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Arabs Testify on Palestine; Warn Inquiry Committee Against Compromise on Zionism

March 6, 1946
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Arab spokesmen from Egypt, Iraq and North Africa joined today in telling the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine that the Arab world will never accept the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. Testifying at the close of hearings here, they indicated that the Arabs were not willing to accept any compromise on the issue of Zionist aims.

The principal witness was Dr. Fadlel Jemali, director-general of the Iraq Foreign Office, who spoke on behalf of his Government. Speaking coolly in perfect English, the prefaced his testimony by inviting the committee to come to Bagdad to see how Jews are treated in Iraq.

Dr. Jemali stressed that Iraq was greatly interested in Palestine because “it was a natural outlet” for his country. He warned that Zionism was causing increased anti-Semitism in Iraq, since the Government, he asserted, was unable to make “ignorant people” understand the difference between religious and political creeds. He insisted that Palestine was the “heart” of the Arab countries, whose unity would be made impossible if Palestine were surrendered to the Jews.

After denying the historical and religious claims of Jews to Palestine, he said that while there were unoccupied areas in that country, there were wider areas available in the United States, Australia, Canada and South America. “I maintain that Palestine is so congested that its population will double within the next 50 years,” he added. “We do not want skyscrapers in Palestine; we want to live our own way, without foreign impositions.”

The Iraqi spokesmen attacked “Jewish propagandists,” who, he said, were persuading refugees that Palestine was their only solution. He concluded by delivering a vehement attack on the principles of Zionism, which, he charged, was similar to Nazism in content and technique. Satisfying Zionist aims, he alleged, would be tantamount to shifting the problem of Europe to the Middle East.


British co-chairman Sir John Singleton replying to Jemali, revealed that a sub-committee of the inquiry group would visit Bagdad, but remarked that the Iraq leader’s uncompromising stand on Jewish immigration was incompatible with the “golden rule” of doing to others as you would have others do to you, which policy Jemali had advised American and England to follow. “Our success or failure depends on you,” Singleton added.

Replying to Lord Morrison, who asked whether Iraq would be willing to open its doors to non-Zionist Jews, Jemali said: “During the war Britain did not open its doors to good Germans. Why should we for good Jews?” He told Wilfred Crick, in reply to another question, that Iraqi Jews were mainly prosperous traders and financiers, and played a part in the country’s economic life.

When Frank Burton asked if Jemali would change his mind about Jewish immigration, should it be demonstrated that Palestine was not congested, he answered that the Arabs do not want to live like Americans, but prefer their own customs. He added that the Arabs were prolific, and he did not want the next generation in Palestine to re-approach their elders for their lack of room.


Speaking in the names of the Moslem Brotherhood, fanatical religious order with membership exceeding 500,000, the Moslem Youth Organization and the Arab Union, Sheikh el Bakri, read a statement rejecting Zionist demands “which would cause a threat to peace.” He said that if justice is not rendered to the Arabs in Palestine, the other Arabs are resolved to oppose and hinder the realization of Jewish aims in Palestine.”

Crick pointed out that such an uncompromising attitude was in itself a threat to peace, asking: “Suppose Britain accepts this refusal to compromise and fully rejects Zionist views; will that make for peace?”

He was answered by Abdul Maguid Ibrahaim Saleh Pasha, former Egyptian foreign Minister, who rose and shouted heatedly: “That is a question for Britain to answer. Who allowed the Zionists to organize armed forces. What the Zionists will do against England, I do not know, but I know well what we will do.”

A vigorous attack on the British and the Americans was made by the chairman of the Moslem youth group, Saleh Harb Pasha, who said that “we Arabs have lost confidence in the Atlantic Charter. You are driving us to extremes, and we will fight for our lives.”

Sheikh el Banna, famous leader of the Moslem Brotherhood, said that the Koran prefers to the Jews as the people of the Book, but “they use offensive practices in their economic dealings.” He said that the committee should make an effort to hear “a witness more important than any who have appeared”–Haj Amin Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

Other witnesses included Manur Fahm Pasha, Dean of Cairo University and Dr. Abdu Ruqaybah of Tunisia who said that Zionism was creating a Jewish problem in North Africa.

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