Monday, March 16, 2015



We now return to another of those strange enigmas of British
administration - the territory of the Jewish National Home east
of Jordan. The shrewd manipulation by which it was filched
from the Zionist pocketbook has already been referred to. Just
what its status is today remains a dark mystery . The territory
is called an independent Emirate, yet remains part and parcel of
the Mandate for Palestine . The same High Commissioner rules
both. The Emir Abdullah, its nominal ruler, is granted an ample
personal subsidy straight out of the Palestine treasury . The
deficits of his stagnating State are taken care of from the same
generous source.
When in 1922 London secured the League's consent to set up
a separate Administration east of Jordan, it was granted only
with the stipulation that "the general regime of the Mandate for
Palestine" would be maintained there . To this London agreed,
assuring the League "that no measure inconsistent with the provisions
of the Mandate for Palestine would be passed in that territory."
All of this, in words, was carried out in the `treaty'
with the Emir, and incorporated in the `Constitution' of Transjordan
as well.
In 1924, officialdom still acknowledged that Trans-Jordan was
an integral part of the Jewish National Home . On May z7 of
that year, during a Palestine debate, Lord Arnold, then Under-
Secretary for the Colonies, declared : "During the war we recognized
Arab independence within certain border limits, and supported
it. . . There were discussions as to what territories these
borders should take in. But there was no dispute as to Trans-
Jordan . There is no doubt about the fact that Trans-Jordan is
within the boundaries to which the Declaration [Balfour] during
the War refers . This is the Government's point o f view relative
to the political status o f Trans-Jordan and the character o f our
relations to the land ."
Under the Turks there were no restrictions against the settlement
of Jews in Trans-Jordan . A number of colonization schemes
were attempted . The largest was undertaken by Baron Edmund
de Rothschild in 1894, who bought seventy thousand dunams
in Golan for a large-scale resettlement project . This, however,
was sidetracked in favor of the coastal development where
Zionist effort was then concentrated .
Whitehall early banned Jewish penetration into this territory .
Its expressed reason was a deep solicitation for the returning settlers,
who allegedly would not be safe in this lawless, turbulent
sector. The migratory tribes of Transjordan could enter Western
Palestine freely, however, since the question of their safety
did not arise .
Soon these strictures became iron-clad . The eastern twothirds
of the National Home was not only hermetically sealed to
Jewish settlement but Jews could not possess property there or
practice a profession. Transjordan became the first and remains
the only completely Judenrein area on the earth's surface
. Apparently they are the only immigrants prohibited . Examination
of the official British Report to the League for 1936
shows a large group of foreigners ranging from Syrians and
Egyptians to Germans, Italians and Turks who have taken residence
there . Says the Report succinctly : "The classified and
unclassified officials of the Transjordan Government other than
British, including the officers of the Arab Legion but excluding
other ranks, numbered 683" of whom only 422 are Arabs born
in Transjordan .1
When the Mandates Commission sharply commented on this
condition, London assured it that "there was no legal prohibition
to prevent Jews from entering" Transjordan . In other
words, on paper everything was in order . When the Commission
bluntly demanded that these restrictions be abrogated,
the British spokesman Dr. Drummond Shiels replied with unctuous
regret "that that was impracticable because the existing
Legislative Assembly in Transjordan would frustrate such inten342
tions ." 2 Scarcely more than six months later we find the same
Drummond Shiels declaring to an impatient Commons that
"when Transjordan is freed from the irritation of raids and
counter-raids by warring tribesmen, an opportunity will be given
for its settlement and development ." 3 Here we have two diametrically
opposite lines of reasoning. One, that the normal
processes of orderly government forbade an immigration disturbing
to the country's economy . The other, that since no orderly
government existed, it was unthinkable to allow civilized
immigrants to enter .
Faced with a fait accompli, the League in some meretricious
hair-splitting came to a curious decision : Jews who were natives
of Palestine and hence not nationals of a State member of the
League, could not claim the equality stipulated in Article XVIII
of the Mandate . These could be excluded. However, any
Jews in Palestine who were -not Palestinians, must, according to
the terms of the Mandate, be allowed the right of free access to
In actual practice the British went whole hog down the line,
barring English Jews as rigidly as their brethren from Poland .
Gentile Englishmen, however, retained indisputable rights of
settlement. Even if one chooses to ignore the maneuvers by
which this section of the National Home was handed outright
to some ambitious nomads from the Hejaz, how may this circumstance
be explained ? It was not so long ago that the world applauded
when the United States broke off its commercial treaty
with Czarist Russia because of a discrimination much the same
as this and less inexcusable . Recounting an identical incident
when Turkey attempted the exclusion of Jews in 1888, official
British Peace Handbook No . 6o thunders that "the Powers refused
to accept discriminatory legislation against their nationals,
Hebrew or others," and the Turks had to drop the offending
statutes like a hot potato.
Dexterous as their performance was, the Bureaucrats ran up
against the hard fact that legerdemain has its absolute limits .
They could swindle the eyes by appearing to separate the body
of the National Home into living fragments, but no amount of
black magic could endow the operation with reality . Transjordan
was inalienably a part of Palestine, and must immediately
expire, if cut off from it in fact . M. Rappard of the Permanent
Mandates Commission contemptuously called it "a parasite
State" with a budget fed by grants from the Mandatory Government.
Its total income is forty-five percent less than that of
Tel Aviv alone .
Transjordan has practically no industries of any kind, and
only a few of the most primitive homecrafts . According to the
British Report to the League for 1936, the total assessment for
land tax was only r88,ooo of which 1.53,507 had to be subsequently
remitted because the bankrupt villagers could not pay
it.5 The Emir Abdullah's attenuated income includes "Transjordan's
share in the imports duties of Palestine ." 6 Palestine is
also Transjordan's principal market, selling goods there valued
at C208,993 as against 06,o88 which she buys in return .
Examining the High Commissioner's Report for 1935 we discover,
weighted beneath a load of words, that Transjordan's income
was 0276,258, while its expenditure was £369,395 . Its
budget for 1937-38, reduced to skin-and-bones, still showed a
thirty percent deficit . In other words, Transjordan has been
perpetually bankrupt - kept alive only by the munificence of its
rich uncle Israel . If it were divorced from Israel's household it
would simply die of malnutrition . Out of the lush Palestine
treasury, the Emir has had an endless flow of `loans,' subsidies
and outright grants. He has been provided with free Army
and Air Force assistance in quelling the recurrent rebellions of
his own tribesmen and in preserving his boundaries against Wahabi
aggression . As early as 1927 it was pointed out that the
National Home would show a deficit of C 90,000 for the yearly
period "due to the fact that the Palestine Government is covering
the deficits in Transjordan - otherwise the budget would
show a surplus of C 80,000." 7
Transjordan comprises an area of about 35,000 square miles
- more than three times as large as the country west of Jordan .
It is an area of great resources but no effort has been made to
develop them. A census has never been taken, but the popula344
tion is reliably estimated to be around 275,000. The majority
are nomad tribesmen to whom even boundaries are incomprehensible.
Some of these, like the Aneezeh and Sherarat, have
their main camping grounds in Arabia proper . The only towns
of any consequence are Amman, the capital, with 38,000 people,
and Es Salt with i 8,ooo .
The limitations of this country lie in the nature of the human
material composing its population . Turbulent, destructive, inefficient,
seemingly incapable of any but the most elementary
creative activities, their stamp is imprinted wherever one turns
in this favored land . Bizarrely enough, one factor that has contributed
to the permanent poverty of the Bedu is the ruthless
suppression of predatory excursions, drying up their chief source
of revenue.
There are only fifteen doctors in all Transjordan . The rate
of infant mortality is the highest on earth. Its poverty is terrible
and crushing . The correspondent of Al Jamia Al Islamia s
describes hordes of people "who snatch hungrily at any refuse
which by a stretch of the imagination may be edible . . . At
night these creatures, men, women and children, with no roof
to shelter them, huddle for warmth and sleep in the streets."
Reliable English sources describe the country, after fifteen years
of Arab rule, as infinitely worse off than it was under the Turks .
Says the Crown Colonist of June 1934 : "The farmers are
plunged in the starkest conditions of poverty, and the nomads
are frequently on the verge of starvation." Cattle die off by thousands,
and epidemics, droughts, grasshopper and mice plagues,
which the fellaheen are incapable of coping with, reduce them
to a state of abject deprivation . The result is seen in the total
lack o f any natural increase in population since the British occupation
; while directly across the Jordan, their brother Arabs
are showing the most remarkable gain of births over deaths on
medical records.
No part of this discourages Whitehall from broadcasting the
usual paean in 1936 to the beauties of existence in this "peaceful
and contented country, blessed with an Arab Emir and Government,
and being without a Jewish problem ." 9 Calmly shiftTRANSJORDAN
ing gears a few short months later, it acknowledges that "the
Emirate of Abdullah is poor, miserably poor, but it does not
want the wealth of the Zionists ." 10 This in itself was flatly
contradicted by the British statesman, Herbert Morrison, who
on returning from a visit to Palestine and Transjordan in 1936,
told the House that Jews were being kept out of Transjordan
"by the wish of the British Government ." 11
The fact is that Transjordan is a colony which Great Britain
got on the excuse that it was to be part of the Jewish Homeland.
The Commander of the Arab Legion is a blue-eyed Englishman
named Peake Pasha . The most prominent agent o f the
all-important British Intelligence Service, Major J. B. Glubb, is
stationed there permanently in charge of the desert patrol which
keeps the turbulent tribesmen under control . Here in itself is
proof of the importance London attaches to ownership of this
area. British officials rule as in any other colony, and the word
of the High Commissioner is final. Says the Encyclopaedia Britannica
: "A considerable increase in the number of British officials
and the transfer of the Palestine gendarmerie en bloc to
Transjordan resulted in fact in the carrying on of the Administration
on Crown Colony lines ; and the local Government existing
as a facade, exercised little or no independent authority ." 12
The `treaty' between Great Britain and Abdullah covers all
of this nicely. "His Highness the Emir agrees to be guided by
the advice of His Britannic Majesty in all matters concerning
the granting of concessions, the exploitation of natural resources,
the construction and operation of railways, and the operation of
loans." The Emir may not "raise or maintain in Transjordan
or allow to be raised or maintained, any military forces without
the consent of His Britannic Majesty." The `independent
Emirate' agrees "to the employment of British officials ." England
may keep a foreign army on its soil, and has its power of
attorney in all matters of international relationship . Laws affecting
the State budget, currency, land grants, succession to the
throne and changes in the `Constitution' are to be referred to the
advice of Great Britain . Signed March 20, 1928, this `treaty'
completed the strategical moves by which Transjordan was to be
purloined from the Jewish National Home and stuffed in the
pocket of Great Britain. Today the Emir Abdullah is a dummy
who sits on the knee of a ventriloquist known as the British Resident.
It is Abdullah's lips which move, but it is the voice of
Downing Street which comes forth .
Calling a spade a spade, the London Times, in its issue of
March 29, 1928, declares : "Transjordan therefore has the status
equivalent to a protectorate, the only difference being the status
of Great Britain, because whereas a Mandate is provisional, the
present relationship is permanent ."
The latest plan is to separate the Aqaba region from Transjordan
and declare it a separate English colony . This move is
forestalled only by the vigorous claim of Ibn Saud to that port
as part of the legitimate spoils grabbed from old King Hussein.
Saud now demands it as the price of his consent to the Palestine
partition scheme . To settle this annoying question, negotiations
have been going forward for some time . They will undoubtedly
end in the classic manner, with Aqaba created a Crown
Colony, and Ibn Saud handed part of someone else's territory to
compensate him .
The Emir of Transjordan owes his success entirely to English
patronage . His one military campaign was staged against
Ibn Saud, when that gentleman with tacit British approval chased
Abdullah's father, Hussein, off the throne of Hejaz . Abdullah
himself was disastrously routed and had to flee for his life into
the desert .
The Emir is an excellent chess player and indifferent poet .
He has only one legal wife, but enough concubines of every
color and nationality to suit the most capricious taste . In April
of 1931 he attempted to make the use of automobiles illegal in
Transjordan, but was overruled by the British . Christian Arab
papers in Palestine have attacked him regularly for his hostility
to Christians . His son, Tallal, attempted to assassinate the royal
father in May 1936, and has since been imprisoned in what passes
for the Palace . The Emir is wise enough to know the limitations
of his power . With the external affairs of his country he
has little to do, even nominally . Its internal affairs are supervised
with autocratic powers by the smart British Resident, Colonel
His administration proved so erratic and extravagant that the
English finally deprived him of the administration of even his
own estates and put him on the civil list like a pensioner . The
balance is reserved for the payment of his debts .13 He is known
to privately favor a great Semitic State made up of Jews and
Arabs with himself at the helm . Publicly he is more circumspect.
Once he is said to have declared : "Why should we not
allow the Jews to come into our country ? We shall take their
money and then drive them out again ."
He is a realist of the first water, who would not hesitate at any
time to cut His Britannic Majesty's throat if anything could be
gained by it. Lord Raglan, former British political officer in
Transjordan, informed the Lords on February 21, 1922 that he
himself "had heard Abdullah with his £ 5000 in his pocket 14 hold
up Sinn Fein as an example to the Arabs of Palestine . The inhabitants
are disgusted with Abdullah and they are still more
disgusted with the British Government which has forced him
upon them."
During the Winter of 1935-36 the Emir wrote the French
Foreign Minister offering France the annexation of Transjordan
to Syria on condition that he become king . "If for no other
reason," says Ernest Main, "than that they suspected Abdullah
of being a tool of Britain, the French had nothing to do with
this scheme ." 15
The Emir's country is so pathetically undeveloped that "even
a horse tied to a tree is a wayside event ." 16 Kenneth Williams,
accompanying the Peel Commission during their 1936 visit, describes
the greater part as inhabited "only by wandering tribes .
Only one-fifth of the total area of the Emirate, in fact, is cultivated."
Impelled by their extreme poverty, the Tribes have long gazed
with envious eyes at their lucky brethren across the river, now
prosperous enough to own many wives and all the good food
they could eat . Even Abdullah himself, usually so tractable,
could not restrain his cupidity. He began to regard himself in
the light of a land-owner whose vast stretches could be given a
fabulous market value, though at the time they were not worth
the taxes paid on them . His cronies among the land-owning
effendis also began to grow restless despite hand-outs and patronage.
They smelled bigger game ; and, mouths watering at this
tempting stream of yellow metal pouring before their eyes across
Jordan, they acted at times like a dog teased with a bone that
has a string attached to it . Much to British disgust, the patriotism
ready-made for them by Whitehall began to look phony to all
sections of the Transjordan population .
Back in 1924 Jacob De Haas had already been offered ioo,ooo
dunams at "about a dollar an acre, on condition that the sale was
not disclosed to the British officials in Jerusalem." 18 Then and
since, the Emir has been anxious to sell to Jews, but the British
have persistently interfered . In 1926 they forced the dismissal
of Premier Rikabi Pasha for "favoring Zionist immigration ." By
the end of 1932 the Emir himself started negotiations with Jewish
political circles and arranged a 99-year lease on 70,000 dunams
near the Allenby bridge."' The exultant crowing of some
members of the Jewish Agency, who could not resist premature
publicity over this `stupendous victory,' killed the deal . Becoming
really annoyed at what they considered Arab `rapacity,' the
British stepped in and smashed the proceedings .
But the Arabs were not to be put off . On January 17, 1 933,
Mithkal Pasha, most powerful sheikh in Transjordan, offered
to lease one hundred thousand dunams. Heads of other tribes
approached the Jewish Agency with similar propositions . On
January 2o a great meeting of sheikhs at Amman resolved to support
Abdullah up to the hilt . Three days later, in an interview
carried by the entire Arab press, Abdullah bluntly accused the
Palestine Government of forcing him to rescind his agreement
with the Jewish company.
Events tumbled over themselves in swift succession . On February
6, a group of the most influential tribal leaders drew up a
petition demanding the right to lease or sell their land . Pointing
out the terrible poverty and underpopulation of the country,
they declared that salvation could come only through the Jews .
Under the direction of the Government propaganda officer, the
Palestine Arab press accused Abdullah of having engineered the
petition himself. Undeterred, Abdullah banned offending Arab
papers from his territory . Transjordanian leaders, determined
to have their way, staged impressive demonstrations demanding
land sales . The opening of the Legislative Assembly on February
9, was all set for fireworks . The group in favor of legalizing
land sales to Jews, having a clear majority, had taken the
bit in their teeth and meant to be stopped by no one . The Assembly
had already met when the Secretariat announced that it
had been dissolved and that future sessions were indefinitely
postponed . According to the story carried openly by all Arab
papers, both the High Commissioner and the British Commander
of the Transjordan Military had held a hurried conference with
the Emir, laying down the law to that refractory gentleman in
no uncertain manner .
Meanwhile the Palestine Government was with meticulous
correctness advising the Jewish press that "this matter is not
within our jurisdiction as Transjordan is under a different government."
At almost the identical moment, it informed the
Emir that his subsidy would be reduced by twenty-five percent
during the coming year . But for once the rubber-stamp Legislature
confounded its masters by running completely amuck.
On April r, at its next session, the High Commissioner's bill prohibiting
sale or lease of land to non-Transjordanians (Jews) was
unexpectedly beaten by thirteen votes to three . The session
closed in surly mood with no affirmative measure allowed to
come before it.
Still trying to force the issue, on May 25, representatives delegated
from twenty-three Transjordanian towns waited in a body
on the Jewish Agency urging them not to give up the fight . It
was apparent that operating deviously with his left hand and
hungrier than ever, Abdullah was sitting tight . That forced the
British to lay aside their switch in favor of the cudgel. They
3 50
reminded the Emir of what had happened to his illustrious father,
King Hussein, when he thought he was a bigger man than
the King of England. Though Abdullah wisely modified his
position, his followers were not nearly so circumspect . Enraged
meetings were held regularly in violent protest . As late
as March 27, 1935 the heads of the most important tribes convened
in an uproarious session, demanding the cancellation of
anti-Jewish laws "because Jewish money which is destined to
develop Transjordan is being diverted . . ." With unerring
awareness they ignored the fiction of a Transjordanian Government
and addressed their resolution direct to the British, who disregarded
However, it should not be believed that English solicitude for
their tribal wards is limited to some skittish desire to fence them
off picturesquely on their reservations . British officials themselves
have been buying up large tracts of the most fertile acreage
and placing them under cultivation.20 Palestine Arabs, too,
are taking over extensive tracts on speculation, considering an
eventual Jewish settlement inevitable .21
There have been other settlement schemes which had British
approval . In the Spring of 1927 the English Government put
up a demand that land be made available for the immediate settlement
of Armenians . Sensing no monetary advantage, and disliking
Christians with a keener gusto than they did Jews, Arab
sheikhs submitted a counter-memorandum angrily rejecting the
proposition . It was consequently dropped . Early in 1929 the
English backed another plan to colonize refugees from Tripoli
and Bengasi after those territories had been occupied by the
Italians . Three hundred thousand dunams were to be granted
under the most favorable conditions, but the prospective settlers
proved unorganized and capital was lacking .22 At still another
time, under London's request, Abdullah presented one hundred
thousand dunams near Amman to a large contingent of exiles
from Morocco. The settlers were guaranteed adequate deeds,
freedom from taxation for three years and military protection
against Bedouin attack.
Whitehall is still fearful that the Jews will find a way someTRANSJORDAN
how to break through the wall which holds them west of Jordan.
When they do, the 'landless Arab' bogey, the Statutory
Tenant Laws, the whole absurd system of blockade and restriction
in which the land-hungry Jew is caught, must fall apart
of its own inert weight. With the vast unpopulated reaches of
Transjordan in prospect, they would become too foolish to retain
even a pretense of plausibility . The Bureaucrats know that
if they succeed in securing themselves on the soil the Jews will
never be driven out o f the Holy Land, and that the whole
carefully raised scheme against them must then ultimately fail .
In its issue of February 4, 1937, Great Britain and the East echoes
official apprehension, crying that "a treaty or some conclusive
guarantee with Transjordan, that the Jews will not be allowed
to take land there, would greatly pacify the country ."
Most Transjordanians seem to believe, however, that their
country would be better `pacified' by the removal of the British.
The final stroke, which was to deal the death blow to Zionist
hopes, was simply conceived . It rested on the establishment of
that great democratic institution, a parliament, in Palestine . Superficially
the Bureaucrats thus placed themselves in the vanguard
of progress . Who could challenge the undoubted right
of men to rule themselves through their own elected representatives
! By intent, however, the scheme was a long step forward
toward the liquidation of the Mandate . As envisaged by Whitehall,
the Legislative Assembly would be a ready-made dummy
congress which could be implemented at any time as a perfect
sounding board for British policies . At the same time it would
place the Zionists within brackets so that they could not attack
without the risk of losing world sympathy .
All of this was urged in the name of the `sacred promises'
made to Hussein of the Hejaz, despite the fact that in the Hejaz
itself there is not and never has been any parliamentary system
whatsoever. Throughout the `free' countries of Arabia democracy
is noteworthy by its absence . Yemen and the immense
territory of Saudi are ruled without even a pretense of constitutional
government . The equally vast Hadramaut, as well as
Aden, cowers under the despotic authority of British guns .
Iraq, most developed of all these Arab countries, is ruled by a
shadow Government constituted with the assistance of British
officials. "Notwithstanding the Constitution," says Lieutenant-
Colonel Stafford meaningfully, "British policy in Iraq was directed
. . . towards making Feisal a real King in the Eastern
sense ." 1 "The country's Parliamentary system," he tells us, "is
a farce." The Government is cordially hated by the majority of
the population . Armed revolt is always in the air and is kept
down with an iron hand.2 Even the barest pretext to constitu-
tionalism vanished in 1936 when the Army bombed the capital
and seized control .
Toward the great illiterate bulk of the population the educated
Arab classes are no more democratic in the political sense
than the Athenians were to their slaves . "Even within their
own circle," remarks Ernest Main, "they have little sense of
what real democracy means." 3 The orbit of politics in `free
Arabia' revolves around the sheikhs, emirs, imams and their supporters.
"The Arab masses," says Professor Scherger, "do not
fit into any other system of government except the foreordained
traditional rule of sheikh and religious leaders . . . Conspiracies
and assassinations are the only popular procedure adopted
and practiced by the Arabs when electing representatives and
rulers." 4 Throughout every portion of Arabia slavery flourishes
with the full support of public opinion . It is a vested interest
of immemorial respectability, writes Bertram Thomas,
"and any extraneous authority interfering becomes odious in
the eyes of the people ." 5 How can one talk of democracy in
the same breath with this !
The readiness of the Palestinian Arab for self-rule is not less
unpromising. He is just as backward, excitable and fanatic as
his brother in the desert. The various Commissions of Inquiry
have themselves declaimed that he was incompetent and must be
protected against the superior capacities of European immigrants
. Eighty-five percent of his men and ninety-three percent
of his women are illiterate .6
The setting up of a parliamentary body, under the circumstances,
would only serve to provide an arena for general intrigue
and agitation against the whole policy and purpose of the
Mandate. The Colonial Office itself informed an Arab Delegation
in March 1922 : "The position is that His Majesty's Government
is bound by a pledge which is antecedent to the Covenant
of the League of Nations, and they cannot allow a constitutional
position to develop in a country for which they have
accepted responsibility to the principal Allied Powers, which
may make it impracticable to carry into effect a solemn undertaking
given by themselves and their allies . . . It is quite clear
that the creation at this stage o f a National Government would
preclude the fulfillment of the pledge made by the British Government
to the Jewish People."
The greatest authority in the British Commonwealth on constitutional
reform is the India Report of 1934. It lays down the
following principle : "Parliamentary government, as it is understood
in the United Kingdom, works by the interaction of four
essential factors : the principle of majority rule ; the willingness
o f the minority for the time being to accept the decisions o f the
majority ; the existence of great political parties divided by
broad issues of policy rather than by sectional interests ; and
finally, the existence of a mobile body of public opinion, owing
no permanent allegiance to any party and therefore able, by its
own instinctive reaction against extravagant movements on one
side or the other, to keep the vessel on an even keel ." In Palestine
none of these requisite conditions exist. A few families,
the Nashishibis, Husseinis and Khaldis, monopolize all public
power, and would soon rend all public life to shreds in their
mutual struggles . "Of a genuine rivalry of political parties,
presenting alternative municipal programmes to the electorate,"
says the Peel Commission, "there is no trace ."
Still another British authority, the Hilton Young Commission,
lays down the precedent that where a fundamental division
exists of race or religious hatreds, or a difference in level o f
civilizations between the various elements o f the population,
"the abstract principle o f `majority rule' cannot be dogmatically
applied ." How does this fit the Palestine situation ?
In July 1924, Ormsby-Gore informed the Mandates Commission
that "if in this [legislative] council there should be brought
forth an anti-Zionist majority, the Government will come into
an impasse, since it must execute certain provisions of the Mandate,
on the one hand, while, on the other hand, a hostile majority
would oppose such measures ." Three months later Herbert
Samuel is droning to the same Commission "that the Arabs
have declared they would, if they had the majority [in the proposed
Parliament], use it to prevent the creation of the Jewish
National Home."
Everyone, including the British, agreed that the setting up of
any such parliamentary apparatus was a direct refutation of the
manifest purposes of the Mandate, that it would automatically
crystallize the Jews as a helpless minority in their National
Home, and that no right thinking man could countenance such a
procedure. Nevertheless, London is soon after found espousing
this very scheme as one of its fundamentals of policy. Every
High Commissioner had to make it his own . Though the Jews
fought the proposition desperately, for once solidly united, the
Bureaucrats pushed it with all the power at their command .
Time after time when it appeared on the verge of adoption, unlucky
accident intervened .
On several occasions, when all else seemed propitious, the
Mandates Commission rejected the proposal as "premature and
ill-advised ." Notwithstanding, in 1923 London officially declared
it in existence . But the Arabs foolishly refused the proffered
bait . Completely misjudging English motives, they believed
that a little additional pressure would bring about the
complete squashing of the Mandate, and the elimination of the
British as well . With consequent bravado they boycotted the
election to the new Parliament, and announced that they would
sabotage all laws accepted by that body. Left without a leg to
stand on, the Government annulled the election and reinstated
the former Advisory Council, taking the occasion to reduce the
former Jewish proportion .
After the 1929 pogrom the Arabs again renewed their demands
for the `true processes of democracy.' They could not
have chosen a more awkward moment . A volcanic eruption of
horror still convulsed world opinion . The temper of Mr. .
Weizmann's Zionists was yet an unprobed factor . Uncertainty
made the Bureaucrats wary . With scrupulous probity Whitehall
proclaimed that "since the effect of meeting the wishes of
the Arab delegation as regards democratic government would
have been to render it impossible for His Majesty's Government
to continue as Mandatory for Palestine . . . it became evident
that this matter could not usefully be pursued further." This
was in May 1930. In October we are told by the same Gov35
ernment "that the time has now come" when the question of
constitutional changes must "be taken in hand without further
delay," and that "the time has arrived" for the setting up of a
Legislative Council for Palestine.
For five more years the matter seesawed back and forth. Finally,
on December zz, 1935 High Commissioner Wauchope
sounded the tocsin for democracy by once more proclaiming
the establishment of a Legislative Council . The announcement
carefully avoided all reference to the Balfour Declaration and
the Jewish National Home . It was made on Saturday, the Jewish
Sabbath, and was addressed to the Arabs, ignoring the Jews
as if they did not exist.
The `Council' was a precious piece of humbug . Out of
twenty-eight members, four Jews and eleven Arabs were to be
elected. The balance were to be appointed by the High Commissioner,
to include five Englishmen . The High Commissioner
retained wide veto powers. If a miracle happened and his handpicked
`legislative body' bucked the traces, he merely had to
deem its measures invalid to rule them out without ceremony .
The Jews anxiously asked themelves : What was back of the
British mind ? What purpose could there be to all this artful
simulation ? Was it to provide a rostrum for anti-Zionist agitators
who could be represented as expressing the country's
will? Was it a smokescreen behind which anti-Jewish officials
could plot the death of Zionism ? With dogged resolution they
notified the Government that they would neither participate in
the elections nor recognize the proposed assembly . The reply
was the icy ultimatum that "with them, without them or
against them, a Legislative Council would be established in
This was all very well, but it did not take into account the British
Parliament itself . The Council scheme was debated in the
Lords on February z6,1936, and on March 24 in Commons, where
it was disastrously routed . In the latter body, recites Lord Peel
dolefully, "the Secretary of State, whose speech was constantly
interrupted, had only two supporters ." 7
After all the moralizing which accompanied the Legislative
Council plan, one is astonished to discover that the British have
neglected to put any of these fine precepts into operation during
the entire period of their administration in Palestine . Such
local autonomy as the Jewish settlements retain is almost entirely
a carry-over from the Turkish regime. The Arab masses have
no more voice in even their local community affairs than if they
lived in Timbuctoo .
The electoral system the British introduced (no one else
wanted it) is a grotesque travesty on democratic processes .
The country was divided into community rolls based on religion.
A Jew could nominate only a Jew, a Moslem a Moslem
and a Christian a Christian . Suffrage is based on property
rights, and there is no educational test . From here on, the proceedings
become heavily involved . Despite the fact of three
community rolls for nomination purposes, there is only one
common roll for election purposes. Now a Christian, Jew or
Mohammedan may vote for anyone he pleases, but Government
decree determines the number of each religion which must be
elected !
An analysis of the polling lists in representative towns shows
Nablus to have less than goo voters, out of a population of
20,000. Gaza, a city of 19,000, boasts 500 voters. Ramleh,
with 12,000, has 300 voters. The link between Government
officials and the peasantry is the village Mukhtar, a worthy
whom Lord Peel describes as "usually illiterate ."
The Capital City itself is a perfect example of what the British
mean when they talk about `democracy' and `self-determination.'
The Jews of Jerusalem constitute seventy-two percent of
its 110,000 souls . Moslems are twenty percent, with the balance
Christians . Despite this numerical preponderance, the
Government has always insisted on the appointment of an Arab
Mayor, who runs the city with a high hand ." Jews, who pay
practically all the taxes, are allowed the barest minimum of pub358
lic benefits. Some of the older Jewish quarters such as Nahlat
Zion, which have been paying taxes since the British occupation,
have yet to be provided with a single yard of road .
An incident which occurred in 1930 thrusts this whole
strange situation close to the realm of fantasy . We see the
Mayor of Jerusalem, Ragheb Bey Nashishibi, at the head o f an
anti-Jewish delegation, proceeding to London in his capacity of
Mayor, armed with a bristling political program aimed directly
against his own constituents ! And this on the very eve of
Municipal Council elections where the Mayor was engaged in
a mortal struggle with his ancient enemies the Husseinis ! The
Jews stormed like madmen. Stentoriously they promised retaliation
by throwing their support to Nashishibi's opponents .
Immediately the Government rose to the occasion with a decree
postponing the elections for three years . In the Mayor's absence,
it refused pointblank to allow Chaim Solomon, Jewish
Vice-Mayor, to sit as acting-executive, and appointed an Arab
instead. Completely disgusted, the Jewish members of the
Municipal Council resigned in a body .
In 1933 the Government introduced an election scheme which
gerrymandered the election districts with such strategic cunning
that the Jewish majority was turned into a minority . Part
of the maneuver which arranged this result lay in the granting
of special rights to owners of property in the Old City . These
regulations so curtailed the right of suffrage that out of its entire
population only 3900 individuals in Jerusalem were entitled
to appear at the polling places .
In January 1935 the Government appointed Hussein Fakri
El Khaldi mayor for five years, to take Nashishibi's place. A
Jew, Daniel Auster, was given the title of Vice-Mayor . Right
after being inducted into office, Mayor Khaldi refused to countenance
the presence of the Jewish Vice-Mayor and even denied
him an office in the Municipal Building . A new roar of
indignation arose from the Jews . As a result, permission was
now given the Vice-Mayor to sit in the Municipal Building,
where relieved of all duties he twiddled his thumbs .
The farcical drama continued to unfold . In 1937, Arab
Khaldi himself was picked up by a squad of soldiers for alleged
complicity in the murder of a British official, and exiled
to a small island without benefit of trial . Thus unexpectedly
Vice-Mayor Auster found himself acting-Mayor. Officialdom
was nonplussed . At that very moment London was seeking to
put over its great coup, the Partition Plan . For the sake of
world opinion the Jew must be allowed to remain . But what
to do about the Mayor's salary, which totals C 144.6 a year !
To give it to Mr. Auster would be to recognize his position .
Naturally, Arab Khaldi, in exile in the Seychelles Islands, could
not receive it. From that point on the problem is solved by
being studiously ignored. So Mr. Auster, who is Mayor and
yet not Mayor, continues to perform the mayoral duties gratis .
Just what his status is, no one, least of all himself, can say .
In Haifa the situation is much the same . Though the Jewish
community is over fifty percent of the population and contributes
around seventy percent of the municipal income, it is
represented by only four out of twelve Councilors on the
Municipal Board . A number of other towns have, on paper at
least, some rights of self-government, with power principally to
raise taxes for municipal affairs . But only two Jewish towns
come within this category. "Why," asks Wedgwood, "are
Arab towns given self-government if they have populations of
2500 or more, while Jewish towns like Petach Tikvah, with a
population of 25,000 or 30,000, do not get self-government?"'
Even Tel Aviv did not attain the status of a municipal corporation
until 1 934.
Tel Aviv's self-rule is not worth too much . A Council is:
elected, which selects a Mayor and Vice-Mayor from among its
own members, subject to the approval of the High Commissioner.
How much `democracy' this entails is demonstrated in
the elections of November 1936, when General Wauchope
calmly invalidated the election of Moshe Chelouche as Mayor
without offering any reason for his action, and appointed Dr.
Israel Rokeach, Mayor in his stead .
Tel Aviv is the only city in Palestine where women enjoy
the franchise . Here they may even hold important municipal
posts. On the extraordinary excuse that this was contrary to
public policy, the Administration suddenly placed this right,
which Jewish women have had for a decade, into question . By
regulation issued February 9, 1 933 the High Commissioner was
granted the power to decide whether or not a woman has the
right to active or passive participation in municipal elections, entitling
him at will to throw out of office such women as might
have been duly elected, as well as to deny them suffrage .
Though they are taxed to the hilt, Jewish colonies fail to receive
the grants-in-aid allowed to Arab towns for public services
; and the Government at the same time consistently refuses
them permission to make use of outside credit facilities,
even for self-paying projects. Thus the Council of Rehovoth
tried vainly for three years to get permission to raise a loan for
building a market. In the end Rehovoth built its market without
the loan by straining its resources to the bursting point . When
in 1933 the Tel Aviv Municipality negotiated a loan of C350,000
with the Prudential Assurance Company, the Government refused
permission for any sum over J 6o,ooo. (This loan, incidentally,
was to be devoted to the construction of schools, built
in other cities by the Government at its own cost.)
This despotic, minute control extends to trivia undreamed of
in any other State but Soviet Russia. When, after the outbreaks
of 1929, Tel Aviv sought to set up its own slaughter house because
Jewish butchers did not feel safe in Jaffa, the Government
not only ignored the petition but would not even allow the city
to "meet the requirements by supplies of meat from elsewhere ."
It was either Jaffa or no meat .9 Years later a slaughter house
was ultimately built, but the situation continued provocative .
In 1938 Tel Aviv was faced with an enormous increase in meat
prices, "owing," says Palestine and Middle East Economic
Magazine, "to the domination of the market by a group of cattle
importers who now run what is virtually a meat racket on a
large scale." 10 By manipulating supply and transport at both
ends, these importers had succeeded in wiping out all competition,
with the result that the price of cattle for slaughter imported
from the identical Balkan countries "is almost three
times higher in Tel Aviv than in Egypt." When the Tel Aviv
Authorities decided to take action against further increases in
the cost of meat, the Government withheld its consent for
Municipal regulation of meat prices . Moreover, it refused to
sanction the import of cattle through Tel Aviv Harbor, which
would have cheapened transport and insured independent supplies.
Calling things by their right names, the Jerusalem Palestine
Review states the fact that the real ruler of the city is the
District Commissioner, not the "fictitious Council and bogus
Mayor." Fully as courageous, the Jewish Vice-Mayor (now
Mayor ?) writes that "although a cursory reading of the Palestine
Corporation Ordinance may give the impression that the
Corporations established under that law have wide powers of
civic administration, such an impression is erroneous . . . Municipalities
have practically no authority in connection with
the welfare of their citizens . . . Authority of the Municipal
Councils is so limited that even if it is decided to appoint a
minor clerk at a salary of 436 per annum . . . the approval of
the District Commissioner or the High Commissioner is necessary.
A Council of twelve or fifteen elected representatives
may spend hours and days arriving at a decision which, when
submitted to the Commissioner, is responded to by a curt note
canceling it. Against that rejection no action can be taken .
. . . The Palestine Government has, in effect, turned our Municipal
Councils into debating clubs ."" These Councils are
not even empowered to regulate building and layout or direct
roads in traffic . Their budgets must receive official ratification
from the District Commissioner, which may not be forthcoming
for a year or more . "For example," writes Lord Peel, "the budget
of Jerusalem for the financial year 1935-36 was not approved
until August 1935 ; and . . . the majority of the municipal
budgets for 1936-37 were still not approved by January
1937." 12
It is interesting to discover that the Moslem Wak f Administration,
though largely supported from taxes and not subject to
the democratic control of the Arab community, has been al362
most completely free of Government supervision, presenting
its budget only for `information' ; while the Jewish National
Council, democratically elected and supported entirely by internal
contributions, must submit its budget for Government approval
It is shocking to learn that Palestine is one of the few places
in the world where the slave traffic is carried on openly . "We
talk about slavery in Abyssinia," states a sickened English writer,
"but how many people know, for example, that [in Palestine]
you can buy the most beautiful girl . . . for a couple of hundred
pounds . You can buy her when she is twelve years old,
and you can take her home, there and then, to live with your
other . . . wives . . . and all of this in 1936, in a land administered
by Great Britain under a Mandate from the League of
Nations !" 13 He gives the current price of women as £5 for an
`old' woman of twenty or a girl of fifteen who is non-virgin.
,00 to C50 gets you a first class concubine, while f200 Will
buy you the modern equivalent to the Queen of Sheba .
According to the recent Annual Report of the American Colony
Aid Association, among three hundred mothers treated at
the Infant Welfare Center, one was thus purchased for the purpose
of sexual abuse at the age of seven, one at eight, 7 at nine
years, i i at ten, 2 2 at eleven, 41 at twelve, 51 at thirteen, and
54 at fourteen . Of the mothers treated, 62 .5% were defenseless
children who had been sold into slavery . How casually this
brutal trade in human flesh is regarded can be understood from
the following item which appeared in the Palestine press of
December 27, 1930 : "Three fellaheen of a Gaza tribe, now
residing in the Beisan district, have sold their daughters at a
good price, and already handed them over to masters in Tulkarm,
Nablus and Haifa, according to a letter to El Carmel."
One of the most persistent complaints of this people whom
British propaganda regards as long-suffering patriots, is that the
Zionists have inadvertently chased the price of women out of
sight. Arabs who sold land to Jews had enough money to buy
six, seven - sometimes a dozen or more women . The price of
female slaves rose dramatically in accordance with the law of
supply and demand so that exorbitant prices must now be paid
for women, who are dragooned from even far-away Ethiopia . "I
assure you," a highly placed Arab told Farago, "even such episodes
add to the general hatred of Jews, and one must not judge the
Arabs too harshly if they take to arms in desperation ."
It is a striking commentary on the Mandatory's conception
of government that Jews lucky enough to be nationals of States
tolerably free of Jew-baiting will not risk Palestinian citizenship,
even though they have come to the National Home to stay .
As in the worst days of the old barbaric Turks, they take special
trips back to the old countries, registering their children there
so that they might enjoy protection against a Government they
have learned to distrust thoroughly . It is estimated that fully
one hundred and sixty thousand Jews permanently domiciled in
the Holy Land thus keep their old nationality.14
You may search the map through and you will not find a
single area administered by the English Colonial Office where a
constitutional position in favor o f the native population has been
allowed to develop. Is it not astonishing, then, that they should
exhibit such a compelling sentiment for the `rights' of natives in
precisely the area they are under pledge to relinquish ultimately
to the Jews ?
British Central and East Africa may be taken for convenient
comparison . The native races here are certainly as intelligent as
those of Palestine, and infinitely more tractable . They outnumber
the whites four hundred to one . Nevertheless, wherever
representative institutions have been granted to English
colonies and dependencies in these territories, the native peoples
have not been allowed to participate either as voters or as
members. The voting power and the right to be elected as
members is vested mostly, if not always, in the British European
immigrants. 15
Still more significant, there are large colonies of East Indians
and Arabs settled in these places . They came long be364
fore the British immigrants and they play a vital part in the
economic life of these communities . Notwithstanding, the constitutional
power is invariably placed in the hands of British settlers
It is worth tearing off the cover of this thing to get a look
at some of its detail . We find Tanganyika, also a mandated territory,
with a British population of 4000 submerged in some
5,02 2,000 natives. In addition there are 71 oo Arabs and 2 3,400
East Indians . Yet under the Constitution of 1926 a Legislative
Council is constituted consisting of twenty British Europeans
and three British Indians . Neither the native populations nor
the 7000 Arabs, who alone outnumber the British two to one,
are represented at all . In Kenya Colony, in which much the
same situation obtains, the best part of the agricultural land is
sequestered for white settlers only . Into this restricted area
neither the large native population nor the considerable proportion
of Indians and Arabs may penetrate .
Zanzibar is another fair sample of this weave . In addition to
its native population of 186,470, it has 33,400 Arabs, 14,0o0
British Indians, and only 300 Europeans. Yet of the fourteen
members of the Legislative Council, ten are British Europeans.
Arabs apparently do not count here either .
In South Africa, which as a Dominion (not under the direction
of the Colonial Office) invites no absolute comparison, Europeans
are but 1,890,300 out of a total population of 8,370,000.
Yet it is mandatory that members of both the Senate and House
of Assembly be British subjects of European descent. Colored
people (including Arabs and East Indians) are subjected to discriminatory
regulations of the most severe type . When the
Hindu leader Gandhi visited there several years ago, he was not
allowed to enter one of the great public buildings on this account.
A comparison from another angle is offered by British experience
in the Island of Cyprus . To spike the Greeks, who
hoped for enosis (reunion with Greece), a Legislative Assembly
similar to that proposed for Palestine, was formed . In it the
Turkish minority of twenty percent plus Government officials
formed an actual voting majority . The result was economic
stagnation and political chaos. Greek members refused to cooperate
with the Government or the Turk minority. Bills in
the Legislature were jettisoned . National hatreds reached an
explosive climax. The gulf of culture, hopes and physical differences
between the two races was so fundamental as to contravene
ordinary differences of opinion . As a result of this selfgenerated
combustion, the Island almost blew itself off the map
-and the British were glad enough finally to haul out from
under. In November 1931 they withdrew the Constitution as
"premature, excessive and unsuitable ." From that time forward,
Cypriots were not so much as allowed to discuss or hear a
political speech . 16 The game had been played out in favor of
the baldly stated conviction that if Britain is to stay there, she
must rule there.
The British, with this experience immediately behind them,
do not need to be told that the differences between Arab and Jew
- in ideals, dreams, mentality, culture, and objectives - are far
more exaggerated than anything they ever witnessed between
Turk and Greek in Cyprus. But Whitehall had not confounded
itself by turning evangelist . Its continually publicized efforts
to establish a parliament in Palestine had a far more practical
purpose. The Zionists had to be pried loose no matter what
was forfeit . Towards this end it was desirable to encourage the
Arabs to consider themselves the rightful rulers of the country,
and to foster the belief that a decisive action on their part would
sweep away the last tottering remnants of the Balfour Declaration
and the Jewish National Home project .

Page 365 Book





The British, who were later to talk imposingly of `Arab nationalism
in Palestine,' were of a quite different view in 1918 .
British Peace Handbook No. 6o declares briskly that "the people
west of the Jordan are not Arabs, but only Arab speaking .
. . . In the Gaza district they are mostly of Egyptian origin ;
elsewhere they are of the most mixed race ." As late as 1921
the Administration was still officially claiming that the word
`Arab' as applied to Palestinians was a misnomer .'
Actually there are no `Arabs' anywhere . There is not even
a fairly homogeneous mixed race. Throughout the Peninsula
the Arab has ceased to exist . Those who have taken his place
are a motley assortment of peoples, low in the scale of human
development, who speak the Arabic tongue . Even the courtly
Saladin was no Arab, but a Kurd . Hussein of the Hejaz, himself,
was mothered by a Circassian and had his official heirs by a
woman of Turkish blood ..2
The countless cities, tribes and nations incorporated at
sword's point into the swollen host of Allah, soon drowned the
Arab out by the very suffocation of their numbers . An even
more dreadful revenge was exacted by that cruel institution, the
Harem. How enormous this practice was can be seen in Sykes'
description of the empire of fabled Haroun-al-Raschid, with its
tremendous seraglios stocked with women from every conceivable
corner of the globe .3 He marvels at the unending supply
of female slaves, of every color and kind . Since purity of
blood in the community of Mohammed always gives way to
purity of line, where are the descendants of Qoraish 3a now ?
Even in the very core of desert Arabia, the race has been steadily
adulterated by an incoming flow of slave girls, most of them, in
recent centuries, from the Sudan and other places in Africa .
The offspring of these stolen creatures are not slaves but free
Moslems, since the moment a woman conceives she attains the
status of a legal wife .
Pilgrims from such faraway places as Java and Morocco,
streaming like columns of magnetized ants toward the holy
cities of the Hejaz, contributed liberally to this melange . The
Moslem habit of giving a slave girl to an overnight guest for
his comfort, the frequent looting of visiting caravans of the devout,
all sweetened the mixture . "If we make exception of the
Sherifian families - the descendants of the Prophet - and some
very few other people of undoubted Arab origin," writes the
great Turkish scholar, Dr. Riza-Tewfik, "all the population of
Mecca is alien to the Semitic race ." 4 The Syrian author, Rihani,
describing the population of the Arabian coast, is even
more emphatic .5
History gives it as a fact that the Arabs never settled Palestine,
merely taking control and providing the usual military and
administrative caste . They imposed their religion on the native
peoples but failed to exterminate them. Here, too, gradual racial
suicide was the price of uncontrolled lust . As far back as
the Latin Kingdom in Jerusalem, Edris comments on the vast
number of captive females required to satisfy the wants of these
amorous gentlemen . He reports slaves brought from all parts
of Africa and the East, with good-looking Nubian girls most in
demand. The Crusaders found a country peopled by a mixture
of all the races of the Orient, intermarried with Greeks .
On the founding of the Kingdom they had to recognize the
existence of five types of Moslems (each of different racial antecedents),
as well as Jews, Druses, Samaritans, and others.°
By i 120, when the Council of Nablus was held, the Latins themselves
were already reported half absorbed in this churning stew
of races.
Of even greater significance than the loose social habits of
the Moslems was the physical position of this little land, which
turned it into a bloody charnel house for unending centuries.
Spoliation, destruction, rapine, extermination, claimed the land
like an ever-recurring plague. The invasions which regularly
smashed against its stricken borders were countless . It had been
devastated by the Scythians from north of the Caucasus . The
Romans populated it with vast settlements of Greeks and other
races from everywhere . It was scoured soon after by the wars
of the Seleucids and Ptolemies . In 634 A.D . occurred the Arab
conquest. By 868 A.D . an Egyptian invader named Mehmet
Tulum had wrested the country from them in the usual blood
bath. Now for a period of centuries Turks, Egyptians, Crusaders,
alternated in control, periodically baptizing the shuddering
country in a bath of blood .
After the Twelfth Century, Palestine was invaded time and
again by wild hordes from Asia who plundered, slew and violated
without halt . In 1256 the Mongol, Hulagu Khan, sacked
the stricken area and put the entire population to the sword . A
scarce hundred years later, Timur the Lame, a sanguinary destroyer
who called himself `The Wrath of God,' made this
whole sector the scene of one of the cruelest massacres of his
blood-drenched career. Now for generations Palestine became
an outspread altar on which human sacrifices were offered continually.
In their savage unending struggles for mastery, Mongols,
Mamelukes and the fierce Charismean tribes of Middle
Asia butchered its people indiscriminately. Between 126o and
1400 A.D . not a single city, town or village remained intact .
When the next conquerors, the Ottoman Turks, came in, rapine
and slaughter had left an indelible mark in the character of
the survivors. "In few parts of the world," says Lieutenant-
Colonel Stafford, "were there more different types ." 7
It was always the foreign soldier who was the police power
in Palestine. The Tulunides brought in Turks and Negroes .
The Fatamids introduced Berbers, Slavs, Greeks, Kurds and
mercenaries of all kinds . The Mamelukes imported legions of
Georgians and Circassians . Each monarch for his personal
safety relied on great levies of slave warriors . Saladin, hardpressed
by the Crusaders, received one hundred and fifty thousand
Persians who were given lands in Galilee and the Sidon
district for their services.
Out of this human patch-work of Jews, Arabs, Armenians,
Kalmucks, Persians, Crusaders, Tartars, Indians, Ethiopians,
Egyptians, Sudanese, Turks, Mongols, Romans, Kharmazians,
Greeks, pilgrims, wanderers, ne'er-do-wells and adventurers, invaders,
slaves and backwash of all corners of creation, was
formed that hodge-podge of blood and mentality we call today
'Levantine .' As this wild medley of ungovernable, lawless men
were killed off from time to time by incessant wars, raids and
plagues, more from everywhere were constantly merged into
the common melting pot. In the Fourteenth Century, drought
caused the immigration into Palestine of eighteen thousand `tents'
of Yurate Tartars from the Euphrates. Soon followed twenty
thousand Ashiri under Gaza, and four thousand Mongols under
Moulai, who occupied the Jordan Valley and settled from Jerusalem
south . Kaisaite and Yemenite tribes followed in their trail .8
In 1830 the Albanian conqueror Mehemet Ali colonized Jaffa,
Nablus and Beisan with Egyptian soldiers and their Sudanese
allies. Fourteen years later Lynch estimated the thirteen thousand
inhabitants of Jaffa to be composed of eight thousand
Turco-Egyptians, four thousand Greeks and Armenians, and
one thousand Jews and Maronites . He did not consider that
there were any Arabs at all in that city .®
During the middle of the Nineteenth Century the entire territory
of the National Home, east and west of the Jordan, is
computed to have held no more than sixty thousand people all
told. Of this number, non-Moslems, living under the bitterest
persecution, were still heavily in the majority . The huge population
growth since that time has been due to large contingents
of new arrivals . The Turks introduced Circassians around Amman.
When North Africa passed under European authority,
the fanatic Moghrabiyeh Moslems moved out and settled in the
Holy Land . (It was they who were responsible for the Safed
butchery in 1929, and who supplied the continuous tension at
the Wailing Wall .) So too, were introduced into the permanent
population of this little land, Bosnians, Turkoman nomads, and
a stream of Levantines, mixed desert wanderers and Africans
which continues to the present day.
As for the Christian population, we are told by the learned
Dr. Christie that it is made up of fragments of all the Levant
races. The native Christians of Nazareth come from the Hauran
and from Merj-Ayun ; while the Christians of Safed are the
children of immigrants from Hasbeiya who came in the second
half of the last century .
In the Arabic language only the Bedouin is designated by the
word `Arab.' But here, too, unless the eyes cannot be trusted,
there is little evidence of common descent. The Ghawarineh
tribe of the Jordan Valley have strongly marked African features,
fuzzy hair, black skin and guttural voices . A short distance
away is the tribe of Ghazawiyeh, shrill-voiced, gaunt and
large-featured. Nearby are the blue-eyed blondes of Bethlehem.
Several tribes of alleged Jewish stock have even been described
in Transjordan.1o
Until English political maneuvering recast their viewpoint for
them, the townspeople were insulted if they were referred to as
Arabs. They wanted to be known for what they were, Syrian
Levantines. Count Sforza designates the inhabitants of this entire
region as a medley of peoples "with not the slightest bond
between them." 11 Mrs. Andrews remarks drily that "in Jerusalem
today there are two or three families that claim to be of
the fine Arab stock which entered the country in the Seventh
Century." 12 Dr. Christie doubts whether there is any Arab
blood in the peasantry or villages at all . 13
As long as these masses have lived side by side, they have been
at each other's throats. Tribe hated tribe, city man hated fellah,
the Bedouin despised both, sect cursed sect, and even family disdained
family as unworthy scions of an inferior race . That all
this ill-assorted, explosive mixture can be organized into one
autonomous nation may also be doubted for the future.
From steppe, mountain, jungle and desert, an agglomeration
of primitive, savage man had swarmed in successive waves over
Palestine, and left their seed there . These with a vast admixture
of slaves and a leavening of nobler blood represent the racial
antecedents of the people we call 'Levantine' today.
Many of these people are shrewd, clever and even charming .
The studied gentility of the upper-bracket Arab leaves little to
be desired . Dressed in his Abaye 14 and red tarbush 15 he is a
colorful figure . His bearing is languorous and courtly, in vivid
contrast to the direct speech and often uncouth manners of the
immigrant Jew. Beneath this thin stratum, the balance of the
Arab population is primitive in the extreme. For the most part
it can hardly be said that they have risen above the stage of barbarism.
They are, on the whole, of poor physical type and of
low mentality . It would be hard to pose a wider disparity of
culture, instinct and mind than lies between these people and
the returning Hebrew. It is on this cold reality that all the finespun
visions of the Zionist theoreticians run afoul .
English as well as American observers, where they are free
from the corrosion of Empire politics, give a none-too-flattering
estimate of this population . Laconically the American, Commander
Lynch, reported that they were "far inferior to the North
American Indian" 16 then being held on reservations by the
United States Government . Drawing a sharp difference between
them and his desert tribesmen, Lawrence refers to the
Palestinians as "an ape-like people, having much of the Japanese
quickness, but shallow." 17 The late Governor of Sinai Peninsula,
C. S. Jarvis, sweepingly disposes of the Arab as "undoubtedly
the most striking example of decadent and decayed gentry
in the world ." He finds that "the Arab works about i o days
out of the 365," and that "all forms of manual labor are abhorrent
to him ." Like Petrie and other English observers, Jarvis
calls the tribesman a bane to the country he inhabits, asserting
that this once prosperous area "will remain wilderness as long as
he encumbers the land." While "the Arab is sometimes called
the Son of the Desert," he continues, quoting from Palmer, "this
is a misnomer as in most cases he is the Father o f the Desert, having
created it himself, and the arid waste in which he lives and
on which practically nothing will grow is the direct result of
his appalling indolence, combined with his simian trait of destroying
everything he does not understand." 18
Almost a century ago Lieutenant Lynch wrote that "the ruling
passion of an Arab is greediness of gold, which he will clutch
from the unarmed stranger or filch from an unsuspecting
friend ." 19 In 1935 Jarvis remarks that "his love of money is
such that he loses all sense of proportion whenever currency is
discussed, whilst if actual coins and notes are displayed before
him he not only loses his sense of proportion but his self-control
as well." 20 St. John Ervine adds that "when I hear an Englishman
sentimentalizing about the noble Arab and remember the
dirty and greedy baksheesh hunters I saw wherever I went, I
feel rage rising within me ." 21
Any attempt to judge these people by European standards is
anomalous in itself . Their language, for example, contains loo
words for camel and 99 for woman, but none for murder. There
is not a single Arabic word by which one can distinguish between
the slaughter of a sheep and the premeditated killing of a
man. Under his Abaye the Arab wears a long, wicked-looking
stiletto which he will use with lightning quickness on the slightest
provocation . Brutality is common to Arabs of all classes .
Their "utter callousness . . . for the suffering of animals," comments
Reverend H . V. Morton, "is a terrible thing ." 22 "All
their horses, in the tourist season, have bleeding knees," adds the
Reverend Mr. . Jannaway.23
Among all strata of Arabs woman is regarded as a mere animal .
The Moslem does not believe that a woman has a soul . If two
men begin to make complimentary inquiries about their respective
families, the wives are mentioned last, the boys and cattle
being named before them . "A father who has several daughters,"
writes Pierotti, "regards them just as he would sheep or
cows, and sells them in the same way ." 24
Girls are often not even counted in the figures given census
takers . A woman who bears a female child may be beaten and
reviled as if it were her fault . If she bears a large number of
daughters, she is despised . Merrill mentions a typical unfortu"
nate, thus described by sympathetic neighbors : "Poor thing,
poor thing ! She's got no children-only girls ." A barren
woman is promptly divorced, and her life made a constant series
of humiliations . An amusing side-light on this attitude is contained
in the petition submitted to the Government in 1935, asking
a ban on the showing of motion pictures to women ; asserting
that such entertainment was "contrary to Moslem law" and
"had a demoralizing effect on women ." 26
The Arab's sanitary arrangements do not bear mention . They
are long past the stage where they could be described as vulgar
or offensive. He has an incurable habit of using the middle of
a busy street for a latrine, shocking visiting European ladies beyond
measure .
Contrary to what might be expected, the Arab is of generally
poor physique . The geographer, George Adam Smith, describing
a locality, speaks of the inhabitants as "a sickly and degenerate
race ." Tuberculosis and malaria are rampant . Syphilis
is a chronic affliction which few escape.26 The dread amoebic
dysentery, meningitis and cholera are common . The Arab's
medical arrangements are elementary . He continues to tend
wounds by the application of fresh cow dung ; and in the case
of eye disease, applies bandages soaked in camel's urine . An
Arab will come to a fountain and wash his hair, ears, face, mouth
and feet in it, before drinking . He is much amused over the
European's ideas of hygiene . St. John Ervine speaks the mind
of most visitors when he remarks that "the man who can cure
the Arab of his filthy habits will be his benefactor ." 27
The Arab believes religiously in occult powers, in Shaitan,
the evil one ; in afrits, malicious little devils ; in Djinnieh, wicked
female spirits who suck the life from men's bodies. They cure
illness by prayer at a sacred tree or shrine . Slips of paper with
verses of the Koran on them are soaked in water and the drink
is given to patients ; or they use the froth from the mouth of a
mania dervish who has fallen in a fit . They believe a wolf's jawbone,
worn around the neck, to be a potent charm .
The Arab is stubbornly opposed to modernity of any kind .
He has no conception of civic duty. Broadhurst found that
he could not even organize a voluntary fire brigade in Jaffa, and
that the city had to be served by the Jewish group in Tel Aviv .
There is no intellectual life . The only Arab writer of any consequence
is Aref-al-Arif, whose book on Bedouin life could not
even find an Arabic publisher and had to appear first in Hebrew
There is no denying the fact that the Arab is on the whole
likable - as are all primitives . When not aroused by cupidity
or anger, he can be openhanded to a fault . His very ineptness
is engaging. Even his knavery is tolerable and amusing . In a
typical instance given by Meltzer, an elderly woman in a law
court, obviously not less than sixty, claimed to be twenty-seven.
"But your son says he is twenty-three years old, so how can you
be only twenty-seven ?" asks the red-faced English judge, on the
verge of apoplexy. "My Lord," answers the hag, "upon my head
be it if I am lying . That is how it is. Everything is in the hands
of Allah. He alone knows the ages of women ."
Like the heroes of old, Arabs think it a stain on their reputations
if they do not gorge . To say how much a man can eat or
drink is their way of expressing how strong he is . They are
also inordinately fond of perfumes and unguents . Men who can
afford it will walk around smelling as if they had fallen in a vat
of attar of roses .
Few of them have family names . They are simply called after
the tribe to which the family belongs . There is no set style. A
child may be called by name, followed by his father's name, as
`Yakub Ibrahim' ; or the father might be called `Abu Yakub'
(father of Yakub), and the mother, 'Umm Yakub' (mother of
Yakub) . Sometimes they are merely known by the trades they
ply, as Hadad (blacksmith), Hajjar (stoneworker), etc.
Perched atop of the social scale is the Effendieh class, characterized
by Duff as "those masters of low intrigue ." They have
not altered since Turkish times when the engineer Pierotti dcscribed
them in an ironic simile as "a curse to the country - a
greater evil to Palestine than the plagues were to Egypt, because
those were temporary and these are permanent ." 28 They consider
work of any kind to be degrading ; poverty and loss of
3 75
face, unpardonable crimes . They used to extort money from
Christian travelers and convents, but this easy source of revenue
has been stopped since British occupation . Their usual method
of living is by usury . Blackmail is another accepted feature of
their system of existence . It is this class which provides the
politicians who have kept the country in so much turmoil .
The sex habits of this gentry are notorious . Their word is
valueless, even under oath. Most of them have immense families,
with many wives and concubines, purchased with money
derived from Jewish immigration . "A Moslem family of five
wives and thirty or forty children," says Mrs . Erskine, "is no
rarity ." 29
In the cities is a mongrelized horde of ruffians whose presence
makes it impossible for any European woman to walk alone on
the streets after dark . Their insolent eyes undress every woman
they see, with lingering deliberation . The `middle class,' as in
all undeveloped peoples, is neither numerous nor well-defined .
European opinions of this group are not complimentary . Duff
terms them "absolutely incapable of loyalty . . . If money or advantage
is to be gained by betraying partners, there are very few
of them that will not snatch at the opportunity ." 30
At the bottom of the social scale is the Bedouin, whose black
hair tents can be seen today exactly as in the time of the first
Pharaoh.3' He has seen Abraham and Solomon pass . Nebuchadnezzar,
Belshazzar, Alexander, the Ptolemies, a dozen civilizations
rising and falling, have flitted before his eyes . He
remains the same. If his horizon was altered at any point, it speedily
shifted back again as soon as the disturbing element was removed.
The Bedouin is the traditional enemy of the villagers who, not
without justice, regard him as an incorrigible robber and thief .
Bedouin life has always been one of naked struggle between the
stronger and the weaker, the dominant and the subservient tribes.
The former took possession of the best pastures and wells,
plundering the weaker on whom they imposed tribute . Today,
as in the past, the youth of the tribe is nurtured on war songs and
tribal epics of valiant deeds and victories . The principle of im376
placable vendetta is a standard part of their existence . The
Bedouin cuts down orchards, burns crops and kills cattle like
any other corsair. The Reverend Henry Field described them in
1884 as "a horrible set of cutthroats, useless in war, as they
were subject to no discipline, and only intent on pillage ." 32 In
our own time, Lowell Thomas reiterates that "the desire to loot
is an all-consuming passion with the Bedouins and is not considered
a form of stealing with them, but is listed among the cardinal
virtues ." 33
The Bedouin has no conception of the word `home' analogous
to ours. He roams a certain well-defined territory with his
herds, paying no attention to international boundaries . He eats
anything : boiled grasshoppers, roast rats, lizards, cats, or any
kind of bird he can snare.34 The life of songbirds in his vicinity
is precarious since he will eat any he can catch .
No fuss is made over the dead . When the body is done with
life, it is simply laid out of sight and promptly forgotten . "The
living do not lay to heart the death of friends ." 35
There is no sentimentality wasted on women, who do all the
slave's work around camp. The Bedouin has a belief in regard
to a certain aromatic shrub that if a man can tie a bow in a twig
with one hand, he will marry two wives . "This superstition,"
says Merrill, "comes the nearest to romance of anything that I
have seen in Arab or Bedouin life." 36
Bedouin women are graceful in youth but begin to walk with
a peculiarly waddling gait after they leave their teens . They
weight themselves down with pounds of barbaric jewelry . Their
faces are disfigured with tattooed patterns of stars, circles and
lines of blue spots. Their knowledge is limited almost entirely
to the trivial tasks of camp life . "They do not know what year
it is," writes Madeleine Miller, "what month, what hour ." 37
Almost alone among the peoples of the earth the Bedouin has
virtually no creative gifts . He destroys and never builds . His
browsing herds of sheep and goats gut the last blade of green
from wherever he camps. His utterly primitive mentality almost
baffles description. In the settled districts he is as likely
to ride straight through a cornfield as bother about skirting
around it.
The settled Arabs, known as the fellaheen, are considered by
the Bedouin to be of different (and inferior) race from himself.
The fellah lacks nearly all the undeniable charm of his
Bedouin countryman . He is incredibly backward and fanatic,
and usually of low intelligence . He wears a long plain cotton
dress resembling the old-fashioned nightshirt, which is never
washed and lasts him for years . He is generally undersized and
The villages of gray mud huts invariably nestle on the side of
a hill, with an evident eye to safety from surprise attack . The
dwellings themselves are rude structures made of mud or camel
dung thatched with straw, without windows or ventilation . In
one part of the shack lives the owner and his family, sleeping together
on straw mats. In the other part is housed the cattle,
together with the hired hand, if one is employed . The place
is heated by a rough oven which burns the usual fuel, dried cattle
In the house is not the slightest evidence of artistic or creative
impulse to remind the visitor that these people are lifted above
the stage of simple animal appetite . There are neither beds,
tables, chairs nor candlesticks . On the clay floor are usually a
plentiful supply of homemade rugs . The diners sit at mealtime
in squatting position around a common dish, reaching in with
unwashed fingers for the food . Women may not sit at this
rude table, but get the remains, together with the dogs, when
the men are through .
Around the houses filth accumulates like guano . Not a tree
is to be seen in the whole village, with the exception of an occasional
gnarled olive planted by some generation long forgotten .
The only vegetation is a clump of cactus here and there . The
children run around half naked. Before the Jews came, most
of them suffered from horrible eye disease : many were blind.
The haggard faces and monotonous dark blue rags of the women
make them actually repulsive . They work exactly like animals .
To this day they give birth to their children in the middle of the
road, returning to their village not only with the new-born child
on their back, but with other heavy loads besides .38
The male peasant himself is no lover of hard work . Dr. Morton,
with long opportunity to observe what the Arab calls `land
cultivation,' comments : "For the most part, the Arab watchword
is `do as little as you can, and let what must be done be
done by your wife !' " 39 And Jarvis remarks sarcastically that
if the poorly sowed crop is a failure, "the Arab is on the whole
pleased, as the awful necessity of garnering the corn is thereby
obviated ." 40 He is invariably in debt to the effendi loan sharks
of neighboring cities . The fellah's farm implements consist
solely of a wooden plough of the most elementary design . He
may own an emaciated donkey or camel . If he has a cow, it
is as lean as the proverbial creature of Pharaoh's dream . Cattle
and chicken diseases are a widespread and permanent feature .
Only a few varieties of vegetables are planted except near the
Jewish villages .
Much of the land is held under the antiquated rusha'a system .
The village lands are owned by the community in common, but
cultivated individually . Every two years or so, each tiller moves
on to a fresh holding . Thus this curious rotation goes on indefinitely.
The result is that no one attempts to make any
permanent improvements . Not even stones are removed from
the fields. The fellah, like his Bedouin brother, quite respectfully
consigns the future to Allah whose business it is to take
care of it .
There has seldom existed such a tangle of murderous animosities
as those which divide the many creeds in this motherland
of religions .
The majority of the population is Moslem, divided into two
great camps, the Sunnites and Shi'ites . The Sunnites, most numerous,
are in turn split up into four principal sects, all of them
fanatics who hate each other hardly less than they do the de"
spised infidel.41 Around Acre is a large group of Bahaists, an
heretical offshoot of Shi'a. In Galilee are a considerable number
of war-like Druses, who believe in successive reincarnations
of the one God, including Jesus but not Mohammed .42
Islam in Palestine is a magnificent jungle of faiths and dogma .
In the north the inhabitants hold the Caliph El Hakem Biamrillah
as the Messiah and the incarnation of Ali . The numerous Shi'-
ites place Ali above Mohammed . There are considerable sects
which believe in the twelve Imams, one of whom is destined to
return, like Jesus, to relieve mankind of trouble and unbelief .
Different groups recognize various Imams as the deliverer : the
Caliph All, Mohammed al Bakr, Zeidi, Ismail and Suleiman .
They go so far as to acknowledge different religious holidays,
with varying degrees of importance attached to the days mutually
celebrated . Combined with this tangle of dogma is a
confusing medley of fetish and spirit worship dependent on locality.
Whatever Islam might have been in the past or might be elsewhere,
the Palestine Moslem has grooved it into line with his
own peculiar racial mentality . He considers the word `Jew'
obscene and generally uses it as `Al Yahud, Tikram' -using a
word of excuse for mentioning an object indecent to respectable
Moslems. At the Nebi Moussa festival each year, an hysterical
mob of true believers goes through the streets in procession, in a
delirium of wild, whirling dances, waving huge knives and clubs .
They are led by young townsmen of the low-effendi type who
distribute pamphlets and shout bawdy songs of their own composition.
Rising in low frenzied wail from this serpentine line
as it swings along is the continuous guttural chant : "El Billad
billadna, Wa el Yahud Kellabna" (This is our land and the Jews
are our dogs) . The Christian is despised with even more uncompromising
rigor. On this score Sir Ronald Storrs states
briefly that Moslems are "everywhere more tolerant of Jews
. . . than of Christians ." 48 The expulsion of all Christian missionaries
is one of the standard Moslem demands .
Christian Arabs are not only of markedly different racial mixture,
but their whole role in the country's social-economic struc38o
tore is strikingly like that of the Jews in the Diaspora . They are
mainly engaged in service occupations . Approximately 12%
of the population, they are 37.7% of those engaged in manufacturing,
transport and commerce . Only 1 5 % of the Christians
of working age are in agriculture as compared to the Moslems'
66%. And like the Diaspora Jews they are huddled together
in certain towns and villages, forming what is f or all practical
purposes a Christian ghetto .44
Christians number today in the neighborhood of one hundred
thousand. There are no exact denominational figures available .
The official figures for 1920 named thirty-five thousand Greek
Orthodox communicants, twenty-five thousand Catholics (split
into two distinct groups centering around the Italian and French
clerics respectively) and an assortment of others, including Maronite,
Coptic, Anglican, Armenian, Gregorian, Jacobite, Abyssinian,
as well as varieties of Uniate Churches and a sprinkling of
Protestants . All of these share in the principal shrines . All
hate each other with an explosive bigotry hardly understandable
to anyone who has not breathed this morbid atmosphere .
Among their squabbles is the question of the actual site of the
Annunciation. At Nazareth the Catholics have a chapel to mark
their claim, the Greeks another, the Rumanians a third . "For
all one knows," remarks Beverley Nichols, "there may be a
dozen similar chapels." 45 Vicious struggles go on for every
foot of the Holy Places . The contest between the Franciscans
and the Orthodox priests as to who is to be permitted to clean
the north window of the Basilica in Bethlehem, usually ends in
an open row. When on December z8, 1936 the Basilica was
again cleaned, both the District Commissioner and the Police
Chief had to be present . In the Holy Sepulchre, the presence
of military guards is always required on high holidays to keep
the Armenians, Latins and Orthodox priests from bashing in
each other's heads . In the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem,
the priests of the different sects have been known to brain
each other with the brass candlesticks at Christmas.
Their brawls never cease . If not over `Holy Places' and
liturgical rights, they are accused of stealing each other's con"
verts. Their statements are always bald and uncompromising .
An example is the accusation hurled by the Latin Patriarch in
Jerusalem against the Protestants, claiming that they had "despoiled
many important Catholic sites in Jerusalem ." 46
The classic quarrel is between the Greek and Roman Catholics,
with the British invariably taking a covert stand in favor
of the Greeks. An outstanding instance occurred during 1921
when the collapse of Russia left the Greek Patriarchate practically
bankrupt. This was the hour the Latin Church had
waited centuries for. Promptly it entered into an agreement to
purchase the rights and properties of its Orthodox rival, including
the envied Church of the Sepulchre . The Authorities, getting
wind of what was occurring, stepped into the breach and
forbade the sale . They did not care to allow the Catholic
Church to gain the paramount importance which possession of
these sites would give . The collapsing Orthodox clericals were
bolstered up by a subvention from the public funds and a British
puppet, His Beatitude the Greek Patriarch Damianos, was installed
on the bankrupt patriarchal throne over the violent opposition
of the majority of his own synod .47
Beneath the surface, the Latin Church has been in almost a
continuous state of war with the Authorities since the Administration
began. The English suspect that the Vatican is working
hand-in-glove with the Italian Foreign Office . The Vatican in
turn is aroused because the Holy Places Commission has not yet
been constituted, though the League had instructed Britain to
do so from the beginning.
There is not the slightest concord in the religious life of this
land. The Latin Patriarch, for example, considers the local
Y.M.C.A. not only a Protestant missionary institution but an
English propaganda center to boot, and has threatened with excommunication
every Catholic who dares enter its portals .48
On the other side of the fence is the symbolic case of a Moslem
sentenced to one month in jail (on June 23, 1931) for having
been converted to Protestantism.
No matter how virulently these factions may detest each
other, they all join in the opinion that to injure a Jew is a work
well pleasing in the sight of God . The Greeks, particularly, are
fond of raising the old blood-libel charge, exactly as they used
to in Russia . This type of Jew-baiting the Administration seems
to regard with surreptitious enjoyment . A speaking instance
occurred in March 1921, when the Greek Orthodox daily Falastin
headlined an atrocious story accusing the Jews of kidnaping
Arab children in order to drink their blood during the Passover
rites. Jewish agencies angrily remonstrated to the Government .
The result was a typical piece of horseplay, with an official
named Mark Young ordering the Jaffa authorities "to investigate
the report immediately to ascertain what truth there is
in it."
With the cooperation of Government House, native Christians
have placed themselves in the forefront of Arab nationalist agitation.
49 The intellectual activity and propaganda work is almost
exclusively in their hands . It flatters their vanity, says
Duff, "to believe that they are on equal terms with the young
Moslem gentlemen of Jerusalem and Jaffa to whom through all
the centuries, their people have had to look up with awe and respect."
50 There is no doubt in the minds of unbiased observers,
however, that any idea of a lasting alliance between Cross and
Crescent in Palestine is a chimera . Christians have undergone
an oppression here not one whit less horrible than that meted
out by their co-religionists to the Jews in Europe . Periodic
massacres have occurred consistently since the time when the
Moslem Chief, Ashraf Khalil, celebrated his conquest of Acre
with a great display of Christian skulls on the spears of his bodyguards
As long as the Crescent ruled, the Christians were to be pointedly
reminded by blackmail, bloody repression, rape and murder
that they were inferior sons of dogs whom the Prophet for
some reason of dark mercy allowed to carry on . After subjecting
Jews and Christians to every barbarity a distorted imagination
could invent, the notorious el Djezzar actually issued orders
in I8oI to massacre every Christian in Palestine . Only the
threat of the great British Admiral, Sir Sidney Smith, to blow
Acre out of the ocean if a single Christian head fell, saved them
from extermination. Living men still remember the terrible
events of i 86o when in a widespread murderous attack reminiscent
of the riots of 1936, sixteen thousand Christians were slaughtered
and countless others left destitute . Throughout Palestine
and southern Syria whole villages embraced Islam as the only
alternative to certain death . Again only the hurried intervention
of the Great Powers prevented a general massacre .
In each of the pogroms which have occurred under British
Administration the old enmities have come to the surface . Soon
Christians, too, heard an angry familiar scream which made them
shiver in their skins . They and their forefathers knew its meaning.
It was the call to war against the detested infidel, the old
battle-cry of Islam : "Mohammed and his sword!" The Christians
knew it meant them and no one else . Christians were
freely attacked, and kept to their houses for safety .
The publicity officer of the Palestine Administration has
always been at eternal pains to broadcast the slightest squabbles
between Arab and Jew "apparently to indicate the terrific difficulties
in judicial handling the Mandatory labors under ." 51 But
news of the constant brawls and killings between followers of
Cross and Crescent is always carefully suppressed . Actually the
hatred which separates Moslem and Christian is far more fundamental
than that held by either party for the Jew . This enmity
does not need to be fostered, since it is traditional .
Despite rigid censorship, news events break through, such as
the mob attack on the Protestant Missionary Council Conference
held in April 1928, when a pitched battle was fought between
rioters and police . Moslem attacks flared up viciously in September
1930 . Christian notables were assassinated. In mixed
quarters, Moslem well-owners refused to sell water to Christians.
The paper El Yarmonk, bespeaking the general feeling, advised
Arab Catholics coldly : "Christians are not entitled to speak for
the Arab nation ." 52 Feeling was at a dangerous tension . With
an iron hand, in significant contrast to its handling of Jewish-
Arab disturbances, the Government swiftly intervened . Troops
patrolled the danger zones, prepared to make short work of the
slightest disturbance . Special regulations were issued and rigidly
enforced against assemblies of any kind .
During the recent rebellion, too, Arab bravos swollen with
their own truculence could but with difficulty be restrained
from including their ancient enemies, the Christians, in one
grand all-embracing terror. Pious Moslems, with an eye for
business, called for a boycott of Christian shops . A violently
worded ukase was issued forbidding `loyal Arabs' from even
using busses run by Christians. The Christian chairman of the
Arab Labor Association was butchered in cold blood . Followers
of the Cross and Crescent fought it out in bloody scrimmage
on the streets. Once more the Administration stamped its foot
down with surgical efficiency, and put a summary end to this
phase of the disorders. Even the slightest hint of what had
taken place was deleted from news dispatches sent abroad .
Hope-Simpson's thesis that Zionist development has impoverished
the Arab, remains the text from which the ruling coterie
of Whitehall continues to draw its inspiration . Utter despondency,
we are told, has made the Arabs desperate . The semiofficial
British press characterizes them as "a people in despair ."
The root of all the troubles, past and present, Great Britain and
the East assures us solemnly, "is inherent in the Mandatory policy
of making Palestine a National Home for the Jews, with the inevitable
consequence o f reprisals on the part o f the Arabs when
their security and livelihood are threatened ." 53
Has the Arab really been reduced to penury by Zionist immigration
? Has he been actually driven to "despair," as the
Colonials so zealously insist ? The best answer to these interesting
questions lay in the English records themselves .
The returning Zionists found a country sunk in the most
wretched poverty. Malaria, trachoma, dysentery and tuberculosis
stalked everywhere like great shadowy werewolves . Trans"
Jordan was almost deserted by human life . "In Western Palestine,"
writes De Haas, quoting from a U . S. consular report,
"they [the Bedouins] had driven the population to the hills and
its plains were wholly neglected ." 54 The majority of Jerusalem's
nineteen thousand inhabitants were "mendicants and beggars.'"-'
In 1881, states another official American report, there
was "not even a good wagon road" in the entire country .56
Some years earlier Churton had written : "In the whole of Palestine
there is not a single cart or vehicle on wheels ." 67
The population lived in a state of squalid degradation not surpassed
by the most miserable savages in creation . There was
no professional class . Only 1 % % lived from the rude handicrafts
and small industries that existed. The demoralized inhabitants
would not even trouble to cut wood for fuel "but
found it easier to set fire to the trees on a mountainside to obtain
the charcoal they needed ." S8 The peasant scratched a miserable
living from land which he leased from gouging landlords .
Other human vultures burned his fields and robbed him of even
the pittance he managed to eke from the unfriendly soil . Laborers
employed in the few orange groves belonging to the
effendis received one bishlik (5¢) per day, working from sunup
to sundown under supervisors armed with whips .
At the turn of the century there were 40,000 Jews in Palestine
and about 140,000 others of all complexions ." The inhabitants
had no other feeling for this pauperized, disease-ridden
country than a fervent desire to get away from it . Emigration
proceeded steadily. Immigration was virtually non-existent .
Not until the Zionists had arrived in numbers did the Arab population
begin to augment itself . The introduction of European
standards of wage and life acted like a magnet on the entire Near
East. Abruptly Palestine became an Arab center of attraction.
By 1922, after a quarter century of Jewish colonization,
their numbers mushroomed to 488,000. Today they are over
a million .
If the English contention were accurate, we should expect to
find an exodus of Arabs from areas where Jews are settled, into
purely Arab regions . But exactly the opposite is true : it is
precisely in the vicinity of these Jewish villages that Arab development
is most marked . Arab Haifa, profiting by the Zionist
boom, grew from 1922 to 1936 by 130%, Jaffa by 8o% and
Jerusalem by 55% . The Arab rural settlement in the Tel Aviv
district increased by over 135%. The all-Arab city of Nablus,
which held 33,000 before the War, has fallen to less than 12,000.
Safed which had zo,ooo, dropped to less than 9000.
In the vicinity of Jewish villages Arab workers earn twice the
wage paid in other parts of Palestine . Unskilled labor receives
three to five shillings a day, and skilled workers eight to twelve
shillings . In neighboring Egypt, Iraq and Syria a worker considers
himself well off if he gets one shilling a day .
Palestine is the only country in the entire Middle and Near
Eastern section where there has been any substantial increase
either in nominal or real wages since the War . The official
index of wages shows a rise from zoo in 1913, to 390 in 1932 .
No Government figures have been published since that date, but
the report of the Department of Overseas Trade in 1935 states
that wages have progressively increased since 1933. The simultaneous
fall in the official index number of retail prices, from loo
in 1922, to 55.1 in 1934, indicates the enormous increase in real
wages in post-war Palestine.
According to the Royal Commission's Report of 1937, forty
percent of all labor employed on Jewish-owned plantations is
Arab. Against this, Arab establishments employ practically no
Jews whatever .
Jews spend annually about £ 1,500,000 for agricultural produce
of the Arab fellaheen, and about £750,000 on the products
of Arab quarries and industries ." It is estimated that they pay
Arabs in direct wages, £ 86o,ooo ; in rentals, £ 5oo,ooo, and in
trade and transport, £200,000 . 61 Payments for land are about
£ 1,650,000 . To these annual figures must be added the tax
moneys derived from Jews and expended for Arab benefit (computed
at (1,250,000) . Balanced against these sums, the Arab
payments to Jews for all causes during a single year, come to
around 10,200,000 . It does not require expert bookkeeping to
determine who is getting the better of this bargain.
Modernization, copied directly from the Jew, has benefited the
Arab greatly. Machine production is being introduced into the
manufacture of oils and soaps, silk and cotton textiles, and tobacco
working. In 1928 the industrial census registered ten
thousand persons employed in Arab industries and handicrafts,
representing an investment of £ 1,100,000 . Four years later the
census showed twenty thousand persons engaged in the same
industries, with capital expanding to C2,500,000.
In the short period from 1931 to 1935 Arab land under vegetables
rose from 20,000 dunams to 65,000 and Arab citrus groves
increased from zo,ooo dunams to 135,000. In a span of hardly
eight years, Arab orchards devoted to bananas, figs, apricots,
olives and grapes rocketed from 18o,o6o dunams to 1,651,466
In 1927 Arab urban building represented an average annual
investment of £2oo,ooo. By 1935 it had inflated itself to
£ 1,500,000 ; and Arab bank deposits had grown from £ 1,ooo ;
000 to £4,000,000 .
Once the poorest, sorriest population in this whole section of
poverty-stricken masses, the Arabs of Palestine are now on their
way to be the richest per capita of their race . As an index to
their prosperity, they import £4.5s . per head, as compared with
£3 .7s . for wealthy Egypt and £3 .5s- for oil-rich Iraq . Motor
cars, unknown here before the War, now number one to every
352 inhabitants, as compared with one to every 730 in Iraq.62
The network of Jewish medical centers, hospitals and dispensaries
has served the Arab equally with the Jew . It is these
Jewish services alone which carry on the bitter fight against trachoma,
malaria and other devastating diseases . These benefits
are amply reflected in the great natural increase in a population
disease had once brought to a standstill . "One of the most important
consequences of the rise of the cultural and economic
level of the country due to Jewish immigration," a British representative
told the Mandates Commission, "is the high increase
in the Arab birth rate ." 63 The death rate at the same time goes
down steadily year by year.
Some mention must also be made of the assertion that Jews
are dispossessing Arabs from the land. As far as one is able to
make out, the area of the entire mandated territory is 26,ooo,ooo
dunams west of Jordan, and something over ioo,ooo,ooo east
of Jordan. Of this total, Jews own 1,300,000 dunams - a grand
over-all acquisition of approximately one percent of their National
Home - by which, according to the tenaciously held British
thesis, they have managed to frighten and abuse the natives,
and present the Mandatory with a major crisis in the shape of a
landless Arab problem.
Fully seventy-five percent of the area in Jewish hands, moreover,
had not known the plough for centuries . The northern
colonies in Galilee were built on land rendered impossible for
life since Roman times because of marsh and endemic disease.
Tel Aviv was erected on sand dunes which were considered to
be without monetary value . That great granary, the Valley of
Jezreel, now nestling so trim and green in the shining Palestine
sun, was so deserted and pestilential when Jews bought it that it
was said that any bird attempting to cross it would fall dead in
its flight . That adjacent scene of Jewish colonization, the Plain
of Esdraelon, was in i 9 i 9 desolate and abandoned except for a
few sickly villages built on camel dung .
In the case of those peasants who sold to Jews, with the exception
of a bare five percent who bettered themselves in urban pursuits,
all remained on the land . Most of them sold only a part
of their acres and with the money obtained got out o f debt for
the first time in their lives. Within the past six years the indebtedness
of the Arab cultivator has been reduced by sixty percent,
and the tax burden by as much as seventy percent, while
at the same time his income has sharply increased. The years
have proven the landless Arab hypothesis to be nothing more
than simple humbug . The most solicitous prodding by the
Government over a period of the last ten years has not been able
to bring forth more than 664 Arab families who could come even
vaguely under the definition of displaced cultivators . Of these,
317 families refused the Government's offers, presumably because
they had more satisfactory employment elsewhere .
A very real and harsh condition, which the British carefully
slur over, is the fact that a handful of large land-owners hold
as much acreage as all the Arab peasantry put together . The
Husseini family holds fifty thousand dunams ; the Abdul Hadi
family, sixty thousand ; the Tajji family, fifty thousand, etc .
The bulk of this ground lies permanently fallow, happily untaxed.
The rest is rented out to tenants under conditions which
would make the lot of the average American sharecropper look
heavenly. The Hope-Simpson Report estimates a year's income
of a tenant farmer at only eighteen dollars - this for an
entire family !
The prevailing system is one of actual peonage . The fellah
is continually in debt to the effendi-usurer . According to the
Johnson-Crosbie Report "a rate of thirty percent per annum is
perhaps the commonest, but fifty percent for three months is not
unusual." Arab improvidence and extortionate interest charges
have had their result in the taking over of many small tracts for
debt. The French Report states that as a consequence, in one
Sub-District in the hills "no less than thirty percent of the land
has passed from Arab peasants to Arab capitalists" in a single
decade . This is the type of creature existence to which British
policy would freeze the Arab forever !
Though British `investigators' have proven `conclusively' that
Zionism is an unrelieved menace to the `helpless' natives, it appears
that surrounding countries would like very much to be
exposed to a similar risk . In his book, Europe and Europeans,
Count Carlo Sforza states that Syrians of all classes, who have
been watching Palestine's development with envious eyes, are
anxious to have something of the same phenomena duplicated in
their country. This desire is written in the clamorous petition
sent the French in 1935 by the inhabitants of Lebanon, begging
them to encourage Jewish immigration as that would bring prosperity.
Said the important Damascus paper Lissan Alakhar in
a fiery editorial on this subject : "We ought to demand Jewish
immigration, for through it our situation will be saved ." 64
In Palestine itself, if official encouragement to hoodlums and
agitators were removed, the whole condition would alter overnight.
The Levantine mind is sensible enough to know which
side its bread is buttered on, and to pay that side a proper regard.
In 1926 Major E. W. Poison stated unequivocably that
despite mischievous propaganda, "if the Jews were to leave Palestine
tomorrow, the Arabs would be the first to cry out ." 85
"We are led by a group of men who bargain us away, buying
and selling us like cattle," asserts the newspaper Al Igdam in
May 1930. "The Arab people have not yet said their last word
on the Arab-Jewish question . When this word has been said,
it will not be one of hatred and war, but one of peace and
brotherhood, as is suitable for two people who live in one country."
Says a round robin issued during March 1934 by the
leading Moslems and Christians of Nazareth : "On behalf of the
majority of the property-owners and consumers, we declare that
we would welcome Jewish immigration and trust that the enlightened
Jews with their financial and commercial associations
will hasten, to respond to our appeal . We have had enough of
losses ; we want a system of reciprocity and understanding.
We are tired of the obstinacy of the money-lenders and shopkeepers
who pursue a policy of boycott and preach hatred ." In
the very hotbed of unrest, on May 2.1, 1936, the merchants and
shopkeepers issued a manifesto urging fellow-Arabs to repudiate
the self-seeking agitators who were leading the `Arab cause' -
a courageous enough act, since some of the signers were soon
after murdered .
The claim that Jewish colonization has ruined the Arab and
driven him to the desperate acts of despair, is obviously a fabrication.
Hidden beneath this pretext lie the deeper issues of
classic anti-Semitism, British self-interest and Arab family feud .

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