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This paper will explore American perceptions of Palestine in 1929, the year of the Arab uprising. It will consider three groups within the American milieu: the press as represented by the New York Times (hereafter NYT), Los Angeles Times (LAT), Chicago Tribune (CT) and Washington Post (WP), the American Zionists, and the State Department (hereafter written SD). It will seek to explore on the one hand the shared interpretation of events that existed among the press and the American Zionist movement, and on the other the competitive posture that existed between the Zionists and the SD. The paper concludes that the shared views of the Zionists and the press reflected popular perceptions of Palestine that would, in the end, leave SD views isolated and politically vulnerable.
Based largely on the positions taken by the press of the day, the paper also maintains the following:
a) The American public shared a specific Western way of seeing the non-Western world (along with an attendant discourse) that justified British occupation of Palestine and its allied Zionist program. A major aspect of this way of seeing was the conviction that imperialism, as it operated in the 1920s, was altruistic and therefore basically positive. For instance, the WP once expressed the view that the peoples of “the former Turkish Empire” would “welcome a substitution of the enlightened rule of civilized countries…for the tyrannous and inefficient rule of the Sultan.” And, when some of them did not, it reacted with perplexity that these people would prefer “self-government with all its faults to good government under a foreign power.” The attitude expressed by the Post was not novel. It had roots in America’s own historical sense of manifest destiny that had carried the nation across the North American continent and beyond to the Philippines, where the United States still held imperialist sway.
b) This attitude flowed from a second tenet (also suggested in the WP quote given above), which defined a bipolar world wherein a civilized West had an altruistic mission to bring enlightenment to primitive, non-Western peoples.
c) This way of seeing the non-Western world largely shut out any countervailing frame of reference that might have legitimized the worldviews of “native peoples” (thus the Post’s perplexity). As a result there was a general lack of awareness of, or interest in, the feelings and desires of those standing in the way of what the West defined as progress. “Native” resistance often came as a surprise.
The Mandate system negotiated by Woodrow Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference nicely fit this paradigm of altruistic imperialism. Conceived, according to Arthur Balfour, “in the general interests of Mankind, “ it was to serve as a tutoring service by which modern forms of self-governance would be taught and the general blessing of progress given to non-Western peoples. In fact it operated as vehicle for the distribution of conquered territories, including Palestine, into (mainly) the British and French empires in a way acceptable to Wilson’ s (and through him America’s) sensibilities. Thus Americans believed that British imperialism allied with Zionism would redeem Palestine, the Holy Land, from a state of stagnation by bringing to it not only good government but also trade, technological advancement, health improvements and the like. Or, as the LAT once put it, “a program of plain development of the country for the benefit of its inhabitants.” 
Under these circumstances, there was little public debate over British occupation in Palestine or the right of Jews to return and colonize the country. Rather, what was debated was the degree to which the U.S. government should openly identify itself with Zionist ambitions for that colonization process. The issue was an important one because of the active lobbying of the American Zionist movement, which sought to influence the discourse on Palestine, particularly in the press. The American Zionists pushed for an open form of U.S. support that linked the Jewish National Home (hereafter JNH) with the general notion of the spread of Western civilization, the American way of life, progress and modernity. The implication was that these things were really a part of the American national interest in Palestine, and on that basis Zionism warranted government backing. Some of these arguments came through clearly in the debates leading up to the passage of the 1922 congressional resolutions on Palestine and would reappear in the late summer and fall of 1929. The SD on the other hand, took a more low-key position. It worked from the realization that American economic, missionary/educational and archaeological interests in the Middle East as a whole required a policy which, if consistent with the belief in altruistic imperialism, also sought to maintain the general goodwill of the Arab Muslim majority. The Department therefore supported the British Mandate but resisted open endorsement of the Zionist program. This, however, did not mean the SD actively resisted Jewish settlement in Palestine. As long as U.S. interests were protected, as they seemed to be in the Anglo-American Convention on Palestine (ratified in 1925), the SD was satisfied to adhere to a policy of non-involvement on the question of the JNH.
Because their way of seeing Palestine gave greatest weight to the altruistic nature of imperialism while precluding serious consideration of the “native” point of view, the American public (as distinct from the SD) was largely unaware that the Mandate process in that land was creating deep structural divisions between the majority Arabs and minority Jews. British assistance in the establishment of a JNH had led to increased Jewish immigration, which, from the Arab point of view, portended long-term demographic, and therefore cultural and political, transformation. Jewish acquisition of land displaced Arab peasants, and Labor Zionist practices displaced Arab laborers. Yet none of this led the American Zionists, the U.S. government or the press to predict open rebellion.
Thus, when in August 1929 a major Arab uprising occurred, it took Americans by surprise. This event did not lead, however, to any questioning of basic assumptions. The explanations offered all flowed from the frame of reference inherent in the established way of seeing Palestine. The uprising did heighten the competitive struggle between the SD and the American Zionists over the proper attitude of the government toward the JNH. In that competition the press was a major vehicle for the propagation of the Zionist position and instrumental in encouraging public opinion to support a more active and official commitment to the Zionist program.
THE BIPOLAR WORLDVIEW
Press Portrayal of Zionist Activity
In the first half of 1929, none of Palestine’s potential for violent conflict was evident in the press. The NYT, the American newspaper that covered Mandate Palestine most fully and consistently, saw mostly hopeful progress. Here it took its cue from American Jewish sources such as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the wire service from which many American newspapers got much of their information on Palestine, the reports and activities of Jewish leaders, or its own resident correspondent in Jerusalem, Joseph Levy. These sources accounted for 93 percent of all the NYT articles published on Palestine in the first six months of 1929. The Zionist picture was one of on-going economic and social “upbuilding” that advanced the cause of civilization. In the NYT this was translated into articles describing how Zionist activities were expanding agriculture, increasing banking activity and factory production, promoting the tourist trade (63,319 visitors in 1928, seven out of ten being American), and creating an active market for American products (particularly automobiles). In social terms, Hadassah (the American Zionist women’s organization) health clinics became a symbol for both the Zionists and the press of how realizing the JNH was literally bringing the Holy Land into the modern world.
This picture identified Zionism with a developmental process which had been made possible by British imperialism. Together they were put forth in language that ranged from the idealistic to the down- to-earth. For instance, the Zionist leader Nabum Soko low de scribed the British-sponsored construction of Haifa harbor for the NYT as “the first great work of civilization in Palestine,” while an NYT story by Joseph Levy describing how “the country is much changed, ” announced “Paved Roads Expedite Travel, Shops Modernized.” Either way, the West’s altruistic mission to bring the benefits of modernity to the East was seemingly fulfilled through the agency of the British- Zionist effort.
Press Portrayal of the Palestinian Arabs
The inherent superiority of the Western benefactor implied the corresponding inferiority of the “native people.” This too was part of the established way of seeing the area. Earlier in the decade the WP had described the Palestinians as “the more ignorant, more indolent and less enterprising population” compared to the immigrating European and American Jews. Palestine was characterized in the NYT as ” an intellectual fairyland because the contrasts are so astounding. The Arabs are in the majority, but they have nothing to give the world comparable to the Jews, either in energy or intellect.” This was in fact the common picture in the American press throughout the decade. In 1929 the 55 health clinics established by Hadassah were used by the NYT not only to demonstrate how Zionism had improved the health of Jews in Palestine and some Arabs as well (a fact acknowledged by local Arab leaders), but also to picture Arab society as “steeped in a belief in myth and magic,” still seeking cures using “all kinds of ancient rites–conjurings, smearings, amulet wearing and weird incantations” and so on. They were, according to the NYT, stuck in “the tenth century.
Most of the time, however, the Arab population was ignored. As Melvin Urofsky has put it, “the Jews…really had given very little thought to the Palestinian Arabs,” looking upon them as “poor, benighted natives.” The press, sharing the same occidental outlook, paid little attention to the opinions, desires and political positions of the Palestinians. In the first seven months of 1929, the NYT published 51 articles on Palestine but carried only a single one-paragraph item on resident Arab demands. It told that Sir John Chancellor, the British high commissioner, was to consult with the foreign secretary “on the demand for the establishment of a Palestine parliament submitted to him by a delegation of anti-Zionist Arabs.” Taking the last five months of 1929, recognizing that the violence of late summer drew most of the press coverage, and add the CT, LAT and WP, the following comparative figures for August to December emerge (see Table). These numbers suggest an affinity for the American Jewish interpretation of events — that is, an interpretation compatible with an established, culturally attuned way of seeing.
PAPERS: NYT, CT, LAT, WP
Some of the few pieces that alluded to the Arab perspective were reports on reactions to the rebellion in Palestine by Arab-American groups both in the United States and South America, as well as statements made by Arab groups and leaders in Palestine. While these were sometimes offered without comment, more often articles reporting on the activities of Arabs were made in the form of critiques. The NYT’s Joseph Levy was particularly prone to this approach. It was a technique that served a cultural purpose. By taking a critical approach, the press could translate the Arab discourse into a form accordant with the Western way of seeing Palestine. Simultaneously, the Arab point of view was rendered out of context and delegitimized. A representative piece was filed by Levy on August 4, 1929, just three weeks before the Arab uprising. He told of Palestinian disappointment at the high commissioner’s comments made before the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission in July. Chancellor had told the commission that “Palestine is as yet not ripe for self-government,” thus rejecting the Palestinian Arab request for the parliament or “representative assembly” mentioned above. Levy agreed with this decision and remarked that “the High Commissioner proved himself an excellent strategist and a wise administrator.” He goes on to explain,
The Arab Nationalists of the Holy Land have long been clamoring for representative self-government….They look at their neighbors, Transjordan, Iraq, Syria and Egypt, and feel that they too are entitled to something similar in the way of an assembly. They apparently forget or ignore the shortcomings of each of these governments and fail to realize that not one of them has been successful.
Each of the countries noted in Levy’s article was under colonial occupation, a status which, if considered from the Arab perspective, necessarily skewed the experimental “assemblies” he described as “not successful.” From the Western perspective however, the ability of the Arabs to maintain a modem style of self-government ran against the established way of seeing the Middle East and was in fact one of the justifications for the Mandate system. Or, as it was once put in the NYT, “the notion that the Arabs of Palestine would or could form an independent state is fit for Bedlam only.”
Interpretations of the 1929 Arab Uprising
The same process of translating or interpreting Arab behavior in order to harmonize it with the prevailing way of seeing occurred upon the outbreak of widespread violence in Palestine in late August 1929. The violence initially erupted over Jewish-Arab rivalry at the Wailing Wall (an ancient portion of wall that was at once part of the al-Aqsa mosque complex, the third holiest site in Islam, and part of the remains of the Western Wall of the Second Temple, the holiest site in Judiasm). However, it soon escalated into open rebellion throughout the country.
Because what little attention had been paid to the Palestinians often came through official filters, the violence took many by surprise. As late as June 12, the American Jewish leader Felix Warburg was telling the NYT that “all seems to be at peace in that little country.” Quickly, however, a new round of interpretation began, which, operating of necessity from the established frame of reference, could give only the narrowest basis for understanding Arab actions.
A sense of the reporting’s orientation can be had from the headlines: The CT of 8/25 read “Jews Attacked By Moslems At Wailing Wall”; 8/26: “12 Americans Die In Holy Land Riot”; and 8/31: “British Smash Arab Raids on Jewish Towns.” The WP of 8/28: “British Shoot Warring Arabs in Haifa Riots”; 8/30: “Arab Butchery of Jews Bared in Creed Riots” ; and 8/31: “22 Massacred As Arabs Raze City with Fire.” The LAT of 8/24: “Blood Flows in Holy City”; 8/28: “Arabs Kill Americans”; 9/2: “Arab Mobs Run Wild”; and 9/3: “Arabs Raid Colonies.” Finally, the NYT headline of 8/25 read, “47 Dead in Jerusalem Riot — Attacks By Arabs Spread”; 8/26: ” 12 Americans Killed By Arabs In Hebron”; and 9/3: “British Seize 1,000 Arabs Gathering for an Attack.” These headlines were not so much inaccurate as incomplete Arab violence did result in bloodshed, and the victims were sometimes men, women and children who had given no obvious offense. As the chart above indicates, the newspapers under consideration gave great play to American Jewish reactions, which characterized the Palestinian Arabs as “barbarians, ” “arrogant and intolerant” and the like. Yet the press coverage was incomplete, giving no hint of the broader political, economic and cultural issues that had driven the indigenous population to bloody action. This incompleteness was itself a form of interpretation, depicting Arab behavior so that it conformed with the established way of seeing the Holy Land.
We see examples of this in the stories accompanying the headlines. Here, in the search for motivations behind the violence, most observers concentrated on religious animosities over the shared sacred shrine of the Wailing Wall. Relying once more on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and other Zionist-influenced sources of information, the press drew the following sorts of conclusions. On August 18, the NYT described the violence as coming from “apparently unprovoked assaults” by Arabs,  which it later attributed to “aroused Moslem fanatics” whose attention had been focused by an opportunistic leadership on the Wailing Wall. The LAT in an 8/24 piece entitled “Source Of Trouble” stated, “The trouble is said to have arisen out of an attack by the Arabs on the Jews…at the Wailing Wall.” And on 8/30 a frontpage political cartoon was printed depicting a Jewish worshipper at the Wall overshadowed by the figure of a giant Arab about to strike him with a sword. The CT described the violence as “race riots” occurring because of Muslim “objection over aspects of Jewish ritual at the Wailing Wall.”  Finally the WP concluded on 8/24 that “Arab assaults on Jews” were caused by “the Wailing Wall controversy.” This preoccupation with the Wailing Wall reflected the Western assumption that religion, not economics or nationalist politics, was the prime motivator of the predominately Muslim population. And the bloody nature of the revolt confirmed the assumption that Islam was a violent religion of “frenzy and fanaticism” practiced by “bigoted Arabs.” Thus the uprising fit the Western way of seeing the Muslim world and precluded the need to seek further causes for the strife.
That the reporting did not generally supply a motivation beyond religious rivalry did not mean that no other elaboration was given. There was plenty of editorial comment in all four newspapers. While sometimes suggestive of a broader context for the violence (suggestions which, due to a lack of story-content backup, were themselves without context), it too was dictated by the Western presuppositions. Thus, the editorial comment reflected the perception of a bipolar world divided between the civilized and the uncivilized, and Arab violence was transformed into a symbolic struggle between those two poles. The Zionist movement, a product of the West, represented the civilized world. As for the British, they had momentarily failed in their duty to stand as frontier guardians of civilization and were therefore obligated to rapidly restore order and protect and promote the JNH.
For instance, the editors of the CT, while suggesting that “observing the growth of Zionist colonies, the Arab must feel that in due time he will be secluded from what is to him, as much as the Hebrew, a Holy Land,” also asserted that “the influence of the Jewish leadership [in Palestine] has been enlightened and humane, and it must be recognized as an important force in the extension of civilization….In such a controversy the interest of western civilization…must rest with the Jews.” The editorial then added that “our own [the U.S.] immediate interest is in the protection of the Jews, some of them American…and all of them in race and religion related to a valued element of our own country.” The CT editors later applauded the fact that “the British government is sending soldiers, battleships and marines…and a permanent force large enough to keep the Arabs in check.” The NYT commented that “whatever may be said of the wisdom of the aspirations and activities of the Zionist organization,” the Jews residing in Palestine have “undeniable rights” given them by both the League Mandate and Great Britain. The present Arab challenge to this was characterized by the NYT as “a recrudesence of horror. We had come to think such reports of rapine and massacre impossible….A complacent civilization finds it all a rude and painful blow.” The paper speculated that the situation in Palestine might trigger other demonstrations by Muslims across the world, an event that would be “dangerous to European interests” and awaken the “old dread of Europe that the Moslems may unite again…and overthrow white dominion.” The NYT chastised Great Britain because it “did not take the precautions which its responsibilities demand….The weariness of the British taxpayer does not remove the British Government’ s obligations as the Mandatory Power in Palestine.”
The LAT praised the rapid use of force by the British to suppress “religious war in Palestine,” which was in danger of “inspiring the natives of every country under British rule to attempt a similiar revolt.” The LAT editors then observed that “it would be ideal were the wild Arabs of the desert to open their hearts to moral suasion, ” but “unhappily, sweet reasonableness does not seem to be the strongest point of the Bedouin sheik. What he does thoroughly understand and appreciate, however, is the song of the bullet and the crash of the high-explosive shell.” The paper noted that “the Zionization of Palestine probably will not be accomplished without further difficulty of the same sort.” Finally, the WP focused on the loss of American life. “The country is shocked at the news that 12 American Jewish boys have been killed and 30 wounded in the attacks the Arabs have suddenly unloosed.” The Post attributed this to “a fanatical outbreak of holy-war fervor originating in incidents at the century-old Wailing Wall.” The paper warned that “the fury of the Palestine outbreaks gives a more menacing aspect to the situation, by indicating the workings of a vast conspiracy that may envelop in flames all Moslem countries under British influence or dominion.” Under the circumstances, the Post urged the British on to maximum effort in Palestine, “nothing short of a complete eradication of this fanatical movement against the Jewish race will be worthy of present-day civilization.” To which it added that “the dispatch of an American warship…prepared to send bluejackets and marines to Jerusalem in case of need might have a beneficial moral effect.”
The overall effect of the press coverage of 1929 was to meld press and Zionist views and present a picture of Arab aggression that was unprovoked, motivated by religious fanaticism and threatening to the beneficent expansion of civilization. Here Zionism functioned, as the CT put it, as an “extension of civilization.” And, since Americans had a “sympathetic interest in the advancement of civilization,” it followed that the United States should “support the establishment, upon just conditions, of Jewish industry and culture in Palestine.”  The CT’s assertion was but a milder version of an earlier position taken by Representative Hamilton Fish, who stated in the NYT that the U.S. government should support the Zionist effort because “they will fashion their government after the ideals of ours and believe in our flag…because it represents freedom, liberty and justice, and that is what we want to see eventually in Palestine.” These opinions were characteristic of U.S. press coverage from the announcement of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 onward. This kind of argument was certainly made in the extensive coverage of American Jewish reaction to the violence in Palestine in 1929. While there was no real popular support evidenced in that year for direct U.S. military intervention in Palestine (except by the Zionists and their most ardent supporters), particularly in light of the rapid deployment of British forces in the face of the Arab uprising, this cultural and civilizational identification clearly reflected popular feelings as expressed in the press.
It was a logical and perhaps inevitable development. In the 1920s the bipolar worldview, the spread of civilization, and support for the Zionist movement were all aspects of the same paradigm–elements at once supporting and flowing from a single, comprehensive way of seeing. Working within this context, a pro-Zionist interpretation of the 1929 Arab uprising essentially dominated the American discourse on Palestine. This near monopoly of opinion helped the American Zionists in their effort to enlist the broadest support possible. The general public, as well as the U.S. government, were encouraged to perceive the work of the JNH as an implicit element of American national interests in the Holy Land.
THE STATE DEPARTMENT’S “WAY OF SEEING”
Against this evolving perception stood the State Department. While sharing the Western way of seeing the non-Western world, the Department’ s sense of institutional mission led to a qualifying of the idea of altruistic imperialism. U.S. interests could often be promoted by supporting generic, ideological concepts such as free trade, but for the SD, they did not necessitate espousing the sort of general sociocultural transformations encouraged by the newspaper editorialists or envisioned by the Zionist program. Indeed, where ideals such as the spreading of civilization conflicted with more specfic policy goals, the Department resisted them.
In the 1920s the defining departmental philosophy was, to use Philip Baram’s words, “political-military isolationism and simultaneous expansive economic internationalism.” From the point of view of the SD, Palestine and Zionism were “details of the Near Eastern settlement.”  That is, they were aspects of the British-colonial sphere of interest. The JNH was an expression of an alliance between Great Britain and an essentially private foreign concern, the World Zionist Organization. American Zionist pressure (examples of which are given below) for official support of their activities in Palestine threatened to draw the United States into foreign entanglements of a political/ideological nature at a time of “political-military isolationism.” It would also complicate “expansive economic” relations with the Arab majority of the Middle East by, as H. G. Dwight of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs put it, “stir[ring] up the very active sensibilities of the Moslem majority.” Therefore it was decided to “let alone the political and territorial phases” of the postwar Near East. This meant that the Division of Near Eastern Affairs “feels strongly that the [State] Department should avoid any action which would indicate official support of any one of the various theses regarding Palestine, either Zionists’ , anti-Zionists’ or the Arabs’.” This position has been commonly interpreted as anti-Zionist; some have even gone as far as to conflate it with antisemitism.
In the first half of 1929 the SD, like the press, had lost touch with the underlying tensions between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. The cable traffic between the Department and its consulate in Jerusalem in these months focused on economic issues, for instance, access for American companies to the bidding process on British-sponsored development projects like the construction of Haifa harbor. Or they would address related esoteric questions such as whether the British were starting to think of Palestine as a crown colony rather than mandate territory. These issues were important in the minds of U.S. diplomats because they affected implementation of the Anglo-American Convention on Palestine, the treaty that governed U.S.-British relations in that country. This in turn affected the extent and effectiveness of economic access to Palestine by American business.
All such matters, however, were temporarily put aside when on August 23, 1929, the SD received a cable from its consul general in Jerusalem, Paul Knabenshue, announcing “renewed Wailing Wall incidents have given rise to conflicts throughout Old and New Jerusalem between Arabs and Jews. A number of casualties on both sides reported. The authorities are doing everything possible to control the situation. Several [British military] aeroplanes were circling low over the city this afternoon.” 
The SD immediately opened a file on the new situation, entitling it “Conflicts Between Arabs and Jews Over Wailing Wall in Palestine.”  One might initially conclude from this title that, like the press, there would be little or no SD effort to analyze the situation beyond that of a religious conflict over a shared sacred site. However, over time, Knabenshue would seek to offer a more extensive and probbing analysis. He would suggest that the violent Arab uprising was an almost inevitable result of the manner in which the Balfour Declaration was interpreted and implemented by the British, and actively argue that there should be a change in how the British administered the Mandate in Palestine. In the end, his argument amounted to the proposition that the Palestinian position was actually more compatible than was Zionism with American ideals of altruistic imperialism. The key factor in this thinking was the Palestinian demand for a “representative assembly.” The consul general’s cables on this subject became a source of pressure on the SD to understand and react to the Palestine situation in a way sympathetic with Arab demands.
A second source of pressure on the SD came from the American Zionists. Through petitions and the influencing of public opinion, they would attempt to move the SD toward endorsing American involvement in Palestine as if Zionism were an extension of American national interests. In the end the SD would resist both sources of pressure and hold to a course of non-involvement.
The Knabenshue Analysis
Knabenshue began his analysis for the SD with the contention that the Zionists were at least partially to blame for the 1929 outbreak of violence (or what American Jews of that year began to call “an Arab pogram”). He based this on the belief that Revisionist Zionists had, through demonstrations and parades at the Wailing Wall and in neighborhoods of Muslim Jerusalem just before the violence, behaved in such a way as to provoke the Arab uprising. More important, however, Knabenshue identified what he considered broader contextual roots of the conflict. Thus, “while the controversy over the Wailing Wall undoubtedly furnished the spark which caused the recent explosion…the attendant incidents were, however, merely phases of the present dangerous situation….The basic cause of the serious troubles… arises out of the Balfour Declaration.” Knabenshue noted that the Balfour Declaration had two clauses, the first promising a Jewish national home and the second promising not to violate the “civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish communities.” In his opinion, when the Declaration was translated into articles of the Mandate, the result was such things as “artificially stimulated” immigration and officially facilitated land transfers. These acts had, according to Knabenshue, led to an “interpretation of the [first part of the] Declaration” in a manner that “violate[d] the second part of the Declaration and in so doing are in violation of paragraph four of Article 22 of the [League of Nations] Covenant, and hence, as might be said from an American point of view, are `unconstitutional.'”
Back in 1922, after earlier Arab disturbances, the British had tried to clarify the situation by interpreting the first clause of the Balfour Declaration through a White Paper. It stipulated, according to Knabenshue, that “Palestine is not to be converted into the National Home of the Jews, but merely, a Jewish home may be established in Palestine.” Nonetheless, the Zionists had continued openly pressing for greater immigration and land transfers, excercising, in the long run, effective pressure on the government in London. Thus Knabenshue pointed out, “to any student of the situation,” including the Palestinian Arab leadership, “it is quite evident that the Zionist’s ambition was, and still is, to convert Palestine into…a Jewish state and by economic pressure to force out the Arabs, or reduce them to impotency, until Palestine should become as Jewish as England is English.” Later, he explained further that Revisionist Zionists were “indiscreet and openly proclaim this policy, but the more moderate element are for the moment endeavoring to conceal this secret, but none the less, definite ambition.” All of this had led to constant and growing Arab-Jewish tension in Palestine, the latest manifestation of which was the 1929 violence.
Knabenshue had a two-part solution to this problem. First, he suggested “the formation of a legislative assembly with proportionate representation, the mandatory authority to have the power to propose legislation to the assembly and to enact it into law by ordinance if the assembly should refuse to pass it.” And second, a “new constitution [for] the country” that would “provide that there can be no legislation or governmental or other activity against Jews as Jews…In Palestine it should be clearly understood that they have equal rights with the rest of the population.” These reforms would establish “that the Jews can settle in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance,” while also providing a legislative avenue to satisfy the “simple and quite understandable” demands of the Arabs for government “represented according to population…immigration control…[and] control of land sales.”
To Knabenshue this seemed a very good compromise, allowing the Jews a place in Palestine while eliminating the worst of Arab fears. It also seemed to make good sense from the American perspective on altruistic imperialism. A supervised representative democracy with constitutional gurantees was the answer. If such changes did not come, then Knabenshue speculated that “we are going to have a bloody uprising in Palestine which is going to be infinitely worse than heretofore, and which will…lead to a serious international situation.”
One can question how well these reforms would have worked in practice. The Zionists were not interested in democracy in the absence of a Jewish majority and had no intention of trading their desire for a future Jewish state for constitutional guarantees under a representative government with an Arab majority. The American Zionist establishment turned quite hostile toward Knabenshue and even tried to get him replaced. A second problem with his reformist ideas was that, though they pointed the way to a quasi-democratic solution, they were not compatible with the culturally established way of seeing the Middle East. Popular opinion saw the Zionist movement as an agent of a superior civilizational force. It embodied progress and development. Such movements do not subordinate themselves, even with constitutional guarantees, to a “more ignorant” non-Western native majority. Thus, even if the SD had chooser to take up and popularize Knabenshue’s solution, it would not have fit the accepted American frame of reference for the problem in Palestine. However, Knabenshue’s superiors, as we will see, had no intention of supporting his position.
Nonetheless, the consul general had hope that, as a result of the Shaw Commission, sent by the British government to investigate the 1929 violence, there would be a move in the direction he outlined. On this expectation, he urged the SD to “prevent anyone speaking on behalf of the United States Government making a statement at this juncture which it might be difficult to retract should subsequent events make desirable a different attitude.” In other words, Knabenshue was telling his superiors to try to prevent the government from irrevocably committing itself to the Zionist cause on the assumption that the Shaw Commission might possibly result in concessions of a democratic nature to the Arabs.
Back in the United States, as Knabenshue almost certainly knew, the Zionists were pressing for just such a commitment. They put forth three main arguments as to why the United States should become more involved in Palestine on the Zionist side. All three would parallel positions popularized in the press. This was an indicator that they had the virtue of being compatible with the established popular way of seeing Palestine, particularly the notion of a bipolar world wherein Western forces sought to advance civilization. At the same time, these arguments would associate the Zionist effort with more specific American interests and responsibilities.
The argument with the greatest impact was that American lives had been threatened and lost, and thus the government should act. In the press coverage of the many rallies, marches and protest meetings held across the country, this message was clearly stated. In the 160 letters and petitions to be found in the SD files from senators, congressmen, and Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, the sentiments expressed below are typical. Representative Emanuel Celler of New York, in a telegram dated August 25, noted the death of American students at Hebron and the large number of American citizens resident in Tel Aviv and Haifa, where fighting had broken out. He then asserted that “the State Department cannot view with complacency these Arab raids upon American interests. The Raleigh now in European waters should be immediately dispatched to the scene of disorder, and the strongest representations should be made to the British Colonial Government.”  Representative Jeremiah O’Connell of Rhode Island told Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson on August 28 that “a high duty devolves upon the United States of America to head the way in seeking an amelioration of the present deplorable situation in Palestine….The protection of the rights of our own nationals should be asserted with all the strength and vigor of this powerful nation.” And Rabbi Louis Gross, the editor of the Brooklyn Examiner, “published for Brooklyn Jewry, which is the largest Jewish community in the world,” told President Herbert Hoover in a telegram of August 24 that “the recent massacre of Jews in Palestine” were “scenes of horror enacted which menace the life and limb of American citizens.” Therefore Hoover should use his “powerful moral influence…to avert further calamity in the Holy Land.”
A second and related argument was that a large American financial investment was threatened by the violence. For instance, in Celler’ s communication on August 25, he noted the need to not only “prevent further loss of life” but also the need to prevent the loss of the “property of American Jewry, which has been pouring millions of dollars into Palestine.” Isadore Morrison, acting national chairman of the Zionist fundraising organization United Palestine Appeal, in a telegram to the SD on August 26, reminded the secretary of state that during the past decade American Jews had “sent to Palestine upwards of $25 million dollars.” And William Spiegelman, editor of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, in a telegram sent to Secretary of State Stimson, suggested that the United States might consider taking over the Palestine Mandate, due to its “especial significance to the American public since funds of American citizens have been and are expected to be the largest factor for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Holy Land.”
The third main argument was that not only were there American lives and property at risk, but also the advancement of Western civilization. Thus Morrison in his telegram to the SD added the notion that all those millions invested in Palestine had brought the country “Western culture, industries and commerce.” William Spiegelman, in his communication with Stimson, told the secretary of state that out of the crisis “the JNH in Palestine will emerge with greater strength for the further spreading of western civilization” and asked him for a statement about what the U.S. government was going to do to help. And Senator Robert F. Wagner, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, took to the radio in New York City to build public support for U.S. action in Palestine. Speaking on ABC Radio on September 1, he delivered an address commented upon the next day in the NYT. Wagner declared that the “accumulated decay of 2,000 years had been supplanted by western civilization and standards” thanks to “the personal sacrifice of thousands of the best of the Jewish race.” He then asked, “Is all this to be swept away….Is the noble Jewish dream to be turned into a nightmare by the cowardly dagger of the assassin? The conscience of mankind cries to High Heaven that these shall not come to pass.” He reminded his audience that “the United States Government by appropriate resolution expressed its satisfaction” with the Zionist effort, thus implying a certain American responsibility to support it. As we have seen, other opinion makers such as the CT and WP also identified the Zionist movement with the spread of civilization.
The Government’s Response
The pressure exerted in the form of these three arguments, applied consistently throughout late August and September 1929 and played out against the coverage and editorializing of the press, implied that the JNH was somehow an extension of U.S. national interests. And it was significant enough to make both President Hoover and Secretary of State Stimson take pains to explain and defend their position of non-intervention. For instance, President Hoover responded positively to a request for a statement to the Jewish protest meeting of 20,000 held at Madison Square Garden on August 29. In it he stated that he believed that the recent tragedy in the Holy Land would result in “greater security and greater safeguard for the future, under which the steady rehabilitation of Palestine as a true homeland will be even more assured.” On the other hand, when Hoover received a Zionist delegation at the White House on August 27, he told them that he was “deeply concerned for the safety of all American citizens in Palestine” but that he felt “the British Government had taken strong and extensive measures for the restoration of order.” Hoover also voiced his concern at the anti-British nature of American Jewish protests and indicated that he was determined to resist calls for U.S. intervention. He did not want to embarass the British in any way. Secretary of State Stimson took a similar line. In his stock replies to the myriad letters and petitions the SD received, he assured the Zionists and their supporters that the SD had strongly urged the British to act vigorously in Palestine and had reminded them of their obligation to protect American lives and property, finishing the reply with assurances that the British were indeed doing just that. When approached directly by American Zionists seeking official support he rebuffed them.
