PALESTINE AND THE MIDDLE EAST
AN ADDRESS BY
THE REVEREND WENDELL PHILLIPS
Chairman: The President, Mr. C. R. Conquergood
Thursday, March 22. 1945
MR. CONQUERGOOD: Next week, at Easter, much of the Christian world will look backward to events that took place in Palestine almost twenty centuries ago. To day, this Club will be privileged to hear a message about "Palestine and the Middle East" in our own times.
Our guest speaker today is Reverend Wendell Phillips, Rector of Christ Church at Rye, New York. Incidentally, Rye is a beautiful spot just a few miles north of the big city where recently there was held an important international gathering of business men to study conditions of future world trade and commerce.
Mr. Phillips comes from a family whose great names have illuminated the pages of American history, including such men as Wendell Phillips, the famous Abolition ist, and Phillips Brooks, one-time Rector of Trinity Church, Boston, Bishop of Massachusetts and renowned for his pulpit oratory.
For three years, our guest was on the staff of The American University at Cairo, Egypt. This great Christian university, like other great universities has achieved greatness by the influence of its graduates on life in the Middle East. Since his return to America, Reverend Mr. Phillips has maintained his interests in the life of the Arab, Jew and Christian.
The policies of the British Empire, America and the United Nations are a matter of concern to all of us, and we are indebted to our visitor for coming to us to address us on such an important topic.
I have pleasure in presenting Reverend Wendell Phillips, who will address us on "Palestine and the Middle East".
REVEREND WENDELL PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: The Christian world has always been interested in Palestine. This was true almost two thousand years ago. It is acutely true today.
There are many reasons why we are concerned now. Perhaps the most pressing one is that Palestine seems to be the only possible haven for hundreds of thousands, or millions, of oppressed Jews who are somehow existing in Europe at this very moment. But to them the doors of Palestine have just been shut, and bid fair to remain shut unless certain pertinent facts in the case become more widely known. Of course we all realize that this immediate problem of Jewish refugees is but the last chapter in the long story of Zionism, the movement which during the last four or five decades has aimed to restore Palestine as a Jewish national homeland.
Now whenever the subject of the Jews and Palestine comes up someone is sure to say: "But the Arabs don't want the Jews in Palestine. There is an Arab-Jewish conflict. It is not right to force the Arabs to leave their own country just to make room for Jews. I believe the contrary to be true. The Jews have rights to Palestine. They should not have to come as suppliants, but as just and rightful heirs to an inheritance: an inheritance which not only, extends back through the ages, but an inheritance which was solemnly confirmed by the whole civilized world hardly more than two decades ago.
ARAB ARGUMENTS AGAINST ZIONISM.
What are the arguments of the Arabs against Zionism? About two years ago Arab leaders stated the position of the Arab world as they saw it. Their opinions were widely published. They can be summarized by the following three statements: "First, Zionism is unfair to the Arabs who. now own and occupy the land; second, Zionism, if encouraged by Great Britain and the United States, will be the means of disturbing the friendship which exists between the Arab nations and the Allies; third, there simply is not enough room in little Palestine for the Arabs who are there and the Jews who want to go there." Let us examine these three statements.
UNFAIR TO THE ARABS?
First, Arab leaders say that Zionism is unfair to the Arabs who own the land. Now as a matter of fact and of history, who does own the land? I am not speaking of the private owner of a private plot of land who is able to buy or sell land at will to anyone. I speak of ownership in the larger sense: to whom does the whole land of Palestine belong?
Let us go back in history, not to ancient history when the Jews were identified with the land, but back to 1517. The land which we now call Palestine then became part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. It remained in Turkish hands for four hundred years. Then, during the First World War, Turkey and Great Britain became potential enemies. Before long Britain and Sherif Hussein of Mecca found that it would be mutually beneficial for them to join forces. Britain would gain an ally in Sherif Hussein and as many other Arab leaders as could be persuaded to revolt against their Turkish overlords and in return the Arabs would gain certain important benefits. As an inducement to revolt, Britain offered the Arab peoples freedom from the Turkish Empire.
They were to have their independence: all the Arabs from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, from the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean. With only one exception! For a small portion of that vast territory Britain had other plans. That portion was called Syria and included what we of the western world commonly call Palestine. Syria proper was to go to France after the war, and Palestine was to become a Jewish Homeland. This arrangement was perfectly agreeable to the Arabs who were getting a generous reward for what was to prove a very feeble effort of revolt against Turkey. The only misunderstanding was with France who assumed that she was to get all of Syria including Palestine. However, when France clearly understood the terms of the whole arrangement she gave up any of her supposed rights to Palestine on condition that it was to be placed under an international control which was to establish there a Jewish national home. The British and the French were satisfied. The Arabs were satisfied. The Jews were satisfied.
In 1917 the Balfour Declaration presented the situation to the whole world: "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, 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." There were no objections raised. Everyone had gotten something out of the dismembered Turkish Empire.
Arabs and Jews worked in co-operation. Emir Feisal of Hedjaz, leading Arab figure at the time, worked with Chaim Weizmann of Palestine in closest harmony. They prefaced a mutual document with the words: "mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people, and realizing that the surest means of working out the consummation of their national aspirations is through the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab State and Palestine, and being desirous further of confirming the good understanding which exists between them, etc."
In 1919 Emir Feisal wrote to Felix Frankfurter: "We Arabs look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. We will do our best to help them." In 1918 he said: "Arabs and Jews understand one another. Arabs are not jealous of Zionist Jews, and intend to give them fair play, and the Zionist Jews have assured the Nationalist Arabs of their intention to see that they too have fair play in their respective areas." In 1922 the rest of the civilized world, in the form of the League of Nations, added its blessing to all that had been clone, and gave Great Britain the Mandate for Palestine. Great Britain was to assist the Jews in the establishment of their national homeland. During the same year the Congress of the United States added its approval. Everyone was satisfied. Could there have been a happier situation?
No, not exactly everyone was satisfied. There were certain individuals and forces in England, in Palestine, in the Arab States which had never approved of the whole plan. They did not want a Jewish homeland. They had been fairly defeated, but now they worked secretly, quietly. Here and there, by this means and by that, they obstructed. They began to sabotage the whole plan. Whispers began. Perhaps Great Britain wasn't so anxious after all to establish this homeland. Perhaps the Arabs could have the whole territory including tiny Palestine. Perhaps the Arabs could have both the penny and the cake. Well, there was no harm in trying. And so it was Arab voices began to rise: "We want Palestine. We live here. It belongs to us. What right have these Jews to come in here and take it away from us?" The clamour grew.
Sincere Britishers, alarmed by this insiduous propaganda, tried to remind the world of the facts. They reminded the world that the Arabs were perfectly agreeable to having the Zionists take Palestine so long as they could maintain their own Arab independence in other lands. As Sir Henry McMahon, negotiator of the deal with the Arabs said much later in 1937, "It was not intended by me to include Palestine in the area in which Arab independence was promised. I also had every reason to believe at the time that the fact that Palestine was not included in my pledge was well understood by King Hussein." But it was too late. Reactionary forces in both lands were at work, and thus arose what we now call the Arab-Jewish problem, a synthetic problem manufactured by those who do not want to see Arabs and Jews living in peace together.
"Zionism is not fair to the Arabs who own Palestine." How ridiculous that sounds in the light of a few simple, authenticated facts! Who owns Palestine? In the light of history, in the light of documentary evidence, in the light of the action of the civilized world, the Jews are the only rightful owners of Palestine. And in the light of all this, how tragic it was that in 1939 Great Britain adopted the White Paper restricting and then stopping all Jewish immigration into Palestine! We have gone back on our pledged word. It was Winston Churchill himself in the House of Commons in 1939 who referred to a clause in this White Paper and said: "Now there is the breach. There is the violation of the pledge; there is the abandonment of the Balfour Declaration." We have repudiated our former generous acts. We have failed the Jewish people. In excuse, we turn to the world and say, "Well, after all, it's not fair to the Arabs to let the Jews take over Palestine."
As a matter of testimony, the Arabs who actually live in Palestine are very happy to have the Jews there. Palestinian Arabs are enjoying the fruits of a civilization which the Jews have brought to them. They have told their friends about it with the result that Arab immigration into Palestine has increased 100% in the last 20 years. Why not? The Jews have blessed the land. The Arab's standard of living is higher than it was. His wages are better. His children get a better education. When he is sick he can be admitted to one of the world's finest hospitals. The British Colonial Secretary said in the House of Commons in 1938, "The Arabs cannot say that the Jews are driving them out of their country. If not a single Jew had come to Palestine . . . I believe the Arab population would still have been around 600,000 instead of over one million. It is because the Jews, who have come to Palestine, bring modern health services and other advantages that Arab men and women who would have been dead are alive today, that Arab children who would never have drawn breath have been born and grow strong." Someone may ask: "If the Palestinian Arabs want the Jews there, why are they always having riots in Palestine?" Leaving aside the question of the sources of those riots, this may be said: Paid Arab terrorists are the ones who carry on the riots. They try to enlist the aid of peaceful Arabs, urging the Arabs to rise up against their Jewish neighbors. Sometimes this process of intimidation works. More often it does not. Sometimes these peaceful Arabs are punished for refusing to quarrel with their Jewish friends. It has been said and I believe justly, that in the Palestinian riots more Arabs than Jews have been killed by Arabs. Zionism not fair to the Arabs? Ask the Arab masses in Palestine. They need Zionism.
DISTURB ARAB FRIENDSHIP WITH THE ALLIES?
The second argument against Zionism is that it will disturb Arab friendship with the Allied nations if it is encouraged by Great Britain and the United States. Arab friendship of the Allies? What friendship? The kind of friendship that declares war on Germany when the fighting is all but over!
Three years ago the Arab nations had a magnificent opportunity to show any friendship they might have had for the Allied cause. The Allies needed help. Indeed it looked as if they were almost beyond the need of help. How quickly we forget! Remember the situation; Rommel's victorious German army had pushed the British back across North Africa. Now Rommel was poised for the final blow which would deliver Egypt and the Arab world into his power. At that moment Britain needed friends! Did the Arab world come forth in friendship? On the contrary. They saw that Britain was losing the fight. Anyone could see that. The British European armies had been smashed at Dunkirk. The French armies lay prostrate and impotent. Britain's ally, the United States, was producing little, and was losing the Pacific War at Corregidor and Bataan. The Dutch Navy was at the bottom of the sea. Australia was calling for her soldiers to come home. Russia was reeling back, staggered from the series of mighty blows delivered by the might of the German armies.
At that time Britain was looking for a friend in the Arab world. Someone, anyone, who could help, who could supply some planes, some men, some supplies, even a word of cheer. From the Arab world came only silence and treachery. Arab rebellions were put down. Peace had to be maintained behind the British lines. It has been said that there were as many British soldiers policing the Arab world to keep order as there were British soldiers facing Rommel on the field of battle. Was that Arab friendship for the allies?
Meanwhile who were Britain's friends? They were the Jews of Palestine who fought and died for the Allied cause. Thirty thousand fighting men. Two thousand five hundred in the air with the R.A.F., six thousand on the ground. It has been estimated that one-quarter of the army which turned back Rommel was made up of Palestinian Jews. But about these facts there has been a conspiracy of silence.
We do not hear about the suicide squads composed of Palestinian Jews who nut themselves at the disposal of the British Army and Navy. We do not hear of the 12 Jewish boys who volunteered to slip quietly into Vichy Syria in an attempt to destroy some oil installations in the port of Tripoli. They understood that if they were discovered Britain would have to repudiate and disown them. Their families could not receive pensions. But they went, began their destruction and met death. Later their bodies were found in a shallow grave, identified by the Hebrew lettering on their clothing.
