Britain Fostered Arab-Jewish Conflict during the Mandatory Period
Isaiah Friedman has published a new book which concludes that British policy in the Land of Israel during the mandatory period fostered Arab-Jewish conflict, including encouraging the pogrom in Jerusalem in April 1920:
In this myth-shattering study, Isaiah Friedman provides a new perspective on events in the Middle East during World War I and its aftermath. He shows that British officials in Cairo mistakenly assumed that the Arabs would rebel against Turkey and welcome the British as deliverers. Sharif (later king) Hussein did rebel, but not for nationalistic motives as is generally presented in historiography. Early in the war he simultaneously negotiated with the British and the Turks but, after discovering that the Turks intended to assassinate him, finally sided with the British. There was no Arab Revolt in the Fertile Crescent. It was mainly the soldiers of Britain, the Commonwealth, and India that overthrew the Ottoman rule, not the Arabs. Both T.E. Lawrence ('Lawrence of Arabia') and Sir Mark Sykes hoped to revive the Arab nation and build a new Middle East. They courted disappointment: the Arabs resented the encroachment of European Powers and longed for the return of the Turks. Emir Feisal too became an exponent of Pan-Arabism and a proponent of the 'United Syria' scheme. It was supported by the British Military Administration who wished thereby to eliminate the French from Syria. British officers were antagonistic to Zionism as well and were responsible for the anti-Jewish riots in Jerusalem in April 1920. During the twenties, unlike the Hussein family and their allies, the peasants (fellaheen), who constituted the majority of the Arab population in Palestine, were not inimical towards the Zionists. They maintained that 'progress and prosperity lie in the path of brotherhood' between Arabs and Jews and regarded Jewish immigration and settlement to be beneficial to the country. Friedman argues that, if properly handled, the Arab-Zionist conflict was not inevitable. The responsibility lay in the hands of the British administration of Palestine.A real anti-imperialist would expose how imperialist powers instigate conflicts between peoples. Isaiah Friedman does that. Most so-called "Middle East scholarship" does not do that. To the contrary, most "Middle East scholarship" today serves the Judeophobic purposes set as British imperial policy as far back as 1920. During the mandatory period, Arnold Toynbee, an official at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, was a prime exponent of Judeophobia and anti-Zionism. After Israel's independence, Toynbee's journal, International Affairs, published through the RIIA, favored articles whitewashing the Arabs' actions in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, as well as embellishing Arab conduct towards Jews and in general throughout history. He was a prime architect of the UK's anti-Zionist policy during the mandatory period. He also whitewashed Ottoman and Turkish [that is, Muslim] ethnic cleansing and massacre --genocide-- of Armenians before, during and after World War I, reversing an ostensibly British pro-Armenian policy that had lasted from the Congress of Berlin  until well into WW I. By favoring Turks and other Muslim peoples over Armenians and other non-Muslim Middle Eastern peoples [such as Jews], British policy curiously converged with Bolshevik/Communist/Soviet policy from before WW I until the fall of the USSR, whereas Western Communists and Russian nationalists have continued their anti-Zionism, Judeophobia, Israelophobia till today, again strangely converging with British policy.
[above taken from here. The book is: British Pan-Arab Policy, 1915-1922]
Their anti-Jewish policy led to the British 1939 "White Paper on Palestine" which severely restricted Jewish immigration into the internationally designated Jewish National Home [the Land of Israel] when the Jews most needed a home. That is, during the Holocaust. Britain's severely enforced restrictive immigration policy was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands if not millions of Jews. Another aspect of the policy was encouraging Arab attacks on Jews, both by Arabs in the country --as Friedman points out [see above]-- and by Arab states in the 1945-1949 period [comprising Israel's independence struggle and the war against the Arab states' invasion of the country].
Toynbee also expressed his Judeophobia in his world history, called A Study of History, which takes a very contemptuously anti-Jewish tone. Now, Toynbee's granddaughter, Polly Toynbee, is still blaring on the "hate the Jews" horn at the Israelophobic Guardian newspaper. Britain's anti-Israel policy continues, today focussing its venom on the State of Israel.
Friedman's book was published very recently and I have not had a chance to see it. However, I have read several articles by Friedman in the scholarly journals. I also heard him speak years ago and had a chance to ask him some questions on the topic of this book, the period around 1920 in the Land of Israel and British policy at that time toward that place. So, I recommend the book knowing Friedman's work as I do. I will try to get the book as soon as I can.
- - - - - - - -
On British instigation of the 1920 "Nebi Musa" pogrom in Jerusalem, see:
Richard Meinertzhagen, Middle East Diary. Meinertzhagen was a British intelligence official for the Foreign Office in 1920, whereas he identifies UK army officers, such as Colonel Waters-Taylor, Ernest Richmond, and Ronald Storrs, as perpetrators of the anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist policy.
Also see William Ziff, The Rape of Palestine, &
Horace Samuel, Revolt by Leave.
Note that H Samuel refers to the 1936-1939 "Arab Revolt" as a revolt that took place with the permission of the British authorities in the country.
On this also see,
Ernest Hemingway, "On the Quai at Smyrna" and the epigraph to Chapter II, both in the collection In Our Time
George Horton, The Blight of Asia
Marjorie Housepian, The Smyrna Affair
Samuel Katz, Days of Fire & Jabo
Pierre van Paassen, Forgotten Ally &
Days of Our Years
Albert Londres, Le Juif errant est arrive (circa 1930).