Jerusalem (Jun. 24)
The Palestine Government is making strenuous efforts to convince the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine that establishment of a “viable Jewish state” in Palestine is not practicable.
According to today’s Hebrew press, when the government learned that some members of UNSCOP were leaning towards partition as the most feasible solution, it distributed to the committee written material aimed at showing that existence of a small independent Jewish state is not possible on purely economic grounds. The government made the following points:
1. The Jewish standard of living and wages makes Jewish industry unable to compete in neighboring and world markets. 2. The Arab boycott has had “disastrous consequences” on Jewish industry and the boycott would be tightened if a Jewish state were established. 3. As a result of these two factors a Jewish state would always depend on Jewish support from abroad, which is very small–the influx of Jewish money into Palestine up to last year was $28,000,000, whereas the amount derived from British troops stationed in Palestine and from the government totalled $96,000,000.
The government also put forward the objection that a Jewish state would clash with the Arab state not only on political, but on economic grounds. The Arab state, the official spokesmen say, would be so poor and backward that serious disturbances are liable to occur, which would necessitate the maintenance of strong armed forces by the Jewish state, which would be an additional stress on its finances.
It is reported that the government arguments greatly impressed some UNSCOP members, who discussed the question with several Jewish leaders with whom they have come in contact recently.
PROBERS NOT GETTING CLEAR PICTURE OF COUNTRY’S PROBLEMS
Whether the commission members accept the British arguments at face value will probably depend on how much they learn during their inquiry here, and most correspondents agree that the committee has not gained as much information as might have been possible.
Protocol, red tape and poor arrangements by the government–either deliberately or through inefficiency–have kept UNSCOP remote from the rank and file of Palestinians. The fear is expressed that unless UNSCOP changes its current investigational technique, it will depart from Palestine next month without having obtained a clear understanding of this country’s problems and its people.
The committee has covered a great deal of territory, but much of the travelling has been fruitless, since it has been unguided. For instance, the committee drove from Jerusalem to Haifa by one route, and returned by another, a three-hour trip each way through a major part of Palestine. With a guide, such a tour could have been an education into what makes up the fabric of Palestine life; without it was a six-hour driving ordeal.
The committee members live in the isolated Kadima House on the edge of Jerusalem and have virtually no contact with the average Palestinian. They do not wander into town alone, visit the shops, take tea in the cafes, meet at the city’s bar or visit private homes–all of which were done by the Anglo-American committee. When Dr. Victor Hoo, the chief of the U.N. staff accompanying UNSCOP, visited a friend at the Eden Hotel for tea, he was approached after a few minutes by a plain clothes officer, who suggested that it would be best for him to leave, presumably for “security reasons.”
Most unfortunate, correspondents feel, is that so far the members are not obtaining the clearest picture of the wishes of the people of Palestine, as required by the inquiry’s terms of reference. There seems no question that the British Government takes a hands-off attitude. Indeed, some British officials do not hide a scoffing suggestion that this committee is simply preparatory to still another. The result is that Arabs are led to believe the Mufti-inspired boycott is justified.
PRESS BARRED FROM ARAB RECEPTION BECAUSE OF BAN ON JEWISH JOURNALISTS
The committee ran into more difficulty with the Arabs today, when it visited the all-Arab town of Ramle, about an hour’s drive from Jerusalem. The municipal council had adopted, prior to the committee’s arrival, a resolution barring Jewish journalists from the reception given the commission. When it became evident that UNSCOP would not tolerate such discrimination, it was announced that all the press was barred, to which UNSCOP agreed. The official explanation was that there was not sufficient room for them.
A committee representing the Jewish detainees on Cyprus today appealed to UNSCOP to visit the island and study the camps’ conditions which the internees charge are “worse than concentration camps in Europe.” (The detainees had previously appealed to the International Red Cross to send an inquiry team to Cyprus.)