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Palestine: The Reality
The Inside Story of the Balfour Declaration 1917–1938
J.M.N. Jeffries

published 2017 • 6" x 9" • 736 pages
ISBN 9781566560245 • paperback • $30.00

“Jeffries’ book can be regarded more as primary source material, a collation of historical documents, debates and dispatches from Palestine, meticulously constructed to present a weighty critique of the Balfour Declaration and its legacy. Covering the period 1917 to 1938, it is an invaluable resource for researchers of the period, providing a wealth of detail, a cogently positioned argument that is alive with vivid imagery and wit … As a journalist, Jeffries had a clear-eyed vision of the realities he saw, stripped clean of the racial and class prejudices prevalent at the time. This made him able to predict better the potential outcome of the situation he experienced than many others whose role in the region was overblown at best and misguided at worst, such as diplomat and writer T.E. Lawrence.”
—Selma Debbagh, The Electronic Intifada

British journalist Jeffries (1880–1960) combines the skills of an investigative reporter, a scholar’s assiduity in pursuing available documents, and an engaging writing style in this long-unavailable 1939 exposé of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which underwrote a “national home” for the Jewish people in Palestine. Jeffries covered WWI in the Middle East and emerged as a committed anti-Zionist. For the next quarter century he focused on the Balfour Declaration, drawing three principal conclusions: First, its real authors and supporters were Jewish, British, and international Zionists who shaped the document and lobbied for it in London and at Versailles (Jeffries unflatteringly portrays both the Jewish Zionists and their gentile counterparts). Second, Britain lied and broke promises to both its Arab and French allies on every aspect of the Palestine question. Third, Britain callously dismissed Palestinian Arabs’ rights and welfare. Jeffries’s work received significant prepublication support, but his publisher’s warehouse and most of the existing copies were destroyed during the 1941 German blitz. The centennial of the Balfour Declaration occasioned this new edition, and though Jeffries’s narrow focus underplays Britain’s desperate wartime situation in 1917, the book will be welcomed by critics of Britain and Israel. Maps & illus.” 
— Publishers Weekly


First published by Longman Green and Co, London, Palestine: The Reality had a short life due to the fact that the entire stock and the publisher’s premises were destroyed by the German Blitz in 1941.

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 is a document that profoundly affected the Middle East. Palestine: The Reality is an expertly researched inside story of the Declaration. It is also a vivid and personal account based on familiarity with the dramatis personae as much as the relevant documents. J.M.N. Jeffries exposes:

The real authors and progenitors of the Balfour Declaration, as well as Arthur J. Balfour himself, their personal stories, motives, confusions, conspiracies, and political aims

•     The broken promises to and agreements with Britain’s Arab allies that enabled the Declaration to become a lasting pledge to the Zionists and a fundamental and enduring strut of British foreign policy in the Near East, dispossessing the Palestinian Arabs of their homeland and replacing them with “a national home for the Jewish people,” mainly Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe
•     Britain’s and France’s manipulation of the nascent League of Nations and their awards to themselves, in effect, of the mandates for Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon, respectively
•     The British, French, Jewish (Zionist and anti-Zionist), Arab, American, and other international players who joined either to create or to oppose the “Balfour” document; the Zionists’ and their supporters’ use of often cynical and illegal methods; and all their individual idiosyncrasies, wiles and weaknesses.

One of Jeffries’s most startling revelations is that Britain ruled Palestine illegally, under civilian rather than military administration, from August, 1920, to September, 1923, a violation of international agreements to which it was a signatory. These held that a victorious combatant nation should administer by military rule any enemy territory it occupied during the hostilities, until such time as an effective Peace Treaty had been signed with the defeated country, in this case Turkey. Such a treaty was not signed by the Allies and Turkey until July 1923.  However, military rule was antipathetic to the Zionist leaders and their plans and those of their cooperative and enabling agent, the British Government, and civil government replaced it at Zionist behest, imposing and encouraging Zionist immigration, self-rule, and development in Palestine.

Of the Balfour Declaration itself, Jeffries wrote: “…a text in which Zionists of all nationalities had collaborated was announced as the voice of Britain. They [the Arabs] were told that it was a pledge made to the Zionists: they were not told that the Zionists had written most of it.”

Joseph Mary Nagle Jeffries (1880-1960) was a war, foreign, and political correspondent for The Daily Mail in London from 1914 until the 1930s. He covered the fighting in the First World War, the struggles in Palestine, and the “Troubles” in Ireland.

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