British Perfidy? Or Just Plain Prejudice?

The latest essay by our Israeli correspondent MC examines the confluence of Soviet, British, and American foreign policy interests as they affected the Partition of the Palestinian Mandate and the subsequent war of 1947-48.

British perfidy? Or just plain prejudice?
by MC

“I do not recognize your authority to try me. This court has no legal foundation, since it was appointed by a regime without legal foundation.

“You came to Palestine because of the commitment you undertook at the behest of all the nations of the world to rectify the greatest wrong caused to any nation in the history of mankind, namely the expulsion of Israel from their land, which transformed them into victims of persecution and incessant slaughter throughout the world. It was this commitment — and this commitment alone — which constituted the legal and moral basis for your presence in this country. But you betrayed it wilfully, brutally and with satanic cunning. You turned your commitment into a mere scrap of paper…

“When the prevailing government in any country is not legal, when it becomes a regime of oppression and tyranny, it is the right of its citizens — more than that, it is their duty — to fight this regime and to topple it. This is what Jewish youth are doing and will continue to do until you quit this land, and hand it over to its rightful owners: the Jewish people. For you should know this: there is no power in the world which can sever the tie between the Jewish people and their one and only land. Whosoever tries to sever it — his hand will be cut off and the curse of God will rest on him for ever.”

Dov Gruner (Hanged by the British in 1947; he was charged with firing on policemen, and setting explosive charges with the intent of killing personnel ‘on His Majesty’s service’)

The above may ring bells to those following recent events in the State of Nevada, but I want to explore the events in proto-Israel in 1947/8, having been provoked by a comment in the Catherine Ashton post a few weeks ago.

In my response to the comment I referred to the policies of the British Foreign and Colonial office in appearing to support the genocide of the Jews in Israel by the Arab armies in the obviously forthcoming war. As I thought about it, it occurred to me how the situation must have looked to the mandarins at the FCO at the time.

At the United Nations vote on Partition (Resolution 188), to the surprise of all, Stalin voted for partition. One must ask oneself why? Did he assume that Israel, an extremely ‘socialist’ country, would fall naturally into the Soviet Block?

Did the British FCO therefore assume the same thing, and, in the light of American Betrayal, did Stalin ‘control’ the US position also?

Bevin, then Foreign Secretary, and his opposition counterpart, Eden, were both known anti-Semites, and thus had a predisposition to prefer Arab to Jew, and the FCO generally must have felt that they could control an Arab state (they had had plenty of practice), but not a Jewish state full of highly educated men and women with a cause.

Britain had been mandated to create a Jewish homeland whilst respecting the cultural and religious rights of other inhabitants. It should be noted that any obligation to ‘political’ rights (other than Jewish) was missing.

Britain had turned the mandate on its head, having almost from the beginning supported Arab political rights to the exclusion of all others. Jewish immigration was thus restricted whilst unlimited Arab immigration took place. My grandfather’s brother was thrown out of the country when he tried to immigrate as a Jew, but was allowed to stay when he immigrated a year later (from Baghdad) as an Arab.

In 1947, any analyst looking at the situation would have had to have taken note of Stalin’s support of proto-Israel and the very real possibility of a Soviet military base in the Eastern Mediterranean. Not a good picture.

So we find the British doing everything they can to ensure an Arab victory in the coming war, disarming and demoralizing Jewish resistance right up to the last moments of withdrawal. In the War of Independence, the Royal Air Force regularly overflew the war zone from Egypt and other places, and the Israelis eventually ambushed the daily reconnaissance flyover when they got hold of an old P-51 Mustang. What information was passed to the Egyptians (if any) we do not yet know; the documents have not been released.

What interested me was the possible tie in of Soviet influence in the USA. The commenter referred to the US media ‘hate’ campaign against the British. Now ‘hate’ is a very strong word, which probably overplays the situation, but the US establishment was, with justification, extremely critical of the British perfidy in the region. Did the US have a more realistic (by hindsight) picture of the situation, or were they playing on behalf of their Soviet ‘masters’?

We may never know, but what we do know is that British actions created a running political sore that is still with us today. Giving Arabs political rights contrary to the treaty and its mandate has made an insoluble problem for all of us.

Inexplicably, the British let the rabid dog loose on the world, obviously thinking they could control it, but Islamic terrorism won over the British in Palestine, and spread from there to the whole of the Western world. Was it all for fear of communism? Anyhow, we appear to have ended up with both.

MC lives in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. For his previous essays, see the MC Archives.

20 thoughts on “British Perfidy? Or Just Plain Prejudice?

  1. You deal with the 1948 period. The period of British occupation in 1918 was even more important I argue because it set the trends. Then the British soldiers in Palestine were Jew haters because they were att he same time and by their very nature Lenin and Trotsky haters…the big lie that Jews were behind the Russian revolution, and all of that utter reactionary British Imperialist propaganda AGAINST COMMUNISM that is still so active

    The second point I make and I will leave you with it. You refer to Diana West in the following “Did the US have a more realistic (by hindsight) picture of the situation, or were they playing on behalf of their Soviet ‘masters’? ” This is [history which I consider erroneous].

    It is [history which I consider erroneous] which you are using for the following reasons. West pushes forward the idea that the Americans were those NAIVE Americans which is [an assertion I disagree with]. West advances the thesis of the American elites as “bumbling bear in the china shop”. The Americans have NEVER been naive and are better informed than anybody on the planet. The second reason that is [history which I consider erroneous] is that West never explains anywhere what was the role of Stalin and Stalinism in the world. In Spain just a few years before he Stalin and his killers of socialist revolutionaries to prevent socialist revolution (Andres Nin being just one of many) was the ENEMY OF SOCIALISM was he not ? If you know any history at all MC… Was he not the same in America with his many agents!? That is STOPPING socialism, STOPPING communism. West tells a huge [account with which I disagree] about history.

    • Sorry Felix, much as I admire the US and what it stands for, influential Americans have not always grasped the nuances and subtleties involved in international and inter-cultural relationships.

      Europeans, including Brits, have often had a better grasp. Whether they have behaved more wisely as a result is another question.

    • British fear of Russian encroachment on India (which was the whole essence of British policy) had nothing really to do with communism, and whether Stalin was a ‘Communist’ or not, is as moot as whether Hitler was a Communist or not. Both were vicious wannabe czars…..

    • Felix, There is an even bigger in lie play here. It is that any communist in history who has acted like Lenin or Stalin ie Mao, Castro, Ho Chi Minh et al was deemed by various Trotskyite factions as not having been Communists at all. When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, the Socialist Workers Party, a pestilential yet influential anarcho trotskyite pressure group in the UK, having taken a fortnight to get over the shock, stated that the soviet union was not really communist, maintaining that true communism was an ideology of peace – where have we heard that before?

      You also criticise Jewish respondents to another website for “violently” criticising Trotskyism. Well, I’m with them.

      In addition to the Socialist Workers Party, we also suffer from their paramilitary wing who call themselves “United Against Fascism,” an extremely violent street movement that has given itself the power to beat to a pulp anyone who dares to disagree with their hard left stance.

      Do you support these people Felix?

      • Oops typo again. I meant to write there is an even bigger lie in play here.

  2. I love my country and its culture, but we’ve a terrible record of leaving messes behind.

    • Yes Mark, I agree but in many such cases, there was a mess there when we arrived, largely arising from a French presence.

  3. A plain legacy prejudice that is maybe more a prejudice of civilizing the uncivilized in their World view where the muhammadans are the preferred civilizers.

  4. That is a very well written and interesting article MC.
    It is not a period of our (relatively) recent history which I know much about.
    An old chap who had served in the British Army in Palestine after WWII, used to tell me some of the things that had gone on.
    He said that they used to hang terrorists in batches of 6. How he’d been on a military train which was blown up and only 2 of them survived. In retaliation for which, the Army shelled a town for 12 hours.

  5. If you read Ron Radosh’s book: “A Safe Haven – Harry S Truman and the Founding of Israel” you read about the incredulous statements of the British leaders post WWII in Europe. Basically the British “statesmen” said the following over and over throughout the book.

    “We British just don’t see why you Jews in displaced person camps (this is 1945-48 by the way) and formerly in Hitler’s extermination and concentration camps – all you million or two that are left – don’t just go back to the countries in Europe you came from instead of wanting to go to Israel”.

    That is not tone deaf as has been claimed by some, rather that is insane, cruel, stupid and evil.

    • The return of the ‘Exodus’ immigrants to Germany was arguably one of the cruelest acts of all, worse in many ways than the Holocaust itself. To herd living people back to a place of terror is callous in the extreme.

      The British Government covered their tracks very well, using the reprisal execution of British soldiers as a crisis not allowed to go to waste…..

      My mother remembers the Stern gang, but is totally ignorant of the circumstances, the judicial murder of Dov Grunner and his comrades passed unnoticed in Britain.

      The relevance of atrocities in “Small countries, far away” often goes unnoticed in the groundswell of the scramble for “peace in our time”

    • John Galt III

      Regarding the quote in Ron Radosh’s book, what were the names of the British “statesman” who said the above?

  6. The answer to the question posed in the title of the essay is: both.

    The perfidy was planned. Britain militarily conquered the Holy Land in 1918 and, pursuant to the secret Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 wherein the British and the French divvied up the Ottoman-ruled Near East into respective zones of control and spheres of influence: the French getting the north, the British getting the south. Once in possession of their share, the British had no intention of relinquishing it: the port of Haifa, the intended terminus of the oil pipeline from the Mosul area of Mesopotamia, was just too strategically important. The boundary of north-eastern Palestine, soon to be part of the Emirate of Transjordan, was specifically delineated to create a land corridor to Mesopotamia/Iraq between Syria and Saudi Arabia for the oil pipeline.

    The 1917 Balfour Declaration for a Jewish homeland in Palestine – a term that only came into use by Western Europeans and Americans in the 1860’s – was a cynical ploy to weaken the German-Austro-Hungarian alliance by luring the loyalties of it’s many Jewish subjects.

    The British pushed through the League of Nations their Mandate over Palestine (reciprocating with the French vis-a-vis Syria) to give their control of it international legitimacy under the guise of supporting and assisting Zionist aspirations. Their bona fides in this exercise can be judged by the 1921 unilateral severance of 78% of Palestine as the, excluding all Jewish immigrants, Emirate of Transjordan. Further, in the pre-WW2 duration of the Mandate, more Arabs than Jews were permitted to migrate into the western 22% – the British kept count.

    That bastion of Arabism, the Foreign & Colonial Office, always understood the real purpose of the Palestine Mandate and at every turn sought to thwart the Jewish National Home project. Culminating in the 1938-9 Woodhead Royal Commission which, whilst nominally charged with working out the detail of the implementation of the Cabinet and Parliament approved 1936-7 Peel Royal Commission partition plan for (22% of) Palestine into Jewish and Arab States, actually buried the partition plan by a careful selection of its F&CO personnel who would sabotage the process and arrive at the right conclusion. And then there was the 1939 White Paper banning further Jewish land purchases and restricting further Jewish immigration to 75,000 over 5 years then none without the approval of the Arabs; which meant none.

    There were over 10,000 unused Jewish “Immigration Certificates” from this quota at the end of World War 2, but they weren’t allowed to be used because 1945 wasn’t within 5 years from 1939! Charming bureaucratic stuff as hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors languished in Displaced Persons camps in Europe.

    The anti-semitism of 1930’s and 1940’s Foreign Minister Anthony Eden is referred to. This may seem a loose charge unless one knows that his own Private Secretary minuted for posterity: “A.E hates Jews”. In that context it speaks volumes about the mindset of the Foreign Office to read that the very same Eden as Prime Minister stated to his Foreign Minister in the early 1950’s, Anthony Nutting over the latter’s proposal to bring Iraqi troops into Jordan to fight Israelis (as Nutting recorded and Eden didn’t dispute) in circumstances where Britain was treaty bound to support Jordan in any war:

    “I will not allow you to plunge this country into war merely to satisfy the anti-Jewish spleen of you people in the Foreign Office”

  7. Julius good analysis but you are too simplistic in this regard…there was also in Britain a real Christian love of the Bible and this was a factor in Balfour and his friends…I am not saying your points are wrong but you leave that aspect out

    However I was really attacking MC in my post above and I will try to make my position simpler and clearer

    Historians and biographers note some difficulty in identifying Adolf Hitler’s political views. His writings and methods were often adapted to need and circumstance, although there were some steady themes, including antisemitism, anti-communism, anti-parliamentarianism, German expansionism, belief in the superiority of an “Aryan race” and an extreme form of German nationalism. Hitler personally claimed he was fighting against Jewish Marxism.
    (Political views of Adolf Hitler)

    That by Wikipedia is a pretty fair summary of the views of this nasty piece of garbage. But I have met many Jews and Zionists of today who subscribe fully to his hatred of communism and note his hatred of Marxism. I have met a couple of Jews lately one on a particular well thought of blog who at least equalled Hitler and whose words at least were extremely violent towards Trotsky and Trotskyism. I mean very very violent

    That is a central point I made above. The hatred of MC towards Communism is like that.

    I will leave it at that. Just remind West that Russians died in the fight against the Nazis.

    • And all this because I mentioned ‘Communism’ how many times? I suggest that we might have a pot and kettle situation here……

      Trotsky was another killer, do you really think he would have been any different?

  8. MC It is not a pot and kettle situation. Hitler was a racist and an Antisemite. You seem to have no understanding of his roots and especially of how he was influenced by Henry Ford and the forgery called the Protocols which emerged out of Russia from the very people that the Bolsheviks were fighting against. This is a difficult and complex issue that will take many pages but consider at least this. Lenin in 1919 made a speech disseminated on vinyl ““Hostility against Jews appears permanently ingrained only where landlords and capitalists have exploited serfdom and thereby kept workers and peasants in utter ignorance. Only very ignorant, extremely oppressed people can believe the lies and slander that are spread about the Jews … But the old blight of serfdom is disappearing. The people’s eyes are opening” ”

    You may not like his references here and his Marxist terminology but the content is clear. This man was opposed to Antisemitism. Trotsky was even more explicit throughout his life.

    What is the point MS? What is the point in muddying the waters so? The very heart of the Nazi Party to be was made out of precisely these Russian Whites whom Trotsky was fighting int he years from 1918 to 1921, who were defeated in Russia but went on to play a really big role in the Nazi Party and in the Holocaust.

    Then move ahead some years. Trotsky was being hounded by Stalinism and indeed by Labourists (in Norway) and he turned his attention tot he plight of the Jews. he clearly advocated in interviews to the press that Jews must get out of Europe, make their way to Palestine, found a state and make it defensible against what he called “Mohammedanism”.

    I do not agree with plenty in Joseph nedava of Haifa University but there is enough in Nedava that I do agree with because he is a serious historian, and he wrote “The one thing one cannot say of Trotsky, as Mr. Carmichael does, is that whatever he wrote of Jewishness was “banal and predictable.” In 1938 Trotsky predicted the Holocaust and expressed his fear of the physical annihilation of seven million Jews in Europe. A year earlier he admitted the need for a “territorial” solution to the Jewish problem. These are far-reaching views. To be sure, in subscribing indirectly to the Zionist solution, it did not follow that Trotsky himself would have become a pilgrim to Zion: Zionism dawned on him too late in the day for that, but I am convinced that had Stalin spared him another eight years of life to witness the establishment of the State of Israel, Trotsky would have sanctioned this historic fact, even if only as a “temporary” solution to the Jewish problem until the Communist “millennium” was finally ushered in. In this respect, Mrs. Beba Idelson’s interview with Trotsky in 1937, which I cite in my book, is very illuminating.”

    Finally MS you seem to be a Little immature politically and I did not mean to upset you in any personal way and I thought you would understand I am not dealing with you specifically but with a whole political position which is also a very difficult and hard to understand issue…Good luck!

    • @felix, it is difficult to work out if you are criticizing the article or defending the rose tinted world of the Trots.

      perhaps you are on the wrong website……

      • MC, out of curiosity, I googled Felix last night and found several websites with which he was connected. I confess I expected the sort of pro trotsky tedium as trotted out above but was quite surprised at the content. If you have a spare five minutes you might like to check him out.

  9. Hi Peter

    I quoted from one of Felix’ websites months ago, Felix and I go back a while……

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