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The British's Role in Creating the Middle East Conflict

Joel Bainerman

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Probably one of the most important books for both Jews and Arabs to read is called "The Rape of Palestine," by William Ziff, first published in 1938 by Argus Books in the US. The cover says nothing about who William Ziff is.

The book documents the difference between the overall pro-Jewish sentiments of the British political elite who saw a strong Jewish presence in Palestine as being good for the British empire, and the group of high level anti-Jewish British officials who believed that the Jews would become so powerful (if Britain let them) that they would no longer have to accede to British demands.

The latter group was entirely right. A strong Jewish presence in Palestine meant Jewish national independence which wouldn't serve the British masters the way the Arab puppets did. Arab tribal leaders were corruptible and this was the only way those running Britain's colonial policies could control them. They realized that controlling the Jews was not going to be so as easy. So they placed obstacle after obstacle before any attempts to settle large numbers of Jews in Palestine. The official reason for restricting Jewish immigration was that the "economic capacity of the land" could not support more than a million people. This was a lie, but few challenged the British when they proclaimed it in their various "government commissions."

The book also documents how one-sided the British were in doling out public funds. As the Jews in Palestine increased in number the economy boomed and in l935, the Yishuv, even though only comprising one-third of the residents, were paying 75% of the taxes to the British occupiers. Yet little of that money found its way back into roads or schools serving Jewish towns. Ziff must have gone through nearly every British government archive to document his claims that had the British left Palestine in the late 20's or early 30's, the Jews would have had a state before l948 and which would possibly have been established around (and thriving) before Hitler came to power thus saving the bulk of European Jewry. While no historian has ever blamed the British for the destruction of European Jewry, Ziff's book documents that claim.

Ziff's book (which was published first in l938 but probably took three or four years of research to write) documents how the British "created" the opposition to Zionism and that up until these so-called "radical Arab leaders" came into the picture, most Arab residents of Palestine wanted nothing more than to live in peace and prosperity with the Jews which they believed was their good fortune.

"The Moslem religious leaders, the Mufti, was openly friendly. Throughout Arabia, the chiefs were for the most part distinctly pro- Zionist: and in Palestine the peasantry were delighted at every prospect of Jewish settlement near their villages. Commercial intercourse between Arab and Jew was constant and steady." pp.13

"The Arab National Movement was hated by the huge Levantine population who continued to regard themselves simply as Ottoman subjects, looked to the strong, influential Zionist Organization for sympathy and assistance."

"Hussein of the Hejaz looked to the Zionists for the financial and scientific experience of which the projected Arab state would standly badly in need. In May 1918, Dr. Chaim Weizmann and Hussein of the Hejaz met in Cairo where the latter spoke of mutual cooperation between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. In early l9l9 a Treaty of Friendship was signed to provide for "the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab state and the coming Jewish Commonwealth of Palestine. On March 3, l9l9, another Arab leader, Feisal, son of Sherif, wrote: "We wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home."

If Ziff's words are accurate, there was no Arab opposition to Jewish immigration to Palestine at least as far back as l919.

You can read the rest of the article here:


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