IN 1931, Jewish immigration into Palestine was 4,075. In 1932, it was 9,553. In 1933, it promises to be well over 30,000, which figure does not include the vary large number of tourists who remain in the country and whose status has not yet been legalized. Considering the size of the country, this mass immigration into Palestine is truly amazing for it exceeds the total immigration into Canada for 1932, which was 25,752 and will probably also exceed the total immigration into the United States, which was 35,576. Palestine today is one of the most important immigration foci in the world, if not the most important.
The remarkable tempo of Palestine’s progress, the great influx of new settlers and the still larger incoming wave make it imperative to revise the constrictive territorial limitations under which Palestine has been developing until now. The frontiers of Palestine must be extended and restored to the original borders contemplated by the Mandate. The country must no longer remain cleft in twain, one half open to Jewish settlement, and the other half closed.
If the land problem in Palestine was a serious one till now, it will certainly become more serious as the population increases. If land values rose to almost prohibitive heights before, they will be raced up to new and even more preposterous levels in the future by the furious speculation which the great land hunger of the new settlers will provoke. If over-urbanization was a serious matter before, it will in the futhre become truly noxious and unwholesome as settlement on the land becomes increasingly more difficult.
Palestine must have more land. There is still some land in Jewish possession which has not yet been colonized. There is other Jewish land, which through intensive irrigation, may be made to support a larger agricultural population. There is still some land which can be purchased in cis-Jordan Palestine, though not without arousing again the cry of “dispossessing the Arabs.” But it is clear to any intelligent observer that if the Jewish Homeland is to develop soundly and at a pace dictated by the emergencies of the hour, the whole of Palestine must be thrown open to Jewish colonization. In other words, Trans-Jordania, which is twice the size of Palestine, with but one-third of Palestine’s population, must open its gates for Jewish settlement.
The separation of Trans-Jordania from Palestine is a political fiction. Up to 1927, the territory was included within the jurisdiction of the High Commissioner of Palestine and no special mention was made of it. Today Trans-Jordania is still administered by the High Commissioner of Palestine though he receives a separate commission from His Majesty’s Government to administer it. Trans-Jordanian Arabs require no traveling documents to enter Palestine. They can enter without passports or visas and can settle there without permits while the Jews of Palestine enjoy no such privileges in Trans-Jordania. The cost of the Trans-Jordanian Frontier Force is borne almost entirely by the Palestine Government.
The political questions involved in the settlement of Jews in Trans-Jordania as well as the question of the political status of Trans-Jordania itself, may well be the subjects of future negotiations. Whether the memorandum of the British Government of September, 1922, which was approved by the Council of the League of Nations, and which declared, by virtue of Article XXV of the Palestinian Mandate, that the articles of the Mandate relative to the establishment of a Jewish National Home would be inapplicable to Trans-Jordania, was or was not just and in consonance with the original spirit and purpose of the Mandate, and whether the creation in 1923 of an independent government in Trans-Jordania under the rule of Emir Abdullah without reference to the scope and objectives of the Jewish Homeland, was or was not a clear infringement upon the primary intention of the Mandate will certainly be subjects for discussion for many years to come. But surely there is no legal or moral warrant for prohibiting Jewish colonization in Trans-Jordania even under the present political arrangements. There is nothing in the agreement between the British Government and the Emir of Trans-Jordania, ratified in 1929, which precludes or prohibits such colonization. The Emir, it is reported, is not unfriendly to the idea, and the Trans-Jordanian Arabs, impoverished, and eyeing with ill-concealed envy the prosperity which Jewish settlement has brought to their brethren in Palestine, are also not averse to the idea. Seemingly it is only the Mandatory Government itself which is retarding the progress of the effort.
The opening of the doors of Trans-Jordania will case the strain in Palestine, will relieve the tension of the immigration problem and will check the land speculation which threatens not only the prosperity of the country but the whole social program of the Zionist movement. It will open up new territory for productive enterprise which will increase the prosperity of the whole country for the benefit of both Jews and Arabs.
The ancient lands across the Jordan which figured so prominently in Jewish history in Biblical and post-Biblical times must again be included within the legitimate boundaries of the country. The urgency of the hour, the requirements for a normal and sound development of the country as well as the great opportunity which is now at hand to build up the Jewish Homeland in a calculable and not too extended a period of time, make it imperative to regard Trans-Jordania as the spear-point of our political efforts in the immediate future. Without Trans-Jordania, our social, economic and political difficulties in Palestine will continue to multiply and to become increasingly more acute.