Promises & BetrayalsPosted: April 25, 2013
Promises & Betrayals
First released: 2002
Shown on various channels including
History Channel Mon 14-03-2005
An intriguing documentary about British double-dealing during the First World War in the Middle East, misguided strategies and how conflicting promises to both Arab and Jew created a legacy of division.
This lucid film recounts the complicated history that led to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In the words of the former British Ambassador to Egypt, it is a story of intrigue among rival empires and of misguided strategies. It is often claimed that the crisis originated with Jewish emigration to Palestine and the foundation of the State of Israel. Yet the roots of the conflict are to be found earlier.
In 1915, when the Allies were besieged on the Western front, the British wanted to create a second front against Germany, Italy and the Ottoman Empire. Turkish nationalism had spread to the rest of the Ottoman Empire and the British exploited this feeling. They promised Arab groups their own independent states, including Palestine. Secretly, the Allies planned to carve up the Ottoman Empire: France would get “Greater Syria;” Britain would get Iraq for its oil and ports, and Haifa, to distribute the oil; Palestine would be an international zone; Russia would get Constantinople.
The next British government under Lloyd George believed that “worldwide Jewry” was a powerful force, and that the Jews in the new Bolshevik government could prevent the Russian army from deserting the Allied side. This mistaken strategy, along with other factors including the persuasiveness of Chaim Weitzman, led to the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which endorsed a national home for the Jews in Palestine. At the same time, the Arab leader Shariff Hussein was promised that Palestine would be part of a new Arab state. This contradiction has contributed to the ongoing struggle for control in the Holy Land.