Petach Tikvah, Palestine (Jun. 19)
British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin’s recent remarks on Palestine were criticized by Dr. Chaim Weizmann as tending to promote further instability in Palestine, in an address delivered here last night, at a reception in his honor.
The full text of Dr. Weizmann’s speech follows:
“It is not my intention to make a speech today, and I will limit myself to a few observations concerning the statements by Mr. Bevin at Bournemouth–utterances which are both deeply distressing to me and offend the Jewish people. I feel fairly sure that the Foreign Minister, on reflection, will realize that he does himself, no less than us, an injustice when he deals with our problems through a series of contradictory improvisations.
“I am sure it is not Mr. Ervin’s intention to make our life in Palestine any more difficult than it is already–still less to say anything which might tend to impair Palestine’s public security. Yet as one who has done and is doing his utmost to help maintain the security of this country, I must question his reference to the need for more divisions to maintain the tranquility and stability so desperately needed.
“One wonders what extra divisions are needed for? Palestine today is covered with British military camps. Surely they are not here to protect the Yishuv. Then for what purpose? Like Mr. Bevin, I do not wish to see British soldiers fall in defense of the Yishuv, still less as victims of political violence, and no responsible member of the Yishuv wishes to see that happen. With all deference to the more complete information doubtlessly available to the Foreign Minister, I venture to doubt whether implementing of the inquiry committee’s recommendations for admission of 100,000 Jews will require the dispatch of another division.
CRITICIZES BEVIN’S FEAR OF A “RACIAL STATE”
“I think I speak for all the Yishuv when I welcome Mr. Bevin’s allusion to the need for statehood. He pleads for patience. Patience like suffering has been the badge for all our tribe – a lesson well-learned in places like Belsen. But I am sure he understands how difficult it is to go on counseling patience–I have been doing it all my life–when we see our people despoiled, the remnants languishing in the grave-yard of 6,000,000 of their brethren without hope for a renewed existence in the land of promise.
“For some reason Mr. Bevin seems greatly troubled by the fear of a “racial state.” I would like to make clear once and for all, so that our friends in England and elsewhere may understand us; the state which will eventually emerge from the Jewish national home will be no more and no less a racial state than Switzerland, Canada, France or England, or any other state of which the majority belongs to one ethnic group.
“It is pleaded, and rightly, that the laws governing the treatment of individuals should apply equally to the Jews, and I would like to plead that the concepts applying to all other peoples and states should be applied to us. It is therefore a misconception of everything we stand for to speak of a Jewish state as racial–as some sort of medieval survival, not obtaining in any other part of the world.
“We have suffered too long to indulge in that kind of outworn racialism. The state which will emerge from the Jewish national home will be as democratic, as free for all inhabitants as any state in the world, and–I may add from the crucible of our experience — perhaps even more.
“I have never indulged in the defiance of authority. The record of my life and work speaks to the contrary, but I must remind Britain and the rest of the world that the solemn promises made to the Jewish people, embodied in the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate, and sealed by international law, cannot be set aside. For the last 30 years with singleness of purpose and great sacrifices we have set our hands to implementation of this promise.
“We have come some way towards its fulfillment. This process cannot now be stopped. It will go on. It must go on, irrespective of temporary setbacks. It is our destiny from which we cannot free ourselves, even if we would.
TAKES ISSUE WITH BEVIN’S REFERENCES TO “ARAB GENEROSITY”
“There is reference to Arab generosity and moderation. I would be the last to begrudge this compliment, but perhaps if the Foreign Minister had time to examine the evidence, he might have tempered his own generosity with a few slight reservations. I am interested in Mr. Bevin’s positive references to the Arab world, and the contribution the Jewish people is able to make, apart from Palestine, towards its progress and development.
“This was always our wish. Long years ago, Lawrence of Arabia spoke of the same possibility in almost similar terms, and the very covenant we made via his good offices with King Feisal had as its aim just what Mr. Bevin now suggests. We can make that contribution to the Middle East peoples. Many times we have offered our hand in friendship and amity for the development of a prosperous thriving Middle East.
“I have always believed that the British are the natural intermediaries between us and the Arabs, though they have not yet undertaken that task, and I was therefore grateful for Mr. Bevin’s hint that he still believes in the possibility of bringing cooperation. We are ready to give of our brains, of our scientific and cultural ability and of our substance for consummation of this great task.
“All we ask in return is an opportunity to develop in peace and tranquility, amity and friendship with our neighbors in this little notch of land, so that the Jewish people, agonized and tortured, may not only rebuild the land of their fathers, but also make their contribution to the peace and happiness of the whole Middle East, and perhaps– who knows–to the peace and happiness of this distracted, suffering world.”