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Public Education in Palestine Aired in House of Commons

March 19, 1923
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The British administration of Palestine, as it relates to public education, the question of the conformity of the Zionist schools to the general educational system as well as questions relating to the British war time pledges to Arab peoples were aired in the House of Commons yesterday when an unexpected debate developed involving the middle-East policies of the Colonial Office.

Replying to the query by Sir Charles Yeats, whether the Zionist schools were treated by the government as in the same category as the government schools, Ormsby Gore, first Secretary of the Golonial Office replied that the Jewish Hebrew schools were supported in the main from private sources. Government aid, he explained, was granted to the various groups not in proportion to the number of schools, but according to the proportion to the general population. As the Zionists long ago started a chain of schools in Palestine, the number of Jewish school children was many times larger than the number of Art children. The proportion of the government aid the Zionist schools received, Mr. Gore declared, constituted only a small part of the amount necessary for the maintenance of the elaborate Jewish school system.

This aid, too, Ormsby Gore said, was conditioned on the Zionist schools being officially registered and subject to government inspection.

As to the curriculum of the Zionist school, Ormsby Gore declared, the government is making no effort to direct this phase of the schooling, believing that the standard of the Jewish schools there is as high as possible.

Answering the question by Mr. Lorimer as to whether Britain was keeping its war time pledges of independence for the Arabs, Gore said that as far as possible this was being done. British promises to the Arabs, however, he added, did not include Palestine, which he declared had “special and international interests” which had to be considered.

Inasmuch as Palestine is not a British colony, Mr. Harris chalenged the jurisdiction of the Colonial Office over the country. It should be administered by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, he suggested. Gore replied that Palestine was being governed under the authority of the Mandate of the League of Nations and was hence a proper object of administration by the Colonial Office.

Sir E.S. Henderson asked Ormsby Gore how it was expected to erect a constitutional government in Palestine compoed of Jews, Moslems and Christians when “all of the Arabs” had boycotted the elections for the Legislative Council.

Gore replied that thus far, 126 Mohammedans, 90 Jews and 27 Christians had been returned at the primary election and that the elections had been prolonged for two or three months. It is premature to say, Ormsby Gore contended, that there had been any real boycott of the elections.

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