From the Balfour Declaration to the Johnson Plan: Jewish and Muslim Refugees in Palestine 1917-1962

Instructor:  Bob Rackmales

  • Thursday Morning
  • 9:30 – 11:30 AM

2017 is the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration, a pledge by the British government to support in Palestine the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people, while protecting the rights of Palestine’s non-Jewish communities. Over the course of the next half-century that pledge became a focal point of still unresolved conflicts between contending forces within Palestine/Israel and international actors, some seeking to ameliorate the conflict and some to support one or another of the sides.

This course will begin with an in-depth look at the origins and aims of the Declaration itself, examine how it was implemented in Palestine in the years between the two world wars, discuss how the second world war and the ensuing 1948 war in Palestine set off new massive refugee flows, both into and out of Palestine, and how the international community struggled with these issues. It will conclude with the abandonment by the Kennedy administration of the Johnson Plan, an attempt to use diplomacy and financial strength to help ease the plight of the refugees.

During his 32 years with the State Department, Bob Rackmales discussed refugee and emigration issues with senior government officials in Turkey, the Soviet Union, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. He worked closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN refugee officials and the International Rescue Committee to alleviate the suffering of those caught up in the wars in the Balkans. He is a member of the American Foreign Service Association and the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations.