VERBATIM RECORD OF THE TWENTY-FIRST MEETING (PUBLIC)
Held at the Y.M.C.A. Building
Tuesday, 8 July 1947, at 9:00 a.m.
CHAIRMAN I call the meeting to order of the agenda for today's meeting contains three points: adoption of the agenda, public hearing of Dr. Weizmann, public hearing of representatives of the Jewish Agency. I think we can adopt this agenda. Adopted.
Will you, Dr. Weizmann, come up on the platform, please?
(Dr. Weizmann took a seat at the table).
Dr. WEIZMANN: Mr. Chairman and gentlemen: I am grateful for the opportunity to speak before you on the ideals and principles which underly the movement and the work in this country which you have come to examine. I may be forgiven if I am somewhat slow. My sight is impaired and I have to refer to the document, and it is of necessity, a somewhat slow and disagreeable process.
I was, privileged to be amongst the group of people which negotiated with the statesmen, during the First World War, more or less from the period of 1915 until 1918, and subsequent years, on the issuance of the Balfour Declaration. I was particularly associated with Mr. Balfour who was, together with the Prime Minister, Mr. Lloyd George, instrumental in giving effect to this Declaration, and so I am perhaps somewhat competent to speak of the meaning of the Balfour Declaration which is, I understand, a matter of considerable heart-searching and controversy. I also would like to say that I stood at the centre of the activities which followed after the publication of the Declaration, and subsequently after the drafting of the Mandate, until quite recently. And even now, although I hold no office, and I speak on my own behalf in my private capacity, I believe I know more or less what the Jewish people think of the position, and I believe I understand the mind of the British Government — at least I have been trying to do so for all of my life. Therefore, without trying to be in any way boastful, I would like to submit to you, Sir, and to you, Gentlemen, that I speak as a result of a lengthy period of experience of trial and error, of mistakes, having suffered and paid for these mistakes.
I should like to begin my statement — and I do so from the bottom of my heart — by expressing in the presence of you gentlemen and of the public sitting here my sincerest gratitude to the Mandatory Power, to Great Britain, for having inaugurated this policy and for having, throughout many years, tried to go along with us in the implementation of this policy. There is no question, whatever may be the position today, that if we see today a great and interesting and thriving community in Palestine, it would not have been possible without first of all the conquest of Palestine by the British Army and the rule of Great Britain in this country. And that is a sincere tribute of gratitude, whatever else may have happened since. I consider that what is going on now — the deterioration of the relations between us and Great Britain, which, together with a great many Jews, I deplore, is merely a temporary thing which, in the light of the historic perspective in the past, is an unpleasant intermezzo.
Although the initiative of the Balfour Declaration came primarily from Great Britain, it is common knowledge that Great Britain had at the time the support of the Allied and associated Powers of France, of Italy, and, above all, of the United States of. America; and subsequently the Mandate and the Balfour Declaration and the whole of the Palestinian Regime were, so to speak, a child of the League of Nations, and Great Britain was a trustee on behalf of the League. It had to account for its actions annually to the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League. The Permanent Mandates Commission was to draw up an annual report, and this report was to be submitted to the League Assembly, which took the opportunity of expressing its approval or disapproval, wholly or partially, of the stewardship of the British Administration in Palestine. It went on like that for almost a quarter of a century, until the year 1939, until the publication of the White Paper which interrupted this work and which broke our existing relationship with the British Government, with the Administration of Palestine, very much to the regret of all the well-wishers of Palestine. The last act of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations in 1939 was to declare the White Paper compatible with the spirit of the Mandate as it was interpreted all this time, and that was by a majority, I think the unanimous opinion of the members of the Permanent Mandates Commission majority of the Permanent Mandates Commission said that the White Paper was not compatible with the Mandate, and here the matter was left because war broke out and all systematic work and the League itself disappeared in the vortex of blood and sorrow.
The Mandate, in my humble opinion, had two main purposes, and perhaps I will be permitted before I enter upon the subject to say a word about the motives which have moved Great Britain, and perhaps some other friends of both Great Britain and of the Jewish people, at that time to issue the Balfour Declaration. I know that a great deal of if I may be permitted, for lack of a better parliamentary expression, to use the word — nonsense is being spoken about it, and perhaps this is the time and the place to put it right, at any rate on behalf of one who, I think, was closely connected for many years with this period of Jewish and international history. Like every human deed, the Balfour Declaration had two main motives. There was no question but that it had an ideal motive. The statesmen of that time, Mr. Balfour and Mr. Lloyd George, amongst them, primarily wanted to manifest a certain amount of restitution to the Jewish people for the contribution which the Jews have made in these thousands of years to the civilisation of mankind, which, you know, is common knowledge. Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Balfour were deeply religious men and knew the Bible, knew the value of the Bible and the effect the Bible had on the character and on the life of the British nation, and they could not help and were only too glad to connect this influence with the others of the Bible or with the nation in the midst of whom the Bible was born.I remember very well in the first talk which I had with Mr. Lloyd George — that was long before there was any talk of a Declaration or similar action — that he said, in a way half-jokingly and half-seriously — “You talk to me about Palestine. That is the only geography which I know, and I am acquainted with the geography of Palestine almost better than with the geography of the present Front. He was proud to be with this work, and there was no doubt an underlying ideal motive which moved the statesmen of that time — primarily the two foremost statesmen — to issue this Declaration.
There was, as I said, another set of motives and they were utilitarian; not utilitarian in a gross or purely materialistic sense, as I am going to explain in a moment. We were — I mean the British people and those who were associated with the British, and I was associated with the British nation and proud to be so all engaged in a war of life and death, which meant the existence or non-existence of the Commonwealth of Great Britain. A great deal depended upon America. In America there was a powerful Jewish community which was at that time, for some reason or other — I do not agree with this reason, but it was more or less current opinion in Great Britain at that time — either very neutral or inclined to be pro-German, some of them, the powerful German Jews, or the Jews of German ancestry. It was thought that by this act of restitution — at any rate a form of declaration — this might swing the opinion of a powerful group of American Jewry.
There was also another group — the Zionist group — which was never pro-German. It was always anxious to see British victory. But we wanted to have a united Jewish community of America standing behind the great war effort and behind President Wilson, who was carefully preparing his nation for entry into the war, for taking upon themselves a great ordeal, and it was thought that the Balfour Declaration might help to swing the opinion of this community. I believe it had some effect, and I believe that in that respect it has fulfilled the purpose which was intended of that time. There was also another community at that time which played a great part in the war — another Jewish community — and that was the Russian Jewish Community. It was, you remember, before Russia was divided and before Poland was re-established, and the Russian-Jewish Community was the largest in the world. It was six million strong. and also the opinion of the Russian-Jewish Community was of considerable value in that constellation of circumstances. There were two purposes: one was purely idealistic, and the other partly utilitarian, in the sense in which I have tried to describe. I hope I may be forgiven for having dwelt on it at such length, but I thought now is the time, and I am advanced in years and I may not have the opportunity of clearing it up again, so I am taking the opportunity now of resubmitting it to you, gentlemen.
The nations of the world realized, particularly the British, Americans, French and Italians, that a great deal of the trouble, worry and persecution which has beset the Jews throughout their history is due to the abnormal position of the Jews in the world. What is the abnormal position of the Jews in the world? What is it characterized by? It is characterized by one thing: I think this word from what I can see from reports, has been used here quite often. I used this word for the first time in speaking before the Royal Commission. It is the “timelessness” of the Jewish people. To that I must add a comment. I do not mean the “homelessness” of individual Jews. There are groups of Jews in the world who have very comfortable homes — the American Jews, the Jews in a great many of the Western and Northwestern countries, the Jews in Sweden, Denmark, France, and also there was in Germany — but as a collectivity, as an ethnic group, they are homeless. They are and they are not. They are a people and they lack the props of a people. They are a disembodied ghost. There they are with a great many typical characteristics, many strong characteristics which have not disappeared throughout centuries, thousands of years of martyrdom and wandering, and at the some time they lack the props which characterize every nation. We ask today: “What are Poles? What are French? What are Swiss?” When that is asked everyone points to a country, to certain institutions, to parliamentary institutions, and the man in the street will know exactly what it is. He has a passport. If you ask what a Jew is, well, he is a man who has to offer a long explanation for his existence. And, any person who has to offer an explanation as to what he is is always suspect, and from suspicion there is only one step to hatred or contempt. I am trying to put it as lightly as I can. I do not want to describe it as the tragedy which it really is. This has rendered the position of the Jews in the world abnormal and, as a very logical consequence of this abnormal position, their relation to the outside world is abnormal.
Palestine is in the process of upbuilding, having a thriving community here, yet even today there are Jews, I do not know how many, but quite a few who would deny (a) that there are Jews (b) that they are Jews; (c) that there is Palestine; (a) that it is necessary to have Palestine. All that confuses the Gentile mind; which does not understand. And, if you do not understand somebody, you begin to suspect him. And, if you begin to suspect him, there is only one step left from suspicion to hatred. It was thought that this position must be remedied by normalizing the position of the Jews and by rendering them as normal as anybody else, and giving them those props and those material attributes which they lack. Hence the attempt and ardent desire of a great part of Jewry to build up a normal life of their own. And where could we do it except in this country?
I think I have, it is my duty, although I never thought it should be necessary, to try to explain “Why Palestine?” Why not Kamchatka, Alaska, Mexico, or Texas? There are a great many empty countries. Why should the Jews choose a country which has a population that does not want to receive you in a particularly friendly way; a small country; a country which has been neglected and derelict for centuries. It seems unusual on the part of a practical and shrewd people like the Jews to sink their effort, their sweat and blood, their substance into the sands, rocks and marshes of Palestine. Well, I could, if I wished to be facetious, say it is not our responsibility — not the responsibility of the Jews who sit here — it is the responsibility of Moses, who acted from divine inspiration. He might have brought us to the United States, and instead of the Jordan we might have had the Mississippi. It would have been an easier task. But, he has chosen to stop here. We are an ancient people with an old history, and you cannot deny your history and begin afresh. And the proof of what I am saying, which may again, perhaps, be too abstract, is the following: Almost parallel, simultaneously with the colonization of Palestine began another project of colonization in another part of the world far removed from here, nearer to a great many countries from which some of the distinguished representatives who sit here come from, that is the colonization in the Argentine. The colonization of Jews in the Argentine began, as I say, almost simultaneously with the attempt to colonize Palestine. Now, compare these two countries: Argentina is a vast country with virgin soil which had a benevolent government. There was no opposition. On the contrary, the government was anxious that the Jews should come in — at any rate then, I do not know what it is now. Usually this anxiety does not last too long — but there it was, and the Jews went to the Argentine. They went there under the guidance of a powerful committee, which was endowed with a great many funds, something to the amount of 10 million pounds, gold pounds. At that time it meant more than probably 50 or 75 millions now. They began their work under the best possible auspices. Today, the colonization of Argentina represents a few Jewish settlements. They are quite good, and they are decent people who work hard on the soil, but it is just a few Jewish villages. The younger generation of many of the Jewish settlements is drifting gradually to Buenos Aires where they become lawyers and doctors, the usual process which we know is the economic and social development of a Jewish community surrounded by a majority of non-Jews.
We began in this country at the same time. You have seen it. You have seen it now. Now, in a great many parts it looks attractive. It is covered with trees and grass. But I remember when I first came in 1908 and then in 1918 when I travelled with General Allenby, a great Commander-in-chief who conquered Palestine — I travelled with him from Rammalla, from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, and we travelled through a derelict, barren country. There was not much green, and he turned to me and said: “I thought you were a reasonable fellow. Do you really think anybody will come and settle in this country?” All I could say to Allenby, for whom I had a profound respect, was “well, General, let us wait another 20 years and perhaps we will be granted the opportunity of meeting again and we might rediscuss the subject.” We did meet again, and we did rediscuss the subject, and he did change his mind, and he did announce the change publicly. Now, this progress is due to the fact that it is Palestine. Palestine, for reasons which I need not labor, releases energies, activities in the Jewish people which are not released anywhere else. As soon as a Jew comes into contact with this country he begins to feel as if he has returned. I shall not say that every Jew feels it. I am not going to say that he feels it at once. But these are sentiments which grow, which grew in everyone of us, and the rocks, marshes, and sands of Palestine become a precious possession into which we pour our sweat, blood, effort and ingenuity in order to make it what it is.
I gave some of the reasons for the Balfour Declaration in 1917. They were, as I said, ideal, .and they were what is called “utilitarian.” They also came as a result of a conception hat the position of the Jew would be altered and his suffering allayed if he had a place to go to. And, if these reasons were valid in 1918, they a fortiori are one thousand times more valid today. I, am afraid that the reasons which prompted us to make a prognosis of the Jewish problem in the years 1904, 1905, and 1906, for which we were looked upon as dreamers and star-grazers who were trying to get something impossible — all these prognoses as to what was going to happen to the Jews, unfortunately more than came true. There are six million Jews dead in Europe, and hundreds of thousands of Jews are languishing today either in D.P. camps or in countries where they are not wanted. It is proof that the situation demands speedy remedy. I say emphatically, gentlemen, speedy remedy. I. took upon. myself the liberty, perhaps it appears somewhat formal, last year to warn the Anglo-American Commission that time is of the essence. I am old enough to issue that warning again. Time is of the essence. We have lost so much blood, we cannot afford to lose any more. For us it is a question of survival: it brooks no delay. The position of Jewry, today in the world is sombre. In Palestine it is somewhat different, and here are features of the situation which give us confidence. I would not like to appear to you as a prophet of evil or of sad things. I never believed that we would build Palestine with Jeremiahs.
We have some comforting hope in the attitude of the United States, the attitude of British public opinion (in spite of what I said about the temporary difficulties, and I am sure they will pass) and the attitude, last but not least; of the Soviet Union. We were happy to read President Truman's message to Ibn Saud which, in very clear terms, gave expression to the attitude of the American .Government to the development of the Jewish National Home. I was equally pleased to read and grateful for the statement of Mr. Gromyko in his thoughtful speech which could have been, I do not want to impart anything to him which is not so, but it could have been made by a Zionist. I am sure he is not a Zionist. I do not want to offend him that way, but the speech, nevertheless, was a good Zionist statement.
There is another feature of the situation which no doubt has drawn your attention. So far, the ability, finance, and all that you have seen erected here which constitutes the National Home, has been created with our own hands. That is something to which I would like to call the specific attention of this Committee. One of the greatest reproaches which is usually levelled at the Jew is “Oh, yes, he may be a very good fellow and all that and no doubt when you come into a country you are law-abiding, you pay your taxes, you do not steal, and so on. But you see there is something about you which we do not altogether relish. You always come when things are ready. You come into the second floor of the building. The foundation, the dirty work which you need in digging and laying the foundation, putting up the bricks and stones, and all that has been done by others. When it is all ready, and the rooms are nicely painted, and the pyjamas are on the bed, you step in and you hire an elegant suite, and here you are. We do not like it.”
This is the reason why Jews are usually branded as parasites: parasites not in the ordinary sense of the word, but in this particular sense.
Well, here in Palestine there were marshes and we have drained them; there were stones and we have planted over them; there were no houses and we have built them; it was ridden with disease and we have cleared it. All that has been done here, from the modest cottage of the settler to the University on Mt. Scopus, is the work of Jewish planning, Jewish genius and of Jewish hands and muscles, not only of money and initiative. This gives us a. certain amount of pride and confidence. Given a dog's chance, we could do as well as anybody else. I do not think we are better than anybody else; I do not think we are worse than anybody else. I think we are just as good and just as bad as the others. But the chances are different. And here was a chance, a remedial chance, a chance of political circumstance. I believe, and I want to underscore this, we have made, under the circumstances, the best of that chance.
There is something else to be said, and I am saying it in all humility. Other peoples have colonized great countries, rich countries. They found when they entered there backward populations. And they did for the backward populations what they did. I am not a historian, and I am not sitting in judgment on the colonizing activity of the various great nations which have colonized backward regions. But I would like to say that, as compared with the result of the colonizing activities of other peoples, our impact on the Arabs has not produced very much worse results than what has been produced by others in other countries. In fact, it is admitted, even by the administration of Palestine, which cannot be suspected of over-bias in favour of our work today — you see I am trying to be as careful as I can, I could have used a more severe expression, but that is not the point today — that the Arabs have benefited by the work of the Jews. It admits it in the Blue Paper which I have tried very hard to read before appearing before you. This Paper says, yes, you have done quite well, but you have created something which is very, very wrong; you have created a disparity between you and the local population. Work in a country, colonizing activity, building up of a country, creating of social conditions is not like a convoy of ships which usually moves with the speed of the slowest. Every nation moves on its way of progress with the speed which is a result of its qualities, of its abilities, of its conditions. You cannot artificially suppress these particular qualities in order, so to speak, not to create a disparity. A disparity is always there when there are two strata of population. I admit that these create certain difficulties for the Administration. I have no doubt that the Palestine Administration had difficulty. I am ready to admit it. We have created quite a considerable amount of difficulty for the Palestine Administration. I am very sorry for that. I have tried to mitigate these difficulties, but human beings are there in order to create difficulties for each other. If the world were run smoothly, like a class of pupils who are always obedient and “goody-goody”, well, the world would be a terribly dull place and no one would want to live in it. Difficulty is there. It is life, it is struggle. It is a clash between various conceptions and interests. The Administration would like us to go slow. I admit it is perhaps easier for the Administration if people go slow. But we were driven by all the furies of the world. We could not afford to be slow. Every slowing down of our progress meant so many dead and so much destruction. Every Jew whom we saved out of this hell of Europe was to us a gain, a double, triple, tenfold gain. Therefore, our conception of speed and the Administration's conception of speed are, of necessity, different. Talk of disparity in that sense is, at least, not quite just.
I would like to deal with one other subject which is again a matter of considerable controversy. What is [MISSED WORD(S)] National Home? What does it mean? Was it meant to make a state out of the National Home or not? I may perhaps for one second at, as quasi self-appointed historian of` the Zionist movement — which I am not — deal with the question of how the words “National Home” came about. You see we came here in 1917 and we had the problem of building up the country. We were expected by his majesty's Government to build up Palestine. Neither the British Government nor we, perhaps, realized all the difficulties which we would have to face in doing that. It was essential to create something which would serve as an instrument for this building. In olden times, such backward countries were built up by charter companies. All of you will remember the East Indian Charter Company. But charter companies were hard to fashion in 1918, the first quarter of the twentieth century. The Wilsonian conception of the world certainly would not have allowed a charter company. Therefore, we had to crate a substitute. This substitute was the Jewish Agency which had the function of a charter company, which had the function of a body which would conduct the colonization, immigration, improvement of the land, and do all the work which a government usually does, without really being a government. We had all the difficulties of a government and none of its advantages. The Jewish Agency was given a special, position in the Mandate. It was not much of a privilege; it was a great burden. And I can say this out of the bitter experience of many years.
We were told by various people in the British Government that we were acting too quickly. We were told by the Jews that we were acting too slowly. I have felt it all my life. I still feel it now. I am constantly being reproached: why do you not ask for immigration of 100,000 or 150,000? We could take them in; it is only the British Government which is wicked and does not let them in. You are not strong enough: you must knock on the table and impress the British Government that you have got to do it. Well, I am not going to tell you what my answers were. They are all on record. But I broke my neck repeatedly. It is a very difficult task to be between the hammer and the anvil of two such contending forces. But that this work will go on, we all believe. If we are able to acquire land, if we are able to bring in Jewish immigration, whether it is a large immigration or not, whether it will correspond to the needs which are inherent in the position of the Jews or not, eventually, in the fullness of time, in God's own time it will become a Jewish state.
There was no doubt about this point in the minds of the statesmen of that time, nor in the minds of those who worked with them — and I did try to work honestly and conscientiously and in harmony with all the elements concerned: We all believed it would result in a Jewish state.
The difficulty again is in the speed. Some British people used to tell me, well, you are pushing too hard; a state may come in fifty years, sixty years, or seventy years. We thought it may come sooner. We were in a vicious circle and I would like to explain what I mean by that. In order to perform the work which we were expected to perform under the Mandate, we had to have land, improvement of the land, reclamation of desert areas, bringing in masses of people — masses of from 20,000 to 40,000 per year settling them, educational problems, social problems, hospitals., and so forth. You really must have governmental powers because our work, our speed of immigration depended on the absorptive capacity of the country. Now, there was no absorptive capacity of the country. Absorptive capacity does not grow on trees. You cannot find any absorptive capacity on the hills of Jerusalem. The hills of Jerusalem are very beautiful, but you cannot live on that unless you develop them. Therefore we were placed in this dilemma in order to create absorptive capacity on the scale which we require, you need governmental power in order to have governmental powers, you need more or less of a majority in the country. We needed immigration and development on a scale which only government could give us. On the one hand we needed the government; on the other hand we could only get the government when we brought the masses in the country. This was the vicious circle in which we moved and which we tried to break through with our poor heads. Very often, we broke our heads but did not break the circle.
I think I have dealt with what we conceived to be the function of the Agency. I have dealt with what I call unjust government criticism of the disparity. I have pointed out that disparity is a natural phenomenon which cannot be avoided. You can only avoid it if you stop working altogether, and that means stagnation.
At this point, I would like to say that, to some extent, this disparity could have been avoided, if the other part of the population, the Arab population, had been ready to cooperate with us in the same degree in which we were ready to cooperate with them. But they stood aside Very often I heard from quite benevolent Arabs — they did not mean any evil, we were quite friendly — you Jews are queer people; you have come to Palestine and you have in your hands the best land in the country. In fact, some of them whom I know — I do not want to name them — said, well, you have really cheated us; we have sold you this and that piece of land very, very cheaply; if we had waited another ten years we could have sold it to you at double or triple the price. The Arabs like money just as much as the Jews do. It is not a particularly Jewish trait. My answer to them was, gentlemen, you seem to have forgotten that we have made it into good land; we have made it into good land because we have sunk so much effort into it. If you would do the same, your land would be just as good if not better than ours. Do not reproach us for having improved that part of the land which you have sold us because you could do nothing with it.
There is another reproach levelled on us, that we disturb the status quo. Naturally, every administration — and the British Administration does not differ from a Dutch or a French Administration in that respect — is reluctant to disturb the status quo. They like to keep things going smoothly and nicely. When an administrator comes into a backward country, he has a certain cliche which he applies to the country. The British, for instance, whom I know best in that respect — come to a backward country and what do they do? They clean up the country from disease; they establish a measure of justice; they create means of communication; they give to the population a certain modicum of education. All this is done nicely, quietly, not too dynamically. They are not too static, but they do not like this dynamism of the Jews who are always in a hurry and always upset the routine of the Administration. It is perfectly natural for an administrator to feel this way. A friend of mine has repeatedly told me, well, these damn Jews are troublesome; they can never take no for an answer; if you throw them out of the door they will come in through the window. My answer to him was, we cannot afford to take no for an answer, we have no time. If you refuse this, that, or the other, to us it means the loss of so many hundreds, of so many thousands of people. It is a question of life and death for us. A little water here, a little piece of land there, means to us a great deal in terms of human life. To you it simply means one fraction of a vast territory which you possess, and which you have possessed long enough, and which you keep. You are safe, but we have no assurance of our future.
Therefore we are sometimes not preferred. I do not say that we are discriminated against, although certain laws, as adumbrated in the White Paper, do constitute a discrimination. But it is more of an attitude. The British Administrator would like to be just to both parts of the population.
As far as we are concerned, this slow tempo is not enough for us. It may be enough for the British; it may be enough for the Arabs. I believe — and I am saying this in the light of what is going on in Great Britain — that this slowness of tempo is not enough even for the British people now.
Look at the difference which has been created between the Mandate and the White Paper. The Mandate encourages settlement of the land; the White Paper not only discourages it; it stops it. The Mandate encourages intensive colonization; the White Paper discourages it. The White Paper nullifies the Mandate. That is why we have to oppose the White Paper with all the strength at our disposal.
I would like to say that the White Paper had two fatal effects. It had an effect on the relations between Jews and Arabs. Why should the Arab listen to overtures on the part of the Jew if he knows that with the application of a little violence, as he did in the years 1934 and 1935, and 1936 to 1939, he can get what he wants and more. All our effort to try to persuade them that it is in the interests of both parties that we should come to an agreement failed at the moment when the British Government broke our back, so to speak, by the White Paper.
The White Paper also had another fatal effect. And I say this with all the force at my command and in all solemnity. The White Paper released certain phenomena in Jewish life which are un-Jewish, which are contrary to Jewish ethics, contrary to Jewish tradition. “You must not kill” is something which has been grained in us on the Mount of Sinai. It was inconceivable ten years ago that the Jew should break this Commandment. Unfortunately, they are breaking it today, and nobody deplores it more than most of the Jews. I hang my head in shame when I have to speak of this fact before you, gentlemen. I hope that international action, in concert with Great Britain, will clear out this disease from our midst.
The Mandate was born out of hope. The White Paper was born out of fear. The fear which was brought into the world by Hitler, by Nazism, by all this darkness which has covered the bright horizon of Jews before the war. This fear has found expression in a great many forms, particularly in the form of the White Paper. This fear was a result of the appeasement policy: appeasement of Germany; appeasement of the Arabs. The British nation has paid dearly for this appeasement policy. It has paid dearly in a bloody, devastating war. She will have to suffer from the effects of this war for many years to come. Every one of us has had to suffer from it. The Jews in Palestine have paid for this appeasement in the form of the White Paper. The worst of it all is that the price you pay is useless. All this appeasement only bring Dead Sea fruit, nothing else.
At the last Congress which took place in Basle, I said in my opening address, and I think it stands repeating before you today: “Whenever a new country was about to come, under Gestapo rule we asked that the gates of the National Home be opened for saving as many as possible of our people from the gas-chambers. Our entreaties fell on deaf ears; it seemed that the White Paper was more sacred for some people than life itself. Sometimes we were told that our exclusion from Palestine was necessary in order to do justice to a nation endowed with seven independent territories, covering a million square miles; at other times we were informed that the admission of our refugees might endanger military security during the war. It was easier to doom the Jews of Europe to a certain death than to evolve a technique for overcoming such difficulties. When human need, the instinct of self-preservation, collided with the White Paper, the result was the Struma, the Patria and Mauritius.”
Perhaps you are entitled to ask what were the attempts to which I. alluded several times in my remarks, which were made in order to come to terms with the Arabs. I can speak for myself, and I an sure I am including a good many of my Zionist colleagues or ex-colleagues, when I say that from the very first moment, two months after the Balfour Declaration, this was one of the first tasks to which I devoted myself — and some of them collaborated with me in getting into touch with Arab leaders. Even earlier — it is not true and I say so advisedly, what is being affirmed by Arabs and their quasi-friends, that the Balfour Declaration was given behind the back of the Arabs. Not only was the Balfour Declaration a public act but of the gentlemen who conducted the investigation prior to the Balfour Declaration, foremost among then was the late Sir Mark Sykes, a man who knew the Arabs, and whom I knew. The records in the British Foreign Office would confirm it: He reported every step in these negotiations to the then representative of the Arabs, King Hussein, Sherif of Mecca at that time, subsequently King Hussein. He was kept fully informed about what was going on. That was still previous to the issuance of the Balfour Declaration.
After the Balfour Declaration was issued in November 1917, I came to Palestine, and to Egypt, early in March 1918, and for weeks I was trying to get in touch and meet with all sorts of Arab leaders, beginning with Mr. Nimir, the venerable editor of the “Mokattam” — I think he is ninety-six — finishing with the learned Sheikhs in the Al Azheer University, and many other Arab leaders of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine who were then living in Egypt, because the rest of these countries, and part of Palestine itself, was still under Turkish rule and in a state of war.
When I came to Palestine in June or July, 1918, with the consent of the Commander-in-Chief, General Allenby, I took a long and hazardous journey into the desert. You could not go to Trans-Jordan as comfortably and quickly as you can do now. I had to go through the desert. I almost went the same way as my ancestors did four thousand years ago, and finally got myself into Trans-Jordan in order to meet the man who was then standing on the right flank of the Arab armies in Trans-Jordan, at the head of a group of, I think, about three thousand Arabs helping in the fight.
I entered into conversation; I explained to him exactly what we wanted to do, what we would like to do, how we could help him if he wanted us to, and I would like his support if he could give it. This conversation led to many more. I refer to Emir Feisal, afterwards King Feisal of Iraq. This condensed into friendship which lasted the rest of, unfortunately, the short life of King Feisal. Parenthetically, I might add that since then I visited Trans-Jordan many times and Trans-Jordan sheikhs visited us in Palestine. These sheikhs were astonished to see the development in Palestine, and naively suggested that if I would go to Trans-Jordan I could probably do the same thing there. Well, I said, there were just a few obstacles in the way. We had better not talk about it much. But there was not a trace of unfriendliness in them.
There is a gentleman for example in Syria, who is very loud today in his protestations against Zionism and Zionist activities/ I think he is the Prime Minister of Syria. His name is Jamal Mardam. Now this gentlemen, Jamal Mardam, is an old, acquaintance of mine. I am sure I am embarrassing him by saying that. He is probably the type of gentleman who would say we were friends but would not salute me in Piccadilly. He would not like to point out publicly that knew me. But Jamal Mardam at that time it must have been during the first premiership of Mr. Leon Blum — I have not the exact day, in my head, but it was comparatively recently — wanted a treaty between Syria and France, and he appealed to me for help. I gave that help. I did my level best. If the treaty was broken later, I do not…
That is one example. There are many more. I do not want to bore you or to burden you with enumerations, but there was never a year when an attempt was not made to come to some understanding with the Arabs. It is the fault and the responsibility of one small group of men, headed by the Mufti or Grand Mufti. He bears a heavy responsibility in that he never allowed the situation to come to a head.
Even now — you have been able to ascertain that yourself — in many domains of economic activity, like the Citrus Board, the Dead Sea concession and many other activity, Jews and Arabs are trying and striving to work together, as in some of the municipalities. Haifa is an excellent example of a mixed municipality of great commercial importance, the most important town in Palestine. Here the two elements seem to be working in harmony, until some devil will step between them and break it up. So far the devil has not succeeded, but devils are active in Palestine quite often.
These attempts to bring about friendship have never stopped and will not stop until we begin to understand each other. One of the most important prerequisites for such friendship is to establish a definite, clear and equal status between the Jews and the Arabs.
CHAIRMAN: Do you wish for a rest?
Mr. WEIZMANN: If I could have five minutes, I would be very glad.
CHAIRMAN: I suspend the hearing for ten minutes, I ask the public not to go out, as you may have difficulty in re-entering when we start in ten minutes time.
(The meeting was suspended for ten minutes).
CHAIRMAN: I call the meeting to order.
Mr. WEIZMANN: I mentioned the treaty of friendship with the then Emir Feisal, subsequently King Feisal of Iraq. I should have explained a little more by saying that we drew up a treaty of friendship. This record of the treaty is part of the general record of the Peace Treaty of that time, and no doubt among the documents which are before you you will find a copy of this treaty. A postscript was also included in this treaty. This postscript relates to a reservation by King Feisal that he would carry out all the promises in this treaty if and when he would obtain his demands, namely, independence for the Arab countries. I submit that these requirements of King Feisal have at present been realized. The Arab countries are all independent, and therefore the condition on which depended the fulfilment of this treaty, has come into effect. Therefore, this treaty, to all intents and purposes, should today be a valid document.
I would also like to remark that this treaty was drawn up with the help of the late T.E. Lawrence, certainly one of the best friends of the Arabs, also a man not unfriendly to our aspirations. I now turn to another subject which apparently is, or was, invoked since the appearance of the White Paper. The White Paper is justified by some people on the ground that the National Home is already built up; it is a finished product. Therefore, there is no necessity of going on much further with the work.
I contend that that is a meaningless assertion, wrong in theory, wrong in fact. The National Home as it stands today, even in its limited form, battling against great difficulties, is a living organism. A living organism is never finished. It only finishes when it dies. Even old countries, like England, or Belgium or France, are not finished. They go on. They develop. They evolve. Something new may happen in this country that may give a different turn in its history — I hope a favourable turn. But to speak of a country that is finished means to doom it to death. Is that the intention of the White Paper and the interpreters of it? Then we shall resist it with all our might. We protest against it with all our strength.
Another affirmation, or dictum, which has been born recently out of the White Paper atmosphere is the benevolent advice which is given to us sometimes: Why should the Jews not devote their intelligence and their experience to helping to build up Europe, specifically to build up Germany. We have heard this advice given to us by distinguished British statesmen who play a great part today in the concert of European affairs. With all respect to these statesmen and to the opinions they may have about British affairs I must tell them they do not begin to understand the reaction of the Jews to such a suggestion. We are tired. We are tired of building up Germany and other countries in order that they should destroy us again. We have had this experience for a good few hundred years, and if the gentlemen who offer us this very benevolent advice do not know it, they only have to open any text book of Jewish history. Life would not be worth living on this earth if we accepted advice of this kind.
I have warned the various Commissions before whom I have had the honour to speak. I hope I will not have to do it again — not that I do not appreciate sufficiently this honour, but I hope it will not be necessary. I told them in 1936: there are in this part of the world — meaning Central Europe, Germany, and other countries — people who are pent up without being able to move; the world for them is divided into two parts — the countries where they cannot live — and the countries they cannot enter — and they are doomed. This sombre prophecy of 1936 came true in 1942. Therefore, in the face of this terrible fact, to advise us to turn again to live among the hatreds of the present and the tombstones of the past is asking too much from flesh and blood. Only recently there has been a conspiracy discovered in France which aimed at the overthrow of the French Republic — probably by French Nazis. One of the projects which was discovered was a detailed programme of how to exterminate the French Jews on the pattern of Hitler and his Nazis.
It is, therefore, for us no more a question of refugees alone. It is very important to save refugees. It is very important, as I pointed out, to save every Jewish soul we can, particularly now, when every Jew alive is a precious possession to us. But there are higher things at stake, and that is the survival of the Jews as a people, and this can be achieved only through independence in a Jewish State in this country — in part of this country.
There is another assertion: that the Mandate is unworkable. In fact, some people went so far as to say the Mandate was unworkable ab initio. One might be tempted to ask, if you know that the Mandate was unworkable ab initio, why have a Mandate at all? But that is post factum wisdom, which is always somewhat dangerous. I contend that the Mandate was not unworkable; it was rendered unworkable. It was rendered unworkable because a great many people who were in charge of working the Mandate had no faith in this policy, had perhaps little sympathy with it, and therefore over-exaggerated the difficulties which were inherent in this policy. I would be the last man to deny that this policy has not had, and has, many difficulties. If anybody knows the difficulties, it is we, because we have experienced it on our skin, on our body, on our soul. But difficulties are there in order to be overcome. If you throw off the burden at the appearance of the first difficulty, naturally every instrument which is merely a product of the human brain, full of faults and difficulties, will become unworkable. Besides, this Mandate was tested and reported upon to the Mandates Commission. This Mandates Commission, I venture to submit, consisted of gentlemen not only of high integrity, but also of high wisdom and experience. It contained also a distinguished Britisher, for example, a man of the calibre of Lord Lugard, a great administrator who made a mark in his life in the administration of the African dependencies of the British Empire. I have never heard, and I have never seen in the records of the Permanent Mandates Commission any statement to the effect that the Mandate is not workable. They pointed out the difficulties; they pointed out the methods of surmounting the difficulties, but nobody ever referred to the Mandate as unworkable in principle. It has become unworkable since the appearance of the White Paper of 1939.
Perhaps it will interest you if I read to you a letter written by a soldier who was Military Administrator in Palestine in the early stages. His name is General Louis Bols. He was supposed to have been not particularly friendly to us. I do not know on what this reputation is based, but his letter speaks for itself. In fact, it is a letter to General Allenby, who was his Chief and who was then in London. I was going to London and he asked me to carry the letter to General Allenby. I did not know its content then but I know it now.
“The country is in need of development quickly in order to make the people content. At present we are suffering from being forced to make the budget balance. The moment the Mandate is given we should be ready to produce a big loan, part of which should be subscribed by inhabitants. I want Sir Herbert Samuel here for advice on this matter, and I want a much bigger financial adviser than you have been able to send us as yet. With such a loan, say 10 to 20 millions, I feel certain I can develop the country quickly and make it pay and gradually the population should increase from the present 900,000 to 2. 1/2 million. There is plenty of room for this. The Jordan Valley should hold a million instead of its present 1,000. But we must have water. The northern and eastern frontiers must be arranged to ensure control of the Litani and the Jordan. These matters are of no use to our northern and eastern neighbours and they are essential to us.” This was the opinion of a soldier at a time when Palestine as more or less a desert. One of the reasons why the Mandate seemed unworkable was that the policy, in the execution of the Mandate, was never a firm one; it was always vacillating. Whenever the Arabs made a fuss or a little pogrom the Mandatory Power retreated and the Arabs learned that violence pays.
I now turn to the problem of the solution. But before doing so I should like to quote two opinions which were held at the time of the issuance of the Balfour Declaration by His Majesty's Government. One is expressed in a telegram which the British Ambassador in Petrograd — then Petersburg — received from the Foreign Office. This telegram reads:
“The British Government has issued an official Declaration regarding the re-establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.” Note the word “re-establishment”.
Then a quotation which comes from Mr. Lloyd George's history quoting an opinion expressed by Mr. Balfour in the Cabinet previous to the publication of the Balfour Declaration:
“The Balfour Declaration did not necessarily involve the early establishment of an independent Jewish state, which was a matter of gradual development in accordance with the ordinary laws of political evolution.”
The same opinion was expressed by Mr. Churchill before the Royal Commission. So, in my humble opinion, there is no doubt that what the British Government had in mind was that, through effort and in time, there would evolve a Jewish state in Palestine. At that time Palestine meant not only Western Palestine, but also Palestine and Trans-Jordan. Trans-Jordan appeared on the historical stage only in 1922 or 1923. These quotations refer to the years 1917 and 1918. What is therefore the solution of the thorny problem which you gentlemen are called upon to adumbrate? It may appear to you somewhat daring, if I make a tentative proposal, but my experience and my contribution to the building of Palestine emboldens me to speak on the subject. There is no question about it that when Palestine was promised, when the Declaration was given, when the Mandate was written — and I should like to say that the Mandate was written not only when Mr. Balfour was Foreign Secretary, it was completed in its present form under Lord Curzon, and I am quoting Lord Curzon because Mr. Balfour might be considered as biased in favour of the policy in which he is the main author. By no stretch of the imagination could Lord Curzon be accused of any bias in that direction. Still, at that time by “Palestine” was understood “Palestine and Trans-Jordan”. Then Trans-Jordan was cut-off. As you know, the size or Trans-Jordan is much greater than that of Palestine — more than three times. It was cut off, so to speak, at a moment's notice. And here is a sort of irony. First you amputate Palestine. You cut off a country which is three or four or five times the size of Palestine, and then you turn round on poor Zionists and tell them, you are a small country; you cannot bring any population there; you must displace others, and we cannot allow that, and so on. I do not think it is cricket. I do not think it is fair play. Either you do not cut it off, or if you have done it you cannot throw it in our face that we are trying to bring a population into a small country. In fact, what we have been trying to do since that time is, by ingenuity and scientific development, to increase the size of the country, and as you cannot increase it materially, or geographically, we have tried to increase it in such a way that we are trying to make two blades of grass grow where one blade has grown before; in fact, to make four tomatoes grow where one has been growing before by intensifying — sometimes over-intensifying and utilising every little knot and every nook and cranny in Palatine and making it produce human sustenance. That has been our business since Palestine has. been amputated. But it has been done, and I am not harking back to it, and I even realise that today in order to have peace in this country, stability in the Middle East — and the Middle East is important not only for Jews and Arabs, but also for the whole of the civilised world — we have great responsibility not to disturb the peace in this part of the world.
Knowing all that, we are — I think I am speaking the mind of a great many Jews, after a great deal of hardship, after a great deal of testing, after a great deal of evaluating the possibility of what we can do, for a form of partition which would satisfy the just demands of both the Jews and the Arabs. We realise that we cannot have the whole of Palestine. God made a promise; Palestine to the Jews. It is up to the Almighty to keep His promise in His own time. Our business is to do what we can in a very imperfect human way. I do not like to play on the sentiment of the distinguished Indian representative who sits here. I should say partition, is à la mode. It is not only in small Palestine; it is in big India. But at least there you have something to partition. Here we have to do it with a microscope. There you can do it with a big knife.
What are the advantages of partition? It has, in my opinion, two great advantages. It is final and it helps to dispel some of the fears of our Arab friends. I am not saying that you would dispel easily all fears. Fear is not a matter of logic. It is a matter of emotion, and emotional reaction cannot be dispelled by logical performance. But at any rate we can do all we can in order to help in future to mitigate their fear. If it is final the Arabs will know and the Jews will know that they cannot encroach upon each other’s domain. To us it means something else.
It means equality of status with our Arab neighbours: the most important requisite for good relations between us and them. As a long as they consider us inferior in political status they will not be anxious to make peace with us. Therefore, it is a desirable solution, although it represents, as I have already pointed out, a new and great sacrifice on the part of the Jewish people. It cannot be whittled down, it cannot be bargained down, and the part of Palestine which would remain after partition must be something in which Jews could live and into which we could bring a million and a half people in a comparatively short time. It must not be a place for graves only, or graveyards, or, as you sometimes see on very full trains, “standing room only”. Therefore I have a plea to make to this distinguished Committee. I respectfully pray that you will one to a decision of this kind, and above all see that this decision is carried out — and, carried out quickly.
Perhaps at this stage I might read .to you a letter which I received only two days ago from one of the two survivors of the authors of the Balfour Declaration: it is a letter from General Smuts. He writes as follows:
“My dear Doctor,
…I can imagine your anguish in a world which was so full of hope, and today has nothing but despair to show for itself.
We cannot undo the past, and can only try to find a better way to the future. As l told you in London last year I see now, at this sad stage, no escape except by way of Partition. I was long for an undivided Palestine, but after all these failures and missed opportunities I see no other way out of the present impasse. Only yesterday; speaking in our Parliament, I expressed myself publicly in favour of this solution if solution it is. Palestine
— if solution it is. Palestine never was undivided in the great past, and perhaps a fair share of it for Jewry may once more be the nucleus of a National Home and a Holy Land. Now that a UNO Commission has been appointed to assemble the facts and search for recommendations, my expression of opinion, as one of the original authors of the Balfour Declaration; may carry some weight with the Commission. At any rate it is something concrete and definite, and not another and further postponement of a. decision which can brook no further delay.
It must be a heartbreaking misery for you to live amid all that scene of frustration and suffering — of lawlessness and counter-lawlessness. You who have laboured so hard and so long to enter upon the Promise…
I blame no one, I praise no one. I only pray that the Great Mercy will once more come, and wash out even the memory of these years…
One would be tempted now to go into details on the side of the partitioned area, if one speaks of partition. I shall not burden you with details. If I am given the opportunity of answering questions, I may go into a little more detail. The area must be sufficiently adequate to absorb something in the nature of a million and a half people in addition to the present population. That is the size of the problem which is urgent at present. It must be an area which can be worked. And, I believe, speaking in general terms, if you will take a somewhat improved Peel Line (I understand that all of you have had before you the Peel Report and the ''Line'' which the Peel Commission offered as a basis for a Jewish state.) I say, advisedly, a somewhat improved Peel Line. This Peel Line was not fixed by the Peel Commission. It was simply an indication as to how their minds ran. They were prepared to discuss improvements, alterations, and modifications. If to this Peel area is added the area of what is usually called the Negeb which I think you have visited and which in its greater part is a desert, a desert which I daresay will never be worked except by us because for us it is again a struggle of life and death to open up this area — then I think you will have created a part of Palestine which may in the future, with God's help, become a land flowing with milk and honey and give nourishment and sustenance to a sorely tried people — the Jewish people. Further, I would like to add, in my opinion, that it will also help the future development of the Arab population. I may be asked — I cannot foresee all the questions — I may be asked: “Will it be troublesome? Will it produce friction and trouble?” It would be foolish on my part if I were to say, “Oh, no, it will go off quite smoothly.” Nothing goes smoothly. And, nothing worth doing is done without trouble. But I do believe that a great many thoughtful Arabs if they feel that this project is set into motion with all the authority, dignity and force, (I do not mean military or physical force: I mean moral force) which the United Nations command, I think the Arabs will eventually acquiesce. Probably the Mufti will not acquiesce, and some other extremists on our side may not acquiesce, but I do not think that will present an unsurmountable difficulty. Therefore, the prerequisite is to sweep away the White Paper and give us a chance to bring in a considerable population. I named a figure of a million and a half. Give us a chance of developing the derelict part of Palestine which is today the Negeb. And do it, I pray with the utmost possible respect, quickly. Do not let it drag on. Do not prolong our agony. It has lasted long enough and has caused a great deal of blood and sorrow on many sides.
I am almost at the end of my statement. I have spoken of Great Britain, of its management of the Mandate, and of the subsequent policy of 1939. I would like to say publicly that I have spoken more in sorrow than in anger. I am still convinced that the normal and good relations of Great Britain, who has been consistently a friend of the Jews and even a friend of Zionism for the past three hundred years, long before the Balfour Declaration was made, may be restored to its old glory and that we may look upon this episode as something was of a transitory nature. I have spoken of our own work. I submit with a certain amount of pride, but not boastfully, that, if we are given a chance, we can make our contribution. And you, gentlemen, and those who have empowered you to enquire into the facts, have it in your power to put the keys of cooperation into our hands — cooperation with the Arabs, cooperation with the other people in this country, and make our contribution to the revival and rejuvenation of the East. God has chosen the small countries as a vessel through which he sends his best messages to the world, and it is perhaps not too much to think that once strife is at an end and peace and the work of construction begins, and the old wanderer comes back to his old inheritance — perhaps once more a message of peace will come out of this country to a world which stands sorely in need of such a message.
CHAIRMAN: I thank you, Dr. Weizmann. Will you allow us now to put some questions to you?
Mr. WEIZMANN: Yes.
CHAIRMAN: First, there are some questions which were put yesterday to Mr. Ben Gurion which I should like to put to you. The first set of questions concerns the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate. Is there, in your opinion, in those documents anything [Missed Word] express words or by implication which indicates any reservation in the undertaking? First, I refer to the rights and the position of other sections of the population. Will you please answer this question?
Mr. WEIZMANN: Yes, it is in the Balfour Declaration. It is not merely implied. it is explicit in the Balfour Declaration that the British Government views with favour the establishment of a National Home for the Jews and then goes on to make the provision that the rights and the position of the other parts of the population… — I forget the exact wording — will be safeguarded.
CHAIRMAN: Would that, in your opinion, under certain circumstances make the Mandate unworkable? Do you think that it came to a stage where the rights and position of the other sections of the population were so prejudiced that it made the Mandate unworkable?
I do not think so, sir, because of the following reason. It may be so interpreted by people who wish to put into it such interpretations, but what has happened is that under the dispensation of the Mandate the Arab position, if you speak of the economic, material, and monetary position, has not become worse but better. To that everyone will agree. Politically the Arabs have never had a position in Palestine. They had a position in Baghdad, Beirut, and in Mecca. There was the home of the political aspirations of the Arabs, not Palestine.
CHAIRMAN: would the Mandatory have the obligation to carry out the undertaking in the Mandate regardless of the resistance it met?
Mr. WEIZMANN: No, I admit that you are asking a very intricate question. It is very difficult for me to say what the Mandatory would think at a given moment. What I do think is that the Mandatory should have proceeded with firmness and determination from the very beginning: then it would not have had to use force. I tried to indicate to you that the Arabs were quite friendly when they saw us coming into Palestine. The moment they saw the vacillation, uncertainty — then they began to utilize this position and certainly make the position of the Mandatory difficult. So much so that the Mandatory. could say, “Look here, gentlemen, I am very sorry. I did not bargain for this and I cannot do it”. My intention, if the Mandatory would say that it is so (and I do not say that it does say so) but if it says so now, then it is the duty of the Mandatory to produce an alternative solution.
CHAIRMAN: Now I would like to ask you a question with regard to the agreement you made with Emir Feisal. On that document was inserted the condition that the undertaking of Emir Feisal would be void if the promises given to the Arabs were not carried out. Emir Feisal and the Arabs have contended that by later events the undertakings were not carried out. I suppose it referred then to the events which took place in Syria; was that not so?
Mr. WEIZMANN: Yes, the promises were not carried out at the time. He was expelled from Syria, he had to go to Iraq. What I contend now is that the Arabs have obtained all the independence they had been claiming under Feisal.
CHAIRMAN: I should like to ask you the question whether Emir Feisal, after he had been driven out from Damascus, was entitled to consider the agreement made with you as void?
Mr. WEIZMANN: I think he was. I think he was, and this agreement was never pressed.
CHAIRMAN: I should like to ask you a question, which is perhaps a legal question, and that is whether the agreement can be revived by further accomplishment of the condition he had put?
Mr. WEIZMANN: I really believe, sir, that it can be revived under new authority, under new conditions; since then much has changed.
CHAIRMAN: I have still another question regarding the solution. You touched upon the possibility of a compromise, and in your suggestions you referred to partition. I should like to ask if you have heard of any scheme which is not definite partition, but is a dividing up of the country into different parts and keeping it together in a kind of federal state: have you heard such a scheme discussed?
Mr. WEIZMANN: Yes. There are all sorts of conditions and conclusions that have been passing through one's head all these years, and if I, personally, came to the conclusion that partition is the best, I did so by a process of elimination. I know that one speaks of a bi-national state; of a sort of federal solution; of what is usually called the Morrison Plan. I do riot think that they have the advantages of partition which is final, definite, and crystallized. Anything that will leave an uncertainty will leave room for pulling by the two forces. The Jews will want to get something better. The Arabs will want to push us out of what we have. Therefore, I believe although partition means a sort of Solomon's judgment, it is under the circumstances perhaps the better.
CHAIRMAN: What is, in your opinion, the main objection to such a scheme as a federal state? Do you object to the vagueness of it, or do you believe that it is not possible for Jews and Arabs to work together in political matters?
Mr. WEIZMANN: Yes, I think the Jews and Arabs would probably work together, but a federal state would mean again in another form a third party. There may be a sort of federalization on a great many points. There are a great many interests in common: railways, customs, means of communication. All these things really lead eventually to economic cooperation in a great many domains. But it would be better to be separated politically and leave it to the gradual processes of evolution to unite economically.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Dr. Weizmann, I may tell you India stands for love and peace, and when I am putting these questions to you I am only putting them with the intention that love and peace may be promoted in this country. You have referred to the unfortunate partition in India itself. I hope you have read Mr. Gandhi's statement which came out this very morning in the papers. It is that very thing which I am trying to avoid, if possible, because I fear it may lead to further friction. A line of partition, a line of demarcation, is not a permanent thing. If the Arabs have more force they will try to rush in and break in that line of demarcation. If the Jews have more force, they may do so. Would that be a permanent solution which would promote love and peace in the country?
Mr. WEIZMANN: I think it would, eventually. I am not so foolish as to think that if you proclaim partition all these passions to which you refer will die out. I agree there will be certain Jews who will try to rush in, and certain Arabs who will try to rush in. But, on the whole, if you, with the authority of the United Nations, proclaim this the solution and make this appeal to the Jews and Arabs and say, “Gentlemen, you must not break it: it is a sacred covenant,” you will find that on the whole it will prevail. I do not want to be a prophet. I told some of your colleagues before that it is very difficult to be a prophet in Palestine. The competition is too great here. I do say that your business is to create a maximum of conditions under which the eventuality of a violated solution will be impossible and time will work its way out. After all, what has happened in India is also the end of a long road of suffering, and may God grant you that it should be the end.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN: I hope it is the end.
Mr. WEIZMANN: But no human being can guarantee that it is the end. 1 read every day that somebody is killed here or there. Of course, it is but a drop in the ocean in India. But for us a drop of blood goes a long way. It takes time. Give us time. Give us benevolence. Give us the possibility of turning around and of making friends in the surrounding Arab countries, and I think in time it will be all right. Nobody could guarantee that it is enough to proclaim a solution and that it will go right on without any trouble.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Dr. Weizmann, I am very sorry to see that even the Jews have started certain rules of discrimination which have probably led to this trouble which exists now. I need not go into the details with you. You know them, and I know them.
Mr. WEIZMANN: Perhaps you will specify?
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Take for instance the Zionist Congress in regard to non-Jewish labour, and things of that kind. They rancour. They produce a kind of hatred. It may have been very good for a community, but from the point of view of country it was probably a very unwise thing to do. I refer to things like that which create dissension and hatred in the minds of people. That kind of discrimination, of which Mr. Ben Gurion has been complaining has really come from your side of this country.
Mr. WEIZMANN: Well, I know to what you refer, and I would like to answer it in the following way. There are three sectors in this country. There is an Arab sector, there is a Jewish sector and in between stands the British sector. They are all employers of labour. Now, in the Jewish sector we employ a great many Arabs. In the Arab sector no Jew is being employed. In the British sector there is considerable employment of Jews, but perhaps not as much as we think we are entitled to. Now, what are we doing? We come into this country and try to bring in men. We are told you can bring in A and B only if you find work for them. In order to find work for them, employment for them, we must spend some money on development. This money is collected from the pennies mostly of poor Jews. Now it is different. But ten years ago the poor Jews gave the money. The rich Jews thought it was better to give money for a hospital in Berlin, or for a dental school in Berlin, and not for something in Palestine. Therefore the obvious contention is to say that all the money which is given for the employment of the Jews and for the bringing in of the Jews should be employed by Jews. I submit to you that once the Arabs begin to employ Jews, the Jewish rule too will be relaxed. I cannot promise it for all the others, but if I were in command, I would try to do it.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): I know you would.
Mr. WEIZMANN: I realize there is a great deal in what you say. But you ought to realize, and at the same time, that we have been so much discriminated against, so often throughout our history, that for once we have a chance not to discriminate against Arabs. After all, we do employ masses of Arabs. If you would come to the place where I live, you would see it, or if you would go to Palestine Potash.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Palestine Potash and Kadimah are the only two things that I know employ Arabs.
Mr. WEIZMANN: Come to the orange belt.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): There are very few institutions, two or three at the most.
Mr. WEIZMANN: But they employ masses of Arabs. You cannot point to a single institution which employs Jews among the Arabs, except possibly a doctor. When an Arab is very, very sick and he must be operated on, and he cannot be operated on by any doctor but a Jew, he will try to get a Jew. Then he is glad, for the operation is usually successful.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): I am very sorry to trouble you.
Mr. WEIZMANN: No, you do not trouble me. I am here for that. I would only like to tell you, sir, with all respect, that it is much easier to ask questions than to give answers. But I am doing my best.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): I know. Unfortunately, I have been asking questions all my life and getting the answers.
Mr. WEIZMANN: I am doing my best.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Well, in any case, since you were really responsible, or at least one of the gentlemen who was responsible for the Balfour Declaration, I could get better information from you than from anyone else just now. A, number of drafts of these declarations came into existence before this one came out is that correct?
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): And some of them were considered by the Zionist Congress?
Mr. WEIZMANN: I would like to correct you, sir.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): By its Political Committee?
Mr. WEIZMANN: There was no Congress at that time.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): The Zionist Political Committee?
Mr. WEIZMANN: There was a Zionist group which helped. We all cooperated. Of course, all the drafts were considered by them.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Have you, by any chance, those drafts printed in Jeffries’ book?
Mr. WEIZMANN: No. I have seen Jeffries' book, but my eyes are sufficiently weak so as not to read all of Jeffries. I have read some of it.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): I just wanted to know if you had seen them.
Mr. WEIZMANN: I know exactly what you want to know.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Are those drafts, as printed there, more or less correctly printed? That is all I was trying to find out.
Mr. WEIZMANN: I know that there is one draft. I do not know whether it is printed in Jeffries. There was one draft which was submitted to Mr. Balfour and to Lloyd George, which said that his Majesty's Government favours the establishment of Palestine as a Jewish National Home. Is that all you want to know?
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): That is all I wanted to know.
Mr. WEIZMANN: There was not much of this qualifying sentence to which you refer. But if you want me to complete the history, I will do so, if I may trouble you for a moment. This draft was given in by me. I brought it to Mr. Balfour. He initialled it. In fact, somewhere among my archives, which I had sent to Canada during the war, there is still this original draft which was given to Lloyd George. He initialled it, and here the matter ended. I was away from London at that time. Then suddenly, there appeared a letter in “The Times” signed by twelve what you would call important Jews. They were important mostly to non-Jews: they were not so terribly important to us. But they were important by weight of their position in the non-Jewish world, by the weight of their bank account and various other qualities. They published, as you probably know, the famous letter in “The Times”, disassociating themselves from all Zionist activity, saying that it would harm Jews — meaning it would harm them. The Government was perplexed. The British Government did not want to perform an act against the will of the Jews. At that time, it had not tested the weight and the value of these particular interests. I have nothing against them personally, but I think their public, performance was at that time too highly assessed by the British Government. Of course, they were people who ha' a very high social standing and occupied a high position in the British world„ They were the British Government's Jews; they were not my Jews.
Sir Abdur .RAHMAN (India): One of them was Mr. Montague.
Mr. WEIZMANN: No, Mr. Montague was not sitting there. Mr. Montague was inside the fortress. He was a Cabinet Minister and he had every opportunity to sabotage the Balfour Declaration, and he did his best. So, as you realize, the fight was not a very equal one. On the one side, these Jewish grand dukes, so to speak, with all their weight in London; on the other side, I represented the poor Jews. We were submerged, we were not vocal: those who left the ghettos of Poland and Russia could not speak English, even if you tried to make them. It was a very unequal fight. And it speaks enormously for the intuition of Great Britain that they have chosen my Jews and not theirs. I am trying to put it very bluntly.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): You were reported to have said in “The Times” of 1 March 1919 that “We do not aspire to found a Zionist State. What we want is a country in which all nations and all creeds shall have equal rights and equal tolerance.”
Mr. WEIZMANN: I may have said that; I do not know. I have forgotten it. You must never quote a public man's speeches which have been made twenty-five years ago, because in those twenty-five years a great deal has changed.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): I only quote them because you have quoted what happened twenty-five years ago. It is only relevant in that connection.
Mr. WEIZMANN: That is quite right. We did not want to speak of a state then. We spoke of a National Home. But the characteristic of` the thing, whether it is a National Home or whether it is a State, remains the same We think that in the Jewish State all peoples will live in amity and freedom.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Was Palestine included in the Feisal agreement?
Mr. WEIZMANN: No, definitely not.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): So, the immigration in Palestine was included but the liberty of people living in Palestine was not included?
Mr. WEIZMANN: I do not quite get it. It was not included in the sense that it was not considered by Feisal as an Arab country, as a country on which he had a claim.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): He had no claim at that time to any country.
Mr. WEIZMANN: Oh, yes. He laid claim to Arab countries. He was ready to exclude Palestine from that claim.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): But there is no mention of the exclusion of Palestine in the agreement?
Mr. WEIZMANN: No, but if he allowed immigration into Palestine — that we should conduct it and we should support it and develop it — it means that he lays no claim to Palestine as an Arab country.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): That is all.
Mr. GARCIA GRANADOS (Guatemala): I should like to go back to the question of the solution. I think in one of your answers you did not stress enough the only advantage that partition might have, and that would be independence right away. This is the only advantage, as stated before. But nevertheless, I think you disposed a bit lightly of the question of a federal state. I see a few advantages in federal states. The first one would be a way of disposing of minorities. Then, that the economic integrity of the country would be kept intact. Furthermore, you are aware that a certain part of the Jewish population oppose partition. Some of them, because they want more, others because they believe that there is a possibility of collaboration with the Arabs. Now, I should like to refer to your answer given, before to the Chairman, and I should like to have you make more clear the real disadvantages of a federal state that might be created, that would be governed by a council appointed by the United Nations and parts of it appointed by the proper states, with each state to legislate for itself and, of course, trying to give to the Jewish people all the territories that now are not populated or are under-populated. I should like you to give consideration to this question and to give me an answer.
Mr. WEIZMANN: Would you mind, sir, if I defer my answer for a few hours. I am prepared to come again and give an answer. I am not prepared to answer on the spot.
Mr. GARCIA GRANADOS (Guatemala): Very well.
Mr. WEIZMANN: I thank you very much for the question. It will open certain horizons for me.
Mr. BLOM (Netherlands): I have just one question. I would like to know whether Dr. Weizmann remembers at what time he heard for the first time of the Hogarth Message.
Mr. WEIZMANN: I met Professor Hogarth in Palestine when I first came in 1918. I came out first to Egypt and then to Palestine. I met Professor Hogarth there and I had the opportunity of discussing this whole policy with him. I knew that Hogarth had a mission with the Arabs, but I did not know what it was. I was not told what it was.
Mr. BLOM (Netherlands): You heard what this mission was. You heard it also when these letters were published in 1939, I think, for the first time?
Mr. WEIZMANN: I read about Hogarth only when it was published, but I did not know at the time what he was about in Palestine.
Mr. BLOM (Netherlands): That was in 1939, you think, that his letters were published for the first time?
Mr. WEIZMANN: I read them only when they were published, although I had met Hogarth long before. I did not know what his activities were. I knew he was working among the Arabs. I do not know that he was particularly with the Balfour Declaration policy. I cannot say that. He was rather reserved about it.
Mr. BLOM (Netherlands): What I would like to know, Mr. Chairman, is whether Dr Weizmann, when he saw these Hogarth letters printed for the first time, whether he thought they were in contradiction to the Balfour Declaration.
Mr. WEIZMANN: Well, I cannot answer for the contradictory messages which the British Government sent to various people during the war. Perhaps there is an element of contradiction. I do not know. It is a contradiction which we have introduced. I am grateful that you are giving me the opportunity of making this statement in response to your question. I do note want to evade this question: I cannot answer it. It is not within my province. It is quite possible that there have been cases, not only in the British Government but in many other governments, particularly during the war, where one department does not know what another department is doing. It has happened before. It happens even in the Zionist Organization, which is not a government yet. But we have seen that divergence many a time. What I do know is this: whatever Hogarth’s message was, if it did contain any contradiction, we were not informed about it. We were given a Declaration and told that it was for us to make good. We were told to proceed with the Mandate. The Mandate laid down, as you know, all the ways .and means of putting into effect this Declaration. We took it à la lettre. On the strength of that, on what we were told repeatedly, we sunk our money, our energy, our men into this country, and we made out of this country what it is. Whether, ab initio, through Professor Hogarth's message, there was some contradiction. I do not know. That applies equally to all the contradictions in MacMahon’s letter, which you no doubt know.
Mr. FABREGAT (Uruguay): I have one question. Have you read a letter from Marshal Smuts ? Do you think that the opinion of Marshal Smuts on the whole question of Palestine and the Balfour Declaration is included in the letter you have just read.
Mr. WEIZMANN: I think it represents the opinion of Field Marshal Smuts.
Mr. BLOM (Netherlands): There are other opinions in Marshal Smuts’ letter on the historical aspects of the Balfour Declaration,
Mr. WEIZMANN: Yes. Well, I know something. I used to meet Marshal Smuts quite often. Marshal Smuts identified himself with the Balfour Declaration and with the meaning of the Balfour Declaration, as Mr. Balfour gave expression to it. Marshal Smuts thought that it would eventually lead to a Jewish State in the whole of Palestine. And as you see now, he considers the partition as what the French call a pis-aller, as the least of the evils.
Mr. BLOM (Netherlands): Thank you, Dr. Weizmann.
CHAIRMAN: Are there any other questions?
CHAIRMAN: Then I thank you, once more, Dr. Weizmann. I hope we have not tired you.
Mr. WEIZMANN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, gentlemen. You have been very kind and very generous to me.
(Dr. Weizmann then withdrew from the table.)
CHAIRMAN: We will now go on with the third point on the agenda: the hearing of the representatives of the Jewish Agency. We will continue the questioning of Mr. Ben Gurion and Mr. Shertok by Sir Abdur Rahman.
(Mr. Ben Gurion and Mr. Shertok took seats at the table.)
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Mr. Ben Gurion, do you wish to make any comments on the following declarations or statements on behalf of the British Government: (1) General Allenby's declaration, soon after the Turks were defeated, to the effect that he “reminded the Emir Feisal that the Allies were in honour bound to endeavour to reach a settlement in accordance with the wishes of the peoples concerned and urged him to place his trust wholeheartedly in their good faith”; (2) Commander Hogarth's statement to King Hussein in January 1918 to the effect that the British Government were determined that insofar as it was compatible with the freedom of the existing population, both economic and political, no obstacle should be put in the way of the return of the Jews to Palestine; (3) Bassett’s letter dated 9 February 1918, to King Hussein, to the effect that His Majesty's' Government has hitherto made it their policy to ensure the Arabs' liberation and it remained the policy that they are determined unflinchingly to pursue by protecting such Arabs as already are liberated from all dangers and perils, and by assisting those who are still under the yoke of the tyrants to obtain their freedom; (4)the Anglo-French Declaration made on 7 November 1918 to the effect that the goal envisaged by France and Great Britain in prosecuting in the East the war was to secure the complete and final liberation of the people who have for so long been oppressed by the Turks and the setting up of national governments and administrations which should derive authority from the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous populations, and to further and assist in the setting up of indigenous Governments and administrations in Syria (from the Taurus range to the Egyptian frontier and Mesopotamia) which had already been liberated by the Allies, as well as in those territories which they were endeavouring to liberate, and to recognise them as soon as they were actually set up?
Mr. BEN GURION: No, sir.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Do you know anything about the Haycraft Commission which had bean appointed to inquire into the Palestine disturbances of 1921?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, sir.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Have you read their recommendations?
Mr. BEN GURION: I believe I read them at the time.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Did the Arabs ever raise any objections to the Jews visiting Palestine or even to moderate immigration arising our of religious zeal before 1917?
Mr. BEN GURION: Before that they had nothing to say in Palestine. It was the Turks.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Was Jewish immigration the cause of Arab riots and bloodshed in Palestine?
Mr. BEN GURION: There was Jewish immigration, and there were riots. Maybe one was the cause of the other. It is a fact that there were both. Maybe there were other causes.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Could you give me any other cause?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, a very serious cause was the Axis powers who sent money and instructors to arrange for a terrorist campaign against Jews. This was one of the causes.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): When was this?
Mr. BEN GURION: 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1939.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): There were no riots before 1936?
Mr. BEN GURION: There were.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): What were they due to? What was the cause of them?
Mr. BEN GURION: There were many causes. This was one of the causes. One cause, for instance, was that in 1929 there was a false accusation made against us by some people that we attacked the Mosque of Omar, which was just as truthful as the accusation made against the Jews that they are drinking the blood of Christian children for ritual purposes. That was a very serious cause of disturbances in Damascus in 1940, where many Jews were murdered by the population for such an accusation. An accusation of that kind was made in 1929. This was the cause of serious riots when the entire Jewish community of Hebron, where there had been no immigration, was exterminated.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Was the extent of immigration between 1931-1939 in Palestine to the extent of 218,000 while, in the whole of the United States of America, Brazil,Australia and the Argentine, an area two hundred times larger than Palestine, the immigration was only to the extent of 207,000?
Mr. BEN GURION: Those are facts, yes.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): What do you know about the Jewish state of Birobidjan?
Mr. BEN GURION: I have heard about it.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): As a foreign state?
Mr. BEN GURION: I think it is an autonomy, but I really cannot give exact details.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Have you had no chance to see this before?
BEN GURION: I think there are a number of things, which you have seen and which I have not. No, I have not seen this.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): I am placing it before you. So you do not know whether it contains about thirty thousand square miles or only about one hundred thousand Jews?
Mr. BEN GURION: I know that Soviet Russia is such a vast country that it may contain such a large area as you say, but really, I cannot tell you.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Do you know if it is really a state?
Mr. BEN GURION: No, as far as I know it is not. It is an autonomy, and it is loyal to that autonomous condition. There is only a Jewish minority, as far as I know, but I do not know. I am not an expert on it, and I do not know why I must give this information.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): I just wanted to know whether the official language of that place is Yiddish.
Mr. BEN GURION: So far as I know it is not. I think this is the only place in the world where the official language is Jewish.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Palestine is sacred to Christians, it is sacred to Moslems; therefore would you permit all the Moslems and all the Christians to come and settle down in Palestine on the same basis on which you want to settle down in Palestine?
Mr. BEN GURION: There is a difference. Of course it is sacred to Christians. You are a Moslem and you say it is sacred to Moslems. I take your word for it.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): You do not know about it?
Mr. BEN GURION: Your authority is sufficient for that purpose. But Jews are coming to Palestine because it is our country, it has been our homeland for 3,500 years. In addition to that it is sacred to them because it is the centre of their religion. I know that home is sacred to Christians, and no Christian will ask the right to possess Rome. There is nothing like that here. We are here on the basis of the fact that it is the country of our people; we were dispossessed by force and we did not give it up. We are coming back to our home.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): I will come to that part little later. I just wanted to know because you know that the Moslems used to turn to the holy area of Masjid Aqsa as their Kaaba until the Prophet ordered faces to be turned towards Mecca at the time of prayer.
Mr. BEN GURION: I am really afraid to contradict you, but the history which I know regarding Moslems is that at the beginning the Prophet of the Moslems called them to turn to Jerusalem and there were other things which he accepted in Jerusalem, but later on, when the Jews were living in Arabia, they refused to accept it, and many of them, especially Jews of the Medina died for it, because they refused to accept him as a prophet. He told his people to turn to Mecca, but so far as I know it has nothing to do with the reconstruction of Mecca.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): That was the Kaaba in Mecca...
Mr. BEN GURION: This is a discussion which does not concern me as it is a religious matter.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): I just wanted to know. How many synagogues were there in Palestine before 1939?
Mr. BEN GURION: I have not the information.
CHAIRMAN: I repeat my request to the public to keep silent.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Did the President of the Tenth Zionist Congress, held in June 1931, make the following speech: “Only those suffering from gross ignorance or actuated by malice, could accuse us of the desire of establishing an independent Jewish kingdom. The people who allege this seem, so far as they are honest, to confuse Monism with the Messianic belief. Our boundless love for Palestine owed its origin also to this belief, but it has never occurred to us modern practical Zionists to introduce Messianic tendencies into our movement”.
Mr. BEN GURION: Well, the President was here just now. I think you should have referred to him this question.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): No, I did not know that Dr. Weizmann was actually presiding at that congress.
Mr. BEN GURION: He was not the President of that congress. So far as I know, no such statement was made by the President who presided at the time.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Was it made by anyone else?
Mr. BEN. GURION: I do not know. You asked me if the President made such a statement. As far as I remember, the President at that congress made no such statement.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): You cannot say whether anyone else made that statement? I am just trying to be clear in my mind about the question, but it may have been someone else.
Mr. BEN GURION: All kinds of persons make all kinds of statements, and I really cannot be requested to remember every one of them.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Apart from the Zionist's attempts, have any other Jews made attempts to gain political sovereignty in Palestine? Have any other persons made any attempt to create a sovereign state in Palestine?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, Jews throughout history — before the Crusades, during the Crusades — all the Jews were exterminated in Palestine. After that, in the time of the Turks, they made these attempts by going back to Palestine and trying to build it up, because they believed that by building up they were re-establishing, as they called it in their language, a Jewish kingdom. We do not now use the word kingdom, but what they meant was a State. There was a time when a kind chapter was written by one of the Turkish soldiers, a high official in Turkey, on the movement to build a part of Palestine as a Jewish province.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): How far is the southernmost Jewish colony in the Negev from the Egyptian frontier?
Mr. BEN GURION: I imagine it is some ten kilometres. I cannot give you the exact figure. I do not know, although I have travelled there. Perhaps twenty kilometres.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): And are there any Jewish colonies near the Syrian frontier?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, there are.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India) How many and how far? Just give me the figures.
Mr. BEN GURION: There are many Jews on the frontier. There is one colony outside the frontier of Lebanon. There is a colony where the frontier is in the middle of the colony.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Was any picketing ordinance passed legalizing picketing by the Jews of Arab labour in 1940 or thereabouts?
Mr. BEN GURION: No, there was picketing at many times, and there was a time when I had the privilege of taking part in it. Then Jews were excluded from work in Jewish colonies.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Was the picketing ordinance passed?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, the picketing ordinance was passed.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Was it sometime in 1940 or thereabouts ?
Mr. BEN GURION: No, before that. To what ordinance do you refer?
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): The picketing ordinance.
Mr. BEN GURION: No, not picketing, not in 1940. It was long before that.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Is it possible for you to imagine that any country in the world — Canada, Australia, the United States of America, South Africa or England — will permit Jewish immigration in unlimited numbers if they are exposed to the risk of being outnumbered?
Mr. BEN GURION: I do not feel any need to imagine such a thing. If you mean to ask why we want to come to Palestine, I have told you it is because we are coming back to our country. But I do not know why you want me to imagine such a thing could happen except in our country. Of course we do not imagine, we could not imagine such a thing. On the contrary, I told you in my opening speech that we were offered space in another country, in Africa: we refused it on that account, because we did not consider it our country.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Do you imagine the friendship between the Jews and the Arabs will increase if unlimited immigration is permitted in Palestine?
Mr. BEN GURION: I imagine that when the Jews are re-established as an independent nation they will establish good relations between themselves and their neighbours. Without it, no. There will be trouble with the Arabs who think they could do with the Jews what the Europeans did with them.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Have the relations between Arabs and Jews been very strained since the Mandate?
Mr. BEN GURION: As I said, relations between individual Jews and individual Arabs were often very good — in Turkish times, and they are very good now, but political relations between Arab communities and Jewish communities are not so good, and this is because they have been brought into opposition.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Who was in possession and occupation of Palestine as it is known today before the Israelites?
Mr. BEN GURION: There were a large number of people who came here there are many names.
CHAIRMAN: Before whom?
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Before the Israelites.
Mr. BEN GURION: The names are supplied in our Bible.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): All of them have died out?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, all of them.
Six Abdur RAHMAN (India): All of them and their descendents have died
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, they disappeared.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): And the fellaheen who exist in Palestine today, are they descendants?
Mr. BEN GURION: I do not think so.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Do you know that Abraham had two wives at least, two wives with whom we are concerned — Hagar and Sarah. Sarah was the first and Hagar was the second. Ishmael was the son of Hagar; Isaac was the son of Sarah. Is that correct?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India) : Now it was predicted in the Bible — when I refer to tie Bible I mean the Old Testament, I do not refer to the New Testament at all — it was predicted in the Old Testament that twelve tribes would sprint from Israel.
Mr. BEN GURION: No, it is not true.
CHAIRMAN: Sir Abdur, will you please direct your questions this way?
Mr. BEN GURION: It is said in the Bible, with regard to these two children, that to “Isaac and the seed of Isaac I will give this land”.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): When did the Jews leave Palestine?
Mr. BEN GURION: They never left it.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): They have always been here?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, except in the period of the Crusades, when all Jews were entirely exterminated.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): When was that?
Mr. BEN GURION: You know it was the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): How many Jews — did Titus deal very cruelly with the Jews ?
Mr. BEN GURION: You can rely only on the historical documents which are there. I mean that he was cruel. He destroyed the Temple, expelled their leaders, put them to death in circuses in Rome, sold them as slaves.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): And that also was first century A.D.?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, but he did not expel all the Jews — 130 years after that the Jews made war on the Romans, and 600,000 Jews, according to the Apostles, were killed by the Roman legions.
Mr. BEN GURION: That was 130 A.D.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Coming now to more mundane matters, can you give me an idea as to how much of the budget is being spent — I do not want the actual figure, if you will only refer me to the Administration Report — I only wanted to have an idea from you how much in proportion to the whole income was being spent on public security?
Mr. BEN GURION: I will refer you to the Report, and I refer you to our witnesses, Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Bernstein.
CHAIRMAN: We will reserve questions on the economic matters for the hearing of Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Bernstein.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Now one thing more. I am giving you a list of the Arab villages which I am told were wiped out, and I ask you whether this is correct or not: Shatta, Afuleh, Jeidah, Tab’oon, Jinjar, Mejdel, Jisr al-Majme, Tel Adas, Jallood, Sasafeh, Tel Esh-Shamaam, Al-Hartiya, Sheikh Breik, Hrief, Defna, Khan ed-Duer, Madekhel, Khayyan al-Walid, Cofarta, Jadra, Kirdana, etc. Have these Arab villages been erased? Do they exist now as Arab villages?
Mr. BEN GURION: I am grateful to those who gave you this material, that you gave us the opportunity to speak about that. I want, not only yourself, but the whole Committee to know about it. One of our witnesses will tell you the whole story of it, and not merely in a way of “yes or no” as you require.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): You give me the information later on.
Mr. BEN GURION: You will get the information later on, and I am very grateful that you raised the question.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): When these statements were made by Jews that no Arabs had been displaced, I wanted to verify it and to verify this.
Mr. BEN GURION: It is your job to do that.
CHAIRMAN: Will you please go on.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Now it is correct that, in spite of the restrictive measures, the Jews have been actually acquiring lands from the Arabs?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, in a restrictive way. It is correct, for the last few years, since 1934.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Will you kindly give me all the figures on the division of lands acquired in breach of the regulations ?
Mr. BEN GURION: I am sorry, we could not discuss them. It was not in breach of the regulations. It was in accordance with these regulations. You will get all these figures for all these years from 1939 until the present moment. It is a pity these regulations could not have been dropped; it was in accordance with the regulations.
CHAIRMAN: Have you more questions on the political issue?
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India ): Yes. Do you think that politically there is room in this country both for the Arabs and unlimited number of Jews?
Mr. BEN GURION: First of all, there is no such thing as unlimited number of Jews. There is a limited number of Jews.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Unlimited number of immigrants, then?
Mr. BEN GURION: They are limited. I believe — and I am convinced; it is not a matter of belief — that for the last 40 years I have done nothing but study this problem because it is a matter of life and death for me and my people. I say it is a conviction, and not merely a belief, that there is room in this country for every inhabitant in Palestine who is here already, whether Jew, Christian, Armenian, Arab, Moslem or any other, and several millions of Jews to come in. I am not able to fix the exact number, because this depends on a number of factors, mostly on the degree of development, and the degree of authority to have such a development.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): I hope you remembered my question. I am not talking economically, but politically.
Mr. BEN GURION: Then I do not understand quite what you mean. You ask me about room; that is, whether there is room, and that is an economic question, but if you ask me about it politically, then it is no question at all. Politically, for instance, I can imagine a vast territory where not a single Jew can enter, although there are millions of square miles of land. They are two different questions, and politics has nothing to do with room.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): As a matter of information, were exports of various commodities stopped from Palestine in 1920 or thereabouts ?
CHAIRMAN: Is not that also in the economic domain?
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): It was a question pertaining to economics and I will leave it. I am leaving out all the economic questions.
CHAIRMAN: Are there any more questions on the political issues?
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): No.
CHAIRMAN: Then I think we shall have to adjourn and thank you very much.
Mr. BEN GURION: Everyone has finished with me?
CHAIRMAN: We will continue at a later hearing to question Mr. Horowitz and his colleagues.
Mr. BEN GURION: I mean that all the political side is finished?
CHAIRMAN: I might put some questions, and that is the same question that we put to Dr. Weizmann. What about a federal state? I do not imply by that that we are specially interested in a federal state. We just want to explore the possibilities.
Mr. BEN GURION: I am ready to answer that now if you want. We will not consider any settlement which excludes complete independence and equality as a nation with Arabs in this country. If in any way a settlement is made where we are not in a nation, and which would deprive us of equality as a nation, we will have to be against it, because we consider two things as vital for our very existence and our human dignity, the belief that the Jew has self-respect as a people and as human beings, and these two vital issues are these: one, the right of the Jew who is unhappy, uncomfortable, oppressed, discriminated against — or for any other reason cannot stay where he is and there is economically a place in Palestine for him — that he should have a right to come and settle here; and the second is that the Jewish people as a whole, in their own country, should have the same status as any free people in the world. If the world will abolish separate sovereignties, we will bless it, because if the human family were to be one, even then the world cannot abolish self-government — but whatever regime there will be in the world for any other free nation, we claim for our people — not less and not more. We will be against any discrimination against the Jewish people, but if you will ensure our independence and equality as a nation, which also includes Membership of the United Nations, for the welfare of those who are in the country and for the welfare of our neighbours, it will be necessary — we believe that it will be necessary — that the Jewish state, and I told you yesterday what we mean by Jewish state — a state where Jews are in the majority and are all equal — that such a state should co-operate with the neighbouring states. We are the first to welcome it, even if that co-operation will not limit itself merely to economic, social and cultural matters.
If our neighbours are willing to cooperate politically as a regional organization, we will welcome it, and ties will be created between these and the neighbouring states, as agreed upon between them freely, and as desired by the United Nations. This may be the main consideration, but the condition is we should be an equal partner and that we should have mutual interest which should be desired by the United Nations.
So an independent Jewish state does not exclude it being part of a larger Jewry, the cooperation either of sympathetic states or Middle East states or any other foreign states. It does not exclude. It is possible that what we need is this cooperation, essential for our really endless work.
CHAIRMAN: Do you give preference to a federal state or a partition scheme?
Mr. BEN GURION: We want to have a state of our own, and that state can be federate if the other state or states is or are willing to do so in the mutual interest, on condition that our state is in its own right a Member of the United Nations.
CHAIRMAN: One other question which has not been raised before. Do you think the Holy Places would require a special arrangement for Jerusalem?
Mr. BEN GURION: Absolutely. Not only in Jerusalem; all the Holy Places should be so safeguarded internationally that the religions who have a special interest in those Holy Places should have free and unfettered access to them and, as far as possible, the custody should be placed in their hands. I cannot go further because I know what trouble it may make among Christian communities, but this ought to be left to a higher authority. But certainly there must be international guarantees for the freedom and sacredness of all the Holy Places in Palestine.
CHAIRMAN: Do you think trusteeship or something of that kind with regard to Jerusalem would be necessary?
Mr. BEN GURION: No, the question of the Holy Places is really a mixup. The Holy Places are only a few places in Jerusalem. They are not Jerusalem. They are in the Old City also because there are differences of views, but that is not a matter for here. But you should not identify the Holy Places in Jerusalem with any other city in Palestine. They are in certain places. There is a Holy Place in Bethlehem for the Christians. There is a Holy Place in Nazareth. There are Holy Places for Jews, Christians and Moslems in Jerusalem. Here in Jerusalem “Holy Places” means only a certain spot of Jerusalem, but Jerusalem itself is not a part of those Holy Places, and therefore for the safeguarding of those places you ought not to include Jerusalem as a whole, outside of the Holy Places.
Mr. GARCIA SALAZAR (Peru): I do not know whether the point I am going to raise has been raised already. I sincerely believe that the Jewish people wish to live peacefully with the Arab people and to cooperate with them for the common good, but the situation in Palestine does not seem to be leading that way. Both peoples seem to be leading separate lives. In a normal life there are towns like Tel-Aviv, for the Jewish, or Gaza, or Hebron, which are only Arab in population. All of these are either wholly Jewish or wholly Arab. The schools too are separate. There is a school for Jewish children and a school far Ara' children. There are separate technical schools for both of them, and even the University is practically a Jewish University. In industry, Jewish industry employs Jewish labour, and Arab industry employs Arab labour. Even the trade unions are separate. Do you and not think that this physical and spiritual separation is making more and more difficult cooperation in the future, the cooperation that you want and that everybody wants?
Mr. BEN GURION: I think what you mentioned is a fact, and a very important fact, in the life of this country — that there is a separation or, I might say, a distinctness in economic life, in habitation, in culture, in schools, as you enumerated. It is true. But I do not think this precludes future cooperation between Jews and Arabs, just as I do not believe that because England and France have a distinct economy, language, and tradition, they cannot cooperate. And although they quarreled — for many centuries they regarded each other as their main enemy — since, I believe, 1940 there has been a very strong and growing cooperation between these two countries. So the fact that people are living separately and distinctly must not preclude cooperation. On the contrary; we see the opposite phenomena: peoples having the same language and the same state of culture quarreling among themselves and fighting each other. It does not follow necessarily that people, in order to cooperate, must use the same language; it does not follow necessarily that people using the same language cannot quarrel and make wars against themselves.
There are deep reasons why the Jews had to build new villages and towns. There were two main reasons. I am afraid I may enter into a rather long explanation, which I would not care to do at this late hour.
One reason was that they did not want to take away anything from the people who are here. Secondly, they could not live on the same level. But this does not mean that the Jew living in his village and speaking Hebrew, and the Arab living in his village and speaking Arabic, cannot cooperate in having the same conditions, to guard against thieves, against plagues, against all other things. And there are cases of such cooperation. But this is on a small scale. We are convinced that as soon as the Jews are equalized on the plane of statehood, perhaps not in one single day, but owing to the necessity of both peoples and the two established facts, there will be cooperation between them in spite of the fact that they live their own lives. They live their Jewish life, and they live their Arab life. We do not see any difficulty in cooperating because of that.
Mr. ENTEZAM (Iran) (Interpretation from French): I have only one question, but before I put it to Mr. Ben Gurion, I should like to tell him that I was very much touched by his allusion to the Emperor of Persia and it was at that time Persia who rendered a service to the people of Israel.
The question I have is as follows. As I see it, Mr. Ben Gurion admits to only one solution, and that is an independent state of Palestine. It is quite evident that on that point Mr. Ben Gurion and the Arabs are in full agreement. Both want an independent state, and both want a democratic state. I insist on the words “democracy” and democratic state” because, in the first place, it is a fashionable and popular expression at present, and also because it means rule by the majority. The only difference between the Arabs and the Jewish people on this point is that the Arabs say “establish that independent state now”; whereas the Jewish people say “don't do it now, but wait until we have a majority in the country.”
If we admit that Palestine is a special case and might need special treatment, can we at the same time accept under the question of delay the principle of self-determination? It seems to me that it is difficult to admit at the same time that you must delay until an independent state is established and also admit the principle of self-determination. This is the question I have.
Mr. BEN GURION: I want first of all to tell the representative of Iran that while we have to forget, and we do forget, all the evils done to us, and it is not only in relation to Persia, although our relations with Persia really were the most temporary relations as between the Jewish people and the great empire which was on the border of Palestine.
As to the question of the representative of Iran, it really raises the whole issue. But I want first of all to say that it is not quite the same thing, even assuming that we talk about a democratic state. We conceive a democratic state as a state where all citizens are absolutely — here I can use the word “absolute” because either it is equality or it is not; you cannot have equality of 99 persons because then it is discrimination — equal, whatever they are: Jews, Arabs, Moslems, or any other nationality or religion; while the state required by the Arabs, as expressed officially by the Arab delegation and by the Arab League, is one in which they want to have one discrimination — against the Jews, that they should not be free as equal citizens to settle; not the Jews outside Palestine, but the Jews who will be citizens in a so-called Democratic Palestine state should not be able to settle wherever they like. So it is not quite the same. From the beginning they want to build a state on racial discrimination. But this is the real issue. It is not a question merely of time. They want it now, and we want it after a certain period. Formally, it may look so, but I think it would be unfair on my side to make the whole question merely a question of time, to say we also want to have a democratic state, but not now — after a certain number of years. It is quite a different thing. What we say is that here we Jews and we Jewish people have a state and have a right. No state, no political regime can be created in accordance with justice, with history, and with international law which recognizes this Jewish state and this Jewish right, which will preclude the realization of our right. And our right consists of two things: our right to immigrate into Palestine as our right, not as a Jew immigrating to America. When I immigrated into America, America was free. I myself was expelled by the Turks from Palestine and went to America without a passport — I had not got a passport because all my papers were taken from me. I came to America in 1915. Even then the Jews, or any other persons from Europe, could immigrate freely into America. They did not immigrate as of a right because America could say, yes you are free to immigrate, or America could say, no. There was time when she said yes, and there was a time when she said no. But the French Government, or the English Government, or the Persian Government cannot say to a Persian or French national you have no right to come back as of right. This is our right in this country, and in this country only. I am giving you our view, which I believe is the view of international law and of human conscience, as far as we knew it until now. This is our right, and we say it will be wrong to create such political conditions that will rob us of our right. This is done in many countries. I will give you an example, although it is not quite the same.
In the District of Columbia in the United States there are people living — and there are over a million, more than the number of Jews in Palestine — and they have no right of self-determination. They have not the right which every American has in every American State to elect their own Governor. They were deprived for a more general reason. This is the central place which belongs to all the forty-eight States in America, and because they have the privilege of living there they have not the right which the citizen of Ohio, or of Minnesota, or of any other State has. So it is not always absolute.
When there is an over-riding right which may displace that right of self-determination no country will recognize — neither Persia nor France — the right of self-determination, let us say, of one of their dependents to be independent. There are certain rights of self-determination, and when I say the right of the Jew to come back to his country and the right of our people to be here as equal partners in the world family, it is an over-riding right which applies to Palestine, and therefore no regime — not only an Arab State — should be created — even no trusteeship, no mandate should be created — which will make that right impossible of realisation. This is why we oppose it. It is not a matter of time only, but given sufficient framework, it can be safeguarded only if there is independence and the Jews are in the majority. Then the Jew will be able to come back if he is persecuted. I am not naming any country — let us say Patagonia — but if he is in danger of being murdered or persecuted there he will be able to come back if there is a place for him because the majority will see to it. And the Jewish people as a whole — not every Jew — will enjoy the same status as any other people. This is the crucial point, and not the matter of time.
Mr. LISICKY (Czechoslovakia): I presume that Mr. Ben Gurion has listened to the statement of Dr. Weizmann, which was acknowledged with enthusiastic applause by the public. This statement favours a partition of Palestine into two states. I should like to hear the opinion of Mr. Ben Gurion on this scheme — not his personal opinion because it is more or less known, but the opinion of the Jewish Agency. I am not asking for an immediate answer. I should prefer very much a considered opinion of the Jewish Agency after deliberation. If I may ask, I should like to see included in this considered opinion the point of view of the Jewish Agency on the possible federate scheme of these two states — a Jewish state and an Arab State — in Palestine after the partition. I do not mean any rigid federation, but rather a sort of loose confederation, a sort in which the independent character of the Jewish State should be completely set forth. I put the question, but I am not asking for an immediate answer.
Mr. BEN GURION: I will make two remarks on that.
One is that Dr. Weizmann is thought so well of by the Jewish people and occupies such a place in our history and among us that he is entitled to speak for himself without any public mandate. You heard his views. I also had the pleasure of listening to them. As you do not insist on my giving you the answer now about the scheme of partition, I will not do it, but I will tell you what we told the Government last year and this year that while we believe and request that our right, at least to the Western part of Palestine should be granted in full and western Palestine be made a Jewish State, we believe it is possible. We have a right to it, but we are willing to consider an offer of a Jewish State in an area which means less than the whole of Palestine. We will consider it. But I am glad you do not want me to give a complete scheme.
On the question of federation I made it clear before that it depends really on what you mean by the word “federation”. When you say “federate state”, you mean that the Jewish State would be an independent state. I will give you an example, in Australia, for instance. Although Australia belongs to the Commonwealth of Nations, Australia is independent. When England makes war, Australia may remain neutral; and when Australia makes war England need not make war. It has its own representation and its own representative, although it is tied up with a larger group in a free commonwealth.
If you mean that the Jewish state should be federated with other states while remaining an independent state with membership, then we are perfectly willing. In fact, we would welcome it if this were for the benefit of all the peoples in this region and if this were the desire of the United Nations. But if you mean that there would be a federate state as, let us say in the United States where there are forty-eight States — New York is a State, but really it is one State; the United States is as much a single State as France, or as the United Kingdom, although there is Wales and Scotland and England. If you mean the Jewish State should be a part of a federate state as New York is a part of the United States, that is a denial of the Jewish state and Jewish independence. We would be against this. Such a scheme as this means not a Jewish state.
Mr. LISICKY (Czechoslovakia): I think you did not hear when I spoke about a loose confederation.
Mr. BEN GURION: I say we will be ready to enter not a loose federation, but a much closer federation with free and equal status, as a free and equal people, whether confederate or federate. This does not preclude the federation of a Jewish State with some of the neighbouring states.
CHAIRMAN: Does anyone else wish to ask a question? If not we shall have to adjourn the hearing until tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.
Mr. BEN GURION: Will you allow me before I leave to express my gratitude for your patience and your kindness — everyone of you — in asking your questions and listening to my answers. I know you want the truth end, as far as I and my colleagues can, we want to help you, and 1 am grateful for your patience and your kindness.
CHAIRMAN: We thank you, Mr. Ben Gurion. The members of the Committee will now retire to a private meeting.
(The meeting adjourned at 1:25 p.m.)
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