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(H. Res. 418, 78th Cong., 2d sess.)
JANUARY 27, 1944
Mr. WRIGHT submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the
Committee on Foreign Affairs
Relative to the Jewish National Home in Palestine
Whereas the Sixty-seventh Congress of the United States on June 30, 1922, unanimously resolved "that the United States of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christian and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine shall be adequately protected"; and
Whereas the ruthless persecution of the Jewish people in Europe has clearly demonstrated the need for a Jewish homeland as a haven for the large numbers who have become homeless as a result of this persecution: Therefore be it
Resolved, That the United States shall use its good offices and take appropriate measures to the end that the doors of Palestine shall be opened for free entry of Jews into that country, and that there shall be full opportunity for colonization, so that the Jewish people may ultimately reconstitute Palestine as a free and democratic Jewish commonwealth.
(NOTE.-House Resolution 419, introduced by Mr. Compton of Connecticut is an identical measure.)
EXCERPTS FROM STATE DEPARTMENT
PUBLICATION NO. 153
Near Eastern Series, No. 1
MANDATE FOR PALESTINE
1. EXPLANATION OF THE TERM “PALESTINE”
The World War and subsequent international agreements have given to the term "Palestine' a new meaning. Formerly hardly more than a geographic name conventionally used in referring to that portion of the Ottoman Empire which included the ancient lands of the Hebrews and the coastal plain of Philistia, it now connotes an area which, but for an incompletely delimited eastern boundary, is of definite extent and is administered by Great Britain under a mandate from the League of Nations which entered into effect on September 29, 1923.
Even now, however, an explanation of the term “Palestine" is necessary, for, as used in the "Mandate for Palestine" and related documents, it connotes two territories, Palestine proper and TransJordan. Though both are included in the single mandated territory and controlled by Great Britain through a single British High Commissioner for Palestine, they are administered in radically different fashion and present radically different problems of a racial, social, and administrative nature. Palestine proper and Trans-Jordan were in September, 1922, divided by "a line drawn from a point two miles west of the town of Akaba on the Gulf of that name up the centre of the Wady Araba, Dead Sea and River Jordan to its junction of the River Yarmuk; thence up the centre of that river to the Syrian Frontier.” To the west of this line the terms of the mandate for Palestine apply in toto; to the east, only such terms of the mandate apply as do not relate to the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national home.
2. PALESTINE UNDER THE TURKS
In 1517 Palestine was, by right of conquest, added to the possessions of the Ottoman Sultans. During the first three centuries of Ottoman dominion, however, but little direct control was exercised by the Sublime Porte over the numerous Pashas and Beys under whose immediate overlordship the population lived in a state closely resembling that which existed in Europe under the feudal system; and it was only during the early years of the nineteenth century, during the reign of Sultan Mahmud, sometimes called "The Re1 See Sec. I (8), post, pp. 23–24.
former,” that the beginnings of a centralized administration were established. The power of the local feudal chieftains was largely broken during the period of the occupation (1831-1840) of Mohammed Ali, the semi-independent Pasha of Egypt; and the highly centralized 'rule of Abd-ul-Hamid II (1876-1909), although marked by numerous oppressive measures, resulted in the definite establishment of an organized local administration under the direct control of a governor appointed and controlled by the Sublime Porte.
In 1914 the territory which is now Palestine supported an estimated population of 700,000, including something over 500,000 Mohammedans, some 80,000 to 90,000 Jews, and an approximately equal number of native Christians. Foreign enterprise was prominent in commerce and foreign capital in a limited number of public works and investments of commercial character, as well as in the extensive establishments maintained by foreign missions. But in the eyes of the world it was then, as it is to-day, primarily known as the land in which Judaism and Christianity had their source and which had played an important role in the development of Mohammedanism, the last of the three great Semitic religions.?
3. PALESTINE DURING THE WORLD WAR
Following the Allies' declaration of war against the Ottoman Empire on November 5, 1914, Allied warships blockaded the coast of Syria and Palestine, while by the Turks Palestine was used as a base for operations against Egypt (declared a British protectorate on December 18, 1914). Unsuccessful Turkish attacks were launched against the Suez Canal in January, 1915, and July, 1916.
During the latter half of 1916, following the second of these attacks, the British forces in Egypt began preparations for the invasion of Palestine. A railway and a pipe line for water were pushed rapidly forward across the intervening desert. In December, 1916, the Turkish forces were obliged to evacuate El Arish, the northern border post on the Siani-Palestine frontier, and by October, 1917 General Allenby was in a position to launch the first of his main attacks against the Turkish forces in Palestine.
Meanwhile, as a result of an exchange of correspondence during 1915 between the British High Commissioner in Egypt and Sherif Hussein of Mecca : and the activities of British intelligence agents in the Hedjaz, a considerable portion of the Arab tribes of northwestern Arabia had been brought to a point where they were prepared to proclaim their independence of Turkish rule. In June, 1916, the Arab revolutionaries under the leadership of Sherif Hussein captured the Turkish garrisons at Mecca and Jedda; and during the ensuing British campaign in western Palestine, flying columns of Arab levies harassed the left flank of the Turkish forces.
The main British advance began in October, 1917, Gaza falling on November 7 after a series of severe engagements.' Jerusalem surrendered on December 9, and by February, 1918, the whole of southern Palestine west of the Dead Sea was brought under British control. Northern Palestine and Syria were occupied in September and October of the same year. In this final offensive, the Arab forces, under the guidance of British officers and with the help of British technical units, played an important role in eastern Palestine and Syria.
* An excellent recapitulation of the economic situation in Palestine following the World War may be found in Special Consular Report No. 83, entitled Palestine: Its Commercial Resources with Particular Refer ence to American Trade, by Minister Resident and Consul General (then Consul) Addison E. Southard, published by the Department of Commerce, Washington, in 1922. * See infra., 4 (a).
4. POLITICAL SITUATION AT THE END OF THE WAR
Before passing to a discussion of the situation in Palestine as it developed after the Turkish defeat and the armistice signed between the Allies and Turkey at Mudros on October 30, 1918, it is well to consider the principal political factors affecting that situation. These may be grouped under three heads: (a) The so-called British pledges to the Arabs; (6) Zionism and the Balfour Declaration; and (c) the secret agreements relating to the Near East entered into during the war by certain of the Allied powers. A brief discussion of each of these factors follows.
(a) British pledges to the Arabs As indicated in the foregoing section, negotiations were entered into during 1915 between the British High Commissioner in Egypt, on behalf of the British Government, and Sherif Hussein of Mecca. From the Allied standpoint these negotiations had as their object the crystallization of Arab dissatisfaction with Turkish rule and the utilization of the resulting Arab movement as a weapon to counter Turkish efforts to incite the Mohammedan world to a Djihad, or Holy War, against the Allies. Hussein, on his part, when he had become convinced of the ultimate victory of the Allies, had as his object the obtaining of British support in Arab efforts to throw off the Turkish yoke and the recognition by the Allies of the right of the Arabs, once such independence should have been gained, to establish an independent empire which would embrace all the Arab lands, excepting Aden, from the southern mountains of Asia Minor to the Arabian Ocean. A request for the recognition of an Arab caliphate was also advanced; and it is not to be doubted that, even in these early years of the war, Hussein was inspired by dreams of future imperial rank and caliphal dignity.
During the course of the discussions which followed, the British position with reference to these Arab aspirations was stated as follows in a communication addressed to Hussein by the British High. Commission at Cairo under date of October 24, 1915:
The districts of Mersina and Alexandretta and the portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Hama, Homs, and Aleppo cannot be said to be purely Arab, and should be excluded from the proposed limits and boundaries. With the above modification, and without prejudice to our existing treaties with Arab chiefs, we accept these limits and boundaries, and in regard to those portions of the territories therein in which Great Britain is free to act without detriment to the interest of her ally, France, I am empowered in the name of the Government of Great Britain to give the following assurance and make the following reply to your letter:
Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognize and support the independence of the Arabs within the territories included in the limits and boundaries proposed by the Sheriff of Mecca.
Great Britain will guarantee the Holy Places against all external aggression and will recognize their individuality.
When the situation admits, Great Britain will give to the Arabs her
advice and will assist them to establish what may appear to be the most suitable forms of government in these various territories.
On the other hand, it is understood that the Arabs have decided to seek the advice and guidance of Great Britain only, and that such European advisers and officials as may be required for the formation of a sound form of administration will be British.
With regard to the vilayets of Baghdad and Basra, the Arabs will recognize that the established position and interests of Great Britain necessitate special measures of administrative control, in order to secure these territories from foreign aggression, to promote the welfare of the local populations,
and to safeguard our mutual economic interests. Hussein, however, would not agree to these proposed "modifications” of the territorial and other claims advanced by him on behalf of the Arabs. He objected particularly to those parts of the British proposals pointing to the establishment of French control in Syria and British ascendency in Mesopotamia. The matter appears to have rested on a general assurance given by the British Government that “Great Britain has no intention of concluding any peace on terms of which the freedom of the Arab peoples from German and Turkish domination does not form an essential condition.” 5
It should be noted, also, that the independence of the Hedjaz was recognized formally by Great Britain, France, and Russia on December 10, 1916. A brief recapitulation of the circumstances surrounding this recognition is given in the following aide mémoire furnished the American Diplomatic Agency at Cairo by the Arab bureau of the British Residency under date of October 24, 1917:
The Sherif of Mecca revolted against the Turks on June 5, 1916.
On October 29, 1916, the British Agent at Jeddah received a telegram from the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at Mecca asking him to notify H. M. Government that the Sherif had been recognized by the Assembly of Ulema at Mecca as King of the Arab Nation. The same announcement was communicated by telegram from Mecca to Cairo, London, Paris, and Petrograd.
The formal ceremony took place in Mecca on 6 November, 1916.
After some discussion the Governments of Great Britain, France and Russia agreed to recognize the Sherif as lawful independent ruler of the Hedjaz and to use the title of “King of the Hedjaz' when addressing him, and a note to this effect was handed to him on December 10, 1916.
(6) Zionism and the Balfour Declaration
Zionism is a movement of return; in particular it is the movement of an organized body of modern Jewry for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jews. In its broader aspect it dates from the final destruction (135 A. D.) of the Jewish Kingdom and the resulting edict of Rome which denied to the Jews further access to Palestine; for, scattered throughout the world, the Jewish people have ever held tenaciously to the ideal of reestablishment in their ancient homeland. In its modern sense, Zionism may be said to date from the beginning of Jewish recolonization in Palestine in 1880 following persecutions in eastern European countries, and from
4 Loder's Truth about Mesopotamia, Syria & Palestine, p. 21. This text of the statement of how far the British Government was prepared to go in meeting Arab aspirations is believed to be official, as extensive quotations therefrom appear in official sources: e. g., on March 20, 1919, during the course of the Peace Conference at Paris, Mr. Lloyd George quoted the first two paragraphs of this communication and stated that the whole
of the agreement of 1916 (Sykes-Picot)" was based thereon. See Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement, by R. S. Baker. Ho Loder, ibid, p. 23.
[NOTE.-See, however, statement of policy (British White Paper on Palestine) presented by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to Parliament May 1939, p. 20.]