A New Perspective (30 October 2016, 28 Tishrei, 5777)
Extracts and Adaptation from the "Prologue" to
The Government of Great Britain issued the Balfour Declaration (1917) which declared the purpose of establishing a Jewish State in the areas of modern day Jordan and Israel. Henceforth the British and Jewish Zionists began to lay the foundations for Jewish Restoration. Despite several attempts by the British establishment to renege on their undertaking, it was the British who supplied the infrastructure and much of the economic base for the coming state of Israel. This continued almost to the very last minute of British presence in the area. On the other hand it was British arms, training and citizens who helped the Arabs in their attempt to destroy this very entity. From the beginning, the British administration had suffered from an ambivalent attitude and in the 1930's the anti-Jewish tendency appeared to have gained an upper hand. The British under Arab pressure restricted Jewish immigration to "Palestine".
In 1933 Hitler came to power in Germany and many Jews made desperate attempts to escape from Europe...
The Attitude of the Peoples to the Holocaust
Britain (more than any other nation apart from France) had accepted a good number of Jewish refugees but then decided to drastically reduce admission. Economic reasons, as well as anti-Semitism or the fear of arousing it, were among the reasons for these restrictions. Open or concealed hatred of the Jews was often a motivating factor all over the world in denying the Jews refuge. Every country on earth closed its doors against Jewish refugees. This policy continued during the Second World War to a degree. Some of the officials responsible knew that the results of this policy meant death for those of Jewish descent who fell into German hands but others were not so aware. Despite all this it is doubtful if anything really could have been done on a large scale other than defeat the Germans which is what was done. Claims to the contrary appear to be illusionary departures from reality as it then was.
Claims against the Allies include the following: 1. They did not accept all Jewish refugees before the War. 2. They did not bomb Auschwitz and the other camps. 3. They did not warn the Germans that atrocities would be punished. 4. They did not "barter" Jewish lives for goods when the Germans offered to do so towards the end of the War. 5. They closed the doors to Palestine.
Some of these claims have something in them and some do not....
.... The British restricted Jewish entry to Palestine because they feared Arab reactions. In 1936-39 the Arabs in Palestine had revolted against the British. War with Germany was imminent and a need was felt to pacify Muslim sensibilities. There were hundreds of millions of Muslims in the British Empire. German propaganda was active amongst them. The White Paper of 1939 undertook to restrict Jewish immigration to Palestine. This bought the administration relative quiet from the Arabs. The British were understaffed and shortly afterwards in a war with Germany the outcome of which was uncertain. Arab reactions to an open disregard of the White Paper were feared. Jews who illegally attempted to reach Palestine were either allowed to stay in the Land of Israel (Palestine) or interned on Cyprus. A different policy could have saved more Jewish lives but how many is uncertain. The measure of hostility towards the Jews from other peoples at that time is not appreciated. At the beginning of the War Turkey had instituted anti-Jewish measures but the USA pressured her to desist from them. Spain was neutral and allowed the entrance of refugees though at one stage she considered handing them over to Germany. A thinly veiled threat from Churchill caused the Spanish to think again. Things were done on behalf of the Jews. It may not have been enough but it was something and it was done by those who felt themselves at the time to be fighting for their own existence. Things were done and they were done mainly by the Western Allies....
The British Saved Mankind and Delivered the Jews from Destruction!
The British remained unconquered and the only determined unbeaten opponent of the Germans, from the beginning of the War until its end, was Great Britain and Her Dominions. At one stage Britain (and her "daughter" Dominions) stood alone against the victorious conquering Germans. The British could have made a separate peace on favorable terms with Germany. Even so, if the British Government had wanted to (and it did not) the British people would not accept anything less than continued struggle for complete victory. The anti-Jewish policies of the Nazis even from before the beginning of the War was the major single factor in turning British public opinion against Germany5. ... Despite everything, those Jews who did survive owe their lives, in a sense, to the Allies' victory.
