(Dr. Feinberg is the author of several books on mandates and national minorities problems and is an authority on international jurisprudence. He has lectured on national minority rights at the University of Geneva and has served as professor at the Hague Academy of International Law. He was one of the experts who successfully presented the famous Bernheim petition to the League of Nations last year. This is the second of two articles by Dr. Feinberg. The first appeared in yesterday’s edition.)
Some months after the executive of the American Jewish Congress solemnly proclaimed the demand for “representation of the Jews as a people in the League of Nations,” the thirty-seventh convention of the Zionist Organization of America unanimously adopted a resolution in which the Jewish Agency was asked to initiate steps to secure the admission of representatives of Jewish Palestine to the community of nations in the League of Nations.
(The Z.O.A. convention did not adopt the resolution regarding the League of Nations, despite published reports to the contrary. The resolution came up and was referred by the convention to the executive committee of the organization. Dr. Feinberg’s view, therefore, should be considered in the light of Zionist sentiment in favor of Jewish membership in the League of Nations rather than in the light of specific action to that effect by the Zionist Organization of America.â€”Editor’s Note.)
It is well known that many leaders of the American Zionist Organization are at the same time outstanding personalities in the American Jewish Congress. One could therefore be justified in asking whether they had not noticed that these two demands openly contradict one another, and that this is only likely to bring confusion in the minds of allâ€”Jews and non-Jewsâ€”who follow Jewish public affairs.
DEMAND BASED ON PALESTINE
The criticism in my previous article of the demand of the American Jewish Congress might lead to the belief that, from a Zionist point of view, one must be entirely satisfied with the resolution of the Zionist convention. Of course, this resolution advocates the admission of Jews to the League of Nations not as an exterritorial community, but on the basis of the Jewish Home in Palestine.
Such a conclusion to my previous article would however have been fundamentally wrong, and the resolution must be regarded as a regrettable error.
The American Zionist resolution provides that negotiations should be now entered into regarding the admission of representatives of Jewish Palestine to the League of Nations. With whom these negotiations should be carried on is not stated, but it is clear that it means negotiations with the Mandatory Power as well as with the League itself. The Zionist convention has therefore expressed itself openly and unequivocally that the time has already arrived to raise officially the question of Palestine’s entrance to the League of Nations.
The reports of the convention do not show that the adopted resolution had evoked from the delegates any doubt or hesitation. It seems that there was not a single delegate who pointed out the simple truth that to demand at present that Palestine be admitted to the League does not really mean anything else than the demand for the termination and liquidation of the Palestine Mandate.
It is theoretically possible that a mandated territory should be considered mature for political independence, and the tutelage over it terminated, irrespective of whether such a territory will with the cessation of the mandate become a member of the League or not. Of course, the “general conditions” for the termination of the mandate regime in respect of a country placed under that regime, which were elaborated by the Permanent Mandates Commission and in 1931 adopted by the Council of the League of Nations, do not contain entrance to the League as one of the formal conditions for emancipation of a mandated territory. This does not, however, excludeâ€”and Iraq can serve in this connection as a precedentâ€”the probability that emancipation will always be accompanied by simultaneous acceptance into the League.
MANDATE MUST END FIRST
But, on the other hand, it is quite unthinkable that a mandated territory could enter the League before the mandate regime over it had been brought to an end. To admit a mandated territory to the League would be in contradiction with stipulations of the Covenant which provide that only a “fully self-governing State, Dominion or Colony” may become a member. If this is really so, then it is clear that every proposal to negotiate for Palestine’s entrance to the League does not imply anything else than a declaration that Palestine is already an independent State.
It is absolutely certain, however, that if the delegates to the American Zionist convention realized the real political meaning and juridical significance of its resolution, then no hand would have been raised in its support.
Some will perhaps try to defend the American Zionist convention, arguing that the resolution does not refer to Palestine but to “representatives of Jewish Palestine.” However, any justification of the resolution with such an argument bears in it a new reproach against its authors, because nothing could be so harmful as to use in a political resolutionâ€”and especially in such a delicate matterâ€”nebulous and ambiguous terms.
What does the expression “Jewish Palestine” really mean?
It can first of all logically mean that Palestine is already today Jewish, so that on the part of Jews there is no objection against its being admitted to the League of Nations. But this could not have been the aim of the Zionist Convention, because in that case it would have recognized that the upbuilding of the Jewish National Home in Palestine is already accomplished and that England has already fulfilled its duties as the Mandatory Power.
The expression “Jewish Palestine” can further be explained in the sense that, whereas the Jewish population in Palestine is ripe for emancipation from the mandate tutelage, representatives of Palestinian Jewry must be admitted to the League. But this was certainly also not intended by the authors of the resolution, since it is an absolutely inadmissible construction, that only one part of the population should be released from the mandatory tutelage while the other part would still be left under this regime. And if the intention was that, thanks to the Jews, the Arab population in Palestine should also be emancipated, then it simply means that the termination of the Palestine Mandate should be asked for.
In this connection it is perhaps worth while to remember that in the above-mentioned “general conditions” for the termination of the mandate regime, adopted by the Council of the League, it had been expressly stated that while emancipating a mandated territory, not only a section but the whole population must have already reached such a stage of political, social and economic development.
CONDITIONS NOT TOUCHED
During the examination by the Mandates Commission of the very important question of the conditions to be laid down for the cessation of a mandate, the specific problems which are connected with the Palestine Mandate were neither touched upon nor discussed although there was an opportunity to do so. Of course, the main object of the Mandate for Palestine is not to educate as soon as possible the now existing population in Palestine to independence, but to create and re-establish in Palestine the National Home for the Jewish people. Any attempt to end the mandate regime in Palestine before the above aim had been attained would imply a flagrant violation of the Palestine Mandate. It is therefore conceivable that the Mandate for Palestine should legally not be brought to an end, even when the population residing in the country could already be considered as fit to stand alone without the advice and assistance of a mandatory. Orts (Belgium), a member of the Mandates Commission, had certainly had before his mind the case of the Palestine Mandate when telling the Commission that “it was possible that circumstances peculiar to a particular territory might constitute an obstacle in the way of the recognition of its independence, although the territory might be in a position to govern itself.
Finally, there remains a third logically possible interpretation of the expression “Jewish Palestine,” which is not more acceptable than the former.
The admission of representatives of Jewish Palestine could mean that those areas in Palestine populated by Jews should be united into a territorial entity, and as such be emancipated. A demand of this kind could ideologically have been based on the so-called “cantonal” solution of the Palestinian problem, and it is hardly to be insisted upon that this certainly was not the intention of the American Zionist Convention.
Again, it is perhaps not superfluous to recall here that in the “general conditions” for the termination of the mandate regime, the Permanent Mandates Commission as well as the Council of the League opposed the disunion and division of a mandated territory into different entities, which would be separately emancipated at different periods. The only exception admitted to this is the Syrian Mandate.
From whatever point of view one might analyze the resolution of the American Zionists and whatever interpretation one would like to put upon it, one must always come to the conclusion that it is absolutely incomprehensible for what reasons and aims such a resolution had been put forward, what was intended by it and what political advantage could be derived from it.
On the other hand, the hand, the harm inherent in it can be great, and this especially at the present moment, when Zionist organization and the Jewish agency are faced with a hard and serious fight against the creation in Palestine of a legislative council. To prove decisively that the formation of a legislative council under the existing situation and conditions contradicts the main idea of the Palestine Mandate and endangers the upbuilding of the Jewish National Home; to convince world public opinion that Zionist opposition to the contemplated legislative council is right and justifiedâ€”this is the urgent and responsible task with which Zionist leaders are now burdened. And it is self-evident that the work of enlightenment which now everywhere should be energetically carried on could only be unnecessarily rendered more difficult and complicated by resolutions urging admission of Palestine to the League of Nations.
Political art does not consist in the improvisation of resolutions, but in well-considered prudence and political wisdom.