The root of the conflict between Palestinians and Jews is not that complicated as the mainstream media would like us to believe.
The bitter struggle between Arabs and Jews for control of the “Holy Land” has caused untold suffering in the Middle East for generations. It is often claimed that the crisis originated with Jewish immigration to Palestine and the foundation of the State of Israel.
Yet the roots of the conflict can be found much earlier, in British double-dealing during the First World War. This is a story of intrigue among rival empires, of misguided strategies, and of how conflicting promises to Arabs and Jews created a legacy of bloodshed that has determined the fate of the Middle East.
During the First World War, the British, and the French had secret plans to carve up the Ottoman Empire because they believed it would balance out their imperial ambitions. However, tough luck for the Turks, the Arabs, and anyone else who got in the way. Certainly, all the seeds were planted.
Then, in the sense that it was the British who promised the Arabs independence on the one hand and a Jewish homeland on the other, and you could not simply reconcile one with the other. The British scattered promises to anyone who might be of some use to them without thinking about the consequences. So, British duplicity, British double-dealing, went a long way to perpetuate the conflict in Palestine.
At the end of the day, when you’re fighting a war, you are very liberal in what you’re offering in terms of a post-war settlement. When you get down to the conference table when the war has ended and you have to start honoring your agreements, you then have to decide what’s in your interest or not. The British saw the Middle East as a western flank for their power in India and their power in Asia in general.
The story of Britain’s involvement in the Middle East and the ensuing struggle between Arabs and Jews begins with its colonial past at the beginning of the 20th century. King Edward VII ruled over a vast empire with interests in every part of the world. India became increasingly important because it was the second pillar of British power in the world.
Moving the Indian army about was extremely important in extending British interests and influence across the globe. The Suez Canal was, of course, the quick way to do that, and it was very important for Britain’s geopolitical position to ensure the Suez Canal remains safe and secure.
With this aim in mind, Britain had become the only European power to establish a major foothold in the Middle East in the principalities around the Persian Gulf, in Aden, and in Egypt.
Britain annexed Egypt from Turkey’s Ottoman Empire in 1882, and by the time it was made a protectorate in 1914, Cairo had become the center of British power in the Middle East. The presence of imperial troops in the region was of vital strategic importance for the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Muhammad V, as it formed an alliance with Britain’s much-feared rival, Germany.
Together with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, these countries constituted the Central Powers, pitted against the three Allies: Britain, France, and Russia. From the Ottoman capital, Constantinople, in Turkey, the Sultan ruled over the last of the great Islamic empires. It had been in almost terminal decline for decades, yet the fate of the Ottoman Empire was sealed by the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914.
In Europe, Germany’s rapid advance was halted by Britain and France along the western front. In the east, Russia’s war against Germany and Austria-Hungary also reached a deadlock. The powerful weapons of the industrial age were killing thousands of men in the trenches of every army.
All of the leading powers expected the war to be over within a matter of months. So in that sense, all of them were surprised at the end of 1914 when not only was the war ongoing, but it showed every sign of likely continuing for a very long time.
At that point, they began to think about new ways of winning the war. Britain’s Prime Minister Asquith felt that with the stalemate in Europe, it was essential to widen the conflict.
Together with Foreign Secretary Lord Grey, Minister for War Lord Kitchener, and the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, they masterminded a complex strategy to undermine the Central Powers. This was a global war, and the British saw the Middle East very much in a global context.
The traditional British preference for sideshows, as some people unfavorably call it, was the indirect strategy, a way of attacking the soft underbelly (as Churchill referred to it) of the enemy, and this soft underbelly was seen to be Turkey.
Britain’s secret plan involved, on one hand, a military diversion and, on the other, a devious use of diplomacy through bribery, subversion, and double-dealing. All these devices focused on the enemy’s weakest link, the Ottoman Empire of Turkey. Diplomacy, in general, has always had a secret dimension to it, but where discretion ends and conspiracy begins is an open question.
During the period leading up to and during the First World War, there was a particularly intense set of negotiations and discussions between the major imperial powers — the French, the Russians, and the British, in particular, along with the inclusion of the Italians — about what they would do when the war was over.
When the Ottoman Empire broke up, the British government hoped that by striking a deal over the spoils of war, it would strengthen the alliance against the Central Powers.
Amongst the Allies, Russia had long sought access to the Mediterranean. In a secret treaty of March 1915, Britain and France offered what was to the Tsar a prize of vital geopolitical importance—Constantinople.
It provided him an outlet into the wider world and into the Mediterranean, which was the one thing, of course, the British and the French had been attempting to prevent the Russians from achieving. This was a complete volte-face, with the British, the French, and the Russians coming to an agreement over something which was, up to this point, almost inconceivable.
Italy’s King Vittorio Emanuele was another target for bribery. Britain, France, and Russia tried to tempt Italy, a pro-German state, to join the Allies in April 1915. A secret treaty offered Italy a substantial piece of Ottoman real estate in Anatolia. This added another power to the equation, being offered territorial advancement which, in normal circumstances, would have been quite inconceivable. The bribe worked; Italy joined the Allies and declared war on the Central Powers in August 1915.
However, Britain’s strategy to undermine the enemy via the Ottoman Empire also required subversion. By using domestic opposition to weaken, maybe even destroy it, Britain exploited a new movement sweeping through the empire: nationalism.
Nationalism, in the sense of believing that there are peoples with a clear cultural identity and that these people should have independence, spread to the Middle East as it did to other parts of the world in the latter part of the 19th century.
In the Ottoman Empire, you had the beginnings of Turkish nationalism, which came to a head when the Young Turks took power in a coup in 1908 and started to impose their language and culture on the Arabs of the empire. However, this move only reawakened an interest among Arabs in their own heritage.
A thousand years before, Arabs had brought the technology and literature of the East to the West, and their religion, Islam, had encompassed much of Asia, North Africa, and southwestern Europe. The idea of recovering that historic grandeur had remained in the consciousness of Arab intellectuals.
By the start of the First World War, the antagonism between Arabs and Turks had increased. The very fact that the Turks were saying, ‘We want to have a unified empire,’ while the Arabs said, ‘Wait a minute, we’re not part of this,’ meant that all of this literary and nationalistic revival took a much more political form, leading to the emergence of Arab nationalism.
They had arrived at the conclusion that remaining in the Ottoman Empire was becoming hopeless, as they couldn’t share power with the Turks, and they began thinking of having their own state
By the summer of 1915, British intelligence confirmed that the Arab nationalist movement was the breakthrough the government was looking for. Britain and her French ally dispatched officers to sound out Arab leaders.
Both the French and the British started, you could say, seducing various local Arab leaders by promising them independence if they sided with us. Many people were tempted because they thought they could actually gain independence by aligning with the Europeans against the Ottomans.
The idea was to tempt the Arabs into a revolt against their Ottoman overlords and create a diversion that would tie down the Central Powers in the Middle East.
Ironically, the impetus for such a diversion had come not from London, but from the Arab world. In the Hijaz in western Arabia, Sharif Hussein was asserting his ruler’s ambitions to extend his political and geographical domain. He believed he might be able to achieve this with the help of the British.
In turn, the British were impressed by Sharif Hussein’s family credentials as custodians of the holy places of Islam. They referred to themselves as Hashemites because they were from the family or tribe of the Prophet Muhammad, known as the Bani Hashem, the Sons of Hashem.
Sharif Hussein, as the leader of the Hashemites, was responsible for Mecca and Medina. Although he had worked with the Ottomans before the First World War, he saw the war as his chance. It was also an opportunity for the British, who viewed their support for Sharif Hussein as a way to challenge the Sultan’s hold on the Caliphate, the political leadership of the Islamic world.
The British, in their fight against the Ottomans, saw the Ottomans claiming to be the true representatives of Islam and sought a counterforce, which was represented by Sharif Hussein, a descendant of the Prophet. Sharif Hussein spoke of liberating Arab lands and building a new national state. He aspired to be the king of the Arabs, not just of the Arabians.
In July 1915, Sharif Hussein smuggled a message to the British High Commissioner in Cairo, Sir Henry McMahon, offering to raise a substantial Arab force against the Ottomans in return for British support for Arab independence. In the ensuing secret correspondence between the two men, Sharif Hussein was given to understand that he could expect British support in achieving some of his ambitions in the event of an Ottoman defeat.
This letter of October 26th, 1915, outlined the main points of the arrangement. The actual document itself is absolutely riddled with ambiguity, there’s no doubt about that. The question is whether Hussein recognizes that. My sense of Hussein is that he does recognize it.
In other words, there is no wool being pulled over his eyes, as he’s perfectly aware that if he’s going to create a modern Arab empire, he’s going to need logistical and economic development, which can only come from the outside world.
Taking Britain’s assurances of support at face value, Hussein, together with his sons Faisal and Abdullah, amassed a sizable force.
The new army was commanded by the young and charismatic Faisal, who had captured the imagination of the Arab masses in the quest for Arab independence. Yet even as Hussein and Faisal mobilized their troops, the British were preparing to sell them short.
In London in the spring of 1916, Britain was negotiating with France about the future shape of the Middle East. Behind closed doors, Mark Sykes of the British Foreign Office had been meeting his French counterpart, Francois Georges Picot.
Britain knew it was vital to offer the French a stake in the spoils of the Ottoman Empire should they win the war. There was an awareness on the British side that they had made such huge sacrifices that one couldn’t just ignore French ambitions, and the French were determined to have their historical piece of the Levant.
Pouring over a map of the Levant, Sykes and Picot personally drew in the areas they wished to see under their control. Their secret deal amounted to the virtual carve-up of the Middle East, with Area A for the French and Area B for the British.
The imperialists intended to exercise power indirectly. They would appoint advisors and take charge of the finances in their respective spheres of influence. Then there was the area colored blue, which was to be directly controlled by France. This included what was then known as Greater Syria, where the French traditionally had commercial and religious interests.
As for the area colored pink, known as Iraq, with its strategic ports, railways, and oil, this was to be under British rule. The area colored yellow represented Palestine and was envisaged as an international zone, except for Haifa. What the British wanted was the oil of Iraq, and they concentrated on gaining control of Iraq and establishing a route from Iraq to the Mediterranean in order to transport this oil.
So, they secured Haifa on the Palestinian coast and took control of most of Iraq.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement was a pretty shameful document, and I wouldn’t attempt to defend it. However, it was drawn up by people who were operating under the old balance-of-power considerations, in an imperial frame of mind, unaware of these secret dealings behind their backs.
Hussein and Faisal proclaimed independence in June 1916 and attacked the Turkish troops, marking the beginning of the Arab revolt against the Ottomans. The Turkish garrison at Mecca was soon overrun, and the seaport at Jeddah was seized. By 1917, Hussein and Faisal’s forces had pushed north and engaged the Ottoman Turks along the Hijaz Railway.
The British saw the Arab revolt as part of their strategy for creating a military diversion against the Central Powers. In a pincer movement, Britain launched a campaign from the southwest to ensure control of the Suez Canal and the Levant, and from the southeast, they were fighting to secure the oil wells of Iraq. All of this was aimed at attacking the Central Powers at their weakest point — the Ottoman Empire.
The Arabs hitched their fortunes to the British; they considered themselves to be fighting with the Allies. However, at the same time, they were not merged into the British army; they continued to act as an independent army called the Northern Army. While the Arab army advanced northwards, Britain’s General Allenby had crossed the Suez Canal, and by the spring of 1917, his forces had reached the frontier of Palestine.
However, the war in Europe was still not going well for Britain. The attempted push through the German lines at the Somme had produced little territorial gain, and the cost in lives was colossal.
In London, there had been a change of leadership. The new Prime Minister, Lloyd George, felt that the Allied war effort needed a fresh impetus. Although America had so far been neutral in the war, Lloyd George was convinced that could be changed. He believed there was one powerful group that might influence the American government.
Lloyd George thought that the American decision, whether to join or not, would critically depend on public opinion, and Jewish support could tilt the scales in one direction or the other. It’s important to remember that the British Foreign Office greatly overestimated the political power of international Jewry, particularly the wealthy financial and commercial Jewish elites.
What is extraordinary about this situation is that the British saw the Jewish world as one collective, monolithic entity, and in that sense, they started looking at the role of the Jews in the war as something that might be important. From the point of view of the Allies, something else quite remarkable is that this monolithic collective entity is pro-German.
Many Jews in the upper echelons of German society did indeed have close connections to the Kaiser’s foreign office. A new Jewish nationalist movement, Zionism, had also been able to establish its headquarters in Berlin.
Zionism originated in the 1880s after Theodore Herzl published a book espousing the virtues of a Jewish state. This caused a sensation among Jewish intellectuals in Germany, Austria, and Russia, who shared Herzl’s outrage at the escalation of anti-Jewish sentiments.
The end of the 19th century saw the rise of anti-Semitism all over Europe, including Austria, Germany, France, but particularly in Eastern Europe, in Poland and Russia. The pogroms against Jews in Russia gave rise to the establishment of ‘Lovers of Zion’ societies (also known as ‘Jovezion’) in a number of Russian cities. These societies started to promote, finance, and sponsor colonization and emigration to Palestine.
Herzl came to the conclusion that Jews were not safe anywhere in Europe, and the only solution was for them to have a state of their own over which they could exercise sovereignty and where they would not be a minority.
What had also given Zionism its appeal was the way in which it fit into historic Jewish aspirations scattered throughout the world. Since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in the first century A.D., many Jews had cherished the idea of returning one day to what their scriptures had told them was the promised land.
In fact, there had already been a small community of indigenous Jews in Palestine. But even when some European Jews established settlements throughout the late 19th century, the entire Jewish community by 1914 constituted barely eight percent of the population.
The Zionist leader in Britain, Chaim Weizmann, had been lobbying the government for a guarantee that in the event of an Ottoman defeat, it would support Jewish emigration to Palestine. By early 1917, Lloyd George’s view of Jews as globally influential convinced him that Zionism was another nationalist movement that should be co-opted to the Allied cause. In March, Mark Sykes began negotiations with Weizmann.
There is a bee in the bonnet of people like Mark Sykes that actually the Jews do ultimately look to each other and look to their interests. If that interest, as they are being told by Weizmann, is that what we really want is Palestine, they’re prepared to believe it, and they’re prepared to go along with it. As negotiations with Weizmann continued over the following months, the war deteriorated rapidly for the Allies.
The German submarine campaign was seriously weakening Britain’s merchant fleet, and although America had entered the war on the Allied side, President Woodrow Wilson was not yet willing to supply a significant number of troops.
Britain’s latest attempt to keep up the pressure on the Western Front soon became bogged down in the muddy trenches of Passchendaele, as thousands of young men’s lives were wasted in another fruitless campaign, causing morale among the soldiers to plummet.
But the most serious threat to the Allied war machine came from the East. Russia was on the verge of collapse after massive defeats at the hands of the Germans. The war-weary country was disintegrating, with food shortages, strikes, and demonstrations.
When the Tsar was deposed in a revolution, Britain and France became greatly aligned. The point is that once Russia and its war effort began to collapse, essentially the Germans had won the First World War unless they brought the Americans in. There was no way that the British and the French on their own could defeat Germany.
In October, the British government received an intelligence report suggesting that Jews were a significant influence in the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, the new revolutionary movement emerging as the dominant force in Russia.
Lloyd George feared that these Communists would take Russia out of the war. With the Americans still refusing to commit sufficient forces, he knew it was time to act. He instructed his Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, to issue a pledge to capture the hearts and minds of the Jewish people:
‘His Majesty’s Government views 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.’
