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Great Britain, The Jews And Palestine (1936)

By Samuel Landman

The author of this pamphlet is a well-known English Zionist. He was Hon. Secretary of the Joint Zionist Council of the United Kingdom in 1912, Joint Editor of the "Zionist" in 1913-14 and Author of pamphlets on "History of Zionism" and "Zionism, Its Organisation and Institutions" published during the war. From 1917 to 1922 he was Solicitor and Secretary to the Zionist Organisation. He is now Legal Adviser to the New Zionist Organisation.


As the Balfour Declaration originated in the War Cabinet, was consummated in the Foreign Office and is being implemented in the Colonial Office, and as some of those responsible for it have passed away or have retired since its migrations from Department to Department, there is necessarily some confusion or misunderstanding as to its raison d' etre and importance to the parties primarily concerned. It would, therefore, seem opportune to recapitulate briefly the circumstances, the inner history and incidents that eventually led to the British Mandate for Palestine.

Those who assisted at the birth of the Balfour Declaration were few in number. This makes it important to bring into proper relief the services of one who, owing above all to his own modesty, has hitherto remained in the background. His services however should take their proper place in the front rank alongside of those Englishmen of vision whose services are more widely known, including the late Sir Mark Sykes, the Rt. Hon. W. Ormsby Gore, The Rt. Hon. Sir Ronald Graham, General Sir George Macdonagh and Mr. G. H. Fitzmaurice.

In the early years of the War great efforts were made by the Zionist Leaders, Dr. Weizmann and Mr. Sokolow, chiefly through the late Mr. C.P. Scott of the Manchester Guardian, and Sir Herbert Samuel, to induce the Cabinet to espouse the cause of Zionism.

These efforts were, however, without avail. In fact, Sir Herbert Samuel has publicly stated that he bad no share in the initiation of the negotiations which led to the Balfour Declaration. [1] The actual initiator was Mr. James A. Malcolm and the following is a brief account of the circumstances in which the negotiations took place.

During the critical days of 1916 and of the impending defection of Russia, Jewry, as a whole, was against the Czarist regime and had hopes that Germany, if victorious, would in certain circumstances give them Palestine. Several attempts to bring America into the War on the side of the Allies by influencing influential Jewish opinion were made and had failed. Mr. James A. Malcolm, who was already aware of German pre-war efforts to secure a foothold in Palestine through the Zionist Jews and of the abortive Anglo-French démarches at Washington and New York; and knew that Mr. Woodrow Wilson, for good and sufficient reasons, always attached the greatest possible importance to the advice of a very prominent Zionist (Mr. Justice Brandeis, of the U.S. Supreme Court); and was in close touch with Mr. Greenberg, Editor of the Jewish Chronicle (London); and knew that several important Zionist Jewish leaders had already gravitated to London from the Continent on the qui vive awaiting events; and appreciated and realised the depth and strength of Jewish national aspirations; spontaneously took the initiative, to convince first of all Sir Mark Sykes, Under Secretary to the War Cabinet, and afterwards Monsieur Georges Picot, of the French Embassy in London, and Monsieur Goût of the Quai d'Orsay (Eastern Section), that the best and perhaps the only way (which proved so to be) to induce the American President to come into the War was to secure the co-operation of Zionist Jews by promising them Palestine, and thus enlist and mobilise the hitherto unsuspectedly powerful forces of Zionist Jews in America and elsewhere in favour of the Allies on a quid pro quo contract basis. Thus, as will be seen, the Zionists, having carried out their part, and greatly helped to bring America in, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 was but the public confirmation of the necessarily secret "gentleman's" agreement of 1916 made with the previous knowledge, acquiescence and/or approval of the Arabs and of the British, American, French and other Allied Governments, and not merely a voluntary altruistic and romantic gesture on the part of Great Britain as certain people either through pardonable ignorance assume or unpardonable illwill would represent or rather misrepresent.

Sir Mark Sykes was Under-Secretary to the War Cabinet specially concerned with Near Eastern affairs, and, although at the time scarcely acquainted with the Zionist movement, and unaware of the existence of its leaders, he had the flair to respond to the arguments advanced by Mr. Malcolm as to the strength and importanee of this movement in Jewry, in spite of the fact that many wealthy and prominent international or semi-assimilated Jews in Europe and America were openly or tacitly opposed to it (Zionist movement), or timidly indifferent. MM. Picot and Goût were likewise receptive.

An interesting account of the negotiations carried on in London and Paris, and subsequent developments, has already appeared in the Jewish press and need not be repeated here in detail, except to recall that immediately after the "gentleman's" agreement between Sir Mark Sykes, authorised by the War Cabinet, and the Zionist leaders, cable facilities through the War Office, the Foreign Office and British Embassies, Legations, etc., were given to the latter to communicate the glad tidings to their friends and organisations in America and elsewhere, and the change in official and public opinion as reflected in the American press in favour of joining the Allies in the War, was as gratifying as it was surprisingly rapid.

The Balfour Declaration, in the words of Professor H. M. V. Temperley, [2] was "a definite contract between the British Government and Jewry". The main consideration given by the Jewish people (represented at the time by the leaders of the Zionist Organisation) was their help in bringing President Wilson to the aid of the Allies. Moreover, officially interpreted at the time by Lord Robert Cecil as "Judea for the Jews" in the same sense as "Arabia for the Arabs"; the Declaration sent a thrill throughout the world. The prior Sykes-Picot Treaty of 1916, according to which Northern Palestine was to be politically detached and included in Syria (French sphere), was subsequently, at the instance of the Zionist leaders, amended [3] so that the Jewish National Home should comprise the whole of Palestine in accordance with the promise previously made to them for their services by the British, Allied and American Governments and to give full effect to the Balfour Declaration, the terms of which had been settled and known to all Allied and associated belligerents, including Arabs, before they were made public.

In Germany, the value of the bargain to the Allies, apparently, was duly and carefully noted. In his "Through Thirty Years" Mr. Wickham Steed, in a chapter appreciative of the value of Zionist support in America and elsewhere to the Allied cause, says General Ludendorff is alleged to have said after the War, that: "The Balfour Declaration was the cleverest thing done by the Allies in the way of propaganda, and that he wished Germany had thought of it first." [4] As a matter of fact, this was said by Ludendorff to Sir Alfred Mond (afterwards Lord Melchett), soon after the War. The fact that it was Jewish help that brought U.S.A. into the War on the side of the Allies has rankled ever since in German - especially Nazi-minds, and has contributed in no small measure to the prominence which anti-Semitism occupies in the Nazi programme.

An outstanding consideration, though not forming part of the bargain, was the great potential value of Zionism in future as an instrument of British foreign policy. (In 1917 a Jewish Department was opened in the Ministry of Information and several Zionists were in its service.)

But Zionism in its second stage continued to be under the Foreign Office only till 1921, when the Cairo Conference, under Mr. Winston Churchill, transferred the case of Palestine to the Colonial Office, no doubt because that Office is the only Government Department with experience of controlling overseas Colonies and fostering their development. It is worth noting here that this is the concern of Great Britain only and the views, if any, of foreign countries in regard to such colonial development are of no great moment. The case of Palestine, however, differs entirely from that of any British Colony, or even of other British Mandated territories. Firstly, by its historical associations, Palestine is of interest to all foreign countries. Secondly, its growth is at all times of intense interest to the Jewish inhabitants of the countries of the world. Today, in view of what is happening to Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, the speeding up of Palestinian development is of poignant necessity in almost all foreign countries, which the Foreign Office would obviously be better able to appreciate. Thirdly, the constitution of Palestine is sui generis in that Great Britain is the trustee appointed by the League of Nations to administer Palestine for the benefit, not only of the present population, but of the Jewish people as a whole, who are to "reconstitute their National Home". [5] There is no precedent in Colonial Office experience for the case of Palestine, and what happens in and about Palestine can, and does, have important repercussions in foreign countries, and it would, therefore, be a very useful step if the Foreign Office could be kept fully informed of such repercussions.

Moreover, the fact that the very existence of the future of Jewish Palestine depends, from the point of view of international law, on a Mandate of the League of Nations has powerfully contributed towards making the Jews everywhere into strong supporters of the League of Nations. In France, for instance, it is well known that the Jews are among the leaders of the pro-League policy. In other lands it is equally true, though less well known. For instance, the views of such a man as Dr. Einstein -a convinced Zionist believer in the League- count heavily in the land where he now dwells - the U.S.A.

The Mandates Commission of the League has taken its duties of supervising the administration of the mandated territories very seriously. The Minutes of the Mandates Commission relating to Palestine are printed almost in extenso in Zionist periodicals all over the world and carefully studied. The undecided British attitude recorded in these Minutes has had an unfortunate effect on Jewish minds, especially in America. Faith in British promises and in the value of the League has been shaken. The three massacres (1920, 1921, 1929) of Jews in Palestine under British protection have naturally given very severe shocks to Jewish opinion.

In 1916 and 1917 the Jewish people were led to expect British help in building up an autonomous Jewish Commonwealth. [6] This aspiration has been the lodestar of Jewry amidst the gloom of persecution. The Jewish problem, which was already serious in 1897 at the time of the founding of the Zionist Organisation by Theodor Herzl, has since become progressively acute and pressing. The recent letter of resignation of Mr. James G. McDonald from the post of High Commissioner for Refugees (Jewish and Other) from Germany, throws some light on the tragic position of the Jews and urgently calls for infinitely greater effort and facilities for them to go there than the High Commissioner for Palestine would seem to realise or afford. A people numbering sixteen millions cannot be crushed out of existence, but is nevertheless not allowed to live or breathe freely. Political and racial hatred, religious and economic persecution, harass them in the lands where dwell their masses, viz., in Central and Eastern Europe. What is it that keeps them from adopting, in the bitterness of their despair, a Samsonlike attitude and attempting to pull down the pillars of civilisation? Only one thing - the hope of a Jewish Palestine. Remove that hope and millions of Jewish youth may be driven into the arms of Bolshevism, Communism and other forms of destructive activity.

The announcement that Palestine, the National Home of the Jews, is to have a Parliament with a statutory Arab majority is profoundly moving and disturbing the Jewish people. They realise that the Palestine Government cannot act without the authority of the British Government. They devoutly pray and rightly demand, therefore, that like the Passfield White Paper of 1930 it might be deferred indefinitely or abandoned in accordance with the spirit and letter of the Balfour Declaration. The letter of Colonel Wedgwood, M.P., in The Times of January 3rd, 1936, [7] is an admirable and forceful exposure of the unnecessary yet alarming situation which cannot be remedied by any such device as "cantonisation" of Jews and Arabs recently suggested by Mr. Archer Cust, late Assistant Secretary to the Palestine Government.

The projected Legislative Council in the eyes of World Jewry would, on the face of it, certainly lend insidiously and effectively to undermine and sabotage the practical realisation of their high national ideals. Since the promise of 1917 they regard Great Britain as the appointed trustee of Palestine on behalf of the Jewish people all the world over and not only the handful of Jews who were in Palestine at the time. The Jews consider, and properly, that Great Britain promised them in 1917 help, not hindrance, facilities, not obstacles, co-operation, not sabotage, in the rebuilding of Palestine as their National Home. They rightly regard a Parliament with a dominating and openly hostile Arab majority, able to impede the Jewish development of the land, as probably a thoughtless but undoubtedly a direct breach of trust by the Trustee Government.

Mr. L. S. Amery, M.P., who was one of the Under-Secretaries to the War Cabinet, and afterwards Secretary of State for the Dominions and the Colonies, writing on the subject of "A Council for Palestine" in The Times of January 10th, 1936, states:

"It is of the essence of the mandate that the Jewish population of Palestine is there, and is entitled to develop, as a matter of internationally recognized and affirmed right, and not as a matter of sufferance by the Arab population, just as the Arab population is also there as of right. The two communities are equal in right and, under existing conditions, no system of representation which gives a greater voting power to one community than another is consistent with the spirit and purpose of the mandate."

Sir Archibald Sinclair, M.P., from another platform of politics, endorses this view:

"In accepting the Mandate, we undertook the responsibility for establishing the Jewish national home as well as the duty of safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine. To devolve a share of our responsibilities for the government of Palestine upon a Legislative Council, the statutory majority of whose elected members would be pledged to do all in their power to hamper the Government in establishing the Jewish national home, would be to open up a dreary vista of racial discord and increasing friction which would endanger, or at least delay, the accomplishment of the primary purpose of the Mandate. If any part of our responsibilities under the Mandate is to be shared with elected representatives of the people of Palestine it surely cannot be right to give a statutory majority on the proposed council to those who repudiate the Mandate and demand its repeal".
-- The Times, Feb. 5th, 1936.

In a debate in the House of Lords, on 26th February, 1936, the projected Legislative Council was opposed by Lord Snell, The Earl of Lytton, the Marquess of Lothian, Viscount Elibank, Lord Jessel, Lord Melchett, the Earl of Mansfield, Viscount Cecil and Lord Marley. It was supported only by the Government spokesman, Lord Plymouth.

