Palestine, Today and Tomorrow
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 3 Oct 1929, p. 234-246


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Cody, Honourable and Reverend Canon H.J., Speaker
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Speeches
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Some impressions from the speaker's visit to Palestine. The sacred associations of Palestine to the Hebrew, the Christian and to the Mussulman. The vital importance of Palestine to the British Empire, to Europe and to world peace in general. A brief description and history of Palestine. Palestine's difficult agricultural conditions; its small size; the extraordinary diversity of this land. The mingling of the old and the new in Palestine, with examples. Above everything else, Palestine as the home of history, with illustrative examples. Palestine at once an oasis and a bridge, and how that is so. Palestine today. The guiding hand of Britain that is revealed, with specific examples such as improved roads, schemes of irrigation and reforestation, the guaranteeing of bonds for the development of the harbours of Jaffa and Haifa. The recent influx of 60-70,000 Zionist colonists. The purchase of land. Establishing a national home for the Jewish people, according to the Balfour Declaration. The position of the Arabs. Achievements of the Zionists. Racial antipathy. Thoughts on the future for Palestine, and for Zionism. Three great problems: economic; racial relations; the varieties among the Zionists who have gone back. A fourth problem of the respective attraction of the country and the city. The need for the British to retain the mandate if Zionism is to succeed, and if peace is to be maintained in Palestine. A brief discussion of each problem concludes this address.
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3 Oct 1929
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English
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PALESTINE, today AND tomorrow
AN ADDRESS BY HON. AND REV. CANON H. J. CODY, DD., LL.D.
3rd October, 1929

PRESIDENT EAYRS introduced the speaker, who was received with applause, and said: Mr. President, and fellow members of the Empire Club: Last Spring and early Summer I had the opportunity of visiting Turkey, Syria, Palestine and Egypt, and today I wish to give you some impressions from my visit to Palestine. No country has more sacred associations than Palestine; to the Hebrew, the Christian and to the Mussulman Palestine is a holy land. The visit to Palestine will utterly fail to profit unless he brings with him a clear knowledge of past history. You remember the old saying that he that would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him. If you obey that law, and bring with you the wealth of historic knowledge and associations, I cannot conceive any country that will yield you more thrilling results, than the Holy Land.

Some people are deeply impressed when they go to Palestine; others are utterly disillusioned, like one who made this comment, "If God had been going to send His Son to earth He would have sent Him somewhere else." Said one man, "If the Bible describe it as a land of milk and honey, and it is not so, how can I ever trust the Bible again?" However, it is a Holy Land, a land of sacred historical associations, and in addition to that a land of vital present importance not only to the British Empire but to Europe and to world-peace in general.

May I ask you with me to take a look into the past before we look at the present and venture a brief prophecy? The first point that strikes a visitor from Canada is that Palestine is not, according to our standards, a fruitful land. Nomads who had been wandering about in the desert of the Sindi Peninsula found little oases between the Mediterranean and the desert, and to them it seemed a land flowing with milk and honey, as they thought it. Of course all things are judged by comparison and by the past experiences of those who give characterizations, and it was undoubtedly more fertile in the past than it is now, but I imagine that according to our Western standards we could not call it an extremely fertile land, for the uncertainty of the rainfall and scarcity of water must make a livelihood rather precarious.

It is said that in all there are about 1,500,000 acres of cultivable land in Palestine out of a total acreage of about 6,000,000. There is no doubt that the present extent of cultivation may be considerably enlarged, but there is a limit beyond which such extension can hardly go.

The land looks to us today, comparatively speaking, treeless, stony, and uninviting. You could not expect an abundance of trees in a land that has been subjected to invasion for over 4,000 years. In the last Great War 40 percent of the standing olive trees were cut down for military purposes. Invading hosts cut down trees that had grown, and the goats, which are very much inclined to eat the leaves of young trees, make their re-growth almost impossible. Wherever in Palestine today you see a clump of trees and a green oasis you are perfectly certain to find a Zionist settlement; wherever those Jewish colonists have gone they have vigorously sought to reforest the land.

Palestine is itself very stony; some parts are more stony than others. The stoniness has been well described by an Arab legend which runs thus:-That the Creator entrusted to two angels all the stones that were to be distributed over the different parts of the earth. The angel who was carrying one bag of all the total stones of the world had the misfortune, as he flew over Palestine, to break the bag, and so half the stones fell on Palestine. (Laughter.) That speaks all the more highly for the efforts that have been made by the Zionist a fruitful land. Nomads who had been wandering about in the desert of the Sindi Peninsula found little oases between the Mediterranean and the desert, and to them it seemed a land flowing with milk and honey, as they thought it. Of course all things are judged by comparison and by the past experiences of those who give characterizations, and it was undoubtedly more fertile in the past than it is now, but I imagine that according to our Western standards we could not call it an extremely fertile land, for the uncertainty of the rainfall and scarcity of water must make a livelihood rather precarious.

It is said that in all there are about 1,500,000 acres of cultivable land in Palestine out of a total acreage of about 6,000,000. There is no doubt that the present extent of cultivation may be considerably enlarged, but there is a limit beyond which such extension can hardly go.

The land looks to us today, comparatively speaking, treeless, stony, and uninviting. You could not expect an abundance of trees in a land that has been subjected to invasion for over 4,000 years. In the last Great War 40 percent of the standing olive trees were cut down for military purposes. Invading hosts cut down trees that had grown, and the goats, which are very much inclined to eat the leaves of young trees, make their re-growth almost impossible. Wherever in Palestine today you see a clump of trees and a green oasis you are perfectly certain to find a Zionist settlement; wherever those Jewish colonists have gone they have vigorously sought to reforest the land.

Palestine is itself very stony; some parts are more stony than others. The stoniness has been well described by an Arab legend which runs thus:-That the Creator entrusted to two angels all the stones that were to be distributed over the different parts of the earth. The angel who was carrying one bag of all the total stones of the world had the misfortune, as he flew over Palestine, to break the bag, and so half the stones fell on Palestine. (Laughter.) That speaks all the more highly for the efforts that have been made by the Zionist settlements in reclamation within recent years of a comparatively unfruitful land that requires hard work and intensive effort.

The second point that strikes a visitor is that Palestine is a land that is extremely small. Your idea of distance has to be a constantly readjusted. As a rule we have on our Sunday School walls a map of Palestine just as large as the map of Europe, and sometimes as large as the map of the whole world, hence we unconsciously tend to exaggerate the actual size of Palestine because of its historical importance. When great events have occurred we almost instinctively think that they must have been enacted upon an important stage, but that is by no means the case in little Palestine. The phrase "From Dan to Beersheba" means from one end of a great land to the other, but as a matter of fact it is only 150 miles, a short day's journey by automobile; and today you can with an automobile do in one hour what probably you could not have done with a camel in the past in a whole day. From the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea, the broadest part of the land is very little farther than from Toronto to Hamilton, about 50 miles, and from the Sea of Galilee itself, across to Acre, just north of Haifa, it is not more than 25 miles. West of the Jordan there are only 9,000 square miles. In endeavouring to interpret happenings in Palestine we must remember that it is an extremely small and an extremely compact country. We read in the Old Testament that from the top of Nebo's lonely mountain Moses was shown the whole land of Palestine. Perhaps we think that was an exaggeration, but it is literally true.

May I illustrate in this way. The River Jordan rises at the end of that great ridge that is called Hermon, fed by the snows on the Hermon and the Lebanons, 1,700 feet above sea level. It flows down through the waters of Merah and the Sea of Galilee until at last it empties into the Dead Sea that is about 1,300 feet below sea level. This great gorge of the Jordan is one of the most remarkable features of the whole physical world. I stood on the shore of the Dead Sea where the Jordan debouches, and looked north the whole extent of the land, and I could see the gleaming snow on the top of Mount Hermon, and see the land from end to end.

About 6 miles northwest of Jerusalem there is a small cluster called Nebo Samuel; it is the traditional site of the tomb of the prophet Samuel, and it is one of the identifications of Mizpah, where Samuel judged Israel. Mahommedan pilgrims first caught sight of Jerusalem from that height. It was there that Richard the Lion-Hearted arrived in the days of the Crusade. On account of the disaffection of his followers he knew he could not capture Jerusalem, and he turned away and would not look upon the Holy City. Now, it is an easy journey from Jerusalem to climb to the top of Nebo Samuel, and when you have reached the height you have a marvellous view of practically the whole land; you can see the gleaming Mediterranean on the west; you can see the Philistine Plains with their palm trees, and farther up the orange groves, you see the Shephelah or the low country, the rising valleys with their wheat fields, the great Philistine battlefields, and then you come in the centre from where you are to the stony uplands of Judea. Then you plunge down with a glance of the eye into that bare and arid and mercilessly sun-baked wilderness of Judea down to the abyss of the Dead Sea, and lift your eyes up to the uplands of Moab. Why, you have with one glance swept all across the Holy Land from sea to the river.

May I add one other illustration? The old story of Ruth is an abiding romance. Ruth was a Moabitess. They only went over to Moab to escape the famine in Bethlehem. I always used to think it was a tremendous journey; but when you are in Bethlehem you can see Moab on the other side of the Dead Sea, about 30 miles away, and when you are in Moab you can catch a glimpse of Bethlehem upon the hills. It is a tiny land, and seems to be smaller than it actually is, as many travellers have remarked, because from so many points of vantage you can see the whole country with one glance of the eye.

The third point that strikes you is the extraordinary diversity of this little land. There are many varieties of climate and of landscape. You can come from the torrid heat of the Dead Sea, 1,300 feet below the sea level, up to the snows of Mount Hermon. You can start down in Beersheba, where you are baked by the sun on the border of the desert, and climb up to the temperate zone of Jerusalem, where there is rain and snow on occasions; one morning early in June there was a rainfall that caught me in the temple area. Then you go north and down into the Valley of Esdraelon and climb again that central spinal ridge until you end in the great mass and reach of Hermons and those Lebanons; so you have an endless variety of climate in this little land.

As you go up the backbone or spinal column that runs from north to south you find that this backbone is broken again and again into endless valleys, and you begin to understand why in prehistoric days so many different kinds of people could live almost independently in little pockets, and how the tribal boundaries were as they were, and what a large measure of independence would be enjoyed by the tribes in separate little pockets. While there is compactness there is diversity, particularly from the broken-up condition of the valleys in this great central spine. In reading the Bible you must have noticed the frequent contrast between hills and valleys; and how many valleys and hills in little Palestine are mentioned.

Another point is that in visiting Palestine today the open air gives the best results. I quote Dr. Fosdick's very apt words:-"Nothing in Palestine under a roof is much worth seeing; nothing in Palestine out of doors is not worth seeing. I believe there is a great truth in that; it is the open air scenes and sights that appeal most to us today; it was so in my case-the hills of Galilee and the Sea of Galilee and Mount Hermon, and the Philistine Plains, and the uplands abbout Bethlehem, and the mountains that were round about Jerusalem, and the Jordan, and the Dead Sea, and the uplands of Moab.

Another point. The old and the new are marvellously mingled today in Palestine, where you are driving on a well-built British road in a high-powered motor car, and presently you meet a man and his wife and perhaps a little child riding on a big donkey, just as Joseph and Mary and the child Jesus rode when they went into Egypt. Or you meet a train of camels led by the inevitable little donkey. There you have the contrast of the ancient methods of transportation with the modern. I remember that when down at the Dead Sea, where one's thoughts went back to Sodom and Gomorrah, and the victories of Joshua on the heights of Moab, there was a whirr in the air and one caught sight of the Cairo-Baghdad air-mail going through on its journey-the ancient and the modern mixed together.

But above everything else Palestine is the home of history. I went over the sea to Acre, a little town now of about 6,000 inhabitants, but what ghosts haunt the very name of Acre? It was the ancient Ako--I give this as one sample-not captured by the Hebrews in the days of Joshua. Sennacherib seized it before he captured Jerusalem. Alexander the Great paid it a visit. Perhaps Jesus himself, when He came to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, may have passed hard by. St. Paul stayed there for a day. There was a Christian Bishop established there before the end of the second century. Mussulmen swept over it in the year 638, not more than 6 years after the death of Mahomet. It was the capital of the Crusaders for many a day, and endured sieges and had hairbreadth escapes. There Richard the Lion-Hearted slew 5,000 Mussulmen because they had not promptly paid their ransom-an illustration, by the way, of christianity as applied to the Mussulmen. (Laughter.) There Francis of Assisi prayed, and there Napoleon Bonaparte turned back the battle. Nowhere can you find a greater summary of history than Palestine will give you. And what is the explanation? It is that Palestine is at once an oasis and a bridge. To the dwellers in the desert it seemed an oasis, a land of milk and honey, a land of plenty. The two great civilizations on the banks of the Nile and the Tigris and the Euphrates could only get each at the other for purposes of peace or war by coming through Palestine, which was the bridge of the ancient world, and therefore constantly exposed to endless invasions. Think of it-the Amorites 2,500 years before Christ, the Canaanites, the Egyptians, the Hebrews who swept from the land side and the Philistines who came from the seaboard, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Eastern Greeks, the Romans, the Mussulmen, the Persians under Chosres, the Crusaders, the Turks, the British-the mere mention of those invasions gives you in a few lines the tragic history of Palestine.

So much for the past. The visitor to Palestine today, especially the Britisher, is impressed with the guiding hand of Britain that is here revealed. They have been improving the roads in every direction, and the main roads are now good motor roads. I motored easily and swiftly from Damascus to Tiberias; and motor coaches run between Beyrout over to Baghdad in almost 24 hours continuous going. The British have aided in the construction of roads, in schemes of irrigation and reforestation, and in guaranteeing bonds for the development of the harbours of Jaffa and Haifa, and the latter will be the great port of the Eastern Mediterranean. But I think the most dramatic and most striking feature is the development of Palestine since the mandate was accepted by Britain, and since the recent influx of between 60,000 and 70,000 Zionist colonists. Some of those returning Jews have gone into the towns and cities, and some have gone on land, but not one solitary acre of ground has been occupied by the returning Jews which they have not purchased at what I believe was a fair price. (Applause). They have not taken an acre from the Arabs. This is the point, and it has often been forgotten in recent discussions. But the population is varied. I shall not be very far astray if I say there are 600,000 Arabs or Mussulmans, 150,000 Jews, and possibly 75,000 Christians, so that there are a great many more Arabs than Jews and Christians put together.

Now, the Balfour Declaration stated: "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object." But he did not stop there; he went on--it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." You see, there is no promise made or no undertaking given to oust the Arabs and force the Jews into the country. At most, that declaration stated or effected that old-time prohibitions on Jews entering Palestine or purchasing land were removed. There is a difference between establishing a national home for Jews in Palestine and making Palestine the national home for Jews, and it was the former that was undertaken. The Jewish nationality was not imposed on the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole, but existing Jewish communities were tremendously developed.

Naturally the Arabs were somewhat suspicious. They are poor, they are illiterate, they did not understand what was taking place. I would repeat that all the land upon which Zionist colonies were established was purchased. Of necessity Jews settled on those colonies were backed by the financiers of the Zionist organization. The Jews, who came mainly from regions in Europe where they were persecuted, came for patriotic and sentimental reasons, and in order to be safe from programs and persecutions. They worked hard. A Zionist said to me, "wherever you see a glorious spot of green in Palestine, a bit of garden in the midst of a comparative desert, you are certain to find a Zionist colony." They have reclaimed some almost impossible land, and land that was long neglected they have caused to blossom like a garden. I think nobody can go to Palestine today without paying tribute to the real achievements in agriculture that have been accomplished by the Jews that are there. (Applause.) You can see how, in the nature of the case, the ignorant Arab might grow suspicious and fearful. Some people have misled him. Some Zionists have used unwarranted language. Some have even bidden the Arabs to go on trek but that was not the attitude of the modern Zionists or of the real Zionist leaders. The Arab is suspicious, and afraid that he is going to be dispossessed by this new commerce, although he is in a vast numerical majority.

I do not think the trouble in Palestine is primarily religious at all. Let us not forget that in the days when the Christians persecuted the Jew the Mussulman gave him a welcome. That is a curious thing, but it is true, that until comparatively recent times in Palestine itself there has not been this antagonism between the Jew and the Mussulman. I think that the antipathy is not religious but racial, and is really based on Arab suspicion that they are going to be ousted, that the British Government is favouring the Zionist as against them,, and that they themselves have no share in determining their own political destiny. Arabs in the War thought they were going to enjoy the fullest rights of self-determination; that as a reward for aiding the British against the Turks they were going to be part of a great Arab federation. Undoubtedly a promise in general terms was given, and I do not know whether such a promise was ever intended to cover Syria, where the French had interests, or Palestine. At any rate the British interpretation is that it did not and was not intended to cover Palestine. The British therefore took the mandate over Palestine, and protected incoming Jews who bought land and proceeded to develop it.

That is the background. The antagonism is racial rather than religious; or, if I may put it this way, in the East religion is never purely the expression of spiritual sentiment; it is nearly always bound up more or less with nationalistic problems. The Greek church is somewhat linked with the nationalist movement in Palestine. The Roman church has Italian designs. Mahommedanism has a general idea of an Arab federation. The Jews are not so much concerned with the practice of their religious rites or with the expression of their religious convictions as with a political movement that may imperil their existing nationalist movement. You cannot in the East separate religion from politics, and it is difficult to say, in any given case, how far the movement is purely religious and how far it is mainly national or political. I think in that sense that this recent clash has been more nationalistic and political than religious. I have not time to discuss the clash over the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, but I do not think that really that was the fundamental question, and I believe that trouble can and will be adjusted, but all that lies behind the recent outbreak is a strained relationship between the races.

In closing I would ask, is there a future for Palestine, and what will be the future of Zionism? As one who is very sympathetic with the Zionist aim, I think the motive behind the movement is one of patriotism and pity. Patriotism has always been characteristic of the Hebrew race; they have looked back to Jerusalem and the Holy Land-"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning." The rich Hebrews throughout the world have had compassion upon their fellow-countrymen who have been the subject of persecution and periodical pogroms, and they have liberally contributed to sending back those persecuted ones who wished to go to Palestine. I believe three-fourths of the money supplied for this purpose has come from the United States, although the Jews who have gone back have come chiefly from Eastern countries of Europe. As to the future of the Zionist movement in Palestine there are three great problems.

The first problem is economic-the restoration of those colonies to Jews who want to go back involves an enormous expenditure, which Zionist organizations have been willing to make. The Hebrew is known throughout the world for financial shrewdness; he wants to get a return upon his investment; yet here is a movement among Jews where there is only a sentimental return and no financial return. In parts of the land it will be years before both ends will meet. Will Zionism succeed? That depends upon whether Zionists throughout the world, particularly on this continent, are prepared to continue spending money for the establishing of their compatriots in Palestine. My opinion is that they will continue that expenditure, and provide a home for those Jews in persecuted lands who wish to go back. But I do not think the Zionists or anybody dream of Jews going back there by the millions. They could not be accommodated. Why, in the days of Our Lord the whole population was barely 2,000,000.

The second problem is that of racial relations with the Arab. Until the Arab realizes that his culture and civilization are behind that which the Jew is bringing into Palestine, and moves himself, there will be danger of friction, but he will have to move, and if there is going to be a rejuvenated Palestine the Arab and Jew must co-operate.

The third great problem is this, that the Zionist movement is not only religious but racial, and there are endless varieties among the Zionists who have gone back. Some are atheists and some are theists; some are individualists and some are communists in regard to the holding of land, and their varying views will have to be held in subjection to the common nationalist movement.

Then there is a fourth problem. A veteran missionary, a medical man whom I remember years ago in the University of Toronto, said to me, "The Zionists will be faced with the same problem that all of us in the Western lands are faced with-the respective attraction of the country and the city. Those who are on the land now have families, but they are working hard, they are idealists, and they are prepared by sacrifice to realize their ideals. What will happen when they are well established and prosperous, when their sons grow up? Will they be satisfied to stay on the land, or to stay in Palestine, where the commercial opportunities are comparatively small? Or will they want to come to the United States of America?" He said, "I believe one of the most serious problems that the Zionists will have to confront in the future is that of keeping in Palestine the sons and daughters of those who are now there. It is a problem that faces all peoples in all parts of the world."

I believe that if Zionism is to succeed, and if peace is to be maintained in Palestine, the British will and must retain the mandate. I do not think there is any intention on the part of the British Government to give up its mandate. I think the British will, as they always do, investigate fully, punish adequately and wisely, try to prevent the recurrence of troubles, and do justly between all the various religions and races in that land. If Britain is to give back the mandate, who will take it? Will France? Would that be acceptable to Mussolini? Will Italy? There are strong forces at work there in the. East in behalf of an Italian mandate. Would either Italy or France be satisfactory to the members of the Greek Orthodox Church? Who, except Britain, could exercise the guiding hand for the moment? It seems to me the only alternative would be to go back to Turkish administration under the Turkish Republic. I do not think for a moment that Britain will withdraw.

Gentlemen, I would like to leave this with you-I have seen very little said about it, but it is eminently true-Palestine is becoming more and more of vital interest to Britain from the Imperial point of view. Britain has to maintain her connections with the East. The Suez Canal, to be sure, is one of the vital connections. As long as she holds the mandate over Palestine she can have something to say for the protection of the Suez Canal from the Eastern side. I do not think she will retire from the job so as to leave that Canal exposed from the Western side. But has not the development of Imperial travel made some difference in the situation? Is not Palestine today a station of imperial air-ways? Is there not going to be a great oil-pipe line from the Muslem fields ending at Haifa? That is the proposal. Is there not already going on a great hydro-electric development on the Jordan? Will not Palestine more and more come to be, as it were, the outlet for all the products of the Hinterland? Because from Hiafa, at the end of the valley of Esdraelon, right back to Syria and the Persian Gulf there is not a single blocking range of mountains. I believe in the future Palestine will be of vastly greater importance to the United Empire and to the continuity of those communications in the East than it ever has been.

So one's hope is that under the guidance and tutelage and fairplay of the British, backed in the future, I imagine, by a much more substantial police force than has been there in the past, the Jew and Christian and Moslem will work together for the rejuvenation of Palestine. Never, perhaps, will it be a rich community, but it is rapidly becoming one of the greatest orange producing parts of the world, and with the development of the Dead Sea and its contents it will have other exports, and will have a reasonably happy material future, and it will always be a home of the heart to the members of great world religions. (Loud applause.)

SIR ROBERT FALCONER voiced the thanks of the Club for the inspiring address.

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Palestine, Today and Tomorrow


Some impressions from the speaker's visit to Palestine. The sacred associations of Palestine to the Hebrew, the Christian and to the Mussulman. The vital importance of Palestine to the British Empire, to Europe and to world peace in general. A brief description and history of Palestine. Palestine's difficult agricultural conditions; its small size; the extraordinary diversity of this land. The mingling of the old and the new in Palestine, with examples. Above everything else, Palestine as the home of history, with illustrative examples. Palestine at once an oasis and a bridge, and how that is so. Palestine today. The guiding hand of Britain that is revealed, with specific examples such as improved roads, schemes of irrigation and reforestation, the guaranteeing of bonds for the development of the harbours of Jaffa and Haifa. The recent influx of 60-70,000 Zionist colonists. The purchase of land. Establishing a national home for the Jewish people, according to the Balfour Declaration. The position of the Arabs. Achievements of the Zionists. Racial antipathy. Thoughts on the future for Palestine, and for Zionism. Three great problems: economic; racial relations; the varieties among the Zionists who have gone back. A fourth problem of the respective attraction of the country and the city. The need for the British to retain the mandate if Zionism is to succeed, and if peace is to be maintained in Palestine. A brief discussion of each problem concludes this address.