Denying that he was the author of the White Paper on Palestine, which he declared was the product of the entire British Cabinet, Lord Passfield, British Secretary for the Colonies, announces in an interview with Harry Rogoff, assistant editor of the Jewish Forward, who is now in London, and J. L. Fine, London correspondent of the Forward, that the British government will not issue any new statement regarding the White Paper, but that all misunderstandings with regard to it will be clarified in a statement which the government will soon make in parliament. Rogoff’s interview with Lord Passfield appears in Sunday’s Forward.
Regarding Jewish land purchase in Palestine in the future, the British Colonial Secretary declared in the interview that Jews will be able to buy land just as before, but that the government will not permit the expropriation of Arabs who till the soil. He also declared that the government will not make any changes with regard to its immigration policy, stating thereby that immigration was suspended last May only for economic reasons.
With regard to Jewish immigration, Lord Passfield declared that the White Paper has been misinterpreted in this respect. He pointed out that the 1,500 chalutzim certificates have just been issued purposely to prove that the government has not changed its policy toward Jewish immigration into Palestine.
OPPOSED TO HISTADRUTH
Lord Passfield also admitted frankly in his interview with the Forward representative that he is opposed to the Palestine Jewish labor federation, the Histadruth. Expressing the belief that the Jewish labor unions in Palestine were not labor unions but Zionist organizations, the British Secretary for the Colonies attacked the Histadruth for excluding Arabs from its affiliated unions.
With regard to Lord Passfield’s statement that he was not the author of the White Paper, Mr. Rogoff says:
“During our conversation Passfield made the astonishing statement that he did not edit the White Paper on Palestine. ‘This is not my document,’ he said, ‘but a document of the Cabinet. I am only technically responsible for it, as Minister for the Colonies.’ Passfield made this statement as an apology for the fact that the White Paper made a worse impression upon the Jews than he, Passfield, would have desired, and for the fact that the White Paper is not as clear on many points as he himself is.
“Passfield’s statement that the White Paper is not his work seemed comical to us, since the Cabinet had stated that it had nothing to do with it, and threw the entire responsibility for it upon Lord Passfield. It seems as if every one wishes to throw off from himself responsibility for the White Paper and no one wants to admit that it is his work.”
On the question of Jewish land purchase, which Lord Passfield declared will not be restricted in the future, Mr. Rogoff states:
“Lord Passfield admitted that the Jews in Palestine have always provided for the Arabs who lost their land. He even admitted that in many cases the Jews made it possible for the Arabs to make a better livelihood on a smaller parcel of land. But, he said, the Arab very often squanders all the money which he got from the Jews and remains penniless and landless. Such Arabs, he said, become dangerous, and the government intends to see that such cases should not occur in the future.
“‘The government will therefore interfere only in such cases where Jews will buy land and Arabs will thereby lose their land,’ said Lord Passfield, adding: ‘I have spoken very often with the most prominent local Zionist leaders and they are very satisfied with this attitude. If the White Paper contained only this, the Zionists would have no complaint. The Zionist leaders told me that the Jews have always provided for the Arabs who lost their land and will continue to do so with the greatest pleasure’.
“Here Passfield spoke about the plans of the government to prepare land for agricultural purposes. The government intends to conduct the work on a large scale. He admitted that at present the plans are not yet definite and clear. It is not known as yet when the work will commence, on how large a scale it will be and how much it will cost. He, Passfield, doesn’t know how the necessary sums will be raised. The London government will aid in the work, but to what extent it will help he cannot say definitely.
“After the work of improving parcels of land has been accomplished, Lord Passfield continued, the first concern of the government will be the Arabs who are landless. But this shouldn’t worry the Jews, since the number of such landless Arabs is very small, altogether less than thirty thousand. When this is accomplished, Jews and Arabs will receive equal treatment in the purchase of land.
“We asked him whether the land would then be distributed equally among the two peoples according to their respective numbers. Passfield smiled and answered that this wouldn’t satisfy the Jews. One could understand that he meant that Jews would be able to buy more land in proportion to their numbers in the country.”
Lord Passfield’s attack on the Histadruth is described by Mr. Rogoff as follows:
“He stated openly that he is against the Histadruth, that he prefers the old type of Palestinian Jewish colonists, the Palestinian Jews of before the war, the ‘pious Jew’, as Passfield expressed it. He doesn’t like the new type of Jewish colonist which the Histadruth is bringing into the country.
“We dwelt at length on this point. We pointed out that Socialists and labor leaders should be more satisfied with the type of new Jewish immigrants, since the latter are Socialists and trade-unionists who have come to Palestine to live in accordance with their Socialist ideals.
OPPOSES ZIONIST IMMIGRANT
“Passfield emphasized strongly that he is not opposed to the new immigrants because they are Socialists and trade-unionists. He is only opposed to them because they are Zionists and do not live in harmony with the Arabs. He stated that the Jewish labor unions in Palestine are not really trade unions, but Zionist organizations, and that the Arabs cannot therefore enter them.
“When I heard Passfield speak so heatedly on this subject I was amazed. I couldn’t understand how such famous Socialists as Emil Vandervelde, MacDonald, Mrs. Snowden, who were in Palestine and themselves saw the work of the Histadruth, came back enthusiastic over the Jewish labor unions there, while Passfield, who was never there, hasn’t one good word for the Histadruth.
“Passfield dwelt at length upon the question of Jews excluding Arab workers. He spoke of this in a firm tone. We showed him that Arab workers are excluded only from such Jewish undertakings as are being financed by Jewish funds. Fine called his attention to an article in the Manchester Guardian. The writer of that article said that to ask of the Jews to hire Arabs for such undertakings means asking them to be superhuman. I said that Russia could be taken as an example; there the government is allowing the Jews to utilize Jewish funds only for Jews. Passfield didn’t agree with all this, but kept stubbornly to his view.
“It was a great disappointment for us, both what Passfield had said about the Histadruth and the tone in which he spoke. He complained that the Jews demand more privileges than the Arabs by demanding better wages. I asked him why the government of Palestine never adopted any labor laws. To this Passfield replied that something was done in this respect before the occurrences of August, 1929, but that since then nothing more could be done for the Palestine workers.”
In conclusion Mr. Rogoff states in his cable that London Zionist leaders regard this interview with Lord Passfield, which though originally planned to last half an hour, was prolonged to an hour and a quarter, as the most important statement made by the Colonial Secretary since the issuance of the White Paper.