Zionism and Great Britain
Zionism, since the last decades of 19th century, was/is a worldwide Jewish organization aimed to build a national home/Jewish Nation state in Palestine. Nevertheless at the beginning, Jews as a whole were not supporting Zionism. Bearing this case in mind, in this paper the denotations “Zionism/Zionists” and “Jews” have selectively been used. Because the Palestine Question is a global problem and never lacks mass interest, there are a large English and Turkish literature on Balfour Declaration and Lloyd George Government’s support to Zionists. Even ordinary political history books tackle with the problem and give some information. Notwithstanding there is no any specifi c work inspecting the texting of Balfour Declaration. To understand the logic and texting of the Declaration, British archive documents must carefully be examined and a new light should be shed on the aim of Lloyd George Government’s hidden objectives inserted and hided among complex cycle of facts while the text was being typed. Basic problematic of this essay focused on the structural meaning and messages of the Balfour Declaration. The most considerable fi nding of the paper is that: the concept of “national home” which was put forward with an innocent/intentional editing is the basis of later developments. The concept actually from the very beginning was targeting a Jewish State, both Lloyd George and Zionists were very well aware of that fact. The other signifi cant reality the archive documents brings out is that, Sheriff Hussein and his son Faisal who collaborating with British, betrayed Ottoman Empire and caused its defeat at Palestine-Hejaz Front also were very well aware what “national home” would mean after British occupation. Both, for their selfi sh interests preferred not to oppose Zionist plans.
After French Revolution (1789) nationalism and the process of building nation states achieved a worldwide impetus. Jews, the oldest monotheistic prayers left Palestine and spread all around the world with Babylonian Exile (BC 597-581) by Babylon King Nebuchadnezzar. Since then, historical facts and developments did not grant Jews a chance for reestablishment of their historical kingdom/nation state in Palestine. Nationalistic movements, sacramental confl icts, especially disputes with Catholics inspired Jews for an independent state. Contrarily Jews more or less had good relations with other Christian sects. Zionism, emerged and relied on historical facts, sectarian confl icts and nationalistic ideas. There were three countries Jews lived as equal citizens even had higher status they were respectively; Britain, Ottomans and USA. The ideas put forward by Zionists were utopic. That is why, at the beginning all Jews did not support Zionism and some believed that, it was impossible to achieve what Zionists asked.
In 1881, a series of pogroms swept through Russia. That was the extensive anti-Jewish disturbances since the slaughter of the Jews in Poland during 1648-49. In the year of 1882 a pamphlet was published addressing Jewish emancipation. Dreyfus Case in 1894 was a false judgement forced some Jews to support Zionists desire for a Jewish Nation State. Britain, diff ering from the Continental European countries and Tsarist Russia had good relations with Jews and Zionists. Zionists at the very beginning were asking for a piece of land in Palestine where they wanted to resume their old kingdom/nation state. After its occupation of Egypt in 1882, Britain began to express a desire to enlarge its sovereignty towards Palestine and the Hejaz. This plan was postponed indefi nitely however due to the inconvenient conditions and political situation of the world policy. To work around this issue, Bedouin tribes were encouraged by British forces to arrange a de facto occupation status northeast of Egypt, targeting Gaza, Khan Yunus and Jericho. This occupation was achieved either in the form of land sales between tribes, or through factual declarations, whereby a tribe would claim that a particular stretch of land actually belonged to them. This was despite Palestinian lands belonging to the Sultanate and thus they could not legally be sold or purchased. British forces in the region escalated such disputes in favor of Egypt hence for themselves. The construction of Bagdad Railway and rising Turkish eff ect in the Arabian peninsula together with Palestine was an important development drawing British attention. In that years close interest was focused on Bagdad Railway and increasing German tendency in Sublime Porte also.
On its policy to carve more lands to the east of Suez and be aware of political developments in Arab littoral, British Government began to insist that the city of Taba, located to the east of the Suez Canal, actually belonged to Her Majesty’s Government by virtue of a Firman issued in 1892, submitted to Britain by Grand Vizier Cevat Pasha. Similar claims were put forward regarding eastern Arabian peninsula also. Ottomans facing trouble with Russia towards its centuries ongoing demands on Turkish Straits. Any friction with Britain would destroy the balance and such case was not desired by Sublime Porte. Nevertheless Sultan Abdulhamid II strictly rejected this claim so the British Consul to Cairo advised his government to threaten Sublime Porte by putting on a naval show. The British Ambassador to Istanbul also had suspicions that another power [most probably Russia] had been encouraging Porte to reject British claims over Taba. During the fi rst few months of 1906, while these discussions were still going on, Zionists began to send dispatches to the British Foreign Offi ce (FO) asking for a Jewish settlement in the Sinai Peninsula. Sinai was a part of Egypt which was a British Suzerainty. This initiative would be a step closer for Zionists towards achieving a Jewish State in Palestine.
