Death of Briand: His Attitude to Jews and Palestine: “national Home is a Remedy Imperfect Yet Necess

M. Briand, the French ex-Premier and ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs, who died to-day, was as one of the great Statesmen of the League of Notions largely responsible for the shaping of the League’s minorities and mandates policy, in both of which Jews are interested for the protection of Jewish minorities in the East European and other countries, and the application of the Palestine Mandate in relation to the establishment of the Jewish National Home. He was the French representative at the San Remo Conference at which the policy of the Jewish National Home was approved.

In 1926, when he was Prime Minister, M. Briand sent a message to a meeting of the French Pro-Palestine Committee, in which he wrote:

It is certainly desirable that the Jews should know that they can find in Palestine a refuge from the bad treatment which is very often meted out to them, a national home in which to realise their memories and their hopes. We have said it at San Remo. We have also said-but is it really necessary to repeat this, as if this menace had not been averted?-that we could not understand how the Jews should desire to make of Palestine a Jewish State to the detriment of the natives, or refuse, to-day or later, to the Christians and Moslems of that country the equality of civil and political rights which the Peace Treaties have guaranteed to the Jews themselves in the countries which had refused them these rights before 1924.

The national home is a remedy, undoubtedly still imperfect, and yet necessary, against an evil which could have been healed if States had not made differences between their Jewish and their other citizens, and if the Jews had shown themselves ready to consider themselves as citizens of the States where they were domiciled; if, again, the teachings of the great Sanhedrin meeting at Paris in 1807 had been understood everywhere, in short, if the whole world had rallied round the impressive formula of Emperor Napoleon I: “I want the Jews to find their Jerusalem in France”. The democratic nations have nothing but praise for you for having attempted this generous experiment and congratulate you on the success which already crowns your efforts.

You are right in your desire that the French Jews, who have found Jerusalem in France, and the other Frenchmen with them, should give to those children of Israel who do not enjoy this good fortune the assistance which is due to those who wish to return to ancient Jerusalem. May those grief-stricken pilgrims, inspired by their new ideal, when they have found peace for their troubled souls in their work in their Promised Land, remember the country of France which was the first among all the nations to treat their ancestors as men and citizens.

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