A historical Survey of Proposals to

НазваниеA historical Survey of Proposals to
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Baron Edmond de Rothschild was a philanthropist, who in the 1880s patronised the first settlements in Palestine and saved them from collapse. He became the major address for all problems in the Yishuv (Jewish areas of settlement), and thus became known as "Father of the Yishuv". All the agricultural experiments carried out in the Jewish settlements by French experts were covered by his funds.

In 1929, Rothschild put forward his views on Arab transfer in the course of a discussion he had with Jabotinsky. After this conversation, Jabotinsky wrote, "People say that I am an extremist but... compared with the Baron I am a moderate... I, for example am prepared to be satisfied with a majority of 55 - 60 per cent (Jews) in Palestine, whereas he wants Palestine to be completely Jewish... He is prepared to give the Arabs money to enable them to buy other land on condition that they leave Palestine." Jabotinsky went on to praise the Baron for his great character and noble spirit and for his beliefs that Palestine would be as Jewish as France was French. "He is a Zionist, a visionary who yearns for Jewish independence more than we do." (5)

[These views of Rothschild's proposing transfer of Arabs were originally written in an (untraced) letter written by Rothschild to Jabotinsky in 1929. They were printed in the Mexican Yiddish newspaper "Tribuna Sionista", in May 1954, in an article by Solomon

1 / Asher Rubinstein, "Attitude of Jabotinsky to the Partition Proposal and Transfer of Arabs in accordance with the Peel Commission", Ha-umma, (Tel-Aviv), no.63, May 1981, pp.80-81.

2 / Shulamit Hareven, "Beware, Transfer", Ha'aretz, (Tel-Aviv),12 January 1982, p.13 3 / David Niv, Letters to the Editor, Ha'aretz, (Tel-Aviv), 17 January 1982, p.12. 4 / Dr. Yosef Heller, Letters to the Editor, Ha'aretz, (Tel-Aviv), 29 January 1982, p.24.

5 / Joseph Schechtman, The Vladimir Jabotinsky Story, vol.2, 1923-35, Hebrew ed., (Tel-Aviv, 1959), p.152.

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Chaim SIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine —————————————————————————————————————

Gepstein,(1) a person who had been associted with Jabotinsky throughout the latter's career.]

Further incidents concerning Baron de Rothschild and his plans to transfer Arabs from Palestine were related by Shabetai Levy. Levy was one of Baron de Rothschild's officials in PICA, where he assisted in land reclamation projects throughout Palestine. Later, between the years 1940 - 1951, he was Mayor of Haifa.

In his memoirs, Shabetai Levy writes on his own involvement with the transfer of Arab peasants from Palestine to Syria. Levy reports that the Baron would use every opportunity to stress that there should be a continuity of Jewish land in Palestine. Levy had been successful in carrying out this policy in the Lower Galilee - with the exception of one small Arab village, where the villagers persistently refused to sell. He went on to write that "one day I had the idea to suggest to the Arabs that they agree to transfer to Syria on condition they receive from us two and a quarter times the land we receive from them" together with other financial compensation. The Arabs agreed to this proposal and Levy then went to Syria where he found suitable land and the transfer of Arabs was thus implemented. (2)

Baron Rothschild was not however satisfied with the proximity to Palestine of the transferred Arabs. This we know from a meeting which took place between him and Levy on a visit of the latter to Paris. The Baron began by praising Levy for his work in redeeming the land and advised him to continue with similar work. Levy then .reported Rothschild as saying, "but it is better not to transfer the Arabs to Syria and Transjordan since they are parts of Palestine, but to Mesopotamia (Iraq). He added that under such circumstances, he would be prepared to send the Arabs, on his account, new agricultural machinery and instructors of agriculture." (3)

Similar comments by Rothschild on transfer were reported by Levy in a talk which he gave on the English language radio channel "Kol Zion Lagolah" in July 1951. Levy's main work was the acquisition of land in Palestine, and on one occasion had to conclude an exchange of properties in a certain Lower Galilee village. It was on the Sabbath that Levy and Rothschild met in Haifa to discuss the matter. The Baron was concerned that the Arab peasant might suffer from this exchange and thus asked Levy to suggest to these Arabs that they move to Iraq. In the event of such an agreement, the Baron was prepared to pay their transport and resettlement costs. Levy then took out his notebook to write down these instructions of the Baron, but he was immediately rebuked by the latter, "Don'tyou know it is the Sabbath and that it is forbidden to write? You have a good memory and you will surely remember what I am telling you until to-morrow." (4)


Felix Warburg was born in 1871 in Hamburg, Germany, and he participated in the financial aspects of the economic and industrial transformation of the U.S.A. He was also active in educational and cultural spheres. As far as his Zionist activities were concerned, Warburg was active in promoting Jewish settlement in Palestine. He cooperated with Marshall and Weizmann in broadening the Jewish Agency to include non-Zionists. Until the latter part of 1930, he was Chairman of the Jewish Agency Administrative Committee.

