Written April, 2004
The United States, as a sovereign nation, has on its own contributed to the degeneration of relationships between itself and the mid- eastern
countries from which the hatred of 9/11 issued. In addition, fanatical theological teachings that breed intolerance and unfounded animosity in the
Persian Gulf region have contributed in their own separatist fashion. But an analysis of the animosity that exists now, and that existed on
September 11, 2001, cannot be complete without reviewing certain important global community decisions that played major roles in the culminating
events on that September day. Within these the issue of Palestine is by far the most significant.
The polarization of the world that has taken place over the Israeli- Palestinian conflict that has raged since shortly after the declaring of the
existence of the Nation of Israel in 1948 can be assigned to some of the briefest communications penned in world history.
The Balfour Declaration
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was a terse and succinct letter written by the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, to the then Jewish
leader Lord Rothschild.
November 2nd, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild:
I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty's
Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:
His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors
to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious
rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour"
The intent of the letter was to gain Jewish support (i.e. financing) and influence for the Allied cause in World War I (particularly in the very
strategic alliances with America and Russia), and was meant as a propagandist gesture, according to Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Britain at the
time. In fact, George as much as admits that it was a bit like a marriage proposal prior to being shipped off to war - there was uncertainty in
whether the consummation would take place. In other words, the outcome of World War I was unclear at the time of the declaration.
Lest the Balfour Declaration be viewed as some unique and discriminatory action accorded only the Jews, Lord George points out that many
declarations, all of propagandist intent, were issued to many peoples who were, at the time, dispersed by or subjugated to an alien authority. In
particular the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region who were overran by the Turks. To a declaration, all of these promises were fulfilled by
Britain. Lord George's words on this issue are:
"No race has done better out of the fidelity with which the Allies redeemed their promises to the oppressed races than the Arabs. Owing to the
tremendous sacrifices of the Allied nations, and more particularly of Britain and her Empire, the Arabs have already won independence in Iraq,
Arabia, Syria, and Trans-Jordania, although most of the Arab races fought throughout the War for their Turkish oppressors. Arabia was the
only exception in that respect. The Palestinian Arabs fought for Turkish rule."
It must be pointed out that at the time of the war (i.e. Turkish occupation), and at the time of the Balfour Declaration, there was "no such place
or country as 'Palestine'..." The region was divided up " between the sanjak of Jerusalem and the vilayets of Syria and Beirut." And the
future was not any brighter for a legitimate "Palestine" once the area was liberated by the Allies. The region had been docketed for
"international control" in the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 between France and Britain. "The country was to be mutilated and torn into
sections. There would be no Palestine."
This "what to do with Palestine" problem can be seen as far back as 1915 in a letter from Sir Henry McMahon to Sharif Hussein in which McMahon
promises Sharif Hussein of Mecca control of all the areas liberated from Turkey, and within the authority of the U.K., with the exception of areas
under the authority of the French, and that "cannot be said to be purely Arab" and these areas included Palestine (as discussed later). McMahon
was courting the support of the Arabs in the fight against Turkey with propagandist promises, as the King was courting the Jews to ensure their
support in America and Russia.
That Palestine was not "purely Arab" must be pointed out in that there were Arab-Palestinians, Christian-Palestinians and Jewish-Palestinians in
the region already. In 1921 an Interim Report on the Administration of Palestine was issued by the League of Nations that broke down the
demographics of the region. It stated that prior to 1850, there had only been "a handful" of Jews in the Palestinian region. But beginnning in
1850, and over the next 50 years there had been an ever-increasing immigration of Jews into the region culminating in approximtely 10% of the
population of the area being Jewish (total population stated at about 700,000, with approximately 84,000 Jews).
With the understanding that under the Sykes-Picot Agreement the area of "Palestine" would have remained a non-entity, we are faced with the irony
that the very declaration that would set the region in an un-ending conflict between Arab and Jew is also the document in which a formal and
legitimate "Palestine" was given a resurrection. Had the Balfour declaration and the shift in attitude behind it not taken place there would have
remained no "Palestine" after World War I.
And lest it be believed that a Jewish homeland in Palestine was produced due to the British promise and the eventual victory of the Allies, it can
be shown that some form of Zionist legislation would have occurred regarding the "non-area" of Palestine had the Central Powers been
"There is no better proof of the value of the Balfour Declaration as a military move than the fact that Germany entered into negotiations with
Turkey in an endeavour to provide an alternative scheme which would appeal to Zionists. A German-Jewish Society, the V .J.O.D.,* was formed, and in
January, 1918, Talaat, the Grand Vizier, at the instigation of the Germans, gave vague promises of legislation by means of which 'all justifiable
wishes of the Jews in Palestine would be able to find their fulfilment.'"
Concerning the reaction of the Palestinian-Arabs to the Balfour Declaration, Lord Curzon stated that "The Arab leaders did not offer any objections
to the declaration, so long as the rights of the Arabs in Palestine were respected."
The Mandatory Years
Inherent to the birth of the League of Nations was the responsibility to assign Mandatories "to those colonies and territories which as a
consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them..." as laid out in Article 22 of the
"Covenant of the League of Nations". The amorphous region of Palestine lay within this Article.
In 1922, the League of Nations fulfilled this responsibility by issuing statements of mandate for the various regions that qualified under Article
22. The Palestine Mandate was issued on July 24, 1922, and in addition to assigning Britain as the Mandatory of the region, it recognized the
Balfour Declaration, the historical connection of the Jewish people to Palestine, and stated the commitment to the creation of a Jewish homeland in
the area of Palestine. Of importance to the Palestine Mandate is the detachment of the Transjordan region from "Palestine" as a separate
"ARTICLE 25. In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be
entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may
consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider
suitable to those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18."
There was an immediate contest by the Arab leaders. Primarily because there were promises made to both the Zionist Federation and Sharif Hussein
which were, at least by perception and interpretation of the Arabs, in direct conflict. That Palestine was not handed over to be an "independent
Arab state" was defended by the British as being covered both in the exemption of areas held under French authority (the Sykes-Picot Agreement being
in place during the time of the promises of the McMahon letters) and in certain other phrases penned by McMahon describing excluded lands in the
Syrian region. The problem here was that the Balfour Declaration itself contradicted these assertions, especially the exemption by way of
recognizing French authority. Had French authority actually been recognized by Britain, they could not have declared a commitment to the Zionist
Federation to create a homeland for the Jews in Palestine owing to their lack of authority in the region.
Lord Grey, who was actually over the efforts of agreement with Sharif Hussein in 1915, spoke against the contradictions of the varying promises made
to both sides concerning Palestine, and was adamant that if these contradictions were not admitted, and a statement that all could not possibly be
fulfilled, the integrity of the throne of Britain would be at stake.
Apparently, the British government did not take Lord Grey's words to heart, but, in fact, dismissed them during the Conferences on Palestine in
1939 with the Arab Delegates stating they were inapplicable to the argument as Lord Grey had not had the Balfour Declaration in front of him at the
time of his speech. Whether it can be deemed disengenuous or not, the British conclusion at the Conferences on Palestine was that Palestine had not
been included in the areas to be made independent Arab states during the correspondences with McMahon and Hussein. This decision relied heavily on
the recognition of French authority at the time of the letters, and disregarded the apparent contradiction of that recognition with the Balfour
The mandatory years, beginning in 1922 and ending with the pull-out of British military presence in the region in 1948, would be a long record of
Arab dissatisfaction at the intent to create a Jewish homeland in the region, and increasing animosity between the two sides. These animosities
were recognized and addressed by Churchill in his white paper of 1922 in which he state:
"The tension which has prevailed from time to time in Palestine is mainly due to apprehensions, which are entertained both by sections of the
Arab and by sections of the Jewish population. These apprehensions, so far as the Arabs are concerned are partly based upon exaggerated
interpretations of the meaning of the [Balfour] Declaration favouring the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine, made on behalf of
His Majesty's Government on 2nd November, 1917.
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.'...
Further, it is contemplated that the status of all citizens of Palestine in the eyes of the law shall be Palestinian..."
These statements make clear that Churchill's understanding of the Balfour Declaration was that the Jews would be allowed to create their homeland
as part and parcel of Palestine, not as a unique "Nation of Israel" sovereign from the rest of the Palestinian state.
There were brief episodes of violence by the Arabs in the years of 1920-22, but for the most part, the region was going through rather docile growing
pains under the shadow of the future changes.
In August 1929, the Wailing Wall Dispute came to a head in the form of riots that first broke out in Jerusalem and then spread to Hebron. The Arabs
under the leadership of Haj Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem, had been making Jewish access to the Wailing Wall as difficult as possible. The
Mufti had whipped up anti-Jewish sentiment by promoting an accusation that the Jews were attempting to take over Holy Sites in Jerusalem. The riots
were the first large-scale attacks against Jews, and resulted in 133 Jews being killed, but the majority of these deaths are attributed to British
The Shaw Commission was established to investigate the causes of the 1929 riots. The commission reported that the underlying cause was an Arab
concern for the increased Jewish expansion which would result in Arabs losing land. There was also animosity at the practice of Jewish employers
hiring only Jews. The overall fear was that the Jewish expansion would leave the Arab-Palestinians as a subordinate class. It was recommended that
steps be taken to address these concerns.
The result was two documents: The Hope-Simpson Report and the Passfield White Paper. The Passfield paper reiterated the statements of Churchhill
in that it stated that the development of Jewish National homeland in Palestine was not considered central to the League of Nations mandate. Both
papers recommended a cessation of Jewish immigration. However, this recommendation should not be taken as a statement that the investigation showed
Palestine to be "overran" with Jewish immigrants. Since 1921 the total population had grown from approximately 750,000 to around 945,000 and the
percent of that as Jewish had grown from 11% to 17%.
The Passfield white paper also recommended a council be set up to ensure Arab autonomy within the Palestinian region. However, the Arabs failed to
take advantage of this opportunity. When the first council meeting took place a Jewish representation was present, but the Arab's refused to
attend. The council was done away with.
Through a combination of Zionist pressure, British aggravation at the Arab's uncooperative nature in its efforts to bring about reconciliation
between the two groups, and the emergence of Hitler to power in Germany, the Passfield recommendations were by and large abandoned and Jewish
immigration was allowed to continue at a some what regulated rate.
Becoming ever more militant, in 1936, the Arabs created the "Arab High Committee", again led by the Mufti of Jerusalem, which called a series of
strikes which usually degenerated into violence and guerilla warfare against the Jewish population. These conflicts would rage through 1936. The
result of the continued conflicts was the creation of the Peel Commission in 1937.
The Peel Commission concluded that the underlying causes of the disturbances were the same as had been behind the disturbances of prior years:
"(1) The desire of the Arabs for national independence;
(2) their hatred and fear of the establishment of the Jewish National Home."
It concluded that:
"The gulf between the races is thus already wide and will continue to widen if the present Mandate is maintained...
...The sincere attempts of the Government to treat the two races impartially have not improved the relations between them. Nor has the policy of
conciliating Arab opposition been successful. The events of last year proved that conciliation is useless.
The evidence submitted by the Arab and Jewish leaders respectively was directly conflicting and gave no hope of compromise."
"Such hopes as may have been entertained in 1922 of any quick advance towards self-government have become less tenable. The bar to it--Arab
antagonism to the National Home--so far from weakening, has grown stronger.
The Jewish leaders might acquiesce in the establishment of a Legislative Council on the basis of parity, but the Commission are convinced that
parity is not a practicable solution of the problem. It is difficult to believe that so artificial a device would operate effectively or last long,
and in any case the Arab leaders would not accept it."
"The Commission do not recommend that any attempt be made to revive the proposal of a Legislative Council, but since it is desirable that the
Government should have some regular and effective means of sounding public opinion on its policy, the Commission would welcome an enlargement of the
Advisory Council by the addition of Unofficial Members, who might be in a majority and might be elected, who could make representations by way of
resolution, but who would not be empowered to pass or reject the budget or other legislative measures. Again, the Arabs are unlikely to accept such
The Conclusions and Recommendations of the Peel Commission were succinct:
"The Commission recapitulate the conclusions set out in this part of the Report, and summarize the Arab and Jewish grievances and their own
recommendations for the removal of such as are legitimate. They add, however, that these are not the recommendations which their terms of reference
require. They will not, that is to say, remove the grievances nor prevent their recurrence. They are the best palliatives the Commission can devise
for the disease from which Palestine is suffering, but they are only palliatives. They cannot cure the trouble. The disease is so deep-rooted that
in the Commissioners' firm conviction the only hope of a cure lies in a surgical operation."
The only resolution in the eyes of the Peel Commission would be partitioning the land.
The Arab response to the Peel report was more violence. In the face of the new conflicts, the British disbanded the Arab High Commission and
deported its leading members. It set up a second commission, the Woodhead Commission, to review the recommendations of the Peel commission.
The Woodhead Commission concluded that the Peel report was too generous in its land allotments to the Jews (Peel Report Map)
. The Woodhead Commission produced two alternative partitioning
plans. Plan B "reduced the size of the Jewish State by the addition of Galilee to the permanently mandated area and of the southern part of the
region south of Jaffa to the Arab State." Plan C "limited the Jewish State to the coastal region between Zikhron Yaaqov and Rehovoth while
northern Palestine, including the Plains of Esdraelon and Jezreel, and all the semi-arid region of southern Palestine would have been placed under
The British government rejected all partitioning plans as impracticable. And instead, issued one final plea of cooperation toward a single
Palestinian state in which an agreement between the two parties could result in shared authority for both Jewish and Arab citizens. An invitation
was extended to both sides to come together for talks with the British government in working out future Palestinian policies.
The Arab delegates refused to meet with the Jewish delegates. The British government was forced to meet with each side separately, and no agreement
could be reached between the two sides. As a result, the British issued the White Paper of 1939 in which it declared it would work over the next 10
years to establish a united Palestinian state in which authority was shared by both Jewish and Arab representation. Further, it called for a
cessation of Jewish immigration due to the Arab opposition of same. It pledged to allow an additional 75,000 Jewish immigrants in over the next 5
The Jews, both in Palestine and around the world vehemently rejected the British White paper on the grounds that it violated the Mandate, and would
result in the Jews being in a "permanent minority status in a hostile Arab state." This time, Jewish violence broke out across Palestine. The
Arabs rejected it as well, but eventually the Arab Nashashibi faction agreed to cooperate and brought about the general acceptance of the terms of
the British White Paper by the Arab population.
The White Paper was never fully implemented, especially in regards to the constitutional provisions. However, the land transfer policies and the
Jewish immigration restrictions were put in place.
The White Paper was placed before the Permanent Mandate Commission, which unanimously ruled that it was in conflict with the mandate. The British
government began actions to bring the White Paper before the League of Nations for a ruling on this matter in September 1939. However, the outbreak
of World War II resulted in the League of Nations suspending its operations, and the Palestinian issue remained unaddressed.
As the war raged on in Europe, illegal immigration of Jews into Palestine occurred and the Palestine Government worked to keep these immigrants out.
However, the problem of illegal Jewish immigrants should not be exaggerated, as by the autumn of 1943, only 44,000 of the 75,000 immigrants allowed
in the White Paper had come into Palestine.
Over the course of the war, and as the White Paper policies were further implemented, Jewish resistance increased. Jewish militant groups formed
with varying degrees of activities. Haganah, which had been originally started as a response to Arab terrorism, had grown to over 60,000. By and
large, this organization was restrained and did not engage in terrorist activities, but was implicated in Jewish violence that occurred near the end
of 1945 against the Government's attempt to prevent illegal immigration.
The Irgun Zvai Leumi, military organization for the Revisionists, were more radical and had, since 1943, "engaged in an intermittent series of
robberies and extortions to produce funds and of bombing attacks upon Government buildings, transport and police installations".
The Stern Group was the most extreme of the Jewish militant groups going so far as to attempt to assassinate the High Commissioner, and successfully
murdering the Lord Moyne in Cairo in 1944.
On the Arab side, a new Arab Higher Committee was formed in 1945 which was "united behind a program demanding the fullfillment of the White Paper
policy and the speedy granting of independence to an Arab-dominated Palestine."
As World War II drew to a close, the Jews brought the perceived imbalances of the 1939 White Paper back before the British Government. At this
point, not only did they have the loyal military service of Jews in the Allied efforts against the Germans on their side, but the sympathy of the
world as the atrocities of the Holocaust were revealed. The British response was to form yet another committee, this time in partnership with
America. The result was the Anglo-American Committee.
In April, 1946, the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry also stated that in addition to the militant developments within the Jewish population of
The "Arabs as well as Jews possess arms, and signs have not been entirely lacking of a revival of Arab secret activities, similar to those which
preceded the disturbances of 1936-39.
In the face of actual violence and threats of much more serious violence, possibly approaching the status of civil war, the Palestine Government
resorted to drastic emergency legislation which permitted it to modify or suspend normal civil liberties. There can be no gainsaying that Palestine
today is governed without the consent of Jews or Arabs by an Administration depending almost solely upon force for the maintenance of a precarious
The Anglo-American report was highly favorable toward the Jews and called for the end to restrictions on land purchases, and the admission of
100,000 European Jews. But most importantly, the creation of a bi-national state under the auspices of the newly formed United Nations. Britain
jumped at the chance to offload the problem on the U.N. and invited a UN commission (UNSCOP) to review the situation.
Once again the Arabs boycotted. The proceedings held by UNSCOP had Jewish representation, but no cooperation from the Arabs. The Jews, of course,
petitioned heavily for partitioning. Through their lack of cooperation on repeated attempts to bring about a consolidated Palestinian state with
the Jewish population as a integral portion of that state, the Arabs had brought to fruition the promise of the Balfour Declaration. The Jews would
now have their own, distinct, and sovereign homeland via the partitioning that would take place.
On May 5, 1947, the newly organized United Nations, still in its infancy and developing its role as a global government, issued one of its more
brief resolutions in its history. Resolution 104, irrespective of brevity, most likely will be determined to be the beginning of the most
influential decisions the United Nations has ever made in bringing the world to its polarization of east versus west.
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 104, in its entirety, reads:
"The General Assembly
1. That the First Committee grant a hearing to the Jewish Agency for Palestine on the question before the Committee;
2. To send to that same Committee for its decision those other communications of a similar character from the Palestinian population which have been
received by the special session of the General Assembly or may later be submitted to it."
The next phase would be the Partitioning of Palestine.
1. Memoirs of the Peace Conference, Volume II
3. Sykes-Picot Agreement
4. McMahon- Hussein Letter
5. An Interim Report on the
Civil Administration of Palestine
6. Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations
7. The Palestine Mandate
8. Conferences on
9. British White Paper of June 1922
13. Report of the Peel
14. British White Paper of 1939
15. Anglo-American Committee for Inquiry
16. Resolution 104
Original ATSNN Article
[edit on 1-9-2006 by Valhall]