United Nations Special Committee on PalestineSubmitted to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine by the Jewish Agency to show the bias of the Government of Palestine and refute its arguments.

“For all its laboured argument and subtle phrasing, the thesis advanced in the Memorandum is very simple. The failure of the mandatory regime…is not due to any shortcoming of the Mandatory Power, but to inherent defects of the Mandate and to the intransigent attitude of both Arabs and Jews. In support of this thesis an elaborate argument is built up ending with a vindication of the 1939 White Paper, which represents the abandonment by the Mandatory Power of the policy for the execution of which it was entrusted with the Mandate and which is its sole title to govern Palestine.” p 3

“The Memorandum states that its object was to demonstrate how the ‘principal task’ of the Palestine Government since it came into being had been ‘the holding of the balance as between the bi-partite obligations’ of the Mandate. The Royal Commission, by contrast, had described the primary purpose’ of the mandatory regime to be the promotion of the establishment of the Jewish National Home. The two interpretations indicate the fundamental gap between what the Mandate had intended and what the Mandatory Administration has done.” p. 29


The Jewish Agency for Palestine

Reply to the Government of Palestine’s Memorandum

on the Administration of Palestine Under the Mandate

Submitted to the Untied Nations Special Committee on Palestine

Jerusalem, August 1947

Printed in Palestine

The Jerusalem Press Ltd.

For all its laboured argument and subtle phrasing, the thesis advanced in the Memorandum is very simple. The failure of the mandatory regime, it maintains, is not due to any shortcoming of the Mandatory Power, but to inherent defects of the Mandate and to the intransigent attitude of both Arabs and Jews. In support of this thesis an elaborate argument is built up ending with a vindication of the 1939 White Paper, which represents the abandonment by the Mandatory Power of the policy for the execution of which it was entrusted with the Mandate and which is its sole title to govern Palestine.

The White Paper of 1922

2. The Memorandum significantly begins with a recital, not of the Mandate, but of the restrictive passages in the 1922 White Paper, which are so chosen as to emphasise its negative intent. Before the reader is initiated into what the Mandate means, he is emphatically told what it does not mean. The recital conveys the impression that the Mandate was designed to give birth to some unpolitical structure called “the Jewish National Home,” loosely anchored somewhere in Palestine, and to preclude anything beyond that. From this summary of the White Paper the reader could hardly infer that there was nothing in it to prevent the formation of a Jewish majority and the progressive evolution of the “National Home” into a Jewish State, as was authoritatively stated by the Palestine Royal Commission on the basis of the evidence given before it by Mr. Churchill, the author of that White Paper.

The Mandate

3. After this negative introduction, the Memorandum proceeds to summarise the Palestine Mandate. This recital again shows evident bias. There is no reference to the fundamental affirmations of the Preamble- the recognition of the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and of the grounds for reconstituting its national home there. Nor is the basic provision of Art. 1 cited which limits the Mandatory’s powers of legislation and administration by the terms of the Mandate and implicitly denies him the right to [4] govern the country under any policy not in accordance with that instrument. The Memorandum further omits to mention the functions of the Jewish Agency under Art. 11 in the development of the country’s resources, and makes no reference whatever to the provision of Art. 24 which requires the Mandatory to make an annual report to the Council of the League of Nations “to the satisfaction of the Council” on the measures taken during the year to carry out the provisions of the Mandate. In quoting Art. 15, no mention is made of the provision contained therein that “no discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language”–an injunction flagrantly violated by the Land Transfers Regulations of 1940.

Thus the summary omits three basic limitations imposed on the Mandatory-

(a) that he may not administer or legislate contrary to the Mandate;

(b) that his own judgment in respect of the execution of the Mandate is not final, but subject to international review;

(c) that he may not institute any discriminatory measures to the detriment of any section of the population.

These articles embody the fundamental principle that the Mandatory is required to regard his charge as an international trust, which he has no right to modify or re-interpret in accordance with political exigencies in other fields. Their omission in this summary of the Mandate is a fitting prelude to the subsequent argument which proceeds throughout on the assumption that the interpretation and administration of the Mandate are matters of “policy” to be determined by the Mandatory Government alone.

“General” and “Specific” Obligations

4. The recital of the Mandate is followed by a lengthy disquisition on the obligations embodied in it. “Thus,” the Memorandum states, “the Mandate imposed both general and specific obligations”–the former in respect of “the development of Palestine in the interest of its people as a whole,” the latter “directed mainly towards facilitating the development of the Jewish National Home.” The two “sets of obligations” are treated throughout as inherently conflicting and as requiring to be brought into accord either by an understanding between Arabs and Jews, or, if that is unattainable, by the Mandatory “holding the balance” between the two. It is this underlying assumption, that the development of the Jewish National Home is basically at variance with the development of Palestine in the interest of the population as a whole, which is the vitiating fallacy of the whole argument. The conception of the Jewish National Home, [5] as propounded at the time by those responsible for the adoption of that policy by the British Government, was never that of an isolated island remote from the general trend of Palestinian life. It was conceived rather as a dynamic agency transforming the entire structure of the country and raising the standards of the population as a whole. “The Jewish people,” wrote the British Colonial Secretary to the Cardinal Secretary of State on July 1st, 1922, “in virtue of that policy, are ready and willing to contribute by their resources and efforts to develop the country for the good of all its inhabitants.”* That the Jews have lived up to what was expected of them in this respect is testified by the Royal Commission- “Our conclusion, then, is that, broadly speaking, the Arabs have shared to a considerable degree in the material benefits which Jewish immigration has brought to Palestine. The obligation of the Mandate in this respect has been observed” (Report, p. 130).

  • Cmd. 1708 (1922), para. 5.

5. The theory that the Mandate embodies two sets of conflicting obligations is an artificial post-factum construction designed to justify the progressive abandonment by the Mandatory of what the Royal Commission described as “the primary purpose of the Mandate”- the promotion of the establishment of the Jewish National Home (Report, p. 39). The Memorandum itself does not offer any analysis of the Mandate in explanation of its division into “general” and “specific” obligations. But the “two-fold obligation” theory–that is to say, the thesis that the Mandate contains two conflicting sets of provisions–has become a standing argument of the critic of the National Home policy. It is proposed to deal in the present context with the provisions generally adduced in support of that assertion. Three types of provisions have been used for building up this arbitrary interpretation-

(i) The first is the reference to the development of self-governing institutions contained in Art. 2 of the Mandate. The Article reads as follows-

“The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.”

