Monday, March 16, 2015



No matter what opinions British politicians might have once
expressed as private individuals, once in office they invariably
succumb to the demands of the anti-Zionist permanent officials .
When Malcolm MacDonald became Colonial Secretary he
ceased to function as "Weizmann's best friend," just as his
father forgot most of his Socialism and all of his Zionism when
he became Prime Minister . Winston Churchill made beautiful
speeches for the Zionists, but Churchill in office made common
cause with the clique in the Departments, and issued the crushing
document which bears his name . Thomas as a Labor leader,
protested unreservedly against the theft of Trans-Jordan, but
Thomas as Colonial Secretary lapsed into all the stereotypes of
his predecessors. Ormsby-Gore's deep hearty voice had assured
the Jaffa Jews that the Balfour Declaration meant the
"building up of a Jewish nation in all its various aspects in Palestine."
Becoming Colonial Secretary in turn, he discovered that
the Declaration embodied "a dual obligation toward Arabs and
Jews." What this meant is illuminated in answer to a query
from the Permanent Mandates Commission, asking what was being
done to implement Article VI of the Mandate regarding
close settlement on the land . Ormsby-Gore replied for the
King that immigrants were very anxious f or land but that
the Government had been prevented from granting them any by
reason o f the other duty which it owed to the Arab population .
In reply to another query he declared in extenuation that "the
Arabs objected to the Jews because the latter were much more
efficient ." Thus this responsible officer of the Crown makes it
clear that his Government regards its principal "obligation of
honor" under the Mandate to be the protection of the Arabs
against Jewish encroachment, a finesse which almost approaches
the proportions of genius .
Even the MacDonald Letter, supposedly edited in a tone of
good-will toward Zionism, carries the adroit observation that
"the Mandatory cannot ignore the existence of differing interests
and viewpoints," which it infers will be readily reconciled in
a pending understanding between Arabs and Jews ; but, quite
naturally, "until that is reached, considerations of balance must
inevitably enter into the definition of policy ." Stripped of concealing
verbiage, this simply means that no essential measure in
favor of the Jewish Homeland may be effected unless there is an
`understanding,' i.e., if the Arabs agree. If the Arabs object,
the measure cannot be carried out ."
This theory goes a long way beyond any reservation even
hinted at in the Mandate . The preamble to that document protects
the `civil and religious rights' of the non-Jewish communi ..
ties but it nowhere mentions their psychological attitude as a
factor entitled to annul the purpose for which the Home was
conceived. Article VI of the Mandate reads : "The Administration
of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position
of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate
Jewish immigration . . ." In a process of hair-splitting that
would do credit to fifty Philadelphia lawyers, the British concentrated
on the word `position' with a magnifying glass . When
the Mandate was issued, the `position' of the Arabs was that of
eighty-eight percent of the population. In 1936 it had shrunk
to sixty-six percent, and had therefore been `prejudiced.' The
same logic naturally follows in reference to the professed inability
of the Arab to compete in terms of modern civilization,
an argument not essentially different from that of European
Judeo-phobcs, wherever the Nazi racial theory has not supravened.
It is no new experience for Jews to be barred as immigrants
and be ring-fenced in a percentage norm, but it seems
far-fetched to believe that the sanction of the Peace Conference
was necessary to provide the British Government with the authority
so to act.
This whole sapping operation has been accomplished by a
series of graduated depredations . Entrusted with complete supervision
of the Jewish inheritance, the Bureaucrats were in position
to smash it effectively by degrees and still maintain a surface
attitude of benevolence . Year by year, under one pretext
or another, they managed systematically to curtail Jewish rights
under the Mandate and to give that document various reinterpretations,
most of which rested on a body of precedent established
by themselves. There is scarcely an evasion that was not
tried . With great shrewdness the Palestine Government attempted
to transform the Jews, in its official reports, from a national
entity to a religious body . They questioned the meaning
of the words `Jewish National Home' and pretended a vast ignorance
of the meaning of `Zionist aspirations .' Ormsby-Gore,
then Under-Secretary for the Colonies, was even smart enough to
retreat into the queer conception formulated by the Hebrew
mystic, Achad Ha'am, that Palestine was to be a spiritual center
for the Jewish people and that "the quality and not the quantity
of settlers matters." 52
Like a master magician turning up cards that shouldn't be
there, the British went about the business of proving that black
was white. An all-important case revolved around a decision
by the Magistrate of Tulkarm, who had acquitted one Sherif
Shanti of breaking the Fast of Ramadan on the grounds that the
old Turkish law under which the defendant was charged was in
opposition to Article XV of the Mandate . In a judgment rendered
December 16, 1935, the Court of Appeals at Nablus
quashed this decision, laying down inter alia "that the Mandate
. . . has no juridical value in the courts of the country except
so far as its provisions have been expressly incorporated into the
Laws of Palestine ." This ruling laid the way wide open for the
complete destruction of the Mandate itself .
With more than an astute eye to the future, the Jaffa District
Court ruled that "a British subject who voluntarily acquired
Palestinian citizenship does not thereby lose his British nationality"
(June 5, 1934) . Until then Britain had wriggled out of
acknowledging its alien position in the country by refusing to
allow any British Jew to become a citizen of Palestine .
Some of the Mandatory's decisions border on the ludicrous .
One solemnly handed down by the Jaffa District Court on May
25, 1928 reversed an ordinance passed by the City Council of
Tel Aviv declaring Saturday a legal holiday, as being found
contradictory to Article XV of the Mandate "since the Ordinance
establishes a sort of discrimination by prohibiting trading
on the Sabbath to Jews only."
Until recently, the Government has maintained with fine
rectitude that Jewish immigration, keystone to the whole Mandate,
must be based on the `absorptive capacity' of the country,
an argument which can hardly be gainsaid, except for the fact
that the Mandatory made it dependent on an acute shortage of
labor and on a perpetuation of the status quo in industry and
agriculture . In practice, this principle, so nice on paper, put the
Jews almost in a water-tight box .
Throughout the official reports a stubborn silence is kept on
the positive significance of Jewish immigration . Reading them
one would hardly believe that the dynamic and decisive force
in Palestine life emanates from the Jewish element - but rather
that the small minority Jewish community was an unending
source of embarrassment, friction and trouble .
During the entire period of English occupation, not the slightest
step was ever taken to popularize the Mandate among the
general body of Arabs . The High Commissioner was never
known to invite Jews and Arabs to sit at his table at the same
time, a move which might have done much to ameliorate bad
feeling. And in the numerous Government schools Zionism was
treated as an alien and highly unpleasant phenomenon.
Throughout the years the Administration's reply to questions
was "the Government's policy is unchanged ." But it was evident
that when Britain asserted she would stand by the Mandate,
she did not mean Zionism, but rather her right to remain in
Palestine indefinitely .
Stripped of all disguise, the fundamental English attitude toward
the ward entrusted to their care by the Nations was defined
by then Colonial Secretary, Cunliffe-Lister, when he assured
a Quaker Committee (June 28, 1 934) : "I will not permit
Palestine to be filled with Jews ."
In all this skillfully built design of plot and stratagem the
British have had to wind their way through a maze where in one
breath it was imperative to hold that the Jews held legal title to
Palestine, and in the next, to deny it . This made for a most
difficult situation in which anyone less experienced would have
bogged down hard ; but the Bureaucrats managed to detour the
hard places and obviate the rest by simple contrivances which,
while shabby in themselves, are admirable for their sheer artfulness
and long-range insight.
The Jews were the British excuse for being in Palestine. They
were the only protection against the French who were eager to
demand an international control if they could not have it for
themselves . How this worked out is shown in London's rejection
in 1921 of a demand by the United States Government that
concessions of Palestine's natural resources be granted "with230
out distinction of nationality" between the nationals of all States
Members of the League, as in the East Africa Mandate . Suavely,
London replied that "the suggestion appears to His Majesty's
Government to overlook the peculiar conditions existing in Palestine
and especially the great difference in the natures of the
tasks assumed in that country and undertaken by them in South
Africa. . . In order that the policy of establishing in Palestine
a National Home for the Jewish people should be successfully
carried out, it is impracticable to guarantee that equal facilities
for developing the natural resources of the country should be
granted to persons or bodies who may be actuated by other motives
." This in substance was also the reason given to the
French, who were boiling over because their title to the immensely
valuable Dead Sea deposits, carried over as an old Turkish
concession, had been voided by the Palestine authorities .
The Jews were equally useful as an instrument for rejecting
the demands of the Arabs themselves for self-rule, at a time
when Britain felt that it meant their consolidation with Syria
under French influence . With impeccable probity London then
found that "it was impossible to recognize the granting of unqualified
autonomy to the present population of Palestine, since
such an autonomy would imply the right to dispose of the country
by legislative and administrative measures even against the
obligations assumed by the Mandatory," which it asserted are
not to "the present population of Palestine" but to "the much
larger population whose connection with Palestine has been internationally
recognized ."
There was also the fact that in order to get its fingers on
Palestine at all, Britain had acknowledged itself as merely a
temporary agent for the League of Nations . In the earlier days
while the League still had some untested strength, it did not
hesitate to uphold its own authority, and here England was
compelled to use the Jews again as a catspaw . The absolute
control of the Permanent Mandates Commission over mandated
territories was upheld at Geneva on September 27, 1926, after
Sir Austen Chamberlain, British Foreign Secretary, had brought
the matter to issue as to whether the Commission had actual
jurisdiction or merely the right to criticize and lay down generalities
of policy.
The Mandates Commission did not hesitate at various times to
lock horns with the British Government in no uncertain terms .
Had Zionist leaders themselves played anything but an acquiescent
role, it is quite certain that the League would have supported
them and forced the English into a most difficult position .
"If the matter were looked at impartially from the point of view
of the Mandate as it stood," observed the Commission in 1930,
"the Government's method of encouraging immigration had
been to limit it . . . [and] that the result would be as negative
if an inquiry were made as to the State lands and waste lands on
which the settlement of Jews had been encouraged . . . The
special situation," it continued drily, "granted by the Mandate to
the Jewish element in Palestine appeared to have escaped the
notice of the Administration ." In extraordinary session in June
of that year the Commission bluntly advised "all the sections of
the population [in Palestine] which are rebelling against the Mandate,
whether they object to it on principle or wish to retain
only those of its provisions which favor their particular cause,
that the Mandatory Power must obviously turn a definite and
categorical refusal. As long as the leaders of a community persist
in repudiating what is at once the fundamental charter of the
country, and, as far as the Mandatory Power is concerned, an international
obligation, which it is not free to set aside, the negotiations
would only unduly enhance their prestige and raise
dangerous hopes among their partisans . . ." 53
On the face of it the proposition was a well-nigh impossible
one, making it necessary for London to attempt the miracle of
standing simultaneously on two sides of the one fence . The
Zionists had to be smashed at the same time that Britain was
posing as their guide and benefactor . They had, moreover,
to be kept placated and quiescent . Experience with the Irish
taught England's rulers the folly of an active struggle with a
determined, world-scattered people . If the Irish were now to
be joined by the Jews in a joint last-ditch fight against the Empire,
the Sinn Fein would assume grave proportions . Here was
an intricate set of problems, most of which impinged on what
attitude the Zionist hierarchy itself would take .
Jewish spokesmen, lost in this welter of intrigue, inexperienced,
inexpert and totally unable to distinguish between sincerity
and clever dissembling, did not prove too troublesome .
They appealed to the facts, which they marshaled systematically,
to fundamental law and to justice. Their arguments were presented
in the circumspect language of a barrister drawing up
a brief on some learned obscurity of law and were presented
without fanfare . Though the whole fundamental framework of
their enterprise was plainly crumbling before their eyes, they
continued to issue reassuring statements to their following . They
claimed with reverse pugnacity that "the Government wants to
be loyal to its duties" ; and were as outraged "over the speculation
that the Government is making an effort to encourage the
antagonism between Arabs and Jews" as if they were employed
in Downing Street. Dr. Weitzman retreated gracefully to
keep pace with the wishes of Whitehall in a series of amazing
shifts . At one moment he concedes that "everything that is
going on in Palestine today is on the pattern of that which is
going on in Egypt. . . The same formulae are being applied .
In Palestine, I admit we are . . . a convenient pretext." b' At
another moment he would warn his fellow-Zionists against submitting
sharp memoranda to the Government as "England also
has to deal with the Moslem world in India and Egypt." ss In
a lecture before the Royal Central Asian Society in May 1936
he discovers that "if the land were properly developed, there is
room in Palestine for another hundred thousand Arab families
and another sixty thousand Jewish families," a clear proposal for
a perpetual Jewish minority status . Soon after he is heard in
defense of the dismemberment plan proposed by Lord Peel, inveighing
against those Jews who opposed it by calling them
"enemies of the Jewish State ." The attitude of the Zionists was
in fact, the most unexpected windfall the Bureaucrats had experienced
in a generation. Only in Palestine itself, where doughty
old Mayor Dizengoff of Tel Aviv charged the British with "playBUREAUCRACY
ing a diabolical game" did the Jews make any effort to face political
realities .
Until 1936 Whitehall had held tenaciously to the principle of
`absorptive capacity.' It now realized that even this contention,
despite every topsy-turvy interpretation of normal economics,
would see them the loser in the long run . In a complete
about-face from all previously held theses, the Bureaucrats
now admitted that "if the matter be reduced to statistical or
economic terms . . . the Zionists have the better of the argument,
and when the Arabs choose to indulge in figures, they
use their weakest argument . . . The Palestine problem is not
one of statistics : something far more fundamental is involved ." 56
Just what that `something more fundamental' might be was soon
disclosed officially by Colonial Secretary Ormsby-Gore, addressing
Commons on July 7, 1936 . Leveling his shafts directly at
Jewish nationalists, he acknowledged darkly his awareness of the
"character of Zionist propaganda," booming that the British
Government accepted the Palestine Mandate without subscribing
to any declaration that the country belongs to either Jews
or Arabs, but that it is a British Mandated territory . The Government,
he warned, did not intend countenancing any action
"inconsistent with the Mandate" and this interpretation of it .
The British had been nineteen years working up to this denouement,
but at last the cat was out of the bag . The Zionism
of Herzl and Balfour was now an "action inconsistent with the
Mandate" for Palestine. All that was left in the Bureaucratic
mind of the Balf our Declaration was now "the Jewish problem
in Palestine," and that is the way they expressed it.
Page 248 pdf book page 234

Article VI of the Mandate makes it obligatory upon the Administration
of Palestine to "facilitate Jewish immigration ." The
British made a convincing start on this by making the Immigration
Department a part of the Department of Police and Prisons.
It has been shifted around like an unwelcome cat which refuses
to stay lost . Once it was hidden in the Department for Travel .
At another time it had been shunted over to the Permit Section
of the Secretariat .
The Immigration Department is more of a Secret Service
Department than anything else . Its principal function seems to
be that of preventing Jews from entering the country in any
numbers. The attitude toward the Hebrew migrants was pegged
by Duff, who wrote that "we had to be seemingly harsh and
unfriendly towards them ; it did not pay for one's seniors to
think that one had any undue sympathy for the returning
Jews. . ." 1 A decade later another Englishman, Josiah Wedgwood,
recounted the same story of ugly animus, to Commons.
"Why," he asked bitterly, "is this done by Englishmen . . .
against all the traditions of our race ? If the Jews trying to go
to Palestine were English, the situation could not endure for a
minute . Conceive the outcry ! But they are Jews, not English
- they are not in the family ; they are not entitled to be
treated as though they were Aryans or Christians ."
Under the regulations, only capitalists may enter Palestine
freely. Originally, a `capitalist' was a man with C 5oo in cash.
After 1930 the required amount was raised to C Iooo. Skilled
artisans possessing C500 or more may also enter, theoretically ;
but in practice this provision is a dead letter . All others require
specially issued immigration certificates, which are doled
out with much quibbling in paltry numbers . The truth was
that while huge sums were being dumped into the Jewish Homeland,
Jews were being kept out of it with all the customary
rigor of anti-Semitic formula . Some idea of the situation can
be gained from Senator Austin's estimate that "measured on a
per capita basis, each of the two hundred and fifty thousand
Jewish immigrants [man, woman and child] who entered Palestine
since the establishment of the Mandate, carried into the
country $ r 800." 2
The distorting political and economic minority life which had
stratified the Jews into a class of petty capitalists and traders,
found itself dishearteningly duplicated in Palestine . With feverish
energy and determination the newcomers applied their
money and experience, hoping to create opportunities for their
poverty-stricken brothers in Europe to join them in building
the new nation . Factories and enterprises of all kinds were
started. The result was a critical scarcity of labor in which the
entire economy of the country went lunatic . Workers were
drained out of the farms to take the more lucrative positions in
the cities . In the towns the same process repeated itself in favor
of the `boom trades' which could afford to pay wages far out of
line with those of normal occupations . Employer competed
desperately with employer for the available labor supply . Industries
had to curtail their activities, factories shut down altogether.
Palestine skyrocketed along on the most insane economy
modern industry has ever seen.
The condition is partially glimpsed in a semi-official report of
August 27, 1934, admitting that the entire Palestine export trade
was at a standstill due to a shortage of labor. Two-thirds of the
workers on Jewish land, says the Report, are now Arabs, "and
those Jews remaining will soon be displaced due to labor scarcity."
The problem became so acute that populations of whole
districts, including school children, had to be mobilized to keep
crops from rotting in the fields . While anxious Jews were being
turned away at the docks of Jaffa and Haifa, the Nesher Cement
Works, engaged in a £ 150,000 expansion in Haifa, announced
November 16, 1933 that it was unable to proceed due
to "acute scarcity of labor ." In Tel Aviv £ 1,000,000 worth of
building had to be held up for the same reason . The story repeated
itself everywhere .
At the identical time that it was beguiling world Jewry with
the fiction that all was well in the National Home, the Executive
of the Jewish Agency, irritated over the small grant of labor
certificates, formally accused the Mandatory in a private memorandum
of deliberately sabotaging the Home, finding it "impossible
to reconcile this restriction of immigration with the
declared policy of the Mandatory Power that immigration will be
regulated in accordance with the economic absorptive capacity
of Palestine ."
The British had their authority in London where Sir William
Beveridge 3 had found after careful study that the irreducible
minimum of unemployment was between six and eight percent .
In Palestine the incurable nomadism of the Arab population would
further increase this figure. But the Administration, nevertheless,
religiously adhered to the almost impossible formula that physical
proof had to be given of the permanent employment of every
person in the country, plus an established job for the new immigrant,
before he could be admitted.
The demand for labor was so urgent as to overpower even this
evasion, forcing additional subterfuge on the Authorities . An
instance is the demand of the Jewish Agency for 24,000 certificates
to cover the period from October to March 1933-34. In
their petition they appended the result of a painstaking survey,
showing, in detail, jobs awaiting each of the new arrivals . As
usual, without explanation, the Government agreed to allow only
5500 certificates, of which 2000 were summarily deducted as having
"been used in advance ." With other deductions following
on one plausible excuse or another, all that was left was the usual
face-saving handful . Far from manfully refusing this beggarly
schedule, on the date this announcement was made Weitzman
was capitalizing on the German excitement to raise funds for the
"Zionist-German relief drive" of which he was head, and issuing
a program full of high-sounding generalizations including "cooperation
with the Mandatory Power . . . and the establishing
of peace and understanding with the Arabs." 4
As the `absorptive capacity' of the country increased so tremendously
under the stimulus of Jewish investment that any effort
to deny it became ludicrous, the Government produced still
other cards out of its sleeve . It announced in 1936 that seventy
percent of the thirteen hundred immigration certificates available
for the following six months were ear-marked for bachelors, ten
percent for maidens, and twenty percent for men with families ;
thus cutting down immigration without appearing to do so . Another
able device was the refusal to allow the wives and families
of employed residents to enter without the precious labor visas,
though in many cases they were an actual charge on these same
residents, who sent money abroad to maintain them .5 Such an
obvious attempt was made to restrict the entry of women that the
Jewish Agency flatly accused the Government in November
1934 of a mischievous and willful attempt "directed against any
considerable development of the immigration of women into
Palestine ."
Many of the Administration's reasons for refusing entry permits
would do credit to Herr Hitler, as witness the refusal to
grant a visa to a refugee Russian rabbi on the excuse that "there
were enough rabbis already in Palestine." Some of the regulations
designed to restrict Jewish immigration are classic . One of
these edicts, promulgated November 14, 1933, allowed only 250
immigrants "to enter Palestine from any one vessel ." Its effectiveness
rested on the fact that few of the ships touching Palestine
ports could make a payload out of such a small number of travelers,
forcing the cancellation of sailings .
Perhaps the outstanding example of official artifice was the
schedule announced for the period between October 1, 1935
and March 31, 193 6 - 435 0 visas were granted, over which the
Jewish world press made the usual congratulatory ballyhoo .
What was not mentioned were the following deductions made
from this schedule in advance : loon certificates `advanced' during
the previous six-month period ; 250 reserved by the Government
(for non-Jews) ; 1200 taken off to cover `illegal' immigrants
who could not be apprehended ; s and 19oo for dependents
of employed residents (who in any other country would have
entered as a matter of course) . If these deductions are added
up they are found to equal exactly the number of certificates
granted ; so that the Administration was only perpetrating a
crude joke on the Zionists and in effect issuing no certificates at
In the face of this ruinous procedure the Zionist spokesmen
periodically issued reassuring statements to their followers, gloating
over the increasing numbers of Jews entering the Homeland .
They listed impressive figures to bolster their publicity.
Actually, something like 12,000 certificates was the greatest
number ever allowed for workingmen in one year ; and from this
pitiful number the most unconscionable deductions were made
on one excuse or another. An example of how the Zionist publicity
bureau treated the matter is given in its handling of the
entry figures for 1933, which according to official statements,
came to 64,110. Stimulated from this source the world Jewish
press headlined : "64,11 o Jews Entered Zion During 1933," giving
the impression that there had been that many immigrants.
An analysis shows that the balance of recorded arrivals over departures
during this period was 38,656 Jews, including 10,236
residents returning to the country after visits abroad and 27,862
actual immigrants . Of these, `persons living on income,' minors,
dependents, etc ., totaled 15,653 ; and working people constituted
a mere 2434 men and 568 women. Juggled around in the official
figures somewhere, were 26,002 tourists who came to enjoy the
sights, and non-permanents of other kinds. Of the 61,743 Jews
who came to remain in the peak year of 1935, only 14,653 belonged
to the working class group.
It is perfectly obvious that capitalist immigration will not
serve the purposes for which Zionism was originated. It cannot
relieve the centers of pressure in the pogrom areas of Europe
where Jews are now in a state of starvation and panic . It can
only serve to build Palestine ultimately into an Arab country .
What Zionist leaders avoided mentioning, Adolph Hitler sarcastically
called attention to, saying, "It is very kind of England
to declare that she is ready to receive the Jews with open arms -
but why should she make the admission of the Jews dependent
upon C iooo?" 7 Even neighboring Syria, seeing a fruitful
source of capital, announced that it too would welcome capitalist
Jews, without the necessity of any Balfour Declaration imprinted
by the Powers .,'
Everything in this business is made subject to cash . Even the
boasted Hadassah aliyahs, by which a few hundred Jewish children
were brought in from Germany, were made conditional on
a substantial money deposit, much as would be charged if the
children had entered a boarding school. The Department of
Immigration is a paying business, showing in a typical year a net
income of 1 3 3 3,200 against an expenditure of _f 209,100 .
Not nearly so docile as the Zionist hierarchy, Palestine Jews
have often made their resentment as plain as men living under a
knout are able to . Irked to fury, they went out on general strike
in May 1930, a matter which the Administration handled expeditiously,
as it invariably does when it has only Jews to deal
In 1937 the Palestine press reported that an amendment to the
immigration laws was in contemplation, jacking up capital requirements
of prospective immigrants to C 2000. This would
eliminate 56% of those who had previously entered under this
category. The time given a capitalist immigrant to liquidate
his affairs in the home country had previously been one year .
It is planned to reduce this to three months, obviously placing
him under such duress as to considerably reduce his enthusiasm
for emigrating .
The new stand taken by the Administration was indicated by
Immigration Director Eric Mills, who informed the Peel Commission
on November 18, 1936 that "immigration into the Holy
Land involves political as well as economic issues ." Just what
these `political issues' are may be learned from the astonished
comments of Farago. Ignoring his statement that he was a
Hungarian, port officials had demanded to know whether he
was a Mohammedan, Christian or Jew. Long before, Colonel
Wedgwood had also noted that "the first question an immigrant
is asked by the immigration inspectors in Palestine is, `Are you a
Jew ?' " This is much as if one were asked anywhere else, "Were
you ever convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude?"
The Holy Land is perhaps the most magnetic spot on earth
for sightseers, a circumstance which is probably its greatest
single asset . It seems natural to suppose that tourists would be
encouraged in every possible fashion and that every inducement
would be offered to cause them to remain as long as possible.
A large share of the national income of many states depends
on just this source ; and countries such as France and
Italy embark on extensive advertising campaigns in the foreign
press to attract this desirable army of visitors.
The tourist is at once bewildered to find that exactly the contrary
view is held in Palestine, where every possible obstacle
is placed in his path. He is required to make a large cash deposit
and it must be certified on his visa that he has purchased
in advance a first-class return ticket to his point of embarkation.
He is forced to pay $Io for the little consular stamp, as
compared with 350 in Egypt and 330 in France . Before he is
allowed to land he is subjected to a cross-examination almost
vicious in its import, and must file his living addresses with the
authorities as if he were a paroled convict .
On paper, every tourist visiting Palestine must put up an advance
deposit of C 6o, which is apparently his guarantee that
he will not try to outwear his welcome . Actually, these strictures
apply only to Jews . A consular officer who has just refused
a visa to John Doe because he took him for a Jew, will
grant the same request with profuse apologies as soon as Mr. .
Doe qualifies as a gentile . This was ineptly admitted by young
Malcolm MacDonald, then new Colonial Secretary, under questioning
in Commons on July 9, 1935.
Its actual workings are illustrated in the violent protest of
Warsaw Jewry on March 20, 1934 because the English Consul
issued visas to all Polish Christians bound for the Holy Land,
and at the same time refused permits to Jewish tourists even
though the required C 6o was deposited. Going beyond its
own written measures, the Government often refuses admission
to whole parties of tourists, even though their papers are strictly
in order and they have made the required deposit . Instances
are plentiful . On March 5, 1933, sixty such visitors were refused
admission without explanation and were not permitted to
leave their steamer . A few days earlier, a group of twentythree
sight-seers from Poland, all holding proper visas obtained
from the British Consulate in Istanbul, were unceremoniously
dumped into the Haifa lockup where they were badly treated .
The Government had invented a new theory in this particular
instance, alleging that they should have obtained their Palestine
visas in Warsaw and not in Istanbul . In another case an Egyptian
sea captain had his ship impounded and was sentenced together
with each member of his crew to five months at hard
labor for the crime of carrying a shipload of visitors to Palestine.
The Authorities with remarkable clairvoyance insisted that the
latter intended to overstay their leave, and unbelievable as it
may appear, rested their case entirely on this psychic assertion.
Not altogether satisfied with results, the Administration attempted
to put through a prohibitive tax on tourists in 1 933,
only frustrated by the indignant threat of Palestine Jewry to
carry the whole business to the attention of Christian churches
in every country . The Government now plans a drastic increase
in the required tourist deposit ; and has, since the middle
of October 1936, enforced a complete ban on the general run
of Jewish tourists, making exceptions only for those whose outraged
squawk might draw attention to what is going on .
Even visitors of unimpeachable standing are refused permission
to overstay their leave . A useful example is provided by
the case of Weitzman who, though President of the Jewish
Agency, was according to reports, picked up in Haifa for this
reason in 1936.
The natural result of this determined persecution is that even
Egyptian Jews who have always, since Turkish times, spent their
annual vacations in Palestine, now flock to the Syrian Lebanon
It is worth noting that before the arrival of the British `liberators,'
Turkish law allowed Jews to come as pilgrims without
restriction . When in 1887 Turkey, alarmed by the boasts of
the Russian Consul that he "had more `subjects' in Jerusalem
than those of all the other consuls combined," attempted to
limit the stay of foreign Jews in Palestine to a short period, the
British Government led the procession of States whose vigorous
denunciation of these regulations caused them to be abrogated
in short order.
A highly placed official once informed Horace Samuel, with
evident relish, that "Jew-baiting was the sport of kings ." To
more or less degree, this remark is representative of the tone of
His Majesty's Service in Palestine . Any hope that the pitiful
plight of the fleeing, friendless Jews of Europe would excite
compassion in the hearts of these men, evaporated rapidly . To
officialdom these unfortunates instead assumed a nuisance value,
and the old calloused attitude toward them hardened to icy hate .
It is true that these homeless creatures, hounded from border
to border and rigidly kept out of their National Home, did
attempt to enter in any way possible. Lacking the £ I ooo required
to buy their way in, they often sneaked their way through
without benefit of British sanction . Desperate men attempted
to swim ashore from far outlying ships under cover of night .
Some came nailed up in boxes of merchandise on the backs of
camels, enduring indescribable suffering. Delicately raised girls
braved the trip through the desert wastes, placing themselves at
the mercy of savage Bedouins in an effort to cross unnoticed
at some wild place . They came from everywhere, a horde of
stranded, terrified Jews who arrived by steamer, by canoe and
on foot. Most of them were young people in their teens or
early twenties, desperate, hopeless creatures who were taking
their last gamble in life . Many were drowned, died of starvation,
or were murdered on the way by the very Bedouins they
hired to transport them.
The most heart-rending events took place daily . One such
story is of five hundred Russian Jews who escaped from the
Soviets to go to Palestine on foot via Baghdad and Persia . Many
were arrested on the various borders . One hundred and fifty
died enroute of incalculable hardships . Altogether five finally
arrived in Palestine, where they were promptly thrown into jail
at Acre. Another typical case held the fate of 318 young German
and East European refugees, all under 25, who were
marooned on the British steamer Velos in x934. The Palestine
authorities refused to admit them ; as did every port at which
the vessel touched . Their meager funds exhausted, they were
locked below hatches like so much contraband, which could
neither be unloaded nor destroyed . Finally, after ceaseless
wandering from port to port, these luckless outcasts were given
temporary asylum by Poland .
Just how a Jew under the Mandate could be in Palestine `illegally'
has never been explained . If the beneficiaries of that
document are not the entire Jewish people, whose immigration
to the Holy Land is to be facilitated by every means possible,
then the Mandate has no reason for existence . Ormsby-Gore
admitted as much in 1925 when he informed the Permanent
Mandates Commission that they "should remember that it is
after all the Balfour Declaration which was the reason why the
British Government is now administering Palestine ." However,
the memory of the King's spokesmen was conveniently suited
to what their appetites seemed to demand . So the British gradually
developed the peculiar thesis that Jews, under a Mandate
directly formulated to facilitate their return to Palestine, could
be there illegally .
Coincident with the advent of Hitler the business assumed
the proportions of an out and out Jew-hunt. In a nice piece of
collusion between the Colonial Secretary, Sir Phillip Cunliffe-
Lister, and an M . P. named MacDonald, the Government `admitted'
that `illegal' Jewish immigration existed but stated in
assurance that "practical steps would be taken to deal with the
matter." The very next day Cunliffe-Lister announced stringent
measures to prevent `illegal' Jewish immigration into Palestine.
The system of tourist deposits was instituted . Holders
of Nansen passports, that pitiful army of staatenlos men, were
not in future to be granted even tourist visas . An air-tight
frontier control in collaboration with the agreeable French authorities
in Syria was to be put in effect. On the subject of
illegal Arab immigration the announcement was expressively
Showing the extent of its preorganization, the campaign at
once assumed the proportions of a large-scale pursuit of Jews
over the length and breadth of Palestine. Ironically paid for
out of Jewish tax moneys, a dragnet of airplane and motor boat
patrols were detailed along the borders ; while British and Arab
constables, assisted by organized groups of fellaheen, enjoyed
themselves in scouring the coast-wise territory . At Beirut and
other Syrian cities British and Arab police questioned motorbus
drivers, asking if Jews were among the passengers ; carefully examining
the passports of all suspected of being Jews, while others
were as scrupulously ignored .
The pursuit of `illegal' Jews was on in earnest, one of the
great witch-hunts of modern times. Jews were picked up like
dangerous animals everywhere and hauled to police stations .
Weeping Jewish women were thrown into cells together with
prostitutes, subjected to the obscene taunts of Arab jailers .
The situation is made pitifully clear in the case of thirty-two
young girls, arrested while out on a hike near Tiberias because
an Arab boy denounced them. Thrown into the overcrowded
jail at Bethlehem, they were kept on bread and water and refused
bail . The Police candidly explained to indignant inquirers
that "if they were released on bail, they may marry Palestine
citizens and obtain the right to stay ." 9 On the same
date three other girls were arrested on the streets of Haifa,
jailed, and finally deported on an Italian steamer . Italian authorities
would not let them land so they were shipped back and
forth between Palestine and Italy until finally Jerusalem agreed.
as an act of international courtesy, to take them off the ship .
captain's hands . Says the announcement : "They are now imprisoned
in the Bethlehem jail ."
Jews were expelled for any trivial reason the anti-Semitic
mentality could improvise . Men were torn from their jobs and
businesses and thrown like common offenders into the prison
at Acre, a dank, forbidding structure ranking in terror with the
famous French Bastille, where they were regularly beaten by
Arab overseers . The attitude is shown in the case of one
Isschak Kupetz, a respectable working man who was sentenced
to the Central Prison in Jerusalem and escaped . Immediately
an intensive police search was begun, and rewards prominently
posted for "the escaped convict ." Since no nation wanted
them, a great number of these tragic sufferers were held long
after their sentences had expired ; the Government not hesitating
to vent its exasperation on their heads.
Hunting `illegal' Jews became a major game, with illegal
Arab newcomers enlisting gleefully in the chase . Savage Bedouins
joined in under promise of a reward for any Jewish man,
woman or child they could catch. Palestine was under a virtual
reign of terror. Anyone who could not immediately prove his
citizenship, or produce his or her certificate of entry, was
tracked down, jailed and brutally beaten . The lives of these
people became a daily horror. They became gravely endangered
by falling ill . They did not dare travel. For years they
have had to live without their wives and children and under
constant fear of being discovered . The utterly savage attitude
toward these people can hardly be grasped by a civilized mind.
A characteristic case is that of the family Israel Ezra, tourists
who overstayed their three months' leave. Ezra and his wife
were sentenced to prison and fine, and in addition it was ordered
that their twelve-year-old son be publicly flogged .10
Bad as existing regulations were, the inhuman meticulousness
with which they were interpreted made them infinitely worse .
A fair example is the case of a woman and six small children,
who had arrived legally with the proper passport and visa, from
Turkestan . On the way her husband had been killed at a rail246
way station. The whole family was arrested on the ground
that the passport provided not for a woman and six children,
but for a man, a woman and six children . On this pretext the
woman and her children were ordered to prison .
The heat had grown so scorching that it was beginning to
drive even the patient Jews mad . Nationalist groups rioted in
protest. Serious clashes took place when Arab gangs invaded
the Jewish colonies themselves in search of victims . After some
of these invaders had been beaten within an inch of their lives,
the use of civilian Arab bloodhounds was discontinued .
While all this was going on, the Jewish Agency, which had
been to such pains to create a world-wide impression that "new
Jewish arrivals were being eagerly welcomed," put out a timid
protest. It verbosely pointed out that all this was a clear departure
from the MacDonald Letter, which expressly guaranteed
that no immigrants "with prospects of employment" would be
excluded. The High Commissioner "took the matter under advisement"
and immediately buried the `protest' along with some
ash-barrels of others, in the Jerusalem files . At almost the identical
moment, he announced the appointment of a Commission
under Sir William Murison to investigate the police for alleged
severity in maintaining order during some Arab riots of a few
weeks previous .
Lured by stark evidence of labor scarcity and big pay, peoples
from all surrounding states began to drift into Palestine .
Though a huge corps of coast and frontier guards kept vigilant
watch to prevent the entry of `illegal' Jews, Arabs from anywhere
entered without even the gesture of passport investigation.
The Report of the Peel Commission admits frankly that
the inhabitants of Syria and Transjordan "are free to enter the
corresponding districts in Palestine without special formality ."
It is, in fact, by disguising themselves as Arabs that most `illegal'
Jewish immigration is accomplished . If they are lucky they
will succeed in walking in boldly without challenge . A news
item of July 4, 1934 gives the circumstance more lucidly than
pages of reference . It reads : "Five Jewish women coming
overland from Damascus, attired in the traditional costumes of
Moslem women, including the black veils, were apprehended
at the border when police saw through their disguises . They
could not answer questions put to them in Arabic ."
Not only is immigration from Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen and
other surrounding places unrestricted, but Jews from these same
countries are as determinedly barred as their brothers from
Poland or the Baltic. Casual examples of this condition are the
deportation of Jews who fled from the Mosul district of Iraq
because of religious persecution ; and the demand of the Palestine
Government on May 16, 1935 that Syrian Jews be given
a special distinguishing passport when proceeding to countries
on the Palestine border, a sort of Near Eastern `yellow ticket,'
reminiscent of Czarist Russia.
Though the Government solemnly estimates in 1937 a total
Moslem increase by immigration of only 22,535 since the time
of the British occupation, 11 evidence of a vast influx of desert
tribesmen is obvious everywhere . As early as 1926, Colonial
Secretary Amery cautiously conceded that despite the growth of
the Jewish element "the increase of the Arabs is actually greater
than that of the Jews." 12 Figures presented before the Peel
Commission in 1937 showed the Arab population to have more
than doubled itself in fourteen years . This admitted gain in half
a generation must either be attributed to outside immigration or
to the most astonishing philo-progenitiveness in medical history.
Forgotten in its archives, the Government itself acknowledged
in 1922 the immigration of whole tribes "from the Hejaz and
southern Transjordan into the Beersheba area," a fact which
in itself must make its estimates of Arab immigration farfetched.
13 Other approximate figures are available from scattered
but credible sources. One of these is the statement of the
French Governor of the Hauran in Syria, that from his district
alone, in the summer of 1933, thirty-five thousand people had
left for Palestine as a consequence of bad crops .14
Whole villages in the Hauran have been emptied of their
people, who are drifting into Palestine . Count De Martel,
French High Commissioner for Syria, asserted in the summer of
1934 that even Arab merchants were moving from Damascus
to Palestine because of the prosperity there ; and in 1936 the
head of the Moslem Youth Association at Beirut, Jamil Bek
Basham, wrote that "there is a penetration into Palestine of an
army of Syrian laborers." 15
It is of course difficult to attain any adequate idea of the extent
of this flood of non-Jewish immigration since officially it
does not exist. In the absence of accurate canvass its size must
be pieced together and surmised. Such calculations as are available
show an Arab immigration for the single year 1933 of at
least sixty-four thousand souls . Added to the acknowledged
Hauranese infiltration are some two thousand who arrived from
Damascus alone. Mokattam, leading Cairo daily, announced
that ten thousand Druses had gone to the Holy Land ; and according
to Al Jamia Al Islamia, Arab newspaper of Jaffa,
seventeen thousand Egyptians had come from Sinai Peninsula
alone .
To these must be added considerable groups of Numidians
and even Abyssinians, and a vast uncounted army from Transjordan
about whose movement into Palestine not the slightest
pretense of legality is maintained . The figures on this latter
group must be very high, since economic conditions west of
Jordan have been literally frightful, with scanty harvests over
several successive years . In view of the fact that many thousands
of these Transjordanian nomads may be met any place in
Palestine, the Government reports themselves are amusing . In
his statement to the League of Nations for 1936 the High Commissioner
estimates that the total of persons arriving as immigrants
from Transjordan during the entire year was three, of
whom only one was an Arab (the two others presumably being
Englishmen) . 16 Not eight months later we find the same Government
openly repatriating thousands of Transjordanians because
the slump which followed after the riots left them without
Farago, puzzled by these contradictions, calls attention to the
fact that "one always finds in Palestine, Arabs who have been in
the country only a few years or a few months . . . Since they
are themselves strangers in a strange land, they are the loudest
in the cry : `Out with the Jews.' " 17
Exasperated by the Government's lack of good faith, which
was illicitly converting the Holy Land into an Arab country,
groups of courageous Jewish youths volunteered in 1934 to point
out what apparently the Authorities were unable to see . Fourteen
hundred of these illegals were quickly shown to be working
at Petach Tikvah ; and 1 zoo in Haifa on road and house construction
alone. Their probable numbers could be gathered from
a test count of 357 Arab laborers in the buildings material industry,
which showed 273 to be Hauranis illegally in the country.
A check of Arabs employed in Palestine ports on December
23, 1936 showed that only 50 of the 750 workers were
Palestinians. The remainder included Zoo Egyptians and 500
Hauranis.'S Whole hordes of these people were demonstrated
to be in the employ of the Government itself.
Without deigning to make a reply, the Administration pointedly
told the Jews to mind their own business . When Jews
picketed Jewish employers of this alien labor, the Government
bared its teeth and sentenced the demonstrators to six months
at hard labor for their pains . Undeterred, Jews again picketed
a Haifa theater being erected by a contractor named Borovsky
where illegal Hauranis were employed- 19 Immediately the Authorities
arrested fifty-three Jews and sentenced them to prison
terms. That pretty well discouraged any further attempt to
point out illegal Arab immigration .
Once in a while, for purposes of the High Commissioner's
report to the League, a few Arabs are apprehended for being
in the country without permission. Though bail, even in large
amounts, is refused Jews held for the identical offense, Arabs
are let go for C 1o. Considering this trifling sum a sort of premium
for high wages earned, they invariably skip bail.
On one excuse or another every effort has been made to
legalize non-Jewish immigration . The Administration had sent
up a number of trial balloons in this direction. Their first feeler
was made on December 18, 1934, when unexpectedly they
granted 150 labor immigration certificates to Arabs from Syria
and Egypt . Another was the admission in 1936 of 214 German
`Aryans' who wanted to settle permanently in Palestine in
order to "take advantage of the boom in that country ." Highlighting
this picture with all the potency of a floodlight was the
Administration's attempt to grant a huge tract of land under
homesteading rights to distressed Armenians, then in Syria .
This was at the same time that Hope-Simpson was showing
`conclusively' that Palestine was suffering from `overcrowding .'
London's animosity for Jews can be discerned in every part
of the Near East . Wherever Britain is influential she has drawn
a fibrous cordon of anti-Zionist arrangements, edicts and influences
. Where power lies in English hands the operation is direct,
as in Cyprus. Elsewhere, a discreet hint to friendly States
accomplishes the same result .
In Syria, one has only to gaze at the startling regulation issued
in Beirut, refusing Jews proceeding to Oriental countries the
right to make a stopover, a concession to the English allegation
that many tourists stopped over in Syria with a view to slipping
across the Palestine border at a subsequent date . On this
ground, in the first week of February 1933, fifty-one men and
nineteen women tourists were not even permitted to land in
Beirut and were tartly told to disembark at countries not adjacent
to Palestine . In the Spring of 1934, Syria, then in a desperate
financial and economic condition, was anxious for an influx
of Jews . This plan, backed by the Syrians themselves, was
frustrated by direct British protest to Paris . Following these
representations Syria obliged by announcing on May 3, 1 934
that Jews might be allowed to buy land anywhere except along
the Palestine border.
Pressure of the British legation at Athens, arguing that illegal
immigrants were being smuggled into the Holy Land by way
of Greece, produced the edict of November 30, 1934, forbidding
all foreign Jews henceforth to enter Greece except by special
permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Greek
Consulates were instructed to inquire by cable of the Foreign
Office in Athens Whenever a Jew applied for a Greek visa .
Foreign Jews passing through Greece, suspected of wishing to
visit Palestine, would not be permitted to pass the Greek frontier
except with the stamped permission of the Palestine Government.
The order established a virtual espionage system on Jewish
visitors, affecting Jews of all nations regardless of citizenship.
Iraq, British dependency and protege among the nations, was
also quick to respond . Zionist activity of any kind was made
a crime punishable by imprisonment, as in Soviet Russia . A
wholesale ban on all Jewish newspapers and books entering the
country was instituted . Following the lead of Palestine officials,
Iraq postal authorities ordered the exclusion of the pamphlet
Hitler Terror issued by the Board of Deputies of British Jews,
as well as other anti-Nazi material ; while such `literature' as
Hitler's Mein Kamp f was allowed a free sale.
Afghanistan, under British Foreign Office influence, moved
against the Jews viciously . The present ruler, Nadir Khan, was
financed and armed by Great Britain to overthrow the former
pro-Russian king. Like Egypt and Iraq, the country is now
ruled by British `advisers,' as a practical appendage to the Indian
Government. One of the first acts of the new Administration
was to move against the Jews, who had all passports withdrawn .
On a few moments' notice, in January of 1934, two thousand
Jews were expelled from the border towns of Mazar, Ankhoi
and Maimane, and thrown homeless in the desert . In May 1 935
these persecutions were heightened by regulations compelling
Jews to wear special clothes with red flags across their breasts
and a rope around their hips . They were forbidden to shave or
to ride in the streets . Jewish women must not appear in public
markets and, like common harlots, must not wear stockings . In
1938 Jews were forbidden to engage in any business activities,
the only occupation left open to them being that of bootblacks .
Persia, too, becoming practically a British protectorate, inexplicably
put its nose into extra-territorial affairs by prohibiting
the emigration of Jews to Palestine .20 Jews were forced to
wear a distinguishing badge . No Jew was allowed to walk in
the open street in front of a Moslem, or to talk aloud to him,
build a fine house or whitewash its rooms . He could not leave
town, grow a beard or ride on horseback. The law stipulated
that "Jews shall not be permitted to consume good fruit." It is
certainly at least coincidental that when the present ruler, Riza
Khan, denounced the treaty under which Persia was run by British
advisers and army officers under English tariff control and
financing, he abolished most of the more ridiculous anti-Semitic
Yemen, too, at the south end of the Arabian peninsula, prohibited
the emigration of Jews to Palestine at a time when London
could have broken its back by withdrawing its financial
support. Jews attempting to leave for Palestine are brought
back and executed . After an economic rapprochement with
Britain, the Turks also made Zionist organizations illegal, in
October 1934, going to the point of raiding Jewish homes all
over the country in their efforts to stamp the movement out .
The attitude may again be seen in Egypt where an Arab daily
paper appears called the Mokattam, known as the voice of the
British Embassy. No other publication in Egypt attacks Zionism
with such unrestrained violence . Though the country is completely
dependent upon Britain for both defense and finance, it
has lately become a center of anti-Zionist conspiracy and agitation,
and during 1938 played host to an international Arabic conference,
convened at Cairo, to fight Zionism . No one doubts that
had these activities been directed against any friendly nation, or
against such British dependencies as Iraq or Transjordan, they
would have been swiftly outlawed .
A confirming view is given in Aden, owned by England outright,
without bother of pretense. In June 1932, after mob attacks,
the British slapped a blanket censorship on the news, even
withholding cables of news services . Following the disturbances,
the Aden Jews sought to emigrate to Palestine en masse.
Many were arrested, and many more deported to Hodeida, an
Arab pogrom center then raging in a bath of Jewish blood.
When the fanatical Wahibis swept into Yemen in 1934, Jews
fled to Aden begging permission to be allowed to proceed to
the Jewish Homeland . The Authorities instead issued an order
prohibiting Jews from entering Aden altogether. Even those
lucky Israelites with visas to Palestine, compelled by the only
existing travel routes to pass through the Colony, are refused
transitory entrance and returned to the waiting Jew-baiters at
Lying off the coast of Palestine, so that its outline is faintly
visible on a clear day, is another English piece of property, the
Island of Cyprus . Cyprus had been taken by Disraeli for the
Empire because of its "propinquity to Palestine," a rare evidence
of the great statesman's sentimentality . A number of Jews,
unable to get into Palestine, settled here . The natives were delighted
at the prospect of having someone to whom they could
sell their almost valueless land at a good price. The average
amount paid was £ 8 per acre -about a thirtieth of the price
demanded in Palestine for similar land . Noting this, enterprising
Cypriots filled the Palestine press with advertisements offering
every kind of attractive acreage for sale cheap . Soon
Jews held almost seven thousand acres in Cyprus, planting it
mostly in citrus. The Island started to boom, and the stream
of Jewish immigration began to swell.
Soon after, the Colonial Office sent down General Storrs
(who had had some experience with similar problems in Palestine)
to rule the Island . Acting expeditiously, Storrs issued an
edict on December 13, 1934 announcing that in future no more
foreigners could buy land in Cyprus ; nor could they enter without
the express permission of the Governor himself . It hardly
needs mention that the only `foreigners' attempting to come in
or buy land were Jews, and that this ordinance put a summary
end to all such `attempts .'
The early Zionist thinkers instinctively grasped the direct relationship
between a sound peasant class rooted in the soil, and
the project of a national renaissance . The British, too, understood
that a National Home without ownership of the soil was
a misnomer. Their Peace Handbook on Syria and Palestine
reads : "The essence of the Zionist ideal is the desire to found
upon the soil of Palestine a revived Hebrew nation based upon
an agricultural life and the use o f the Hebrew language . . .
There is so much unoccupied land in Palestine that there is plenty
of room for Zionist development without ousting the existing
Moslem population."
The early colonists found the park-like country their ancestors
had left, a treeless desert . Epidemics made even the raising of
cattle impossible. The mountain slopes, once covered with a
never-ending succession of vineyards and orchards, were now
bare rock, washed clean by the torrential rains . The rest of
the country alternated between swamp and desert . Crawling
like dull maggots over these dried bones was a scanty population,
scarcely less haggard, wild and unkempt than the land itself.
Land hunger rode on the shoulders of the returning Jews,
driving them like a man with a lash . They came from the
ghettos of the Russian Pale, men with soft hands, intellectuals,
lawyers, writers, doctors and shopkeepers, inspired by the passionate
dream of turning this pestilential desert into a blossoming
countryside . . They themselves, the dreamers of Zion, would
erect its first peasantry with their own lives and bodies .
Their hardships were almost insupportable . Epidemic pestilences
killed off so many that it became a byword that the
graveyards of these settlements were more populous than the
villages themselves . Undeterred, the new settlers pressed on
doggedly. They were living an epic ; and their eyes danced
with it long after their bodies grew worn from a ceaseless struggle
with a sick earth. This blazing emotion is beautifully described
by the Hebrew poet, Uri Zvi Greenberg
"In a sunburst of love we went up,
Boys and girls to Zion ;
Passionate faith from the roots of our hair
To the tips of the nails of our feet
A boundless love for the mother earth of the Jews
That agonies could not quench,
Nor the teeth of the foxes destroy . . ."
Unlike the advent of European capitalism throughout the
East, the only privilege these colonists asked was to be allowed
to work the soil with their own hands . They consciously understood
that the body of the Jewish nation had been maimed
by a cruel destiny which had driven the Jews from the soil, had
closed manual labor to them, and had crowded them into one
thin stratum of the social pyramid . The renaissance of Jewry
lay in this astonishing attempt to reverse a process consciously
taking place in social adjustment, abjuring personal ambitions,
to erect again by the national will what history had destroyed .
These Jews from the vitiated air of ghettos, men and women
whose psychology and muscles alike were better adjusted to
the counting room and Yeshiva than to heavy labor, made themselves
over by the sheer force of their own idealism into the finest
scientific farmers in the world . Their neat, well-painted
houses went up surrounded by thriving green vineyards, healthy
young orchards, flowers and shadetrees . In the eyes of believing
observers it was a miracle, only to be explained in the light
of Biblical Prophecy .
There has been no braver colonizing group in history, nor
any who operated under more disheartening conditions . With
a song on their lips these determined young people laid the
groundwork for an agricultural prosperity which was to be the
backbone of the coming Jewish nation . Their magnificent accomplishments
were unhesitatingly acknowledged by the English
after the War. "Every traveler in Palestine who visits
them," relates an official report, "is impressed by the contrast
between these pleasant villages, with the beautiful stretches of
prosperous cultivation about them, and the primitive conditions
of life and work with which they are surrounded ." 1 Beverley
Nichols remarks : "As I walked around, I became more and more
astonished that any race of men, let alone intellectual Jews, could
possibly tackle such an unfriendly soil . . . Yet over this wilderness
the ex-clerks, ex-doctors, ex-shopkeepers swarmed like ants,
staggering under the weight of the stones they were removing,
panting as they wielded their spades ." 2 Father Alfred Sachetti
exclaims in admiration : "What had been up to six years ago a
wild unproductive waste land has been transformed into a fertile
and productive country ." 3 And the Rev. Dr. W. M. Christie
reports : "When you see a green spot in Palestine today you
may be sure it is a Jewish colony." 4
When with premature gratitude the enthusiastic Jews welcomed
the British overlords who were taking the place of the
Turks, they had no reason to suppose that in the near future the
further acquisition of land by them was to be considered in the
nature of a crime against humanity . The British were pledged
to their cause. London had wholeheartedly acknowledged that
"the immigration of Jews and their close settlement on the land,
including State lands and waste lands not required for public
purposes, are integral and indispensable factors in the execution
of the charge laid upon the Mandatory of establishing in Palestine
a National Home for the Jewish People ." s
How far the Jewish position has actually retrogressed since
the English came, may be estimated from the simple fact that the
per capita land possession of Jews in Palestine has shrunk from
approximately 8 dunams in 1921 to only 3 dunams in 1936 . Of
the total land area of 26,319,000 dunams, only 1,300,000 dunams
are in Jewish hands, of which more than half was acquired before
the War . In 1935, the peak year of investment, only
18,250 acres were acquired ; but the price paid was the enormous
sum of J, 1,700,000 . Even at this uneconomic cost, less than
3 % of the huge sums flooding into the country went into the
establishment of new farms .
These figures mean that Jews numbering 3 3 % of the population
are sequestered on 5% of the land, forcing into existence a
queer economy by which the Jewish farm population must
mathematically decrease with the growth of the Jewish national
structure. Even in the short period between 1931 and 1 935,
we find the proportion of Jewish farmers decreasing from 18%
to 13 .9%, making the Palestine Jews the most highly urbanized
national group on earth.
Here you have the most unhealthy of all possible conditions
a land-hungry people attempting to build a sound national
economy and owning, after decades of struggle, less than three
hundred thousand acres altogether .6 On this fact is shipwrecked
the basic principles on which Zionist planning was constructed.
For all reasonable purposes, it forebodes the creation
not of a free economy but of a new ghetto, this time in an Arab
instead of an Aryan land .
The causative factors behind this condition are not hard to
find. In the early period of Jewish settlement, around 1885,
prices averaged ten francs, or eight shillings, per dunam for good
agricultural land . By 19oo the price had risen to around sixteen
shillings . By 1935 it was anything that anyone cared to
ask. Taking 1932 as an illustration, we find 18,293 land transactions
concluded by Jews ; whereas in 1926, when more than
twice the area of new land had been acquired, there were only
11,821 such transactions? This meant that land-hungry Jews,
caught in a trap, were reduced to buying land from each other,
the price skyrocketing in accordance with the inevitable law
of supply and demand . During the fiscal year 1933-34 when
practically no new land was acquired by Jews, the Palestine
Government received from them close to J 200,000 in registration
fees for land transfers. In many instances a parcel of land
passes through eight or ten hands a year and its price is pyramided
to the most unbelievable heights . "Nowhere in the
world," comments the Royal Commission of 1937, "were such
uneconomic land prices paid as by the Jews in Palestine."
The parent of this distorted condition was none other than
the Government itself . A series of bold expedients flowed from
Jerusalem, directly formulated to prevent Jews from acquiring
the soil of the country. As fast as one artifice proved inadequate,
newer and more offensive ones were invented . The
English set themselves up as the protectors and patrons of the
Arabs, much as though Palestine were an endowed institution
for the improvident and the inept for whose benefit all competitive
factors must be excluded .
The keystone to the British arch was the alleged landless
Arab situation . In his report, French had listed some thirty
seven hundred claimants. The extent of this fabrication was
later conceded when, despite the prodding of the Administration,
only five hundred Arabs could be discovered who even had
a provisional claim. Just how there could be any 'landless'
people in an underpopulated country suffering for years from
an acute labor shortage, the Administration never attempted to
explain. Major Cecil Quinlan answered the best part of the
question with the laconic remark that "the so-called 'landless'
Arab does not exist, except in disordered imaginations ." 8
The Mandate provided that Jews be given State lands for the
purpose of "close settlement." Nowhere in that document is
there anything mentioned about an opposed obligation to Arabs ;
but the Government, making its own interpretation, decided that
this must have been a typographical error . It early handed the
Arabs 140,000 acres of its most fertile holdings . Later to appease
the Jews it gave them a consolation prize of some i 8,ooo acres, of
which only 962 were actually cultivable.
The Administration's Annual Report for 1920-21 gives figures
of 942,000 dunams of State land and two or three million dunams
of waste lands. When the Zionists, grown restive finally, put a
fierce demand on the Government to fulfill its obligations, it was
dismally discovered that the two or three million dunams of waste
land referred to had now vanished in thin air.
The technique under which this piece of legerdemain was accomplished
was not involved. It consisted of simple nostrums
and a characteristic method of dealing off the bottom of the deck .
In reply to a pointed question by the Mandates Commission in
1926, His Majesty's spokesman, Ormsby-Gore, represented that
2 59
"the delay of the grant of Government land to Jews is connected
with the question of survey which has not yet been effected ."'
A Vaad Leumi Memorandum notes in disgust that despite this excuse,
"hundreds of thousands of Government lands . . . have
been distributed among Arab fellaheen, in lots of such size that
they could not work them properly ." All Jewish demands for
land were rejected- "even the claims of the discharged Jewish
soldiers who had participated in the British military conquest of
the country being disregarded ." At the very moment Ormsby-
Gore was offering his explanation to the League, a special Land
Commission was carrying out a liquidation of the Government
estates, "apparently instructed to hand them over to Bedouins ."
Again in 1931, a Vaad Leumi protest to the League notes that
the Government was distributing State lands to Arabs "in parcels
of thousands of dunams per family," while Jewish demands were
studiously ignored .
Pleased with these outright gifts, the Bedu had little intention
of demeaning themselves by manual labor . They at once offered
their new-found acreage to Jews at prices only limited by Bedouin
ability to count . The indignant Administration put an end
to this practice by attaching a string to further gifts, prohibiting
sale of the land for thirty to fifty years . In other cases the Arabs
were beneficiaries of paternal loans, never intended to be repaid,
placing the Jews in the unenviable position of financing activities
aimed directly at themselves . All a Bedouin had to do, to blackmail
this singular Government, was to threaten to sell to Jews and
a subsidy would be forthcoming .
The Administration's sympathy for 'landless' Arabs went an
amazing distance. Four days before the 1936 riots broke out it
gave the Dajani family 10,000 dunams in the rich Jordan Valley .
The 'landless' Dajani family, as it happens, is fabulously wealthy,
owning among other things, the site of `The Last Supper,' for
which they are said to have recently refused C 1,000,000. The
Government even handed out its land to foreigners who made no
pretense of Palestine residence. To mention only a few cases, six
Syrian families located in Damascus and Beirut received over
7000 dunams of the Ashrafiye lands. Of the 3 579 dunams dis260
tributed in Tel-Es-Shock, 3469 dunams went to a family group
of four brothers and sisters living in Egypt .1o
Even when Jews bought areas on which the Government felt
it had a lien, it exacted its pound of flesh . A case in point is the
Huleh basin, consisting of 12,000 acres of miasmatic swamp .
This suppurating area had polluted the country, for generations
back, with malaria and dysentery . The job of draining it would
ordinarily be regarded by any other government as a task incumbent
on itself . Instead, the Palestine Administration granted
concession rights for reclamation of the area to two Syrian merchants,
renewing the concession in 1924 and again in 1927, though
the Syrians made no attempt to proceed with the work and were
evidently not in a position to undertake a development project
of this magnitude . It was only after years of procrastination on
the part of the Government that the Jewish Palestine Land Development
Company was able to secure official approval to take
over the concession rights . As the price of its consent the Government
stipulated that when the work was finished, one-third of
the new land would have to be handed over for Bedouin settlement.
It was necessary to pay the original foreign concessionaires
C 200,000, a sum which could only be considered in the
light of a gift . This was in 1935 . In 1935 the Government was
still quibbling over the text of the concession . It also has mysteriously
withheld decision on a number of minor points arising
from an engineering report made several years previously . These
dilatory tactics have effectually prevented any progress being
made in the work of reclamation, which is thus shunted into the
indefinite future .
The huge task of draining this quagmire will take at least a
decade. It will involve an outlay of over £ 1,000,000 . To this
must be added interest on investment, and amortization of principal,
plus such baksheesh as must be paid to petty officials who
would otherwise find a way to throw a sabot into the machinery,
even after the work has been started . When the 16,ooo dunams
which must be given free to the Arabs are deducted, some rough
idea is secured of what this much-touted enterprise will cost the
Having devised the 'landless Arab' thesis, it was only a short
step to the principle that the Arab must be protected against
himself and saved from exploitation by the Jew who would take
his land away from him. For this purpose there was introduced
a series of ordinances so plainly meant to prevent Jews from acquiring
land in their National Home that were ten percent of
them introduced into England, and directed at Englishmen, an
armed revolution would follow .
But Zionist spokesmen had been used to the rope's end too long
to be able to react with anything resembling normal indignation.
They recognized helplessly that they were being victimized, but
saw nothing else to it but to smirk ingratiatingly on their tormentors.
Once more it is grizzled old Menachem Ussishkin who
growls like a lone wolf to the British Government : "Since you
have given your consent to the establishment of a Jewish National
Home, you must have realized that it is impossible to build on
anything but on the land . We have paved every field and marsh
with gold, but you, instead of helping us, have piled stones in our
way and have made the country into a hell ." 12
As early as 1920 a Land Transfer Ordinance already read that
"any person wishing to make a disposition of immovable property
must first obtain consent of the Government," a statute which the
Shaw Report frankly admits was introduced to prevent the easy
sale of land. This was followed in 1929 by the Cultivator's Protective
Ordinance, which demanded that buyers make an additional
payment to tenants who might be occupying the land as
well as to the owners . 1931 saw a new edict which provided
that irrespective of any provision in the contract, land could not
be transferred if there were "any tenants" cultivating it . A tenant
was described as anyone who has access to the land by "right
or custom, usage or on sufferance," 13 a person hired for agricultural
work who is paid in kind, squatters of any and all types ;
anyone who cultivated the land by either express or implied permission,
or who had been cultivating the land on the assumption
that he had the right to do so for a period of two years ; or any262
one who comes and grazes on the land or cuts reeds for basketmaking,
or one who is a descendant o f a would-be tenant under
the ordinance.
This startling piece of legislation derived its full force from the
primitive nature of Bedouin life . While the Bedouin grazed his
flocks wherever he pitched camp, he always made the same general
circle of travel, returning year after year to the identical
spots . Thus he automatically became a `tenant' under the regulation.
