“Churchill and Palestine”: Richmond, California, February 10th

“Churchill and Palestine”: Richmond, California, February 10th

Saturday, February 10, 2024

A lun­cheon meet­ing of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia Churchillians will be held at Lara’s Fine Din­ing, 1900 Esplanade Dri­ve, Rich­mond, Cal­i­for­nia, start­ing at 11am. This won­der­ful loca­tion is far from the untidi­ness of SF and right on the water. It is next to the Rosie the Riv­et­er Muse­um and the for­mer Kaiser World War II man­u­fac­tur­ing site, which atten­dees may wish to vis­it after our event.

Churchill and Palestine
Click to enlarge.

Richard Lang­worth, Churchill his­to­ri­an and Senior Fel­low of the Hills­dale Col­lege Churchill Project, will speak and answer ques­tions on “Churchill and Pales­tine, 1917-1948.” The near­by Kaiser fac­to­ry is a hap­py coin­ci­dence: Richard’s first book, Kaiser-Fraz­er: Last Onslaught on Detroit, began with Hen­ry Kaiser build­ing Lib­er­ty and Vic­to­ry ships dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. (See “Kaiser-Fraz­er and the Mak­ing of Auto­mo­tive His­to­ry.”)

How to register

We will hold a social hour at 11 am fol­lowed by lunch at noon and the dis­cus­sion at 1pm. If you wish to attend, please mail a check for $60 per per­son (made out to CBTB or “Churchillians by the Bay”) attend­ing to Gre­go­ry B. Smith, 154 W. Spain St, Vil­la T, Sono­ma, CA 95476. Be sure to include your menu choice of chick­en, salmon, or ravi­o­li from this menu. We hope to see you there for this impor­tant event. —Gre­go­ry B. Smith, Chair­man, Churchillians by the Bay, tele­phone: (707) 974-9324, [email protected].

Churchill and Palestine

Richard will review Churchill’s involve­ment with Pales­tine and Israel from the 1917 Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion and 1921 Cairo Con­fer­ence through the “Two-State Solu­tions” of 1937, 1938 and 1947, and the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Churchill’s views and com­ments will be discussed.

Churchill and Pales­tine had a long asso­ci­a­tion, span­ning two world wars and thir­ty years. It began when British For­eign Sec­re­tary Arthur Bal­four declared Britain’s sup­port for a “Jew­ish Nation­al Home” in Pales­tine. Almost simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, T.E. Lawrence was promis­ing the Arabs sov­er­eign­ty over Mid­dle East­ern lands ruled for near­ly half a mil­len­ni­um by the Turks. In return, Jews and Arabs fought with the Allies in the First World War. A reluc­tant Britain accept­ed respon­si­bil­i­ty for the Man­date of Pales­tine after the war. East Pales­tine, 6/7ths of the Man­date, became Arab-ruled Jor­dan. West Pales­tine, a tiny sliv­er the size of Mass­a­chu­setts, became the source of con­flict that has now last­ed over a century.

“You deal with it”

Churchill and Pales­tine were thrown togeth­er because Turkey was on the wrong side in the First World War. By its end, the for­mer Ottoman Empire was a sham­bles. Rev­o­lu­tions and con­spir­a­cies were sus­pect­ed among Arabs, Bol­she­viks, Jews and recidi­vist Turks. The only sig­nif­i­cant mil­i­tary force left was a British army of about one mil­lion. No oth­er pow­er was present in force.

stroke of a pen
Churchill recalled that his “stroke of a pen” occurred in Jerusalem, which he, T.E. Lawrence and the Emir Abdul­lah vis­it­ed togeth­er in March 1921. (Mat­son Col­lec­tion, Library of Con­gress, Pub­lic Domain)

“At this tru­ly hor­ren­dous moment,” wrote the his­to­ri­an David Fromkin, “Prime Min­is­ter Lloyd George in effect turned to his Colo­nial Sec­re­tary Churchill and said, ‘You deal with it.’”

Churchill expand­ed his Mid­dle East depart­ment with some of the most capa­ble peo­ple, includ­ing T.E. Lawrence of Ara­bia and Gertrude Bell. They con­vened in Cairo with Arab and Jew­ish del­e­gates to redraw the bor­ders of the expired Turk­ish empire.

Remem­ber that for Britain at least, despite what you may have heard, oil was not the objec­tive. Churchill had secured the Roy­al Navy’s oil by found­ing the Anglo-Per­sian Oil Com­pa­ny before the war. It lat­er became known as BP. It was sus­pect­ed that Iraq had oil; but Britain had no need for it, and France did not begin think­ing about oil until later.

Chapter 1…

The 1921 Cairo Con­fer­ence cre­at­ed the same Iraq, Jor­dan, Syr­ia and Lebanon that are there today. The French received League of Nations “man­dates” over the last two. The British were hand­ed Iraq and Palestine—east and west. In Iraq and East Pales­tine (Jor­dan), the con­fer­ence placed Arab kings—Hashemites, who were not indige­nous. This marked Chap­ter 1 in the sto­ry of Churchill and Palestine.

A fre­quent ques­tion is: Why did Churchill put for­eign kings in charge of Iraq and Jor­dan? David Fromkin replied:

Because, in the world in which Churchill grew up, that’s what you did. When it was decid­ed, just before the First World War, to cre­ate an inde­pen­dent state of Alba­nia, an intrin­sic part of the thing was to find it a king. In the Mid­dle East in 1921, the same think­ing applied.

Remem­ber, the Ottoman Empire had no nation­al­i­ty. It was a Turk­ish-speak­ing Mus­lim empire. It was very dif­fi­cult to estab­lish eth­nic­i­ty and loy­al­ty since it was only based on reli­gion. Thus, any Mus­lim gov­ern­ment was pret­ty much accept­able to peo­ple of the area.

The scene was now set for gen­er­a­tions of strife….

More on Churchill and Palestine

“When Did Churchill Become a Zion­ist?” 2022.

“Q&A: Churchill at the Stroke of a Pen, Jor­dan and the Indi­an Army,” 2021.

“Churchill and Lawrence; A Con­junc­tion of Two Bright Stars,” 2020.

“Avari­cious Impe­ri­al­ists or Nation Builders? The Mid­dle East, 100 Years On,” 2020.

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