Broken Promises of the Mandate: A Study of the Palestine Mandate Society And Its Impact on the Proliferation of Zionism within Palestine and Great Britain
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Following World War I, leaders of the most important nations on the globe wondered how they were going to prevent a crisis like the war from happening again. United States President Woodrow Wilson in his Fourteen Points address, stated that an organization which was based on international diplomacy was necessary. What effects did the League of Nations have on the Palestine Mandate specifically and how did Wilson’s relationships affect the power structure of the Mandate? What impact did this have on the Arab population within Palestine?
Out of the Fourteen Points address came the idea for the League of Nations. In Paris, the leaders of the victorious nations carved up Germany and the Ottoman Empire. Wilson’s desire to create the League and his subsequent failure would become a cornerstone of his presidency. Wilson created a relationship with British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and World Zionist Leader Chaim Weizmann, which secured the creation of the Palestine Mandate. This Mandate would be controlled by the British and the Zionist Jews. Palestine was to be “A home for the Jews."
Through examination of primary source materials from Wilson, Lloyd George, Weizmann and the records of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, I have found a relationship that was formed that would irrevocably influence the course of history. Weizmann and Wilson were determined to make the Palestine Mandate a reality. Once Wilson had learned that American participation with the League of Nations would not be accomplished, he worked with British Prime Minister David Lloyd George to give Great Britain control of the Mandate.
The British Mandate for Palestine, as it would come to be known, was seen as a cooperative effort between the British, Jews and Arabs in order to form a nation where all sides could prosper. My research question involves measuring the amount of intent that Wilson had towards Pro-Zionist causes in order to make Palestine that “home” for the Jews. It is to show that Wilson’s diplomatic actions were the catalyst for many issues that the world would face in the subsequent decades. During the League of Nations, the Americans believed that British control of the Mandate was the only viable option for it to succeed. Weizmann and Wilson, along with Lloyd George, created a nation which would soon become one of the greatest points of conflict during the twentieth century.
The British Mandate for Palestine created a dramatic change in how the Mandate was perceived globally. Administered by the British government, the Mandate remains a prime example of Britain’s imperialistic tendencies. It is my assertion that Palestine is one of the final reaches of Britain’s formal empire. Through primary source material obtained in the National Archives in London, specifically those documents from the Colonial and Foreign Office, I gained an understanding of what went wrong with the Mandate and how it failed. The conundrum of how the Mandate was administered between the period of 1919 and 1939 is discussed. These specific documents include letters from the Palestine Mandate Society, a group that was influential within Britain and provided some of the most vocal opposition to how the Mandate was administered within Jerusalem. The hope of the British government was that a joint effort would occur between the British and Zionist Jews, and that they would be able to cooperate with the overwhelming Arab population. The efforts of the British and Zionist Jews were quickly seen as volatile and improper in the eyes of the Arabs. The Arabs believed that they were subjected to unfair demands by both the British and the Zionists. These actions led to a larger sense of distrust created within the Mandate.
The office of the High Commissioner became the most influential position within the government of the Mandate. In essence, the Governor of the Mandate was to enact the demands and requests of Whitehall in London. Perhaps the most important factor to recognize is the disconnect between London and Jerusalem at this time. The Palestine Mandate Society (CO 733/186/2), (CO 733/150/11) was the most vocal opposition to their governmental actions. The conflict between the Society and the Office of the High Commissioner came to an abrupt halt when one of their most valued members, Scotsman Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope, was assigned to become the High Commissioner of Palestine for some of the most important years of the Mandate (1931 to 1937). My overall research question focuses on how the British Empire failed to maintain control of the Mandate. What actions taken by the British directly led to the abandonment of the Mandate?
Another important question I seek to answer is between 1919 and 1939 was there an actual Palestinian identity? Discussion of Palestinian Identity begins in earnest here. The purpose of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 was to create nations which would not fall under the control of the defeated German and Ottoman Empires.
Throughout my research of both primary and secondary source material, two major questions have surfaced. The first question was, did Palestinians outside of the Mandate recognize the problems that the British government had trying to administer the mandate? And secondly what effect did the Palestine Mandate Society and its proliferation of Zionism have on Palestine?