Jerusalem (May. 24)
Safeguarding the interests of those Jews who were born in Palestine is the principal plank in the policy of the Hebrew daily “Doar Hayom” beginning from to-morrow, (Monday) when the paper passes to the control of a group consisting of the B’nai Benjamin, the organisation of Palestine farmers who were born in the country, sons of the old Palestine colonists, and of the organisation of the Palestine-born town population which is headed by Mr. Ben-Avi, the editor of the “Doar Hayom”, who made this announcement to-day to the J.T.A. here.
The “Doar Hayom” was for a considerable time the organ of the Revisionists, until it passed back about three months ago to the editorship of Mr. Ben-Avi, its founder and first editor, the Revisionists starting a new daily of their own, “Haam”.
The “Doar Hayom” will also advocate the cantonisation of Palestine, and the transfer of the Palestine Mandate from Great Britain to the League of Nations as such.
Mrs. Mary Fels of New York, the widow of the famous millionaire-single-tax advocate, Joseph Fels, who was a leader of the Jewish Territorial Organisation (Ito) and a close friend of the late Israel Zangwill, is a Vice-President of the B’nai Benjamin, whose work she has helped considerably. She gave at one time 40,000 dollars for the B’nai Benjamin Bank and 10,000 dollars for a B’nai Benjamin Agricultural Fund named in honour of the late Aaron Aaronson, a member of the famous Aaronson family including the late Sarah Aaronson and Captain Alexander Aaronson who did a great deal during the war to bring about the British victory in Palestine.
The B’nai Benjamin, of which I am Vice-President, Mrs. Fels said in 1925 when she established the Joseph Fels Foundation to promote the rebuilding of Palestine as the Jewish National Home and to spread the ethical techings of the Bible, is an organisation of the Jewish young farmers of Palestine, who share my faith that the Jewish problem as such cannot be solved by the mere physical resettlement of Palestine, but must be linked with a spiritual awakening of both Jews and Gentiles, and a revival of the ethical and religious life of Israel. Captain Alexander Aaronson D.S.O. who is a prominent B’nai Benjamin, and a Vice-resident of the Joseph Fels Foundation, once wrote to the J.T.A. to urge the claims of the young Palestine-born Jews who belong to the B’nai Benjamin, pointing out that “Palestine already has generations of sons whose fathers consecrated their Jewish claim to Palestine with their sweat and blood and tears and helped to resurrect Palestine long before the Zionist Basle Programme was enunciated, generations who with their wisdom, courage and blood helped the British troops to liberate Palestine and who could proudly stand up to receive the Balfour Declaration as a reward for services already rendered, and as a token of what Great Britain still expects of the Jews”.
Mr. Ben-Avi, who is the son of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the great Hebrew lexicographer, explained his Palestine cantonisation plan in the “Palestine Weekly” of the 8th. inst. Taking a map of Palestine, he said, one is struck by the astonishing fact that the 140 Jewish settlements in Palestine as though by design, have gathered along a line which strongly resembles a reversed s. One can say to-day that, but for some patches of land which are not yet in Jewish possession, the million and a half dunams which Jews have acquired in the past fifty years form a sort of continuous chain of Jewish regions tightly bound together economically as well as politically. Most of the Jordan Valley is in Jewish ownership, with the dominating control of the Rutenberg Power Works, there is a considerable area of the new Bay of Haifa development zone under Jewish settlement, which also covers seventy per cent, of the Plain of Sharon and eighty per cent, of the Plain of Esdcaelon. If to all these be added the fact that Jerusalem, Haifa and Tiberius have Jewish majorities, that in Haifa the 21,000 Jews come first and the Moslems and Christians second and third respectively, and that in Tel-Aviv there are 48,000 Jews, one has indicated the whole truth of the present situation of the Jews in Palestine. If it be true, therefore, that in rural areas the Moslems predominate, Jews coming second and Christians third, it is none the less true that in urban centres Jews and Moslems are about equal in number. There should be no special difficulty then, Mr. Ben-Avi went on, to create a series of Jewish cantons on the Swiss model, which would be self-contained from the economic stand-point and at the same time politically quite autonomous. In short what the French have so well done for the Christians in the Lebanon by creating the Lebanese Republic, the British could certainly have done for the Jews.
Asked what he thought world Jewry would say to such a whittling down of its hopes, Mr. Ben-Avi replied that it would need some national courage; but it would be better, he thought, to live in peace with one’s neighbours in a safer “Judea” than to be constantly at issue with a problematical All-Jewish State, which, he said, practical polities shows is an impossibility.