Edexcel IGCSE History - Conflict, crisis, and change: The Middle East, c1919 – c1995
Ø The Balfour Declaration:
· In November 1917, the British Foreign Office sent a letter to Lord Rothschild, a leading British Zionist. It was a statement made by the British government in 1917, pledging its support for a Jewish state in Palestine.
· This contradicted the promises made to the Arabs in the McMahon Letter and the Sykes-Picot agreement. These documents pledged British support for a Palestinian state in return for Arab support against Turkey during the First World War. Thus the British government had committed itself to two completely different policies.
· The position taken in the Balfour Declaration was reiterated in the Balfour Letter of 1919.
Ø Jewish immigration:
· In the period immediately after the end of the First World War, 10,000 Jewish immigrants arrived in Palestine. This prompted Arab leaders to ask the British (who had been given a mandate to govern Palestine by the League of Nations) to set up an Arab state before the arrival of even more Jews. The British refused. Immigration continued to increase as European Jews were persecuted under leaders such as Hitler.
· The rapid influx of Jews in the 1930s strengthened the claim for a Jewish homeland. By 1939, there were 450,000 Jews living in Palestine. They brought much wealth to invest in their ‘homeland’.
Ø Clashes between Jews and Palestinians:
· The years to 1939 were a time of violence between the Arab and Jewish communities. Moreover, both groups began to rebel against the British. In 1921, the British unsuccessfully tried to ban immigration in an attempt to calm the situation.
· Fighting between the two groups erupted in 1921 at Jaffa, the main arrival port for Jewish immigrants, and again in 1929. Thirty Jews and 116 Arabs were killed, many at the hands of the British police and army.
· In 1936, a general strike was organised by the Arabs and a virtual civil war broke out. The Arab Revolt lasted for three years. The Arabs thought that the British were favouring the Jews by helping to develop the Jewish defence force (Haganah), fining Arabs disproportionately, destroying Arab houses which were thought to contain arms or terrorist, and torturing Arab prisoners. Several Arab mayors were hanged, and nearly 2,000 people were killed overall.
Ø The Peel Commission:
· The Arab Revolt made Britain consider its position in Palestine and, in 1937, the Peel Commission suggested two states: an Arab state in the south, and a Jewish state in the north.
· This was accepted by the Jews, but rejected by the Arabs, who were unwilling to hand over any territory that they considered to be rightfully theirs.
· The Arabs then resumed their revolt and continued their policy of assassination and terrorist attacks.
Ø Jewish terrorist activities:
· When the Second World War…