Embroidery: Jan Chalmers, UK
The 1st Viscount Herbert Samuel, who was Jewish and a Zionist, was appointed to the position of High Commissioner of Palestine in 1920 and served until 1925. He received the post from Sir Louis Bols, of the ‘Occupied Enemy Territory Administration’, who handed over Palestine. In return, Samuel signed a “receipt” acknowledging that he had received “one Palestine, complete”, as described by the Israeli historian Tom Segev in his book entitled “One Palestine Complete”. The abbreviation on the bottom left of the letter stands for “Errors and Omissions Excepted” (Seebag Montefiore S (2001). Jerusalem, p 431).
Dr Ghada Karmi, Founding Patron of the Palestinian History Tapestry Project, reflects here on this 3-word acknowledgement of the British theft of the homeland of the Palestinian people.
“On 30 June 1920, this parody of a receipt of merchandise (complete with E&OE – Errors and Omissions Exempted), was drawn up one hundred years ago. It appears on official British government headed paper, written by the head of the British military administration in Palestine, Major General Sir Louis Bols, and addressed to Herbert Samuel, Britain’s first High Commissioner in Palestine. The ‘merchandise’ in question was the country of Palestine, and Bols added the word, ‘Complete’, on the receipt, possibly to make the point that the country he was handing over also included an unwilling and rebellious population of Palestinian Arabs, with all the strife and troubles that would entail for Samuel.
“Appointing Samuel, a practising Jew and ardent Zionist, to such a post was controversial at the time and regarded as illegal. A conquered people could not have their fate decided ahead of a peace treaty, as was the case in Palestine. In addition, the British Mandate over the country did not commence until 1922. In these circumstances no one in Britain was in favour of appointing a civil administrator, let alone a Jewish and Zionist one, to take charge in Palestine. Only the Zionists supported Samuel’s appointment.
“The receipt of ‘One Palestine, complete’ should be seen as an angry and sarcastic expression of the resentment that British military commanders felt towards the Zionists. In their view, Britain’s soldiers had not achieved the conquest of Palestine in order simply to hand it over to the Zionist movement. It was a tension that persisted throughout the years of the British Mandate.
“However strongly felt these sentiments may have been among the British occupation forces, they were of no use to the indigenous Palestinians. For them, the reality was that their homeland was being passed, cynically or not, from one foreign group to another, neither of which had legal title to it.
“The real lesson of the story of ‘One Palestine, complete’ is the light it throws on Zionism’s influence over the development of British policy, as early as 1920.”
Era: British Mandate (1920—1948)