Autonomous Bi-national Palestine Within Pan-arab Federation Urged by Dr. Magnes
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Autonomous Bi-national Palestine Within Pan-arab Federation Urged by Dr. Magnes

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Establishment of a bi-national Palestine as an autonomous unit within a larger Arab federation as a solution to the Arab-Jewish difficulties was suggested by Dr. Judah L. Magnes, president of the Hebrew University at Jerusalem, in an interview with the New York Times yesterday.

Dr. Magnes recommended that Jewish and Arab leaders should jointly submit proposals to this and to the British Government. However since neither the Jewish nor Arab leaders seem inclined to do so at the present time, Dr. Magnes urges that the Palestine Administration and his Majesty’s Government take the initiative

The statement of British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden on May 29, 1941, promising independence to Syria, Dr. Magnes said, furnishes a new starting point for discussions.

“Even sooner than might be expected the political future of Palestine is becoming a matter of immediate concern. The British Government has been wise in hesitating to define peace terms too precisely. The chief war aim, namely, winning this war decisively and completely, must first be achieved. Moreover, premature announcement of political peace aims may be apt to stir up controversy among the Allies themselves. Secret treaties contracted in the last war were a basic cause of the loss of peace and the present deadly struggle,” he declared.

Dr. Magnes pointed to the developments among the Arab countries: reaffirmation of Iraq’s independence, promised independence for Syria and Lebanon, Egypt’s growing strength, and Transjordan’s new prominence as a result of her opposition to the abortive coup of Rashid Ali el Galiani in Iraq, “as establishing the fact that Palestine can hardly remain unaffected.”

Stressing the necessity for cooperation among the Jews, Arabs and British, Dr. Magnes stated: “The problem here is difficult and complicated as the past twenty years have shown. But that is all the more reason for British, Arabs and Jews to consider things together now, not necessarily with a view of solving the Palestine question by fiat and proclamation quickly and in toto, but rather for the purpose of canvassing the field and of bringing together some of the best minds among the three people for a discussion preparatory to work. Without an understanding between these three factors the situation here will continue to be intolerable and fraught with danger.”

Recalling the January, 1919 agreement between the late King Feisal of Iraq, Felix Frankfurter and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, when a formula for Arab-Jewish racial collaboration was foreseen, Dr. Magnes said:

“The agreement could not be implemented, but its sound and sane spirit ought to be recaptured now despite all that has happened in the intervening years. The keys are in the hands of the British Government. If a beginning is made cautiously and methodically now there may be some hope for the future. A beginning at cooperation can hardly come from any other quarter.”

“If the Palestine problem remains solely Palestine’s concern it remains almost hopeless. But if it takes place within the framework of a larger union or federation, as it is loosely called, it assumes a more hopeful aspect,” Dr. Magnes continued. “Within a union or federation, the Palestine problem is lifted to another plane in at least two ways: First, Arab fear of domination by a Jewish national home is mitigated by reasons of the political security which the wider and more powerful background of an Arab union affords, and, second, Jewish yearning for opportunities to settle refugees from persecution could be met more generously. Jewish-Arab cooperation would thus be helping to establish an equilibrium in Palestine and helping to establish and strengthen an Arab union.

“At difficult periods and in many lands Jews and Arabs have achieved a high civilization together. They are the living descendants of that ancient Semitic world whose impact upon mankind’s spirit has been so fateful. Why should they not work and be creative together?” Dr. Magnes asked.

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