Or take the case of the bridges over the Tigris and Euphrates. At one point even Winston Churchill thought that things were going to get worse than they actually did. He saw the possibility of a German break-through at Stalingrad as well as at Alexandria. The Allied armies would be trapped. There must be some escape provided.
So he personally sent a telegram to the military authorities in the Near East instructing them to drop everything else and build escape bridges over the Tigris and Euphrates. The authorities in Jerusalem were paralyzed. How could they possibly build the bridges? There was no steel available. There were no engineers available. There were no workers available. It couldn't be clone. Just when they were on the point of notifying London that some other plan would have to be worked out a Palestinian Jew walked into the Jerusalem office. He discovered the problem and said, "Let me build those bridges." In short, this former Czechoslovakian Jew who had built bridges and subways in Europe actually completed the series of bridges over the Tigris and Euphrates, finding his own material, engineers and workers. The bridges, fortunately, were not used for retreating armies. Jewish friendship helped to save those armies.
These stories could be multiplied. Just one more. Take the case of the 500 Jewish engineers given the task of laying a mine-field on the southern tip of Montgomery's battle line as he faced Rommel in North Africa. They had hardly begun their task when they were spotted by German planes. Within three days they were surrounded by 110 German tanks. Refusing surrender, they waited for the tanks to close in before they let go with their anti-tank guns. The Germans faltered, stopped, turned around. Then up out of fox-holes sprang Jews who climbed on the tanks and threw grenades into openings, increasing the devastation begun by the anti-tank guns and mines. Twenty-six tanks were knocked out in that final attack.
Then for one long week the Germans subjected the spot to air attack. Dive-bombers dropped their loads over the spot so that no resistance would be left. Then the tanks came back. This time 41 were left wrecked on the battlefield. Then came more dive bombers, more tanks, more bombers, day after day. The 500 engineers were reduced to 400, then 300, then 200, then to 90. When the water supply received a direct hit the real misery began. Men drank gasoline and ran off screaming mad into the desert. At the end of a month 43 were left alive, and these 43 kept the enemy from turning the flank of the British army.
That is friendship. Arab friendship? No, Jewish friendship. Not an unselfish friendship, perhaps. They may not have died because they love Great Britain, but they died in order that other Jews might live, might live in honor and freedom in the land of Palestine as a fitting reward for their contribution to the cause of the Allies, the cause of decency, the cause of humanity. If you are moved and inspired by their story they did not die wholly in vain.
Arab leaders warn us not to do anything which will disturb Arab friendship. Let us be concerned about the welfare of our true friends, the Jews of Palestine, and let us not worry too much about those who are not our friends.
The third argument against Zionism is that there is not enough room in little Palestine for the Arabs who are already there and the Jews who want to go there. They suggest that there are far roomier and more fertile places in Europe and America. Why can't they go to Arizona or Texas?
In answer it might be said that the Jews of Europe don't want to go to Arizona or Texas, but if they did, and if the League of Nations plus the United States had promised them that they could go to Texas, I believe that promise would have been kept. But the Jews want to go to Palestine, and they are satisfied that there is plenty of room there for everyone who has any intention of going.
The cause of Zionism has been decidedly furthered almost by chance. It just happened that the government of the United States sent its assistant chief of the U.S. Soil Conservation Service to various spots on the globe to study soil conditions. While he was on this mission Dr. Walter Clay Lowdermilk became fascinated with Palestine. He read in the soil the record of the great civilizations which Palestine and the surrounding desert territories once supported. They were not desert then. They were garden-spots made possible by irrigation, yielding not only food by which men's bodies lived, but cultures by which men lived indeed. There were cities where today there are only sands, Greek columns where today there are desert weeds, theatres where today can be found only a chorus of wild animals.
Here is a land that has fallen to decay because men have moved away leaving the country to nomads. This part of the world desperately needs new man-power, a larger population. The Arabs already have far too much land. They have a few million people moving on a stage that once held great civilizations, and could again. Think of the life-giving powers in the Tigris and Euphrates valley alone! A few years ago, when an irrigation dam was constructed there, a visitor asked a high official: "I suppose this is just the first of a series of such projects?" He replied, "No, this is the last one. We don't have enough man-power to handle any more." In 1926, the Prime Minister of Iraq said: "What Iraq wants above everything else is more population."
The same is true, only on a smaller scale, of Palestine. It may be admitted that Palestine is not naturally as fertile as other parts of the world, but it is fertile enough. The ancient canals can once more be put into use, new ones built, water brought once more to the parched land. The land is still there. The water is still there. The climate is the same as it was when Jerusalem was blessed with milk and honey. It has been compared favorably with the present climate of Southern California where an artificial water supply has given birth to such a miracle as Los Angeles. Only a few decades ago prophets of doom visualized the dry death which would surely close in upon those intrepid souls who first settled Los Angeles. Those who have since been to Southern California say it's a very nice place.
Palestine has the added advantage of having once proved that it is a productive spot. But soil erosion, lack of care, and grazing animals have brought it to poverty. Once the land could boast of the Cedars of Lebanon. Where are they now? They are all gone, except for here and there a few like those which are enclosed in a wall which surrounded a shrine. The wall kept out the grazing animals who fed upon the small shoots springing up from the ground. Only within the wall did the shoots grow to be new cedars of Lebanon. Outside, the herds destroyed trees, plants, and soil alike. And no one cared.
But now comes a new kind of person. A man who cares. A man who loves the land of his forefathers. He plants new cedars. He irrigates the land. He works with his own hands. He asks the Arab to work, too, if he wishes to work. This new man has already created new centres of life; over 300 communities are now witness to his labors. This new man has already created new cities Tel Aviv the crown of his efforts. He has increased the fruits of the earth. He has created a new economy. He has built factories which during war-time have contributed immeasurably to the Allied cause. He has created hospitals, schools, universities.
He does not want to stop. The desert is there waiting to be massaged back to life. Today the waters from the Sea of Galilee run largely wasted down the Jordan only to be lost forever in the salt nit of the Dead Sea. This new man would channel off those waters into fields and vineyards and orchards. Then, by a simple feat of engineering, he would dig a channel to bring the salt waters of the Mediterranean to the top of the Jordan Valley, letting them fall down the vallev into the Dead Sea. This virtual waterfall would total a drop of 1,300 feet, supplying enough water power to bring light and manufacturing power to the land of Palestine. This new man would create a new civilization in Palestine, and in that part of the Arab world.
The land cries out to be saved. It cries out for another three or four million people who could save it. But Arab leaders say there is no more room in Palestine,
In other words, here is a primitive people dictating to a civilized world the terms upon which it can travel. It is one illustration of an attitude of mind which looks with disfavor upon the intrusion of any outsider into the so-called Arab world. Moreover, it is an attitude which is encouraged in the people by their leaders.
The average Arab is a miserable creature judged by our standards, and perhaps by any standards. He is poor, illy housed, often desperately sick. He turns to his leaders and asks why. His leaders, unwilling to bestir themselves to better his lot may simply say that such is the will of Allah. Or he may and does go a step further. He says that all the ills of the Arab come as a result of foreign intereference in Arab affairs. It has been said, with some accuracy, that this sort of attitude has developed into the only national policy the Arabs have, a policy of anti-foreignism, directed at the outside world and Zionism alike.
A second and more important reason why Arab leaders are against Zionism is an economic one. We must remember that Arabia proper is a feudalistic state, or perhaps more accurately a mediaeval absolute monarchy. The few who are in power, have everything; the rest have nothing. The leaders, the Emirs, the feudalistic owners, the professional classes and clergy who benefit by serving the leaders, and even the "Effendis," are the recipients of whatever fruit the land bears. Between them and the masses there is a great gulf fixed, and no one is interested in bridging it.
Leaders in the Arabian world live on a generous scale. A wealthy man in such a world is really wealthy, and a poor man is really poor. A poor man has almost literally nothing. Nor is there any concern about the poor. That is the concern of Allah. If God wills that a man starve to death, why should mortal man frustrate God's will by feeding him? Thus there is no concern about the welfare of the masses. There is no nonsense about the rights of man, or much less of labor unions. There is no nonsense about democracy. That is the situation, and it suits those on the top very nicely. They don't want anything to upset it.
You may notice that I differentiate between Arabs and Arab leaders. Whenever anyone says to me, "But the Arabs don't want the Jews in Paestine," I automatically ask, "What Arabs?" There is no such thing as "The Arabs." I suppose the nearest thing to an Arab is the person who lives in Arabia. He is the poverty-stricken fellow we have just been considering. He is not against Zionism. He has never heard about Zionism. He might possibly know where Palestine is, but he has never thought much about it. The same is true for the millions of Arabs in most of the Arab world.
Then there is the second group whom we might refer to as "The Arabs." These are the masses of Moslems in Palestine itself. They are not against Zionism. We have seen how these have been blessed by the Jews, and how they want these blessings to continue to flow. But, we hear, "The Arabs don't want the Jews in Palestine." "What Arabs?" The Arab leaders all over the Arab world! They are the privileged group. They have the power and the wealth. They have held all economic power for centuries, and they intend to continue to hold it.
But there has loomed up a danger to their status. And that danger is Zionism! For Zionism is improving the lot of the average man in Palestine, even the lot of the aver age Arab. Zionism is concerned about a man's inherent rights, about his body, about his soul, his education, his health, his home, his family, his present and his future. Zionism is interested in the land and the people who live in the land. Zionism is interested in Democracy. It is even interested in the rights of labor.
Now this would not be so bad if these unorthodox ideas were to be confined within the limits of Palestine, but such a gospel ignores geographic borders. Such news spreads, and unless this heresy is stopped at birth it might spread over the whole Arab world, with the result that feudalism would begin to disintegrate, and the privileged classes would topple. We must be very sympathetic with the privileged classes. They are not scheming. They are not doing anything mean in their own eyes. They are obeying the rules of the game as it is played in that part of the world.
I remember the time when, some years ago, I entertained several of my Moslem friends who came on a visit to the United States. They stayed with me for some weeks. We toured New England, visited Washington and New York. They saw the skyscrapers and the material wonders of our civilization. At the end of the tour I said, "Tell me, what has interested you most about our country?" One of them answered: "We have both been interested in the same thing. Wherever we go we find great buildings, perhaps hospitals, schools, or some other public building. And on the corner of the structure there is apt to be a tablet with the inscription 'This building was given by Mr. So and So.’ What we want to know is, why did he give it? What did he get out of it? Surely he must have had some motive beyond generosity. In our land you couldn't find a single man who would do such a thing unless he was rewarded by the King with a title or with some other tangible return." They simply do not understand our concern for others. And we must remember that it has taken us centuries of our Judaic-Christian culture to learn the lesson ourselves. We cannot expect others to learn it in a few years.
The truth remains, however, that Arab leaders are indeed against Zionism. The question is, how much concern should we show for a few Arab leaders as opposed to the manifest welfare of the great masses of Arabs and all the Jews? I believe we should not be too much concerned about the economic selfishness of the privileged few.
POLITICAL OPPOSITION TO ZIONISM.
We come now to the third reason why Arab leaders are opposed to Zionism: the political reason. Almost every really important Arab leader hopes to become the head of Pan-Arabia. He wants to have the backing of every Arab as he continues to grow in power. To do this he must have a program, a rallying cry, and the program is "Down with Zionism." Hitler faced the same problem in Germany. He had to stir his people and move them with some--magic formula. So he shouted "Down with the Jews." It is a simple and effective formula, which demagogues have used in the past and may well use in the future.
But even this opposition is minute when compared with the ultimate political opposition to Zionism.--The fact is simply this: Certain important powers in Great Britain are against Zionism! All the facts we have discussed so far are insignificant compared to this one. The wishes of Arab leaders, the rights of the Jews, the productivity of the land, all these count as nothing beside the simple statement that certain important powers in Great Britain are against Zionism. Nor should we too easily condemn these obstructionists. They are convinced that they are working for the best interests of the Empire, even though Palestine is not part of the Empire.
And why is Zionism a challenge to the Empire? For the same reason that it is a challenge to the privileged Arab leaders. Things have been going very nicely so far. Things are relatively quiet on that part of the Empire's life-line. The Suez continues to function. Arab labor is cheap, whether it is building roads or airfields. Arab leaders are willing to give up their oil if paid liberally. The Eastern end of the Mediterranean is a moderately friendly place. Why should this nice balance be disturbed? Who can tell what might result if a highly developed state is allowed to come to life in that part of the world? Who can tell what might result in the economic field for example. Suppose the Zionists set up a state that produces and manufactures. Suppose they show the way to the rest of the Arab world. Suppose the virus spreads around the lifeline to Egypt, Iran, Irak, India and China. What function then will the vast factories of England fulfill? Is it not a dangerous thing to encourage rivals who might live on the life-blood of the Empire?
Moreover this new Zionist State in Palestine may choose its own friends. Suppose 10 or 50 years from now the Zionists join hands and interests with someone unfriendly to England. Would not Britain be foolish to risk such a danger when Palestine is so strategically located?
So it is that certain powers in the British Colonial Office look at Zionism and say: "You have performed miracles there in Palestine. You have transformed the desert into a garden. You have built forests and cities. You have lifted a country from desolation. You have improved the lot of the inhabitants. You have performed a miracle . . . But we don't like it! We believe it is not to our best interests." Fortunately, there are other powers in England and in the Empire who just as strongly believe that it is to England's benefit to take the generous course in Palestine.
Here let me state the appreciation of the friends of the Jewish National Home in Palestine for the contribution which has been made by the British Government and the British people. Jewish people themselves never forget that Britain has been their traditional friend in Europe. Had not British interests and sympathy given strong support to the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate, there would not even be today the substantial framework of a Jewish National Home to discuss. Where could the Jews have turned after World War I for the National Home as a concrete achievement? Immersed in her policy of rock-ribbed isolationism, the United States would accept no direct responsibility of primary initiative, although the Anglo-American Treaty of 1925 with His Maiesty's Government re the Mandate for Palestine may be regarded as a glorious exception in the American isolationist policy.
It must be appreciated that Britain has set un conditions in Palestine of enormous benefit both to Jews and Arabs; in the interval between wars the Jewish population increased half a million and the Arab population slightly more than half a million. In the same period in Tripolitania Mussolini annihilated the Moslem population to the tune of 500,000 from an original population of 1,000,000. What credit is due to the British Government and people for an achievement which has been of enormous benefit both to Jews and Arabs should be rendered in this age of radical criticism of all governments, should be recognized and never forgotten.
Let me conclude with this thought. You and I and the members of the civilized world have a moral obligation. It is our duty to allow the Jews to settle Palestine without any restrictions on immigration. We have promised it to them. We have given it to, them. And then we have snatched it away.
As the result of a legal agreement the Arabs received a territory as large as one-third of the United States. The Jews were to receive about one per cent of that amount of land: the little country of Palestine. The Arabs got their land. The Jews got a promise: The Promised Land. We allowed them to go ahead with their plans. We allowed them to pour their lives, their efforts, their money; their dreams, their future into Palestine. We allowed them to begin to build . . . and then we closed the doors, dooming their hopes and dreams. We have a moral obligation to Zionism.
In an effort to excuse our unfaithfulness and immoral action we have sometimes said with Lord Halifax that at times moral considerations must give way to imperial policy. That is a dangerous statement. It is the sort of slogan that once brought us to Munich. It is the sort of slogan which Hitler used. It is a false doctrine which can only lead its followers to ultimate destruction. Rather, let us listen to the words of the late Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking in the House of Lords: "In the matter of Palestine, Britain stands before the bar of God, of history, and of humanity!"