The death here last week Lord Sydenham, former Governor of Victoria, Secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defense and chairman of the Central Appeal Tribunal in the early years of the war, recalls the prominent part he played in the anti-Zionist movement.
Lord Sydenham spoke and wrote repeatedly against the British policy in Palestine. He initiated several anti-Zionist debates in the House of Lords.
He seconded the motion introduced by Lord Islington in the House of Lords in June, 1922, opposing the confirmation of the Palestine Mandate, which was carried by 60 votes to 29, in spite of an eloquent and impressive appeal by the late Lord Balfour himself.
The Mandate for Palestine in its present form, the motion said, is in-acceptable to this house, because it directly violates the pledges made by His Majesty’s Government to the people of Palestine in the Declaration of October, 1915, and again in the Declaration of November, 1918, and is, as at present framed, opposed to the sentiments and wishes of the great majority of the people of Palestine, and therefore its acceptance by the Council of the League of Nations should be postponed until such modifications have therein been effected as will comply with pledges given by His Majesty’s Government.
“I sympathize entirely with the wishes of the Jews to have a national home,” Lord Sydenham said in the course of the debate, “but I say that this national home must not be given if it cannot be given without entailing gross injustice upon other people.”
The Zionist Executive in its report to the 1923 Zionist Congress made reference to this debate, saying that though the attendance was meagre and the result could hardly be said to express the considered opinion even of the House of Lords, the adoption of such a motion came as an unwelcome surprise. The effect of this debate, however, it proceeded, was immediately afterwards more than counterbalanced by the debate in the House of Commons on July 4th, when a motion which was in effect a demand for the reconsideration of British policy in Palestine was defeated, by the overwhelming majority of 292 votes to 35. The move failed of its effect, and the confirmation of the Mandate almost immediately followed.
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.