Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry

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Report of the Anglo-American Committee of enquiry regarding the problems of European Jewry and Palestine
Report of the Anglo-American Committee of enquiry regarding the problems of European Jewry and Palestine, Lausanne, 20th April, 1946.djvu
The report; cmd 6808
Created 20 April 1946
Location Lausanne
Purpose To make recommendations for a permanent solution to the problems in Palestine

The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry was a joint British and American committee assembled in Washington on 4 January 1946. The committee was tasked to examine political, economic and social conditions in Mandatory Palestine as they bear upon the problem of Jewish immigration and settlement therein and the well-being of the peoples now living therein; to consult representatives of Arabs and Jews, and to make other recommendations 'as may be necessary' to for ad interim handling of these problems as well as for their permanent solution.[1] The report, entitled "Report of the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry Regarding the Problems of European Jewry and Palestine",[2] was published in Lausanne on 20 April 1946.

World War II ended in Europe on 8 May 1945 and in Asia on 2 September 1945; in the United States Harry S. Truman had become President on 12 April of that year and in the United Kingdom Clement Attlee became Prime Minister on 5 July 1945. Following the Harrison Report, on August 1945 president Truman asked Britain for admission of 100,000 Holocaust survivors into Palestine, beginning a negotiation on Palestine between the two powers. On 13 November 1945, Attlee's foreign minister Ernest Bevin announced the formation of the Anglo-American Commission.[3]

The British government suggested the joint inquiry in effort to secure American co-responsibility for a Palestinian policy, fearing Arab resistance to an influx of Jewish immigrants into Palestine. The report dealt with five subjects: immigration, land, form of government, development, and security. It recommended the admission of 100,000 displaced Jews, the annulment of the Land Transfer Regulations restricting Jewish purchasing of Arab land set forth by White Paper of 1939 and that Palestine shall be neither a Jewish state nor an Arab state.

The United States' decision to jointly lead the inquiry is considered to have been driven by a desire to "clip the wings of political Zionism by treating the whole matter as a Jewish refugee problem".[4] Moshe Sneh of the Jewish Agency noted on 11 December 1945 at an Inner Meeting of the Jewish Agency that “America's agreement to participate in the Committee was undertaken in order to strip us of our main argument...with which to appeal to the Americans against an English committee... the introduction of America is tantamount to disarming us.”[5] Nachmani wrote that the decision to include Palestine into the committee’s scope was also not in the best interests of the Zionists.[6] The British had conditioned the implementation of the report's recommendations on the admission of 100,000 new Jewish immigrants contingent on US providing assistance in case of Arab revolt. It wasn't offered and the British government, continued to carry out its White Paper of 1939 policy.

The plan was the base for "The Morrison-Grady Plan", calling for federalization under overall British trusteeship. Ultimately this Committee plans' as well was rejected by both Arabs and Jews; and Britain decided to refer the problem to the United Nations.

David Ben-Gurion testifying before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
Judah Leon Magnes and Martin Buber testifying before the Anglo-American Committee (1946)

Background[edit]

In 1917, Britain drafted the Balfour Declaration, becoming the first Great Power to support Zionist calls for a 'Jewish National Home' in Palestine. Shortly thereafter, Britain defeated the Ottoman Empire in World War I and as a result took control of Palestine. The Balfour Declaration was recognized by the Great Powers and incorporated into the Treaty of Sèvres. The Great Powers once again incorporated the declaration into the draft Mandate for Palestine that they submitted to the Council of the League of Nations.[7] The US Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles and as a consequence the United States never joined the League of Nations. The House and Senate passed a non-binding Joint Resolution, HR 360, 30 June 1922 favoring the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine. On 21 September 1922, President Warren G. Harding also signed the resolution. A commission had been proposed by the United States at the Peace Conference as an international effort to determine if the region was ready for self-determination and to see what nations, if any, the locals wanted to act as mandatory powers. The report of the King-Crane Commission was not made public until after the Congress had voted on their Joint resolution. Public opinion was divided when it was learned that the Arab majority had requested that the mandate be administered by the United States, and that they intended to establish a democratically elected constituent assembly.[8]

The rise of Nazism and the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine led the British to reverse the Balfour Declaration in the 1939 White Paper. This policy placed a limit of allowing 75,000 more Jews into Palestine (by 1949) after which Jewish migration was to be terminated. An independent state in Palestine with an Arab majority was to be established by 1948. In response to the White Paper, land sales to Jews were severely restricted by a 1940 law.[9]

The end of World War II and the Holocaust left Europe with hundreds of thousands of displaced Jewish refugees. American public opinion supported a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, and in August 1945 president Truman asked for admission of 100,000 Holocaust survivors into Palestine[10] but Britain persisted in opposing Jewish immigration, fearing damage to its extensive and vulnerable empire in the Middle-East. Britain ruled oil-rich Kuwait, The Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain. It also controlled Jordan and Yemen and had treaties binding it to Iraq (where the oil industry was British owned) and Egypt (where Britain administered the Suez canal). With the Jews in Palestine waging an underground war against the British occupation, the refugee situation was critical and British and American policy was at loggerheads.

Committee[edit]

Members[edit]

The committee comprised six Americans and six British. Judge Joseph Hutcheson was the American chairman. He was joined by Frank Aydelotte, William Phillips, Frank W. Buxton (editor, Boston Herald), James G. McDonald, and Bartley Crum. The group was a diverse group of diplomats, scholars, and politicians, most in favor of the proposal that 100,000 displaced persons be admitted to Palestine. The British contingent was chaired by Sir John Singleton, with the remaining members being Lord Morrison, Sir Frederick Leggett, Wilfrid Crick, Reginald Manningham-Buller, and Richard Crossman.

Evidence provided[edit]

Front cover of the Survey of Palestine, prepared as evidence for the Committee

Evidence was provided by the Government of Palestine, the Jewish authorities and the Arab authorities.[11]

Journey[edit]

The Committee visited Washington, D.C. and London to gauge the official American and British policies and positions towards Palestine. They proceeded to Vienna, where they visited a displaced persons camp and interviewed Holocaust survivors, then Cairo to discuss Arab sentiments. The Committee then visited Palestine and spent three weeks there. They visited Jewish and Arab areas, and heard testimony from or held meetings with many Jewish, Arab, and British officials. They finally retired to Lausanne to debate and draft their findings.[12]

During their stay in Vienna they surveyed Jewish Holocaust survivors as to their preferred destination. 98% said Palestine.

"In Poland, Hungary and Rumania, the chief desire is to get out, to get away somewhere where there is a chance of building up a new life, of finding some happiness, of living in peace and in security. In Germany also, where the number of Jews has been reduced from about 500,000 in 1933 to about 20,000 now, and most traces of Jewish life have been destroyed, there is a similar desire on the part of a large proportion of the survivors to make a home elsewhere, preferably in Palestine. In Czechoslovakia, particularly in Bohemia and Moravia, and in Austria, the position in regard to the reestablishment of the Jewish populations is more hopeful. The vast majority of the Jewish displaced persons and migrants, however, believe that the only place which offers a prospect is Palestine." (Anglo-American Committee of inquiry, chapter 2 paragraph 12)

Recommendations[edit]

During a committee meeting Bevin told the committee that he would accept their decision if it were unanimous [13] Hence, In April 1946, the Committee decided unanimously. Its recommendations were as follows:[14]

Recommendation No. 1. We have to report that such information as we received about countries other than Palestine gave no hope of substantial assistance in finding homes for Jews wishing or impelled to leave Europe. But Palestine alone cannot meet the emigration needs of the Jewish victims of Nazi and Fascist persecution; the whole world shares responsibility for them and indeed for the resettlement of all "displaced persons". We therefore recommend that our Governments together, and in association with other countries, should endeavor immediately to find new homes for all such "displaced persons", irrespective of creed or nationality, whose ties with their former communities have been irreparably broken. Though emigration will solve the problems of some victims of persecution, the overwhelming majority, including a considerable number of Jews, will continue to live in Europe. We recommend therefore that our Governments endeavor to secure that immediate effect is given to the provision of the United Nations Charter calling for "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion".

Recommendation No. 2. We recommend (a) that 100,000 certificates be authorized immediately for the admission into Palestine of Jews who have been the victims of Nazi and Fascist persecution; (b) that these certificates be awarded as far as possible in 1946 and that actual immigration be pushed forward as rapidly as conditions will permit.

Recommendation No. 3. In order to dispose, once and for all, of the exclusive claims of Jews and Arabs to Palestine, we regard it as essential that a clear statement of the following principles should be made:

  • I. That Jew shall not dominate Arab and Arab shall not dominate Jew in Palestine.
  • II. That Palestine shall be neither a Jewish state nor an Arab state.
  • III. That the form of government ultimately to be established, shall, under international guarantees, fully protect and preserve the interests in the Holy Land of Christendom and of the Moslem and Jewish faiths.

Thus Palestine must ultimately become a state which guards the rights and interests of Moslems, Jews and Christians alike; and accords to the inhabitants, as a whole, the fullest measure of self-government, consistent with the three paramount principles set forth above.

Recommendation No. 4. We have reached the conclusion that the hostility between Jews and Arabs and, in particular, the determination of each to achieve domination, if necessary by violence, make it almost certain that, now and for some time to come, any attempt to establish either an independent Palestinian State or independent Palestinian States would result in civil strife such as might threaten the peace of the world. We therefore recommend that, until this hostility disappears, the Government of Palestine be continued as at present under mandate pending the execution of a trusteeship agreement under the United Nations.

Recommendation No. 5. Looking towards a form of ultimate self-government, consistent with the three principles laid down in Recommendation No. 3, we recommend that the mandatory or trustee should proclaim the principle that Arab economic, educational and political advancement in Palestine is of equal importance with that of the Jews; and should at once prepare measures designed to bridge the gap which now exists and raise the Arab standard of living to that of the Jews; and so bring the two peoples to a full appreciation of their common interest and common destiny in the land where both belong.

Recommendation No. 6. We recommend that, pending the early reference to the United Nations and the execution of a trusteeship agreement, the mandatory should administer Palestine according to the mandate which declares with regard to immigration that "The administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions".

Recommendation No. 7. (a) We recommend that the Land Transfers Regulations of 1940 be rescinded and replaced by regulations based on a policy of freedom in the sale, lease or use of land, irrespective of race, community or creed, and providing adequate protection for the interests of small owners and tenant cultivators; (b) We further recommend that steps be taken to render nugatory and to prohibit provisions in conveyances, leases and agreements relating to land which stipulate that only members of one races community or creed may be employed on or about or in connection therewith; (c) We recommend that the Government should exercise such close supervision over the Holy Places and localities such as the Sea of Galilee and its vicinity as will protect them from desecration and from uses which offend the conscience of religious people, and that such laws as are required for this purpose be enacted forthwith.

Recommendation No. 8. Various plans for large-scale agricultural and industrial development in Palestine have been presented for our consideration; these projects, if successfully carried into effect, could not only greatly enlarge the capacity of the country to support an increasing population but also raise the living standards of Jew and Arab alike. We are not in a position to assess the soundness of these specific plans; but we cannot state too strongly that, however technically feasible they may be, they will fail unless there is peace in Palestine. Moreover, their full success requires the willing cooperation of adjacent Arab states, since they are not merely Palestinian projects. We recommend therefore that the examination, discussion and execution of these plans be conducted, from the start and throughout, in full consultation and cooperation not only with the Jewish Agency but also with the governments of the neighboring Arab States directly affected.

Recommendation No. 9. We recommend that, in the interests of the conciliation of the two peoples and of general improvement of the Arab standard of living, the educational system of both Jews and Arabs be reformed, including the introduction of compulsory education within a reasonable time.

Recommendation No. 10. We recommend that, if this Report is adopted, it should be made clear beyond all doubt to both Jews and Arabs that any attempt from either side, by threats of violence, by terrorism, or by the organization or use of illegal armies to prevent its execution, will be resolutely suppressed. Furthermore, we express the view that the Jewish Agency should at once resume active cooperation with the Mandatory in the suppression of terrorism and of illegal immigration, and in the maintenance of that law and order throughout Palestine which is essential for the good of all, including the new immigrants.

Aftermath[edit]

Provincial Autonomy Plan proposed by the Morrison-Grady committee

U.S President Harry S. Truman endorsed the committee's recommendation that 100,000 Jewish refugees be immediately admitted into Palestine, and the right of the Jews to purchase land,[15] but did not acknowledge the rest of the committee's findings, angering the British Labour Party. Within several days of the release of the Committee’s findings, its implementation was in jeopardy.

The British government and military believed that neither the Jews or Arabs would accept the committee's recommendations. British Prime Minister Clement Attlee arranged a group of senior officials, who were to coordinate with the Chiefs of Staff, to prepare an analysis of the committee's recommendations. They concluded that the Jews would not accept anything short of partition, and that not only would the guerrilla raids by the Irgun and Lehi paramilitary groups continue, the Haganah might react by launching widespread attacks. In addition, the report concluded that there would likely be a general Arab uprising in Palestine, with financial and material backing from the surrounding Arab states.[12]

Although Bevin told the committee that he would accept their decision if it were unanimous, Attlee opposed the recommendation of a mass immigration until the Yishuv was disarmed (which he knew was a nonstarter[15]). The British government, adamant that it would not bear the costs of resettling 100,000 Jewish immigrants, funding Arab development, and in disarming the Yishuv and suppressing any rebellion, by itself, conditioned the implementation of the report's recommendations on military and financial assistance from the United States. The British cabinet agreed that the report should be rejected unless the US government was willing to provide financial and military assistance. Britain requested that the US government make two infantry divisions and at least one armored brigade available for immediate deployment to Palestine. The United States War Department had issued an earlier report which stated that an open-ended US troop commitment of 300,000 personnel would be necessary to assist the British government in maintaining order against an Arab revolt. However, the US government was, like the British government, eager to rapidly demobilize many of its citizens still under arms, and rejected the request.[16][12]

In October 1946, the British government decided to gradually allow 96,000 Jews to immigrate to Palestine at the rate of 1,500 a month. Half of those admitted would be Jews who had attempted to illegally immigrate to Palestine and were being held in the Cyprus internment camps; the British feared that if the population of the camps continued growing, there would be an uprising among the prisoners.[17]

The Morrison-Grady Plan[edit]

After the Anglo-American Committee issued its report, a new committee was created to establish how the Anglo-American proposals would be implemented. It was led by British cabinet minister Herbert Morrison and US ambassador Henry F. Grady. In July 1946, it proposed "The Morrison-Grady Plan" a plan for unitary federal trusteeship in Palestine. Jewish and Arab provinces would exercise self-rule under British oversight, while Jerusalem and the Negev would remain under direct British control. The plan became the point of departure for a Palestine Conference convened by the British on 1 October 1946. However the Arabs rejected the plan on the grounds that it would lead to partition, while the Jews refused to even attend. The Arabs instead proposed an independent unitary state. At a later meeting of the Conference the following February, Britain proposed a plan, known as the Bevin Plan, for a 5-year British trusteeship. The trusteeship was to lead to a permanent settlement agreed by all parties. When both the Arab and Jewish sides rejected the plan, Britain decided to refer the problem to the United Nations.

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry - Preface
  2. ^ Cmd 6808, National Archives PRO 30/78/30
  3. ^ PALESTINE (ANGLO-AMERICAN COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY), HC Deb 13 November 1945 vol 415 cc1927-35
  4. ^ Nachmani 2005, p. 52a“there is more than circumstantial evidence that America's agreement to participate in the inquiry, and to insist that the AAC investigate Palestine as well, sprang from a desire to clip the wings of political Zionism by treating the whole matter as a Jewish refugee problem. In America as a whole, the Palestine question was seen largely as a refugee question and not a Zionist issue. The term "refugee" had become negatively synonymous with the Jew. Post-war arrivals in the United States were described as conducting "cut-throat competition with Gentiles and established Jews alike in almost every field of U.S. economic lifc." Public opinion, therefore, resented the idea of a refugee invasion and demanded a reduction in immigration quotas. When an alternative such as Palestine was suggested support for it was massive, although U.S. opinions on Zionism itself were described as "largely indifferent and often anti-Semitic." More than once, Truman was known to pour the strongest insults on Zionist circles: "These people are the usual European conspirators." Or: "The Jes are like all the under-dogs. When they get on top they are just as intolerant and as cruel as the people were to them when they were underneath." Or: "How difficult it had been with so many Jews in New York." One should add to this the fact (very lucid to Britain's men in America, but not in Whitehall) that much of American feeling about Palestine stemmed more from hostility to Great Britain than it did from sympathy to Zionism. In all events, there is ample evidence that the United States, in accepting the idea of the AAC and then pressing for the inclusion of Palestine within its terms of reference, was not by any means succumbing to Zionist pressure, as Whitehall believed. Rather the opposite was true, they hoped for a pro-refugee, anti-Zionist report."
  5. ^ Nachmani 2005, p. 53a“there had been a serious deterioration in the Administration's relations with the Zionists at that very time, and no one was more aware of this than the Zionists themselves: “America's agreement to participate in the Committee was undertaken in order to strip us of our main argument...with which to appeal to the Americans against an English committee... the introduction of America is tantamount to disarming us.” This friction between the administration and the Jews culminated in the summer of 1946 with "Truman declaring that 'Jews are not going to write the history of the United States, nor my history' ...there are three groups in America who never leave him in peace ...the Italians, the Poles and the Jews."
  6. ^ Nachmani 2005, p. 53b“the Zionists could best benefit from an inquiry which would exclude the Middle East and concentrate solely on the Jewish DPs in Europe, i.e., another Harrison report. Full support for Zionism was guaranteed as long as it was confined to theoretical policy making in the West. The experience of Great Britain had shown that as soon as the British came to Palestine, the Balfour Declaration was devalued. When America revealed an interest in the Near East, political Zionism was seen as a refugee problem. But when, later, the AAC visited Palestine, they began to realize that "the Arabs are not all sheiks or fellahin." Against this background, one can explain why Abba Hillel Silver suspected a "trap" when he heard that America would be looking into the situation in Palestine at close hand, through the AAC. While there was some chance that the AAC would support the Zionist cause while in America and England, there was little chance of their maintaining that support once they reached Palestine. According at a Jewish Agency source, numerically "in America the Jews are strong, ...in Palestine, it's the other way round." There was also the evidence of the delegation of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs which had visited Palestine in October 1945 and concluded after a few interviews that through refusal to face up to the basic facts in the perplexing Palestine problem, it would be unfair to all concerned-especially to the persecuted Jews...to simply dump thousands of defenceless Jewish immigrants into Palestine...to run the hazards of new abuses.”
  7. ^ Balfour's remarks from the League of Nations Official Journal: 30 June 1922 Archived 9 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ William T. Ellis. (3 December 1922). "Crane And King'S Long-Hid Report On The Near East" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 10 March 2012. 
  9. ^ Avalon Project (Yale Law School). "Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry -Appendix IV". Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  10. ^ William roger louis, 1985, p.386
  11. ^ Nachmani, "The Evidence, p.97
  12. ^ a b c Hoffman, Bruce: Anonymous Soldiers (2015)
  13. ^ [The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-1951: Arab Nationalism, the United States, and Postwar Imperialism, By William Roger Louis , 12985, p. 407]
  14. ^ Avalon Project (Yale Law School). "Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry – Chapter I". Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Morris, 2008, p.34
  16. ^ American Jewish History: A Eight-volume Series By Jeffrey S Gurock, American Jewish Historical Society, page 243
  17. ^ New York Times 11/08/46, PG 35. UK Foreign Office document 371/52651

External links[edit]