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Saturday, July 14, 2012

British Plan to Take All of Ottoman Empire

Nadene Goldfoot
Many countries had wanted their own Colonial expansion like England and France.  The Kingdom of Italy's public also wanted their country to expand as well.  Libya was a territory of the Ottoman Empire and the only part of North Africa not already controlled by a European power, so in 1911 Italy demanded that the Ottoman Empire transfer Libya to Italian control. After a guerrilla war, the outbreak went on to the First Balkan War which forced the Ottoman Empire to sue for peace and accept Italian claims over both Libya and the Dodecanese.

World War I started in 1914.  At that time the Ottoman Empire controlled 2.4 million square km (926,645.181 square miles) of territory.  It included all of Turkey and most of the Middle East.  In the land were Arabs, Kurds, Greeks, Armenians and other minorities such as the Jews and Christians.  It was ruled by an Islamic Caliphate Sultan, Mehmed V.  It had existed for 400-600 years and the non Muslim subjects suffered from discrimination, and sometimes outright persecutions.  The 10 years before 1914 the empire had many political upheavals so was not in the best position to be in a world war.

 England entered the war with their Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa Empire. They were allied to France and declared war against Germany on August 4th 1914. Germany had invaded Belgium.  Russia was in the war from a treaty to Serbia and Germany was allied to Austria-Hungary and saw the Russians as an act of war against Austria-Hungary.  America was threatened by Germany's submarines so went to war on 6 April 1917.  Italy, at first staying neutral, finally sided with the British.   This "Great War" suffered more casualties than any other war.  37 million people had died, 9 million as soldiers in war. It had started with the assassination of one man, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, Bosnia. (interesting note is that in Bosnia, Jews are still not permitted to run for elected office who discriminate against Jewish and Roma-Gypsy minorities.  Bosnia was again in a war from 1992-1995) The Great Empires were destroyed.

 A group of senor British officials in Egypt and the Sudan during the early part of WWI had the hair brained idea of bringing the Arab-speaking parts of the Ottoman Empire under British control after the war.  Governor General of the Sudan, Sir Reginald Wingate's words were to have a "federation of semi-independent Arab States under European guidance and supervision...owing spiritual allegiance to a single Arab primate, and looking to Great Britain as its patron and protector."  

Captain Orde Wingate, Sir Reginald's nephew,  came to Haifa in 1937 as being anti-Zionist, and believed as many English did that only Britain stood between these "exploiting Jews and the Backward, unprotected Arabs."  p. 106 Genesis 1948.  In 3 months he was to become a mystical Zionist as extreme as any Jews and more aggressive.  He had informed Ben-Gurion and other Jews that he wanted to devote his life to their cause and fight their battle.   The British sent him away in 1939 because he was good friends with Jews and was later killed in Burma in WWII. 

The Balfour Doctrine published in 1917  caused a problem for the British who had grandiose ideas.  The Arabs, who had fought against the Turks, wanted their own nation as well but didn't have a written doctrine like the Jews had.  So the British, who must have seen their dreams materialize with Arabs at the helm, From 1919 to 1948 tried to appear as honest arbitrators but in reality were active participants in the confrontation against the Jews.  "The Arab attack on Zionism would never have begun had it not been for the British inspiration, tutelage and guidance." p 45. Battleground.  

However, a Jewish state was to be established, not at once, but as soon as the Jewish people immigrated and developed the land to become the majority.  The country had 500,000 Arabs.  That's half-million people.  There were only 90,000 Jews.  The British must have figured that the Jews would never be able to establish their Jewish Homeland.  They saw British control through the granting of a mandate which they obtained.  They saw a group of Arab states in Arabia, Syria and Mesopotamia being semi-independent.  They would be the British mentors and advisers in Jedda, Damascus and Baghdad.  Already they controlled administration in Cairo and Khartoum.  This would be the next feather in their cap, the British Mandatory Administration in Palestine.  Britain would thus have the whole control of the Middle East from the Mediterranean to the borders of India.  

They could not control the Zionist diplomacy to get the consent of France from releasing any control in Palestine.  France had control in Syria.  The French were sensitive to American opinion during WWI and had already acquiesced in the Balfour Declaration by agreeing to waive their claims to Palestine and let Britain have the whole mandate over Palestine.  France had the claim to Transjordan but gave that up as well to Britain.  France had the mandate over Syria and Lebanon.  They already held the protectorate of Morocco from 1912 and didn't give it up until 1956.  

The newspaper, The London Times called for the inclusion of Eastern Palestine as essential to the Jewish state east of the river Jordan (Transjordan).  On September 19, 1919 the paper said, " the Jordan River will not do as Palestine's eastern boundary." It was to be part of the Jewish Homeland and so passed into British control-to be given up later to the Arabs without a fight. Britain had the mandate for 30 years and said good-buy to Palestine on May 14, 1948 when Israel declared it's state.  

The ceremony for the state was to take place at 4pm on Friday, May 14;  8 hours before the mandate would officially end at midnight.  The Sabbath started on Friday night so no Jewish leader would sign the Declaration after sundown.  The Jews had 24 hours to get ready for this momentous occasion.  They wanted this written declaration to show proof that there had been a Jewish State.  Ben Gurion,  first Prime Minister signed the document.  Hatikvah, the Jewish national anthem was played. Gurion declared that Israel was re-born.  30 years before, General Allenby had entered Jerusalem on foot to be welcomed joyously as the liberator of both Arab and Jew from Turkish despotism.  On May 14, 1948 sullen, silent faces bid farewell to the British.  They may have wondered like  Sir Alan Cunningham as to how it was possible to divide this country as they had.   The Arabs attacked quickly .  

Resource:  Book:  Battleground, fact and fantasy in Palestine by Samuel Katz
Book:  Genesis 1948 by Dan Kurzman

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