The reversal of the Passfield White Paper, 1930-31 : a reassessment.

Beckerman-Boys, Carly (2016) ‘The reversal of the Passfield White Paper, 1930-31 : a reassessment.’, Journal of contemporary history., 51 (2). pp. 213-233.


British mandated Palestine has attracted scholarly attention for its role in the development of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Some aspects of the time period, however, remain somewhat overlooked, and one prominent example is the reversal of the Passfield White Paper in 1931. Following extremely violent anti-Jewish riots in Palestine in 1929, the British Government in Westminster utilized two commissions of enquiry – the Shaw Commission and the Hope-Simpson Commission – to justify a change in policy. Rather than adhere to Britain’s original Zionist commitments, articulated in the Balfour Declaration and official mandate, the government decided to limit Jewish immigration and land purchase in Palestine, articulated in the Passfield White Paper, before reversing the policy months later. Subsequent explanations of this decision have been sparse and focused almost solely on the efficacy of Zionist lobbying. Why the British Government was susceptible to pressure and how this process took place has remained largely unexplored. In order to provide a more thorough analysis of why the Passfield White Paper was reversed, this article reassesses several assumptions within the literature and places the decision within the context of a Labour Government’s need to maintain internal unity, as well as cross-party support, on foreign and particularly India policy.

The full paper is available here.

Item Type: Article
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