ISRAEL ZANGWILL

Israel Zangwill, the Anglo-Jewish writer, was born in 1864, and was the author of many ghetto studies, ghetto tragedies and ghetto comedies.

Zangwill Perceives Arab Problem in Palestine

In 1895, Zangwill saw the significance of Zionism and became a follower of Herzl. In April 1897, he was a member of a group of English Jews who went on a pilgrimage to Palestine. They arrived on the day before Pesach at Jaffa, travelled by train to Jerusalem where they spent the first days of the Festival; this included the holding of an English style service at the Western Wall, prior to their Seder at a nearby Jewish hotel. During the course of the Intermediate Days of the Festival they toured the country.

In the course of this visit, Zangwill had the opportunity to see the Arab problem at first hand. In one of his meetings with Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of the Modern Hebrew language, Zangwill raised the question of the Arab problem, asking him how the Jews and Arabs would succeed in living together and whether there was room in so small a country for two peoples. Ben-Yehuda did not see this as such a problem. On the contrary, in his opinion it was essential to help the Arabs to establish schools in which they would learn Arabic and Hebrew, thus increasing the Arabs' cultural level and developing a common language between the two peoples. Zangwill was not happy with Ben-Yehuda's answer and felt that his vision of the Hebrew language had distorted his objectivity.(230) However, it took Zangwill a few years to formulate his own solution to the Arab problem.

In the December 1904 edition of the American Jewish newspaper “The Maccabaean” appeared an article by Zangwill entitled “Zionism and England's Offer”. In the course of this article Zangwill put forward his proposal for the transfer of Arabs from Palestine: “There is, however, a difficulty from which the Zionist dares not avert his eyes, though he rarely likes to face it. Palestine proper has already its inhabitants.... So we must be prepared either to drive out by the sword the tribes in possession as our forefathers did, or to grapple with the problem of a large alien population, mostly Mohammedan and accustomed for centuries to despise us.” He also felt that the Zionists must extend their “idea of Palestine”, mentioning the Euphrates, the border of Egypt and Mesopotamia (Iraq) as her true boundaries.(231)

In a half-page advertisement in the same edition of “The Maccabaean”(232) and in a further advertisement in the same paper in the following March,(233) this article was described as an “Address” - the December edition in fact headed this advertisement “A Notable and Brilliant Address”. We can thus see that Zangwill had spoken on this subject to an audience. His biographer, Joseph Leftwich, quotes Zangwill as saying that he made this speech in New York in 1904.(234) The identity of the audience and the exact date of delivery have not been traced.

It was “The Maccabaean” who reprinted and put on sale 10,000 copies of this article. Obviously, one cannot say that the paper's description of this address as “A Notable and Brilliant Address” was due to the population transfer proposal contained in it. However, one can say that this proposal did not prevent its being described in these terms or its being reprinted in large numbers, for sale to the general public.

In April 1905, Zangwill delivered the above speech (with some minor changes) to a crowded meeting in Manchester, England.(235)

The seventh Zionist Congress of 1905 finally rejected the offer to establish a Jewish State in Uganda. Following this rejection, Zangwill founded the Jewish Territorial Organisation, which was dedicated to the establishment of a Jewish autonomous settlement in any part of the world.

He thus lost interest in the transfer of Arabs from Palestine until the First World War, when he returned to the Zionist fold and accordingly returned to his proposal as summed up in the words of Professor Nedava, “The Arabs of Palestine must vacate the land designated to be the Jewish State.”(236)

Lecture to Fabian Society

In a lecture delivered to the Fabian Society in December 1915, Zangwill broached his plan for the transfer of the Arabs from Palestine. [The Fabian Society was founded in 1883 by a small group in London who aimed at reconstructing society in accordance with the highest moral possibilities.]

In his lecture, Zangwill considered that even under British suzerainty, the restoration of the Jews to Palestine would not be easy. He felt that despite all the magnificent colonisation efforts of the Jews in Palestine “now, alas! half destroyed”, they still had “too few vested interests in the soil to have a claim to it on any basis of Realpolitik.” He pointed out that even before emigration during the War, the Jewish population of Palestine was only one hundred thousand, and they possessed only two per cent of the land. “Unless therefore, the Arabs would trek into Arabia, or could be peacefully expropriated, any Government set up on a constitutional democratic basis would result, not in a Jewish autonomy but in an Arab autonomy.”(237) A few years later, Zangwill was to write that if the Jewish National Home were “to be built up without an Arab trek, it can only be by methods strictly unconstitutional.”(238)

Zangwill repeated his plan in a popular monthly, a still more popular Sunday paper and in an address to the National Liberal Club. This Club was established in 1882 and was one of the more important clubs in London. It was full of sympathy with Zangwill's contention that only by being in the majority could the Jews build up their Model State.(239)

Zangwill's Conversation with Jabotinsky

In the summer of 1916, Zangwill met in Preston, near London, with Vladimir Jabotinsky. Over twenty years later in 1939, Jabotinsky wrote an account of his “Conversation with Zangwill” which mainly dealt with Zangwill's proposals for the Arabs of Palestine. This topic was introduced by Zangwill who asked Jabotinsky what he would do with the Arabs if the Jews got a Charter for Palestine. Jabotinsky replied that the classic answer that there was enough room in Palestine on both sides of the Jordan for six or eight million people and the Arabs only numbered half a million. “All this is just idle chatter”, replied Zangwill, adding that people, such as Jabotinsky, from Eastern Europe considered it quite normal for more than ten minority groups to be found living together in a small area. However, peoples from Western democracies would see this as a disease for which there could be no cure. “To allow such a situation in our Jewish State would be like gorging out our eyes with our hands. If we receive Palestine, the Arabs will have to 'trek'.”

As we see, Zangwill was very fond of using the word 'trek' in connection with the fate of the Arabs of Palestine. The origin of the word is from the Boers of South Africa, who in the first third of the twentieth century began a mass migration from Capeland to Transvaal in order to free themselves from their English neighbours. This migration became known as the “Great Trek”.

Speaking in general regarding the distribution of people on the face of the earth, Zangwill felt that it was essential to correct imbalances which arose from accidents of history.. “Progresive nations need to meet and work out a plan for a logical and just re-distribution of territory in such a manner that every people will have its own place and no-one will fear his neighbour.”

