Sometimes historical events leave us flabbergasted. The shadowy manoeuvrings which led to the issuance of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 are one such case. They leave us not just asking why, but screaming it. To my knowledge no one has ever registered their outrage over the matter quite like British journalist and historian J.M.N. Jeffries:
"Meanwhile, far from desert warfare and from the perils of the scaffold, another cause was making its progress. Bella gerant alii... Zionism wedded itself civilly first to this country and then to that. In the United States it was organizing itself with marked success, which meant a great deal, since of all the Jews in the world at least 3 million were in the United States. These were concentrated too in the large cities where their influence had greatest play. On the 2nd of October  most of the chief Jewish organizations issued a joint manifesto... This manifesto demanded for the Jews full rights wherever they lived in the world, as well of course as the abrogation of all extant laws or regulations prejudicial to them. 'It being understood', explained the manifesto, 'that the phrase 'full rights' is deemed to include (1) Civil, religious and political rights; (2) The securing and protection of Jewish rights in Palestine'.
"The second item needed all the 'deeming' and the 'understanding' which its authors could give it, but they did not delay to argue their case. In or out of the United States they proclaimed it vociferously, and that on the whole was enough. But in England well co-ordinated action was taken by them.
"Matters had reached such a state [as an official Zionist Organization report was to explain later] that in October 1916 the Zionist Organization felt justified in putting forward a formal statement of its views as to the future government of Palestine in the event of its coming under the control of England or France.
"This was a big advance, co-related of course with the development in the United States. So far the Zionist Organization's views, even though incorporated in Foreign Office memoranda, had been laid unofficially before the British Government. Now these views were to be presented as a formal statement, officially, as though the Zionist Organization possessed an internationally established status which might be affected by the advance of England and of France into the Syrian territories. Whence this status was gained remains undiscoverable. But the document which presupposed it was adroitly accepted by the British Government and thereby the said status, though it did not exist, was recognized.
"The document was rather a long one, divisible roughly under 6 heads. One clause demanded that a Jewish Chartered Company should be established of which the purpose would be the resettlement of Palestine by Jewish settlers. This Chartered Company project was not a new one: the Sultan Abdul Hamid had been asked to consider something similar. It had British precedents of the most attractive character, and without doubt the Chartered Company was expected to dissolve in short course into a Government, more easily even than such Companies had dissolved into Governments in India and in South Africa.
"Meanwhile, it was to have power 'to exercise the right of pre-emption of Crown and other lands and to acquire for its own use all or any concessions which may at any time be granted by the suzerain Government or Governments'.
"Reading this, one is led to ask, 'Why have a suzerain Government at all?' The Jewish Chartered Company of Palestine was to have at its disposal any land anywhere at any time in that country. Any concessions which anyone else might obtain or might have obtained were to be taken away from him and were to be bestowed on the Chartered Company. Nothing was left for the 'suzerain' to do but the clerical work of surrendering everything and of expropriating everybody. (In fact, though it may not seem credible, the general scheme of this clause actually was enforced within about 5 years, in favour of the notorious Rutenberg concessions.)
"Another clause ran: 'Inasmuch as the Jewish population in Palestine forms a community with a distinct nationality and religion, it shall be officially recognized by the suzerain Government or Governments as a seperate national unit or nationality'.
"Upon which clause it might well be observed that inasmuch as the Jewish population in Palestine then did not form a distinct nationality but was divided amongst all the nationalities of eastern Europe and some of western Europe and some of Asia; that inasmuch as at least three-quarters of that population had no sympathy with political Zionism and continued to repudiate it after it had come to Palestine; inasmuch as the identification of the Jews as a religious body or the adherents of a creed was then and still is rejected by the political Zionists; therefore there does not appear to be cause for official recognition here of anything but of three separate units of fallacy.
"The most significant clause of all, though, was that in which the Arabs came in for mention. Astonishingly, they did come in for mention in a Zionist document of that date. But in what manner? 'The present population, being too small, too poor, and too little trained to make rapid progress, requires the introduction of a new and progressive element in the population, desirous of devoting all its energies and capital to the work of colonization on modern lines'.
"The Arabs, the 'present population' of the above paragraph, at the time numbered some 675,000, and Palestine is of merely county dimensions. These however were not facts to detain the Zionist Organization. It dismissed the Arabs without further consideration, after what seemed without doubt the conclusive remark that their population was 'small and poor'. To be small and poor is the supreme crime in a category of thought which, curiously, is itself small and poor.
"Therefore these Arabs, exiguous in their hundreds of thousands, required 'the introduction of a new and progressive element'. Sentences of such surpassing effrontery as this one are rare, and it would be hard to find anything matching in insolence the whole clause. What right had the Zionist Organization to talk of what the Arabs needed? None whatsoever.
"Still, whether the clause or the whole programme of which it was a part were insolent or not, the programme of the Chartered Company was accepted as a foundation-stone by the British Government. 'The Government', says the Zionist Report, 'seems to have regarded the Zionist claims embodied in the programme as forming a basis for discussion'. Negotiations thenceforth went on steadily. Talks with individual statesmen 'gave place to discussions of a more formal character. Zionism won recognition as one of the complex problems connected with the Middle East on the one hand and the question of small nationalities on the other'. (Zionist Official Report)
"There it is. A better example could not be supplied of the sophistries by which the hapless Arabs were to be supplanted. Zionism, political Zionism, not alone was confirmed in the status it had acquired out of the skies, but now was advanced a stage beyond. Political Zionism became one of the 'complex problems connected with the Middle East'. All in a flash it was enrolled amidst the problems which by and by the Allies must face.
"The role thus assumed by political Zionism was one unwarranted by any law, any deed, any political conditions which were then in existence, or previously had been for over a thousand years. Zionism as a political entity had owned no situation outside the brains of its own recent devisers. Political Zionism was not something engrained in the soil of the Near East, nor had it any place amidst the problems which the Ottoman Empire handed on so profusely to its successors.
"The Ottoman Empire had been approached and had refused to introduce this amidst its many complicated factors. It would not have a Jewish enclave. No statesman in the world had toiled for years over Zionism, no statesman in the world had inherited dossiers in hundreds filled with the negotiations of his predecessors-in-office concerning it. It simply was not a problem at all. There was a Jewish problem in Eastern Europe; there was none in Palestine. It was intended now to introduce the problem where it had never existed, but that was to create a problem - something vastly different. In fact, to say that political Zionism was a complex problem connected with the Middle East was a thumping lie. Its true situation in the realm of politics was that of a theory just beginning to be exploited in London and Paris and New York.
"The complexity attributed to it was wholly unreal. What was called complexity only meant the difficulty of finding a formula opaque enough to disguise the immediate or future annexation of Palestine.
"But sophistry did not confine itself to slipping political Zionism in this way in among the problems of the Middle East. With the same stroke Zionism also won 'recognition as a problem connected with the question of small nationalities'. Indeed it did. The operative word... is 'connected'. By more adroitness that which had been nothing, but had been transmogrified into a problem, was now again transmogrified from a problem into a small nation, by coupling it to various lesser lands.
"The scheme for this can be visualized. In 1916 the small nations were already forming up to put their pleas to the (it was hoped) conquering Allies. Together they made a political caravan, a train if you like. When the moment came they would all set off together, the train would depart for the terminus where the victorious Peace was being prepared. The political Zionists were ready for this. Rapidly and unostentatiously a van labelled 'Zionist Problem' would be connected to the last carriage. The train would puff away. Somewhere en route the label would disappear, and a van inscribed 'Jewish National Home' would draw eventually alongside the arrival platform, behind Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and all the others. The whole scheme is very simple. But the chance of watching the manoeuvre is not often given." (Palestine: The Reality, 1939, pp 127-130)