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British Perfidy, Jewish Infirmity of Purpose and Arab Intransigence

posted by Lewis Lipkin.
March 10, 2003

The months of November and December 1917 marked three events of the deepest significance for the future of the Jewish People: the Bolshevik revolution, the Balfour Declaration, and the entry of the Allied forces into Jerusalem. The next five years were to see a progressive shift in British policy toward what was effectively a pro-Arab stance in the Middle East. The result for the future of Israel was to deprive the potential state of both southern Syria and all of Palestine east of the Jordan.

Much as our thoughts center on what would become Eretz Israel, we must realize that the Land and Zionism were of relatively small concern to the British at the immediate end of the War. Britain, occupying Constantinople and the Dardanelles, and the newly conquered Syria, Mesopotamia, and Palestine, as well as Persia and Afghanistan, not to mention India itself and the Far Eastern Colonies, was impossibly overextended. Relationship with former Allies became strained, especially with the French. The British also felt that the growing American withdrawal from European and Middle Eastern affairs was a betrayal. England was irretrievably in debt. Social unrest amongst the "lower classes" at home, and the fear of Bolshevism both at home and abroad were major Whitehall concerns. For the next 5 years and more, any solution of these difficulties would be constrained by two limiting conditions: money and manpower. The management of resources, then largely under the direction of Winston Churchill, set the pattern of the postwar years, and the politics, boundaries and future prospects for the Middle East.

The Zionists, riding a crest of elation following the Balfour Declaration, were still without a polity. Compared to their British and Arab opposite numbers they were unsuspecting, inexperienced and timid. Faith in the supposed special concern and good intentions of Great Britain persisted for a long while after repeated instances of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic orders and decisions confirmed the Arab belief that "the government is with us." In the main, the Arabs were correct.

War Weariness, Financial Strain And The Red Menace

In contrast to the firm, anti-Soviet will of the United States at the end of WWII, the British in 1918 and 1919 seemed unable to summon the resolution necessary to consolidate the new extensions to the Empire. D.G. Hogarth in a letter to Gertrude Bell expressed it:

"The empire has reached its maximum and begun the descent. There is no more expansion in us...and that being so we shall make but a poor Best of the Arab Countries; Had the capture of Baghdad ended the War, we could have done much more, but the rest of 1917 and all of 1918 and 1919 have lowered our vitality permanently. We started in 1914 young and vigorous and we have come out in 1919 to find we are old and must readjust all our ideas." (Klieman, p. 28)

British war weariness, the desire of soldiers for demobilization and the extreme reluctance of taxpayers to continue in "peace time" the support of the far flung armies (there were more than 1,000,000 men occupying parts of the Ottoman empire) hampered Lloyd George's plans to effectively exclude France from the Middle Eastern spoils.

Almost immediately after the Armistice, pressure to reduce the size of forces and expenditures was evident, as this letter (August 12, 1919) from Churchill, then the War Minister, to Balfour who was then Foreign Secretary at the Peace Conference:

"...I trust you will realise that the length of time which we can hold a sufficient force at your disposal to overawe Turkey is limited...All the men we are raising in this country are needed either to hold down Ireland, to maintain order here, or to relieve our demobilisable garrisons in Egypt or India. The delays in demobilization caused by the delay in reaching Peace with Germany and Turkey have already added more than 60 millions to the Army Estimates, for which no Parliamentary sanction has been obtained..."

More significantly, after initial support of the sharifians (in the person of Faisal, son of Hussain), it became "necessary" for Britain to withdraw troops from Syria. This letter from Lord Curzon to Faisal of Oct 9, 1919 uses Britain's overstrained resources as an excuse to drop Faisal, and at the same time, mollify the French who, now that the British were withdrawing, might be expected to invade what would very soon be their Mandate.

"the peoples of the British Empire have lost over 950,000 lives, and they have incurred a debt of 9,000,000,00 [pounds] in securing the freedom of the nations of Europe and of the peoples who formerly languished under the Turkish yoke...It has sustained the onerous and expensive burden of maintaining law and order in countries just liberated from alien rule in the hopes that the Peace Conference would come to a rapid and peaceful solution of the difficult problems connected with the future of the Middle East. But it is unfair to the British taxpayer to ask him to bear any longer the burden of occupying provinces for which the Empire does not propose to accept permanent responsibility." (Klieman, pp. 29-30)

Using Faisal's Arabs as a front (and their supposed conquest of Damascus, see below), Lloyd George had hoped to include Syria in the expanded empire, and thus effectively nullify the Sykes-Picot agreement. His final failure to do so resulted from Clemenceau's fall as much as from Woodrow Wilson's proposal for an investigating committee (see below). The defeat of Faisal (who had been "elected" King of Syria - including Palestine) by the French and the French occupation of Syria had serious consequences for the Zionists. We shall see that the Weizmann-Faisal agreement in support of Zionism in Palestine was conditional on Faisal's success in the Syrian adventure. His failure to retain sovereignty in Syria had a paradoxical result for the Jews. It was now possible for the Arabs, the supporters of the Sherif of Hejaz as well as the resurgent Saudis, to claim that Palestine had been promised to them by the McMahon letters. Click here for details.

The need of Eastern European Jews for a refuge in the immediate postwar world was even greater than in the war time years. Innumerable pogroms in the chaos that was Russia and the Ukraine were pressuring the Zionists to fulfill the promise of the Declaration. To many in British officialdom, however, news of the anti-Jewish violence and terror produced an ominous reaction, e.g.

"The Jews deserve all they get. Their whole influence in Eastern Europe during the war was against us and our allies: nearly all the German and Austrian spies were Jews: and now they are busily engaged in undermining the foundations of European civilization. It is little wonder that the two races [Russians and Ukranians] which have suffered most from Jewish espionage and then from Jewish Bolshevism, should take a truculent revenge on them." (J.D.Gregory-Senior Foreign Office Official, Feb 3,1919. Cited in Gilbert, p. 120.)

He was not alone in his belief that Bolshevism was a Jewish phenomenon. Even Winston Churchill, undoubted philo-Semite that he was, nevertheless wrote regretfully of the prominence of Jews in the postwar Communist Governments. Click here for details.

Palestine 1917-1919

On the day that Allenby entered Jerusalem, he made it plain that for the forseeable future the area was under martial law. Any French ideas as to a French or an international status for the city would be on indefinite hold. (cf Sanders p.626) This effectively killed that part of the Sykes-Picot agreement that applied to what was planned as the "Brown" (international) zone.The part of Palestine under British control was organized as "Occupied Enemy Territory Administration-South" with Clayton (of Cairo) as military governor. The military governor of Jerusalem, Ronald Storrs, and many other anti-Zionist officials were also transferred from Cairo. This made even Weizmann slightly uncomfortable. It should be noted that for the first eight months of the occupation of Jerusalem, the Balfour Declaration was unannounced, and was operationally treated as if it were not Government Policy. (Sanders, p. 651) Weizmann, who led the first Zionist Commission to Palestine, encountered both increasing Arab resistance and a rapidly germinating anti-Zionism in British official and military circles. Almost on arrival, he was shown some extracts from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which his then friendly informant, General Wyndham Deeds, said "You will find it in the haversack of a great many British officers here..." (Weizmann, p. 218)

On the surface, Allenby remained cooperative and occasionally helpful in non-political matters. Military necessity was employed routinely to thwart Zionist efforts. The halting of the Jewish Legion well short of Damascus was a "military decision". The disbanding of the Legion though protested strongly by Jabotinsky (who correctly envisioned it as the nucleus for what would become the Haganah) was another military decision which could not be questioned by civilian Jews.

