The Wartime “Special Relationship”, 1941—45: Isaiah Berlin, Freya Stark and Mandate Palestine

In 1972, the world renowned Oxford academic Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) invited “historians to say whether the beliefs and policies of those who followed Weizmann – the men of the centre, amongst whom I count myself – were written in water, built on shifting sands.”1 In taking up this invitation, this study uses an entirely new research path to establish Berlin’s role in arranging for Freya Stark (1893-1993), the leading British Middle East explorer and best selling travel writer (attached to the wartime British Ministry of Information in the Middle East), to undertake a speaking tour of the United States in late 1943 and early 1944. At the time, in the run-up to Roosevelt’s 1944 re-election campaign,2 increasingly radicalized US Zionists within the key Democratic Jewish constituency mounted sustained attacks on British policy, including the first official demand for an independent Jewish state in the Biltmore Resolution of May 1942 and

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