De Haas Comments on Dr. Pritchett’s Report
Menu JTA Search

De Haas Comments on Dr. Pritchett’s Report

Download PDF for this date

(Communication to the Editor)


Nathaniel Baron Rothschild was fond of a rather quaint phrase of his own invention “considering the authority whence this comes.” Its appositeness occurred to me in reading Dr. Pritchett’s report to the Carnegie Endowment as quoted in the “Times” on Monday.

Dr. Pritchett was formally head of M. I. T. and one of Boston’s shrewdest and most responsible men, who has all Massachusetts at his finger tips, after glancing at the report said to me: “it is the kind of report one could expect from Dr. Pritchett.” The question is, therefore, of Dr. Pritchett’s authority. He has not, as far as I know, hitherto been regarded as an economist specially qualified to pass judgment upon the possible evolution and development of any country, be it Palestine or Paraguay. There are, indeed, very few men in the whole world who are qualified scientifically to give such judgments.

As distinct from opinions which anyone may indulge in, the report, as quoted, betrays no particular knowledge of the economic possibilities, mineral resources, commercial or trade possibilities of Palestine. There is a considerable literature on that subject that goes back for a half century and that includes public and private documents prepared for and by the British government, not to say the Turkish and German governments and including reports prepared for the Standard Oil Company and a number of other American organizations deeply and whole-heartedly interested in business.

I do not propose to elaborate upon this phase at this time except to say as against Dr. Pritchett, there is a world of data that from the economic point of view and from the point of view of those who understand that states are built up by enterprise, commerce, trade and industry, are well worth studying. That Palestine is being developed invertedly does not alter the fact that Dr. Pritchett made a report for the Carnegie Endowment, which made his opinions “first class news.” Although I am an omnivorous reader I do not recall that the Carnegie Endowment has anywhere been particularly interested in the economic development of any country.

The tone of the report, however, is not without interest. From the day the Balfour Declaration was issued it has begun the fashion in certain circles to express dislike of the Jews by patting the Arabs on the back. It is just as well to recall the fact that between November 2, 1917 and January, 1919, an effort was made by an American non-Jewish group, aided by Mr. Henry Morgenthau, to bring about the condition by which all the subject graces living in Asia Minor, from the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf, should come under the tutelage of an American semi-philanthropic organization. Although it was “nipped in the bud” one result of this was the celebrated King-Crane report drawn up in the summer of 1919 and to this the Pritchett report is perhaps unconsciously a friendly echo.

For the enlightenment of American readers I may state that during my fairly long sojourn in Palestine, Arabs, Englishmen, and Jews frequently alluded to the fact that the Deux et machina” of the anti-Zionist agitation in Palestine was an American non-Jewish lady resident in Haifa.

We may expect some repercussion in Palestine from the Pritchett report because a good deal of the Christian Syrian opposition to Zionism has been American in origin. I speak here where of I know. I spent a good deal of the time while I was in Palestine, in meeting all sorts of types of non-Jews and I do not hesitate to say that a great deal of the agitation against Zionism is fictitious. In many cases it had not even expressed the real opinion of its exponents. It certainly did not express the judgment views and interests of the half dozen men who by their wealth, tradition and position can be regarded properly as the exponents of Arab opinion. Indeed, I found, and it represents the consolation for a life time of effort, that in Palestine the Jew stands upon a unique ground-he has the whole-hearted respect of the Moslem Arab. The world contempt for the Jew was only mouthed-it is an unmistakable language-by Christian Syrians and in most cases by the holders of American passports and even these gentry, as often as not, end their tirades by offering to sell out “lock, stock and barrel” Now, I do not say that there are not Arabs in Palestine. Christians and Moslems who do not in some measure feel crowded by the increase of the Jewish population, but it does not represent a large number of a serious element.

The whole picture of the Orient and particularly of Palestine has been falsely drawn for public consumption so long that one could understand that fear, which Mrs. Oliphant, the novelist, expressed thirty years ago, of chimney stacks and railways defacing the Land of Promise.

The greatest speed I ever made in an automobile was with a seventy-five year old Arab sheik, whose home was East of Hebron and who demanded that the chauffeur “step on the gas,” as we made the fairly dizzy and, at high speed, dangerous ride along the often narrow and always winding road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and beyond Hebron-nothing less than 100 kilometers an hour would satisfy him. And nothing else than the American market price for his goods would satisfy him and that holds true to Hamaan, the original Philadelphia. And that holds good for the land of the Jebel Drusse. One could count leisurely all the human beings that live beyond Beersheba and Akaba. For one, I respect the Arab and his rights but I believe that neither I nor anyone else has any more right to foment opposition to Jewish settlement in Palestine, than I believe Russian Soviets have a right to foment in the minds of Americans opposition to the American Government. I happen to believe in the comity of peoples and I do not believe that even the Carnegie Endowment is privileged to be a disturber not only of Palestine but of the whole East.

When I was a young man and served on the “Pall Mall Gazette,” London, its editor, Mr. Cust, resigned because he declined to obey the proprietor, I believe it was then Mr. Astor, to use the publication for creating a political disturbance either in Brazil or Mexico. The incident has always been a lesson to me of what constitutes the privilege of a writer of one nationality in dealing with affairs of people of another nationality even if they be no better and no worse than Egyptians, Syrians, Palestinians, Transjordanians and Jews.


New York, Dec. 1, 1926.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund