A TRAVELER returning from the Near East is at once struck by the utter Ignorance of Europeans and Americans concerning the true situation in Palestine — an ignorance due largely to the fact that in London there is, practically, only one of the important daily papers that will print anything detrimental to the schemes of the Political Zionists. Besides the English press the other sources of information upon which America has been dependent for its news of Palestine have been the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the Zionist propaganda. The latter, with its harrowing stories of pogroms in Europe, and its misrepresentations of the situation in the Near East, has been able to awaken not a little sympathy for the Zionist programme. But there certainly are reasons why Americans should endeavor to realize fully what is happening in Syria, and this quite promptly.
In discussing the existing conditions in Palestine, and the serious problem that the League of Nations will very probably have to face, it is necessary to differentiate briefly between what have been called the three aspects of Zionism, namely, the religious, economic, and political aspects.
Religious Zionism is an expression used to represent the belief of orthodox Judaism that the Jews are the chosen people of the one and only God; that a Messiah will be sent to redeem Israel; and that Jehovah will gather his people, restore the Temple and its service, and reestablish the priesthood and the Jewish kingdom. For the restoration of their kingdom and the fulfillment of prophecy, they look to God in his own time and way, and not to Jewish financiers and politicians, or to peace conferences. Only a small group of orthodox Jews, 'the Eastern,’ take an active part in the political movement to establish a Jewish state. Tolerance for the religious ideals of different faiths precludes any criticism or lack of respect for Religious Zionism. The Christian faith, it might be added, is, in certain respects at least, inseparably identified with some of its ideals.
Economic Zionism, so-called, has as its object the amelioration of the deplorable conditions in which Jews have lived in certain lands, where they have been outrageously persecuted, and in many Instances foully murdered. Since the governments concerned could not be induced to alleviate their sufferings, the Jews, in recent years, have been urged to emancipate themselves by seeking a new home, where they might live in security, and carry on their activities as free citizens. About fifty years ago organizations sprang up which encouraged colonization in Palestine. However, most Jews preferred to go to South and North America, with the result that some thousands went to Palestine and two millions moved westward. About forty colonies, some large and others containing only a few houses, have been established in Palestine, numbering about 13,000 souls. The entire Jewish population, including those who are indigenous, numbers 65,300. For comparison, it may be stated that there are also about 62,500 Christians and over a half million Moslems in the land. Economic Zionism is not a theory, nor is it an experiment. The Balfour declaration sanctions the movement; it reads: '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." The San Remo Conference has interpreted the Peace Treaty as implying this, and there is no alternative; moreover, the movement is already a substantial reality.
A visit to some of the better established Jewish colonies will not fail to awaken sympathy for Economic Zionism. No unbiased observer of past events could think of throwing obstacles in the way of those Jews who, being persecuted in certain lands, prefer to live in a community solely Jewish; or who, through historical sentiment, long to reside in a purely Jewish cultural community in the land of their ancestors. Only an extremist would deny the gratification of their desires to as many of these people as can be accommodated; yet it must be borne in mind that, as estimated by experts, the tiny country can support only about a million and a half additional inhabitants; which number, if all were Jews, would represent only one tenth of the fifteen millions in the world.
Political Zionism was launched by Herzl, in 1896, in a monograph on 'The Jewish State’; and since that time this has become the dominant note in the whole movement. He and others have claimed that the establishment of a Jewish commonwealth would become an active force, by bringing diplomatic pressure to bear upon the nations, to secure protection for Jews in all lands. A clannish sense of pride in the Jewish race, however, seems to be uppermost in their minds. They apparently think that their status in society will be enhanced everywhere if a Jewish nation exists in Palestine. This phase of Zionism is the crux of the whole Palestine problem.
Political Zionism is strongly opposed by many orthodox Jews in Palestine; especially because they recognize that, through the fanaticism of the Zionist leaders, it has become most difficult for them to maintain their former amicable relations with the other natives. It is opposed also by many of the leading Jews throughout the world, especially, as the Political Zionists themselves admit, by the upper circles of Jewish society. The Central Conference of American Rabbis, which has a membership of about three hundred, representing many of the largest and most important synagogues in America, has year after year discussed the problem; and while favoring the idea of the country's being open to Jews who, because of religious persecution, desire to reside there, it denies that the Jews are ‘a people without a country’; and even refuses to ‘subscribe to the phrase in the [Balfour] declaration which says, "Palestine is to be the national homeland for the Jewish people."
When we consider the feelings of the Jews who desire to spend their lives in study and meditation in Palestine and be buried there, we must not lose sight of the fact that the same impulse also draws, and has drawn, the Christian and the Moslem. It is the Holy Land for the three great religions. It is not the birthplace of Islam; yet Mohammed, who claimed to be the successor of a line of prophets from Abraham to Christ, would have made Jerusalem the center his religion if the Jews and Christians had recognized him as a prophet. As it is, Jerusalem is one of three most revered cities in Islam; moreover, the sites identified with Abraham, Jacob, Rachel, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, and other Old Testament characters, are regarded with as much veneration by the Moslem as by the Jew.
One need only recall the immense and magnificent hospices built by the Eastern and the Western branches of the Christian Church, as well as the many monasteries, hospitals, homes, and schools, throughout the land, to reach some conception of what the country is to the Christian. The inhabitants of Bethlehem and Nazareth, as well as of some other cities, are largely Christian. Moreover, practically every country in Christian Europe is represented among the inhabitants of Palestine by colonies, settlements, or communities.
The Political Zionists, through their propaganda, systematically endeavor to give the world a false conception of the Palestinians. They would have us believe, to quote the words of Zangwill, that 'Palestine is not so much occupied by the Arabs as over-run by them. They are nomads. . . . And therefore we must gently persuade them to ''trek." Examine the literature of the leaders of Zionism, and it will be found that this false position is reiterated again and again. True, nomads are found in Palestine, as everywhere throughout the Orient; but to foist upon the intelligent public the idea that the population of this land is made up of Bedouins, or even of Arabs, is a deliberate attempt to deceive it.
The inhabitants of the land should be called Syrians — or Palestinians, if Palestine is to be separated from Syria. True, there are many Arabs living there, more, for example, than Greeks, Germans, or Latins, because of the proximity of Arabia; but these are not the real Palestinians, nor do they represent the bulk of the substantial part of the nation. The people whom the Jews conquered when they entered Palestine were called by the general name of Amorites or Canaanites. While many were massacred by the Jews in certain cities, still only a portion of the country was conquered. Even after David took Jerusalem, Amorites continued to live in that city; besides, many foreign peoples, as the Hittites and Philistines, also lived in the land. There can be no question that the blood of the present Palestinian, or Syrian, includes that of the Jew as well as of the Amorite, Hittite, Phoenician, Philistine, Persian, Greek, Latin, and Arab. Such a fusion is not unlike that found in the veins of many Americans whose ancestors have lived here for several generations. When the whole population of Palestine became Mohammedan, there is little doubt that a large percentage of the Jews were also forced to accept this faith; their descendants are now classed by the Political Zionists as ‘Arabs.’ The Yemenites, who we know migrated from Arabia, and who in every respect resemble the Arab in physique, appearance, and bearing, they, none the less, call Jews, because of their faith. Then, also, in such Christian cities as Bethlehem and Ramallah a type is seen that is distinctively European, and doubtless largely represents remnants or descendants of the Crusaders, or of Christians who migrated to the Holy Land in the past centuries. Moreover, the Palestinian or Syrian is a composite race, largely Semitic, which has developed from the association of the different racial elements inhabiting the land for at least five thousand years past. And while the Arabs have in all periods filtered in from Arabia, and the language, as in Egypt and Mesopotamia, is Arabic, it is a deliberate misrepresentation to classify the inhabitants as ‘Arabs.’
These are the people whose status the Political Zionist proposes to reduce by securing the control of the country; and who — what is still worse — must be persuaded to 'trek.’ As Zangwill says, 'After all, they have all Arabia with its million square miles, and Israel has not a square inch. There is no particular reason for the Arabs to cling to these few kilometres. To fold their tents and silently steal away is their proverbial habit; let them exemplify it now.' Palestine, the organ of the British Palestine Committee, for July 10, 1920, says: 'For the Arab nation there are vast areas outside of Palestine in which to develop its national life, and Arabs of Palestine will be free to develop there, also.’
