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The First World War and the Balfour Declaration, Based on Albright, et al, Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. 1, Yale University Press, 1947.

Returning and Redemption
• There were two important documents that resulted from WW I, with regard to the development and moral approval for a Jewish state in Palestine.

  • Balfour Declaration, November 2, 1917 by the British government
  • Mandate for Palestine, July 24, 1922 by the Council of the League of Nations

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 55.

• The disassemblement of the Ottoman Empire following the First World War allowed for political openings for both Arab and Jewish interests in the region of Palestine. Rival imperialistic interests of powerful countries such as France and England now gave Palestine a tempting “reward value” to the victor(s) of either Arabs or Jews.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 56.

• Having lost Turkey as an important physical ally in Palestine, Britain’s need to establish new middle-east policy in their favor was, in the opinion of Albright, et al, perhaps the largest factor in bringing large-scale support for the Zionist agenda (during the First World War).
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 57.

• There were three additional negotiations that took place prior to the issuance of the Balfour Declaration that held significance for the region.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 57.

1.) Discussions amongst the Allied powers over the division of, and ruling of, the (former) Ottoman Empire.

2.) Promises made to the Arabs by Britain, through the Sharif of Mecca (Husain).

3.) The acquisition of Palestine from the Turks.

• Amongst the discussions between the Allies regarding the division of the Turkish Empire (assuming an Allied victory) were two secret treaties, the Constantinople Agreement and the Sykes-Picot Treaty.
Sidebotham, Herbert, op. cit., in H. W. V. Temperley, A History of the Peace Conference of Paris, Frowde, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1924, vol. VI, p. 170, as sighted in Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 57.

• The Constantinople Agreement – 1915 Involved France, Britain and Russia.

  • In their desire for control of the Dardanelle Straights, the Russians pushed for annexation of Constantinople and it’s accompanying waterways.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 57.

  • Britain agreed to this, on the conditions that Britain could build a presence in parts of Persia (an otherwise neutral area) and that Arabia could build an independent Muslim power to control Islamic holy places.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 57.

  • France wanted to annex Syria, to keep a protectorate of their Near East interests. Albright, et al, stipulate that, “it was generally understood at the time that the term Syria included Palestine” but as a safe guard the French Ambassador (Maruice Paleologue) made it a specific point when communicating with Russia.

Albright, et al, p. 58, sighting E. Adamow, ed., Die Europaischen Machte und die Turkei wahrend des Weltkriegs- Die Aufteilung der asiatischen Turkei nach den Geheimdokumenten des ehem. Ministeriums fur Auswartige Angelegenheiten, Dresden, 1932, pp. 26, 28.

  • The Russian Czar agreed to France’s requests to annex Syria, but no specifics were set, and according to Albright, et al, “the question of the disposition of the Holy Land remained open.”

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 58.

  • Britain was not so quick to come on board with France’s demands; in trying to work with Husain, they knew French rule of Syria would not be well received by the Arabs. Also, the geographic strategy of the region of Palestine could not be hastily discounted. The Suez Canal showed vulnerability when it came under Turkish attack in 1915, and Arabs and Bedouin tribes had begun moving into southern Palestine regions just after the outbreak of the war.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 58.

  • In response to these concerns, Britain appointed a committee to further explore the best way to negotiate for partitioning Turkey with regard to British interests. The committee was headed by Sir Maurice de Bunsen, who reported that yielding to France’s requests for the region (Palestine) was not wise, but neither was British annexation of the area.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, pp. 58-59.

  • Britain’s solution was the following- “Palestine must be recognized as a country whose destiny must be the subject of special negotiations, in which belligerents and neutrals are alike interested.”

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 59, sighting Great Britain Parliamentary Papers 1939, Cmd. 5974- Report of a Committee Set up to Consider Certain Correspondence between Sir Henry McMahon and the Sharif of Mecca in 1915 and 1916, p. 51.

• As Britain continued talks with the Arabs, the decision to bring France to the negotiations was made, in order to maintain good relations with France. Two representatives were appointed by the countries, Sir Mark Sykes for Great Britain and Charles Francios Georges-Picot for France. Their final negotiations would later become known as the Sykes – Picot Agreement, 1916. It was outlined as follows-
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, pp. 59 – 60.

