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Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

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[The purpose of the Digest is informative Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval -- Editor.]

An attempt to prove that the British government never undertook to give active support but merely “to facilitate the achievement” of a Jewish National Home, was made by “The Near East and India” magazine of London, a paper said to be in close touch with the British Colonial Office. While making this contention, the paper admits that the British Government “cannot but be favorably disposed toward the Jews, whose splendid help has been invaluable in the building-up of Palestine”, and that British “national pride requires that a success should be made of the Palestine Mandate.”

These assertions are contained in an editorial of the “Near East” magazine in connection with the controversy which arose recently between it and Mr. Louis Lipsky, following an interview given by the American Zionist leader to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in London, in which he criticized the British Government for withholding active cooperation in the establishment of the Jewish Homeland. In its May 5th issue “The Near East” published a letter from Mr. Lipsky (reported in the “Bulletin” of May 9th) taking exception to the opinions of the magazine and the construction placed by it on his interview. The editorial referred to above appeared in the same issue of “The Near East”. Among other things the paper wrote:

“The points raised by Mr. Lipsky strike at the root of the Palestine question. The Zionist Organization depends to a large extent on the financial support of American Jewry; but for the moment the forward movement of Zionism in Palestine is held in check, and American Jew, the President of the American Zionist Organization contends, will withhold their support or will not give it so freely, if Zionism is not to be a success. He contends that the Palestine Government is to blame for the fact that conditions in Palestine are not favorable to Zionism, and in support of this thesis puts forward certain arguments and enumerates certain definite grievances. Mr. Lipsky declares that it is not sufficient to give the Jews a free hand to build a National Home in Palestine. It is, however, legitimate to ask, Why not? The British Government has never undertaken to do more than ‘to facilitate the achievement’ of a Jewish National Home. The Jewish community in Palestine, to use the words of the Government’s statement in 1922, has ‘with its political, religious and social organization. its own language, its own customs and its own life, in fact “national” characteristics’ and it was with a view to the development of that National Home that the British Government made it known that the Jewish people ‘is in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance.’ Mr. Lipsky continues; ‘They (the Jews) must be convinced that their effort encounters the willing and active support of the Mandatory Power.’ If by this is meant that every Jewish enterprise in Palestine must have Government backing until it can stand on its own feet, the contention is manifestly absurd; if it means that American Jews expect the Mandatory Power to give preferential treatment to Jews to the prejudice of ‘existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine,’ then it runs counter to the Balfour Declaration. In Mr. Lipsky’s concrete grievance we see a family likeness to complaints that may be made against any Government by one section or another of the population.

“Much sympathy is felt in Great Britain with the difficulties that Palestine is now encountering. National pride requires that a success should be made of the Palestine Mandate; but between the Jewish Scylla and the Arab Charybdis the course is a difficult one. The British Government is not likely at this stage to be deflected from its path of strict impartiality. It cannot but be favorably disposed towards the Jews, whose splendid help has been invaluable in the building-up of Palestine; but its obligations to the Arabs are just as definite. It can, therefore, only persevere on its middle way, keeping steadily before it the goal of a Palestine in which Jews and Arabs will be content to work in harmony for their common interests in a country to the advancement of which each section will contribute according to its capacity.”

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