Balfour Declaration and Mandate Spoke of Palestine Not As Jewish National Home but As Its Center, Si
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Balfour Declaration and Mandate Spoke of Palestine Not As Jewish National Home but As Its Center, Si

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Neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Palestine Mandate said that Palestine was to be a Jewish National Home but they did say that the Jewish National Home was to have its center in Palestine, declared Sir Herbert Samuel, former High Commissioner of Palestine, speaking at the first house dinner of the Winter season of the Authors’ Club.

The problem to face is how to create a national home for one people in a country partly populated by another people, Sir Herbert said. He pointed out that while he was High Commissioner Arab welfare and development were cardinal points in his policy and his purpose while High Commissioner, he said, was to secure the parallel and harmonious development of both Jews and Arabs.

Asserting that it was “a homesickness that endured for two thousand years which brought the Jews back to Palestine,” Sir Herbert commented on the fact that in this materialistic age “we witness the high and idealistic spirit that animated the Palestine enterprise which brought a hundred thousand Jews and although they have gone from Eastern countries, few of them went to Palestine from motives of self interest.”


If they wished to prosper materially there are many countries in the world that would have attracted them far more, Sir Herbert said, adding that “those pioneers have gone there simply for the sake of an idea. It is mos remarkable that from the Jews scattered all over the world subscriptions amounting to $3,300,000 are annually received, hardly any of which is likely to bring them any return.”

“But it is not enough to have ideas and ideals,” Sir Herbert declared. “Such a great enterprise must have economic foundations. It is necessary to proceed in a practical and businesslike spirit in accordance with the actual circumstances of the land in which the enterprise is to be situated.” Referring to the developments carried on in Palestine in recent years, the former High Commissioner stated that $5,000,000 have been spent in purchasing land and establishing villages in the Valley of Esdrealon and the rich mineral resources of the Dead Sea are to be developed.


The electric power station on the Jordan River will begin operation this year and will be capable of supplying electricity for the whole of Palestine, Sir Herbert said, and added that the Haifa harbor will be one of the best in the Eastern Mediterranean. Alluding to the prophecy that given the opportunity the Jews would flock back to Palestine to create again a holy Jewish state, Sir Herbert remarked that in the whole world there were 16,000,000 Jews and Palestine “if developed to the fullest extent with agriculture and industry at the highest point could hardly hope to be a country containing more than three or four million people.”

Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the Jewish Agency and of the World Zionist Organization, who was also one of the speakers, pointed out that owing to the slow and limited power of absorption of the country the Zionist Organization had to refuse twenty-five applications from prospective immigrants for every one that it accepted. The Jew who did well on the stock exchanges of the world was not the type that went to Palestine, Dr. Weizmann said, urging his listeners to remember that the British Empire was not built by the stockbroker type of person but by a vastly different type.

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