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.


The Arabs of Palestine began rioting against British rule starting in 1936. The British government appointed various Royal Commissions to find a solution. After the Peel Commission recommendations for partition were rejected by the Arabs the British tried to get the Arab and Jews to negotiate at the London Conference. But that failed. At that point with the war on the horizon, the British issued the White Paper of 1939. The White Paper was extremely one-sided in that it met Arab demands without meeting any Jewish ones. The paper stated that as the Balfour Declaration had called only for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and as there were over 450,000 Jews in Palestine, Britain had met its responsibility under the declaration. Therefore, in the future, Britain would work towards the establishment of an independent State in Palestine, over ten years. It stated that over the next five years, it would only admit another 75,000 Jews, and any Jews who arrived illegally would be deducted from that quota. It also forbade further Jewish purchase of land. 

The Jews of Palestine and the rest of the Jewish world were outraged at this apparent betrayal by the British. The Jews began their revolt against the British and began to organize illegal immigration. However, with the outbreak of World War II, the Jews of Palestine had no choice to work with the British to fight the Nazis.  

David Ben Gurion the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and thus the leader of the Jews of Palestine 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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