Characterize White Paper on Wailing Wall as “Legal Quibbling”
That Great Britain has not properly interpreted the mandate over Palestine, awarded to it by the League of Nations, in regard to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, is the declaration made in an editorial in this week’s “New Palestine,” official organ of the Zionist Organization of America, out today.
The editorial is occasioned by the White Paper on the Wailing Wall which was issued this week by the Colonial Office in which the onus of the blame is placed on the Jews for disturbances which led to military interference with the worshippers at the Wailing Wall on last Day of Atonement which aroused indignation througtout the Jewish world.
“From a formal legalistic point of view, the position of the Government is perhaps understandable,” the editorial declares, pointing out that “no article in the Mandate for Palestine caused so much difficulty and bitterness as the one dealing with the status of the Holy Places, which was made not only a religious but a political question of far-reaching consequences, which almost endangered the ratification of the mandate.”
Taking into account the Government’s attitude, the “New Palestine” asserts:
“The attitude of the Colonial Office as that of the Government of Palestine, is lacking in a fundamental understanding of its obligations in Palestine as the mandatory power, charged with the responsibility for the establishment of a Jewish National Home. To attach a disproportionate significance to an incidental regulation, dating back to 1912 under the Turkish regine, is a misreading of the letter and spirit of the mandate. The mandate (and all that follows as a legal and moral consequence thereof) is a revolt against the status quo, which Great Britain and the nations of the world have solemnly pledged themselves to change. But assuming for the moment that here was a violation of the status quo which the Government in Palestine is in duty bound to observe pending the final solution of the whole question, the justification by the Colonial Office of the methods used to enforce the status quo is a direct contradiction of the terms of the mandate, which places upon the mandatory the obligation to see to it that complete freedom of consience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all.
“It would seem to us that a government, desiring to be fair and just and at the same time legally and technically correct, would place emphasis on the above principle, which is fundamental to all civilized governments, rather than upon a trifling regulation which prohibits the placing of a screen to separate men and women worshippers according to Jewish orthodox practice. It is a curious sort of legal quibbling to concede the right of the Jews to freedom of worship at the Wall, and at the same time, to insist upon adherance to a status quo which is contrary to the practice of orthodox Jewish worship. The injustice of it is as apparent as that which prompted Governor Storrs several years ago to remove the benches of old Jewish worshippers who were unable to stand on their feet all day on a fast day. It is a heritage of Turkish misrule in Palestine, which the British should have been the first to remove.”