Palestine’s Role in the Solution of the Jewish Problem – 1942

By Chaim Weizmann, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, January 1942

ALMOST half the Jews in the world find themselves today under the Nazi heel. It is impossible to determine the rate at which their physical destruction is proceeding. Nor is it possible to visualize the condition in which the Jewish masses of Poland, Rumania, occupied Russia and even Hungary will be found when the pall of darkness is finally lifted from Nazi-occupied Europe. Tragic as is the position of the Polish peasant, he is rooted in his native soil — at least where he has not been dragged away from it and made to slave in an armament factory.

The Jew in his Ghetto, on the other hand, finds himself despoiled of everything. Deprived of his meagre possessions, driven from his home, torn from his family, he has become the most abject of all the abject victims of the terror. In the reconstruction of a new and — let us hope — a better world, the reintegration of the Jew will thus present a peculiarly difficult problem, and one which is likely to tax both the energies and the good will of the countries of Eastern and Central Europe.

The experience of the past twenty years, and the vexed problem of “minorities” which has caused so much trouble in Europe, hardly give much ground for hope of a satisfactory solution on the spot. No doubt many Jews will return and re-adapt themselves to the new conditions; but there will be vast masses which will have to emigrate. It would probably be unduly optimistic to assume that countries like the United States, Canada, and some of the South American republics, will radically change their immigration policy after this war — particularly in the strained economic conditions then to be expected. The hunted and disinherited will once more be faced with the eternal question: “Whither?” And little promise can be held out for them unless decisive steps are taken towards a radical solution of their problem.

It is a complex problem, which means that it will have to be faced with courage, imagination and sympathy. After the agonizing experiences through which European Jewry has passed in the last eight years, no makeshift or temporary expedients can suffice, and indeed such would be unworthy of the spirit of the Atlantic Charter and the principles so often enunciated by the leaders of the democracies. Responsibility for the solution will rest with those charged with the task of reconstruction, and also with the Jewish communities which have escaped the fate of their European brethren. Of the latter, it is estimated that the Jews in the Western Hemisphere number about five millions; in the British Empire about half a million; in Palestine about half a million; and there are smaller communities in Turkey, Egypt, Syria, ‘Iraq, India and French North Africa, totalling perhaps a further half-million (though some of them can hardly be ranked as “free” communities).

The Nazi attack on the Jews came at first as a rude shock to the outside world. But its effects soon wore off. Many European statesmen and politicians found it convenient to treat the whole business as a purely internal German affair; they felt it more “politic” not to consider its darker implications. Persecution of the Jews, as practised by the Nazis, has served many useful purposes of the persecutors. They have succeeded in ridding themselves of a group which, by reason of its long-standing liberal democratic traditions, could never have made real peace with the new régime. They have enriched themselves considerably from the wealth of their victims, and have thus been able to increase the “wages of sin” available for payment to their friends and adherents. They have flooded neighboring countries with tens of thousands of refugees who, though generously received and befriended, were almost bound — once the first emotional wave of pity and indignation had subsided — to cause difficulties and create problems and friction, contributing thereby to the bedevilment of relations between Jew and Gentile even in tolerant and free countries like England or prewar France or Switzerland. This part of the Nazi scheme has not fully succeeded. It has, however, made the West “Jew-conscious” — aware of one more complexity in a life already overcrowded with urgent problems.

As the numbers of refugees swelled, it became obvious that their problems required a fresh approach and coördinated effort on the part of the Powers. The President of the United States, animated by humanitarian considerations and generous impulses, initiated two conferences. The intention was that representatives of Europe and America should devise ways and means of assisting the wanderers, of enabling them to begin a new life without becoming a burden on the communities which had offered them temporary shelter.

The Evian Conference achieved something, but on the whole, the measures there adopted were mere palliatives. Attempts naturally were made to find a radical solution — e.g. the delimitation of a territory somewhere on the earth’s surface to which the stream of immigration could be diverted, a territory vast enough to allow the refugee to begin a new life without having to insinuate himself into the pores of an already mature organism. Many countries were mentioned, and even seriously considered. The Polish Government sent a Commission of Experts to Madagascar; the British Government sent one to British Guiana; Alaska was named as a possible “territory;” so was Santo Domingo, as also a remote part of Southern California bordering on Mexico. There is no reason why these geographical exercises should not be continued indefinitely. But the countries under discussion had all to be admitted to be either too hot or too cold; none could be discovered in the temperate zone.

Curiously enough, a mot d’ordre seemed to have gone out to pass over in silence the possibilities of Palestine. This was the more remarkable in view of the contribution which Palestine was even then making to the solution of the refugee problem. Refugees had flocked to this small country in tens of thousands, and had been absorbed with great advantage to themselves and to the country.

New settlements had sprung up, old settlements had been expanded, new industries had arisen. Up to the beginning of the war, about 100,000 refugees from Greater Germany had found homes in Palestine. The reason for this studied silence was no doubt the British Government’s desire not to emphasize Palestine in the rôle of a country of mass-immigration, since to do so might, in their view, complicate the already rather disturbed internal conditions prevailing there. But apart from this there was always the opinion (shared by many participants in the Evian Conference) that Palestine was too small to meet the pressing need. This view was fostered by the advocates of the various utopias who gathered on the fringe of the Conference, and in particular by certain Jewish philanthropic (and perhaps anti-Zionist) groups, who were prepared to send their fellow-Jews to almost any country in the world, provided only that it was not Palestine.

Even now one has still to contend with the recurrent argument that Palestine lacks sufficient size. Admittedly the argument is one which has to be answered — and answered it can be.
Two great colonizing experiments have been made by Jews in the past fifty or sixty years, one in the Argentine and the other in Palestine. Colonization in the Argentine was begun under the best possible auspices. Practically unlimited areas of fertile soil were at the disposal of the settlers; a benevolent government placed no obstacles in their way. The price of land was moderate, and the committee conducting the operations had great resources at its disposal (something like £10,000,000 in gold, which, fifty years ago, represented a vast sum of money).

The Jewish Colonization Association was a body of most competent men, commanding great authority in the Jewish world, and devoted to their work. They acquired some 1,500,000 acres of land for agricultural settlement. But after fifty years of colonization, no more than 30,000 people have been settled there. Moreover, the younger generation of the settlers shows little disposition to remain on the land.

The first modern settlers to arrive in Palestine, on the other hand, were mostly poor young students who had abandoned Russian universities in search of a free, independent and simple life. This they intended to make for themselves on the soil of Palestine. They entered upon their task without experience, without funds, unaided and untutored. The leaders of the Jewish communities looked askance at this quixotic undertaking, and prophesied its early and dismal failure.

Moreover, the Turkish Government placed every imaginable difficulty in the way of the first pioneers. It was an upstream passage for them. But the men who set out on it were inspired by a sacred faith in a future. They were the men of destiny, called upon to blaze the trail — however narrow and steep — on which later generations were to tread. Their awareness of a great mission sustained them, and gave them the endurance and spirit of sacrifice which laid the foundations of the first Jewish settlements — chiefly in the coastal plain. Small in their beginnings, these villages have grown gradually and continually. They have a place — and a very honorable place — in the development of Jewish life in Palestine, and with them will always be associated the name of their founder — Baron Edmond de Rothschild — a man whose heart and power of vision were as great as his wealth. At first it was a mere trickle of new settlers which came to join them, rising after 1905, and in full tide since 1919.

Today there are in Palestine some 250 Jewish rural settlements, with a population of more than 140,000. Towns have been built up and industries established. The country has been awakened from its age-long neglect. The ancient Hebrew tongue has been revived, and is heard today in the fields and orchards of Palestine, in the streets and workshops, as well as in the schools and the University. The total acreage of land in Jewish hands — acquired by slow degrees by purchase in the open market — is now approximately 400,000 acres. On this land a close-knit, well-organized, modern Jewish community of over half-a-million souls has arisen. It is normal in every way — in its structure, its occupational distribution — and the whole edifice, moral, social and intellectual, has been built up in a comparatively short space of time by the efforts of the Jews themselves on the neglected land of Palestine. Jewish labor, highly organized and creative, has played a leading part in this performance.

It should be realized that the labor movement in Palestine is not just a copy of the labor or trades union movements in other countries. Its object is to create a Jewish working class by fostering Jewish immigration and the absorption of the immigrants into the expanding economy of the country. Its field of activity and the structure of its organization are shaped accordingly. Apart from purely trades union activities, it comprises agricultural settlements, building guilds, industrial coöperatives, transport coöperatives, cultural institutions, and so on. It unites all workers in town and country who live by labor without exploiting the labor of others, i.e. hired laborers, members of guilds and coöperatives, independent small-holders, and collective settlement groups. Sir Arthur Wauchope, for seven years British High Commissioner for Palestine, speaks of the last-named in the following terms:

These 30,000 Jewish settlers have not only in theory, but in actual practice, solved the problem of the equal distribution of wealth, by the simple, if drastic, method of having none . . . . During the last 20 or 30 years the Jewish immigrants have proved most successful farmers. The villagers generally prefer mixed farming. They own many herds of dairy cattle, the number of their sheep and poultry increases every year. . . . In over 80 well established settlements the land is held in common, and not only the land, but also the produce, the means of production and transport, are all owned by the community as a whole.[i]

There is, of course, no compulsion about these communal settlements, nor any state control (as in Russia). The farms are run by mutual agreement among their members, and communal organization of the settlement’s economic life does not interfere with the freedom of the individual or of the family.

The passing of Palestine from Turkish to British rule, and the policy of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate (grudgingly and halfheartedly though they were applied), have provided the indispensable background for this development. But the decisive factor has been the character of the immigrant, and his consciousness of returning to his homeland. The Balfour Declaration was a call to Jewish honor and dignity, and it was answered with all the sacred zeal latent in an oppressed people.

From the last 20 years of trial and error certain conclusions can be drawn about the possibilities of Palestine in connection with future mass-immigration. Two salient facts emerge.
A Jewish family can live on five acres (20 dunams) of irrigated land — in some cases on even less — provided the scientific principles of modern mixed farming are applied. Many such settlements have been established in recent years, where people live by the labor of their hands, employ no hired labor, and lead lives of modest toil. They have acquired a sense of security; modern social institutions provide them with many amenities of life; they can give their children a sound education, and pay back the investment in easy instalments over a period of 30 years or so. The repayments go to the Jewish Agency, which employs the funds for further colonization. Most of the settlers also find themselves in a position to put by something for a rainy day. In the case of non-irrigable land, some 15 acres (60 dunams) are needed for a family.

It is not easy to establish with precision the area of land available. Much of the land which figures in surveys as “uncultivable” is so described by the Government because account has been taken only of the standards and methods of the average Arab cultivator, and not of modern methods of cultivation. Adding together the large uncultivated area south of the Gaza-Beersheba line, the irrigable free stretches in the Jordan and other valleys, and the Maritime Plain, and allowing for some intensification of agriculture in the hills, it is hardly over-optimistic to say that at least 100,000 more Jewish families can be settled on the land. Experience shows, further, that for every family which settles on the land, three others are absorbed in urban pursuits — industry and commerce. Room can therefore be created for something like 400,000 families, or nearly two million souls. This is likely to be approximately the number of people whom Palestine will in fact have to take care of very rapidly after the war in order to relieve to some extent the terrible misery in the distressed areas of Europe.

But is an appreciable industrial development to be reckoned on in a country with very limited natural resources? Compare Palestine with Switzerland. This is another small country, also poor in natural resources; yet the Swiss people have built up a firmly-founded and varied industry, including engineering, electrical, chemical and textile industries, food products, manufacture of watches and other instruments of precision, which enjoys an excellent reputation in the world market for quality products. The country is prosperous; the standard of life high; all in all, it is one of the most orderly and stable of European democracies. Two causes have contributed to this result. First, the character of the Swiss people, moulded by their hard struggle with nature. In carrying their civilization up to the snow-line, they have had to contend for every inch of ground and extract out of it the maximum of subsistence. A sturdy and disciplined race has grown up, with a deep belief in, and respect for, moral and intellectual values. The second element in Switzerland’s success is her central geographical position, which affords her easy access to the great European markets.

Roughly similar conditions obtain in Palestine. There, too, the population has to face a hard struggle with a soil neglected for centuries, denuded of vegetation, and so eroded that its reconstruction involves great expenditure of energy. But Jews have been trained in the school of adversity, and are patient and persevering. Besides, they have no choice: they must succeed or go under. The Jews also have a long tradition of intellectual training and are learning rapidly to apply it to the problems of their new life. Palestine’s geographical position is even more favorable than that of Switzerland, lying as it does on the sea and at the cross-roads of the great trade routes of the Old World — a bridge between East and West. There are already in Palestine considerable industrial achievements. There are the great electric works on the Jordan; the Dead Sea works near Jericho, which produce potash, bromine, etc., and are capable of further expansion into an important basic heavy chemical industry; oil and soap works, a modern cement factory, and an iron foundry in Haifa; a textile industry (cotton and silk); a clothing industry; canned fruit, jam, furniture, drug, and shoe factories; various small engineering works with modern workshops, in which repairs are now being effectively carried out for the British Army; and a number of minor industries. In all, Palestinian Jewish industry employs today some 35,000 persons and has an annual output valued at some £13,000,000. In the first year of the war it supplied the Army with goods to the value of £1,000,000, and with as much again in the first five months of the second year. This industrial war effort is due entirely to the initiative of the Jews themselves; it could be greatly intensified if afforded reasonable encouragement and opportunity. Just as Palestine could now do much more for the war effort, so after the war it can make — given suitable economic and political conditions — a much greater contribution than so far it has been allowed to make.

The financial responsibility of the Jewish people in connection with the absorption of some millions of new settlers in Palestine will be heavy. Jewish money sunk in Palestine so far amounts to roughly $500,000,000, of which public funds account for some 15 percent while the rest is private investment. This represents an investment of about $1,000 per settler. The immigration and settlement of each 100,000 persons would accordingly require $100,-000,000. Only a fraction of this sum could be expected from voluntary contributions. The financing of such a large-scale operation over a period of years would necessitate the raising of state loans. These would have to be repaid from the revenue of the country. But this would demand a radical modification of the Palestinian fiscal system. The very conspicuous increase in its state income has been due almost entirely to the rapid development initiated by the Jews; but financial control has been vested in the Government of Palestine, and the Jewish Agency has had to rely entirely on private contributions. Today the impoverishment of the Jewish masses of Europe is so complete that one can no longer count on any substantial contributions from European Jewry.

In 1937 a Royal Commission under the late Lord Peel came to the conclusion that the present form of administration in Palestine had outlived its usefulness.[ii] It recommended the partition of the country into two states — a Jewish state in the west and North, embracing the Maritime Plain and Galilee, and an Arab state to the east and south. Without entering here into the question of how far such a second limitation of the area of the Jewish National Home (already truncated in 1922 by the severance of Transjordan) could be justified, I merely record the fact that the Jews, dissatisfied as they were with the area actually allotted to the Jewish state, were nevertheless prepared to try and negotiate a settlement on the basis of the principles laid down in the Peel Report. But the plan, though at first accepted by the British Government, was subsequently abandoned under Arab pressure. Arab states like ‘Iraq and Egypt, which had no locus standi in Palestinian affairs, were first allowed, and later encouraged, to exercise a powerful influence, and the Arabs were lined up in a united front against the Jewish National Home. The Government held a conference in London with the Arabs and the Jews; and, after much manœuvring, it laid down its own policy in the White Paper of May 1939. The principal features of this policy were:

complete stoppage of Jewish immigration after another five years (during which period the total Jewish immigration was not to exceed 75,000); Jewish acquisition of land to be restricted to certain diminutive areas (the first modern case of discrimination against the Jews under the British flag); and the establishment of a “Palestinian” state in which the Arabs, artificially secured of a two-to-one majority, would naturally have administrative control of the country.

This policy was opposed by Labor and Liberal leaders in the House of Commons, and by leading Conservatives, foremost Mr. Churchill, who severely criticized it in his famous speech of May 23, 1939. It was condemned by the Mandates Commission as incompatible with the spirit and letter of the Mandate. In fact, its sole purpose was to appease the Arabs. But events in Egypt, ‘Iraq and elsewhere, and the attitude of many Arabs even in Palestine and Syria during the present war, have sufficiently illustrated the failure also of this dose of appeasement.

The Palestine Administration applied itself to the enforcement of the White Paper of 1939 with an energy and promptitude which contrasted strangely with its hesitations and vacillations in putting the policy of the Mandate into effect during the past 20 years. The Jews have refused, and continue to refuse, to accept the White Paper, since it is contrary to their historic rights and to the spirit of the Balfour Declaration, and is a breach of a solemn agreement concluded by the British Government, sanctioned by British public opinion, by the League of Nations, and by the United States of America.

This attempt to degrade the promise of a National Home for the Jewish people to minority status in an Arab Palestine is mainly due to the peculiar relationship between the British and the Arabs on the one side, and the British and the Jews on the other. The British in Palestine have never clearly explained to the Arab population the real meaning and implications of the Balfour Declaration; at best they have been rather apologetic about the policy they were appointed to carry out; at worst, some of them have been openly hostile to it. Among British administrators and politicians in the Near and Middle East, there is a school of thought which is all too ready to ascribe every difficulty encountered by British policy in Egypt, India or elsewhere to the Jewish National Home in Palestine. The Arabs have been quick to seize on this evidence of weakness, and, with the help of the Axis Powers, have succeeded in whipping up an agitation which at times has assumed threatening dimensions. The Arabs had to be pacified at any price, and the Jews had to foot the bill. To the Palestinian administrator the Arab presents no problems: he is a “native,” and the methods which have proved their efficacy in various backward British dependencies can be applied to him with their usual success. The Jew does not fall into the same category. He has come to Palestine to construct there a modern civilization, and has brought with him a number of new, complex and baffling problems. He is “difficult,” critical, always anxious to be trying something new, and he does not fit into the time-honored framework of administrative routine which has proved serviceable in Nigeria or ‘Iraq.

This is reflected in the attitude of the British Government and of the Palestine Administration towards the Jewish war effort today. At the outbreak of the war, all the available Jewish manpower of Palestine offered itself for war service. Many were men with some training and a thorough knowledge of the country. Technical and industrial assistance could also be made available, and these, too, were offered. But the zeal of the Jews was somewhat blunted by the cold politeness which greeted their readiness to serve. They were allowed, it is true, to enlist in limited numbers in the British Forces, but — so far as fighting units were concerned — only pari passu with Arab volunteers, who showed little disposition to come forward. The “parity” principle was eventually dropped, under pressure of circumstances, a short while ago, and about 10,000 Jews now form part of the Nile Army, as combatants or in auxiliary services. They have given a good account of themselves in Libya, Crete, Greece and Syria, but even now they are not allowed to fight under their own name and flag; and their presence with the British Forces is camouflaged under the description “Palestinian.” One wonders why, shipping difficulties being what they are, the British authorities should find it necessary to bring men and material from Australia and New Zealand instead of utilizing what is available on the spot.

This peculiar and — to the Jews — disheartening attitude is presumably designed to demonstrate to the Arab world that the Jews have no particular status or stake in Palestine. Even after the bitter experiences of the present war this idea seems to be a fixation, ineradicable from certain minds. The vain effort to obliterate the very name of a highly active community in Palestine is a tragic anomaly, due to a total lack, in quarters responsible for Middle Eastern policy, of a real sense of the values involved in the present life-and-death struggle.

In any settlement of Middle Eastern problems, account must be taken of the Arab Nationalist Movement, inspired by pan-Arab ideas on the one side, and by exaggerated local chauvinism on the other. These two aspects are, curiously enough, not mutually exclusive; they coëxist in a state of unstable equilibrium. So far, with the exception of Sa’udi Arabia, Arab Nationalist energies have not been directed into constructive channels; they are devoted to wielding the Sword of Islam rather than the spade or the ploughshare. The movement is emotional, turbulent, made heady by the unexpected political gains which have vicariously accrued to it since the last war. It is fashioning itself on the totalitarian pattern; young Arabs stand in awe before the achievements of Germany and Italy, and still believe in their coming victory.

Groups of Arab students from ‘Iraq, Syria and Palestine were encouraged before the war to make pilgrimages to Berlin, Nuremberg and Rome, and there worship at the Nazi and Fascist shrines. There they were indoctrinated with “modern” ideas, which they have now transplanted into their respective countries. The Rashid Ali revolt (accompanied by a regular pogrom in the best Berlin-Bucharest manner) testifies to the success of Nazi-Fascist teaching, and no doubt rejoices the hearts of the tutors. The Baghdad pogrom (120 killed, 850 wounded) was perpetrated on an ancient native Jewish community resident there for centuries. These happenings, incidentally, belie the idea, so assiduously spread by Arab propagandists, that their people have always lived in harmony with their native Jewish populations, and that their animosity is directed only against incoming “foreign” Jewish immigrants. Of these there are none in Baghdad.

It is to be hoped that this state of mind among the Arabs will prove transitory. A great opportunity awaits the Arab peoples — to rebuild their countries, to bring happiness and prosperity to the oppressed fellaheen. This will be the acid test of Arab Nationalism. Pride in a glorious past is of value only if it serves as a spur to the hard task of rebuilding a happier future.

In the early stages of our work in Palestine there were distinct possibilities of reaching a reasonable modus vivendi with the Arabs. In 1918, at the suggestion of His Majesty’s Government, and with the approval and encouragement of General Allenby, I went to Transjordan on a visit to the Emir Feisal, then Commander-in-Chief of the Arab forces. We had a frank discussion in which I clearly stated the aims and aspirations of the Jews. He expressed himself prepared to give them his full consent, after consultation with his father, then Sheriff of Mecca. A year later, in London, a treaty of friendship was concluded between us, embodying the main points of this conversation in the desert. Lawrence of Arabia — often erroneously quoted as an anti-Zionist — helped in the drafting and negotiation of this treaty and acted as interpreter. Articles III and IV read as follows:

In the establishment of the Constitution and Administration of Palestine all such measures shall be adopted as will afford the fullest guarantees for carrying into effect the British Government’s Declaration of November 2nd, 1917.

All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development.

Developments in Syria prevented the implementation of the Treaty, and after Feisal’s death things in ‘Iraq went from bad to worse. With him an important link between the Jews and the Arab world was broken. Nevertheless, even in Palestine, where relations between Arabs and Jews were of late rather acute, there remained among the Arabs some who were ready to discuss terms of coöperation. After all, though our work in Palestine has for its object primarily the welfare of the Jews, the benefits derived from it by the Arabs are incontestable. The Arab population of Palestine has increased — by natural growth and through immigration — far more rapidly than in Transjordan, or even than in wealthy Egypt. The increase has been greatest in precisely those parts of Palestine where Jewish activity has been most intense. Arab wages are higher in Palestine than in any Arab country, and this accounts for a very considerable Arab influx.

But the Mufti of Jerusalem assumed the leadership of the extreme Nationalist party. He is an implacable enemy of both the Jews and the British. Supported by powerful outside influences (and sometimes even favored by the British Administration), he has gained a great ascendancy over the Palestine Arabs, and, by terrorizing the moderates, has succeeded in frustrating all attempts at reconciliation. Even so, the Mufti has never represented the whole of the Palestine Arabs, and there is some ground for thinking that, had the Government made a determined attempt to implement the Royal Commission’s proposals, many Arabs would have acquiesced in them, and a Jewish state in a part of Palestine might today have been a going concern. I believe I am not too bold in adding that in that case the military situation on this front might have been more favorable than it is.

