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The Seventeenth Zionist Congress meets at a time of great difficulty, both internal and external. In the course of the last two years, we have suffered many disappointments, and the organization has been subjected to a severe strain-financial as well as political. The position of Jewish communities in all parts of the world has undergone a change for the worse, and we have been more gravely affected than anyone else by the world-wide economic depression. Our work of reconstruction in Palestine has been slowed down to a dangerous degree, and the Congress will be faced with the serious problem of deciding what means and ways to adopt in order to safeguard the existing structure of the Jewish National Home, and to establish it on a broader and surer basis.

In this, my final report, I must ask your indulgence if, before dealing with our present position, I go back and deal with the past history of the movement. I will be as short as I can, but even so it must take up a little time.


I want you to cast your thoughts back to the years between 1916 and 1921, when what has since become the policy of the Mandate was being framed, and to consider, first of all, what were the motives which led British statesmen (in consultation with statesmen of the Allied and Associated Powers) to formulate the Balfour Declaration in 1916-1917, and later to accept a Mandate for Palestine based upon that Declaration. What was the basis of British interest in Palestine? For British interest in Palestine-in Zionism even was not a War growth. It was a tradition long before 1914; you will not need to be reminded of the protection consistently accorded by British Consuls to Jews in Palestine, or of the offer made in 1903 by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. I believe that the main motive underlying the Balfour Declaration was the same motive which had inspired the earlier expressions of sympathy for the Jews, namely the “sentimental” motive which has its roots in close study of the Bible. For many Englishmen of the generation of Lord Balfour, and even of later generations, Palestine has been from their earliest youth a familiar country-familiar, but mysterious and romantic. The very placenames are names they have known from childhood, names of old and sacred association; indeed, I remember hearing Mr. Lloyd George attribute his interest in the Palestine Campaign largely to its being fought on “a Front whose geography has been familiar to me since my childhood.” In the drafting of the Mandate itself, this motive is made clear in the obvious desire on the part of British statesmen to include in the Mandated territory the Biblical Palestine-“from Dan to Beersheba.”


This sentimental motive was supported, both during and more especially immediately after the War, by the influence which the ideas of freedom and fair play have on British public opinion. The conscience of the world had been deeply stirred by the disasters of the Great War. Men felt that, in order to avoid the repetition of such a catastrophe, it was essential to deal with the fundamental causes of unrest, and to eliminate them, even where they existed only in a latent form. President Wilson’s fourteen points, ideas like “making the world safe for democracy,” were at that time much more than mere slogans or catchwords; they were deeply rooted in the faith of the statesmen who then seemed, or even were, the masters of the world. These men were animated by the highest ethical motives; world betterment was the characteristic feature of the time. Such high aims could only be achieved by bringing all the disturbing elements of the world into a harmony and equilibrium. Attention was thus directed to ethnic groups and small peoples oppressed by greater and more powerful nations, and among these groups to the Jews, who lived and struggled in desperately abnormal conditions. The Jewish problem, particularly in so far as it affected the vast masses of oppressed Jewry in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, became a matter of serious concern. In the creation of an ideal world, even the vexed Jewish problem had to be dealt with-an attempt at its rational solution had to be made. Without that the picture of the ideal world would be seriously marred. The old account with the Jewish people had to be squared if the new world was to start with a clean balance-sheet-we Jews had to be given a square deal and a fair chance to establish a normal life of our own.

A third motive was utilitarian in character. There was in 1916-1917 the desire to win the sympathy of world Jewry, especially of the American Jews, and there was the permanent strategic importance of Palestine, an essential link in the chain of the British Empire. It is necessary for Great Britain to have, somewhere in the countries abutting on the Suez Canal, a base on which, in case of trouble, she can rely to keep clear the road of Imperial communications.

I should not care to say which of the three motives was decisive, but in my opinion it was certainly not the last. For this there exists historical evidence: when the choice of a Mandatory Power for Palestine was under discussion, His Majesty’s Government seriously considered the entrusting of the Mandate to a condominium, since they did not wish to undertake, alone, so serious an additional responsibility.


Turning now from the motives which led to the issue of the Balfour Declaracontemporary interpretations placed upon it, first by the British statesmen held responsible for its issue, and secondly by Jews throughout the world. As regards the interpretation placed upon it in responsible British circles, I shall quote one or two statements made at the time by those best qualified to speak on the subject. First, Lord Balfour, in the letter conveying the text of the Declaration itself to Lord Rothschild, described it as a “declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations.” In his speech at the Albert Hall on July 12th, 1920, he said:

“I hope that, remembering all that, they (the Arabs) will not grudge that small notch, for it is no more geographically, whatever it may be historically, that small notch in what are now Arab territories being given to the people who for all these years has been separated from it, but who surely have a title to develop on their own lines in the land of their forefathers.”

General Smuts, in a message to the Zionist Review on the first anniversary of the Declaration, said:

“Great as are the changes wrought by this War, this great World War of justice and freedom, I doubt whether any of these changes surpass in interest the liberation of Palestine and its recognition as the home of Israel.”

Lord Cecil, on July 12, 1920, described and the Mandate as “trying to restore an ancient people to its ancient home, to knit up the severed threads of National history.” He added: “We have given you national existence. In your hands lies your national future.”


One thing is clear from these and other contemporary statements: whatever the motive of the Declaration may have been, we, Jews, were considered capable of fulfiling our part of the contract. Looking back at a distance of ten years, it seems a strange thing, this relationship between a Great Power and a people “without an address,” without any organization, without recognized representatives. The relationship was without precedent, almost revolutionary in character, and one which could only have come about in the renewal of life, in the period of promise and of apparently unlimited potentialities which followed on the Great War. In those critical days then this relationship was slowly taking shape and finding expression in international agreements, I often asked myself what we-I and my friends who were speaking for the Jewish people-could answer were we asked to “show our credentials”-to prove our right to act as the representatives of world Jewry. That no such question was ever put is perhaps the strongest proof of the intuitive understanding of those men who spoke with us on behalf of Great Britain, and who saw us, not as the nominated or elected representatives of this or that group, but as the spokesmen of a people in the making. And this attitude is the more surprising when one remembers that the so-called “big Jews,” and the official Jews, were then very strongly opposed to Zionist ideals and aspirations.

As to the way in which the Jews, and especially the Jewish masses, interpreted the Declaration, and later the Mandate, I will not quote-for the difficulty of selecting representative quotations among so many would be too great-but I think no one will challenge the statement that it was interpreted as meaning something very great indeed-a decisive event in Jewish history. This view is supported by anti-Zionist as well as Zionist pronouncements. Zionists hailed the Declaration as the beginning of the fulfilment of our ancient messianic hope-a hope hallowed by a great tradition, and forming an integral part of the Jewish Faith.

There were naturally many who saw in the Balfour Declaration more than any Declaration could in fact contain-who confused the opportunity with its fulfilment, and perhaps forgot that, it the Declaration represented a Charter of Liberty, it also represented a challenge to the Jews. Like all people and groups without experience of political responsibility, the Jews are apt to see in the printed text of a document the sole and sufficient guarantee of political rights. Some of them have clung fanatically to the letter of the Mandate and have failed to understand its spirit Practical politics, like mechanics, are governed by one golden rule: You can only get out of things what you put into them. The Mandate is a document which can only be transformed into an effective instrument by our own energies, efforts and results.


There were many, too, no doubt, who asked themselves whether the Declaration and the Mandate were not the beginning of the long-awaited solution of the “Jewish problem”-the problem of finding relief for the millions of our oppressed people in Eastern European countries, whose imprisoned existence, intolerable enough even in Herzl’s time, now grew daily more desperate. But I think it must from the outset have been fairly clear that Palestine, even Palestine including Transjordan, could never, in any circumstances, supply what I will call, for want of a better word, a “quantitative” solution to the Jewish problem. Few can ever seriously have imagined that there could be an immediate mass immigration of Jews from all over the world, seeking sanctuary in Palestine a comparatively narrow strip of country stretching along part of the Mediterranean coast. And if any there were, in those early days, who did expect this, or anything like it, there was no lack of warning from Zionist sources, of what the consequences of such exaggerated hopes might be.

We knew, moreover, even in those early days, that we would not be the only inhabitants of Palestine. The Arabs were not forgotten either by us or by His Majesty’s Government, and it was no part of our conception of the building of our National Home that it should cause harm to other inhabitants of Palestine. This was made very clear by Ahad Ha’am in the preface to the English edition of his Essays, which appeared in 1920:


“When the British Government promised to facilitate the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people, and not, as was suggested to it, the reconstitution of Palestine as the National Home of the Jewish people-that promise meant two things. It meant in the first place the recognition of the historic right of the Jewish people to build its national home in Palestine, with a promise of assistance from the British Government; and it meant in the second place a negation of the power of that right to override the right of the present inhabitants and to make the Jewish people sole ruler in that country. The National Home of the Jewish people must be built out of the free material which can still be found in the country itself, and out of that which the Jews will bring in from outside, or will create by their work, without overthrowing the national home of the other inhabitants. And as the two homes are contiguous, and friction and conflicts of interest are inevitable, especially in the early period of the building of the Jewish National Home, of which not even the foundations have yet been properly laid, the promise necessarily demands, though it is not expressly so stated, that a guardian shall be appointed over the two homes-that is over the whole country-to see to it that the owner of the historic right, while he does not injure the inhabitants in their internal affairs, shall not on his side have obstacles put in his way by his neighbor, who at present is stronger than he. And in course of time, when the new National Home is fully built, and its tenant is able to rely, no less than his neighbor, on the right which belongs to a large population living and working in the country it will be possible to raise the question whether the time has not come to hand over the control of the country to the ‘householders’ themselves, so that they may together administer their joint affairs, fairly and justly, in accordance with the needs of each of them, and the value of his work for the revival and development of the country.

“This and no more, it seems to me, is what we can find in the Balfour Declaration; and this and no more is what our leaders and writers should have told the people, so that it should not imagine more than what is actually there, and afterwards relapse into despair and absolute scepticism.”

But if we knew that the time for the mass-salvation of the Jewish people was not at hand, we still saw in the Declaration and the Mandate the promise of something much more tangible, more satisfying, than what our opponents call a “spiritual home” though even that might have contributed largely towards the saving of Jewish self-respect. We expected and we were, I think, entitled to expect – not that every Jew would at once be willing or able to forsake his present country and establish himself in Palestine, but at least that every Jew should know that those among them who greatly desired to go there, and who felt that in Palestine alone they could find peace and satisfaction in the creation of a national life of their own, would have a reasonable chance of doing so within a reasonable time. We further expected that the material foundations which we should thus have the opportunity of laying, would be sufficiently broad and strong safely to bear the superstructure of a moral and intellectual civilization of our own, capable of developing without let or hindrance, repression or suppression. And the knowledge of these things would, we thought, go far towards providing at least a “qualitative” solution of the Jewish problem, and offer a hope, and at least a partial outlet for the great pressure prevailing in the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. It was a hope for the younger generation, which was ready to seize upon its new chance in Palestine. I think this is a fair statement of what Zionists had reason to expect from the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate in the years before 1922.


In 1922 we entered upon the period of the implementing of the Balfour Declaration and of the Mandate. Seldom has any political undertaking placed such heavy demands on the endurance and the self-restraint of those engaged upon it. For both sides, for us as well as for Great Britain, the problem was entirely without precedent. For a British Administration, the thing must have been almost incomprehensible – utterly contrary to the usual practice. Englishmen are empirical by nature. They are supreme in their grasp and appreciation of the realities of the situation. and know how to adapt themselves and their actions to the laws which govern the situation. But here was the problem of adapting the realities of a situation to an idea, in spite of opposition, and for the sake of an ideal which, however noble and desirable, could only be achieved in a far distant and none-too-certain future. These would-be practical, hard-headed men fail to understand that such a force is at least as real as many of those material assets which normal nations mobilize in support of their political claims. True the Government was not asked, nor expected, to build the National Home for us. It was asked, however, to give us an opportunity to do work ourselves, without hindrance, and to further our work both through the general policy of the Mandatory Power, and in the day-to-day administration of the country.


The period of implementing which began in 1922 was necessarily a period of readjustments, both on the Jewish side and on the British. On the British side, it soon became apparent that the very factors which had brought about the issue of the Balfour Declaration were, in certain circumstances, liable to operate against the execution of a policy based upon it. The British devotion to fair-play and instinctive support of the weaker side, was responsible in some quarters for a feeling that the Arabs of Palestine needed to be protected against the richer, better organized Jews. The popular assumption that all Jews are rich and powerful prevented these people from perceiving that the overwhelming mass of the Jewish people, with the exception of small groups in Western Europe and of the Jewish community of America, are economically in a state bordering on destitution. Whatever the position of the poor fellaheen in Palestine may be, it is vastly more secure than that of the Jewish masses scattered throughout the world, searching everywhere for a foothold, and finding it nowhere. The opponents of the Balfour Declaration have failed lamentably in appreciation of the great moral force which is the mainspring of the Movement, and of the inherent justice of a Cause sanctified by the suffering of a people through thousands of years.

Next, the British desire for stable government in the countries near the Suez Canal gave rise in some quarters to the idea of an independent, pro-British, Moslem Arab Empire in the Middle East, and hence to a certain opposition to the Jewish National Home, which only the ablest and most far-sighted among the Arabs and pro-Arabs (e. g. Colonel Lawrence) recognized to be a help and not a hindrance to Arab National Development.


The years that followed 1922 also witnessed in Great Britain the growth of a certain weariness of the responsibilities of Empire-a fatigue that bred a growing tendency to decentralization, and a desire to leave even the Crown Colonies to manage their own affairs as much as possible, and to reduce the commitments of the Home Government in various directions.

For all these reasons it became obvious that we had to face a certain readjustment of War ideals to post-War reactions.

On the Jewish side, the response to the challenge of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate was hampered by the ruin suffered during and after the War by the great Jewish communities of Eastern Europe, and especially of Russia. Those who had been the foremost supporters and pioneers of our Movement were cut off from us, and for practical purposes, non-existent, and, when at last the chance had come for building up our national home in Palestine, we had to go to work with our right hand tied behind our back.


First there were those who, in their anxiety to keep up-or down-to the level of realities, decided that Zionism must henceforth abandon the political struggle altogether, and concentrate entirely on economic problems, on the upbuilding of Palestine “on a strict business basis,” and chiefly by private initiative. I shall deal with this in greater detail later when I come to speak of economic policy.

At the opposite pole there were those-they are to be found in all great movements-for whom realities simply did not exist. For them the sole reality was, and is, the idea of a Jewish State: they call it “Herzl’s policy of the Jewish State,”-with how much justification I shall proceed to consider in a moment. In their eagerness to achieve this “Jewish State,” they have forgotten that political weight stands in a certain proportion to practical achievements, and these are not attained by proclamations.

Between these two extremes I have tried, for these ten years, to steer a middle course, losing sight neither of economic realities nor of political possibilities. It is for you to judge what measures of success has attended my efforts.


A moment ago I mentioned Herzl’s policy. I have often been accused-naturally by those who themselves profess to adhere to that policy-of having abandoned the ideals of the founder of political Zionism, and it occurs to me that it may perhaps be useful to go back for moment to original sources, and to consider what the policy of Theodor Herzl really was, as stated, first in his book on the Jewish State, next at the Basle Congress of 1897, and finally by Herzl’s chief collaborator and most ardent disciple, Dr. Nordau, in 1916.

The first thing that strikes the reader of these three successive statements of Herzl’s policy is that the conception of a “Jewish State” appears only in the book Der Juedenstaat; and in Der Juedenstaat, as you know, it is by no means clear that Herzl thought of Palestine as the country in which his plan was most likely to be executed. Indeed, the impression created by Der Juedenstaat is that Herzl himself regarded the Palestine proposal as rather academic, and was inclined to dismiss it as a “pious hope,” not worth very serious consideration. There is no certainty that he definitely envisaged a Jewish State in Palestine,-the whole tone of the book goes to suggest that he had some other country (e. g. Argentina) in mind while he was writing it, and that the reference to Palestine as an alternative was slipped in as an afterthought, probably to please Herzl’s Zionist friends. (I leave Alt-neuland out of account here, as an admitted excursion into Utopia). This view is supported by the development of Herzl’s policy when eventually brought into contact with realities. At the First Zionist Congress in 1897, when Herzl had definitely identified himself with the Zionist Movement, and hence with the idea of Palestine as the only possible country for the Jewish renaissance, the phrase “Jewish State” disappears from his programme. What Herzl and the Zionist Movement sought to obtain in 1897, according to the Basle Programme, was the establishment in Palestine of a “home” for the Jewish people “secured by public law.”

The final stage in the development of Herzl’s policy,-its eventual adaptation to realities-is represented by Dr. nordau’s statement in the preface contributed by him to Mr. Paul Goodman’s book: “Zionism-Problems and Views,” published in 1916 (i.e. when there first appeared a faint prospect of Palestine coming within the orbit of practical Zionist polities). The passage is instructive, and I quote it in full:

“Zionism does not pretend to lead back to the Holy Land of their ancestors all the Jews of the globe. The return of those who cling with all their hearts to the country of their birth and of their citizenship is out for the East who feel that there and nowhere else has life moral and material satisfaction and happiness in store for them.

“Zionism has not the ambition of founding an independent Jewish State, be it Kingdom or Republic. All it desires is that its adherents should be allowed to immigrate without any restraint into Palestine, to buy there as much land as they can obtain for their money, to enjoy autonomy of local administration and not to be hampered in their earnest efforts to create culture and prosperity. It goes without saying that Zionistic Jews pledge themselves to observe the most scrupulous, the most generous, loyalty towards that Power under whose sovereignty Palestine is placed.”

If there is any essential difference between the “home” in Palestine “secured by public law” of the Basle Program, as defined by Dr. Nordau in 1916, and the Balfour Declaration promise of British support for a “National Home for the Jewish people in Palestine,” I think it is rather the Declaration that has the more comprehensive meaning.


The three official commentaries on the Declaration which now stand are, first the Mandate itself, secondly the 1922 (Churchill) White Paper, and lastly, the Prime Minister’s letter to me of February 13th, 1931, interpreting the White Paper of October 1930.


First, the Mandate. It was, as you know, drafted in the years 1919-1921, and formally approved by the Council of the League of Nations in July, 1922, just after publication of the Churchill White Paper. In the discussions which took place over the various drafts of the Mandate, it became apparent that there was a good deal of opposition to the policy of the Balfour Declaration, due to causes which I have outlined already,-namely to the policy of fostering Arab Imperialism, and Great Britain’s growing desire to avoid all further commitments. To adherents of these two schools of thought are due the limitations placed on the meaning of the Balfour Declaration in the Mandate. They were by no means completely successful in their endeavors; on most of the vital points we succeeded in holding our own,-for example the Mandate contains the recitals of the Preamble which incorporate the text of the Balfour Declaration, and refer to the historical connection of the Jews with Palestine; it contains very definite and positive instructions to the Mandatory Power to facilitate the establishment of the Jewish National Home, and to encourage close settlement by Jews on the land. But thanks to these opponents of the Balfour Declaration, the Mandate also includes qualifying clauses which in a way impair the weight of the Zionist provisions. Thanks to them too, Transjordan was excluded from the ambit of the Zionist clauses of the Mandate-purely temporary political expediency, conditioned by a momentary situation which arose in 1921, was allowed to take precedence over the ideals and statesmanship of the Balfour Declaration. The same influences are trace-able, right up to the present day, in the substance, as well as in the terminology, of the comments on the policy of the Mandate put forward by the Permanent Officials of the Mandatory Power. Such phrases as “equal weight,” “conflicting interests,” the discussion of the meaning of the words “rights and position,” are examples of what I mean.

In short, the Mandate itself represented a compromise, but it was an agreed compromise; if we did not get all which at one time we had a right to expect, at least we held our ground on the most vital points.


With the Mandate there appeared a commentary on its policy-the Churchill White Paper of 1922, which went one step further in the direction{SPAN}{/SPAN} restrictive definition. I admit that it was a step which we would rather not have taken. But the situation was fully discussed with us, and we agreed, in view of all the circumstances-of our own difficulties in the execution of our work, as well as of the Government’s difficulties, to the definition of the policy of the Jewish National Home contained in the Churchill White Paper. We knew that it contained unpleasant possibilities. But we accepted it because we thought, and still think, that it gave us a real opportunity of building up the Jewish National Home in Palestine; it gave us scope for our work. It emphasized that we were in Palestine as of right, and not on sufferance. The only limit it placed on immigration was the common-sense limit of the absorptive capacity of the country-a limit which economics would in any event have imposed upon us. It left us free to buy “as much land as we could obtain for our money” (I quote Dr. Nordau again), and it gave prominence to our right to internal autonomy, and to the use of Hebrew as an official language. It also clearly recognized the national character of the Yishub.


That the Mandate, as interpreted in the 1922 White Paper did, in fact, give us the opportunity which it seemed to offer, is proved by the development of our work in Palestine in the years 1922-1929, during which British policy in Palestine was governed by these two documents. To a Zionist Congress there is no need for me to enumerate the achievements which stand to our credit in Palestine. I think I can fairly sum them up by saying that every un-biased observer, and particularly any observer who has had an opportunity of comparing Palestine as it is today with what it was before the War, will agree that we have done something of which we may well be proud. If you say that more might have been achieved, I can only answer that less might also have been achieved-very much less. When I consider how heavily we have been handicapped, it is rather a matter of surprise to me that we have managed to do so much. And remember, if more has not been done, there was no serious political reason for the limitation of our work-what we have done is sufficient to show that. If we have bought only a millions dunams of land, when we might have bought two millions, with whom lies the responsibility? Surely in the first instance with those who have failed to supply us with the means to acquire the two millions. If we have brought in only tens of thousands of immigrants when we might have brought in hundreds of thousands, the responsibility again rests with those who have withheld the golden key which alone could have opened the gates of Palestine to all who knocked at them. There was, I repeat, no political reason why the Jewish National Home should not by now be twice, or even five times, its present size.

I am not saying that the Jewish Agency has made no mistakes. People-and organizations-who never make mistakes are apt to make nothing at all. But Ido think, on a long view, that we may fairly claim to have discharged our two principal duties: We have done everything we could, with the means at our disposal, to build up the Jewish National Home in Palestine, and at the same time, we have upheld the rights conferred upon us by the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate.


So long as the attitude of the Mandatory Government, and the interpretation placed by its representatives upon the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate made it possible for us honestly to fulfil our duty in these two respects, the only possible course was for us to offer the Mandatory Government, both in London and in Jerusalem, our whole-hearted co-operation and loyalty in its difficult task. No other attitude was possible. No other attitude could have been anything but a hindrance to our work in Palestine and a betrayal of our trust. We have consistently, sometimes in the face of strong pressure from certain of our constituents, done everything we properly could to facilitate the task of the Mandatory Power in Palestine. And here I have to admit, with regret, that in Palestine we did not always meet with the response we thought we deserved and were entitled to, on the part of the representatives of the Administration. Ever since the beginning of the Civil Administration, there was evident in the personnel of the Palestine Government a certain apathy and indifference-at times amounting almost to hostility-towards the policy of the Jewish National Home. There may have been isolated cases of downright anti-Jewish bias, but they were not frequent; what was general, as I have said, was a reluctance to take any active steps in support of the policy, and a tendency, in times of crisis, to take refuge in the plea of the “inherent difficulties” of the Mandate.


It is unfortunate that the civil administration in Palestine should have been, and still is, largely recruited from men who have very little understanding of Zionist aims and aspirations, who come to Palestine unacquainted with and unprepared for the complex task which they have to face. I think it is to this, more than to any definite policy-let alone what is commonly known as anti-Semitism-that the attitude of the Palestine Administration is probably due. I have sometimes heard it said that this is merely corroborative evidence of the Machiavellian policy of His Majesty’s Government, and that, while the Home Government continues to profess its adherence to the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate, it is part of its policy to select as its representatives in Palestine only such officials as can be trusted to take no interest in, and show no sympathy for, the policy which they will have to execute I can only say that all my experience of British Governments-and it is fairly extensive-goes to disprove any such assertion. I believe the British to be the least anti-Jewish of any people in the world; and I believe the British Government to be genuinely anxious to see the policy of the Mandate prove a success in Palestine. But we have to realize that, for the British Cabinet, Palestine is not their only concern, and that much must necessarily be left to the men on the spot-and to us. The problem of Palestine is sui generis, and places heavy demands on the Administrators: even a British Administration meets with it for the first time.

Nevertheless, a part of any blame which may attach to the Jewish Agency for the slow progress made towards the establishment of the Jewish National Home, may fairly be charged to the account of neglect, or even ill will, on the part of some members of the Palestine Administration. Still, in remembering those who go even to the length of trying to defeat our own legitimate endeavors under the Mandate, we must not forget the debt which we owe to others-to men such as Sir Herbert Samuel, and Lord Plumer, Sir Wyndham Deedes and the late Sir Gilbert Clayton.

To sum up, while the 1922 White Paper did not give us all that we had expected from the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate, I think I have shown that neither in letter nor in effect did it deprive us of the promised opportunity of building up our National Home in Palestine. The next commentary on the Balfour Declaration-the White Paper of October, 1930-did deprive us of that opportunity. I pass over the disappointments we have had to endure in the past two years-a brief record is before you in the printed Report, and I will take it as read-and pass on to the White Paper of October, 1930, and the situation which it created.


We had expected-and I think we were entitled to expect-that before the new statement of policy based on Sir John Hope Simpson’s Report, was issued by His Majesty’s Government, we should be given an opportunity of submitting our observations on that Report; which, indeed, as a statement of fact, proved a worthless document, a jumble of groundless assumptions and of misunderstood or distorted statistics. But instead of having the validity of that Report tested by public discussion, as is the usual practice of the British Government with regard to such Reports-the Colonial Office preferred to base its statement of policy on that document untested. Sir John Hope Simpson’s Report and the White Paper were published simultaneously, and we did not see the text of either until it was too late for any changes to be made in the White Paper. The contents of both documents are familiar to you all. I shall therefore say merely, by way of summary, that the White Paper seemed to us tantamount to a cancellation of the Mandate, and that in our view it left no ground whatever for co-operation between the Jewish Agency and His Majesty’s Government. We refused to acknowledge its validity, and that not on legal grounds alone, but because it threatened to destroy the very basis of our life and future in Palestine.

I shall not dwell upon what I felt when, in October, 1930, I found myself forced to confess to the whole would what seemed the final failure of my policy of co-operation with the British Government. On the day on which the White Paper was published, I announced my resignation of the Presidency of the Zionist Organization and of the Jewish Agency. As you know, it was the intention immediately to summon the Congress and Council, so that they might take stock of the situation and decide on further action.

But in the interval which had to elapse before the new elections, a change supervened in the situation. The Prime Minister invited us to discuss our objections to the White Paper with a Cabinet Committee. We were offered the fullest opportunity of stating our case, and we were promised redress of any grievances which we could prove to the Committee. The consultation which had always been customary in the past, and which Lord Passfield had chosen to refuse us in October, 1930, was now to take place-consultaion with an authoritative body of British statesmen. It was imperative to attempt whatever salvage was possible after that shipwreck of statesmanship, the White Paper of October, 1930; though it was clear that no amount of true statesmanship could now altogether undo the damage which the White Paper had inflicted on Palestine-on its internal peace, on relations between Jews and Arabs, and on the relations of both races with the Mandatory Power.


The White Paper as such could not be withdrawn-there is no precedent in British constitutional practice for a statement of policy being withdrawn within a week or so of its publication by the Government responsible for it. But, barring such a formal recantation, we could expect satisfaction of our justified complaints. The question therefore was whether we should accept that offer, fairly made (and afterwards fairly performed), or whether we should insist on a clear and simple withdrawal of the White Paper, though we knew that the Government could not accede to that request. Such a demand on our part would have been followed by one of two things: either we would have had to wait passively for another Government, which would have been a fatal line for us to take, as in the meantime the White Paper would have hardened into law, and many things done on that basis could not have been undone afterwards-not even by the most whole-hearted champions of the policy of the Mandate; or our friends in the House of Commons, at the end of a Debate on Palestine, would have had to press the question of the White Paper to a vote. Such a vote would have been disastrous to us, whatever the result-for had there been a majority for the White Paper, however small, that White Paper would have received Parliamentary sanction; but had the Government been defeated over the White Paper, such a defeat, I am afraid, would have turned the great mass of the Labor Party against us, and Palestine would have become a Party question at Westminster. Even many Labor Members, who are now friendly to us, would have bitterly resented such a defeat, especially had it come as a consequence of our refusing the reparation offered to us by their Government in its invitation to take part in a Cabinet Conference.