1.) There would be no land acquisition in the Arabian Peninsula – this region was to be set aside for an independent Arab state. (p. 59)

2.) Except for Palestine, Iraq and Syria were divided into four “zones”, two color-coded and two alphabetical. (p. 59)

3.) What constituted Palestine (between the Jordan and the Galilee) was determined a separate Brown Zone. (p. 60)

4.) The “alphabet areas” were regions where both France and Great Britain would recognize either semi-independent Arab states or a unity of several Arab nations under one chief. These zones would be more or less surrounded by British and French powers in the two “colored” zones, utilizing the land for political control and diplomacy, as necessary, with the Arabs. (p. 60)

5.) The Brown Zone (Palestine) would be under international control.
“With a view to securing the religious interests of the Entente Powers, Palestine with the Holy Places is separated from Turkish territory and sugjected to a special regime to be determined by agreement between Russia, France, and Great Britain.”
Royal Institute of International Affairs, Great Britain and Palestine, 1915 – 1939, p. 8., as sighted in Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 60.

• The British accepted the Sykes-Picot Agreement with the clarification that the cities of Homs, Hama, Damascus and Aleppo were set aside for Arab control. France and Russia concurred.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 63.

• Prior to World War I, the British Agent in Egypt (Lord Kitchener) had begun developing plans for assisting an Arab state in Levant, under British supervision, in order to balance Germany’s control in the region via Turkey. This was not a national concern for Britain in general at the time; more of a pet project Lord Kitchener had embarked on.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 63.

• Lord Kitchener’s counterpoint in the Arab world was Husain ibn Ali, Sharif of Mecca. He represented Arab nationalists out of Syria, who would rather engage in negotiations with Great Britain than France.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 63.

• Husain’s second son, Abdullah, visited with Kitchener in Cairo on several occasions during 1914. Seeking Britain’s assistance against certain Turkish groups such as the Committee of Union and Progress, Abdullah asked for guns, which Kitchner denied, as Turkey was still a friend of Britain. But later in the year, as it became evident that Turkey would side with the Central powers during the war, Kitchener sent an inquiry to Husain himself, to determine the Arabs’ willingness to support Britain in the war. It was agreed, then, that
“If Arab nations assist England in this war England will guarantee that no intervention takes place in Arabia and will give Arabs every assistance against external foreign aggression.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 65, quoting Ronald Storrs, Orientations, Ivor Nicholson and Watson, London, 1936, p. 143.

• Husain and the powers he represented were slow in providing any assistance to Britain. In 1915, Great Britain listed one of its conditions for peace with Turkey as the control of the Arabian Peninsula and the holy Muslim cities being solely that of an independent Muslim state. Flyers stating this commitment were dropped from planes in Sudan, the Hejaz and Egypt by Britain, but met with no supportive response from Husain.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 66.

• An interesting strategy was attempted by Turkey to gain the support of the Muslim world against the Allied powers (including Husain) by declaring the war effort a Jihad, or Holy War against “infidels”. This might have swayed much of the Arab nations, were it not for the fact that the Ottoman Empire was itself allied with infidel countries. Although the Sultan did issue such a decree, it had very little impact on Arabs living under British rule.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 66, sighting Toynbee and Kirkwood, Turkey, pp. 55-56.

• In the first offer of assistance to Britain (in July of 1915), Husain (speaking of behalf of the Pan Arab cause) began negotiating a revolt in Syria (against Ottoman forces) in exchange for some extensive land promises. The Pan Arab constituents sought independent control of the area that now makes up Syria, Palestine [Israel], Jordan and Iraq, “running up the border of Persia on the east and on the west to the Mediterranean…” They also requested Great Britain’s support of the development of this area, and in exchange would, “grant economic preference to [the British] in the independent state proposed.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, pp. 66 -67.

• McMahon, on behalf of the British negotiations, fell back on the Kitchener promises of the previous year, but did not accept the wide-ranging requests for land, as outlined. He reiterated Britain’s intentions of accepting an Arab Caliphate, or leader, were united Muslims to elect such a person, but avoided any promise of boundaries of territory, stating it was too early in the war to make such definite promises/decisions. In the mean time, McMahon wrote to Sherif Husain that Britain would send grains and goods throughout the Holy Cities of Arabia.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 67.

• When Husain responded to McMahon’s letter, he immediately acknowledged that McMahon had waffled on the areas most important to the Arabs (land) and made it clear that he and the people he represented had no intentions of negotiating for less. Referencing the correspondences between McMahon and the Sharif, Albright, et al, write,
“He made it plain that the boundaries demanded were not to be taken as the suggestions of one individual whose claims might await the conclusion of the war, but the demands of the Arab peoples who regarded the frontiers necessary for the establishment of the new regime for which they were striving.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 68, referencing Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, 1939, Cmd. 5957- Correspondence between Sir Henry McMahon, His Majesty’s High Commissioner at Cairo, and the Sherif Hussein of Mecca, July, 1915 – March, 1916, p. 5.

• The bartering over the land continued through a series of letters exchanged during 1915 and 1916. McMahon was receiving information from an additional source as well, Muhammad al-Faruqi. Al-Faruqi was an officer who had abandoned his Turkish troops and gone to side with the British, as a means of furthering his interest in Arab independence. He acknowledged that, although the Sherif was holding out for complete Arab control over the entire region, that in fact powers in Syria might be ready to concede some standing in Syria (to the French) and Iraq (to the British), if other borders were agreed on. With this secretive information, McMahon continued to hold his ground in the negotiations with Husain.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 68.

• Eventually, Husain and McMahon reached an agreement that incorporated some of what each party had sought. McMahon most of Husain’s original request with the following exceptions-

1.) There would be territorial restrictions around Adana and Mersina in Asia Minor.
2.) Britain would not negotiate regarding the coast of Syria.

McMahon sighted French interests in this regions and that Britain-controlled areas which were to be excluded, “could not be considered purely Arab.” Husain did not accept the exclusions regarding the coast of Syria, but eventually conceded that once the war was over, the Arabs would look to resume discussion of this question as soon as possible. The Husain-McMahon arrangement, then, is considered to have been finalized in February 1916.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, pp. 69-70.

• Throughout the details of discussion on either side, it is notable that “Palestine” was never specifically mentioned or referenced in any of the letters of the Husain-McMahon agreement, by either party. The Arabs claim that by omission, it was understood to be included in the territory promised to them, while the British contend that the exclusion of any mention of Palestine meant it was not part of the negotiations.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 70.

• Arab allegiance and assistance to the Allied powers finally came only after the Turkish suspicions of Arab loyalties to Britain were confirmed and German and Turkish troops moved towards the Hejaz. Husain was able to then mobilize an uprising against the Central powers, and with British direction, the forces took Aqaba, then Palestine and eventually Trans-Jordan and Syria.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 71.

• For a good part of the war, neither Britain nor France was too interested in the near eastern fronts of their battles. Troops and resources were seen as more beneficial on the home front rather than sending them far away and the campaign throughout the Middle East was seen more as a “side show”.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 72.

• Once the war effort took a turn for the worse (for the Allies) more interest was rallied for a success in the territories in and around Palestine and Syria, as a triumph there could raise morale. Sir Edmund Allenby lead allied forces into Ber Sheba, and only two months later took Jerusalem, effectively pushing the Turks out of Palestine.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 73.

• An excerpt from Allenby’s speech made upon his conquest and entrance to the city of Jerusalem is of some note-
“Furthermore, since your City is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind, and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for many centuries, therefore do I make known to you that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer, of whatsoever form of the three religions, will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faiths they are sacred.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 73 sighting Harry Charles Luke and Edward Keith –Roach, The Handbook of Palestine and Transjordan, Macmillan, London, 1930, p. 28.

• With British advancement through Beirut and Damascus in 1918, the Turks effectively surrendered. Allied Arab forces took the cities of Homs and Hama, but Albright, et al state that “the conquest of Palestine and Syria was effected chiefly by the British” and that “Palestinian Arabs did not contribute to the victory; some of them deserted in miserable condition and were fed and clothed by the British armies, but most of them continued fighting with the Turks.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 74.

• With Britain as the primary negotiator and provider of troops to the Palestine region during this period, their position, or interests in extending their presence in the land seemed strong. Although the Sykes-Picot Agreement stated that Palestine would remain under international control, the British appeared posed to take the lead.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 74.

