Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Palestine High Commissioner Departs; Warns Against “political Fanaticism”

August 31, 1944
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Stressing that many dangers still threaten the peace and welfare of Palestine, retiring High Commissioner Sir Harold MacMichael in a farewell message today warned that the gravest danger is “political fanaticism which has been deliberately inculcated among the younger generation which has been regimented for ends which are negative to all that is meant by democracy.”

Sir Harold, who is leaving the country today, added that not all the people of Palestine sympathize with this fanaticism and urged those who oppose it to act to curb the terrorism. At the same time, he paid tribute to the population’s contribution to the war effort. The High Commissioner’s address was broadcast nation-wide.

“I have no intention to retrace the happenings of the past nor forecast the future, nor do I propose to repeat at length the advice which I have already ventured to give.” Sir Harold said. “I have nothing to add and nothing to withdraw on that score. I wish rather to thank those to whom thanks are due.”

Thanking the government officials and the armed forces for “the teamwork they gave the country, which on its part gave its best manpower, industry and goodwill,” the High Commissioner declared. “It is with mixed feelings that I leave the country so much remaining to be done, so many dangers threatening from within its peace and welfare, the gravest of which is that political fanaticism which has been deliberately inculcated among the younger generation for ends which are negative to all that is meant by democracy – that same impious will for power which reared its ugly head in Germany and brought ruin to the pleasant, friendly world which many of us love and remember.

“Not all of us sympathize with it – thank God-far from it – and Palestine may yet be spared its natural consequences,” Sir Harold continued, “but a great, a very urgent duty falls on all who have wisdom and moral courage enough to combat the danger, to make their voice heard and their influence felt before it is too late. I can think of no greater tragedy than that the ending of the war waged to defend the cause of justice and freedom should be a signal for the outbreak of a futile struggle for political domination in the land which first heard the words ‘peace on earth, goodwill towards men.’

“These words are not only of deep religious import, they are the highest human wisdom and Palestine’s ailment may be summed up in these words: ‘ too much cleverness, too little wisdom.’ With all my heart,” the High Commissioner concluded, “I pray to God for Palestine and for the sake of its people that the balance may yet be redressed.”

Recommended from JTA