British policies sparked Palestine conflict, speaker says

By By Dan Treasure and By Dan Treasure

By Dan Treasure

The source of strife in Palestine dates back to the British failure to broker an acceptable solution for the Jewish immigration problem in what is now Israel, William Lewis said.

During a lecture last Tuesday, Lewis, a professor at the University of Texas, Austin, talked about the events leading up to the historic vote by the United Nations approving the U.N. Partition Plan in November of 1947.

Lewis said back in the 1940s, people still trusted the United Nations and even more so the British Empire, which was “bravely guarding the welfare of native people.” With this trust, the United Nations was thought to be able to “effectively keep the peace, with the executive arm of the Security Council…as a sort of town hall of the world.”

Although most students and staff who are on campus today were not alive in 1948, there is still much discussion on campus as to what the proper course of action should have been. Freshman Brandon Green believes there really was no right or wrong option the British could have made.

“There was no way they were not gonna tick off somebody,” Green said. “Re-integration wouldn’t have worked, but giving them their own state created problems that are still present today”

Instead of offering security and peace, Lewis said the cold war effectively splintered the U.N. Security Council as a two-thirds vote could hardly be mustered with the U.S. and Soviet contention. Additionally, Lewis said the shadow of the Holocaust still hung over Europe, aiding Zionists — Jews in favor of the creation of Jewish State — in their ply for freedom and their return to their homeland.

After World War I, the British Empire was given control of the British Mandate (what is now Israel) and parts of Syria and Jordan by the League of Nations with the purpose of “placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home,” Lewis said. Even though the land was designated as a home for the Jews, the British repudiated any connection between the British Mandate and a solution for European Jews fleeing Nazism. In fact, the British capped Jewish migration to the British Mandate at 75,000 a year with the signing of the White Paper of 1939, a legislaton in favor of divvying up control proportional to the population of Palestinians and Jews. In response to a 1944 request to help trapped, Spanish Jews, Britain Lord Moyne, the minister resident in the Middle East, stated, “Military authorities have suggested that we should not relieve the Axis powers of the problem which these Jews represent by assuming the burden ourselves and thereby adding to the strain on our limited transport and resources.”

In 1945, after promising to create a Jewish foreign state, the newly elected Labour Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin decided to continue to keep Palestine closed to migration.

However, Lewis said when the United States was negotiating a loan to Britain, President Harry Truman began exerting more pressure on the British to ease up on their treatment of the Jews. Shortly after, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine was created to solve the problem.

Additionally, the Soviet Union believed that a Jewish state would favor their socialistic views, thus creating one of the few issues that the U.S. and the USSR would agree on, he said. Along with Pro-Zionist sympathies within the U.N. Special Committee, when the vote was brought before the U.N. General Assembly, the majority voted in favor of Partition of the British Mandate into separate Jewish and Palestinian states.

In conclusion, Lewis said that while the British failed to come up with a solution to the later conflicts in the region, “neither had any one else.”

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Aaron Schwendiman

William Roger Louis addressed “The Moral Conscience of the World