• The Balfour Declaration was the first official public/political statement to recognize a Jewish claim to a state in Palestine.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 74.

• Similar to the Husain-McMahon and Sykes-Picot agreements, it came from a need for war negotiations and commitments, but unlike these, the Balfour Declaration was not a “secret” document. In addition, it varied in the following ways-

  • The British Cabinet was directly involved in its development
  • America worked closely with the British in finalizing it.
  • It was made public by a letter from the British Minister of Foreign Affairs to British Jews.
  • Not only British statesmen but also those of other nations celebrated its issuance.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 74.

• Why would the British commit to the Jewish people so directly?

  • Some British statesmen felt that the implementation of a Jewish state in Palestine would be the best assurance to a friendly stronghold between the Nile River and the Middle East.
  • During 1916 and 1917, the British were interested in gaining greater support for Allied causes, particularly through the moral support of American Jews, and thus, the United States. They hoped to do this before Germany made such a promise for the same purpose.
  • To counter the negative effects Britain’s allegiance with Czarist Russia had, in the eyes of the Jews.
  • There were altruistic reasons, as well. Britain and the Allied forces were fighting a war based, in part, on the defense of rights for minorities and oppressed people; the Jews were certainly recognized as such.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 75.

• Britain’s offer of Uganda in 1903 can be viewed as a sincere interest in the development of a Jewish state, for even though the Zionists refused, it was the first time any government had ventured to offer any land for such a purpose.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 75.

• Arthur James Balfour was Prime Minister of Britain when Uganda was offered to Theodor Herzl and the Zionist movement. He was greatly influenced in his support for Zionism by Dr. Weizmann, and during his campaign in 1906, Balfour claimed,
“… that if a home was to be found for the Jewish people, homeless now for nearly 1900 years, it was vain to seek it anywhere but in Palestine.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 76, sight Nahum Sokolow, History of Zionism, vol. I, pp. xxix, xxx.

• Albright, et al, state that even though Balfour used strategic points to illustrate the benefit of his proposal for Great Britain that, in fact, he had been very interested in Jewish history and it’s role in Western culture and religion, since a very young interest.
Blanche E. C. Dugdale, Arthur James Balfour, vol. II, Hutchinson, London, 1936, p. 216 as sighted in Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 76.

• The First World War divided the members of the World Zionist Organization between Allied and Central power allegiances, and American Jews in the Zionist Federation of America took on a greater role. There are three events that can be viewed as motivation for the momentum that this movement gained-

  • Mr. Louis D. Brandeis’s (soon to be Justice Brandeis on the Supreme Court) membership and chair position into the Zionist Federation of America
  • Nahum Sokolow’s visit to the United States in 1913
  • Shmarya Levin’s activities during the war.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 77.

• The Executives of the World Zionist Organization in Berlin did not want the Zionist cause to be tied to either side; neutrality during the war would leave their cause unaffected by it’s outcome. Before America entered the war, this was also the view held by American Zionists. In addition, Eastern European Jews were not sympathetic to the allegiances of the Russian Czar and many of the wealthy German Jews did not want to alienate themselves from Germany.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 78.

• Dr. Chaim Weizmann was central in making political contacts in England to support the Zionist cause and movement. These links included Lord Rothschild, Arthur Balfour and Cyril P. Scott (editor of the Manchester Guardian).
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, pp. 79-80.

• Weizmann succeeded in convincing Lord Rothschild to fund a University in Jerusalem, just before the war.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 79.

• Weizmann engaged in lively conversations with Balfour regarding the state of German Jews, particularly after Frau Wagner had made pointedly anti-Semitic comments to Balfour. Write Albright, et al, “Here was the very crux of the Jewish tragedy – the assimilated German Jew was neither German nor Jew.” During these conversations, Balfour made it clear to Weizmann that he was interested in supporting the Zionist effort.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 79.

• Weizmann’s relationship with Cyril P. Scott brought him in contact with Herbert Samuel, a supporter within the British Cabinet. In conversations with other members, Samuel said, “perhaps there might be an opportunity for the fulfillment of the ancient aspiration of the Jewish people and the restoration there of a Jewish State”, once Turkey’s reign fell.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 80, sighting Herbert Samuel, Great Britain and Palestine, The Second Lucien Wolf Memorial Lecture, The Jewish Historical Society of England, London, 1935, pp. 12.

• In 1915, Herbert Samuel made a formal recommendation to the Cabinet, writing that upon acquisition of Turkish land, Great Britain should take and set aside Palestine, “open it up to Jewish immigration, and reconstruct it as a Jewish center…”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 80.

• Near the end of 1915, a Mr. Herbert Sidebotham authored an editorial in the Manchester Guardian, outlining the importance of a “buffer” state, such as Palestine, in order to maintain British control of the Suez Canal and Egypt, as Turkey was no longer an ally to Great Britain. He sighted the Jewish people as being the most eligible nation to helm such a state.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 80-81.

• Sidebotham’s article and ideas were brought to the attention of Chaim Weizmann, who asked the author to prepare a more in-depth essay on his ideas, for submission to officials at the Near and Middle East Section of the Foreign Office. Sidebotham obliged.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 81.

• Sidebotham was clear in his opinion that rather than considering the Arabs as Britain’s next best friend in the region (with the fall of the Turks), emphasis should be placed on building up a Jewish state; the following quote from his article explains why-
“… a modern state, such as could ultimately, after a period of pupilage, form a self-sufficing State as a British Dominion, and not only become responsible for its own government and its own local defense but even, like other Dominions, tender voluntary help to the Empire in its trials.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 81, quoting Herbert Sidebotham; cf. his Great Britain and Palestine, p.38.

• Sidebotham’s argument was not purely based in political strategy for the British Empire. He also wrote of his personal beliefs in the social good that would come from the development of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
“But one ideal is the peer even of this war in magnitude and grandeur. It is the ideal of the restoration of the Jews to a country which, small and poor as it is, they made as famous as Greece and as great as Rome… Nor is there any achievement that would exhibit the contrast between English and German political ideals so favorable to us, and so eloquently vindicate our own, as the establishment of a Jewish State under the British Crown.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 82.

• As ideas and opinions regarding Palestine and a Jewish state began to percolate more strongly amongst the British, the following set forth boundaries and considerations for the possibility of such development.

  • Lucien Wolf of the Conjoint Foreign Committee published a vague statement regarding the subject.

“In the event of Palestine coming within the spheres of influence of Great Britain and France at the close of the war, the Governments of those Powers will not fail to take account of the historic interest that country possesses for the Jewish community. The Jewish population will be secured in the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, equal political rights with the rest of the population, reasonable facilities for immigration and colonization and such municipal privileges in the towns and colonies inhabited by them as may be shown to be necessary.”
Great Britain, Foreign Office, Zionism Peace, Handbook, No. 162, London, 1920, p. 39 as sighted in Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 83.

  • Building on this sentiment, and wishing to gain the support of the Jews in the East, as well as those in the U.S., Sir Edward Grey added his opinion that if Britain were to truly seek the approval of the Jewish people, the offer would need to extend to include assurances that, once strong enough, the Jews would “…be able to compete with the Arab population, to take in hand the administration of the internal affairs of this region (excluding Jerusalem and the Holy Places)” and more or less be independent. This goes farther than Lucien’s sentiments, which only extended to promise local self-government under British rule.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 84.

  • Russia agreed that such an arrangement could be suitable for the Palestine region, as long as Russian religious interests were maintained and protected. Albright, et al, note that at this stage, France remained “dubious” with regard to her opinion on Palestine and the Jews during these discussions in 1916.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 85.

• Leading Zionists met in London in January of 1916 and appointed a Political Committee. This group worked in cohesion with Louis Brandeis’s American Provisional Committee and the British Palestine Committee, organized by Sidebotham. Great Britain’s Zionist movement grew strong as a result.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 86.

• In 1917, Chaim Weizmann was elected President of the English Zionist Federation but when the political committee disbanded later that year, Weizmann and Nahum Sokolow together took leadership of the London Bureau of World Zionism.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 87.

• Albright, et al, note that during the wartime negotiations surrounding Palestine and the Jewish state, “… the attitude of the influential British Jews was less favorable to the Zionist idea than that of the British Statesmen.” When Lucian Wolf stated that the Conjoint Committee could not fully recognize Jewish nationhood in Palestine without weakening the “Jewish positions in the lands of the Diaspora”, the Conjoint Committee and its wealthy British Jews became a formal opposition to the Zionists.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 87.