The Balfour Declaration was issued on November 2nd, 1917, just as British forces were occupying Palestine.
I would say that the Balfour Declaration has to be understood not as an idealistic gesture but within the framework of British imperial policy, and Lloyd George was the main instigator of that declaration because he believed it would serve Britain’s interests. However, this was also the first time that any major European power had given official backing for the Zionist goal of making Palestine into a Jewish homeland.
Yet Sheriff Hussein had understood that Palestine had been promised as part of his deal for Arab independence, anticipating Arab outrage at the prospect of a Jewish homeland in a largely Arab province.
The Balfour Declaration had also stated that ‘nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.’ However, the declaration nonetheless appeared to indicate British support for Jewish immigration. At the time, there were only around 80,000 Jews out of a population of approximately 700,000 people in Palestine. The indigenous inhabitants of Palestine were referred to as non-Jewish inhabitants, and Palestine was being identified even at that stage as a Jewish land, while all others had no defined identity and were simply termed ‘non-Jewish.’
The Balfour Declaration was just that – a declaration. It wasn’t a treaty, and it wasn’t a signed agreement. It was a declaration in support of the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. In fact, the only treaty Britain had signed regarding Palestine was with the French, the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement.
On November 7th, within a few days of the Balfour Declaration, the Bolsheviks took power in Russia. Lloyd George hoped that it would have the desired effect of appeasing the Jews in the Communist leadership, who supposedly wanted Palestine as Jews.
Now, the whole argument is logically flawed; it’s a nonsensical argument because many of these individuals, like Trotsky or Zinoviev, some of the key Jewish leaders in the Russian November Revolution, were internationalists. There were 15 to 20 Jews in the higher echelons of the Bolshevik Party, and most of them were anti-Zionist. After coming to power, they issued a declaration stating that Zionism was a capitalist ploy and a capitalist idea.
The wildly inaccurate intelligence report on which Lloyd George based his strategy had major implications for Britain. Within weeks, Russia’s new leaders did exactly the opposite of what he had expected. Not only did they pull out of the war, but they also opened up the archives of the Tsarist foreign office and published the secret treaties – the very treaties Britain had engineered with her allies to carve up the Ottoman Empire, to which Russia had been privy.
This, of course, was a great embarrassment to the Western Allies because they had been making various deals behind the scenes, handing out large sections of the world to each other, while openly preaching that they were fighting the war in defense of democracy. They had also been telling the Arabs, among others, that they supported self-determination for the peoples of the Ottoman Empire.
The publication of the secret treaties by the Bolsheviks created enormous suspicion in the Arab world, and Sharif Hussein and others began to question why the promises of independence were not being fulfilled. They also realized that the British had promised other things to the French, creating further complications.
Amid Arab confusion and suspicion, General Allenby entered Jerusalem on foot, accompanied by Sykes, Picot, and several other Allied notables. His British-led forces had captured the holy city in December 1917. However, the leaders of the Arab revolt were nowhere to be seen.
Fearing that Hussein and Faisal might lose heart, the British government forwarded a message to them reiterating British commitment to Arab independence: ‘The Arab Reich shall be given a full opportunity to once again form a nation in the world. This can only be achieved by the Arabs themselves uniting, and Great Britain and her allies will pursue a policy with this ultimate unity in mind.’
Hussein stayed loyal to the Allied cause, still prepared to accept Britain’s word on Arab independence, although he spoke of settling accounts after the war.
From Allenby’s point of view, he continued to rely on Arab support in the war against the Ottomans. However, now that Jerusalem had been occupied by the British, one party seized the initiative. In April 1918, Chaim Weizmann and the International Zionist Commission traveled to Palestine to lay the foundation for a Hebrew university. Their hope was that it would become the intellectual hub of Zionism.
Weizmann’s visit, however, caused widespread alarm and indignation among the Arab population. When he and the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem met General Allenby, it looked as if Britain was preparing to honor the Balfour Declaration.
Six months later, Allenby’s forces entered Damascus, alongside their ally Faisal’s northern army, pushing the Ottoman troops north through Palestine into Syria.
The Arab revolt did contribute to the victory of the Allies. First, it protected the British flank in Palestine. Second, it kept a number of Turkish and German troops preoccupied. Third, the British could never have legitimized what they were doing without the blessing of a particular Arab force.
On the 3rd of October, the people of Damascus flocked to Faisal’s victory parade. If he was to seize power, he knew it was of great importance to make his presence felt and to be seen by the Arab people as their liberator.
Later the same day, however, Faisal met with General Allenby at the Victoria Hotel in Damascus. Allenby warned him that his rule in Syria would be limited. By that time, the British knew that they were going to hand over Syria to the French, so they couldn’t actually accept Faisal as a legitimate ruler. All they could do is pay him his salary and cover the expenses of his army and administration.
Undaunted by Allenby’s warnings, Faisal assumed the title of Governor of Damascus. With the support of his father, Sharif Hussein, he set about creating a power base for their goal of an independent Arab state.
On the 31st of October, the Ottomans were finally defeated, and at 11 o’clock on the 11th of November 1918, the guns fell silent in Europe as the war with the Central Powers came to an end.
The peace conference at Versailles began in January 1919. Representatives of the victorious Allies, such as the French Prime Minister Clemenceau and the American President Woodrow Wilson, gathered to sort out what was to be done with the former territories of the defeated empires.
Now, the liberal use of promises by the British government had to be prioritized. They did indeed make pledges to the Arabs, but they also made pledges to the Jews, the French, the Russians, and everybody else. These people saw the world as an imperial world.
Not only did they want to carve out the Middle East, but they also wanted to carve up Russia. They thought this was the last great moment in which the imperial powers would be able to sit down and grab what was going, particularly since there was no one to stop them.
But Britain and her old ally France were up against the American President Woodrow Wilson’s vision of a new world order, which promoted national self-determination. Once independence had seemed to be a possibility, this principle of self-determination, supported by the Americans, was going to be offered to all those who were to be liberated from former empires like the Habsburgs and the Ottomans.
What the Palestinians wanted was an independent state. In fact, Faisal had come from Damascus to plead the Arab cause. But the future of Palestine in the Middle East formed part of Britain’s pledge to France in the Sykes-Picot Carve.
In the event, Woodrow Wilson’s principles about self-determination were forgotten when it came to the people of the Middle East. Britain and France were free to go ahead with their agreement. But what of the promises Britain had made to the Jews?
Regarding Palestine, Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, in a confidential memo during the Versailles peace talks with America, France, and Italy, wrote:
‘The four great powers are committed to Zionism, and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profound import than the desires and prejudices of the seven hundred thousand Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.’
That might sound like a warm endorsement of Zionism; yet, further in the post-war memorandum, Balfour hints at a much more cynical agenda. ‘So far as Palestine is concerned, the powers have made no declaration of policy which, at least in letter, they have not always intended to violate.’
The Versailles Peace Conference concluded on June 28th, 1919, with the creation of the League of Nations, the first global institution for peace and security. Its covenant provided that the Arab and other territories ceded by the defeated Ottoman Empire should be administered by mandates, which meant, in effect, that Britain and France were given the authority to impose their rule over the Arab territories.
On November 21st, 1919, François George-Pico, the co-architect of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and the French General Gouraud arrived in Beirut, thus beginning the imposition of the French mandate for Syria and Lebanon. The British forces, which had occupied the region since ousting the Ottoman Turks during the last months of the war, were handing over power to the French, fulfilling their wartime pledge.
Faisal, who had been the governor of Damascus for 16 months, had been consolidating his position when he was proclaimed king by the Syrian National Congress. The French were incensed, and General Gouraud sent in his troops. By August 7th, 1920, Faisal had been deposed and had to flee to Palestine.
The promises to Sharif Hussein and Faisal of a single independent state were now a distant memory for the Europeans. The whole issue of spheres of influence meant that what initially appeared to be a willingness to accept a single Arab state was, in fact, seriously diluted. On top of that, the existence of a French area and a British area meant that, in effect, this was the seed of partition. So, both independence and the unity of this area were denied.
The boundaries and governments of the Middle Eastern states that emerged bore the unmistakable imprint of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The French half of the previously Ottoman province of Greater Syria became the mandate for Lebanon and Syria, while the other half became the British mandate for Transjordan and Palestine.
In the east, the Ottoman area of Mesopotamia, which included the oil fields of Mosul, was given to Britain as the mandate for Iraq. So, the importance of the Sykes-Picot Agreement was essentially to divide what is called the Fertile Crescent between Iraq and Syria and allow Britain to access the oil in the area for future exploitation.
However, British rule was initially rejected by the Iraqi people until Faisal was installed as king in July 1921. Britain hoped that the limited power devolved to him would serve to placate the frustrated demands for Arab independence.
But Sharif Hussein expected more from the British. He never gave up the idea that the British had promised him independence, not only in Arabia but also in Syria and Iraq. He wanted the British to fulfill their promises.
Sharif Hussein’s dream of an Arab kingdom ruled by the Hashemites was only partially fulfilled. While his other son, Abdullah, became king of Transjordan, their old rival Ibn Saud swept the Hashemites out of Hijaz when he conquered the entire Arabian Peninsula.
In Jerusalem, an administration was established by the British in the spring of 1920. There were no plans for devolving power in Palestine. Palestine was a land sacred to three religions, and Jews were a small minority who had lived harmoniously with Christians and the much larger community of Muslims for hundreds of years.
However, the Balfour Declaration, promising Jews a homeland in Palestine, had been incorporated into the British-mandated Versailles. Palestine was thus open for new European Jewish immigration. With celebrations and parades in support of Zionist activities, it seemed as if the British were going to honor their pledges to the Jews and ignore Palestinian hopes of independence.
The Arab community in Palestine was incensed. The Arabs found out about this Sykes-Picot agreement, and they were shocked. They had been bamboozled and tricked. They thought they were fighting a war to overthrow their non-Arab Muslim rulers, only to end up with, you guessed it, European colonial rulers instead.
The Palestinians couldn’t conceive their country being divided or given away to another community that had nothing to do with the Middle East in the first place and was almost wholly European at the time.
To them, it seemed absurd that 600 to 700,000 people should give up their land, their homes, their villages, their towns, and hand them over to a minority that was dispersed throughout Palestine. Palestine, after all, is named after its people, who are the Palestinians.
In 1925, Arthur Balfour toured the new Jewish settlements in Palestine. Although he was feted as a hero of the Zionist cause, the immigration of European Jews was to have unforeseen consequences for British rule in Palestine.
The Balfour Declaration was one of the most serious mistakes in British imperial history. It committed Britain to support Jewish nationalism in Palestine after the war and did not produce any immediate benefits for Britain.
Without the Balfour Declaration, there could have been no genuine development of a Jewish national home, and the follow-through in 1948, resulting in the creation of the State of Israel, simply would not have happened.
It required the umbrella of British support to be there, effectively supporting the emerging Jewish national home militarily at the bottom line.
The British proposed the partition of Palestine and even advised the forceful removal of the Arab population from their homes. Yes, this was their plan to resolve the issue. Consequently, the Palestinians naturally rejected and revolted against the British. The revolts were violently crushed, leading to the death of thousands of Palestinians.
Yet, the Palestinians didn’t give up; they continued their fight for independence, and the British were clearly fed up. In 1947, the British decided to hand over their responsibility for Palestine to the United Nations. Essentially, they just said, ‘Here, clean up our mess.’
The UN proposed a ridiculous plan where Palestine would be partitioned into a Jewish and Arab state. Remember, Jews in Palestine constituted only one-third of the population, most of whom had arrived from Europe a few years earlier. Despite this, they were allocated 55 percent of the land.
Feeling like they got a bad deal once again, the Arabs rejected the proposal, while the Zionists accepted it. However, there was a catch; the Zionists didn’t agree to the proposed borders and campaigned for more land. They accepted the idea of an Israeli state but didn’t agree on its size, leaving them to choose for themselves.
By 1948, Zionist militia had stormed and captured Palestinian-populated villages and cities, leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless and landless. The Zionists aimed to seize and cleanse as much land from Palestine as possible before the British officially withdrew their forces.
In response to terrorist acts by Arabs, Britain restricted immigration, but the policy only stimulated Jewish terrorism. Against this background, Britain relinquished its mandate, and the State of Israel was born in 1948, marking the beginning of several wars between the new state and its Arab neighbors. Thousands of Palestinian Arabs fled their homeland.
On the same day the British left, the Zionists proclaimed the establishment of the new Israeli state. Overnight, millions of Palestinians lost their country. What’s even more bizarre is that the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, immediately recognized the new state of Israel.
May 15, 1948, marked one of the darkest days in Palestine’s history, known as the Nakba, or the catastrophe. Losing your country, identity, and home so suddenly is truly horrifying. But that wasn’t enough for the Palestinian men, women, and children; they had to be ethnically cleansed from their lands and driven into near-total destruction.
The creation of the state of Israel didn’t just mean that 1.9 million Palestinians were forced out of their homes; it meant that 78 percent of historic Palestine had been taken from its natives. It meant that 530 villages and cities were destroyed and ethnically cleansed, resulting in the killing of 15,000 Palestinians in a series of mass atrocities.
This marked the beginning of over 70 years of occupation, home demolitions, arbitrary arrests, displacements, Israeli expansion, military checkpoints, construction of walls, discrimination, massacres, and the bombing of innocent men, women, and children in their own homes.
The Palestinians are a people who have been oppressed, had their homes taken away, and have been suffering ever since. Not only were the Zionists killing Palestinians, they were also involved in high profile assassinations of British officials at the time, according to George Galloway.
As experts of launching false flag operations, it’s probably so easy for the Zionists to blame the Arabs for such despicable operation then.
This is how the events of the past shape the conditions of today, underscoring the importance of remembering and reflecting on our history to prevent its repetition.
The Arabs had a strong case but very poor advocates. The Zionists had a case that wasn’t as strong as that of the local Arabs, but they had brilliant advocates.
Zionism is one of the greatest public relations success stories of the 20th century, and Chaim Weizmann exemplified these traditional Jewish skills of advocacy and persuasion.
Thus, the strategies employed by Britain to win the First World War inadvertently left a deep divide between Arabs and Jews. The most serious consequences of British policy during the war were the encouragement of Arab nationalism and Jewish nationalism.
In the aftermath of the First World War, Britain was left with this legacy of double-dealing and betrayal, which was to haunt her for a long time.
The roots of what we see today certainly arose from the double-dealing of the First World War and from the frustrated expectations of that time. Clearly, it played a role in dividing the Arab world into different states, allowing the establishment of the State of Israel, and frustrating Arab desires.
Now, the US government is essentially under the thumb of the Zionist Lobby, to the extent that it must send an entire aircraft carrier just to respond to an attack by ill-equipped Hamas ‘terrorists’ who are fighting for their homeland—Palestine, the historical name of the land we know today as Israel.
In light of the Nazi standing ovation in the Canadian Parliament, and Canada being a British colony, one might consider the possibility that the individuals or groups behind the British government, the Zionist movement, the Bolsheviks, and the Nazis share a cohesive agenda, fully intent on exerting control over the planet for their own parasitic interests.
This includes the Vatican Church, which is carefully following the script stipulated in that ancient book of myths to prove that they’re the true historical accounts about this planet, even though it has been in existence for billions of years, while the same book could only make up stories for 6,000 or 13,000 years at most.