Within two months of his arrival, Weizmann was forced (May 1918) to write to Balfour:

"The Arabs who are superficially clever and quick witted, worship one thing, and one thing only -- power and success...The British Authorities...knowing as they do the treacherous nature of the Arab... have to watch carefully and constantly that nothing should happen which might give the Arabs the slightest grievance or ground of complaint. In other words, the Arabs have to be 'nursed' lest they should stab the Army in the back. The Arab, quick as he is to gauge such a situation, tries to make the most of it. He screams as often as he can and blackmails as much as he can. The first scream was heard when your Declaration was announced. All sorts of misinterpretations and misconceptions were put on the declaration. The English, they said, are going to hand over the poor Arabs to the wealthy Jews, who are all waiting in the wake of General Allenby's army, ready to swoop down like vultures on an easy prey and to oust everybody from the land...At the head of the Administration we see enlightened and honest English officials, but the rest of the administrative machinery is left intact, and all the offices are filled with Arab and Syrian employees...the Arab official knows the language, habits and ways of the country, is a 'roue' and therefore has a great advantage over the fair and clean minded English official who is not conversant with the subtleties and subterfuges of the Oriental mind. So the English are run by the Arabs..." (Ingrams, pp. 31-32)
Perhaps at Balfour's behest, Sykes wrote a long letter to Faisal in which he urged cooperation with the Jews (Gilbert, pp. 113-4). Weizmann's first meeting with Faisal was in June 1918. They hit it off well and other meetings, with the blessing of T.E. Lawrence serving as duenna, culminated in London in Jan 1919 in the Weizmann-Faisal agreement.
"In the establishment of the Constitution and Administration of Palestine, all such measures shall be adopted as will afford the fullest guarantees for carrying into effect the British Government's [Balfour] Declaration of November 2nd 1917.

All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights, and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development." (parts 3 and 4 of agreement. Weizmann, p.247)

This sounded wonderful, but Faisal left himself an out. He appended the statement:
"If the Arabs are established as I have asked in my manifesto of January 4...I will carry out what is written in this agreement. If changes are made, I cannot be answerable for failure to carry out this agreement." (Weizmann, p. 247)

What he is really saying is: If I become Emir of Syria, I will keep the agreement with the Zionists. He would then expect their financial and diplomatic influence to be favorably exerted for Arab Syria. Otherwise all bets are off.

In November 1918, right after the Turkish armistice, the reaction in Jerusalem to a Jewish commemoration of the 1st anniversary of the Declaration, was a strong protest by Christian and Moslem leaders. Clayton's comments reflected his anti-Zionism:

"It is clear that the non-Jewish elements of the population in Palestine have still considerable apprehension as to the scope of Mr. Balfour's declaration which receives on the part of many local Jews a more liberal interpretation than was ever intended. If the Zionist programme is to be carried through without serious friction with other Communities, great tact and discretion must be employed and the more impatient elements of Zionism must be restrained." (Ingrams, p. 35)

In the minds of local authority, then, the onus of restraint is on the Jews -- this less than a year after the capture of Jerusalem.

In the Ottoman-controlled Arab lands the Arab masses were bound by family, tribal, and Islamic ties; the concepts of nationalism and nation-state were viewed as alien Western categories. (See Library of Congress, Nation Book, Jordan.) In 1919 and 1920, the Arab masses were still politically inarticulate. The usual clan, tribal, or village headman or large landholder was both the origin and channel of the information which purported to be Arab opinion. We have an example of how Arabs treated a "Western Style" inquiry like the King-Crane Commission:

"Faysal then proceeded to instruct the Syrian people in how to answer inquiries from the commission. 'The people have been told [italics added] to ask for complete independence for Syria and, at the same time, to express a hope that it will be granted to other Arab countries" (Klieman, p. 37)

However, a conquering General Allenby did not conduct plebiscites. The Arab notables who did not flee, those remaining in occupied cities and towns, were the primary source of information to the occupying military. Acting as a two-way filter, they also controlled 'public opinion'. Later, with Samuel's disasterous appointment of Hadj Amin Al-Husseini as Grand Mufti, the mosques were used to generate fear and ignite anger in the Arab masses.

Arab anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism does not in itself make for Arab Nationalism. Most Arab Nationalist activity was in Syria. Actually the nationalist movement, such as it was, originated in Damascus. A few European educated Arabs formed a set of secret societies in opposition to Turkish rule. As we have seen in part I, Arabs opposed to Turkish rule did not necessarily wish to substitute the English as masters. For many of the secret society members, any Moslem ruler was preferable to the British - even the Turks. Arrangements with the British were, as often as not, regarded as trading points with Turks and Germans. After the war, Arab nationalism could play the same game, now made possible by French/British rivalry and inept political Zionism.

Wilson And Nationalism

Woodrow Wilson was viewed by the European and Eastern masses as a savior. He probably agreed with them. Certainly his stubborn, unilateral and uncompromising view of how the Peace conference should be managed reminds one more of a preaching theologian than of a practical politician. He never bothered to hide the hostility he felt to those who disagreed with his ideas, particularly with regard to his views of the National State, and the saving goodness that would descend on all nations once his 14 points (the last one specified the League of Nations) were adopted. Click here for details.

Wilson's "Principle of Nationality" was understood as self-determination. He declared it to the U.S. Congress as "an imperative principle of action which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril" (Vital, p. 729) but

" practice self determination would have to be compounded with, and therefore mitigated by, other equally 'imperative' considerations: by such wartime promises as had been made to the Italians, for example; by the ethnographic map of Europe being far too untidy for the continent to be divided into neat and even roughly homogeneous and coherent political societies; by Europe's physical geography and the concomitant economic and strategic considerations to which it gave rise; and by the not unatural, if strictly speaking improper, tendency to deal a good deal less than equitably with the quondam master peoples of central and eastern Europe, the Germans and the Magyaras as opposed to those they had once ruled -- the Poles, the Slovaks, the Czechs, the Romanians and the South Slavs."

"In sum, the supreme difficulty raised by the establishment of the principle of nationality as the guiding principle for the drawing of new maps was that no state -- no state at all, anywhere, but cetainly no state in east-central, eastern, and south-eastern Europe in particular -- no matter how conceived and whatever geographic configuration was devised for it, would be devoid of national (or, as some preferred, ethnic) minorities. It followed, that if nationality was the key consideration, the resulting proliferation of national minorities had in some form or another to be taken into consideration as well." (Vital, p. 730)

Paradoxically, the redrawn maps of the Middle East, which created the modern Arab countries, had no inputs from the natives. The Arab states - such as Iraq and Transjordan - were created by European statemen's penmanship on the regional map.

It was clear that within at most two years after Versailles, few people any longer believed that nationality should be used to define geographic boundaries. Had he lived long enough, Wilson would probably have been its sole remaining proponent. Nevertheless, the British used the principle to justify very un-nationalistic diplomatic decisions. Furthermore, the Arab population distribution in Palestine, inflated by the rapid influx from neighboring Moslem states, dictated to strict Wilsonians an Arab state with a Jewish minority. This argument was used repeatedly in Arab appeals to England and other European powers to modify or repeal the terms of the Balfour Declaration.

Peace Conference

For the Middle East, the significance of the Peace conferences (Paris/Versailles, San Remo, Sevres) turned mainly on legitimizing Britain's huge conquests in Mesopotamia and (Greater) Palestine, and more difficult, resolving the three-way (Arabs, French, English) struggle over Syria. From the viewpoint of the Powers, the Zionist concern was relatively minor, and remained at that level because Zionist presentations to the Council of Ten were conflicted and weak. Despite much anxiety and seemingly infinite diplomatic activity, it was finally settled that Britain would have the Mandate of Palestine, and that the Mandatory Document would include the text of the Balfour Declaration,

The Paris Peace Conference began on Jan 18, 1919. Before the formal sessions, Lloyd George and Clemenceau in the so-called London Conference made some preliminary agreements about the Middle East. Despite some not so covert support for Faisal in Syria, the British were acting as if Sykes-Picot was still in effect - at least when discussing things with the French. Presumably in return for continued British military support in keeping up the pressure on the defeated Germans in Europe, Clemenceau asked what Lloyd George wanted. The first response was Mosul, i.e. the northern area of what is now Iraq. The second request was for Palestine. Palestine, it must be remembered, was, from the French view, the southern part of Syria. To Lloyd George, the biblical enthusiast, Palestine extended from Dan to Beesheva.

The Arabs, despite their pitiful performance in the "Rebellion", expected to be treated as one of the victors, standing as an almost equal with Britain and France as the conquerers. Instead, they were merely invited to present their case in a preliminary hearing (the Council of Ten). Faisal was commanded by his father to leave Syria and to appear in behalf of all the Arabs. He had not yet been abandoned by the British, and so in addition to his plea for a large Arab state, he indicated a willingness for a Zionist presence in Palestine, a willingness he also comunicated to Felix Frankfurter.

In February Mark Sykes died, a victim of the influenza pandemic.

In other preliminary sessions, both Weizmann and Sokolow appeared before the Council (March 1919). Another Jew, the Frenchman, Sylvan Levi, also testified but took a strongly anti-Zionist, pro-Alliance Israelite position. Robert Lansing, the American Secretary of State, responded by recalling Weizmann and asking him to explain the term 'National Home.' Weizmann, with an appalling lack of backbone, misrepresented the facts when he denied that it meant an autonomous Jewish government. He said that the Zionists only wanted to establish:

"...under a Mandatory Power, an administration, not necessarily Jewish, which would render it possible to send into Palestine 70,000 to 80,000 Jews annually...Thus it would build up gradually a nationality and so make Palestine as Jewish as America is American or England English. Later on, when the Jews formed a large majority, they would be ripe to establish such a Government as would answer to the state of the development of the country and to their ideals." (Sanders, p. 643)

How in the name of any rational view of the future could a rate of even 80,000 Jews per year be expected to produce a majority Jewish population, considering the Arab birthrate and the Arab immigration into Palestine in response to superior economic opportunities in the vicinity of the settlements? The tragedy of course is that in these early years when Jewish immigration was unhindered, it rarely reached that level.

The wrangling among the Big Four about boundaries and national states affected European, African and Asian Boundaries.

"The British, like the French had staked out an enormous claim in the Middle East, but Lloyd George successfully kept the British claims from being scrutinized. When President Wilson's Commission of Inquiry (King-Crane Commission) went out to ascertain the wishes of the Middle Eastern peoples, it did not go to Mesopotamia where British India had instituted direct rule. The British, who had declared Egypt a protectorate, also succeeded in securing American recognition for this extension of their rule, which had the additional effect of keeping Egypt off the agenda of the Peace Conference. In early 1919 Persia was also added to the British sphere as an informal protectorate; and that too was accomplished outside the Peace Conference by a Convention between the two countries signed on 19 August 1919. Britain's control of the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms, rounded out and regularized during the war, was not discussed or contested in Paris; nor was Britain's paramount position in Arabia, secured by alliances with Hussein and with Ibn Saud that made them her proteges. It had been agreed in advance between Lloyd George and Clemenceau that Palestine should be awarded to Britain, so that Syria was left as the only contested issue on the commission's agenda." (Fromkin, p. 397)

The King-Crane recommendations including those for a Syrian Kingdom under Faisal under a proposed American Mandate came to nothing. Presumably as a result of canvassing "Arab" opinion, they had recommended

"...serious modification of extreme Zionist Program for Palestine of unlimited immigration of Jews, looking finally to making Palestine distinctly a Jewish State...The erection of such a state cannot be accomplished without the gravest trespass upon the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..." (Sanders, p. 649)

In August 1919, the view in Whitehall was still in full favor of the "homeland", despite the obvious contradictions and difficulties. As Balfour noted in a memo to Curzon (essentially an anti-Zionist), the situation was complex, but, like the severing of a Gordian knot, the British could implement their conflicting promises, including the Declaration.

"The contradiction between the letters of the Covenant [of the League of Nations] and the policy of the Allies is even more flagrant in the case of the 'independent nation' of Palestine than in that of the 'independent nation' of Syria. For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country... The Four Great Powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land... I do not think that Zionism will hurt the Arabs, but they will never say they want it. Whatever be the future of Palestine it is not now an 'independent nation', nor is it yet on the way to become one. Whatever deference should be paid to the views of those living there, the Powers in their selection of a mandatory do not propose, as I understand the matter, to consult them. In short, so far as Palestine is concerned, the Powers have made no statement of fact which is not admittedly wrong, and no declaration of policy which, at least in the letter they have not always intended to violate. ...

...Palestine should extend into the lands lying east of the Jordan. It should not, however, be allowed to include the Hedjaz Railway, which is too distinctly bound up with exclusively Arab interests..." (Ingrams, pp. 73-74)

The Paris Peace Conference which ended in Sept 1919 was without provision for Turkey and the disposition of the territories occupied by the European Allies. These problems would be settled at San Remo; the Turks finally agreed to their terms under duress at Sevres. Click here for Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant.

San Remo Conference

Meeting at San Remo, the Supreme Council of the League, in April 1920, awarded the Mandates of Palestine and Mesopotamia to Great Britain and that of Syria to France. The decisions became known in May and there was an almost immediate protest from the Hejaz delegation in Paris stating that the "wishes of the inhabitants" had not been consulted.

The agenda at San Remo had a good deal more than the Palestine mandate on the agenda. From the point of view of the Great Powers, the Syrian and Mesopotamian problems seemed more complex and more important. These settlements had some indirect but largely unforeseen consequence for Zionism in Palestine. It was only after a week that the two official decisions of importance for Palestine were made. The Mandate for Palestine was given to the British, and the text of the Balfour Declaration was included in it. The various delegations-in-waiting on the decisions of the Supreme Council indulged in congratulations all around.

San Remo, however, did not result in a signed Turkish treaty and was resisted by Kemal until the final treaty of Sevres later in the year. Lack of the Turkish signatures meant that financial and administrative decisions in all the mandates were on an ad hoc basis.

A decision taken within the British delegation, partly as a consequence of the Nabi-Musa pogrom (see below), was to appoint Herbert Samuel as the first (civilian and Jewish) High Commissioner of Palestine. He was knighted and sent on his way, arriving in Palestine at mid-year.

Palestine Mandate

The Mandate, written of course by the British purported to implement the Covenent of the League of Nations. It also incorporated a statement of the Balfour Declaration. In the document the Mandatory means the British. Critical for Zionism was Article 4.

"An appropriate Jewish agency shall be recognised as a public body for the purpose of advising and co-operating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine, and, subject always to the control of the Administration to assist and take part in the development of the country.

The Zionist organization, so long as its organization and constitution are in the opinion of the Mandatory appropriate, [italics added] shall be recognised as such agency. It shall take steps in consultation with His Britannic Majesty's Government to secure the co-operation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish national home."

