(In the following address delivered in London recently by the well-known British journalist, he praises the development of Palestine as a Jewish National Home as the major achievement of the World War and urges Britons to ally themselves with the Jews in their work of reconstruction.â€”Editor’s Note.)
Great Britain has the privilege, the duty, the advantage of allying herself with the Jewish people and their trials.
This crisis is unique, not only as regards Jewry, but in the history of the world. Before, during other persecutions, there were always countries ready to receive the Jews. Now, what with quotas and other restrictions on immigration, there is nowhere for them to go There is a special duty laid upon us to promote the welfare of those so shamefully misused in Germany. Because the Jews are excluded from so many countries the case for Zionism is strengthened, the case for rebuilding Jerusalem, restoring and making real the Jew’s contact with the soil of his own country.
During the war I felt that we must have a territory protecting so important a line of communication as the Suez Canal. I knew that the Arabs of Palestine were not good material for this purpose; and in 1915 I saidâ€”it was the first time, I think, that the view had ever been put forward by an Englishmanâ€”that we should restore the Jews fo Palestine and make an Independent country there under the British flag.
DELAY WROUGHT HAVOC
A little later I was commissioned by Dr. Weizmann, Mr. Sacher, Mr Marks and Mr. Sieff to draft a memorandum on the subject for submission to the Foreign Office We also started a weekly paper called “Palestine” which appeared from the end of 1916 to 1922.
Mr. Lloyd George, though not specially interested in Palestine, was above all anxious for a campaign as an alternative to the western carnage. Then came the extraordinary fulfillment of the Balfour promise.
There is no doubt that Lord Balfour, or rather the government, intended a Jewish State under a British guarantee and with safeguards for the existing population; that Palestine should be as Jewish as England is English.
No doubt had the mandate been arranged in 1918 or 1919 there would have been a settlement, on those lines. But it was not arranged until 1922. By then the situation, the mood of those concerned, had changed. England had grown to hate all entanglements, the Arabs who had originally welcomed Zionists had started their intrigues. The political aspects were no longer stressed, Palestine had become a home only in the cultural sense; that was the gist of the famous White Paper of 1922; but Dr. Weizmann wisely decided to go on with the work.
Mr. MacDonald’s letter to Dr. Weizmann of February, 1931, however, meant something.
BRITAIN FAILS GERMAN-JEWS
The German crisis created a new position. This seemed a God-sent opportunity for cementing the alliance between the Jews and Great Britain, and at the same time serving British interests. But the whole mood of the country was against taking risks., As the Jewish Agency prepared estimates for the admission of immigrants, so the Palestine administration cut them down, basing its action on the “economic capacity of the country to absorb” additional population, and seeming not to realize that “economic capacity” is not a definite thing, but depends on the spirit and attitude of the country. This was especially true of Palestine where gain is a secondary consideration, and where there is a faith capable of moving mountains.
There is a greater danger than a too free immigrationâ€”that of holding back a country at a time when it should be expanding; and that is what is happening.
The main point on which Englishmen should concentrate is that this is not a fad, but a magnificent ideal, the biggest thing that has come out of the War. It means the complete remaking of the whole land between the Mediterranean and the Tigris and Euphrates. That is the duty and privilege of England in the present crisis.
There is also the military consideration; and we cannot be sure the circumstances which took us to Palestine will not recur. But the main consideration is justice; Providence has enabled us to right the oldest wrong in the world. It is something which this country should rise to.