In the beginning

Common  beliefs, and in particular those of the media, view the origin of the State of Israel as a consequence of the 1948 War of independence. This is most certainly not so and in terms of the modern era owes its origin to the San Remo Conference of April,1920. What followed was the creation of the Mandate system and in particular the Palestine Mandate awarded to Britain. It is a recognized instrument of International Law and, as such, included the famous Balfour Declaration.

A few quotes bares out both the decision on a Jewish National Home and its intentions. This is of an extreme importance given Arab resistance to Jewish sovereignty up to present times.

“The Allies redeemed the promises made in these declarations to the full. No race has done better out of the fidelity with which the Allies redeemed their promises to the oppressed races than the Arabs. Owing to the tremendous sacrifices of the Allied Nations, and more particularly of Britain & her Empire, the Arabs have won independence in Iraq, Arabia, Syria and Trans-Jordania, although most of the Arab races fought throughout the War for the Turkish oppressors ” Lloyd George, 1919] – he added, “The Palestinian Arabs fought for Turkish rule.”[1]

It must be understood that all bona fide historical texts on the period following WW1 when referencing Palestine name but one people, the Jews. In particular, as reflected in the words of Lloyd George, the Arabs were excluded in terms of sovereignty in this region.  On December 1917, at a meeting at the London Opera House, Lord Robert Cecil assured his audience that  his Government’s intention was that “Arabian countries should be for the Arabs, Armenia for the Armenians, and Judea for the Jews”. [2]

Much can be learnt from Chapter 18 of “The Question of Palestine”. It is dedicated to the meaning of the Balfour Declaration which subsequently formed the core of The Palestine Mandate. The jurist Ernst Frankenstein, considered the beneficiaries to be the Jewish people. The British Government was alive to the fact that “the Jews were outnumbered in Palestine by the Arab speaking population, but arithmetic could not serve as the primary guide.” In this, Lloyd George asserted  that his administration’s justification was one of regarding Palestine as being absolutely exceptional , “of world importance, and that we conceive the Jews to have an historic claim to a home in their ancient land.” Of course , he noted that this did not in any way permit dispossessing or oppressing the present inhabitants.  He added that “Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, or far profounder import than the desires & prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”[3]

The British Times in its editorial of September 19, 1919 was most assertive in its support for the Jewish Home. ” The Jordan will not do  as the eastern front of Palestine——Our duty as mandatory is to make Jewish Palestine not a struggling State, but one that is capable of vigorous & independent national life .” A year later, this newspaper insisted that Palestine without Trans-Jordania, was a travesty of good sense . Colonel Meinertzhagen, in his capacity as Chief Political Officer echoed the same thoughts. On the first anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, Samuel declared that , “there shall be no division of Palestine—-the ancient historic & natural boundaries of the land shall be respected.”  Churchill too  when he was serving as Secretary of State for War &Air, on February 8, 1920 was given to exclaiming, “There should be created in our lifetime by the banks of The Jordan a Jewish state under the protection of the British Crown  which might comprise three to four million of Jews.”[4]

By way of demonstrating confidence in Jewry, Churchill in 1922 approved a concession for hydro-electric schemes in the Auja & Jordan River valleys to Pinhas Rutenberg, a Jewish engineer from Russia. It was the first giant step towards proving the Zionist claim that Palestine could support a population of millions & not, as Arab spokesmen claimed, merely of hundreds of thousands. He said, “I am told that the Arabs would have done it for themselves. Who is going to believe that? Left to themselves, the Arabs of Palestine would not in a thousand years have taken effective steps towards the irrigation & electrification of Palestine. They would have been quite content to dwell, a handful of philosophic people, in the wasted sun-scorched plains, letting the waters of Jordon continue to glow -unbridled & unharnessed into the Dead Sea. ” [5]

Britain’s act in separating Transjordan from Palestine and ultimately giving it sovereignty in the name of Jordan can only be regarded as political pragmatism. This can be viewed in the context of the introduction of Article 25 of the Mandate for Palestine with the approval of the League of Nations. The use of the words” postpone or withhold” are surely suggestive of a temporary situation. Further, there is the issue of inconsistency in that Article 15 includes the statement, “No person shall be included from Palestine on the ground of his religious belief.” Thus, the White Paper which prohibited a Jewish presence in Transjordan, while allowing a foreign group of Arabs [the Hashemites] to settle this area was a definite violation of both Articles 15 & 5, which stated that “no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to , or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign power.”

The vast available history produced by reputable historians clearly demonstrates the hollowness of modern day Arabs in their dispute against Israel’s legitimacy.


[1] David Fromkin – A Peace to end all Peace: P401.

[2] Isaiah Friedman – The Question of Palestine: P313.

[3] ] Isaiah Friedman – The Question of Palestine: P325, P326.

[4] Isaiah Friedman – British-Pan Arab Policy 1915-1922: P318, P320, P322.

[5] ] David Fromkin – A Peace to end all Peace: P523

Alex Rose/27/10/2015

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.