May 3, 1946 – Post-War World – Palestine: The Middle East Time Bomb
May 3, 1946 – A day where events in 1946 would play for months, if not decades after, especially ones where they appears to be no resolution, even some 72 years later. In May of 1946 it was the Palestinian question, an issue which would be pivotal in the entire region of the Middle East and continues to have reverberations and consequences.
A little background on the issue as of May 1946:
The British administration was formalized by the League of Nations under the Palestine Mandate in 1923, as part of the Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. The Mandate reaffirmed the 1917 British commitment to the Balfour Declaration, for the establishment in Palestine of a “National Home” for the Jewish people, with the prerogative to carry it out. A British census of 1918 estimated 700,000 Arabs and 56,000 Jews.
After World War II, in August 1945 President Truman asked for the admission of 100,000 Holocaust survivors into Palestine but the British maintained limits on Jewish immigration in line with the 1939 White Paper. The Jewish community rejected the restriction on immigration and organized an armed resistance. These actions and United States pressure to end the anti-immigration policy led to the establishment of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry. In April 1946, the Committee reached a unanimous decision for the immediate admission of 100,000 Jewish refugees from Europe into Palestine, rescission of the white paper restrictions of land sale to Jews, that the country be neither Arab nor Jewish, and the extension of U.N. Trusteeship. U.S. endorsed the Commission findings concerning Jewish immigration and land purchase restrictions, while U.K. conditioned their implementation on U.S. assistance in case of another Arab revolt. In effect the British continued to carry out its White Paper policy. The recommendations triggered violent demonstrations in the Arab states, and calls for a Jihad and an annihilation of all European Jews in Palestine.
So on this May 3rd, tensions were spiraling out of control, with British troops under siege from both sides, and Prime Minister Clement Atlee faced with the very real possibility of getting the U.S. involved in a peace-keeping/boots-on-the-ground role. Congress wasn’t keen on the idea and military aid was rejected, putting Britain in the unenviable position of having to deal with the issue or granting independence; an issue which Britain was reluctant to do as it was one more instance of demand for independence rearing its head. With the issue of independence for India looming, one more loss of a colonial territory wasn’t being eyed with enthusiasm. But the bullets and bombings were ramping up in Jerusalem and something needed to be resolved, fast.
But there was other news – domestic news as America settled into a Peacetime footing. Labor continued to be an issue along with prices and wage freezes and general unrest bubbling below the surface.
Interesting times with a lot going on, this May 3rd in 1946, as presented by Cedric Foster and The News.