EPISODE 6 - THE ROLE OF WINSTON CHURCHILL IN THE MANDATES
One person who played a prominent role in the Mandate was Winston Churchill. In 1921 he was appointed Colonial Secretary, which gave him the responsibility of implementing the Mandates in the former Ottoman Empire. The 1922 White Paper, which was attributed to Churchill, was in fact largely drafted by Colonial Office official John Shuckburgh, together with the first High Commissioner to Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel. It contained a phrase that was central to Churchill’s belief that the Jews were in Palestine “as of right and not by sufferance.”
‘They weren’t tolerated for this, it wasn’t a gift, it was their right to have the Land.’ And unquestionably by that point Churchill believed it. He was already espousing Zionist views in 1906, he espoused them more strongly in 1908, but then when he went to Palestine in 1921 and saw everything that the Jews in Palestine were achieving in developing the land, and he felt that they were a moderating force and that they shared his values. And on top of his belief from before that the Jews, as he put it later, ‘made Jerusalem famous – that this was their land from biblical times – it was their Promised Land’. Dr Michael Makovsky, Author of “Churchill’s Promised Land.”
From childhood onwards Winston Churchill was a life-long friend of the Jewish people, and especially Chaim Weizmann. His father, Randolph Churchill, had been a friend of Britain’s first Jewish Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, which left a life-long impression on Winston as a young man.
Beit Alfa Synagogue mosaic
"I think as an historian I would describe the role that the Jewish people have played in Western civilisation in very much the same terms as Winston Churchill did in 1920. He said that the Jews have given us a system of ethics that is, in effect, the most important possession that Western civilisation has. I would very much go along with that. The Judeo side of the Judeo-Christian tradition, obviously pre-dating the Christian tradition, is something that we live by, and without the Jews we would not have." Dr Andrew Roberts, Historian.
Jewish Land purchase in Palestine
"What Churchill saw in Palestine in the early 1920s convinced him that the Zionists were partners with him in the advance of civilisation. He was in no hurry to have a Jewish state in the 20s – he thought when the demographic balance was in the Jews’ favour then it should become a Jewish state." Dr Michael Makovsky
Mandate for Palestine map
However, Winston Churchill – as Colonial Secretary in the early 1920s – is probably best remembered for the division of Palestine before the Mandate was ratified. Following the Cairo Peace Conference of March 1921 Churchill was under pressure to fulfil the aspirations of Emir Faisal and his brother, Abdullah. As a result he drew a line down the Jordan River and 77% of Palestine was designated for Arab settlement exclusively.
King Abdullah,Herbert Samuel and Winston Churchill
"In 1921 Feisal, Hussein’s son, who was supposed to get Syria was having a lot of friction with the French, who had the Mandate for Syria. Churchill agreed to give Abdullah rule over what is today Jordan, based on recommendations by his staff. Chaim Weizmann was angry about it – that Churchill made this decision without consulting him or any other Zionists leaders." Dr Michael Makovsky, author of "Churchill's Promised Land."
Dr Jacques Gauthier
"The decision was made by the British in 1921 at a time when they had no right, by themselves, to do this. But it was subsequently endorsed and adopted in 1922 by the Council of the League of Nations. An Arab state was also created and established within the boundaries of what was described as Palestine. So in this day and age, when we talk about the creation of a ‘Palestinian state’ in what is referred to as the ‘West Bank,’ it’s really the creation of an Arab state – Palestinians are Arabs – this would in effect be the creation of a second Arab state since one was created in 1922." Dr Jacques Gauthier.
Sephardi old people's home, 1920s Jerusalem
During July 1922 the British Parliament debated and finally approved what was known as the Churchill White Paper. Then the draft of the Mandate for Palestine was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on July 24. The pre-amble to the Mandate document incorporated the wording of the Balfour Declaration. Another foundational clause in the pre-amble states; ‘Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their National Home in that country'.
"The information that I have received, the documents I have looked at, indicate that the pre-amble which specified what rights the Jews would receive, and the recognition of their historical connection and the right to reconstitute what they used to have, was drafted by Lord Balfour. Fascinating. Not only was he connected, of course, to the Declaration in 1917. Not only was he in Paris on February 27, 1919 when the Jews presented their claim, but he was the one who drafted the preamble, which makes it very clear the extent to which their demands had been accepted and recognised." Dr Jacques Gauthier
Mosaic, Jericho Synagogue
"In formulating legally binding instruments there was a recognition of the cultural historic roots of the Jewish people in that land. That it was more than just a legal decision, it was based in the cultural heritage of the Jewish people." Dr Cynthia Wallace. "They are recognising a pre-existing right, and not creating a new right. In other words, the historical rights of the Jewish people to this land were recognised by the great powers of the time – by the equivalent of the UN of the time. " Dr Dore Gold. "Which means if they can establish that they had a vibrant community in Jerusalem, or in Hebron, or in Shiloh, in different areas of the Holy Land, they have been given the right to reconstitute these communities. The key Article 2 is the decree, the enactment of the policy of the Balfour Declaration. It becomes part of international law. " Dr Jacques Gauthier.