Shaw Commission of 1929-1930

What was the Shaw Commission in 1929-1930?

The 1929 Arab riots in Palestine triggered another British Commission of Inquiry. In this instance, Sir Walter Shaw chaired the four member Commission, which visited the area and delivered its report in March, 1930.

The principle findings of the Shaw Commission were:

  • The violence occurred due to “racial animosity on the part of the Arabs, consequent upon the disappointment of their political and national aspirations and fear for their economic future.”
  • The Arabs feared economic domination by a group who appeared to the Arabs to have unlimited funding from abroad.
  • The Commission acknowledged the ambiguity of former British statements to both Arabs and Jews.

One of the commission members, Lord Snell, wrote a dissenting opinion, while the majority recommended:

  • An immediate statement of British intentions in Palestine
  • A re-examination of immigration policy
  • A scientific inquiry into land usage and potential
  • A clarification of the Zionist Organization’s relationship with the Mandate

Acting on these recommendations, the British Government authorized the Hope-Simpson expert investigation of land capacity issues), and, after considering the Shaw Commission and Hope-Simpson reports, the Colonial Secretary issued the Passfield White Paper of 1930, the recommended statement updating British policy in the Palestine Mandate.

However, the British still seemed to be saying to each interest group what each wanted to hear, regardless of the facts. For example, at a meeting of the League of Nations Mandates Commission in Geneva in 1930, after the Shaw Report recommeded changes in immigration policy, the British representative said:

  • We fully realise the important part played by immigration in the policy which we are carrying out under the mandate, as approved by the Council of the League of Nations, namely, that of setting up in Palestine a National Home for the Jewish people. As has been stated repeatedly we have no intention of departing from that policy, or of acting otherwise than in accordance with the terms of the mandate.

In reality, the British clamped down on immigration and prevented many thousands of Jews from leaving Europe to escape the Nazi menace.


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