Zangwill did not see any sanctity in the voluntary nature of migration. He said that there were some things, such as children's education which were generally agreed to be good and beneficial. “In a case like this it is foolish to avoid compulsion.” Zangwill believed absolutely that a time would come when migration would be viewed in a similar light. However, before that came about, there would have to be a wholesale clearance of various false theories, such as that of migration being a tragedy. “This is one of the most conspicuous falsehoods in the world. Migration is a fortunate experience. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred”, he claimed, “the transferees have found their new territories to be better, more spacious and healthier.”(240)

Zangwill's Article of May 1917

In an article written a few months before the publication of the Balfour Declaration, Zangwill again tried to grapple with the Arab problem in Palestine. He asserted that Lord Shaftesbury's magnanimous plea to “Give the country without a people to the people without a country” was a misleading mistake. “The country holds 600,000 Arabs”, wrote Zangwill, “and unfortunately the soil is occupied by the Arabs.” He held that even under a constitutional government for all the inhabitants of Palestine, “there would be, not a Jewish autonomy but an Arab autonomy... In any event the Jews would be swamped and the Jewish atmosphere” which was the main object of a Jewish State, would become “less distinctive than the Ghetto of New York.”

Zangwill considered that the “only solution of this difficulty lies in the consideration that Palestine is not so much occupied by the Arabs as over-run by them... We cannot allow the Arabs to block so valuable a piece of historic reconstruction... And therefore we must greatly persuade them to 'trek'. After all, they have all Arabia with its million square miles - not to mention the vast new area freed from the Turk between Syria and Mesopotamia - and Israel has not a square inch.”

Zangwill suggested that the Arabs should be encouraged “to fold their tents” and “silently steal away”. He felt sure that the Jews would be prepared to pay their travelling expenses and purchase any immovable property.

In conclusion, Zangwill wrote that the Jews of Palestine, if a minority, would either have to dominate the majority or be dominated by them and neither of these alternatives would be desirable. “Neither would be the dream that has sweetened the centuries of sorrow.”(241)

This article was reprinted in the American Zionist paper “The Menorah Journal” of October 1917.(242) The historian Rafael Medoff observes that there was no reaction by the American Zionists to this article of Zangwill's and he suggests that the reason may have been that “it appeared in the edition of 'Menorah Journal' that was circulating at precisely the same moment that euphoria over the Balfour Declaration was sweeping the American Zionist movement.”(243)

This article did however come up in a conversation between Elisha Friedman and the philanthropist Jacob Schiff in October 1917. Friedman (who in the 1940s became actively involved in Herbert Hoover's Arab transfer plan) said: “Zangwill thinks England would be willing to pay the Arabs for their land and improvements and turn over the million of acres in Arabia to these Nomads and leave the small strip on the seacost [sic] for the Jews.”(244)

“Before the Peace Conference”

During the First World War, the United States' President, Woodrow Wilson, worked on his ideas for a new Utopian international system which would perpetuate peace and assure justice and security to every nation regardless of its material strength. Wilson insisted that the results of war should not be expressed through the annexation of territory but be based on the principle which promises the right of self-determination for all nations. More specifically, in connection with Palestine, point number twelve of Wilson's famous “Fourteen Points” necessary to a just and lasting peace, included the proposal that peoples under Turkish rule were to be allowed self-determination. Until Palestine had been conquered by the British in 1917-8, it had been part of the Ottoman Empire under Turkish rule.

Zionist organisations throughout the world, therefore, naturally utilised the opportunity of the Paris Peace Conference held in January 1919, to push forward Jewish claims and title to Palestine. Zangwill, however, was at odds with the Zionist Organisation over its interpretation of the Balfour Declaration. He therefore, in December 1918, published an article in “The Jewish Chronicle” entitled “Before the Peace Conference”.

On 4 December 1918, Zangwill had written a letter (untraced) to the Editor of “The Jewish Chronicle”, Leopold Greenberg, (presumably) offering him this article for publication in that paper. On the 6th of the month, Greenberg replied saying that he liked the idea of sending them this article. The Editor was obviously keen to publish it because he added, “if you can let us have it by Monday [9 December] that will suit us best because it will give us plenty of time to 'feature' it and perhaps get some announcements of it elsewhere beforehand.”(245)

From Zangwill's letter of 10 December, we see that Greenberg had already received this article and had commented favourably on it. Zangwill was sure that his article “will key the thing up, so that they [the forthcoming Paris Peace Conference] will not dare offer us too little.” He was also sure that his “views will excite controversy” adding that he had “expressed them very briefly and have all the answers.” He observed that his wife thought that his “beautiful phrase 'race redistribution' is a really constructive contribution.”

Zangwill did not know whether Greenberg would be writing an Editorial on his article, but suggested that “it might be well in anticipation of one class of objector to point out that I am no 'visionary' but the President of the only Society in the world except the ICA(?) which has emigrated 10,000 Jewish souls from persecution to freedom and prosperity.”(246) Zangwill's article appeared in “The Jewish Chronicle” of 13 December, and in this edition were two Editorials on Zangwill. Although Greenberg did not mention that that Zangwill was no “visionary”, he did observe that “in the Ito [Jewish Territorial Organisation], too he has rendered at least one signal service in one particular branch of the Jewish difficulty by the re-settlement of some thousands of oppressed Jews in more congenial environment.”(247)

In his article, Zangwill wrote that if it is to exist at all, a Jewish Palestine must be a reality and not a sham, adding that so far, interpretations of the Balfour Declaration “seem scarcely serious”. He felt that the Jewish National Home would be a “British Crown Colony with a predominantly Arab population.” He complained that while other peoples scarcely known to history were to flourish on their own soil, the Jewish people “is to crawl into a corner of its own land like a leper colony.” One was entitled to assume, Zangwill considered, that the Balfour Declaration “was intended to settle the Jewish question in harmony with the spirit of this great moment of world reconstruction when everything is in the melting pot.”

He repeated, that in order to convert Palestine into a Jewish National Home, the Arabs would have to be resettled in Arabia. “And hence we must suppose that this new system of creative politics will not stop short of disentangling Europe, and that those amicable measures of race redistribution which we have already seen to be an unavoidable part of a final world settlement will be carried out in Palestine as elsewhere. Thus the Arabs would gradually be settled in the new and vast Arabian Kingdom, to liberate which from the Turk, Jews no less than Arabs have laid down their lives and with which the Jewish Commonwealth would cultivate the closest friendship and co-operation. Only thus can Palestine become a 'Jewish National Home'.” He felt that only if Palestine were to have a large Jewish majority, (but not a “Jewish totality”), and the land nationalised via expropriation of both Jewish and Arab land “with reasonable compensation”, could the Jews hope to build up a “model state”.

Zangwill warned that the World War which had just ended had been “a sufficient object-lesson in the rankling poisons of race-hatred generated between peoples pent in the same territory”. Hence the Jews had to possess Palestine in the same way as the Arabs had to possess Arabia or the Poles Poland.(248)

Reactions to Zangwill's Article

After the publication of Zangwill's article, Sir Lionel Abrahams, a distinguished English civil servant and Anglo-Jewish historian, handed in his resignation as a member of the Jewish Territorial Organisation. On receiving Sir Lionel's resignation, Zangwill wrote him a letter which he also sent a copy of to “The Jewish Chronicle” for publication. In addition he sent the paper a memorandum containing his plan as worked out for the Peace Conference.(249) This memorandum presumably contained the points made in his letter to Sir Lionel.

Greenberg replied that he was publishing the letter to Sir Lionel, but pointed out that he was in a difficult situation with regard to the Memorandum since “the [British] Government would not view with favour the publication of a number of different proposals, especially before the proposal comes to them from the Zionist body itself”, and also “because it is not desirable to put up the back of the idiots who are in authority.” Even with regard to the publication of Zangwill's letter to Sir Lionel, Greenberg had some hesitation since he observed, “Between ourselves, I rather think that I am sailing very near the wind in publishing your letter to Sir Lionel Abrahams.” Greenberg concluded that he would however publish Zangwill's memorandum, as soon as Weizmann let him publish his plan, and at the same time point out that his paper had held it over until they had received Weizmann's memorandum.(250)

In his letter to Sir Lionel, Zangwill wrote: “Dear Sir Lionel, - On the ground that my suggestion for the gradual and amicable emigration of the majority of its Arabs from the tiny territory of Palestine is 'indefensible and impracticable,' you ask me to remove your name from the list of the Council of the Jewish Territorial Organisation.”(251)

In his book “The Voice of Jerusalem” published nearly two years later, which amplified many of the points contained in his letter to Sir Lionel, Zangwill explained the importance of “gradual and amicable emigration”. There he contrasted his planned transfer of the Arabs from Palestine, with the “brief notice” of compulsory emigration which the terms of the armistice concluding the war, gave all Germans in Turkey. His proposals for transfer would involve “a well-organised emigration to a pre-arranged home amid one's kinsmen, with full compensation for values left behind.”(252)

At a Zionist demonstration held in the East End of London, a few weeks before the publication of Zangwill's “Before the Peace Conference” article, Weizmann had put forward his own ideas on Palestine. In brief, his plans were for first gaining world recognition of Palestine as a Jewish land, then employing “legitimate means” to bring millions of Jews to Palestine within a relatively short time without encroaching on the rights of the Arab peasants. Jews would work the land and would lay the spiritual foundations of the country - namely the Hebrew language, Jewish days of rest and the Hebrew education system. However, Weizmann proposed that there should not be a government until there was a Jewish majority in Palestine. Instead, the land should be administered by a Trustee power.(253)

Zangwill was against Weizmann's plans and in his letter to Sir Lionel Abrahams referred to this scheme as “indefensible and impracticable”. “Even if it does not propose to sit on the Arab's head, it does propose to snow him under, and ethically I can see no difference between destroying his position gradually or at a stroke.” Zangwill felt that it would be more ethical to make an honest, open bargain with the Arabs rather than slowly swamp them. He pointed out that “even the 'Morning Post' (no very pro-Semitic organ) merely demanded our 'buying out the present owners of Palestine'; exactly my policy.” Zangwill contended that only Jewish critics found his scheme either “indefensible” or “impracticable”.(254)

In his book, Zangwill stated categorically that his “suggestion of amicable race-redistribution or a voluntary trek” was the only method of creating a Jewish State in Palestine. “If it is as impracticable as is generally alleged, then the whole Zionist project was a chimera.”(255)

Referring in his letter to historic precedents in the universal migrations of primitive people, Zangwill added that the “Arab semi-nomadic fellah” had created nothing in Palestine to attach him to the soil.(256) Hence there was “no Arab people living in intimate fusion with the country, utilising its resources and stamping it with a characteristic impress: there is at best an Arab encampment.”(257) He recommended that the Arab carry “his primitive plough to his own new and vast Arabian kingdom.” These he would be master in his own house and in a state of peace rather than perpetual friction with the Jews of Palestine.

Zangwill enclosed a copy of his plan which he had proposed that Weizmann present at the Paris Peace Conference.(258)

Three days later, Lucien Wolf wrote a letter to Zangwill which was subsequently published in “The Jewish Chronicle”. [Lucien Wolf was at the time President of the Anglo-Jewish Association. This was a British organisation which had originally been formed for the protection by diplomatic means of Jewish rights in backward countries. After 1905, Wolf had collaborated with Zangwill in his Jewish Territorial Organisation, and he was one of the main British figures in the anti-Zionist campaign. One should mention that at that period there were a number of prominent Anglo-Jews who were anti-Zionist - not just non-Zionists. They felt that Zionism could jeopardise the legal rights won by the Jews of Britain over many decades, and that Jewish patriotism was incompatible with their loyalties as British citizens and could lead to anti-Semitism. When the text of what was to be known as the Balfour Declaration was being discussed by the British Cabinet, these anti-Zionist Jews made antagonistic representations to the British Government and as a result they modified the text of the Declaration to one which was much less favourable to Zionist aspirations.]

