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News Brief

September 27, 1929
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“After five years of comparative tranquillity, the Palestine Government committed the error (Continued on Page 4)

of believing the Arabs had come to acquiesce to the establishment of the Jewish National Home. The events took the government by complete surprise. It is evident now that the Arabs have not changed their oppositional attitude one particle, and have not given up their opposition,” declared H. C. Luke, Palestine Chief Secretary and Acting High Commissioner, during the recent anti-Jewish outbreaks in an interview he granted me. “The Zurich reports where the Zionists and anti-Zionists reached an accord for the Palestine upbuilding made the Arabs realize they will no longer in the future deal with a minority of the Jewish people, but with the entire, united Jewish world. The Arabs feared more of their best land would be bought up by the Jews, and they themselves gradually confined to the mountainous regions.

“It is quite clear at present that if the troops are withdrawn, the outbreaks will immediately be repeated on an even much larger scale. The government seriously fears in such an event the Moslem unrest would be confined not to Palestine alone, but that the whole of the Near East would be set aflame.”

Mr. Luke denied the semi-official character of the Colonial Office’s connection with the publication “Near East,” which stated editorially: “The past has seen economic restrictions on the Palestine Jews, the future must not inaugurate political restrictions.” But he admitted the paper is well informed. He expressed satisfaction with an American correspondent’s seeking to obtain the government’s viewpoint as “American newspapermen in Jerusalem are bombarded with all sorts of propaganda, both on the Jewish and Arab side.” The correspondent declared that certain government acts, for instance, the incarceration of Haifa Jews who took up arms in self-defense, would be a complete puzzle to the American public, which believes it the inalieanable and most essential right of a citizen to protect his own life and finds it difficult to believe this is not so under the British flag. Mr. Luke answered that the government is doing all in its power to maintain a neautral position in the quarrel between the Jews and the Arabs and is now sifting the evidence with a view towards preparing the cases for trial. It is undeniable that Jewish culture is infinitely superior to that of the Arab, but the laws do not make a distinction between races. By adopting any other procedure than that which it is following, the government lays itself open to charges of injustice to the Arabs, which are contrary to the Mandate’s terms and the spirit of the Balfour Declaration. The charges that the Palestine government had systematically sabotaged the Jewish endeavor, and failed to speed up the establishment of the National Home by curtailing immigration, impeding every step of the way by entangling measures and a mass of red tape, as charged by Mr. Harry Sacher, was strenuously denied by Mr. Luke. Immigration was curtailed during the critical years, as plainly proven in the economic crisis of a few years ago, when the country could not absorb a large influx of newcomers. It was resumed, however, as soon as conditions permitted.

The correspondent expressed surprise that the Grand Mufti’s provocative and inflammatory language in interviews and press statements went unpunished and unanswered. When asked by Mr. Luke, the correspondent quoted the Mufti’s having declared that Great Britain, the real enemy of the Moslems, will cease to have the sympathy and support of pan-Islam; that it is necessary to maintain a British soldier in front of every Jewish home in Palestine; that they were determined to crush every Jewish endeavor by a pan-Islamic boycott until the British authorities would pity the Jews and remove them in battleships, charging McDonald with absurd misrepresentation of the Arab situation in his book on Palestine, and declaring he is unable to guarantee peace as long as Great Britain adhered to the Balfour Declaration. Mr. Luke asked for a copy of the interview and the letter addressed to your correspondent by the Mufti yesterday. Mr. Luke, explaining, said that the Mufti, alleged to have made similar statements to other correspondents, notably of the London Daily Express, when taxed by the government with the published interviews, made a wholesale denial. This was supported by Jamal Husseini who generally is the only witness at the interviews.

Mr. Luke did not believe the economic future of Palestine would suffer but expressed the fear that as long as the Arabs adhered to their present intransigeant attitude, outbreaks similar to the last are not inconceivable in the future.

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