Elmira, N. Y (Oct. 27)
The Arab contention that the Balfour Declaration be abolished was brought before the meeting of the Elmira branch of the Foreign Policy Association by Ameen Rihani, protagonist of the Arab cause in the United States. Maurice Samuel, author and Zionist leader, speaking at the forum of the Association replied: “Certainly there is no need for the Balfour Declaration if the Arabs will agree to Jewish immigration restricted only by the economic possibilities of the country.”
The speaker’s subject was “Recent Occurrences in the Near East.” Mr. Samuel declared that he was not speaking for any organization, but had come to Elmira to present the views of an individual observer, having recently returned from Palestine.
“It is not the Zionists as much as the policy inherent in Zionism that they resist,” Rihani said, speaking of the Arabs. “If the Jews came to Palestine only as settlers there would not be trouble. It is the charge in the Balfour Declaration which tells of their right to the land that has caused the ill feeling.”
Rihani stated that “Zionism, with the Balfour Declaration as a shield and money as a weapon is another form of conquest.” The speaker said that the statement in the Declaration, that the Jews had a right to have a national home in Palestine had lesser significance than it would have had were it stated that the Jews had a right to “have Palestine as a national homeland.
Rihani said the population of Jews in Palestine would be increased to 1,000,000 in 20 years. “When that time arrives the Arabs will be driven from the country, since the land cannot hold more than that number.”
The speaker admitted that Arabs and Jews have always been friendly toward each other for many centuries. “But by that I am speaking of the native Jews. The Zionists are vanguards of the belief of Empire. They are not content with anything but empire. So long as there is suspicion of Jews by Arabs I am afraid there will be disturbances. The peace of the world depends on the peace of the Near East. Peace in the Near East depends upon peace in Palestine. Zionism cannot exist without the military force of Great Britain. If Britain complies with the Zionists and maintains a great force in Palestine uprising will continue not only in Palestine, but also in Syria and the Arab borders.”
Mr. Samuel emphatically denied that Zionists were antagonistic to their Arab neighbors, or wanted to drive Arabs out of Palestine. “The Jews don’t want an empire. They only want (Continued on Page 4)
Mr. Samuel stated further that the Arabs in Palestine had not been fighting the Jewish homeland, but had attacked the Jews in the belief that the Jews had attacked the Mosque of Omar.” Mr. Samuel quoted at length from the Arab press and from Arab proclamations in proof of this contention. “The only way Arab leaders can get an imitation revolt of the Arabs,” he said, “is by asserting that the Jews-including Albert Einstein and Lord Melchett want to rebuild the Temple of Solomon on the site of the Mosque of Omar. This has been stated publicly by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and it has made a strong impression on the Arab mind.”
In the course of the rebuttal the Balfour Declaration formed the main topic of discussion. Mr. Rihani asserted that the Declaration had fired the belief of the Arabs that the Jews were coming to Palestine not merely for the purpose of settling in the land.
“The Balfour Declaration is not necessary,” said Mr. Samuel, “if the Arabs would only understand that the building of Palestine as a Jewish Homeland is to the mutual benefit of Jews and Arabs. If on this point Jews and Arabs could reach an agreement, no declaration matters or is necessary. It is the wild rumors and the false statements set floating by Arab leaders which make these formal declarations and assertions necessary. I would be for the scrapping of the Balfour Declaration if the Arabs would admit the legal and moral right of the Jews to build themselves a homeland in the country side by side and in friendly relations with the Arabs.”
WEISGAL REPLIES TO ARAB “GRIEVANCES”
Replying to the “extravagant Arab grievances.” Meyer W. Weisgal, secretary of the Zionist Organization of America, presented the Zionist case in one of the two articles in the November issue of “Current History.” The other article is by Ameen Rihani, repeating the arguments made by him previously. The pledge of the British Government to establish a confederation of Arab States was never intended to include Palestine, since the whole of that country west of the Jordan was specifically excluded from that pledge. Mr. Weisgal writes. Nor is it fair to accuse Great Britain of having “betrayed” the Arabs after their revolt against the Turks, he holds. “The Arabs in Palestine,” Mr. Weisgal adds, “did not revolt against the Turks as did the Arabs of Hejaz and Mesopotamia. The Jews, on the other hand, supplied the British forces with three cattalions whose exploits in the Palestine campaign received official recognition.
“The historic right of the Jewish people in Palestine implies no violation of the rights of the Arab inhabitants of the country. These rights are safeguarded in the Balfour declaration and in the Palestine mandate. Nevertheless, we are advised to revoke the Balfour declaration; to sweep away any and all rights granted to the returning sons of Israel. Then the Arabs would raise no objection to the development of a ‘spiritual centre.’ But there is no realty behind the bare words ‘spiritual centre.’ Spiritual centres do not exist in the air. They are born of political freedom and economic security. Commerce, industry, agriculture and the free exercise of the rights of the people to land that they can call their own are the props upon which a spiritual centre is built,” Mr. Weisgal declares.
DR. WISE REPEATS CHARGE AGAINST PALESTINE OFFICIALS
Absolving the British government of all guilt in the recent Palestine disturbances, Dr. Stephen S. Wise, in his sermon at the Free Synagogue attacked the local authorities in Palestine and placed upon their shoulders the entire responsibility for the trouble.
“We should not arraign a government for the weakness of its appointed officials.
“I caution patience, in so far as the government of Great Britain is concerned, and I feel certain that the Lukes and other appointive officials responsible for the Palestine outbreak will be dealt with by that government, which we have every reason to respect.”