Before his article was even published Zangwill realised that Lucien Wolf would raise objections to the plan and he thus in his letter to Greenberg wrote that “one of Wolf's objections is indeed countered in advance”, although he did not specify what this particular objection was.(259)

Wolf began his letter by asserting that he felt just as strongly as did Sir Lionel that Zangwill's proposal to transfer the Arabs was “ 'indefensible' if not 'impracticable'.” Wolf went on to show complete lack of knowledge of the history of Palestine during the last two millenia. “The Zionists, however dear may be their memories of 2000 years ago, came to the land as strangers, while the so-called Arabs - by which is meant the fellahin or peasantry - are the indigenous population who were in the country before the first invasion of our people, and who have remained there ever since.”

Wolf then expressed concern at what might happen to Jews in other countries, were the Arabs to be evicted from Palestine because they did not happen to be Jews. He warned that the proposal which Zangwill had made for the amicable emigration of the Arabs from Palestine had already been made for the emigration of Jews from Poland. He felt that although the few hundred thousand Jews of Palestine might benefit from the transfer of the Arabs, seven million Jews in Eastern and South Eastern Europe might have “to submit to a similar persecution without any right of appeal to justice and fair play.” He added that, were the eviction of Arabs to take place, an “indelible stigma” would be attached to Jews throughout the world.(260)

Zangwill told Wolf that he saw no grounds for his criticisms. “In your shrinking from a Jewish State you strive to bar the way by ethical considerations unknown to history.” He asked Wolf, “Where and on what status, pray, are the original inhabitants of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, even of Wilson's own America?” Zangwill added that history had “never recognised the rights of races to monopolise territories they could not develop. If, as you say, the Arabs have been in Palestine 2000 years, then it is high time they trekked, like the Boers from Cape Colony.”

Although allowing that the Arabs had had a great civilised period, Zangwill said that the fellahin were “primitive, illiterate, reckless folk” who had created absolutely nothing in Palestine. He trusted that Wolf's solicitude for the Arabs did not extend to the exploiting absentee landlords.(261)

A year later, Zangwill wrote about an Arab sheikh who had issued a pro-Zionist manifesto regarding Arabs of Palestine whose lands were continually being expropriated, without even compensation, by the very Effendis who were behind the opposition to Zionism.(262)

Zangwill inquired, “What injustice is there in transferring the Arab to a similar piece of land in his own kingdom?” As already seen, nearly twenty years earlier, Herzl in his draft charter for a “Jewish-Ottoman Land Company” had included a similar proposal.

To prevent the Arab being overruled, Zangwill suggested Arab emigration from Palestine coupled with Jewish immigration to Palestine. Such a process would “redress the balance of races and make a 'Jewish National Home' more possible.”

Wolf's point regarding Poland was referred to by Zangwill as “mere impudence” and the analogy between the cases of Poland and Palestine dismissed, since the Jewish population of Poland was only 16 per cent as compared with the 85 per cent Arab population of Palestine.(263) Elsewhere, Zangwill wrote that he had no objection to “an orderly migration of Polish Jews” who were being persecuted, to a “less barbarous soil”. The difference was that whereas there was no Jewish State to receive the Polish Jews, the Arabs of Palestine only had to cross the border of Palestine to be in an Arab State.(264)

In reply to Zangwill's letter, Wolf wrote, “If the so-called Arabs were really Arabs - that is, natives of Arabia - and if the Jews were really Palestinians - that is indigenes of Palestine - there might be something to be said for your argument on the crazy basis of Territorial Nationality, which is the root curse of all our policies. But the Arabs are not Arabs. They are only the Moslemised descendants of the indigenous Canaanites, and hence they are in their rightful homeland which, however poor and feckless they may be, is their own. This is so well established an anthropological fact that you will find it referred to as beyond dispute in any good encyclopaedic article on Palestine.” However, the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, published only eight years earlier, shows that the Palestinian population of that day was made up of a patchwork of peoples including very large contingents from the Mediterranean countries, especially Armenia, Greece and Italy.

Wolf continued, “The Jews on the other hand, come from the very Mesopotamia to which you would now banish the Arabs. They never struck root in the country, although they certainly sanctified it by great doings... and they passed out of it because in reality it was too small for their great spirit and took the world for their stage.” This is not in accordance with Jewish tradition and liturgy.

Wolf asked Zangwill why he was not asking the Poles to trek into Russia and leave the Jews in possession of Poland. Wolf considered that such a proposal “would be just as reasonable as your proposition in regard to the Arabs.”(265)

Zangwill replied that he did not demand this since the Poles had struck root in Poland and were in effective, historic cultural possession of their country. In addition, whereas an “Arab Kingdom is being set up for the Arabs outside Palestine”, no Polish kingdom was being set up for the Poles in Russia. “It is the Arabs who have 'never struck root' in Palestine, not the Jews”, said Zangwill, “for the Jews were uprooted while the Arabs are still, after all these centuries, merely standing on the surface.”

At this period, the Emir Feisal had made a speech in which he stated that “Dr. Weizmann's ideals are ours” and that he looked forward to Jewish co-operation with his State. On 3 January 1919, he signed the historic agreement with Weizmann. In connection with the Emir Feisal, Zangwill wrote that if he “is as friendly as he sounds, then surely - united as Jews and Arabs are in their common objection to French suzerainty - there would be no difficulty in arranging with him on a quid pro quo basis that the Arabs of Palestine should be gradually drawn from these 10,000 square miles into the 400,000 square miles of the Arabic sphere, the two States then co-operating, freed from the danger of friction.”(266) As is well-known, only a few months later, Feisal retreated from his pro-Zionist stand.

The final letter in this series, came from Rabbi Dr. Samuel Daiches, a Rabbinic and oriental scholar who was born in Vilna and had become a lecturer at Jews' College in 1908. Daiches was was critical of Zangwill's articles and letters, Lucien Wolf's letters and Claude Montefiore's article on the “Dangers of Zionism” (which had appeared at the same period in “The Jewish Chronicle”). “They have all this in common”, wrote Daiches, “they mis-understand the Jewish spirit and the essence of Zionism.”

With regard to Wolf, Daiches wrote, “Mr. Wolf's anxiety for the 'descendants of the indigenous Canaanites' and his hints to the Poles and other anti-Semites would be farcical if they were not tragical... I may, by the way tell Mr. Wolf that the Jews did not come from Mesopotamia. The family of our patriarch Abraham migrated from Canaan to Babylonia, and Abraham re-migrated from Babylonia to Canaan, went back to his 'rightful homeland'. We are, therefore, at least in as good a position as the 'descendants of the indigenous Canaanites'. The superconscience of Mr. Wolf may be quite at rest on this score. 'Cooked' history gives a bad taste, Mr. Wolf.”

Daiches opposed Zangwill's proposal to transfer the Arabs from Palestine, describing it as “un-Jewish and unpolitical”. He said, “We will not evict Arabs or any other people living in Palestine... We want Palestine to be again the Jewish National Home. The Arabs have no objection to this idea being realised.”(267) The years which immediately followed showed Daiches to be completely mistaken. The Arabs' true intentions were revealed, not just in words but in pogroms and massacres.

Editorial Comments in “The Jewish Chronicle”

During the period of Zangwill's original article and the subsequent correspondence, “The Jewish Chronicle” published several Editorials on the subject.

The first one, under the heading “The Arab Problem” appeared in the same edition as Zangwill's article. It began by stating that Zangwill had always emphasised the demographic problem confronting Jewish settlement in Palestine and continued, “In the article we print, Mr. Zangwill grasps the nettle with characteristic courage.” After summarising Zangwill's suggestion for transfer of the Arabs from Palestine to the new and vast Arabian kingdom, the Editorial writer concluded that this suggestion was “wholly impracticable.” It was one thing to transport ten or twenty thousand willing emigrants, but another to transport hundreds of thousands “possibly against their own wishes.” The Editorial writer then put forward his own views on solving the Arab problem in Palestine, namely by absorption of the Arabs as equal citizens. He concluded, “Meanwhile we may welcome Mr. Zangwill's constructive attempt to deal with the whole question, and the fine sense of Jewish nationalism which he manifests. We would only add that Mr. Zangwill's experiences and enthusiasms - to say nothing of his commanding position in Jewry - eminently fit him, in our opinion and in the opinion, we are convinced of his co-religionists all the world over, to take a prominent part in the deliberations of the Palestine section at the coming Peace Conference. We hope that his presence and service may be secured.”(268)

It is significant to note that although the Editorial writer of “The Jewish Chronicle” did not agree with Zangwill's proposals for the transfer of the Arabs from Palestine, he afforded both Zangwill and his proposal the greatest respect and proposed that he take a prominent part in the forthcoming Paris Peace Conference.

Another Editorial written a fortnight later, came out against both Zangwill's proposals and the official Zionist proposals for solving the Arab problem. The Editorial writer hoped that in the new scheme for effectuating the Balfour Declaration, which was at the time in the course of preparation, “the vital Arab question will be dealt with on something like rational and reasonable lines. Expropriation, as Mr. Zangwill proposes, we do not think comes under either of these categories, any more than does the policy of peaceful penetration of Jews on the one hand, and gradual elimination of the Arabs on the other, which is said to be the official Zionist plan.”(269)

In a third Editorial which appeared after the exchange of letters between Lucien Wolf and Zangwill, the idea of population transfer was viewed more favourably. The Editorial writer conceded that Zangwill's retort to Wolf contained “several points which deserve to be borne in mind in the discussion of this very difficult and vital question... It may be that in the end no material injury would be done to the Arab population” by applying Wilson's principles of reshaping lands on the principle of Nationality. “As an ideal, indeed, the proposition, if voluntarily embraced by Arabs and Jews alike, would prove to be a solution of the trouble.”(270)

The Editorial writer however, felt that the plan sketched by “A Jewish Nationalist”, a month and-a-half earlier in “The Jewish Chronicle” was the most practicable plan for dealing with the Arab problem. In this plan, the anonymous author said that the Arabs could not be “expropriated” but must be given the “fullest consideration” and “utmost protection”. For his solution of the Arab question, he suggested turning the “Arabs into Israelites politically.” Those Arabs who wished “to become citizens of 'Israel' could do so” and those who did not wish could remain Arabs. He said, “We have to rely upon political means for maintaining within its borders a nationality that is Jewish; and it stands to reason that these political means will prove in the end just as effectual in gradually eliminating from the land of Israel those who do not desire to identify themselves with that nationality, as they will be the means of attracting to its borders those who do.”(271) The Editorial writer considered that this plan was natural and comparatively easy whilst Zangwill's was arbitrary and bristles with difficulties, dangers and injustice.(272)

As we shall see later, when in the 1940s, the British Labour Party put forward its proposal for encouraging the Arabs to leave Palestine, the Jewish Chronicle Editorial writer came out in two Editorials very much in favour of the proposal, describing it as “sane realism” and very critical of those Zionists who opposed the plan.

Lecture in Aid of War-Wounded

The First World War ended in November 1918, leaving an enormous toll of dead and wounded including many Jewish victims. At the end of December, a concert was held in London in aid of the West London Branch of the Jewish Victims of War which was addressed by Zangwill.

Zangwill realised that he would require every forum possible to propagate his views and thus in a postscript to his private letter of 10 December to the Editor of “The Jewish Chronicle”, he pointed out that he had just received an invitation to preside at a concert in aid of the Jewish victims of the war, and said that “this would supply a forum for saying whatever may be necessary at that critical date.”(273)

During the course of this lecture, he explained that his Jewish Territorial Organisation had been reluctant to adopt Palestine as a National Home because “the overwhelmingly Arab population made a Jewish autonomous basis apparently impossible.” He felt that with the promulgation of the Balfour Declaration, the Jews were entitled to believe “that a radical solution of this difficulty had been found.” As could be seen from Canada and the Transvaal leaving “races pent up in one territory” led to trouble and friction. The World War had been fought to break up the dangerous sources of friction in Austria and Hungary. “Where then”, said Zangwill, “was the logic of creating in Palestine a minor Austria artificially? The races should separate as Abraham did from Lot.”(274)

Zangwill praised Sir Mark Sykes, who a year and-a-half earlier had proposed the setting up of a Joint Committee for the protection of the natural rights of Arabs, Armenians and Jews, the three races who had been oppressed by the Turks. These ideas of Sykes formed part of the background to the famous declaration made by Lord Robert Cecil, the Assistant British Foreign Secretary. This was made at a meeting, at which Zangwill was present, held at the London Opera House in December 1917, in order to express gratitude to the British Government for issuing the Balfour Declaration. Cecil declared, “Our wish is that Arabian countries shall be for the Arabs, Armenia for the Armenians and Judea for the Jews.”(275)

In his lecture in aid of the war-wounded, Zangwill epigrammatised Cecil's statement saying that “The Arabs were to have a State in Arabia, the Armenians a State in Armenia and the Jews A STATE - OF FRICTION.” Laughter followed!(276)

This expression “a state of friction” for the Jews was amplified by Zangwill in a footnote to a book by Redcliffe Salaman. Zangwill stated that he “hoped that by an amicable agreement they (the Arabs) would prefer to trek to their new Arabian State just as the Boers trekked for Cape Colony. In that case the two States could arise side by side and hand in hand. Otherwise he did not see that a Jewish State could arise at all, but only a state of friction.”(277)

Redcliffe N. Salaman M.D. was a Jewish Officier stationed in Palestine who wrote a whole series of letters which were subsequently published. In a letter written from Surafend in February 1919, he mentioned a number of complaints brought by Arabs for which on investigation not a shred of supporting evidence could be found. Salaman considered that these accusations were propaganda to influence Arabs against Jews. “Unfortunately the fault is not all on their side”, continued Salaman, “I fear I.Z's letter (I have not had a chance of seeing the original) has done untold harm.” He did not identify the letter, but possibly, he is referring to one of Zangwill's letters to “The Jewish Chronicle” which had been published a month or so earlier. “It is radically wrong to suggest a complete removal of the Arabs, simply because it is both impractical and un-English.”(278)

A footnote appended to this letter states that Zangwill had explained to Salaman that “the reports were but a crude summary of his thought.” Zangwill, who seems in his explanations to take .a defensive posture, hoped that the Arabs of Palestine, whose kinsmen after years of oppression were having a new state set up for them in Arabia, “would of themselves sympathise with the ideal of the still more unfortunate nation of Israel, and would see the practical impossibility of the Zionist ideal being carried out on a very small piece of territory such as Palestine is, if 600,000 of their own people remain on the soil.”

Zangwill promised that the Arabs would be fully compensated by the Zionist Organisation and if necessary would obtain equivalent plots of land in the new Arab State. He warned that the Arabs would be making a grave mistake should they persist in regarding the little territory of Palestine as their own.(279)

No written account by Zangwill of this footnote has been traced, although in a letter written by him to Salaman dated 3 December 1919, Zangwill thanked him for returning his articles and letters, and commenting, “But surely they explain quite well my point of view, and show that that it was misinterpreted in the first rumours.” Possibly it was from this material that Salaman got the information for his footnote.

In this letter, Zangwill also informed him where he thought he had first put forward his idea for transfer of Arabs, and the attitude of the non-Jews towards this idea: “I cannot remember when I first launched the idea of an amicable Arab expropriation; but it was probably at the National Liberal Club, where the idea was received sympathetically by a large audience, mainly Gentile. Gentiles, indeed, cannot understand how a National Home can be got otherwise.”(280)

In a further letter to Salaman written in March 1920, (following one of Zangwill's speeches), Zangwill wrote: “Your criticism that I offer no constructive policy is utterly untrue. I offer a policy, heroic indeed, but quite feasible. You are a tyro in the movement to which I have devoted half a lifetime, and you really do not understand the great issues involved.”

In answer to a further criticism of Salaman's that Zangwill “disturbed the Arabs”, the latter replied, “it is very odd that a writer in yesterday's 'Daily News' (who is writing a series of articles on the Zionist problem), never mentioned me among the numerous factors of unrest.”(281)

“Zionism and the League of Nations”

The “League of Nations Journal” extended an invitation to Zangwill to contribute an article, and in February 1919, he took advantage of this invitation to express his forebodings.

The Journal published Zangwill's article in their “Open Forum” section, a section which had been “instituted with a view to stimulating discussion and arousing interest in all aspects of, and subjects connected with, the problem of a League of Nations”. Folowing this article, the Editor commented, “The above article represents a definitely Zionist point of view.”(282) However, there was no question of the Editor of this journal attempting to suppress an article advocating transfer.

Zangwill pointed out in his article, that the claim of the Jews to Palestine did not rest “merely on history”, but also on the fact that whilst they were the only people in the world without a national home, Palestine was at that time a derelict country. He then continued with his oft-repeated statement that the presence of 600,000 Arabs was the “gravest obstacle to the rise of the Jewish State.” These Arabs had “created nothing there except trouble for the Jewish Colonies, and should be gradually and amicably transplanted to the Arab Kingdom, which is to be re-established next door, and with which the Jewish State would cordially co-operate.” Zangwill considered that race redistribution was “in the interests of general world happiness” and that it was one of the functions of the League of Nations.(283)

In a letter to “The Jewish Chronicle”, Zangwill described this article as “a very short but strong article” on “Zionism and the League of Nations”. He felt sure that “The Jewish Chronicle” could get permission to copy the article, and he offered them an advance copy.(284) This article was in fact published in both “The Jewish Chronicle”(285) and “The Jewish World”.(286)

Zangwill's Address to Poale Zion

By 1920, a year after the Paris Peace Conference, a League of Nations had been established and Zangwill had hoped that under their auspices a “friendly arrangement would be fixed up between the Jews and the Arabs, who would gradually retire to their own State.” Instead of which, for making “this reasonable suggestion of an exodus by consent”, Zangwill had been “denounced” by both Weizmann and Feisal as an “ejector of the Arab”.