For Palestine’s strategic importance cannot be forgotten. The countries which stretch from the Euphrates to the Nile constitute a vast and greatly under-populated region. In ancient times they were great centers of civilization. But though they fell on evil days their geographical importance remains unchanged — in fact it is, if anything, greater than ever. These countries are a bridge between the three continents of the Old World. The Suez Canal is the gateway to the Far East and India, and thus, in a sense, one of the approaches to the Pacific; its fate may even affect the interests of the Western Hemisphere. Small wonder, then, that the predatory countries have long sought, and still seek, to obtain a foothold in this part of the world. They will continue to regard it with covetous eyes so long as it remains weak, undeveloped, unstable, and a prey to political intrigue. Once these countries have been rebuilt, and raised to a higher level of culture and administration, this undesirable situation will show a rapid change for the better. Their reconstruction, however, cannot be brought about by capitalist exploitation, but only through the energies and efforts of their own inhabitants. On the first stages along this road they will certainly need to be guided by nations like England or America; in return, I believe that a Jewish Palestine will be able to contribute much to their progress and prosperity. But if Palestine plays such a rôle there is a countervailing obligation on the Arabs to acknowledge Jewish rights there.

Whatever the Arabs gained — and it was a great deal — as a result of the last war; whatever they may gain — and they have already gained something, and will gain more — as a result of this one, they owe, and will owe, entirely to the democracies. It is therefore for the democracies to proclaim the justice of the Jewish claim to their own commonwealth in Palestine. There is nothing new in this principle. It was implicit in the Balfour Declaration; it was reaffirmed by the Peel Commission. And we have now acquired the invaluable experience of the last 20 years, which has proved beyond doubt that when the Jew is reunited with the soil of Palestine energies are released in him which have been stored up and suppressed for thousands of years — energies which, given an outlet, can create values which may be of service even to richer and more fortunate countries.

To sum up. The Arabs will greatly profit from a British victory by obtaining independence in Syria and Libya, and as large a measure of national unity as they themselves are capable of achieving. On the other hand, it is essential to obtain such a settlement in Palestine as will help to solve the Jewish problem — one of the most disturbing problems in the world. The Arabs must, therefore, be clearly told that the Jews will be encouraged to settle in Palestine, and will control their own immigration; that here Jews who so desire will be able to achieve their freedom and self-government by establishing a state of their own, and ceasing to be a minority dependent on the will and pleasure of other nations.

In that state there will be complete civil and political equality of rights for all citizens, without distinction of race or religion, and, in addition, the Arabs will enjoy full autonomy in their own internal affairs. But if any Arabs do not wish to remain in a Jewish state, every facility will be given to them to transfer to one of the many and vast Arab countries.

Considering the strategic and economic importance of Palestine, the inclusion of the Jewish state within the British Commonwealth of Nations would be to the interest of both. But we should also be ready, if necessary, to consider joining, under proper safeguards, in federation with Arab states.

A Jewish state in Palestine would be more than merely the necessary means of securing further Jewish immigration and development. It is a moral need and postulate, and it would be a decisive step towards normality and true emancipation. I believe that after the war Jews everywhere can gain in status and security only through the rise of a Jewish state, and this would be especially the case if that state is a part of the British Commonwealth. Anti-Semites, determined to reduce the Jews to slavery or drive them into exile, have not waited for the excuse of the establishment of a Jewish state in order to proceed against them. The latest manifestation of Nazi ingenuity is the decree by which every Jew under Nazi rule must bear on his breast a socalled “badge of shame” — the Shield of David. We wear it with pride. The Shield of David is too ancient and too sacred a symbol to be susceptible of degradation under the pagan Swastika. Hallowed by uncounted ages of suffering, of martyrdom patiently and unrevengefully borne, it will yet shine untarnished over Zion’s gates, long after the horrors of our present night are forgotten in the light of the new day that is to come.
[i] Address delivered at the Overseas League, London, April 8, 1941.
[ii] Editor’s Note: See “The Palestine Report: Alternatives to Partition,” by Viscount Samuel, and “The Arabs and the Future of Palestine,” by H. St. J. Philby, both in FOREIGN AFFAIRS, October 1937.

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