The Betrayal of the Jews
... After the War the Jews in Palestine, reinforced by survivors from Nazi Europe were faced with a coalition of hostile Arab forces partly backed, armed and trained by the British. They included the presence of British military personnel. Fiction between the Jews and British had been growing due to the British restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine (including that of those who had no-were else to go) and circumscribing the ability of the Jews to defend themselves against Arab terrorism. In addition anti-Semitic elements in the local British Palestinian administration and in the British Government had increased their influence.
Why Did Britain Renege?
The British attitude in Palestine resulted from a mixture of anti-Semitism in certain circles together with a misplaced colonial tradition of protecting the "natives". The results of this characteristic had already been seen elsewhere....
On the other hand, in "Palestine", in addition to Orde Wingate, many of the British personnel were pro-Jewish in practice.
At one stage the British had actually executed hundreds of Arab rebels and otherwise disposed of many more. The British position was never really clear, even to themselves, and both Arabs and Jews felt discriminated against. There were also many British soldiers and administrators who were anti-Semitic and openly sided with the Arabs. In British Governmental circles men such as Lloyd George and Winston Churchill were strongly pro-Jewish and Zionistic but they were restrained and hampered by their colleagues and by people in lower echelons. Despite everything, on the whole, the Jews benefited from the British presence. Even though some Britons worked against it most of the British public (in Britain) continually favored the establishment of a Jewish State! It was a succession of British Governments who let their own people down by being less pro-Jewish than they should have been. The British had ruled in Palestine where Jews and Arabs were fighting each other. Both resisted the British until the British decided to leave. Newly-released documentation suggests that the British Labour Government envisaged an Arab victory over the Jews which would result in the British being called back to serve as "Protectors" of a truncated Jewish entity centered on Haifa10. Pro-Jewish (or just fair-minded) elements however amongst the British forces evacuating Palestine helped the Jews save themselves from the defeat they were intended to suffer.
After the establishment of the State of Israel Winston Churchill in the House of Commons stated that the anti-Jewish policies of some British Governments had been mistaken and called for Reconciliation11. For the sake of perspective it should be recalled that the British feared Communist expansion and that the Jewish international consensus regarding Communism was at first unclear. Many of the leading Zionists in Palestine were socialist and suspected of pro-Communist sympathies. It has been claimed that the Russians themselves hoped that the new State (if and when it should come into being) would become a Soviet satellitte. ... It should also be remembered that Anti-religious Jews, in and outside of Israel and including members of some of the Israeli Governments, have on occasion been almost as anti-Jewish as some of the British sometimes were.
The Positive Side of the Equation.
It is also worth highlighting some of the positive pro-Jewish aspects the British Administration in Palestine did have when an overall view is taken:
# The British kept their promises to the Zionists. They opened up the country to mass Jewish immigration; by 1948, the Jewish population had increased by more than tenfold. The Jews were permitted to purchase land, develop agriculture, and establish industries and banks. The British allowed them to set up hundreds of new settlements, including several towns. They created a school system and an army; they had a political leadership and elected institutions; and with the help of all these they in the end defeated the Arabs, all under British sponsorship, all in the wake of that promise of 1917. Contrary to the widely held belief of Britain's pro-Arabism, British actions considerably favored the Zionist enterprise. #
Tom Segev, "One Palestine Complete", USA, 2001, p.5.
# The British had found an underdeveloped country when they arrived, and they left behind much progress, especially among the Jews. But they also left behind much backwardness, especially among the Arabs. # Segev, p.9.
# Pollock [a British military administrator in Palestine] and others like him wanted the state administration to continue to function properly, and so they did in fact make a great effort to transfer it to the Jews. Some functions were handed over to the municipalities, others to the Jewish Agency. In addition, the evacuation plan, from south to north, left responsibility for Jewish population centers in British hands, almost to the very last minute, thus impeding Arab war plans. # Segev, p.513.