In the opinion of Lord Cecil and General Smuts, the League of Nations and a Jewish Palestine are the two greatest positive results of the Great War. The two things are interdependent to a large extent. A Government that has let the world understand clearly that Great Britain stands unshakably by the League cannot logically do otherwise with regard to Zionism and Palestine.

Having regard to all the circumstances, the New Zionist Organisation [8] is convinced that the following measures are indispensable if the Balfour Declaration is to be implemented as intended and solemnly promised:

  • Abandonment or at least postponement sine die of the legislative Council and other proposed legislation contrary to the spirit of the Balfour Declaration;
  • Strengthening the Department of the Foreign Office dealing with foreign and League of Nations views regarding Palestine, Jews and Zionism.
  • Declaration by His Majesty's Government of their intention to implement fully the Balfour Declaration in order to put art end to Arab agitation by interested parties.
  • A promise of Government facilities for a Plan of Settlement of at least one million Jews in Palestine and Transjordan within the next ten years.

The ultimate aim of all these steps is the establishment of a Jewish Commonwealth which could properly seek admission as a seventh Dominion of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

To appreciate adequately the above considerations, it may be considered desirable to give a resume of recent developments in Zionist Jewry.

It is not generally realised what devastation the Great War and the post-War economic crisis have brought to the Jewish nation. When mighty Empires have been shaken to their social and political foundations it is not surprising that a weak, scattered and homeless people should have been brought nigh to destruction. The strongest centre of Jewry, Russia, from which for several generations emanated all that was deeply national in modern Jewry, has disappeared. The Russo-Jewish reservoir that provided the intellectual leaders of Jewry in our own time - great Scholars and learned Rabbis, spiritual leaders like Ahad Haam and Bialik, political leaders such as Jabotinsky, Sokolow and Weizmann, and all the pioneers of Palestine Colonisation in the last 50 years - has been destroyed, some say for ever. In the lands of Western Europe and America, it was again the Russo-Jewish immigrants or their children who kept alive the flame of Jewish national urge and who even today mainly provide the stream of men and money which is directed to Palestine. In the other lands of Eastern and Central Europe where Jewish masses congregate, the economic crisis has reduced them to a condition of appalling and unbelievable wretchedness.

Into this unrelieved gloom, the Balfour Declaration penetrated like a beam flood-lighting the vision of a home, the prospect of which has kept the nation alive. It is no exaggeration to say that the Declaration of the British Government in November, 1917, that "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish National Home" - was the salvation of Jewry after the War. The subsequent stages of the implementing of this promise, the decision of the Allied Powers in San Remo in 1920, to place in British hands the mandate for Palestine, in order to create the Jewish National home in Palestine, the actual juridical mandate approved by the Council of the League of Nations, in July 1922, and the growth of the Jewish Settlement in Palestine under British administration in the last twelve years, are familiar enough. What is not so well known however, is the steady growth of profound dissatisfaction among the Jewish masses, during the last ten years, in regard to Zionism and the Jewish National Home.

What are the main causes for this profound dissatisfaction?

First and foremost, the masses feel that their leaders have "let them down", have failed to utilise the wonderful opportunity given them by the British Government in particular and the non-Jewish world in general. Their vision and hope of a National home as outlined first by Dr. Pinsker in his "Auto-Emancipation" (1882), then more clearly by the Founder of Zionism -Theodor Herzl- in his "Jewish State", in 1896, and finally after the War by the Zionist leaders at the Peace Conference, have appeared to fade and in their stead they see the sad spectre of another Jewish minority settlement in Palestine. It is not that they expected a fully equipped Jewish State to have been achieved already. What they cannot forgive however is the acceptance, even though obviously under moral duress, by their leaders of the position in which even the distant prospect of complete national regeneration in a National home seems to have faded out. It was mainly for the acceptance of this situation that Sir Alfred Mond (afterwards Lord Melchett) resigned from the Jewish Agency and that Dr. Weizmann failed to obtain re-election as President of the Zionist Organisation in 1931 and 1933, in spite of his signal services to the movement for twenty years or more. And today among the Jewish masses in Poland, hundreds of thousands feel so profoundly that they have been deceived by the Zionist Organisation and its present leaders that they have decided to join the New Zionist Organisation. 713,000 Zionists went to the poll and elected delegates for the Congress held in Vienna, in September, 1935, for this purpose; and the numbers of active supporters are swelling daily; whereas the voters (including plural voters) represented at the Congress of the old Zionist Organisation at Lucerne in August, 1935, were 632,000.

Another factor which has given rise to profound misgivings amongst the Jewish masses is the growth of left wing Socialism in Palestine, with the spread of extreme doctrines. The blame for this is laid in the first instance at the door of the responsible leaders of the Zionist Organisation. [9] Since the end of the war they have permitted or fostered, by means of liberal subsidies from Zionist funds, the growth of the Poale Zion, until it developed several most unpleasant hypertrophic features of which Dictatorship of labour, class war, and frequent strikes are the most obvious. The predominance of Poale Zion leaders in the present Executive of the Zionist Organisation has undermined the confidence of the Jewish masses - who are far more Nationalist than Socialist at heart.

The rise of Hitler to power in Germany, with its ruthless forms of anti-Semitism, has driven home the Zionism of Herzl and given a tremendous impetus to Jewish national feeling all over the world. A few years ago, the view, adopted by Sir Herbert Samuel in 1921, that a smallish Jewish model settlement in Palestine living on healthy national lines would provide spiritual sustenance for the vast majority of Jewry outside Palestine still had a good few adherents, but today, German anti-Semitism and its repercussions in other lands, has all but given this doctrine its coup de grace. Every Jew now sees clearly that without a physical and political as well as a spiritual centre, Jewry stands very little chance of survival.
This conviction has spread much more rapidly than certain Zionist leaders, who have lost touch with the masses, realise. The Jewish land hunger has grown immeasurably and the Jewish masses feel that Palestine without Transjordan is far too small for the urgent and imperative need of Jewish emigration. Transjordan was originally part of the mandated territory of Palestine to which the Jewish National Home applied. Hence one of the other main points in the platform of the new Zionist Organisation is the opening of Transjordan to Jewish immigration.

Another factor which has estranged the masses of Jewry from the old Zionist Organisation is its attitude to the Jewish Religion. [10] The old Zionist Organisation declares that Religion is a private affair of the individual. The masses of Jewry however instinctively feel that this attitude does less than justice to the ideals of social justice contained in the Bible and the Prophets and crystallised in Jewish tradition through the many centuries. This precious heritage they feel should not be thrown away. Was it not their religion which through the ages has been the source of their invincible fortitude and preserved them as a Nation? Moreover, realising that no civilisation is possible without an established form of religion, they have rallied round the New Zionist Organisation which does justice to the Jewish tradition.

The New Zionist Organisation has absorbed the Zionist Revisionists. This party was founded in 1925 by Vladimir Jabotinsky to resist the tendencies towards defeatism and decay, to keep alive the Herzlian tradition and to resist the growing dictatorship and arrogance of the Palestine Labour Zionists. The party grew rapidly, and by 1933 at the Zionist Congress in Prague, it was already second in size of the parties within the organisation. The Leader of the Revisionists has naturally become the President of the New Zionist Organisation. This choice indicates recognition by the masses of Jewry that the pressing need of the time is to strengthen the moral and political foundations of the movement.

Born in Russia about fifty-five years ago, Jabotinsky threw himself from early youth into the Zionist movement. Almost alone in Russia in 1915, he advocated Jewish support for the Allied Cause (in spite of the terribly unjust treatment of the Jews by the Russians), because he saw in an Allied Victory the hope of a Jewish Palestine. He conceived the idea of a Jewish Legion to fight for Palestine on the side of the Allies and carried it through in the teeth of the strongest opposition, including that of many of his own friends. [11] Had it not been for this opposition it is practically certain that he would have rallied a large army of Jewish soldiers to lead the capture of Palestine and would have been the Jewish Garibaldi. He was in Palestine attached to the Jewish battalion under Lord Allenby and was soon recognised by the British authorities as a fearless Jewish leader and defender of Jewish rights. He resisted the authorities in Palestine during the Arab attacks on Jews in 1920, was sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment in the historie fortress of Acre, but was set free after a few months. This episode in his career has naturally endeared him to the masses of Jewry, and the prohibition of his re-entry into Palestine has had a similar stimulating effect.

What are the prospects of the New Zionist Organisation? The break-up of the Zionist Centre party Conference at Cracow in 1935 indicates clearly what was already evident to the clear-sighted, viz., that there are only two parties to the struggle in Zionism - the Socialist Left and the Revisionist Right.
The Left is now suffering for some of the sins committed during the last ten years under the influence of the heady wine of power and office. Almost every recent Jewish visitor to Palestine has returned thoroughly disappointed with the regime of the Left. A sound Jewish instinct tells them that advanced Socialism or Communism -whatever its advantages in the remoter future- is entirely unsuitable for a nascent Jewish National Home.
The New Zionists emphasise the great traditions of England - fair play, recognition of the principle of nationality, free but orderly democracy, and especially respect for those who stand up for their rights.
The New Zionist Organisation is pro-British to the core. It is the rallying centre of Jewry in its crisis. It has the Jewish youth on its side, enrolled in subsidiary organisations such as the Betar, named after Captain Trumpeldor, a Jewish hero, who died fighting in Palestine in 1919. Young Jews and Jewesses in Eastern Europe are taught through this organisation to prepare themselves for Palestine not only in Hebrew and agriculture but also in team work, self-defence and obedience to leadership. Reports from Eastern Europe attest the fact that Jabotinsky is acclaimed by hundreds of thousands of Jewish people and indicate that the New Zionist Organisation will be, if it is not already, larger, as well as more truly representative of Jewry, than any other body now in existence.

Steps are being taken to convene as soon as practicable a National Assembly of Zionist Jewry representing the larger part of articulate Jewry. Every Jew or Jewess over 20, if in favour of the Zionist solution of the Jewish problem, has the right to vote for the election of delegates to this Assembly. The franchise is not acquired by purchase but is true to its name, viz., free and dependent on political convictions only. At the same time a well founded plan of large-scale colonisation for settling 1 1/2 - 2 million Jews in Palestine and Transjordan over a period of ten years is being prepared by experts for submission to the Assembly. As the pressure on Jewry grows, the numbers of the New Zionist Organisation will continue to increase, for it is based on the firm conviction that the Jewish problem is a world problem, and that an untrammelled Jewish National Home on both sides of the Jordan is the only and inevitable solution.

There is overwhelming evidence that if they were allowed to do so by the British Government, Trans-Jordan Arabs (comparatively very few in number) are most anxious to sell their surplus and uncultivated lands to Jewish immigrants at very much lower prices than the Palestine Arab proprietors are in the circumstances demanding and obtaining today for theirs.

The British Empire can afford to wait or hasten slowly; but it will be conceded that in their tragic plight the choice before Jewry is either speedily to rebuild Palestine or slowly to perish in the Diaspora. The words of the traditional Jewish toast - "Next year in Jerusalem" (Leshana Habaa Birushalayim) - are therefore no longer conventional words, but inspiriting and instinct with meaning and action and must assuredly appeal to the sense of humanity and fair play of the British Government and people.


  1. "England and Palestine", lecture delivered by Sir Herbert Samuel, published by the Jewish Historical Society, London (February, 1936).
  2. History of the Peace Conference in Paris, 1920, volume 6, page 173.
  3. Franco-British Convention, December 1920 (Cmd. II9S).
  4. Volume 2, page 392.
  5. These are the actual words of the Mandate for Palestine - see App. II
  6. The Manchester Guardian may be quoted as typical of the interpretation placed on the Balfour Declaration. In a leading article of the 10th November, 1917, it wrote as follows:
    "What it means is that, assuming our military successes to be continued and the whole of Palestine brought securely under our control, then at the conclusion of peace our deliberate policy will be to encourage in every way in our power Jewish immigration, to give full security, and no doubt a large measure of local autonomy, to the Jewish immigrants, with a view to the ultimate establishment of a Jewish State." The views of the leaders of British public opinion were collected and published as a brochure prepared by the Ministry of Information under the title "Great Britain, Palestine and the Jews" in December, 1917.
  7. Reprinted in full on pp. 18--20.
  8. Inaugurated at a Congress held in Vienna in September, 1935; attended by 350 Zionist Delegates from 34 countries, representing 713,000 voters, which is the largest number of Jewish voters ever recorded.
  9. Thus it was the predominance of the Left at the Lucerne Congress in August, 1935, which secured the election of Dr. Weizmann as President.
  10. The Chief Rabbi, Dr. J. H. Hertz, stated (according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency) at a public meeting in London on the 23rd February, 1936, that "religious teaching is being blotted out in the Jewish schools.
    Thus, while funds which make possible Zionist schools come from Jews alone, these schools and settlements are not Jewish and still, except for the language, lack Jewish spirit and teaching. In fact, in some schools, Socialism,’ not Judaism, is the object of tuition
  11. If required, thousands of Jews would come forward today under his leadership to serve in the forces of the Mandatory Power.




2nd November, 1917.


I have much pleasure in conveying to you on behalf of His Majesty's Government the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations, which has been submitted to and approved by the Cabinet:
"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours 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." I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely,


Extract from Preamble to, and Specific Articles of, the Palestine Mandate referring to the Jewish National Home.

1. Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting info effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might 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; and

Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.

2. 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.

4. 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 organisation, so lang 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.

6. 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 Artide 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

7. The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.

11. 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.

22. English, Arabic and Hebrew shall be the official languages of Palestine.
Any statement or inscription in Arabic on stamps or money in Palestine shall be repeated in Hebrew, and any statement or inscription in Hebrew shall be repeated in Arabic.

23. The Administration of Palestine shall recognise the holy days of the respective communities in Palestine as legal days of rest for the members of such communities.

* This phrase rules out any interpretation of "Jewish National Home" other than as laid down in the Preamble, which speaks of "reconstituting their national home".


The following letter from Colonel J. C. Wedgwood, M.P., appeared in the "Times" of Friday, January 3rd, 1936.


The plan of the Legislative Council for Palestine has been announced in Jerusalem. There is time to criticise the proposals before any enactment is made by Orders in Council. If this start towards home rule is not to be made on dangerous lines that criticism should come now. The objections of the Jews and their determination to boycott the council may delay the scheme. It is the proposals themselves on which I would comment, and from the British point of view.

First, one might judge from Egypt that it is a mistake, especially just now, to give the impression that one yields to threats of violence. The results of the 1923 Constitution in Egypt are so manifest that one need not labour the point. The connexion between Egypt and Palestine is so close; the regrets for the Constitution granted to Iraq are so keen. Surrender to bluff is not at the moment popular.

Then the proposed machinery gives the impression of having been devised without sufficient regard to practice and experience elsewhere in the Empire. No one who knows community representation in India approves of that method of election; it leaves minorities helpless and encourages racial and religious bitterness. Why impose it on Palestine, where all are agreed that the vital issue is to get Jew and Arab to be more friendly?

The essence of the English system is that the M.P. represents all sorts, and is as anxious to please those who might, as he is to please those who do, vote for him. The recent crisis is proof thereof, so anxious were we all to get the liberal vote at the next election - so eager to respond to the protests of our correspondents. This, as Mr. Baldwin has pointed out, is democracy; and it only works well because, with a common electoral roll, we have to see the other fellow's point of view. With these community rolls, election depends on beating the community drum, and the most vigorous denunciation of the other communities.

The position of a statutory minority, which can never hope for posts, preferment, or power, is particularly unfair and quite un-English. Probably Jews object to this obvious result more than to community representation itself; for it is only the Jews of England and America who understand the virtues of the common electoral roll and the vices of community isolation.

We have seen from India that once community representation is started, reversion to the unifying English system becomes impossible.

In Kenya there is an official majority on the council to preserve the control by the Colonial Office and by Parliament. In Palestine there is to be no official majority. Instead we are to rely on the balancing of the rival communities - so many Moslems, Christians, Jews, officials, possibly Germans. This is "divide and rule" - a "rule" which leads to more inefficiency and exasperation than any other. We had just that "rule" in Cyprus; for 50 years we ruled on the Governor's casting vote; and it only ended when the Christians stormed Government House and the Constitution went up in the flames.

Many other questions arise, such as control over the purse, over education, over police, over public works, over loans, over municipalities. These are not matters which solve themselves on the march, and we have had much experience in Colonies both less and more civilized than is Palestine.
Malta, Guiana, Newfoundland, Ceylon provide precious evidence on the difficulties that will arise. Would it not be wise to use the time before the Palestine Constitution starts to have on all these matters the mature consideration of a committee, which need never visit Palestine?

The practical experience of the British Empire is worth taking into account, worth a little delay, and no reflection upon the necessarily limited experience of those who have framed these proposals.

I am, Sir, yours, &c.,


Committee on History of Parliament,
I, Queen Anne's Gate Buildings,
Dartmouth Street, S.W.I.


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