Balfour Declaration 1917

  • Led by Chaim Weizmann, Zionist movement sought to gain British government’s support for Jewish homeland
  • 1917- as Britain needed the US to intervene in the war, they sought to gain the support of the Jews in the US to influence the American government’s decision to enter war
  • November 1917- Declaration was a letter to Lord Rothschild, a leading British Jew and was signed by the British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour in support of a Jewish in Palestine
  • Quote from the Balfour Declaration “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. The Government will make every effort to help bring this about… nothing shall be done which may harm the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
  • While the Balfour Declaration promised the support for a Jewish homeland, it did not state that it supported a Jewish state.

Arab Claim to Palestine

  • Late 19th Century, Arabs tried to remove Turkish rulers to establish an Arab rule in the Middle East

Arab Nationalist Manifesto

  • 1913- First Arab National Congress held and by 1914 Arab Nationalist Manifesto was published, which called for independence from Turkey and unity among the Arabs
  • “Take out the sword from the scabbard. Do not let an oppressive tyrant [Turkey], who only despises you, remain in your country; cleanse your country from those who show their hatred to you.”

Arabs and the WWI

  • British consumption of Arab oil encouraged rebellion against German-Allied Turkey

Arab Revolt 1916

  • Arab army raised and led by Prince Faisal, son of Hussein
  • Army blew up Turkish trains and disrupted flow of military supplies to Turkish soldiers
  • British intelligence officer Major T.E. Lawrence fought with the Arabs
  • In 1918, British allowed Arab soldiers to take city of Damascus in Syria from the Turks

Sykes-Picot Agreement 1916

  • Under the agreement Arab land would be directly ruled by Britain or France
  • British wanted agreement to strengthen ties with French; to maintain control over Suez Canal for trade route into mineral rich India and oil rich Persian Gulf. Palestine would also act as buffer to protect influence in M.E.

After the War

  • Treaty of Versailles 1919 gave Britain and France mandates to govern certain countries in the Middle East until Arab people could self-govern
  • Britain given mandate over Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq. British troops and government officials took control of these lands
  • France granted mandates over Syria and Lebanon and sent troops to take control.
  • In 1921 British allowed French forces to invade Syria and expel Faisal from throne he held for 2 years
  • British made Faisal the King of Iraq and recognized his older brother Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan (became king in 1946)
  • Iraq and Transjordan became the main buffer zone for the British in the Middle East after WWI

British Rule in Palestine 1919-1939

  • 1917 British troops entered Jerusalem, capital of Palestine and drove out the Turks
  • After the mandate of 1919 from the League of Nations, the British government ruled the country
  • League of Nation mandate: “Britain shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine no matter what their race or religion.”
  • Arabs felt that the British just replaced the Turkish rulers and were disappointed that they had not been given independence. The increasing Jewish immigration into the area and buying their land further contributed to their agitation.
  • Arabs who worked on the land as tenants were evicted after Jews bought the land. Even though the Jews bought small portions of land, the Arabs accused the British of being pro-Zionist.
  • British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel was Jewish, which led to the Arabs to further believe that the British favoured the Jews.

Chaim Weizmann- Leading British Zionist

  • “He knew that there was a limit to how far he could push the British. As a leading Zionist, he knew that if the Jewish national home was to survive it needed the continued support of the British rulers of Palestine.”

Arab-Jewish Riots

  • Since the first Jewish settlers arrived in Palestine in 1882 from Russia, there had been attacks on the Jewish people
  • 1921- massive scale violence in town of Jaffa (busy sea port)
  • Jaffa was different than other Arab coastal towns as it was the main port of arrival for Jewish immigrants
  • Just to the north of the Jaffa was Tel Aviv, the largest Jewish settlement in Palestine
  • 1921- riots in Tel Aviv between rival Jewish groups, which spread into Jaffa and led to Arab attacks on Jews and their property
  • After 2 days of rioting 200 Jews and 120 Arabs were dead or wounded
  • British Authorities Immediately stopped all Jewish Immigration and Palestinian Arabs were told that only a part of Palestine was to be made into a Jewish national home. British restricted the Jewish immigration soon after.

1929 – Riots in Jerusalem

  • Holy city for both Muslims and Jews
  • 1920s there was tension over who controlled the holy places
  • August 1929- riots broke out and Arab crowds attacked Jews inside and outside the city
  • Attacks spread throughout Palestine and 133 Jews were killed over 4 days
  • 116 Arabs were also killed, mostly by British police

Arab Rebellion 1936-1939

  • April 1936- widespread fighting broke out as armed Arab bands attacked Jewish settlements
  • Within 1 month, over 20 Jews killed
  • By mid-summer Palestinian became grounds for civil war that would last 3 years
  • British responded by hanging several Arab leaders and destroyed houses suspected of containing Arab terrorists or arms
  • British helped to train Haganah (Jewish Defence Force set up in 1920s and formed the basis of the Israel army later on)
  • Orde Wingate- British Officer who trained Jewish squads to attack Arab villages during the rebellion

Jaffa Revolts May 1-7, 1921

  • Since the first Jewish settlers arrived in Palestine in 1882 from Russia, there had been attacks on the Jewish people
  • 1921- massive scale violence in town of Jaffa (busy sea port)
  • Jaffa was different than other Arab coastal towns as it was the main port of arrival for Jewish immigrants
  • Just to the north of the Jaffa was Tel Aviv, the largest Jewish settlement in Palestine
  • 1921- riots in Tel Aviv between rival Jewish groups, which spread into Jaffa and led to Arab attacks on Jews and their property
  • After 2 days of rioting 200 Jews and 120 Arabs were dead or wounded
  • British Authorities Immediately stopped all Jewish Immigration and Palestinian Arabs were told that only a part of Palestine was to be made into a Jewish national home. British restricted the Jewish immigration soon after.
  • Most Arab casualties resulted from clashes with British forces attempting to restore order.
  • Thousands of Jewish residents of Jaffa fled for Tel Aviv and were temporarily housed in tent camps on the beach.
  • The Arab leaders submitted a petition to the League of Nations in which they expressed their demands for independence and democracy, noting that the Arab community contained educated and talented members to establish a stable representative democracy.
  • Haycraft Commission of Inquiry- Blamed the Arabs
  • “the fundamental cause of the violence and the subsequent acts of violence was a feeling among the Arabs of discontent with, and hostility to, the Jews, due to political and economic causes, and connected with Jewish immigration.”

Riots in Jerusalem 1929

  • Jerusalem was a holy city for both Muslims and Jews
  • In late 1928 a new phase of violence began with minor disputes between Jews and Arabs about the right of Jews to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
  • August 1929- riots broke out and Arab crowds attacked Jews inside and outside the city
  • These arguments led to an outbreak of Arab violence in August 1929 when Haj Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem, accused the Jews of endangering the mosques and other sites holy to Islam.
  • On Friday, August 23 – Arab mobs attacked Jews in Palestine. Jerusalem was hit particularly hard. By the next day, the Haganah was able to mount a defense and further attacks in Jerusalem were repulsed.
  • the violence in Jerusalem generated rumors throughout the country with fabricated accounts of Jewish attempts to defile Muslim holy places to rally Arab support.
  • While attacks on Jews in Tel Aviv and Haifa were fended off by Jewish defenses, the riot resulted in 133 Jewish deaths, with more than 300 wounded.
  • 116 Arabs were also killed, mostly by British police
  • The survivors were isolated in a police station for three days while the Arabs rampaged through their houses, stealing and destroying Jewish property
  • For the next 39 years no Jew lived in Hebron, not until after it was liberated by the Israeli military during the Six Day War in 1967

Arab Rebellion 1936-1939

  • April 1936- riots broke out in Jaffa commencing a three-year period of violence and civil strife in Palestine
  • The Arab Higher Committee, headed by the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, led the campaign of terrorism against Jewish and British targets.
  • The Arabs began by proclaiming an Arab general strike and boycott of Jewish enterprises and products.
  • Arabs demanded an end to Jewish immigration, an end to transfers of land to Jewish owners and a new “general representative government” for the Arabs
  • Seventeen Jews were killed the first day, with little action by the British to stop the rioters
  • armed bands of Arab terrorists attacked Jewish villages and vehicles, as well as British Army and police forces
  • By August 1936, responding more to attacks on British assets than to the Jewish losses, the British began a military crack-down on the Arab terrorists.
  • Ended in October 1936 – a temporary peace between Arabs and Jews prevailed for almost a year.
  • September 1937- following the July report by the Peel Commission – the riots resumed
  • Armed Arab terrorism, under the direction of the Higher Committee, was used to attack the Jews and to suppress Arab opponents. This campaign of violence continued through 1938 and ended by 1939
  • Total of 415 Jewish deaths were recorded during the whole 1936-1939 Arab Revolt period.
  • The British military suppressed the Arab terrorists, but the British government in effect rewarded them with the publication of the White Paper 1939, a pro-Arab policy statement that effectively ended the British commitment to the purpose of the Palestine Mandate.

