Meir Zamir: Churchill Gov't Secretly Proposed Anti-Zionist Plan, Scholar Says

Historians in the News

The government of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1944 secretly proposed creating a “Greater Syria” that would have shut Holocaust escapees out of Palestine and thwarted creation of a Jewish state, according to an Israeli scholar, citing newly-released French government documents.

“This raises important questions about Winston Churchill’s attitudes toward Jewish refugees and Zionism,” said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. “Further research will hopefully shed more light on whether the gap between Churchill’s rhetoric and his actions was in fact greater than previously realized, as these documents suggest.”

The documents were uncovered by Dr. Meir Zamir, professor of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University, in Israel. Zamir is the author of two books, and numerous essays, about Lebanon, Syria, and related issues.

Prof. Zamir’s findings about the Churchill government’s “Greater Syria” plan run counter to two recent books, Churchill and the Jews by Martin Gilbert, and Churchill’s Promised Land, by Michael Makovsky, which portray Churchill as sympathetic and helpful to the Zionist cause and to Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust.

Writing in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz (Feb. 1, 2008), Prof. Zamir reported that in a previously-unknown British proposal to Syria’s leaders in August 1944, and in a secret British-Syrian agreement signed in June 1945, the Churchill government “assured Syria that it would limit Jewish immigration and thwart the emergence of an independent Jewish state in Palestine.”

The British proposed creation of a “Greater Syria” consisting of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Transjordan. London was seeking “preferential status in military, economic, and cultural matters,” veto power over Syria’s agreements with other countries, oil exploration rights in Syria, and a role in the Syrian Army.

“To persuade the Syrian leaders to agree to these terms,” Prof. Zamir writes, “Britain was ready to commit itself to defend Syrian independence in the face of external aggression, continue the White Paper policy in Palestine and put a complete halt to Jewish ambitions.” As for Christians and Jews living in the region, “The Christian minorities in Lebanon and the Jews in Palestine would enjoy autonomy,” Zamir reported.

For the full text of Prof. Zamir’s essay, please visit:
Read entire article at Press Release--David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

comments powered by Disqus