The New York press expressed sympathy with the Jewish protest against the Palestine outrages. News reports published in all metropolitan dailies and editorials in some of the papers gave expression to this feeling.
“NEW YORK TIMES”
The third editorial on the Palestine events appearing in the New York Times under the headline “British Responsibility” declares that the terms of the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate, unmistakable in their meaning, must be lived up to by Great Britain.
“Prime Minister MacDonald by both word and act admits the obligation resting upon the British Government to maintain order in Palestine. This realization of the duty of England as Mandatory for that country is doubtless sharpened by the fear that Moslem sentiment in India and Egypt may be stirred violently by the events in the Holy Land. But whatever view is taken of the present crisis, it cannot be denied, and the British Government would not think of denying, that the deliberate engagements of England make her primarily, if not solely, responsible for what has happened, and what may happen, in Palestine.
“Everything goes back to the Balfour Declaration of Nov. 2, 1917. This was made public more than a month before Lord Allen by entered Jerusalem. Its words should be distinctly held in mind today:
“‘His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of that object, it being 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 the Jews in any other country.’
“It is plain, therefore, that the Jews who have gone to Palestine since the war did so on the distinct invitation of the British Government. Their welcome and their protection were implicitly guaranteed. Both became explicit with the Mandate for Palestine approved by the League of Nations and accepted by Great Britain. The Madatory Power was authorized to set up an Administration of Palestine which should organize a voluntary basis for the forces necessary for the preservation of peace and order.’ Such a police force, supplemented by British troops, was supposed to have been provided, but it is now evident that it was made too small by successive reductions. It is said by way of excuse that the British authorities in Palestine did not foresee the bloody outbreak of the past few days, But they had distinct warnings of it in advance, and British colonial administrators have too long and too often had proof of the danger of inflaming Moslem passion to leave them in doubt that special measures should have been taken to safeguard the situation in Palestine, which was known to be menacing.
“Whatever may be said of the wisdom of the aspirations and activities of the Zionist organization in Palestine, it was given a clear standing and undeniable rights by the British Government. Under the terms of the Palestine Mandate it was recognized as “an appropriate Jewish agency” for the purpose of advising and cooperating with the Administration of Palestine. It was placed under the protecting power of Great Britain. If that demands maintenance for some time to come of a large British force in Palestine, there is no escape from it. England has made herself responsible both morally and legally, and must be prepared to go every necessary length in showing that she intends to live up to her solemn obligations undertaken in the eyes of the whole world.” The “New York Times” in its leading editorial on Tuesday, Aug. 27, stated, under the title “A Firm Hand in Palestine”:
“For the tragic outburst of racial and religious blood feuds in Palestine it is hard not to assign chief responsibility to a breakdown in British administrative efficiency. The up flare of massacre last Friday did not come without warning. During the last fortnight an acute tension between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem has manifested itself in symptoms that should have been ominously familiar to Englishmen acquainted with chronic ‘community’ strife between Moslem and Hindu. Either through overconfidence or lack of imagination on the part of the Jerusalem authorities, the show of force that would have overawed fanaticism, from whatever source arising, was not forthcoming. From the beginning of the quarrels around the Wailing Wall it has been apparent that the local police were not equal to their task. For the whole of Palestine, including the chief cities, there is a police force of about 1,800 men, of whom, according to one dispatch, less than 150 are English.
“The plain fact is that the British Government did not take the precautions which its responsibilities demand. A battalion of soldiers garrisoned in Palestine would have prevented the civil warfare. Pressure from the harassed British taxpayer compelled a sharp curtailment of British commitments everywhere in the Near and Middle East after the armistice, but in Palestine experience now shows that economy was carried too far. To some extent, to be sure, an excessive optimism was at fault. When the British constabulary force was abolished three years ago under High Commissioner Lord Plumer, one reason was the notable improvement in relations between Jews and Arabs. Yet in September, 1928, the Zionist authorities at Jerusalem protested to Acting High Commissioner Luke and ultimately to the Mandate Commission of the League of Nations at Geneva, against the action of the Jerusalem police in breaking in upon the Day of Atonement services at the Wall for the purpose of enforcing some possibly necessary regulation. A year ago, therefore, a lack in responsible quarters was already manifesting itself.
“If the present disorders are only momentary, the need for adequate and efficient police protection is nevertheless obvious. If the seeds of strife between Jew and Arab lie deeper, there would seem to be all the greater need of guarantees for the maintenance of peace. The weariness of the British taxpayer does not remove the British Government’s obligations as the Mandatory Power in Palestine.”
“NEW YORK WORLD”
The “New York World” leading editorial on Tuesday, headed “Trouble in the Holy Land,” declared:
“Though the Arab attack upon the Jews in Palestine is the first catastrophe which has overtaken that small country since the war, there have been frequent signs of friction during recent years. The dispute which centers at the Wailing Wall is older than the present Zionist experiment. On several recent occasions it has resulted in ill will. On other occasions there have been demonstrations of Arab hostility to the Zionist program. In March, 1925, there was such a demonstration when Lord Balfour visited Jerusalem and the Arabs chose to show their lack of sympathy with the ‘Balfour Declaration’ by which the British Government announced its support of the Zionist plan in 1917. On this occasion there were no disturbances in Palestine. But when Lord Balfour crossed the border line into Syria there were riots in Damascus; an Arab mob stoned his hotel; a number of people were killed and injured; and in the end it was necessary to spirit Lord Balfour out of the city and back to Egypt.
“Difficult as it is to weigh causes and motives in such a conflict of purposes as now exists in Palestine, it would seem to be nationalist feeling rather than racial feeling which is most active in the present case. For a good many years under Turkish rule Arab and Jew managed to live side by side in peace not often broken. A new situation was suddenly presented when Turkish rule was ended on this seacoast by General Allenby’s victories during the war and the British Government announced in the Balfour Declaration its support of a policy of establishing in Palestine ‘a national home for the Jewish people,’ without prejudice to ‘the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities’ in that country.
“To the Arabs in Palestine this assurance of respect for the rights of non-Jewish communities was unsatisfactory. The Arabs had wanted much more than such an assurance. They had wanted the creation of a new Arab (Continued on Page 10)
state, including not only the Arabian Peninsula but Syria and Mesopotamia, which are both predominantly Arab, and also Palestine, in which Arabs outnumbered Jews approximately six to one at the end of the war. Moreover, they believed that in return for their efforts in the war the Allied Governments had promised to favor the creation of such a state, by declaring their purposes to be ‘the final liberation of the peoples so long oppressed by the Turks and the establishment of national governments and administrations deriving their authority from the initiative and free choice of the native populations.’
“In these circumstances the announcement of the Balfour Declaration, indicating a separate British mandate for Palestine and British support for the Zionist experiment, caused dissatisfaction which no amount of subsequent assurances has been able to dissipate. Time and again the leaders of the Zionist movement have assured the Arabs that their rights will be respected; have indicated their desire for cooperation; and have predicted that Zionism, with its science and its modern methods, would bring a new prosperity to Palestine which Arabs as well as Jews would be privileged to enjoy. To all these promises and appeals the Arab has remained unresponsive, boycotting efforts to win his political cooperation and occasionally showing glimpses of the unremitting hostility which has now displayed itself in a series of sudden and brutal attacks upon the Jews.
“This is the situation with which the British Government is now called upon to deal. However difficult it may be in its larger phases there is at last the assurance of enough British military strength in the Mediterranean to restore order at an early date. And back of this military strength is an intelligent and far-sighted government in London.”
The “Evening Sun” of August 26 wrote: “British statesmen have never ignored the difficulties besetting fulfillment of the poetic aspiration of Jewry for restoration of Palestine as a nation to the Jews. The mandate authorities have displayed energy and skill in adjusting disputes, which have been numerous. In the present deplorable clashes they will unquestionably be inspired by good will and guided by wisdom in applying to the turbulent elements in mandated Palestine the technique gained through experience in colonial rule.”