A sacred trust?: British administration of the mandate for Palestine, 1920-1936
Longland, Matthew John (2013) A sacred trust?: British administration of the mandate for Palestine, 1920-1936. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
This thesis examines how ideals of trusteeship influenced British administration of the Palestine mandate. The Covenant of the League of Nations described the mandate system as a 'sacred trust of civilisation'; because of this, the powers who held mandates were obligated to govern the territories they occupied during the First World War with the long-term aim of establishing them as independent members of the international community. British fulfilment of that trust drew on wider influences that had informed its rule elsewhere in the colonial empire; notions of liberalism, utilitarianism, and rationalism, core elements in a British philosophy of colonial rule, profoundly shaped British governance in Palestine. In utilising a model of trusteeship to explore the Palestine mandate, this study also explores how colonial policy-making was shaped by Orientalist representations. Cultural preconceptions enabled the basic premise of trusteeship by providing a binary image of 'backward', inferior subject populations in need of assistance and of progressive, superior Western powers capable of delivering the required 'tutelage'. The influence of trusteeship and Orientalism in Palestine is examined in five key administrative areas: self-government, immigration, land, education, and law and order. Under trusteeship, various forms of local and communal self-government were advanced to provide administrative experience and create a foundation for eventual participation in national self-government; reform ofland tenure and the facilitation of Jewish immigration were intended to promote economic growth and increase prosperity amongst all sections of the population; the government school system was expanded to encourage basic levels of mass literacy and develop vocational knowledge of modern agricultural techniques; and the mandatory administration sought to create local, self-sufficient civilian forces to uphold public security. Such policies allowed British officials to justify their presence in Palestine through discourses of 'progress' and 'improvement', which were required irrespective of any British commitments made to support Zionism.
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