The Jewish Daily Bulletin publishes herewith the first in a series of articles written exclusively for the Jewish Daily Bulletin by Vladimir Jabotinsky, internationally known Revisionist leader, author, orator and journalist. No matter whether one agrees with or differs from Mr. Jabotinsky’s views, they are the expressions of a brilliant author, journalist and moulder of opinion and are presented without having to be taken as the views of the paper in which they appear. His first article constitutes a smashing attack on the Mandatory Power’s restrictions on immigration into Palestine.
Unfairness: we Jews are accustomed to injustice, but it would be difficult to quote another case of quite so gross a disregard of all the rituals of fairness as that committed by the Mandatory Administration in choosing just this moment for the announcement of new restrictions against Jewish immigration to Palestine. Why restrict? What has happened? Have there been any symptoms showing that the influx of our immigrants has, during the period immediately preceding this sudden explosion of restrictive zeal, overtaxed that famous “absorptive capacity” of Palestine? Any signs of aggravated unemployment? Any appeals to the Government Treasury for assistance on behalf of overcrowded Tel Aviv, Hadar ha Carmel, or Talpiyot and Rehavya? Nothing of the kind: on the contrary, Palestine is flourishing, is actually the only oasis of economic prosperity in a world of economic distress, is clamoring for more workers and is filling up its State Treasury with fat surplusses to the envy of all the Empires on the planet.
As the world goes we have always been taught to look for restrictive measures against a given practice after some kind of proof (let it even be an imaginary proof, a faked proofâ€”but still something!) that the practice is actually obnoxious. In this case, the practice of “illicit immigration” under both its forms (crossing the border without any visa, and staying on in Palestine after the “tourist” visa has expired) had been known for years and grumblings tolerated for years; more than toleratedâ€”actually condoned and sanctioned de facto, for no amount of quibbling can put any other construction upon such Government acts as the legalizing of some 5,000 “illicit immigrants” discovered during the 1931 census, or, especially, the repeated reservation of a part of certificates already granted for the frankly and publicly admitted purpose of keeping it in reserve in case the Government will have to legalize further bunches of such “illicits”.
When a Government openly prepares a heap of passports to be issued eventually to people who may smuggle in without a passport, it obviously and undeniably means that such people, despite the original sin of their illegal entry, can after all be up to a certain extent “absorbed” without any catastrophe to the country’s capacity. This and no other was the Government’s opinion as late as in the last decade of October, when it issued a schedule of new certificates and again reserved several hundreds for the needs of eventual “illicits”. Why then, such an outbreak of wrath in the first decade of November? What has happened?
Nothing has happened on the part of the Jews, there is no hint that during that short interval any considerable regiment of “illicit arrivals” should have burst the “capacity”; nor has anything happened on the part of the country’s economy itself to suggest that the “capacity” begins to totter. What has happened was an outbreak of rioting on the part of the Arabs who object to any immigration of Jews in general, licit or illicit; and that was the only reason for this sudden explosion of bureaucratic Draconianism. This means that the Mandatory’s attitude towards Jewish interests has nothing to do with the Jews’ own behavior or the effects of that behavior on Palestine’s welfare: the Government’s attitude is to be guided simply by the intensity of the Arabs’ readiness for causing trouble. The least we can call such policy is “unfair”, and this is yet an acme of polite moderation: severer judges would speak of cowardice, blundering, and betrayal of trust.
As to “absurdity”â€”this crusade against Jewish tourists is probably the most preposterous of all the enormities I can recollect for the last twenty years during which I enjoyed the privilege of watching the workings of the famous and hallowed “muddle-through” system so dear to some British minds. First of allâ€”as the hecatomb of the tourists is obviously meant to pacify the Arab chauvins, let it be stated at once that this noble and statesman-like object will not be attained: those Arabs know as fully as does the Government that the number of settlers reaching the country under tourist garb is very small in comparison with even the stingiest bunch of “certificates” and other permits so far quite legally issuedâ€”and it is the quantity of Jewish immigrants which the Arabs pretend to fear, not the legal or illegal method of their penetration for which they do not care two straws. If the Mandatory has really decided to be guided by Arab menaces it will have to stop the legal immigration, or in other words to resign the Mandate; the only alternative being to keep the rioters quiet, or in other words to do a Mandatory’s duty and do it properly.
But there is another and more serious side to the absurdity. British statesmanship has ever prided itself on its “realism”; no preconceived ideas, no “principle-riding”, “no nonsense” in general, only facts and adaptation to facts. If so, it seems strange that this realistic statesmanship has failed to notice the most essential “fact” of the whole situation: that a tourist who becomes a settler is just the healthiest type of immigrant. What can be economically healthier than this: a person goes to Palestine as a “tourist”, just to see whether he will like the country; he looks round, he likes it, he is offered a job or an opportunity to invest his capital profitably enough for a livingâ€”and then he decides to stay on. To a genuinely realistic observer this should seem the soundest way of recruiting and selecting suitable immigrants.
It is, in fact, a natural selection: the person who has only decided to stay on after he has found a job is presumably a fit person, the very fact of his remaining is a proof of his resourcefulness, ability, or financial force. At the same time, this kind of settler is just the kind which does not “overtax the coun###### meekest of terms applicable.
But I also said “ugliness”, and I maintain it. There is no other name within the vocabulary of printable phraseology for what amounts to a system of world-wide espionage of every day and every hour. To carry out properly the anti-touristic crusade announced by the Mandatory both from Jerusalem and London, consular officers in the remotest countries will have to install a detective service for discovering the hidden intentions of every Jew applying for a tourist visa. In Palestine itself, not only spies will have to be employed for overhearing tourists’ confidences to each other or to their friends, the residents, but even agents provocateurs impersonating as fellow-tourists in order to extract such confidences from unsuspecting greenhorns. Raids on tourists who overstay their period will have to become one of the staple amenities of Palestinian life. All that, naturally, for the benefit of Jews only: a consular officer who has just refused a tourist visa to Mr. N. N. because he took him for a Jew, will grant the same request with many apologies as soon as Mr. N. N. qualifies as a Christian. Many quite piquante complications may safely be expected to arise in the course of this practice, for instance: since only Jews are under suspicion of malafide tourism, does it also attach to a converted Jew? or should the racial test be applied, and, if so, what about quadroons and octoroons? Guide books for British consular officers will have to be ordered from Germany. . . .
It would be simply foolish to pretend that I exaggerate. Everybody knows that nearly all the items of intolerable moral and civic ugliness just sketched out are already in existence; the Peeping Tom in consular offices, the consular discrimination between Jew and Gentile applying for a visa, the invasion of Tel Aviv hotel halls and restaurants by a host of spies, the razzias.
It is all a cruel shame, both to England and to ourselves. The whole system of regulating immigration now in vigor stands definitely unmasked in all its nakedness of injustice, foolishness, and moral squalor. World Jewry will have to make some world-wide heave to stop this monstrosity, and the sooner the sounder.
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.