Grand Mufti, Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini

Born in 1893 into one of the most prominent and wealthy families in the Ottoman Empire known as the Husseini’s. He attended the Istanbul School of Administration where he strengthened his leadership traits that would further prepare him for future battles and rebellions. Once siding with the Turkish, Husseini quickly changed sides to aiding the British as a result of their victorious outcome from WWI. He acquired the reputation as a violent, fanatical anti-Zionist zealot in the eyes of the British and soon sparked the 1920 Arab attack against the Jews who were praying at Western Hall. Following the death of the existing Jerusalem Mufti (religious leader and intellect), British Palestine High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuels, who at the time was influenced by anti-Zionist generals in his army, pardoned Husseini’s extreme anti-Semitic ideals, and appointed him as ‘Grand’ Mufti of Jerusalem in January 1922. Appointing him as Mufti posed a problem, as there were already several factions who wished for cooperation between Jews and Arabs. Husseini however, wanted none of this and wanted the Jews driven out completely. “The British allowed Husseini to return to Palestine where, despite the opposition of the muslim High Council who regarded him as a hoodlum, Haj Amin was appointed by the British High Commissioner as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem for life.” (William Ziff, Rape of Palestine). Al-Husseini advocated militant, Palestinian Arab nationalism, a previously unknown concept. Once he was in power, he killed Jews at every opportunity, but also eliminated Arabs who did not support his campaign of violence. He was recorded once saying to his Jewish friend, “Remember, Abbady, this was and will remain an Arab land. We do not mind you natives of the country, but those alien invaders, the Zionists, will be massacred to the last man. We want no progress, no prosperity. Nothing but the sword will decide the fate of this country.” He organized several suicide groups known as fedayeen (“one who sacrifices himself”), that acted as the momentum in several revolts and rebellions. He went to the extreme costs of even allowing the death of his own men for the “purging of ‘his’ nation”. In 1936, six other prominent leaders of the Arabian region formed a committee with Husseini as their head, to protest and revolt the British Zionist progress; the next three years were thus known as the Arab Revolt. Husseini proved to be very successful in stalling pro-Zionist progression, as a result of the several revolts he had planned. His extremist ideals allowed for absolutely no cooperation with the Jews, not on the grounds of speculatively compromising political or economic strength, but simply as a result of Nationalism, with which he managed to convince several of his own men to commit suicide with the goal of ridding the nation of Jews

Ze’ev Jabotinsky; Jewish coordinator of Jew ‘Self-Defence’

Born in 1880 in Russia, Jabotinsky proved himself to be very educated as he was viewed as one of the most prominent journalists of Russia at the time. His journalism made him a very well known figure throughout Europe and served as a pretext to his rise to fame among the Jews. He also served for the British in World War I, and ensued for a separate Jewish Regiment in the army. This was very quickly achieved, of which Jabotinsky became the lieutenant. He further exploited this position and power by attempting to establish Jewish self-defence factions within Jerusalem. During Passover of 1920, Jabontinsky coordinated self-defence against the revolting Arabs but was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labour as a result of illegal possession of arms. As a result of his popularity and fame among the Jewish people, he was soon granted pardon. From 1921 on, Jabotinsky was a member of the Zionist Executive and one of the founders of “Keren Hayesod.” After a series of policy disagreement on the direction of the Zionist Movement, he seceded and, in 1925, established the Union of Zionists Revisionists which called for the immediate establishment of a Jewish State. Jabotinsky was successful, to an extent, of suppressing the Arab revolts. As a result of his counter-aggression policies and actions towards the Arabs, the Jewish population was not trampled by the extremist Arabs. He did not however, fully address the problem and his main course of action took place only from years 1920-1929, during which time he organized Jewish men to fight against the discriminating Arabs

High Commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel

Born in 1870, Samuel was a very devoted Zionist by 1915, being one of the first to propose the seemingly ‘ludicrous’ idea of establishing Palestine as a Jewish state, independent of foreign matters. He also influenced the Balfour Declaration when he supported the idea that Britain should become a temporary protectorate over Palestine. The fact that Samuels was a Jew and received position as High Commissioner of Palestine, “proved to be very dangerous and controversial” as exclaimed by a member of the British parliament, simply because it was deemed illegal within the Middle East to refute previous traditions. For example, within 2000 years, Samuels was the first ever Jew to govern over Israel. This was a very big deal, ideologically speaking. As a result of his very dedicated Zionist mindset, Samuels was not favourable towards the radical beliefs of Husseini. Due to his impressionable nature however, Samuels was very easily convinced by Generals within the British army that Husseini would not pose as a danger, and would be beneficial to the betterment of Jerusalem. As High Commissioner, Samuels was essentially expected to develop a compromise between the Jews and Arabs, and was not very successful through his policies. To begin, his greatest failure was in the appointment of Husseini as Grand Mufti. Moreover, several ‘agreements,’ put forward by him, reached no compromise point, that they either directly supported the Jews, or directly opposed them. He achieved no middle ground. Additionally, he remained very neutral in regards to the Arab revolts and essentially “let it happen.”

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