In his lecture to Poale Zion (Labour Zionists), at the end of February 1920, Zangwill said, “With the passing of the dream of universal justice associated with the League of Nations, the hopes of such a settlement have faded.” In his stinging criticism of Weizmann, Zangwill stated that unless he could solve the Arab problem, Zionism would be a fiasco. “For if you shirk Exodus you are confronted by Numbers.” Weizmann had proposed the use of force to keep the door open for Jewish immigration to Palestine, and with this Zangwill agreed, but he complained that Weizmann “will not see that his political ideal demands force - though with full compensation - in the Arabs' going out.” Zangwill held that in the first instance, reason and goodwill should be used to solve the Arab problem, but failing that “then one single act of compulsion is better for both sides than perpetual friction.” He claimed that were he an Arab politician, he would gradually withdraw his “semi-nomadic population” to Arab territory and seek an alliance of the Arab and Jewish forces “each in its own State.”(287)

An Editorial in the same edition of “The Jewish Chronicle” began, “Without seeing eye to eye with Mr. Zangwill on all the points in his brilliant speech... we would express our general concurrence in his views.” It is not clear which of Zangwill's “points” displeased the Editorial writer. However, nowhere in this Editorial was the transfer proposal criticised. Rather, the Editorial writer praised Zangwill's “stern call for a courageous facing of the facts at a time of extraordinary crisis in Jewish history, and a demand that Jews, and especially Zionists should rise to the height of an unexampled opportunity.”(288)

The following week a letter was published in “The Jewish Chronicle” by the British born author and Zionist historian, Leonard Stein, who pointed out that the Arab leaders did not have “the smallest intention of advising an Arab emigration.”(289)

Another Editorial countered, that should the Arabs remain in Palestine, the policy of Jewish immigration might find itself confronted by serious difficulties. The Editorial writer questioned whether the policy of laissez faire would solve the problem and felt that an “intelligible and workable course” needed to be propounded on the Arab question.(290)

On the other hand, an Editorial in the anti-Jewish British daily newspaper, the “Morning Post”, strongly attacked Zangwill's proposed solution of the Arab problem, describing it as “Nationalism, Militarism, Imperialism, in the most aggressive sense of these much abused words. The Arabs are to be driven out of the country in which they have lived for hundreds and thousands of years, and by force if necessary.” In view of the fact that the Jews constituted only a small percentage of the population, the writer felt that instead of the proposal to drive out the Arabs, Zangwill should have proposed living in “peace and international solidarity with these Arabs.”(291)

In answer to this paper's criticism, Zangwill reminded them that in the past they had pronounced as reasonable the method of expropriation with compensation. He felt that after the “gigantic blood-letting for more or less futile ends” which had taken place during the First World War, he could not jib at the use of a “little force for real ends” such as the solution of the Jewish problem.(292)

Greenberg in a letter to Zangwill commented on this “Morning Post” leader. He wrote, “The 'Morning Post' leader is such a wretched production, so unfair, so unchivalrous that I am convinced it was never written in the 'Morning Post' office.”(293) Greenberg also felt that “The Jewish Chronicle” should publicly react to this leader, that in a further letter dated 10 March, he wrote “so far as the 'Morning Post' is concerned, I will see what space we can afford after what we are bound to put in of our reply to their infamous article.”(294) In their answer (actually to another article in the “Morning Post” attacking this speech of Zangwill's), “The Jewish Chronicle” spoke of taking “words from their context, contort them, and dish them up so as to suit his own malevolent purposes.”(295)

A further attack on Zangwill's views was made in the Manchester “Sunday Chronicle” by E. B. Osborn who once wrote for the “Morning Post”, and Zangwill commented that he “may be the man behind the whole thing” (i.e. presumably the author of the leader in the “Morning Post”). Zangwill answered this attack with, in his own words, “a good little letter”.(296)

Another attack made at the beginning of 1920 on Zangwill's views on Arab transfer was made by Leon Simon, a leading British Zionist, who strongly opposed transfer. In the course of an article in “The Maccabaean” entitled “Jews and Arabs”, Simon put forward three theoretical solutions for the Arabs of Palestine, the first being “to remove the Arabs from the country, by force if they would not go of their own free will.”

In discussing this solution, Simon wrote that there is “a certain attractiveness” about this suggestion. However there was no reason to suppose that it would be acceptable to the Arabs. He then continued: “The use of compulsion has, if I recollect aright, been suggested by Mr. Zangwill (I am not clear whether he would apply it to the Arabs of the Palestinian towns as well as to the felaheen of the countryside), but this is a solution which is condemned by every consideration either of justice or of expediency. The injustice of compulsory wholesale deportation needs no laboring.”(297)

Zangwill's Address to the American Jewish Congress

In October 1923, Zangwill, at the invitation of the American Jewish Congress, delivered a lecture at the Carnegie Hall in New York. In addition to an audience of nearly 4000 people, the lecture was broadcast by radio throughout the United States and to England.

In this lecture, which the “New York Times” headlined “Zangwill Calls Political Zionism a Vanished Hope”, Zangwill declared that the Jews must forego their political hopes in Palestine or start a conflagration. In the course of this lecture he commented that he would “always remain persuaded that a Jewish State was possible at the moment when the Arab was a defeated enemy, liberated from the Turk and glad enough to take on any political impress; that by a policy of racial redistribution such as is now in operation between the Greeks and the Turks under the Treaty of Lausanne, combined with full compensation for expropriated land - a policy of mine with which even our Morning Post was originally satisfied - the difficulty of making a home out of a territory in which we are only one out of nine inhabitants and in which our total holding of the soil is still below 4 per cent, could have been largely removed.”(298)

An editorial in the New York Jewish weekly “The New Palestine” pointed out that this address made headlines on the following day all over the United States and there were a “volley of protests and denunciations.”(299) One should note that these denunciations were against the general theme of his address and not specifically against his comments about the Arabs. The “New York Evening Post” did refer to Zangwill's comments on transfer and said: “Quite aside from the question whether the thing could have been done that Mr. Zangwill believed ought to have been done, it is a question whether the thing ought to have been attempted.”(300)

On the afternoon following Zangwill's address, Dr. Stephen Wise, who had acted as Chairman on the previous evening, assembled all the delegates and issued a statement. He began by saying that “Mr Zangwill spoke for himself and not for the American Jewish Congress. He spoke to Israel and not for Israel.” However, later on in his statement he said that “the gravest possible misconstruction has been placed upon the general tendency of Mr. Zangwill's address, for Zangwill criticizes not as an anti Zionist but as a Zionist of Zionists.... As far as Zangwill has any quarrel, it is not with the fundamental ideals and principles of Zionism, but with policies of the present Zionist leadership.”(301)

An endorsement of Zangwill's views was made by the secretary of the American Jewish Congress, Bernard Richards, who in a letter to “The New Palestine” which was published the following week, wrote: “To pretend that many of us have not for years been thinking what Mr. Zangwill is saying, is only a form of hypocrisy which does not add to the dignity of Jewish life.”(302)

In complete contrast to Richard's assessment, a vice president of the American Jewish Congress, Samuel Untermyer, handed in his resignation “as a protest against its [the American Jewish Congess's] action in permitting the use of its platform for the destructive and ill balanced diatribe delivered by Mr. Zangwill against the Palestine movement under the auspices of the Congress.”(303) In his long letter of resignation, Untermyer referred to Zangwill's comments on the Arabs: “Such a lurid and brazen proposal for expatriating and expropriating the Arabs could only have been born in the mind of one who is accustomed to deal with the fancies and phantasms of the world of fiction. It would, I take it, be futile to inquire how Mr. Zangwill the pacifist is able to make peace with the savage idea that the Jews should have taken advantage of the chaos and turmoil of the war to evict the Arabs out of Palestine. Such an idea is abhorrent to anyone who is imbued with the just, humanitarian and constructive spirit of our movement.”(304)

An attempt to “tone down” Zangwill's views on Arab transfer was made in an address delivered by Stephen Wise on 4 November 1923 - three weeks after Zangwill's address. Wise stated that Zangwill “never dreamt of expropriating or expelling the Arabs. Zangwill would rather cut off his right arm than urge his people, whom he respects, to do anything unworthy, unjust, ignoble.” Wise said that five or six years earlier, when a great Arab kingdom had been mooed, Zangwill had claimed that it would not be “impossible to purchase land from the Arabs who would trek across the Jordan to the Hedjas.”(305) However, from a study of Zangwill's pronouncements on Arab transfer, particularly his lecture to Poale Zion in 1920, one cannot find much support for Wise's assessment.

With the advantage of hindsight, Abraham Goldberg, who was a member of the Zionist Organization of America's administrative committee, came to the defence of Zangwill, in an article written in 1930. Goldberg wrote: “Israel Zangwill did, at one time, suggest a similar solution [i.e. transfer] to the Arab question in Palestine; but he was 'laughed out of court' and accused of being Utopian, of suggesting things that are solely impractical. We all know better now.”

He went on to describe the success of the Greco-Turkish transfer and pointed out that such a solution for Palestine would be much easier “since it involved only a small displacement of a few hundred thousand fellaheen.” The method to be used should not be force but a real incentive such as granting twice as much land outside of Palestine.(306)

During the following year, Goldberg made a more specific proposal for Arab transfer. He was talking about the boundary between Palestine and Transjordan which he called “fictitious” and asked “Why, then, cannot many of the Arabs migrate to Transjordania and settle there, where they would be strictly under Arab auspices and an Arab Government?” He hoped that the Zionist representatives at the forthcoming London Conference would point out the injustice which had been “done to the Jewish National Home in severing Palestine into two parts of which one is still reserved exclusively for Arabs, and in not encouraging the Arabs of Palestine to migrate to Transjordania, so that additional territory might be available for Jewish colonization and for the development of the Jewish Homeland without hindrance.”(307)

At the same period, Felix Frankfurter, a Supreme Court Justice of the United States, in an article published in the journal “Foreign Affairs” wrote: “Certainly, hill Arabs [from Palestine] can as readily be settled there [Transjordan] as on the plains.”(308)

Zangwill the “Most Consistent Advocate”

In the period following the Balfour Declaration and the establishment of the British Mandate over Palestine, the trend among both Jews and non-Jews was against the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. Perhaps the following remark made by Winston Churchill towards the end of 1919 was a reference to Zangwill. “There are the Jews, whom we are pledged to introduce into Palestine, and who take it for granted that the local population will be cleared out to suit their convenience.”(309)

In a similar vein, in an article by Weizmann which appeared in the Palestine daily newspaper “Ha'aretz”, he wrote, “When the Arabs read the speeches of our D'Annunzio - Mr. Zangwill - they may well believe that the Jews will come suddenly in their millions to conquer the land and turn out the Arabs. But responsible Zionists have never said or desired such a thing.”(310)

Furthermore, from a letter written by Zangwill, we can see that the Zionists considered Zangwill's proposals to be dangerous at that time. In this letter, written after a meeting with Aaron Aaronsohn, (one of the founders of the secret Nili organisation, which supplied the British Command with information for their campaign to conquer Palestine from the Turks), Zangwill wrote, “He said my article in Pearson's Magazine, pointing out the Arab population difficulty in Palestine was read by the Arabs (when he was in Egypt) and produced great agitation among them. The Zionists have now begged me not to raise the question and I have consented for the moment.”(311) According to Leftwich(312) this letter was written at the time of the Paris Peace Conference (at the beginning of 1919), but this is certainly incorrect. In his diary, Aaronsohn(313) reports this meeting as taking place with Zangwill on 16 November 1917, and Nedava(314) gives the date of this letter as 18 November 1917.

However, just over a year or so later, Aaronsohn himself was suggesting a transfer proposal for the Arabs. According to William Bullitt, a member of the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, Aaronsohn proposed that since Palestine was to be turned into a Jewish State, the irrigation system in Iraq should be restored and the Arabs of Palestine offered land in Iraq more fertile than their holdings in Palestine, in the hope of persuading large numbers of Arabs to emigrate to Iraq.(315)

Although within a year, Aaronsohn changed his views on transferring the Arabs, many of the others, who at that time had strongly opposed transference, took around fifteen years to change their views and to become enthusiastic supporters of transfer. Zangwill had been against the general trend, or more correctly a decade-and-a-half ahead of it. Throughout the period of his support for official Zionism, Zangwill continually brought forward the same solution for the Arab problem. It was Walter Laqueur, the Zionist historian, who described Zangwill as the “most consistent advocate” of population transfer.(316)

Despite all this, Zangwill could not be accused of being anti-Arab, for at the same time that he was proposing the removal of the Arabs from Palestine, forcibly if necessary, he wrote, “If the Arab remains on the land his welfare must be as dear to us as our own.”(317)

We have also seen that Zangwill was afforded respect, even by those who differed with him with regard to transfer. No attempt was ever made to muzzle him. On the contrary, he was continually invited to lecture on the Palestine question to a wide variety of groups and organisations and to write articles on the subject, including an invitation to the “League of Nations Journal.” At that period, differing opinions and solutions were regarded with respect.

to continue

to references

to contents

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

to view "The Collected Writings of Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons" please click here