The role in immigration of the Jewish Agency (put on its good behavior by the second paragraph) is not mentioned in this empowering Article. It quite likely that a strong specific mention of Jewish immigration might have provoked Arab ill-feeling, but Arab violence or even a revolt in Palestine remained a British fantasy - one that would not materialize if the British took a firm and open stand in favor of immigration and backed their position by the requisite force. (An Arab revolt, as opposed to pogroms, did not develop until after many years of British complacent tolerance of Arab violence.) The Declaration was self-contradictory; the Mandate was a blank check for British control. It is only in Article 6 that there's a (severely constrained) encouragement of Jewish immigration. The cantrap "suitable conditions" remained for the life of the Mandate as a tool to be used at British convenience to appease the Arabs, by making sure that the number of Jews entering Palestine remained below the threshold of Arab irritation.

The interpretation of Article 5 was of at least equal importance to the future of the Middle East. It states:

"The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power."
Legalization of the separation of Transjordan from Palestine was provided for in Article 25, which gave the British carte blanche in the area east of the Jordan. Clearly the provision requiring permission of Council of the League was pro forma. In fact, Palestine was cut up at the discretion of the British. Cynically, Sir Alec Kirkbride remarked:
"In due course the remarkable discovery was made that the clauses of the mandate relating to the establishment of a National Home for the Jews had never been intended to apply to the mandated territory east of the river" (Klieman, p. 231)

"The Zionists, when informed about the `temporary administrative separation' seemed to accept it as it was presented to them by Curzon in April. The downhill course leading to final loss of the east bank was swift and complete by the year's end. " (Klieman, p. 234) Click here for the full text of the Mandate.

Palestine 1920-1922

The Land Problem

The practical problem in Palestine was obtaining land for the anticipated flood of immigrants from Eastern Europe. The Zionist plans for land acquisition were, as might be expected, naive, overoptimistic and underfunded. Click here for details. Weizmann admits:

"I went back to London in January 1920, carrying with me the plans which had been prepared by the Jerusalem office -- plans of immigration, irrigation, colonization, calling for considerable sums. Little provision was made for land purchase, for we believed on what seemed sufficient ground that the Government would shortly place at our disposal stretches of land which were Government property. We were soon to discover that this belief had no basis in fact, and that every dunam of land needed for our colonization work would have to be bought in the open market at fantastic prices which rose ever higher as our work developed. Every improvement we made raised the value of the remaining land in that particular area, and the Arab landowners lost no time in cashing in. We found we had to cover the soil of Palestine with Jewish gold. And that gold, for many, many years came out of the pockets, not of the Jewish millionaires, but of the poor."

The First Pogrom

At the begining of 1920, perhaps reflecting the instability of the Syrian situation, bands of Bedouin were active in the far north of Palestine. Several raids on Metulla and settlements such as Tel-Hai resulted in the murder of Jews, among them Joseph Trumpledor, Jabotinsky's comrade in arms.

As we have seen, anti-Semitism was part of the cultural baggage of the British Officer Corps long before Palestine was an issue. There can be no doubt that Allenby, Clayton, Col. Gabriel and the rest were anti-Zionist. Allenby in 1919 left Palestine to become High Commissioner of Egypt. He was succeeded eventually by General Bols, an admitted anti-Semite, who remained in command in Palestine until the Nabi-Musa pogrom of 1920.

At the instance of the Zionist Committee, Jabotinsky began recruiting and training a volunteer force for self defence: the Haganah. It wasn't a secret army. It drilled with sticks (no rifles) in public and was known and observed while drilling by British officialdom. Its personnel were volunteers from the Yishuv and members of the Jewish Legion who elected to stay in Eretz Yisroel after discharge.

That year, 1920, Passover, Easter, and the Moslem festival of Nabi-Musa all fell in the first week of April. The Moslem parade of Arabs from Hebron met with Haji Amin al-Husseini's (future Grand Mufti) Jerusalem group and others from Nablus and were addressed by the mayor of Jerusalem who called for the marchers to be ready to shed their blood for Palestine. The Sheik of Hebron then called out to "Kill the Jews". The riot started with cries of "We shall drink the blood of Jews", "Don't be afraid, the Government is on our side." (Katz, p. 590) Jews on the Jaffa road were beaten, stoned stabbed and killed and Jewish shops were plundered. The only law enforcers were a few Arab policemen who stood by or joined in what became the first anti-Jewish pogrom in the British Empire.

The Arab mob entered the Old City via the Jaffa gate and proceeded to rape and murder Jews in the Jewish Quarter. When Jabotinsky and the men of Haganah attempted a rescue they found their way blocked by Indian (British Army) soldiers with machine guns at both the Jaffa and Damascus gates. An attempt to meet with the military governor, Storrs, failed. On his return, Storrs accused Jabotinsky of being armed and he and his companion "'was preventing a reduction of tension' by carrying a revolver in his pocket." (Katz, p. 593) He later placed Jabotinsky and 19 of the men of Haganah under arrest because they had brought arms into Jerusalem. Storrs removed the Indian troops so that the next day the Arabs (including those who had been arrested and released after a night in jail ) were free once again to continue their depredations in the old city. The British police concentrated on searching Jabotinsky's headquarters for arms. They found a cache consisting of 3 rifles and 2 revolvers and 250 rounds of ammunition. Jabotinsky and his 19 followers were imprisoned, tried and sentenced for this crime to 15 years at hard labor, to be followed by exile from Palestine. The leader of the riot and Haji Amin al-Husseini were each given 10 years and allowed to escape. The Arabs were later amnestied by Herbert Samuel.

Herbert Samuel as Palestine High Commissioner

It was the pogrom which resulted in the recall of General Bols (who had reviewed the Moslem parade the previous day) and ended the military government of Palestine. An Imperial Commission reviewed the sentences of Jabotinsky and the Haganah 19, reducing it to 1 year, and reprimanding the military.

Herbert Samuel arrived in June. Lord Curzon, the Foreign Secretary, had reservations about Samuel's appointment, fearing that a Jewish High Commissioner would provoke further Arab outbursts. But his arrival in Jerusalem was without incident. Neither Zionist high hopes nor Arab fears about the development of Palestine under Samuel's direction materialized. Almost from the beginning, lack of encouragement of foreign investmentsand reluctance in the granting of concessions for electrical and other development in Palestine caused Zionists to take a second look at Samuel's administration. The loss of the Litani river and the fertile region to the east of the Galilee resulting from the Anglo-French treaty of Dec 1920 were blows at Jewish Palestine's future.

Within 2 months of his arrival Samuel, always the even-handed, decided to give Haji Amin al-Husseini a special pardon, thus allowing one of the prime movers of the April pogrom to return to Jerusalem. (Gilbert, p. 132) Within the year, al-Husseini was elected as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. This election was engineered by an overt, violently anti-Zionist British official in the Samuel administration, Ernest Richmond. (Fromkin, p. 518) The British, augmented the perogatives and resources of the Mufti, presumably to show concern for the Arabs. The Grand Mufti had life tenure in the highest Moslem religious position in Palestine. From there, he became leader of the Supreme Muslim Council, the chief Arab political organ. The financial power generated by his position made him a most formidable enemy to the Zionists. Of course, later in the 1930's in his alliance with Adolf Hitler, he became an even more formidable enemy of the British.

Samuel did nothing to gain Zionist esteem when exercising his devotion to "fairness". He leaned over backward to award a huge portion of the State lands to a Bedouin claimant. This was based on evidence which Samuel himself later admitted was insufficient, but the award, once made, deprived the Zionists of access to thousands of acres of fertile land. The State lands at this time were still the most promising of non-Arab land that might be made available for colonization.

The role of Samuel in the Cairo conference and the loss of Palestine east of the Jordan was held against him by the Zionists. But, in the correspondence cited in this connection, there was no outright pro-Zionist protest against the partition of the Land. There was only an expression of fear that the French might use Transjordan as an economic base directed against West Bank trade and as a focus for anti-British Mandate propaganda. Samuel was easly convinced by Lawrence that the union of the West and East Banks was "presently undesirable". (Kleiman, p.219) It seems likely that Samuel went along with the policy of Cairo, in which Jewish settlement, Jewish enterprise and Jewish development were barred from all land east of the Jordan - a decision that was incorporated as an additional article (25) in the Palestine mandate.

