Written April, 2004.
The journey to the U.N. partitioning of Palestine is incomplete without a review of the political positioning and diplomatic machinations of both
sides of the Palestinian issue. These efforts pre-date the Balfour Declaration and the Mandatory years, and continue through that period to the very
partitioning phase. In fact, these efforts produced the Balfour Declaration and the Mandatory years, and the eventual partitioning itself. In order
to "get to the beginning" we must look past the twentieth century.
One must go back to 1894, in fact, and to one man, alone, and unjustly persecuted. A man who would have nothing, directly, to do with Zionism,
Palestine, or the next century's conflicts. His name was Alfred Dreyfus and he was a Captain in the French army. In 1894 he was accused of treason
and court-martialed. He was found guilty during this trial, but later completely exonerated of all charges and pardoned by the president of France
in 1899. It was proven that the entire framing of Captain Dreyfus was anti-semitic in motivation.
The Birth of Zionism
The link between Captain Dreyfus and the Zionist movement can be found in Theodor Herzl. Herzl was a journalist at the time of the Dreyfus trial and
journeyed to France to cover the court-martial proceedings. While there Herzl witnessed seething anti-semitism. Mobs shouted "Death to the Jews"
and the hatred against the Jewish people had saturated the French air. At the same time, the Jewish immigration to Palestine, which had begun in
1882 with the First Aliyah, was due to persecution of Jews in Russia. Herzl concluded that anti-semitism would forever exist in societies in which
Jews were assimilated, and for this reason, the only conceivable solution would be the separation of the Jewish people from the various communities
into a homeland of their own.
It was in 1897, after exhaustive efforts by Herzl, that the first Zionist Congress met in Basle, Switzerland. During this first congress the World
Zionist Organization was created and it's goals stated via the declaration of the Basle Program.
"Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Eretz?Israel secured under public law. The Congress contemplates the following means
to the attainment of this end:
1. The promotion by appropriate means of the settlement in Eretz-Israel of Jewish farmers, artisans, and manufacturers.
2. The organization and uniting of the whole of Jewry by means of appropriate institutions, both local and international, in accordance with the laws
of each country.
3. The strengthening and fostering of Jewish national sentiment and national consciousness.
4. Preparatory steps toward obtaining the consent of governments, where necessary, in order to reach the goals of Zionism ."
Theodor Herzl would later state of this momentous occasion:
"In Basle I founded the Jewish state . . . Maybe in five years, certainly in fifty, everyone will realize it.?
The behind the scenes efforts toward these goals began immediately. In October 1898 Kaiser William II of Prussia visited Constantinople and
Palestine in hopes of building an alliance with the Ottoman Turks. At the same time, Theodor Herzl traveled to the Turkish capital and Jerusalem
with the singular intent of meeting the German emperor and the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire to discuss the issue of an autonomous Jewish homeland in
Palestine. These meetings were disappointing to the Zionist goals.
Herzl turned to Britain. The first meeting between Herzl and Colonial Secretary of Britain, Joseph Chamberlain, was on October 22, 1902. In this
meeting, Herzl presented the Zionist plans for colonization of Cyprus and the Sinai Peninsula. The Sinai colonization plan was referred to as the
"El-Arish Project". Both the El-Arish project and the plans for Cyprus called for autonomous Jewish settlements under Jewish administration. The
El-Arish Project would have been most likely sanctioned by the U.K. had it not been for the fact that the water requirements for the Jewish
settlement were eventually determined to be far greater than first estimated, and the Egyptians declared that these requirements of the Nile would
not be acceptable.
On April 23, 1903, he met with Chamberlain again. At this meeting Chamberlain proposed that the United Kingdom was more than willing to allow an
autonomous homeland for the Jewish people...in Uganda. Herzl presented this to the WZO at the Sixth Zionist Congress. Though the offer was
ultimately rejected, the negotiations that took place between Herzl and Chamberlain over this two year period were the first legitimate recognition
of the WZO being the official representative organization for the Jewish people.
At this point, maybe on the premise that "possession is 9/10ths of the law", Herzl initiated the Second Aliyah which would result in 30,000 Jewish
settlers immigrating into Palestine from 1904-1914. Included in these immigrants would be the founding fathers of the Nation of Israel. This, along
with the First Aliyah, brought the Palestinian-Jewish population from 24,000 in 1882 to around 75,000 by 1914.
Herzl died in 1904, prior to the Seventh Zionist Congress. It was at this congress that the Ugandan Proposal was officially rejected. Over the next
six years the Zionist Congresses would be consumed with internal disputes between varying forms of Zionism. Chaim Weizmann took the role as leader
of the WZO.
But an opportunity arose in 1919, that could not be missed. World War I had ended leaving 37 million people dead and Europe shattered. The
diplomats of the nations converged on the Palace of Versailles for the Paris Peace Conference and the long arduous work of mending global wounds.
The Zionist Organization submitted a proposal to the Peace Conference in which it asked that the mandate of Palestine be considered, the historical
connection of the Jewish people to the area be taken into account, the Balfour Declaration be honored, the Palestinian borders be firmly established,
and that ultimately the "Jewish National Home", as an autonomous Commonwealth, be created in the Palestinian region. (It is worth noting that a
group of Non-Zionist American Jews are reported to have also submitted a statement to the Peace Conference on March 4, 1919, in which they argued
against the segregation of the Jewish people into an autonomous homeland, no matter where it be located. It is not believed to have been addressed
in the conference.)
The Birth of Arab Nationalism
On the other side of the equation were the Arabs, more specifically the Syrians. The Arabs had fought along side the Allies, mainly British and
French troops, not because they were miserable or severely oppressed under the Ottomans, but because they saw a chance for independence (and that
perception was promoted by the Allies in such communications as the Balfour Declaration and the McMahon-Hussein Letters). Once the war ended, the
Syrians, under Sharif Hussein, assumed the Allied victory to be instantaneous independence, and they began living as such. For a brief time, they
enjoyed their new-found and self-proclaimed autonomy. Prince Faysal, son of Sharif Hussein, immediately assumed control of the liberated regions of
Syria previously held by the Turks, with the exception of a strip of land along the Mediterranean where French troops still remained. In these
areas, the Syrians continued to revolt against French rule.
Unknown to the Arab world was the fact that Britain, France, Italy and Russia had secretly met in the early stages of World War I to "decide the
fate of Arab lands." Britain was interested in the oil of the region and France was interested in remaining in power in the region. During these
meetings, Britain, despite their commitments to both Arabs and Jews, had agreed to give France say over what happened with Syria and Lebanon
post-wartime. This agreement came in the form of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. After the Bolsheviks assumed power in Russia, they released these
secret diplomatic papers.
Woodrow Wilson, then president of the United States, was sympathetic to the Zionist movement. However, he was greatly disturbed to learn of the
"secret dealings" that had gone on, and the conflicting commitments involving Palestine and other mid-eastern regions. He first called on Prince
Faysal to present the Arab side of things. Prince Faysal convened the First Palestinian National Congress which submitted two communications to the
Peace Conference. The first condemned and rejected the Balfour Declaration. The second demanded Syrian independence.
Woodrow Wilson called for an multi-Allied committee to investigate. His recommendations were that the committee be made up of individuals from the
various allied countries; men who had no connection or experience with the disputed regions. The British and French flatly refused to participate.
The result was the King-Crane Commission; an all-American two-man team selected by Wilson himself. King and Crane would spend 42 days investigating
"the conditions and wishes of the people in Anatolian Turkey and the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, particularly in regard to
self-government, after their defeat by the Great Powers."
The recommendations of the King-Crane report include:
"We recommend, as most important of all, and in strict harmony with our Instructions, that whatever foreign administration (whether of one or
more Powers) is brought into Syria, should come in not at all as a colonising Power; in the old sense of that term, but as a Mandatory under the
League of Nations with a clear consciousness that "the well-being and development," of the Syrian people form for it a "sacred trust."
We recommend, in the second, that the unity of Syria be preserved, in accordance with the earnest petition of the great majority of the people of
We recommend, in the third place, that Syria be placed under one mandatory Power, as the natural way to secure real and efficient unity.
We recommend, in the fourth place, that Amir Faisal be made head of the new united Syrian State.
We recommend, in the fifth place, serious modification of the extreme Zionist programme for Palestine of unlimited immigration of Jews, looking
finally to making Palestine distinctly a Jewish state."
Contained within the comments concerning the last recommendation:
"The Commissioner began their study of Zionism with minds predisposed in its favour, 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.
The Commission recognised also that definite encouragement had been given to the Zionists by the Allies in Mr. Balfour's often quoted
statement...If, however, the strict terms of the Balfour Statement are adhered to-favouring "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for
the Jewish people," "it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing
non-Jewish communities in Palestine" - it can hardly be doubted that the extreme Zionist programme must be greatly modified. 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 conferences with Jewish representatives, that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete disposition 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 emphatically against the entire Zionist programme. 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...More than
seventy-two percent-1.350 in all the petitions in the whole of Syria were directed against the Zionist programme. Only two requests-- those for a
united Syria and for independence had a larger support.
In view of all these considerations, and with a deep sense of sympathy for the Jewish cause, the Commissioners feel bound to recommend that only a
greatly reduced Zionist programme be attempted by the Peace Conference, and even that, only very gradually initiated. This would have to mean that
Jewish immigration should be definitely limited, and that the project for making Palestine distinctly a Jewish commonwealth should be given
The report referenced the resolutions that had come from the General Syrian Congress which had convened in July of 1919. These resolutions were as
"1. We ask absolutely complete political independence for Syria within these boundaries. The
Taurus System on the North; Rafeh and a line running from Al-Juf to the south of the Syrian
and the Mejazian line to Akaba on the south; the Euphrates and Khabur Rivers and a line
extending east of Abu Kamal to the east of Al-Juf on the east; and the Mediterranean on the
2. We ask that the Government of this Syrian country should be a democratic civil
constitutional Monarchy on broad decentralization principles, safeguarding the rights of
minorities, and that the King be the Emir Feisal who carried on a glorious struggle in the cause
of our liberation and merited our full confidence and entire reliance.
3 Considering the fact that the Arabs inhabiting the Syrian area are not naturally less gifted
than other more advanced races and that; they are by no means less developed than the
Bulgarians, Serbians, Greeks, and Roumanians at the beginning of their independence, we
protest against Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, placing us among the
nations in their middle stage of development which stand in need of a mandatory power.
4. In the event of the rejection by the Peace Conference of this just protest for certain
considerations that we may not understand, we, relying on the declarations of President Wilson
that his object in waging war was to put an end to the ambition of conquest and colonization, can
only regard the mandate mentioned in the Covenant of the League of Nations as equivalent to the
rendering of economical and technical assistance that does not prejudice our complete
independence. And desiring that our country should not fall a prey to colonization and believing
that the American Nation is farthest from any thought of colonization and has no political
ambition in our country, we will seek the technical and economic assistance from the United
States of America, provided that such assistance does not exceed twenty years.
5. In the event of America not finding herself in a position to accept our desire for assistance
we will seek this assistance from Great Britain, also provided that such assistance does not
infringe the complete independence and unity of our country, and that the duration of such
assistance does not exceed that mentioned in the previous article.
6. We do not acknowledge any right claimed by the French Government in any part whatever of
our Syrian country and refuse that she should assist us or have a hand in our country under any
circumstances and in any place.
7. We oppose the pretentions of the Zionists to create a Jewish commonwealth in the southern
part of Syria, known as Palestine, and oppose Zionist migration to any part of our country; for
we do not acknowledge their title, but consider them a grave peril to our people from the
national, economical, and political points of view. Our Jewish compatriots shall enjoy our common
rights and assume the common responsibilities.
8. We ask that there should be no separation of the southern part of Syria, known as Palestine, nor
of the littoral western zone which includes Lebanon, from the Syrian country. We desire that the
unity of the country should be guaranteed against partition under whatever circumstances.
9. We ask complete independence for emancipated Mesopotamia and that there should be no
economical barriers between the two countries.
10. The fundamental principles laid down by President Wilson in condemnation of secret treaties
impel us to protest most emphatically against any treaty that stipulates the partition of our
Syrian country and against any private engagement aiming at the establishment of Zionism in the
southern part of Syria, therefore we ask the complete annulment of these conventions and
The King-Crane Report was supplied to the Peace Conference in August 1919. Britain and France suppressed the report, and it's recommendations were,
in full, disregarded. It wasn't even published until 1947. Prince Faysal returned to Syria and announced once again that Syria was a free and
independent nation. France and Britain both refused to recognize the sovereignty of Syria and instead met in 1920 at the Supreme Allied Council and
declared the mandates as previously set out by the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Despite the clearly voiced animosity toward the French by the Syrians,
Syria became a French mandate.
As stated by the Library of Congress Country Studies:
"These events left a lasting bitterness against the West and a deep-seated determination to reunite Arabs into one state. This was the primary
basis for modern Arab nationalism and the central ideological concept of future pan-Arab parties, such as the Baath (Arab Socialist Resurrection)
Party and the Arab National Movement. Aspects of the ideology also were evolved in the 1950s and 1960s by Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt."
The Fourth Palestinian National Congress decided to send a delegation to London to present the Arab argument against the Balfour Declaration. This
delegation arrived in London in 1922, rejected the Balfour Declaration and demanded national independence. Instead of independence, they got
Churchill's White Paper.
The Biltmore Document
In 1929, the Zionist and non-Zionist halves of the global Jewish community had apparently resolved all issues of debate between themselves, and after
the 16th Zionist Congress held in Zurich the Jewish Agency for Palestine formally came into existence. It's intended role to be the
"organizational instrument" for the building of the Jewish homeland. And that this organization had been resolved to fulfill its responsibilities
in this role is evident in the Biltmore Document.
The Biltmore Document was so named because the Extraordinary Zionist Conference of 1942 was held in the Biltmore Hotel in New York. Lest the leaders
of the world assert they knew nothing at this point of the concentration and death camps, or the Jewish ghettos of the Nazis, the Biltmore document
stands in testament that they at least had been made aware once on May 11, 1942. Included in the Biltmore declarations:
"1. American Zionists assembled in this Extraordinary Conference reaffirm their unequivocal devotion to the cause of democratic freedom and
international justice to which the people of the United States, allied with the other United Nations, have dedicated themselves, and give expression
to their faith in the ultimate victory of humanity and justice over lawlessness and brute force.
2. This Conference offers a message of hope and encouragement to their fellow Jews in the Ghettos and concentration camps of Hitler-dominated Europe
and prays that their hour of liberation may not be far distant."
The main point of the "extraordinary" conference and the Biltmore Document was to call for "the fulfillment of the original purpose of the Balfour
Declaration and the Mandate which recognizing the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine' was to afford them the opportunity, as
stated by President Wilson, to found there a Jewish Commonwealth"; and to reject the British White Paper of 1939 as being in violation of the
In Wilsonian language it concluded:
"The Conference declares that the new world order that will follow victory cannot be established on foundations of peace, justice and equality,
unless the problem of Jewish homelessness is finally solved. The Conference urges that the gates of Palestine be opened; that the Jewish Agency be
vested with control of immigration into Palestine and with the necessary authority for upbuilding the country, including the development of its
unoccupied and uncultivated lands; and that Palestine be established as a Jewish Commonwealth integrated in the structure of the new democratic
Then and only then will the age old wrong to the Jewish people be righted."
Once again we are brought to the partitioning of Palestine.
1. "The Affair" - The case of Alfred Dreyfus
2. Theodor Herzl
3. World History Encyclopedia
4. First Zionist Congress
6. The Uganda Proposal
7. The Zionist Congresses 1 Through 12
8. The Paris Peace Conference
9. Zionist Organization Proposal to Paris Peace Conference
10. Six Months in Paris that Changed the World
11. War World I and Arab Nationalism
14. King-Crane Commission
16. The Birth of the Jewish Agency
17. The Biltmore
18. Balfour and the Mandatory Years
Original ATSNN Article
[edit on 1-9-2006 by Valhall]