Weizmann Expresses Dismay over Britain’s Pro-Arab Position to MacDonald
Malcolm MacDonald (credit: Bassano Ltd., British National Portrait Gallery, public domain)

July 12, 1938

As part of the Zionist strategy to engage the British government in political negotiations, Chaim Weizmann sent a letter to Malcolm MacDonald, British Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs. In the letter, Weizmann aired his grievances against the British government for reversing their pro-Zionist policy.

In July 1937, the British Government’s Peel Commisssion report had recommended ending the Mandate and creating separate Jewish and Arab states in Palestine.  Arab leaders took a unified stance against the Peel Commission report and against British support of a Jewish state in Palestine.  By 1939, the British had responded by reversing their position with the 1939 White Paper, which restricted Jewish immigration to and land purchase in Palestine, thus taking a decidedly pro-Arab and pro-Palestinian perspective.  In his letter, Weizmann called upon MacDonald to account for this about-face.

Weizmann wrote,

Sooner or later the British government will have to ask themselves whether they are going to rely on backward Arab populations, which are an easy prey to any political adventurer, and are even now subject to the pressure of mechanized German and Italian propaganda; or whether they would rather rely on a progressive Jewish population, bound in loyalty to Great Britain, and depending for its security, and perhaps even for its existence, upon the strength and welfare of the British Empire.

Weizmann made it clear that the British were no longer acting in accordance with the findings of the Peel Commission.  He intimated that the British were abandoning the Zionists, disregarding both Jewish loyalty to the British and British strategic interests.