How Fear of an Arab-Axis Alliance Led Britain to Reject the Two-State Solution

June 26 2020

In 1937, the Peel Commission—appointed by London in response to the Arab riots that had begun in Palestine the year beforehand—introduced a plan for partitioning the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. The plan granted a third of the territory to the Jews, and the rest to the Arabs. While Zionist leaders accepted the plan, Arab leaders responded with more violence. Britain later rejected the proposal with the notorious White Paper of 1939, which sharply restricted further Jewish immigration and the Jews’ ability to purchase land. Yaakov Lappin, drawing on his own archival research, argues that this effective betrayal of the Balfour Declaration resulted from fears of an Arab-Nazi alliance:

[T]he British government, caught between the demands of two competing national movements, became alarmed by the prospect of Nazi Germany recruiting the Arab Middle East to its side.

[For its part], Berlin received several requests of help from Arab leaders seeking aid in resisting the creation of a Jewish state. Germany decided that “the fracturing of world Jewry is preferable to the founding of a Palestinian [Jewish] state,” and that “the formation of a Jewish state . . . is not in Germany’s interest because a [Jewish] Palestinian state” would “create additional national power bases for international Jewry. . . . Therefore, there is a German interest in strengthening the Arabs as a counterweight against such possible power growth of the Jews.”

In what is one of the clearest indications that 1938 saw British policy dictated by calculations based on getting the Arab world to stay within the British camp and away from the Axis powers, the Foreign Office cited the possibility of “some 20,000 German-Jewish refugees . . . admitted into Palestine, among them 10,000 Jewish children whom Jewish residents in Palestine had undertaken to adopt,” as a humanitarian effort to help the worsening situation of German Jews.

Indeed, after consulting with its diplomats in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Egypt—who concurred that the populations of these countries would not tolerate such a proposal—the British government nixed a plan to allow a mere 5,000 German Jewish children into the Land of Israel.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Mandate Palestine, Nazi Germany, Two-State Solution, United Kingdom


Leaked Emails Point to an Iranian Influence Operation That Reaches into the U.S. Government

Sept. 27 2023

As the negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal began in earnest, Tehran launched a major effort to cultivate support abroad for its positions, according to a report by Jay Solomon:

In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues—particularly its nuclear program—by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative. The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails.

The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative: at least three of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance.

In March of that year, writes Solomon, one of these officials reported that “he had gained support for the IEI from two young academics—Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary—following a meeting with them in Prague.” And here the story becomes particularly worrisome:

Tabatabai currently serves in the Pentagon as the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, a position that requires a U.S. government security clearance. She previously served as a diplomat on Malley’s Iran nuclear negotiating team after the Biden administration took office in 2021. Esfandiary is a senior advisor on the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that Malley headed from 2018 to 2021.

Tabatabai . . . on at least two occasions checked in with Iran’s Foreign Ministry before attending policy events, according to the emails. She wrote to Mostafa Zahrani, [an Iranian scholar in close contact with the Foreign Ministry and involved in the IEI], in Farsi on June 27, 2014, to say she’d met Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal—a former ambassador to the U.S.—who expressed interest in working together and invited her to Saudi Arabia. She also said she’d been invited to attend a workshop on Iran’s nuclear program at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. . . .

Elissa Jobson, Crisis Group’s chief of advocacy, said the IEI was an “informal platform” that gave researchers from different organizations an opportunity to meet with IPIS and Iranian officials, and that it was supported financially by European institutions and one European government. She declined to name them.

Read more at Semafor

More about: Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy