British Uganda Programme

British Uganda Programme

The British Uganda Programme was a plan to give a portion of British East Africa to the Jewish people as a homeland.

The offer was first made by British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain to Theodore Herzl's Zionist group in 1903. He offered convert|5000|sqmi|km2 of the Mau Plateau in what is today Kenya. The offer was a response to pogroms against the Jews in Russia, and it was hoped the area could be a refuge from persecution for the Jewish people. [ [ Theodor Herzl's biography at Jewish Virtual Library] ]

The idea was brought to the Zionist Congress at its sixth meeting in 1903 in Basel. There a fierce debate ensued. The African land was described as an "ante-chamber to the Holy Land" and a "Nachtasyl" (temporary night shelter), but other groups felt that accepting the offer would make it more difficult to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Before the vote on the matter the Russian delegation stormed out in opposition. In the end the motion passed by 295 to 177 votes.

The next year a three-man delegation was sent to inspect the plateau. Its high elevation gave it a temperate climate, making it suitable for European settlement. However, the observers found a dangerous land filled with lions and other creatures. Moreover, it was populated by a large number of Maasai who did not seem at all amenable to an influx of Europeans.

After receiving this report, the Congress decided in 1905 to politely decline the British offer. Some Jews viewed this as a mistake and the Jewish Territorialist Organization split with the explicit aim of establishing a Jewish state anywhere, not just in the Holy Land. A fewFact|date=March 2007 Jews did move to Kenya, but most settled in the urban centres. Some of these families remain to this day.

The Uganda proposal was revived during the Second World War by Winston Churchill in an attempt to create a refuge for Jews fleeing from the Nazis, but by this time Zionist organizations were firmly committed to settling in Palestine and feared that accepting such an idea would undermine their efforts to convince the British government to end their restrictions on the number of Jews allowed to emigrate to the Palestine Mandate.

See also

*Abayudaya, a group of Ugandans who converted to Judaism in the 1920s
*Madagascar Plan, a Nazi plan to move the Jews of Europe to Madagascar.
*The Soviet Union created a Jewish Autonomous Oblast in Soviet Manchuria.
*Japan created the Fugu Plan to attract Jews to the puppet state of Manchukuo taken from Chinese Manchuria.


External links

* [ Jewish Virtual Library on Uganda Proposal]

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