Arab Problem is Nationalist, Not Economic, Says Stein
Menu JTA Search

Arab Problem is Nationalist, Not Economic, Says Stein

Download PDF for this date

Jewish life in Eastern Europe with its constant problem of anti-Semitism was contrasted with the constructive and creative problems of the Jews in Palestine in a speech delivered by Leonard Stein, former political secretary of the World Zionist Organization, before the Near and Middle East Association.

“In Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the persecution of the Jews—unlike Germany — is not part and parcel of the official government policy,” Mr. Stein declared. “But the condition of the Jews there is almost as desperate; and they are confined permanently to an inferior status. A deliberate attempt is being made to annihilate them economically.

“The situation there is black. But in Palestine the phrase ‘constructive’ has acquired a real meaning for the Jews. This despite the fact that Palestine represents a difficult, although not hopeless problem for the Jewish settlers.


“Official figures,” Mr. Stein said, “show the extraordinary growth of both the Jewish and non-Jewish population of Palestine. Very few countries in the world can show figures that even approximate the growth of the Arab population in Palestine since the beginning of intensive Jewish colonization there. This shows that the Arabs were not driven out of Palestine and refutes the theory that they were dispossessed.

“Problems created by the Jews in Palestine consist of problems for themselves, the Arabs and the British administration. The Palestine government, which is of the highest value to the population is, however, handicapped by the struggle between contending factions in the country. This struggle has become a problem for the British Empire and for British relations with the Moslem world.

“The problem of the Arabs in Palestine is the center for a whole complex of problems. But the Arab problem is not one of economics. Government inquiries prove that there are absurd exaggerations current as to the number of dispossessed Arabs. The total number is 889, including the Bedouins. The actual dispossessed number only 350. The Bedouins are only nomads and require only fresh grazing lands.


“Arabs in Palestine profited greatly from Jewish settlement there. But the Arabs opposed the Jews, not on the ground of economics, but through Arab nationalism, which made itself felt in Jerusalem.

“Should the British administration resign itself to the role of the central balancing factor?” Stein asked. “Are Jews and Arabs to be hampered in constructive work by this feud? Much had been lost by constantly looking at Palestine under the microscope instead of under the telescope. All parties regarded the problems in a petty spirit. There is at present an unparalleled chance for constructive work. An extraordinary force of Jews is coming into Palestine which is not empty-handed, and is of value to the whole Middle East. The German Jews are bringing scientific knowledge and technical skill in agriculture and industry and in applied science. Palestine might become the medical center of the Middle East and Germany’s loss would be Palestine’s gain. The Jews come to Palestine as pioneers and as exiles to make their home there. The difficulties must be recognized, but they are not unsurmountable. Is there no means of solving the problem for the lasting advantage of them all?”

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