The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine concluded its hearings today, as Moshe Shertok, political chief of the Jewish Agency, wound up the case for the Jews. The committee will leave this week for Switzerland, where it will write its report.
Shertok disputed charges that the Jews had not attempted to seek a reconciliation with the Arabs, and traced the long list of attempts at Arab-Jewish cooperation, beginning with Dr. Weizmann’s agreement with Emir Feisal in 1918, down to his own meetings with Arab leaders here and in neighboring countries.
He said that “at times it seemed some elements of agreement were in sight, but Arab leaders, who are inclined to discuss compromise privately, are not inclined to state this view publicly.” He also charged that the attitude of the British administration contributed to the failure to reach an accord, because the Government was sensitive to Arab criticism, and apologetic for anything they did for the Jews. “The Arabs,” he said, “are treated as true sons of the country, while the Jews are treated like step-children.”
DENIES AGENCY CONTROLS HAGANA; RESISTANCE GROUP SUBMITS MEMORANDUM TO PROBERS
Testifying at this morning’s session, David Ben Gurion, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive, appearing for the second time before the committee, stressed that the Hagana is not under the control of the Jewish Agency, and the Agency is not engaged in any illegal or secret activity.
At the same time, a 5,000-word memorandum signed simply “Head Command, Jewish Resistance Movement,” was presented to the committee. It warned that virtually every Jew in Palestine is a member of the resistance movement, and that all of them must be crushed in order to curb the Hagana.
Ben Gurion was asked by British Co-Chairman Sir John Singleton whether there is “a body known as the Hagana.” He replied that Hagana meant defense and that the Agency has nothing to do with secret organizations. “Who is the head of the Hagana?” Singleton demanded.
“I don’t know,” replied Ben Gurion, “I am here representing the Jewish Agency. If you ask for someone to appear, I am sure that they will appear.” To a question by Singleton as to whether he was powerless to halt terrorist outrages, Ben Gurion answered: “I have tried. I have tried many times. But if I try now, they laugh at me. There are outrages committed against us. There is the record of how we have tried to stop our youth, but it is futile now.”
The British chairman interrupted: “I ask you again. I beg you to raise your voice in the interest of peace.” Ben Gurion retorted: “I appreciate your words and I ask you to reciprocate. You have a mightier voice than I.”
The resistance movement’s memorandum was found on the desk of the committee secretariat at 9 a.m. this morning, with a letter explaining why there were no signatures attached and declaring that to prove its authenticity the “Voice of Israel,” underground transmitter of the Hagana, would broadcast a reference to the statement at 2 p.m. today. The memorandum asserts the importance of the establishment of a Jewish state and describes the contributions of the Hagana–fighting for Britain during the war, establishing an unofficial home guard in Palestine, and volunteering for special intelligence and commando work for the British.
“Our path is not the path of terror,” the statement declared. “If there is terrorism it is practised by the authorities. If, against unseaworthy craft carrying a few hundred refugees, the British Government sends reconnaissance planes, destroyers, operates radar stations, builds special police posts, uses airborne troops, that is terrorism–when we attack these things, we do nothing more than defend ourselves from Government terror.”
The resistance movement is not anti-British, the memorandum adds. “We have devoted ourselves to a struggle against an hostile policy, pursued against us by Great Britain, but we have no interest whatsoever in weakening the British position in the Middle East or Palestine. We have no connection with any undermining activity, as goes on against Britain elsewhere. The sole conflict between us is created by the British Government’s repudiation of the Mandate.
“Our struggle has just begun,” it warned, adding “thus far we have confined ourselves to defense against hostile assaults and a few warning actions. We have resolved not to interfere with the work of the inquiry committee, although we know in whose hands lies the actual decision, and how the decision will be reached.
WARNS IF COMMITTEE RULES AGAINST JEWS RESISTANCE WILL SPREAD
“If the solution is anti-Zionist,” the warning continued, “our resistance will continue to spread and increase. He will not acquiesce to the carrying out of a solution which consigns the last hope of the Jewish people to the grave. Our resistance is liable to result in the creation of a new problem–a problem of British security in Palestine–and this problem will be resolved only by a Zionist solution.”
The memorandum further pointed out that “we are not threatening, we only want you to know our intentions. In order to destroy the resistance movement, or even the Hagana, it will be necessary to destroy the whole Jewish community in Palestine and uproot the eternal love of Zion from the hearts of Jews throughout the world.”
Asserting that it has sufficient trained man and equipment for a long and difficult struggle, the resistance movement declares that it does not intend to throw all its forces into one decision battle with the British Empire forces. “Our strength,” the document says, “lies in the fact that every Jews in Palestine is on our side, and that 12,000,000 Jews stand behind us. For every thousand killed or imprisoned, other thousands will step forth to take their places. Even those who do not bear arms can fight with the weapons of passive resistance and civil disobedience. We are not merely a secret society–we are the fighting Jewish nation.”
Compromise solutions or postponement of the solution were rejected by the resistance movement, which asserted that the Jews themselves will enforce a Zionist solution, and that not a single American or British soldier will be needed for the task. The document also dismissed fears of a pro-Soviet orientation of the Arab states as a result of a Zionist solution, maintaining that such a threat by the Arabs would be “empty” since Soviet influence over the Arabs would be a death warrant for the present Arab ruling class.
Completing the Arab case before the committee, yesterday, Albert Hourani and Achmed Shakert, both of the Arab Office in Jerusalem, admitted that the establish- ment of an Arab state in Palestine would involve “great risks,” but expressed uncompromising opposition to any other solution.
ARABS REJECT PARTITION, BI-NATIONAL STATE OR ADMISSION OF 100,000 JEWS
No solution of the Palestine question–including a refusal to solve it–was possible without the use of force, Hourani asserted. In response to a question from American member Bartley Crum, he said that an Arab state could be maintained with the aid of the Arab League, despite Jewish Agency or Hagana opposition.
Reviewing three possible solutions–partition, creation of a bi-national state, and immediate entry of 100,000 Jews with the future of Palestine left unsettled–Hourani rejected all of them. The Arabs, he insisted, were opposed to partition because they did not want to see any Jewish state established, no matter how small. They also reject bi-nationalism, because a “spirit of cooperation” was lacking. They are against admission of 100,000 Jews, as long as they are denied control of immigration, Hourani concluded, denying that Britain and the U.S. have any right to impose their solution upon the Arabs.
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.