Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015


Jews and Armenians were both minorities in the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century. However, despite almost equal numbers of international reports on the atrocities committed against both groups, the reactions to those reports were remarkably different: while Germany suppressed all news about Armenian atrocities in order not to alienate Turkey, its wartime ally, it had no reservation in pressuring the Porte (the Ottoman government) to prevent the Jews from meeting the same fate as that of the Armenians. Germany was not alone in this differential treatment. The Allies and the Central Powers—two belligerent sides—as well as the United States—a neutral country at the time—joined forces and committed themselves to saving the Jews from Ottoman atrocities.

Despite broad scholarly interest in Jewish history, both the expulsion of the Russian Jews from Palestine on the eve of WWI, and the deportation of the Jews in Jaffa in late 1917 have been neglected by many historians. The limited scholarship on this topic tends to merely narrate those events without an in-depth analysis of the circumstances leading up to the crucial decisions made regarding saving the Jewish population in Palestine.

This paper attempts to broaden our understanding of this significant period in Jewish history by concentrating on the events surrounding this historical occurrence. I will argue that, by capitalizing on self-interests of the Great Powers and the Ottoman government, Jewish representatives in Constantinople and abroad were able to avert the total annihilation of their compatriots. Without their endeavors, as Isaiah Friedman puts it, “the Balfour Declaration and all that it entailed would have been completely valueless.”