Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Robers Hear Magnes Urge Bi-national State; Jews Offered “citizenship” in Arab State

March 15, 1946
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dr. Judah L. Magnes, president of the Hebrew University and chief advocate of Arab-Jewish cooperation in Palestine, told the Anglo-American inquiry committee today that only establishment of a bi-national Arab-Jewish State would solve the Palestine problem.

Before he began his testimony, the Arab Higher Committee presented the inquiry group with a 200,000-word memorandum, rejecting a bi-national state and offering “full citizenship” to the over 500,000 Jews now in Palestine, provided that an Arab state is established here, and that further Jewish immigration is barred.

The memorandum stated that the Arabs would refuse to consent to the continuation of limited Jewish immigration while the proposed state was being set up, on the grounds that even limited immigration would encourage Zionists to believe that if they exerted more pressure they would obtain further concessions. An Arab spokesman warned that if the Jews try to force their way into Palestine,” the Arabs will “defend themselves with every means at their disposal.”

Discussing the Ichud group’s plan for a bi-national state, Dr. Magnes said that it envisioned political and numerical parity between the Arabs and the Jews. Under the plan, Palestine would be divided into several districts, some of which would be purely Jewish, others completely Arab, and the remainder of mixed population. The country would be ruled by a consultative body on which Jews and Arabs would have equal representation, with the High Commissioner as chairman.

Dr. Magnes accused the Palestine Government of not training Palestine Jews and Arabs to fill the highest executive posts in the local administration, and advocated greater participation by both peoples in running their own affairs.

“Palestine is not just a Jewish or an Arab land,” he said. “The Arabs have natural, and the Jews historical, rights, and the Jews have showed that they are worthy of this land. A Jewish state means Jewish domination; an Arab state means Arab domination this is a double-edged award. Jews must have ample immigration to be able to safeguard their further development in many fields; the Arabs want self-government – given this, they hey will agree to Jewish immigration.”


He said that he based his views on the assumption that Jewish-Arab cooperation as the only possible alternative to war. It is plain, he added, that neither Jews nor Arabs want war. Dr. Magnes asserted that he and several Arab and Jewish friends had drawn up an agreement for such cooperation at the beginning of the war, but it had never been implemented. He appealed to the committee to use its power and influence to enforce such a solution.

Asked by Bartley Crum whether he approved partition, Magnes replied: “No. It solves the impression of dogs fighting in the streets, and a third party interfering to separate them.” The Hebrew University head said that the problem of Jewish immigra- tion could be solved by the establishment of the legislature he proposed, and the question of absorption could be decided by a special development board. “This is the way to bring people together,” he added.


Magnes took the committee members to task for their failure to issue an interim report concerning the 100,000 displaced Jews in Germany and Austria. “Why the delay?” he asked. “We want them here. We will share everything we possess. You have the authority – why didn’t you allow them to come.” James MacDonald defended the committee, declaring that its decision not to issue an interim report did not mean that “we didn’t feel keenly” concerning the refugees.

The British Government’s refusal to admit displaced Jews to Palestine, Magnes charged, had created great bitterness in the heart of every Jew. “It is no wonder,” he continued, “that the highly idealistic Jewish youth took up guns and bombs.” Replying to Sir Frederick Leggett, who questioned him concerning the “fighting spirit” of the Jewish youths in the European DP camps, Magnes said: “What do you expect of these youths? They underwent the same militaristic excitement as the whole world. Isn’t American youth being given military training? Nevertheless, I recommend bringing of these youths here, because here they won’t fight.”

Earlier today, Prof. Martin Buber, who is also a member of the Ichud group, analyzed modern Zionism for the committee, asserting that it is not a result of anti-Semitism, but a result “of a peculiar bond between the Jewish people and a Jewish land.”

Tomorrow, the committee is leaving for the Levant, where it will hold hearings in Damascus and Beirut. A report from the Syrian capital says that the Government has prepared a detailed statement on the Palestine issue which will be presented to the committee when it arrives in Damascus. Representatives of political parties, religious groups and the press have been invited to testify at the one-day hearing on Saturday.

Recommended from JTA