Churchill 2, Churchill Winston

“Eden would not co-operate with Churchill on the anti-Nazi group
known as Focus: Leo Amery was Churchill’s most influential
supporter in it; other MP members included General Spears, Brendan
Bracken, Harold Macmilland and Harold Nicolson. Focus had been
formed in 1936 with money from wealthy and influential British and
American Jews as a counter-move to Hitler’s persecution of German
Jews. Churchill, who was quickly recruited, addressed mass rallies
at the Albert Hall, spoke at lunches for important people and
became its driving force. A manifesto was issued, with great
publicity, and Focus developed into an important political pressure
group opposing the Government’s appeasement and calling for
immediate rearmament, for which Churchill argued vehemently. Violet
Bonham Carter, Sinclair, the Liberal leader, and the trade
unionists Citrine and Bevin helped to give the group credibility.

Once involved in Focus, Churchill became 100 per cent pro-Zionist.
He testified to the Peel Commission on Palestine that all Palestine
should be handed over to the Jews regardless of Arab interests,
which was in sharp contrast with his views on Palestine when he had
been Colonial Secretary in 1922. Then he had been parsimonious
about the number of Jews to be admitted, and said that only ‘good
citizens’ amongst the Jews should be allowed in: ‘We cannot have a
country inundated by bolshevik riff-raff who would seek to subvert
institutions in Palestine as they have done in the land from which
they came.’ In office he had twice suspended Jewish immigration and
favoured abandoning Britain’s Palestine mandate from the League of
Nations under which Britain garrisoned and governed Palestine in
the 1920s and 30s.<10>

The Peel Commission in 1937 recommended limitations on Jewish
immigration; its report coincided with an escalation of Hitler’s
persecution of Jews inside Germany, which was creating an urgent
demand for a vast increase in the number of Jews allowed to enter
Palestine. Yet the Chamberlain Government imposed quotas on German
Jewish immigration both to Palestine and to Britain. As the U.S.A.
also restricted Jewish immigration, great numbers of fugitives from
Nazi tyranny had nowhere to go, and after an abortive London
Conference of Jews and Arabs, a White Paper in 1939 stated that no
further Jewish immigration into Palestine should be allowed against
Arab wishes. It was a British rejection of the Balfour Declaration
of 1917 establishing Palestine as a national home for Jewish
people, at a moment when European Jewry faced disaster. The
Commons divided on non-party lines, with Churchill opposing the
White Paper strongly; the Government majority sank to 89 against
its normal 240.<11>” (Lamb, 7-8)

<10> Cohen, Churchill and the Jews, pages 101, 147
<11> Cmnd 6019, HMSO

Work Cited

Lamb, Richard. Churchill As War Leader. New York: Carroll & Graf
Publishers, Inc., 1991.

Last-Modified: 1994/02/20