Things in Palestine really started to heat up in 1908 – the year of The Young Turk Revolution. It was around this time that the violence between the Jews and the Arabs started to escalate beyond what was mostly localised troubles over property rights. And it took on a nationalist feel. The Jews started to arm themselves. The governor of Jerusalem, Azmi Bey, wrote: “We are not xenophobes; we welcome all strangers. We are not anti-Semites; we value the economic superiority of the Jews. But no nation, no government could open its arms to groups … aiming to take Palestine from us.”
In 1915, Britain and France sat down to work out who was going to control what in the Middle East after the war – what became known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement. By 1917, when the Allies were bogged down on the Western Front, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration. They hoped it would bring the American Jews to their cause, would help bring the United States into the war and keep Russia involved – and would stop the Jews from allying themselves with Ze Germans.
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