Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Time Magazine (1925): Lord Balfour and Palestine

Time Magazine (1925), November 12, 2013

Editor’s Note: In 1968, Time Magazine made available all issues of the previous years as Time Capsule. The following text was published in 1925 in Time Magazine that dealt with the question of Palestine after the Balfour Declaration (1917). The narrative of Time Magazine is of much historical interest that many observers and political analysts may find of value. There is also a lot of vital information about Lord Balfour’s political plans for Jews and Arabs in Palestine as evidenced by his contemporary journalists. I thank David Wildsmith for sending me the text as a PDF file.

Nasir Khan, Editor


In an effort to control the unrest which had existed between
Arab and Zionist communities ever since World War I, the
League of Nations made Palestine a mandate of Great Britain
in 1922. The mandate lasted until 1948.
HOSTILE ARABS: Hale and hearty at the age of 76, Arthur
James Balfour, Earl of that name, descended from his bedroom
one bright foggy morning into his electrically lit study
in his electrically lit house in Carlton Gardens, London. He
sank agedly into a chair before his writing desk, opened a cablegram from Palestine sent by the Arab Executive, political
agency of the Arabs, read:

“Realizing that the Balfour Declaration contains a policy
that is fatal to Palestine, the Arab Executive has passed the
following resolution:

" ‘Inhabitants who are victims of the aforesaid policy will
withhold the reception otherwise due to Lord Balfour. On
the day of his arrival, meetings will be held in places of worship
for protest and prayer. Representatives of Arab bodies
will refrain from meeting him publicly or privately. The authorities
responsible for the Holy Places and national institutions
will withhold leave of access to them. Arabic
papers will appear with black borders and brief comments
in English on the Balfour Declaration. Political authorities
in Arab countries will associate themselves with the said protests and prayers. 
The Palestine Government is notified that
it will be responsible for consequences resulting from Jewish
demonstrations, public or private, authorized or unauthorized.’”
Why this hostility? The Balfour Declaration of 1917 had
declared that “His Majesty’s Government view with favor
the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish
people,” but specifically stipulated that “nothing shall
be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights
of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

The letter and the spirit of this agreement have been carried
out, according to British and Jewish sources. But the
fact remains that the British Government has tacitly undertaken
to reconcile what are essentially irreconcilable peoples and policies. Within Palestine, which is about the same size as the state of New Hampshire, there are about 757,182 people, of whom 77% are Moslems (most of them Arabs), I l % Jews, 9 % Christians, and 3% other religions.

The Moslems view with considerable alarm the infiltration
of the thrifty Jews, and since Britain tries ineffectually to
side with both, a further issue between Arab and Britisher
is created.

The Arab, as he has been in possession of the country for
centuries, regards himself as a national of Palestine and consequently 
is opposed to the Jews coming into the country
and considering themselves equally Palestine nationals. This
resentment is heightened by the fact that the Arabs, although
owning most of the land, are poor; while the Jews seemingly
have unlimited wealth behind them, which comes in from
the Zionist organization.

The Arab is opposed, as he always has been, to change;
and the one thing that the Jews are doing is changing the
whole aspect of the land. The Jews, for the most part, settle
on the swamps and the dry sand belts. The swamps they
drain and the sand patches they fertilize and irrigate. In
these things the Arab finds good material for a constant
stream of propaganda against the Jews, whom he charges
with pursuing a policy calculated to drive the Arab from
the country. Therefore, so long as the Balfour Declaration remains in force, 
all good Arabs must refuse to cooperate with the British Administration.

MANHATTAN TO HAIFA: It was a historic occasion marked by the
 presence of 5,000 excited Jews, for the president Arthur
was inaugurating a new steamship line with a sailing for
Haifa, the port of Jerusalem, and carrying the flag of Judea
(six-pointed star of David) on the high seas for the first
time in 2,000 years. Men and women wept from emotion
and when they were not weeping they were singing Hatikvah,
Zionist anthem, or The Star-Spangled Banner.

Considerable difficulty was experienced in getting visitors
off the boat, and as a result it was nearly an hour late in sailing.
Finally, an official of the Line pleaded that, if the boat
did not catch the tide, the company would lose $15,000.
Soon after this, the President Arthur weighed anchor.

lN THE PROMTSED LAND: Last week, nearly seven and a half
years after the Earl of Balfour had issued his declaration favoring the establishment of Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people, he entered a special railway car provided by the Palestine Government and was whisked off across
the Suez Canal from Cairo to the holy land of two religions:
Judaism, Christianity.

Lord Balfour went to Jerusalem. On a spur of the Mount
of Olives, known as Mt. Scopus, stands the Hebrew University
which he had come to open-which all Zionist Jewry
considers of the utmost importance in the growth of what
may be called modern Israel. He was met enthusiastically
by the Jewish communities and by the Arabs with a parade
of mourning and the silence of grief, a protest against the Balfour Declaration.
Before the opening ceremony took place, he visited Jaffa,
motored to its suburb Tel-Aviv, a purely Jewish town where,
it is said, everybody lives by doing someone else’s washing’
Everywhere the veteran Earl was received in manifest goodwill.
The great day came. Hawkers sold “Balfour biscuits”‘
“Balfour keftas” (rissoles), “Balfour chocolate,” which was
not strange in a land which has a model village named Balfouria. Dr. Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organization, declared the University open’ Then Lord Balfour arose and the ovation was such that the walls of the amphitheatre were endangered.At length – silence.

Lord Balfour spoke in his best Eton and Cambridge manner,
dwelt upon the significance i:f the event which had
brought people from all the earth’s cubbyholes’ The speech
ended on a Balfourian note: a graceful, tactful, courageous
plea for Arab goodwill and cooperation. 

LAST LAP: The last lap of Lord Balfour’s visit to the Holy
Land proved more exciting than the first and ended with regrettable suddenness. The Earl and his party had proceeded
from Jerusalem to Nazareth and Haifa in a sort of triumphal
tour. A tall points, he was met by enthusiastic Jewish colonists;
Arabs appeared to inform him that they lived peacefully
with their Jewish neighbors. 

Over the border in Syria (French mandate), things were different. At Damascus, a furious mob twice attacked his
hotel. The second onslaught, which started in “The Street
That Is Called Straight,” almost ended in a disaster, for when
the gendarmes had nearly been overpowered French troops
appeared and spanked off, with the flats of their swords’
the seething crowd, which was yelling “Down with Balfour!,”

An hour or so after the second attack, Lord Balfour was
spirited from the spot in a high-powered automobile and
only reappeared at Beirut, where he boarded a ship bound
for Alexandria, Egypt.
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