From New International, Vol.5 No.6, June 1939, pp.173-176.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
THROUGHOUT MORE THAN twenty years there have been repeated proclamations of a “national home” for the Jews in Palestine. The Arabs were according to these proclamations tenants, as it were, whose rights must be protected. What actually took place? Actually many Jews lost their lives on account of their “favored position”, and many Arabs because of their “inferior position”, while the remainder, Arabs and Jews, live lives of hardship and suffering, without a “home” and without “rights”. There has now come, it seems, a period of proclamations of a “national home” for the Arabs, and the “protection of the rights” of the Jews. Will this period be similar to the preceding one, the difference being only that now the Arabs will lose their lives for the “preference” given to them and the Jews for their “inferior” status? The important question is not whether the “London plan” conflicts with the Balfour Declaration, or does not quite conform to the Macmahon letters, but how far it gives the inhabitants of the country the possibility to conduct their own affairs in accordance with their needs. Not to what extent the plan is able to free the Arab inhabitants from Zionist rule in the future but to what extent it is able to free the inhabitants of the country, Jews and Arabs, from foreign rule in the present – this is the fundamental question.
The government plan at the London Conference, according to various informants, contains the promise for the independence of Palestine after a certain period, in the future, and various temporary arrangements for the “transition period”. Among these arrangements are: the creation of a body or bodies in which the inhabitants of the country will participate, the main tasks of which will be to make suggestions concerning the affairs of the country, and also the appointment of some of the inhabitants as “Government advisors” or “ministers without portfolio”.
But is this the plan required by the populace? The country has had promises enough. What it needs is that its rights be actually given, or more exactly, that the one right that includes all be given, the right to conduct its own affairs, to control and not “advise”. This proposal, that the representatives of the people will play the part of “advisors”, is one of particular interest. For what reason and what purpose must these representatives serve as advisors? The affairs of the country, the needs of those they represent, they certainly know better than the foreign officials and if they are not “fitted” to conduct the affairs of the land, the training that they lack is essentially technical training, sufficient professional knowledge. They are then in need of advisors, professional officials who will assist them in their work. But the plan on the contrary gives them the task of advising. The people fundamentally concerned will become the advisors of expert officials.
Nor is the appointment of a number of the inhabitants as “minister without portfolio” likely to be of any benefit. There are enough people in the country occupying high offices and receiving high salaries without having to do anything, or in order that they should not do anything. There is no need to add to them. What the populace of the country needs is, on the contrary, that they should be led by people whose status and income will be only a small payment for their beneficial labours for the common good.
The Government’s plan, even if the information about it is correct, is not yet a complete one. Many changes are still likely to be made in it, arising from the proposers themselves or from other factors. But this plan, of which we are informed, does not contain what is needed by the people of the country. It is a parody, a mockery of their needs.
The question of independence, or the liberation from foreign domination, is the principal question in Palestine, but it is not the only fundamental question.
In these days of the growth of the Nazi rule with the aid of its “democratic” friends, every national movement in a country subject to a “democratic” power may become infused by a “Nazi” spirit to be converted to a movement which, in its struggle against the foreign oppressor, not only does not awaken and train the masses to understand and defend their concrete interests, awaken and train them in their battle for full liberation from the yoke of both their oppressors and their exploiters, but instead helps to increase their blindness and their submissiveness to their exploiters at home as well as the oppressors – whether the old “democratic” ones or the new Nazi ones – from without.
But this danger cannot be prevented by opposition to the struggle against the “democratic” oppressor, or by abstention from this struggle. This way of a negative or “neutral” attitude to the struggle against the foreign ruler, out of fear lest it increase the growth of the Nazi movement in the subject country, or lest it strengthen – in case of the defeat of the “democratic” ruler – the Nazi influence in the world as a whole, is an utterly wrong way.
It is wrong, firstly, because liberation from the external oppressor is a necessary condition of liberation from the internal exploiter. The oppressors are the main support of the exploiters and are their spiritual prop. The foreign subjection is the main cause of the blindness, the lack of clear understanding of the masses. It is a cause of sickness, a source of rottenness in the body of the subject people. However mild the external symptoms of this sickness may be it necessarily interferes with the material and spiritual life of those affected. Complete health is impossible until the cause is removed. Liberation from the exploiters is then impossible without liberation from the oppressors, and whoever renounces the struggle against the foreign ruler out of fear that it may distort the struggle against the exploiter at home, is like one that prevents an infant from learning to stand on his feet out of fear that his legs may become bent and he may become unable to walk properly.
Secondly, opposition to the struggle against the “democratic” oppressor – from fear of increasing Nazi influence – and as a result an attitude of tolerance and compliance towards the oppressor not only will not weaken Nazi influence on the subject masses, who will not understand – and with justice – this tolerance and compliance towards those who are neither tolerant nor compliant towards them, but will on the contrary increase this danger.
The only way to prevent the masses of a subject country from going the Nazi way, is to conduct this struggle against the foreign ruler in the correct way, the non-Nazi way, and to do all that is possible to remove the factors that can mislead the masses from this correct way. The danger of Nazi influence on the “movement of national liberation” is particularly great in a subject country which contains a large national minority. In Palestine there not only exists a national minority, large in number and great in importance, but this minority is Jewish – particularly “convenient” subject for Nazi propaganda – and it has also special aims and special promises given to it concerning the country, and also at its head stands a movement whose objects and activities are thoroughly impregnated with the “national” and “national-socialistic” spirit. In Palestine there are therefore particularly “convenient” conditions for Nazi influence on the national Arab movement. And indeed this movement has been infused in recent years by a Nazi spirit, in large measure, as its words and deeds during these years give witness. This movement does not “incline” to the Rome-Berlin axis only because it is assisted by the axis. The reverse is truer, that it is assisted by the axis because it is near to it in spirit.
On account of “the Jewish question “ or “the Jewish-Arab question” the struggle of the masses of the country – the struggle with the external foe as well as with the internal foe – becomes distorted to a very great degree. Because of it they are moving rapidly not towards liberation, but towards the severest oppression. The masses of this country have a great and urgent need of a correct solution of this problem.
The “Jewish question” or the “Arab-Jewish question” is a great obstacle in the way of the liberation of the masses of Palestine, including the Jewish masses. But for the Jewish masses, and for the Jewish community as a whole it is the source also of other danger, even the danger to their very existence.
The leaders of the Arab national movement regard the Jewish community as the worst enemy, the greatest obstacle in the way of converting Palestine into an independent Arab state or part of an enlarged Arab state. They regard it as a conqueror that attempts and succeeds in widening its influence and power in the country unceasingly, and strives to conquer it entirely. Many of the supporters of this movement also hate the Jewish community on account of the “harmful social ideas” that are widely spread in its midst. In the eyes of these people the Jewish workers’ organizations are revolutionary organizations, undermining the foundations of society and morals, and the Jews for the most part are not only Zionists but at the same time socialists and even communists. Many of them are also religious fanatics and the Jews are hated by them as infidels. The hatred of the Jewish community, then, on the part of the leaders of the Arab national movement is nourished from many sources, national, social and religious at the same time, and is extremely strong. But if a few years ago there were among the rank and file of the national movement and to some extent among the leaders liberal ideas and even inclinations towards the workers’ movement, with the increase of Nazi influence following the events of the last years, the apostles of “Arabism and Islamism”, the enemies of the Jewish community, came to acquire almost absolute sway over the Arab national movement, people who will at the first opportunity reveal their real attitude to the Jews in a very open and concrete manner. They have been revealing it these three years, but these acts, of the period of the disturbances, are doubtlessly only a faint hint of what the leaders of the Arab national movement are desirous and capable of doing. These people learned and are learning much from the Nazi movement and this fusion of Hitlerist corruption with primitive viciousness are likely to yield fruits beside which the abominations of the hooligans of the Swastika will pale. Moreover, if the directors of the present disturbances will obtain the rule over the country, without doubt the guides and advisors, and the persecutions of the Jewish guides and advisors, and the persecutions of the Jewish community will be carried out not only with the greatest barbarity and cruelty, but systematically and continuously. The talk about guarantees on the part of the leaders of the Arab national movement, as rulers, of the rights of the Jewish minority in Palestine, are but empty words, not regarded as being at all serious even by those who talk of them, who do not expect anyone to take them seriously. If these people will receive the power in their hands, while the relations between the Jewish and Arab communities stay as they are, all talk about the position of the Jewish minority in Palestine in the future is rather superfluous. No Jewish minority will remain here. It is doubtful if isolated Jews will remain in any noticeable number. The fate threatening the Jewish community in this case is complete destruction by means of the worst oppression and persecution.
The leaders of the Zionist movement, of course, see the dangerous position of the Jewish community of this country. It is impossible that they should not see it. It is to a large extent the fruit of their considered actions. But in their opinion the danger is not particularly threatening. There is a strong ally interested for his own sake in the Zionist movement, and he will protect it. It is true that he does not prevent small injuries, or even large ones, to this movement. But these “variations” are only passing, temporary tactics, or the acts of short-sighted officials. He will not permit a serious blow and he has it in his power not to permit it. He is a firm protector. Actually the “Arab question” is nothing but the “English question”, that is, if the ally will do what is wanted or abstain from doing what is not wanted, Zionist aims will be successfully and speedily realized without any opposition – at any rate without any open or concrete opposition. It is true that the fact that the light and heavy blows continue, and that the “Arab question”, in spite of being really the “English question”, remains as it was or becomes aggravated, seems to show that the protector is not so reliable. But this is only a superficial conclusion. In fact the ally is interested in the Zionist movement from many and vital standpoints. This movement is almost the main jewel in his crown. In fact he perhaps is more in need of it than it is in need of him.
The bond between the Zionist movement and the British Empire is both strong and deep. There is nothing better or more natural than that Palestine should be a part of the Empire, a British dominion or even a British colony. What is the difference what the connection be called when it is of such a spiritual nature? It is true that the ally himself sometimes shows lack of understanding as to the “naturalness” of this bond. But this is only short-sightedness on his part, insufficient penetration into the character of the movement.
It is necessary to explain these things, and “explanation” is given in abundance. All parts of the Zionist movement from the Revisionists to the “socialists” explain the possibilities that the Zionist enterprise offers to its ally. They all compete in offering the service of the Jewish community in Palestine and of the Jewish people as a whole to the great Empire. All the currents in the movement, with the “socialists” at their head, show how well and how deeply they understand the exalted civilizing functions of this Empire, how they value its splendid colonizing work in its various possessions, in which peace and happiness rule; how important the task and how good the fortune to be a link in this happy union of nations, called the “British Empire”. This union is a faithful protector to all that lie in its shelter, and particularly to the Zionist movement; faithful not only in times of peace but also in times of war.
“Even in time of war?” Yes, particularly in time of war there is less room for fears, in such times communal disturbances are not likely to take place; in war, especially, the ally will be most interested in order and quiet in this country, on the shores of the Mediterranean, near the Suez Canal, through which its oil lines pass. Especially at such times he will most value the Zionist enterprise. In this ally’s interests – are our interests, in his good – our good, now and in the future, forever.
Thus speaks the one side. The other side, the “protector’s” own people, have discussed and discuss publicly if it would not be advisable that in time of emergency Britain should turn away altogether from the Mediterranean that has become dangerous, give up for the period of the war its obligations and connections with the countries bordering on this sea, concentrate all her forces on more important and secure positions, and if the victory will be on her side all that belongs to her and is necessary to her will return to her as an obvious result, and the connections with her friends – with those of them, of course, who had not ceased to exist in the interval – will be renewed.
But these are “internal discussions” and the Zionist leaders act as if they do not hear (did they receive a hint on this matter during the London talks?). At any rate this is a question of wartime, of which nobody knows when it will arrive and what will occur in it. In normal times, in the opinion of the Zionist leaders, the faithfulness of the ally was beyond all doubt. Is their certainty shaken now? The London conference does not prove that the final decision has been made. As long as the “limitation” of immigration is spoken of the matter has not, apparently, been decided. If it had been – why any immigration whatever? Can it be to add some thousands more to those in the trap ? But if there is yet no decision there is a clear warning here. Not only in time of war, but even in time of peace the ally is ready to abandon his “work”. It is true that this enterprise has its use, otherwise he would not have concerned himself with it, supported it and raised it. Its destruction will be a loss. But who can ever gain without losses? On the great checker-board there are many pieces. Is it possible to keep them all and win?
The “final decision” perhaps has not yet come, but there is a clear warning: the ally is not an everlasting protector. He will help until he ceases his aid. He will protect until he stops. He is loyal until he breaks his faith. It is doubtful if anything can be clearer. Have the Zionist leaders grasped this? There is no sign that they have. At any rate they do not reveal it. In their opinions it is another misunderstanding, this time – not on the part of minor officials, but of high ones. Others will come in their place, British democracy will come and will understand and will aid. But which “democracy” will come to aid? The “democracy” that “defends” Czechoslovakia and Spain in speeches, which is more Catholic – when it holds power – than the Pope, is this a reliable protector? This confused and hypocritical “democracy”, will it not betray when it is necessary for the Empire, “the pillar of civilization”?
But America will not permit, her “subjects” have invested money here (did not her subjects invest money in China?), Poland will not permit (it is particularly interested, apparently, in the revival of the Jewish people in its ancient country!).
British imperialism, world democracy, anti-semitic Poland, the Conscience of Mankind – all of these are fitted and all are ready to come to the rescue of the Zionist movement.
There has come no change, the same words as before – vain deceptions.
The path of the Zionist leaders of these days is but the direct continuation of the path of the movement they lead. The fifty thousand Jews that were in Palestine at the end of the World War could not by their own powers convert this country into a Jewish State. Neither can the 450,000 Jews that are in the country today accomplish this aim by their own strength. To realize this the aid of an external power is essential, and the perpetual dependence on this foreign power is necessarily a source of corruption in normal times and of deception in critical times. The Zionist movement – both the New and the Old Zionist organizations – have not and cannot have any real way to avert from the Jewish community in Palestine the dangers that it itself created and is continuing to create.
Also, the advice that the Jewish community should announce its willingness to abandon the Zionist aims and to live as an ordinary minority under Arab rule is, in the prevailing conditions, futile. Even if such a declaration were possible, it would be useless. The party to which it would be directed would not believe it, nor attribute any value to it. If the power will be in its hands – whatever the Jewish community may announce – it will act towards this community in only one way, that of oppression and reducing the “minority” by all possible means.
The Jewish community in Palestine, should the actual rule be in the hands of its enemies, will have no choice, but to defend its life and liberty by all the means it can. But this defense must be defense and not attack in the form of defense. The Jewish community has the right and the duty to defend its right to conduct it’s life according to its will. But the Arab community has the same right to no lesser extent. Any opposition on the part of the Jews to the struggle of the Arab community for complete independence, for full self-government within its own borders, will be utterly vicious and will increase the hatred for them among the Arabs and enlarge the danger threatening them. Its “use” is doubtful and its damage certain.
Under the conditions of Jewish settlement in Palestine, the demand for self-government on the Jewish community is not impossible to realize. There is no doubt that the best way to realize the independence of Jews and Arabs is the partition of the country, in one way or another, into two free parts, not depending on one another. Such a definite division would greatly decrease the harmful influence of the urges to conquer of the one side or the desire to destroy of the other. The patriots would not be satisfied, of course, with either of the parts, but the masses would turn their attention to their vital needs and, at any rate, the “national aspirations” would not succeed in penetrating the spirit of the masses and distorting their struggle to the extent that they do today. Therefore the least interdependence is especially important, in order that the difficulty of realizing the “national aspirations” should be the greatest, and the encouragement to their growth the least. But without the partition of the country it is possible to secure the self-government of the Jewish and Arab communities in the country, each within the spheres of its habitation, and this possibility must be realized in fact.
Only this way of the defense by the Jewish community of its rights, with the full recognition of the rights of the Arab community, “will increase its defensive powers, and is also likely to lessen the opposition to it among the Arabs and to weaken the power of its enemies. This is the only real way that will bring blessing to the Jewish masses at all times and the hope of salvation to the Jewish community as a whole in times of danger.
Self-government of the Jews and the Arabs, each group within the limits of its own settlement, this is the correct and only solution of the “majority” and “minority” question in Palestine. Therefore it is also the correct way toward the full solution of the problem of the country, that is the establishment of a system that will know neither “majority” nor “minority”, but a single community of brothers living by its labors.
HAOR (EL NOUR)
Last updated on 27.12.2005