The british mandate palestine and the consequences of british foreign policy in the middle east



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MASARYKOVA UNIVERZITA
PEDAGOGICKÁ FAKULTA

Katedra anglického jazyka a literatury



THE BRITISH MANDATE PALESTINE AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF BRITISH FOREIGN POLICY IN THE MIDDLE EAST




Bakalářská práce




Brno 2007

Autor práce: Vedoucí práce:

Mona Kotaishová Michael George, M.A.

I hereby declare that I have written this work by myself, using only the sources listed in the bibliography section.


Brno, 18.05.2007

..…………………………….

Mona Kotaishová

I would like to thank my supervisor Michael George, a helpful professor and a great person, for his support when I chose my topic, valuable advice and literature provided.




CONTENTS
Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………….5

1. Jews and Arabs prior to the British Mandate

1.1 Historical background……………………………………………………..6

1.2 Religious background……………………………………………………...9

1.3 Rise of Zionism…………………………………………………………...10

1.4 Aliyas……………………………………………………………………...11

1.5 Rise of Arabic nationalism………………………………………………...12

2. WW1 and British foreign policy in the Middle East .

2.1 The British and the Arabs…………………………………………………14

2.2 Sykes- Picot Agreement or the Asia Minor Agreement…………………..15

2.3 The British and the Jews and the Balfour Declaration……………. ……...15 2.4 The Arabs and the Jews……………………………………………………17

3. The British Mandate Palestine (1922-1948)

3.1 The establishment…………………………………………………………19

3.2 The mandate population and first conflicts……………………………….20

3.3 August 1929 and the Hebron massacre…………………………………....22

3.4 The Arab revolt and Peel’s committee…………………………………….23

4. Second World War and the end of the British mandate

4.1 The outbreak and the course of WW II…....................................................25 4.2 Palestine after the war and the end of the British mandate..………………28 4.3 The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine……………………...29 4.4 The aftermath of the partition plan and the Deir Yassin massacre…….......30 4.5 Palestinian refugees and the establishment of Israel……………………….31

Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………33 Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………….35 Appendix…………………………………………………………………………………...37

Introduction
“The Jewish issue was solved by the establishment of Israel. The Palestinian issue remains a gaping wound…”

Anton La Guardia


This work does not intend to give a complete description of the events in the Holy Land; it is more of an overview of the most crucial incidents that lead to the political situation which has been fragile ever since the period of the British mandate, followed by the establishment of the State of Israel. This thesis maps the history of Palestine/Israel, from about the fourth millennium B.C. to the establishment of Israel, focusing on the role of British foreign policy and the consequences of its back and forth nature.

I would like to explain certain terms used in this work which could lead to disambiguation. At many points I use the term Holy Land, because the term itself is neutral and refers to the whole territory of today’s Israel and Palestinian Autonomy. The term Middle East is used to describe the same region although in its wider sense it covers not only Israel and Palestinian territories, but also Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Yemen (Middle East- from Wikipedia). Nowadays, though, it has a strong connotation with Israel and Palestine. When I write about Palestinians, I mean to refer to Palestinian Arabs which we should not confuse with Palestinian Jews (Jews that became Israelis after the establishment of Israel). Moreover, at some points I distinguish Jews from Zionists because while the former are related ethnically and religiously, the latter are brought together by the nationalist movement Zionism, therefore being a Jew does not impose being a Zionist and vice versa. In my thesis, I try to point out the fact that the Arab-Israeli conflict has not existed always. Everyday reality in the Middle East is different from what we are presented via media due to which we tend to see the violence only but forget about the fact that many conflicts were not results of hatred between ordinary people, but the consequence of strong political propaganda.


1. Jews and Arabs prior to the British Mandate
1.1 Historical background

The first mention of inhabiting today’s Israel and Palestinian autonomy comes from the fourth millennium B.C. This land was first populated by Semites, Canaanites and some other peoples; and was named Canaan (Čejka, 15).

During the second millennium B.C. the Canaanites were constantly challenged by various invaders such as the Amorites, Hittites, and Hurrians. These, however, were defeated by the Egyptians and absorbed by the Canaanites. Approximately in the 13th Century B.C. new invaders appeared in the land of Canaan: the Hebrews (hapiru); they were a Semite nation and believed to have left Mesopotamia between 1800 B.C. and 1500 B.C. and the Philistines, an Aegean people of Indo-European stock (Brief history of Palestine).

According to the Bible, Moses led the Hebrews (the Israelites) out of Egypt. Under the leadership of Joshua, they overran Canaan and defeated the Canaanites and the Philistines (Daily Bible study).

The first king of the biblical Jewish state of Israel was King Saul who was killed in one of the battles with the Philistines. His son and successor King David conquered Jerusalem about 1000 B.C. and established an Israelite kingdom which stretched over a large area of Canaan and was divided into Judea in the south and Israel in the north in about 926 B.C. following the death of David's son, Solomon. In 722 B.C. Israel fell to Assyria and Judea was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. resulting in the initiation of the first Jewish exile. Most of Judea’s population was carried off in chains to Babylon and part of them was forced to escape the country. This first Jewish exile lasted for 47 years and ended when the Persians conquered Babylonia in 539 B.C. Persians granted the Jews the permission to return back to Judea and most of Jerusalem was rebuilt. However, a large number of Jews remained in Babylonia, giving birth to the first Jewish Diaspora. After the reestablishment of a Jewish state or protectorate, the Babylonian exiles maintained contact with authorities there (History of Palestine).

When Alexander the Great of Macedonia took rule over the region in 333 B.C., Persian domination of Palestine was replaced by Greek rule. Upon his death the land was first occupied by the Ptolemies of Egypt and then by the Seleucids of Syria in 200 B.C. Under the leadership of the three Maccabees brothers, the Jews revolted against the Seleucids and set up their independent state. The kingdom received Roman ‘protection’ when Judah Maccabee was pronounced a ‘friend of the Roman senate and people’ in 164 B.C. according to the records of Roman historians. About 63 B.C., Roman troops led by Pompei invaded Judea and occupied Jerusalem, supported by King Herod. The land was divided into Judea, Galilee, Peraea and a small trans-Jordanian section, each of which eventually came under direct Roman control. The Romans called the land, which included Jerusalem, Judea (Čejka, 16).

The Romans have suppressed the Big Jewish Revolt in 66 A.D. and yet another one in 132 A.D. and the Jews were driven out of the Holy Land. The area was then named Palaestina (derived from Palaestina Syria-a term used to describe the southern part of Syria). The Second Jewish Diaspora thus began and most of the Jews were exiled. However, Jewish communities could still be found in Galilee, in the north of Palestine. In the meantime, Christianity continued to spread throughout Palestine, mainly as emperor Constantine legalized it and converted to it in 331 and Christian Temples were built (Israel and Palestine: A Brief History).

Apart from Christianity, Islam, a newly born religion brought by the Prophet Mohamed, started spreading in the whole Middle East Region and in the 7th century Arab armies conquered Jerusalem (638) and most of the Middle East. This was the period during which Arabs (Muslims), Jews, and Christians inhabited the Holy Land in peace next to each other. Christians and Jews were permitted to keep their religions and freedom and were not oppressed by Arabic rulers, until the ruler Hakim started persecuting non-Muslims and destroying churches (Lebrecht, 17).

The Seljuk Turks conquered Jerusalem in 1071, however they were soon replaced by the Fatimids of Egypt who conquered Jerusalem and other parts of Palestine and slaughtered the present Muslims and Jews. This oppression continued until 1187 when the Muslim ruler Saladin defeated the Crusaders at the battle of Hattin. The Crusaders, however, did not give up and battles continued. They were finally defeated in 1291 when the Muslim Mamelukes captured the town of Acre, which was the last harbor of the Crusaders (mideastweb.org). The Mamelukes, who were originally soldiers and slaves in Egypt, dominated the land until 1517 when they were defeated by the Ottoman Empire (Palestine from Roman to Ottoman Empire).

The Holy Land became a part of the Ottoman Empire for four centuries. A centralized governmental system was established in the country; an Ottoman sultan and “khalifa” being the ruler and legislator. Another change occurred in the area which was the formation of self-governing religion districts- “millets”- for non-Muslims. Throughout the 17th and the 18th centuries large masses of Jews were arriving into the Holy land. They were mainly Jews coming back from exiles. In the 19th century, the enfeebled Ottoman Empire started to crumble while Britain began to increase its activities in the region. The British took advantage of the swelling Zionism and Arabic nationalism during the First World War, fought against the Ottoman Empire and in 1917 conquered Jerusalem. That meant the end of the four hundred years lasting Ottoman overrule in the Holy Land (Čejka, 18). The Holy Land became a British mandate Palestine.



http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/mandate2.html


1.2 Religious background

One of the most widespread myths about the Middle East states that Jewish-Arabic conflict has existed from the beginning of their co-existence. The facts speak against, though. If we compare Islam in the time of its birth with the societies surrounding it (the Iranian feudalism in the east, the Indian caste system, the privileged aristocracy in Byzantine and in Roman Europe), we find that the Islamic legal code did indeed bring new ideas about equality. Not only Islam did not accept the system of social differentiation, but it also explicitly and resolutely refused it. The cultural heritage of the prophet Mohamed is pointed against the privileges of the family line, origin, status, wealth, and race (Lewis, 97). Muslims did respect Jews (and Christians) as the “People of the Book” and were aware of the similarities in their beliefs. Both Judaism and Islam are monotheistic, they believe in one God (in Hebrew- Él, Élohim, Yahweh, in Arabic- Allah, Rabb). God is seen as the only ruler and legislator. Both Moses and Mohamed (although Mohamed’s existence is historically more provable) were only “ordinary people” (prophets), not the sons of God. They are both mediators of God’s will and God’s plans for the mankind (Mendel, 29).

These are not the only similarities between Judaism and Islam. Both religions respect the same prophets (for example Abraham), use similar names for their children (Hebrew David-Arabic Daud, Moses-Musa, Joseph-Jusuph, Salomon-Sulaiman and so on). Both Muslims and Jews have food regulations; halal for Muslims, kosher for Jews (neither is allowed to eat pork).

Although Jews were never forced to convert under Muslim rulers, they had to pay special taxes, wear special clothing and were not allowed to marry Muslim women. In spite of this many Jews held important state functions and big centers of Jewish culture were established on Muslim territories, especially in Spain, today’s Morocco, Tunis and Iraq. Before 711 Jews urged Arabs to enter Spain, because they were persecuted by Christian rulers. In 1492 Spain was again taken over by Christians and Jews were expelled from the country. Generally speaking, European Christians were always much crueler towards Jews than Arabs or Muslims (Čejka, 20). Pogroms, inquisitions, expelling and discrimination of Jews were very common in Europe. During the Crusader era, Christians massacred Jews as well as Muslims and these two together were defending Jerusalem against Christian invaders. After defeating the Crusaders, Muslim Mamelukes started even supporting Jewish immigration into the Holy land and the Arabic world (Lewis, 42).



1.3 Rise of Zionism

Jews in the Arab world were not facing oppression as they were in Europe and that is one of the reasons the Jewish nationalism Zionism did not emerge in the Muslim world, but in the Europe where anti-Semitism was very common (Lahteenmaki, 52).

Zionism was the Jewish nationalism associated with the craving of Jews for their own land. Zionism was not based on religious priorities and some of the symbols of Judaism have been used in the formation of this ideology mainly for emotive reasons. It was neither ideologically nor organizationally a unified movement. Zionism can be understood either as a projection of European nationalism into the Jewish surroundings or as a reaction to the anti-Semitism in Europe and as an effort to refute Jewish assimilation tendencies. Zionists living in exile were afraid that they will become assimilated in various countries and therefore will never be able to establish their own state (Mendel, 56).

One of the forerunners of Zionism was Moses Hess (1812-1875) with his concept of religious socialism. His ideas came too early and although his concept was followed in the later years, he died without influencing masses and without making any ‘changes’. In 1834 the rabbi Jehuda Alkalaj (1792-1878) published a record called Shema Jisrael (Listen Israel) that can be seen as pre-Zionistic. He claims that embedding in the Holy Land and the return to Hebrew would bring redemption and renaissance of the Jewish people not only religiously but also politically. In 1839 Sir Moses Chajim Montefiore (1784-1885) suggested the establishment of a Jewish state. In 1861 the rabbi Cvi Kalisher (1795-1874) published the first ‘Zionistic’ piece of work called Drishat Cion (Searching for Zion) about establishing a religious center in Palestine where Jews could wait for the Messiah (Krupp, 27-28).



Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), a journalist from Vienna is seen as the main Zionistic philosopher. Even though Herzl did not come up with any new idea, he was the first one who was able to implement the Zionistic thought into the mind of public. Shlomo Avineri states: “Theodor Herzl transformed the Zionistic solution from a peripheral issue of Jewish life into a part of the world’s politics” (Avineri, 94). Herzl was mainly influenced by the ‘trial’ with Captain Dreyfus, a French officer, who was accused of treason under the anti-Semitist public pressure. Herzl concluded that the best solution for Jews would be a mass migration into their own land. He published his visions in his most famous book The Jewish state in 1896 and established the first World Zionistic Organization. It is also interesting that Palestine was not the only option for the formation of a Jewish state; he also thought of Argentina, Cyprus, Congo or Uganda. However, after the first Zionistic congress in Basle (1897) organized mainly by Herzl, it was decided and voted for Palestine. The congress resulted in the Basle program which proclaimed the effort of publicly and legally acquiring a land for the Jewish people in Palestine (Life of Theodor Herzl).
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