Felix Morrow

Zionist Policy Played into
Hands of Great Britain

(May 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 35, 23 May 1939, pp. :1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The British White Paper of May 17 has been met by worldwide protests not only from Zionists and other Jews, but also by important spokesmen from other groups, including William Green, president of the American Federation of Labor.

The White Paper unequivocally enunciates a policy which is a death-blow to Zionism. Jewish immigration into Palestine is virtually ended and this is further buttressed by the declaration of the British Government “that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State.”

Before anyone can understand the Palestine question, however, he must first understand that the White Paper is not a bolt out of the blue, is not a reversal of former British policy, but is merely the culmination of a consistent British policy since the Palestine question arose in 1917.

That policy was a compound of lies and deceit from the first. During the World War British representatives simultaneously carried on negotiations with both Jewish and Arab spokesmen, and made mutually contradictory promises to both. It is unquestionable that Sir Henry McMahon in October 1915, in negotiations with the Sharif of Mecca, pledged recognition and support of Arab independence, including Palestine. It is equally unquestionable that at the same time Lord Balfour and other British spokesmen pledged to Jewish leaders that Palestine would become a Jewish State.

When it came, however, to making these pledges in public, and reducing them to writing, the British authorities wrote with “the blurred line” capable of future re-interpretation. This is true both of Sir Henry McMahon’s letters to the Arabs and of the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

The most the Jewish leaders (notably those of America who had in exchange for these pledges thrown all possible weight in England’s favor in the war) could secure in writing in the Balfour declaration, was the phrase: “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Simultaneously the British assured Arab leaders that the Declaration protected them against a Jewish State by its provision that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing, non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” The same phrase, Jews were told, meant merely assurance of civil rights to Arabs in the ordinary sense of civil liberties.

The White Paper hypocritically states that the British “do not wish to contest the view ... that Zionist leaders at the time of issue of the Balfour Declaration recognized that an ultimate Jewish State was not precluded by the terms of the declaration.” But the Paper omits where the Zionist leaders then got this view – namely from the British government spokesmen, who were telling them that precisely this was embodied in the Balfour Declaration!

The White Paper ignores the fact that from 1917 until 1922 the Zionist movement declared a countless number of times that Palestine was to be a Jewish State, without any contradiction by British authorities. Now the Paper brazenly “proves” “that Palestine was not to be converted into a Jewish State” – by quoting as proof the Command Paper ISSUED IN 1922!

The 1922 Command Paper was, however, not itself the beginning of the whittling away of the Balfour Declaration but, in fact, merely recorded what had already been achieved by British colonial authorities in Palestine itself, where from 1918 on they had revealed a systematic hostility to furtherance of Jewish immigration and building.

And 1922 is but one in a long series of dates recording systematic British destruction of the Zionist dream. Another decisive step in this destruction was the Passfield White Paper of October 1930, which Stephen S. Wise then correctly described as designed to “undo and eventually destroy the Jewish National Home.” Another step was the partition scheme, pressed during the last years, but successfully fought off by the Arabs; it served the British, however, in accustoming Zionists – who were prepared tacitly to accept partition – to the idea that at best only part of Palestine would ever be theirs. Now the White Paper completes the 22-year process of destroying Zionist hopes.

British Consistency Significant

It is extremely important to underline the fact that Britain’s has been a consistent policy, for from an understanding of this fact follows a complete condemnation of the policy pursued throughout by the Zionist leadership. The note of outraged astonishment with which these gentlemen are calling the White Paper a “breach of faith” and a “betrayal” is ludicrous; nobody should be astonished that the English imperialist rulers continue to do what they have been doing and getting ready to do for over two decades. But the Zionist leaders are compelled to pretend astonishment, for the simple reason that they have never told the Zionist masses the truth about England’s policy and, on the contrary, have deliberately concealed from them the full meaning of England’s policy. One might forgive the Zionist leaders any illusions they might have had in 1917 about the Declaration, or in 1922 about the Command Paper. But when, in 1931, after having in the first flush of rage correctly characterized the Passfield White Paper as designed to destroy the Jewish Homeland, they then went on to explain it away with the help of a face-saving letter from Ramsay MacDonald, they were no longer under any illusions. They were deliberately hiding from the Jewish masses the true facts about the Palestine situation, above all the true facts about British governmental policy.

It is a safe wager to predict that the Zionist leaders will continue this deceitful policy. When Winston Churchill arises next week in the House of Commons to speak against the White Paper, the Zionist leaders will hail him – and fail to remind their, followers that Churchill is the author of the 1922 Command Paper. When the British Labor Party spokesmen will join Churchill on this question, the Zionist leaders will gurgle with joy – and not bring up the fact that the Passfield White Paper of 1930 was a Labor Party document. Though the various groups in Commons will jockey for Jewish support, they are all at one on fundamental policy in Palestine: the consistent policy that has been pursued throughout, whether Conservative, Liberal or Labor politicians ruled on behalf of the capitalist class of England.

(Felix Morrow’s discussion of the British White Paper will be continued in the next issue of the Socialist Appeal.)

Last updated on 17 January 2016