Disputes on the Turco-Egyptian frontier over where the demarcation line would pass went on for a while. On October 1st 1906, the new border line was drawn and a boundary agreement signed. The disputed ownership over the city of Taba, which the British Government had laid claim to, was left on the Ottoman side. During discussions for demarcating the border British envoys had tried to push forward the boundary line as close to Palestinian lands as possible. One of the basic reasons of this policy was to meet the Zionist Leader’s rising demand for a national home for Jews in Palestine. The dispatches between Zionists and Ministry of Foreign Aff airs contain the term “national home”. The term “National Home” used may at first glance be deemed an innocent humanitarian request, but it would be defi ned in the future Zionist Proposal to the 1918 Paris Peace Conference as:
The establishment of a National Home for the Jewish people in Palestine is understood to mean that the country of Palestine should be placed under such political, economic, and moral conditions as will favor the increase of the Jewish population, so that in accordance with the principles of democracy it may ultimately develop into a Jewish Commonwealth.
As can be seen from archived records, the term “national home” was actually targeted towards creating a Jewish [Israeli] State, but not the cause tension and escalate opposition this intention was not declared. This situation would become clear about two decades later, when it was already too late to prevent what had become an ongoing policy.
About nine years before the demarcation of the Ottoman-Egypt [British] border line, the fi rst Zionist Congress was summoned in the city of Basel, Switzerland, in 1897. One year before this congress Theodor Herzl had published a pamphlet titled A Jewish State. The pamphlet was in three languages, German, English and France. In his pamphlet Herzl defended his ideas and said it was unsustainable for Jews living as host nations. The pamphlet detailed the road map for the foundation of a Jewish State in Palestine in its 52nd page Herzl discuss the Argentina and Palestine preference for a national home. He says “Argentina is a country with some of the greatest natural resources in the world and …. sparsely populated and has a temperate climate…. Palestine is our unforgettable historic homeland… If His Majesty Sultan [Abdulhamid II] were to give us Palestine, we could in return pledge ourselves to regulate the entire finances of Turkey”.
One of the most interesting sentences of the pamphlet is Zionists’ insistence on Palestine and their readiness to cover all needed cost for a national home only in Palestine. The second interesting point is Herzl pretentious off er to pay all Ottoman loans in return of a national home. That off er practically was impossible. Because after Crimean War (1853-56) Ottomans faced with vital diffi culties on repayment of state loans and Duyun-u Umumiye (Public Debts Administration) was established in 1881 to collect Ottoman loans directly from revenue making tax payments. The average amount of yearly repayment was 15 million Ottoman Liras in 1890’s thus it was almost impossible for Zionists to regulate or undertake such huge amount of Ottoman debts. Nevertheless by his words “to regulate the entire finances of Turkey” Herzl implicitly was declaring that Zionists were ready even to meet such high cost for a national home. Such off er never has been presented to Sultan Abdulhamid, even Herzl actually did not have enough economic source for that kind of job. But, to keep Zionists united and hopes alive, Herzl, in 1901 May together with Rothschilds and Bleichroders came to Istanbul to talk to the Sultan Abdulhamid II. After his meeting with Sultan he declared that, they got what they wanted. Abdulhamid II was enough clever to detect undeclared intentions of Zionists when they asked permission for a harmless national home. Even though encouraging arguments after their meeting with Sultan, Zionists decided not to draw their lot with Sublime Porte. They had noticed that a Jewish State could only be resumed by the help of Britain.
Until the occurrence of the Basel Congress, Zionists had hidden from the world their true intentions, at which it was established that “… some of the delegates wanted to proclaim openly the objective of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine… [opposing this idea] [we] would say [our aim] in a way so as to avoid provoking the Turkish rulers of the coveted land…”. This shows a deliberate policy by Zionist leaders not to proclaim their actual aim, which remained the status quo until 1947, by which time the policy could openly continue.
Britain was very well aware of Zionist desires in Palestine and Arab sentiments in case of such event was considered. After Herzl dead at 1904 the idea of establishing a Zionist colony under the protection of Britain were continued by Wolf and Israel Zangwill. Even after Ottoman strict disfavor for national home in Palestine, an idea was developed to establish a colony in eastern costal region of Libya, at Cyrenaica but due the hostility of local Arabs and shortage of water the project could not be realized. Occupation of Palestine and dominance or suzerain rule on Arabian peninsula would be possible by vital Arab support. Bearing this case in mind a bilateral balanced policy was put in use not to off end Arabs but Zionists also were not dissatisfi ed. On the track of balance policy when WWI begun, it was deemed unacceptable for Britain to concede any soil from the Holy Land [Palestine] to other belligerents, neither to the Entente or Central Powers; “if the Imperial Government should be prepared largely to satisfy France’s desires concerning Syria and Cilicia proper, it is indispensable to study the question with closer attention, if the Holy Places [Palestine] are involved”.
The balance shifted to Zionists side when Lloyd George Government came to power. With the beginning of Lloyd George’s prime ministry in 1916 the British Government placed a special focus on Palestine as the location on which to carve a Jewish Home. Along with achieving closer relations with the Zionists, another aim of British Government was to garner the support of Russian Jews, though this attempt failed because it was merely Zionist propaganda to achieve British sympathy for their cause. According to this propaganda, keeping Russia in war would be sustainable and possible due assistance from Russian Jews. The British Government had been persuaded-or believed-that Russian Jews had considerable infl uence on the Russian Administration, whereas in reality this was only an illusion.
It is not clear who in particular, but it was most probably Lloyd George, accepted this illusion because, unlike his predecessors, Lloyd George was a devoted believer in the Jews’ return to Palestine and was even a close friend of Theodore Herzl. This new policy shift was a reverse course to his predecessor Henry Asquith and his staff in Cairo promised Palestine to the Arabs to approach their revolt against the Ottoman Empire. Whilst there was a contradiction between the promises of Lloyd George and Henry Asquith, British foreign policy was of course run accordingly where the empire’s benefit lay.
Any kind of statement which argues that British interests in the resettlement of Jews in Palestine started with Theodore Herzl or Lloyd George is completely wrong. The fi rst British advocacy regarding resettlement of the Jews in Palestine had come about three hundred years ago by Sir Henry Finch in 1621. Even at the beginning, Finch was jailed due to his writings, and his ideas disappeared within British foreign policy priorities for a limited period, though an interest in Palestine neither faded away nor lost its attraction. For instance in 1838, about forty years after Napoleon’s Syrian campaign, Lord Shaftesbury suggested in a memorandum that Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston should establish a Jewish resettlement in Palestine under the guarantee of the Great Powers (Britain, France, Russia, Austria). This plan was unable to be implemented due to a lack in numbers of the Jewish community able to settle in Palestine.
One year later in April 1839, the British Consul to Al-Quds/Jerusalem send a dispatch to Col. Campbell in Cairo regarding the protection of Jews in the Ottoman Empire. A year after him the British Ambassador to Istanbul, Lord Ponsonby, send a dispatch to his Foreign Offi ce recommending that the Ottoman Government should make eff orts in the just encouragement of the Jews of Europe to return to Palestine. These ongoing eff orts had been continuing for some time, though only by the British Government and sometimes in collaboration with other powers. Under these conditions WWI began and, despite it was a catastrophic event for humanity and for the Jews, the war provided new chances for a much longed national home in Palestine. This new opportunity would be used very well by the Zionists. According the British repots of early 1917’s, “Zionist movement in Palestine and outside had gained rather than lost since beginning of war and that determined eff ort would be made further its deal at the earlies possible moment”. As it is clearly seen Britain was very well aware of the fact that if Zionists were given what they wanted, a Jewish State in Palestine is inevitable. So that, at the beginning of the war Anglo Palestine Co., the Zionistic banking institution had issued numerous guaranteed cheques of 5, 10 and 20 franc each. The new cheques were in use in Palestine as an alternate currency. That means acting as a state power and this information in documents also proves the real intentions of Zionists.
Balfour Declaration and the Zionists
British Government had a centuries-long policy advocating the Jewish cause and had intervened several times in Ottoman internal aff airs in favor of the Jews. Thus when a chance appeared both before and during WWI, the British Government again entered into the fi eld in favor of the Jews, with the British siding the Zionists in a vis a vis collaboration. But an unexpected problem came out as; contrary to British aspirations, France argued that because the fi rst crusaders had been largely French, it was the French who had the most right to occupy Palestine. Moreover in 1799, when on his Syrian campaign, Napoleon had issued a proclamation to the Jews to join his army, promising them in return the lands of Palestine.
This was one of the fi rst events whereby the Jews were articulated with the French revolution and nationalistic ideas. The wave of nationalism that arose after the French Revolution became arguably one of the most eff ective tools for the Zionist cause. Because Napoleon had been defeated in Acre by Ottoman Armies, his promise never had the chance to come true. In any case, Britain was reluctant to leave Palestine to the French, so the Government began seeking a legitimized solution to oppose French desires with the assistance of British Zionist Leader Azriel Weizman, who was also disfavor to any kind of French rule in Palestine.
One basic reason for this British policy was said to be an eff ort to carve a Jewish national home in Palestine, whilst the second was due to Palestine’s strategic geographical location on the route of British colonies, particularly to India. As Palestine was situated to the east of the Suez Canal it off ered the shortest and easiest sea routes to India, Gibraltar, the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Aden Gulf, Oman Sea, and of course, the strategic Suez Canal itself. If access to the canal was blocked the British navy and merchants had to use the alternative route north, through the Atlantic Ocean then south-east, passing the Cape of Good Hope to the Indian Ocean. This second route was at least fourfold distance of the former. Alongside these developments, the Zionists were pushing the British Government to launch an attack on Palestine and invade those lands for them. To this end, even before the occupation of Palestine, covert efforts were being made by the British Foreign Office.
At the beginning of 1917, Britain and France had agreed on carving a national home for Zionists in Palestine and discussions were taking place with Russia to achieve consent for such an initiative. At the same time however, the infl uential Catholic Church entered the scene and Italy asked for a share in Palestine. At the beginning Britain and France denied Italy what had been asked for, but when the World Zionist Organization’s Representative Nahum Sokolow was introduced to Italian Premier Sonnino, it was expected that some changes might actually be made. Sokolow had come to Italy specifi cally to meet with the Pope and achieve his support for a national home. The Pope granted Sokolow what he asked and so the British Government took this to be another step forward for the occupation of Palestine. After his meeting with Sokolow, Sonnino also became an actor in the destiny of Palestine. Meanwhile the British Government had sent a dispatch to Sir Mark Sykes underlining the British Government’s support for Zionist aspirations, and instructing him to assist Sokolow in Paris and Rome. Thus one of the oldest nationalist movements in history, Zionism had achieved almost all of the Allied Associated Powers’ support for a national home, though the Italians still believed that Zionism was a British instrument for British desires on the Middle East. The only visible negative voice was coming from Russia, but due to internal turmoil, this voice was no longer important.
In 1917 the British Government established a Jewish Legion, Lloyd George believing that this Legion would be more beneficial for the Allied Associated Powers’ victory. Actually this was not the first Jewish Legion established by the British, as during the Dardanelles Campaign there was a small Jewish Legion that fought against the Ottomans. After all necessary preparations, to realize British interests and grant a long asked national home for Jews, towards the end of 1917 the British War Offi ce (BWO) decided to attack Palestine. Beside Jews, Britain also was trying to use Arabs. Jews who were living in Palestine as Ottoman subjects did not support Arab revolt but to help the defeat of Ottomans they were ready to join British forces.
Nationalistic movements had arrived Arabian lands of Ottomans almost two decades ago and Britain promised Muslim Arabs an independent Arab Kingdom in return of collaboration. Relying on British promises large number of Ottoman Arabs under the leadership of Chieftains, Meccan Emir Sheriff Hussein and his sons collaborated with British. Circulation of independent kingdom dreams and misled nationalistic ideas, Arab soldiers started to take flight from Ottoman Army when they had a chance. Arabs of course unaware of the British promises to Zionists in 1916’s but when Sheriff and his son Abdullah became aware of that promises at the end of 1917’s they will prefer to keep silence and not to oppose. Meanwhile, Ottoman Palestine 4th Army Commander and later Syria and Western Arabia Armies Commander-in-Chief, Cemal Pasha, had been paying special attention to the defense of Palestine and Syria.
Thanks to words given to them, as it is expected before most of the Palestinian Jews began assisting Britain in the occupation of Palestine. Perhaps one of the most important of those betrayed the Ottomans was a Jewish agronomist and botanist named Aaron Aaronson, who had been living in Palestine and was enrolled in the Ottoman Army under Cemal Pasha for a period, until he took flight from the army. During a crop-destroying desert locust invasion in 1915, he had worked behind Ottoman lines recording everything he saw. Aaronson, along with his sister, were members of the secret Jewish Nili organization. When this organization was intercepted by Ottoman authorities he had deserted Ottoman Army. Moreover he was a Zionist and to ease British occupation off ered his personal knowledge of Ottoman bases and the military, particularly the situation behind Ottoman lines, providing records he had collected about Palestine and the vicinity to British offi cers. He had also discovered a type of wild wheat in Palestine, and persuaded British offi cials that this would provide enough food for Jewish settlers.
During 1917 the Allies were in trouble on both European and Eastern fronts. The French campaign in Champagne had been unsuccessful, the British forces could not occupy Palestine and Russia had fallen into disarray. Under these conditions, British negotiations with Zionists on Palestinians’ lands could be legitimized due to the situation of the war. To argue that this is what led to agreement between Britain and the Zionists is however erroneous, as the reality that has been detailed in the above was far diff erent. Long before experiencing trouble in the war, British offi cials had been engaging in talks with the Zionists over the creation of a national Jewish home in Palestine. The defeats and unexpected developments in 1917 could only have accelerated this process. Meanwhile to carve more support a widespread fabricated campaign was put in use arguing that “Turks exiling and massacring Jews in Palestine”.  One month after the fabrication of that propaganda, former US Ambassador to Turkey, Abram I. Elkus denied all claims and said that “Turks always fair to Jews”. 
The Balfour Declaration was proclaimed twenty years after the fi rst Zionist Congress in Basel. The declaration is generally accepted as the milestone marking the foundation of the state of Israel, which the Palestinians would also begin to see as the starting point of their struggles. The reality is far diff erent, as well before this declaration Britain had been working towards the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. But not to be contrary to Sykes-Picot Agreement with France and McMahon’s Agreement with Sheriff Hussein of Mecca these eff orts had beenarranged in the secret circles of British FO. While collaborating with Britain, unaware of British plans over Palestine, Sheriff Hussein, Emir of Mecca when negotiated with McMahon, at the same time was assuring Ottoman Commander in Chief, Cemal Pasha of his loyalty. Those bilateral talks ended in mid-1916 before the Second Canal Campaign of the Ottomans, at which point he had decided to side with British. This decision both encouraged and accelerated the invasion of Palestine.
Whilst the Balfour Declaration came one month before the offi cial invasion of Palestine in November 1917, and met with almost all of the Zionists’ desires, it was in fact nothing more formal than a letter from the foreign secretary to Lord Rothschild, a leading fi gure in the Jewish community in Britain. About three months earlier on July 18th, 1917, Lord Rothschild had sent a telegram to Balfour saying that, “at last I am able to send you the formula you asked me for”. It is clearly visible on this telegram that Balfour had asked Lord Rothschild for a formula to be declared that achieved Zionist aspirations for a national home. Considering this information it would not be inaccurate to say that; the State of Israel was really established on the 11th of December, 1917 when British General Edmund Allenby entered the Holy City [Al-Quds/Jerusalem] on foot as a victor of the Last Crusade.
The formula sent by Lord Rothschild which later would become the famous Balfour Declaration reads:
1) His Majesty’s Government accepts the principle that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish People. (2) His Majesty’s Government will use its best endeavors to secure the achievement of this objective and will discuss the necessary methods and means with the Zionist Organization.
The telegram had been circulated to the War Cabinet and in August, Balfour replied with “I am glad to be in a position to inform you that His Majesty’s Government accept[s] the principle that Palestine should be reconstituted as the national home of the Jewish people”. In particular the phrase “reconstitute” meant what Zionists had been asking for being made possible, and that the British Government would formally allow the creation of a Jewish State. It is surprising that such a short telegram, four decades later would have such an impact on the destiny of the Palestinian people. As can be seen from archived dispatches, Britain and in particular Lloyd George’s Government were ready to grant Jews a Jewish State on Palestinian lands because they were very well aware of the fact that the term “national home” was only a provisional step. It is not possible that they did not foresee the impact which would have come instance in the future.
Another unintelligible event is the reactions of Sheriff Hussein and his third son Faisal when they heard about the British and Zionist intentions on Palestine. Incomprehensibly, neither of them had any reaction, nor did they say anything to oppose this plan. Archive documents do not provide any insights to their silence, but we do know that when the British Government occupied Bagdad in March 1917, it was implied that they would support a united Arab state under Sheriff and his sons. In addition another possible reason is that they lacked detailed information of the actual intentions of the British and Zionists. In later years it was argued that Britain’s actual aim with the Balfour Declaration was not to establish an Israeli State and betray Palestinian Arabs. This argument cannot refl ect the true fact, as the evidence shows; British Government was well aware of Zionist intentions on Palestine and deliberately allowed them to do what they had planned, step by step. Leading offi cials of the British War Offi ce recognized this invasion “would be the rebirth of Jewish nation”.  The meaning of the term “rebirth” would be understood decades later.
The Period after British Occupation and Establishment of British Mandatory
After the occupation the British Government could not decide on how to govern Palestine, as the Balfour Declaration had created high expectations and Palestinian Arabs, including Christians, had started to oppose Zionism. In other words, Zionist nationalism had escalated an Arab counteract and a conflict seemed possible to break out at any time. Considering this fact the British Government decided not to change the Ottoman system in Palestine, only replacing Turkish government offi cials with Zionists or British offi cials and divided the occupied areas into four governorates. The administration was strictly in accordance with law and usages of war (Hague Convention), regarding the administration of occupied enemy territory as being purely temporary and involving the maintenance as far as possible of the status quo ante-bellum. 
Moreover there was another problem Britons had to cope with. When the war was over the Arabs who had revolted and fought against the Turks on the side of the British expected their national sovereignty to be recognized by the Allies. What they were not aware of however was the vital that “centuries-old sympathy of the British policy makers and successive Governments with the Jews of Palestine and of Europe and their desire on philanthropic, on sentimental, even on religious grounds to help them rebuild their homes there [in the Holy Land]”. That reality made Arab nationalism develop on a western dichotomy. Actually at the very beginning it had based on Ottoman opposition.
As it is seen on previous pages, whilst fi ghting against the Ottomans British Government offi cials were talking to Zionists and giving promises contrary to Arab interests. Moreover, the British Government from the very beginning neither had any intention to give freedom to Arabs nor aff ord any kind of sovereignty over Arabian soils. This is despite Wilson’s 14 points, especially the 12th, which was in favor of an Arabian state on Arab lands where overwhelmingly 89% of population was Arab.
It is commonly thought that Israel was established three years after WWII in 1948 by US, Britain, France and Russia in UN. This thought is absolutely wrong. Before the occupation of Palestine in December 1917, the British, French and US Governments had agreed on a plan to carve a national home for Jews on those soils. Anyone may easily guess that Zionists had planned to transform this small national home into an Israeli State. Italy joined in a little bit later. This was an organized work undertaken by diff erent Zionist leaders. For instance, US Zionist Leader Justice Brandeis was a close friend to Wilson. Brandeis in collaboration with Azriel Weizman had prevented a separate peace agreement with the Ottomans in mid-1917, because Ottoman rule in Palestine would hamper any chance for the foundation of a Jewish State. It was only Russia who joined this group after WWII.
In the year of 1919, one month after the inauguration of the Peace Conference, the British FO prepared a Handbook on “Zionism” for the use of British offi cers, and the book was given the code “confi dential”. The Handbook described “Zionism” as the oldest nationalist movement in history, providing brief information of Jewish History from the Old Testament, citing some passages regarding the Promised Lands. The publication of this book, together with other historical documents testifi es British Government’s eff orts soon after the invasion of Palestine to begin a program in order to meet Zionist desires of settling in the Holy Land. The book reads as follows:
After the conquest [invasion] of Palestine by General Allenby, the British Government lost no time in taking steps to fulfi l the promise made by [Foreign Secretary] Mr. Balfour in his declaration of November 2, 1917 to facilitate “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. It authorized the Zionist organization to send out to Palestine a commission, representative of English, American, French, and Russian Jewry, to investigate and work out ways and means for the establishment of the Jewish national home. The commission went to Palestine accompanied by Major the Hon. W. Ormsby-Gore, M.P., as their liaison offi cer with the British authorities of Palestine…
After the occupation of Palestine there was a dilemma for the British FO because they had met Zionist aspirations but not the Arabs. Independence and sovereignty were attractive words on paper to lend or escalate Arab nationalism against Ottomans. But now there was a problem on the table; McMahon had promised an independent Arab Kingdom. The situation was led to brinkmanship and FO offi cials, after hard discussions, found a way to postpone the problem. A bi-national state in Palestine would be established and non-Jewish communities’ rights would be protected. At the beginning, both Arab and Zionist leaders accepted this plan thus British diplomacy once again received a great step towards a national home for Jews in Palestine. Due to later developments however the British Government could not implement this plan.
Bi-national state was a new concept asking Arabs to share their lands with Jews. Two years earlier it was not even possible to talk about such a situation in Palestine nor to fi nd any ordinary Arab or Arab leader accepting a bi-national state in Palestine. But in 1919, because Arab leaders had bid on British promises and the McMahon Agreement, they desperately had to accept the new British terms on Palestine. There was not much chance to negotiate the new situation as it was before the occupation of Palestine by British forces against their co-religionists with their assistance. New situations always impose new rules and at the end of 1918 the situation in Palestine had been transformed into a new stage. Of course Arab leaders, who had largely not been informed of British desires to carve a national home for Jews, were also not aware of the fact that by accepting British occupation, they had also accepted a newly emerging Jewish State on their lands.
In the meantime the Zionist proposal for a Peace Conference was underway in order to carve an unconditional national home for the Jews and to encourage Jewish immigration to the Holy Land. Zionists had also defi ned the borders for a Jewish state such as; in the north, the northern and southern banks of Litany River, as far north as latitude 330 35’. South-easterly direction to the point just south of the Damascene territory, and west of the Hejaz Railway. In the east, a line close to and west of the Hejaz [Ottoman] Railway. In the south, a line from a point in the neighborhood of Akaba to El Arish. In the west up to the Mediterranean Sea. These borders would be drawn under British auspices.
After the British occupation, tension between Zionists, Palestinian Muslims and Christians began to escalate, due to the increased aspiration of the former. The fi rst important confl ict broke out in Al-Quds/Jerusalem at the fi rst anniversary celebrations of the so-called Balfour Declaration November 1918. British forces in the city quashed the conflict but tensions continued to rise. There were also internal confl icts between Orthodox Ashkenazim and Sephardim Jews but Jews in the Holy City formed a one strong united body for the realization of their longlasting desires.
Contrary to developments and tensions in the Holy Land, when WWI ended Zionist organizations put in force a campaign to encourage Jewish emigration to Palestine to help change the demographic structure in their favor. For this project, one day after the inauguration of the Peace Conference on January 19th, 1919, the Central Zionist Federation asked the British Government’s permission and support to send some Jews from Trieste to Palestine. Jews from Poland, Galicia, Bohemia, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and neighboring countries began to prepare to immigrate to Palestine. It was the Jewish Colonial Trust, a Zionist Organization fi nancing these aspirations. Actually after British occupation, at the mid of 1918, Weisman explaining Zionist aims had declared that “they would not use war conditions to buy more land in Palestine and their aim was not a Jewish state but a national home for Jews in Palestine”.  That peaceful words was provisional tension dropping maneuvers and one year after all real intentions came out.
The British Government however was not yet ready to meet such demands at the beginning of 1919 due to rising tensions in Palestine, which seriously distressed Zionists. This was a temporary policy as seen in later months when Zionists succeeded to persuade the British Government to meet their wishes regarding immigration and National Home aspirations. Later the Zionists did however agree to postpone the immigration until systematic plans of colonization had been worked out in economic, financial and other important socio-economic regards. They were also distressed due to the continued existence of Turkish and Arabic inscriptions on postage stamps. This situation show how Zionists’ impertinence had highly levelled and how their tolerance was low. The intolerance Zionists started to express soon after very beginning of British colonialism will cause accelerated escalation of confl icts. Nowadays Zionists were stepping on their way for a Jewish State in Palestine day by day.
Palestinians, together with their limited revolts and resistance, still expected the assistance of the Allied Associated Powers to prevent Zionist aspirations in Palestine. At the beginning of January 1919, Nablus Arabs send a petition to the Peace Conference to protest against Zionist domination in Palestine. At the same time Zionists were sending numerous telegrams and petitions to the British FO, condemning British offi cials in Palestine who were not meeting Jews’ expectations and not working for Zionist aspirations. All of this pressure was eff ective on the British Government, allowing the British mandate over Palestine to be prepared together with Zionists.
The drawn border lines without a doubt attest to the ambitious plan for a Jewish state. If the Zionists had only asked for a limited national home in Palestine there would not have been the need for such a large area of land under their governance. The borders were almost two folded those of Palestinians. In addition the northeastern part of Red Sea, Suez Canal and the Golan Heights would come under Zionist control where were necessary soils for the survival of new state.
In accordance with the Zionists’ desires and the British Government’s expectations, Britain was assigned the mandate of Palestine at the San Remo Conference in April 1920. As mandatory administrator of the Holy Land the government appointed “Sir Herbert Samuel as His Britannic Majesty’s High Commissioner to Palestine”. After the Zionist mission to Palestine this was the second attempt by Britain to take necessary steps towards the creation of a Jewish National Home in the Holy Land. Britain’s receipt of the mandate over Palestine was a joyful event for both Zionists and Ashkenazi Jews.
The British Government preferred to appoint Sir Herbert Samuel as High Commissioner to Palestine. At the beginning this may be seen as an ordinary appointment and it is probable that Palestinians had generally taken Sir Samuel as a common British High commissioner. Sir Herbert Samuel was, however, “a wellknown Zionist leader” of his time. Despite this fact there were only very limited street demonstrations in the fi rst days of his appointment.
