On Misinformation


Irwin Mansdorf himself provides an example of what he terms “misinformation”, “an inaccurate claim” that is “not completely true” and is “disingenuous” in his critique of Zionist political advocacy which appeared in this paper''s MAGAZINE (“Rethinking advocacy”) on July 5.  
Challenging the content of an unnamed educational booklet which noted that Britain “violated the Mandate” by cutting off 77% of Palestine in 1922, Mansdorf correctly records that Article 25 of the two League of Nations decisions that year that “granted that right to Britain” which was “implemented[…] lawfully”.  Nevertheless, the issue requires clarification to avoid inaccuracy.
Briefly, the Mandate was granted to Great Britain in 1922, following the April 24, 1920 San Remo Conference decision, in two stages.  On July 24, the main draft of the Mandate was confirmed and on September 16 the amendment allowing Britain to ''postpone or withhold'' the articles of the Mandate concerning a Jewish National Home in territories east of the Jordan River was adopted.  I would suggest that Britain finagled and cheated the Jews.  As Martin Gilbert has written, that amendment “disappointed the Zionists, who had hoped to settle on both sides of the Jordan River”.  Palestine in 1917, we should recall, included Transjordan.  On February 9, 1919, Foreign Office officials informed Chaim Weizmann that the government  “was prepared to include Transjordan up to the Hedjaz Railway” as per the maps presented at the Versailles Peace Conference.  The September 19, 1919 editorial of the London Times proclaimed: “the Jordan will not do as the eastern frontier of Palestine…Palestine must have a good military frontier east of the Jordan…”. Even the 1937 Peel Commission made it clear that “the field in which the Jewish National Home was to be established was…to be the whole of historic Palestine…”.  
The situation, however, altered in October 1919 with the appointment of Earl George Curzon as Foreign Secretary who was unfavorably inclined to Zionism and at the end of November had proposed a change that would separate Transjordan from Palestine so as to facilitate talks to be conducted with Sharif Hussein, father of Feisal and Abdallah.  In March 1920, again the situation was affected with the establishment of the Hashemite Kingdom of Syria when the northern portion of what later became Transjordan was viewed as part of Syria and the southern part of Transjordan was part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz.    
In the end, it was a campaign of occupation launched by Abdallah I who landed in the territory in November 1920 and the threat of violence and the preposterous claim that he had 8,000 troops at his disposal – he controlled less than 500 - that caused the Cairo Conference in March 1921, which continued its session later that month in Jerusalem, to deny Jews their rights east of the Jordan.  That conference was informed that if the British Government “wish to assert their claim to Trans-Jordan and to avoid raising with other Powers the legal status of that area, they can only do so by proceeding upon the assumption that Trans-Jordan forms part of the area covered by the Palestine Mandate” but to appease Abdallah, “[s]ome means must be found of giving effect in Trans-Jordan to the terms of the Mandate consistently with ‘recognition and support of the independence of the Arabs’".
Purposefully disguising their policy, on April 24, 1921, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Joseph Cowen and Samuel Landman were misled by Colonial Office representatives when they inquired  at a meeting that day as to the intent of the proposed Article 25 then being formulated.  The May 1921 Arab-instigated violence west of the Jordan provided further impetus. The separation, albeit administrative, of Transjordan, was based earlier that year on a January 17 report of T.E. Lawrence that Emir Feisal “agreed to abandon all claims of his father to Palestine” in return for Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Transjordan, where Feisal hoped “to have a recognised Arab State with British advice”.  Perhaps surprisingly, it was Henry MacMahon who, in a March 12, 1922 letter revealed “I did not make use of the Jordan [River] to define the limits of the southern area [thinking it possible] to find some more suitable future line east of the Jordan and between that river and the Hedjaz Railway”.
The removal of Transjordan from the concept of the Jewish national home, it must be emphasized, was limited since Article 25 reads, “provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18”.  The inherent contradiction is obvious when according to Article 15 “No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief” but Jews were indeed excluded and according to Article 18, there should be “no discrimination…in matters concerning…commerce or navigation, the exercise of industries or professions…” yet Jews suffered discrimination.
Moreover, Article 25, while allowing Britain to “postpone or withhold application”, did not necessarily fix a permanent arrangement.  In today’s diplomatic parlance, it should still be a “final status issue for negotiation”.
In any case, the two regions remained one mandate and when Jordan sought recognition as an independent state in April 1946, the United States State Department opposed that move as the Jewish national home had not been realized and the two fates were inter-related geo-politically.