(By Our Berlin Correspondent)
The question of the effect of the creation of the Jewish Homeland on the citizenship status of the Jews in the other countries, a question which has been regarded with anxiety by many non-Zionists, was discussed by Sir Herbert Samuel, the former High Commissioner of Palestine, in the course of his recent address in Nuerenberg, when he spoke on the various problems connected with the reconstruction of Palestine.
Sir Herbert pointed out that the British Government as well as the governments of the other important countries have assumed the position that the citizenship of the Jews in their territory will not be affected by the Palestine Homeland. This, he declared, is also the view of the Balfour Declaration where it is distinctly emphasized that the establishment of the national home in Palestine must not affect the status of Jews in other lands. “The relation of the Jews in the Diaspora and the Jews in Palestine,” Sir Herbert said, “is a spiritual and moral one, but not a political one. Naturally there are anxious Jews everywhere who groundlessly fear an infringement of their rights and therefore combat Zionism; but this anxiety will pass away. In part it has already disappeared. So, for example, the Anglo-Jewish paper, the ‘British Guardian’, which until recently fought against Zionism vigorously, has now become an adherent of the Palestine idea.”
Sir Herbert then devoted himself to the question of the relations between the Jews and the Arabs in Palestine on which subject, he observed: “At the beginning of the Jewish immigration the Arabs were suspicious, fearing that they would be oppressed or ousted from the country. The Zionist Executive, as well as the British Government, however, assured the Arabs that there were no hostile motives. It would, of course, have been thoroughly unjust to a people that has lived in a country for hundreds of years to employ methods that would have been objectionable even in ancient times. I, myself, have on numerous occasions declared that if it were to appear after twenty or thirty years that the establishment of a Jewish National Homeland led to an oppression of the Arabs it would be a disgrace for the Jews, quite apart from the political and material questions. On the contrary, it is the aim of the Jews to extend a hand to the Arabs and to help them develop economically and spiritually.
“Today,” Sir Herbert continued, “the Arab movement which during the first years was strong as a result of the Arab suspicions of the Jews, has been greatly weakened. The Arabs see that their land has not been taken away from them, that they have not been subjected to any kind of oppression, that they have profited from the purchase of land by Jews. Consequently there have been no disturbances of any importance on the part of the Arabs since 1921. The question will be solved completely when the Arabs will finally agree to participate in the administration of the country.”
Regarding the possibilities for the further progress of the development of the Jewish National Home, Sir Herbert described the condition of Jewish colonization in Palestine which, he declared, was especially good in the old colonies. “But in the recently created Jewish colonies, especially in the Emek Jezreel,” Sir Herbert added, “progress is being made from year to year and in the near future when the period of the first investments will be over, these settlements will be in a position to exist without outside assistance.
“As regards the Jewish settlement in the cities, very rapid progress was made during the last year, the outstanding example being Tel Aviv, which alone absorbed something like half of the Jewish immigration to the country. Of course, such a rapid immigration naturally produces conditions susceptible to crises. In my opinion the present crisis there is to be regarded as a temporary condition. This is especially true when we bear in mind that in the near future a number of large undertakings will begin operations in the country which will give thousands of workingmen jobs, so that the economic life of the country will be favorably affected.”
Referring to the four and a half million pound loan which the Palestine Government is to secure on the endorsement of the British Government, the development of the Haifa port and the further work on the Ruttenberg Electrification project, Sir Herbert expressed his view that as regards industrial development in Palestine the prospects are very promising.
Asked why up until now no state lands in Palestine have been turned over to the Jews for cultivation, Sir Herbert stated that all the state lands that are suitable for cultivation are occupied by Arabs. “It was thought for a time.” Sir Herbert explained, “that the Arabs had no right to these lands (the question is chiefly regarding the state lands in Beisan and Beersheba) and it was, therefore, intended to turn these lands over to the Jews. It appeared, however. that in the Beisan district while the Arabs had no legal right they had a moral title to live on it, for they had been settled on it for a long period and had been cultivating it. It would have been unjust and would also have made a bad political impression had the Arabs been driven from this land. As regards Beersheba it was learned as a matter of fact that the Arabs have a legal right to the land, and that it had been illegally confiscated by the Turkish Government. Other land which was placed under cultivation proved to be unfruitful, so that more than once the Jewish ex-soldiers who had been given this land free for settlement and cultivation, had to abandon it.”
Sir Herbert was also asked why the Palestine Government has failed to subsidize the Jewish schools in Palestine. Replying to this, Sir Herbert declared that in principle only those schools which are under the government’s supervision are entitled to subsidy. “Since the Jewish schools are not under the Government’s supervision they can receive assistance only from the limited means at its command. Such means were not present in the previous budgets but now larger subsidies are possible.”
In conclusion Sir Herbert discussed the spiritual and cultural development of the country, pointing out that the progress made in this field is bound to have its effect on the Diaspora as well. This is the chief reason, Sir Herbert emphasized, why all Jews must participate in the development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine, for there, he said, a new spiritual centre is being created for Judaism. “The majority of Jews will continue to live outside of Palestine,” Sir Herbert concluded, “and efforts should not be spared to improve the material condition of the Jews in all the countries. But the spiritual and cultural centre of Judaism will be in Palestine, and therefore all Jews throughout the world must join in the work of reconstructing the Jewish Homeland.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.