Sacrificing His Core Supporters in a Race Against Defeat
THE genius of Mark Twain has recorded the common impression of travelers in Palestine sixty years ago:
Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Where Sodom and Gomorrah reared their domes and towers, that solemn sea now floods the plain, in whose bitter waters no living thing exists -- over whose waveless surface the blistering air hangs motionless and dead -- about whose borders nothing grows but weeds, and scattering tufts of cane, and that treacherous fruit that promises refreshment to parching lips, but turns to ashes at the touch. Nazareth is forlorn; about that ford of Jordan where the hosts of Israel entered the Promised Land with songs of rejoicing, one finds only a squalid camp of fantastic Bedouins of the desert; Jericho the accursed lies a moldering ruin to-day, even as Joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Saviour's presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang Peace on earth, good will to men, is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature that is pleasant to the eye. Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the wonderful temple which was the pride and the glory of Israel is gone, and the Ottoman crescent is lifted above the spot where, on that most memorable day in the annals of the world, they reared the Holy Cross. The noted Sea of Galilee, where Roman fleets once rode at anchor and the disciples of the Saviour sailed in their ships, was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and commerce, and its borders are a silent wilderness; Capernaum is a shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the "desert places" round about them where thousands of men once listened to the Saviour's voice and ate the miraculous bread sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes.[i]
What would Mark Twain find in Palestine today? In eloquent language and with the full responsibility of his office, Prime Minister MacDonald recently bore this testimony on the floor of the House of Commons:
I happened to be in Palestine two years ago, and I went up and down the country. I must say that it is impossible for anyone who saw what I saw to be too extravagant in tributes to the Jewish colonisers in Palestine. I saw what was bog being turned into cultivable land. I saw the historical and very barren sides of the mountain of Jerboa being planted with olive trees. I saw the morass at the foot of the mountain--a morass that runs along the valley down which the defeated army of Saul fled. It was bog. I found it being drained and recovered. One very amazing scene will convey to the House the extraordinary transformation that was going on. I was with a friend, a very well known dentist who had gone out to join this labour colony as his heart was in Palestine and in this life there was no consideration for him that was superior to the consideration that he would like to be one of those who restored the stones of Zion. I was shown into a little place, a sort of dilapidated cabin. There I found him busily engaged in conducting his professional operations in a case that demanded emergency treatment. He took off his white overall, having performed his work of mercy, and took me with him to the agricultural gang that was digging holes for the planting of olive groves. That was what was going on in Palestine. It was not only labour but spirit and generosity. University graduates were working alongside day labourers, their hands getting hardened with the stones that they were breaking in the making of those roads to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. It was a wonderful sight.[ii]
The transformation of Mark Twain's Palestine to Ramsay MacDonald's is essentially the achievement of the last decade. But during uninterrupted centuries the seeds of this accomplishment have been nurtured by the most tenacious hopes and traditions of the Jewish people. On a small scale, the seeds were actually planted nearly fifty years ago. And the outbreak of the war found flourishing Jewish colonies, especially those established through the loving generosity of Baron Edmond de Rothschild.
The intensive devotion to an ideal which in its myriad daily manifestations begot the Palestine pictured by Ramsay MacDonald is little realized by the reading public. Clashes and conflicts are the staple of the press, and it is not strange that, in general, the American public has a wholly distorted view of life in Palestine. There has been intermittent political friction, besides the recent massacre. Yet the organic life of a new civilization has been steadily unfolding in Palestine since 1920. There Jews are living and laboring with a joy and ardor felt by Jews probably in no other land. The Arab masses thrive better than in any of the Arab countries surrounding Palestine. And despite the stimulation of religious fanaticism and the blatancy of the doctrinaire, Jew and Arab are collaborating in the thousand intimacies of their common life as builders of a new country.
But the extraordinary achievement now in progress in Palestine is entangled in legal and political controversy, and upon an adequate understanding of the issues will depend its ultimate solution. The elevation of lowly Arabs and a home for the Wandering Jew are at stake; the efficacy of the mandate system is involved; the peace of the world.
Limitations of space permit only a summary review of some of the fundamentals of the Palestine situation and preclude attention to those ramifications and details which make up its comprehensive discussion. It is idle to profess Olympic detachment about lively political issues. Indeed, even the gods of Olympus had allegiances and predilections. I speak not only as a Jew, but as one who believes in the wisdom of the policy embodied in the Palestine Mandate for the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine. But I am also one of those who believe that the excesses of nationalism led to the World War and who look to a full realization of the interdependence of nations as the key to world peace. It is also pertinent to avow a strong Anglophilism -- confidence in the political sagacity of the British people and in their capacity to adjust the past fabric of politics to its modern needs. It is in the perspective of this general outlook on international affairs that I try to see the problem of Palestine.
The Jewish people have, of course, a long historic connection with Palestine. Despite 2000 years of exile, the memories of the country of the Book, cherished in poetry and prayer, have continued to live in the soul of the people of the Book. "May my right hand lose its cunning, if I forget thee, O Jerusalem," sings the psalmist through the ages. For centuries, Jews the world over have prayed on Passover night, "Next year in Jerusalem." From the viewpoint of international law, the historic connection of the Jewish people with Palestine may afford a dubious prescriptive right. But it is an indispensable element in the psychological force behind Jewish longing for Palestine. And Zionism is essentially a psychological force -- the passionate longing by Jews for a home of their own.
While many early attempts, founded on religious and messianic hopes, were made by Jews to return to the ancestral land, the present national movement dates from the nineteenth century. Under enormous handicaps, the Choveve Zion (Lovers of Zion) attempted small settlements in the early eighties. With the sympathetic and generous support of Baron Edmond de Rothschild, they managed to survive. To the powerful and magnetic personality of Theodore Herzl,[iii] the movement owes its great impetus. As in a flash, the Dreyfus affair revealed to Herzl, the Parisian Viennese, the spiritual implications of the racial homelessness of the Jews. He it was who in 1897 founded the Zionist Organization, in order "to create for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured by public law." Herzl marks an epoch in Jewish history. A new spirit became alive in Jewry. Hebrew was revived as a living language and Jewish culture burgeoned. Not only for the orthodox and Eastern Jew, but for the so-called emancipated Western Jew, Palestine acquired a more vivid and immediate significance. To American Jews like Louis D. Brandeis and Julian W. Mack, Palestine revealed the opportunity for Jewry to reestablish a fruitful, unaggressive national life on a sound social-economic basis. Not merely the oppression of the Jew in unenlightened countries, but his emancipation, intensified the need and desire of the Jew, rooted as he is in history, for a homeland in his ancestral country where his traditions and culture might flourish in congenial soil.