The Cairo Conference ended on a significant note of economy:

"A final problem was the reaction of the rival House of Saud to the proposed elevation of the House of Hashem to new honors. Churchill's proposed solution was to raise Ibn Saud's subsidy to 100,000 pounds a year." (Fromkin, p. 506)

"As Churchill recognized, one of his greatest problems in quelling the Arab riots while going ahead with a pro-Zionist program was that the British forces upon whom he relied were unwilling to enforce his policy." (Fromkin, p. 516)

Cairo Conference

During 1919 and 1920 Britain's Middle Eastern hegemony was threatened by violence (from serious riots to open rebellions) in Egypt, Afghanistan, Turkey (occupied), Syria, Transjordan, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Persia. In addition, the British client Sharafians and their other client, the Saudis, were at each others throats in Arabia. Lastly, a resurgent Russia in the Middle East, this time in the form of Red Bolshevism, revived the nightmare of the threat to India. At home, profound social change and economic crisis crippled the resources in men and money needed to meet the challenges to Empire. Worst of all, Britain at the moment was without friends. As Churchill put it:

"...our being simultaneously out of sympathy with all the four Powers exercising local influence in the Middle East: Russians, Greeks, Turks and Arabs. A successful policy would consist rather in dividing up the local Powers so that if we have some opponents we have also at any rate some friends. This is what we have always done in the whole of our past history"

"...According to Churchill's analysis, Lenin's Russia would not, and King Constantine's Greece could not, help Britain to achieve her goals; the only practicable course...was to ally with Turks and Arabs." (Fromkin, p. 495)

Before this could be done, it would be necessary to restructure departmental responsibility and the conflicting and frequently incoherent chain of command in the Middle East. The intra-Cabinet struggle during the second half of 1920 ended in a victory for Churchill. He moved from the War Office to the Colonial Office with a mandate to organize within it a Middle East Department. This would have responsibility for both military and civil affairs in Arabia, the Gulf, and the mandated territories: Palestine and Mesopotamia. Taking office in January 1921, by March Churchill had organized and staffed the new department so that the new agenda for the Middle East could be drafted and implemented at the Cairo Conference. Churchill's aides in the new department were headed by two experienced administrators, John Shuckburg and Hubert Young. Unfortunately the bally-hoo of Lawrence was at its height and he was taken on as an advisor, but without administrative responsibility.

"...But Lawrence's indirect influence on policy was considerable, for his account of the Arab uprising was believed by Churchill, who lacked personal knowledge of the matter, not having been involved in Middle Eastern affairs during the war after 1916. Unaware of the extent to which Lawrence and Lloyd George's staff had exaggerated the role of Feisal's Arabs in winning the war, Churchill was prepared to accept Lawrence's thesis that Britain owed a great deal to Feisal and his followers." (Fromkin, p. 498)

The Cairo conference opened in the Semiramis Hotel on March 12, 1921. The principal topic was to be cost cutting of the Mesopotamia occupation. A military plan of effective control based on the use of airplanes and armored cars was to complement the political scheme. This was a classic piece of British duplicity. Faisal would be made king of Mesopotamia, (thenceforward to be known as Iraq), but Cox, the High Commissioner was to create the charade that it was the result of popular demand. The machinations employed by Cox and Gertrude Bell to eliminate other possible contenders, and assure Faisal's election to the monarchy are set forth in almost comic detail in Klieman. (pp. 139-170) It includes the kidnapping and exile to Ceylon of a possible rival, with local and Colonial Office approval.

Any promises to the Kurds and their position inside or independent of Iraq were essentially put on hold at the Conference, thus leaving them under the new Kingdom of Iraq.

The Separation Of East Palestine

The Sharafian policy in Iraq did not, at least in Churchill's view, include a similar honor for Faisal's brother Abdullah in Transjordan. Before the Conference started however, Abdullah was in the area leading a force of Bedouin from the Hejaz with the ill-concealed purpose of disturbing the French in Syria. Now that Faisal had been removed from the scene, perhaps he could do something there for himself. Scattered violence and roving bands had disturbed the peace of this largely unsettled East Bank since the war's end. Again, the paucity of men and money inhibited the Herbert Samuel administration from exercising control. While the Cairo Conference was in session, Abdullah accentuated his nuisance value by appearing in Amman.

"Churchill's solution was, in effect, to buy off Abdullah: to offer him a position in Transjordan if he would refrain from attacking French Syria. It will be recalled that Britain feared that if Arabs from the territory of British Palestine were to attack the French in Syria, France would retaliate by invading British Palestine. The position Churchill thought of offering Abdullah was temporary governor, charged with restoring order.

In proposing to make use of Abdullah to restore order east of the Jordan, Churchill also hoped to accomplish other objectives. Abdullah in TransJordan could be relied on not to threaten the French in Syria, especially after arrangements for his brother in Iraq were completed. The Conference construed the geographical terms employed in the McMahon-Hussein correspondence of 1915 as meaning that the area of Arab independence was to stretch no further west than the Jordan river. Since the Balfour Declaration contained no geographical definition, Churchill's advisers concluded that Britain could fully reconcile and fulfill her wartime pledges by establishing a Jewish National Home in Palestine west of the Jordan and a separate Arab entity in Palestine east of the Jordan."

" Churchill succeeded in persuading the Cabinet that without sending at least a small British military force into Transjordan, no government could be established there at all. He indicated that Abdullah would not be expected to stay in the country for more than a few months, but that on a trial basis Abdullah could help establish order and then help choose a local person to serve as governor." (Fromkin, pp. 504-506)

While stringent economy would not permit the Samuel government to maintain the peace of the east part of Palestine, later Churchill found it quite feasible to use force to establish Arab control. Both Herbert Samuel and Wyndham Deeds did note that it was not exactly in line with the Palestine Mandate (still in draft form) to separate off the country east of the Jordan. Churchill's arbitrary response was to arrange for the insertion of Article 25. This provided that Britain was not obligated to pursue the Balfour Declaration policy east of the Jordan.

The Zionists, when informed about the "temporary administrative separation", seemed to accept it as it was presented to them by Curzon in April. They did not campaign strongly against it. They regarded it as a merely provisional measure. The downhill course leading to final loss of the east bank was swift and complete by the end of 1922. Final acceptance of the mandates by the League Council was in July 1922. The revised final draft of the Palestine Mandate was formally approved. In September 1922, a British initiative requested the League Council to resolve that "several provisions of the mandate pertaining to the Zionists would not be applicable to the territory known as Transjordan. In December, Abdullah and His Majesty's Government entered into an agreement whereby " the existence of an independent constitutional Government in TransJordan under the rule of His Excellency the Emir Abdullah ibn Hussein was recognized." (Klieman, p. 234)

Churchill met with a committee of the Arab Haifa Congress in Jerusalem after the closing of the Cairo Conference. A verbatim account of the Arab memorandum is given in Kieman's Appendix B and Churchill's reply in Appendix C. Despite the distressing changes in scope of the Balfour Declaration made at Cairo, Churchill continued to uphold a firm, pro-Zionist position. He criticized the Arab memorandum, disbelieving many of its assertions about the deficiencies, faults and evil intents of the Jews. At this meeting and the one in London in June 1921, Churchill felt that the members of the Arab delegation were not aiming to reach an agreement. He found them "unwilling to offer even 1 percent in order to get 99 percent, they offered no incentive to the other side to make concessions. At a later meeting Churchill asked the chief Arab delegate to meet with Weizmann" and was met with an absolute refusal. (Kleiman, p. 193)

