AJC eBook: Israel’s Triple Anniversary - Page 8

6 1947: UN Adopts Partition Neither the British government nor the Zionist leadership itself expected significant Arab opposition to the implementation of the Balfour Declaration. During the war the British had reached UN General Assembly Votes on Partition of Palestine, November 29, 1947. an agreement with Sherif Hussein, then in control of Mecca, to lead an Arab revolt against the Ottomans in return for the promise of Arab independence afterwards. Although later critics would charge that the Balfour Declaration contradicted the pledge to Hussein, that pledge did not mention Palestine as part of the proposed Arab state, and in any case the planned Arab revolt never took place. “Immediate Arab reaction to the Balfour Declaration,” writes the eminent historian Walter Laqueur, “was not one of unmitigated hostility.”4 Arab speakers participated in events celebrating the declaration, and some newspapers in the Arab world suggested that the native population had much to gain from cooperation with the Zionist enterprise. Hussein’s son Faisal, eager to attract British backing for his claim to the kingship of Syria, met with Chaim Weizmann in 1918, and the two signed a document in January 1919 that recognized the legitimacy of both Arab and Jewish nationalisms, and specified that the Arab state would not include Palestine (Faisal would later disavow this). Anti-Jewish riots in Palestine during 1920-21 suggested that Faisal’s views did not necessarily represent those of ordinary Arabs there, who feared the effects of Jewish land purchases and the eagerness of the Zionists to promote “Jewish labor,” potentially endangering their jobs. Far more serious violence broke out 4 Walter Laqueur, A History of Zionism (New York, 1972), p. 236.