This subtle, more impalpable, but perhaps more far-reaching aspect of the Jewish return to Palestine especially caught the mind of Lord Balfour:
A great cultural effort within Palestine which came to an end many hundreds of years ago is going to be resumed in the ancient home of the people. It is not that I would suggest for a moment that Jewish culture in the interval between the destruction of Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Turk, that during that long period Jewish culture had ceased. Far from it. It has been uninterrupted, but it has been scattered, it has not been the culture of the Jewish people living within the traditional limits of the country which they have rendered so famous. It was the separate effort of separate communities, separate individuals, separate men of science, separate theologians, separate philosophers, scattered over the habitable globe.[iv]
The World War unexpectedly hastened the process of establishing a homeland. From the beginning, Jews looked to the realization of their national longing through international agreement as one of the consequences of the war. The championship of small nationalities by the Allied and Associated Powers and the mood of idealism which supported the war, admirably harmonized with Jewish effort to regain inner integrity for the Jews in the only land they could regard as their own. Great Britain's generous attitude towards Jews, and her long, active interest in the aims of Zionism, the sway that the Old Testament and thereby Palestine exercised over British imagination, the link that Palestine serves between East and West, all combined to make Great Britain the special sponsor of Jewish hopes. It is sheer untruth to suggest that Great Britain espoused the Jewish cause to enlist Jewish finance on the Allied side. The recently published diaries of Edwin S. Montagu again remind that the only opposition within the British Government to the support of the Jewish cause came from its Jewish member. He was representative of the rich and powerful Jews who opposed Zionism, which was a movement of the common people.
Barring the return of Belgian territory and the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine, no arrangement that came out of the war was more openly arrived at than the provisions for securing the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine. Publicly, not secretly, with the consent of the Allied Powers and of the President of the United States (subsequently approved by a unanimous Congress) and not by covert bargaining, Great Britain called the whole world to witness the following undertaking:
His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
This famous Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, was a response to the problems of world Jewry. It was not merely a pledge to the fraction of the Jewish people who would actually settle in Palestine, but to Jewish consciousness everywhere. It was to be a national home "for the Jewish people," to be made possible through the generous support of Jewry throughout the world. In a formal document, dated February 3, 1919, the Zionist Organization submitted to the Peace Conference its program for effectuating the Balfour Declaration. The Arab delegation at the Peace Conference was familiar with the specific Zionist proposals and through its chief, Emir Feisal, gave them formal approval:
Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organisation to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through: we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home. . . . We are working together for a reformed and revived Near East, and our two movements complete one another. The Jewish movement is national and not imperialist. Our movement is national and not imperialist, and there is room in Syria for us both. Indeed, I think that neither can be a real success without the other.[v]
A mandate incorporating the Balfour Declaration and implementing it, was entrusted for execution to Great Britain, as mandatory, by the Allied Conference at San Remo on April 25, 1920. Since the Mandate recognized Great Britain not as conqueror but as an international trustee, the Mandate required approval by the League. The Council of the League gave such approval on June 24, 1922; and by the Palestine Convention of December 3, 1924, between the United States and Great Britain, the United States formally recognized the Palestine Mandate.
The Mandate explicitly recited the Balfour Declaration and charged the mandatory with putting it into effect. Thus was the Balfour Declaration made part of the law of nations, and thereby the establishment of a Jewish national home became an international obligation. Since non-Jews also dwelt in Palestine and Jews dwelt also in other lands, the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate, out of an abundance of caution, put into words what in any event would have been clearly implied. The duty to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national home was not to affect the status of Jews in other lands, nor was it to prejudice "the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." The presence of an existing Arab population of course made the establishment of a Jewish national home more difficult than if Palestine had been wholly empty. The difficulties of the undertaking were, however, fully canvassed before Declaration was made or Mandate issued; the undertaking was assumed with full knowledge of its implications.
We are told of broken promises to the Arabs.[vi] Whatever promises may have been made in regard to the great Arab provinces, Arab claim to the small and unique territory of Palestine rests apparently on a letter, dated October 24, 1915, from Sir Henry McMahon, then High Commissioner in Egypt, to the Sherif of Mecca, who became King Hussein of the Hejaz. Both Sir Henry and the British Government have formally declared that Palestine was excluded from an independent Arabia:
That letter is quoted as conveying the promise to the Sherif of Mecca to recognise and support the independence of the Arabs within the territories proposed by him. But this promise was given subject to a reservation made in the same letter, which excluded from its scope, among other territories, the portions of Syria lying to the west of the district of Damascus. This reservation has always been regarded by His Majesty's Government as covering the vilayet of Beirut and the independent Sanjak of Jerusalem. The whole of Palestine west of the Jordan was thus excluded from Sir H. McMahon's pledge.[vii]
While the existing population is predominantly Arab, Palestine, it must be remembered, is not and never has been a distinctively Arab country. By the deepest associations it is a land sacred to Moslems, Christians and Jews. In varying numbers, all three dwell therein. Jerusalem, even before the war, had a small majority of Jews. No wise friend of Arab aspirations would seek to charge the Arab with responsibility for composing the delicate religious and racial problems in Palestine, or to impose on Arab rule the intricate task of the inter-racial government in Palestine. Similarly, the requirements of Palestine exceed the allowable bounds of Jewish control. But authoritative Jewish demand is not for a Jewish state; it does not ask the right to govern others. Jews desire only the opportunity of national development within their ancestral land. What kind of polity will eventually emerge from the interplay of the two dominant cultures and races in Palestine, further complicated by Protestant and Catholic Christian influences, what place such a polity may assume in the British Commonwealth of Nations or in a possible federation of eastern peoples, no man is shrewd enough to foresee. Wise statesmanship will abstain from dogmatic prophecy about the future and will not seek to imprison the future by doctrinaire formulas drawn from the past. In politics as in nature there are organisms, and in the daily experiences of life they work out their own particular forms and destiny.
But on one aspect of the post-war Palestine situation there can be no doubt: protection of the non-Jewish population assured by the Palestine Mandate was not intended to eviscerate the positive, creative obligation of the Balfour Declaration which the Mandate wrote into international law. That obligation is defined with great particularity in the Mandate, and all informed discussion regarding Palestine affairs must be anchored in its provisions. However dry the terms of the formal text may be, commentary without them becomes confused, distorted, or meaningless. These are the essential parts:
The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion. (Article 2)
An appropriate Jewish agency shall be recognised as a public body for the purpose of advising and co-operating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine, and, subject always to the control of the Administration, to assist and take part in the development of the country.
The Zionist organization, so long as its organisation and constitution are in the opinion of the Mandatory appropriate, shall be recognised as such agency. It shall take steps in consultation with His Britannic Majesty's Government to secure the co-operation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish national home. (Article 4)
The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4 close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes. (Article 6)
The Administration of Palestine shall take all necessary measures to safeguard the interests of the community in connection with the development of the country and, subject to any international obligations accepted by the Mandatory, shall have full power to provide for public ownership or control of any of the natural resources of the country or of the public works, services and utilities established or to be established therein. It shall introduce a land system appropriate to the needs of the country, having regard, among other things, to the desirability of promoting the close settlement and intensive cultivation of the land.
