Silent History: A Review/Explanation of An Inspiring & Impacting Book

The following essay was written for a scholarship that I applied to. The prompt was to write on a book that inspired and/or has impacted my interest in studying History. This was not a difficult question because, though there have been many books, essays, and lectures from professors that have been positively influential to me, the foundation of what inspired me to be the Historian-In-The-Making that I declare myself to be, began with this book. Anyone who knows me well, is well aware that all my books are plagued with sticky notes and this book arguably has the most (next to Russell Brand’s autobiography: My Booky Wook) Currently, this book is with a very good friend of mine and I hope he is enjoying it as much as I am. I share this essay with my readers to encourage critical thinking as well as showcase once again my passion, that some will say resembles obsession more than fascination, for History. And is written in bold style to illustrate that it is being written from my actual self and not from my persona. Also, the essay was meant to be 300 words or less and I am proud to say I successfully met that mark so, yeah. I rock! I hope you all enjoy. Please like and subscribe to the blog. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Like Us on Facebook!

As I’ve gotten older, it’s gotten more and more difficult to remember certain things. Even the most trivial such as, what I had for lunch yesterday, become a challenge when I look back into my mind. However, the book that inspired my passion for history, I will never forget. I can recall it so vividly; where I was, why I was reading it and how much I enjoyed it. The book was entitled: Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce by Stanley Weintraub. The title essentially already gives the plot away already, but I will reiterate nonetheless, that the book is about the ceasefire during World War I on the Western front and in honor of a special holiday, enemy soldiers exchanged gifts instead of bullets.

              I was not an avid reader my first semester of College and to be quite honest, I would skim through books more than actually reading them but there was something about the writing Weintraub utilized that made what some critics would describe as the words just “leaping off the page.” And here it began, my first semester as an Undergraduate Student, assigned to read this book for my Western Civilization class. Before I knew it, I had reached halfway through the book and was in joyful tears by reading how for one brief shining moment, during a time of war and carnage, “there was general handshaking: the dead were buried; cigars, cigarettes, and newspapers were exchanged and a general celebration ensued.” (Weintraub, 68). Though there were some who denounced the Christmas truce such as one familiar name, Adolf Hitler, criticized the Germans for fraternizing with the British enemy by saying, “such a thing should not happen in wartime…Have you no German sense of honor left at all?” (Weintraub, 71)

              Honor and or patriotism was the last thing on the minds of these soldiers however, as one British soldier, Corporal John Ferguson, quoted by Weintraub, about the ceasefire with the Germans, “Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill.” (Weintraub, 79-80) Eventually the Christmas celebrations as well as “all fraternization with the enemy [was] to cease immediately.” Reading the words of these soldiers, post the ceasefire, gaining these epiphanies of their groundless bloodshed and carrying on with the charade (because they have no other choice) in their own way by feigning the discharges towards their targets or even purposefully “shoot [in]to the air’” (Weintraub, 140) was in a word, thought-provoking. The idea that these soldiers were sent to fight against “the enemy” and were now re-defining who exactly the enemy was. “Both sides were misled by half-truths…Beneath the artificial hatred, each respected the other. Victory, if it came at all, would be long delayed, costly and worthless.” (Weintraub, 119) Reading this made me realize that these soldiers demanded answers to questions they finally began to ask themselves, “why am I really here?” It made me think of what other lies we have been fed in our youth that remain truths that we would potentially “die for” in our adult life.

Avi Shlaim has said that “History is the propaganda of the victors” and his statement is agreeable because when we are children and we learn about history, we are told things in a positive light only to find out later that they are actually horrific. And only when we get older do we learn the actual truth that is the awful side of history. We learn about World War I beginning with a series of mishaps that all could be responsible for the start of the war and the countless casualties that resulted as well as the incendiary feelings that remain, resulting in World War II. All the while, wondering how and why things in our own history, got so bad; and if there was a chance for reconciliation even. And it is here, in this story, that we have a pocket of positivity that not everyone is aware although should be. Here these soldiers are learning that the differences amongst them are scarce; therefore, they have no reason to fight one another. Why are they fighting? When instead, “perhaps a football match, after which both sides went home, might be a better solution.” (Weintraub, 119)

-Ahmed H. Sharma (Mr. Writer)

Originally written on the 15th of February, 2017 at 1:19 P.M.

Book Cited:

Weintraub, Stanley. Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce. New York: Plume, 2002. Print.

 

 

 

Career & Hobbies

I write this entry now after so much delay. For the longest, I was worried about what to write because I often try to write anything I can in an academic tone as well as doing more research to include footnotes and whatnot. I recently remembered that I started this blog to write “personal thoughts.” I guess I got caught up in my academic career as an undergraduate student/ historian-in-the-making that I forgot what it was like to just write whatever came to my mind.

A lot has changed since I entered the power house (UH) and the changes are, I’d like to believe, positive; which I’ll elaborate on more later. In the meantime, let me proceed with my initial objective. Lately, the future career I am aspiring has caused me to worry. There’s a lot of PhD’s that don’t end up getting their desired jobs. I’m not a PhD, nor am I remotely close, but I always worry because I have constantly been advised by others to sway away from being a Historian to avoid such an issue.

That was until I received a number of support by my professors as well as friends who are PhD’s that are serving as my inspiration to keep on going and follow my passion. I say passion because I believe that there really is nothing else I can picture myself doing except writing and researching History. My love for studying history, according to some, borders on obsessive and as a result, I believe that I’ve fully understood my desire to be a Historian as opposed to simply being a History Buff.

I don’t know what the future has in store for me; all I know is I want to do something with writing and research for History. The future is unwritten and therefore, I shouldn’t be afraid of what MIGHT happen. I write this entry then, as a source of inspiration and motivation to my readers and close followers of this blog, that there should be nothing wrong with doing what makes you happy. For me, I enjoy engaging in conversations about History, the things I’ve researched, studied, what other people have studied. There’s something fascinating to me about certain events of the past; why have certain things happened? What made them so bad? Were precautions taken to improve conditions or lessen the number of casualties in wars or revolutions?

I could go on and on, but I’d probably bore the reader so I digress. Maybe it’s the utilitarian in me, but I feel like there are people who grow up to do the jobs they eventually abhor and regret not following their passion. Simultaneously, I see that there are people who work hard to achieve their goals, but something happens where they just stop, replay the events in their life, try to figure out what went wrong and start over. I constantly have that fear that the latter will happen to me, but then I get reminded by so many people like my professors and even a wonderful poem by a motivational speaker I still speak with occasionally to pursue my passion.

Again, I have no idea what the future has in store for me. A lot of the events that happened in my life, even recently, I never expected to happen. That being said, I am enjoying the ride towards the future. I just hope this road leads to the path I hope it will be. Either way, it’ll be the path I’m meant to be on in the end.

-Mr. Writer

Written on the 27th of March, 2017 at 12:05 A.M. 

 

 

The Question of Hypocrisy: British Involvement in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Dedicated to all the people in and from Palestine; things will get better, inshAllah. Also I dedicate this essay to the scholars of Middle Eastern Studies like my professor, Abdel Razzaq Takriti, who have and continue to work tirelessly to put the pieces of history together, with the hopes of bringing about a better tomorrow. Your work is not going unnoticed and I strive to be in a position such as yours, very soon.

For more information on Palestine, please visit this website:  http://learnpalestine.politics.ox.ac.uk/

The following essay is a research paper I submitted for a class I took this semester entitled: Palestine and the Making of the ArabIsraeli Conflict. I really enjoyed this class and the research I did in writing this essay while extensive, was enticing in every way. Though the words I write are controversial as they are condemning the ignored actions of certain nations and people have taken to colonize another group of people, the words unabashedly had to be said and with that, I believe in the work I’ve produced and my empirical vigor will undoubtedly enable me in my scholarly endeavors.

 

It can be argued that it is human nature to seek approval from others and even attempt to make everyone happy although inarguably, it is impossible to do so. In the simplest of reasons, the impracticality is because one cannot make someone else happy without taking away someone else’s happiness.[1] In 1917, Lord Arthur James Balfour attempts to do just that with the Balfour Declaration, promising British assistance in establishing a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine, after a series of discussions and debates, in order to appease the interests of the Zionists. In doing so however, Balfour has established the first of what will become many strands, that together make up a metaphorical spider web of neglected pleas of the present Arab population. Therefore, the intent of this essay is to contend that the British, alongside the Zionists, sought to strategically and purposefully, exploit the Arab Natives of Palestine in order to produce the Jewish State of Israel, despite Balfour professing in his Declaration to not infringe upon the rights of the Native Arab Population. This is proven largely in part due to the incessant neglect of Arab concerns, vagueness in promises made to address Arab concerns, and unheeded cautions by non-Arab notables to bandage broken promises.

As soon as the Balfour Declaration was passed, along with the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, the land was divided amongst the French and British, as agreed in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Naturally, there was opposition from the Arab natives (Christian and Muslim) but most significantly, there was pressure from the at the time, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson who was reluctant with the idea of European nations being in control of a non-European population. To reiterate, the feeling amongst the native Arabs was mutual as described in the King Crane Commission that:

 

with the best possible intentions, it may be doubted whether the Jews could possibly seem to either Christians or [Muslims] proper guardians of the holy places, or custodians of the Holy Land as a whole. The reason is this: The places which are most sacred to Christians-those having to do with Jesus-and which are also sacred to [Muslims], are not only not sacred to Jews, but abhorrent to them. It is simply impossible, under those circumstances, for [Muslims] and Christians to feel satisfied to have these places in Jewish hands, or under the custody of Jews. [2]

 

Still, the British Government and members of the Peace Conference (members of the Triple Alliance after WWI) remained unmoved by this concern from the Arabs, and the establishment of a national homeland for the Jews, was to remain implemented. Despite the urging in the document to the notables forewarning that “The Peace Conference should not shut its eyes to the fact that the anti-Zionist feeling in Palestine and Syria is intense and not lightly to be flouted. No British officer, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms.”[3]

 

In order to fully grasp the gravity of the situation and why these concerns of the Arabs are treated as trivial, one must go back into the depths of history and see how it all started. During the Ottoman Empire, which at the time surrounded Palestine and what would later be known as the State of Israel, possessed a religiously diverse population; albeit despite an immense Muslim population, historians agree that citizens lived in relative harmony. Due to “the majority of the culture of Christians and Jews was like that of Muslims: determined not just by religious affiliation, but by geographical and social location.”[4] Meaning, that the idea of what dogma was practiced was irrelevant; especially if the social status of the individual was considered prosperous. However, this was not the case for Jews in Europe, where anti-Semitism was rampant and Jews, as Theodor Herzl described:

 

Wherever [the Jews] live in perceptible numbers, they are more or less persecuted…The forms of persecutions vary according to the countries and social circles in which they occur. In Russia, imposts are levied on Jewish Villages; in Rumania, a few persons are put to death; in Algeria, there are travelling agitators; In Germany, they get a good beating occasionally; in Austria, anti-Semites exercise terrorism over all public life; in Paris, the Jews are shut out of the so-called best social circles and excluded from clubs.[5]

 

Therefore, a solution was needed and quickly; the solution being, a safe-haven for the Jewish people. And the location of this sanctuary, was to be Palestine, a land they believed, from biblical times was owned by the Jews, and therefore, the time came for them to return and reclaim what rightfully belonged to them.

 

However, in doing so, the position of the Jewish question of Palestine [was] at the opening of the new era in which practical efforts took the place of dreams and theological disputations and the province hitherto monopolized by divines and philosophers was invaded by statesmen and other men of affairs.”[6] This was mainly due to the attitude Herzl developed towards the native Arab population, which was a “thoroughly repugnant image of Palestine, describing its towns and villages as no better than animal quarters.”[7]

 

It would be irremissible however, to not mention that Herzl was subsequently willing to be flexible in regards to the location of the Jewish state. Although, Palestine was the first choice, Herzl knew that the only way the Jewish people would be successful in acquiring a state of their own would require help from one of the major European powers. Therefore, as Herzl stated, “should the Powers declare themselves willing to admit our sovereignty over a neutral piece of land, then the Society will enter into negotiations for the possession of this land. Here two territories come under consideration, Palestine and Argentine.”[8]

One could make the assumption that Herzl, in his eagerness for European support, was willing to compromise with whatever that was handed to him. For instance, “in 1902, seeking the Al-Arish area in the Sinai Peninsula because it was adjacent to Palestine and could serve as an opening for future demands for expanded migration to the area. Joseph Chamberlain then British Colonial secretary, replied by suggesting land in British-Controlled East Africa, now part of Kenya. Though initially hostile to this idea, Herzl later saw it as granting a temporary haven that might give the Zionists leverage in their demands for Palestine.” [9] However, the idea of anything save Palestine was out of the question to other Zionists and for even the suggestion of this by Herzl, led other Zionists to suspect Herzl of being willing to abandon Zionism.  

Some Jewish notables such as essayist, Ahad Ha’am believed that in theory, the establishment of a Jewish state worked but was impractical as a result of many conflicting factors such as: “In the West it is the problem of the Jews, in the East the problem of Judaism. The one weighs on the individual, the other on the nation. The one is felt by Jews who have had a European education, the other by Jews whose education has been Jewish.”[10] Meaning that there was a strong disconnect amongst the people of Judaism and that their beliefs and ethics were on completely different wavelengths.  Ha’am argues, that Zionists were:

so spiritually far removed from Judaism, and have no true conception of its ­­­­­­nature and its value. Such men, however loyal to their State and devoted to its interests, will necessarily regard those interests as bound up with the foreign culture which they themselves have imbibed and they will endeavor, by moral persuasion or even by force, to implant that culture in the Jewish State, so that in the end the Jewish State will be a State of Germans or Frenchmen of the Jewish race.[11]

Future scholars such as Muhammad Ali Khalidi, will attest to this and ask the paradoxical question: “Why did Herzl, while explicitly disavowing utopianism, write of a utopia advocating ideas at variance with his own ideological principles, especially when the society described does not seem distinctively Jewish?”[12]

Unsurprisingly, the Muslim inhabitants were not pleased with the idea of Zionists taking the land they felt belonged to them. “As might be expected, the same thing is true of the resident Christians. Interestingly enough, the Palestinian Jews are also as much opposed…”[13] Not only were the citizens that were predominantly Muslim feeling even more hostility towards the foreigners but were also feeling a strong disdain for the Jewish population in particular; a group of people they once gave the Dhimmi status (a protected status for non-Muslims). Ottomans also were trying their best to prevent any sort of growing nationalism similar to the Balkans. Moreover, Ottoman Policy towards the Zionists remained consistent: “Jewish Immigrants will be able to settle as scattered groups throughout the Ottoman Empire, excluding Palestine. They must submit to the laws of the empire and become Ottoman subjects.”[14] But this policy was not effectively carried out, as “Jewish immigrants entered the area as tourists or pilgrims; but once there, would acquire the protection of foreign consuls since European powers were eager to protect their own rights.”[15]

Nevertheless, immigration as well as native’s concern for its advancement, escalated. Some ways Arab-Natives addressed these concerns were newspapers that were published to essentially inform others of how negative consequences would result from establishing a Homeland in Palestine. Among these published newspapers) were al-Karmil in 1908 (whose editors were also Greek Orthodox Christians and Filastin (Palestine) founded in 1911. The intentions of these articles were not to inspire animosity towards the Jewish people but rather to seek empathy with the Arab-Inhabitants and this proved successful even on an international scale. Even “Rashid Rida, a Muslim reformer born in the Beirut vilayet but living in Cairo, published an article in 1902 in his journal al-Manar, stating that in his belief, “[Zionists] sought national sovereignty, not simply a haven from persecution.”[16]

All this was happening during a crucial point in time, the first World War. There were rising uncertainties of the turnout for Britain during World War I and with the Ottoman Empire just so happening to be on the side of the Central Powers, “call[ing] into question the future of their own empire, which meant the future of Palestine as well”[17], essentially placed both nations in a quagmire. For Zionists, this was the perfect opportunity to appeal to the British of their concerns. Chaim Weizmann, in particular was at making exceptional strides in persuading the British by establishing conversations with the right people at the most convenient time:

Weizmann had two long sessions with Dorothy [Rothschild] in lieu of meeting with her husband…[and] wrote to [Weizmann] less than two weeks later: ‘I have spoken to Mr. Charles Rothschild, not in any sort of way officially, but in the course of conversation he thoroughly approved of the idea [a Jewish Palestine] and in fact thought it would be the only possible future.’ Charles was…the younger brother of Walter Lionel Rothschild, who would become the Lord Rothschild to whom the Balfour Declaration would be addressed.[18]

The British were reluctant at first, but Weizmann’s connections, along with presentiment that the Russians were going to withdraw from the war, and perhaps even one’s assumption that Britain as a superpower, caused them to make whatever deals with anyone they felt would be behoove them in the end. Realistically, the British were aware they would have to do their best to make sure they could make good on the promises they delivered. In this case however, the British made sure their fingers crossed behind their backs, remained concealed when shaking hands with the Arabs. Unaware of the British’s plan to deceive them, Arabs had begun a revolt against their Ottoman Government, in hopes of acquiring an “[independent] Arab nation…and grasp the reins of their administration… and whereas they have found and felt that it [was] in the interest of the Government of Great Britain to support them and aid them in the attainment of their firm and lawful intentions.”[19]

Letters were sent back and forth between Sharif Husayn and Sir Henry McMahon attempting to show congruity between the British and the Arabs however, statements from McMahon such as: “We take note of your remarks concerning the vilayet of Baghdad a and will take the question into careful consideration when the enemy has been defeated and the time for peaceful settlement arrives”, transparently shows the British metaphorically dragging their feet when asked to address Arab concerns. Suspicion grew subsequently but the Arabs remained oblivious to any double-crossing because McMahon, in his clever wording, maintained to the rebels: “rest assured that Great Britain has no intention of concluding any peace in terms of which the freedom of the Arab peoples from German and Turkish domination does not form an essential condition.”[20] Unbeknownst to Husayn however, McMahon has told others,

I do not for one minute go to the length of imagining what the present negotiations will go far to shape the future form of Arabia…What we have to arrive at now is to tempt the Arab peoples into the right path, detach them from the enemy and bring them over to our side.[21]

 

Ultimately, the Balfour Declaration was published in 1917. In its writing, the Balfour Declaration made sure to include that “Palestine [as] a national homeland for the Jewish people…clearly understood that nothing [would] be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”[22] However, careful reading of the Palestinian Mandate seems to contradict this notion of clemency. Instead, what is seen is undeniably, paternalistic colonialism. This sentiment was shared among most who viewed the Arabs; that even though the treatment of the Arabs were “indeed paternalistic, but paternalism seems to be necessary in dealing with backward countries”[23]. And as a result the British had to take control and make sure that the implementation of a Jewish Homeland ran smoothly. For example, article 16 of the Mandate states that: “The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government.”[24]

Unlike the Syrian or Iraqi mandate, which established a state and recognition of political rights of the people living within the boundaries of the state and once they reach the appropriate level of civilization (as determined by the mandate) then Syria would be ruled by Syrians, and Iraq would be ruled by Iraqis.[25] Although most people were well aware that “the Caliph, or head of the [Muslim] world, [had] a strong influence with [Muslims] in all countries. Formerly If the [Muslim] world [was] to be kept contented it appear[ed] necessary that there should be a Caliph whose authority is widely accepted.”[26]

The British mandate of Palestine, on the other hand, had only one party that was meant to be recognized, the Jewish Agency. The main pursuit of this agency was to implement and fulfill the obligations as stated in the Balfour Declaration by the British Government and install a Jewish homeland. Therefore, they could not recognize a politically local state (like Iraq or Syria) out of fear that the local population would reject power of the national homeland. In other words, any form of representative government, would undermine any British objectives as written in the Balfour Declaration.[27]

It is inarguable then, to say that British felt no reason to bring Palestine to independence as there was not going to be a British exit anytime soon. The crux was, to put it in simple words, stay until the job was done. “Of all this group of advocates of the restoration of the Jews to Palestine with British assistance, the most important was Colonel George Gawler, who had been governor of South Australia and…devoted the greater part of his activity to the Jewish cause.”[28] Gawler is important to note because “He proposed the gradual colonization of Palestine by Jews, small experimental colonies being established in the first instance. It was, however, essential to his scheme that Britain should undertake the protection of the colonies.”[29]

Subsequently, this caused some disorder for the British. During this early period, where Palestine was under military rule, the British military finally gained some insight of the wrong they had done to the Arabs. “In the case of Palestine these sympathies [of the British troops] are rather obviously with the Arabs, who have hitherto appeared to the disinterested observer to have been the victims of an unjust policy, forced upon them by the British Government.”[30] Simultaneously, there were many British doubts of the Balfour Declaration. Even “the British press, initially favorable to the Jewish national home policy, had by the early 1920s become increasingly skeptical if not hostile, and a movement opposed to the Balfour Declaration was gaining ground within parliament”[31]   Some considerable issues were raised; most of them essentially feeling a sense of remorse and pondering why a policy that could possibly result in retribution, should be implemented.

 

Looking back on the issue, this should not arouse a feeling of bewilderment. The threat of retaliation from the Arabs had been forewarned by many, yet resented. Pro-Zionists and British officials such as Herbert Samuel, believed “what we have got to face is the fact that as long as we persist in our Zionist policy we have got to maintain all our present forces in Palestine to enforce a policy hateful to the great majority”[32] With that, one can repudiate any statement that displays a feeling of remorse felt by the British; in that the British were well aware of what they were doing and even meant to colonize Palestine.

However, Britain is not the only one to be condemned; Zionists such as Jabotinsky, were well aware that “there was no misunderstanding…Zionists want…the one thing that Arabs do not want…[that] the Jews would gradually become the majority…and the future of the Arab minority would depend on the goodwill of the Jews…so there is no ‘misunderstanding’.”[33] Again, one mustn’t ignore that a number of Jews were critical of Zionism. For these Jewish people, they had worked relentlessly to assimilate in the country they lived in and the rise of Zionism would become problematic as to how loyal a Jewish citizen was to their nation. It is for that reason why Zionists must be allocated in their own category as “it stands today in its preliminary propaganda is not without considerable danger to the security and happiness of the Jews throughout the world.”[34]

Unapologetically, “Zionism’s responsibility for the Palestinian exodus and diaspora is an integral part of the genesis of the State of Israel. In their heart of hearts, most Israelis know this, which at least in part accounts for their pervasive sense of insecurity.”[35] Without a doubt, there has been an incessant struggle for Jews and perhaps the trials of the Arabs being overlooked has, and always shall be the norm; on the other hand,

fear of speaking out about one of the greatest injustices in modern history has hobbled, blinkered, muzzled many who know the truth and are in a position to serve it. For despite the abuse and vilification that any outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and self-determination earns for him or herself, the truth deserves to be spoken, represented by an unafraid and compassionate intellectual.[36]

By retaining a fait accompli approach to the whole issue on Palestine, it only corroborates the idea of duplicity and hypocrisy, that Arabs were indeed exploited. And because the British were well aware of the consequences that were to come about, they purposefully allowed the Zionists to essentially, “get away with it.” Winston Churchill has compared the issue of Palestine to a dog in a manger claiming that, “I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time.”[37] For the sake of argument, one can compromise that even if the dog who has always lain in the manger, can deal with not ultimately being given back what it once called its home. Yet. if nothing has been done to shelter the dog, there is no “final right.”

-Ahmed H. Sharma

Originally Written on the 27th of November, 2016

 

Bibliography:

 

British Mandate of Palestine. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 1922. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Palestine_Mandate.html&gt;.

 

Churchill, Winston. “”Dog in Manger” Quote.” A-Z Quotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <http://www.azquotes.com/quote/1448775I%20do%20not%20agree%20that%20the%20dog%20in%20a%20manger%20has%20the%20final%20right%20to%20the%20manger%20even%20though%20he%20may%20have%20lain%20there%20for%20a%20very%20long%20time.%20I%20do%20not%20admit%20that%20right.%20I%20do%20not%20admit%20for%20instance,%20that%20a%20great%20wrong%20has%20been%20done%20to%20the%20Red%20Indians%20of%20America%20or%20the%20black%20people%20of%20Australia.&gt;.

 

Ha’am, Ahad. “The Jewish State and Jewish Problem” N.d. MS, Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/haam2.html&gt;.

 

Herzl, Theodor. “The Jewish State” 1896. MS. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/herzl2.html&gt;.

 

Huneidi, Sahar. “Was Balfour Policy Reversible? The Colonial Office and Palestine, 1921-23.” Journal of Palestine Studies 27.2 (1998): 23-41. JSTOR. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

 

Huntington, Ellsworth. “The Future of Palestine.” Geographical Review 7.1 (1919): 24-35. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Husayn, Sharif, and Henry McMahon. “The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence.” Letter. N.d. The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence (July 1915-August 1916) | Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Virtual Library, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hussmac1.html&gt;.

Hyamson, Albert M. “British Projects for Restoration of the Jews to Palestine.” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society NO. 26 (1918): 127-64. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Jabotisnky, Vladimir Ze’ev. “The Iron Wall” 1923. MS. “The Iron Wall” | Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 25 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/ironwall.html&gt;.

 

Khalidi, Muhammad Ali. “Utopian Zionism or Zionist Proselytism? A Reading of Herzl’s Altneuland.” Journal of Palestine Studies 30.4 (2001): 55-67. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Khalidi, Walid. “Plan Dalet: Master Plan for the Conquest of Palestine.” Journal of Palestine Studies 18.1 (1988): 4-33. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.

 

King, Henry Churchill, and Charles R. Crane. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 1919. The King-Crane Report – World War I Document Archive. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <https://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/The_King-Crane_Report&gt;.

 

Letters from General Congreve and Air Vice Marshal Salmond, through A. M.  Trenchard, “Situation in Palestine,” 28 June 1921, PRO CO 733/17. (Source originally found in Sahar Huneidi’s Notes)

 

Mill, John Stuart. “Ch. 2 What Utilitarianism Is.” On Liberty, Utilitarianism, and Other Essays. Ed. Tom Griffith. N.p.: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature, 2016. 374-94. Print.

 

Palestine for the Palestinians?” Advocate of Peace through Justice 84.7 (1922): 245-46. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Pappe, Ilan. History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006. JSTOR, June 2012. Web. Sept. 2016.

 

Said, Edward W. Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures. New York: Pantheon, 1994. 74. Print.

 

Schneer, Jonathan. The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. New York: Random House, 2010. Print.

 

Smith, Charles D. Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. New York: St. Martin’s, 1988. Print.

 

Takriti, Abdel Razzaq. “Palestine Mandate.” University of Houston. 18 Oct. 2016. Lecture.

 

Takriti, Abdel Razzaq. “Palestinian Mandate Pt. 2.” University of Houston. 25 Oct. 2016. Lecture.

 

Wolf, Lucien. “The Zionist Peril.” The Jewish Quarterly Review 17.1 (1904): 1. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

[1]Mill’s Utilitarianism and Other Essays

[2] King Crane Commission (JVL)

[3] King Crane Commission (JVL)

[4] Pappe, History of Modern Palestine

[5] Theodore Herzl, Der Judenstaat (JVL)

[6] Albert M. Hyamson, British Projects for Restoration

[7] Mohammed Khalidi, Utopian Zionism

[8] Theodore Herzl

[9] Charles Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

[10]Ahad Ha’am Jewish Question (JVL)

[11] Ha’am

[12] Muhammad Khalidi

[13] Future of Palestine

[14] Ottoman Document (Source: Charles Smith)

[15] Charles Smith

[16] Charles Smith

[17] Charles Smith

[18] Jonathan Schneer, Balfour Declaration

[19] Husayn – McMahon Correspondence (JVL)

[20] Husayn – McMahon Correspondence (JVL)

[21] Charles Smith

[22] Balfour Declaration (JVL)

[23] Ellsworth Huntington, Future of Palestine

[24] British Mandate of Palestine (JVL)

[25] Abdel Takriti Palestinian Mandate (Notes)

[26] Ellsworth Huntington

[27] Abdel Takriti, Palestinian Mandate Pt. 2 (Notes)

[28] Albert M. Hyamson

[29] Albert M. Hyamson

[30] Huneidi, Reversal of the Balfour Declaration

[31] Huneidi

[32] Herbert Samuel (Find Source)

[33] Jabotinsky’s The Iron Wall (JVL)

[34]  Lucien Wolf, Zionist Peril

[35] Walid Khalidi, Plan Dalet

[36] Edward Said, Representations of the Intellectual

[37] Winston Churchill, Response to Peel Commission

 

It can be argued that it is human nature to seek approval from others and even attempt to make everyone happy although inarguably, it is impossible to do so. In the simplest of reasons, the impracticality is because one cannot make someone else happy without taking away someone else’s happiness.[1] In 1917, Lord Arthur James Balfour attempts to do just that with the Balfour Declaration, promising British assistance in establishing a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine, after a series of discussions and debates, in order to appease the interests of the Zionists. In doing so however, Balfour has established the first of what will become many strands, that together make up a metaphorical spider web of neglected pleas of the present Arab population. Therefore, the intent of this essay is to contend that the British, alongside the Zionists, sought to strategically and purposefully, exploit the Arab Natives of Palestine in order to produce the Jewish State of Israel, despite Balfour professing in his Declaration to not infringe upon the rights of the Native Arab Population. This is proven largely in part due to the incessant neglect of Arab concerns, vagueness in promises made to address Arab concerns, and unheeded cautions by non-Arab notables to bandage broken promises.

As soon as the Balfour Declaration was passed, along with the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, the land was divided amongst the French and British, as agreed in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Naturally, there was opposition from the Arab natives (Christian and Muslim) but most significantly, there was pressure from the at the time, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson who was reluctant with the idea of European nations being in control of a non-European population. To reiterate, the feeling amongst the native Arabs was mutual as described in the King Crane Commission that:

 

with the best possible intentions, it may be doubted whether the Jews could possibly seem to either Christians or [Muslims] proper guardians of the holy places, or custodians of the Holy Land as a whole. The reason is this: The places which are most sacred to Christians-those having to do with Jesus-and which are also sacred to [Muslims], are not only not sacred to Jews, but abhorrent to them. It is simply impossible, under those circumstances, for [Muslims] and Christians to feel satisfied to have these places in Jewish hands, or under the custody of Jews. [2]

 

Still, the British Government and members of the Peace Conference (members of the Triple Alliance after WWI) remained unmoved by this concern from the Arabs, and the establishment of a national homeland for the Jews, was to remain implemented. Despite the urging in the document to the notables forewarning that “The Peace Conference should not shut its eyes to the fact that the anti-Zionist feeling in Palestine and Syria is intense and not lightly to be flouted. No British officer, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms.”[3]

 

In order to fully grasp the gravity of the situation and why these concerns of the Arabs are treated as trivial, one must go back into the depths of history and see how it all started. During the Ottoman Empire, which at the time surrounded Palestine and what would later be known as the State of Israel, possessed a religiously diverse population; albeit despite an immense Muslim population, historians agree that citizens lived in relative harmony. Due to “the majority of the culture of Christians and Jews was like that of Muslims: determined not just by religious affiliation, but by geographical and social location.”[4] Meaning, that the idea of what dogma was practiced was irrelevant; especially if the social status of the individual was considered prosperous. However, this was not the case for Jews in Europe, where anti-Semitism was rampant and Jews, as Theodor Herzl described:

 

Wherever [the Jews] live in perceptible numbers, they are more or less persecuted…The forms of persecutions vary according to the countries and social circles in which they occur. In Russia, imposts are levied on Jewish Villages; in Rumania, a few persons are put to death; in Algeria, there are travelling agitators; In Germany, they get a good beating occasionally; in Austria, anti-Semites exercise terrorism over all public life; in Paris, the Jews are shut out of the so-called best social circles and excluded from clubs.[5]

 

Therefore, a solution was needed and quickly; the solution being, a safe-haven for the Jewish people. And the location of this sanctuary, was to be Palestine, a land they believed, from biblical times was owned by the Jews, and therefore, the time came for them to return and reclaim what rightfully belonged to them.

 

However, in doing so, the position of the Jewish question of Palestine [was] at the opening of the new era in which practical efforts took the place of dreams and theological disputations and the province hitherto monopolized by divines and philosophers was invaded by statesmen and other men of affairs.”[6] This was mainly due to the attitude Herzl developed towards the native Arab population, which was a “thoroughly repugnant image of Palestine, describing its towns and villages as no better than animal quarters.”[7]

 

It would be irremissible however, to not mention that Herzl was subsequently willing to be flexible in regards to the location of the Jewish state. Although, Palestine was the first choice, Herzl knew that the only way the Jewish people would be successful in acquiring a state of their own would require help from one of the major European powers. Therefore, as Herzl stated, “should the Powers declare themselves willing to admit our sovereignty over a neutral piece of land, then the Society will enter into negotiations for the possession of this land. Here two territories come under consideration, Palestine and Argentine.”[8]

One could make the assumption that Herzl, in his eagerness for European support, was willing to compromise with whatever that was handed to him. For instance, “in 1902, seeking the Al-Arish area in the Sinai Peninsula because it was adjacent to Palestine and could serve as an opening for future demands for expanded migration to the area. Joseph Chamberlain then British Colonial secretary, replied by suggesting land in British-Controlled East Africa, now part of Kenya. Though initially hostile to this idea, Herzl later saw it as granting a temporary haven that might give the Zionists leverage in their demands for Palestine.” [9] However, the idea of anything save Palestine was out of the question to other Zionists and for even the suggestion of this by Herzl, led other Zionists to suspect Herzl of being willing to abandon Zionism.  

Some Jewish notables such as essayist, Ahad Ha’am believed that in theory, the establishment of a Jewish state worked but was impractical as a result of many conflicting factors such as: “In the West it is the problem of the Jews, in the East the problem of Judaism. The one weighs on the individual, the other on the nation. The one is felt by Jews who have had a European education, the other by Jews whose education has been Jewish.”[10] Meaning that there was a strong disconnect amongst the people of Judaism and that their beliefs and ethics were on completely different wavelengths.  Ha’am argues, that Zionists were:

so spiritually far removed from Judaism, and have no true conception of its ­­­­­­nature and its value. Such men, however loyal to their State and devoted to its interests, will necessarily regard those interests as bound up with the foreign culture which they themselves have imbibed and they will endeavor, by moral persuasion or even by force, to implant that culture in the Jewish State, so that in the end the Jewish State will be a State of Germans or Frenchmen of the Jewish race.[11]

Future scholars such as Muhammad Ali Khalidi, will attest to this and ask the paradoxical question: “Why did Herzl, while explicitly disavowing utopianism, write of a utopia advocating ideas at variance with his own ideological principles, especially when the society described does not seem distinctively Jewish?”[12]

Unsurprisingly, the Muslim inhabitants were not pleased with the idea of Zionists taking the land they felt belonged to them. “As might be expected, the same thing is true of the resident Christians. Interestingly enough, the Palestinian Jews are also as much opposed…”[13] Not only were the citizens that were predominantly Muslim feeling even more hostility towards the foreigners but were also feeling a strong disdain for the Jewish population in particular; a group of people they once gave the Dhimmi status (a protected status for non-Muslims). Ottomans also were trying their best to prevent any sort of growing nationalism similar to the Balkans. Moreover, Ottoman Policy towards the Zionists remained consistent: “Jewish Immigrants will be able to settle as scattered groups throughout the Ottoman Empire, excluding Palestine. They must submit to the laws of the empire and become Ottoman subjects.”[14] But this policy was not effectively carried out, as “Jewish immigrants entered the area as tourists or pilgrims; but once there, would acquire the protection of foreign consuls since European powers were eager to protect their own rights.”[15]

Nevertheless, immigration as well as native’s concern for its advancement, escalated. Some ways Arab-Natives addressed these concerns were newspapers that were published to essentially inform others of how negative consequences would result from establishing a Homeland in Palestine. Among these published newspapers) were al-Karmil in 1908 (whose editors were also Greek Orthodox Christians and Filastin (Palestine) founded in 1911. The intentions of these articles were not to inspire animosity towards the Jewish people but rather to seek empathy with the Arab-Inhabitants and this proved successful even on an international scale. Even “Rashid Rida, a Muslim reformer born in the Beirut vilayet but living in Cairo, published an article in 1902 in his journal al-Manar, stating that in his belief, “[Zionists] sought national sovereignty, not simply a haven from persecution.”[16]

All this was happening during a crucial point in time, the first World War. There were rising uncertainties of the turnout for Britain during World War I and with the Ottoman Empire just so happening to be on the side of the Central Powers, “call[ing] into question the future of their own empire, which meant the future of Palestine as well”[17], essentially placed both nations in a quagmire. For Zionists, this was the perfect opportunity to appeal to the British of their concerns. Chaim Weizmann, in particular was at making exceptional strides in persuading the British by establishing conversations with the right people at the most convenient time:

Weizmann had two long sessions with Dorothy [Rothschild] in lieu of meeting with her husband…[and] wrote to [Weizmann] less than two weeks later: ‘I have spoken to Mr. Charles Rothschild, not in any sort of way officially, but in the course of conversation he thoroughly approved of the idea [a Jewish Palestine] and in fact thought it would be the only possible future.’ Charles was…the younger brother of Walter Lionel Rothschild, who would become the Lord Rothschild to whom the Balfour Declaration would be addressed.[18]

The British were reluctant at first, but Weizmann’s connections, along with presentiment that the Russians were going to withdraw from the war, and perhaps even one’s assumption that Britain as a superpower, caused them to make whatever deals with anyone they felt would be behoove them in the end. Realistically, the British were aware they would have to do their best to make sure they could make good on the promises they delivered. In this case however, the British made sure their fingers crossed behind their backs, remained concealed when shaking hands with the Arabs. Unaware of the British’s plan to deceive them, Arabs had begun a revolt against their Ottoman Government, in hopes of acquiring an “[independent] Arab nation…and grasp the reins of their administration… and whereas they have found and felt that it [was] in the interest of the Government of Great Britain to support them and aid them in the attainment of their firm and lawful intentions.”[19]

Letters were sent back and forth between Sharif Husayn and Sir Henry McMahon attempting to show congruity between the British and the Arabs however, statements from McMahon such as: “We take note of your remarks concerning the vilayet of Baghdad a and will take the question into careful consideration when the enemy has been defeated and the time for peaceful settlement arrives”, transparently shows the British metaphorically dragging their feet when asked to address Arab concerns. Suspicion grew subsequently but the Arabs remained oblivious to any double-crossing because McMahon, in his clever wording, maintained to the rebels: “rest assured that Great Britain has no intention of concluding any peace in terms of which the freedom of the Arab peoples from German and Turkish domination does not form an essential condition.”[20] Unbeknownst to Husayn however, McMahon has told others,

I do not for one minute go to the length of imagining what the present negotiations will go far to shape the future form of Arabia…What we have to arrive at now is to tempt the Arab peoples into the right path, detach them from the enemy and bring them over to our side.[21]

 

Ultimately, the Balfour Declaration was published in 1917. In its writing, the Balfour Declaration made sure to include that “Palestine [as] a national homeland for the Jewish people…clearly understood that nothing [would] be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”[22] However, careful reading of the Palestinian Mandate seems to contradict this notion of clemency. Instead, what is seen is undeniably, paternalistic colonialism. This sentiment was shared among most who viewed the Arabs; that even though the treatment of the Arabs were “indeed paternalistic, but paternalism seems to be necessary in dealing with backward countries”[23]. And as a result the British had to take control and make sure that the implementation of a Jewish Homeland ran smoothly. For example, article 16 of the Mandate states that: “The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government.”[24]

Unlike the Syrian or Iraqi mandate, which established a state and recognition of political rights of the people living within the boundaries of the state and once they reach the appropriate level of civilization (as determined by the mandate) then Syria would be ruled by Syrians, and Iraq would be ruled by Iraqis.[25] Although most people were well aware that “the Caliph, or head of the [Muslim] world, [had] a strong influence with [Muslims] in all countries. Formerly If the [Muslim] world [was] to be kept contented it appear[ed] necessary that there should be a Caliph whose authority is widely accepted.”[26]

The British mandate of Palestine, on the other hand, had only one party that was meant to be recognized, the Jewish Agency. The main pursuit of this agency was to implement and fulfill the obligations as stated in the Balfour Declaration by the British Government and install a Jewish homeland. Therefore, they could not recognize a politically local state (like Iraq or Syria) out of fear that the local population would reject power of the national homeland. In other words, any form of representative government, would undermine any British objectives as written in the Balfour Declaration.[27]

It is inarguable then, to say that British felt no reason to bring Palestine to independence as there was not going to be a British exit anytime soon. The crux was, to put it in simple words, stay until the job was done. “Of all this group of advocates of the restoration of the Jews to Palestine with British assistance, the most important was Colonel George Gawler, who had been governor of South Australia and…devoted the greater part of his activity to the Jewish cause.”[28] Gawler is important to note because “He proposed the gradual colonization of Palestine by Jews, small experimental colonies being established in the first instance. It was, however, essential to his scheme that Britain should undertake the protection of the colonies.”[29]

Subsequently, this caused some disorder for the British. During this early period, where Palestine was under military rule, the British military finally gained some insight of the wrong they had done to the Arabs. “In the case of Palestine these sympathies [of the British troops] are rather obviously with the Arabs, who have hitherto appeared to the disinterested observer to have been the victims of an unjust policy, forced upon them by the British Government.”[30] Simultaneously, there were many British doubts of the Balfour Declaration. Even “the British press, initially favorable to the Jewish national home policy, had by the early 1920s become increasingly skeptical if not hostile, and a movement opposed to the Balfour Declaration was gaining ground within parliament”[31]   Some considerable issues were raised; most of them essentially feeling a sense of remorse and pondering why a policy that could possibly result in retribution, should be implemented.

 

Looking back on the issue, this should not arouse a feeling of bewilderment. The threat of retaliation from the Arabs had been forewarned by many, yet resented. Pro-Zionists and British officials such as Herbert Samuel, believed “what we have got to face is the fact that as long as we persist in our Zionist policy we have got to maintain all our present forces in Palestine to enforce a policy hateful to the great majority”[32] With that, one can repudiate any statement that displays a feeling of remorse felt by the British; in that the British were well aware of what they were doing and even meant to colonize Palestine.

However, Britain is not the only one to be condemned; Zionists such as Jabotinsky, were well aware that “there was no misunderstanding…Zionists want…the one thing that Arabs do not want…[that] the Jews would gradually become the majority…and the future of the Arab minority would depend on the goodwill of the Jews…so there is no ‘misunderstanding’.”[33] Again, one mustn’t ignore that a number of Jews were critical of Zionism. For these Jewish people, they had worked relentlessly to assimilate in the country they lived in and the rise of Zionism would become problematic as to how loyal a Jewish citizen was to their nation. It is for that reason why Zionists must be allocated in their own category as “it stands today in its preliminary propaganda is not without considerable danger to the security and happiness of the Jews throughout the world.”[34]

Unapologetically, “Zionism’s responsibility for the Palestinian exodus and diaspora is an integral part of the genesis of the State of Israel. In their heart of hearts, most Israelis know this, which at least in part accounts for their pervasive sense of insecurity.”[35] Without a doubt, there has been an incessant struggle for Jews and perhaps the trials of the Arabs being overlooked has, and always shall be the norm; on the other hand,

fear of speaking out about one of the greatest injustices in modern history has hobbled, blinkered, muzzled many who know the truth and are in a position to serve it. For despite the abuse and vilification that any outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and self-determination earns for him or herself, the truth deserves to be spoken, represented by an unafraid and compassionate intellectual.[36]

By retaining a fait accompli approach to the whole issue on Palestine, it only corroborates the idea of duplicity and hypocrisy, that Arabs were indeed exploited. And because the British were well aware of the consequences that were to come about, they purposefully allowed the Zionists to essentially, “get away with it.” Winston Churchill has compared the issue of Palestine to a dog in a manger claiming that, “I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time.”[37] For the sake of argument, one can compromise that even if the dog who has always lain in the manger, can deal with not ultimately being given back what it once called its home. Yet. if nothing has been done to shelter the dog, there is no “final right.”

 

 

 

Bibliography:

 

British Mandate of Palestine. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 1922. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Palestine_Mandate.html&gt;.

 

Churchill, Winston. “”Dog in Manger” Quote.” A-Z Quotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <http://www.azquotes.com/quote/1448775I%20do%20not%20agree%20that%20the%20dog%20in%20a%20manger%20has%20the%20final%20right%20to%20the%20manger%20even%20though%20he%20may%20have%20lain%20there%20for%20a%20very%20long%20time.%20I%20do%20not%20admit%20that%20right.%20I%20do%20not%20admit%20for%20instance,%20that%20a%20great%20wrong%20has%20been%20done%20to%20the%20Red%20Indians%20of%20America%20or%20the%20black%20people%20of%20Australia.&gt;.

 

Ha’am, Ahad. “The Jewish State and Jewish Problem” N.d. MS, Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/haam2.html&gt;.

 

Herzl, Theodor. “The Jewish State” 1896. MS. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/herzl2.html&gt;.

 

Huneidi, Sahar. “Was Balfour Policy Reversible? The Colonial Office and Palestine, 1921-23.” Journal of Palestine Studies 27.2 (1998): 23-41. JSTOR. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

 

Huntington, Ellsworth. “The Future of Palestine.” Geographical Review 7.1 (1919): 24-35. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Husayn, Sharif, and Henry McMahon. “The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence.” Letter. N.d. The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence (July 1915-August 1916) | Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Virtual Library, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hussmac1.html&gt;.

Hyamson, Albert M. “British Projects for Restoration of the Jews to Palestine.” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society NO. 26 (1918): 127-64. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Jabotisnky, Vladimir Ze’ev. “The Iron Wall” 1923. MS. “The Iron Wall” | Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 25 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/ironwall.html&gt;.

 

Khalidi, Muhammad Ali. “Utopian Zionism or Zionist Proselytism? A Reading of Herzl’s Altneuland.” Journal of Palestine Studies 30.4 (2001): 55-67. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Khalidi, Walid. “Plan Dalet: Master Plan for the Conquest of Palestine.” Journal of Palestine Studies 18.1 (1988): 4-33. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.

 

King, Henry Churchill, and Charles R. Crane. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 1919. The King-Crane Report – World War I Document Archive. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <https://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/The_King-Crane_Report&gt;.

 

Letters from General Congreve and Air Vice Marshal Salmond, through A. M.  Trenchard, “Situation in Palestine,” 28 June 1921, PRO CO 733/17. (Source originally found in Sahar Huneidi’s Notes)

 

Mill, John Stuart. “Ch. 2 What Utilitarianism Is.” On Liberty, Utilitarianism, and Other Essays. Ed. Tom Griffith. N.p.: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature, 2016. 374-94. Print.

 

Palestine for the Palestinians?” Advocate of Peace through Justice 84.7 (1922): 245-46. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Pappe, Ilan. History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006. JSTOR, June 2012. Web. Sept. 2016.

 

Said, Edward W. Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures. New York: Pantheon, 1994. 74. Print.

 

Schneer, Jonathan. The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. New York: Random House, 2010. Print.

 

Smith, Charles D. Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. New York: St. Martin’s, 1988. Print.

 

Takriti, Abdel Razzaq. “Palestine Mandate.” University of Houston. 18 Oct. 2016. Lecture.

 

Takriti, Abdel Razzaq. “Palestinian Mandate Pt. 2.” University of Houston. 25 Oct. 2016. Lecture.

 

Wolf, Lucien. “The Zionist Peril.” The Jewish Quarterly Review 17.1 (1904): 1. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

[1]Mill’s Utilitarianism and Other Essays

[2] King Crane Commission (JVL)

[3] King Crane Commission (JVL)

[4] Pappe, History of Modern Palestine

[5] Theodore Herzl, Der Judenstaat (JVL)

[6] Albert M. Hyamson, British Projects for Restoration

[7] Mohammed Khalidi, Utopian Zionism

[8] Theodore Herzl

[9] Charles Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

[10]Ahad Ha’am Jewish Question (JVL)

[11] Ha’am

[12] Muhammad Khalidi

[13] Future of Palestine

[14] Ottoman Document (Source: Charles Smith)

[15] Charles Smith

[16] Charles Smith

[17] Charles Smith

[18] Jonathan Schneer, Balfour Declaration

[19] Husayn – McMahon Correspondence (JVL)

[20] Husayn – McMahon Correspondence (JVL)

[21] Charles Smith

[22] Balfour Declaration (JVL)

[23] Ellsworth Huntington, Future of Palestine

[24] British Mandate of Palestine (JVL)

[25] Abdel Takriti Palestinian Mandate (Notes)

[26] Ellsworth Huntington

[27] Abdel Takriti, Palestinian Mandate Pt. 2 (Notes)

[28] Albert M. Hyamson

[29] Albert M. Hyamson

[30] Huneidi, Reversal of the Balfour Declaration

[31] Huneidi

[32] Herbert Samuel (Find Source)

[33] Jabotinsky’s The Iron Wall (JVL)

[34]  Lucien Wolf, Zionist Peril

[35] Walid Khalidi, Plan Dalet

[36] Edward Said, Representations of the Intellectual

[37] Winston Churchill, Response to Peel Commission

Explosive Decisions: The Use of the Atomic Bomb in World War II

I wrote this paper 3 years ago for a class I took on Chinese and Japanese History (19 years old) and submitted it recently for a World Wars Conference at University of Houston-Downtown. Personally, I have grown as a writer and am disappointed with this essay as I could have done a lot better, but it got me admitted into a professional conference and I had a great time researching for this assignment as well as writing it that I decided to share it with my readers. Please enjoy. 

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are taught in the school books as a tremendous victory for the United States because of how they essentially stood up to the Japanese and finally were able to end the war. However today, some U.S. Citizens criticize the government for the bombings and share a belief that the United States was wrong for the bombings and that alternative options should have been taken in order to end the war. And the empathetic stories of survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki only exacerbate the argument that what the U.S. Government did was a bit extreme. While one cannot turn back time and undo what the United States did, it can still be explored if there were indeed different opportunities for both Japan and the United States in order to at least prevent using the atomic bomb.

From the United States’ perspective there were many warnings sent to the Japanese urging them to surrender or face the consequences. However by using this secret weapon, the U.S. government had knowledge that the attack would bring about many casualties to not only Japanese military targets but also innocent civilians. This was an arduous decision indeed, but there is evidence (such as a letter from President Truman) that the U.S. had justifiable reasons for doing what they did. From the Japanese perspective, the ones who were not militarily involved in the war will say otherwise. This leaves current students who are interested in the study of World War II and historians wondering if the decision made was the correct way to go or if there was another way to end the war without having to produce so many casualties.

In order to get a good glimpse of this past, first one must understand what drove the United States to come to the drastic decision that would change the face of history itself. Starting with December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked a United States deep naval base located on Hawaii called Pearl Harbor, much to the surprise of many. The reason for it being such a surprise was because no one would have seen a reason for Japan to attack the United States. During this time, Japan was in a war with China and had already occupied rural parts of China. And according to a National Geographic documentary, the Japanese wanted the oil fields in the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines because of its strategical location[1] so they could conquer all of China.  And the United States came into the picture because they stood in Japan’s way of all this. So by attacking the United States, the Japanese hoped to essentially cripple them in order for Japan to get the U.S. to back off while Japan could conquer China and by the time the United States healed themselves, China would already be conquered and nothing could be done about it.[2]

Unfortunately for Japan, the attack on Pearl Harbor turned out to be counterproductive in the sense that instead of getting the United States to back off, what it did was unite Americans to fight in the war until the Japanese were defeated. And Japan was far from wanting a war with the United States because they were well aware that they would have a great difficulty in winning the war. The Japanese knew that the more the war went on, the more America would be able to mobilize and inevitably destroy Japan. So in other words, Japan was well aware they were writing a check they could not cash but it didn’t stop them from proceeding with the attack.

Adding on to the fact of Japan being the major aggressor in this war, they even behaved barbarically during the stages of the war and had this murderous mentality in doing so. For example: Japanese soldiers would kill prisoners and even successfully attempted suicide missions with the mindset of suicide being a better option than giving up.  But it is important to note that the United States behaved just as bad by mutilating their Japanese prisoners. In fact, most Americans viewed the Japanese as inhumane, barbaric,[3] and even traitorous (because the leader of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Isoroku Yamamoto, was a Harvard Graduate)[4]. With all that said, one can infer that the hatred the Americans had against the Japanese could have played a part in the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima in the sense that the United States essentially had a vendetta against Japan.

Since no side was willing to back down during the war and with “Japan having vowed to fight to the bitter end in the Pacific, despite clear indications (as early as 1944) that they had little chance of winning”[5] it was pretty self-evident that something big was to occur in order for it to finally come to an end. And because in “September 1939, the United States was uniquely positioned to move forward on a bomb project”[6], the war was soon to be over. By 1945, the United States give Japan an ultimatum: “Surrender unconditionally or face prompt and utter destruction.”[7] With that said, Japan was hesitant upon surrendering “unconditionally”, the reasons for this was because of the fear they had of what may happen to their Emperor Hirohito. And granted, the United States did not plan to do anything to the Emperor but when Japan sent a message to the United States saying that there would be an agreement of peace under the condition of having nothing happen to their Emperor, Joseph Ballantine (one of the advisors of President Truman) said, “We can’t agree to that, because the prerogatives of the emperor include everything, and if you agree to that, you’re going to have endless struggle with the Japanese.”[8] It should also be noted that in a post-war interview, Truman stated that a promise to the Emperor Hirohito was presented “through regular channels” that he would not be tried as a war criminal and his title would not be taken away from him but this was wrong; the United States never spoke to the emperor of this and “Truman had somehow forgotten the central issue determining the fate of the war”.[9]

Finally on August 6, 1945, the Japanese city of Hiroshima, located about 500 miles from Tokyo, suffered “prompt and utter destruction” with an “explosion wip[ing] out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure.”[10] With that in mind, it would seem as though an immediate surrender would have taken place but because the Japanese failed to do so, another bomb (More powerful than the one used at Hiroshima)[11] was dropped on the city of Nagasaki three days later. Based on the destruction and devastation caused by the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, one may ask the question whether or not a second bomb was necessary. The answer to that is perhaps, but there is no clear evidence to support that decision.

At the time, the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did seem necessary to some because vengeance played an extreme part in executing the bomb with Truman saying: “We have used [these bombs] against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare.”[12]  Despite the annihilation of a majority of the city in Hiroshima, it was Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill who said, “there never was a moment’s discussion as to whether the atomic bomb should be used or not”[13] So it is no surprise that when President Truman first heard that the bomb on Hiroshima was dropped, his response was not one of pain or remorse. This was before Truman had knowledge of what the bomb was truly capable of and the impact it had on the civilians in Hiroshima however.

This leads historians of today to wonder if the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still necessary and the truth is that the day after the first bomb on Hiroshima was dropped, a senator from Georgia named Richard Russell, sent President Truman a telegram essentially telling him that more atomic bombs should be used but Truman rejected this idea saying:

“I know that Japan is a terribly cruel and uncivilized nation in warfare…but I can’t bring myself to believe that, because they are beasts, we should ourselves act in the same manner. For myself, I certainly regret the necessity of wiping out whole populations because of the ‘pigheadedness’ of the leaders of a nation, and for your information, I am not going to do it unless it is absolutely necessary…My object is to save as many American lives as possible but I also have a humane feeling for the women and children in Japan”[14]

Meaning that the United States had essentially made their point by dropping two bombs on Japan and there was no need for there to be more bloodshed. However in a postwar interview, when Truman was asked whether or not any other bombs were planned to be used against Japan as well, Truman responded, “Yes. The other two cities on the list [Niigata and Kokura] would have been bombed.”[15]

One can only imagine what a third or fourth bomb would have done to the people of Japan.  Knowledge of the casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone, are too much to handle; In Hiroshima there is an estimated total of 135,000 and in Nagasaki were 64,000. But in the end, who is to blame for all this destruction? Of course Truman was the president of the United States during this time, who allowed for the bombs to be dropped but it was

“President Franklin D. Roosevelt [who] authorized the development of the bomb, [and] its progress was overseen by U.S. government representatives, hundreds of American Scientists, and thousands more American staffed the plants that manufactured the components, including fissionable ones, that made the bomb work. American scientists or rather those working in the United States, saw the bomb successfully tested and knew basically what it would do to a city and its residents. President Harry S. Truman…authorized the atomic bombings, with the advice and consent of his closest advisors. The United States can be properly credited with having made the decisive weapon in the Pacific War—and it can be rightly blamed for having unleashed upon the world the special destructiveness of nuclear power.”[16]

But it cannot be forgotten where Japan’s place in History was before and during the Second World War. Before the war, Japan was in the process of modernizing itself after essentially being pushed around one too many times by foreign powers. And one of the key important things Japan wanted to modernize was their military and after the Russo-Japanese war in 1904, Japan had successfully done so and made its place among the world’s great powers. The secret to Japan’s modernization was essentially them borrowing certain political attributes from other countries however its main goal was to assert itself as the World’s Greatest power and become the ultimate sphere of influence. This started with Japan attempting to essentially spread their empire into China in order to insulate against the 1930’s Great Depression but this didn’t sit right with China who was in the process of bringing about a new government[17] and as a result, there was war between Japan and China and as stated earlier, the United States stood in the way of Japan successfully being able to take over China.

In other words, one can say that Japan was responsible for giving the United States a reason to use the bomb because when one carefully reads the terms put in the Potsdam Declaration (the declaration which gave Japan terms to follow upon surrendering) especially one of the numbers that says, “the Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives”[18], which does not seem unfair. And another term that says, “We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners” should have given the Japanese a little peace of mind when contemplating whether or not they should accept the surrender terms. It essentially leads to the conclusion that it was perhaps the stubbornness of the Japanese government that led to their inevitable demise.

The question still remains whether or not there were still other options that could have taken place as an alternative to using the bomb. To find the answer to that, one must try to find the reason for the United States stressing upon Japan an “unconditional” surrender. As stated earlier, there were no plans to harm the emperor nor were there plans to enslave any Japanese citizens. So why desire for an unconditional surrender? A good inference could be that the United States wanted to instill fear in the Japanese people because even though they were on the clear losing side of the war, they were still unwilling to back down. When the Japanese were almost to the point of surrendering on the one condition that they knew nothing would happen to their emperor, why couldn’t the United States accept that one term? Secretary of State, James Byrnes answers the question for that in his memoirs, “While equally anxious to bring the war to an end, I had to disagree [to Japan’s condition]…and any retreat from these words [“unconditional surrender”] now would cause much delay in securing their acquiescence”[19]. And according to Tsuyoshi’s “Racing the Enemy”, it appears that

“Truman was well aware that once he insisted upon unconditional surrender in the Potsdam Proclamation, Japan would fight the war to the bitter end…He feared that any negotiations with the Japanese government might be taken as a sign of weakness. Any weakening of the U.S. stand on unconditional surrender might strengthen the war party in Japan, reinforcing their will to fight on… [And] the atomic bomb provided Truman with the answer to the dilemma of imposing unconditional surrender on japan and saving American lives. Thus, [Truman] was eager to use the atomic bomb rather than explore other alternatives”[20]

So to put it another way, there may have been alternative options but based on the situation Truman was in, with Japan not wanting to surrender and having the atomic bomb as this almost magic button that could make all the world’s problems go away (along with many of his confidants perhaps urging him to use it), it seemed as though giving the “go ahead” to dropping the bomb was his only option. That and if there were any other alternatives that could have been taken, the Japanese perhaps would have still continued to fight. It should also be known that Japan also had scientists that were capable of building their own atomic bomb but the only thing that hindered this from happening in Japan was that the scientists were “unenthusiastic about the bomb”.[21]

The aftermath of the surrendering resulted in the U.S. occupying Japan and making sure the terms of the treaty are carried out. And General Douglas MacArthur was put in charge of this occupation and set out to try and transform Japan politically, economically, and socially. Politically he set to make Japan out to become a constitutional monarchy essentially not taking any power away from the emperor Hirohito and allow him to keep his title. Economically he set out to democratize it and socially, he set out to bring equality amongst Japanese citizens.[22] And because the Japanese had such a hatred for the United States during the War, one would expect the Japanese to drag their feet during the Occupation but they instead reacted peacefully and were instead grateful that the United States stuck to their promise that they had no intention to enslave the Japanese citizens and only sought out to bring peace amongst the people of Japan.

Looking back on the past, it seems as though while this war was avoidable, it still ended with peace among the people of Japan and the United States. And despite all the lives lost on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is quite clear that the United States made the right choice. The fact of the matter is that after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese did not make a declaration of peace until four days after the first bomb and one day after the second bomb was dropped.[23] And one cannot say that the United States did not try to make peace with Japan by urging them to surrender. Even President Truman stated in a letter regarding the bombings, “We sent an ultimatum to Japan. It was rejected… Dropping the bombs ended the war, saved lives, and gave the free nations a chance to face the facts.”[24] So while innocent civilians died as a result of this explosive decision, it was a sacrifice the United States and Japan both were going to have to make.

-Mr. Writer

Originally written on November 29, 2013 at 4:09 P.M.

 

Works Cited:

“The Atlantic | December 1946 | If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used | Compton.” The Atlantic | December 1946 | If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used | Compton. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. <http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/46dec/compton.htm&gt;.

“The Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2013. <http://www.history.com/topics/bombing-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki&gt;.

“Potsdam Declaration.” Atomicarchive.com: Exploring the History, Science, and Consequences of the Atomic Bomb. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. <http://www.atomicarchive.com/Docs/Hiroshima/Potsdam.shtml&gt;.

“Truman’s Reflections on the Atomic Bombings.” Atomicarchive.com: Exploring the History, Science, and Consequences of the Atomic Bomb. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.

Rotter, Andrew Jon. “Chapter 4: The United States I: Imagining and Building the Bomb.” Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. N. pag. Print.

Rotter, Andrew Jon. “Chapter 3: Japan and Germany: Paths Not Taken.” Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. N. pag. Print.

Byrnes, James, “All in One Lifetime” (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1958)*

Catton, Philip. “Second World War in Asia.” Stephen F. Austin State University. 4 Nov. 2013. Lecture.

Hasegawa, Tsuyoshi. “Chapter 5: The Atomic Bombs.” Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan. Cambridge: Harvard UP., n.d. N. pag. Print.

Cyril Clemens, ed., Truman Speaks (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960),p.69*

Catton, Philip. “The Occupation of Japan” Stephen F. Austin State University. 6 Nov. 2013. Lecture.

Pearl Harbor: Legacy of Attack. Dir. Michael Rosenfeld and Kirk Wolfinger. By Patrick Prentice. Perf. Tom Brokaw, Bob Ballard, Stephen Ambrose. National Geographic’s, 2001. Netflix.

Catton, Philip. “Japanese Imperialism” Stephen F. Austin State University. 7 Oct. 2013. Lecture

 

* Source copied from source used in “Racing the Enemy”

[1] National Geographic’s Documentary (Netflix)

[2] Catton’s Lecture (Second World War in Asia)

[3] Catton’s Lecture (Second World War in Asia)

[4] National Geographic’s Documentary (Netflix)

[5] History.com

[6] “Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb”

[7] Catton’s Lecture (Second World War in Asia)

[8] “Racing the Enemy”

[9] “Racing the Enemy”

[10] History.com

[11] History.com

[12] “Truman Speaks”

[13] “Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb”

[14] “Racing the Enemy”

[15]“Racing the Enemy”

[16] “Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb”

[17] Catton’s Lecture (Origins of the Sino-Japanese War)

[18] Potsdam Declaration

[19] James Byrne’s “All in One Lifetime”

[20] “Racing the Enemy”

[21] “Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb”

[22] Catton’s Lecture (The Occupation of Japan)

[23] If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used

[24] Truman’s Reflections on the Bomb