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The White Paper of 1922, Notes from Albright, et al, Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, Yale University Press, 1947.

White Paper 1922• The Churchill White Paper did not explicitly deny the Jewish state, but it did shift the emphasis from that of developing a Jewish nation throughout Palestine to one of allowing the Jews to keep the community already established. To quote Albright, et al, “… there are several modifications of emphasis which reduce the primacy of the Jewish, and increase the consideration of the Arab, interest.” For example, the Mandate had implied that self-government would only be put into place when all other factors were strong enough to support the Jewish national home (political, economic and administrative conditions), but with the White Paper a promise was instilled to begin the immediate process of establishing a representative government, that would by default be predominately Arab.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, pp. 284-285.

• The Zionist Organization felt obligated to sign the White Paper in acceptance, although understanding full well that it placed new limits on Britain’s previous promise. The anchoring phrase they held on to as a continuation of Britain’s commitment to helping establish the Jewish state was, “It is essential that if [the Jewish people] should know that it is in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance.”

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 286.

• Because the White Paper did not deny the existence of the Jewish home in Palestine or dissolve the Balfour Declaration completely, the Arabs again rejected the efforts of Britain to work toward a more middle ground. On June 17, 1922, they communicated their letter of rejection. The following excerpt is drawn from that letter-

“Whereas we see division and tension between Arabs and Zionists increasing day by day and resulting in general retrogression. Because the immigrants dumped upon the country from different parts of the world are ignorant of the language, customs, and character of the Arabs, and enter Palestine by the might of England against the will of the people who are convinced that these have come to strangle them. Nature does not allow the creation of a spirit of cooperation between two peoples so different, and it is not to be expected that the Arabs would bow to such a great injustice, or that the Zionists would so easily succeed in realizing their dreams.”
The last sentence here is of interest; it defends the Arab feeling of entitlement to the land, while at the same time taking an offensive approach, if not anti-Semitic, certainly anti-Zionist towards the vision of a Jewish state, period.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, pp. 286-287.

• The Mandate was approved in July of 1922, first by the British with the “revisions” put forth in the White Paper, and then by the League of Nations. Sir Samuel Herbert’s next task was to push the issue of the legislative council, in yet another attempt to prove good will and accommodations towards the Arabs. (A legislative council would give Arab residents of Palestine more say in governing decisions). But when the Fifth Palestine Arab Congress met in August, they not only rejected the Legislative Council (by its existence, it would still acknowledge the development of the Jewish state), but also boycotted the elections.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 287.

• Sir Herbert pushed ahead with the election process for the Legislative Council in February 1923. The Jews participated fully, as did the Druze in the region. But the Muslims nominated only one-sixth of their allowed positions, the Christians only one-third. A combination of apathy on the part of Arab peasants and the effectiveness of the boycott urged by the Arab Congress likely explains the turnout. The election period was extended to March 7, and still there was not enough of a representative result to allow for a Legislative Council to be created.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 288.

• Sir Herbert still intended to do all he could to develop cooperation from the Arab population, and changed his stance from insistence on a Legislative Council to the development of an Advisory Council. The make-up of this party was to include eight Arabs, two Jews and two Christians. With the success of the previous boycott, the Muslim and Christian Arabs again refused to participate or accept their appointments. Without participation of the majority population, the Advisory Council idea quickly became defunct as well.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, pp 288 – 289.

• The British Cabinet came up with yet a third idea to include the Arab population in the development of a local government. Just as the Jews had a Jewish Agency to participate in decision making around economic and social matters, the Arabs were offered an Arab Agency. Although it was stated to be “exactly analogous” to the Jewish Agency, the Arab Agency would in fact be somewhat different.

  • The Arab Agency would represent only Palestinian Arabs, the Jewish Agency represented the Jews of the world and those now in Palestine.
  • The High Commissioner would elect the members of the Arab branch, not the Arabs. The Jews elected their own members.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 289.

• In October of 1923, the Arabs leaders again rejected the attempt. The following quote is from the letter sent by the President of the Arab Executive to the High Commissioner.

“The object of the Arab inhabitants of Palestine is not an Arab Agency analogous to the Zionist Agency. Their [Arab] sole object is independence. The Arab owners of the country cannot see their way to accept a proposal which tends to place them on an equal footing with the alien Jews.”

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, pp. 289-290, citing Royal Institute of International Affairs, Great Britain and Palestine, 1915-1939, p. 37.

• The British Colonial office eventually realized that they could not force any participation on the part of the Arabs, unless they were to completely renounce the Balfour Declaration. By the end of the year (1923) an advisory council made up of only British officials was put into place, and such negotiations with the Arabs were abandoned.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 290.

• Despite the many policy changes taking place on paper, the 1920s saw a fairly open and progressive period of Jewish development in Palestine. 1925 was a record year for immigration, with nearly 34,000 Jews coming into the country. The same year, the Hebrew University was opened. During this period of growth, Sir Samuel Herbert enjoyed the support and appreciation of many who had at first opposed his policies; it would seem that he had pursued the correct course.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, pp. 290 –291.

• Significant emigration occurred between 1926 and 1927, but was due to more environmental factors rather than policy.

  • The devaluation of the Polish currency greatly affected those coming in the fourth Aliyah, sapping capital to begin or complete their projects.
  • The global depression of 1927 affected Palestine, too, as outside economic resources became less available.
  • Natural disasters within the developing region included a drought in 1926, and earthquake in 1927 and a plague of locusts in 1928.
  • Consequently, as unemployment rose, the Zionist Executives had to halt their requests for labor certificates.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, pp. 290-291.

• Lord Plumer succeeded Sir Herbert Samuel as High Commissioner of Palestine. In general, his rule of thumb for decision making seemed to be in accordance with what best fit the policies of the British Government and the Mandate. He did not have the same desires to win favor with the Arabs. His focus was the agricultural and economic development of the country.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, pp. 293-294.

• Under Lord Plumer’s authority, the area saw very little unrest. In fact, disturbances between Arabs and Jews were so minimal, Plumer began the process of disarming the Jewish settlers – arms that had been distributed after the riots in 1921 were taken from the sealed armories in which they were stored, and the security along the Trans-Jordanian border was reduced by almost 100 people. This operation would prove catastrophic for the settlers in 1929.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 294.

• During his administration, Lord Plumer earned the respect of Arabs and Jews alike. He worked to improve the living and working conditions for the Arab peasants and assisted the Jews with issues of unemployment, resulting from aforementioned conditions. Tensions and grievances between the Jews and the Arabs were inflamed during this administration, but nor were they addressed.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 295.

• Sir John Chancellor then succeeded Lord Plumer. Where his predecessor had left the question of an Arab Legislative council alone, Chancellor was ready to again work with the Arabs in establishing a parliamentary government. For their part, the Palestinian Arabs had established a united front with the Nashashibi and Husaini factions, and again renewed their demands for self-governance.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 296.

• Much of the legal system put into place in Palestine during the 1920s was quite accommodating and respectful of all peoples inhabiting the land. Different types of courts existed to serve different needs, and included-

  • Magistrate’s courts, with Palestinian judges (either Jewish or Arab)
  • District, Land and Supreme courts, in which Palestinians participated but British judges presided
  • Religious courts for Muslims, Christians and Jews, with jurisdiction over marriage, divorce, inheritance and other personal law
  • Tribal courts for the Bedouin, where matters could be resolved according to Sheikh tradition.

Additionally, all ordinances and government notices were to be published in all three languages; Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 300.

• During Britain’s Civil Administration, Palestine was divided into three regions, or districts.

1.) The Northern District, including Haifa, Beisan, Tiberias and Galilee

2.) The Southern District of Jaffa, Gaza and Beer Sheba

3.) The Jerusalem District; Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 301.

• Although the British maintained and appointed the higher-ranking positions within the districts, the “junior” positions were held by Palestinians; Christians, Arabs and Jews. However, the ratios of distribution did not reflect the numbers within the population. Christians, who made up only ten percent of the population held thirty percent of the positions. Jews, with fifteen percent of the population, held a fair twenty percent of the posts. But Arabs, making up seventy-five percent of the population, held less than fifteen percent of the positions. Some of this may have had to do with education levels, but most likely speaks to British preference.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 302.

• Up until World War I, agriculture had been the mainstay of existence in Palestine. But under Turkish rule, land maintenance and produce was very poorly managed, with antiquated feudal systems of ownership and labor in place. Through the Agricultural Department, developed in 1920, the Palestine region saw the following improvements and implementations to its agricultural livelihood-

  • Experimental farms were formed in Acre and Beisan
  • Horticulture stations were developed in Jerusalem and Jericho, to begin reproduction of lost flora
  • Forest nurseries and model plantations were created
  • Quarantine services were established to control animal diseases and improve sanitation in stables

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 306 – 307.

• In keeping with Article 11 of the British Mandate for Palestine, the Jewish Agency was given the authority to develop natural resources in the country. The Rutenberg concession gave the right to generate electricity to the Zionists, and angered Arabs and British anti-Zionists alike. The Palestine Electric Corporation was granted permission to harness hydro-electrical power from the waters of the Auja River near Jaffa, in February of 1921 and the resources of the Jordan River in September of that year.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 311.

• The contract for the development of electricity in Palestine included a clause that a share of the utility’s profits over ten percent would go to the British government. Also, it was required that the electrical plants would hire both Jewish and Arab labor.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, pp. 311 – 312.

• An additional concession came in January of 1930, when Palestine Potash Ltd. was granted the rights to the extraction of salts and other minerals from the Dead Sea. Like the Rutenberg concession, the company was organized by and lobbied on behalf of a Jewish immigrant, Moses Novomeysky. Like the electricity concession, it was stipulated that a five percent royalty was immediately paid to the British, in addition to a share of the overall profits. And, as with Rutenberg, workers were to be hired from both Palestine and Trans-Jordan. Any other employment sources had to be approved by the British.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 313.

• The Palestine Government also facilitated other development areas in Palestine. The postal, telegraph and telephone services were headed by one department, as in Britain. Railroads were improved highways were built and even smaller village roads were assisted. A new harbor in Haifa was competed in 1933.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, pp. 314-315.

• Limits on immigration under the British Military rule began in 1920. The Zionist organization was only allowed to bring in 16,500 heads of household per year, and there were standard requirements in place, such as being able to support ones self and dependents, good health, possession of a passport. But after the riots of 1921, with the British feeling that Jewish immigration had contributed to the angry Arab feelings, more limits were enacted. Quoting from the British Parliamentary Papers,

“…labor certificates were assigned first to employers, then to private applicants with assured prospects of work, and finally the unexpended certificates were given to the Zionist Organization which was permitted to request the entry of persons for whom it estimated that work might be found and for whom it stood ready to promise a year’s maintenance.”

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 316, citing Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers 1921, Cmd. 1499, pp. 18-19.

• Then, in 1925, an additional Immigration Ordinance was placed on Jews making Aliyah. Fearing the growing middle class of Zionists (so-called capitalists). It placed the additional following restrictions, through definitions of “independent means”-

  • A person must be in possession of disposable capital of at least five hundred pounds AND is qualified in a profession or intends to engage in commerce or agriculture.
  • A person in possession of two hundred and fifty pounds must be skilled in a trade or craft.
  • A person who has access to at least sixty pounds per year, in addition to earned income.
  • An orphan under the age of sixteen who will be sponsored by a Palestinian resident until they can support themselves.
  • Any religious employee who is guaranteed sponsorship.
  • Any student who will be supported until s/he can support themselves.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, pp. 317-318.

• The development of schools in Palestine also illustrates an interesting divide. The British assisted in funding and providing for the Arab Public School system, bringing in money and developing training colleges for men and women. Arabic was the language of instruction. The Arab need was perceived as more “urgent”, as the Jews had the support of the Zionist organization. The Jews did feel that financed education should be taught in Hebrew as well as Arabic, but they did not want to sacrifice any autonomy for subsidy.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 322.

• Although the British were funding the Arab “public” schools, Zionist organizations were doing well at raising funds for Jewish schools, as well. In 1921, British grants for public education averaged £100,000. Zionist grants totaled near £80,000. But as more immigrants arrived and families grew, so did enrollment in the Hebrew schools. Vaad Leumi suggested that the Jews were entitled to an amount proportionate to the ratio of Jews in the population. Lord Plumer believed this request to be in accordance with the Mandate, and a fixed bloc grant of £20,000 was provided for the Zionist Executive to apply as seen fit.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, pp. 322-323.

• Strangely, although the British spent approximately £5 per Arab student for every £1 spent on Jewish students, the Arabs still felt slighted by the education efforts. They wanted the autonomy they saw held by the Zionist schools, but did not want to contribute on their own to the efforts. Little is known about any large-scale contributions made for the educational development of Arabs in Palestine, by Arabs.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 324.

• The Palestine Department of Health is attributed to the great reduction of malaria in Palestine, a health concern that had long plagued the land. Mosquitoes were destroyed, infected persons were treated and swamps and marshlands were drained. Hadassah, Hebrew University and other Zionist organizations also affected this effort.

Albright, et al, Palestine; a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, Yale University Press, 1947, p. 325.

Summary by Rina Abrams.

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