The government equally resisted pressure from the other direction. When a representative group of Arab Americans came to the SD on September 6 and presented Stimson with a petition calling on the United States to support “the revocation of the Balfour Declaration” and “the establishment of a National Representative Government” in Palestine, he rebuffed them also. Equally important, the SD resisted Paul Knabenshue’ s efforts to promote a reinterpretation of the Mandate in a way that would limit the definition of the JNH while promoting a democratic and constitutional form of government. When, in 1930, Knabenshue made suggestions as to how this might be accomplished to Stewart Spencer Davis, the acting high commissioner in Palestine, he was pointedly reprimanded by the SD. He was told to “avoid being drawn into any discussions of the situation and scrupulously refrain from expressing an opinion to anyone whomsoever as to the possible position which this government might take” on any possible reinterpretation of the Mandate.
The way the SD handled the 1929 situation, resisting both the entreaties of American Zionists, American anti-Zionists and its own consul general in Jerusalem, argues for a motive of avoiding “entanglements” rather than antisemitism or even ideologically driven anti-Zionism. On the one hand, the department was fully accepting of altruistic imperialism in the form of British-controlled Palestine. Here there was no great risk of entanglement, and U.S. interests were seemingly protected by treaty. On the other hand, the American Zionist vision of altruistic imperialism in Palestine solicited active U.S. government support. To the SD, that equaled entanglement, and therefore they sought to make a distinction between national interests and the JNH. In the process they qualified their pro-imperialist way of seeing Palestine in a manner that the popular point of view, as expressed in the press, did not.
Yet because the American Zionists had the ear of a considerable number of senators and congressmen and were active in presenting their point of view to the press and all other interested parties, the SD never went beyond non-interventionist neutrality on this matter. To be sure, there was much grumbling against Zionism in the form of internal memos at the Division of Near Eastern Affairs. However, in the 1920s, these complaints did not translate into active opposition to the JNH by the SD in its interactions with other branches of the U.S. government or with Britain. For instance, there is no evidence of the Division seeking to shape or change public opinion on the issue of Zionism. And the documents suggest that the Division offered its opinion to Congress (where it might have exercised some influence if it had wished) only when asked. While Zionism was therefore certainly not equated by the SD with American national interests in Palestine, it was not actively campaigned against either. The SD simply sought to avoid any governmental commitment of open support.
In 1929 American popular opinion perceived Palestine in terms of a bipolar worldview that denigrated or ignored the indigenous population while asserting the notion of altruistic imperialism. Here the altruistic agent bringing good government, progress and modernity was the Zionist movement assisted by British imperialism.
This way of seeing was revealed in the U.S. press as it covered the 1929 Arab uprising. The coverage basically followed the American Zionist interpretation of events and revealed the fact that the American discourse describing and defining Palestine and the Zionist discourse were closely aligned. This discourse, as manifested in newspapers and other sources (as suggested in the telegrams, petitions and resolutions to be found in the SD’s file on the 1929 uprising) created a source of pressure on the government to identify the Zionist program as worthy of official support. Here American Zionists were able to add to the general arguments–the spread of civilization and Zionism’s similarity to the American pioneer spirit'–the more specific ones of increasing involvement of American citizens and the rapid growth of American investment in Palestine. In other words, there was an ongoing effort urging that the JNH become identified with U.S. national interests in Palestine.
The State Department, holding to a policy of non-involvement, resisted all pressure to take sides in the internal conflicts of Palestine. This was true whether that pressure came from Zionists, anti-Zionists or the Department’s own consul general in Jerusalem. In the case of the Zionists, the SD resisted pressure because of its narrowly focused definition of national interest and the judgment that Zionism was not compatible with it. This produced a de facto competition between State and the Zionists over what really should constitute U.S. national interests in the Holy Land.
However, from a public-relations standpoint, only one side was active. The Zionists had long been promoting their views and, as this paper suggests, their efforts had established and built upon the compatibility of the Zionist interpretation of events in Palestine with the American way of seeing the non-Western world. One important result was a melding of the two views as expressed in the press coverage of the area. The SD, on the other hand, had operated in a much more insular fashion. The Department’s internal memos critical of Zionism should not be mistaken for an offensive posture. Rather the posture was defensive, seeking to hold off any official U.S. identification with the JNH.
There also is no evidence that State Department personnel understood the long-term significance of these contrasting postures. They did not realize that their narrow and static formulation of what constituted American national interests in Palestine was being successfully challenged in the public arena by a more dynamic pro-Zionist interpretation. As a consequence, the SD was increasingly out of touch with a politically important aspect of public opinion. Holding themselves aloof from popular attitudes on Zionism, those in the Division of Near Eastern Affairs held fast to a position that was to grow more and more politically untenable for their elected and appointed superiors. No doubt they would have argued that popular opinion should not define foreign policy, but this is naive. In a democracy, where so much is shaped by special interests, lobbying, financial support and manipulation of mass media, foreign-policy matters important to powerful interest groups could not, in the long run, be resolved solely by a government department out of sync with prevailing opinion.
As the world moved through the era of the European Holocaust, the popular American way of seeing Palestine would continue to be filtered through a Zionist lens. Aided by the contradictions of horror over genocide and fear of opening the immigration gates to the survivors, Americans would come more and more to agree that the U.S. government should lend official recognition and support to the notion of a Jewish National Homeland. Over time, the concepts of a bipolar world divided between the civilized and uncivilized, along with the notion of altruistic imperialism, would pass out of fashion, but the power of the Zionist discourse would prevail. In the increasingly media-centered world of twentieth-century America, the Zionist-press connection easily bested the State Department in shaping popular perceptions and transforming American national interests in Palestine.
 Some works that refer to this Western way of seeing are Norman Daniel, Islam and the West (Oxford: Oneworld Press, 1960); Albert Weinberg, Manifest Destiny (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1963); Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized (Boston: Beacon Press, 1965). See also Kearney Helen McCready. American Images of the Middle East, 1824-1924 (Ph.D. Diss.: University of Rochester, 1976) and Terry Brooks Hammons, “A Wild Ass of a Man”: American Images of Arabs to 1948 (Ph.D. Diss.: University of Oklahoma, 1978).
 The Washington Post (WP), February 11, 1921, p. 6.
 The New York Times (NYT), June 18, 1922, VI, p. 6.
 The Mandate system was described in the NYT as “a form of trusteeship by advanced nations on behalf of the entire civilized world.” See September I, 1929, IX, p. 4. For the text of the British Mandate for Palestine see NYT February 5, 1921, p. 11.
 The Los Angeles Times (LAT), August 22, 1922, II, p. 4.
 See Lawrence Davidson, “Historical Ignorance and Popular Perceptions of Palestine, 1917” in Middle East Policy, Vol. III, No. 2, 1994.
 See NYT April 5, 1922, p. 4, and Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59 (hereafter written RDS) 867n.01/199. See also I. Oder, The United States and the Palestine Mandate, 1920-1948 (Ph.D. Diss.: Columbia University, 1956), pp. 79, 83.
 See Mark Tessler, A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), pp. 177, 179- 180. For the NYT consideration of Zionist labor practices see December 18, 1927, III, p. 8; January 2, 1928, p. 8; January 29, 1928, III, p. 6; January 20, 1929, III, p. 6.
 NYT January 20, 1929, III, p. 6. See also March 30, 1929, p. 17.
 NYT July 4, 1929, p. 5. See also January 11, 1929, p. 38 and March 10, 1929, p. 40.
 NYT January 20, 1929, III, p. 6. See also July 4, 1929, p. 5
 NYT January 20, 1929, III, p. 6.
 NYT April 7, 1929, X, p. 17. See also April 17, 1929, p. 26; May 1, 1929, p. 6; May 24, 1929, p. 16.
 NYT March 11, 1929, p. 31.
 NYT January 20, 1929, III, p. 6.
 WP August 30, 1922, p. 6.
 NYT August 11, 1925, p. 23.
 For examples of this characterization see: NYT July 5, 1920, p. 17; May 7, 1922, II, p. 7; June 11, 1922, VI, p. 7; December 28, 1924, II, p. 2; April 12, 1925, p. 2; August 11, 1925, p. 23; January 7, 1926, p. 25. WP February 11, 1921, p. 6; August 30, 1922, p. 6. LAT February 16, 1921, II, p. 4; August 22, 1922, II, p. 4; July 24, 1922, p. 4; September 28, 1922, II, p. 4. Chicago Tribune (CT) September 19, 1922, p. 8.
 LAT September 8, 1929, II, p. 4.
 NYT April 7, 1929, X, p. 17.  Melvin I. Urofsky, American Zionism From Herzl to the Holocaust (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1975), pp. 241-242.
 NYT January 13, 1929, III, p.
 See NYT September 7, 1929, p. 3; September 16, 1929, p. 18 and October 27, 1929, III, p. 2.
 See NYT September 8, 1929, p. 22; October 28, 1929, p. 12; October 27, 1929, II, p. 3; December 3, 1929, p. 12 and December 4, 1929, p. 9. For coverage of the Arab position at the Shaw Commission hearings see NYT November 1, 1929, p. 9 and November 29, 1929, p. 13.
 NYT August 4, 1929, II, p. 6. For other pieces by Levy see September 19, 1929, p. 6; November 1, 1929, p. 9 and November 4, 1929, p. 10.
 NYT April 12, 1925, p. 2.
 For a detailed discussion of the 1929 Arab uprising see Martin Kolinsky, Law, Order and Riots in Mandatory Palestine, 1928-35 (London: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), Chapters I through 6.
 NYT June 12, 1929, P 30.
 NYT August 18, 1929, p. 1.
 NYT September 3, 1929, p. 1, 20. See also NYT August 25, 1929, p. 1.
 LAT August 24, 1929, p. 1.
 LAT August 30, 1929, p. 1.
 CT August 25, 1929, p. 1.
 WP August 24, 1929, p. 4. See also article by William Shack, WP August 25, 1929, p. 10.
 These words were used to describe the Palestinian Arabs by Congressmen William Isovich in an August 26, 1929 telegram to the SD. Records of the Department of State Relating to the Internal Affairs of Turkey 1910-1929, Record Group 59 (hereafter written RDS), 867n.404WW/18.
 CT August 27, 1929, p. 14.
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