The present government of Great Britain is not hostile to the idea of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine; Jewish immigration into Palestine has not been stopped, but only “temporarily postponed”; Great Britain intends to carry out the terms of the Palestine Mandate to the letter, but Jews should remember that what has been promised them in the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate is not a Jewish State, but a Jewish Homeland, in Palestine, and that according to the Mandate Great Britain must protect the civil and religious rights of non-Jews in Palestine too.
This is the gist of opinions expressed on the Palestine situation by Lord Passfield, British Secretary for the Colonies, in an interview which he gave to J. L. Fine, London correspondent of the New York-Chicago “Jewish Daily Forward” and which appears in Tuesday’s issue of the New York “Forward.”
MASS IMMIGRATION HARMFUL NOW
“The government has decided for the present, taking all the circumstances into consideration, that it would benefit neither Jewish nor Zionist interests to have a mass immigration into Palestine today,” declares the British Colonial Secretary. “We, as a government which is obligated not only to Jews, but to the entire world as well, through the Palestine Mandate and the Balfour Declaration, have very carefully considered the unavoidable necessity created by political and economic circumstances in Palestine, of seeing to it that Jewish immigration should, for the time being, trickle, not stream.
“Can it really be said that we have stopped immigration at a time when not one single permit which was issued has been withdrawn? Does this justify the Jews becoming panic-stricken and crying everywhere that the British government, especially a Labor government, has betrayed the Jews and is not carrying out the Mandate? Do we, the present government, really deserve the suspicion of the Jews that we are with another party and against them? Should Jews put a weapon into the hands of their internal and external enemies by spreading all sorts of unfounded reports and rumors against the government? In a panic one loses all sense of proportion, and this is unfortunately now the case with the Jews.”
DEPRECATES UNFOUNDED RUMORS
Accusing Dr. Weizmann of allowing these “unfounded rumors” to spread, Lord Passfield stated to the “Forward” correspondent:
“I have known Dr. Weizmann for the past ten years and I have never seen him as nervous as he is today. He has allowed the spreading of certain irresponsible rumors and statements about me personally, as Colonial Minister, and about the government. I am not saying that he himself has spread them. But I do say that he should have denied, or corrected them so that they might be nearer to the truth.”
The British Colonial Secretary branded as “stupid” a report which appeared in the Jewish press, quoting Prime Minister MacDonald as saying that he knew nothing about the action of the Colonial Office in stopping Jewish immigration into Palestine. What MacDonald really did say to Zionist representatives, according to Lord Passfield, was that he knew nothing about any stoppage of immigration into Palestine in general.
DENIES MISLEADING WEIZMANN
With regard to the accusation that he, Lord Passfield, had purposely misled Dr. Weizmann by not keeping his promise to allow the Zionist leader to confer with Sir John Simpson before the latter’s departure from Palestine to investigate the land question, Lord Passfield says:
“When Dr. Weizmann expressed a wish to see Sir John Simpson before the latter’s departure for Palestine and asked me whether it was possible for me to arrange an interview, I told him that I saw no reason why he shouldn’t confer with Sir John, for as far as I knew of Sir John’s plans I was certain that he would remain in London several days and Dr. Weizmann would be able to see him. But it so happened that Sir John returned from Geneva on a Friday night. The next morning he departed for Liverpool to see his daughter. He returned to London Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning he immediately left for Palestine.
“Bear in mind that I did not give Dr. Weizmann a definite promise that he would be able to see Sir John. I said that I thought it might be possible for him to see him, and that I saw no reason for his not seeing him. But since it so happened that Sir John changed his private plans and didn’t remain as long as I thought he would, am I responsible? Then why should such false reports, as that I have personally misled Dr. Weizmann, be spread? Who is responsible for that and what is the purpose behind it?”
MUST AVOID CREATING LANDLESS CLASS
With regard to the land question, Lord Passfield had this to say to the “Forward” correspondent:
“The government cannot allow a condition in which a new workless and landless class may be created in Palestine. The Arab who loses his land cannot adjust himself to different kinds of labor, according to the circumstances, like an Englishman or an American. When he loses his small parcel of land and his goat he imagines, and perhaps justifiably so, that he has lost all his means of support. And when such a class is created and keeps growing larger, it must become dangerous. The government must finds means of averting this.”
“But don’t you think, my lord, that the government ought to give preference to those who can develop a parcel of land, upon which one Arab’s goat is now grazing, so that it could sustain a family of three or four? And wouldn’t the entire country, even the government and the Arabs themselves, benefit if the use of the land by diligent Jewish colonists rather than by Arab goats were facilitated?” asked the “Forward” correspondent.
“No one denies that,” was Lord Passfield’s reply. “We appreciate the very fruitful and productive accomplishments of the Jews in Palestine and we shall take all the steps necessary to make it possible for the Jews to continue their good work with even more success. But do not forget that we, the British government, have only a mandate over Palestine, nothing more. We have no crown lands there, as is the case in England or in British colonies. Every inch of land in Palestine belongs to someone. And no matter how much the government might wish to help develop the land in the best possible manner, it must also at the same time bear in mind those who are losing their ownership of the land. We must do it for the very reason that we wish to carry out every letter of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate.
JEWISH HOME, NOT STATE, PROMISED
“What does the Balfour Declaration state? It states that His Majesty’s Government will use its best endeavors to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestineâ€”a Homeland, not a State. And in the same breath, the Declaration also states, ‘it being clearly understood that nothing should be done to prejudice the existing civil or religious rights of the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine. If Dr. Weizmann has said that Palestine must be to the Jews what England is to the English, it is only Dr. Weizmann’s interpretation, not the interpretation of the British government, not the pledge of the Balfour Declaration. Neither is it in consonance with Article 2 of the Mandate which states:
“‘The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.’
“We, the present government,” continued Lord Passfield, “will not touch a single letter of the Mandate, and even the succeeding governments in Great Britain will not do it. We shall help create a Jewish Homeland in Palestine but we cannot create a Jewish State. But as a Jewish Home one cannot expect to settle there twelve or fourteen millions of Jews. Even in a home there are times when not all the members composing the home can establish themselves immediately. Immigration to Palestine must be regulated in accordance with the conomic possibilities.
SEES JEWS LACKING IN UNITY
“The Zionist movement should have helped us make our task easier. Unfortunately it is making our task more difficult by spreading a lack of confidence in the British government among the Jewish people. Instead of creating a storm Jews should rather try to create unity among themselves. Imagine the present situation in which the Poale-Zionists want a wholly Socialist country, the Revisionists probably want a militaristic country and the Zionist Executive wants a Jewish State, and one faction is in disagreement with the other. But the government says that Palestine shall and will be a Jewish Homeland, in accordance with the Balfour Declaration and in accordance with the Mandate, as agreed upon by the League of Nations.”
The Secretary for the Colonies flatly denied that his government facilitates the purchase of Palestine land by the Roman Catholic Church, while making land purchase there difficult for the Jews. With regard to the mission of Sir John Simpson, he declared:
“Please note that we have not sent Sir John Simpson to bring us a report, but rather to bring us information about important points, and that the government will arrive at a decision in accordance with his information, and not his recommendations.
“We expect him back in three or four months. It naturally depends on the circumstances, but I believe that it will not require more than three months. Meanwhile the Jews may calm down and not look with suspicion and mistrust upon the government of Great Britain. Great Britain will not break its promise and will fulfill its duty towards the Jews, in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate.”