The phrasing of the first part of this Article has been construed to imply that it imposed two conflicting obligations–one (the establishment of the Jewish National Home) for the benefit of the Jews, and the other (the development of self-governing institutions) [6] for the benefit of the Arabs, who might thus, by the use of their present majority, thwart the former purpose. It is, on the face of it, untenable to suggest that an Article of the Mandate should in its second part impose an obligation which, under existing circumstances, would frustrate the realisation of the “primary purpose of the Mandate” as defined in its first part. The syntactical structure of the sentence clearly indicates that the Article provided for the establishment of the Jewish National Home and the development of self-governing institutions–the two being parts of one and the same objective–and, in addition to that, for the safeguarding of the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine. The development of self-governing institutions was an integral part of the establishment of the Jewish National Home–a necessary corollary of that basic policy. This was in line with the explanation given by Mr. Lloyd George, Prime Minister at the time of the Balfour Declaration, to the Royal Commission, in which he stated- “It was contemplated that when the time arrived for according representative institutions to Palestine, if the Jews had meanwhile responded to the opportunity afforded them by the idea of a national home and had become a definite majority of the inhabitants, then Palestine would thus become a Jewish Commonwealth.” (Report, p. 24).

(ii) The second provision of the Mandate interpreted as signifying the imposition of conflicting obligations is that of Art. 6 which provides that, in facilitating Jewish immigration and encouraging close settlement by Jews on the land, the Administration shall ensure that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced. This has been read (e.g. in the 1939 White Paper) to mean that the Article imposed two obligations of equal scope and weight, the qualifying clause in effect neutralising the positive obligation. An American interpreter of the Mandate, Dr. P.L. Hanna, has commented as follows on this mode of construction-

“In the course of time it was claimed that the Mandate placed upon Great Britain an equal obligation to the Arabs and to the Zionists . . . It required, however, a transposition of the terminology of the Mandate by the transfer of secondary and subordinate clauses into primary positions to give real duality to the instrument. The plain sense of the document was inescapable. It sought to foster the establishment of a Jewish national home, while safeguarding, so far as might be compatible with that purpose, the rights and well-being of the non-Jewish population”.

  • P.L. Hanna; “British Policy in Palestine”, published by the American Council on Public Affairs, 1942, Washington, D.C., pp. 67-68.

(iii) The third set of provisions quoted in support of the “two-fold obligation” theory are the guarantees given in the Mandate to all the [7] inhabitants of Palestine in respect of the maintenance of their civil and religious rights, respect for the personal status of the various peoples and communities, recognition of their holy days as legal days of rest and the right of each community to maintain its own schools in its own language. These provisions refer to “all the inhabitants” including the Jews, and are in the nature of general non-discrimination clauses. They did not constitute special obligations which, by any stretch of the imagination, could be regarded as antagonistic to the establishment of the Jewish National Home.

6. All this does not mean that the Mandatory was not required to concern himself with the welfare and progress of the non-Jewish population. That was certainly inherent in his charge, but it was never conceived, as presented in the Memorandum, as a concern basically at variance and possibly irreconcilable with the promotion of the National Home. It is, indeed, tragic that the Administration has so signally failed to realise that the Mandate aimed at a two-fold regeneration, that of the Jewish people and that of Palestine, one to be effected through the other. The long-neglected land of Palestine, which in the normal way had as little chance of revival through its own resources as any of the neighbouring countries, was to be rebuilt by galvanising the unique attachment to that country of the Jewish people throughout the world. Instead of conceiving its task in this dynamic way, the Administration constituted itself the guardian of the old order, invested with the task of curbing the growth of the National Home which might interfere with the preservation of that order. The “Arab-Jewish disparity” theory subsequently advanced in the Memorandum is no more than a retrospective rationalisation of the construction put by the Administration on its task during the greater part of its regime. Hence the tendency to restrain and restrict and to “hold the balance,” and the consequent failure actively to promote the Jewish National Home.

The Problem of Reconciliation

7. Having stressed the need for an understanding between Arabs and Jews, the Memorandum proceeds to describe the efforts of the Mandatory Power to bring it about. It appears, however, that these efforts were confined to repeated admonitions to the two peoples to arrive at such an understanding. The Memorandum quotes the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald) in his letter to Dr. Weizmann in February, 1931, to the effect that the differing interests and viewpoints are not in themselves irreconcilable, but that they can only be reconciled if it is realised that a solution of the problem depends on an understanding between Arabs and Jews. Similarly in 1938, in publishing the Report of the Partition [8] Commission, the Government had expressed the view that the surest foundation for peace and progress in Palestine would be an understanding between Arabs and Jews. In “a determined effort to promote such an understanding” the Government had convened the London Conference with Arab and Jewish representatives. When the two delegations had failed to accept the proposals offered to them by the Government the White Paper of 1939 had been promulgated, in which it was again emphasised that for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State the relations between Arabs and Jews must become such as would make good government possible. The two peoples, the White Paper had declared, must learn to practise mutual tolerance, good will and cooperation. “Each must earnestly desire peace in which to assist in increasing the well-being of the whole people of the country”. This catalogue of pious declarations–backed by no real efforts to bring about such an understanding–is capped by a quotation from the speech made by the British Foreign Secretary on the 13th November, 1945, in the House of Commons, in which he said-

“His Majesty’s Government have made every effort to devise some arrangements which would enable Arabs and Jews to live together in peace and to cooperate for the welfare of the country, but all such efforts have been unavailing. Any arrangement acceptable to one party has been rejected as unacceptable to the other. The whole history of Palestine since the Mandate was granted has been one of continued friction between the two races, culminating at intervals in serious disturbances. The fact has to be faced that since the introduction of the Mandate it has been impossible to find common ground between the Arabs and the Jews. The differences in religion and in language, in cultural and social life, in ways of thought and conduct, are difficult to reconcile. On the other hand, both communities lay claim to Palestine, one on the ground of a millennium of occupation, and the other on the ground of historic association coupled with the undertaking given in the first world war to establish a Jewish home. The task that has to be accomplished now is to find means to reconcile these divergencies.”

