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British double talk

By Hisham Khatib - Apr 21,2019 - Last updated at Apr 21,2019

The Palestinians and British Perfidy; 

The Tragic Aftermath of the Balfour Declaration of 1917

C. W. Richard Long

Sussex Academic Press, 2018


This is the latest of a series of books that covered the Balfour Declaration and the performance of the British Mandate over Palestine 1920 – 1948. It also thoroughly discussed the controversial interpretation of the correspondence between Sharif Husayn and McMahon, and how the Sharif (and Arabs) were deceived by the British double talk and the French intrigue.

It highlights the dedicated effort and the sophistication of the Zionist lobby lead by the well-connected Weizmann and the naivety of the Arab negotiators and leaders. All of which lead to the loss of Palestine and the dispersal of its indigenous population by a determined and persistent Zionist entity. Slowly but surely, it pursued its ambition not only to build a home (as the declaration called for) in the Holy Land, but also to control most of Palestine at the end of the mandate and complete its acquisition after the 1967 war.

The author Richard Long spent 26 years and most of his career in eight Arab Middle East countries with the British Foreign Office and the British Council, becoming subsequently director of the Islamic Studies at Newcastle University. Therefore, he is familiar with the region, its culture and history. This is his fifth book; other books covered Egypt and Iraq where British rule played a leading role in shaping their future. He is honest in expressing what he terms the “grievous wronging of the Palestinians in particular and the Arabs in general by my own country [Britain]”. It has become an establish fact that one nation (Britain) solemnly promised to second nation (Zionists) a country of a third (Arab Palestine). Long is honest in his recording and interpretation of history in that the Balfour Declaration call for an undefined Jewish National Home sought to disguise its true aim and the United kingdom purpose in issuing it was to turn Palestine into a Jewish state. Although the declaration call for undefined National Home sought to disguise that “The United Kingdom purpose in issuing it was to turn Palestine into a Jewish state”.

The book goes into details about the issue of the future of Palestine in the McMahon’s response to the Sharif of Mecca. In here, there was some ambiguity. Although the Sharif understanding was clear, McMahon’s correspondence was less clear. The Sykes-Picot Agreement which followed rapidly over the correspondence dashed all the Arab hopes of an independent Palestine by decreeing that after the war the territory would be internationally administered by the United Kingdom, France and Russia. The Balfour Declaration eighteen months later took a further giant miss-step and awarded it instead to the Jews.

This book is the most detailed, honest and a well-researched study of the circumstances leading to the Arab Revolt in 1915-1916, the McMahon’s correspondence and their ambiguity and double interpretation. The Sharif of Mecca thought that Britain promised him it would support an independent Arab entity in the whole of the Middle East, McMahon had a different interpretations and an ambiguous wording. The book details the events leading to the Balfour Declaration, the declaration itself and its tragic aftermath. The Arab violent reaction and Jews careful planning which gradually over thirty years of British rule over Palestine 1918-1948 ended by the emergence of Israel and its acquisition over most Palestine and expelling Palestinians, the indigenous population out of their land. It all ended in one of the longest outgoing conflicts, which after almost 100 years is still going, and causing instability and injustice in not only the Holy Land, but also affecting the whole of the Middle East and beyond.

Long explains the British excuse for the declaration. Britain wanted to implement and construct in Palestine a base, a backup to the Egyptian gateway protecting the Suez Canal route to India and that can only be obtained was to be put in the charge of trust worthy and cooperative Jews. The need for them to take this role, while keeping the French out, and was the unadmitted excuse for the Balfour Declaration. Feeling no need to consult them , Britain snatched Palestine away to the Jews who deceived many of their backers and supporters with the beguiling claim that the territory whose population of some 600,000, with Palestinians making up 93 per cent and only 7 per cent Jews, was a land without people which would be made available for a people without land. In the end, and after thirty years in a successful effort after the declaration, had brought to Britain less than nothing. In 1948, Britain had no one to hand Palestine over to and had lost all the prestige and the Middle East as well as in Haifa Port, the operating oil pipeline and the railway to Iraq which it had formally hoped to secure as its reward for its sponsorship of a National Home for the Jews over someone else’s land.

The British Mandate kept the Palestinians defenceless while arming the Jewish community. Its armed wing, the Hagana, attained a condition of professionalism during WWII, which the politically weak and geographically divided Arabs (and Palestinians) could not begin to match. Correspondingly, the 1948 (and later 1967) wars ended in a resounding loss to the Palestinians.

Long blames much of the Palestinians setback to the Palestinian family rivalry between the leading two Palestinian families of the Husaynys and the Nasheshibis, which blocked continued Arab effort and weakened Arab unity. In the view of some of independent observers Sheikh Amin Husayny (Arab leader) insistence on priority of domestic rivals over national preparedness was to condemn most of the Palestinians to exile. The author also blames Arab lack of political experience and maturity, which they displayed at great disadvantage at political negotiations, and their lack of knowledge of English (Lawrence was the major translator). All this placed them at great disadvantage versus the sophistication of Weismann (later Ben-Gurion) and colleagues and their influential connections and power of persuasion and intrigue.

Now, after more than 100 years we are in the middle of an on going conflict which seems never ending, and one which the declaration conspirators never envisaged or possibly intended.



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Monday 16 September 2019


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