" Churchill attempted to redefine the British commitment: he proposed to establish a Jewish National Home in Palestine rather than attempt to make Palestine herself into a Jewish entity, and he claimed that that was what the language of the Balfour Declaration meant. (In a private conversation at Balfour's house in the summer of 1921, both Balfour and the Prime Minister [Lloyd George] contradicted him and told Churchill that "by the Declaration they had always meant an eventual Jewish State.)" (Fromkin, p. 520)

The Jaffa Pogrom
On May Day, 1921, the second pogrom of Jews in the history of the British Empire broke out in Jaffa during labor demonstrations. The violence spread throughout the West Bank; looting was accompanied by murder of Jews, and Arab assaults on Jewish Colonies multiplied for a week before the violence was brought under "control". Appeasement of the Arabs was the considered response of the Herbert Samuel government. He announced the total suspension of Jewish immigration into Palestine until further notice. In a chilling foretaste of what would happen after WW2, the ban included the refusal of entry for ships bearing refugees from East European violence. They were forced to return to their ports of origin.

The spineless response of the Jews to the Cairo Conference and the May Day pogrom was given at the Twelfth Zionist Congress in the summer of 1921.

"Nahum Sokolow said that the Jews `were determined to work in peace with the Arab nation.' Stressing the historical links between the two peoples, he argued that by cooperating they could `create a new life of the highest perfection for the people of the East' and that `Their interests were identical...' Dismissing the recent Arab riots as the work of a small group of criminals, he assured the Arab community that Jews `were not going to the Holy Land in a spirit of mastery. By industry and peace and modesty they would open up new sources of production which would be a blessing to themselves and to the whole East." (Fromkin, p. 516)

The Arabs, then as now, were maximalist in their demands. Considerations of legality and historical facts were not allowed to interfere with their desires. The Jews, then as now, were minimalists, depending unrealistically on the goodwill of the powerful. The major league powers, then as now, greased the squeaky wheel.

  • Ashbee, C.R., A Palestine Notebook 1918-1923. Doubleday Page:NY, 1923.
  • Friedman, Isaiah, The Question of Palestine: British-Jewish-Arab Relations, 1914-1918. 2nd Expanded Edition, Transaction:New Brunwick, 1991.
  • Fromkin, David, A Peace to End All Peace:The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. Avon: NY, 1989.
  • Galnoor, Itzhak, The Partition of Palestine:Decision Crossroads in the Zionist Movement. State University of New York Press:NY, 1995.
  • Gilbert, Martin, Exile and Return:The Struggle for a Jewish Homeland. Lippincott:Philadelphia, 1978.
  • Hertzberg, Arthur, The Zionist Idea. Atheneum:NY, 1973.
  • Ingrams, Doreen, Palestine Papers 1917-1922: Seeds of Conflict. George Braziller:NY, 1972.
  • Johnson, Paul, A History of the Jews. Harper & Row:NY, 1987.
  • Katz, Shmuel, Lone Wolf, A Biography of Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky. 2 vols. Barricade Books:NY, 1996.
  • Kent, Marian, Oil and Empire: British Policy and Mesopotamian Oil 1900-1920. Barnes & Noble Books:NY, 1976.
  • Klieman, Aaron S., Foundations of British Policy in the Arab World: The Cairo Conference of 1921. Johns Hopkins Press:Baltimore, 1970.
  • Laqueur, Walter, A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of the State of Israel. MJF Books:NY, 1972.
  • Library Of Congress Federal Research Div -Country Studies- Israel
  • Library Of Congress Federal Research Div -Country Studies- Oman
  • Lewis, Bernard, The Emergence of Modern Turkey. 2nd edition, Oxford:London, 1968.
  • Rothschild, Miriam, Dear Lord Rothschild: Birds, Butterflies and History. ISI Press:Philadelphia, 1983.
  • Sanders, Ronald, The High Walls of Jerusalem: A History of the Balfour Declaration and the Birth of the British Mandate for Palestine. Holt, Rinehart and Winston:NY, 1983.
  • Simon, Leon, Ahad Ha-Am - Asher Ginzberg, A Biography. Jewish Publication Society:Philadelphia, 1960.
  • Sykes-Picot Agreement,
  • Vital, David, A People Apart: A Political History of the Jews in Europe, 1789-1939. Oxford:NY, 1999.
  • Weizmann, Chaim, Trial and Error. Harper & Bros:NY, 1949.

Britain and Faisal
Soon after the Mandate for Syria was awarded to the French at the San Remo conference, General Gouraud prepared for the invasion of Syria from his base in Lebanon. The British had firmly resolved not to intervene on Faisal's behalf and so he was forced to accede to French demands that he recognize the mandate and consent to the occupation of several towns along the railway. His agreement did not come in time to prevent French entry to Damascus in July 1920. And soon after, Faisal and his Arabs were soundly defeated at Maysalun.

The British had ignored Faisal's pleas for help, but Whitehall had him in mind for a higher purpose than Syria. In discussion with Berthelot (who was then general secretary to the French Foreign Ministry), Curzon indicated:

"We...could not view his possible disappearance from the scene without some concern, and we felt that no step in this direction, if it were contemplated should be taken without consultation with us."
Then in a message to Faisal via Samuel in August:
"You should inform Faisal that His Majesty's Government appreciate his desire to create no complications between England and France. They are fully aware that he has made every effort to sustain a difficult position with due regard to the interests of the Allied Powers and they trust that they may in the future have an opportunity of showing to him that his loyal attitude to the British Government has not been forgotten" (Klieman, p. 52)

Churchill on Jews and Bolshevism
The following is a direct quote from Martin Gilbert's study of the struggle for the Jewish Homeland. Gilbert is also a prominent biographer of Winston Churchill.
"Writing in the Illustrated Sunday Herald on 8 February 1920, another non-Jew, the British Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill, encapsulated the main contemporary attitudes toward both Zionism and the Jews. 'Some people like Jews and some do not.he wrote,' but no thoughtful man can doubt the fact that they are beyond all doubt the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world'

The conflict between good and evil, Churchill wrote reached its greatest intensity 'in the Jewish race.' The Jews had evolved a system of ethics 'incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruit of all other wisdom and learning put together.' They had also produced Bolshevism, a system of morals and philosophy 'as malevolent as Christianity was benevolent'. `Indeed', he continued, `it would almost seem as if the gospel of Christ and the gospel of Antichrist wre destined to originate among the same people: and that this mystic and mysterious race had been chosen for the supreme manifestations, both of the divine and the diabolical'

Later in his article, Churchill wrote at length about 'the schemes of the International Jews' declaring:

`The adherents of this sinister confederacy are mostly men reared up among the unhappy populations of countries where Jews are persecuted on account of their race. Most, if not all, of them have forsaken the faith of their forefathers, and divorced from their minds all spiritual hopes of the next world.

This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing..." (Gilbert, pp. 127-128)

Text of the 14 Points

8 January, 1918: President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points

It will be our wish and purpose that the processes of peace, when they are begun, shall be absolutely open and that they shall involve and permit henceforth no secret understandings of any kind. The day of conquest and aggrandizement is gone by; so is also the day of secret covenants entered into in the interest of particular governments and likely at some unlooked-for moment to upset the peace of the world. It is this happy fact, now clear to the view of every public man whose thoughts do not still linger in an age that is dead and gone, which makes it possible for every nation whose purposes are consistent with justice and the peace of the world to avow nor or at any other time the objects it has in view.

We entered this war because violations of right had occurred which touched us to the quick and made the life of our own people impossible unless they were corrected and the world secure once for all against their recurrence. What we demand in this war, therefore, is nothing peculiar to ourselves. It is that the world be made fit and safe to live in; and particularly that it be made safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression. All the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us. The programme of the world's peace, therefore, is our programme; and that programme, the only possible programme, as we see it, is this:

I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.

III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.

IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.

V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.

VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.

VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.

VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.

IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.

X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development.

XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.

XII. The turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.

XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.

XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

In regard to these essential rectifications of wrong and assertions of right we feel ourselves to be intimate partners of all the governments and peoples associated together against the Imperialists. We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end.

For such arrangements and covenants we are willing to fight and to continue to fight until they are achieved; but only because we wish the right to prevail and desire a just and stable peace such as can be secured only by removing the chief provocations to war, which this programme does remove. We have no jealousy of German greatness, and there is nothing in this programme that impairs it. We grudge her no achievement or distinction of learning or of pacific enterprise such as have made her record very bright and very enviable. We do not wish to injure her or to block in any way her legitimate influence or power. We do not wish to fight her either with arms or with hostile arrangements of trade if she is willing to associate herself with us and the other peace- loving nations of the world in covenants of justice and law and fair dealing. We wish her only to accept a place of equality among the peoples of the world, -- the new world in which we now live, -- instead of a place of mastery.

Article 22, League Of Nations Covenant


To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant.

The best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who by reason of their resources, their experience or their geographical position can best undertake this responsibility, and who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League.

The character of the mandate must differ according to the stage of the development of the people, the geographical situation of the territory, its economic conditions and other similar circumstances. Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory.

Other peoples, especially those of Central Africa, are at such a stage that the Mandatory must be responsible for the administration of the territory under conditions which will guarantee freedom of conscience and religion, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, the prohibition of abuses such as the slave trade, the arms traffic and the liquor traffic, and the prevention of the establishment of fortifications or military and naval bases and of military training of the natives for other than police purposes and the defence of territory, and will also secure equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of other Members of the League. There are territories, such as South-West Africa and certain of the South Pacific Islands, which, owing to the sparseness of their population, or their small size, or their remoteness from the centres of civilisation, or their geographical contiguity to the territory of the Mandatory, and other circumstances, can be best administered under the laws of the Mandatory as integral portions of its territory, subject to the safeguards above mentioned in the interests of the indigenous population.

In every case of mandate, the Mandatory shall render to the Council an annual report in reference to the territory committed to its charge.

The degree of authority, control, or administration to be exercised by the Mandatory shall, if not previously agreed upon by the Members of the League, be explicitly defined in each case by the Council.

A permanent Commission shall be constituted to receive and examine the annual reports of the Mandatories and to advise the Council on all matters relating to the observance of the mandates.

The Palestine Mandate

The Palestine Mandate

The Council of the League of Nations:

Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have agreed, for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, to entrust to a Mandatory selected by the said Powers the administration of the territory of Palestine, which formerly belonged to the Turkish Empire, within such boundaries as may be fixed by them; and

Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country; and

Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country; and

Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have selected His Britannic Majesty as the Mandatory for Palestine; and

Whereas the mandate in respect of Palestine has been formulated in the following terms and submitted to the Council of the League for approval; and

Whereas His Britannic Majesty has accepted the mandate in respect of Palestine and undertaken to exercise it on behalf of the League of Nations in conformity with the following provisions; and

Whereas by the afore-mentioned Article 22 (paragraph 8), it is provided that the degree of authority, control or administration to be exercised by the Mandatory, not having been previously agreed upon by the Members of the League, shall be explicitly defined by the Council of the League Of Nations;confirming the said Mandate, defines its terms as follows:


The Mandatory shall have full powers of legislation and of administration, save as they may be limited by the terms of this mandate.

ART. 2.

The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.

ART. 3.

The Mandatory shall, so far as circumstances permit, encourage local autonomy.

ART. 4.

An appropriate Jewish agency shall be recognised as a public body for the purpose of advising and co-operating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine, and, subject always to the control of the Administration to assist and take part in the development of the country.

The Zionist organization, so long as its organization and constitution are in the opinion of the Mandatory appropriate, shall be recognised as such agency. It shall take steps in consultation with His Britannic Majesty's Government to secure the co-operation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish national home.

ART. 5.

The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power.

ART. 6.

The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

ART. 7.

The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.

ART. 8.

The privileges and immunities of foreigners, including the benefits of consular jurisdiction and protection as formerly enjoyed by Capitulation or usage in the Ottoman Empire, shall not be applicable in Palestine.

Unless the Powers whose nationals enjoyed the afore-mentioned privileges and immunities on August 1st, 1914, shall have previously renounced the right to their re-establishment, or shall have agreed to their non-application for a specified period, these privileges and immunities shall, at the expiration of the mandate, be immediately reestablished in their entirety or with such modifications as may have been agreed upon between the Powers concerned.

ART. 9.

The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that the judicial system established in Palestine shall assure to foreigners, as well as to natives, a complete guarantee of their rights.

Respect for the personal status of the various peoples and communities and for their religious interests shall be fully guaranteed. In particular, the control and administration of Wakfs shall be exercised in accordance with religious law and the dispositions of the founders.

ART. 10.

Pending the making of special extradition agreements relating to Palestine, the extradition treaties in force between the Mandatory and other foreign Powers shall apply to Palestine.

ART. 11.

The Administration of Palestine shall take all necessary measures to safeguard the interests of the community in connection with the development of the country, and, subject to any international obligations accepted by the Mandatory, shall have full power to provide for public ownership or control of any of the natural resources of the country or of the public works, services and utilities established or to be established therein. It shall introduce a land system appropriate to the needs of the country, having regard, among other things, to the desirability of promoting the close settlement and intensive cultivation of the land.

The Administration may arrange with the Jewish agency mentioned in Article 4 to construct or operate, upon fair and equitable terms, any public works, services and utilities, and to develop any of the natural resources of the country, in so far as these matters are not directly undertaken by the Administration. Any such arrangements shall provide that no profits distributed by such agency, directly or indirectly, shall exceed a reasonable rate of interest on the capital, and any further profits shall be utilised by it for the benefit of the country in a manner approved by the Administration.

ART. 12.

The Mandatory shall be entrusted with the control of the foreign relations of Palestine and the right to issue exequaturs to consuls appointed by foreign Powers. He shall also be entitled to afford diplomatic and consular protection to citizens of Palestine when outside its territorial limits.

ART. 13.

All responsibility in connection with the Holy Places and religious buildings or sites in Palestine, including that of preserving existing rights and of securing free access to the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites and the free exercise of worship, while ensuring the requirements of public order and decorum, is assumed by the Mandatory, who shall be responsible solely to the League of Nations in all matters connected herewith, provided that nothing in this article shall prevent the Mandatory from entering into such arrangements as he may deem reasonable with the Administration for the purpose of carrying the provisions of this article into effect; and provided also that nothing in this mandate shall be construed as conferring upon the Mandatory authority to interfere with the fabric or the management of purely Moslem sacred shrines, the immunities of which are guaranteed.

ART. 14.

A special commission shall be appointed by the Mandatory to study, define and determine the rights and claims in connection with the Holy Places and the rights and claims relating to the different religious communities in Palestine. The method of nomination, the composition and the functions of this Commission shall be submitted to the Council of the League for its approval, and the Commission shall not be appointed or enter upon its functions without the approval of the Council.

ART. 15.

The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.

The right of each community to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language, while conforming to such educational requirements of a general nature as the Administration may impose, shall not be denied or impaired.

ART. 16.

The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government. Subject to such supervision, no measures shall be taken in Palestine to obstruct or interfere with the enterprise of such bodies or to discriminate against any representative or member of them on the ground of his religion or nationality.

ART. 17.

The Administration of Palestine may organist on a voluntary basis the forces necessary for the preservation of peace and order, and also for the defence of the country, subject, however, to the supervision of the Mandatory, but shall not use them for purposes other than those above specified save with the consent of the Mandatory. Except for such purposes, no military, naval or air forces shall be raised or maintained by the Administration of Palestine.

Nothing in this article shall preclude the Administration of Palestine from contributing to the cost of the maintenance of the forces of the Mandatory in Palestine.

The Mandatory shall be entitled at all times to use the roads, railways and ports of Palestine for the movement of armed forces and the carriage of fuel and supplies.

ART. 18.

The Mandatory shall see that there is no discrimination in Palestine against the nationals of any State Member of the League of Nations (including companies incorporated under its laws) as compared with those of the Mandatory or of any foreign State in matters concerning taxation, commerce or navigation, the exercise of industries or professions, or in the treatment of merchant vessels or civil aircraft. Similarly, there shall be no discrimination in Palestine against goods originating in or destined for any of the said States, and there shall be freedom of transit under equitable conditions across the mandated area.

Subject as aforesaid and to the other provisions of this mandate, the Administration of Palestine may, on the advice of the Mandatory, impose such taxes and customs duties as it may consider necessary, and take such steps as it may think best to promote the development of the natural resources of the country and to safeguard the interests of the population. It may also, on the advice of the Mandatory, conclude a special customs agreement with any State the territory of which in 1914 was wholly included in Asiatic Turkey or Arabia.

ART. 19.

The Mandatory shall adhere on behalf of the Administration of Palestine to any general international conventions already existing, or which may be concluded hereafter with the approval of the League of Nations, respecting the slave traffic, the traffic in arms and ammunition, or the traffic in drugs, or relating to commercial equality, freedom of transit and navigation, aerial navigation and postal, telegraphic and wireless communication or literary, artistic or industrial property.

ART. 20.

The Mandatory shall co-operate on behalf of the Administration of Palestine, so far as religious, social and other conditions may permit, in the execution of any common policy adopted by the League of Nations for preventing and combating disease, including diseases of plants and animals.

ART. 21.

The Mandatory shall secure the enactment within twelve months from this date, and shall ensure the execution of a Law of Antiquities based on the following rules. This law shall ensure equality of treatment in the matter of excavations and archaeological research to the nationals of all States Members of the League of Nations.

(1) "Antiquity" means any construction or any product of human activity earlier than the year 1700 A.D.

(2) The law for the protection of antiquities shall proceed by encouragement rather than by threat.

Any person who, having discovered an antiquity without being furnished with the authorization referred to in paragraph 5, reports the same to an official of the competent Department, shall be rewarded according to the value of the discovery.

(3) No antiquity may be disposed of except to the competent Department, unless this Department renounces the acquisition of any such antiquity.

No antiquity may leave the country without an export licence from the said Department.

(4) Any person who maliciously or negligently destroys or damages an antiquity shall be liable to a penalty to be fixed.

(5) No clearing of ground or digging with the object of finding antiquities shall be permitted, under penalty of fine, except to persons authorised by the competent Department.

(6) Equitable terms shall be fixed for expropriation, temporary or permanent, of lands which might be of historical or archaeological interest.

(7) Authorization to excavate shall only be granted to persons who show sufficient guarantees of archaeological experience. The Administration of Palestine shall not, in granting these authorizations, act in such a way as to exclude scholars of any nation without good grounds.

(8) The proceeds of excavations may be divided between the excavator and the competent Department in a proportion fixed by that Department. If division seems impossible for scientific reasons, the excavator shall receive a fair indemnity in lieu of a part of the find.

ART. 22.

English, Arabic and Hebrew shall be the official languages of Palestine. Any statement or inscription in Arabic on stamps or money in Palestine shall be repeated in Hebrew and any statement or inscription in Hebrew shall be repeated in Arabic.

ART. 23.

The Administration of Palestine shall recognise the holy days of the respective communities in Palestine as legal days of rest for the members of such communities.

ART. 24.

The Mandatory shall make to the Council of the League of Nations an annual report to the satisfaction of the Council as to the measures taken during the year to carry out the provisions of the mandate. Copies of all laws and regulations promulgated or issued during the year shall be communicated with the report.

ART. 25.

In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18.

ART. 26.

The Mandatory agrees that, if any dispute whatever should arise between the Mandatory and another member of the League of Nations relating to the interpretation or the application of the provisions of the mandate, such dispute, if it cannot be settled by negotiation, shall be submitted to the Permanent Court of International Justice provided for by Article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.

ART. 27.

The consent of the Council of the League of Nations is required for any modification of the terms of this mandate.

ART. 28.

In the event of the termination of the mandate hereby conferred upon the Mandatory, the Council of the League of Nations shall make such arrangements as may be deemed necessary for safeguarding in perpetuity, under guarantee of the League, the rights secured by Articles 13 and 14, and shall use its influence for securing, under the guarantee of the League, that the Government of Palestine will fully honour the financial obligations legitimately incurred by the Administration of Palestine during the period of the mandate, including the rights of public servants to pensions or gratuities.

The present instrument shall be deposited in original in the archives of the League of Nations and certified copies shall be forwarded by the Secretary-General of the League of Nations to all members of the League.

Done at London the twenty-fourth day of July, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-two.

The Land Problem

"Only a tiny percentage of the land acquired by the Zionists was bought from small peasants; most of it came from the large landowners. One-quarter of all Jewish land in Palestine (the Esdraelon valley) was in fact acquired from one single absentee landlord, the Christian Arab Sursuq family which lived in Beirut. Various British committees of enquiry ...discovered in the 1920s that a large landless class was developing in the Arab sector and that more and more land was coming into a few hands. But this was not mainly the result of Jewish immigration. A similar tendency could also be observed in Egypt and in other countries which were gradually coming into the orbit of the modern capitalist economy.

During the early years of Zionist settlement the Jewish land buyers showed no more concern than the Arab effendis for the fate of the fellaheen who were evicted. Only gradually did it dawn on them that moral considerations quite apart, they were facing a potentially explosive political issue. Later on, greater care was taken to pay compensation or to find alternative employment for those who lost their land. But the effects of Jewish settlement on the Arab economy were minimal, as a statistical comparison shows:urbanisation in Palestine did not proceed at a faster rate than in the neighbouring Arab countires;Arab immigration into Palestine exceeded emigration from that country;and the birth rate rose more quickly than in the neighboring Arab countries, as did the living standards of the Arabs in the neighborhood of the new Jewish settlements." (Laqueur, p. 227)

"The Zionist plan, as outlined by Weizman to Faisal in 1918 was to avoid encroaching on land being worked by the Arab peasantry and instead to reclaim unused, uncultivated land, and by the use of scientific agricultural methods to resore its fertility. The large Arab landholders, however turned out to be eager to sell the Jewish settlers their fertile lands too-- at very considerable profits. Indeed, Jewish purchasers bid land prices up so that, not untiypically, an Arab family of Beirut sold plots of land at prices ranging from forty to eighty times the original purchase price. Far from being forced by Jews to sell, Arabs offered so much land to Jews that the only limiting factor on purchases became money: the Jewish settlers did not have enought money to buy all the land that Arabs offered to them. Not merely non-Palestinian Arabs, but the Palestinian Arab leadership class itself was deeply implicated in these land sales that it publicly denounced. Either personally or through their families, at least a quarter of the elected official leadership of the Arab-Palestinian community sold land to Jewish settlers between 1920 and 1928".

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