• In October of 1916, the Zionists submitted a comprehensive draft of Zionist proposals. It was titled, Outline of a Programme for a New Administration of Palestine and for a Jewish Resettlement of Palestine in accordance with the Aspirations of the Zionist Movement. It addressed the issues of the geography and peoples of the land in two parts; the first, The Present Jewish Population of Palestine and the second, The Resettlement of Palestine by Jews from Other Lands.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, pp. 88-89.

• The Zionist’s outline was submitted to the Foreign Office in Britain. Albright, et al, summarize it in the following six requests-

1.) Acknowledgement of a separate Jewish nationality in Palestine.

2.) Allowance of participation by Jews in Palestine in self-government, as it affects all the population “without distinction”.

3.) Rights protection for minority nationalities.

4.) Complete autonomy in Jewish matters, such as Jewish education, religious and communal organization.

5.) Not only recognition, but also legalization of existing Jewish institutions, as colonization continues.

6.) The development of a Jewish-run charter organization for the resettlement of Palestine by Jews.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 89.

• It is of interest to note that at the time the Zionists submitted their proposal, although the Sykes-Picot arrangement had been made (in secret) six months prior, no mention of the latter was made to the Zionists. In addition, the British government did not inform Mr. Sykes that formal negotiations were taking place with the Zionists.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 90.

• Sir Mark Sykes, as he became aware of his country’s interest in support for the Zionist cause, and he himself hoped for a “renascence” of the Middle East, began the first negotiations between Great Britain and the Zionists in a manner that would lead to a British responsibility for Palestine. With his Britain’s authorization, Sykes met with Chaim Weizmann, and eventually the other leaders of British Zionism (including Nahum Sokolow, Dr. Moses Gaster, Harry Sacher and Herbert Samuel) to “hash out” what the ruling government might look like (in Palestine), who would have control over what, etc… Although there were many opinions and multiple disagreements, the following highlights some of the discussion points.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 90 – 94.

  • Most were in favor of British administration of the new state (as opposed to France, Russia or a condominium/multiple part administration).
  • Holy areas should fall under international rule.
  • Jews in Palestine would be considered a nation, but this would in no way diminish or exclude Jews living outside of Palestine (or create a separate nation).
  • The French would have to be included in negotiations, as they felt Syria to be their domain, and included Palestine as part of Syria.

• In addition to these points, Sir Mark pointed out the potential difficulty of working with the Arabs over this area, as anti-Zionist feelings had already begun to develop. He also stressed several times that he felt it would be best if the Zionists approached the French for these conversations as a Zionist movement, as opposed to a British operative.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 93.

• Nahum Sokolow was designated as the spokesman, and met with Charles Picot the following day, in the home of Sir Sykes, to discuss the Zionist position. He presented the following summary of agreed upon points from the previous day’s meeting.

1.) The Jewish people’s right over Palestine would be recognized internationally.

2.) Jewish settlement in Palestine should be recognized in the juridical sense, with the right to self-government, Hebrew as the accepted language and the right to impose taxes.

3.) A Jewish charter should be approved for purposes of preferential right to state and private land, for concessions on public work, for free immigration and the naturalization needs for new immigrants.

4.) All of Palestine united under one charter.

5.) The Holy areas would have extra-territorial privileges.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 94.

• Charles Picot’s initial reaction to these suggestions was mostly favorable; he took issue with the Jewish charter company for immigration purposes and the like, and was concerned about the relationship between the Arabs and the Jews and how it might affect the Christians in the region. Sykes reassured Picot on every issue.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 95.

• Nahum Sokolow met formally with the French after these discussions, and brought with him a six-point outline now referred to as the “Bases de l’accord”. The following are the six points used as the Zionist’s requests in negotiating with France and Italy.

1.) Recognition of Palestine as the Jewish National Home

2.) Regulations for Jewish Settlement in Palestine (the right of a status of “nationality” within the homeland, with national, political and civil rights).

3.) Immigration – full and free rights of immigration to Jews from all countries.

4.) The Establishment of a Charter Company

5.) Communal Autonomy

6.) Language – the right to use Hebrew in public and private arenas.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 96.

• Although he was not well-received by the French Jews of the Alliance Israelite Universalle, Sokolow experienced welcome and appreciation for his six-point plan in both France and Italy, where he met with the French Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as Pope Benedict XV, who promised support as long as Holy sights were protected.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 97.

• It is important to note that although the unofficial stance of the French at the time was that they understood the Zionist preference for Great Britain as the governing body over Palestine, there had been no official concession to this point.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 97.

• While Sokolow met with French and Italian heads of state, Weizmann met with Balfour, who had recently become Britain’s new Foreign Secretary. Balfour was weary of potential problems that could arise from Britain’s sole authority in Palestine, and the interests of France in Syria. Albright, et al, posture that Balfour was likely “won over” during a visit from Justice Brandeis from America; he assured Balfour that the United States and President Wilson supported Britain as protectorate (although the U.S. did not want any political involvement in any foreign affairs).
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 98.

• Chaim Weizmann addressed the English Zionist Committee on May 20, 1917, and announced that Great Britain was “ready to support” the Zionist plan. He went on, however, to establish the need for the movement to proceed slowly and with great patience. Said Weizmann,
“Strong as the Zionist Movement may be, full of enthusiasm as the Zionists may be, at the present time, it must be obvious to everybody who stands in the midst of the work of the Zionist Organizations, and it must be admitted honestly and truly, that the conditions are not yet ripe for the setting up of a state ad hoc. States must be built up slowly, gradually, systematically and patiently.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 99. quoting from Sokolow, History of Zionism, vol. II, p. 57.

• During this same address, Weizmann denounced the lack of unity amongst the Jewish people (the Jewish anti-Zionists), and pointed to the support Nahum Sokolow had met from other religious leaders, including the Catholics in Rome.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 99.

• A few days following his address, Weizmann’s speech was responded to in a letter in The Times, on behalf of the Conjoint Foreign Committee. Although they stated that they gave support to the Zionist notion of Jewish settlement in Palestine, they could not support a “national character” to a Jewish state (Jews represented a group only through religion, in their opinion, not politically or otherwise) and that the establishment of a Jewish charter that would assure rights and privileges not necessarily granted to Jews in other countries would be abhorrent.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 100.

• Albright, et al, note that although Weizmann and his six points were received overwhelmingly well and positively from other public meetings around the country, the anti-Zionist movement, Jewish or otherwise, could not be discounted. Many of these anti-Zionists were wealthy British Jews, which carried weight within the political body.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 101.

• The Balfour Declaration then, was a distilled version of many requests, goals and ideas from British political positions, World Zionist views, and considerations for the anti-Zionist argument. The final compilation submitted to the Foreign Office by Lord Rothschild on July 18, 1917 was determined to be the “official Zionist formula”. Contributors included Chaim Weizmann, Nahum Sokolow, Ahad Ha’am, Jacob Unger, Harry Sacher and James de Rothschild.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 103.

• The Zionist declaration that was submitted on July 18, 1917, included the following-

“His Majesty’s Government regards as essential for the realization of this principle the grant of internal autonomy to the Jewish nationality in Palestine, freedom of immigration for Jews, and the establishment of a Jewish National Colonizing Corporation for the re-settlement and economic development of the country.
The conditions and forms of the internal autonomy and a charter for the Jewish National Colonizing Corporation should, in view of His Majesty’s Government, be elaborated in detail and determined with the representatives of the Zionist Organization.”
Albright, et al, point out that the chosen submission did not mention, or use the words, “Jewish State”.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, pp. 103-104.

• As the members of the British Cabinet received and discussed this final draft in its submission, disagreements about concepts and wording, and concern for the fact that there were still arguments amongst the Jews themselves regarding the ultimate goals of a homeland. Again, the concerns were not new.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 104 – 105.

