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Canada and the Birth of Israel

Canada and the Birth of Israel

Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 292
  • Book Info
    Canada and the Birth of Israel
    Book Description:

    David Bercuson's study reveals Canada as having established a middle east policy during the 1930s, not on moral or ideological grounds, but on the basis of the politicians' view of its own national interests.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5683-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: The Palestine question
    (pp. 3-12)

    London: February 1947. It was a dreary winter in Britain. Less than two years after the end of World War Two, the British economy was still suffering from the ravages of war and the people of Great Britain still had a hard time finding enough food and fuel to feed themselves and to keep warm. There was still no end in sight to rationing, no end to queing up to buy the necessities of life. Things had seemed to get worse over the winter of 1946/7: unemployment increased as major companies closed down for long periods, the British treasury was...

  5. 1 ‘A modest beginning’
    (pp. 13-33)

    William Lyon Mackenzie King was effusive with praise for Zionism when he addressed the Ottawa convention of the Zionist Federation of Canada on 4 July 1922. King, elected prime minister in December 1921, was given a ‘tumultuous’ welcome, and told the delegates in return that he was proud to have the opportunity to address them. He felt deeply sympathetic to Zionist aspirations which were, he claimed, ‘in consonance’ with the greatest ideals of ‘Englishmen’ and he applauded Britain’s efforts in aid of the Zionist cause. He reassured the convention that Britain would carry out its pledges to the Jews and...

  6. 2 ‘Abominable outrages’
    (pp. 34-53)

    The spring of 1945 brought liberation to Europe. The German armies were pushed back into the heart of the Reich and then forced into surrender. The bells of freedom pealed while cheering crowds welcomed their liberators. The victors – hundreds of thousands of Canadians among them – dreamed dreams of home and of peace. It was the most joyous spring in living memory.

    For the Jews of Europe, the Allied victory brought the promise of life, but little more. In concentration and death camps from Holland to Poland the starving remnants of European Jewry stared out through the barbed-wire fences...

  7. 3 ‘A duty which could not be evaded’
    (pp. 54-73)

    Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Webb, commanding officer of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was livid as he read his announcement to a group of journalists, hastily summoned to regimental headquarters in Jerusalem in the middle of the night of 24 October 1946. Only hours before, bombs had exploded at a number of British army roadblocks around Jerusalem, killing two soldiers and injuring ten others. Webb had ordered his men to round up thirteen newspapermen of different nationalities so that he could tell the Jews, through the press, just what he thought of them. As the journalists scribbled away, Webb denounced the ‘bloody...

  8. 4 ‘The best possible person’
    (pp. 74-105)

    The deep blue of the cloudless Mediterranean sky formed the backdrop for the scene that was played out in Haifa harbour on the afternoon of 18 July 1947. By lunchtime crowds had started to gather as close to the docks as British troops would allow; an air of tense expectancy, and barely harnessed anger underscored the historic event in the making: theExodus 1947, battered and broken, was nearing the end of its run. The ship was a former Chesapeake Bay excursion steamer, originally registered as the SSPresident Warfield, which had been purchased by the Jewish Agency in 1946...

  9. 5 ‘With heavy hearts’
    (pp. 106-133)

    David Horowitz and Abba Eban had spent ten exhausting weeks shepherding the members of unscop around Palestine and keeping a close watch on the committee’s deliberations in Geneva but when unscop broke up at the beginning of September, the major part of their work had only begun. After reporting to the Zionist General Council in Zurich, they were dispatched to New York, via London, to work for the passage of the unscop majority recommendations at the United Nations General Assembly due to begin shortly. In London they sought out Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha, the secretary general of the League of...

  10. 6 ‘A temporary trusteeship’
    (pp. 134-159)

    Twenty-four hours after the United Nations General Assembly voted for partition, Palestine was aflame. On the afternoon of 30 November a Jewish-owned bus driving along the highway from Netanya to Jerusalem was ambushed by Arab riflemen; five passengers were killed. That same day the Arab Higher Committee declared a three-day general strike. Armed bands of Palestinian Arabs began to open fire on Jewish traffic and started to place outlying Jewish settlements under siege. On 1 December an Arab mob broke into the old commercial centre of Jerusalem attacking Jewish shoppers and storekeepers and looting and burning the shops. In Haifa...

  11. 7 ‘Zero hour in Palestine’
    (pp. 160-179)

    The Security Council call for a new special session of the General Assembly had no impact on the fighting in Palestine. On 1 April, the very day the council voted, the Haganah High Command met in Tel Aviv to review the increasingly desperate situation of the besieged Jewish sector of Jerusalem. Jewish convoys were not getting through; food supplies were beginning to run out. The Arab High Command in Damascus were well aware that the fall of Jewish Jerusalem would deal a heavy blow to the Zionist cause and were determined to squeeze the Jews until they surrendered or died....

  12. 8 ‘Numerous uncertainties’
    (pp. 180-198)

    The settlers of Kibbutz Nirim, about six and a half kilometres southeast of Rafah on the Palestine-Egyptian border, spent the first hours of Israeli independence in fitful sleep, rifles at the ready, watchtowers and guardposts manned. Local Bedouins had brought word that the Egyptian army was massing across the border and would attack in the early morning hours of 15 May. The kibbutz possessed a small number of rifles and automatic weapons and several rudimentary pillboxes had been linked into a defensive perimeter of trenches, mines, and barbed wire; hardly a match for the armoured cars, Bren gun carriers, and...

  13. 9 ‘Half a loaf’
    (pp. 199-222)

    The heat was heavy and oppressive inside the Ottawa Coliseum on the afternoon of 7 August 1948 as close to two thousand members of the Liberal party of Canada gathered to elect their first new leader in twenty-nine years. Few in the building had doubts about how the voting would go. Mackenzie King was as careful about his exit from politics as he had been through most of his political career, and the succession had been arranged well in advance.¹ But when the results of the first ballot were announced, they were even more decisive than most had imagined and...

  14. 10 ‘A gesture of confidence’
    (pp. 223-240)

    On the day the Security Council failed to approve Israel’s application for membership in the United Nations, Israel’s southern front commander, Yigal Allon, discovered the key to Egyptian defences in the north-western Negev. Egypt had refused to negotiate with Israel, as called for in the Security Council’s 16 November resolution, and the real decisions about boundaries would be made on the battlefield. Israeli military leaders, therefore, placed a large force at Allon’s disposal and instructed him to mount a final assault to expel the Egyptians from Palestine. On 17 December 1948, while poring over an archaeological guide to the Holy...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 241-270)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 271-278)
  17. Index
    (pp. 279-291)