Much has been written upon the historic claims of the Jews to this territory, which they held for less than five hundred years, prior to two thousand five hundred years ago. But how about the claims of the Palestinian, who possessed the land before the Jew and who is still in possession, having lived there for over five thousand years? The Aramaeans, who came from Aram, whom we call Hebrews, under Joshua conquered, and even ruthlessly exterminated, the people of a portion of Palestine; and later on, under David and Solomon, extended their rule over the whole country. But, if we are to decide the question of actual ownership of the territory, the Palestinian who has continuously lived there surely has a clearer title than the Jew. Moreover, this decision is based upon the records handed down by the Jew himself. Even the Hebrew language, which the Jews are attempting to revive as their spoken tongue, originally belonged to the people they are trying to oust. The language in Aram—Abraham's ancestral home—was Aramaean; when the Aramaeans came to Palestine, they adopted the Canaanite language, now called Hebrew.
The Palestine News, the official journal of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force under Allenby, published, on November 14, 1918, a declaration, which had been agreed to by the British and French Governments, and communicated to the President of the United States, informing the people that their aim in waging the war in the East was 'to ensure the complete and final emancipation of all those people so long oppressed by the Turks, to establish national governments and administrations which shall derive their authority from the initiative and free will of the peoples themselves,’ and 'to assure, by their support and practical aid, the normal workings of such governments and administrations as the people themselves have adopted.’
In the twelfth of the fourteen points enumerated by President Wilson to Congress, January 8,1918, he demanded that the nationalities then under Turkish rule should be assured of 'an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development.’ His second principle, stated in his address at Mount Vernon, July 4,1918, reads: 'The settlement of every question, whether of territory, of sovereignty, of economic arrangement, or of political relationship shall be upon the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people immediately concerned, and not upon the basis of the material interest or advantage of any other nation or people which may desire a different settlement for the sake of its exterior influence or mastery.’
The edict of England and France, which was published in every town and village in the land about the time the Armistice was signed, has been violated in every essential particular; nor have the principles and demands of Mr. Wilson been observed. 'An unmolested opportunity of autonomous development has been denied the inhabitants. ‘The questions 'of territory, of economic arrangement, or political relationship have been settled contrary to the will of' the people immediately concerned’; and it has been done ‘upon the basis of the material interest or advantage’ of another people 'for the sake of its exterior interest or mastery.'
Not only have these principles and demands been ignored, but the twenty-second article of the League of Nations Covenant, in which they were incorporated, has been grossly violated. The middle section of this article reads: 'Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized, subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory Power until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory Power.’ It is needless to point out that their existence as independent nations has not been provisionally recognized, nor have the wishes of the people been a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory Power.
The circulation of the self-determination edict by England and France in November, 1918, which the people accepted placidly, calmed the popular feeling for a time; but after a few months the people saw clearly that the Political Zionists were favored by the British authorities, to their disadvantage; and they began to appreciate that they were being dealt with falsely. National anti-foreign sentiment grew apace, and in the spring of 1919 conditions had reached such a point that General Money had difficulty in quieting the people. He continually represented the necessity for his government to make a clear declaration of its policy— either one of repression of the people in favor of the Jews, or one of equality of treatment, which would have been acceptable to all, including the Palestinian Jews, but not, of course, to the Political Zionists. The Peace Conference, as a result of the dissatisfaction, appointed an inter-Allied commission to ascertain the wishes of the people. France, who claimed the whole of Syria, which included Palestine, declined to send out her representatives; and her example was followed by England. The work of the Commission, therefore, devolved upon the two American representatives, Ambassador Crane and President King. This Commission held a most impartial and exhaustive inquiry, hearing delegates from almost every town and village. In order to be ready to give useful information before the Commission, branches of the Moslem and Christian League were formed at Jaffa, Gaza, Hebron, Djenin, Nablus, Acre, Haifa, Safed, and other places. All branches worked under a constitution approved by the Military Governor of Jerusalem. It was decided to draw up three resolutions to be presented to the Commission:
1. The independence of Syria, from the Taurus Mountains to Rafeh, the frontier of Egypt.
2. Palestine not to be separated from Syria, but to form one whole country.
3. Jewish immigration to be restricted.
The entire Christian and Moslem population agreed to these resolutions.
It should be said here that there is no justification, from an ethnological or geographical point of view, for dividing Syria into the northern part under the French and a southern part, namely Palestine, under the British. This has already been pointed out by the greatest authority on the history and geography of Palestine, Sir George Adam Smith. One race, the Syrian, or Palestinian, is dominant throughout the territory, from Aleppo to Beersheba; and there is no natural frontier that can divide the two halves of this land. France for decades had regarded herself as the protector of the country. Although, being occupied with the enemy, she had done practically nothing toward driving out the Turks, the situation was such that, when the British army entered Jerusalem, in deference to the French a company of French soldiers was invited to be present. The question arises then, why should the land and people be separated, and two separate administrations be established, with all the expense that this implies? For the entire territory, from Aleppo to Beersheba, is only about 400 miles long and 100 miles wide — about the length of Pennsylvania, and one third its width? Why divide this small land and its people? Let us ask another question at the same time: why was the Balfour pronouncement made in 1917?
The Turkish government, when approached during the war on the problem of a Jewish state, said that it would continue to maintain, as it always had done, a favorable attitude toward the Jews in their effort to promote flourishing settlements, within the limits of the capacity of the country, and toward the free development of their civilization and their economic enterprises; but it looked with disfavor upon Zionists who have political ambitions for Palestine, and it regards them as enemies to the government. But what the Turks refused to grant the Jews, Britain promised them, even before she had captured the country. The Political Zionists inform us that the text of the Balfour declaration was revised in the Zionist offices in America as well as in England, and that it was put into the form in which they desired it. Moreover, they intimate that this stroke of British policy had the desired effect upon the Zionists in Germany during the war. The financial assistance rendered by the Jewish plutocrats during the war, it is said, was a matter of no small consideration. But besides this, and the bid for Jewish favor everywhere, there can be little doubt that uppermost in the minds of the Cabinet, because of France's interest in the land, was the idea of creating a buffer state between the portion they would let the French retain and the Suez Canal. The Canal, according to English opinion, is the chief asset of the Empire. The strategic value of this territory to England has been referred to recently by Lord Curzon in the House of Lords. Hence, the reason that the Balfour declaration was made, and that Syria has been divided. It might be added, that this division is yet to be ratified by the League of Nations.
When the first body of representatives appeared before the Commission sent out by the Peace Conference, Aref Pasha el Dajani, the President of the Moslem and Christian League, was asked what mandatory government the League preferred. He replied that at one time they would unanimously have asked for Great Britain, but the Balfour declaration had so shocked them that they now requested that America should have the mandate for Palestine and Syria. The Commission interviewed all the communities separately, getting in each instance the reply that their requests had been made through the Moslem and Christian League, except in the case of the Zionists, who asked for a British mandate and a separate rule for Palestine. The Commission then traveled throughout the country, making an impartial and exhaustive inquiry, hearing deputations from almost every town. Everywhere they found the same unanimity for the three resolutions.
The report of the Commissioners has never been published. The Conference, apparently under the influence of Political Zionists, took no notice of it except in so far as to announce that no political privilege would be granted to the Jews, who were in the minority in the land; but that they would be given economic privileges in connection with its development. As a result, not a few natives who had returned from America and elsewhere with their gains, for this very purpose, were naturally disappointed. Some British firms were ready to invest capital in the development of the country, particularly for the improvement of the ports of Haifa and Jaffa; but they were turned down under instructions from the Foreign Office, so that the Zionist could have the first option in such undertakings.
Relying upon the decision they had given the Americans on the Commission, as well as upon the fact that they had made their views perfectly clear to the British authorities, the Moslems and Christians did not send a deputation to the Conference held at San Remo, which, as is well known, gave the mandate over Palestine to Great Britain. Through the efforts of the Zionist Commission, which had powerful representatives present, a clause was interpolated in the mandate, establishing a 'Jewish homeland’ in accordance with the Balfour declaration.
The Grand Mufti, who is the ecclesiastical head of the Moslems in Jerusalem, on hearing the news concerning the mandate, still refused to believe that the British, who had pledged themselves to protect small powers, and who had promised that their rights should not be violated, would allow the Christians and Moslems of Palestine to be ruled by Political Zionists. The Moslems, he said, looked upon Great Britain as their best friend; they had welcomed the arrival of the British armies; and in spite of all appearance to the contrary, he still believed that Great Britain would treat them fairly. The Grand Mufti was anxious that it should be understood that he and his followers were not anti-Jews, but that they objected to their country's being exploited by Jewish foreigners, and to their efforts to make both Christians and Moslems their vassals. While the Zionists during the past years had collected through propaganda immense sums from all parts of the world, he said, the Moslem and Christian natives of Palestine, by reason of the Turkish oppression and the war, were without funds. All that they asked for was a number of years in which to get on their feet economically. The Moslems, the Grand Mufti told the writer, had no objections to the same quiet development of Jewish colonies going on as in the past. What they did strenuously object to was the plan of the British government to turn over their land to the Political Zionists, for the purpose of establishing a Jewish state.
The highly respected Aref Pasha, President of the Moslem and Christian League, which had been formed to stem the tide of Jewish immigration, said that the Moslems, understanding Great Britain's love for justice, decided to fight their coreligionists and to throw in their lot with her. Not less than 130,000 Moslems, many of them deserters from the Turkish army, fought with the British. The Moslems of India also figured prominently in the same cause. Now, however, they find that the British victory means for them vassalage under the Jews; the people, he said, preferred the tyranny of the Turk to being ruled by the Jew.
The Christian inhabitants of the land hold the same view. Last spring no less than 20,000 people held a demonstration in Jerusalem in order to show the administration and the foreign consuls their bitter opposition to this Jewish movement. Following this demonstration, many of the Christians proceeded to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and took a solemn Oath that they would resist with their lives the Jews' efforts to rule them. So far as is known to me, not a single representative of any of the religious communities in Palestine favors the project. The views of the Christians are summed up in the following message, which a highly honored citizen of the country dictated to the writer as he was leaving the port of Jaffa, requesting that it should be made public. ‘The Moslems and Christians welcomed the British occupation because they did not know that their country had been sold to the Jews. The honor of England is in jeopardy. The Christians of the whole world do not know of this treachery, nor did the three hundred million of Moslems know of it. But some day it will be known, because it will surely mean another war. Had the people known what was to happen, they would have worn crape when the British entered.'
To show the consideration with which the Political Zionists are treated by the British government, the following is offered. The conflict between the British and the Turco-Germans left many cities and villages of Palestine in a condition not unlike that of those in Northern France and Belgium. Few people in Europe and America appreciate what the Syrian inhabitants of the land have suffered because of the conflict. The herds and farm-stock of the people hah been carried away by the Turks, and they were naturally sorely pressed in their efforts to secure plough animals and grain for the cultivation of their fields. The Anglo- Palestine Bank, a Zionist concern, lent money to these people at a very exorbitant rate. The Chief Administrator, appreciating the embarrassment of the natives, and in order to ensure that the economic restoration of the country should speedily be effected, revived the Turkish system of making loans to the farmers, and made arrangements with a British bank, the Anglo-Egyptian, to lend them the money at six and a half per cent, payable over a period which could be extended to five years. In the event of failure of payment, the land would become the property of the government, not of the Zionist bank.
The Zionist Commissioner, realizing that this defeated their plans to secure titles to lands, set their forces at work in London, with the result that orders were actually sent from the Foreign Office to suspend this arrangement, which had been such a boon to the war ridden inhabitants. It was not long afterward that General Money resigned, and Colonel Vivian Gabriel, his chief financial adviser, was relieved of his post, because it was stated that he had adopted 'an attitude inconsistent with the Zionist policy of the Government.’ The injustice of the interference, however, on the part of the Zionists, became so clear to everyone that, after several months, even Dr. Weizmann, the President of the Zionists, thought it necessary to withdraw the embargo; and the British government again permitted the loans to be made.
The departure of General Money, a thoroughly sound and upright governor of the best British type, was a great loss to the people, and it was the signal for a recrudescence of the Zionist claims. The Zionist Commission claimed the right to a previous scrutiny and veto of all the acts of the administration; they asked the British government for the lands and farms of the interned German colonists; they asked for the possession of the magnificent German Hospice on the Mount of Olives (then occupied by the Administration), for their projected Jewish University. They offended the Moslems by trying to acquire lands adjoining the Mosque of Omar, for which they offered £l50,000. There seemed to be no limit to their arrogance; moreover, the aggressiveness of individuals, on the street and everywhere, was marked.
The old resident Jews of Palestine certainly have other than religious grounds for their indifference toward the efforts of the Political Zionists. Last winter the Council of Jerusalem Jews appointed a commission of representative men holding leading positions, to visit parents who were sending their children to proscribed schools, in order to secure their withdrawal. Among these schools, which included those conducted by the convents and churches, some of which have existed in Jerusalem for a long time, are the British High School for Girls, the English College for Boys, and the Jewish School for Girls. In the latter, conducted by Miss Landau, an educated English Jewess, all the teachers are Jewish; most of the teaching is in the English language. This school, which is financed by enlightened Jews of England, was denounced more severely than the others, because, not being in sympathy with the programme of the Political Zionists, Miss Landau refused to teach the Zionist curriculum. She was even informed that her school would be closed.
In a series of articles that appeared in Doar Hayom, the Hebrew daily paper, last December, it was stated that the parents who refused to comply with the requests of the Commission were to be boycotted, cast out from all intercourse with Jews, denied all share in Zionist funds, and deprived of all custom for their shops and hotels. ‘Anyone who refused, let him know that it is forbidden for him to be called by the name of Jew; and there is to be for him no portion or inheritance with his brethren.' They were given notice that they would ‘be fought by all lawful means.’ Their names were to be put 'upon a monument of shame, as a reproach forever, and their deeds written unto the last generation.' If they are supported, their support will cease; if they are merchants, the finger of scorn will be pointed at them; if they are rabbis, they will be moved far from their office; they shall be put under the ban and persecuted, and all the people of the world shall know that there is no mercy in justice.'
A month later the results of this 'warfare' were reviewed. We were informed that some Jews had been influenced, but others—and the greater number, and those of the Orthodox, — those who fear God — having read the letters [signed by the head of its delegates and the Zionist Commission] became angry at the "audacity" of the Council of Jerusalem Jews "which mix themselves up in private affairs," have Torn up the letter up, and that finished it.'
Then followed a long diatribe against these parents, boys, and girls, in which it was demanded that the blacklist of traitors to the people be sent to 'those who perform circumcision, who control the cemeteries and hospitals'; that an order go forth so that' doctors will not visit their sick, that assistance when in need, if they are on the list of the American Relief Fund, will not be given to them.' "Men will cry to them, "Out of the way, unclean, unclean." . . . They are in no sense Israelites.’
It is to be regretted that only these few paraphrases and quotations from the series of articles published can be presented here.
The work of the Councils Committee met with not a little success; pupils left schools, and teachers gave up their positions. Two instructors in the English College, whose fathers were rabbis, and a third, whose brother was a teacher in a Zionist school, resigned. Another refused to do so, and declared himself ready, in the interests of the Orthodox Jews, who were suffering under this tyranny, which they deplored, to give the fullest testimony to the authorities concerning this persecution. The administration, under Governor Bols, finally intervened, and at least no further public efforts to carry out their programme were made.
If, in this early stage of the development of Political Zionism, even the Palestinian Religious Jews already find themselves under such a tyranny, what will happen if these men are allowed to have full control of the government? And what kind of treatment can the Christian and the Moslem expect in their efforts to educate their children, if the Political Zionists are allowed to develop their Jewish state to such a point that they can dispense with their mandatory and tell the British to clear out? When such things happen under British administration, what will take place if the Jewish State is ever realized, and such men are in full control?
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.