8. The assertion that the British Government had made every effort to bring about peace and cooperation between the Arabs and Jews, but that all such efforts had been fruitless because both sides were equally intransigent, is devoid of foundation. In the whole history of Great Britain’s connection with Palestine, only one serious attempt was made by the Government actively to help towards an agreement between Jews and Arabs. That was the effort of Colonel T.E. Lawrence to bring Dr. Weizmann and the Emir Feisal together. The effort was successful, essentially because it was supported by the Government and because the Arabs were confronted by a most authoritative [9] public recognition of Jewish rights, which they believed to be firmly established and not liable to be whittled down. Since then the Government, so far from doing anything to further an understanding–apart from expatiating on its desirability–has in fact hampered any rapprochement between Jews and Arabs by consistently yielding to Arab intransigence and thus strengthening the position of the extremist elements in the Arab camp. Herein lies the basic cause of the failure of the mandatory regime. From the appointment of Haj Amin el-Husseini to the office of principal dignitary in Palestine, after his instigation of the Jerusalem pogrom of 1920, to the liquidation of the elected Municipal Council of Jerusalem in 1945, the record of the British Administration of Palestine has been one of constant surrender to Arab violence and intimidation. Any tendency there might have been among the Arabs to accept the Mandate–and there was evidence of that on more than one occasion and in more than one quarter–was inevitably thwarted when it was seen that the Government submitted to the demands of the intransigents and moved farther away from the policy of the Mandate. The White Paper of 1939, for all its sermonising to Jews and Arabs on the virtues of mutual good will and cooperation, actually destroyed any prospect of a Jewish-Arab agreement by throwing over the mandatory trust and accepting the claim for an Arab majority State. What inducement could there be for the Arabs to seek agreement with the Jews by conciliation and compromise when the Mandatory had already conceded them–in response to violence and intimidation–the full measure of their demands? There is little in the record of the mandatory administration to justify the Foreign Secretary’s bald assertion that since the introduction of the Mandate it had been impossible to find common ground between the Arabs and the Jews because “the differences in religion and in language, in cultural and social life, in ways of thought and conduct” were difficult to reconcile. No serious endeavour was ever undertaken by the Mandatory to further such reconciliation; little encouragement was lent to joint efforts of Jews and Arabs; independent ventures of Jews or Arabs to set up partnerships and cooperative enterprises were not infrequently frowned upon. The allegation, moreover, of irreconcilable differences in “the ways of thought and conduct” is hard to square with the statement, quoted a few lines previously from the 1939 White Paper, to the effect that “at many times and in many places in Palestine during recent years the Arab and Jewish inhabitants have lived in friendship together.” Nor can it fairly be said that the “whole history of Palestine” under the Mandate has been “one of continued friction between the two races.” It is sadly significant of the present Government’s attitude to the Palestine problem that the history of the mandatory regime appears to it as no more than a record of continuous discord. The history of that period is assuredly capable of a more constructive interpretation.

[10] 9. From the assertion that the Mandate contains two sets of mutually conflicting obligations, the Memorandum next draws the inference that the Mandatory is confronted with a “major problem of reconciliation” (para. 5). Translated into terms of practical administration, it states, the task had been to establish a regime designed to produce a sufficient degree of cooperation between Arabs and Jews as to synthesize the two objectives. The task is elaborated in detail, but no information is given as to what action was taken to accomplish it. The Memorandum merely repeats that “for the effective carrying out of the general task and the specific obligations, cooperation between Arabs and Jews . . . is essential,” that their cooperation in the Administration was expected, but that it did not materialise for a variety of reasons, “some deriving from the Mandate itself.”

10. It was, indeed, desirable that a sufficient degree of cooperation between Arabs and Jews should be secured to enable the Mandate to be administered effectively, but there is nothing in the Mandate or in the interpretative documents published at the time of its enactment to indicate that such cooperation was regarded as “essential”–in other words, that the political opposition of the Arabs was to be considered as equivalent to a veto. The fact that there was an Arab majority and an Arab opposition was well known at the time that the Mandate was promulgated. But it was never suggested in any official pronouncement that Arab cooperation was to be a preliminary and indispensable condition for the establishment of the Jewish National Home or that failure to secure the reconciliation postulated in the Memorandum was to signify the end of the National Home policy. The equity of the Middle Eastern settlement arrived at by the Allied and Associated Powers at the end of the first World War, of which the Jewish National Home policy was an integral part, was determined by grants of independence to the Arabs in a territory of over 1,000,000 square miles with the reservation of what Lord Balfour called a “small notch” for Jewish needs. It is inconceivable that if the cooperation of the Arabs in the administration of the Mandate had been regarded as so “essential” a prerequisite as described in the Memorandum, there would have been no reference to it in any of the numerous authoritative statements made at the time by the British Government, orally and in writing.

11. This is not to say that the task of reconciling the Arabs to the Mandate should not have been undertaken. It was, as previously shown, never actively pursued. Indeed, the indications which the Arabs received at an early stage that the Administration lacked sympathy for the creative task entrusted to it, or faith in its practicability, discouraged any tendency towards reconciliation and cooperation. The Arabs inevitably interpreted the Government’s concessions to Arab recalcitrance, to quote the Royal Commission [11] (Report, p. 363), “as showing that the British determination to implement the Balfour Declaration is not sincere.” It is because of this and not, as stated in the Memorandum, because of “a complex of factors . . . some deriving from the Mandate itself” that the expectation of cooperation was not realised. The requirement of a “synthesis” had been elevated into an essential of the mandatory regime. When this requirement failed to materialise, largely because of the Government’s yielding to Arab pressure, the international trust which, according to the Royal Commission, was “unquestionably the primary purpose of the Mandate,” was abandoned. The Memorandum describes the establishment of “the paramountcy of law . . . in a country for long accustomed to the arbitrary exercise of sovereign authority” as a major task of the mandatory administration. Its record has in fact been one of continuous subversion of the paramountcy of law by the arbitrary exercise of sovereign authority in defiance of an international trust.

Jews and Arabs

12. The Memorandum then proceeds to elaborate in detail the alleged grounds for the failure of the mandatory regime. It begins with an analysis of Arab and Jewish mentality. The bulk of the Arab community is described as “composed of peasants and small land-owners, hard-headed and stubborn and with a profound sense of attachment to the land.” This is in striking contrast to the picture drawn of the Arab peasantry in earlier official reports and documents in connection with the sale of land to Jews. There they were painted as improvident, light-minded, ready to sell their land to the highest bidder and wasteful of the proceeds. In the description of the Jews, the Memorandum stresses that they are opposed to and suspicious of “constituted authority,” an attitude it attributes to the persecutions they had gone through in their countries of origin. It is true that many of the immigrants carried with them bitter memories of discrimination and persecution from their native lands, but it is equally true that they were only too anxious to forget their past in what they believed would be the free atmosphere of their national home. In reality, the new life in Palestine has had a profound effect upon the Jewish settlers in this vital respect. The fact that here they had to shape the framework of a society themselves imbued them with a sense of responsibility and an appreciation of the difficulties of Government which militated against facile criticism of authority. The most striking illustration of this phenomenon is to be found in the sphere of labour. Jewish labour in Palestine is essentially constructive and responsible. It feels itself, as it were, “in office,” and there can be no doubt that it carries a major part of the responsibility for the establishment of the Jewish National Home. To describe the Yishuv, therefore, as essentially opposed to constituted authority [12] reveals a remarkable ignorance of its mentality. This new attitude towards public authority has also influenced the Yishuv’s attitude to the Administration. In spite of the disappointment at the Government’s failure effectively to implement its positive obligations under the Mandate, which had already set in at an early stage of the mandatory regime, there was considerable readiness to appreciate the Government’s difficulties and to make allowances for them. In spite of recurrent shocks, cooperation with the Administration was maintained by the responsible Jewish authorities with the full approval of the community until the 1939 White Paper wrecked the basic structure of the mandatory regime.

13. There is a further misleading implication in the description of the Jewish community. The Memorandum concludes the analysis of the Jewish community by stating that the bulk of it is town-dwelling. The remark is placed in juxtaposition to the concluding sentence of the previous paragraph where it is observed that the bulk of the Arab community consists of peasants with a profound sense of attachment to the land. It is, of course, true that only 25% of the Jewish community are settled on the land. Yet, as every visitor to Palestine knows, the essential characteristic of the Yishuv–in marked distinction to Jewish communities in other countries–is that it is to so large an extent rural and that its trend is from town to countryside and not vice versa, as elsewhere. Therein essentially lies the radical transformation which Palestine has wrought in the traditional structure of Jewish economic life.

14. Having analysed the mentality of the two peoples, the Memorandum proceeds to describe their attitude to the political issue of Palestine. The Arabs are pictured as irreconcilably opposed to the Balfour Declaration and the National Home policy, claiming Palestine as a wholly Arab country and inspired by fear of domination by the Jews–“fear of the submersion of the Arab characteristics, the Christian and Moslem characteristics of Palestine, beneath the dominion of a people having a different religion and an alien structure of society.” In a curious way Christians and Moslems are here placed jointly in opposition to “a people having a different religion”–as though there were no differences of religion between the former and as though the Christians in Palestine and in the Middle East generally had not much more reason to fear the submersion of their characteristics beneath the dominion of millions of Moslems than of the small Jewish community of Palestine!

15. If the Arabs are recalcitrant, so, according to the Memorandum, are the Jews. This is an essential part of the argument, and a great effort is made to substantiate it. The Memorandum admits that the Zionist Organisation had accepted the 1922 Statement of Policy and thus displayed a sense of moderation. But, so the [13] argument runs, the trouble was that the very purpose of the National Home prevented it from having a character other than Jewish and precluded the assimilation of Jewish culture to that of the Arabs, This is veiled criticism, not so much of the behaviour of the Jews as of the National Home policy and the Mandate, for which, of course, in the ultimate resort, the Jews are responsible, That original sin, moreover, they have aggravated by building up a Jewish economic system that is “exclusive racially.” Undeniably the Jews in Palestine have made a distinct effort to build up a comprehensive economic life and have not sought openings for themselves in the existing structure of Arab society. They held that their National Home would have no reality unless it had roots in the basic layers of society, and they accordingly made successful efforts to become manual labourers in field and factory. But they have never denied employment to Arabs in their economic sector as Arabs virtually deny employment to Jews in theirs. Thousands of Arabs are gainfully employed in Jewish orange groves and industrial enterprises; thousands more are engaged in ancillary trades connected with Jewish building activity, etc. The Memorandum itself (para. 22) admits that opportunities for employment were opened by Jewish enterprise “for Arabs as well as Jews” and that the general improvement of conditions resulting from Jewish effort “benefited the Arab as well as the Jewish section of the population.” What justification then is there for the charge that the “racially exclusive” Jewish economy is at the root of all the trouble?

16. The main accusation, however, levelled against the Jews is that after 1936 their “intransigent immoderation” had become “no less remarkable than that of the Arabs.” They had unanimously rejected the White Paper of 1939. Their immoderation, to be sure, consisted of a refusal to accept a policy adopted by the Mandatory by way of surrender to Arab violence–a policy which was not merely calculated to destroy their National Home but also happened to coincide with the entrapment of the Jews of Europe. The destruction of 6,000,000 Jews followed the “intransigent immoderation” of their Palestine relatives in opposing the 1939 White Paper. That “immoderation” reached its peak when the Yishuv accepted the “Biltmore Programme” for the establishment of a Jewish Commonwealth–after the British Government had in word and deed disowned its mandatory trust and proposed the establishment of an Arab majority State. By the acceptance of the Biltmore Programme, the Memorandum asserts, “the prospect of cooperation between Arabs and Jews was in effect, if not in verbal profession, eliminated.” Cooperation necessarily requires two sides, and it is difficult to see how the acceptance of the Jewish Commonwealth programme can be described as having eliminated all prospects of Jewish and Arab cooperation when in the preceding paragraph the Arabs were shown to be [14] unequivocally and permanently opposed to the very idea of cooperation, It was not the Biltmore Programme but the White Paper of 1939 which destroyed any chance of an Arab-Jewish rapprochement, because it vindicated in Arab eyes the tactics of their intransigent leadership.

Alleged Defects of the Mandate

17. Having allocated a goodly share of the blame for the failure of the mandatory regime to the intransigence of both Arabs and Jews, the Memorandum next proceeds to deal with the Mandate itself. The Mandate is blamed for having failed to make specific provision for bridging the gap between Arabs and Jews. Worse still- far from building bridges, it is charged with containing provisions which “established and, indeed, tended to accentuate a measure of differentiation between the Jewish community and the rest of the population of Palestine.” This, the Memorandum states, does not “of course” refer to the general provision of Art. 2 making the Mandatory responsible for “placing the country under political, administrative and economic conditions which would secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home,” or to Art. 6 requiring the Mandatory to facilitate Jewish immigration, because “these flow naturally from the preamble and are implicit in it.” What, in the view of the Memorandum, has established and accentuated the “differentiation between the Jewish community and the rest of the population” are four specific provisions of the Mandate-

(a) The setting up of a Jewish Agency in a special position in regard to matters affecting the National Home and the interests of the Jewish people (Art. 4).

(b) The provision of Art. 6 that the close settlement of Jews on the land, in particular State lands, shall be encouraged in cooperation with the Jewish Agency, as contrasted with the requirement of Art. 11 to order the general land system in such a way as to promote close settlement and intensive cultivation of the land.

(c) The grant to each community of the right to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language (Art. 15)–in spite of the fact that this provision confers no privilege on the Jewish community.

(d) The recognition in Art. 22 of Arabic and Hebrew as official languages–although this, too, does not set up any special distinction in favour of the Jews.

18. There is no logical foundation for the distinction drawn between the provisions of Art. 2 and Art. 6 of the Mandate, on the one hand, and those of Arts. 4, 11, 15 and 22, on the other. If there is any [15] “differentiation between the Jewish community and the rest of the population” it is as marked in the general provision that the whole country should be placed under conditions favourable to the establishment of the National Home (Art. 2), and that Jewish immigration should be facilitated (Art. 6), as in the articles relating to the Jewish Agency, the community schools and the official recognition of national languages. In fact, the first provision of Art. 2 is the most far-reaching. The statement of the Memorandum that its charge of differentiation “does not of course refer” to Arts. 2 and 6 is, therefore, no more than lip-service to the Mandate. The provisions of the Mandate regarding the Jewish Agency, the Hebrew language, etc., do no more than give specific effect to the general provision of Art. 2. Thus the argument of para. 9 of the Memorandum clearly reveals the objection of the Government of Palestine to the Jewish National Home policy per se–the policy which the Royal Commission described as the primary purpose of the Mandate. The provisions relating to the Jewish Agency, the Hebrew language and the community schools appear to have been singled out for attack merely because the general rejection of the National Home policy cannot be openly admitted while the Mandate is still nominally in force and because these provisions seem to offer easier targets.

The Jewish Agency

19. The Jewish Agency is attacked firstly because of its very establishment by the Mandate as a distinctive body and secondly because of the shape and function it has assumed in actual life. The establishment of an appropriate Jewish Agency, the Memorandum argues, to advise and cooperate with the Government in matters affecting the National Home and the interests of the Jewish population, might have been a measure of substantial assistance to the Administration, and where the Agency had limited itself to that role, as in the administration of immigration and in the organisation of agricultural research, it had, indeed, rendered such assistance. The Memorandum goes further. Even if the Agency had gone beyond that and assumed the functions of an “unofficial opposition” it might still have been of use if it had carried out those functions in a manner consistent with its duty of advising and cooperating with the Administration, and had followed up the criticism it had to offer by cooperating in the execution of whatever decision had in the end been taken by the Government. In fact, the Memorandum complains, the Jewish Agency had not observed its terms of reference. According to the 1922 White Paper the position of the Jewish Agency under the Mandate did not entitle it to share in any degree in its administration, but in actual fact the Jewish Agency, by commanding the allegiance of the great majority of the Jews, exercised a [16] considerable influence on the conduct of the Government. Thus the original conception of the Jewish Agency had not been realised and its present position had been consolidated over many years. The Agency represented not only the Yishuv but Zionists throughout the world. Its influence and resources, therefore, greatly exceeded those of any local body, a fact which, it is admitted, was implicit in the Mandate. Co-ordination of the various forms of Jewish enterprise might have been a natural development, but concentration of all the Yishuv’s resources in capital and organisation under the control of the Agency, was a factor severely straining “the unitary form of administration designed to serve the country as a whole.”

20. The Jewish Agency forms an integral part of the constitutional structure of the Mandate. The underlying conception of the Mandate was that the Jewish effort of reconstruction should be organised by the Jews themselves and that the Mandatory should create the necessary external conditions to facilitate its growth. It was obvious that for this purpose a representative Jewish body was needed to guide and coordinate Jewish efforts on the one hand, and act as liaison between the Jewish people and the British Government on the other. For this function, in the first instance, the Zionist Organisation was chosen. It had at that time been in existence for 25 years. It commanded world-wide Jewish allegiance and had proved its practical effectiveness as a colonising authority in Palestine even prior to the first World War. During that war it had been responsible for ensuring the survival of the Jewish community in Palestine. It was on its behalf that Dr. Weizmann had conducted the negotiations which led to the issuing of the Balfour Declaration, and it was to it as the ultimate addressee that the Balfour Declaration had been made. When the Zionist Organisation was recognised by the Mandate as the “Jewish Agency,” that is, the body entrusted with the above-defined functions, it was clearly not intended, nor would it have been conceivable, that it should cease to be an independent representative body acting in the political and economic spheres on behalf of those who had constituted it. Its official recognition by the Mandate was intended to add to, and not to detract from, its status and character. If, as suggested in the Memorandum, the intention of the Mandate had been to set up a purely non-political and advisory organ, it is evident that the Zionist Organisation would not have been chosen for the task. As Art. 4 of the Mandate expressly stated, it was designed to secure the cooperation of all Jews throughout the world who were anxious to assist in the establishment of the Jewish National Home. That was the meaning of the historic words spoken by the British Prime Minister, Mr. David Lloyd George, when announcing to Dr. Weizmann after the San Remo Conference in 1920 the decision of the Supreme Allied Council to entrust Great Britain with the Mandate for Palestine-

[17] “You have been given a start,” he said, “it is up to you to make good!” Had the Mandate not established the Jewish Agency in the manner described, and had the Agency not undertaken the functions now administered by it, the task of collecting the financial resources required for the establishment of the Jewish National Home and for organising the whole range of immigration and settlement activities would have had to be undertaken by the Mandatory Administration. There is thus no justification for the assertion either that the establishment of the Jewish Agency by the Mandate was not in accordance with the essential character of that instrument, or that the evolution of the Agency in the course of time has assumed an entirely different course from that originally intended.

21. Nor is there any relevance in the suggested analogy between a constitutional government and its parliamentary opposition. A government and its opposition normally derive their authority from the same source–the national electorate. By contrast, the conception underlying the Mandate regarding the relationship between the Palestine Administration and the Jewish Agency is one of a partnership between two independent authorities, deriving from no common root, but united by a common allegiance to one international instrument- the Mandate. The partnership pre-supposes the wholehearted acceptance of the instrument by both sides and a substantial measure of agreement on its interpretation. It is that indispensable basis of cooperation which was destroyed by the White Paper of 1939. To suggest, as the Memorandum does, that having voiced its opposition to the White Paper the Jewish Agency should have proceeded to cooperate in its implementation, is tantamount to expecting it to assist in the strangulation of the Jewish National Home and in its own liquidation.

22. Equally fallacious is the suggestion that, contrary to the 1922 White Paper, the Jewish Agency exercises an undue influence over or even has a share in the Government of Palestine. It has nothing of the kind and it never has had. It naturally seeks to influence official policy in defence of the interests which it represents, but it has not been markedly successful in this respect, and it has certainly exercised in recent years much less influence on the course of official policy than the spokesmen of Arab opinion in Palestine and abroad, although there is no Arab Agency recognised by the Mandate. Nor has the Jewish Agency any powers to exercise what the Memorandum terms “control . . . of the resources in capital and organisation” of the various bodies taking part in the building up of the Jewish National Home. Apart from the control of its own services and institutions, its regulating influence in the general Jewish effort of reconstruction is essentially in the nature of “coordination.”

[18] 23. Two further assertions regarding the Jewish Agency call for comment. Para. 11 states that the specific mention of the Jewish Agency in relation to settlement on the land taken in conjunction with its known intention of bringing to Palestine as many Jews as the country would hold, had “retarded the Government’s land policy.” No indication is given of what is meant by this veiled charge. The Memorandum further asserts–without divulging on what grounds–that Article 4 of the Mandate, providing for the recognition of the Jewish Agency, was framed on the assumption that there would be a legislative body containing elected representatives of both local communities, but that the attempts to form such a body had failed in 1922 because of Arab objection and in 1936 because of Jewish objection. There is nothing in the text of the Mandate to support such an assumption. As to the implied charge that both sides were equally unreasonable and uncooperative, the Arabs in 1922 objected to the setting up of a Legislative Council because that might have implied their acceptance of the Mandate. By contrast the Jews in 1936 opposed it because a Legislative Council in which the Arabs formed a majority in relation to the Jews would, in view of the uncompromising hostility of the Arab leadership, have worked out as a permanent obstruction to the administration of the Mandate.

Educational Autonomy

24. The second provision of the Mandate to which exception is taken on the ground that it caused and accentuated the disparity between Jews and Arabs is that of Article 15 assuring to each community the right “to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language, while conforming to such educational requirements of a general nature as the Administration may impose.” Here again the Memorandum disclaims any intention to suggest that the provision is not proper, though the relevance of the criticism can only lie in that very suggestion. Indeed, after stating that the right guaranteed in Art. 15 has been applied narrowly, the Memorandum in the very next sentence attacks the principle of the right as such. “The regions of cultural activity,” it states, “in which common ground might be found are definitely narrowed by the co-existence of separate systems of community education.” So it is after all the Article per se, and not merely its application, which is objectionable. As for the “narrow application,” criticism is directly exclusively against the Jewish system of education. It is accused of having “encaged rather than liberated” the minds of the rising generations of Jewish children towards further creative work, and of not having made for good neighbourliness and the development of Palestine as a whole.

[19] 25. The charge is as unfounded as it is one-sided. It is true that the Jewish education system is national in inspiration. It could hardly be otherwise. What State education system in any country is based on different principles? Why should the minds of English children educated in the English language and in the spirit of English history and culture be regarded as “liberated,” whereas the minds of Jewish children educated in Hebrew and in the spirit of their national history and culture be considered “encaged”? Hebrew nationalism is definitely of the positive, and not of the intolerant, variety and compares very favourably with the chauvinism that pervades the Arab school system which is under the direct control of the Government. Training in good neighbourliness forms an essential task of the Hebrew school, as witness the fact that in all Jewish secondary schools both Arabic and English are taught and that even many elementary schools provide instruction in one or both of these languages. This again is in marked contrast to the Government-controlled Arab schools in which no Hebrew whatever is studied. What, moreover, is the implication of this criticism? It can only be that Arab and Jewish children should have been educated together in one school system, in which the medium of instruction would inevitably have been English, and from which any national culture would have been expunged. Such a system, denying children the natural right of expression and instruction in their own languages, far from “liberating” their intellects and educating them towards “creative work,” could only have produced thwarted minds and cultural stagnation. The suggestion betrays a curious survival of race superiority feelings and an amazing failure to grasp the fundamental realities of present-day Palestine.

Official Languages

26. The third criticism relates to the recognition of Arabic and Hebrew as official languages on the same level as English. Here again the Memorandum pays lip-service to the principle of national languages and proceeds immediately to condemn its practical application. The provision is attacked, first, on the high moral ground that it “enhances the opportunities for community chauvinism,” and secondly, on the utilitarian ground that it involves additional work and considerable expense for the Administration, that being a “serious impediment in gatherings representative of the whole community” and a “drag” in the search for means of bringing the two peoples to cooperate towards a common end.

27. The recognition of Hebrew was one of the first symbolic acts of the Mandatory Power which gave effect to the policy of the Balfour Declaration. In the White Paper of 1922, whose restrictive definitions are very carefully listed in the opening section of the [20] Memorandum, the use of Hebrew was included among the distinctive characteristics of the Jewish community in Palestine. Whatever difficulties there were in drafting the terms of the Mandate, there was common consent that the recognition of Hebrew and Arabic as official languages was essential to the mandatory regime. Their use as official languages has not made for “community chauvinism.” It has worked in the opposite direction. (How indeed can attachment to an ancient and living literary tradition be described as “chauvinism”?). Had Hebrew or Arabic each been relegated to the position of a local vernacular, and their claim to official status denied, that might well have made for a state of repression and for language bigotry. The very fact that they were accepted as official media of intercourse militated against parochial tendencies. The use of three official languages admittedly involved additional work and expense for the Administration, but the Jews, who after all bore the brunt of taxation, willingly shouldered the burden. Moreover, it may be permissible to point out that the Administration exists for the convenience of the public, and not vice versa. No meetings of Jews and Arabs have ever been hampered by the fact that Palestine is officially tri-lingual. That life and administration run more smoothly in mono-lingual countries is granted, but what solution is proposed or implied in the Memorandum for the language problem in a country like Palestine? It is the fact of the co-existence of two languages and not their official recognition, which is the difficulty–by no means an insuperable one. As for the search for means of bringing the two peoples to cooperate towards a common end, no serious student of the Palestine political situation will regard the official recognition of Arabic and Hebrew as an obstacle to such cooperation. It is, indeed, significant that the Memorandum has nothing concrete to report on the Government’s efforts to bring about cooperation, but is always quick to blame other factors or institutions for having hampered the good work.

Cooperation and Non-Cooperation

28. In spite of all these alleged handicaps reported to have arisen from the Mandate and from the attitude of the Arabs and Jews, the Memorandum claims that the Government has succeeded in establishing an administrative framework within which Arabs and Jews can live side by side. The Government had, however, been generally unsuccessful in inducing them to cooperate in public work for a common end. A number of instances are quoted designed to convey that both sides were equally uncooperative. In fact, as will be seen, the breakdown was invariably due to Arab intransigence and the Government’s submission to it. In 1922, the Government proposed the setting up of a Legislative Council. As previously mentioned, the Arabs refused to cooperate because this might have implied their acceptance of the Mandate. The Government went on making [21] concession after concession. They offered an Arab Agency. They suggested that in the Legislative Council there would be a special committee for immigration on which the Arabs would be represented, which would have enabled them to sabotage Jewish immigration. All this proved of no avail, and the Government then abandoned the project of setting up such a Council. In 1936, the Government reverted to the idea. The composition of the proposed Council was such as would have enabled the Arabs to paralyse the whole Jewish effort of reconstruction. The Jews had no choice but to reject it–not because they were not ready to cooperate, but because it was evident that the Arab majority was not prepared to cooperate in working the Mandate and would have used the Legislative Council for subverting it. The Jewish attitude was supported by most of the members of the House of Commons who spoke in the debate on the subject.

29. The General Agricultural Council and the Citrus Control and Marketing Boards, on which Arabs and Jews were represented in equal numbers, worked admirably, as reported in the Memorandum. But the War Economic Advisory Council, the Memorandum states, proved a severe disappointment. In actual fact the Council, which chiefly dealt with industrial problems and in which the Jews accepted parity representation although 90% of Palestine industry was Jewish, worked perfectly well during the war. When the war was over it was the Arab members who for political reasons refused further cooperation. Political pressure from the Arab side again was the cause which prevented a united Palestine trade delegation from discussing business matters in the United Kingdom. Both these failures must be attributed to the White Paper of 1939. Having been assured in that document of their dominant majority position, the Arabs refused from then on to acquiesce in parity representation. The next instance quoted is that of the failure to set up a representative Social Welfare Board because, according to the Memorandum, the Jewish community refused to cooperate. The facts are these. The Government had proposed the establishment of a Social Welfare Board consisting of five British, three Arab and three Jewish members. As has been seen, the principle of numerical parity as between Jews and Arabs on such bodies had been adopted in the General Agricultural Council, the Citrus Control and Marketing Boards and the War Economic Advisory Council. The Jews accepted the Government’s proposals, but refused to cooperate on learning that the Government, under pressure from the Arabs, had decided to appoint an additional Arab member. It was thus not Jewish recalcitrance but Arab power politics–to which the Government submitted–which wrecked this scheme.

30. In the sphere of local government the Memorandum, though quoting the successful working of the mixed Haifa Municipal Council [22] presided over by a Jewish Chairman, regrets that the situation generally has not been mare encouraging and quotes as an example the dissolution of the Jerusalem Municipal Council in 1945 “because of failure to achieve agreement as between Arabs and Jews on the question of the mayoralty.” This is a misrepresentation of the true position. Although the Jews formed nearly two-thirds of the population of Jerusalem and might thus be considered entitled to the mayoral office, they were ready to fall in with a Government scheme providing for that office to be held in rotation by a Moslem, a Christian and a Jew. But the Arabs refused even this, and the Government thereupon dropped its scheme, dissolved the elected Municipal Council and appointed a Commission of British Government officials to run the affairs of the municipality. There is nothing of all this in the Memorandum, but the suggestion is conveyed that the scheme broke down because Jews and Arabs were equally intransigent. The presentation of this subject in the Memorandum fittingly ends with an acceptance of the Arab thesis that parity between Jews and Arabs in such bodies is impracticable.

31. This part of the argument ends with a lengthy disquisition on the Government’s difficulties in holding the balance. In accordance with the hackneyed technique of the Palestine Administration, the fact that it is subjected to criticism by both Arabs and Jews is presented as conclusive proof of its strict impartiality.

Jewish Achievements and Government Efforts

32. A new chapter opens with an appreciative account of Zionist achievement, but it is only the prelude to the presentation of a novel theory for the proper evaluation of the Jewish effort. In the first place, the Memorandum asserts that underlying the Jewish structure is the groundwork laid by the Administration- the placing of the country under such conditions as would secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home. This implied not only the maintenance of law and order but all the activities necessary for the establishment of a new society in a strange and unwelcome environment. The creation of these conditions, it is claimed, the importance of which the Jews had failed to appreciate, was the work of the Mandatory Administration.

33. What is the reality behind this high-sounding assertion? The Jewish Agency has no desire to minimise the real achievements of the Government of Palestine, but its activities have, in accordance with the thesis advanced in the Memorandum, been largely confined to what it conceived to be in the interests of the well-being of the existing population. Its administration has closely adhered to the accepted standards of Crown Colony government and has produced some [23] notable improvements such as the construction of the Haifa Harbour, the building of main roads, the laying of the Jerusalem water pipeline, a number of afforestation projects, agricultural experiments, etc. What, however, has it done specifically to promote the growth of the Jewish National Home? One basic requirement of its growth is the maintenance of security, and on this the verdict of the Royal Commission on the Administration’s failure is conclusive-

“’The first of all conditions necessary for the welfare of any country is public security.’ So wrote the first High Commissioner of Palestine when reviewing his five years of office. Today it is evident that the elementary duty of providing public security has not been discharged. If there is one grievance which the Jews have undoubted right to prefer it is the absence of security. Their complaints on this head were dignified and restrained.

“Our review has shown that the steps taken at different intervals by the Palestine Administration to strengthen their security services, to enforce respect for law and order, to guarantee to the Jews ‘quiet enjoyment’ of their National Home, have more than once proved ineffectual” (Report, p. 201).

What has the Mandatory Power done otherwise for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as would secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home? In the political sphere it has, as previously shown, made no concrete effort to bring about an understanding between Arabs and Jews. Its policies were, indeed, in the words of the Royal Commission, such as to convey the impression to the Arabs “that the British determination to implement the Balfour Declaration is not sincere.”

34. In the administrative sphere the machinery of government has throughout worked as a brake on Jewish development. The Administration’s immigration policy has throughout been restrictive. Thereby, the pace of the development of the Jewish National Home has been consistently slowed down. Administrative practice generally has been attuned to Arab standards. The restrictive tutelage imposed on Jewish self-government, as for instance in Tel Aviv; the niggardly policies adopted towards Jewish health and education services; the closing of the higher ranks of the Administration to Palestine Jews; the discrimination between Jewish and Arabs towns, to the detriment of the former, in the provision of public buildings; the non-allocation of cultivable state lands to Jewish settlers–these are examples of the failure to implement the administrative requirement of Art. 2 of the Mandate. Finally, in the economic sphere, while as previously stated Government has to its credit a number of technical achievements for the benefit of the country as a whole, it has done next to nothing directly to promote the growth of the Jewish National [24] Home. It has taken no steps towards tapping the country’s water resources; it has initiated no works of reclamation; it has not promoted local industries; it has not provided credit facilities for reconstructive activities; it has done nothing to protect the growing Jewish National Home against the adverse effects of Art. 18 of the Mandate; it is doing nothing against the Arab boycott. “Merely to sit still,” wrote Mr. Churchill, “and avoid friction with Arabs and safeguard their civil and religious rights and to abandon the positive assertion for the establishment of the Jewish National Home would not be a faithful interpretation of the Mandate.”* Yet that is exactly the line which the Palestine Government has been following. Looking back on the 25 years of the mandatory regime the most friendly critic cannot maintain that the basic obligation contained in Art. 2 of the Mandate has been fulfilled.

  • Quoted from “Jewish Daily Bulletin”, Nov. 3rd, 1930, page 3.

The “Disparity” Theory

35. Having claimed for the Government its share, in creating favourable conditions for the establishment of a National Home, the Memorandum proceeds to examine “the extent to which this work has been facilitated or otherwise by the manner of construction of the National Home.” This leads up to the introduction of a new test for the evaluation of Jewish development- it must be related to the achievements of the Arabs. The greater the disparity, runs the argument, between the conditions of the Jewish community and their neighbours, the greater the chance of friction. It was inconceivable “that a civilised society consisting of a privileged group and a balance of hewers of wood and drawers of water should be deliberately constructed under international agreement.” The advancement of the Arabs must be regarded from two aspects- by the measure of the community’s advancement from former conditions “and in relation to the advancement of the Jews.” It is in the second test that lies the crux. That Arab advancement has been materially assisted by the establishment of the National Home is conceded as “unquestionable,” but the “discrepancy” between the Arab and Jewish economies produced by the growth of the National Home constitutes, it is asserted, a most serious problem for Palestine and the National Home itself.

36. The suggestion that the Jewish conception of a revived Palestine was that of its division into a privileged Jewish group and a underprivileged Arab section of hewers of wood and drawers of water is revoltingly false. The Yishuv is essentially a working community, and the basis of the National Home is formed by Jewish [25] hewers of wood and drawers of water. The Jews have neither sought nor secured a privileged position. It has, indeed, been their deliberate national policy not do allow themselves to become an economic “upper class.” They have worked with their hands, and the gravamen of the charge previously made in the Memorandum that the Jewish economy was “racially exclusive,” was the allegation–unfounded in fact–that they had failed to employ Arab labour. As for the assertion that there is an “increasing disparity” between the conditions of Arabs and Jews, this is hardly borne out by the facts, which not only show a constant rise of Arab standards due in large measure to Jewish development, but in many fields of economic activity a rise proportionately higher than that observed among th