Lucid, Comprehensive Work Details Early Zionist Efforts to Seize Palestine

Book Review
Published: 1995-03-01

This document is part of the Journal of Historical Review periodical.
Use this menu to find more documents that are part of this periodical.

Patrick O'Reilly is the pen name of a Indiana writer who makes his living in the insurance business. Born in 1954, he has earned a B.A. degree in communications and public policy from the University of California-Berkeley.

This remarkable book tells, truthfully and in detail, the story of the early stages of the Zionist colonization and eventual conquest of the Holy Land. It brings the story up to 1939, when this book was originally published in Britain. (This is a 1976 American reprint edition.)

Unlike most works about the Zionist-Arab conflict, this book starts at the beginning, carefully details events to 1939, and draws the appropriate conclusions. While the author is clearly sympathetic with the Arabs, he permits his conclusions to follow inevitably from the facts.

This book dispels many misconceptions. Analyzing Arab aspirations for independence prior to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Jeffries establishes the existence of a politically active Arab league that sought assistance from France and Britain, particularly the latter, in winning liberation from Turkish Ottoman rule. When Britain called for Arab help in the First World War struggle against the German-allied Ottoman Turks, she found a sympathetic ear among the Arabs. As Jeffries establishes, the military support provided by the Arabs against the Turks proved critically important for hard-pressed Britain. He also shows, Zionist claims to the contrary, that the October 1915 pledge by Britain's High Commissioner for Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon, of British support for an independent Arab state did include the territory of Palestine. Britain later betrayed this pledge with the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 1916. But the great treachery came with Britain's much-discussed Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, the key passage of which promised: "His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object ... "

As Jeffries convincingly shows, the Zionists had no legitimate claim to any such "national home." On the deceitful intentions of the Declaration's framers, he comments (pp. 177-8) with bitterness:

By an altogether abject subterfuge, under colour of protecting Arab interests, they set out to conceal the fact that the Arabs to all intents constituted the population of the country. It called them the "non-Jewish communities in Palestine!" It called the multitude the non-few; it called the 670,000 the non-60,000 ...

But, of course, there is more than mere preposterous nomenclature [here] ... It is fraudulent. It was done in order to conceal the true ratio between Arabs and Jews, and thereby to make easier the supersession of the former. It was as though in some declaration Highlanders and Lowlanders had been defined as "the existing non-Irish communities in Scotland" in order that ... dispossessive action against the Scots could be attempted more easily.

Jeffries provides a penetrating look at the cleverly deceptive wording of the Declaration, the meaninglessness of its various "guarantees," and its studied vagueness, which permitted self-serving interpretation. In 1939, the British MacDonald White Paper acknowledged the deliberate ambiguity in the expression "a national home for the Jewish people" as the fundamental cause of unrest and hostility between Arabs and Jews.

Jeffries also provides a masterful exposé of the Zionist cabal that surrounded David Lloyd George, Britain's premier during the First World War, and Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary in whose name the Zionist Declaration was issued, and details the amazing transatlantic coordination between Zionist leaders in the United States and Britain. (It should be noted that other historians have also effectively dissected the Declaration. See, for example, Behind the Balfour Declaration by Dr. Robert John. Available from the IHR for $10, postpai [now available from and; ed.]

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of Palestine: The Reality is its description of just how the Balfour Declaration was used to provide legitimacy and justification for the British takeover of Palestine. Article 22 of the Covenant of the new "League of Nations" sanctioned victorious European powers of the First World War to rule lands carved from the territories of the defeated Central powers. These powers were to help the "mandate" dominions to eventual independent self-rule. So it was that Palestine came under British "mandate" rule.

It was South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts who prepared the draft text of the League of Nations Covenant. His proposed mandate system specifically exempted Palestine from the general principles he laid out. Not surprisingly, Smuts was a dedicated proponent of the Jewish "national home." Jeffries lucidly explains the machinations by which the League of Nations ratified "mandates" chosen by the "mandatory" powers themselves, how the League Council usurped the powers supposedly delegated to the Assembly, and how the "mandatory" powers violated the strict guidelines of Covenant Article 22. Seldom, if ever, has there been a shallower legal pretext for a more transparent takeover scheme.

Jeffries painstakingly reveals the Zionist role in all this. As he shows, it was the American Zionist leader (and later Supreme Court Justice) Felix Frankfurter who played the decisive role in implementing the Palestine "mandate." British civil administration was established in Palestine under Sir Herbert Samuel, himself a Zionist, in July 1920, even though the League-issued Mandate to Britain was not formally inaugurated until 1923. Most of the documentation for such astonishing facts comes from Zionist sources, which are liberally quoted throughout this book.

Because they had given conflicting pledges to the Zionists and to the Arabs, the British sought unusual means to deal with their dilemma. One "solution" recommended by His Majesty's Government was to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with Britain holding a permanent dominion over a third section. The reader may smile at Jeffries' comment that this proposed "solution" would have given the appearance of a "fresh start." (How often have we heard such phrases in connection with proposed solutions to the Zionist-Arab conflict!)

Much of the remainder of this book is devoted to a scrupulous look at the various official British investigations of the Palestine problem, from the 1920 unpublished Palin report to the Peel Commission report of 1937.

Jeffries was not a cloistered scholar, but a wellinformed British journalist. He was intimately familiar, for example, with the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the (mis)conduct of British statesmen there. His trenchant analysis of their maneuvers and apologies, pithily expressed, is both informative and entertaining.

A minor weakness of this account is the author's self-confessed lack of access to certain American sources. All the same, and in spite of the author's frank sympathy for the Arab cause, Palestine: The Reality equals or surpasses in its comprehensiveness and lucidity all current "scholarship" on the subject. It is for these very reasons, perhaps, that it has not received the attention it deserves.

"Vitam impendere vero." Give life to truth.

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Patrick O'Reilly
Title: Lucid, Comprehensive Work Details Early Zionist Efforts to Seize Palestine, Book Review
Sources: The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 15, no. 2 (March/April 1995), pp. 41f.
Published: 1995-03-01
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 17, 2012, 6 p.m.
Last revision:
Appears In: