Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (29 August 2017, 7 Elul, 5777)
Do Israelis feel thankful for the UK's large part in giving them back their homeland, and helping them multiple times in their early years?
Gratitude may not be the right word.
There is recognition that the British issued the Balfour Declaration and initiated the British Mandate.
On the other hand, there is also some resentment over what is seen as British discrimination against the Jews and in favor of the Arabs.
Some Israelis consider the British to have overall been on the Jewish side.
Others are just the opposite.
A recent historical work that attempts to redress the balance in the British favor is,
"One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate," by Tom Segev, 2001.
# 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.
It should be noted that perceptions of the British in the past are influenced by their attitude in the present.
Anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli prejudices cause the negativity that once existed at certain times to be emphasized.
It should ALSO be mentioned that if the British at times worked on behalf of Israel they would sometimes rather it not be emphasized.
The British need the Arabs more than the Jews, or at least they did until recently.
Avraham "Avi" Shlaim and other historians also now claim that the perceived British support for Jordan in a sense was actually more pro-Israel than anything else. The British for obvious reasons would not like that to be the way they are perceived in Jordan.
Among the Ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem there are some who spoke well of the British.
On the other hand it cannot be denied that some British officials, and British official policy at some stages to some degree, was against the Jews.
Even today Britain is in general reserved about Israel BUT it sometimes comes out, to the surprise of everybody, in our favor.