Britain’s denial of democracy and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine

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“The British government have promised that what is called the Zionist movement shall have a fair chance in this country, and the British Government will do what is necessary to secure that fair chance…We cannot tolerate the expropriation of one set of people by another or the violent trampling down of one set of national ideals for the sake of erecting another…” 

Winston S. Churchill to an Arab delegation, 30 March 1921.[1]

“I do not admit that the dog in the manger has the final right to the manger, even though he may have lain there for a very long time…I do not admit, for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia…I do not think the Red Indians had any right to say, ‘The American Continent belongs to us and we are not going to have any of these European settlers coming in here’. They had not the right, nor had they the power.” 

Winston S. Churchill to the Peel Commission on Palestine, 12th March 1937.[2]


By the end of the official British presence in Palestine in mid May 1948, four hundred thousand Palestinian Arabs had been expelled, directly and indirectly from the country and 225 villages, towns and centres had more or less been ethnically cleansed of their indigenous inhabitants. Most of the villages were reduced to rubble by the Zionist forces, in order to prevent the Palestinians from ever returning.  

The four hundred thousand that fled during the final six months of the Britain’s rule in Palestine made up half of the indigenous Palestinians that were eventually cleansed by the end of 1948.[3] 

The question that inevitably needs to be asked is, what role Britain played in laying the foundations of what became known as the al-Nakba or the ethnic cleansing of Palestine? 

The British Empire obtained eventual control of Palestine and other areas of Arabia by convincing Arabs to side with it, against the Ottoman Empire during World War One. The flags of self-determination and independence were waved by Blighty and proved partly enough to entice Arabs in Palestine and elsewhere to enter an agreement.  

Imperial Britain’s agreement with the Arabs are contained in what are known as the Hussain-McMahon letters. So named after the Sharif Hussain bin Ali leader of the Hijaz region of the Arabian Peninsula and Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Cairo.[4]

Unbeknown to the Arab leadership, Britain made two simultaneous commitments during this period. One was an agreement with the French, known as Sykes-Picot, to carve up the Arab territories under Ottoman Empire. Named after the British official Mark Sykes and the French diplomat, Francois Georges-Picot. The other is the Balfour Declaration issued from London. This declaration committed the British government to,  

“…view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…”[5]

Below, I argue that the denial of representative government and democracy to the Arab Palestinians was the founding facilitation of British rule in Palestine and subsequently one of the key building blocs in the creation of Israel and the eventual ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

What became known as Palestine and is now known as Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, that is the territory west of the river Jordan, had a population of over 90 percent Arab and about 8 percent at the time of Britain’s entry into the region.  

The Arabs formed an overwhelming majority. Naturally any nation or people would have opposed the colonisation of their country by foreign settlers with a view to establish a national home therein. Representative government in Palestine was a threat to the British-Zionist project and as such needed to be forestalled. 

David Lloyd George, the then British Prime Minister in a meeting with Chaim Weizmann, leader of the Zionist movement in the UK and Lord Balfour, British Foreign Secretary, instructed Winston Churchill, the Colonial Secretary of the period that “he mustn’t give representative Government to Palestine.”[6]

In this same meeting both Balfour and Lloyd George confined and confirmed to Weizmann that by Jewish National Home they actually “meant an eventual Jewish State.”[7]  

Lord Balfour confirmed that the denial of representative government and democracy was British policy, “..In Palestine, we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country…” because Zionism, “be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who know inhabit that ancient land.”[8]

The denial of democracy was not only agreed to by the British political right wing but was also very much supported by the British Labour left wing.  

Ramsay MacDonald, the future leader of the Labour Party and the first ever Prime Minister of a Labour Government wrote that Palestinian demands for self-determination were deprived of “complete validity” because the biblical stories he was reared on as a child rendered that, “Palestine and the Jew can never be separated.”[9] Furthermore, Palestinian Arabs were incapable of developing the resources of their country and as such there is an “alluring call”[10] for “hundreds of thousands of Jews” [11] to colonise Palestine under a British mandate which sanctimoniously but verily deny representative government to the indigenous Palestinians. Colonel Josiah Wedgwood, a prominent Labour (and former Liberal) politician in the inter-war period agreed to democracy in Palestine but not until the “Jews are in a majority”[12] and once the “higher civilisation” of immigrant Jewish settlers “is numerous and wise enough to make democracy safe for all” they would then be able to “range up beside the other self-governing dominions”[13] of the British empire.  

In effect, the founding strategy of Zionism in Palestine was the cross-party, British denial of representative government and democracy to the indigenous Arab population. 

With this cross-party founding strategy in place, both Conservative and Labour politicians justified Britain’s Zionist project in respect to their own ideologies. The Conservatives proffered right-wing reasons for supporting Zionism and Labour, left-wing reasons.  

Firstly, for the British right-wing, Zionist colonialism represented an opportunity to also solve a domestic political consideration. Namely, Jewish immigrants or refugees fleeing anti-semitic pograms in eastern Europe. Rather than they fleeing to the West, they could go to Palestine. As Harry Defries has shown in his book on the Conservative Party attitude to Jews, “support for a territorial solution for the Jews be it in Palestine or elsewhere, was to find favour with many…who opposed Jewish immigration into Britain.”[14] In an earlier period, Joseph Chamberlain, who claimed that he only despised one race, that is the Jews, [15] had found himself agreeing with Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, that the solution is “to find some country in this vast world of ours where these poor exiles can dwell in safety without interfering with the subsistence of others.”[16] 

Another justification the Zionist initiative was supported amongst the right-wing was to pre-empt Jews from joining revolutionary socialist or communist organisations. As Churchill wrote in his essay, “Zionism vs Bolshevism”, after strongly implying that Jews were responsible for the French and Russian revolutions, it would therefore be “important to foster and develop any strongly-marked Jewish movement which leads directly away from these fatal associations. And it is here that Zionism has such a deep significance…” As such, once “millions” of Jews have migrated to Palestine they “would be especially in harmony with the truest interests of the British Empire.” i.e. the Suez Canal and Britain’s oil interests of the Persian Gulf. [17]

The harmony and security of the British Empire also featured in left-wing justifications for British engineered, Zionist colonialism. Colonel Wedgwood in his Zionist tract, “The Seventh Dominion”, wrote that Palestine was geographically the “Clapham Junction” of the British Empire.  As such a “friendly and efficient population” is required to settle there. The criteria of the new settlers in Palestine are “men on whom we can depend, if only because they depend on us…The Jews depend on us.”[18]

The Wilsonian notion of self-determination was also utilised by the British left-wing to justify Britain’s Zionist project. Woodrow Wilson, the American president had arrived at the Peace Conference in 1919 brandishing his idealistic strategy with a view to prevent future conflict and establish peace.[19] The argument had a short shelf life as firstly there were simply not enough Jews in Palestine to determine an independent state and therefore, secondly, even if there were, why should Jewish self-determination be given priority over Arab self-determination?[20] Partly, on this basis Labour politicians reverted to socio-cultural type and imperialist racial dehumanisation. H.N. Brailsford, a former Guardian journalist, seconded MacDonald’s opinion and justified Zionist colonialism on the basis that the Arabs were incapable of developing Palestine because they were “degenerate semi-savages” who had no right to “exclude millions” of settlers. [21]

From another angle left-wing justifications were utilised to misconstrue Arab opposition to the Balfour Declaration. Following the lead of Zionist labour propagandists, Colonel Wedgwood was at the forefront in arguing that Arab opposition was one based not on self-determination, but on economic class. The Zionist were raising the living standards of the indigenous population and the Arab elite in Palestine were opposed to this development. Wedgewood claimed that the Zionist were ‘teaching’ native Arabs how to claim for higher wages from their elite and this is why there was opposition to Britain’s Zionist project.[22]             

In the Anglo-French carve up of the region, the Sykes-Picot agreement, Palestine covers a larger land mass than it does now. The original Palestine also covered the land mass east of the river Jordan, that is now known as Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.  

The idea to wrench this part of Palestine into a separate entity didn’t arise until the very early 1920’s. The most popular reason for its creation rotates around the shenanigans of Emir Abdullah, the son of the “duped” Sharif Husain.[23] The story has it that Abdullah was on his way to what is now known as Syria to liberate it from the French, after they had thrown out his brother Faysal as its ruler. 

Therefore to forestall any dispute with its co-imperialist, the British eventually placated Abdullah by making him ruler, firstly on a six month probation and then permanently, of this geographical patch of Palestine, the area east of the river Jordan. It became known as Trans-Jordan. In the negotiations conducted with the head of the Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill in Jerusalem Abdullah, did ask whether: 

“His Majesty’s Government mean to establish a Jewish kingdom west of the Jordan and to turn out the non-Jewish population?..that men could be cut down and transplanted in the same way as trees.”[24]

Churchill denied that this was to be the case. Indeed, he claimed that such assertions were “groundless apprehension among the Arabs in Palestine.”[25] Yet Alec Kirkbride who had served in Trans-Jordan in various capacities [26] since its concoction as well as being an “immense influence” [27] on Emir Abdulla strongly implies in his autobiography that there may already had been a sinister motive. He states that the country was created because the British had intended it: 

“…to serve as a reserve of land for use in the resettlement of Arabs once the National Home for the Jews in Palestine…became an accomplished fact.” [28]

With the denial of representative democracy for the indigenous population firmly entrenched in British imperial governance, the total amount of European Jewish settlers in Palestine increased from 60,000 to 180,000 by the end of the 1920’s.  

In August 1929, major disturbances took hold of Palestine which resulted in the deaths of 133 Jews and 116 Arabs. The British government’s then Colonial Secretary, Lord Passfield, launched a commission to investigate the causes of the disturbances. The Shaw report, so-called after Walter Shaw, reported back to parliament in March 1930.  

The report partly concluded that the disturbances were not pre-meditated and furthermore that the indigenous Palestinians were fearful of their future. Land they had tilled for centuries was being sold by absentee landlords and they were being thrown off by the new Zionist landlords. The new landlords employed only Jewish labour, in accordance with Zionist principles and this had led to apprehension.     

Assuredly, certain strategies remained the same. On the eve of the report’s publication Lord Passfield confessed to Weizmann that he opposed “a representative legislative council” because he “feared that such elected bodies might become focuses of legal resistance to the proclaimed policy of the Government and the obligations it had undertaken…”i.e. the Balfour Declaration and the commitment to Jewish immigration. [29]

On the back of this report, the government appointed John Hope Simpson to mainly look into how settlement issues in Palestine could be ameliorated. 

While Hope-Simpson was conducting his survey in Palestine, Zionist representatives in London met with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Colonies, Dr. Drummond Shiels. Shiels informed the Zionists that Hope-Simpson’s mission was “to examine the possibilities for settlement of Arab fellaheen (i.e. peasants) in Transjordan and Jews in Western Palestine.” [30]

The Shaw Commission’s report and the Hope-Simpson report remained loyal to British Zionism’s gradualist approach in establishing a Jewish majority. This gradualism occasionally came into conflict with the flamboyant Zionism of the representatives of the European settler Jews, who wanted more mass immigration into Palestine. What united British governors and Jewish Zionist was their agreement to deny representative government to the indigenous Palestinians. [31]

Both of these reports formed the basis of the proposed governmental policy known as the Passfield White Paper of October 1930 which aimed to ostensibly restrict Jewish immigration. Others have had a more cynical interpretation of the reports. The author and son of Mark Sykes, Christopher Sykes, claimed that these reports were a: 

“…starting point of a certain rhythm to be noticed from then on in the affairs of Palestine under the Mandate. A Royal Commission goes off to the troubled land; its recommendations lead to the sending of a subsidiary commission to make definitive proposals on how to put the recommendations into effect; the proposals conflict with too much of settled conviction and involve too much political risk to be acted on; both Commissions prove to have been a waste of talent and time. This frequent sending of abortive commissions to Palestine was part of that belief which continues at the present time, namely that if one can only get a clear statement of any problem, its solution must likewise become clear. The belief appears to be true of only a few areas of experience and was never to be true of Palestine.” [32]

Indeed, the White Paper was “aborted” in Parliament by Ramsay MacDonald on 13th February 1931. MacDonald read a letter which in effect abrogated the reports and continued to commit the British government to the Balfour Declaration and implicitly the denial of representative government to Palestine.  

A Zionist historian has argued that it was this repudiation of the reports in this letter which heralded the mass immigration of the early 1930’s. Between 1931 and 1935, Jewish immigration more than doubled to 400,000. [33] Needless to say the horrific growth of anti-semitism in Europe played no small part in Jews fleeing their homes and seeking salvation in either Palestine or elsewhere.

The intensification of British engineered Zionist colonial immigration coupled with denial of representative government led to the three year Palestinian Arab Revolt which began in April 1936. 

Amidst the revolt, Britain launched a Royal Commission enquiry. Yet the Colonial Secretary in this period, William Ormsby-Gore, knew all too well what was at root of the latest disturbances. In June 1936, he stated in parliament that: 

“…The Arabs demand a complete stoppage of all Jewish immigration, a complete stoppage of all sales of land, and the transfer of the Government of Palestine…to what they call a National Government responsible to an elected democratic assembly. Those are their three demands, and quite frankly, those demands cannot possibly be conceded.” [34] 

The Royal Commission was appointed on the 29th July 1936 and was headed by Lord Peel and included five other emissaries, including Professor Reginal Coupland. This Commission is more commonly known as the Peel Report on Palestine and it reported back to parliament on the 7th July 1937.  

The commission interviewed 66 witnesses and although Arabs did initially boycott the process, by the time they decided to co-operate, it may have been too late. On the eve of the Commission meeting its first Arab witness for the report, Coupland informed Weizmann that partition and the establishment of a Jewish state would inevitably be recommended. [35] 

It just maybe a case of extreme coincidence that the reports recommendations dovetailed with British intentions, as expressed in private by Lloyd-George and Balfour almost 20 years previous, in creating a Jewish state. 

Along with partition the commission also recommended population transfer between Britain’s Zionist colonisers and the indigenous population. The report acknowledged that the Palestinians will need to bear the brunt of the population transfer and it also recognised that there are not enough areas for them to be transferred to within Palestine. As the report states: 

“It is the far greater number of Arabs who constitute the major problem; and while some of them could be re-settled on the land vacated by the Jews, far more land would be required for the re-settlement of all of them.” [36]

Therefore, as Alec Kirkbride informed us in his biography and as Emir Abdulla had originally feared: 

“…the execution of large-scale plans for irrigation, water-storage, and development in Trans-Jordan…would make provision for a much larger population than exists there at the present time.” [37]

The report also deceptively charged that the uprising was due to “present antagonism between the races.” That is, the uprising arose from racial conflict and not because Britain continuously denied representative democracy to Palestinians so as to guarantee Zionist immigration and colonisation of Palestine. 

In conclusion, the report envisioned that partition and population transfer could be achieved in “less than three years.” [38]

Just after the publication of the report, Weizmann offered Ormsby-Gore, Zionist assistance in transferring the Palestinains of the Galilee to Trans-Jordan. [39]

The report’s findings heralded not only an intensification of the revolt, but also an intensification of British counter-insurgency operations. As such, it was largely in this period that the “best endeavours” aspect of the Balfour Declaration manifested itself into naked British Imperialist power.  

Dr. Laleh Khallili has written how in this period Palestine became a “hub” for British counter-insurgency methods.[40] These methods were imported from its other colonies such as South Africa or Peshawar, India and then utilised and “consolidated” in Palestine, with the results later to be used in Kenya, Malaya or Oman in the post Word War 2 period. Blockhouses, barriers and fences were used to limit or contain population movement. Barbed wire was purchased by Zionist settlers from Mussolini’s Italy for the fences. 

Dobermans from South Africa were imported into Palestine to intimidate Palestinians; the use of human shields which was used in Peshawar, India was incorporated by the British in Palestine. More often than not, when an operation was finished the British patrol in the vehicle would sharply break, for the Arab to fall off the bonnet and then be deliberately run over. [41] 

British officers destroyed, vandalised and looted villages. [42] At times, burning the villages and making a mockery of their hoarded food stuffs. [43]  Waterboarding, [44] blowing up a bus full of Arab detainees in a collective punishment reprisal [45] and extrajudicial killings [46] and of course that Balfourian “best endeavour” of them all, robbing children of their pocket money [47] were all methods utilised to crush the revolt. However, 

“…the most significant legacy of British counterinsurgency in the Arab Revolt was the training of men who were to become the founding fathers and highest ranking officers of the Israeli military…” [48]  

As such it is difficult not to notice the strong, if not overbearing, similarities between the practises of the Zionist forces in 1947-48 and the British counter-insurgency operations during the Arab revolt of the late 1930’s. Some of these practises continue to this day in occupied Palestine. [49]

The revolt was finally crushed in 1939. According to Ghassan Kanafani, the deaths and causalities inflicted on the Palestinians in this period would have been proportionally equivalent to 200,000 Britons killed, 600,000 wounded and 1,224,000 arrested. [50] In other words Palestinian society was politically and militarily decimated. 