In these circumstances, the one sensible thing for us to do was to accept the invitation. In the hour of our supreme danger, our friends among the British Conservatives and Liberals had spoken out; but the voices in our favour were not raised from their Benches only. The conscience of Great Britain spoke out, and it spoke through Labour Members as well; it spoke even in the very midst of the Government; which though in form jointly responsible for the White Paper, was not so in truth. The time is not yet come when we can go into the detail of this-all too recent – history, but those who know it, and some day our entire nation will join with me in honouring the men who had the courage to stand up against a wrong and to engage actively on behalf of a people who could in no way reward them, and in fact can hardly thank them. In the first days of November 1930 we could have repeated the words uttered on another occassion by a great Frenchman: la verite esten marche!-and nothing could have arrested it, except some tragic blunder on our part, Gentlemen, that supreme blunder I did not comit, though there were many among you, unacquainted with the exact situation, who were pressing me to commit it.


The discussions which followed on our acceptance of the Prime Minister’s invitation resulted in the letter which the Prime Minister addressed to me on February 13th, 1931, and which was read out in the House of Commons the same day in reply to a question. The text is familiar to all of you, and I will confine myself to commenting on one or two points which seem to me important.

First, with regard to the question of the status of the new document. I raised the question of the proper status to be given to it during the discussions in the Cabinet Conference, and received an assurance that our views would be sympathetically considered. This was done, and the first paragraph of the letter itself states clearly that it is “to be read as the authoritative interpretation of the White Paper on the matters with which the letter deals.” We had at the time to face much criticism from those whose abhorence of the White Paper blinded them to the obvious fact that if the letter did not refer to it, then the White Paper would stand in its original form with all its damaging implications to be taken at their face value. The letter could help us only in so far as it was clearly linked up with the White Paper and effectively neturalised it. It is not easy to see how this would have been done without some reference to that document.


Another aspect of the question of status was raised in the House of Commons on February 11th, when the Prime Minister, in reply to a supplementary question, said that his explanatory statement would be published. but would not be laid before the House as a White Paper. But the impression unintentionally created by that reply was removed the next day, when the Prime Minister announced that the letter would be published laid before the Permanent Mandates Commission, and embodied in official instructions to the High Commissioner. The letter has thus received official status, and become the directive for official action though it is not technically a “White Paper.”

So much for the status of the letter. I now turn to its contents. First of all, I want to make it clear that we have never for a moment claimed it as a political “victory”. We have from the outset been at pains to make it clear that we were contending, not for gains, but for rights, – the rights conferred upon us by the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate, and of which the October White Paper would have deprived us. The whole subject of the negotiations may be stated as the restoration of the statue quo undermined by long persistent burrowing, and at last seriously shaken by the mine exploded in October 1930. All this was now brought to light and examined, and public opinion in Great Britain, which shortly before had been sceptical or hostile, understood our protest, and the wrong was put right. The promises and policy of the Mandate could hardly have undergone a severer test; they have stood it.

To gain a clear idea of what the Prime Minister’s letter has done to the October White Paper it is necessary to place the two documents side by side on the table in front of you and compare them – not only in their substance, but their general tone and the impression they leave upon the mind. If you do this, I think you will agree that the wrong done by the White Paper has been righted, and that the Mandate and the Balfour Declaration have been emphatically reaffirmed. I sometimes think that the boon of the Balfour Declaration came too easily to us. I remember the moment when, just after the Balfour Declaration had been approved by the War Cabinet, Sir Mark Sykes came to me from the Cabinet Chamber and said: “Weizmann, it’s a boy!” That was the birth of the child – a comparatively easy birth. The birth-pains of the Balfour Declaration came only at a much later stage. Or – to change the metaphor-that boy, after thirteen years, had now his Barmitzvah. I have been with him from his birth to his confirmation, and I now hand him over to your care.

This concludes the political part of my report, but before I pass to other subjects. I wish to say a few words about the great services rendered to our Cause in time of great stress by three close collaborators who have worked with me through these most critical two years-Mrs. Edgar Dugdale, Mr. Leonard Stein, and Mr. L. B. Namier.


Turning now from politics to economics which is a matter of slow organic growth, and it is beset with all the difficulties against which a young organization has to struggle. It was essential to create at least a nucleus for further development, and that I think we have achieved. Our ten thousand Chaluzim are not, of course, the Jewish masses which we should like to see in Palestine. Two thousand homesteads founded on self-labor, and supported by the work of these ten thousand people, are not yet a self-supporting economic unit. From the point of view of numbers they are no more than a quantite negligeable; measured by the word’s standards, a mite. But from the point of view of quality, of potentialities, what we have done is important. It gives us the confident hope of future healthy development and growth.

Only 40,000 returned from Babylon but there was in them that great force which enabled them to recreate the whole nation. The return to Zion denotes, among other values, the return to hard manual labor, without which the awakening and manifestation of the great forces latent within the Jewish people would prove an illusion. We can not hope to effect the development, from the present nucleus in Palestine, of a self-contained, self-supporting economic structure without the spade-work of the Chaluzim and the urge of their spirit. The pioneering fever has not abated, nor will it, I hope, for many years to come. Marshes still wait to be drained by our pioneers, hillsides and dunes to be planted, deserts to be reclaimed, rocks to be blasted, and roads to be constructed. This calls for a vast expenditure of physical strength; this will require money, sacrifice, self-discipline, and unquestioning devotion to an ideal. The voice of Jacob does not suffice,-the hands of Jacob must labor also. It is beneath the dignity of a nation to expect another people to perform for it this mighty physical effort.


The Chaluzim are a great motive force, but this force can only be directed by men who are in sympathy with it, who understand the mental and moral aspirations of their followers. Only if these men have real appreciation of the Chaluz urge towards justice, freedom and independence, will the Chaluzim give, as they must, the last ounce of their strength and energy to the work they have in hand.

This motive force of the Chaluzim must not be squandered for lack of the essential element in the upbuilding of the National Home. That element is national colonization, and national colonization requires large funds from outside Palestine. It is essential alike for the building of the Jewish National Home and for the maintenance of the Chaluz type and the Chaluz spirit. For the Chaluz will not be content-he ought not to be content-to remain a wage-earning laborer indefinitely. If he sees no hope of ever establishing himself permanently upon the soil, the motive power in him will fail. And without the work of the Chaluzim, private capital cannot be used in Palestine to its own advantage or to the advantage of the movement. As matters stand now, private initiative in agruculture expends itself solely on one branch of agricultural activity-namely orange-growing-because other branches of agriculture in Palestine, though they can provide bread for a working Chaluz, cannot as yet yield a return for private capital. The National Home cannot be built up on the orange-belt alone, which only represents a small part of Palestine, though a very important one.


And this is where the advocates of the “strict business basis” fail to appreciate the realities of the situation in Palestine. Very often the so-called business men, competent as they are in their judgment of banking business and stock-markets in their own countries, commit the grave mistake of applying their knowledge, and sometimes their large experience, to Palestinian conditions, which are fundamentally different from those obtaining in the countries in which they live. They sometimes forget the very important truth that we are in the midst of a War, fought not against human beings, but against the recalcitrant forces of nature, a War fought not with guns and explosives, but with the plough and the chisel. What would be the chance in a War of a General whose dominant concern was the cost of his ammunition? A real danger may attend a misconception of the realities of our position in Palestine, and the forces which govern, or are inherent in, our Movement of regeneration; it may be that the consistent application of rigid, sober and calculating business methods, in itself a virtue, may become the cause of disastrous failure in time of national struggle.

The truth is that in Palestine there is even now no ready-made “business basis.” In Palestine as it was in 1920 or 1922 there was no shadow of a promise of such a basis. Palestine in those days would never have attracted a penny of foreign capital in the ordinary course of economic development. There was no conmercial prospect that investments in the country would ever be remunerative; certainly there was no prospect of remuneration within a reasonable period of time. The “business basis” for the development of Palestine had to be created; it had to be created by us, by the labors of the Chaluzim, and by the investments made a fonde perdu by the Keren Hayesod and the Keren Keyemeth. In the last few years there has just begun to be a genuine business basis for the development of Palestine. The world at large-non-Jews as well as Jews-is just beginning, but only beginning, to find out that there are openings in Palestine for the investment of capital with at least a prospect of profits on a commercial scale. Perhaps in ten or twenty years’ time, if development continues, Palestine will have become a really “good thing” on the stock-markets of the world; by then private enterprise will, perhaps, be all that is required. But what is quite certain is that, but for the work of the Jewish Agency-the Keren Hayesod and the Keren Keyemeth-there would even now be no suggestion of a “business basis” for the development of Palestine by the operation of natural economic laws, and no prospect of such development within any measurable period of time.


Thus, I think we may safely claim to have very considerably helped to create the necessary conditions in which the key industries of Palestine can continue to develop and prosper. We have striven to bring about the special conditions in which alone consolidation can be secured for those branches of agriculture for which private capital is not available, and to create the prerequisites for the normal all-round development of Palestinian agriculture. Nor have we been idle with regard to industrial development. The concession for light and power, the concession for the development of the mineral resources of the Dead Sea-these things did not fall from heaven; they were the result of serious and prolonged endeavor on the part of the concessionaires and of the Jewish Agency. It is we who have scientifically prepared the ground for agricultural and industrial development. In a country as poor as Palestine, the last word in science must be applied if competition in world markets is to be successful.

Private capital, then, can establish individual enterprises, but it is for a national capital to create conditions. Pioneering money and pioneering workers have to clear the road for the advent of private capital.


Because of this aspect of our economic work in Palestine, our opponents sometimes brand us as visionaries,-unpractical and unbusinesslike-and use in their polemics with great levity, though with skill, the word “batlanuth.” May I be permitted to point out that “batlanuth” has a relative and not an absolute value? “Batlanuth” means paying no heed to the realities of a situation, or attempting to get the better of them by bluster and talk which stands in no relation whatsoever to the actual facts. I think no one could have shown more clearly than we have that we know that the many obstacles and difficulties in our path cannot be overcome merely by shouting and protesting. The Walls of Jericho fell to the sound of shouts and of trumpets. I never heard of any walls being raised by such means.

I have heard other critics of the Jewish Agency sneer at what they call the old “Hibath Zion” policy of “another dunam and another dunam, another Jew and another Jew, another cow and another goat and two more houses in Gederah.” If there is any other way of building a house save brick by brick, I do not know it. If there is any other way of building up a country, save dunam by dunam, and man by man, and farmstead by farmstead, again I do not know it. One man may follow another, one dunam be added to another, after a long interval or after a short one,-that is a question of degree and is determined, as I have said, not by politics alone, but in a far greater degree, by economics; if we had had the means we could have gone faster. We could also, I may add, have spoken with far greater authority in the political field had our financial backing been solid and always adequate to the task to which we had set our hand.


When we entered upon our work of building up our National Home in Palestine, neither we nor His Majesty’s Government lost sight of the interests of the Palestinian Arabs. But it was assumed, in 1916-1921, that the national sentiments of the Palestinian Arabs would centre in Bagdad, Mecca and Damascus, and to find their natural and complete satisfaction in the Arab Kingdoms which resulted from the Peace Treaty settlement in the Near East. It was assumed, therefore, that all that was required as regards the Arabs of Palestine was to ensure that their civil and religious rights as individuals should not be impaired as a result of the establishment of the Jewish National Home, and for this protection the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate make ample provision. But the question has proved to be more complex than was anticipated.

I do not think I can properly be accused of having ignored the Arab problem, or of having relied on British bayonets for the security of the Jewish National Home. I think I can say, in all modesty, that it was I who placed the Arab problem in the forefront of Zionist policy. In the midst of the War, when a victorious English Army was in occupation of Palestine, and when the Balfour Declaration and the declarations of the Allied Government had promised us active support, at a time, too, when it was a temptation to accept the support of the European Powers as entirely sufficient, I considered it one of the primary duties of the Zionist Commission in Palestine to establish direct contact with the Arab peoples. For ten days I travelled through the desert in search of the man who was at that time the leader of the Arab movement of liberation-the Amir Feisal, now King of Iraq. With him we eventually closed a treaty of friendship, to which I hope we have remained true up to today. Since then much water has flowed under the bridges, but in all these years I have never neglected an opportunity, whenever one offered itself, whether in Palestine, in London, or elsewhere, of coming into touch with Arab and Moslem leaders, and of exploring for myself all possible avenues of co-operation. The blame for the exiguous success of these endeavors does not lie with me.


At the present time, when great bitterness prevails, and when body politic of Palestine is poisoned, it is difficult to speak of the roads by which this purpose of peaceful co-operation with the Arabs could be achieved. But one thing seems to be abundantly clear: The Arabs must be made to feel, must be convinced, by deed as well as by word, that, whatever the future numerical relationship of the two nations in Palestine, we on our side shall never submit to any political domination. Provided that the Mandate is both recognized and respected, we would welcome an agreement between the two races on the basis of political parity. It is our duty to encourage among our people the study of the Arab language and literature, of Arab history, so that we may understand and behold with sympathy the Arab point of view; it is our duty to explain our aims and ideals clearly and without ambiguity to the Arab peoples, and to neglect no opportunity of coming into touch with them, and no channel of communication which may help towards a mutual understanding. One such channel of communication we already possess in our Sephardic communities, with the many ties of language and custom which they have with the Arab people among whom they have so long lived.

Only in this way shall we succeed in co-operating with the Arab people who themselves are struggling towards the light, and now after many centuries are entering anew the political arena of the world. With a strong National Home in Palestine, built up peacefully and harmoniously, we may expect, in co-operation with the Arabs, also to open up for Jewish endeavor the vast area which for their development need intelligence, initiative, organization and finance; we shall, with mutual benefit to the two races, contribute towards the establishment of a belt of flourishing countries stretching from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, where the two races, which stood together at the cradle of civilization, may co-operate in peace and harmony. Surely this is an ideal worthy of an ancient race. It is not merely Zionism in the narrower sense; it is a large and human conception, and one which must enlist the sympathies of thinking people.

Those who by word or deed give the Arabs of Palestine any ground for misconstruing our intentions are taking upon themselves the gravest of responsibilities. Similarly, those who, on the Arab side, misrepresent us, and envenom the relations between the two races, are assuming a no less grave responsibility towards their own people. On our side responsible sections of the Yishub are alive to the necessity of seeking and initiating such co-operation in the field of economic life, as well as in the social and intellectual spheres. But these efforts have so far been confined to modest beginnings, which must be fostered and further developed. New possibilities for co-operation in the mutual interests of Arabs and Jews may be offered by the execution of the proposed Development Scheme.


I have given some indication of the difficulties with which we have had to contend. It was realized early that the forces of the Zionist Organization alone could not cope with the ever-increasing demands which the building of the National Home made upon it. It was realized that the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate were not the prerogative of one group in Israel, and that the world expected (as the Mandate assumed) that Jewry as a whole would take part in the establishment of the National Home. The majority of Jews did not subscribe to all the tenets of the Zionist program, though they felt that they would like to take part in the process of reconstruction in Palestine. For this purpose the Jewish Agency was brought into being, after prolonged discussion and strenuous efforts extending over five years.

The enlarged Jewish Agency came into being at the meeting which took place in August, 1929, at Zurich. We left that first session of the Agency Council with high hopes for a new period of reconstruction which we thought was about to set in for the development of our work in Palestine on a larger and more generous scale than ever before. Unfortunately, from the very outset, almost within a week of its birth, the Agency received one cruel blow after another: the death of Marshall, the tragic events in Palestine and the troubles which followed in their train, then the loss of Melchett, finally the financial deroute throughout the world. The new organization has never had a fair chance. Even old and stalwart Zionists have had their faith badly shaken in these last two years, have lost balance, and been driven to seek salvation, or at least comfort, in a clinging to wild illusions, instead of facing reality with stoicism. How much more seriously must these critical two years have affected those who were previously halting and hesitating in their views on Palestine, approaching the problem sometimes with fear, sometimes with scepticism. Even in normal times, two or three years would have been needed to turn the organization of the Agency into a really effective instrument. Certainly this setback, suffered in the early days of its formation, has impeded its effectiveness. It will now require very careful nursing and scrupulous husbanding of forces and potentialities before it can hope to succeed, by patience and good-will, in widening the circle of its adherents, and in bringing to the work of reconstruction in Palestine new strength and new sympathies.

It may appear to be idle speculation now to consider whether the present position would not be better had we succeeded in avoiding the bitter party struggle which occupied the greater part of the five years of the Agency’s formation. Perhaps if we had been fortunate enough to bring the Agency into being three or four years earlier, it would by now have been able to withstand, even more efficiently and effectively, the onslaughts of ill-fortune which the last two years have brought it.


In looking back at the last two years, one thing we can say with certainty: the non-Zionist members of the Agency have been a tower of strength in the political field; they have supported us whole-heartedly in our political struggles. Where hopes have been less fully realized is, unfortunately, in the domain of finance.

The Zionist Congress will have to make a genuine effort to help our friends in the non-Zionist camp to organize their adherents and to cement the two groups into a harmonious whole in the service of Palestinian reconstruction. It is my duty to point out to you that any other course would be disastrous both to our work in Palestine, and, indirectly, to the existence of the Zionist Organization.


I have endeavored to face, honestly and squarely, the position which confronts us. My respect for our people, my belief in the justice of our Cause, and a grave sense of responsibility, do not permit me to indulge in fantasies or to suggest adventurous policies, which can only lead to heartbreaking disappointment. Instead of chasing a mirage, and wasting our energies on futile internecine strife over shadows, let us concentrate our efforts on what is within reach of a reasonable possibility-and first of all on the consolidation of the work that has already been begun in Palestine.

Our experts tell us,-and our own experience gained in the last ten years would seem to confirm such a view-that there is still room in Palestine for at least 50,000 Jewish agricultural families without interfering with the legitimate interests of the Arab population. Is not our primary and most urgent task so to

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