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fatal handicap to British interests. The great value of Egypt to the Empire is in fact the protection it gives to the Canal on the west; and, so long as Egypt is in British hands, the Canal is safe so far as the African side is concerned.
The security of the African shore of the Canal is, however, not the whole solution of the problem. The Asiatic shore also has to be safeguarded. Since the dawn of history until last century-one is almost justified in saying, until the present day-the struggle between Asia and Egypt has been almost continuous. The Hyksos, the Hittites, the Assyrians, the Crusaders and many another conquering race invaded Egypt; and their road always ran through Palestine. On the other hand, Asia has in the course of history been frequently invaded and partially overrun by Egyptian rulers, from the days of Amasis and Thothmes of the XVIII Dynasty until those of Mehemet Ali, eighty years ago. And the Egyptian forces also have invariably marched through the Wilderness of Zin and Palestine. In fact, the history of Palestine has been that of a shuttlecock, now under the control or influence of Egypt, now under that of one of the empires of Asia, seldom and for very brief periods free of both. In this respect, as in so many others, history does not change; she appears under different guises. The present war has shown that it is quite practicable for an Asiatic army to march from Asia to the borders of Egypt. The weakness of the Turks in the campaign of 1914–15 safeguarded the Canal from serious danger, but there can be no guarantee that the circumstances will always be similarly favourable to British interests. On the next occasion on which Egypt is threatened from the Asiatic side the threat may have far more force and skill behind it. The danger will then be great.
The Anglo-Egyptian government has recognised the unsatisfactory strategic situation in the region of the Canal by drawing its boundary, not at the natural frontier, where Asia and Africa meet, but further east, including some 37,000 square miles of Asiatic territory, more than twice the extent of Turkish Palestine, within the Egyptian dominions. This region—the El-Arish district, the Wilderness of Zin and the Sinai Peninsulais very sparsely inhabited, and is generally considered
desert. It includes not only the region that intervenes between geographical Palestine and Egypt, but also the southernmost portion of the former, stopping short within twenty miles of Gaza. This region has been held by Egypt as a buffer-state ; but as a defence against an enemy of any strength it has proved inefficacious. It is therefore clear that any decision regarding Palestine, in consequence of the present war, will touch British interests to the quick; and it is essential that, in the settlement, Palestine shall come within the British sphere of influence.
Palestine, a country of about 16,000–17,000 square miles, bounded on the west by the Mediterranean, on the east by the Desert, on the north by Syria and the Lebanon, and on the south by Egypt, is a region of deep and abiding interest to every people of Europe. It includes within its limits sites which are sacred to Christian, Jew and Moslem. The thoughts of the votaries of the three great religions of the modern world turn to a land which is holy to all of them. Christian, Jew and Moslem all send pilgrims to Palestine; all have their religious representatives in the country; to all, security of person and property there, and freedom to enter and to leave the land, are matters of first importance. To this extent all the Powers of Europe, great and small, are equal. A stable and just government, whatever its complexion, would satisfy them on this head. Some of the Powers have interests greater than this; but, in estimating them, only three Powers demand detailed consideration-Germany, France and Britain. The interests of others, apart of course from those of Turkey, are insignificant, and would be safeguarded without difficulty under the rule of any strong and efficient government.
To Germany more than to any other Power is due the fact that the future of Palestine has become a matter of practical politics. Other Powers had ambitions in the Near East, and anticipations that, when at length the break-up of Turkey became an accomplished fact, their empires would thereby be enlarged. These ambitions were, however, for the most part latent. Seemingly the other Powers were willing to remain passive, pending
the time when circumstances would give them the opportunity for asserting their claims. Germany was, however, more assertive. Her ever-increasing influence at Constantinople, the power and prestige given her by concessions such as that of the Baghdad Railway, and, in an entirely different sphere, so early as 1881, the grant by the Sultan to the German Government of the ruins of Cæsarea, nominally at any rate for the purposes of archæological research ;* the advertisement given her by the picturesque visit of the Emperor in 1898, on which occasion roads were specially constructed so as to increase the comfort of the imperial party and a breach was made in the medieval walls of Jerusalem so that the Emperor might enter the city in a manner befitting his dignity-all these were elements in a campaign waged for the furtherance of German interests in the Near East. Many of the principal shops, and the majority of the hotel-keepers, are German. Practically every town has at least one German physician-a subtle and efficacious method of spreading influence. Nevertheless, so far as Palestine at any rate is concerned, all these activities together would have given Germany little solid standing if it had not been for the Templist colonies, which are the one real ground for consideration when German claims in the future of the country are under discussion.
These colonies, of which there are now three-near Jaffa, at Haifa, and near Lydda t-date from 1868 and were in their origin essentially of a religious character. The settlers, simple and God-fearing men and women, had neither material nor political object in view. Almost without exception artisans or agriculturists, they or their children as a rule follow the same pursuits. Their well-ordered, beautiful yet simple settlements shine out like jewels from amid the dirty, poverty-stricken and degenerate surroundings in which they were originally placed. Other German settlers, not members of the sect,
* The considered German policy to make the most of every opportunity was shown on this occasion by the journey of Prince Frederick Charles to take possession of the ruins in the name of the German Emperor.
† There are German settlements of townspeople at Jaffa and Jerusalem. A number of Germans, not members of the Templist sect, live in the colony at Haifa. Land acquired near Lake Tiberias for the settlement of a fourth colony was subsequently sold to Jewish settlers.
have followed them and opened shops in the three towns, but the total number of German residents in Palestine does not exceed 1900. The Germans in Palestine, even those born there, are naturally loyal Germans * and would doubtless welcome any growth of German influence in the land; but the settlements cannot by any justification be considered political. Apart from the Jewish colonies, to which attention will be given later, the Templist colonies are the only element of progress in the country since the time of Mehemet Ali.
Since the outbreak of the war, proclamations have been issued to the Jews of neutral countries, promising that the victory of the German arms will mean the grant of Jewish autonomy in Palestine. This measure was probably intended to secure the sympathy and support of Jews in the United States and other neutral countries. It cannot, however, be dissociated from the less altruistic German schemes in the Near East. Granted that Germany will have both the power and the will to fulfil this promise, the creation in such circumstances of a Jewish state or of further autonomous Jewish settlements in Palestine would inevitably involve a German protectorate over them, that is to say, so far as Britain is concerned, Germany on the flank of the Suez Canal, at the junction where the high road from Africa to Asia crosses the shortest land route from Europe to Persia, India and the Far East, Germany in occupation of the route which is the principal alternative to that of the Suez Canal.
Germany doubtless has designs on Palestine and Syria. Her most ambitious dreams include the occupation of Haifa and Akaba, as well as of Alexandretta and of a port on the Persian Gulf. There are, however,
* They can have no other allegiance, for the Turkish constitution does not provide for alien elements of a similar description. The German Government, moreover, is careful to cultivate the loyalty of these colonists by frequent visits from German men-of-war and by other means.
| Information regarding the initiation and progress of the Templist colonies as well as on all other matters relating to European interests in the Near East is to be found in the encyclopædic ‘Les Puissances Etrangères dans le Levant, en Syrie et en Palestine,' by MM. Noel Verney and George Dambmann (Paris : 1900). An interesting account of the Templist colony at Haifa is given in 'The Future of Palestine as a Problem of International Policy,' by B. Walker (London : Nisbet, 1881).
gradations in her ambitions. She must recognise that all the coveted situations on the earth's surface cannot be acquired at one blow, that, even if the widest empire of which she has ever dreamt is to be acquired, it can come into her possession only by degrees. In the campaign of acquisition that has more than once been sketched out, Palestine holds a place, but not the first place, not the first even when the distribution of the Turkish dominions is in hand. Anatolia and Mesopotamia are of more interest and value to Germany than is either Palestine or Syria. Of all the ports in the Levant, she covets Smyrna and Alexandretta—which latter, although in Syria, is on the edge of Asia Minor-most. Given the choice, there is no doubt that she would take one of these two in preference to Beirout or Haifa or Akaba. The latter ports and their hinterland, although valuable and coveted, are a secondary consideration. Karl Kaerger bluntly advocated a German guarantee of Turkish integrity in return for railway, territorial and other concessions in Anatolia.* Similar views were put forward by Wilhelm von Pressel, the originator of the Anatolian Railway idea, Alois von Südenhorst, and others.
The principal interest of France on the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean is her long-standing protection of the Catholics in Turkey, which has been repeatedly recognised by treaty. It was in this capacity that France landed an army-corps at Beirout in 1860 and marched on Damascus. This marked the high-water mark of her power in Syria The Franco-Prussian War was not without its influence in the Near East. As an indirect consequence, Austria and Italy both contested France's claim to protect their nationals. Turkey made efforts to withdraw her Catholic subjects from French protection. The British occupation of Egypt was also a considerable blow to French prestige.
Since 1882 the political influence of France in the Near East has been inconsiderable. In the industrial sphere, however, her subjects have been able to gain several valuable concessions. In the regions with which we are immediately concerned, she has constructed railways from Beirout to Damascus and to Mezerib in the
* Klein-Asien ein deutsches Kolonisationsfeld’ (Berlin, 1892).