“It’s like trying to ride two horses at once”

Between 1920 and 1948, seven British High Commissioners held the fate of Palestine in their hands. Their task was to ensure the peaceful coexistence of the individual population groups. Prof. Dr. Bernard Wasserstein is addressing the rule of the Commissioners in the Holy Land as an Allianz visiting professor this winter semester.

 

For 28 years, seven High Commissioners tried to overcome intercultural disagreements locally during the British reign in Palestine. The aim was for Zionists and Muslims to find a peaceful coexistence. Far away from England, the Commissioners wanted to strengthen their reputation by overcoming the challenges.
 

Immigration as a challenge
 

European immigration to Israel caused turmoil because of the economic, social and demographic changes of the time. In the inaugural lecture of his guest professorship, Wasserstein introduced each of the seven Commissioners.
 

Sir Herbert Samuel was the first of the Commissioners. He was the only politician. All of the other Commissioners came from the military. Samuel was committed both to the immigration of Jews and to settling local conflicts. Like his successors, Samuel was unable to improve the situation between the Zionists and Muslims in the long run.
 

“It’s like trying to ride two horses at once”
 

Sir Arthur Wauchope was the fourth Commissioner in Palestine. He also tried to align the interests of the Arabic and Jewish populations. For him, trying to rule Palestine with these two population groups was like trying to straddle two horses.
 

According to Wasserstein, the situation between the population groups in the region became visibly more intense with the arrival of numerous Jews from Europe in the 1930s. The discontent of the Arabic population erupted into great riots between 1936 and 1939. The situation remained unstable until 1948 when the last Commissioner left the country.
 

Visiting Professor for Jewish and Islamic studies
 

In the unique union of “Jewish and Islamic studies” at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich (LMU), Wasserstein illuminates events in the Holy Land before the rise of the Islamic State as Allianz visiting professor during the winter semester. Wasserstein studied in Oxford and, until last year, was Professor of History at the University of Chicago. In 2013, he won the Yad Vashem International Book Prize.
 
Allianz is supporting the research of Jewish and Islamic studies through this visiting professor in cooperation with the LMU. The subject of his inaugural lecture, Dr. Wasserstein introduced “The men who ruled Palestine”.

Prof. Dr. Bernard Wasserstein is addressing the rule of the Commissioners in the Holy Land as an Allianz visiting professor this winter semester.
Prof. Dr. Bernard Wasserstein is addressing the rule of the Commissioners in the Holy Land as an Allianz visiting professor this winter semester.

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Nicolai Tewes
Allianz SE
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