Friday, June 21, 2013

Historical British Documents on Palestine: Churchill White Letter, Peel Commission Report, British Policy Letter 1939

In this second installment of analyzing historical documentation leading to the establishment of the modern nation-state of Israel we will analyze the Churchill White Paper from July 1, 1922, the Peel Commission Report from July 1937, and the British Policy statement on Palestine from May 17, 1939.  Examination of these documents show several key political errors by the British government, hypocritical Zionist favoritism on behalf of the British government, and a lack (possibly purposely) of political foresight concerning international capital available through international Zionist investment and how this capital influx would ensure a shift in technological power and the eventual establishment of a new nation-state that would become the dominant power in the region.
Churchill White Letter - July 1, 1922
The Churchill White Paper was designed to ease tensions in Palestine, especially since the area had fallen under British protectorate, which were increasing due to demographic shifts on the ground and “interpretations of the meaning of the [Balfour] Declaration favoring the establishment of a Jewish National in Palestine”[1].  It is indisputable fact that the Zionist Congress possessed heavy influence in the British Parliament during the decades leading to the establishment of the modern nation-state of Israel, no differently than Zionist pro-Israeli influence infiltrates the two Congressional bodies in the United States today.  While many will attempt to argue over Churchill’s affiliation with Zionism, a statue of Winston Churchill stands in Israel today “just yards away from the King David Hotel, scene of a deadly Jewish terror attack on British military headquarters in 1946 that was to hasten the demise of mandate rule in Palestine”[2]. Churchill’s policy statement tries to clarify the Zionist position, whether falsely or unwittingly, on Palestine by reiterating claims on the “determination of the Jewish people to live with the Arab people on terms of unity and mutual respect”, only this statement can be clearly seen as false or misleading in retrospect to the establishment and expansion of the modern nation-state of Israel. [3].
Two of the most notable elements of Churchill’s White Letter are the Zionist claim that a Jewish National Home rests “upon ancient historical connection” and the issue of Jewish immigration in 1922, which would be seen again in the British policy letter of 1939 [4].  It must be stated here that implementing international political border partitions and creating new nation-states based on ancient religious text with unconfirmed authorship is irrational and, especially in cases that create mass displacement and refugees, it is internationally irresponsible.   Second, even though the Churchill White Letter appears to offer reassurances of equality in Palestine, the support for the pro-Zionist immigration issue is sleekly placed within the statement “that the Jewish community in Palestine should be able to increase its numbers by immigration” [5].
A last note on the white letter content would be the staunch denial of alleged government acquisition by the Zionists.  Churchill reassures the native Arabs in Palestine that “the Palestine Zionist Executive Organisation, has not desired to possess, and does not possess, any share in the general administration of the country.  Nor does the special position assigned to the Zionist Organisation in Article IV of the Draft Mandate for Palestine imply any such functions”[6].  The following considerations are for speculation:  Did Zionists know, through British promises that the area would eventually be partitioned and the opportunity of an independent Jewish state possible?  Was the international Zionist network still in the planning stages for a Jewish state to be implanted, even by possible force at some point, in the region?  Or were Zionist forces simply playing the political hand they were dealt at the time of Churchill’s letter?  The influence that international Zionist capital had on empowering Jewish-Zionist networks inside Palestine to a position for establishing a Jewish state in the region is undeniable, just as international capital, both Zionist and Christian Zionist through representative democracies of the west, has made the state of Israel a regional military hegemon with international political immunity.
Peel Commission Report 1937
The Peel Commission Report by the British Government on the condition of Palestine in 1937 was the British government’s way of endorsing partition, making an easy way for the creation of the nation-state of Israel, and washing their hands of the commitments that were made to earn Arab support during the Second World War.  The conclusion of the report supporting partition stated that “the Arabs must acquiesce in the exclusion from their sovereignty of a piece of territory, long occupied and once ruled by them.  It means that the Jews must be content with less than the Land of Israel they once ruled and have hoped to rule again”[7].  What this position actually admits is that the century long Zionist efforts at establishing a national, or nation-state, home for Jews was about to be accomplished, with or without approval, and thereafter strengthened by the influx of international capital into the newly created government.  The political insanity of this historical decision is that the partition is justified on the Zionist side by a claim that Jewish people once ruled the land of Israel, which is based off an authorless ancient text written over 2300 years ago accompanied with the misconception that the modern Jewish population is the direct blood ancestry of the Hebrew Tribes and the Kingdom of Judah (a kingdom which assimilated and converted many gentile subjects). From the Arab Palestinian perspective, modern historians could easily trace the ancestry of the majority of Arab population through the land of Palestine.
The Commission report admits that the British Government “made promises to Arabs and Jews in order to obtain their support” during World War II [8].  As if it could not be foreseen by the British government, the report perplexes over the failure for a conciliatory effect that was expected by “the material prosperity which Jewish immigration” was predicted to “bring to Palestine as a whole”[9].  This statement directly implies Jewish-Zionist capital.  Realistically, Zionist immigrants and Zionist capital never cared to contribute to Palestine as a whole; the goal was a Jewish state from the beginning.  In order to understand the power of international capital, we need to consider 1937 demographics in the region.  At the time of the Peel Commission Report, there were approximately “1,000,000 Arabs” and “some 400,000 Jews”[10].  The Arabs were never able to be on equal economic footing with Jewish immigrants and absentee land owners die to the international capital of the Zionist network, which means Arab Palestinians were never on an equal level technologically or militarily with Jewish immigrants.  The Peel Commission Report notes the rise in nationalism on both sides, but history shows that Zionism was originated on national sentiments and nationalistic goals while the growth of Arab nationalism in Palestine was “primarily political, though the fear of economic subjection to the Jews is also in Arab minds”[11].  Today, it is no different as international capital, secured by political and private sectors means, continues to flow across state borders and ensure that the nation-state of Israel maintains its military hegemony in the region. 
Now let us shift focus and analyze the pro-Zionist position of the British government.  The strongest pro-Zionist statement in the Peel Report states that “there is a strong British tradition of friendship with the Jewish people” and that nowhere outside of Britain is there “a more genuine desire to do what can be done to help”, and nowhere was “Zionism better understood before the war or given such practical proofs of sympathy”[12].  Analyzing these sentiments, it is not surprising that the mandate protected Jewish immigration to “admit as many Jews into Palestine as the National Home can provide with a livelihood”[13]. 
British Policy Letter of 1939
                The proclamation of British policy towards Palestine in 1939 reflects an explosive period where Arab-Jewish tensions on the ground in Palestine, due greatly to pro-Zionist British policy since the initiation of the mandate and the British protectorate, were close to breaking into violent instability.  First and foremost, especially under the realization of the Peel Commission Report that a population partition was the only solution for Palestine, the British government desired to maintain stability for economic purposes in Palestine and among neighboring Arab states.  In analyzing the policy letter of 1939, it appears that the internationally preoccupied British government still viewed the possibility of an economically prosperous independent Palestinian state, shared between Arabs and Jews, as a viable outcome.  The policy letter sets forth a 10 year window for establishing “an independent state in such treaty relations with the United Kingdom” which would be beneficial “for the commercial and strategic requirements of both countries”[14]. 
The policy letter was much too late to maintain stability in Palestine and establish a one state constitution.  The British government, for the first time, recognized the ambiguities of the mandate and the Balfour Declaration on issues such as Jewish immigration, the accumulation of land by Jewish immigrants and absentee owners, and shifting demographics coupled with nationalistic sentiments in Palestine, and reactively attempted to implement restrictions to maintain stability.  The British policy letter set a five year window for Jewish immigration to raise the Jewish population in Palestine to one third of the Arab-Palestinian population, which is noteworthy because the approximate numbers put forth in the Peel Commission Report had placed the population ratio at approximately 29% Jewish in 1937.  The 1939 policy letter also addressed the mass land acquisition by Jewish immigrants and absentee Zionist land owners in acknowledging that “no restriction has been imposed hitherto on the transfer of land from Arabs to Jews”[15].  The British government understood the problem of Jewish land accumulation, generated by international Zionist capital, and that in some “areas such transfers of land must be restricted if Arab cultivators are to maintain their existing standard of life and a considerable landless population is not soon to be created”[16].
                Regardless of the British intention for maintaining stability, Palestine was already past the point of no return in 1939.  A century of Ottoman liberal immigration and foreign land purchasing and British Zionist favor in Palestine had taken deep Zionist roots.  The Zionists were prepared to take arms against the Arab population and the British occupation.
Notes
[1] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 155.
[2] Stewart, Catrina.  Sir Winston Churchill: Zionist Hero.  The Guardian, November 3, 2012, accessed on June 19, 2013 from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/sir-winston-churchill-zionist-hero-8277918.html
[3] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 155.
[4] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 156.
[5] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 156.
[6] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 156.
[7] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 160.
[8] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 157.
[9] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 157.
[10] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 157.
[11] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 158.
[12] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 159.
[13] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 159.
[14] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 163.
[15] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 163.
[16] Smith, Charles  D.  2010.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 7th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, p. 163.

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