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Clash of Worlds : Britain and Palestine Part 1 *

The Kerak Castle - Jordan Kerak East flank Photo: Dosseman

Clash of Worlds : Britain and Palestine Part 1

Clash of Worlds –  This is a BBC Documentary focusing on the relationship between Britain and Palestine, the resulting foundation of the state of Israel, and the effects felt to this day. Although this video begins with the so-called betrayal of the Arabs by the British, the BBC is fair enough to list the historical battles between Christians and Muslims. Beginning in the Crusades the battles continued up to the Mahdi War in Sudan and the Muslim revolutionaries in India. Could Britain trust the Muslims? According to this series, many British statesmen certainly did not trust the Muslims.

In this post, and all the posts for the “Clash of Worlds” series, we have added background information to help you understand the terms in each Part of the series. Enjoy!

David Lloyd George

David Lloyd George, seen as an opponent of war, was as surprised as almost everyone else by the outbreak of the First World War. A month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria  he made a speech saying that Britain’s relations with Germany were better than for many years. Lloyd became Prime Minister 1916–1922. Lloyd George wanted to make the destruction of Ottoman Empire a major British war aim, and two days after taking office told General Robertson that he wanted a major victory, preferably the capture of Jerusalem, to impress British public opinion. His objective was “Jerusalem before Christmas”.

David Lloyd George circa 1918
David Lloyd George circa 1918- Public Domain

At the end of the Great War, he called for the liberation of the subject peoples of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.

Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi

Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi – الحسين بن علي الهاشمي‎,  (1853/1854 – 4 June 1931) was the Hashemite Arab leader who was the Sharif and Emir of Mecca from 1908–1916. Hussein declared himself ‘King of the Arab Countries’. Hussein’s pan-Arab aspirations were not accepted by the Allies. After proclaiming the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire,  he became the King of the Hejaz from 1916 to 1924. In 1925, the forces of Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman Al Saud (Ibn Saud) captured the holy city of Mecca from Sharif Hussein, ending 700 years of Hashemite rule.

After World War I Hussein refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, in protest at the Balfour Declaration and the establishment of British and French mandates in Syria, Iraq, and Palestine.

Sayyid Hussein bin Ali, Sharif and Emir of Mecca, King of Hejaz
Sayyid Hussein bin Ali, Sharif and Emir of Mecca, King of Hejaz – Public Domain

Hussein’s sons Faisal and Abdullah were made rulers of Iraq and Transjordan respectively in 1921.

Thomas Edward Lawrence – Clash of Worlds

T.E. Lawrence was a British archaeologist, army officer, diplomat, and writer.

Lawrence in 1919
Lawrence in 1919 – Public Domain

Soon after the outbreak of war he volunteered for the British Army and was stationed in Egypt. In 1916, he was sent to Arabia on an intelligence mission and quickly became involved with the Arab Revolt, providing, along with other British officers, liaison to the Arab forces. Working closely with Emir Faisal, a leader of the revolt, he participated in and sometimes led military activities against the Ottoman armed forces, culminating in the capture of Damascus in October 1918.

Map presented by Lawrence to the Eastern Committee of the War Cabinet in November 1918
Map presented by Lawrence to the Eastern Committee of the War Cabinet in November 1918 – Public Domain

During the closing years of WWI Lawrence sought to convince his superiors in the British government that Arab independence was in their interests – with mixed success. The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and Britain contradicted the promises of independence that he had made to the Arabs and frustrated his work.

Edmund Allenby

Field Marshal Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby, in the First World War, led the British Empire’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign against the Ottoman Empire in the conquest of Palestine.

The victorious General Allenby dismounted, enters Jerusalem on foot out of respect for the Holy City, 11 December 1917
The victorious General Allenby dismounted, enters Jerusalem on foot out of respect for the Holy City, 11 December 1917 – Public Domain

Allenby dismounted and entered the city on foot through the Jaffa Gate, together with his officers, in deliberate contrast to the perceived arrogance of the Kaiser’s entry into Jerusalem on horseback in 1898 which was not well received by the local citizens. Allenby sent his Indian Muslim soldiers to guard Islamic religious sites, feeling that this was the best way of reaching out to the Muslim population of Jerusalem.

Drawing of Allenby from journal "The War" c. 1917
Drawing of Allenby from journal “The War” c. 1917

Allenby’s Proclamation of Martial Law

Allenby’s official proclamation of martial law following the fall of Jerusalem on 9 December 1917 read as follows:

To the Inhabitants of Jerusalem the Blessed and the People Dwelling in Its Vicinity:
  The defeat inflicted upon the Turks by the troops under my command has resulted in the occupation of your city by my forces. I, therefore, here now proclaim it to be under martial law, under which form of administration it will remain so long as military considerations make necessary.
  However, lest any of you be alarmed by reason of your experience at the hands of the enemy who has retired, I hereby inform you that it is my desire that every person pursue his lawful business without fear of interruption.
Furthermore, since your city is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for many centuries, therefore, do I make it known to you that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer of whatsoever form of the three religions will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.

  Guardians have been established at Bethlehem and on Rachel’s Tomb. The tomb at Hebron has been placed under exclusive Moslem control.
  The hereditary custodians at the gates of the Holy Sepulchre have been requested to take up their accustomed duties in remembrance of the magnanimous act of the Caliph Omar, who protected that church.

Al-Karak – الكرك

Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II established a resident governor (mutasarif) of Ma’an Province in Al-Karak. One of the first governors, 1895, Hussein Helmy Bey Effendi, ruled with a garrison of 1,200 troops, in 3 regiments, mostly conscripts from West of the River Jordan and 200 Circassian cavalry. He disarmed the local population and also established a Military Hospital with a Jewish doctor.

Castle of Karak Photo:Berthold Werner
Castle of Karak
Photo: Berthold Werner

Following the San Remo conference, 1920, Great Britain was given a mandate to govern Karak. The newly appointed High Commissioner in Jerusalem, Herbert Samuel, sent several officials east of the River Jordan to create a local administration.  In January 1921 Emir Abdullah Hussein arrived in Karak. At the Cairo conference, March 1921, Abdullah was recognised by the British as ruler of Emirate of Transjordan.

Israel – Palestine For Critical Thinkers: #6

Arab and Jewish Nationalism were shaped by World War I. In order to achieve their goals of statehood, both Arab and Jewish people looked to the British for support. However, controversy was not far away, as these alliances would come to overlap when the British pledged land to both groups, creating a conflict for years to come.

WW I and Israel-Palestine

Approved and recommended by the Israeli Ministry of Education.

6,000 Years of Jewish history & legacy at a glance on a one-page infographic.
The poster-chart combines different fields on a single timeline such as demography, literature, Jewish and World events, traditions, historical figures and more. Every entry on the timeline is a hot-spot that pops a balloon with an image, further reading and useful links (Wikipedia & more). In addition, you may freely download and print a high resolution version of the Odyeda Jewish Timeline in PDF format in white or parchment backgrounds.

Read more here:

About Israel and You

Cameling in the holy land since forever
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