Nadene GoldfootThe Allies nearly lost the first World War of 1917. They needed cordite, which was in short supply. Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952) , a Russian Jewish chemist living in England invented a process which produced acetone which in turn created cordite. This was used to replace gunpowder in the British Mark I and II rifles which actually turned the tide in winning the war. For being so grateful, the British rewarded Weizmann by listening to his plea for a Jewish state to be created out of the British Mandate's holdings of Palestine. The Balfour Declaration was written in 1917 which did just this. At the end of this war (1914-1918) , all the nations of the world saw Palestine as the territory for the Jewish National Home.
On January 3, 1919, His Royal Highness the Emir Feisal, representing and acting on behalf of the Arab Kingdom of Hedjaz, and Dr. Chaim Weizmann of the Zionists, mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people desire the furthering of confirmation of good understanding which exists between them, have agreed upon 9 articles. In February 1919, Emir Faisal, the one recognized Arab leader, was trying to create an Arab political independence in Syria where he had been a brief king and in Iraq where he ruled for 40 years. On June 3, 1919, Prince Faisal, son of Sharif Hussein bin Ali (1853-1931 signed an agreement with Weizmann promising to establish favorable relations between Arabs and Jews. He had descibed the Zionist proposals as "moderate and proper." In a Paris meeting of the League of Nations, he acted shocked when he heard the Balfour Doctrine give the land he was expected to be rewarded with to the Jews. Col T.E. Lawrence, hired by Britain, acted as his interpreter. Faisal's family had ruled his people since the year 1201 by their records. The British had balked and renigged in their support at the first sign of Faisal's disapproval.
Feisal-Frankfurter Correspondence in Paris, March 3, 1919: Feisal had written to Mr. Frankfurter that he felt that Arabs and Jews were cousins in race, and had suffered similar oppressions at the hands of powers stronger than themselves, and by a happy coincidence had been able to take the first step towards the attainment of their national ideals together. He and the educated among them looked with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. We wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home.....He and his people looked forward to a future in which we will help each other so that the countries in which we are mutually interested in may once again take their places in the community of civilised peoples of the world.
The British had made the promise to Weizmann, but also to the Hashemite governor of Arabia. They had Arab support in the war with the help of T.S. Elliot, against the Ottoman Empire who supported Germany in the WWI. Now that the war was won, Jews seemed to be unimportant. The British had a bigger fear of the Arab world turning against them in all their holdings.
In the meantime, both Jews and Arabs were living in Palestine. In 1920 the Arabs started to attack Jews in Pogroms, or a campaign of violence led by Haj Amin, which the British did nothing about. It was commonly known that the Arab villages were "infested with agitators" who were inciting the population to attack Jews. There was no public statement or warning of punitive action by the government to stop this from happening. When London asked about it, the locals replied that it was under control, and it wasn't. Seventeen Jews were killed by Arab mobs in the streets of Jaffa under the nose of the British authority. A British soldier descibed the situation in the London Journal New Statesman and Nation, September 20, 1936 that when they were on guard, the Arabs came to blow things up and they were forbidden to fire at them, but could only fire into the air so they could escape. They couldn't chase after them. Instead, they had to pick up every spent cartridge-case to turn into their officers.
The British proclaimed theirWhite Paper in 1939 which discontinued the Zionist goal. After allowing in 75,000 more Jews into Palestine in the next 5 years, they would close the gates to them. This would allow the creation of a semi-dependent Arab state, completing the British pan-Arab dream in the Middle East. However, the dying League of Nations rejected this as inconsistent with the Mandate.
November 29, 1947 was the day the U.N. recommended the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state. The piece the Jews were to receive was very small. The area of about 6,000 square miles and was about half of western Palestine and included the semi-arid Negev. The Arabs were offered 7/8 of the total area of Palestine on both sides of the Jordan River. All this had been first promised to be the Jewish National Home.
The 7 Arab states in 1947, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Transjordan had land 230 times larger than the Jewish state with a population 60 times that of the Jews, who numbered about a little more than half a million, or about 600,000, the same amount Moses left Egypt with. When Israel had fallen in 70 CE, Josephus, famous Jewish historian working for the Romans, figured the population was near 7 million Jews.
The Arabs refused to share the land with the Jews, and invoked the memories of the Mongol massacres and the Crusaders in their whipping up of emotions of their followers. On top of this, the Arabs refused to set up their Arab state. Therefore the British, who were still governing Palestine under the Mandate, refused to carry out the U.N. ruling to implement the partition plan and that they would do all they could to prevent the birth of the Jewish state. Everything was left in disorder. The end of the Mandate was May 15, 1948, and that's when Israel was declared a state. Weizmann served as president until his death in 1952.
Jordan, an Arab Hashemite State, was created in 1946. It had originally been called Transjordan in 1921 and accepted as such in 1922. It was founded on the original promised Jewish National Home.
Feisal and Weizmann started off well with a desire to live together in peace. The British did their best to disrupt the possibility and did so for their own personal goals. Had the Arab and the Jew been left to their own devices, peace may have come about. Again, peace is in the hands of the United Nations. Will they make the right decisions or will personal aims be in the way?
Battleground, Fact and Fantasy in Palestine by Samuel Katz