1939 The White Paper

New Jewish Settlement 1936

The British issued a policy document to limit Jewish immigration to 75,000 over the following five years. This White Paper also ended Jewish land purchases.

Beginning in 1936, the Arabs of Palestine began rioting against British rule. In response, the British government appointed various Royal Commissions to find a solution. Despite the recommendations for partition made by the Peel Commission, the Arabs rejected the proposal. In an attempt to bring the Arab and Jewish communities to the negotiating table, the British organized the London Conference, but this effort was also unsuccessful. As war loomed on the horizon, the British issued the White Paper of 1939.

The White Paper was heavily one-sided, meeting Arab demands without satisfying any Jewish ones. It declared that the Balfour Declaration had only called for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and with over 450,000 Jews already living in Palestine, Britain had fulfilled its responsibility under the declaration. The paper went on to state that Britain would work towards the establishment of an independent State in Palestine over the next ten years. During the next five years, only an additional 75,000 Jews would be admitted, and any Jews arriving illegally would be deducted from that quota. It also forbade any further Jewish purchase of land.

The Jewish community in Palestine and the rest of the Jewish world were outraged by what they saw as a betrayal by the British. The Jewish community began their revolt against the British and organized illegal immigration. However, with the outbreak of World War II, the Jews of Palestine had no choice but to work with the British to fight the Nazis.

David Ben Gurion, the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and leader of the Jewish community stated:

We will fight the war as if there were no White Paper, and we will fight the White Paper as if there were no war."

The White Paper helped seal the fate of European Jewry, who now had nowhere to flee.

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