King's College London
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West of Suez: Britain and the Mediterranean, 1704-1967

Palestine, Transjordania and the Promised land

Due to copyright restrictions on the works below, we are unable to reproduce the covers, which are illustrated with depictions of the Holy Lands. Any reader interested in seeing the works first hand is welcome to consult them in the Reading Room of the Foyle Special Collections Library.

Palestine and Transjordania

Ludweig Preiss and Paul Rohrbach. Palestine and Transjordania. London: Sheldon Press, 1926 [FCO Historical Collection FOL. DS108.5 PRE]

When the first book featured in this section was published, eight years after the Balfour Declaration had stated the British government’s support for ‘the establishment in Palestine of a homeland for the Jewish people’, the British administration of Palestine (Mandatory Palestine) was in effect.

The British mandate lasted from 1920 to 1948 and British involvement in the area and wider region is recognised to have had lasting effects. Attempts by the British to manage Arab and Jewish interests, as well as the self-interest of a declining imperial power, were not without cost.

Conflicts took hold between parties, with the Arab Revolt of 1936-9 aimed against the occupying colonial power and the Zionist insurgency of 1944-7 similarly targeting British forces and notoriously blowing up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946.

The work featured here contains photographs of Palestine, depicting life there before large scale Jewish immigration to the territory. There are photographs of the many holy sites of Islam, Christianity and Judaism; as well as portraits of Bedouin in the desert, Jews at the wailing-wall, Arabs in the old city of Jerusalem and Christian worshippers.

Promised land

Ellen Thorbecke. Promised land. New York, London: Harper and Bros., [1947] [Adam (Grindea) Collection DS126.T5 THO]

The foreword to the second book featured here states that ‘The transformation of Palestine was achieved by a trickle of settlers which, since Nazi persecution began, has swelled into a stream of over 600,000 people’.

This Aliyah, or return, saw the demography and landscape of the region transformed, with such developments as the establishment of the city of Tel Aviv and of kibbutzim to farm the often barren land. Images in the book illustrate these widespread changes to urban and rural life.

In the period preceding Israeli independence, the British Mediterranean Fleet made successive efforts to limit the numbers of Jewish immigrants, many Holocaust survivors, from entering Palestine. A year after this book was published the state of Israel was formally declared at the cessation of the British mandate in Palestine; Israel was then immediately invaded by a military coalition of Arab states, resulting in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

The Foyle Special Collections Library holds collections which examine the history of Palestine and Israel. We hold the library of HG Adler, a Holocaust survivor, and the former library of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which includes material on ‘Mandatory Palestine’ as well as pre-20th century accounts of the region.

The book, The promised land is from the Adam (Grindea) Collection, the former library of literary journalist, Miron Grindea (1909-95), a Romanian Jewish émigré to Britain.

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