The Administration may arrange with the Jewish agency mentioned in Article 4 to construct or operate, upon fair and equitable terms, any public works, services and utilities, and to develop any of the natural resources of the country, in so far as these matters are not directly undertaken by the Administration. Any such arrangements shall provide that no profits distributed by such agency, directly or indirectly, shall exceed a reasonable rate of interest on the capital, and any further profits shall be utilised by it for the benefit of the country in a manner approved by the Administration. (Article 11)
But the critical reader may well ask, what is meant by "Jewish national home?" A leading authority gives this answer: "A national home connotes a territory in which a people, without receiving the rights of political sovereignty, has, nevertheless, a recognized legal position and receives the opportunity of developing its moral, social, and intellectual ideals."[viii] The British Government itself, in its basic statement of Palestine policy in 1922, thus defined its conception of the national home:
When it is asked what is meant by the development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine, it may be answered that it is not the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole, but the further development of the existing Jewish community, with the assistance of Jews in other parts of the world, in order that it may become a centre in which the Jewish people as a whole may take, on grounds of religion and race, an interest and a pride. But in order that this community should have the best prospect of free development and provide a full opportunity for the Jewish people to display its capacities, it is essential that it should know that it is in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance. That is the reason why it is necessary that the existence of a Jewish National Home in Palestine should be internationally guaranteed, and that it should be formally recognised to rest upon ancient historic connection.[ix]
If words have meaning, if a purpose clearly expressed is not a sham, then the obligation of Great Britain under the Palestine Mandate is to exert her active endeavors towards the promotion of those economic, social and cultural forces which, in their combined manifestations, constitute what we call a nation. A nation means people, and land on which to toil and live. A national home for the Jewish people in Palestine implies something wholly different from individual and isolated Jews living as they had lived or might live in Poland or Rumania. Land, the Jews may own in other countries; industries, they may acquire in other lands; but an integrated national life -- a well rounded civilized society -- is the very essence of the Palestinian home.
Supported by world Jewry, the Jews in Palestine have made notable progress in building their homeland. They have poured treasure into despoiled and neglected soil. They have drained pestilential swamps, and the conquest of malaria has served the Health Committee of the League of Nations as an object lesson for other countries. Hillsides once bleak have been reafforested and now sustain life. Sand dunes have been turned into a city and countryside sterile for centuries again blossoms with biblical glory. Above all, with love the Jews have reclaimed the land. They have introduced flourishing industries, harnessed the Jordan, and are about to bring forth vital substance from the Dead Sea. They have created a center for higher learning, for science and the systematic quest of wisdom.[x] And all this has brought great benefit to the Arab masses, who thrive and multiply as do not their brethren in neighboring Arab lands.
Reliable estimates place Jewish investment in Palestine since the Balfour Declaration at $50,000,000. While much of the capital thus imported into the country has been directly applied to Jewish settlement, necessarily it has widened markets for Arab products and vastly increased the resources tapped for taxation, which benefits the whole country. While the Jews at present constitute about one-sixth of the population, they contribute directly about one-third of the Palestine revenue. If indirect taxes, particularly for railway, post and telegraph were included, their burden of taxation would be about forty percent of the whole, without taking into account the extensive health service of the Jews, which elsewhere is a charge on government, and inures to the benefit of Arab as well as Jew.
These items, however, hardly convey the enveloping significance of Jewish effort to Palestine. Despite the heavy share of taxation borne by the Jews, the expenditure of the revenues operates disproportionately in favor of the non-Jewish population. For example, the Government grant-in-aid to Jewish schools is based on the proportion of Jews in the adult population, which is only about eighteen percent, while Jewish school-children are about forty percent of the total school population. Although the Jewish health budget about equals governmental health expenditure, the Government contributes relatively little to the Jewish health service. On the other hand, Jewish medical work is an important ameliorative influence among Arabs. In places like Safed, where no hospital is maintained by non-Jewish bodies, or like Hebron and Tiberias, where such accommodation is inadequate, a large part of the Arab population receives treatment at Jewish hospitals. At Safed, twelve percent of the patients admitted to Jewish hospitals were Arabs; and of the out-patients at Tiberias and Hebron, the Arabs were seventeen and seventy percent respectively. The extensive draining of malarial swamps was Jewish work; their profound benefits are Palestinian. "The Arab population," reported the High Commissioner in 1925, "has not been slow to appreciate the significance and benefits of such work."
But there is a type of Westerner who romanticizes the wretched degradation of the Holy Land as Mark Twain saw it. To the fleeting eye of an occasional Western traveler, the squalor of the fellaheen appears as picturesqueness, and his spiritual enslavement looks like inner peace. There are those who resent the Jew's coming into Palestine fundamentally because of the improvements which have followed in his wake. He represents the invasion of modern ideas into the ancient fabric of the Near East. There is undoubtedly the travail of readjustment which the most ancient civilizations are now undergoing. "Such are the advances of civilization," writes Sir Martin Conway. "The momentum of the West thus carries it Eastward. The keen, hustling, modern man will salute the change with joy. We who love the simple Oriental life in its beautiful setting may be pardoned if we regard with a sigh its pulverization beneath the wheels of progress. The change is inevitable. It is a mere accident that Jews should happen to be its agents."[xi] Doubtless the Jew could ease the process of adjustment by not upsetting too rudely ancient ways even of stagnation, by refraining from needless rhetoric and, without dampening the zeal which accomplishes the impossible, curbing needless exuberance.
I do not wish to overemphasize the improvement which Jewish endeavor has brought to the lot of the lowly Arab. In Palestine, "the naked facts of village life" are substantially the same as Mr. H. N. Brailsford reports them for India -- "the starvation and the usurious debts, the taxes, and the rent that goes to a landlord who performs no social function."[xii] These should be a daily concern of the government of Palestine. And economic depression for the moment also touches Palestine; Jew and Arab alike suffer. But the enduring benefits of Jewish capital, enterprise and devotion to the whole of Palestine are incontestable. Those who would lightly throttle the development of the Jewish homeland in Palestine are playing with the future well-being of Palestinian Arab as well as Jew, if indeed not of the entire Near East.
All this needs to be said, for the beneficent Jewish achievements in Palestine have been neglected in the strife of tongues. They have even been much misrepresented in the exploitation of the susceptibility of the illiterate fellaheen to religious fanaticism. "After a close study of all the elements of the problem to which M. Van Rees had devoted considerable time," run the Minutes of the Extraordinary Session of the Mandates Commission called to consider affairs in Palestine after the 1929 massacre, "he had not the least doubt that the responsibility for what had happened must lie with the religious and political leaders of the Arabs.[xiii] The conclusion of Vice-chairman Van Rees was subsequently confirmed in more euphemistic language by the Commission (including the distinguished British representative, Lord Lugard) to the Council of the League: "The Mandates Commission, moreover, doubts whether the kindly judgment passed by the majority of the Commission of Enquiry[xiv] upon the attitude of the Arab leaders, both political and religious, was fully justified by the report of the enquiry." These are not pleasant matters to rehearse. But it is important that the facts be known, if American opinion is to affect Near East policy, as undoubtedly it does.
Unfortunately, a deep source of the present difficulties in Palestine is the failure of the Palestine Administration to counteract mischievous misrepresentation and to educate the Arab masses to a true perception of the amelioration of the Arab's lot through Jewish enterprise.
The Palestine Administration has also been wanting in the fulfilment of the active obligations required by the Mandate. In view of the high and disinterested competence of its members, the findings of the Mandates Commission upon this crucial issue constitute the most authoritative basis for judgment:
The Commission views with approval the mandatory Power's intention of keeping Jewish immigration proportionate to the country's capacity of economic absorption, as clearly intimated in the White Paper of 1922. The Commission is inclined to ask whether the obligation to encourage close settlement by the Jews on the land does not -- as a measure for the preservation of social order and economic equilibrium -- imply the adoption of a more active policy which would develop the country's capacity to receive and absorb immigrants in larger numbers with no ill results.
Such a policy seems to have been no more than outlined in the form of encouragement and protection for embryo industries. It is quite clear, however, that the Jewish National Home, so far as it has been established, has in practice been the work of the Jewish organisation.
The mandate seemed to offer other prospects to the Jews. It must be recognised that their charge against the Palestine Government, that it has not fulfilled, by actual deeds, the obligation to encourage the establishment of the National Home, has been notably reinforced by the fact that the Government has shown itself unable to provide the essential condition for the development of the Jewish National Home -- security for persons and property . . .
The Commission hopes that the necessity of continually acting as an umpire between the hostile factions will not prevent the Palestine Government from proceeding to carry out a constructive programme in the interests of the peaceful masses of the population more vigorously than hitherto. It entertains this hope not only because such action is necessary for the complete execution of the mandate, but also because it believes that there is no better means of bringing about a general pacification than to encourage and organise in every possible way effective co-operation between the various sections of the population.
Such an attitude on the part of the mandatory Power and all its agents would assuredly have given them better protection against the continual demands of the representatives of the two parties. It would have enabled them to convince the Arab fellaheen more easily of the undeniable material advantages that Palestine has derived from the efforts of the Zionists. Moreover, by enhancing the moral authority of the mandatory Government as the natural protector of the holy places, it would have enabled them to dispel the apprehensions felt by the Arabs on account of the intention which they attributed to the Jews to encroach upon the Burak. . . .
The policy of the Mandatory would not be fairly open to criticism unless it aimed at crystallising the Jewish National Home at its present stage of development, or rigidly stabilising the public institutions of Palestine in their present form. Judged by the acts in which it daily finds expression and the results already achieved, that policy deserves no such reproach.[xv]
The Permanent Mandates Commission Report was adopted by the Council of the League of Nations, and accepted on behalf of the Mandatory. But in October, Lord Passfield, through his now famous White Paper,[xvi] undermined the high hopes for a new era of amity and constructive effort between Jew and Arab, which the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Arthur Henderson, had engendered by his statesmanlike speech in accepting the report of the Mandates Commission. Lord Passfield's new statement of the Mandatory policy for Palestine not only stirred to its depths the most conservative Jewish feeling the world over. It jolted British public opinion regardless of party, and provoked the vigorous protest of leading British statesmen.
While the individual responsibility of British Ministers is screened by the doctrine of collective Cabinet responsibility, it has not been denied that Lord Passfield's ill-conceived departure from past British policy did not have behind it the active mind of the Prime Minister and came as a surprise to Mr. Arthur Henderson, the Minister especially charged with the Empire's foreign relations, which are so deeply implicated by events in Palestine. The surviving members of the British War Cabinet, responsible for the Balfour Declaration, Lloyd George and General Smuts, promptly disavowed Lord Passfield's conception of the Mandate.[xvii] Mr. Baldwin, Sir Austin Chamberlain, and Colonel Amery, the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, and Colonial Secretary in the last Conservative Government, found the Passfield statement in conflict "not only with the insistence of the Council of the League of Nations that it would be contrary to the intention of the Mandate if the Jewish National Home were crystallized at its present stage of development, but with the whole spirit of the Balfour Declaration and of the statements made by successive Governments in the last twelve years."[xviii] Lord Passfield purported to follow the carefully matured statement of policy in the White Paper of 1922, but its author, Winston Churchill, repudiated the changed outlook and the whole temper of mind which underlay the White Paper of 1930. The leader of the British Bar, Sir John Simon, and the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, declared that the terms of the Mandate contradicted its new rendering by Lord Passfield.[xix]
By a strange dialectic and a still stranger disregard of the whole course of events since the World War, Lord Passfield has, I submit, employed the safeguards in the Mandate for the protection of the non-Jewish communities of Palestine to read out of the Mandate all substantial meaning from the Mandatory's duty towards the establishment of a Jewish national home. I shall not attempt to improve upon the analysis of the whole matter made, with great lucidity, by Mr. Churchill who speaks from his past responsibility for Palestine at the Colonial Office:
The two obligations are indeed of equal weight but they are different in character. The first obligation is positive and creative, the second obligation is safeguarding and conciliatory.
Our Mandatory obligations toward the Jews throughout the world who helped us, and towards Palestinian Arabs who were the conscript soldiers of our Turkish enemy are both binding and we are bound both to persevere in establishment of the Jewish National Home and in safeguarding the civil and religious rights of Arabs. Merely to sit still and avoid friction with Arabs and safeguard their civil and religious rights and to abandon the positive exertion for the establishment of the Jewish National Home would not be a faithful interpretation of the Mandate.
Lord Passfield is not stating the case truly when he writes in the new White Paper, "It is clear from the wording of this article that the population of Palestine, and not any sectional interest, is to be the object of the Government's care." The essence of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, and the intention of the Mandate in 1919 was that "the sectional interest" of the Jews in the establishment of their National Home was to be the object of the Government's care, and in the words of the article, the Mandatory Power assumed responsibility for bringing about the political, administrative and economic conditions which would secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home. . . .
No one could claim that the British nation is bound for all time, irrespective of events or of their own physical and moral strength to pursue the policy of establishment of the Jewish National Home. But from the moment that we recognize and proclaim that we have departed from these undertakings and are regarding the Zionist cause as a mere inconvenient incident in the Colonial Office administration of Palestine, we are bound to return our Mandate to the League of Nations and forego the strategic moral and material advantages arising from the British control of, and association with the Holy Land.[xx]
I would not have Lord Passfield abate one jot of his zeal for the fellaheen. If the Jewish homeland cannot be built without making the fellaheen's lot worse rather than better, it ought not to be built. The cardinal vice of the Passfield document is that it conveys, certainly to the innocent reader, the impression that the Jew's coming has been the Arab's woe. That is precisely the untruth by which a small body of economically powerful Arabs are exploiting the religious feeling of Arab masses whom they themselves oppress. In common with all students of social problems, I owe a deep debt to Sidney Webb for his contributions to history and social theory. But in a statesman, doctrinaire speculation unaccompanied by human insight is bound to go awry. It is not without irony that, despite his sincere concern for the Arab, Lord Passfield has unwittingly sponsored a policy against Arab well-being and Arab-Jewish concord.
Lord Passfield draws a picture of the impoverished fellaheen in Palestine with the plain inference, in view of the juxtaposition of Jewish settlement and Arab grievances, that the Jew has ousted the Arab cultivator from his land. From Lord Passfield's text -- and it is a formal State paper -- one would hardly suspect that every dunam of land now owned by the Jews has been handsomely paid for, and that the fellaheen's lot is certainly better than before the Jews came, and much better (because the Jews came) than that of his brothers in Transjordania, from which the Jews have been excluded. Detailed proof of these facts is buried in official reports, little known and less read. But the general conclusion is attested by trained observers, like H. N. Brailsford, J. Ramsay MacDonald and H. W. Nevinson, who are familiar with Eastern peoples and sensitive to the lot of the underdog.
The White Paper speaks both of landless and displaced Arabs [xxi] without care in distinguishing between the two classes. Among landless Arabs are apparently included agricultural workers and others occupied in connection with the land -- a class found in every agricultural country, and even in the United States on the increase. The White Paper does not take even ordinary care to indicate that the number of Arabs alleged to have been displaced by Jewish settlement is certainly relatively small, and that talk regarding the dispossession of Arab cultivators is based on unreliable data. The White Paper, strangely enough, derives policy from the prevalence of suspicion, sedulously cultivated as everyone knows, rather than that meticulous study of social facts with which the name of the Webbs is so honorably associated. Dealing with one of the chief areas of Jewish colonization, Sir John Hope Simpson, Lord Passfield's own expert, reported:
The Jewish authorities have nothing with which to reproach themselves in the matter of the Sursock lands. They paid high prices for the land, and in addition they paid to certain of the occupants of those lands a considerable amount of money which they were not legally bound to pay. It was not their business, but the business of the Government to see to it that the position of the Arabs was not adversely affected by the transaction.[xxii]
A fellah overburdened with debt, who, though he has left the land, has freed himself from debt and found work, is not necessarily prejudiced. A more scientific cultivation of the soil may, like the introduction of the machine, entail hardships which it is the duty of government to soften. Palestine inexorably is part of this modern world. No cordon sanitaire can protect her against the penetration of the forces behind Western ideas and technology.
Lord Passfield apparently deems it a good ground for stopping immigration when unemployment prevails in Palestine, and "widespread suspicion exists" that such unemployment is due to Jewish immigration, whether such suspicion be well founded or not, so long as it "may be plausibly represented to be well founded." But, in the gross, Jewish labor does not displace Arab labor. Jewish capital creates work for Jewish labor (and through economic entanglements inevitably also for Arab labor), and such Jewish capital flows into the country only as part of the movement to build up a Jewish National Home. Lord Passfield indeed objects that the Jewish National Home is to be built by Jewish labor. He apparently expects Jewish capital and enterprise to be moved by the desire to build up the land for non-Jews. The very conception of a national home, of an integrated national life, evaporates in the White Paper. Jewish capital is acceptable, but not Jewish labor; Jewish wealth, but not a Jewish life.
Such a conception of the Palestine Mandate, were it to prevail, would frustrate the specific means -- the encouragement of Jewish immigration and the promotion of close settlement of Jews upon the land -- by which the ultimate aim -- the establishment of a Jewish homeland -- is to be accomplished. Lord Passfield actually seeks to turn the law of the Mandate against the Jewish Agency. He charges a violation of Article 6 because Jewish settlements are guided by the policy (however wisely applied in specific instances) of employing Jewish labor on Jewish enterprise in order to maintain their own civilized, social standards. The undoubted effect of such a policy is to stimulate Arab demands upon Arab employers. Such adjustments take time, and the process naturally is not to the liking of the influential exploiters of Arab labor. But in their homeland Jews, with a conscious philosophy, seek to be toilers and builders, not entrepreneurs or the beneficiaries of those excesses of the capitalist system to which Western countries are now giving heed. Speaking from wide knowledge, Colonel Amery, the former Colonial Secretary, defends the general economic policy upon which Jews in Palestine are proceeding:
Take another point, where the White Paper adds in a curious fashion to the criticisms of the Hope Simpson Report. The Hope Simpson Report criticises the action of the Jewish Federation of Labour and the Jewish Land Agency in wishing to employ none but Jews on the land which they secure. It may well be that that policy is carried out too rigidly, but that there is justification for it no one will deny who has ever been in a country like South Africa, where you have two races living side by side with a differing original standard of living and of wages.
Unless you insist at the outset that the race with the higher standard of living shall be prepared to undertake every task from the humblest you soon get a tradition established under which one race becomes the hewers of wood and drawers of water and the other the capitalists and the skilled artisans. Surely, in the permanent interests of the Arab population, in trying to raise the Arab standard of wages, is it not a good thing that there should be established in Palestine, at any rate on that fraction of the total area which is represented in the Dunam's purchase by the Zionist National Fund, an actual population of working Jews settling not only a standard of efficiency but also a reasonable standard of living. Unless this had taken place do you think we should have had a Workmen's Compensation Act, as we have it in Palestine to-day. The presence of a Jewish working class is a very material element in lifting up the standard of the whole population, and yet all that the White Paper has to say about that is to go a long way beyond the Hope Simpson Report and to treat it as being contrary to the spirit of the Mandate, as something which is giving offence to a people, something which is inconsistent with the declared desire of the Jews to live with the Arabs in relations of friendship and mutual respect.[xxiii]
Lord Passfield has complained that this or that conclusion drawn from his text is unwarranted. If so, the fault lay in his text. An important State paper affecting the destiny of peoples should never have been drawn up in camera, without consultation with the interests most affected and with so little heed to the obvious import of its words. He wholly forgot what, according to John Morley, even Mr. Gladstone sometimes forgot, that "in political action, construction is part of the act, nay, may even be its most important part." The White Paper was essentially an un-British document because it was unfair; and unfairness is un-British. This, I venture to believe, explains the deep protest which the document aroused, from Jew and Briton alike.
The White Paper purported to be based on Sir John Hope Simpson's Report on Immigration, Land Settlement and Development. I regret that space precludes a detailed examination of this document. Its descriptive analysis lends considerable support to the recommendations of the Permanent Mandates Commission that the Mandatory take a more active part in the development of the country's resources and thereby enlarge its capacity to absorb new immigrants. Sir John leaves no doubt that in the past the best use has not been made of available state land. His rough estimates of the cultivable area in Palestine, based on a partial survey, are much smaller than those heretofore deemed authoritative, and one may regard them with considerable scepticism. Moreover, he omits entirely the Beersheba district, which heretofore has been estimated to contain 1,500,000 dunams of cultivable land, although he admits that, "Given the possibility of irrigation, there is practically an inexhaustible supply of cultivable land in the Beersheba area." There is no reason whatever to conclude that irrigation might not reclaim this district, for up to now "there has been no organised attempt to ascertain whether there is or is not an artesian supply of water."
He himself gives two striking instances of how faith and works can turn barrenness into fertility:
There is a small Jewish village called Motza, close to Jerusalem, where a farmer of the name of Broza has planted an orchard, on what seemed to be sterile and barren rock. The trees and the vines have flourished, and what was a wilderness without vegetation of any kind is now a fine orchard producing a large income for its proprietor. The result is the more praiseworthy in that the planter received no assistance from any Jewish or other sources, but created the property by his own exertions. Another instance of development on the same lines is the orchard planted by the Zionist Organisation at Dilb (Kiryath Anavin). The land on which that orchard has been planted was similar to that of Motza. The trees were not irrigated but they have succeeded wonderfully.[xxiv]
But Sir John apparently does not allow the dynamic significances of such instances of human resourcefulness to enter into his calculations of land available for cultivation. His estimates of "a lot viable" are based too largely on existing methods of cultivation, although he admits that with increased capital and irrigation a much smaller holding would maintain a cultivator on a higher standard. Nor does he take adequate account of the fact that if the standards of a substantial part of the population are raised, livelihood for many others, not on the land but in occupations complementary to agriculture, would be opened up. Moreover, the availability for settlement in Transjordania, with its large areas of fertile lands so sparsely populated and the thin stream of the Jordan only formally separating it from Palestine, was deemed by Sir John outside his terms of reference. And yet Transjordania is probably the key to the problem of land congestion in Palestine. Certainly, hill Arabs can as readily be settled there as on the plains.
While the Simpson Report recognizes the benefits that Jewish capital and enterprise have brought to Palestine, its author's concern with the unique phases of the Palestine situation has been too short and too recent to have enabled him adequately to realize the prime importance of Jewish labor to the development of integrated Jewish life in Palestine. In his desire, which I hope we all share, to see the lot of the fellaheen improved, he takes too static a view of Palestinian economic development. He tends, I fear, to think that by holding the Jew back the Arab can be helped. A much more seasoned view of the matter is set forth by Dr. Elwood Mead, one of our leading agricultural scientists, the director of the United States Reclamation Service:
My knowledge of Palestine is based on visits in 1923 and 1927. I went to study and report on Jewish settlement. In order to do this I talked with Jews and Arabs in their fields and in their homes. I learned how they lived, what crops they grew, what tools they used and the income which came from their labors.
The Jewish colonies and the Jewish settlements represented the twentieth century. They had comfortable homes, good schools, they used modern tools and many of them grew crops which represented an acre value of ten times what was possible under the methods of the fellaheen. Surrounding these cases, which represented sanitation, comfort and progress, were the Arabic farms, which with their mud huts with dirt floors and primitive methods of cultivation and harvesting were a counterpart of the life of two thousand years ago. There had been no progress. On the contrary, the life they lived for centuries before the English Mandate, with its uncertain taxation, its lack of encouragement, its awful poverty, gave no hope of change for the better if development depended upon the initiative and the expenditure of the Arabs. Instead of trying to drain the malarial swamps along the Mediterranean coastal plain, or in the valley of Ezdraelon, they abandoned the land and moved their homes on the hills. These unused and unpeopled pestilential areas were the opportunity of the Jew. He risked life and health to reclaim them through drainage. Now they are dotted with orange groves, market gardens and alfalfa fields. Some of these colonies, especially the irrigated ones, have already the beauties of ancient Palestine described by the Prophets. I saw the stone columns which had supported irrigation headgates built by the Romans lifted out of the mud where they had rested for a thousand years. I saw the unhealthy swamps created by the waters of Ein Herod drained by the Jewish colonists.
The Jewish settlements along the valley of the Kishon River have been created largely through the reclamation of waste places. Doing this has brought better health and better opportunities for the Arabs who live on the surrounding hills. The orange groves and the market gardens in the Jewish colonies south of the Sea of Galilee have not only shown the wonderful possibilities of the Jordan Valley for attractive homes with valuable and varied fruits and vegetables, but this has been done with scarcely any displacement of the grain-growing Arab farmers or shepherds.
These achievements of the Jewish colonists deserve the grateful recognition of the world. They have been wrought under hard and discouraging conditions. Instead of being an injury to the Arab, in many ways he has been an immense gainer. He has a new conception of what he can do. He has had higher wages for his labor and is no longer content with a crooked stick for a plow. The electric lights which have displaced the oil wicks in the Arab homes of Joppa and Haifa have been provided by the money and enterprise of the Jews. The modern flour mill at Haifa had its incentive in the needs of the Jewish farmers, but it serves the Arab wheat growers on equal terms. In a hundred ways Jewish settlement has brought modern civilization into all parts of Palestine, transformed poverty-stricken areas into places of opulent vegetation, and multiplied manifold the wealth and opportunities of the country.
This has not been accomplished as a business enterprise or for profit. It has come because, out of their love for this land, the wealth of the Jews has been poured out in a constant stream, without any regard as to whether or not there was a direct return.
Now it is proposed to put an embargo on Jewish activity. It must wait until Arab development can catch up. Nothing could be more erroneous than to believe that shackling the Jew will stimulate the Arab. He needs help, but the first step toward help is money, and in an amount similar to that which the Jews have provided. Where is that money to come from? The English Government will not provide it, and the Arab cannot enlist either money or the consecration which has enabled the Jews to overcome the great obstacles they have surmounted.
This action of the British Government, if not modified by the enlightened opinion of the world, will not alone bring distress to the unfinished Jewish colonies, and to the partly completed development which is to be found in the Jordan and Kishon Valleys and along the coastal plain of the Mediterranean, but it means that Arabic development as well as Jewish will cease and the suffering of the fellaheen from the poverty of their life and hard economic conditions will be made more severe. It is my belief that if the attitude of the British Government remains unchanged, within two years the Arabs will join with the Jews in asking for the removal of these restrictions.[xxv]
I cannot here consider in detail a development scheme adumbrated in the Hope Simpson Report. One hesitates to dissent from a plan which is intended to increase the absorptive capacity of the country and to improve the lot of the fellaheen. Suffice it to say, with the necessary dogmatism of summary comment, that Sir John's proposals, however laudable in their intent, seem to disregard the essential economic and psychological factors that control the Palestine situation. He recognizes the need of reducing the heavy burdens of taxation, but his own scheme would tend to aggravate those burdens and to thwart the enterprise upon which the country's development must depend. It is greatly to be feared that the plan has not sufficiently matured and was not rigidly tested by the unique Palestinian factors. In result, though not in intent, the scheme would defeat the aim of a Jewish national home, and, because of its economic unfeasibility and the hostility that it would arouse among the Arabs themselves, would fail in its central motive, namely, to help the lot of the fellaheen.[xxvi]
Coming to Palestine during a period of intensified world-wide depression, Sir John not unnaturally was over-cautious as to the possibilities of the country. As against the constricted outlook of the Simpson Report, let me put the considered judgment recently expressed in the House of Commons by Sir Herbert Samuel whose temper of mind is as sober as Sir John's, but who speaks from his intimate experience as High Commissioner of Palestine for more than five years:
Does the presence of this indigenous population of 600,000, as it was then, mean that there is no room for and no possibility of a Jewish national home? I am convinced that with proper agricultural and industrial development Palestine could, in the very near future, support a population of 2,000,000 and there is no reason to doubt that in a generation or so it would support a population possibly of 3,000,000.[xxvii]
Prime Minister MacDonald has given emphatic assurances that the White Paper was not intended to carry the meaning which its language and temper conveyed, and he has set up a Cabinet Committee, under the chairmanship of the Foreign Secretary, to remove doubts and misunderstanding. One may therefore hope that the White Paper will eventually become a forgotten document, and not an attitude and instrument of Palestine policy. But it would be playing the ostrich to deny the damage which that document has caused to Jewish enthusiasm and Arab-Jewish rapprochement. One is justified in wondering whether Palestine has not suffered from an excess of inquiries, commissions and white papers. Would not a truly effective administration on the spot avoid these litigious dramatizations of Palestinian difficulties which tend to breed suspicion and distrust? The silence of the Simpson Report upon the quality of the Palestine administration is therefore surprising. For so experienced an administrator as Sir John Hope Simpson would hardly deny that administration gives meaning to policy.
In view of the unrest in the Near East engendered by the World War, and the distortion of Zionist intentions among credulous Arab masses, friction and even distrust between the national-conscious Arab and the national-conscious Jew at the outset seemed natural enough. They ought not to be seen out of perspective. From the time the Mandate became operative and the formal statement of its mandatory policy by Great Britain was made in 1922, until the riots in August 1929, substantial tranquillity prevailed in Palestine, even following the effective withdrawal of British troops. It was reasonable to believe that racial feeling was gradually yielding under the daily task of living together. As late as July 1929, the High Commissioner reported to Geneva that relations between Jew and Arab had improved, except for the incident of the Wailing Wall, and that Arabs previously hostile to the Jewish national home seemed ready to collaborate with the Mandatory power. The inept handling of the Wailing Wall episode by the Administration in Palestine, and the reduction of armed forces admittedly below the margin of safety even for old established countries, gave extremists the opportunity to arouse tenacious religious fears among their simple folk by mendacious tales of Jewish attacks on defenseless Arabs and the invasion of their holy Mosque. However unpleasant the resultant state of feeling, a wise mandatory policy executed by a firm and imaginative Administration would in due time have mobilized the many influences that make for common life between Jew and Arab.
After the 1929 massacres, Lord Balfour, Mr. Lloyd George and General Smuts, as surviving members of the War Cabinet, wrote, "Our pledge is unequivocal, but, in order to fulfil it in the letter and in the spirit, a considerable readjustment of the administrative machine may be desirable."[xxviii] The same thought was tactfully conveyed by the Permanent Mandates Commission last June: "It is, of course, not proved that a more active policy on the part of the mandatory Power, and a firmer and more constant and unanimous determination on the part of all its representatives in Palestine to carry out the mandate in all its provisions, could have eliminated the racial antagonism from which the country suffers. In the view of the Mandates Commission, however, it seems at least probable that the force of that antagonism would have been diminished." [xxix]
The unhappy massacres have left as their aftermath a continuous battle of words. Sober work and constructive effort will dispel this atmosphere of strife. In fairness to itself and to the trust which it is discharging on behalf of the League of Nations, the British Government must have in Palestine an Administration in full sympathy with the Mandate. Today, one is compelled to say, such an Administration is lacking. The Mandatory cannot work through unwilling instruments.
There is no easy road, no magic formula for the achievement of that coöperation upon which depend the peace of Palestine and its more shining significance for all the world. The quiescence of agitation, the better education of all classes, increased social and economic contacts, and emphasis on the common interests of all sections of the population will resolve present difficulties. Into the whole texture of Palestine life there must enter unflagging realization that Arab cannot dominate Jew, nor Jew Arab, and that only in a fellowship of reciprocal rights and reciprocal duties can be realized the distinctive values to civilization of Jew and Arab. When the Mandatory -- and more particularly its Administration in Palestine -- abandons the negative rôle of umpire and assumes the creative tasks of the Mandate, its problems will be immeasurably simplified. The two obligations it has undertaken -- securing the establishment of a Jewish National Home and safeguarding the rights of the non-Jewish communities -- will be revealed not only as reconcilable but in essence complementary. The fulfilment of these international obligations will then rank among the fairest achievements of the British Crown, and the nations of the world will bless the name of Britain.
[i] Mark Twain, "Innocents Abroad" (1869) pp. 607-08.
[ii] Hans. Deb. (Commons) Vol. 245, No. 15, 116-117 (November 17, 1930).
[iii] See Jacob de Haas, "Theodore Herzl" (1927).
[iv] The Earl of Balfour, "Speeches on Zionism" (1928) pp. 76-77.
[v] The full text of the Feisal letter was printed in the New York Times, March 5, 1919; for the entire correspondence between Emir Feisal and the author, see Atlantic Monthly, Oct. 1930, p. 49.
[vi] "Of all the charges made against this country I must say that the charge that we have been unjust to the Arab race seems to me the strangest. It is through the expenditure largely of British blood, by the exercise of British skill and valor, by the conduct of British generals, by troops brought from all parts of the British Empire -- it is by them in the main that the freeing of the Arab race from Turkish rule has been effected. And that we, after all the events of the war, should be held up as those who have done an injustice, that we, who have just established a king in Mesopotamia, who had before that established an Arab king in the Hejaz, and who have done more than has been done for centuries past to put the Arab race in the position to which they have attained -- that we should be charged with being their enemies, with having taken a mean advantage of the course of international negotiations, seems to me not only most unjust to the policy of this country, but almost fantastic in its extravagance." The Earl of Balfour in the House of Lords on June 21, 1922. "Speeches on Zionism" (1928) pp. 57-58.
[vii] Cmd. 1700 (1922) p. 20.
[viii] Norman Bentwich, Attorney General of Palestine, "The Mandate for Palestine," in "The British Year Book of International Law" (1929) p. 139.
[ix] Cmd. 1700 (1922) p. 19.
[x] "Arab scholars can be found working in the great library of the Hebrew University, while the study of the Arabic language and civilisation forms one of the chief subjects of study at this University." Albert Einstein, "About Zionism" (1930) p. 59.
[xi] Sir W. Martin Conway, "Palestine and Morocco" (1923) p. 262.
[xii] H. N. Brailsford, "Can Indians Govern India," The New Republic, February 4, 1931, p. 316. And see the important Report by C. F. Strickland of the Indian Civil Service on the Possibility of Introducing a System of Agricultural Coöperation in Palestine.
[xiii] "This profound conviction," continue the Minutes, "had caused M. Van Rees to associate himself entirely with the remarkably well expressed account of the matter," by the well-known publicist, M. William Martin: "Everywhere the troubles occurred, the victims were tempted to believe that they were the work of agitators. To a large measure they were right in this view, for no massacres such as those which took place in Palestine in August would have been possible had they not been organised and supervised. It would, however, be imprudent to deduce from this that there was a divergence of view between the agitators and the crowd of fanatics that followed them, for the mass everywhere followed its leaders and, whatever may be thought of the Arab Effendi in Palestine, it must be recognised that, in so far as the fellaheen are concerned, they are regarded as the leaders. In everyday life it is quite possible that the relations of the Jewish and the Arab population may be of a cordial nature. It is impossible always to be fighting, and the Arabs as individuals are gentle in their manners. But you can be perfectly certain that the fellaheen, accustomed as they have been for centuries to obey their feudal chiefs, can be set on to attack the Jewish population when their chiefs so decide. The Arab peasant is distinguished, not only in Palestine, but also in the other neighbouring countries, by the fact that he can always be induced to attack his true friends by his true enemies, who are the landowners. As a French official in Syria has pointed out: 'If we wish to pursue a policy in favour of the fellaheen, we can be quite certain in advance that we shall be received with bullets.' This observation is accurately true of the situation of the Jews in Palestine, whose presence will improve the lot of the Arab peasant by the reclaiming of the country and by raising wages. The Jews, however, run the risk of being handed over at any moment to public vengeance as enemies of the people." (p. 41)
[xiv] The so-called Shaw Commission on the Palestine Disturbances of August 1929, whose report (Cmd. 3530 of March 1930) had been forwarded by the Mandatory for the consideration of the Mandates Commission.
[xv] Minutes of the Seventeenth (Extraordinary) Session of the Permanent Mandates Commission (1930) pp. 142, 143, 145.
[xvi] Cmd. 3692 (1930).
[xvii]The Times, October 25, 1930; The Times, October 27, 1930.
[xviii]The Times, October 23, 1930.
[xix]The Times, November 4, 1930. The Law Officers of the Government and the present Lord Chancellor have not, so far as I know, challenged the legal doubts of Lord Hailsham and Sir John. I am aware that Lord Passfield made reply to the Hailsham-Simon views (The Times, Nov. 6, 1930), and I leave the learned reader to judge between them.
[xx]Jewish Daily Bulletin, Nov. 3, 1930, pp. 2-4.
[xxi] By interview, speech and letter, Lord Passfield has added not a little exegesis to his White Paper. But until his White Paper is replaced or "interpreted" by a document of equal formality, one must deal with the text of the White Paper and not with private glosses upon it.
After the present article was in press, the British Government issued a new statement of Palestine policy, published February 14, 1931. It is in form of a letter by the Prime Minister to Dr. Weizmann, who had resigned as President of the Jewish Agency in protest against the White Paper of 1930. The letter has been laid before Parliament, is to guide the High Commissioner of Palestine, and will be communicated to the League of Nations.
The letter states that the White Paper "recognizes that the undertaking of the Mandate is an undertaking to the Jewish people and not only to the Jewish population of Palestine." It expressly disavows any intention of the White Paper to make "injurious allegations against the Jewish people and Jewish labor organizations." "It is recognized that the Jewish Agency have all along given willing coöperation in carrying out the policy of the Mandate, and that the constructive work done by the Jewish people in Palestine has had beneficial effects on the development and well-being of the country as a whole." The Prime Minister admits that the safeguards of the provisions of Article 2 and 6 "are not to be read as implying that existing economic conditions in Palestine should be crystallized. On the contrary, the obligation to facilitate Jewish immigration and to encourage close settlement by Jews on the land, remains a positive obligation of the Mandate and it can be fulfilled without prejudice to the rights and position of other sections of the population of Palestine." The letter denies that the White Paper was meant as "a prohibition of acquisition of additional land by Jews." "The landless Arabs," whose settlement upon the land "His Majesty's Government feels itself under an obligation to facilitate," are now defined as those who have been displaced from their lands in consequence of land purchases by Jews and who have not obtained other holdings or other occupation. The number of such "displaced Arabs" is not indicated and is admitted to be "a matter for careful enquiry." The Government expresses its intention "to institute an enquiry as soon as possible to ascertain inter alia what State and other lands are, or properly can be made, available for close settlement by Jews under reference to the obligation imposed upon the Mandatory by Article 6 of the Mandate." "The question of the congestion amongst the fellaheen of the hill districts of Palestine is receiving the careful consideration of His Majesty's Government. It is contemplated that measures will be devised for the improvement and intensive development of the land, and for bringing into cultivation areas which hitherto may have remained uncultivated, and thereby securing to the fellaheen a better standard of living, without, save in exceptional cases, having recourse to transfer." "In giving effect to the policy of land settlement as contemplated in Article II of the Mandate, it is necessary, if disorganization is to be avoided, and if the policy is to have a chance to succeed, that there should exist some centralized control of transactions relating to the acquisition and transfer of land during such interim periods as may reasonably be necessary to place the development scheme upon a sure foundation. The power contemplated is regulative and not prohibitory although it does involve a power to prevent transactions which are inconsistent with the tenor of the scheme. But the exercise of the power will be limited and in no respect arbitrary." The Government denies that any stoppage or prohibition of Jewish immigration is contemplated. "The considerations relevant to the limits of absorptive capacity are purely economic considerations." Consideration will be given to anticipated labor requirements for works which, "being dependent upon Jewish or mainly Jewish capital, would not be, or would not have been undertaken unless Jewish labor was available." The Government "do not in any way challenge" "the principle of preferential and indeed, exclusive, employment of Jewish labor by Jewish organizations. . . ." But if, "in consequence of this policy, Arab labor is displaced or existing unemployment becomes aggravated, that is a factor in the situation to which the Mandatory is bound to have regard."
There are evident gaps and ambiguities in the MacDonald letter, particularly in regard to the opening of Trans-Jordania for settlement and the industrial aspect of Palestinian social economy. Also, the suggested centralized land control adumbrates an administrative power full of potential mischief. The letter does, however, remove much of the harm of the White Paper, insofar as words may counter words. There is ample room within its framework for creative effort by Jew and Arab, and for their collaboration with the Government. But the Passfield document was merely a flagrant symptom of certain aspects in the Palestine Administration and Colonial Office policy. Time alone will show whether the new gesture of good will will be translated into action.
[xxii] "Palestine, Report on Immigration, Land Settlement and Development," by Sir John Hope Simpson, Cmd. 3686 (1930) pp. 51-52.
[xxiii] Hans. Deb. (Commons), Vol. 245, No. 15, 112-13 (November 17, 1930).
[xxiv] Palestine. Report on Immigration, Land Settlement and Development. By Sir John Hope Simpson. Cmd. 3686. 1931, p. 73.
[xxv]The New Palestine, Nov. 7, 1930, p. 137.
[xxvi] In The Political Quarterly for January-March 1931, Mr. G. T. Garratt subjects the Simpson development scheme to an acute analysis. It is, he says in effect, an Asiatic policy, and "An Asiatic Palestine managed on these lines must inevitably go bankrupt. The Arabs settled on the land with just enough capital 'to provide a good cow, an iron plough, and a harrow,' will be no wealthier than Indian ryots, but they will have to pay for a cadre of British officials and an administration which would be almost sufficient for an Indian Province with a population and an area about thirty to forty times as large. At present the Jews pay about forty per cent. of the revenue, but they cannot go on doing this when there is no new money coming in from abroad, and a definitely Asiatic policy will soon kill the enthusiasm of the Zionist movement outside Palestine. . . . Palestine would be a definitely Asiatic country, based on land which is intrinsically poor, and having no economic advantages except a comparatively small tourist traffic, the Dead Sea salts, and a belt of citrus-growing land which requires an uneconomic amount of capital to bring it under cultivation. . . . The landlords, unless they are overpaid for their land, will dislike the operations of the Development Commission. The business men will not find themselves any better off and will lose some of the indirect benefits of Zionist activities. The Jews will consider they have been deserted and betrayed. The Arab "fellah" will, if Lord Cromer's Egyptian experience is to be believed, neither understand nor show the least gratitude for such blessings as we may have bestowed upon him." (pp. 54-56) See A. Granovsky, "Land and the Jewish Reconstruction in Palestine." Jerusalem: "Palestine and Near East" Publications, 1931.
[xxvii] Hans. Deb. (Commons), Vol. 245, No. 15, 121-22 (November 17, 1930).
[xxviii]The Times, Dec. 20, 1929.
[xxix] Minutes of the Seventeenth (Extraordinary) Session of the Permanent Mandates Commission (1930), p. 143.