  • Lord Curzon was skeptical of the different definitions of the Zionist goal; some said “autonomous Jewish State”, while the less political sought a safe place to use their own language and practice their own religion and culture, under Allied protection. (p. 104)
  • Lord Cruzon also worried about the “ability” of the Jews to actually develop Palestine into a prosperous area. (p. 104)
  • Edwin Montagu (Secretary of State to India), voiced concern for the notion that an established Jewish homeland in Palestine could jeopardize rights of Jews in other countries. He made note that it could negatively impact Jewish British imperialist authority, as well. “How would he negotiate with the peoples of India on behalf of His Majesty’s Government if the world had just been told that [Britain] regarded his national home as being in Turkish territory?” (p. 105)

• The British Cabinet made two changes to the draft originally submitted by the Zionist leaders. With these changes, Britain forwarded the draft on to President Wilson, and the French and Italian governments, as well.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 105.
1.) Britain would accept the principle the Palestine should be “reconstituted as the national homeland of the Jewish people.”
2.) Britain would use its best resources to reach the goal, and “will discuss necessary methods and means with the Zionist Organization.”

• Jewish anti-Zionist groups also submitted some changes to the proposed draft, and forwarded the following sentiment to President Wilson on October 10, 1917.
“… it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed in any other country by such Jews who are fully contented with their existing nationality and citizenship.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 106.

• Much discussion and minor refinements followed in the coming month, but the proposal had gained support from almost everyone, including President Wilson on behalf of the United States, France, the majority of Jews in Great Britain, Russia and the U.S. Arthur Balfour issued his letter to Lord Rothschild on November 2, 1917, in what came to be known as the Balfour Declaration. It read as follows-

“Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the flowing declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which ahs been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine for a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours Sincerely,

Arthur James Balfour”

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, pp. 107 – 108.

• Reactions to the Balfour Declaration were generally favorable throughout England and the United States, although many interpretations of the message immerged. A few that Albright, et al, note in their work include

  • “Palestine to be set apart as a Jewish state under allied protection”
  • “We shall see a Jewish republic founded in Palestine.”
  • “The erection at no remote date of a state, a Jewish state.”

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, pp. 109 – 110, sighting American Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs, The Balfour Declaration and American Interests in Palestine, New York, 1941, pp. 8- 10.

• It is noted that there was no strong or organized objection to the Balfour Declaration from the Arabs, when it was announced, including no comment from the Sharif of Mecca.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 110.

• Albright, et al, comment that Arabs living in Syria and Palestine at the time of the issuance of the Balfour Declaration may not have felt safe or “free” at the time to express their views.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 110.

• In a speech made by Chaim Weizmann in Manchester in December of 1917, he addressed the concerns over potential or perceived Arab reactions to the Balfour Declaration. Quoting part of this address,

“It is strange indeed to hear the fear expressed that the Jew in Palestine may become an aggressor, that the Jew who has always been the victim, the Jew who has always fought the battle of freedom for others, should suddenly become an aggressor because he touches Palestinian soil.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 111, quote the Jewish Agency for Palestine, Memorandum Submitted to the Palestine Royal Commission, London, 1936, pp. 89 –90.

• Albright, et al, summarize the understanding and meaning of the Balfour Declaration at the time it was issued as, “offering the Jews an opportunity of establishing a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 114.

• As to the extent that the British took great pains to not officially promise a “Jewish State”, neither did they make statements or use language that would convey a denial of such a state, either. But with regard to limitations on immigration or other acts that might aim specifically to keep Jews in Palestine a minority (and in this way preclude a Jewish State), Lloyd George made the following comment,

“The notion that Jewish immigration would have to be artificially restricted in order to ensure that the Jews should be a permanent minority never entered into the heads of anyone engaged in framing the policy. That would have been regarded as unjust and as a fraud on the people to whom we were appealing.”
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 114, quoting from David Lloyd George, op. cit., vol. II, p. 1139.

• In the final analysis of events and opinions that lead to the issuance and acceptance of the Balfour Declaration, the one true and agreed upon reason for British support had to do with political and imperialist strategy, to gain support for Allied causes and to establish security for Great Britain’s developments in the East. Albright, et al, also present that the Balfour Declaration succeeded in moving Palestine from what was considered French territory into the hands of the British.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 117.

• Britain’s military forces in the region towards the end of World War I signified that the conquest of the land from Turkey would truly be a British one, and this would align them more readily for control of the Palestine area. By backing the Zionist (and thus to a great extent, the Jewish) wish for a homeland, Britain only strengthened her position in the Middle East.
Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, Yale University Press, p. 118.

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