London (Apr. 16)
“Ten years of our work in Palestine,” writes Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, in a letter to the “Manchester Guardian,” have resulted in an increase of 100,000 Jews in Palestine, while the Arabs, whose numbers had previously been almost stationary, have also increased by 100,000. The entire population is now employed at wages and conditions much better than have ever been known in Palestine before.”
Dr. Weizmann’s letter, which discusses the findings of the Palestine Inquiry Commission, calls Harry Snell’s reservations “a document alive with human sympathy,” while on major questions of policy he finds the remaining commissioners showing “a complete lack of understanding of the world-wide Jewish problem for which a remedy is being sought in Palestine.” His letter is in reply to an editorial on the Commission Report which appeared in the “Guardian” recently.
While by no means prepared to accept all the findings of the Commission upon the immediate causes and responsibility for the outbreak of last August, Dr. Weizmann states it is that part of the Commission’s Report which goes beyond its terms of reference that calls for discussion.
“The report of the Commission,” states Dr. Weizmann, “says that the outbreak was not intended as a revolt against British authority in Palestine. This statement ignores the fundamental fact that the very justification of British authority over Palestine is in the Mandate, which is the charter of the National Home for Jewish people. The report finds that the ‘fundamental cause of the outbreak is the Arabs’ feeling of the animosity and hostility toward the Jews, consequent upon disappointment in their political and national aspirations and fear for their economic future,’ and adds in another connection that ‘the great benefits that have been conferred on the country by Jewish immigration and enterprise have been incidental to the main purpose of the enterprise, and didn’t form part of the original design.’
“This is indeed an amazing comment upon the policy of the Jewish National Home,” states Dr. Weizmann. “While we are glad that our work, by its very nature benefits the Arabs, and it is our intention that it should, we cannot accept the premise implied in this and other passages of the report that our right to live in Palestine is affected by fears entertained by its Arab inhabitants or dependent on advantages derived by them.
“On the strength of our historical connection with Palestine,” Dr. Weizmann writes further, “the National Home was assigned to us by the unanimous verdict of the civilized world. We are in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance.”
Without dealing with all points of the report which can be challenged on the ground of questionable assertions, Dr. Weizmann calls attention to two points particularly. He notes the Commission’s statement that Palestine “cannot support a larger agricultural population than it has at present unless the farming methods undergo a radical change.”
“But the very essence of our work,” Dr. Weizmann continues, “is to produce such a radical change, and after fifty years of colonization experience we affirm that room can be found for tens of thousands of additional Jewish farmers in Palestine without infringing on the legitimate interests of the Arabs. The report alleges we created a landless proletariat. In reality the total number of Arab tenants displaced by us is small and an overwhelming majority of them have with our assistance, been reestablished on the land.
“We further contend,” says Dr. Weizmann, “that there was no connection between these alleged agrarian grievances and the disturbances of last August. For among the hundreds of Arabs who appeared in the courts on a charge of complicity in the riots, there wasn’t one who could be described as a tenant evicted by us. Had there been even a single case of that kind the most would have been made of it against us in the evidence given before the Commission.
“The report suggests that Jewish immigration exceeded the absorptive capacity of the country and even charges the Jewish Agency with a serious departure from the agreement embodied in the White Paper of 1922. This allegation,” notes Dr. Weizmann, “is based solely on evidence of the economic crisis of 1926-7. Whatever caused the crisis, there is no evidence of its having adversely affected the Arabs,” he points out, “while the Jewish unemployed were admittedly cared for by ourselves, and whereas the richest countries in the world still struggle with an acute unemployment problem, in Palestine there is now a shortage of labor.
“The alleged fears of the Arabs ‘for their economic future’,” says Dr. Weizmann, “have caused the Commissioners to suggest that our immigration should be curtailed and our freedom to purchase land be restricted. There can be no National Home without men or without land, and either limitation would mean for us virtual cancellation of the policy of the Mandate.
“Such limitations would reduce us to a position inferior to that which we face in any other country and would turn the very name Jewish National Home into derision. We welcome the declaration of the Premier that the Government stands by the policy embodied in the Mandate, and we welcome its endorsement by leaders of the two opposition parties. We Jews can not wish for any greater assurance than we received from the three responsible leaders of the British nation and we look forward with the fullest confidence to the statement in which His Majesty’s Government will give a detailed and concrete exposition of the future policy for Palestine.
“In the meantime,” concludes Dr. Weizmann,” I declare in the name of millions of Jews and the organized Jewish Agency, that it has been the privilege of our generation to set its hand to work for which our ancestors waited and prayed, and we do so under the auspices of a nation whom the united voice of world Jewry asked to assume the Mandate. We laid the foundation of our national home in Palestine. The work which we have begun we shall continue. We shall not desert our ideal and our pioneers.”