Jerusalem, moving their pro-Arab ideas into the State Department, a tilt that remained for the next hundred years. On the other side of the coin, they taught their Arab friends about nationalism in the American-style schools they founded, and in that sense were a large reason for the emergence of Arab nationalism and anti-colonialism in the region in the 20th century. There is a lot about this in Michael Oren's book, Power, Faith and Fantasy.

The diplomatic history of the US in the Middle East is fascinating, but Amro shows no knowledge of the topic - only a willingness to lie about it.





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