The Zionists had been happy for such an appointment. Herbert Samuel and Weizman, Jacobson, Messrs James de Rothschild, Alfred Zimmern, J. Simon, I. Rosoff , B. Flexner, B. Cohen, Commander Hogarth, Major W. Ormsby-Gore, [A.?] Toynbee, Col. Gribbon and Major Money together in May 1919 while Peace Conference meetings were going on, to discuss the future of Zionists and draw up a plan in case of a British mandate in Palestine. It was Herbert Samuel presiding over the meeting, whilst almost all participants except three offi cers were Zionists. It is interesting that Toynbee was in this meeting because he was a historian and an English agent who had authored propaganda books during WWI.
It is not clear after the mid-1917’s whether either Sheriff or Palestinian Arabs had any idea about Zionist intentions regarding Palestinian lands. What is most probable is that the local people of Palestine were not aware of these Zionist intentions, and until the British occupation, they lived peacefully with their Jewish neighbors, which could account for the fact that there was not any special opposition to the appointment of Sir Samuel Herbert. This situation proves the fact that common Palestinians had no idea about the plans of Zionism in 1917. For Sheriff and his son Faisal however, it is possible that they had chosen to turn a blind eye to this un-disturbing reality, at least at 1917, due to the aforementioned British promises. It is known that after the fall of Damascus Faisal tried to build closer relations with the Zionists and even asked for a Zionist adviser. In addition to this, according to D. Fromkin, Faisal had told Weizmann that “he did not have any care for Palestinian Arabs”. If this was the case Sheriff Hussein’s family betrayed both Ottomans and Palestinians for their selfi sh interests.
During his offi ce Herbert Samuel did not allow Palestinians to work in high ranking roles in government offi ces. “The highest positions attainable by Arabs [Palestinians] (apart from judges) were assistant heads of central departments or district offi cers”. Earlier in this essay it was demonstrated that Zionists never proclaimed their actual intentions for statehood in Palestine. Considering this the most probable reason of the administrative policy conducted by H. Samuel could only be to establish the administrative infrastructure of a Jewish State.
Herbert’s appointment provides more evidence proving that an Israeli State has been established not in 1948 but in 1917, when British General Allenby entered into the Holy City on foot. With the number of Jews in Palestine almost less than ten percent of the total population however, the British Government began assuming the “obligation of facilitating Jewish immigration into Palestine. During the fi rst decade [between 1918-1928] of the British mandatory government, this immigration was on a very limited scale…”, but after Hitler’s rise to power, Jewish immigration to Palestine until the end of WWII saw unforeseeable impetus, with numbers increasing almost fi ve-fold. At this point it may be argued that the British Government could have not foreseen Hitler’s Nazism and the uncontrollable Jewish immigration it led to Palestine.
During the years between WWI and WWII Jewish immigration to Palestine reached almost one-third of the total population. The British Government neither put in force a serious plan to control Jewish immigration to Palestine, nor had any idea how to protect the demographic structure of Palestine. At the end of 1918, about one month before the Paris Peace Conference in London, Faisal had stated that:
Arabs are not jealous of Zionist Jews and intend to give them fair play, and the Zionist Jews have assured the Nationalist Arabs of their intention to see that they too have fair play in their respective areas. Turkish intrigue in Palestine has raised jealousy between the Jewish colonists and the local peasants; but the mutual understanding of the aims of the Arabs and the Jews will at once clear away the last trace of this former bitterness...
Zionists were very well aware of their intentions, whereas Faisal had preferred to accuse the Ottoman Turks because of confl icts in Palestine. He was a collaborator to Weizmann and had close relations with Zionists. Weismann had also suggested to Clayton that the British Government should cover Faisal’s fi nancial problems. Contrary to Faisal’s pro-Zionist policies, two decades earlier Sultan Abdulhamid II had prevented Jewish colonization of the Holy Land, rejecting all Zionist proposals for a national home in Palestine. Zionist plans for a Jewish State is evident in British archives as the FO’s handbook reads as;
Jewish [Zionist] opinion would prefer Palestine to be controlled for present as a part, or at any rate a dependency of the British Empire; but its administration should be largely entrusted to Jews of the colonist type… Zionists of this way of thinking believe that, under such conditions, the Jewish population would rapidly increase until the Jew became the predominant partner in the combination.
Both the Zionists and British authorities had needed Faisal to help keep the French far from Palestine and in destroying all kinds of Turkish and German so called infl uences during war to keep order in Palestine. All of these realities show how Faisal and his father betrayed first the Ottomans and later the Palestinian Arabs. Faisal’s adviser and confi dante was the famous British Agent Thomas Ned Lawrence, and both Sheriff and Faisal had ambitions for a united Arab Kingdom under their rule. They were calling Lawrence as the “King of Arabia”.
Faisal was most probably aware of the Zionist proposal to the Peace Conference but did not have any opposition to either Zionists or Herbert Samuel. In the mid1920 France occupied Syria and sent Faisal into exile. Sheriff Hussein stayed in offi ce for four more years until he also left Arabia to Wahhabi Ibn Saud. Herbert Samuel stayed in offi ce until 1925 and during his time the Zionists achieved great progress towards an Israeli State in Palestine, and despite the population of Jews being only seven percent, they were almost governing the whole country.
According to American businessmen Edgar B. Newhouse, who visited Palestine at the beginning of 1925, “…[Zionists of Palestine] work[ing] in the fields with their bands, plain laborers; all these evidence are simply signs of the ideals for which these people are working to create a Hebrew [Israeli] home for the Hebrew people”. US High Commissar to Istanbul, Admiral Bristol, recorded in his diaries that “I do not know whether Newhouse was a Jew or not but his facial characteristics are a little inclined that way and it is possible that he was an Anglicized version of a Jewish name, he was speaking in favor of Hebrews and condemning the Palestinian Arabs”. As it is seen in Palestine and other parts of the earth Zionists signifi cantly were working for their pre-planned aims.
Zionism, one of the oldest nationalist movements of modern history, at the beginning was aiming to unite Jews and establish a national home in Palestine. Pogroms in Europe, Balkans and Russia together with injustices laid necessary stones for such organization. Despite their well-planned and well-implemented eff orts, at the beginning of 20th century, it was almost impossible for Zionists to achieve their aims without support of a European power. In other words lacking British support and assistance there was no way for a Jewish national home hence an Israeli state in Palestine at least for a definite period. Archives and other works clears out that from the very beginning Zionists understood what their goal was, but without proclaiming that intention loudly they preferred to work in silence and secrecy. Britain was their most confi dential supporter and before the offi cial proclamation of Zionism it was Britain who aff orded the protection of Jews in Palestine.
Britain until 1916 provided limited support to Zionist aspirations and it was not enough for future plans. British policy until this date more or less tracked a balanced aspect. When the Lloyd George government came power a dramatic shift was underway which close cooperative ties was established between Zionists and Britain. Lloyd George Government at the very beginning was a devoted supporter of a “national home” for Jews in Palestine. But that was not a humanistic approach aiming for cure injustices towards Jews. Notwithstanding archive reports and documents clearly show that nation building process and foundation of Israeli sate were very well known by Lloyd George and his ministers when Balfour Declaration was issued. During his office between 1916-1922 Lloyd George and Minister of Foreign Aff airs Arthur Balfour assisted Zionists to realize their aims. Not surprisingly, when the term “national home” was used it meant to Zionists one step forward to Israeli Sate on Palestinian soils. So that, when Balfour Declaration was issued with the wording “reconstitute” it meant Lloyd George government that necessary support for a Jewish State will be addressed to Zionists. As it was promised, until the end of 1922 all, Jewish immigration, resettlement, propaganda, governmental infrastructure were put in use under British auspices and ongoing support was handled by Lloyd George Government.
Starting by very beginning the Zionists followed a pragmatic policy to move forward toward their real objective of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. Meanwhile, the Arab leaders such as Sheriff Hussein and his son Faisal turned a blind eye towards these plans. On the other hand, ordinary Palestinians were not aware of Zionist aims and by the time they were, yet it was too late. Similarly to Lloyd George Government, Sheriff Hussein and especially his son Faisal were very well aware of the fact that a Jewish National Home meant a Jewish State in Palestine but both preferred not to oppose either the Jews’ or British policies, because both were expected selfish interest by British support.
Lloyd George Government worked hard to carve a Jewish State on Palestinian soil, despite promising a state for the Palestinian Arabs. In 1917 and during the British mandate this intention was never explicitly expressed, but at the end of 1918 the Zionist Commission to Palestine returned managing very little for the administration of Palestine under their auspices.
Not surprisingly, until the British occupation there was not mass resistance and opposition to Jewish settlements in Palestine regardless of Zionist aspirations, with Palestinians and Jews living together as neighbors. Soon after British occupation however, in particular after WWI, a massive resistance and opposition movement started in Palestine. When they learned of the Balfour Declaration, both Muslim and Christian Palestinians felt ill at ease with it which was exacerbated by the Zionists’ ever louder declarations about their future aspirations of a nation state.
Palestine, a land holy for three religions and had strategic importance on the side of Mediterranean as a bridge between Arabian Peninsula and Egypt always had vital importance for people living in the region. Jewish desiderate for that Holy Lands may be legitimized by their historical ties and adhesion. Yet, expulsion of native Palestinians to carve more and more land for selfish interests and denial or destruction of peaceful coexistence culture and tolerance were/are the main reasons of ethnic/religious clashes. Palestine needs peace and all nations and religions must be respected. The right of Jews for a nation state is a reality which cannot be rejected. But that should be on equal terms and basic rights of native Palestinians should be considered.
This paper tried to unearth foundation process of Israeli State and Zionist aspirations for a national home in Palestine. The basic aim of this paper is to show that from the very beginning Zionists were planning to carve an Israeli Sate in Palestine and this aim only would be possible by expulsion of natives. British support during WWI, especially Lloyd George Government’s six year office is a sine qua non period for the foundation of Israeli State. One of the surprising findings of this paper is, respectively Lloyd George Government’s, a few years after Faisal and Sheriff Hussein’s awareness of Zionist plans. Their unconditional or black folded support for such aspirations brought instability, never ending ethnic/religious conflicts, unsolvable humanitarian crisis and an internationalized problem to the Holy Lands where actually should be cradle of peace and respect.
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