Towards the end of April 1944, one year before the end of the Second World War, the National Executive of the British Labour Party published its 1943-4 Report, which contained a long section entitled “The International Post-War Settlement”(1) dealing with many subjects, including Palestine.
The paragraph on Palestine contained three main themes. The first was unlimited Jewish immigration into Palestine. “But there is surely neither no hope nor meaning in a Jewish National Home,” the Report argued, “unless we are prepared to let Jews, if they wish, enter this tiny land in such numbers as to become a majority.” According to the Report, the case for unlimited immigration in the aftermath of the Nazi atrocities against the Jews of Europe was irresistable.
Five years earlier, the British Government has issued the MacDonald White Paper, which limited Jewish immigration to Palestine for the next five years to seventy-five thousand people. In addition, almost every country in the world closed their gates to the Jews thus trapping them in Nazi-occupied Europe.
The second theme was the encouragement to be offered to the Arabs to leave Palestine. “Here too, in Palestine surely is a case, on human grounds and to promote a stable settlement, for transfer of population. Let the Arabs be encouraged to move out, as the Jews move in. Let them be compensated handsomely for their land and let their settlement elsewhere be carefully organised and generously financed.”
The third and final theme dealt with the extension of the boundaries of Palestine. “The Arabs have many wide territories of their own; they must not claim to exclude the Jews from this small area of Palestine, less than the size of Wales. Indeed we should re-examine also the possibility of extending the present Palestinian boundaries, by agreement with Egypt, Syria or Transjordan.”(2)
How the Palestine Paragraph was Formulated
The author of this report, Hugh Dalton, was born in 1887 and educated at Eton, King's College Cambridge and the London School of Economics. After unsuccessfully contesting a number of Parliamentary seats between 1922-4, he was elected as a Labour member in 1924. In 1931, he was defeated but was re-elected in 1935. In 1940, he was made a member of the Privy Council - a body consisting of several hundred distinguished men drawn from all walks of life whose function is to give private advice to the Sovereign. Dalton was also a member of the Parliamentary Committee of the Parliamentary Labour Party intermittently from 1925 and a member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party from 1926.
Already in May 1943, Dalton was involved in the “Post-War Aims of the British Labour Party”(3) and he sent such a memorandum (presumably written by him) to Philip Noel-Baker. This memorandum did not mention Palestine but he does cautiously come out in favour of population transfer.(4)
About September 1943, Dalton's colleagues in his Party’s National Executive Committee commissioned him to write a report on “Labour and the International Post-War Settlement”, which was to be submitted at the Labour Party Annual Conference to be held in 1944. On 22 September, he wrote in his diary, “I pledge myself to make the first draft of my Heads of proposals for a post-war settlement in time for the next meeting of this [International] Sub[-Committee].”(5) Three weeks later, his diary entry reads. “Returning to the office [from a party], I dictate until 1.20 a.m. on L.P.’s [Labour Party’s] Post-War Settlement.”(6) A few days later he reported, “... my own sketch for International Post-War Settlement, which I improve a good deal.”(7) Also in his memoirs,(8) he reported that at that period, he was working on a draft of this report.
This nine page typed document, which is undated, is preceded by a one page explanatory page. In his own handwriting he added at the top of this page “First draft. Dictated after midnight on a busy day!” Dalton explained, “I have here set out some ideas of the principles and outline of Post-War Settlement.... I, therefore, suggest that the attached paper should first be considered by the International Sub-Committee of the National Executive, and that we should then have a discussion at Mr. Dallas’ Allied Socialist Committee, to which I might make a statement on broad general lines, in order to ascertain our friends’ reactions.”(9)
Palestine is not mentioned in this draft. However, at the end of this paper he adds in his own handwriting, “Add on Colonies [illegible - India(?)] & Palestine.”(10) He did, however include in this draft the question of population transfer, “... all Germans left outside the post-war German frontiers should ‘go home to the Reich.’ It will indeed be in their own interest to do so.... There should be no special minority treaties this time. (If two families don’t get on, there is a better chance of peace, if they live in separate houses than if they have to share the same house , the same kitchen and the same lavatory.)”(11)
A few days later, Dalton wrote to William Forster informing him that he was working on “the first rough outline” of this draft document. He added that his timetable was to have it “endorsed by the Annual Conference [of the Labour Party] next whitson [mid-1944]; and to publish it, with full Executive backing, say two or three months beforehand, - to allow for exposition and discussion at Regional Party Conferences and elsewhere.”(12)
On 6 and 7 November, Dalton wrote, “Spend a lot of time on my Labour Party draft on Post War International Settlement. Each time that I spend time with it, I think that I improve it a good deal, but I am anxious not to spend too long improving it, but to put up something, in simple terms, to make a basis for general discussion at the International Sub[-Committee].”(13)
This draft is dated 12 November. It consisted of seven typewritten pages and was considerably different from his first draft. In an accompanying page, he pointed out that “This is not a Draft of a Declaration to be published. It is only a sketch, in rough outline and in simple terms, for the preliminary consideration of my colleagues, of some of the principles which, I suggest, should govern the International Post-War Settlement.”(14)
It was in this draft that he first introduced a paragraph on Palestine. On the transfer of the Arabs from Palestine he wrote, “Here too surely is a case for transfer of population. Let the Arabs be encouraged to move out, as the Jews move in. Let them be compensated handsomely and let their settlement elsewhere be carefully attended to.”(15)
In this draft, Dalton also intensified his comments on population transfer in general. “The transfer of population between Turkey and Greece was an outstanding success. This is a precedent to be followed. It settled this question once for all, with no hang-over. So would it be in other cases.”(16)
On 16 November a meeting of the International Sub-Committee took place at which Dalton “circulated a rough outline sketch of the principles which he suggested should govern the international post-war settlement.” He made a statement to this Sub-Committee who then approved “the general lines upon which he was approaching the problem.” They asked him to submit “a draft statement based upon these principles” for their consideration and discussion.(17)
He commented in his diary that at this meeting his draft was “extremely well received, much better in some quarters than I had expected.” With regards to William Gillies, the Secretary of the British Labour Party’s International Department, Dalton wrote: “Poor little Gillies is terrified of my Palestine paragraph, and thinks this should be referred to a separate committee. I say this is all nonsense.”(18)
However at the same meeting, Harold Laski, a member of the National Executive of the Labour Party, gave his “complete approval.” Dalton commented: “He is deeply touched by my Palestine paragraph .... He, like most of the others, are quite prepared for the transfer of population.” (19) In a later diary entry Dalton wrote that Laski “had embarrassed and surprised me at the first meeting by saying how wonderful he thought it all was, and nearly weeping over my Palestine paragraph, on which he afterwards wrote me a most emotional and effusive letter.”(20) [Harold Joseph Laski, a British left-wing socialist and political theorist, had been a Professor at the London School of Economics since 1926, and since 1936 a member of the National Executive of the British Labour Party, where he represented the intelligentsia of the left. The Nazi persecutions had turned his attention to the Jewish problem and he began to take a deep interest in the Zionist struggle.]
The Jewish Agency obviously had “inside connections” since at a meeting of their Executive in London held just two days later, a report of the proceedings of this International Sub-Committee was delivered (possibly by Lavy Bakstansky, Secretary of the British Zionist Federation, who had recently met with J. Middleton, the Secretary of the Labour Party). They were told that at the Labour Party meeting “Dalton had taken a leading part; he had drawn up a memorandum on future work for the Labour Conference, of which one paragraph dealt with Palestine and suggested that Palestine should be given to the Jews, and the Arabs compulsorily transferred to Transjordan.”(21)
One can immediately here see the difference between the draft submitted by Dalton and the version reported to the Jewish Agency in connection with transfer. The former uses the word “encouraged”, the latter “compulsorily.” It is possible that Dalton originally intended to use the word “compulsorily” but after consultations with the Jewish Agency toned down his language to “encouraged.” Support for this comes from the fact that three months later Weizmann informed a Jewish Agency meeting that he “had suggested that the word 'voluntarily' should be added to the transfer.”(22) Whether Weizmann made this suggestion on ideological grounds or on tactical grounds in order to increase the report's chances of acceptance by the Labour Party, cannot be ascertained from these minutes.
An additional support for Dalton’s first using (or intending to use) the word “compulsorily” comes from his general comments on population transfer, in which he praised the Greek-Turkish population transfer, which was compulsory, as an “outstanding success” and said it should be used as a precedent.
What connection had Dalton with the Zionist question? His knowledge of Zionism was first acquired whilst he was serving as one of the deputies to Arthur Henderson, British Foreign Secretary in the second Labour Government nearly fifteen years earlier. Over the years, he had established contact with various Zionist leaders and as Under-Secretary for Industrial Affairs had corresponded with Weizmann on the manufacture of synthetic rubber.(23)
Dalton wrote that at the time of composing the paragraph dealing with Palestine, he was not in close contact with the Zionists, although over a long period he would see Weizmann from time to time and Lewis Namier occasionally. Moreover, some of Dalton's own pupils at the London School of Economics had been and still were keen Zionists.(24) Despite all these Zionist connections, Dalton did not consult them when composing the Palestine paragraph.
At that period, the head of the Political Bureau of the Jewish Agency in London was Berl Locker, a Labour Zionist leader who had organised the Poale Zion Party in the Austrian Empire before the First World War and had later run the world office of Poale Zion in The Hague. Locker was totally at home within the British Labour Party and was therefore particularly offended at not being consulted.
In an interview that he gave in 1960, the Labour Party resolution of 1944 came up and Locker stated that the proposal to encourage Arab emigration appeared without prior consultation with him, adding that the Labour Party Executive usually consulted him on Zionist matters. He told the interviewer that he had said to Harold Laski, “You know, I do not approve of this. Why didn't you consult me?” Laski had replied, “Are we forbidden to publish anything without you?” to which Locker had answered, “Of course it's not forbidden. You are permitted to do so, but it would have been more sensible had you consulted me. Since you did not do so it is not well-planned.” Laski had asked, “Why isn't it well-planned?” to which Locker had replied, “This isn't well-planned because it is not practicable. It is indeed just, it is like a population exchange, but the Arabs won't agree to it and they will interpret it the wrong way.”(25)
We can see from this interview that Locker did not consider the transfer of the Arab population to be in any way wrong either ethically or ideologically. On the contrary, Locker described it as “indeed just”. [Later we shall see that he described it as “a very just idea”.] His opposition to publishing this transfer proposal was on tactical grounds.
After the first meeting of the International Sub-Committee, Dalton had written that the next step was to meet with Allied Socialists and get their reactions and after that make a draft, suitable for publication, for the International Sub-Committee.(26) A meeting with the Allied Socialists was thus convened for 10 December 1943 at St. Ermin’s Hotel in London at which it was “proposed to have a general discussion on the terms of the International Post-War Settlement.” A list of questions to be put to the participants was included.(27) None of them included Palestine nor population transfer in general. On reporting on this meeting, Dalton wrote in his diary, “They [the Allied Socialists] don’t add much, but they oppose nothing of importance in my plan, which I don’t positively disclose to them, only asking them questions.”(28)
In the light of his November meeting with the International Sub-Committee and the Allied Socialists, Dalton brought out a further draft on 11 January 1944.(29) [Although in his accompanying note to this draft, Dalton refers to “last month’s [i.e. December] discussion” at the International Sub-Committee, this subject was not discussed at the December meetings,(30) and Dalton intended the November meeting.]
In this sixteen page typed (double-spaced) draft, the Palestine paragraph is almost unchanged. He now refers to the “German plan to kill all Jews in Europe.” With regard to the transfer of Arabs, he makes a makes a few minor changes and writes; “Here too surely in Palestine is a case, on human grounds and to promote a stable settlement, for transfer of population. Let the Arabs be encouraged to move out, as the Jews move in. Let them be compensated handsomely for their land and let their settlement elsewhere be carefully organised and generously financed.”(31) Here he adds two reasons for the transfer and regarding its mechanics writes it has to be “carefully organised and generously financed.”
The International Sub-Committee then at three of its meetings discussed Dalton’s draft. In the first meeting held in January 1944,(32) the first half of the draft was discussed.(33) A Special Meeting, lasting an hour and-a-half was then held on 8 February(34) at which the second half, which included the Palestine paragraph, was discussed.(35) In his diary he then observed: “It goes wonderfully well and there is really no opposition.” Laski “was again most friendly and wrote me afterwards a letter, very emotional, thanking me for my paragraph on Palestine.”(36) Dalton was then left to redraft and felt that it was not necessary to bring it before the Labour Party Executive until their March meeting.(37) In his diary entry for 4 -5 March, he writes, “I sleep a lot and finish my redraft of ‘International Post-War Settlement’.”(38)
At a third meeting held on 14 March consideration of the draft was completed and it was “agreed that the Memorandum, as approved, should be submitted for consideration and approval of the National Executive Committee at their next meeting.”(39) In his diary, Dalton comments, “I finally see my Post-War International Settlement document through the International Sub[-Committee]. Only small amendments are suggested.” He adds that “the two likeliest critics, come in late when we have finished this item.”(40)
Dalton's draft document on “International Post-War Settlement” (which included this Palestine paragraph), was considered at a number of meetings of the International Sub-Committee of the Labour Party's National Executive. The minutes of these meetings are very brief indeed and show no specific mention of discussion on the Palestine section of Dalton's draft document, (or indeed of any section). The archivist of the Labour Party confirms that “this does not mean to say that the issue of Palestine was not discussed at any of the meetings.”(41)
As we have seen, the members of the Jewish Agency Executive in London had, as early as November 1943, been informed of the contents of this Palestine paragraph and early in 1944, Weizmann had proposed a change in wording which Dalton had accepted. At a meeting of this Executive held on 17 February, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Fishman (Maimon), a leader of the “Mizrachi” Religious Zionists, asked when this resolution would come up for consideration by the Labour Party. Weizmann replied that it would come up in June but Locker “would be able to give additional information.” Locker then warned the meeting that this resolution “was absolutely secret.” However “he had seen the text” and he gave the meeting the contents of the Palestine paragraph. He said that “it was important because it was unthinkable that the Resolution had been accepted without the agreement of the Cabinet Ministers.”(42)
Nearly three weeks later, Weizmann informed the Executive that he had dined with Dalton who had told him “that he had drafted a resolution which he thought would satisfy” the Zionists. Dalton was confident that the Labour Executive would pass it.(43) On this meeting, Dalton wrote in his diary that he had dined with Weizmann and Bakstansky at the R.A.C. [Royal Automobile Club]. At this meeting, “I all but tell them that I have drafted a very hot paragraph for the Labour Party on post-war Palestine. I hint as much on leaving.”(44)
In his memoirs Dalton explained that he tried to think out the whole Palestine problem afresh in the light of its urgency and the horror of the Hitlerite atrocities. These circumstances seemed to him to have destroyed the case for limited immigration into Palestine. He felt that sufficient capital and intelligent planning coupled with “the diverse and distinguished talents and the driving energy and the fanatical faith of the Jews” could turn Palestine into “a most successful, populous and predominantly Jewish State.”
At first Dalton thought that an Arab minority might wish to remain in Palestine they would provide the Arabs with a bright and prosperous future. “Most of the Palestinian Arabs, and their descendants, would surely be much happier in these States than in a Palestine into which so strong a Jewish stream would soon be pouring.” Dalton considered that Britain, as the Mandatory Power, should take the lead in carrying out “a major operation” immediately after the War. The timing would then be perfect since Britain's moral influence and military power would be at their height. “There must be large shifts of population of Jews into Palestine and Arabs out of it,” continued Dalton, “We must put massive resources, in finance and in technical advice, behind these shifts, so that material development, for the benefit of all concerned, might follow quickly. This would be a unique moment, I judged, when the pulse of history could quicken, and a determined and imaginative leadership could telescope into a few years changes which otherwise would drag along slowly and painfully, through centuries.”(45)
In a later volume of his memoirs, looking back on the formulation of this paragraph, Dalton wrote, “This declaration was, perhaps more sharply etched than previous Labour Party declarations on Palestine, and pulled out some implications more abruptly. But there was no discontinuity in our declarations.” To prove his point, Dalton quoted the Labour Party's opposition to Malcolm MacDonald's White Paper of 1939 and to the 1940 Land Regulations.(46)
Following the March meeting of the International Sub-Committee, Dalton’s document was sent to the printers to be ready for the next National Executive meeting. It had been planned to distribute galleys of the printed document on 22 March. However the night before, the printers were blitzed. It was therefore necessary to have a special National Executive meeting two weeks later. On this Dalton commented in his diary, “This is rather a pity, for it is likely to be more closely examined then than it might have been today, run through with other items.”(47)
The meeting of the National Executive took place on 5 April, the galley proofs having been previously circulated to the members. A general discussion was held, at which the document “was examined paragraph by paragraph in some detail.” They then resolved “that members who desired to send in suggestions for amendment should communicate direct with Mr. Hugh Dalton, that he should revise the document and report the revised version to the International Sub-Committee for consideration, and that that Sub-Committee be empowered to give final approval and to arrange for issue to the press and to Affiliated Organisations.”(48)
Dalton commented in his diary on a “remarkable” meeting of the National Executive of the Labour Party that had taken place that afternoon to consider his draft document. He noted that some members had “obviously pre-arranged an attempt at sabotage.” A motion to have this document referred back to the International Sub-Committee was narrowly defeated. Dalton was particularly annoyed with certain members of the National Executive, whom he described as a “cowardly lot,” who had co-operated with him in producing the document in the International Sub-Committee and never challenging it there, now opposing it at the National Executive.(49) One of the members of this National Executive, Jimmy Walker, who had been absent from this meeting due to an operation, wrote Dalton a letter afterwards, fully endorsing his comments regarding the members who tried to sabotage the declaration.(50)
Dalton welcomed the delay caused by sending a revised draft to the International Sub-Committee for final approval. On this he wrote that “it will not now be possible to get this document out much more than a month before the Conference. This, I think, will suit me all right.”(51) Dalton realised that the more time people had to study his document, the more chance there would be of defeating it.
Amendments to Dalton’s document were proposed by Noel-Baker(52) and Laski.(53) None of Noel-Baker’s amendments were on the transfer of Arabs. He did make a small change in the Palestine paragraph - to change the word “German” to “Nazi” in “calculated plan to kill all Jews in Europe,” since it was a Nazi plan.(54) Laski also proposed such a change of working to be throughout the document.(55) Only the first two pages of Laski’s first letter are extant,(56) so we don’t know whether he made any comments on the Palestine paragraph.
Dalton put in his revised document “all reasonable points raised at the Executive discussion” and at least some of the points made by and Noel Baker and Laski.(57)
On 18 April, the International Sub-Committee reconsidered the draft and “unanimously agreed that the draft as amended should be submitted to the Annual Conference as a policy document, that it should have first place in the Annual Report of the National Executive Committee... and that it should be issued to the press and the Movement as soon as ever possible.”(58 ) It was published the following week-end.(59)
When one compares the Palestine paragraph in the published text of April 1944 with the draft of January 1944, one sees a few small differences. The phrase “throwing open Libya or Eritrea to Jewish settlement, as satellites or colonies to Palestine”, was deleted; “Syria” was added to “Egypt and Transjordan” for the extension of the “present Palestinian boundaries.”
