The Irgun Repurposes a British Arabic Language Broadside To Warn Against The British-Arab "Conspiracy"
Color-lithographed map of the Middle East as one great Arab kingdom, with the Royal Navy and British merchant vessels sailing in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
Originally issued by the British for distribution to the regions Arabic speaking populous, the text at the upper right reads
تعرب الحكومة البريطانية عن اخلص تهانيها للعالم العربي بالعام السعيد
Translation: The British government expresses its sincere congratulations to the Arab world for the Happy New Year."
The decorative frame of the map incorporates portraits of Ibn Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, King George VI, and Farouk I of Egypt and the Sudan. Not surprisingly, there is no mention of the Jewish inhabitants of the region.
Issued by the British Government following the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, the map's Arab-centric imagery may have been intended to modify one side of the conflict, but clearly was not well received by Zionist groups. Irgun, apparently getting ahold of copies of the map, turned the map's intended purpose on its head, repurposing the map with a strong pro-Zionist message.
In the center of the map (where an English-Arab calendar was supposed to appear), is a pasted-on note, apparently added by Irgun, that reads:
Jews in their homeland! This is how the ‘White Paper’ administration foresees the ‘Arab Unity’ and extermination of Zionism. Tens of thousands of such maps were distributed in the Middle East. Britain plays with fire!! Remember the conspiracy!!
White Paper of 1939
The White Paper of 1939 was a policy paper issued by the British government, led by Neville Chamberlain, in response to the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. After its formal approval in the House of Commons on May 23,1939, it acted as the governing policy for Mandatory Palestine from 1939 to the 1948 British departure.
The policy, first drafted in March 1939, was prepared by the British government unilaterally as a result of the failure of the Arab-Zionist London Conference. The paper called for the establishment of a Jewish national home in an independent Palestinian state within 10 years, rejecting the Peel Commission's idea of partitioning Palestine. It also limited Jewish immigration to 75,000 for five years (barring further immigration by European Jews fleeing Nazi Germany) and ruled that further immigration would then be determined by the Arab majority (section II). Jews were restricted from buying Arab land in all but 5% of the Mandate (section III).
The plan was rejected by the Zionist groups representing the entire Jewish population of Mandate Palestine and was one of the key factors in the beginning of the Jewish insurgency in Mandatory Palestine.
Maps from this period are rare in general. This is the only example of this map, with or without the on-laid slip that we can find.