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was put before your Lordships by the noble Viscount opposite. In 1914 they were 80,000; they are now more than 450,000. They have been encouraged to enter the country; they have been encouraged to invest great sums of money in industrial and other enterprises. They have erected very noble buildings, and, apart from the industrial and agricultural improvements which they have wrought, they have set a seal upon the genuineness of their belief in a Jewish culture of their own by their noble University in Jerusalem.
As far as concerns the results of their presence in the part of Palestine in which they chiefly dwell, those of us who have seen those Jewish settlements must feel that they are a fulfilment of the old prophesy that "the desert shall blossom as the rose." All the while that they have carried out a plan about which the noble Viscount rightly quoted what was said, that it ought to excite the admiration of the world, they have been buoyed up by the thought that in some special way this territory which they have so wonderfully improved would justify the title of a National Home. Hitherto the immigration of the Jews has been governed by the limits of what has been called "economic absorptive capacity. I am told that if immigration for the next five years is confined to the limits of the White Paper, it will only reach about one-half of the possible economic absorptive capacity of the country, and then it is to cease altogether when the numbers reach one-third of the total population, unless the Arabs are prepared to acquiesce in an extension. If the Arabs were willing to allow an extension over that one-third of the population, another of the wonders of the world would have occurred! The position is, therefore, that the Jews are reduced to the status of a permanent minority in a preponderatingly Arab State. After all their hopes, they shall return in their National Home to that minority status which has been their lot through long centuries in every part of the world!
I venture to think that it was precisely from this permanent minority status that they had hoped to escape. They had hoped that in one place on this earth this people of something like sixteen and a half millions might have a sphere of their own, where they could show what was in them, where they could be masters of their own destiny and affairs, and where there could be a centre of Jewish life, culture, and influence throughout the world. If they have, for obvious reasons, thrown very special emphasis upon numbers, I believe that in their hearts what Zionists have desired more than anything is that they should get their freedom from this minority status, °Now, I have to repeat, they are given the prospect that the minority status will be permanent, and whatever a National Home may have meant-we all know how many interpretations are put upon it—it surely cannot have meant that. It surely must have meant that somewhere in Palestine there would be a place where the Jews would be able to fulfil their aspirations, in some territory in which they had some autonomous control.
I have always had the greatest possible sympathy with the Arabs. I am bound to say that those who have been in Palestine cannot but have that sympathy. It is very widely felt in this country. I recognise the force of their claims upon it, and of their fears, but I feel bound to quote to your Lordships some words spoken in this House in 1923 by Lord Milner, at the very time when he professed
himself in favour of a pro-Arab policy. I quote them as showing that it is not possible to regard the Arabs as those to whom a predominating influence in the future of Palestine should be entrusted. Lord Milner said:
“Palestine can never be regarded as a country on the same footing as the other Arab countries. You cannot ignore the fact that this is the cradle of two of the great religions of the world. It is a sacred land to the Arabs, but it is also a sacred land to the Jew and the Christian, and the future of Palestine cannot possibly be left to be determined by the temporary impressions and feelings of the Arab majority in the country of the present
day.” Then, I submit, it is still less reasonable that it should be determined by a permanent Arab majority in a single future Palestinian State.
I am well aware of other reasons, of another kind, which lie apparently behind these proposals, and which have led the Government to be particularly careful lest they should offend Arab susceptibilities. I recognise the force of those reasons. I think they may be exaggerated, but at least I cannot think they are sufficient to justify what seems like very scant justice to the Jews. I could not myself use the language which comes very bitterly from the lips of that most remarkable man Dr. Weizmann that this White Paper is a breach of faith. I am quite certain His Majesty's Government themselves have no kind of consciousness that this is the fact, and I am sure it certainly was not in their minds, but can we be surprised that Dr. Weizmann and his comrades regard it almost as taking back all that had been promised? Certainly they feel it so strongly that it is useless to dismiss from our minds that resistance to these proposals on the part of the Jewish community in Palestine will be obstinate and bitter.
I suggest that this of all times is not one in which we in this country can afford even the appearance of treating lightly promises on which we have led others to trust. It is for that reason that even at the last minute I make this appeal, though I know how natural it is for your Lordships to say: "Well, in this long affair the Government has made up their mind, let us stand by it and regard it at last as bringing finality.” Admittedly it does not mean finality, and possibly along the lines which I have only roughly suggested a better solution may be found. I close by saying that I share with you all a longing, which no words can express, that at long last we might see this Palestine, with all its hallowed memories, a place of good will, and not of ceaseless strife.
RT. HON. THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, like the most reverend Primate, I wish it were possible for me to give support to the Motion which has been moved by the noble Marquess. I wish it, because I know how much time and careful thought the Secretary of State for the Colonies has given to it, and how sincerely he has tried to do justice to all parties. But, like the most reverend Primate, I feel I cannot support the Motion for reasons which I will endeavour to express to your Lordships.
The reasons are these. In my opinion this policy will not bring peace to Palestine. It is inconsistent with pledges and promises, solemnly made and often repeated to the Jews, and it will not secure either the respect or the friendship of those Arabs who are at present hostile to the existing regime. And, lastly, I feel it will lower the prestige of this country, and seriously impair our relations with the United States of America. It is obvious that no one who thinks that the policy recommended to us this afternoon will have those consequences could possibly defend it. Let me therefore take these points in order, and give to your Lordships the reasons for the opinion I hold.
First, it will not bring peace to Palestine. I say that because, although I am convinced that it is untrue to say that Jews and Arabs cannot live in peace in Palestine, I am equally convinced that there is one condition essential to that harmony being achieved, and that condition is that neither should fear the domination of the other. That is not merely expression of opinion. What I say is based upon personal experience. I have had close contact with Palestine for the last eight years.
In the company of which I am Chairman we employ 800 Jews and Arabs in almost exactly equal numbers, and there has never been the slightest friction between them. They have worked for a common purpose in perfect harmony and sympathy with each other. And why? Because in the first instance politics was eliminated from the business on which they were engaged, and secondly, because we were able to afford them complete physical protection. And I would ask your Lordships to remember, when we speak about Arab hostility, and this opinion and that opinion of Arabs, that it is not true to say that all the Arabs of Palestine feel in this way. In fact, there have been, I think, even more Arab victims of the recent terrorist crimes than Jewish victims.
Our workmen, just because they were not concerned with politics and refused to go out on strike during the Arab strike, were threatened with their lives, and they came to us and said: “What are we to do, can you protect us?” We said: "Certainly we can protect you.'
And the whole of the property of our company is surrounded by an electrified wire entanglement, which affords complete security for those who live and work inside, and because that security is afforded to them we did not lose a single man. The relations between our Arab and Jewish workmen were as harmonious during those troubled times as they have always been. I am convinced that if it were possible to afford an equal security to the Arab population in the whole of Palestine against the mere handful of terrorists who are responsible for these outrages and disorders you would find an equal harmony was possible. I am convinced that the attitude of our Arab workers is also the attitude of the majority of the Arab population of Palestine, and that the opinions of a small number of terrorists no more represent the opinions 'of the Arabs of Palestine than any represent the opinions of Indians in India.
Though I refer to the operations of these people as terrorism, I do not deny for a moment that, however large or small their numbers may be, the Arabs who are opposed to the political regime in Palestine are very sincere in their attitude. Their opposition is based upon a fear—the fear that if Jewish immigration into that country continues unchecked, it is merely a question of time before they must find themselves in a minority, and the fear that all their political interests will be dominated by a majority of Jews. The White Paper does not remove that fear; it merely transfers it from one to the other. The fact that under this scheme the Jews will be placed in exactly the same position, with the certainty that they must for all time be à minority in Palestine, as everywhere else in the world, is a feature which will defeat the object of the White Paper. This policy means the creation of an Arab State to which the Jews will no longer have any access as of right. That is a policy which, as other speakers have said, I am certain the Jews will never accept. I am confident that all their resources, and they are great-will be used to resist it, and for that reason I say this policy will not bring peace to Palestine.
Secondly, I say it is inconsistent with the promises made in the past to the Jews. Let me remind your Lordships what these promises are. There was, first, the Balfour Declaration which promised, not just to the Jews in Palestine, but to Jews scattered throughout the world, that they might come to Palestine and make a National Home in that country. Secondly, there are the terms of the Mandate under which we administer the country, and which embodied that promise and placed upon the Mandatory Government an obligation to facilitate it in every possible way. Thirdly, there is the White Paper of 1922, which assured the Jews that they were in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance, and went on to explain that their numbers would be regulated only by the absorptive capacity of the country. The noble Marquess says that this formula, "the absorptive capacity of the country," has no sacred character for His Majesty's Government. I would ask him has also this assurance of the British Secretary of State, that the Jews are in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance, no sacred character for His Majesty's Government, because that statement was contained in the same document? Lastly, we have the letter of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, who was then Prime Minister, to Dr. Weizmann in 1931, which added this further assurance that considerations relative to absorptive capacity were purely economic. The
Jewish National Home in Palestine rests on these four promises made on the authority of British statesmen and accepted with faith in their honourable intentions. They will all be broken if this policy is adopted.
I know it is argued-the noble Marquess argued it to-day--that all the promises to which I have referred have, in fact, been fulfilled. They base that on the ground that there are already some 400,000 Jews in Palestine to whom they say in effect:
"We promised you a National Home, and you have got it. We never promised you Palestine, and all we are doing now is to provide for a Constitution for that country in which your National
Home is situated." This argument entirely ignores the nature of the promise given, There has been, as usual, much discussion in the debate this afternoon about the meaning of the words "a National Home in Palestine." Whatever that somewhat novel phrase may mean or may not mean, it quite clearly meant this, that the Jews were promised in Palestine something which was not to be found anywhere else in the world; otherwise what was the meaning of the promise if merely some half million Jews may live in that country? That offers to them no conditions of life different from those which they enjoy to-day. As the noble Lord who spoke from the Front Opposition Bench reminded us, there are more Jews in Poland, in Germany, and in this country than there are in Palestine; but will any of your Lordships contend that because of their numbers they have a National Home in Poland, in Germany, or even in Great Britain? If not, what is the difference between the Jews in Palestine and the Jews in any other part of the world?
What security are you going to offer them that when the Mandatory Administration is withdrawn, and you have set up this independent State, even those who have come into the country will be allowed to remain there? I remember when I was being shown over the Mosque at Hebron by an Arab official, I was shown an opening in the wall which those of you who have visited the Mosque will well remember, and he said to me in these words: “Until the time of the expulsion of the Jews, the Jews were allowed to come to this hole and put their petitions through it and drop them down into the cave of Macpelah, the tomb of their ancestor Abraham, but since the expulsion they have not been allowed to do so." I asked, "What historical date are you referring to?” He said, “The expulsion of the Jews in 1920!" If the Arabs think that after the Mandatory Administration is withdrawn it is undesirable that the Jews should remain, there will be another expulsion of the Jews, not from Hebron merely, but from the whole of Palestine. Although the Secretary of State for the Colonies gave assurances in his speech in another place yesterday that the continuance of the National Home would be safeguarded, I can find nothing in this White Paper to indicate the way in which it will be secured. It is impossible to maintain that the policy indicated in this Paper is consistent with the various pledges to which I have referred or with the terms of the Mandate under which we administer the country.
I come to my third point. This policy will not secure the respect or friendship of those Àrabs who are at present discontented. I am