The appointment of a Jew and Political Zionist, Sir Herbert Samuel, as the High Commissioner of Palestine, although he is considered to be an impartial and fair-minded man, was regarded as a serious mistake by practically every non-Jew in Palestine, because of the powerful, and even fanatical, forces that would be brought to bear upon him. The question arises, what was done on his advent in July with regard to the civil rights of the people, which were guaranteed by England’s edict, by the Balfour declaration, the League of Nations, and the San Remo Conference? In his inaugural address, Samuel informed the people of Palestine that he would nominate an advisory council,—which would be composed mostly of British officials, with ten unofficial members, whom he would choose from the various sections of the people, — to meet under his presidency at frequent intervals; to this council matters of importance would be submitted for advice; and the unofficial members would be free also to raise questions to which they desired the attention of the government to be directed.
Palestine and Syria have, perhaps, more intelligent men in proportion to the inhabitants than any other country in the Near East, for which fact, of course, there are abundant reasons. Despite all that has been said with regard to the self-determination of small nations, and all that has been promised these people, by official statements and edicts, concerning their civil rights and their wishes, we learn that they are to be represented by ten unofficial members, appointed by the leader of the Political Zionists, who, when called by him, shall have the privilege of meeting, to hear reports, to give advice, and to ask questions. Certainly, this is a remarkable realization of the much-heralded doctrine of self-determination of the small nation, and a remarkable fulfillment of all the promises that have been made to these unhappy people.
It is also deemed most unfortunate that the British government has placed the judicial department of the country in the hands of a Jew and Political Zionist, who even has the appointment of the judges of Palestine, about twenty of whom are Moslems. The demoralizing effect of this is fully appreciated By non-Jews. Protests against his occupying this position have been made, but without avail. The case, however, is different when the Jews endeavor to oust a Christian judge who is not favorable to their programme. Even a man of the highest type and standing, credited with a long career of faithful judicial service, has been disposed of through their influence.
Those who are familiar with life in Palestine, where the feeling between Moslem and Christian and Jew is perhaps more intense than in any other land, are fully cognizant that this scheme for a Jewish state not only accentuates and increases the animosities that have always existed, but invites another tragic chapter in the history of the Hebrews. The Political Zionists are simply intensifying this feeling, as well as the bigotry and fanaticism of the masses, by their efforts to force themselves into a sovereign position. And there can be no question that anti-Semitism, not only in Palestine but throughout the world, will increase more and more as the world, Christian and Moslem, becomes familiar with the situation.
The British politicians in London seem to have little comprehension of the difficulties they are helping to create for their Empire. The Political Zionists will never be satisfied with the country west of the Jordan, and only as far north as the Litany. All kinds of intrigues on the part of their politicians, to secure the territory that will be held by the French and Arabs, can be looked for. They have already claimed that the boundaries of the Solomonic kingdom, which extended to the Euphrates, should be those of their state. Already an outlet on the Gulf of Akaba has been demanded. Since there are 50,000 Jews in Bagdad, what is to prevent their plutocrats, when Great Britain is again hard pressed, from exacting another declaration from the government, which will embrace this territory?
In Palestine, for September 25, the statement is made that the boundary line set by France would make it impossible to get water for electric power. This would rob them, they claim, of all hope of economic prosperity. There can be no other result but that Britain's difficulties with France and Arabia will be increased, and that the estrangement between these countries will be accentuated.
It is the opinion of nearly every non-Jewish British official in Palestine, not only that Britain's reputation for justice and fair dealing is at stake, and that a great wrong is being done the inhabitants of the land, but that there are serious dangers ahead for the Empire. They believe that, if immigration from Russia, Roumania, and Poland is to be allowed to any great extent, so that the Jews will be in the majority, — will have, as they say, at least fifty-one per cent, — not only racial riots and massacres will result, but there will be a continual menace to the Empire, especially because of the interest of the Moslems of other lands in Jerusalem and in their coreligionists. Moreover, these officials feel keenly the change in the attitude toward the British that has come over the inhabitants since they entered, for they know that they are now hated and despised. The propagandists endeavor to have the world believe that, since Sir. H. Samuel's appointment, the opposition of the inhabitants is disappearing; and we are told that many have signed petitions asking for Jewish rule. To one familiar with the actual situation, this, to say the least, is ludicrous. Thousands of signatures could easily be obtained at the cost of three or four for a shilling. Order has been maintained the last few months in this little land with the assistance of 24,000 soldiers. But we are informed that anti-Zionist sentiment has increased since the arrival of Sir H. Samuel, to whom quite recently national associations at Jaffa, Hebron, and Gaza sent the following resolution: —
‘With all due respect to His Britannic Majesty and to your person, we beg to protest against the decision taken at San Remo [that is, the granting of the mandate to Great Britain], and against your appointment.’
The Palestine problem can be easily and effectively disposed of by the British government with dignity and honor, to the satisfaction of the Christians and Moslems in Palestine and throughout the world, as well as of the many Jews who are opposed to this political movement. This can be accomplished by simply carrying out the provisions of the League of Nations and all the pronouncements that Great Britain has made. The loosely worded and ambiguous Balfour declaration does not prevent this; for if the non-Jewish inhabitants are granted their civic rights, which can mean only that they will have a voice in the government in proportion to their population, then justice will be rendered them, and the problem will be solved. Unless this is done, governing by a mandate, as many British maintain, is simply another phrase for a power's taking possession of a country, and ruling it as it desires. And unless this is done now, before the status of the Christian and the Moslem is compromised, and before the country becomes full of Russian, Roumanian, and Polish Jews, so that they will be in a majority, a grave injustice will be committed, which will be resented more and more by the Christians and Moslems of the world as they become familiar with the situation in their Holy Land.