Ben Gurion Sees Cooperation of Jews, Modern Arabs Coming
Menu JTA Search

Ben Gurion Sees Cooperation of Jews, Modern Arabs Coming

Download PDF for this date

Recent municipal elections in Jerusalem constituted a triumph for the united Jewish ticket and the victory of Dr. Hussein Khaldi presages close cooperation between the Jews and the progressive Arabs in Palestine, David Ben Gurion, Laborite leader and member of the World Zionist Executive, declared here at a press conference.

Theories of deadly enmity between the Jews and Arabs are all wrong, the Zionist leader stated, predicting that close cooperation for a common end between the two groups was merely a matter of time.

The most important Zionist task at the moment is the creation of a yishub of 500,000 Jews in Palestine in the near future, the Histadruth chief said. He also reiterated the opposition of the entire Zionist movement to the proposed legislative council in Palestine.

The recent municipal election in Jerusalem, Ben Gurion stated, was a “reflection of the latest period of development in the history of the yishub.”

“The previous city council had only four Jewish members,” he said, “while the new council has six Jewish councillors, as many as the Moslem and Christian representatives combined. The Arab Mayor will have a Jewish vice-mayor at his side.

“There has been a similar development,” he said, “in Haifa. The previous council had only two Jews out of its nine members, while the new council has four Jews, four Moslems and four Christians. In Haifa, too, the Jews are supplying the Vice-Mayor.


“These changes are very far-reaching in significance,” Ben Gurion said. “Jerusalem provides a picture in miniature of the entire composition of Palestine Jewry. No less than twenty different languages and dialects are in use there. Yet in spite of this diversity in the composition of the Jewish population, a united Jewish electoral bloc was constituted, representing all the movements from the Agudah to the Labor Party.

“The Revisionists, who had refused to take part in the elections, at all, afterward jumped a surprise by putting forward their own list, but notwithstanding their vigorous propaganda they polled only an insignificant number of votes. The Jewish members of the new Jerusalem city council were elected in their constituencies with an absolute majority.

“A rumor had been spread that the Agudath Israel would boycott the elections and would go into the legislative council, but the attitude which the Agudah had taken up in reality demonstrated a high stage of political maturity.

“The defeat of the mayor of Jerusalem, Ragheb Bey Nashashibi, is a matter of great importance,” he continued, “for he must be looked upon as the most reactionary representative of the old regime. His successful opponent, Dr. Khalidi, belongs to a family which has distinguished itself by its struggle against corruption.

“Representatives of this family, recently conducted negotiations with the Jews, in which they expressed their readiness for co-operation, being unable to recognize any fundamental conflict of interest between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. Dr. Khalidi’s election gives ground for anticipating that the relations between Jews and Arabs in the city council of Jerusalem will be shaped on lines as friendly as in the Haifa City Council.”

As to Jewish labor in Palestine, Ben Gurion said that, without underestimating the danger of constitutional changes in Palestine, the gravest danger to the yishub was nevertheless the danger of destroying the Jewish labor positions, due to the invasion of alien labor.

“Increase of Jewish immigration and the employment of cheap Arab labor are mutually influential factors,” he said. “The rapid economic development of the country confronted them with the question: Jewish or Arab immigration? At present the village is being flooded by cheap Arab labor from the Hauran.”

“The struggle against this development, he said, is being carried on desperately, but not hopelessly.

“Nine-tenths of the work of the Executive is devoted to the fight for immigration, which it is seeking to increase to the maximum, with the two fold aim of alleviating the Jewish distress in the galuth and of creating in Palestine a powerful factor.

“The two main problems of Jewry in Palestine are relations with the Arabs and relations with the Mandatory Government. Both are in no way satisfactory. Ultimately the decision lies not with the force of arguments, but with the force of facts.


“It is therefore the cardinal political task of the moment, upon which depends the future of the Zionist movement in Palestine in as short a time as possible to create a yishub of half a million people.

“Something has already been achieved in the hard struggle for immigration,” Ben Gurion said. “According to official figures, 20,800 Jews entered Palestine from September, 1932, to September, 1933, and 37,000 from September, 1933, to September, 1934. And this is far from having exhausted the limit of the absorptive capacity of the country.

“It is enough to indicate, that three years ago, when Sir Arthur Wauchope took up his post, the immigration quota for the half-year period was 300 certificates. The Executive had at that time asked for 1,000 certificates. If unforeseen circumstances do not intervene, it will be possible to increase the immigration figure still further.

“There is also a darker side to the immigration question which must be taken into account. It is an unhealthy state of affairs that immigration is at present proceeding mainly into the towns and the orange plantations.

“We must not allow the Jews in Palestine to become again an urban element. There is also the great calamity of speculation which must not be forgotten.

“This is the reason that the Jewish land possession in Palestine has increased during the whole period of prosperity by only 90,000 dunam. The efforts to create a big land reserve in Palestine are being continued, however.


Ben Gurion then discussed the question of the legislative council. He recalled that the Churchill white paper of 1922 had already announced a legislative council. The Zionist Executive had put its signature to the announcement. The Executive comprised representatives of all parties except the Labor Party. But the Palestine government had dropped the plan on account of the Arab opposition. The Passfield white paper of 1930 had again announced the establishment of a legislative council, and similar declarations were made in 1932 by the High Commissioner, Sir Arthur Wauchope, to the Mandates Commission.

The late Dr. Chaim Arlosoroff proclaimed his unconditional opposition to the project of a Legislative Council, basing the Jewish change of attitude since 1922 on the ground that they had lost confidence in the British Administration of Palestine.

“The present Jewish Agency Executive takes the view,” Ben Guron said, “that it can in no way agree to a constitutional regime in Palestine which is based on the status quo, because this is contrary to the spirit of the Mandate. One of the main objects of the Mandate is the creation of the Jewish National Home, which must be brought about by a change in the distribution of forces in the country.

“It will be premature to say now whether the Government will unconditionally carry out its intentions. The coming month will decide this and other matters. Unfortunately, I cannot say that the resistance of the Jews will prevent the election of the legislative council. The government is prepared to make certain concessions.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund