Revisionists Oppose Parliament As Obstacle to Jewish National Home
Menu JTA Search

Revisionists Oppose Parliament As Obstacle to Jewish National Home

Download PDF for this date

If You Are Pleased with the “Jewish Daily Bulletin” Tell Your Friends to Subscribe

The League of Zionist Revisionists, in a memorandum issued by its World Executive, expresses its opposition to a Parliament in Palestine on the ground that it would be an obstacle to the establishment of the Jewish National Home.

In the introduction the Revisionists’ memorandum points out that Jews all over the world are seriously alarmed at the renewed efforts to establish a legislative body in Palestine and declares that Zionist circles everywhere have always though of this scheme with almost unanimous aversion. To quote the memo “a small section of Zionists.” however, “panic-stricken by the outbreak and misguided by a wrong conception of its causes, seems now to be looking for some compromise which would present a semblance of self-government without affecting the chances of the Jewish National Home; but the overwhelming majority of the Jewish people, now realize more clearly than ever before, that the scheme, in whatever form, cannot at present be reconciled with Zionist aspirations nor with the obligations assumed by Great Britain under the Palestine Mandate.”

The memorandum then goes on to discuss the proposition from the three angles.

“It can hardly be affirmed that the establishment of an assembly at the present juncture constitutes an obligation under Article 2 of the Mandate for Palestine. (The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home as laid down in the Preamble, to the Mandate, and the development of self-governing institutions’.) Where two parallel obligations are imposed, the second one is obviously not to be suffered to hinder the executive of the first. If a certain step in the direction of self-government is likely to endanger the establishment of the Jewish National Home, Article 2 may evidently be quoted only as authority against, not in favor of any such measure.

“Furthermore, the Mandate obviously leaves it to the Mandatory to determine at his own discretion the time when self-governing institutions’ should be initiated, as well as their kind and scope. The very term “development” suggests that the principle should be applied gradually. Thus, for instance, municipal institutions can afford the population a healthy ground for training in self-government without raising serious apprehensions as to the other issues involved in the Mandate.


“Nor can it be admitted that His Majesty’s Government is still formally bound to its own previous proposals to establish representative institutions. All such proposals have since been officially withdrawn in the dispatch of H. M. Secretary of State for the Colonies to the High Commissioner of Palestine, dated November 9th, 1923, and worded in its main portion as follows:

“‘They (H. M. Government) have now made three successive proposals with a view to closer association of Arab community with administration of Palestine, viz.-(1) Establishment of Legislative Council on which Arabs would have been represented by ten elected members; (2) Reconstruction of Advisory Council so as to secure effective Arab representation; and (3) Recognition of Arab Agency with functions similar to those assigned to Jewish Agency under terms of Mandate. Towards all these proposals Arabs, have adopted the same attitude, viz., refusal to cooperate. His Majesty’s Government have been reluctantly driven to conclusion that further efforts on similar lines would be useless and they have accordingly decided not to repeat the attempt.’ (Palestine. Proposed Formation of an Arab Agency. Correspondence with the High Commissioner for Palestine. Cmd. 1989. Nov. 1923).

“The above dispatch, embodied in a White Paper on November 1923, evidently cancels any statement to the contrary that may be contained in any White Paper previously published.

“His Majesty’s Government, accordingly, appear, both legally and morally, to have a free hand in dealing with this particular question.

“This point of view seems to be fully shared by the Government, witnesses the utterances of the High Commissioner in his proclamation after the outbreak, as well as the declaration made in Geneva by the British delegate (Miss Bond field) to the recent meeting of the Sixth Commission of the League of Nations.


“Apprehensions concerning the Assembly scheme centre around the ‘elected section’ which, under the present condition, is anticipated to have an overwhelming Arab majority. One may hope that the bulk of Palestine’s native inhabitant will eventually realize the benefits accruing to them through the immigration of Jews. Yet it would be useless, in the light of recent events, to ignore the presence among the Arabs of an anti-Zionist fraction whose influence, so far, has always been paramount. There is no telling which of these two tendencies is destined ultimately to dominate the elected members of the Assembly, and for how long. Experience, however, clearly discourages any sanguine forecasts for the years to come; and in the most probable case of the elected Arabs’ belonging to the anti-Zionist fraction, the Assembly would inevitably become a powerful instrument for obstructing the progress of what is the essence of the Jewish National Home-the Jewish immigration and settlement.

“Against such obstruction, no pre-

(Continued on Page 4)

(Continued from Page 2) cautionary measure in the constitution of the proposed Assembly would be of any positive avail:

“a) It would be useless to require from the Arab organizations a ‘recognition,’ silent or even explicit, of the Balfour Declaration. In politics it is a usual manoeuver to accord to principle some form of lip-service in order afterwards to fight it on points of restrictive interpretation.

“b) Equally useless would prove the exclusion of matters ‘concerning immigration of Jews’ from the statutory powers of the Assembly. The absorbing capacity of a country is least of all determined by regulations directly affecting the admission of immigrants. Such capacity (insofar as it can be influenced by legislation) depends mainly on conditions of a more general character: laws governing the transfer of lands, protection of industries, taxation facilities, etc. These laws would in any case remain within the Assembly’s legislative or advisory competence and they can easily be so framed as to hamper the progress of the new settler; more readily so in Palestine where, characteristically, the Jewish immigrants create new branches of economic activity.

“c) As to the partly advisory character of the proposed Assembly, or the presence of official members counterbalancing the elected element, neither feature would prove an effective safeguard against obstruction. Representative institutions of this kind are not created for the purpose of constantly overriding the elected section: on the contrary, the main purpose of the scheme is to conciliate the local population. The logic of this purpose must unavoidably handicap the Government in passing through the Assembly, or carrying out in practice, measures objected to by the majority of elected representatives; in other words-measures intended to help Jewish colonization.

“It might be contended by incurable optimists that the above apprehensions, based on the assumption of an anti-Zionist bias, would prove futile if, among the Arab electors, the pro-Zionist section should prevail. While hoping that such may be the case some day, one should avoid reliance on sanguine anticipations hitherto always belied by experience. Yet, in any case, the Mandatory’s obligation to further the establishment of the Jewish National Home should be kept above all such empiricism, optimistic or otherwise. Great Britain has accepted the Mandate of her free will: its execution cannot be subordinated to the chances of elections held in an Oriental atmosphere of excitement and uncertainty.


“It is futile to expect that the introduction of self-governing institutions would contribute towards improving Jewish-Arab relations. It is, on the contrary, obvious that the effect would be just the opposite in both imaginable cases: if the competence of the Assembly were restricted by clauses rendering it powerless to control Jewish immigration, the Arabs would protest; if, on the other hand, the Assembly were enabled to pass legislation affecting, directly or indirectly, the immigration and settlement of Jews, it would be the Jews who would clamor against Arab ill-will.

“Furthermore, the granting of such a measure on the morrow (even a “morrow” extended to last a few years) after a murderous outbreak would inevitably be interpreted by the Arabs as a result of that outbreak, and would root in their minds the conviction that this is the most effective method of pressing their demands on the Government. Should the scheme receive, in addition, some semblance of Jewish support as suggested by the section mentioned in the beginning of this Memorandum, the Arabs would naturally conclude that murder and looting are an efficient way to force not only the British Government, but also the Jews, into a gradual abandonment of their Zionist aspirations. Both these inevitable and logical inferences would increase in great measure the prestige of the extreme wing of the Arab population and would ensure the continuance of their dominance.

“A situation conducive to a gradual improvement of Jewish-Arab relations cannot be created by the introduction of institutions obviously destined to foster, crystallize, and concentrate mutual recrimination. An improvement can come only as a result of a firm attitude calculated to convince the Arab population that the Jewish National Home policy, and especially the active encouragement of Jewish immigration, is the guiding principle of the administration, a principle from which it will never depart. Such an attitude, expressed both in words and deeds, is the only means to discourage the extremist section among the Arabs and to strengthen the influence of their moderate circles-circles willing to negotiate with the Zionists on the basis of an unequivocal acceptance of the right of the Jews to immigrate into Palestine to the limits of the country’s capacity for absorption, developed by the unrestricted action of Jewish effort and capital. In order to exercise such an influence, the British Government and its representative in Palestine should retain the complete fullness of legislative and administrative power.

“Objection to the scheme here discussed and opposed does, of course, not imply any disrespect towards the seli-government principle. But, however valuable the principle, it is only fair to demand that its application to a country intended to absorb immigrants should be so timed as not to interfere with the main purpose of the Mandate.”

If You Are Pleased with the “Jewish Daily Bulletin” Tell Your Friends to Subscribe

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund