One Palestine, Complete

I’m reading a book called “One Palestine, Complete” about the British invation and rule of Palestine during the first world war up to the second. Palestine was the last country to be invaded for the British Empire with the dual purpose of attacking the German allied Turkish Ottoman empire who ruled it at the time and promising it to the Zionists. Please the Zionists, the British government thought, and Jews would help keep the US fighting the war and stop the Russians from making peace with Germany. The invasion went smoothly with a train line built from Egypt to bring supplies and the Turks politely leaving Jerusalem without destroying its valuable history.

The Paris Peace Conference was a year long meeting to create the new face of the world after the first world war, new nations were created and old ones re-created. A mandate was a new spin on colonialism for the 20th century and Palestine ended up as a British Mandate, ruled by a civil administration and self-financing. The British run government created a stable judiciary, built roads and ensured the post was reliable. They tended to see the Arabs as primitive natives to whom they could bring some civilisation, but were also happy for them to keep their local customs.

Of course the trouble with promising the land to one people is that there was a large population already there. The Colonial Office had a general policy of allowing Jewish immigration in the hope that after a couple of generations the Jewish population would outnumber the Arab and the stated aim of a Jewish homeland would be possible. When a Jewish Englishman is appointed the high commissioner the Arabs get understandably upset and riots break out in the streets.

I’m only about half way through this fascinating book. I wonder what happens in the end.