In the Eye of the Beholder: Palestine during World War I and Its Fate as an Object of Anglo-French Diplomacy

Friday, January 3, 2014: 3:10 PM
Washington Room 4 (Marriott Wardman Park)
Charles D. Smith, University of Arizona
The question of Palestine remains a heated issue to this day. Decisions about its fate were made during and after World War I, creating conditions contributing to the current  Palestinian-Israeli dilemma. A key issue was the fact that the inclusion of the 1917 Balfour Declaration in the British mandate for Palestine violated the Covenant of the League of Nations, the body that oversaw the mandates. During the war, most of the inhabitants of Palestine suffered from famine caused as much by an Anglo-French blockade of the coast as by locust swarms and Ottoman Turkish control of resources. Scholarly attention has only recently focused on what occurred in Palestine during the war as opposed to decisions about the fate of Palestine after the war. This paper will discuss both issues with respect to recent and previous scholarship, addressing the problematic use of sources by various scholars and its legacy, including the still widely used  A Peace to End all Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creations of the Modern Middle East (1989 and later editions).