In our first article we saw that the promise of a ‘Homeland’ in the 1922 White Paper was redefined as a ‘Community,’ softening the British commitment to the establishment of the state of Israel. As Bible believers, this is just another detail that makes the fact that Israel is a country today even more amazing! Now it is time to examine the 1930 “Passfield White Paper” to see what it reveals.

The Passfield Paper was issued as a result of the Arab-Israeli riots of the late 1920s. Early 1924 brought a new wave of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe; on 1 February, 1924, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency wrote an article titled, ‘Terrible Pogroms Pending in Russia, Says London Daily Mail,’1 in which they said, “Russia is on the verge of a new upheaval, which it is predicted will be marked by unprecedented pogroms against the Jews…Peasants throughout the country, says the Daily Mail, are whispering the battle-cry which they believe to be a legacy from Lenin; ‘God Save Russia and kill the Jews’…Everywhere there is the cry: ‘Kill the Jews!’ sending a shudder through Jews everywhere”.1 These pogroms did indeed send shudders throughout the Jewish populations—consequently 67,000 Jewish refugees flooded into Palestine. This influx lit the fire which was to grow in intensity in the next six years.

Adding to the complexity of the situation was the additional stress that the economic crises in 1926-1928 was having on the Jewish entrepreneurs. Consequently, the Jewish Agency expanded its funding program. From the Arab’s perspective this was seen as an attempt to seize the economic upper-hand, which could eventually lead to a physical take-over of their holy sites. This fear brought the cauldron to the boil. It exploded on 23 August 1929, when violent attacks from both sides took place over a week. During this period, 133 Jews were killed and 339 were injured along with 110 Arabs killed and 232 injured. The British ended up having to deploy troops to quash the violence and evict Jews from the Gaza strip and Hebron.

To help determine the cause of the rioting, the British established a Commission of Inquiry, chaired by Sir Walter Shaw. The Shaw Commission delivered its report in March 1930 and found that:

  • The violence occurred due to “racial animosity on the part of the Arabs, consequent upon the disappointment of their political and national aspirations and fear for their economic future”.2
  • The violence also stemmed from differing interpretations of Britain’s promises.

Its recommendation was that immigration be considered, to avoid “a repetition of the excessive immigration of 1925 and 1926”.2 Consequently, in May 1930 the British immediately stopped issuing ‘work visas’ for migrating Jews for six months and they issued the Passfield White Paper in October 1930.

The Passfield White Paper3 is centred on the subjects of security, constitutional development, and economic development. The paper’s aim was to “restore confidence on both sides” by “removing existing misunderstandings” and more precisely “defining their intentions”.

It concluded that the Palestine community is “diverse and in some respects conflicting” meaning that “it is too much to expect that any declaration of policy will fully satisfy the aspirations of either party”. It asserted Britain’s duty to ensure “peace, order and good government” and recommended that a Legislative Council be set up containing councillors from the Arab and Jewish communities. It also appealed to both Arab and Jewish communities to cooperate with each other.

When I read through this paper, I couldn’t help but think that Britain must have felt like they were trying to parent two unruly, bickering children. Furthermore, the tone of the paper suggests that they are tired of negotiating and now they intend just dictating terms for peace! The language also implies that they are unable to satisfy the demands from the Arab population without halting Jewish immigration; which they ended up doing. The paper prevented Jews from migrating, buying new land or even getting a job. Everything in that document was working against the purpose of God in establishing a Jewish homeland for His people.

Thankfully, however, the purpose of God prevailed and despite Britain’s decision in this paper, Jewish migration continued to increase during the 1930s. It started at 4000 a year in 1930 and increased to a peak of 66,000 in 1935 as World War II loomed near.

Although I’m certain that God was using Britain as a tool to help establish a homeland for the Jews, especially when they took control of the land from the Turks, it seems likely that in later years they started to kick against the pricks. For Britain, the writing was on the wall—I wonder if they could see it?

References:

  1. 1 Feb 1924, “Terrible Pogroms Pending in Russia, Says London Daily Mail”, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, online at https://www.jta.org/1924/02/01/archive/ terrible-pogroms-pending-in-russia-says-london-daily-mail
  1. “Shaw Commission Report – Excerpts – English (1930)”, Economic Cooperation Foundation, online at https://ecf.org.il/media_items/1464
  1. Jewish Virtual Library, “Pre-State Israel: The Passfield White Paper (1930)”, online at http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-passfield-white-paper