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Seeds of Conflict


Project: History of US Interventions

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       Lord Balfour writes the Balfour declaration, committing Britain to 'facilitate' the 'establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people' on the condition that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine ...'. [Background Brief]
       The Palestinians resist as expected, often resorting to terrorist violence against Jews, the worse case being in August 1929 when 133 Jews area killed by Palestinians and 110 Palestinians die at the hands of the British police. [BBC in-depth]


       Lord Balfour writes 'The contradiction between the letter of the Covenant and the policy of the Allies is even more flagrant in the case of the independent nation of Palestine than in that of the independent nation of Syria. For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the forum of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country, though the American [King-Crane] Commission has been going through the form of asking what they are. The four great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.'. [Article; Article; Article]


       President Wilson's King-Crane Commission reports that 'the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine' and estimated that the latter - 'nearly nine-tenths of the whole' - are 'emphatically against the entire Zionist programme'.

The Commission warns that the Zionist programme 'would be a gross violation of the principle [of self-determination], and of the people's rights, though it kept within the forms of law'. The Commission, while expressing 'a deep sense of sympathy for the Jewish cause', recommends limitation of Jewish immigration and abandonment of the goal of a Jewish state.

It also warns that 'No British officer, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist Program could be carried out except by force of arms ... That of itself is evidence of a strong sense of the injustice of the Zionist program ... The initial claim, often submitted by Zionist representatives, that they have a 'right' to Palestine based on occupation of two thousand years ago, can barely be seriously considered.' The commission's conclusions are ignored. [Article; Article; Article; Article]



       Mahatma Ghandi comments on the Palestine conflict - 'Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French ... What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct ... If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs ... As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.' [Collection of Quotes]


       The noted Zionist Yossef Weitz, Director of the Jewish National Fund affiliated to the World Zionist Organization, writes that 'It should be clear for us that there is not room for two peoples in this country. If the Arabs leave it, there will be enough for us ... There is nothing else to do but to remove them all; we mustn't leave a single village, a single tribe ... We must explain to Roosevelt and all the heads of friendly states that the land of Israel isn't too small if all the Arabs leave and if the borders are pushed back a little to the north, as far as the Litani, and to the east, on the Golan Heights.' [Article]

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