A third benefit resulting from World War I was the public and official appreciation given to Dr. Chaim Weizmann, a Jew, for his contribution to the war effort of the Allies. Weizmann, who was born in Russia in 1874, studied chemistry in Germany and then taught at universities in Switzerland and England. During World War I he devised an improved method of making acetone, which is used in making explosives. This discovery may actually have affected the outcome of the war.
The prime minister of England credited Weizmann with saving the British army because of his work in providing explosives. When Great Britain tried to reward Weizmann for his work, he said, “There is nothing I want for myself, but there is something I would like you to do for my people.” Weizmann requested the establishment in Palestine of a national homeland. It was generally thought that his work had a great deal to do with bringing about the Balfour Declaration. Weizmann later became the first president of the State of Israel.
Following the war, the newly formed League of Nations approved the providing of a national homeland for the Jews as outlined by the Balfour Resolution. President Woodrow Wilson proposed that the land of Palestine be under a British mandate as a temporary arrangement, the ultimate aim being emancipation and independence of that area. The proposal was adopted and the Jews rejoiced.
All seemed ready now for the fulfilling of the words of the Hebrew prophets concerning the return of the Jewish people to their land:
For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and w ill deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God (Ezekiel 34:11-15).
But the battle was far from won. Difficult days were ahead for the Jews. The British mandate in Palestine did not turn out as the Zionists had hoped. Disappointment lingered. The vision of hundreds of thousands of Jews pouring into Palestine would have to wait another generation for fulfillment. Frustrating quotas allowing only small numbers of Jewish immigrants plagued the planners of this new nation. The struggle continued.
But What of the Arabs?
Hoping to keep peace with the Arabs, the British placed ridiculously small immigration quotas on the Jews. In 1930, a Royal Commission of Inquiry under agricultural and settlement expert Sir John Hope Simpson concluded that only 20,000 more settlers could be admitted to the land without forcing the Arabs out. At that time there were approximately 850,000 Arabs and 170,000 Jews living there. Simpson could not foresee that in the years to come millions would occupy the area, enjoying a far higher standard of living then he observed in 1930.
To support their restrictions of Jewish immigration, the British issued a series of “white papers” that supposedly gave good reasons for their action. The most shocking of the policies set forth in these official documents was the declaration that within a specified time a majority vote of the Arabs could halt all Jewish immigration. Of the final of these infamous papers, Winston Churchill said:
There is much in this white paper which is alien to the spirit of the Balfour Declaration, but I will not trouble about that. I will select the one point upon which there is plainly a breach and repudiation of the Balfour Declaration, the decision that Jewish immigration can be stopped in five years time by an Arab majority. This is a plain breach of a solemn obligation.
Others joined Churchill in protesting the injustice, but the British continued their restrictive action throughout their mandate. It would take another global war to finally build Jewish resolution sufficient to break down the barriers that made it illegal for them to reenter the land.
Winning the War but Losing the Peace
Hindsight declares that in World War I the Allies won the war but lost the peace. One of the reasons for this tragedy was the bitterness born in a young Austrian corporal in the German army named Adolf Hitler.
Angered at the humiliation brought to his people by the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I and bitter about society in general, Hitler set out to get revenge. He found a sympathetic following among many of the veterans of the defeated German army and later, in the economic chaos that befell Germany, among a good portion of the population. His ultimate political success, making him dictator of Germany, became one of the most regrettable developments of the twentieth century.
Though volumes have been written attempting to analyze the troubled mind of Adolf Hitler, his hatred of the Jews found expression in such inhuman policies and practices that they can only be attributed to satanic influence.
Taking the reins of the German government, he would embark on a binge of bloodshed that would victimize all nations. But none would suffer as the Jews. Six million of the children of Israel would die at the hands of Hitler and his henchmen. The world would never be the same again, and Jews everywhere would be determined to settle for nothing less than a land of their own — the land of their fathers.
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE