Anglo–American Committee of Inquiry (1946)
ANGLO–AMERICAN COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY (1946)
With the termination of World War II in Europe in the spring of 1945, U.S. president Harry S. Truman sent special envoy Earl G. Harrison to Europe to report on the state and treatment of the European displaced persons (DPs) by U.S. troops. The Harrison report gave special attention to the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust among the DPs. It stated that "we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them." To ameliorate the conditions of the Jewish DPs, Harrison recommended segregating them and granting them a favored status. His most crucial recommendation was to vacate 100,000 Jewish DPs from the DP camps and admit them into Palestine. A linkage was thus created between the plight of European Jewry and the future of Palestine. Soon after, the call for admission of the 100,000 Jews into Palestine became official U.S. policy, marking the beginning of active U.S. involvement in the conflict over Palestine.
The British government did not accept the U.S. demand, fearing vehement Arab resistance to an in-flux of Jewish DPs into Palestine. Instead Great Britain offered Washington to form an Anglo–American Committee of Inquiry (AAC) that would offer a solution to the Arab–Jewish conflict in Palestine and to the European Jewish refugees who filled the DP camps in Europe. Ernest Bevin, British foreign secretary at the time, was committed to the application of whatever solution the committee unanimously suggested, providing Washington joined forces with British troops if it became necessary to enforce the policy.
Early in January 1946 the AAC—composed of six Britons and six Americans (the "Twelve Apostles") headed by two high court judges—started its public hearings in Washington, applying judicial standards to an inherently political and religious conflict. From Washington the AAC moved to London, then to mainland Europe to inspect the ruins of European Jewry, visit the remains of concentration camps, and hear delegations of Jewish DPs. The AAC then moved to Cairo, conducting hearings with the high-ranking officials of the recently established Arab League and with the British military headquarters in the Middle East. It then moved to Palestine to confer with British civil and military administrators there, as well as with representatives of the Palestinian Arab and Jewish communities, and concluded its investigation by visiting Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Finally, the AAC moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, and in April 1946, after a month of deliberation, produced its unanimous report.
The report dealt with five subjects: immigration, land, form of government, development, and security. It recommended that the 100,000 Jewish DPs be authorized to enter Palestine as rapidly as possible. It also called for the annulment of the 1940 Land Transfer Regulations restricting Jewish purchasing of Arab land to specific zones in Palestine. Regarding future government in Palestine, the AAC recommended that the country be neither Arab nor Jewish; it also called for the indefinite extension of trusteeship in Palestine—practically the extension of the British Mandate system in that country. Reflecting Christian interests, the report also declared that Palestine was "a Holy Land . . . [that] can never become a land which any race or religion can claim as its very own" (Report of the Anglo–American Committee of Enquiry, p. 3). Based on the belief that the great disparity between the Jewish and Arab standards of living was one of the chief causes for friction in Palestine, other recommendations advocated equality of standards in economic, educational, agricultural, industrial, and social affairs between the Jewish and Arab communities. The tenth recommendation called for the suppression of any armed attempt—Arab or Jewish—that sought to prevent the adoption of the report.
Just a few months afterward, in early summer 1946, the report was shelved and the AAC became, according to one count, the sixteenth commission to be asked to offer a solution to the Palestine problem. Britain backed away from adopting the report, and Washington was unwilling to assist in implementing it or quelling probable Arab or Jewish resistance to it. A year later, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) devised a recommendation to partition the disputed land.
see also bevin, ernest; truman, harry s.; united nations special committee on palestine, 1947 (unscop).
Cohen, Michael J. "The Genesis of the Anglo-American Committee on Palestine, November 1945: A Case Study in the Assertion of American Hegemony." The Historical Journal 22, no. 1 (March 1979): 185–207.
Crossman, Richard. Palestine Mission: A Personal Record. New York and London: Harper & Brothers; London: H. Hamilton, 1947.
McDonald, James G. My Mission in Israel, 1948–1951. New York: Simon and Schuster; London: Gollancz, 1951.
Nachmani, Amikam. Great Power Discord in Palestine: The Anglo–American Committee of Inquiry into the Problems of European Jewry and Palestine, 1945–1946. Totowa, NJ, and London: Frank Cass, 1987.
Report of the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry regarding the Problems of European Jewry and Palestine. Lausanne, Switzerland; 20 April 1946. Cmd. 6808. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1946.
Updated by Amikam Nachmani