Sees Arabs, Jews Bound by One Aim
Menu JTA Search

Sees Arabs, Jews Bound by One Aim

Download PDF for this date

I am glad to be given this opportunity of making a few observations on Palestine from the economic point of view, as this is an aspect which the representative Jewish and Arab bodies and the Palestine Government, preoccupied as they all are with questions of a political character, are rather apt to overlook.

It must be clear that the future of Palestine as a whole, with its million Arab and a quarter of a million Jewish inhabitants, including the narrower purpose of making the Balfour Declaration a success, is dependent on a wise and ordered economic development.

I do not ignore the political difficulties. But I believe that the best and, indeed, the only solution for them is to persevere energetically with the policy of development which has already had such wonderful results, raising the standard of life of the existing population and extending constantly the openings for the settlement of further immigrants; and when I say the existing population, I mean, of course, Arabs as well as Jews.


All who care for the future prosperity of Palestine must recognize the obligations which the government of the country has towards all its inhabitants, without distinction of race or creed. Every business man knows that the interests of the two races, so far from being opposed are interdependent.

Without Jewish capital, enterprise, ability and industry, the country would have remained in the state of stagnation in which we found it when we took over the administration. Some Arab politicians are in the habit of telling their followers that the development of the country by the Jews is injuring them. Such statements are so demonstrably abroad when one looks at the condition of the population in the neighboring countries, Syria and Transjordan, and compares it with that of Palestine, or when one compares the present-day Arab villages in Palestine itself with those of 1922, that they carry no conviction to any practical man.

It is most unfortunate that such ideas, remote as they are from any relation to actual facts, should be allowed to influence the local government and the Colonial Office, so as actually to impede the solid work of development which has been and is being done, and which is still urgently necessary in the interest of the country and its population.


The improvement in the Arab standard of life since the war is manifest to every experienced eye. If the economic progress of the last two years is allowed to continue, its {SPAN}benefice#t{/SPAN} effects will be felt in time by every inhabitant of the country, and will enable the more backward portion of the population gradually to rise permanently above the starvation point at which we found them, and at which too many of them, unfortunately, still must remain until the further development now in sight becomes an accomplished fact.

It is the interest, as well as the duty, of the Jews of Palestine to do everything in their power to improve the economic position of the Arabs, and the more enlightened members of the Jewish community see this clearly. The fact is that the two races are being brought into daily contact and increasing co-operation in commerce—their economic existence touches at every point and for both races is bound up with a prosperous and developing Palestine.

Nothing can stop the unifying and harmonizing influence of this common interest, except a restrictive policy on the part of the government, which would not only be contrary to the mandate, but so contrary to common sense and to British tradition that I refuse to consider its serious adoption as a possibility.


It follows from what I have said that I am in favor of a progressive policy in Palestine. I believe in spending money on the Haifa Harbor so as to make it what it can and ought to be—the most important harbor in the Near East. It was projected on a rather too niggardly scale, and has already proved unequal to its task.

So, too, both the project of improving the facilities of Jaffa Harbor and of creating some simple facilities for direct shipment from the mouth of the Auja river at Tel-Aviv should be pressed forward, so that they may assist in meeting the rush of import and export traffic, which already reaches great dimensions in the busy season and which, in a rapidly developing country, may be seriously impeded so as to hamper trade development unless intelligently anticipated.

The railway services leave much to be desired: the supply of rolling stock and of locomotives is seriously deficient, even for the existing traffic. Capital expenditure on a large scale is an urgent necessity and is fully justified by future prospects of profitable employment. If present and future commercial needs are to be adequately met a more enterprising and elastic policy than has prevailed in the past with regard to ports and railways is vitally necessary.

It may well be found, as has been the experience in India and many of the Dominions, that management of these essential services by government departments, already overburdened with the true work of government and not equipped for the direction of commercial undertakings, is incompatible with their efficient working. The solution would be for them to be taken over by a public utility body on the lines of the Port of London Authority or the Indian Harbor Boards, and I hope that this sound and easy solution may be adopted at a not too distant date.

The development of the road system of the country by the construction of feeder roads in the producing districts is also an urgent necessity. The cost of moving the heavy orange crop on the sandy tracks—which in wet weather are impassable—is extravagant and, with the large annual increase in the crop which is in sight, will soon become an impossibility.


All this lies to our hand; a more difficult field for the justification of our trusteeship lies in fulfilling what is, I think, the obvious duty of the British Government and of the League of Nations; namely, to release Palestine from the position of economic servitude which is imposed on her by the mandate.

Egypt used to buy large quantities of Palestine soap, melons, and oranges, but has latterly imposed a practically prohibitive tariff against these articles. Palestine, being forbidden by the mandate to retaliate, is powerless to protect herself, although, as a very large customer for Egyptian goods, she would be in a strong position to negotiate and to reach a fair bargain on equal terms with her neighbor. At the same time, her legal position under the mandate is held to be such as to preclude her from a share in Imperial Preference.

She thus gets the worst of both worlds. Because of her connection with the British Empire she is deprived of her freedom in tariff matters, and notwithstanding her connections with the British Empire she is refused a share in Imperial Preference.

This is a serious injustice which the Economic Board for Palestine, in association with the trade interests affected, has been bringing to the attention of the Colonial Office for years. But no Colonial Secretary has yet been found strong enough to cut his way through the legal entanglements so as to enable him to extend Imperial Preference to Palestine, as every consideration of justice and expediency demands.


To achieve this would be an act of statesmanship on the part of the mandatory, and it would be a service to the country which every inhabitant of Palestine would understand and by which all would benefit. Moreover, it would not conflict in any way with any Imperial interest.

It is true that Palestine cannot give any tariff preference in return, but it would greatly strengthen the movement, which

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