Sunday, November 06, 2011

A CALL TO JEWS - a pamphlet from 1947


Is this the Way?



 " I have read your paper twice
 & I was time & again both moved
 & inspired by the courage, the straight
 forwardness & the accuracy of your

 Dr. Leo Baeck, former Chief Rabbi of Berlin.

 "I have been profoundly moved by
 reading your pamphlet : to its courage
 & insight there is little that I would
 like to add."

 Rev. J. W Parkes, D.D.

 This pamphlet is about Palestine

And they will confess their iniquities....

 Leviticus xxvi. 40.

Abstain from accusing others even in your
 most secret thoughts : accusations only
 destroy our peace of mind, they serve no
 purpose at all.

 MACARIUS, Starets of Optimo.


 HE DECISION OF THE United Nations to recommend the
Testablishment of a Jewish state by the partition of Palestine
has been the recognition of Jewish nationhood by the supreme
forum of world opinion. Accordingly, it has been hailed by the
Jewish national movement as an achievement of paramount
significance and celebrated with rejoicing. At the same time, it
is obvious that this decision is not the fulfilment but the
beginning of the task which is fraught with tremendous diffi-
culties. Whatever may have been in the past the aims and
opinions of the various groups within the Jewish National
Movement, a supreme united effort is required to overcome the
present dangers and to turn the historic opportunity ultimately
into a true fulfilment of the ancient and most cherished Jewish

 The task of rebuilding a State out of the dis-integrated parts
of the Jewish people - with their different experiences - would
have been difficult enough even under conditions of peace and
general approval. For it is a formidable problem to bridge a gap
of two thousand years in the national history of a people. But all
these difficulties have been multiplied by the fact that the
decision of the United Nations could only be brought about
against a determined and powerful opposition; and it would be
disastrous to underrate the strength and significance of this

 In the General Assembly of the United Nations thirty-three
nations voted for and thirteen nations against the establishment
of a Jewish state. This was considerably more than the formally
required two-thirds majority. Even if one counts, instead of the
governments, the represented populations themselves, there
remains a majority in favour of partition, although this majority
is not very large. The thirty-three states in favour of the Jewish
state have a total population of about 560 million, against 480
million of those who voted against it. But if one considers that
the eleven nations who did not vote at all represent no less than
625 million people, it appears that out of the total populations
represented in the General Assembly only 33.6 per cent. voted
for partition, whilst 37.5 per cent. abstained and 28.9 per cent.
opposed it: and the proportion of those in favour becomes
probably even smaller if it is taken into account that more than
400 million people (including the peoples of North Africa,
Burma, Manchuria, Indonesia and Japan) were not represented
at all.

 Infinitely more important, however, is the composition of the
character of the two groups. The neighbours of the new Jewish
state, without any exception - reaching from Egypt to Iraq and
beyond to India, and from Greece and Turkey to Saudi Arabia -
were united in their opposition, whilst most of those who
declared themselves for the Jewish state are far removed from
the scene of action. Many of them have only a small real interest
in the matter themselves, and some of them could be induced to
change their opinion from one day to the other, whilst the Arabs
and their supporters feel strongly in the matter, and most of
them consider the issue as their own.

 But even more significant than the political issue is the fact
that many of those who opposed partition are sincerely
convinced that the legal and moral right is on their side and that
the establishment of the Jewish state under the existing
conditions is a breach of law and a violation of the established
principles of national freedom and personality.

 For many years it has been our custom to put the blame for
every new difficulty and every new setback to our cause on the
shoulders of others; and we have made great efforts to convince
the world and ourselves that not-we, but outside forces were
responsible for every resistance to our aims. "Arab absentee -
landlords" or "Moslem religious fanatics," "Fascist and Nazi
agents," and in recent years "British imperialists and anti-
Semites"-all in turn were made responsible for our misfortunes.
But great as the influence of all these groups was at their time,
it is impossible to be satisfied with the belief that these outside
forces were alone responsible for the course of events.

 In 1889, when modern Zionism was just emerging, Ahad
Ha'am, one of the greatest and most impartial Jewish thinkers
of that time, wrote his famous essay, "This is not the Way" In
this he raised his warning voice against certain features of the
young movement, maintained that the return to Zion must be
preceded by a "revival of the heart," and foretold that otherwise
the whole movement might end in disaster. In the face of Jewish
progress and achievement, these words must often have
appeared as the nightmare of a dreamer. But in view of the deep
anxieties which we have to face at present, the opposition to our
movement, the bloodshed in which we are involved, the crimes
committed by our own brethren, the deep cleavages among our
own ranks, and the uncertainty of the Jewish situation in the
world - with anti Jewish riots even in Britain - in view of all
these dark signs, the words of the great thinker receive a new
and poignant meaning.

 As long as our political fate was mainly determined by other
peoples, it was understandable that we were inclined to see the
cause for our situation in the actions of others. But since we
have taken again into our own hands the shaping of our political
history, full responsibility rests now upon us, and this will
require the greatest moral courage. We must ask fearlessly to
what extent we ourselves have contributed to the present
situation. Was our attitude perhaps such, as Ahad Ha'am
assumed, that sooner or later it had to lead to the present
conflicts? To raise such questions in no way exculpates from
their mistakes other nations which are involved in the
Palestinian issue. But there will be no lasting improvement of
the situation until each party becomes aware of its own faults in
the matter. We have to face the fact that our relations with those
two peoples whose friendship should be our main concern - the
Arabs and the British - have sadly broken down. Moreover, our
whole movement is threatened from within by dissension,
violence and moral confusion. Clarity was never more
important than in this hour of danger and hope, and constructive
criticism of our own work is needed for the sake of the very
survival and the establishment of a truly independent and free
community. It is on the basis of these considerations that the
following lines are written.

 Failure with the Arabs

 The cardinal problem of the Palestinian issue can be summed
up in the single sentence that we Jews had to build our National
Home in a country in which another people is living. From this
root all other difficulties have ultimately sprung, and although
many outside influences - economic, political and religious -
have affected the issue, the Jewish-Arab problem has remained
the core of the matter. The solution of this problem was,
therefore, the paramount task. But, instead of concentrating on
this task all our efforts and creative energies, we have treated
the Arab question, when it was remembered at all, as if it were
of secondary importance.

 This attitude goes back to the very beginning of the Jewish
national movement. As early as 1891, Ahad Ha'am in his
article, "The Truth from Palestine"warned us to give the Arab
question the most careful consideration:

 "We abroad are accustomed to believe that the Arabs are all savages
 who are living on the level of animals, and who do not understand
 what is happening here around them. This, however, is a great
 mistake. The Arab, like all Semites, possesses a sharp intelligence
 and great cunning. The Arabs, and particularly the urban
 population, see through our activity in the country and its purpose,
 but they keep silent, since for the time being they do not fear any
 danger for their future. When, however, the life of our people in
 Palestine will have developed to such an extent that the indigenous
 population will feel threatened, then they will not easily give way
 any longer."


 "How careful must we be in dealing with an alien people in whose
 midst we want to settle. How essential is it to practise kindness and
 esteem towards them. . . . For if ever the Arab could consider the
 action of his rivals to be oppression or the robbing of his rights
 then, even if he keeps silent and waits for his time to come, the rage
 will remain alive in his heart."

 In words which are too painful to repeat to-day, he
complained how gravely our brethren failed in this elementary
duty. Through nearly three decades he repeated his warnings,
and in 1920-surveying his life's work-he summed up his
criticism in the bitter words that "since the beginning of the
Palestinian colonisation we have always considered the Arab people
as non-existent."

 The following years saw no fundamental change of this
attitude. Instead of giving the highest priority to the Arab case,
we gave it to our relations with Great Britain. Instead of
concentrating our attention on the people who have been living
in the country for more than a thousand years, we put our trust
in those who happened to be their rulers for one generation.
Accordingly, the centre of our political activities was London
and not Jerusalem, and we succumbed to the superficial and
portentous mistake that the fate of the country would be
determined in the long run, not by the people itself, but by the
ephemeral influence of the Mandatory Power. England,
therefore, was paramount in our mind, and we exaggerated her
importance for our future, both in the days of hope and in those
of despair. It was the same fundamental attitude which made our
early Palestinian settlers see in Britain the saviour from their
plight and caused in our days the unfortunate "illegal
immigrants" to write on the funnels of their ships: "Our enemy
is England."

 But not only did we fail to give the Arab problem first
priority; we also deceived ourselves about the seriousness of
Arab opposition. The years between the wars saw many
outbreaks of Arab armed resistance against Jewish immigration,
from the disturbances of 1920 and 1921 to the riots of 1929 and
the revolt of 1936-9. The intensity increased with every new
clash. But, unperturbed, we tried to persuade ourselves that the
resistance of the Arabs was not real, but artificially
manufactured. Every time we found another excuse to explain
away the true meaning of the event. Every time we offered
small remedies for a great disease, and utterly failed to face the
reality of Arab resistance. In a world where from Algiers to Java
the nations are yearning for independence, we made ourselves
believe that in Palestine alone the indigenous population had no
interest in national self-determination and self-government.
And this in spite of the fact that the Palestinian Arabs have not
only to face a static foreign rule, as had the Indians or Syrians,
but a most dynamic change of their situation by the continuous
flood of Jewish immigration into the country.

 Failing to give the Arab problem its proper place and to
recognise the seriousness of Arab opposition, we equally
omitted to give adequate consideration to the question of how
the two peoples could in fact live together within the Jewish
commonwealth. Very little thought was given to this task, and
the Anglo-American Committee of 1946 could, therefore, sum
up the situation as follows:

 "It is not unfair to say that the Jewish community in Palestine has
 never, as a community, faced the problem of co-operation with the
 Arabs. It is significant that in the Jewish Agency's proposal for a
 Jewish state, the problem of handling a million and a quarter Arabs,
 is dealt with in the vaguest generalities."

 Of course, we never aimed at harming the Arab in his
economic or social position in the country. We paid for every yard
of the land which we occupy, and we paid dearly. We took great
care that no landless Arab population would be created; nor did
we exploit Arab labour. We are, in fact, blamed for not using it
enough. All impartial observers agree that the standard of living
in the country has risen for all-but we failed as a community to
grasp the elementary significance of the political issue.

 This strange development sprang largely from the fact that
the Jewish national movement entered Palestine in the train of
the victors of the First World War. Jewish longing for the return
to Palestine was, of course, ancient and sacred. But it did not
take the shape of a political movement before the rise of modern
nationalism in the second half of the nineteenth century. The
World War 1914-18, which brought the first realisation of
Zionist hopes, ended with the victory of the West. Russia had
collapsed; China was powerless; Japan stood aloof; and when
Germany was conquered, it was the Western democracies which
dominated the scene.

 This domination, visibly expressed in the great assemblies of
Paris and Versailles, was not limited to the military sphere. The
ideals of the French Revolution, liberalism, progress and
democracy had been the banner under which the war had been
fought. They had profoundly influenced the minds of the
leading statesmen, and upon these ideals the new world was to
be formed. The West stood at its zenith. But it had not yet
accustomed itself to apply the ideals of democracy to the East,
and very little thought was given at the time to the national
independence of the Asiatic and African peoples. The
superiority of the West, based on its achievements in nearly all
spheres of life, appeared to be overwhelming; and if it did not
justify the right to rule, it seemed at least to give the right of
political, moral and even spiritual leadership.

 The consent of the peoples of the Middle East to the new
order under these conditions seemed hardly to be required. Two
years before the Balfour Declaration, France and Britain, in a
secret agreement, had divided between themselves their mutual
spheres of influence throughout the Arab world without asking
the consent of the indigenous populations; and although certain
modifications had taken place in the days of Versailles, there
was no fundamental change in the Western attitude.

 One attempt, however, was made at that time to ascertain the
will of the people. But the result was not encouraging for the
Western Powers. Early in 1919 the victors had agreed that in
Syria, Iraq and Palestine, where Western mandatory
governments were to be established, the will of the local
populations should be consulted before the mandatory was
chosen. But soon afterwards France as well as Britain became
reluctant to send out such an inter-Allied commission for this
purpose, and it seemed advisable to both governments not to
probe too deeply into the whole matter. President Wilson,
however, anxious to ascertain the true position, sent out a purely
American commission, which unofficially toured the country
and, in due course, submitted the so-called King-Crane Report.

According to this report, the Arabs wanted complete
independence immediately, though, if a temporary supervision
was unavoidable, their first choice was the United States, their
second Britain. Against a French mandate, they declared
themselves with all possible determination. Regarding the
Balfour Declaration, the commission expressed the opinion that
its carrying out would lead to serious difficulties, and
recommended therefore a substantial reduction of the Zionist
programme. The Report did not attract much attention at the
time; and the opposition of the local populations to the
settlement was ignored for the time being. In all these
developments Palestine played a comparatively small part. It
shared the fate of the much bigger countries of the Middle East,
and if the Powers did not consider Arab consent essential for the
establishment of French rule in Syria and the British mandate in
Iraq, it is natural that the Jews, whose claim to the Holy Land
was infinitely stronger, did not insist on Arab consent for the
establishment of the mandate over Palestine. In January, 1919,
Dr. Weizmann had tried to secure Feisal's consent by a famous
agreement but this became abortive because the Arabs did not
obtain from the Powers that independence which they had made
a condition of the treaty with the Jews. Thus the whole order in
the Middle East was based by the Western Powers on the
assumption that the consent of the local populations could be
ultimately dispensed with.

 But soon afterwards the Western Powers had to realise the
instability of the edifice which had been erected. French rule in
Syria and the Lebanon came to an end. Iraq and Transjordan
were declared independent states. Britain agreed to negotiate
the evacuation of Egypt. The right of Arab self-government was
recognised by all, at least in theory. Most important, the
superiority of the West, in view of its failures and of the rising
of the Eastern communities, remained no longer unchallenged.
But whilst all other nations adapted themselves more or less to
the demands of the new times, at least in the political sphere, we
Jews alone refused any change. We alone still clung to a period
which has passed. We alone still maintained that, as far as
Palestine was concerned, Arab opposition to the establishment
of the Jewish National Home could be ignored; and it must have
appeared to the Arabs as though we were the only survivors of
the world of Clemenceau and Lloyd George. It is a sad paradox
that, by the force of circumstances, we were denying to the Arab
in our own case those principles of democracy and self-
determination for which we are fighting everywhere else so
stubbornly; and, instead of taking up the challenge of such a
situation, trying to find a bold and constructive way out, we
have continued to behave as if the colonial era of the nineteenth
century was still unchanged.

 It was this - our Jewish unwillingness to face the realities of
the situation - which has made opposition throughout the Arab
world so adamant.Whilst thirty years ago the Arabs were
divided among themselves and, as the Weizmann-Feisal
agreement shows, inclined, at least under certain conditions, to
reconcile themselves with the Jewish National Home, to-day
they are united in their determined opposition against its
development, if not its very existence; and for a long time both
nations have been preparing for a full-scale military conflict.

 Opposition against the Jewish National Home has grown
solid and undivided from Morocco to the Indian border. But it
is not restricted to the Arab world. Most of the Asiatic and
African peoples have formed a most unfortunate conception of
the Jewish National Home. To them Jewish immigration into
Palestine, against the will of the Arabs, appears to be one more
of the violations of the rights of a native population with which
they are so painfully familiar. In this respect, the attitude of
India is a striking example. Not only the Moslem League and
Pakistan, but the Congress Party and India identified themselves
with the Arab case as well. As far back as 1938, under the tragic
impression of the first pogroms in Germany, Mr. Gandhi wrote:

 "My sympathies are with the Jews... but my sympathy does not
 blind me to the requirements of justice. Palestine belongs to the
 Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English,
 and I have no doubt that the Jews are going about it in the
 wrong way."

 In 1946, he repeated the same thought:

 "The Jews have erred grievously in seeking to impose themselves
 in Palestine with the aid of America and Britain and now with the
 aid of naked terrorism"

 And in 1947 Pandit Nehru, at the first Pan-Asiatic
Conference held in New Delhi, proclaimed that Palestine, in the
opinion of India, is an Arab country. There is no doubt that these
words expressed the feeling of most African and Asiatic
peoples, and although we never intended to treat the Arabs as a
colonial people, in their eyes we are linked up with the
imperialist Powers on whom we have so largely relied. The
votes on the Palestine question in the General Assembly were
an exact reflection of this fact, and all peoples whoever in the
past, directly or indirectly, were the objects of colonial policy
were in opposition to the establishment of a Jewish state.

 Under this aspect, the so-called minority report of the U.N.O.
Committee, presented by India, Iran and Yugoslavia, which
advocated the establishment of a Federation and Jewish
immigration according to the economic capacity of the country
over a period of three years, would have had invaluable
advantages. It would have broken the iron front against the
Jewish National Home which reaches from Morocco to
Indonesia, and a determined concentration on the report might
at least have led to an interim solution during which the pressure
of the general political atmosphere could have been reduced.

 To justify our claims, we have put forward strong and most
impressive reasons. We have pleaded, with all the power which
deepest conviction can give, the need of our homelessness. We
have pleaded all the miseries of persecution, the millions of our
dead, the despair in the camps of displaced persons, the burning
longing and hope of those who, in unseaworthy vessels, cross
the seas in their quest for home, and have not forgotten the less
spectacular but very subtle pains of exile. We have compared
our need with the vast possessions of the Arab nations, and have
proclaimed our right to survive as a people and to restore once
more our national life in the land which our forefathers have
made a sanctuary to the world.

 With all this we have aroused sympathy, but have not
convinced the Arab peoples that the country is ours. Even Mr.
Gandhi, a saintly man, maintained that his "sympathy does not
make him blind to the requirements of justice." What could we
expect under these conditions from the Arabs? They regard
themselves as the possessors of the country for more than a
thousand years, and if that is true, even the most heart-breaking
need of the Jewish people does not deprive them of this fact and
all the rights arising from it. To what example can we point to
show that the possessing nations of the world share voluntarily
their possessions with the needy? As long as the vast, thinly
populated areas of the globe are not open to all for free
immigration, how can the Arabs be blamed for refusing such an
obligation to us? And even the ancient and sacred connection of
our people with the country, which for us is a powerful reality,
will not induce the Arab to give up his right.

 To him our return without his consent remains a forced
invasion. Correspondingly, many of our people long ago gave
up all hope for a peaceful solution, and prepared themselves 'for
conquest and defence of the country. If war in fact were the
issue, I feel, it has to be admitted that rarely in human history
have conquerors been driven by greater need than the Jews.
Great countries, even continents, were conquered for a much
less reason. The issue, however, is not war, but must be peace.
And if we search through all that we have written and said
through all these years to prove our case, we shall find that we
have said everything to stress our need, but that we have
omitted one thing which might have changed the whole
relationship with the Arab: Never in the thirty years' argument
have we admitted that our return, justified as it appears to us,
inevitably requires from the Arab a sacrifice of the first
magnitude - the sacrifice of giving up his right to rule himself.
So much have we been involved in the problems of our own
case that we have not even realised the position of our
neighbour and what we were asking from him. Of course, we
frequently pointed out the benefits which he derived from our
coming: the rising standard of living, the improvement in the
health service, and perhaps even social progress. But all this
could make things only worse and was bound to insult the Arab
if at the same time we did not stress equally the loss and
sacrifice which our coming must have meant to him. The
decisive point for him was not the profit he might make, but the
harm and the wounds which he felt he received from our hands;
and-paradoxical as it seems - a frank discussion of these wounds
(and how to heal them) would have been infinitely more
profitable than all talk of alleged advantages. Paramount in the
Arab's consciousness was the violation of his right - in fact, of
his whole national personality - and as long as we ignored this,
his main concern, we were preaching to deaf ears. And even if
we had preached with the tongues of angels - which, indeed, we
did not - we could not have changed this fact.

 The failure to address ourselves to the main point in the
whole issue was not only a signal psychological blunder: it was
much more than that. It sprang ultimately from lack of
confidence and faith in our own cause. It was a belief which was
afraid to face the full reality of the issue.

 Nobody, of course, can prove that a wiser attitude would
have led to a constructive solution of the problem. But it is safe
to say that the method which we adopted has not only failed, but
was bound to lead to the present deadlock. It was exactly that
attitude of which Ahad Ha'am had warned us: the attitude of the
cheap and easy way, the short-cut to Utopia which, by ignoring
the main issue, made the difficulties almost unsurmountable.

 There have been in the past many attempts by noble idealists
on the Jewish side to establish friendly relations and co-
operation with the Arabs. The Ihud group under Dr. Judah
Magnes, the venerable President of the Hebrew University, has
been leading in these efforts. For the sake of peace, they
proclaimed their willingness to restrict Jewish immigration to
parity with the Arab population, and to satisfy themselves with
a bi-national state in which the government of the country
should be conducted jointly by the two peoples. On this basis
they have offered time and again their friendship to the Arabs.
But the more sceptical elements among the Jews could rightly
point to the fact that these attempts, laudable as they were, have
remained without success. They felt that under these conditions
it was quite useless to reduce their claim, and that ultimately
everything will depend in any case on force. "Show us," they
challenged the idealists, "one single Arab group which has been
willing to accept our friendship"; and no such group could be
produced. But the reason of this failure was not necessarily the
"hopeless obstinacy of the Arabs" (which does not leave any
other way out than the sword), but also may have been a lack of
realism on the side of the Jews. For what is required here is not
the establishment of peace between two quarrelling parties
among whom right and wrong may be equally divided. Our
problem is how, if at all, the Arab can be compensated for the
sacrifice which we ask from him. Even our idealists, moderate
as their demands are, have failed to set themselves this question.
To the Arab, even our reduced claims remain infringements of
his rights. Even a restricted immigration remains to him an
immigration which he opposes, and even a bi-national
government one in which he does not rule alone. More than
moderation is required to solve this problem.

 To find a compensation for the Arab's sacrifice was at all
times the key to the matter. To this task all our faculties and
thoughts ought to have been turned. This, and not the
advertisement of our achievements, was the question to ponder
on in our meetings, study groups and prayer-houses, both in
Palestine and in the world abroad; not by enumerating
complacently the more or less incidental advantages which
accrue to the Arab as a result of Jewish colonisation, but by
deliberate and sincere intention to do something for him,
equivalent to what we ask him to grant to us. The needs and
desires of human life are so manifold, and the requirements of
the Arab peoples - eager to take their full share among modern
nations - are so multifarious that, given the will and imagination
on our side, there was a strong chance of finding a workable
solution. Nobody can say what concrete suggestions might have
grown out of these deliberations. There is no precedent for such
a case. But the general principles might well be outlined.

 In the material sphere it might have been possible to connect
our compensation to the Arab step by step with the progress of
the immigration itself. Thus the establishment of new Jewish
settlements would have been much easier for the Arab to accept
if it had brought at the same time new tractors or new school
buildings to the neighbouring Arab villages; and although
difficulties and objections would by no means have been
lacking, such procedure would at least have created a
considerable interest among those who are most concerned, and
the general application of this principle would have brought a
direct and immediate benefit to him.

 But there are other spheres of co-operation with the Arabs
which are of infinitely greater importance. The sacrifice which
we have asked from the Arabs is political. It can not therefore
be compensated in the material or educational sphere alone, but
must be redeemed in the political field itself. There, indeed,
great possibilities existed. The Arabs had started their fight for
independence from Western control almost alone, without
friends or help. If we had been associated from the beginning
with their movement for national independence, had sincerely
allied ourselves with their demands and used our influence in
the world to strengthen their case, instead of grudging every
success if not opposing it, such help would have been of the
utmost value to the Arabs. Our experience and position as
mediators between East and West could have given us a great
opportunity, and the Arabs might have found in us an ally in
their case and learned to see in Israel a brother. The political
alliance on the other side would have increased the possibility
for material co-operation, and both combined might have
attracted the help of all those who are interested in the
development of the countries of the Middle East. As Mr. Gandhi
said : "There are hundreds of ways to deal with the Arabs if the
Jews will only discard the help of the bayonet." These
opportunities were lost.

 Our failure to recognise the real situation has made a
settlement with the Arabs nearly impossible. We ourselves have
made the position of the moderate Arab untenable and that of
the Mufti almost unassailable. What on earth did we expect a
moderate Arab to do if we showed so little imagination
regarding the difficulties of his situation? We have frequently
complained that the refusal of the British Government to
increase the number of immigrants has driven a large proportion
of the Jewish youth into the arms of terrorism. How much more
is it true to say that our refusal to recognise the Arabs' sacrifice
has brought about the united and determined opposition of the
whole Arab world against the Jewish National Home.

 Fifty years ago Ahad Ha'am warned us to show to the Arab,
not only kindness, but esteem; and this shy and awkward man
was a greater realist than most of his noisy and self-assured
opponents. If we had followed his advice, Arab chivalry might
have given us an unexpected, positive response. But we have
failed, and this failure is not the result of intellectual
shortcomings. It springs from a lack of moral courage.

 Failure with the British

 The second field which was to be of the utmost importance
for the fate of the Jewish National Home was that of our
relations with Great Britain. This period is now coming to an
end. But what has developed between us during these years will
remain alive for a long time to come. Great Britain was the
country which enabled us to lay the foundations of our work.
More than that, for many years Britain represented to us the
whole Western world as far as it was benevolent to our cause.
To-day these relations are almost destroyed, and we Jews have
convinced ourselves that this was Britain's fault. Nobody will
deny that Britain has greatly contributed to the deadlock by
mingling the trust of the Mandate with imperial interests, by the
exaggerated and broken promises of the Labour Party, by lack
of vision and timely decision; but unless we realise to what
extent the collapse of our relations was brought about by our
own fundamental shortcomings we shall remain unable ever to
restore the broken links and in addition shall endanger our
relations with any people who may become our friends or allies
in the future.

 The thirty-year-long history of Jewish-British relations since
the Balfour Declaration suffered from the very beginning from
a fateful ambiguity, for which, I feel, a large share of the
responsibility rests with us.

 Everybody knows now that from the openings of the
negotiations on the Jewish National Home in 1917 we Jews
aimed at the establishment of a Jewish state, and the draft which
Dr. Weizmann and our other negotiators submitted to the British
Government in July of that year accordingly requested the "re-
establishment of Palestine as the Jewish National Home." It is
equally well known that the British Government, after careful
deliberations and negotiations which lasted for more than three
months, refused to undertake this obligation. Instead they
offered in the Balfour Declaration something essentially
different - namely, "the establishment of a Jewish National
Home in Palestine." Whatever the interpretation of this
"National Home" was to be, it is beyond all doubt that it was
meant to be less than we had asked for. This was perfectly clear
to all concerned; and although the possibility of a future Jewish
state was by no means excluded in fact, it was repeatedly
mentioned in platform speeches of British statesmen at that time
- it is equally certain that the British Government did not
undertake any obligation in this respect. This was made
abundantly clear when Mr. Churchill in 1922, in the first White
Paper on Palestinian policy, declared:

 "Phrases have been used, such as: Palestine will
 become as Jewish as England is English. His Majesty's
 Government have no such aim in mind."

 But in spite of these facts, we
continued to act as if our original draft had
not been refused, but accepted; and from this ambiguity
sprang untold confusion and even misery.

 Again Ahad Ha'am, who had partaken in the negotiations,
alone among our leaders had the vision and the courage to draw
the attention of the Jewish people to this discrepancy between
our hopes and their fulfilment. In 1920, in the Foreword to the
third edition of his essays, he dealt with the question in great

 "I do not believe that many words are required to explain the
 difference between the two formulations. If the British Government
 had accepted the text which we had suggested, the promise could
 have been so interpreted that the country, as it is to-day, was to be
 returned to the Jewish people on the strength of its historical right;
 that the Jewish people may rebuild the ruins, rule in future in the
 land and conduct its affairs according to its will without heeding the
 consent or the opposition of the present inhabitants. But the British
 Government, as explained explicitly in the Declaration, did not
 want to promise anything which might injure the present
 inhabitants of Palestine. For this reason they changed the Zionist
 formula and restricted its contents.

 "The initiated realised immediately the significance of this change.
 But some thought that it was just a variation of style without any
 particular intention, and they tried therefore later several times,
 when in the negotiations with the Government occasion arose, to
 translate the promise into their own text as if nothing had been
 changed. But every time they found in the reply of the Government
 a repetition of the formula which is contained in the Declaration
 itself. This showed that we have not to deal here with a phrase
 which might be expressed in different ways, but that the promise is
 limited in reality by this formula: thus far and no farther."


 "When the British Government promised to promote the
 establishment of a National Home for the Jewish people in
 Palestine and not, as it had been suggested, 'the re-establishment of
 Palestine as the Jewish National Home,' this promise had a twofold
 purpose: (1) the recognition of the historical right of the Jewish
 people to establish for itself in Palestine a National Home, in which
 the British Government promised to assist; (2) the refusal to abolish
 the right of the present inhabitants and to make the Jewish people
 the absolute ruler in the country."

 In an almost prophetic manner, he summed up his

 "This and nothing more the leaders and writers should have told the
 people, lest it would see in its imagination more than exists in
 reality and later fall into despair and lose all confidence in our
 whole cause."

 But such words were most unwelcome at the time, and no
attention was paid to them in the general atmosphere of
jubilation. They were never mentioned, and - in spite of the
masses of paper which we Jews poured out on the subject of the
Balfour Declaration - the essay from which the above
quotations are taken has not up to the present day been
published in English and is unknown to the large majority of the
Jewish people. Twenty-six years later, Dr. Weizmann, in his last
speech as President of the World Zionist Organisation,
reminded the people of these warnings:

 "I remember how angry we were with the late Ahad Ha'am when,
 in the honeymoon of the political triumph which surrounded the
 Balfour Declaration, he wrote an article that in the Balfour
 Declaration they were promised a National Home in Palestine, and
 not Palestine as a Jewish National Home. And there is a vast
 difference between one interpretation and the other."

 But when these warnings were repeated, Jewish-British
relations had already deteriorated almost beyond repair.

 Although, therefore, the Balfour Declaration was much less
favourable than we had expected, it was a mighty step towards
the realisation of our hopes, and very much depended on the
wisdom of our further action. If we had told our people at the
time that what we had reached was only the first objective and
that it was up to us to secure further stages by continued efforts
and adequate negotiations with all concerned, its attention
would have been directed towards the right aim and very much
might have been achieved. Such a policy would have been the
more appropriate since the Balfour Declaration in any case gave
us sufficient time to lay the new foundations for Jewish life in
the Holy Land and nurse it through its first essential stages. But
here, as in the Arab case, we chose again the "cheap and easy
way" of an ostrich policy and pretended that the problem which
we had to solve did not exist.

 "Do we not all know," wrote Ahad Ha'am, "how the Declaration
 was commented upon at its publication, and what boastful
 exaggerations many party men and writers from then till this day
 tried to read into it? The Jewish people heard it and believed that
 the end of the Galuth had come in reality, and that Palestine after a
 short space of time would be a Jewish state. The Arabs, whom,
 since the beginning of the Palestinian colonisation, we have always
 considered as non-existent, heard it also, and they believed that the
 Jews had come in order to expel them from their soil and to deal
 with them at their pleasure. All this was bound to lead to frictions
 and embitterment on both sides and is largely responsible for that
 position which was revealed in all its ugliness by the events in
 Jerusalem during the recent Passover days."

 The ugly events to which Ahad Ha'am alluded were the Arab
riots of April, 1920, and an unbroken chain links these first
disturbances with the appalling toll of murder and destruction
which since then have fallen on the Holy Land.

 During the first years of the Mandate the question of the
British obligation did not become acute. The size of the Jewish
population in the country was so small that the claim for a
Jewish state had no practical value, and as late as 1932 Dr.
Weizmann himself publicly disowned such a demand. In fact,
during the first ten years of the Mandate interest in our cause
was so small that we were not able to develop the National
Home even to the limits which the legal position gave us at the-
time. But with the approaching catastrophe on the European
continent the situation changed. Masses of immigrants pressed
towards the country and paid little attention to what appeared to
them to be formal objections. Legal considerations in the face
of death seemed a mere travesty of justice. The National Home,
whatever it had meant in the learned discussions of lawyers and
diplomats twenty years before, to the haunted masses in their
despair was the only reality which could save them from
destruction. They had no doubt that, whatever the
circumstances might be, it was Britain's duty to open the
country to all who wanted, and were able to enter. The more the
catastrophe progressed the more passionate grew this
conviction. After all, had not Britain, instead of France, secured
the Mandate over the Holy Land, with its invaluable strategic
position, the harbour of Haifa and the pipeline from Iraq, only
for the purpose of building up the Jewish National Home? And
was not the Mandate the only justification for their presence in
the country? If she hesitated to fulfil her duty in the face of so
much human misery, what else could be the reason but "the
most shameless malice"? It was in full accordance with such
lines of thought that Dr. Herzog, Chief Rabbi of Palestine, in his
Easter broadcast in 1947, saw fit to describe the misfortunes of
Britain, in obvious analogy to the Pharaonic plagues, as
heavenly punishment for her maltreatment of the Jews.

 Meanwhile, the main issue was almost forgotten, and
nothing happened which could solve the Jewish-Arab problem.
On the contrary, these relations steadily decayed. In 1936, the
increased influx of immigrants led to the outbreak of the great
Arab revolt which lasted for almost three years, until at last it
was crushed by the British. At that time we did not yet consider
the British as invaders and did not object to an application of
British armed force in Palestine, to mass-imprisonment,
collective punishment, destruction of whole villages, and
execution of Arab patriots. The numerous police fortresses all
over the country, which to-day appear to us as instruments of
national oppression, were then erected to protect the Jews and
were welcomed by the Jewish population. In those days Jews
and British were still friends and Wingate's genius stirred the
hearts and roused the love of Jewish youth.

 In May, 1939, under the impression of the Arab revolt, the
British Government issued the ill-famed White Paper by which
Jewish immigration - after a further admission of another
75,000 - was in future to be dependent on Arab consent. Soon
afterwards the Second World War broke out, and Arab
resistance came to an end. But the breathing-space did not bring
any rapprochement; the gulf grew wider. Whilst the Mufti went
to Berlin and there joined Hitler, the Zionist movement - in the
Biltmore Programme - raised the claim for unrestricted control
of immigration and officially demanded the establishment of
Palestine as a Jewish state. This was the return to the original
request of July, 1917. It was a deliberate step beyond the
Balfour Declaration, and certainly more than either Britain or
the League of Nations had ever promised. But in the face of the
mass destruction of Jewish life on the Continent and the
amazing successes of Jewish colonisation in Palestine itself, the
claim appeared justified to the majority among us. Arab consent
to the new and far-reaching demand seemed to be even less
required now than thirty years before. The Nazis had linked up
their propaganda with that of the Arab national movement; and
whilst the Jews had been most eager to fight on the Allied side,
the Arabs had been, to say the least, reluctant. Rashid Ali had
even raised arms against Britain, and the Mufti himself had
identified his cause with that of the Nazis. Were not, under these
conditions, all previous hesitations to admit Jewish immigration
into the Holy Land, and above all the hated White Paper,
exposed and branded as appeasement? Could one not hope that
they would end once and for all when victory was won? This
was the cause for which the Jewish leaders pledged their word.
There seemed, indeed, a chance that the attitude of the Arabs in
the war might justify that of the Jews in peace, and that all our
mistakes of the past would be blotted out by the glory of victory.

 But victory was bound to bring a grievous disappointment. In
spite of all the links which had been forged between many
influential Arabs and the Nazis, in spite of all the active help
which the Mufti and his friends had given to the Germans, the
Arab national movement emerged from the war stronger than
ever, and resistance against Jewish mass immigration remained
as adamant as it had been before. Indeed, the assumption that
this resistance would collapse together with Germany was as
erroneous as would have been the belief that the national
movement of India, Egypt or Indonesia would end with the Axis
downfall; and to-day the position of the Arab peoples is stronger
than at any time since their subjugation by the Turks.

 Not even the notorious White Paper disappeared. True, its
worst part - the complete stopping of Jewish immigration,
which certainly was incompatible with the idea of the Mandate,
never came into force. For the British Government continued to
admit at least a quota of 1,500 immigrants per month. But the
other restrictions, particularly those concerning the acquisition
of land, remained. Moreover, neither the Labour Government
nor Mr. Churchill, neither the Anglo-American Committee nor
any member of the United Nations, has ever suggested the
restoration of free Jewish immigration into the whole of
Palestine which was our demand when the White Paper was
issued, and which remained our official demand until the
decision of the United Nations.

 The battle against the White Paper became for us the battle
for the National Home and, to the Jewish mind, the White Paper
became the source of all our troubles. "The White Paper,"
declared Dr. Weizmann in the opening address at the last Zionist
Congress, "is directly responsible for the present troubled
situation in Palestine," and in this he certainly expressed the
opinion of the overwhelming majority of his audience.

 For us Jews the White Paper became indissolubly linked
with the impossibility for innumerable innocent people in
deadly peril of reaching the haven of safety. But did this White
Paper really fall upon us one day unexpectedly like a
thunderbolt from a blue sky? Was it not foreshadowed for years
by a long series of unmistakable signs of bloodshed and riot?
Was this document really the root of our trouble? Was it not
only a very imperfect, heavy-handed, clumsy attempt to deal
with a situation which in itself had become unbearable? Has the
origin of this situation ever been anything else but the simple
inescapable fact that we had to build our National Home in a
country where another people is living, and that we lacked the
imagination and the wisdom to master such a problem? And,
lastly, is not this White Paper precisely one of those events
which Ahad Ha'am had in his mind when he warned us that our
right in the country is restricted by the formula, "Thus far and
no farther," and that the day would come when the people will
awaken from their dream and "will fall into despair"?

 That something of that kind would happen one day was to be
foreseen. The White Paper was the point at which the dyke
broke. But that it would break somewhere some day had long
become unavoidable. It was impossible to pretend indefinitely
that our right to enter the country was unlimited; that it was
Britain's duty to enforce the admission of every Jew for whom
we could provide a living, until at last we reached the majority
in the country. It was impossible to demand that Britain by this
method should do just what she had refused to do from the
beginning - that is, to establish a Jewish state against the will of
the Arab, and thereby run the risk of violence and even war. But
so blind were we to the reality of the situation that when in 1937
Britain had accepted the Peel plan of partition - which once and
for all would have abolished the need and even possibility for
any White Paper - we Jews, who should have jumped at this
solution, did not consider the plan as good enough.

 It sometimes could appear from our utterances as if the
White Paper was nothing but the work of sheer arbitrary British
malice without which the doors of Palestine would have been
wide open to us. But Arab opposition against handing over the
country to us was certainly not less during the war than before,
and did not decrease by the acceptance of the Biltmore
Programme. Can we really maintain under these conditions that
it would have been possible to force into Palestine - at a time
when the war was in the balance or seemed even lost-all the tens
or hundreds of thousands who might have escaped from the
Continent and of whom we now dream? The riots which have
shaken Palestine since the decision of the United Nations to
recommend partition give the answer to this question. To blame
the White Paper as the root of all our troubles was therefore just
another attempt of escapism. It was a new attempt to evade
again that problem which Ahad Ha'am unveiled to us so clearly
and which, since then, by iron necessity, has grown to terrible

 Under easier conditions it would perhaps have been possible
at the end of the war to make a new start. There was even a
moment when the Arab mind, which had been deeply impressed
by the year-long successes of Fascists and Nazis, was thrown
into confusion by their downfall. A new approach then might
have found a certain readiness to respond. But no such attempt
was made, and the gulf between the parties grew still wider.

 The plan of the British Government, according to which
96,000 immigrants were to be admitted over a period of two
years, and the decision on further immigration to be left to the
High Commissioner - a scheme which would have given
widespread relief to the refugees and plentiful constructive
work to the people in Palestine themselves - was equally
rejected by Jews and Arabs. We now embarked on a course
which put the blame for our situation exclusively on others, and
accordingly led to a campaign of ruthless vilification against
Great Britain. Our failure to find a solution of the Arab problem
increased the bitterness of our attitude - as if we wanted to
compensate our shortcomings on one side by our claims on the
other. The hopelessness of the general situation further threw its
shadows over the picture, and it seems sometimes as if our
capacity to see the reality of the situation in its right perspective
has, as the result of so much sorrow, been partially darkened.

 Suddenly our propagandists discovered that Great Britain
had imperialist interests and poured forth their moral
indignation upon such depravity. They forgot that these same
imperialist interests had not been repellent to them as long as
they seemed to be in harmony with the development of the
Jewish National Home. Soon the campaign spread overseas. For
many years Jewish writers and orators had hardly been able to
do enough in praising the humanity, unselfishness and wisdom
of British statesmanship. But now we were told of British
treachery and were invited to look beyond the ocean for "bigger
and better" editions of the same qualities. Important groups of
American Zionists began to pour out a powerful propaganda
against England. They linked up with all other anti-British
forces, and exerted not inconsiderable influence on American
policy. But their presentation of the case was so one-sided and
exaggerated, and so neglectful of the reality of the Arab case,
that this influence is bound to be of very short duration; and it
may even come back one day like a boomerang on American
Jewry and deeply affect what has remained of the Jewish
position in the Western world. In fact, these Zionist groups in
America repeated in a cruder and coarser form all those
fundamental mistakes which had previously been made over
here. To them the shortcomings of Great Britain appeared as
"malicious crimes." They replaced the methods of political
discussion by "big salesmanship with streamline advertising"
and in some cases Jewish publicity there even descended to the
level of the late Julius Streicher. But the idea that we Jews
ourselves have to bear a grave responsibility for the present
situation and that it is our duty to recompense the Arab for the
sacrifice which we ask from him was hardly ever mentioned.

 Under these conditions of increasing bitterness and hostility,
the outbreak of violence on the Jewish side and the growth of
terrorism were an almost natural development. But the
fundamental basis of the whole anti-British terror was the
grotesque though sincere belief of the terrorists that Arab
opposition to the establishment of a Jewish State in reality did
not exist. This was expressed in amazing clarity as late as June,
1947, when the Commander of the Irgun Zwai Leumi, in his
interview with the Chairman of the U.N.O. Committee,
declared that "Irgun does not believe in such a phenomenon as
independent Arab opposition," and added: "All Arab opposition is
instigated by the British themselves." If this assumption was really
true, all the hesitations of Britain in the past to open the gates of
Palestine to an unlimited flood of Jewish immigration were in
fact the result of criminal malice and even deliberate
participation in Hitler's plan of Jewish extermination, and every
new act of Britain, short of handing over the country to us Jews,
appeared as a new piece in the mosaic pattern of British
hostility. Essentially - though not so radical - this became
indeed the general attitude of large parts of the Jewish people in
Palestine and particularly in the United States. For if, in the
words of Ahad Ha'am, we considered the Arab people as non-
existent, it was only logical that we denied the possibility of any
serious Arab opposition. The simple statement that Arab
opposition against Jewish mass immigration was not only
natural but real should have been the most trivial of all
commonplaces. But under the existing conditions it was
fervently denied by masses of the Jewish people and thus took
on for them almost the character of a revolutionary thesis.

 Every national movement sooner or later has to face the issue
of violence; and this issue is always the supreme test for the
sense of reality and the moral courage of its leaders. But rarely
in modern history was leadership less determined in face of
such danger than our own.

 To oppose the movement was difficult from the beginning,
since we had accustomed ourselves to put all blame for our
situation on the British. Official Zionist reaction to the outbreak
of violence was therefore hesitant and undecided and lacked
completely constructive leadership. At first our leaders
dissociated themselves from the movement by denouncing the
terrorists as "criminals or lunatics"; and since the assassination
of Lord Moyne this condemnation was repeated with great
monotony at every single act of violence. Such an
interpretation, however, was profoundly inadequate. For the
terrorists were never lunatics or criminals in the ordinary sense
of the word, but passionate, sincere, although misguided
patriots who, after innumerable disappointments, had despaired
of any solution by peace and persuasion, who, after centuries of
Jewish persecution had risen to take up arms in their own cause
and were resolved to sacrifice everything, including their lives,
for what they believed to be the redemption of the people. To
turn their devotion and sacrifice to constructive aims would
have required great powers of imagination and infinitely more
than negative protestations.

 To make things worse, Zionist leadership took the line that
the terrorist activities - deplorable as they were - were at least
understandable in view of the Palestine policy of the British
Government, and implied thereby that the ultimate political
responsibility rested, not with us, but with the British. This,
however, was in fact the abdication of Zionist leadership. For if
events were indeed determined on one side by the British and on
the other by the terrorists as their opponents, the official leaders
of Zionism reduced themselves to the humiliating role of an
impotent go-between. Instead of taking upon themselves the full
responsibility for all that was done, which incidentally would
have been in accordance with Jewish religious teaching, they
tried to shift the responsibility to others. This attempt
necessarily destroyed the foundations of their authority, for
there can be no authority which shirks responsibility. Moreover,
the whole discussion took place, as it were, on two different
planes: the terrorists threw in their lives, the leaders made
pronunciamentos . But worst of all, in many decisive issues our
attitude was ambiguous; and at least in the beginning much was
privately condoned and even promoted which was publicly
condemned. The whole campaign of violence and bloodshed
developed, as Dr. Magnes said, in an atmosphere which
countenanced the terror. The minds of many were divided
between fear and hope; fear that the application of force might
harm, and hope that it might ultimately further the national
cause. About the moral issues themselves, there was widespread
indecision and confusion.

 There has been one example in our time of a different way to
meet a similar emergency, and this stands out as a shining light
of moral integrity and singleness of heart. When in the earlier
years of the Indian movement for independence, Mr. Gandhi
once was faced by the outbreak of violence against the police
among his followers, he did not put the blame on the British
Government, although his case would have been very strong
indeed, nor did he limit himself to declamations. He took the
full responsibility upon himself. He accepted the challenge
which the rioters had thrown at him, and offered his own life
against theirs. He called off the demonstration which he had
ordered, and threatened to fast unto death unless the riots
stopped. Nobody, including his opponents, could doubt the
sincerity of his determination, and in one stroke he recaptured
all authority and power of leadership which the hot-headed
rioters had tried to snatch from him.

 If only one among us had challenged the terrorists in time to
turn their weapons against him before any more innocent blood
was shed, he might have changed the whole course of events.
He would have deprived his opponents in the twinkling of an
eye of the immeasurable advantage which they enjoy as long as
they alone were ready to give their lives. He would have given
a powerful inspiration far beyond the Jewish community itself,
and might have restored the unity and dignity of the Jewish
National Movement.

 Some of this spirit of self-sacrifice was revealed in the
movement of "illegal immigration"; and in spite of the violence
and propaganda with which it was connected, the devotion of
the Jewish people to this central cause has made a profound
impression which may have greatly contributed to the decision
of the United Nations. When the 4,500 passengers of the Exodus
persevered through endless weeks on the high seas, refusing in
spite of their miserable conditions all invitations and pressure to
land in France, and even preferred an enforced disembarkment
in Germany to a voluntary landing anywhere else than in
Palestine, they revealed to an astonished world the
indestructible connection between the Jewish people and the
Holy Land.

 By an unfortunate combination of circumstances and
shortcomings, the relations between Jews and British have
deteriorated beyond anything which could be imagined when
thirty years ago both set out upon their joint undertaking.
Sympathy with the National Home, once strong and sincere in
this country, has practically vanished. Great forces have become
strongly anti-Zionist and even anti-Jewish. The Jewish position
in Great Britain is profoundly shaken. Many Jews all over the
world have become for the first time in their history enemies of
Britain, and bitterness and disappointment have tragically
destroyed a wealth of human relationships.

 Both sides have contributed gravely to the disaster. But
however much the British have failed on their side, they have
never promised us what we had asked them to give the Jewish
state. Justice demands that this fact be fully recognised by all.

 Through the different fields of our policy there has been
running like a thread, as a characteristic element, the refusal to
accept our share of guilt for the ever-increasing crisis. We have
blamed everybody but ourselves; and very few among us Jews
have indeed accepted before God and-man the full share of our
responsibility for what has been done. Self-righteousness leads
to isolation and despair about the alleged injustice of the world.
But recognition of guilt releases the greatest creative forces and
builds communities.

 The Next Task

 The hope that the situation in Palestine would ease, and Jews
and Arabs would settle their differences as soon as the end of
the Mandate and the withdrawal of the British were certain, has
proved to be another sad illusion. The decision of the United
Nations has been followed by an outbreak of violent riots, and
as the year 1947 is drawing to its close the intensity of the
conflict appears to increase. More and more it has become
evident that outside forces have not been the decisive causes of
the conflict. The conflict is springing from the unsolved
problem of Jewish-Arab relationship, and although we Jews
have tried for decades to minimise or evade the real issue, we
have now, in this belated hour, to face it in all its implications.

 In addition, the Jewish National Home is threatened for the
first time in its history by the dangers of isolation. For nearly
thirty years it formed practically a part of the British Empire,
and, in spite of the recent tensions with the Mandatory Power,
the National Home was safe under British protection. This is
now to change, and the Mandate is to end, not because its
purpose has been fulfilled and the young community has grown
beyond the need for any further help, but because the
continuation of the work has led to insurmountable difficulties.

 But worst of all is the danger from within. The dragon's seed
of political and moral terrorism and the abdication of Zionist
leadership are bearing frightful fruit. Not only does terrorism,
with its far-reaching aims and influence on the Palestinian
scene, give the Arabs an excuse for claiming that even a small
Jewish state may become a springboard for further expansion;
the terrorist movement - after having been tolerated during
critical years in the past - is beginning to dominate the scene;
and those whom Zionist leadership used to describe as
"criminals" or "lunatics" are determining for all the course of
events. Demonstration of violent force and a spirit of ruthless
retaliation are becoming the essential elements in their struggle
and carry with them the seeds of ultimate self-destruction.

 The main task, as in all periods of the whole movement,
remains the solution of the Jewish-Arab problem. It is obvious
that ultimately peace with our neighbours is required if the
Jewish state is to survive. At present we are trying to achieve
this peace by force and to build up in feverish haste the military
strength which is to guarantee our security. But under no
conditions can force be enough. The very establishment of the
Jewish state by force, with hundreds of thousands of hostile
Arabs within its borders and millions around it, creates a hot-
bed of continued underground warfare, sabotage, boycott and
massacre, let alone the grave dangers facing the Jewish
communities everywhere in the Arab world. Initial successes
for us Jews may even ultimately share the fate of Napoleon's
and Hitler's campaigns against Russia. At best, military
successes will bring only temporary respite; and until we
succeed to secure the goodwill of the Arabs a dark and
portentous shadow remains over the National Home.

 Since all acts are the results of an inner attitude, the first
precondition for the achievement of this aim must be the full
realisation that the establishment of the Jewish state requires
from the Arabs a sacrifice of the first order. It is irrelevant in this
connection that the Arabs did not rule themselves politically for
many centuries (although during the last years of the Ottoman
Empire they enjoyed a certain autonomy). Decisive is the fact
that the Arabs, like all other peoples, have the right of self-
determination and at least a potential sovereignty, and that what
we ask from them is surrender of this right. Only if we are aware
of this fact, do the pre-conditions of any peaceful solution exist.

 It is obvious that this situation creates a particular
responsibility and obligation on our side. The spirit of mutual
retaliation and vengeance - aiming at subduing the opponent by
fear - is not only utterly senseless, but, as far as we Jews are
concerned, fundamentally wrong. The Arabs react as probably
every normal and primitive people would react when they feel
threatened by a mass immigration of another people into the
country which they have considered their own for many
centuries. We Jews should have a deeper insight and should be
able to see both sides of the problem. It is we who aim at a
change of the existing conditions, and it is therefore our duty to
find a solution. The initiative for this task must remain with us.

 The spirit of responsibility must express itself first and
foremost in our relations to the Arab population within the
Jewish state. It is of the utmost importance that the constitution
of the new state is framed with vision and in the spirit of
tolerance. Everything must be done to assure the Arabs that
required. The shortcomings of more than one generation cannot
be made good within a few months. Many attempts will fail,
such as an offer of medical help during the recent cholera
epidemic in Egypt, and the way will be long and thorny. But the
recognition that a debt is owed by us Jews to the Arabs for the
sacrifice which our restoration must mean to them will enable
us to persevere until at last we may succeed to win - as Mr.
Gandhi said - the Arab's heart.

 Such efforts may help to break the isolation which surrounds
the Jewish state, and if we can convince India and Pakistan that
we do not aim at conquest and can secure their sympathy and
mediation much will have been achieved. The more the centre
of activities shifts from the capitals of the West to Jerusalem,
Cairo, Karachi and Delhi, the easier will it be to integrate the
Jewish National Home into the Eastern world in which it is
situated and with which its fate is linked. The restoration of our
relations with Great Britain is only slightly less important, but it
will be easier to achieve. For the conflict never affected
similarly vital issues. But here, too, the realisation that we
ourselves are sharing the guilt for the deterioration of our
mutual relations will be an essential precondition for a new

 The simultaneous failure in the two main fields of our
relations with the outside world was not the result of tactical
mistakes, but sprang from fundamental shortcomings. It was
ultimately due to a lack of moral courage to face the realities of
our situation. If we are to succeed in the future, a complete
change of this attitude is required. We must establish again
"complete and unconditional truthfulness" both towards
ourselves in our approach to the problems which surround us
and in our relations to our neighbours. This truthfulness alone
can create those conditions without which no stable relationship
can be built.

 In the last analysis, our situation springs from spiritual
causes and may even be connected with the foundations of our
religious position. The isolation of the Jewish people in the
realm of politics may be a reflection of their unique position in
the religious sphere. Israel's spiritual existence is based on its
election among the nations. Whilst Christianity aims at the
conquest of the globe and rejoices in its expansion, Israel is
deeply concerned in its own preservation; and although our
fathers have developed very lofty religious principles about the
relation to the non-Jewish world, the present generation has not
solved for itself the problem of spiritual communion with its
neighbours. But without such a basis it is difficult to establish
stable relations even in the political field.

 On the other hand, these limitations are only of a temporary
character. The conviction that our religious position is not yet
final is a powerful driving force in our life. There is a deep
longing in the Jewish heart for the establishment of an ultimate
oneness of mankind, and the pious pray thrice daily to hasten
the day "when He will be One and His Name be One."
Throughout the ages the Jewish mind was imbued with a
burning Messianic expectation, and was always ready for the
imminent transformation of human history. The eyes of the
Jews are turned towards the future, and Israel can be fully
understood only on the eschatological plane. As Dostoevski
said, in spite of their forty-century-old history, the final word
about the Jews has not yet been spoken. Our history is not yet
completed and a last and decisive event is still to come.
Essentially, the Palestinian crisis is not political, but spiritual.
To deal with the Jewish question without regarding the things of
the spirit is to ignore the very essence of the issue. Through
thousands of years Jewish life has seen the ultimate reality in
the spirit and has found its deepest expression in religion. The
restoration to the Holy Land must have its final meaning in our
religious destiny. It must be more than the renascence of
Hebrew as a living language and the birth of a new literature
and art, more than the revival of an ancient and venerable
national civilisation, and even more than the creation of a new
society. The return to Palestine is the pre-condition of a new era
in our religious development - an era in which the present
spiritual frustration will end and Israel will find its redemption.

 The fate of the Jews is once again in the balance. If we fail
in Palestine, it will be a catastrophe of the first magnitude; for
the hope of return for vast numbers has taken the character of a
religious belief. But if we succeed, and find there the salvation
of Israel's soul - in spirit and in truth - then even two thousand
years of wandering, with all their sorrows and tears, have not
been too high a price for such fulfilment.

 GERRARDS CROSS. December 30th, 1947

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