Palestine political circles are reverberating with rumors of a sensational intrigue which may have the greatest significance to the future of the rebuilding of Palestine as the Jewish National Homeland, states a despatch in the “Forward” from its Palestine correspondent.
The principal figure of this intrigue is the well known English journalist, St. John Philby. To understand the present role which Philby is enacting, it is important to recollect his previous career. He was an official of the Colonial Office of the British Empire, travelled through Arabic countries extensively, and is an intimate friend of Ibn Saud, King of the Wahabis. During the World War, he played an important role in British-Arab politics, as a constant rival of Colonel Lawrence. It was he who incited Ibn Saud against Lawrence’s protege, Hussein.
Philby is known to be an outspoken opponent of Zionism and the Balfour Declaration. For a long time he sought ways and means of bringing about the complete nullification of the Balfour Declaration. He conceived the plan of having Emir Abdullah crowned king of Palestine, and even broached the plan to the Zionists. During Sir Herbert Samuel’s term of office as High Commissioner of Palestine, he was ousted from the Colonial office, on the ground of disloyalty and financial dishonesty. Since then, he has served as agent of and advisor to Ibn Saud, living in the Wahabi capital. Ostensibly an automobile dealer, actually his has been the role of an intriguant, today advising one government, tomorrow another. At the same time he has written articles in newspapers and magazines, defending the imperialistic policy of the ruling classes in England. Now that the Labor Party stands at the helm of British affairs, Philby has altered his political passport and offered assurances that he is a loyal supporter of the Labor Party and the Labor government.
Following the recent outbreaks in Palestine, Philby suddenly announced that he is an adherent of the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate. Several weeks ago he arrived in Jerusalem, bringing with him the outline of a constitution which should, in his opinion, prove satisfactory both to the Arabs and the Jews. The project is to prove satisfactory to the Arabs in that it provides for them a Parliament and a National government. The Jews are to be satisfied through the promise of a friendly attitude on the part of the Arabs, recognition of the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate and Arab acquiescence to Jewish immigration into Palestine. Arab “acquiescence” is “acquiescence in principle” only, since the plan directs that questions of immigration are to be placed under the control of a committee in which the Arabs are to have a majority vote. The plan further contains no guarantees that the work of colonization is to continue to develop.
On the other hand, the Parliament which Philby has designed, is not to be an altogether independent body. The final power is to be vested with the High Commissioner who is to have the right to veto all bills to which he is opposed and who is to have the uncurtained power to maintain English militia in the country.
Philby bases his entire plan on the preconceived belief that political Zionism is dead, but that Palestine can and must, with the consent of the Arabs, become the spiritual center of Jewry. If the Jews will agree, he declares, they will find Palestine the most ideal place for a cultural Jewish center, and the Islamic world will support him.
Together with his constitution, Philby has presented a secret memorandum to the three parties concerned, the Arabs, the Zionists and the representatives of the British government. In it he defends his plan and makes the forecast, that in any event, Ibn Saud, ruler of the Wahabis, will unite all Arabic countries under his rule. He undertakes, he says, to prevail upon him to give a “special status” to Palestine.
After studying his plan, the Arab Executive made several changes, to which, Philiby offers assurance, the Arab leaders are agreed.
THE NEW “LAST PROPOSAL” OF THE ARABS
The constitutional project, in its new form, represents the “last word on the subject” by the Arab leaders, according to Philby. This “last proposal” consists of the demand for a Parliament and a National Executive for Palestine, membership to be based on proportional representation. The points dealing with recognition of the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate have completely disappeared from the new draft. In addition the articles guaranteeing religious freedom and the recognition of the Hebrew language, have disappeared. Then, too, the article dealing with immigration has been so altered as to permit not only Jewish immigration, but Arab immigration as well. This change is interpreted in Zionist circles here as a manoeuver to open the doors of Palestne to an artificial immigration of cheap Bedouin workers from Iraq and other Arab countries, providing them with an opportunity to benefit from the prosperity created by Jewish brains, energy and money.
The special Jewish position is mentioned in the new version only in connection with the Jewish Agency. The project permits the Jewish Agency to remain, but creates, as a counter- (Continued on Page 6)
Ignoring the feudal system in Arabic Palestine, the constitution threatens to entrench the effendis even more strongly. There is no mention made of the right of the workers to organize themselves. Nothing is said of the right of freedom of the press. That is why the leaders of Palestine local labor circles say the project is nothing more than an agreement between the British Imperialists and the Mufti’s clique. It is an attempt to strangle the Zionist hopes and to betray the real interests of the Arab population.
The Vaad Leumi, Palestine National Council, headed by Pincus Rutenberg, holds the same views. The Zionist Executive, as well, is opposed to Philby’s project. All Jewish organizations are of the opinion that to accept Philby’s plan is to deliver a death blow to Jewish colonization in Palestine. They also believe that the Arab leaders hope through this “last proposal” to divert attention from the recent outbreaks and still continuing sporadic attacks, concentrating public attention instead, upon what presents itself as a democratic movement to realize the national ideals of both peoples.
Only a small group of Jewish intellectuals has expressed its friendly attitude toward the Philby plan. The others are opposed to it and mince no words in expressing their condemnation of this small Jewish group which supports it. No matter how small and uninfluential this group is, in reality, it has, however, given Philby the possibility to say that an influential Jewish group supports his project. It has also given the members of the Arab Executive the opening to exclaim that they are for peace between the two peoples. Criticizing severely the proposal for the introduction of a parliament in Palestine, “The Day” says editorially:
“Who does not want peace with the Arabs? This propaganda among the Jews for peace creates the erroneous impression that the Jews do not want peace, that they must first be persuaded to desire it; in reality it is just the other way round. There is nobody to talk to about peace. The Arabs do not want peace.
“Since the Brith Shalom Society began its activities years ago, there has not been one Arab paper to speak in the same strain as the Brith Shalom propagandists. There has not been one political Arab group to stretch out its hands in order to make peace with the people of the Brith Shalom by whom they were addressed-these good, decent people of the Brith Shalom who forgive all and are ready to renounce all. They are prepared to give in to the Arabs everything they demand and what they do not demand. If the Arabs want a parliament-well, a parliament they can have; if the Arabs do not want the Balfour Declaration-well, down with the Declaration.
“But even this is of no help. The Arabs want to make peace only with those Jews who have both their feet outside the frontiers of Palestine, but peace with the Jewish settlers in Palestine-this they desire neither to hear of, nor see.
“Let the men of the Brith Shalom speak in their own name! If, however, instead of speaking, they should begin to act, if they should make or attempt to make, Zionist policy on their own responsibility or irresponsibility, if they should approach those in power with their advice or their plans which are contrary to the opinions and plans recognized by Zionism-that would mean taking the power into their own hands; that would mean division among the Jews. Instead of creating order, it would mean establishing anarchy, and this may not be tolerated.”