Zionist Movement and the Foundation of Israel 1839–1972, The

ISBN:  (13) 978-1-84097-050-0   Extent:    10 volumes, 8,000 pages

Editor:  B. Destani    Published: 2004
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available

These ten volumes draw together documents found in the British National Archives to trace the origins and development of the Zionist movement in the 19th and 20th centuries, with specific reference to the idea, and eventually the goal, of establishing a Jewish homeland. Material is relatively sparse in the 19th century and volume 1 is rather an historical volume covering the rise of Zionism, including the work of Theodor Herzl and the first Zionist Congress at Basle, ending in 1916 with the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The bulk of the material, volumes 2 to 8, relates to the years 1916-1948 when the Zionist debate raged, the movement became factionalised, split, and eventually, partly because of events surrounding World War II, achieved its goal of the creation of Israel. Volume 10, like volume 1 ranges over a greater number of years in less detail, covering the period after the creation of Israel in 1948 to the most recent releases by the British government from 1972, when the main question for Zionism, perhaps, was whether it still had a role to play beyond the inception of the State.


Volume 1: 1839-1916
Volume 2: 1917-1918
Volume 3: 1919-1928
Volume 4: 1928-1934
Volume 5: 1935-1937
Volume 6: 1937-1940
Volume 7: 1941-1945
Volume 8: 1945-1946
Volume 9: 1946-1948
Volume 10: 1948-1972


The following list summarises, from the collection, documents of particular importance in considering the development of Zionism. Volume and section references are given.
[1: 86] Herzl´s view is that the Jews are partly accused of living off host nations and he raises the argument for a Jewish Homeland from The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl (c.1896)l [1:1]
l 1916, Lucien Wolf, respected journalist and leading member of the Conjoint Foreign Committee of British Jews, writing to James de Rothschild, argues against Zionism which sees "Jews as aliens in foreign lands" as being similar to anti-Semitism in insisting that Jews will never be integrated into other cultures
[2.12] April 1917, Sir Mark Sykes, under instructions from the Prime Minister and Mr Balfour has been assisting Nahum Sokolov in looking for a solution to the Jewish problem and invites Mr Weizmann, another prominent Zionist to join them
[2.65] August 1917, E.S. Montagu, Secretary of State for India, circulating a memorandum criticising "The Anti-Semitism of the Present [British]Government" explaining that by suggesting a Jewish National Home they will increase anti-Semitism in every country where Jews presently reside
[2.114] March 1918, Lord Curzon forwarding a copy of the programme which Suleiman Bey Nassif and the Arabs are going to present to the Zionist Commission as a basis for mutual understanding between Palestinians and Zionists, particularly that land sales should be suspended lest due to the general impoverishment caused by the war they become exploitative
[2.116] April 1918, Dr Weizmann to Louis Brandeis, reporting the reaction to the Balfour Agreement in Palestine itself among the population. He states that the British Army who know little of the politics are informing the people that they have come to liberate the country from the Turks and hand it over to the Jews
[2.118] April 1918, Military Governor of Jerusalem reporting on a dinner party at which Dr Weizmann and the Grand Mufti were present, Weizmann is reported as explaining Zionist aims to dispel misconceptions and the Mufti as looking forward to a spirit of co-operation
[2.135] June 1918, Brigadier Clayton to the Political Officer of the Zionist Commission regarding excisions required from the notes of the 17th Meeting of the Zionist Commission before they can be passed by the British government for public view
[3.33] April 1919, letter from Lord Balfour to Dr Weizmann, regarding the future of Zionism and current anti-Zionist propaganda in Palestine
[3.93] November 1921, leaflet published by the British Committee of the Palestine Arab Delegation
[3.106] January 1927, comments respecting Zionism, by the Polish Press, during a visit by Sir W. Deedes, such as "Zionism is a reactionary movement supported by the Jewish bourgeoisie and British Imperialism"
[3.120] February 1928, evidence of 3 major individual Zionist donors: Warburg, Rosenwats, and Rockfeler, promising some $10,000,000 to the Russian Government in return for assurances in respect of Jewish colonies to be set up in Siberia
[4.66] Arabs bitterly opposed the Balfour declaration and land sales to Jews. Arab violence broke out in 1922 and 1929, Arabs found themselves in conflict with the Mandatory government
l February 1933, Cabinet paper expressing disquiet at the growth of a new class of poverty-stricken Arabs, caused by the sale, by Arab landowners, of land they had previously cultivated as tenant farmers
[4.87] March 1934, Extract from the Jewish Chronicle, reporting the reception of Dr Weizmann by Mussolini
[4.92] October 1934, Jewish Telegraphic Agency Bulletin, expressing opposition to the formation of a Legislative Council under current circumstances given that the present circumstances would condemn the Jews to be a minority population
[5.13] August 1935, 19th World Zionist Congress: David Ben Gurion draws a comparison between the treatment of Jews in Germany and conditions under the Spanish Inquisition; the Misrachi Orthodox wing of the movement announces a refusal to participate in the conference because of their view that there is irreligion in Palestine; Dr Weizmann, who had resigned as President of the World Zionist Organisation in 1931, was elected President of this 19th Congress
[5.30] January 1936, private meeting between David Ben Gurion, Dr Weizmann, Mr Shertok and Sir A. Wauchope, High Commissioner of Palestine: this meeting is in reaction to the British Government proposal to setting up a subsistence area for small owners, a measure to allay Arab fears over the extent of Jewish land purchases. Dr Weizmann sees it as "his life´s work ruined"

[5.43]  April 1936, Presidency of the New Zionist Organization to the Colonial Secretary voicing concerns about the recent murder of Jewish settlers, and further to that stating that the underlying cause of the murders is the misconception in Arab minds that settlement growth should be subject to Arab agreement. The offer by the British Government of a Legislative Council to run the country, in their view, only adds to this misconception

[5.44] April 1936, V. Jabotinsky, New Zionist Organization, to Sir Josiah Wedgwood thanking him for his concern to reunite the split Zionist organisation but repeating the reasons for the rift as being of supreme importance, for example the Zionist Organisation supported the mass sale of German goods in Palestine

[6.10] April 1939, Report from German Embassy, Washington on Aryanisation in Germany. Deliberate removal of Jewish businesses and property into German hands. Document presenting it as a lawful exchange
[6.55] September 1939, V. Jabotinsky, President of the New Zionist Organization to Prime Minister N. Chamberlain, openly stating the aspirations of the New Zionist Organization, "the most uncompromising conception of State" and suggesting the reformation of the Jewish Legion as a recruitment drive to Jews worldwide to get behind the allies
[6.56] September 1939, reaction of V. Jabotinsky to the 1939 White Paper: he suggests that on the eve of war and in the face of the situation for Jews in Europe, that the British Government should either ignore illegal immigration or increase the immigration quota
[6.64] March 1940, the question of an alternative Jewish Homeland, perhaps in British Guiana is raised but the British Government decides "the problem is at present too problematical to admit of the adoption of a definite policy and must be left for the decision of some future Government in years to come"
[7.1] June 1941, Antony Eden Foreign Secretary admitting that "the situation in the Middle East has now passed the point when a conciliatory move by the Jews...would have any chance of success"
[7.3] October 1941, secret despatch from the High Commissioner for Palestine to the Colonial Secretary concerning terrorist activities of the Irgun Zvaei Leumi
[7.19]August 1942, Foreign Office admitting the removal of documents from the luggage of David Ben Gurion on his recent trip to the USA. According to notes in the documents, Zionism now has two objectives: a Jewish Army and a Jewish State, with a Jewish Army being the main means of achieving a Jewish State
[7.24] June 1942, Special Operations Executive has been working in Palestine and judges that the Jewish population would work with the allied forces to deny an invading force but that they would also be working to further their "parochial nationalist aspirations". Nonetheless, the High Commissioner of Palestine accepts this duality in the face of occupation by axis powers

[7.30] April 1943, King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia speaking out against the opportunistic propaganda activities of American Zionists and claiming that even were there no Arabs in Palestine there would not be room enough for the Jews of the world
[7.108] December 1944, after the murder of Lord Moyne, Lord Halifax, British Ambassador in Washington sends a telegram with extracts from the US Jewish press, for example: "What is it that leads to a despair so bitter and hopeless, that it leads even so small a minority as the Palestinian [sic] terrorists to the extremity of taking human life, knowing that their own life almost certainly will be forfeit too?”
[7.139] August 1945, World Zionist Conference, Dr Weizmann reserves particular criticism for the 1939 White Paper that restricted immigration of Jews into Palestine and saved too few from the holocaust in Europe. He warns that while the war was on the Zionists fought with the British but now the rift caused by the policies in the 1939 White Paper threatens to open again
[8.8] September 1945, Chargé in Iraq writes expressing the concern among Arabs at the pressure being exerted by the USA upon the British government "...President Truman is urging the British Government to open Palestine to Zionist immigration, thereby promoting the interests of Zionists and the realisation of their ambitions."
[8.44] January 1946, British Consul, New York reporting a mass demonstration for Jewish freedom put on by the New Zionist Organization of America. "It was constantly patrolled by the Betarim, the new Jewish Youth Army, attired in a Hebrew version of the old Nazi Bund uniform." "Great Britain was public enemy no. 1 of the Jewish people, more dangerous and shrewder than the Nazis..."
[8.65] February 1946, formation of B´rith Trumpeldor of America or Betar, affiliated with the NZO. "there is noticeable similarity in the organisation´s character, structure and aims to those of the Hitler Youth…", reported by British Embassy, Washington
[8.76] March 1946, British Foreign Office memorandum on the situation in Palestine: "The belief that the fundamental cause of the Jewish tragedy is Jewish homelessness gains a widening currency... and banishes historical perspective. The Jewish State is the panacea..."
[8.103] April 1946, Outline Report of the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry. Expected hostile reactions from both the Jewish and Arab sides
[9.26] January 1947, one of a series of at least 5 meetings between representatives of the Jewish Agency and the British Cabinet, Foreign and Colonial Offices. Those present included, on the British side: the Foreign Secretary, Colonial Secretary, Prime Minister, the Cabinet Minister; and those present for the Jewish Agency included: David Ben Gurion, Moshe Shertok, Professor Brodetsky, Nahum Goldman and Mr Neumann
[10.48] January 1949, Mr Bevin, British Foreign Secretary, considering the present need to recognise the Government of Israel, and diplomatic moves to get the USA to recognise Transjordan