New Resource: Confidential Print, Middle East (1839-1969)

We are proud to announce a new database containing primary sources relating to the history of Israel and the Middle East:

The Confidential Print collection includes documents relating to Middle Eastern history from the years 1839-1969. 

The series originated out of a need for the British Government to preserve all of the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Offices. Some of these were one page letters or telegrams — others were large volumes or texts of treaties. All items marked ‘Confidential Print’ were circulated to leading officials in the Foreign Office, to the Cabinet, and to heads of British missions abroad.

Countries included are: Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan, Persia, Suez Canal, Turkey, Jordan, Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Syria.  All documents are fully text-searchable.

Below is the description of the portion on Israel:

FO 492/1-11 Israel/Palestine focuses on the eventful period of Israel’s first decade as a nation state, from 1947 to 1957. The foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, noted in a statement to the House of Commons in February 1947 that “For the Jews [of Palestine], the essential point of principle is the creation of a sovereign Jewish State. For the Arabs, the essential point of principle is to resist to the last the establishment of Jewish sovereignty in any part of Palestine. The discussions of the last month have shown that there is no prospect of resolving this conflict by any settlement negotiated between the parties” (FO 492/1). There follows, over the next few years, discussion of the role in Palestine of the United Nations; the activities of pro-Israeli Jewish activists in the USA and British fears of a deterioration of the Anglo-American relationship over the Palestine question (1948-1950); and the end of the British mandate in May 1948 and the near-simultaneous declaration of the State of Israel. The problems caused by Arab refugees from Palestine and huge Jewish immigration to the new state (1949-1953), the perceived concentration of political power in the hands of the first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, as well as Israeli relations with Jordan and their bearing on British treaty relations with Jordan and Egypt all feature prominently. Many other subjects, including the growth of the cooperative kibbutz movement and the wider development of the Israeli economy, the progress of Israeli parliamentary democracy, relations between Israel and West Germany in the light of potential Jewish claims to reparations for the Holocaust, the death of President Chaim Weizmann (1952), border skirmishes with Jordan and disputes over the waters of the River Jordan (1953), the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union (1953), the opposition of Orthodox Jews to the extension of compulsory military service to women, a survey of Israel’s armed strength and military thinking (1956) and Israeli access to the Gulf of Aqaba, are well covered.

You can access the collection here: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?clio8658869

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