Most of the land purchased by Jews came from the tremendous
estates of absentee landlords, a handful of land-barons
who owned, for example, eighty percent of the soil of Galilee and
at least half of southern Palestine .14 These vacant acres were
trespassed on by all comers, and, by the very nature of things,
were bound to harbor itinerant tenants, squatters and migratory
The other claw of the pincers lay in the fact that all the
archaic Turkish land and tax laws were still operative .15 This
meant that the verification of title went back to the old Ottoman
religious law . The British had made no attempt to determine
title, and the footnote to every Kuhan (title deed) contained the
phrase : "The title is not deemed to be guaranteed." Under the
new Cultivator's Ordinance all titles were placed in jeopardy as
having been gained illegally, since they were subject to tenant's
It now transpired that `tenants' could be evicted only by the
High Commissioner himself. This transfer of discretion to a political
appointee, rather than to the courts, prevented any appeal
and gave the frankly anti-Jewish officials of the Administration
arbitrary powers of decision . These powers were further increased
by the Land Disputes Ordinance enacted in March 1932 .
This remarkable edict empowered the District Commissioner,
should he find that a trespasser was forcibly evicted by the rightful
owner, to regard the dispossessed party as the possessor .
Granted magisterial status, no appeals against the findings of this
petty functionary were possible. The enactment additionally
forbade interference with the `rights' of invaders coming to graze,
cut wood or reeds, or for any other purpose (even if the owner's
fences had been cut down and his crops destroyed), until in each
case "a competent court ruled on the matter ."
On July 2 5, 1 933 the Administration released the Statutory
Tenant Law, effectually freezing the ownership of large vacant
areas in their present hands . Anyone who occupied or grazed
the land for a year, with or without permission, became a "statutory
tenant ." He could not be evicted without being given a
new piece of land in a nearby area approved by the High Commissioner
These restrictions made it next to impossible to purchase lands
on which claim could not be made by `tenants .' The inevitable
result was that Jews buying land had to pay for it twice : one
payment to the owner and the other to his `tenants,' in order to
obtain their voluntary consent to leave the property . In many
cases the sums given the `tenants' were larger than the already inflated
prices paid to the sellers . The whole intent behind this
singular legislation is shown in the law affecting tenants where
the land is not sold . Here the tenant is not protected in any
fashion whatsoever, and may be evicted at the landlord's pleasure .
Even on land long owned by Jews, here is how this `advanced'
legislation operates. `A' owns a piece of land ; `B' squats on that
land, claiming the right to cultivate it . In the ensuing conflict,
B' is not ejected from the parcel and allowed recourse to the
courts, but instead the cultivation o f the land is stayed by both
parties until the determination of the courts . Since land cases
are known to sleep through the judicial chambers for five or six
years, and appeals are seldom, if ever, heard under one year, the
result is apparent. Nor does the final settlement of one trespassing
case protect the owner against new ones. As fast as new
trespassers may appear, new court orders must be obtained against
them through the same lengthy litigation .
Here was an obvious invitation to blackmail which the Arabs
were not slow to take advantage of . False claims were regularly
manufactured against Jewish land with the object of extorting
money from the owners . Arab tribes, often as not under the
fatherly advice of the District Commissioners, turned this situation
into a profitable business . They squat in the Jewish colonies,
taking over a piece of land by main force if necessary, claiming
it on the basis of prior possession ; and then compromise on some
compensation from the owner, who usually prefers a limited loss
of money to prolonged litigation. The Bedu then drive their
herds further on, looking for another opportunity to repeat this
agreeable adventure . There are Arab attorneys in Jerusalem
who specialize in causing squatters to do this sort of thing and
who make a very good business out of it . As may be expected,
Jews are the sole sufferers . "In not a single instance," declares
the land expert Ussishkin, "has an Arab owner been pestered in
such a way. Bedouins who would so intrude on an Arab parcel
of land would be ejected by the police without further ado ."
A few actual cases will show how these measures operate in
practical application . A large parcel of land, in Jewish hands
for forty years, was disputed by Arabs on the basis of an alleged
document signed five hundred years ago granting the land to the
Moslem Church . District Commissioner S . H. Perowne immediately
declared the land under dispute and prohibited work
there. Jewish farmers who tried to plough their fields were
arrested.16 At the settlement of Tel Hai in Galilee, Bedouins
brought their cattle to pasture in the colony's fields, destroying
the crops. They claimed to be in possession of a document entitling
them "to pasture anywhere ." A fight ensued, the police
were called, and the usual order issued to both parties to cease
work in the colony "until the title to the land was established ."
At Hedera, where the land had been in Jewish possession for
forty-five years, Bedouins came in, uprooted the crops, injured
workers and killed a watchman. The police ordered all cultivation
to cease "until the Court decides the dispute between the Jews
and the Bedouins ."
A typical case is that of the Wadi Hawareth land . After paying
liberal baksheesh to the tenants and after reams of red tape
had been unwound to secure title, the Jews were unable to take
possession : the land had already been ploughed by Arab squatters
. Similarly, at Haifa Bay, thirty-five hundred dunams legally
bought and paid for by the Jewish National Fund were
given to Arabs, by decision of the District Commissioner, after
they had driven off the Jewish watchman and taken the land by
armed force. At Tulkarm, in a regular pestilence of squatter
suits, the courts decided that thirty-six hundred dunams of land
had been "purchased illegally" and directed that they be given,
without compensation, to the squatters. While ignorant Bedouins
were more than willing participants in this hilarious game of plaguing
Jews, what lay behind their actions can be judged from the
Kuskustabun case, where three Jewish farmers were badly injured
by armed Arab invaders . Here it was conclusively proven that
the Arabs "undertook to trespass and plough the land upon the
advice of District Officer Lees." 17
Not satisfied with its previous measures in which Jewish ingenuity
discovered more leaks than the Government considered
supportable, it announced in 1936 a brand new principle in pro-
Arab paternalism, this time swinging back to the Middle Ages for
its inspiration . The present purpose is to anchor the peasant in
the land irrespective of his will to change his status . In future
"no land-owner shall be permitted to sell any of his land unless
he retains a minimum subsistence area . As a safeguard against
collusive sales this minimum area shall be inalienable and shall
revert to the Government if it ceases to be cultivated by the
owner-occupier." 18
Many other, pettier schemes were originated by the Government
of Palestine in its campaign of harassment . The Jews,
urgently needing a source of cheap fertilizer for their groves,
had been buying it from Arabs whose every village was literally
built on an accumulation of century-old dung . Arabs are rarely
known to even remove this filth from the vicinity of their dwellings,
much less use it . In September 1937 the Administration
published a Draft Animal Manure Ordinance vesting the ownership
of manure in the proprietor of the land on which it is
dropped. Any attempt to remove or sell it without official permission
henceforth becomes an offense punishable by fine of f25
or six months' imprisonment, or both.
Another edict stipulates that the amount of damages which
may be demanded from a seller who breaks his contract, cannot
be included in the contract itself, but must be fixed by the court .
This `Order in Council' was intended as a staggering blow to
Jewish land purchases, since the only effective way of preventing
Arab owners from changing their minds under pressure was to
include in the contract a provision for damages to be paid together
with the return of the buyer's deposit . Another decree
released early in 1936 was "designed to protect water supplies
from interference by private individuals." Special permission
had now to be obtained from the District Commissioner before a
well could be constructed or enlarged . Jews might own the
land, but the water underneath it belonged to the Administration
in Jerusalem. All water supplies, reads the Ordinance, "river,
spring, or underground," may anywhere be declared public property
at the discretion of the High Commissioner. Beyond serving
to frustrate the irrigation plans of the Jews, this revolutionary
measure has no plausible purpose nor has one ever been offered.
When other artifices proved inadequate, the Government has
followed a system of `loans' to Arab owners, in themselves often
greater than the market value of the land . Sometimes its money
is passed over outright on the score of `relief,' whether owing to
poor crops, damage caused by the elements, or the characteristic
laziness of Arab tillers. It frankly finances and operates Arab
agricultural cooperatives in competition with those of the Jew ;
and it maintains nurseries and other agricultural services of which
Arabs are the sole beneficiaries.
The unremitting campaign of Arab leaders, clearly abetted
from Government House, thundering against the `crime' of selling
property to Jews will be discussed again in Chapter I Book
III. It may be remarked, however, that without the Zionist the
market for Palestine land does not exist . Acreage in this corner
of creation is worth next to nothing. In neighboring Syria it
can hardly be given away. In Transjordan it is worth only a
dollar or two a dunam. Holding a monopoly on the soil, the
Levantines are having a royal holiday. "No one can doubt,"
says Broadhurst, "that the Arabs have exploited the Jews for all
they are worth, fattening their pockets in the process ." 19 Despite
the current campaign against land sales, Arab owners have
been keeping a canny eye fixed on the price barometer . As we
shall see, the very leaders of this agitation have proven themselves
as anxious, privately, to circumvent the Government's restrictions
as the Jews. There is ample evidence, also, that Government
officials themselves have not been above surreptitious speculation,
while at the same time being a party to driving the prices up out
of sight by radical legislation .
That official restrictions were designed to force Jews to pay
through the nose for such land as they were able to acquire is
conclusively shown by official figures . Buying in the open market
for the purpose of "resettling landless Arabs," the Government
paid 072,240 for 17,240 dunams, or an average of C4 per
dunam. In the same period the Jews purchased in the same market,
62,114 dunams for which they paid C 1,647,837, an average
of C25 per dunam.

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