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Palestine And The Great Powers Essay

1362 words - 6 pages

In this book Michael Cohen concentrates on the last crucial years of the British Mandate, precisely on 1945-48. This book is a sequel of his earlier volume, the British retreat from the Mandate from 1936-45. The book describes the British, American and Zionist policy making process and these main characteristics and personalities based on mainly primary sources. As a general rule, during these years the British and the United States were constantly negotiating with each other about the problem. They had several committees and plans, take for instance the Anglo-American Report or the Morrison- Grady plan, but they were unable to form an ambiguous policy due to their domestic issues. The ...view middle of the document...

During the War they became bounded to the American financial support and they needed the American approval for their decisions regarding Palestine. The Labour Government won in 1945 and they had to deal with their domestic difficulties, the Palestine problem remained as a secondary issue. Therefore Ernest Bevin, the Foreign Secretary, wanted to give more responsibility to America in the Palestine issue.
The Soviet expansionism dominated the Government’s strategic thinking, they had to bear in mind that the Arab friendship is necessary to keep the Middle East under Western control. Consequently, they were desperately seeking for a solution to which the Arab states would agree. However, the London Conference in 1946 persuaded them that such an agreement is impossible.
In 1944, two members of a Jewish terrorist group managed to assassinate Lord Moyne, the British Minister of State. From this onwards, Jewish terrorist attacks on either the British personnel or on their possessions became permanent. The British forces tried to break down these activists with the Operation Agatha, but the Jewish terrorist groups’ answer was the King David Hotel Tragedy. The Jewish terrorism reached its peak when the Irgun hanged two British sergeants and this proved to be the last straw for the British. It reduced the impotence of their army and administrative system. By the middle of 1947 the British had lost their control over the Mandate. Therefore, they decided to turn the Mandate back to the United Nations. After the decision of the withdrawal, which was also demanded by the British public, the Brits’ actions were dictated by one single preoccupation, the safe evacuation of their administrative and armed forces.
According to Cohen, the Americans became more involved in the Palestine issue with the British weakening. Whereas, they tried to avoid allied cooperation and shared responsibility with the Brits. Although, it has to be said that the presence of a significant Jewish community in the United States had a great impact on the outcome of decision of Palestine, because the vast majority of the American Jews, and some Christian communities, supported the Zionists aims. The Jewish vote also played a crucial role in Truman’s political considerations because his re-election was of the utmost importance.
Furthermore, Truman was unexperienced in foreign affairs and it took time for him to grow into his position. In other words, he was very much dependent on his experts, precisely, on David Niles and on Clark Clifford. Both of them supported the Zionist cause and the partition. Apart from them, Truman also had sympathetic emotions toward the Jewish refugees and for him the situation of the 100,000 Displaced Persons was a cardinal issue. He was considered by some as a “prisoner of the Jewish lobby”, while he indeed wanted to find the right balance between his personal interests and national interests. Although, Cohen concludes that the ultimate decisions were made...

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