These changes were very likely suggested at the National Executive Meeting. This is also the view of the historian Andrew Sargent,(60) although Ben Pimlott, Dalton’s biographer wrote that this deletion was made by the International Sub-Committee.(61)
However, there are only minor tinkerings between the first draft on the transfer of Arabs from Palestine and the final version, indicating that neither the International Sub-Committee or the National Executive had any strong objection to Dalton’s proposals on this subject.
Zionist leaders were at pains to stress that the Labour Party had written this Palestine paragraph without any direct Jewish pressure. In his diary entry for 25 May, Dalton wrote that Locker had come to see him and “is naturally, very pleased with our Palestine paragraph, particularly as we have put it in, as he says, without any pressure from the Jewish Agency.”(62)
The same point was made by Shertok to a meeting of the Mapai Central Committee. But he then added, “Far be it from me to belittle our work and our efforts. It is obvious that had we been less active and not had workers in England, the Labour Party itself would not have formulated such a policy. But there is a distinction between general results of work and persuasion, and the direct result of a specific suggestion on our part. There was no suggestion from us to the working committee of the Labour Party that they should insert this paragraph into the Report.”(63)
In the same vein, Weizmann wrote in his autobiography, that he and his colleagues had constantly pressed their case and that in 1943 and 1944, he had discussed the question of the Jewish National Home with some of the leading members of the Labour Party.(64)
In the spring of 1944, Shertok had been in England. On his return to Palestine, he reported to the Jewish Agency Executive and on the following day to the Mapai Central Committee. He told these bodies that one of the new phenomena which he encountered in England was an enthusiasm for population transfer, not as a result of Jewish initiative but of non-Jewish logic.(65) The Labour Party had concluded that there were two possibilities for Palestine - to do nothing or to give it to the Jews. In the latter case one would have to give them the entire country “and thus it will be necessary to remove the Arabs.” Shertok explained that reports of this reasoning had reached the Zionists from various sources including Dalton and Philip Noel-Baker.(66)
Shertok then reported to both the Jewish Agency Executive and the Mapai Central Committee that a member of the British Government who was proficient in foreign affairs, and was considered to be a candidate for Foreign Minister was given the task of compiling the section of the Party's annual report which dealt with foreign affairs. It was the work of an individual and “without anyone putting the idea in his head, he inserted at the end of the section on foreign affairs the paragraph on Palestine.” Shertok said that according to Dalton the British Labour Party had had a fixed and standard policy on Palestine which obligated the establishment of a Jewish National Home in accordance with the Balfour Declaration, but had never had the boldness to think out the logical conclusions from this policy. The time had come to follow these conclusions to a logical end, namely that Palestine must be a Jewish State. If it is “too small to meet the requirements of the Jewish people, we must think of changing its borders by means of annexing areas from the surrounding states. We must also discuss the question of transferring the Arabs from Palestine to other countries and we must also speak of allotting additional territory in north Africa.”(67) To the Mapai Central Committee, Shertok added, “With regard to transfer, we had very serious doubts... not necessarily aroused by the content of this paragraph.”(68) However, we shall see later that Shertok would accept transfer of the Arabs under certain conditions.
Dalton also discussed his draft document with Oliver Stanley, a Conservative member of Parliament for over two decades, who had held various Government Ministries in the 1930s and was in 1944 Colonial Secretary. Of his meeting with Stanley, Dalton wrote in his diary, “Oliver Stanley comes to see me to say how very disturbing is our Palestine paragraph in I.P.W.S. [International Post-War Settlement]. It is, he says, 'Zionism plus plus'. It is tacked on, he feels, rather unnaturally, to a long and helpful statement on Europe. It will not, he hopes, be much played up in our propaganda. I say that I don't think it will. But I remind him that the Labour Party has always taken a pro-Jewish line in Parliamentary debates for many years.”(69)
In contrast, Mary Sutherland, the Chief Woman Officer of the Labour Party and a Justice of the Peace, wrote to Dalton saying “how much I like the statement on International Reconstruction [Post-War Settlement] to which you must have given much time and thought.” She made no reservation whatsoever on the Palestine paragraph. She went on to ask for a copy of this document so that she could include an article in the next issue of “The Labour Woman.”(70)
It had been intended to submit this document for endorsement to the Labour Party's Annual Conference due to be held in May. However, on 16 May it was announced that the Conference would be indefinitely postponed following a special appeal by the Government, some weeks before D-day, to avoid mass travelling. The Conference was finally held that December.
The Attitude of Clement Attlee to Transfer
The leader of the British Labour Party at that period was Clement Attlee. What was his attitude to the transfer of Arabs from Palestine?
As previously described, in November 1939 a meeting had taken place at the House of Commons between Major Attlee, Tom Williams, Weizmann and other Zionist leaders. At this meeting, Weizmann put the Zionist case and taking the Peel Report as his starting point, he spoke of the idea of a Jewish State and the transfer of population. “We must have some territorial basis there, and that would mean an improved Peel scheme, possibly Palestine west of the Jordan, with some transfer of a part at least of the Arab population.”
The notes on the conversation, which were written by Moshe Shertok continue, “Major Attlee nodded assent when transfer of population was mentioned. He added however. Are you not putting all your eggs in one basket? There are after all, other baskets.” To this Locker replied that the Zionists only had one basket.(71)
Commenting on this meeting, Gorny in his book “The British Labour Movement and Zionism” noted that Shertok mentioned no similar assent by Attlee when Weizmann mentioned a Jewish State. Here Gorny suggested that “Attlee was, of course opposed to the concept of a Jewish State, but may have believed that transfer of population would create the possibility of a political entity shared by the two peoples living in Palestine.” Gorny added that international experience had shown that transfer of population was linked to the establishment of separate national states. He suggested that “if Attlee did, in fact, approve of the idea of population transfer, he was recognizing something which he had never before admitted, namely that there was a connection between the Jewish plight and Palestine.”(72)
Harold Wilson, a later leader of the Labour Party and British Prime Minister between the years 1964-70 and 1974-6, made a far less cautious assessment of Attlee's views on a Jewish State and population transfer. “Attlee was, in fact, fully committed to an independent state for the Jews in Palestine - even to the extent of expelling some of the Arabs.” He added that Attlee as the Party Leader was one one of the principal signatories of the National Executive Committee's Annual Report of 1944 which included this Palestine paragraph.(73),
Reactions to the Resolution
On 26 April, soon after publication of the Labour Party's Report, a well attended meeting under the auspices of the Poale Zion (Zionist Socialist Party) was held in Conway Hall, London, to commemorate the first anniversary of the Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto. This meeting was addressed by Camille Huysmans, President of the Labour and Socialist International, (and later Prime Minister of Belgium), who supported the demand for a Jewish State. “Never have I more enthusiastically agreed with a report of the Labour Party of this country than this year, particularly with the resolution dealing with Palestine for the next conference. I hope it will be adopted.”(74)
In an Editorial under the heading “Labour and the Peace”, the London daily newspaper “The Times” came out against the transfer of Arabs. “The proposals for the elimination of minority problems by vast shifts of population are altogether too light-hearted especially in the intractable case of Palestine.” The plight of the millions of homeless victims of Germany's aggression, continued the Editorial writer, “does not dispose of the much greater difficulty of uprooting great national groups from the soil where they have dwelt for centuries.”(75)
Percy Cudlipp, Editor of the British newspaper the “Daily Herald” also gave a negative reaction to this Palestine paragraph. On 5 May, Dalton lunched with him and their conversation included the International Post-War Settlement. Dalton told Cudlipp how he came to compose it. As Dalton entered in his diary, “He [Cudlipp] is frankly frightened of my Palestine paragraph. He has more sympathy with Arabs than Jews. He asks, rather absurdly, why the Jews shouldn’t all go to the British Empire and the U.S.A. Why need they go to Palestine?” (76)
As was to be expected, there were negative reactions from Arab sources in Palestine. Protest meetings were held, letters and telegrams were sent and Editorials in Arab newspapers were written, all condemning this Labour Party Resolution.
On 28 April, twenty-two “learned men, landowners and elders” from the Acre area in Northern Palestine sent a letter of protest to the High Commissioner. After asserting that Palestine was an Arab country with a long history of Arab settlement they wrote that “the fortunes of the world will not induce the Arabs to leave this country, thus the suggestion of the Labour Party, in so far as the Arabs are concerned, is valueless in that the decision will simply remain on papers.” They compared the Labour Party's plan “for the eviction of the Arabs” from Palestine with the aggression of the Nazis against Jews in Europe. They said that the other Arab countries belonged to their inhabitants “and they are hardly sufficient for them.” This was a very strange statement in view of the fact that several independent surveys had shown that many Arab countries such as Iraq were underpopulated and crying out for an increase in population. The letter concluded with the signatories expressing surprise that such a suggestion should emanate from a party belonging to a Government which subscribed to the Atlantic Charter.(77)
Also on 28 April, the Central Committee of the Palestine Arab Party held a meeting in Jerusalem at which a protest over the British Labour Party's Resolution was registered.(78) This Party was dominated by the Husseini section in Palestine, among whom were many relatives of Haj Amin, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who was an ally of Hitler. About ten days later, the Palestine Arab Party sent identical telegrams to the British Prime Minister, British Foreign Secretary and the British Colonial Secretary,(79) saying that they had learnt with “deep regret and great astonishment” of the proposals regarding Palestine which had been introduced by the Labour Party Executive. “The proposals signify executive's complete ignorance of facts and circumstances (of the) Palestine problem.” These proposals were said to endanger the “most sacred rights of innocent people inhabiting its homeland and challenge and threaten interests (in the) entire Arab and Moslem world whose opinion concerning Palestine (is) well known.” The Executive's attitude was said to be contrary to Labour and democratic principles, to the Atlantic Charter and to repeated promises given to the Arabs by Great Britain. The telegram concluded, “We vehemently protest against and strongly object to those proposals and demand their neglect and withdrawal.”(80)
Foreign Office officials wrote comments in their internal minutes regarding these telegrams. One such comment was that a similar telegram had “not apparently [been sent] to any members of the Labour Party. I should like to circulate copies to Labour Ministers, but I suppose we cannot do that.”(81) Another official wrote, “I think this protest should be sent to the Secretary of the Labour Party, as the proposals contained in the statement of policy issued by the Executive of the Labour Party are only tentative and will come up for discussion at the Conference of the Party which is to be held at the end of the month. I think it would be useful for the views of the Palestine Arabs to be made known to the Labour Party Executive before the proposals are finally approved.”(82) A further official wrote that “we had better ask the CO [Colonial Office] to take the necessary action if they see no objection.” (83)
This indeed was done and the Foreign Office sent a copy of the telegram to the Colonial Office suggesting that the views of the Palestine Arab Party be made known to the Labour Party Executive by the Colonial Office before the proposals were finally approved.(84) The Colonial Office replied that since a similar telegram had been sent to the Secretary of the Labour Party, “you will no doubt agree that it is not necessary to take any further action in the matter.”(85) Likewise, a Colonial Office official in an internal minute wrote that the Colonial Secretary “does not think that any action on his part is required.”(86)
A further batch of protests addressed or forwarded to the High Commissioner followed. These were from:
1. Ragheb Bey Nashashibi, the leader of the National Defence Party.
Nashashibi described the Labour Party resolution as aggressive and provocative and that the Arabs would “never betray their history by allowing their country to go or be passed to non-Arabs.” He concluded that “in Palestine there is no room for two peoples. The Arabs who are for 14 centuries the inhabitants of the country, and the Jews who are simply imported incomers and intruders during the period of the last 25 years. Should one people leave for the other to remain, naturally it is the Jews who must pack and go, the HOME of which they have been in search can be found in some other parts of the world.” (87)
2. Arab Mayors of Palestine.
In a letter, they wrote that on 5 May 1944, the Second Conference of the Arab Mayors in Palestine took place in Jaffa. At this Conference, the participants strongly condemned “the reckless resolutions which were made by the Committee of the British Labour Party, and the mean intrigues which are being secretly woven in order to do harm to the Arabs of Palestine and to deprive them of their natural rights.”(88)
3. Central Committee of the National Bloc.
They sent a copy of a three and a half page resolution which they had adopted on 30 April 1944. After a long historical introduction, as seen in their eyes, their resolution continued, “the National Bloc observes with astonishment that there exists in the ranks of the British Labour Party in the Parliament of the honourable British Nation a group of members who have no limit to their imagination and fail to face facts, as may be seen from a [transfer] proposal.... The Arabs alone have the right to determine the Palestine case (both by right and by justice).” (89)
4. The Moslem Society, Haifa.
Their protest took the form of a telegram in which they claimed that the Labour Party resolution was “inconsistent with the natural and legal rights of the Arabs of Palestine, the original owners of the country.” (90)
5. Certain advocates and merchants of Jaffa.
Their memorandum claimed that the resolution was derived from “the Hitlerite principles which aim at the extermination of nations (peoples) and promote race differentiation.” They continued, “Many of the Jews who entered Palestine after the inception of the Hitlerite regime in Germany impatiently await the time when Hitlerism would be defeated so that they may return to their original homeland. That being the case, the Executive Committee of the British Labour Party should assist those people to leave Palestine rather than assist the Arabs to evacuate their country.” (91)
6. Certain sheikhs and merchants and other persons of Jaffa.br> A large gathering of various citizens of Jaffa met together and formulated a protest. They argued that the Labour Party was not entitled to make such a resolution and that “Palestine is the property of its Arab inhabitants. Territorial and National rights cannot be expropriated or devised.”(92)
In summary, we can see from these protests, that the Arabs held that Palestine was exclusively theirs and that the transfer of Jews from Palestine was quite legitimate!
Captain Shaw, who was an officer administering the Government of Palestine, forwarded these six protest documents to Oliver Stanley, the Colonial Secretary adding that he had “no comments to offer upon these representations and I recommend that I may be authorised formally to acknowledge them.”(93)
In an internal minute of the Colonial Office, written about two weeks later, the official writes, “The High Commissioner has no comments to offer on these representations [protests] and, indeed, there is little that could be said in reply to them.” The official realised that protests were not at an end and thus added, “Further protests of a similar character will no doubt reach us in due course.” This minute concludes that the High Commissioner was authorised to acknowledge them “when we have ascertained from 10 Downing Street that the Prime Minister has no special reply to make.”(94) It would seem that he indeed had no comment. About a month later, a reply was sent to the High Commissioner by the Colonial Secretary requesting that “formal acknowledgment may be conveyed to the senders [of the protests].” (95)
There was also an (undated) protest sent to the High Commissioner by the Mukhtars of Gaza sub-district. They then added, “The Arabs will not stop sacrificing money and men to maintain their father-land for ever.” (96)
Arab reaction to the Labour Party resolution was not limited to letters of protests. It caused unrest amongst the Arabs. In a telegram sent by the High Commissioner to the Colonial Office on 29 May, he wrote, “Feeling among the Arabs has been sharply stimulated during the past month ... in particular, by the reported resolution of the British Labour Party that Arabs should be induced to move out of Palestine to make room for Jews. There was... [a] noticeable increase in Party activity. Reactions to the resolution have been widespread and bitter.”(97)
The Arab newspapers in Palestine also came out in opposition to the Labour Party Resolution. An Editorial in the Arab newspaper “Filastin” advocated the establishment of a strong Arab Socialist Party in order “to convince the British Labour Party that their ideas about Palestine are wrong.”(98).
The same newspaper suggested that since the Labour Party identified itself with the socialist ideals of democracy and the defence of the “four freedoms”, it was very strange that this Party should involve itself with the problems of Palestine and “not find a solution other than that of the Arabs leaving their country and Palestine being enlarged to the size of Wales at the expense of the neighbouring countries, in order that the Jews be enabled to live in peace and prosperity.” The writer added that possibly the members of the Labour Party were not well-versed in the realities of the situation in Palestine, since in spite of the extremism of the Zionist leaders, they had not demanded the migration of the Arabs from Palestine and the annexation of Arab lands; they were satisfied with the demand for equal numbers. How then did the Labour Party come to make such a radical proposal?(99)
The Arabic paper “Al-Difaa” made similar comments in its main Editorial. “We know of its (the Labour Party's) sympathy for the Jews but we did not expect it to demand more than the Jews request. The Labour Party has harmed the principles of socialism.” The Editorial writer hoped that the Party would reject the proposal of its Executive Committee - otherwise it would be a crime that would be recorded in history.(100)
Arab protests did not emanate exclusively from Palestine. A few months later, the Egyptian Prime Minister, Nahas Pasha, informed his Parliament that he had sent a letter of protest to the British Labour Party. “We cannot but protest most vigorously against a scheme designed to make Palestine purely a Jewish State. For the first time the party has declared its political aims of ousting Arabs from their native land.”(101)
The telegram sent by the Palestine Arab Party, prompted Arthur Greenwood, Acting Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, to write an article in the journal “Jewish Labour” in order to clarify the meaning of the phrase “Let the Arabs be encouraged to move out” of Palestine, as used in the Labour Party Resolution.
[Incidentally, in his interview given in 1960, Locker stated that he, himself wrote that article and then took it to Greenwood who was one of the Labour leaders closest to Zionism. Greenwood read it and said, “It's a jolly good article” to which Locker replied, “Are you prepared to sign it?” Greenwood answered, “Why not?” and signed it. It thus appeared under Greenwood's name both in “Jewish Labour”(102) and in the American paper “Jewish Frontier”.(103)]
The article explained “that the statement speaks of encouragement and agreement, not of any sort of compulsion.” The Labour Party wanted to give the maximum possible help to the Jewish people but this should not be considered as a lack of friendship for the Arab people. The transfer or population could enable the Arab people to strengthen their hitherto sparsely populated countries such as Iraq with the inflow of kinsfolk from Palestine. This, said the “Jewish Labour” article could be advantageous to the Arab cause, especially were it to be financed by the United Nations, and quoted from the International Post-War Settlement document on transfer in the post-war world, “The organised transfer of population in the immediate post-war period may be one of the foundations of better international relations in a later phase.”(104)
A month before publishing this article, Arthur Greenwood had made a statement on the Labour Party Resolution to a May Day meeting held in London under the auspices of Poale Zion. After speaking about the history of the positive attitude of the Labour Party towards a Jewish National Home, Greenwood is reported to have said, “The document speaks of a voluntary transfer and suggests that the Arabs might be compensated.” He saw “no reason for a compulsory transfer of Arabs from a land which they have learned to love and which has given them economic security which they never knew before and may never know again. Therefore any movement out of the Arabs would be a movement of people who wished to go.”(105)
Nearly a year later, Locker was to write that despite the explanatory article of June 1944 in “Jewish Labour”, “the campaign of misrepresentation combined with warnings, long worn threadbare through repetition, against provoking the indignation and active intervention of the whole Arab and Moslem world” did not stop.(106) In fact it was the “Jewish Labour” article which provoked Awni Abdul Hadi, leader of the Istiqlal Party in Palestine, to write Greenwood a letter pointing out that the “settlement of the Jewish problem at the expense of the Arabs is not consistent with the Anglo-Arab friendship which you profess.” Hadi said that such a settlement would “doom more than a million Arabs in Palestine” and would forever sever Palestine from its sister Arab countries. He claimed that “the Arabs are fully determined, to actually die rather than forfeit their natural rights in Palestine.”(107)
Strong protests regarding the transfer of Arabs was almost certainly responsible for the Labour Party’s Advisory Committee on Imperial Questions discussing this matter at a meeting held in a room in the Houses of Parliament on 10 May 1944. This “Committee resolved to draw the attention of the Executive Committee to the unfortunate implications” of this resolution. It pointed out that “the suggestion that the Arabs should ‘move out’ of Palestine must cause the greatest uneasiness to the Jews no less than to the Arabs.” The Committee went on to suggest “that the policy should be reconsidered before it is submitted to the [Annual] Conference.” (108)
One of the Chairman at this Advisory Committee meeting was Leonard Woolf, who we shall soon see, a few months later brought out a booklet which was very critical of the Labour Party’s transfer proposal for the Arabs of Palestine. Also present at this meeting was Norman Bentwich, who began the meeting giving the Committee “some facts about the position in Palestine.”(109) The minutes do not elaborate and so from them we cannot say whether he mentioned the transfer proposal. As we shall soon see, according to William Gillies, the Secretary of the British Labour Party's International Department, Bentwich did express his criticism, and it is likely that it was at this meeting.
About a week later this suggestion of the Advisory Committee came up before the National Executive who resolved “that the matter be referred to the International Sub-Committee.” (110)
On 20 June, the International Sub-Committee met and “agreed to let the [Palestine] paragraph stand as it is, as the terms of the paragraph as drafted already makes it clear that any transfer of the Arab population would be of a voluntary character, and no compulsion was contemplated.”(111) On this meeting, Dalton wrote in his diary, “We decide to ignore the suggestions from various quarters that we should go back on our proposal for voluntary emigration of Arabs from Palestine.” (112)
In his 1960 interview, Locker stated that William Gillies had suddenly contacted him - “I don't remember if it was by way of letter or by telephone” - and said, “We are getting protests from all sides. What are we going to do?” Locker replied, “Had you consulted with me, I would have advised you not to include it.” However, Locker advised against deletion of the transfer proposal at so late a stage, since such a deletion would suggest the Labour Party's disassociation from the ideas expressed therein.(113)
The date of this contact with Gillies is not stated but from a letter written to him by Locker, dated 15 May, we may assume that it took place in early May. This letter included the warning against withdrawal of the transfer clause from the Resolution since “its removal might be interpreted as an admission that the Labour Party's proposal involves an injustice to the Arabs.”(114)
Locker began this letter, the intention of which was to explain the Jewish Agency's views on this subject, by quoting from Ben-Gurion's “Biltmore Statement” (discussed later). He then referred to Norman Bentwich's new book “Judaea Lives Again”. Bentwich, an English Zionist and lawyer, was Professor of International Relations at the Hebrew University and in the past had been Attorney-General of the Mandatory Government of Palestine.
Bentwich considered that it might be possible to facilitate a mass immigration of Jews from Europe to Palestine “by making provision for the transfer of such part of the Arab population as wish to live in an Arab State to neighbouring Arab territories.” He stressed that there could be “no question of a forced movement.” The solution would have to based on negotiation, and voluntary agreement and would have to include “constructive measures of agrarian settlement for the benefit of the migrating Arabs among their own kin.” Under such conditions only, Bentwich considered that “transfer of population might be a means of solving the national conflict.”(115)
It is worth mentioning here that Bentwich shared the views of the Brit Shalom group, a group which advocated Arab-Jewish reapproachment and a bi-national state. Yet this did not stop him from advocating a voluntary transfer of Arabs as “a means of solving the national conflict.” It is very possible that Locker quoted Bentwich’s book in this letter, since he had (according to Gillies) been very critical of this point in the Labour Party’s resolution. Andrew Sargent describes this move of Locker’s as “shrewd.”(116)
Locker's letter continued, “The idea of transfer is not merely a random conjecture.” Many Arab and British authorities had expressed the view that a pre-requisite for the development of the natural resources of the Arab countries was immigration.(117)
Ten days later, Locker went to see Dalton. The latter wrote in his diary that at this meeting Locker “argues against our giving way - which we have no intention of doing - to the suggestion that we should amend the reference to 'encouraging' Arabs to move out as Jews move in. He agrees that it is quite clear that 'encouragement' in this context does not mean 'compulsion'. I ask him to send me any further points on this.”(118)
About two weeks later, Locker sent a letter to Dalton in which he stressed the advantages that could accrue from such an Arab transfer. “From a purely political point of view, if a transfer of a considerable number of Arabs could take place by mutual agreement and in an atmosphere of friendship and good will, it would certainly simplify relations and work for a definite settlement.”(119)
In his interview, Locker referred to an unspecified contact (probably the meeting of 25 May) with Dalton on the criticisms surrounding the reference to transfer. Dalton had said to Locker, “I was the author of this thing. What should I do?” Locker had replied, “Mr. Dalton. this is a very just idea. But as things stand, the Arabs won't accept it and they will, of course, interpret it in the wrong way. My view is that you should leave it but the man who will introduce it shall say, we don't mean expulsion, we mean a sort of exchange of population by mutual agreement.”(120) (One should mention that there is no evidence that the Chairman at the Conference gave such an explanation.)
As we can see that at about the same time as the various Committees and sub-Committees of the Labour Party were re-studying this Palestine Resolution, there were a number of contacts between Dalton, Gillies and Locker. Was there any connection or was the timing just by chance? The former is almost certainly the case. The Zionists were almost certainly worried that the Labour Party might scrap entirely this very pro-Palestine Resolution and they therefore got to work to thwart such a reversal.
A proof for such a connection comes from an undated note sent by Gillies to Dalton: “I understand that the recommendation of the Imperial Advisory Committee ... was strongly influenced by the criticism of Prof. N. Bentwich ... I think that the paragraph cannot be redrafted at this stage. This is also the opinion of Berl Locker who, as far as we are concerned, expresses the view of the Trade Union and Socialist Movement in Palestine. It is his opinion than when the Report is presented, the speaker should emphasise that no compulsion is contemplated and that any transfer of Arabs from Palestine should be voluntary. Locker thinks that the phrase that Arabs should be encouraged to move out as the Jews move in is unfortunate. It calls for an emphatic, clear statement that no measures of compulsion will be used under any circumstances.”(121) [As we have already seen, to a “different audience,” Locker described the transfer as “a very just idea.”]
Misrepresentation was not limited to outsiders and even a few Labour Members of Parliament joined in the attack. One of these was Richard Stokes, a member who managed to combine extreme pacifism and internationalism, with a barely-concealed anti-Jewish bias. In a pamphlet entitled “Labour and the Post-War Settlement”, Stokes wondered why Palestine had “found such a prominent place in the Party policy.” He felt that the policy outlined in the pamphlet was a contradiction of the principles enunciated for the benefit of the occupants of the Colonial Empire. “Zionism is a controversial matter even amongst the Jews,” continued Stokes, “Is the Labour Party as a whole to be committed to being pro-Zionist and anti-Arab. The suggestion that the Arabs should be cleared out of Palestine is a dangerous one, and will be resisted by the teeming millions of India and the Middle East.” The introduction to this document stated that the Parliamentary Peace Aims Group, a group of exclusively Labour members of the Lords and Commons, was responsible for this leaflet.(122)
As a result of this pamphlet, a Jewish Labour Member of Parliament, Sidney Silverman, resigned from this Parliamentary Peace Aims Group, of which he was one of the founders. In his letter of resignation, which he forwarded to Rhys Davies, the Chairman of the Group, Silverman wrote that the Jewish people had had no national freedom for two millenia; that millions had been slaughtered; that European Jewish communities had been destroyed leaving the survivors no future except in Palestine, and that the Arab peasantry in Palestine had only benefited by the Jewish pioneering work. He continued, “No one has suggested any transfer of population except by consent. The Arab peoples have five independent kingdoms of their own. I feel sure that the 'teeming millions of India' will lose nothing by the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine or gain anything by its failure; their future, too, lies in achieving political and economic freedom for themselves.”
With regard to the actual production of the pamphlet, Silverman commented that a draft was neither submitted to a meeting of the group nor was it circulated to its members. It had never been formally approved and he suspected that this passage had been “introduced by a single member to cover his own personal view with Group authority.” However this did not prevent the circulation of this pamphlet to Members of Parliament and to constituent bodies of the Labour Party.(123)
In September 1944, Leonard Woolf, Chairman of the Fabian International Bureau, and a Jew, published a booklet for this Bureau entitled “The International Post-War Settlement”.(124) This booklet contained “a suggested policy for Labour and the Labour Party in regard to the international post-war settlement.” It was pointed out that the views expressed in this booklet were solely those of its author and not the collective views of the Fabian Society. Originally this booklet was to have appeared in the name of the Fabian Society but they refused permission for this and hence it appeared under the author's private name.(125)
Under a paragraph headed “Palestine”, Woolf wrote, “The proposal in the Labour Party's document that the Arabs might be 'encouraged' to transfer themselves elsewhere is a good example of the folly of believing that spectacular settlements are desirable and feasible. This is not the way to effect a reconciliation between Arabs and Jews which will enable them to live together in the same and in different states.” He then put forward his own suggestions which involved an agreement between the Allied Nations on a constitution for Palestine, giving effect to the international pledges given to both Jews and Arabs and safeguarding their rights and liberties.(126) Locker described these suggestions as “neither convincing or even clear.”(127)
We can thus see that Woolf did not approve of the Labour Party's proposal for the transfer of the Arab population. When viewed in perspective, the paragraph on Palestine in Woolf's booklet, represented only about one third of a page in a twenty- one page document - a document whose author was critical of almost all and everything!
More specifically, a section of Woolf's booklet dealt with the proposed transfer of population in Europe after the termination of the war. Woolf was strongly opposed to such transfers and considered that they could only be implemented “by the use of power and force” and that “they spring from the same kind of political philosophy as that of the Nazis.” He even described transfer of population as a “barbarism” which the Nazis reintroduced into Europe.(128)
However when considering the post-war frontiers with Poland and Czecho-Slovakia, he recommended that they be set in such a way that these two countries obtained both economic and strategic security, “but that transfers of territory and population are reduced to a minimum.”(129) From this we can see that even Woolf, who felt that the transfer of population was reminiscent of Nazi policy, realised that “a minimum” of population transfer was sometimes necessary.
In passing, one might mention that both Ben-Horin(130) and Schechtman,(131) writing in the 1940s observed that the transfer of population was associated in many minds with the transfers conducted by Hitler in Europe and that the whole concept of transferring population was widely felt to be a spiritual child of Nazi totalitarianism. Both authors immediately added that this was incorrect and that population transfers had taken place well before the Hitler era, in many cases proving most beneficial.
Another hostile reaction to the Palestine paragraph in the Labour Party document came just a few weeks before the Labour Party Conference. This was in the form of a letter from a Labour Member of Parliament, Philips Price, which was published in the left-wing British daily newspaper the “Daily Herald”. In this letter, Price said that he hoped that the Party Conference would “unhesitatingly refer back the section dealing with Palestine.” The term “refer back” is a euphemism for reject! He felt that it was “almost inconceivable” that the responsible leadership of the Labour Party could display such “callous ignorance”. Price said that it was “proposed to transfer the whole Arab population from their homes, where they have been for over 1000 years, to settle, presumably, somewhere in the Arabian desert.”(132)
The phrase “Arabian desert” was a fallacy. It is true, that the Labour Party proposal did not mention a destination for the transferred Arabs. However there were many fertile underpopulated areas in the Arab countries, particularly in Iraq, and this was the destination which had been suggested by Arthur Greenwood, Acting Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, several months earlier. Was not Price aware of this when he wrote his letter to the newspaper? He claimed that the effect of this transfer suggestion in the Labour Party Report had been to make “Moslem opinion throughout the East regard the British Labour Party as an enemy.” Finally, Price said that the Executive had no right to commit their Party to the “extreme nationalist aspirations of a section only of the Jews.”(133)
Opposition to transfer also came from another Labour Member of Parliament, Arthur Creech-Jones. Creech-Jones, an old and faithful friend of Zionism was at that time, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour and National Service. In October 1944, at a Jewish Agency Executive Meeting in Jerusalem, Shertok reported that Creech-Jones opposed the transfer clause, since it makes a mockery of the Zionist claim that there had never been a settlement movement operating with such justice and consideration towards the indigenous residents as the Zionists had shown. Creech-Jones argued that the transfer clause in Dalton's resolution made it clear that Jewish settlement was impossible as long as the Arabs continued to reside in Palestine, hence necessitating removal of the Arabs and causing them the greatest injustice.(134)
In contrast, Shertok reported on a talk that he had had with a member of the Fabian Research Institute. Shertok did not identify this member but said that he was “a man moderate in his attitude” towards Zionism. This man had defended the population transfer proposal, adding that “it would be necessary to transfer - such things are not exceptional.”(135)