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Britain's role in bringing in illegal Arabs and keeping out Jews, trying to create an artificial Arab majority in Palestine 1920-1948

For many who aren't familiar with the background of the "Palestinian Right to Return" claim here are some facts.

  1. The League of Nations set up the Palestinian Mandate to provide a home for the Jewish people, approximately 12 million people in 1900s.1

  3. In "recognition to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country", land was chosen to accommodate a "Jewish National Homeland". This land included what is now Israel and Jordan. 2

  5. The entire area of both Israel [West Palestine] and Jordan [East Palestine] had a relatively stable population at around 600,000 people for the entire duration of the Ottoman empire.3

  7. It was thought that 12,000,000 Jews would fill up this area (East and West Palestine) while being sensitive to the rights of the 550,000 non-Jews and 50,000 Jews already living there.4,5

  9. In the late 1880s, tremendous amounts of money were invested in purchasing land for new settlements along the coast of Israel.  These settlements were in addition to the long time existing Jewish communities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jericho, Tiberias, Safed, and Gaza.6

  11. Massive numbers of Syrian, Egyptians, Trans-Jordanian and Iraqi migrant Arabs workers set up camps around the Jewish settlements to work in the new orchards to seek a better standard of living.  In some places (Rishon LeTzion for example) there were as many as 10 Arab settlers to 1 Jewish settler.7,8

  13. The British published the Balfour Declaration in 1917, and after the fall of the Ottoman Empire was given responsibility "facilitating Jewish Immigration for the establishment of a Jewish National Home" under the supervision of the Palestinian Mandate Council.9

  15. In 1920 the British set Jewish Immigration quotas, restricting Jewish immigration.  The British requested the French to STOP monitoring illegal Arab immigration along the border of Lebanon and Syria with West Palestine (Israel) allowing free immigration of Arabs into Western Palestine [Israel].10

  17. Britain's first High Commissioner to Palestine, Herbert Samuel reports "There are now [in 1921] in the whole of Palestine [Israel+Jordan] hardly 700,000 people".  He also questions the propriety of  a "Jewish Majority" in Palestine.

  19. In 1921, T. E. Lawrence informed Churchill that Emir Feisal (Abdullah's brother, and Lawrence "of Arabia's" choice to lead the Arab revolt) had "agreed to abandon all claim of his father to [Western] Palestine [=Israel]," if Feisal got in return Iraq and Eastern Palestine [=Jordan] as Arab territories.11

  21. In 1922 Churchill White Paper limits Jewish immigration to "capacity to absorb new arrivals" - absorptive capacity.12

  23. In 1928 Eastern Palestine [Jordan] was closed to Jewish settlement, and the Arab Legion was placed in charge for monitoring illegal Arab immigration from Eastern Palestine [Jordan] into Western Palestine [Israel] 13

  25. From the years from 1890 to 1945 about 500,000 Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi and Eastern Palestine [Jordan] Arabs settled into West Palestine, later in 1939 Winston Churchill said "So far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied till their population has increased more than even all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population." 14

  27. In 1929 British Shaw Commission finds Jewish immigration of 1925-26 was "excessive" and recommends restriction of Jewish immigration and land sales.

  29. 1930 Passfield White Paper restricts Jewish immigration and land acquisition, based on "absorptive capacity."

  31. Cultivators' Ordinance of 1933 replaces earlier laws, institutes giving free land from Western Palestine to Arab "statutory tenants" that is Arab settlers or nomadic Bedouin who had not "grossly neglecting" areas of grazing or occasional presence 15

  33. In 1934 Government institutes practice of deducting their estimated numbers of illegal Jewish immigrants from Jewish immigration quotas 16

  35. In 1936, The Conference of Protestant and Catholics in America published "It is the profound conviction of Christian America that [the British Government] rescind its illegal, unjust, and indefensible partition of Palestine, to restore Trans-Jordania [Jordan] to its proper place as part of Palestine territory, and throw it open to Jewish Settlement" 17

  37. Also in 1936 the Arabs riot with funds supplied by the Nazi's 18

  39. In 1937 Palestine Royal commission, recognizing that Arab majority was building, they recommends partition Western Palestine a second time into two states one Jewish, one Arab, state.  After the violent rejection by Arab leaders of the Palestine Royal Commission Report's recommendation, British Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Anthony Eden, then aimed for another plan, "which would not give Jews any territory exclusively for their own use."  19 There was little attention to inherent "justice" in Government's in an artificially created Arab majority as Eden later wrote to his private secretary, "If we must have preferences, let me murmur in your ear that I prefer Arabs to Jews." 20

  41. "I can only hope and expect that the other world,  which has such deep sympathy for these criminals [the Jews], will at least be generous enough to convert this sympathy into practical aid. We, on our part, are ready to put all these criminals at the disposal of these countries, for all I care, even on luxury ships" 21 Adolf Hitler offered to allow the Jews to emigrate from Europe in 1938, if anyone would take them. 22

  43. 1939 British Government White Paper enforces new, rigidly pro-Arab, anti-Mandate policy: restricting Jewish immigration to a token number for five years, and afterwards at the discretion of "Arabs of Palestine."

  45. In 1939 The Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations protested the Britain's "White Paper" in August. Four out of the seven members intended to strike down the restrictive White Paper as a violation of the Mandate of Palestine. But WWII intervened in the few days before the League was to review the matter. The meeting was to have taken place on September 8; Germany marched on Poland September 1, and Britain declared war on Germany September 3.23

  47. 1940 Britain Prohibits transfers of most land in Western Palestine "except to a Palestinian Arab".24  Neville Chamberlain, Britain's Prime Minister in that most pivotal period of the shaping of British policy, 1937-1940. Chamberlain told his cabinet that "If we must offend one side, let us offend the Jews rather than the Arabs". 25

  49. In 1941 the Mufti of Jerusalem (Arafat's 'Uncle'26) relocated his headquarters to Berlin to maintain closer connection with the Nazi government. 27

  51. In 1944, Henry Morgenthau, United States Secretary of the Treasury to President Roosevelt said "The British were apparently prepared to accept the probable death of thousands of Jews in enemy territory because of "the difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued." 28

  53. As the war progressed, Jewish "restraint" was strained thin. While the doomed Jews were frantically fighting to get into substandard ships surreptitiously headed for the Jewish National Home, Palestine officials were devising additional measures to keep Jewish refugees out. Jews were "only racial refugees," one British officer decided. The White Paper was stringently enforced with no modification despite the news of wholesale persecution and slaughter of the Jews. 29

  55. The British Army brings in 30,000 foreign Arab workers to help in the war effort, to work and eventually settle in Western Palestine.30

  57. In 1949 Ernest Bevin, then Britsh Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, says "It would be too high a price to pay for the friendship of Israel to jeopardize, by estranging the Arabs, either the base in Egypt or the Middle Eastern oil." 30s
In the end, during WWII, six million Jews are killed.  At the end of the war instead of 
A Jewish National Home
  • 12,000,000 Jews settling in "Palestine" (what is now Israel+Jordan),
  • together with 600,000 Arabs --
We have
  • 6,000,000 Jews dead
  • 5,000,000 Jews living outside of Israel
  • 1,200,000 Jews living in 1/3 of the original "Jewish National Home"
  • 1,500,000 Arabs living in Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza (Jordan today is over 60% Palestinian) 32
  • 600,000 Arabs fled the fledgling state

Of the 600,000 Arabs fled the fledgling state, 70% left without seeing an Israeli soldier 34,35 because they had not lived there very long, they were migrant families, and many had fled back to Eastern Palestine [Jordan] where they had come from originally.

The Arab League forbid any Arab country from accepting these "refugees" and the U.N. declared that any Arab who had lived for TWO YEARS 36 in Western Palestine before 1948 "He and his descendants could claim the right of return".  Now 3,000,000 Arabs, without proof or document are claiming to be descendants of these original refugees and are claiming the "right of return".

1. The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, (Doubleday & Company, 1959), p. 1754

2.  League of Nations, Mandate for Palestine, Preamble, 1922

3. Carl Hermann Voss, Answers on the Palestine Question (Boston: 1949), p. 17.

4. E.C. Blech to Sir Nicholas O'Conor, Jerusalem, 16 November 1907, FO 371/356 No 40321 (No. 62), cited by Farhi, "Documents," in Ma'oz, Studies, p. 190.

5. Vital, The Origins of Zionism, p. 196.

6. Y. Ben-Zvi, The Land of Israel and Its Settlements During the Turkish Regime, pp. 205-206, cited by David Ben-Gurion, Israel, A Personal History (Tel Aviv, 1971), p. 15.

7.  Ketavim, vol. 111, December 18, 1889, p. 66. From letter written by Y. Grazavsky
to Y. Eisenstadt.

8 Simon Schama, Two Rothschilds, p. 156, quoting Emile Meyerson report, La Colonisation Juivre en Palestine, December 13, 1914, p. 4.

9. League of Nations, Mandate for Palestine, Command #1785, Article 6, 1922.

10. Public Record Office, Kew Gardens, Foreign Office, Great Britain  371/20819; see also interview between the officer administering the Government (OAG) and Shertok, October 16, 1937.

11. Letter from Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill from T. E. Lawrence, January 1921

12. Anglo-American Committee, Survey, 1945-1956, vol. I, p. 20

13. Annual report on the Administration for 1936, p. 324.

14. Martin Gilbert, Churchill, vol. 5, p. 1072.

15. Cultivators' Ordinance of 1933, Drayton, vol. 1, p. 506, cited in Survey, pp. 290-291

16. Report for the year 1934, p. 28; Report for the Year 1.935, p. 13; Report, Department of  Migration, 1935, p. 19

17. Conference of Protestant and Catholic Leaders, New York, December 1936, reported in Palestine, January 13, 1937, vol. XII, no. 2.

18. Arab Higher Committee - Its Origins, Personnel and Purposes: The Documentary Record submitted to the United Nations, May 1947 by Nation Associates of New York p. 5; a documentary record of the Mufti's and other Arab notables' pro-Nazi activities.

19. Public Record Office, Kew Gardens, Foreign Office, Great Britain 371/20821; Nov. 26, 1937, Eden to Lindsay, British Ambassador to the United States. Cited in Gilbert, Exile, pp. 193-194.

20. Eden to Harvey, 7 September 195 1, BL 56402. Cited in Wasserstein, Britain, p. 34.

21. Speech at Konigsberg, April 1938. Cited in Avriel, Open, p. 21.

22. "Undersecretary of State, Sumner Welles, had devised the idea of an international conference," believing that the calling of the conference and its related commotion "would in themselves act as an indicator of the American Government's stand and perhaps influence the Nazis." Ehud Avriel, Open, pp. 20-2 1; also see Arthur Morse, While Six Million Died (New York: Hart Publishing Co.; 1967), p. 60; also see Joint Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Immigration, United States Senate, and a Subcommittee of the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization' House of Representatives, 16th Congress, Ist Session, April 20, 21, and 24, 1939, p. 160ff.

23. Bethell, Palestine Triangle, pp. 69-71.

24. Great Britain, Palestine Land Transfer Regulations, Command Paper 6180, 1940; see Esco-Yale, p. 933 ff.

25. Cabinet Committee Minutes: Cabinet Papers 24/285, April 20, 1939. Cited in Gilbert, Exile, p. 226; also see correspondence to Winston Churchill reporting of British officials who were "strongly anti-Semite" in Bucharest and Prague, despite the "persecution" of Jews there. Cited in Gilbert, Exile, p. 226.

26. The Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini was later the notorious Nazi who mixed Nazi propaganda and Islam.  He was wanted for war crimes and the slaughter of Jews in Bosnia by Yugoslavia.  His mix of militant propagandizing Islam was an inspriation for both Yasser Arafat and Saddam Husein: He was also a close relative of Yasser Arafat and grandfather of the current Temple Mount Mufti. "Arafat's actual name was Abd al-Rahman abd al-Bauf Arafat al-Qud al-Husseini. He shortened it to obscure his kinship with the notorious Nazi and ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini." Howard M. Sachar, A HISTORY OF ISRAEL (New York: Knopf, 1976).  The Bet Agron International Center in Jerusalem interviewed Arafat's brother and sister, who described the Mufti as a cousin (family member) with tremendous influence on young Yassir after the Mufti returned from Berlin to Cairo. Yasser Arafat himself keeps his exact lineage and birthplace secret.  Saddam Hussein was raised in the house of his uncle Khayrallah Tulfah, who was a leader in the Mufti's pro-Nazi coup in Iraq in May 1941.

27. Arab Higher Committee, p. 7; Diary of Major General Erwin LaHousen, of German Abwehr, September 3, 1941: ". . . Mufti ... is currently in connection with Abwehr II [Sabotage division of Nazi intelligence]"; June 2, 1942: ". . . utilization of the connections with the Grand Mufti for the purpose of Abwehr "... to demonstrate the solidarity of the Axis powers"; July 13, 1942: "I took part in discussion" with the Mufti and Hitler's representative-"chief of the Abwehr" Canaris concerning "Arabian Freedom Movement ... .. The Mufti made an offer ... that followers of the ... movement led by him, as well as the followers of former Iraq Prime Minister, Kailani [leader of Iraqi revolt against Britain] were to be used for purposes of sabotage and sedition in the Near East in accordance with purposes of the Abwehr Il." Secret Diary, cited in The Arab Higher Committee. Among many documents included are photocopies of originals and translations of Hitler's "secret pledges to the Mufti for Revolt against British"; of Italy's "promise" to the Mufti to "aid in revolt against British"; "of Mufti's handwritten diary entries recording Hitler's "words of the Fuehrer on Nov. 21, 1941, Berlin, Friday from 4:30 P.m. till a few minutes after 6." The following is an extract of the November 1941 meeting between Hitler and the Mufti, with the Mufti quoting Hitler: ". . . It is clear that the Jews have accomplished nothing in Palestine and their claims are lies. All the accomplishments in Palestine are due to the Arabs and not to the Jews. I am resolved to find a solution for the Jewish problem, progressing step by step without cessation." In reply to the Mufti's demand for an "Axis declaration to the Arabs," Hitler assured that, "Only if we win the war will the hour of deliverance also be the hour of fulfillment of Arab aspirations.... If the declaration is issued now, difficulties will arise .... Now I am going to tell you something I would like you to keep secret. First, I will ... fight until the complete destruction of the Judeo-Bolshevik rule has been accomplished. Second ... we will reach the Southern Caucasus. Third, then I would like to issue a declaration; for then the hour of liberation of the Arabs will have arrived. Germany has no ambitions in this area but cares only to annihilate the power which produces the Jews. Fourth, I am happy that you have escaped and that you are now with the Axis powers ... You will be the man to direct the Arab force. ... I understand the Arab desire for this (declaration-Ed.) but his Excellency the Mufti must understand that only five years after I became President of the German Government and Fuehrer of the German people, was I able to get such a declaration (the Austrian Union-Ed.) ... you can rely on my word. "We were troubled about you. I know your life history ... I am happy that you are with us now ... to add your strength to the common cause." The full text of Mufti's diary entries paraphrasing Hitler are found in Arab Higher Committee

28. Morgenthau to Roosevelt, January 16, 1944, in Michael Mashberg, "Documents," cited in Wasserstein, Britain, p. 248.

29. Palestine Statement of Policy, Command #6019, The White Paper of May 1939,  para. 14.

30. Anglo-American Committee, Survey, vol. 1, p. 212.

31. Cabinet Middle East Policy Note by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ernest Bevin, on Israel: Bevin's report reviewing meetings with England's representatives in the Middle East, to Cabinet, August 25, 1949, PRO CAB 129/2 (CP/49 183).

32. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics for Palestinians in WB/Gaza. The Jordanian Governenment has never allowed publication of the number of Palestinians in Jordan

33. According to various estimates, the accurate number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 was somewhere between 430,000 and 650,000. An oft-cited study that used official records of the League of Nations' mandate and Arab census figures determined that there were 539,000 Arab refugees in May 1948.

34. Peter Dodd and Halim Barakat, River Without Bridges.- A Study of the Exodus of the 1967Arab Palestinian Refugees (Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1969), p. 43; on April 27, 1950, the Arab National Committee of Haifa stated in a memorandum to the Arab States: "The removal of the Arab inhabitants ... was voluntary and was carried out at our request ... The Arab delegation proudly asked for the evacuation of the Arabs and their removal to the neighboring Arab countries.... We are very glad to state that the Arabs guarded their honour and traditions with pride and greatness." Cited by J.B. Schechtman, The Arab Refugee Problem (New York: Philosophical Library, 1952), pp. 8-9; also see Al-Zaman, Baghdad journal, April 27, 1950.

35. Near East Arabic Radio, April 3, 1948: "It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees to flee from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem, and that certain leaders . . . make political capital out of their miserable situation . . ." Cited by Anderson et al., "The Arab Refugee Problem and How It Can Be Solved," p. 22; for more regarding Arab responsibility, see Sir Alexander Cadogan, Ambassador of Great Britain to the United Nations, speech to the Security Council, S.C., O.R., 287th meeting, April 23, 1948; also see Harry Stebbens, British Port Officer stationed in Haifa, letter in Evening Standard (London), January 10, 1969.

36. Special Report of the Director, UNRWA, 1954-55, UN Document A/2717.

This page was produced by Joseph E. Katz
Middle Eastern Political and Religious History Analyst 
Brooklyn, New York 
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Source: "From Time Immemorial" by Joan Peters, 1984
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