Yes, you read that correctly: “…Britain’s Contribution to the ‘Final Solution’”. And the chapter argues forcefully that Britain de facto acquiesced to the genocidal policies of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in its implementation of the terms of the Mandate. David Green’s summary (below) reflects the emotional impact of the evidence adduced in the chapter.
Ms. Peters precedes this chapter with four contemporary quotations. One especially, captures the unconsionable behavior of Britain, augmented in the late-30s and during the Second World War, when so many Jewish lives were at stake and could have been saved by immigration to the Jewish National Home. Thus wrote Henry Morgenthau, United States Secretary of the Treasury, to President Roosevelt in 1944:
The British were apparently prepared to accept the probable death of thousands of Jews in enemy territory because of “the diffculties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued.”
Morgenthau was a scion of a wealthy Jewish family from western Europe, one of those depicted in Stephen Birmingham’s “Our Crowd”, often quite assimilated. But he spoke up for the Jewish people in outrage directly to President Roosevelt (over the State Department’s objection). As a result of his intervention his own Treasury Department hosted the President’s newly-created US War Refugee Board which funded Count Raoul Wallenberg’s mission to Hungary and which brought 200,000 Jews to the United States, 1944-45.
One wonders what it would have meant for modern-day Israel socially, militarily and diplomatically if Jews had indeed been allowed to “thickly settle” the Jewish National home in those terrible times, as promised in the British Mandate for Palestine.
The Middle East theatre of the Second World War saw a sordid, interwoven mix of the main protagonists, the Allies and NAZI Germany, jockeying for the support of a group of ARAB countries which were seen as an essential partner in the quest to push their respective enemy out of North Africa.
Britain in particular shamefully abandoned moral principle and compassion in its pursuit of Arab cooperation in its fight against Hitler’s North African armies. In seeking Arab favour, Britain actively undermined attempts by Jews escaping the Holocaust to enter Palestine, even considering firing upon the dilapidated ships bringing them to the shores of Palestine with the result that many escaping Jews were forced back into the fires of the Holocaust, where they perished.
To justify its conduct Britain concocted a falsehood about German agents being among the Jews attempting to enter Palestine, a ruse which was ultimately discredited. All this, despite the significant number of Palestinian Jews who fought with British forces against Nazi Germany during The Second World War.
On the other hand, as the British evidently either overlooked or were ignorant of, there were hundreds of Arab agents on the Nazi payroll working to aid Hitler in the Middle East. In the many documents uncovered by The American Christian Palestine Committee (TACPC), very little mention is made of these Arab agents.
But for all their cloak and dagger diplomacy, refined over the centuries, Britain fatally miscalculated the Arab propensity for lying, cheating and disloyalty. During the dominance of the “appeasers” during the 1930s, the symbiotic merging of Hitler’s Nazis and the Arabs, “Muftism” reached dominance Arab society.
And yet the Mufti and his hordes, ignoring the criminal agreement with Hitler, unhesitatingly turned their backs on him when his defeat was clear. To meet a March, 1945 deadline to qualify for membership in the new United Nations, the Arabs declared war on Germany, as did Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon.
The collusion of, the Nazis and the Mufti to rid the world of Jews in the “final solution” should have been patently clear to Britain – as well as to the Allies in general – even since before the outbreak of the Second World War. If it was, it was shamefully disregarded until after the annihilation of 6 million European Jews.
The TACPC appears to be almost alone post war in comprehending and exposing this reality and how it was perpetuated by the Arab countries. The TACPC exposed a perversion of history in fraudulent Arab accounts of their military support for the Allies and suppression of the Arab collusion with the NAZIS. The insidious collusion extended to office space for the Grand Mufti in Berlin, other parts of Germany and in Italy, and the personal responsibility of the Mufti of Jerusalem in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Nazi concentration camps.
Believing Nazi Germany would be victorious, the Mufti had reached agreements with Hitler whereby in exchange for their military support in the Middle East the two would effectively be complicit in the “final solution”. Hitler would secure domination of the Middle East while the Arabs would succeed in stopping the growth of the Jewish population in Palestine and, ultimately, destroying them.
Underscoring the Arab resistance to Jewish growth, was that the former was dotted with leaders who feared their lofty and lucrative positions were threatened by a growing Jewish population in Palestine.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, desperately needing financial resources to fund their economic growth was ill-disposed to accepting it from Zionist Jewry (which had been mooted in the Feisal-Weizmann agreement of 1917 with Transjordan).
The Frantic Forties
Reading the historical account of British conduct towards Jews trying to escape from the Holocaust and enter their homeland during the 1940s leaves one with a sense of disgust and horror at the magnitude of the unmitigated duplicity, mendacity, double standard, cover up of British wrong doing, and a callous total disregard for the lives of these desperate people. And with what objective? Were these acts of evil born out of hatred for Jews or a blatant callous attempt to win the friendship of the Arabs? And would understanding how the supposedly fair minded English came to sink to this ugly level help in unravelling or making some sense out of this dark period of Jewish history?
Friendship with the Arabs was the evident British aim. The British ultimately profited naught from their atrocious conduct.
The 1940s are replete with instances of atrocities perpetrated by the British against Jewish refugees. A signal example was the horrific episode involving an antiquated (built in 1867) and tiny ship (148 feet in length) called the “Struma”, stuffed with 800 Jews fleeing Hitler’s ovens and crew. In the Black Sea the ship’s unreliable diesel again failed, and the ship was towed to Istanbul. It was interned in Turkey for weeks while fruitless efforts were made to fix the engine. The British refused to allow the Struma entry to the Jewish National Home. So the little ship was eventually towed by the Turks to the Black sea and cast adrift but 10 miles from and in sight of Istanbul. Within hours, helpless, it was sunk by a torpedo from Soviet submarine Shch-213, with the loss of all on board, except a sole survivor, David Stoliar. The British (and Turks) were responsible for leaving the ship and its emaciated passengers so vulnerable in the line of fire. Conflicting reports tell of Ankara’s willingness to allow the ship to proceed to Palestine and of the British Government’s refusal to allow the Jews to land there.
Other examples of the British Government’s inhumanity include deporting Jews already living in Palestine and the confinement in internment camps of Jews who managed to enter their homeland.
While cohorts of the Mufti were collaborating with the Germans, and the Mufti had declared Holy War against Britain, the Mufti’s people were inexplicably allowed to enter Palestine and continued to factor into British military planning. Simultaneously, the Mufti continued to exhort Germany, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to accelerate their extermination of European Jews to prevent them from entering Palestine.
[The chapter features a photograph of the Mufti conferring with Hitler (p. 364), a June, 1943 letter of the Mufti to Hungary exhoring her not to send her Jews to Palestine (p. 372) and Hungary’s response (p. 373)–Editor]
When the British formed the Jewish Brigade to fight Germany, the Mufti offered the Arab Legion to Himmler.
Illegal Arab immigration during the Second World War
The conduct of the British Palestine Mandate Government, allowing mass illegal Arab immigration, and exerting extreme and harsh efforts to prevent immigration of Jewish refugees to their historic homeland, amounted effectively to a horrendous atrocity committed against the Jews. These policies were in force from at least as far back as the 1930s through to the end of the British mandate in 1948.
This conduct included mere lip service to any attempt to control illegal Arab immigration by the use of identity cards, which were in any case, in a practice of outright deviousness, authorised even after Arabs had illegally entered Palestine. Curbing Jewish immigration was ludicrously and fraudulently justified by British assertions that the Jews would rob the illegal Arab immigrants of employment opportunities.
American proposals to rescue Jewish refugees who were not stopped by the Mufti were protested and somehow foiled by the British Government. At a 1943 Anglo-American Bermuda conference the proposal to rescue 70,000 Rumanian Jews was protested by the British on the grounds that it would be difficult to “dispose of” so many, despite
clearly knowing that those Jews faced certain death. As a British Foreign Office
official wrote, “Once we open the door to adult male Jews to be taken out of enemy
territory, a quite unmanageable flood may result. (Hitler may facilitate it!)”.
Outraged, USA Treasury Secretary Henry Morganthau wrote to Roosevelt, “in simple terms, the British were apparently prepared to accept the probable death of thousands of Jews in enemy territory because of the ‘difficulties of disposing of a considerable number of Jews should they be rescued’”. In that case, the Americans went over the heads of Mandate officials and the British were over-ruled.
Despite the concern of the political fallout in America due to callous British indifference to the suffering of the Jews the strict implementation of the 1939 White Paper was not moderated even when the British became aware of the wholesale systematic murder of European Jews by the Nazis. Britain’s cold-hearted prevention of Jewish refugees from the Nazi Holocaust escaping to their historic homeland in Palestine effectively condemned hundreds of thousands of Jews to the Nazi death camps.
It is then not difficult to countenance the notion that in this way the British effectively had aided and abetted the Nazi Holocaust.
While archives and surveys include meticulous British records of the control of the relatively miniscule numbers of Jewish immigrants, there are scant records of the large numbers of illegal Arab immigrants. The archives record numbers of Arabs employed by the British Army, Navy and RAF in various construction projects, from which in any event many Arabs deserted.
The extent of the British campaign to keep European Jewish refugees out of Palestine, coupled with the Government’s cruelly repressive actions against Palestinian Jews is a violation of the terms of the Mandate. Its complicity in enormous illegal Arab immigration, and a blind eye turned to Arabs stealing desert scrub lands reclaimed by Jews, is astounding. British officials continually and unabashedly put out distorted statistics which were “supported” by insidiously deceptive justifications. The whole saga is a sorry, sordid and scandalous record of a shameful period in British history.
As the Second World War drew to a close and on into the short period before the creation of the State Of Israel, the British Government, in its persistent pursuit of friendship with the Arab countries, and in defiance of US criticisms–amid a flurry of diplomatic exchanges–continued to block Jewish immigration, citing the exhaustion of the 75,000 Jewish immigration quota provided in its White Paper of 1939.
Belatedly (1946), the United States, however, following the Anglo-American report, insisted that 100,000 Jews be admitted to Palestine without delay, and threatened economic sanctions against Britain unless it lived up to its obligations. This number represented two thirds of the 150,000 survivors from the Holocaust, who were lingering in camps after the War’s end.
The British embassy in Washington, D.C. was at that time feeling the heat from American headlines about its callous policy in Palestine. United States congressional representative Emanuel Celler “Stigmatised the UK Labour Government as callous and soulless”, and recommended the withholding of “…further money and credits under the loans” unless Britain adhered to her pledges. True to form, the British continued to obfuscate, citing among other ridiculous notions, obscure requirements for the definition of “German Jew”, and insisted that no German Jews be allowed to enter Palestine.
Indeed, a British Foreign Office diplomat, at the time (1943) wrote decrying attempts to persist in searches for Nazi war criminals (“We don’t war crimes trials to become a universal bore …”), Britain persisted in showing a dark side in its posture on the world stage, its malevolent attitude towards Jews being simply true to form.
The backdrop to all this was the escalating violence by Arabs against Jews in Western Palestine. Even before the declaration of Israeli independence of 1948, the surrounding Arab countries were mounting attacks on Jewish towns and settlements. A critical difference now was that the historic dhimmi cowering for survival, was replaced with the warrior Jew who handily won the War Of Independence against very large opposition and increased Israeli-held territory, while giving birth to the never-to-be-defeated Israeli Defense Forces.