6 Jewish M.p.’s Voted for Land Act; Press Reaction Mixed
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6 Jewish M.p.’s Voted for Land Act; Press Reaction Mixed

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A checkup on the Palestine land act vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday showed today that of the Jewish members six supported the Government and seven voted for the Laborite motion of censure.

Voting with the Government were L.H. Gluckstein, T.C. Levy, D.L. Lipson, Sir Isidore Salmon, Marcus Samuel, and H.G. Strauss. Leslie Hore-Belisha, former War Secretary, was among those absent at the time of the vote.

British newspapers have accorded the Commons debate a mixed reception, with The Times leading those applauding the Government victory and the News-Chronicle those deploring it.

“The debate showed clearly,” The Times said, “that the Opposition had no other plausible alternative to the course defined by (Colonial Secretary Malcolm) MacDonald. Whether the regulations do or do not violate the Mandate is still a matter to be argued at Geneva. In any case, the Mandate will have to be revised before long.” Concluding, The Times said there was no other alternative but to go forward towards a Federal Constitution for Palestine.

The Daily Telegraph voiced approval of MacDonald’s speech defending the land sale restrictions, declaring that if the accelerated land purchasing by the Jews had been allowed to continue for the duration of the war, any hope of a permanent reconciliation between Arabs and Jews would have been prevented. The Daily Mail said MacDonald had shown wisdom and courage in tackling the land problem and “to run away from our decision now would be fatal to our prestige in the Near East.”

The News-Chronicle condemned the Government’s pursuance of a policy without proper regard to the views of the League. “There is no justification for using the League machinery when it suits us,” the paper said, “as in the case of Finland, and sidestepping it when it does not suit us, as in the case of Palestine.” The Daily Sketch writer Candidus expressed the opinion that there was no cure for the problem until the Jews had a nation of their own.

Provincial newspapers were similarly divided in their reaction to the debate. The influential Birmingham Post said the regulations could be justified only if they ensured that wartime Palestine would remain peaceful and loyal to the British Empire. A Palestinian Palestine having proved impossible, the paper said, “we are leaning under pressure to an Arab not a Jewish Palestine.”

The Liverpool Post declared that MacDonald’s speech, for all its cleverness, supplied no convincing reason why the Government should act at this particular moment in such a manner. The Yorkshire Post, organ of Dominions Secretary Anthony Eden, said MacDonald’s speech had removed doubts that he had played the role of a statesman in a most difficult position. The Sheffield Telegraph declared that both the Arabs and Jews had their interests safeguarded by the ordinance. The Yorkshire Observer commented that MacDonald had justified issuance of the regulations, reminded the Jews of their debt to Britain and said the way was open to a more mutual recognition of common interests when the Arabs felt they were not being “evicted.”

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