In the same year, Britain revoked the Peel report as well another subsidiary report with the 1939 White Paper. Christopher Sykes argued that this was done largely to placate the Arab populations of the Middle East because, 

“The concern of the Arabic-speaking world with Palestine was not a chimera imagined by orientalists and Arabophils. It was a real fact and an extremely dangerous one.” [51]

with a view to keeping Arabs on side in Imperial Britain’s war with Nazi Germany: 

“…the White Paper…did succeed, very imperfectly but in the main, in its primary object. It cut the ground away from extremist agitators. Slowly rebellion died away in Palestine, and throughout the war years there was no formidable Arab rising against the British in the country.” [52]  

Once the war was over, and Britain handed over the Mandate to the United Nations, it is no surprise that although it abstained, it insisted on the four commonwealth countries to vote for the partition resolution in November 1947. [53]

The resolution heralded a new chapter in Palestinian history. With the indigenous Palestinians still reeling from British violence and brutality of the late 1930’s, Kanafani argued that the ensuing ‘civil war’ in 1947-48 was merely a belated cleaning up operation by the British trained Zionist forces. He states the Zionists were plucking “the fruits of the defeat of the 1936 revolt which the outbreak of the war had prevented it from doing sooner.” [54]

Can one really be surprised that Britain failed to keep law and order between November 1947 and the official end of the Mandate in May 1948 when half of the actual ethnic cleansing of Palestine took place?  

Sixty years later, Lord Balfour’s distant successor, the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, addressed the Labour Party’s Friends of Israel, Annual Lunch and endorsed the conclusions of the Peel Report. He claimed the then vision to partition Palestine was “good”. [55] 

Naturally, he failed to mention that this “good” vision was and is firmly rooted in Britain’s brutal denial of democracy to the indigenous Arab population with a view to establish a Jewish majority in Palestine.

The utilisation of European Jewish suffering in the first half of the twentieth century in arguments to impose Zionist-Jewish immigration and colonialism on Palestine, are if not disingenuous, then certainly incorrect. The British project to colonise Palestine with Zionist Jews predates the intensification of Jewish persecution, the kristallnacht and the Nazi holocaust. 

What mattered to Imperial Britain was the supposed security of the Suez Canal and it wanted to plant, what it thought would be a reliable population in Palestine with a view to secure it. As the political academic (whose family were early settlers in Palestine), Mayer Verete argued:

“…the British wanted Palestine – and very much so – for their own interests, and it was not the Zionists who drew them to the country…had there been no Zionists in those days the British would have had to invent them.” [56]

Indeed, from the early 1940’s onwards Britain began floating the idea of Jewish-Zionist colonisation of what is now eastern North Africa and specifically Libya, which according to Churchill would be “linked (if they so chose) with a Jewish home in Palestine.” [57] European Zionists did not seem to be as enthusiastic as British imperialists with this idea. [58] 

In conclusion, the “only democracy in the Middle East” as Israel’s supporters fondly refer to the British engineered colonial entity, is founded not only on ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population but also on Imperial Britain’s denial of democracy to the Palestinians during the mandate period.

Nu’man Abd al-Wahid is a UK-based freelance Anglo-Yemeni writer specialising in the political relationship between the British state and the Arab World.


1. PRO FO 371/6343.

2. Quoted in Angela Clifford, “Serfdom or Ethnic Cleansing? – A British Discussion on Palestine – Churchill’s Evidence to the Peel Commission (1937), Athol Books, Belfast and London, 2003, pg. 34

3. For an account of the ethnic cleansing that took place under the British Mandate see, Rosemarie M. Esber, “Under the Cover of War”, Aribicus Books and Media, Alexandria (V.A), 2009. For an account of the entire ethnic cleansing see Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oneworld Publications, Oxford, 2007.

4. George Antonious, The Arab Awakening, Simon Publications, Florida (2001) Appendix A and D.

5. Christopher Sykes, “Cross Roads to Israel”, Collins, London, 1965, pg. 15

6. Randolph Churchill, “Winston S. Churchill – Companion Volume 4, Part 3”, Heinemann, London, 1977, pg.1559.

7. ibid. Meeting took place in July 1921.

8. Quoted in Sykes, op. cit. pg.17

9. Ramsay MacDonald, “A Socialist in Palestine”, Jewish Socialist Labour Confederation – Poale Zion, 1922, pg.18

10. Ibid. pg.17 1

1. ibid. pg.19

12. Josiah Wedgwood, “The Seventh Dominion”, The Labour Publishing Company Limited, London, 1928, pg. 4

13. Ibid. pg. 33

14. Harry Defries, Conservative Party Attitudes to Jews, Frank Cass, London, 2001, pg. 32.

15. ibid. pg. 24

16. ibid pg. 45

17. Winston Churchill, “Zionism vs. Bolshevism”, Illustrated Sunday Herald, (London), 8th February 1920. (accessed 14th June 2011).

18. Wedgewood. op cit. pg3

19. Margaret Macmillan, The Peacemakers, John Murray, London, 2003, pg.19-21.

20. Paul Kelemen, “Zionism and the British Labour Party: 1917-1939”, Social History, Vol. 21, No.1, January 1996, pg73

21. ibid.

22. Commons Debates, Fifth Series, Vol. 143, Column 307, 14th June 1921

23. T.E.Lawrence (“of Arabia”) quoted in Ma’an Abu Nowar, “The History of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan: Vol. 1”, Icatha Press, Oxford, 1989 pg.10

24. CAB 24/126

25. ibid.

26. Abu Nowar, op cit, pg.25, pg.31, pg.172 and pg.195

27. Ilan Pappe, Britain and the Middle East Conflict 1948-1951, MacMillan Press, London, 1988, pg.xiii.

28. A.S.Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns, John Murray, London, 1956, g. 19.

29. Joseph Gorney, The British Labour Movement and Zionism, Frank Cass and Company Limited, London, 1983, pg.69.

30. ibid. pg. 72

31. ibid. pg. 72-75

32. Sykes, op. cit. pg.144

33. Gorny, op. cit. pg.103-104.

34. Commons Debates, Fifth Series, Vol. 313, Column 1324, 19th June 1936.

35. Sykes, op. cit. pg 192 and pg. 198-203.

36. Report of the Palestine Royal Commission, Cmd. 5479 (London, 1937), pg. 391.

37. ibid.

38. ibid.,pg.395.

39. Philip Mattar, The Mufti of Jerusalem: Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni and the Palestinain National Movement, Columbia University Press, New York, 1988, pg.81.

40. Laleh Khalili, The Location of Palestine in Global Counterinsurgencies, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 42, Issue 3(2010), pg 413-433.

41. Matthew Hughes, The Banality of Brutality: British Armed Forces and the Repression of the Arab Revolt in Palestine, 1936-1939, English Historical Review, 124 (2009), pg. 329

42. ibid. pg.320-322

43. ibid. pg.338-339

44. ibid. pg.331

45. ibid. pg.337

46. ibid. pg.347

47. ibid. pg.328

48. Khalili, op. cit, pg. 418.

49. ibid. For example Khalili draws attention to the destruction of old city of Jaffa by the British in the 1930’s and recent Israeli practices in the ‘West Bank’ of Palestine, specifically, Jenin.

50. Ghassan Kanafani, ‘The 1936 – 39 Revolt in Palestine’, Tricontinental Society, London, 1980, pg27. (accessed 14th June 2011).

51. Sykes, op. cit, pg.238

52. ibid pg.239.

53. Professor Walid Khalidi, “From 1947 to 1897: From Partition to Basle”, Palestine Conference: The Nakba: Sixty Years of Dispossession, Sixty Years of Resistance, London School of Oriental and African Studies, 21st February, 2009. The author was present. Indeed, the first time I heard, in a blunt manner, that Israel was based on the denial of Paestinian democracy was here.

54. Kanafani, op. cit, pg. 30.

55. David Miliband, “Prospects in the Middle East”, Annual Lunch of Labour Friends of Israel, London, 4th November 2008. (accessed 13th June 2011).

56. Mayir Verete,“From Palmerston to Balfour: Collected Essays of Mayir Verete”,London, Frank Cass, 1992, pg.3-4

57. Gorney, op. cit. pg. 175. British Labour Party support for “throwing open Libya…to Jewish settlement” (Hugh Dalton, British Chancellor 1945-47) see John Callaghan, ‘The Labour Party and Foreign Policy: A history’ Routledge, London, 2007, pg. 158.

58. For a British discussion of this initiative see, W. R. Louis, Imperialism at Bay, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1977, pg.58-62

About Nu'man Abd al-Wahid

Nu’man Abd al-Wahid is a Yemeni-English independent researcher specialising in the political relationship between the British state and the Arab World. His main focus is on how the United Kingdom has historically maintained its political interests in the Arab World. A full collection of essays can be accessed at Twitter handle: @churchillskarma.

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32 Responses

  1. Mooser
    June 20, 2011, 1:51 pm

    The comments from “evildoer” (Gabriel Ash, if I’m not mistaken) following this article at JSF (no, not that article) bear on the Nakba’s 19th century predecessors. The post itself is interesting, too.

    • Mooser
      June 20, 2011, 2:07 pm

      I enjoyed and appreciated this post from Nu’man Abd al-Wahid very much.

  2. Miura
    June 20, 2011, 2:08 pm

    btw, the role of United States was honorable toward the peoples of that region at the end of WWI given the low standards of racist mendacity set by the likes of Britain and France toward the colonized peoples of Africa and Asia. US government in face of staunch opposition by Britain and France established a fact-finding commission to gauge opinion of inhabitants of lands supposedly empty to be filled by Jewish immigration. Following are a few excerpts from the report of what Arthur Balfour, the former British Prime Minister derisively called the ‘American Commission’ (which as an author described it, ‘was viewed as childish by the French and British career officials, who did not believe that public opinion, in the European and American sense, existed in the Middle East.’):

    The Commissioners began their study of Zionism with minds predisposed in its favor, but the actual facts in Palestine, coupled with the force of the general principles proclaimed by the Allies and accepted by the Syrians have driven them to the recommendation here made.

    For “a national home for the Jewish people” is not equivalent to making Palestine into a Jewish State; nor can the erection of such a Jewish State be accomplished without the gravest trespass upon the “civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” The fact came out repeatedly in the Commission’s conference with Jewish representatives, that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, by various forms of purchase.

    In his address of July 4, 1918, President Wilson laid down the following principle as one of the four great “ends for which the associated peoples of the world were fighting”; “The settlement of every question, whether of territory, of sovereignty, of economic arrangement, or of political relationship upon the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people immediately concerned and not upon the basis of the material interest or advantage of any other nation or people which may desire a different settlement for the sake of its own exterior influence or mastery.” If that principle is to rule, and so the wishes of Palestine’s population are to be decisive as to what is to be done with Palestine, then it is to be remembered that the non-Jewish population of Palestine — nearly nine tenths of the whole — are emphatically against the entire Zionist program. The tables show that there was no one thing upon which the population of Palestine were more agreed than upon this. To subject a people so minded to unlimited Jewish immigration, and to steady financial and social pressure to surrender the land, would be a gross violation of the principle just quoted, and of the people’s rights, though it kept within the forms of law.

    The Peace Conference should not shut its eyes to the fact that the anti-Zionist feeling in Palestine and Syria is intense and not lightly to be flouted. No British officer, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms. The officers generally thought that a force of not less than 50,000 soldiers would be required even to initiate the program. That of itself is evidence of a strong sense of the injustice of the Zionist program, on the part of the non-Jewish populations of Palestine and Syria. Decisions, requiring armies to carry out, are sometimes necessary, but they are surely not gratuitously to be taken in the interests of a serious injustice. For the initial claim, often submitted by Zionist representatives, that they have a “right” to Palestine, based on an occupation of 2,000 years ago, can hardly be seriously considered.

    • Hostage
      June 24, 2011, 8:04 am

      the role of United States was honorable toward the peoples of that region at the end of WWI given the low standards of racist mendacity set by the likes of Britain and France toward the colonized peoples of Africa and Asia.

      Not exactly. Secretary of State Robert Lansing noted that President Wilson was committed to Zionism. Self-determination of peoples was only applied to the new states created in Europe, not to the new states in Asiatic Turkey or the former German colonies. Wilson suggested an Allied Commission be sent to the region to inquire as to which mandatary powers the peoples of the region preferred. In the end, he completely ignored the recommendations of the King Crane Commission report. It was only released to the public long after the fact.

  3. Jeffrey Blankfort
    June 20, 2011, 2:13 pm

    This is a very interesting papers and contains a number of important historical references which would lead the reader to conclude that the Zionist colonization of Palestine was a British idea what was designed to benefit the British Empire and give it control over the Suez and he cites an early Jewish settler on that point:

    “As the political academic (whose family were early settlers in Palestine), Mayer Verete argued:

    “…the British wanted Palestine – and very much so – for their own interests, and it was not the Zionists who drew them to the country…had there been no Zionists in those days the British would have had to invent them.”

    That is the “conventional wisdom,” that the Zionists were not the shapers of their own destiny, but pawns of the British. Like the notion that Israel is supported by the US, not because of the powerful pro-Israel “lobby,” but because it is a “strategic interest,” it falls apart under closer examination.

    First, the British, who had taken over Egypt as well as Transjordan and had their forces stationed there, did not need another guardian over the Suez which was considerably removed, geographically, from Palestine.

    Second, there is no evidence that I have been able to see, nor does this article provide it, that the British gained any benefit from supporting Jewish colonization of Palestine, the desire to see Jewish refugees from Russia going somewhere else from Britain notwithstanding. That they were able to use it, at times, as a training base for counter-insurgency warfare doesn’t make up for all the headaches that presiding over Jewish colonization of Palestine eventually cost them and why they were only too happy to get out of there at the end of the war and allow the Jews to have their state.

    What is strangely missing from the documentation is any reference to the British Foreign Office documents contained in the “Palestine Papers: 1917-1922: Seeds of Conflict” which contain the “official documents, memoranda and letters of those in power both in Whitehall and Palestine,” compiled and annotated by Doreen Ingrams, (Geo. Braziller, NY, 1973) which provide a very different view of the British position on Palestine than what appears in this article.

    A key document at the end of the book, summarizes why the Balfour Declaration was issued and why the British could not go back on it, despite the headaches in brought them on the ground in Palestine in its first five years which clearly comes across in these documents.

    “Early in 1923,” Ingrams writes, “the Duke of Devonshire [Edward Cavendish] — who had succeeded Churchill as Secretary of State for the Colonies — circulated for the consideration of the Cabinet in deciding future policy, a memorandum on British policy in Palestine from 1917 in which it was stated:

    ‘British policy in Palestine during the past five years has been based upon the Balfour Declaration of November 1917….

    ‘Briefly stated, the object [of the Declaration] was to enlist the sympathies on the allied side of influential Jews and Jewish organizations all over the world….It is arguable that the negotiations with the Zionists, which had been in progress for many months before the Declaration was actually published, did, in fact, have considerable effect in advancing the date in which the United States Government intervened in the war. However that may be, it must always be remembered that the Declaration was made at a time of extreme peril to the cause of the Allies…. The Balfour Declaration was a war measure…designed to secure tangible benefits which it was hoped could contribute to the ultimate victory of the Allies. These benefits may or may not have been worth securing and may or may not have been actually secured; but the objections to going back on a promise made under such conditions are obvious. The Jews would naturally regard it as an act of baseness if, having appealed to them in our hour of peril, we were to throw them over when the danger was past.'” (p. 173)

    In other words, Palestine was seen as a gift to the Zionists for their assistance in bringing the US into the war and not part of some imperial plan to use their presence there for British interests. Also, despite the fact that the Zionists were providing serious problems on the ground for the Brits, much as they have been doing for one US administration after another, Whitehall could no more go back on its commitments to the Zionists than Washington, albeit for somewhat different reasons.

    All the eggs were not in place for the British Zionists when the war began. British PM Herbert Asquith was not particularly keen on the Zionists and he was replaced by David Lloyd George whose law firm, by coincidence, had represented the Zionists in London as far back as 1903. If the Zionists had anything to do with that it seems to have been well covered up.

    • andrew r
      June 20, 2011, 7:22 pm

      I was going to post this transcript from One Palestine Complete by Segev anyway since it works as a complement to Nu’mann abd-al Wahid’s article. Now it looks like I’m going to use it to argue with Blankfort.

      According to Edward Grey, Lloyd George had no interest in the Jews, neither in their past nor their future. What he really wanted was to keep the holy places in Palestine from getting into French hands. That wasn’t the whole story, though. Lloyd George did indeed despise the French and had no intention of allowing them to control Palestine. But in his own way, he despised the Jews as well-or, to put it another way, he feared them.

      (…) he explained his support for the Zionist movement as an alliance with a hugely influential political power whose goodwill was worth paying for. The war had made such an alliance inevitable; the Zionists, he claimed, had in effect forced his government to support them. It was a distinctly antisemitic claim.

      “The Jewish race,” Lloyd George explained in his memoirs, had world-wide influence and capability, and the Jews had every intention of determining the outcome of the World War–acting, he said, in accordance with their financial instincts. They could influence the US to intensify its involvement in the war, and as the real movers behind the Russian Revolution, they also controlled Russia’s attitude toward Germany. The British feared that Russia would sign a separate peace with Germany, which would have enabled the Germans to direct all their forces to the western front.

      Lord Robert Cecil, undersecretary of foreign affairs: “I do not think that it is easy to exaggerate the international power of the Jews.”

      Ambassador in Washington: “The influence of the Jews is very great. They are well-organized and especially in the press, in finance, and in politics their influence is very considerable.”

      I’ve read Blankfort’s post twice and still eagerly await the point of it. It’s interesting how Doreen Ingram’s background lines up with Segev’s, yet Jeffrey draws a completely different conclusion than Segev. Instead of paranoia at Jewish Bolshevism, it was paranoia at Jewish finance (If that’s not the mechanism for helping bring the US into the war Jeffrey do tell).

      Also, Segev illuminates the hazard of analyzing historical events from the viewpoint of the actors: You can’t take everything they say as fact. Balfour and Lloyd George thought they were appeasing a powerful, international movement which they would casually refer to as “world Jewry” or “the Jewish race.” Weizmann almost literally represented no one but himself and the Balfour decl. came out of an internal conversation among Brit imperialists + Weizmann.

      In short, the decl. came from an inbred, antisemitic paranoia that Weizmann eagerly indulged that, while having no basis in reality, was the reaction of the British ruling class to the Bolshevik revolution. The fact they wanted to reduce Britain’s Jewish content didn’t hurt, either.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 21, 2011, 2:31 pm

        First, that statement from the Ambassador, cited from Segev might have been written today. If anything, it is an understatement:

        Ambassador in Washington: “The influence of the Jews is very great. They are well-organized and especially in the press, in finance, and in politics their influence is very considerable.”

        If you don’t believe that to be absolutely true today, as well, Andrew, almost a century later, you’ve outed yourself as a Zionist apologist, although it occurs me to that you’ve already done that.

        We keep being told that Jewish political power is a matter of perception and that it has “no basis in reality” as if major political players then, as now, were not unaware of the political realities of their day. That “Weizmann literally represented no one but himself and the Balfour decl. came out of an internal conversation among Brit imperialists + Weizmann” is just another Zionist myth along with all the others that have been spoon fed to the world to justify the disaster that is Israel today and Segev, who produced an excellent history of Israel’s founding “1949: The First Israelis,” is just helping to perpetuate it.

        If that statement were true, why, pray tell, did Balfour choose to address his declaration to Lord Rothschild, whose banking family had helped to finance Britain’s long history of imperialism and not to Weizmann?

        I do not doubt Lloyd George’s dislike of Jews. He would not have been the first politician–and we have many in the US–to set aside his or her prejudice in the face of political realities, or do you really believe that all of the members of Congress who gave Netanyahu those 29 standing ovations and the three quarters of both houses who attended the AIPAC convention so their names could be read off to potential donors are all passionately in love with Israel and its Jewish supporters?

      • andrew r
        June 22, 2011, 12:56 am

        Oh ho, right, I’m a Zionist apologist for not believing the International Jew hoodwinked the US into WWI. I usually identify Zionist apologia as such: the Jews needed a refuge from pogroms, there were no Palestinians, Arabs have 22 states, ad nauseam. Weizmann represented a marginal political movement and had nothing to do with the vast majority of Europe’s Jews. He told the imperial ministers what they wanted to hear. That’s how the Zionists became fully mobilized and able to dispossess the Palestinians.

        Now to address the substance, if you’re going to build a case for historic events on Jewish influence, you need to explain why the St. Louis was turned away from Cuba, why the western allies preferred fighting in Africa while the Final Solution was underway and why the Zionist paramilitaries received no direct help from the West in 1948. In other words, if the interaction between the Zionist movement and the Western allies turned on Jewish influence, you need to account for when that influence was utterly ineffectual.

        The Americans did not need Jews to get in WWI. The British had no vise on their necks for not issuing the Balfour decl. and certainly not if they went back on it. In fact, there are other cases of Britain using a disdained religious minority to colonize other lands. You might want to look them up when you get the chance.

        What exactly was Britain deviating from, how would they have acted that was so much wiser had the Rothschilds and Weizmanns not come along? They still would’ve been killing darker skinned people all along Africa and Asia. In that context, drawing on their prejudice against the Asiatics at home makes a lot more sense than some mystical Jewish influence claptrap.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 22, 2011, 2:59 am

        Andrew, there is no question but that the British, who were on the point of suing for peace with Germany, believed that the Zionists were, at least in part, responsible for bringing the US in on its side which helped to turn the war in its favor. How else does one explain the comments from Lord Cavendish that I cited earlier?

        That the St. Louis was turned away from Cuba and that the US had more important things to think about during WW2 than rescuing Jews, particularly when doing so was NOT on the Zionist agenda is not relevant to what took place between the Brits and the Zionists in 1917.

        The notion that the US as well as the rest of the world “abandoned” the Jews during the War is just part of the Holocaust Industry propaganda assault, designed to make people guilty for crimes they had nothing to do with. Ditto for the concept of “Righteous Gentiles” as if those who did not reach out to save the Jews, and that includes the entire non-Jewish world are somehow inferior to those that did.

        If any one group could have been charged with “abandoning the Jews” it was those Jews of the Zionist variety who believed that building a Jewish state was more important than rescuing their fellow Jews, those who thought that returning to a Jewish ghetto, whatever one wanted to call it, was not the way they wanted to live. They not only collaborated with the Nazis in the 30s up to the beginning of the war but they also sabotaged Jewish rescue operations.

        Now back to our original subject, Andrew, and please answer if you believe this statement, made by an ambassador during WW1 is true or false.

        “The influence of the Jews is very great. They are well-organized and especially in the press, in finance, and in politics their influence is very considerable.”

      • andrew r
        June 22, 2011, 5:30 am

        It’s a moving target, “The influence of the Jews.” You can’t identify who the Jews are. You can’t describe what that influence is. You can’t name who was influenced and what choices they made under said influence. In other words, anti-intellectual bile. That answer your question?

        I dropped some hints but you didn’t listen. There’s no question the Brits who supported a Jewish national home saw Jews as a revolutionary menace. What Lord Cavendish would cite to substantiate the belief of Jews pushing America into the war is far more important than the belief itself. We’re talking about people who engineer concentration camps and mass famine as a career in case that’s too small a detail to merit your notice. What they think of other people is not something to take at face value.

        Now the point I’m making here is that Jews by definition are unable to influence American and British warmakers in as such they would shoot themselves in the foot and hinder the ability of the empire to accumulate capital for its upper crust. This is why there was no significant lobbying of the US and British govts. to rescue Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe; the same Jewish bourgeoisie who might have helped secure Palestine would be overstepping their bounds. That’s evident from what little attempt there was.

        Let’s try an experiment. Give me 60 million dollars and I’ll circulate a paper full of anti-war articles, maybe buy a member of congress or two, and we’ll see how much Jewish influence I have then. Or maybe we’ll just find out what you call ‘Jewish influence’ is really a particular group of settler-immigrants integrating themselves into the ruling group of a colonial-settler state and keeping their distinct identity.

        So the St. Louis was relevant: The events loosely called ‘Jewish influence’ were a bunch of Zionists prostrating themselves before their betters and achieving one more step on the way to emulating them. There’s sweet F.A. the Zionists could have done about the St. Louis even if they wanted to. That was the point. ‘Jewish influence’ is a chimera.

      • Hostage
        June 22, 2011, 9:29 pm

        You can’t describe what that influence is. You can’t name who was influenced and what choices they made under said influence.

        Jacob Schiff of Kuhn Loeb and Company single handedly financed half the Japanese Navy during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 and let it be known publicly that he wanted to punish Tsarist Russia for the mistreatment of his fellow Jews during the Kishinev pogram of 1903. That was more than sufficient to demonstrate Jewish power to other governments in and of itself. The Zionist movement was not only backed by Schiff and his successors, it also harnessed the backing of other Fifth Avenue multimillionaires and Baron Rothschild, M.M. Warburg, & etc. in the world of finance. See for example Rafael Medoff, Baksheesh diplomacy, Lexington Books, 2001

        The Jews working in the German Foreign Office, including future President of the World Jewish Congress Nahum Goldmann, were carrying-on their own propaganda program to secure German and Turkish guarantees of a national home in Palestine. It is also very likely that they were instrumental both in initiating the misguided Zimmerman initiative to invite Mexico to attack the US, and in providing the necessary intelligence or cryptographic keys for the German diplomatic code to the British government so that it could conveniently inform the United States about the text of the intercepted telegram – just in the nick of time. See for example The Hidden History of the Balfour Declaration, John Cornelius, WRMEA, 2005.

        The Allies let their own people rot in Japanese prisoner of war camps in the Pacific theater, while they were keeping the strategic Suez canal out of the hands of Rommel and the Afrika Korps. It’s apparently a good thing that they did, because Rommel’s defeat at El Alamein prevented the implementation of the German solution to the problem of the Jews living in Palestine. See Klaus-Michael Mallmann, Martin Cüppers, “Nazi Palestine: The Plans for the Extermination of the Jews in Palestine, Enigma Books, 2009.

        In any event, Weizmann had demonstrated an uncanny power in 1940 to estimate the number of Jews Palestine would be able to accommodate after the war. His plans didn’t include the six million:

        It was to be anticipated, Dr. Weizmann said, that at the end of the war there would be at least 2,500,000 Jews seeking refuge. Of these perhaps 1,000,000 would represent Jews with a future and the others Jews whose lives were behind them-“who were but little more than dust”. He believed that it would be possible to settle in Palestine 1,000,000 of these refugees, so far as possible those with a future, one-fourth on the land, the remainder as an addition to the urban population.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 23, 2011, 3:04 am

        Andrew, your tribalism has become fairly suffocating , your refusal to give a straight answer to my question which any honest, intelligent person would consider a “no brainer,” being otherwise inexplicable.

        There is nothing chimerical about ‘Jewish influence’ or do you consider the record 29 standing ovations given by Congress to Netanyahu nothing more than normal political aerobics? And the fact that 3/4 of both houses of Congress attended the AIPAC convention and consequently had their names read off–alerting potential Jewish donors–was because they had some free time on their hands?

      • andrew r
        June 23, 2011, 10:47 pm

        Apparently I’ve been way too general. So let’s break it down. I’m Jewish. I work a menial job to pay the rent. I have no bloody influence in the press or govt. Therefore, I take exception to using “Jewish” as an adjective as that includes me and credits me for influence I don’t have. Extrapolate this to other Jews who don’t have that kind of influence, and they really exist. Do. You understand. The words. That are coming. Out of my mouth.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 24, 2011, 2:52 am

        Sorry for your plight, Andrew, but that doesn’t mitigate for a single instance, the facts that prove disproportionate Jewish influence on US politics, and a similar disproportionate roles in the media and on Wall Street. That’s a fact of life that many Jews are proud of. That neither you nor I are a part of that is irrelevant. Do YOU understand? There is also a difference between saying “the Jews” as opposed to “Jews.” Get it? The latter means some Jews, not all Jews. Not you. Not me. Not Phil. Not Adam. This isn’t about you, Andrew, and if you think it is I suggest you do something else besides reading this blog because it obviously upsets you. But that’s nobody’s problem but your own.

      • Hostage
        June 24, 2011, 3:02 am

        Therefore, I take exception to using “Jewish” as an adjective as that includes me and credits me for influence I don’t have. Extrapolate this to other Jews who don’t have that kind of influence, and they really exist.

        You need to raise those sort of asinine objections with people like Irving Moskowitz, Haim Saban, Eric Cantor, Joe Lieberman, Marty Peretz, Rupert Murdoch, Max Singer, Benjamin Netanyahu, Eli Yishai, & etc. who use their money, media, or political influence on behalf of the “Jewish” people – and ask them to stop doing that. If all of this is new to you, study John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby, Macmillan, 2008.

      • andrew r
        June 24, 2011, 6:09 am

        Blankfort: “There is also a difference between saying “the Jews” as opposed to “Jews.” Get it?”

        There’s a difference between “Islam is a religion of evil,” (generic) and, “Our enemy doesn’t follow the great traditions of Islam. They’ve hijacked a great religion.” (real quote)

        However, the guy who said this waged a brutal occupation on two Muslim countries. Even though Bush qualified himself, he still pandered to prejudice against Muslims in order to justify attacking anything that might have “terrorists.” Someone from a Muslim community might hijack their religion, so it’s still Muslim communities where you look for the enemy.

        I take seriously rooting a political problem in the ethnic identity of the agents. It can do no good and lots of harm. It is straight out of the playbook of the warmaking class. Same with the “dual loyalty” shtick that is often brandished against the hasbara trolls here.

        Hostage: “who use their money, media, or political influence on behalf of the “Jewish” people”

        That’s exactly it. Just because they cast themselves as “the Jewish people” doesn’t mean it must be conceded by the opposition. It doesn’t mean “Jews” came from out of nowhere to buy off Congress and make America hated in Western Asia.

        In as much the Iraq war was caused by influential Jews, it’s win-win for Netanyahu and Sharon. They get America to fight wars on their behalf and smear anyone who points that out as having read the Protocols. Or, maybe the Iraq war is an outcome of the United States’ history as an expanding colonial entity and while Jews have attained the rank of honorary whites, they did not create the class of capitalist that would attain more power from regional wars and their effects on the production of oil. There are certain Jews who are members of this class and they get to bray loudly about their background because it helps to justify their role to other Jews who can play humanitarian while living vicariously through Israel.

        And frankly, what Mearsheimer and Walt hope to gain from defeating the Israel Lobby, a two-state solution where Israel remains a Jewish state in the 1949 line, is pretty insipid.

      • Max Ajl
        June 24, 2011, 8:07 am

        Andrew, Jeff is right. You are missing the point. This debate is a footnote in an ongoing and marginal political attempt to deploy white racism to liberate Palestine. It finds pleasant breeding grounds amongst crotchety oppressed white dudes on the internet who don’t do a whit of the organizing around BDS or anything else. Furthermore, it will never work, because activists on the ground, most of whom are Arab or Muslim, will never accept it, and insofar as the discourse gains a constituency, which is undeniable, it certainly has, it will never become operational in practice, as I can promise you from the traffic on the national SJP list-serv — anyone with a brain is aware that if that white racist populist movement came into existence, its first targets would be the ones identifiable by their skin color. Of course it is also manifestly idiotic. The deployment of racism means challenging our enemy where it is strong — channeling racism into defense of empire, colony, and capitalism. Which is also why the notion of a Palestine lobby is mis-guided in my opinion — it means challenging our enemy where it’s strong, in terms of monetary capital.

        So people will be schizophrenic and will accept that their on-the-ground organizing and their discourse don’t match up, but what’s more important is not the discourse, but the organizing. So the BDS movement aims to form horizontal links amongst oppressed people in solidarity with one another along standard progressive principles: an injury to one is an injury to all. It might not work, that’s true, but it is the only thing that can work. It’s true that discourse matters, and so the exchange you’re having above is important. It’s good to combat the misinformation and the lies, because all they do is muddy the moral case for Palestinian liberation. They will continue to do so until someone says bkafee, you are hurting our struggle. I suspect it won’t be long now.

      • Hostage
        June 24, 2011, 9:47 am

        And frankly, what Mearsheimer and Walt hope to gain from defeating the Israel Lobby, a two-state solution where Israel remains a Jewish state in the 1949 line, is pretty insipid.

        I didn’t ask you to endorse the two state solution, I advised you to read about the individuals and organizations that exercise financial, media, and political clout on behalf of the Jewish people today in Mearsheimer and Walt’s book. It’s nonsense to assert that Lloyd George was simply being antisemetic or exaggerating when he said those forces had decided they would determine the outcome of WWI. Jacob Schiff and the Rothchild family had done that very sort of thing in the past.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 24, 2011, 1:24 pm

        Andrew, my last try, for what it’s worth. It really doesn’t matter what you or I Max or anyone else thinks. It’s what those who are charged with making the political decisions believe and they not only think, they know that Jews have power. Why else would Obama allow himself to be humiliated by Netanyahu, why else would GW Bush allow himself to be humiliated by Sharon and why else would three quarters of the members of Congress attend an AIPAC conference and why else would Congress, two days later, give Netanyahu 29 standing ovations and make him only the fourth person invited to speak before Congress twice? If that is not a recognition of Jewish power I don’t know what else it is. Perhaps, you should send emails to the president and every member of Congress telling them they got it wrong.

        BTW, introducing Bush’s comments about Islam are just plain silly in this context. I think you need to see an analyst or get another script. The one you’re using isn’t working.

    • Brewer
      June 21, 2011, 7:20 pm

      Did the Brits really screw the pooch?

      link to

  4. Mooser
    June 20, 2011, 2:33 pm

    Perhaps someone who is “an expert in international law”, or even somebody who has “learned from history” will comment on this article.

    • Hostage
      June 24, 2011, 1:11 pm

      The article repeats a number of old myths, (e.g. Transjordan was part of Palestine). They have become accepted wisdom, despite the fact that the primary source documents which debunked the legends were declassified and published in the 1950s. Some of them were cited in Doreen Ingram’s book. I’ve provided links to many of those before. They are available for download at no cost from the UK National Archives. See the second half of the comment here: link to

      About 20 American states were represented at the Versailles Peace Conference and the League of Nations. In the 1890s they had adopted a principle of international law which held that no acquisition of territory by war would be recognized. So, the system of mandates was adopted as a fig leaf.

      Secretary of State Robert Lansing had been Chief Legal Counsel to the State Department when the war began. He served as the head of the US Commission to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. He opposed the inclusion of the Covenant of the League of Nations in the treaty of peace and thought the Vice President should have replaced Wilson after his stroke. Lansing resigned in 1920 and became associate editor of the American Journal of International Law. He wrote two books about the Peace Conference which explained:

      “The mandatory system, a product of the creative mind of General Smuts, was a novelty in international relations. … …If the advocates of the system intended to avoid through its operation the appearance of taking enemy territory as the spoils of war, it was a subterfuge which deceived no one. It seemed obvious from the very first that the Powers, which under the old practice would have obtained sovereignty over certain conquered territories, would not be denied mandates over those territories. The League of Nations might reserve in the mandate a right of supervision of administration and even of revocation of authority, but that right would be nominal and of little, if any, real value provided the mandatory was one of the Great Powers as it undoubtedly would be. The almost irresistible conclusion is that the protagonists of the theory saw in it a means of clothing the League of Nations with an apparent usefulness which justified the League by making it the guardian of uncivilized and semi-civilized peoples and the international agent to watch over and prevent any deviation from the principle of equality in the commercial and industrial development of the mandated territories.

      It may appear surprising that the Great Powers so readily gave their support to the new method of obtaining an apparently limited control over the conquered territories, and did not seek to obtain complete sovereignty over them. It is not necessary to look far for a sufficient and very practical reason. If the colonial possessions of Germany had, under the old practice, been divided among the victorious Powers and been ceded to them directly in full sovereignty, Germany might justly have asked that the value of such territorial cessions be applied on any war indemnities to which the Powers were entitled. On the other hand, the League of Nations in the distribution of mandates would presumably do so in the interests of the inhabitants of the colonies and the mandates would be accepted by the Powers as a duty and not to obtain new possessions. Thus under the mandatory system Germany lost her territorial assets, which might have greatly reduced her financial debt to the Allies, while the latter obtained the German colonial possessions without the loss of any of their claims for indemnity. In actual operation the apparent altruism of the mandatory system worked in favor of the selfish and material interests of the Powers which accepted the mandates. And the same may be said of the dismemberment of Turkey. It should not be a matter of surprise, therefore, that the President found little opposition to the adoption of his theory, or, to be more accurate, of the Smuts theory, on the part of the European statesmen.”

      The British were mainly interested in setting-up a petroleum pipeline from the oil fields in Mesopotamia to a port in the region of Haifa-Acre or the Lattakia region of Syria. They also were interested in obtaining an overland route to Persia and India by extending the Baghdad Railway. They planned to add telegraph and telephone lines along the way. Neither the French nor the British had the money or manpower to establish garrisons in the interior of Arabia to protect the rail line, telegraph, or pipeline. So, they intended to establish indirect spheres of influence under an Arab suzerain or confederation or Arab States. A “Projected Jewish State in Palestine” was on the agenda of the Peace Conference. But 85 percent of the 222 petitions received from OETA South by the Peace Conference were opposed to the Zionist project. Secretary of State Lansing asked if the Jewish National Home implied a Jewish government? Dr. Weizmann replied that it did not. He stated that if the Jews ever became a majority (never happened – see the 1939 White Paper), then they could adopt a government more to their liking.

      The Sykes-Picot agreement was no secret to the Hashemites. Sykes and Picot both traveled to Arabia to conclude the agreement with the Sharif of Mecca. He certainly was betrayed, since he only agreed on the condition that the western advisors or Jewish investors would have no executive authority and on the understanding that none of the Muslim Holy Sites would be included in the territory of the International Condominium. In the end, the British became disenchanted with the agreement because it favored the French. The British under Allenby had done most of the fighting and they wanted the lion’s share. The British persuaded (tricked) the French into making the Anglo-French Declaration of 1919, then pointed out that it had superseded the terms of Sykes-Picot. They demanded re-negotiations which did not include the Arabs. So, the San Remo Conference was mainly devoted to the negotiations over the oil fields in Mesopotamia, not to the allocation of mandates. Volume 1 of the League of Nations Yearbook reported that:

      “France and Great Britain signed, at Paris on December 23, 1920, a compact, intended to settle finally “the problems raised by the attribution to Great Britain of the mandates for Mesopotamia and Palestine, and by the attribution to France of the mandate over Syria and the Lebanon, all three conferred by the Supreme Council at San Remo. By this treaty a portion of southern Syria, bordering upon Palestine, is transferred from France to Great Britain. One reason for this transfer appears in this paragraph:

      “The French Government consents to the nomination of a special commission, which, after having examined the ground, may readjust the frontier line in the valley of the Yarmuk as far as Nasib in such a manner as to render possible the construction of a British railway and pipe line connecting Palestine with the Hedjaz railway and the valley of the Euphrates, and running entirely within the limits of the areas under the British mandate.

      “The new frontier includes enough of the Syrian mountain country to enable England to give Palestine a water supply. On the other hand France obtains a share of the Mesopotamian oil lands, and a promise from England not to cede or dispose of Cyprus without the consent of France.
      link to

      That agreement was later remodeled to accommodate US oil interests during the Lausanne Conference of 1923, which dealt with the cession from Turkey and superseded the Treaty of Sèvres. There were further modifications in favor of other interests that resulted in the so-called Red Line Agreement of 1928. It established the international Middle East Oil Cartel. During WWII the US experienced shortages, established the strategic reserve, and entered into an agreement with the Cartel members. In the early 1950s the State Department reported that the US could no longer be energy self-sufficient and requested that the Federal Trade Commission not draw attention to the fact that a cartel controlled world oil prices. The editors of the 1943 FRUS cited a copy of the agreement in the possession of the Congress and a few of its details:

      For text of the Group (Red Line) Agreement between private American and European oil companies, July 31, 1928, see House of Representatives, Current Antitrust Problems: Hearings before Antitrust Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary, 84th Cong., 1st sess., pt. 2, pp. 1004 ff.; the name is derived from the red line drawn on a map which was included as an attached schedule to the agreement, illustrative of certain restrictive provisions imposed by the companies on themselves in the agreement. The red line delimited a “defined area” from which the companies mutually excluded (with slight qualifications) themselves except as shareholders of the Turkish (Iraq) Petroleum Company; as the area of demarcation included generally all of the old Ottoman Empire except the sheikhdom of Kuwait and Egypt, this self-denying provision in effect confined the operations of the participating companies to the [so-called] Iraq concession area.

  5. LanceThruster
    June 20, 2011, 2:36 pm

    “Never in the field of human conflict was so much stolen from so many by so few.” – Chinston Wurchill

  6. lysias
    June 20, 2011, 2:46 pm

    The Suez Canal was meant to make it easier to defend British India. A Jewish “national home” in Palestine would make it easier to defend the Suez Canal.

    Once the British gave up India in 1947, all such thinking had become obsolete.

    Defending the mandate in Palestine was so expensive for a cash-strapped Britain and so disruptive of relations with the U.S., from whom Britain needed a cash infusion, that the British were very quick to draw the conclusion with respect to Palestine.

    • talknic
      June 21, 2011, 2:22 am

      The modern Suez Canal was actually instigated by the French . It is entirely within Egypt. How “a Jewish “national home” in Palestine would make it easier to defend the Suez Canal”, is a bit of a mystery.

      You are correct tho in respect to the British colonial interests in as much as the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 gave them the right to protect their vested pecuniary interest in the Suez Canal and furthermore their colonial interests in India.

      As for the British conclusion with respect to Palestine one should read the British recognition of Israel. Especially what they considered to be occupied by Israel.

  7. DICKERSON3870
    June 20, 2011, 3:09 pm

    RE: “Britain’s denial of democracy and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine” – Nu’man Abd Al-Wahid

    ALSO SEE: “The Story of Palestinian Nationhood Thwarted After the League of Nations Recognized It”, by Juan Cole, Informed Comment, 03/16/10

    (excerpt)…But because of the rise of the League of Nations and the influence of President Woodrow Wilson’s ideas about self-determination, Britain and France could not decently simply make their new, previously Ottoman territories into mere colonies. The League of Nations awarded them “Mandates.” Britain got Palestine, France got Syria (which it made into Syria and Lebanon), Britain got Iraq.
    The League of Nations Covenant spelled out what a Class A Mandate (i.e. territory that had been Ottoman) was:
    “Article 22. Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory [i.e., a Western power] 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.”

    That is, the purpose of the later British Mandate of Palestine, of the French Mandate of Syria, of the British Mandate of Iraq, was to ‘render administrative advice and assistance” to these peoples in preparation for their becoming independent states, an achievement that they were recognized as not far from attaining. The Covenant was written before the actual Mandates were established, but Palestine was a Class A Mandate and so the language of the Covenant was applicable to it. The territory that formed the British Mandate of Iraq was the same territory that became independent Iraq, and the same could have been expected of the British Mandate of Palestine. (Even class B Mandates like Togo have become nation-states, but the poor Palestinians are just stateless prisoners in colonial cantons)…

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to

  8. Brewer
    June 20, 2011, 6:17 pm

    Am pushed for time unfortunately, would like to comment more thoroughly on this. For the moment, consider the British White Paper*, authored by Churchill and published about a month before the League of Nations Mandate:

    “Unauthorized statements have been made to the effect that the purpose in view is to create a wholly Jewish Palestine. Phrases have been used such as that Palestine is to become “as Jewish as England is English.” His Majesty’s Government regard any such expectation as impracticable and have no such aim in view. Nor have they at any time contemplated, as appears to be feared by the Arab delegation, the disappearance or the subordination of the Arabic population, language, or culture in Palestine. They would draw attention to the fact that the terms of the Declaration referred to do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded `in Palestine.’ In this connection it has been observed with satisfaction that at a meeting of the Zionist Congress, the supreme governing body of the Zionist Organization, held at Carlsbad in September, 1921, a resolution was passed expressing as the official statement of Zionist aims “the determination of the Jewish people to live with the Arab people on terms of unity and mutual respect, and together with them to make the common home into a flourishing community, the upbuilding of which may assure to each of its peoples an undisturbed national development.
    It is also necessary to point out that the Zionist Commission in Palestine, now termed the Palestine Zionist Executive, has not desired to possess, and does not possess, any share in the general administration of the country. Nor does the special position assigned to the Zionist Organization in Article IV of the Draft Mandate for Palestine imply any such functions. That special position relates to the measures to be taken in Palestine affecting the Jewish population, and contemplates that the organization may assist in the general development of the country, but does not entitle it to share in any degree in its government.”

    link to

    * A “White Paper” is an official statement of policy. If the League of Nations had any problem with Britain’s position as stated in the document above, it would be incumbent upon them to declare it. They did not so we can assume that the L.O.N. had no intention of creating a State. This is further underlined numerous times in the Mandate document itself.
    ART. 7 for example:

    “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.”

    link to

  9. talknic
    June 21, 2011, 2:00 am

    Interesting. Look up persistent objection

    Israel : Any promises, declarations, conversations, letters, agreements that went before May 15th 1948 were assigned to the dustbin of being of historical interest only from the moment Israel was declared in accordance with UNGA Res 181, enshrining that resolution in the Declaration. There was no reservation or objection lodged with the Declaration.

    Israel was subsequently recognized by the majority of the International Community of States by the frontiers outlined in UNGA res 181 as the extent of the Jewish Homeland State.

    Israel officially confirmed the extent of it’s sovereignty on May 22nd 1948 in statement to the UNSC, BEFORE being accepted into the UN.

    On 11 May 1949 Israel was accepted into the UN as declared and recognized and according to it’s 22nd May 1948 statement.

    These events occurred BEFORE Israel’s first claim, 31st Aug 1949, to any territory outside of it’s declared, recognized, confirmed sovereign extent. Israel has no legal recourse to persistent objection and no legal basis for it’s claims over any territory outside of the frontiers it accepted May 15th 1948.

    The Arab States (and Palestinians): from the outset of the zionist colonial enterprise have registered legal objections.

    If the law were to be given teeth instead of being de-fanged by the US Veto vote in the UNSC on resolutions against Israel’s intransigence, the Arab States would hold the higher moral and legal ground.

    Bouyed on by the US veto, Israel has arrogantly continued to flout the law and build it’s precious Hasabara demonization of the Arab States and Palestinians for over half a century.

  10. MHughes976
    June 21, 2011, 12:52 pm

    Margaret Macmillan’s ‘Peacemakers’, cited in the main article, convinces me that Balfour and Lloyd George were simply committed and convinced Christian Zionists. Weizmann had for years worked on a combination of religious and imperialist sentiment and his suggestion that the Suez Canal would be protected (p.427; lysias mentions this) was accepted, perhaps rather too eagerly.

    • Jeffrey Blankfort
      June 21, 2011, 2:45 pm

      I have not read, nor as I suspect, has anyone else, read all the literature on the subject, but all this about Lloyd George and Balfour being Christian Zionists and that they put aside any notion they had of geography to believe that Jews in Palestine, without an army, would be able to protect the Suez, I find mind boggling.

      Britain was in the midst of a war that it was losing and there was no time to be sentimental. It needed both the financing of wealthy Jews who had been holding back as long as Britain and France were in alliance with hated Russia, and the US to enter the war on its side, the latter being most critical.

      What was essential, from the Zionist perspective, is that the world, and particularly, Americans, never find out the truth behind the Balfour Declaration and their role in getting the US into WW One and that still hold true today. That is why one still reads the poppycock about Balfour being Weizmann’s reward for inventing acetone which was instrumental in the British war effort which even Weizmann denied.

      • MHughes976
        June 22, 2011, 4:10 pm

        Well, I would have thought that the very weakness of the argument – and this argument (or excuse) was certainly canvassed – that a Jewish presence would protect Suez and the very absurdity, frivolity even, of the well publicised acetone story – support the idea that Christian Zionism played its part.
        It was of course important to build up the American constituency in favour of war but that’s not surprising in itself or particularly scandalous. Both sides were searching for allies – the Germans were approaching Mexico at around the same time. And of course it all worked. Our American cousins joined the war and we won.
        But it’s also true that LlG, like Truman and Blair after him, thought he was doing the right thing. Moral principles, mistaken ones especially, do an awful lot of harm in the world, no less than greed and fear. David Stevenson’s ‘1914-1918’ suggests (p.366) that the British reckoned that the Declaration would be welcomed in Washington, not just by Zionists but by the government, because Brandeis had worked on Wilson just as Weizmann had worked on LlG.

  11. jayn0t
    June 21, 2011, 11:32 pm

    This article argues there are three main reasons the British government supported the ethnic cleansing of Palestine –
    1. The British government in the early twentieth century supported the ethnic cleansing of Australia and North America, so the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was logical
    2. It was opposed to democracy in its colonies, and Jews were in a minority, so by supporting Jews, it could effectively oppose democracy
    3. Jewish supremacists are good allies – for example, they helped defend the Suez canal

    The last of these arguments has some merit. Britain and France allied with Israel in 1956 to take the Suez canal from Egypt. But America supported Egypt. Britain and France capitulated. But today, they all kiss up to Tel Aviv. How come?

    The other two arguments are simply wrong. Support for European racism does not lead to support for Jewish racism. And why would Britain choose Jewish power as a way of preventing ‘democracy’ rather than all the other ways she could think of?

    The piece starts with the standard shock-horror quote from Winston Churchill about the ‘dog in the manger’. Our great-grandparents believed in the inevitability of the replacement of pre-agricultural cultures by white European civilization. White Europeans during World War One were as racist as Israeli Jews are today. But they are not now. So why do they support Israel?

    The author adds the story about anti-semite Joseph Chamberlain agreeing with Theordor Herzl the Zionist. Thus Zionism is closely allied to white racism. This old line, designed to give liberals a warm fuzzy feeling, has been avidly defended by people like Lenni Brenner. But what about white racists who oppose Zionism?

    Saying ‘supporters of ethnic cleansing support ethnic cleansing’ misses an important point about ethnic cleansing. It’s about ruthlessly defending one’s own ethnic group, not ethnic groups in general. Support for Jewish racists does not follow from the defense of European ethnic interests. Far from it.

    This article is a footnote in the ongoing effort to subsume Zionism within European colonialism, Jewish power within white power. It is not part of an attempt to restore the rights of the Palestinians, by turning the majority of the inhabitants of the West against Zionism, on the grounds that it is both utterly evil, and completely opposed to our interests.

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