S2E2: Palestine Pt 2 – 1400 OMG

The British needed allies in the Ottoman Empire to divide/fracture it. They found their ally in Sharif Husayn. Sharif Husayn is the appointed custodian of Mecca/Medina, or governor of Hijaz.

Despite being appointed by the Ottoman Empire, Husayn does not see eye to eye with them. Husayn, along with Faisal of Iraq, is convinced of the importance of unity among Arab speaking regions of the Ottoman Empire.

This nationalist sentiment is augmented by anti-Turkic movements in Arab provinces, aided by the public reaction to Jamal Pasha’s hanging of 15 intellectuals and poets in Damascus, and another 21 in Beirut. Husayn has support in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and among nationalists in Egypt….

Over the next few episodes, in Season 2, we will dive deep into the events that led to the formation of the State of Israel. Together, we will understand the roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict, and understand the history of this important region of the Muslim world.

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Transcript

The British needed allies in the Ottoman Empire to divide/fracture it. They found their ally in Sharif Husayn. Sharif Husayn is the appointed custodian of Mecca/Medina, or governor of Hijaz.

Despite being appointed by the Ottoman Empire, Husayn does not see eye to eye with them. Husayn, along with Faisal of Iraq, is convinced of the importance of unity among Arab speaking regions of the Ottoman Empire.

This nationalist sentiment is augmented by anti-Turkic movements in Arab provinces, aided by the public reaction to Jamal Pasha’s hanging of 15 intellectuals and poets in Damascus, and another 21 in Beirut. Husayn has support in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and among nationalists in Egypt.

Britain was very interested in compensating French in the region, given the high national and financial costs France incurred in Europe during WWI– and thus make arrangements with France. These arrangements are also intended to avoid French expansion in the region.

In a series of 10 letters to Sharif Husayn between 1915 and 1916, Arthur Henry McMahon–British High Commissioner to Egypt–proposes independence for Arab provinces subject to certain conditions.

Despite disagreements over Palestine, McMahon agrees to territorial demands made by Husayn–subject to further negotiations– and Husayn agrees to initiate an Arab Revolt against Ottomans

Another part of the agreement is that Husayn’s sons will become kings–Faisal becomes king of Iraq, and Abdallah becomes king of Jordan.

Just like the story we heard earlier in Medina, the Arabs, accompanied by T.E. Lawrence, conquer Damascus and create an Arab kingdom. This kingdom is led by Faysal until the French conquered Damascus–he reigns for 2 months. The short-lived Arab kingdom was thought to be a revival of Umayyad Dynasty.

In 1915 and 16 the Arabs hold off the Ottomans when they try to push towards the Suez Canal under the leadership of Jamal Pasha. In 1917, Baghdad revolts and is captured. Later that same year, Gaza is captured–though, Allenby of Britain takes over. In 1918, the Arab Revolt forces capture Damascus, and the French fleet takes Beirut. The Ottoman armies retreat to Anatolia, and the British Army occupies Istanbul and most of the Arab speaking provinces, which ends the war in the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire.

Sykes – Picot

Now, let’s talk about some of the treaties which were a result of this conflict.

First, Sykes–Picot of 1916.Sykes–Picot is a secret Treaty between Britain, France and Russia. It is an arrangement intended cut up the Ottoman Empire among the three countries, and alleviate tensions between Britain and France.

The terms of the treaty recognizes France’s territorial claims to Syria, and divides up the Middle East in the following ways:

  • France gets Lebanon, Syria and the coastal region.
  • Britain gets Iraq–especially southern Iraq from Baghdad
    to the Gulf–and indirect influence from Gaza to Kirkuk.

The agreement is in direct contradiction to overtures made in the Husayn-McMahon letters. As a result, Faysal goes to Kitchener, who denies the existence of the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

Balfour Declaration

Next is the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The Balfour Declaration promises to help set up/support a Jewish community in Palestine. Arthur Balfour–the British foreign minister– promised, in a letter to Baron L. Walter Rothschild not to undermine Jewish rights in other countries, and not to disrupt existing non-Jewish religious communities in the region.


The Balfour Declaration is the culmination of Zionist-nationalist activities in Europe in
response to the “Jewish Problem.”

Faisal–Weizmann Agreement

The Faisal–Weizmann Agreement is also signed in 1917. Faisal being Sherif Husain’s son and Weizmann being the Zionist leader who negotiated the Balfour agreement. Both parties are committed to the most cordial goodwill and understanding–to encourage immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale while also protecting the rights of the Arab peasants and tenant farmers, and to safeguard the free practice of religious observances. The Muslim Holy Places are to remain under Muslim control.

The Zionist movement must also undertake efforts to assist the Arab residents of Palestine, and the future Arab state to develop their natural resources and establish a growing economy.

The agreement creates a commission after the Paris Peace Conference to agree upon a border between an Arab state and Palestine. Both Parties are to uphold the Balfour Declaration of 1917, with Great Britain handling any disputes.

Conclusion:

The stage is now set for a clash for the land of Palestine. With Britain promising these lands to multiple parties through various treaties, they would now have to have a diplomatic solution to the problem they created.

Join us next time as we dive deeper into the events leading to the formation of Israel during the aftermath of World War I.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts.

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