On 16 June 1930, Bernard Flexner sent a coded telegram from London to Warburg in New York. Towards the end of the telegram he wrote: "Have passed on suggestion ref[?] on Transjordania" (5) - presumably the author of the suggestion was Warburg. On the same day, Joseph Hyman, who was Warburg's assistant on the Jewish Agency's Administrative

1 / S. Gepstein, "Jabotinsky talking about Baron Rothschild", Tribuna Sionista, (Mexico), no.61, 22 May 1954, p.3. 2 / Shabetai Levy, "From my Memoirs", Haifa, Oliphant and the Zionist Vision, ed. Joseph Nedava, (Haifa, [n.d.]), p.128.

3 / Ibid., p.129.

4 / Mr. Shabetai Levy's talk in the Series "I Remember" in English Programme "Kol Zion La Gola", July 1951, (Haifa Municipal Archives, section 18-6, Shabetai Levy Archives file 7) ; Shabetai Levy, "I Remember the Baron", Jerusalem Post, 6 April 1954, supplement on Baron de Rothschild, p.1.

5 / Incoming Cablegram, Flexner to Warburg, 16 June 1930, (Princeton University, Louis Brandeis Papers, Reel 90)

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Committee in New York, wrote a letter to Louis Brandeis enclosing the text of the decoded telegram. In this letter Hyman explained that the reference to Transjordan concerned "a possible inquiry into the nature of British aid to agriculture in Egypt and in other mandated or colonial possessions with a view to determining whether such aid if granted, could facilitate emigration of Arabs into Transjordania, and increasing agricultural possibilities for Jews in Palestine." (1)

At the end of October 1930, a few days after the publication of the Passfield White Paper, which limited Jewish immigration into Palestine, Warburg wrote a letter to Sir John Chancellor, the High Commissioner of Palestine, in which he cautiously proposed the transfer of Arabs to Transjordan. He pointed out that it was not a new suggestion that Britain "might lend its credit guaranty towards the purpose of acquiring a larger quantity of better land than is obtainable in Palestine, at a lower rate, and settle those of the Arabs who would like to become up to date farmers on such lands." Warburg went on to explain that it was not "a question of driving out the Arabs who do first class work where they are in Palestine, but of removing those who are not working now to places where they can show their willingness to acquire real skill as farmers." (2)

A few days later, a hugh demonstration of 40,000 people took place in Madison Square Garden in New York, in order to protest against the White Paper. (3) Amongst the numerous Jewish and non-Jewish speakers (including those who sent messages), was Felix Warburg, who as a result of the White Paper had resigned his position as Chairman of the Administrative Committee of the Jewish Agency. Warburg "disputed the contentions in the Passfield report that the land was overcrowded and that the supply of arable land would be exhausted by the present population." He then pointed out that Transjordan'ssoil and water conditions were better than those of Palestine and he went on to propose a transfer scheme: "If the Mandatory Government feels that something should be done for the felaheen, it may be well to consider if for the same amount invested much larger quantities of better land could be acquired and that part of the Arab population which is now employed urged to develop part of Transjordania. It is unjust to speak of such an offer of land in Transjordania as expatriation of the Arabs, as Transjordania is distinctly Arab territory and is only separated from Palestine by the Jordan [River]." (4)

During the 1930s, Warburg, in the course of his Zionist work, was in contact with Judge Julian Mack. Mack, at that period was a judge in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal. He had also held high posts on Zionist bodies. Mack had obviously been thinking about the question of transfer of Arabs to Transjordan, since in a letter which he wrote to Warburg in October 1936, he said that "when he [Garratt - whom Warburg considered to be a friend of the Zionists] talks about cantonization he does not consider the possibility of the Arabs going to the possibly more fertile soil of Trans-Jordania." (5)


Menachem Ussishkin was born in Russia in 1863 and in his early life was a member of Hovevei Zion. He was Hebrew Secretary to the First Zionist Congress in 1897 and a few years later led the opposition to the "Uganda Scheme". In 1919, he settled in Palestine and from 1923 until his death in 1941 was head of the Jewish National Fund.

Following the 1929 massacres in Palestine, the British Government commissioned the Shaw Report in which differing opinions were offered as to the availability of land in Palestine for future Jewish immigration. A few weeks after publication of the Report, towards

1 / Hyman to Brandeis, 16 June 1930, (Princeton University, Louis Brandeis Papers, Reel 90). 2 / Warburg to Chancellor, 27 October 1930, (Princeton University, Louis Brandeis Papers, Reel 90).

3 / "40,000 Here Protest on Palestine Policy", The New York Times, 3 November 1930, p.4 ; "American Jewry Scores

England's Guilt", The Jewish Tribune, (New York), 7 November 1930, p.6.

4 / Felix Warburg, "Transjordan, Part of Palestine", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.xix, no.7, 7 November 1930, p.126.

5 / Mack to Warburg, 16 October 1936, (Princeton University, Louis Brandeis Papers, Reel 104

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the end of April 1930, the Jewish National Fund invited local and foreign journalists to the Eden Hotel in Jerusalem, to hear a lecture by Menachem Ussishkin.

After referring to the different opinions regarding future Jewish immigration, Ussishkin proposed transfer of the Arabs from Palestine. "We must continually proclaim our demand that our land be returned to our possession. If the land is empty of inhabitants - Good! If, however there are other inhabitants there, they must be transferred to some other place, but we must receive the land! We have an ideal greater and more elevated than standing guard over hundreds of thousands of fellaheen [Arab peasants]."

Ussishkin pointed out that since the Arabs had many lands at their disposal whereas the Jewish people had none, it was surely just that Palestine be given to the Jews. However, this would only be necessary in the future, "as for this generation, most of the land is just waiting to be reclaimed." (1)

In May 1936, Ussishkin told a meeting of the Executive of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, "I would very, very much like the Arabs (of Palestine) to go to Iraq and I hope that they will go there sometime." He gave two reasons for this. Firstly, the agricultural opportunities were greater in Iraq than in Palestine and secondly, in Iraq the transferees would find themselves in an Arab rather than a Jewish State. However, Ussishkin discounted the possibility of either deportation of the Arabs, or a population transfer by means of which Diaspora Jewry would be moved to Palestine and the Jews of Palestine would "send them Arabs." Instead, he proposed that the Zionists should request that Transjordan be incorporated into Palestine. Usishkin said that it would be quite legitimate for the British to argue that there should be sufficient land for the Arab peasants, provided that Transjordan either be given over to Jewish settlement, or if the request for Jewish settlement there were to be rejected, then Transjordan should be "for the resettlement of those Arabs whose lands we will purchase." He felt that even the most ethical person could not oppose such an idea. (2)

A few months later, towards the end of 1936, Ussishkin declined to appear before the Peel Commission then in Palestine to take evidence. In the course of an article written in February 1937 and entitled "Why I Did Not Testify", Ussishkin explained his opposition to the approach taken by the Zionist Executive when giving evidence before the Peel Commission. On the question of State lands, Ussishkin wrote that the Zionist Executive should have argued as follows: "We believe that there is room in Palestine also for the Arabs but if you maintain that there is no room for them in the country, then they can find land in other places.... The Arab people have immense areas of land at their disposal; our people have nothing except a grave's plot. We demand that our inheritance, Palestine,be returned to us and if there is no room for Arabs, they have the opportunity of going to Iraq." (3)


The Zionist leader, Moshe Shertok, was born in Ukraine in 1894 and immigrated to Palestine with his family at the age of twelve. From 1933, he was head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency and with the establishment of the State of Israel, became the first Foreign Minister. From the beginning of 1954 for a period of nearly two years, he was Prime Minister of Israel.

At a parlour meeting held in the house of Dr. G. Halpern in Jerusalem on 21 December 1937, Shertok delivered a lecture on the practical fundamentals of political Zionism. The meeting was obviously a closed one since the text of the lecture was marked "secret".

A few months earlier, the Peel Commission had proposed the transfer of Arabs from the area of the Jewish State and this proposal was currently under serious discussion and investigation by a special committee of the Jewish Agency. This was also the period of Hitler and the Nazis in Germany and since 1933 legislation and discrimination against the Jews of

1 / "Lecture by M. M. Ussishkin before Journalists", Doar Hayom, (Jerusalem), 28 April 1930, pp.1, 4. 2 / Minutes J.A. Exec., vol.25/3, no.57, 19 May 1936, pp.28-29, (CZA).

3 / Menachem Ussishkin, "Why I Did Not Testify", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.27, no.5, 5 February 1937, p.3.

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Germany had been intensifying.

During the questions and answers at the end of Shertok's lecture,the question of transfer of the Arab population from Palestine came up. Apparently, the questioner implied that there was a similarity between the proposal to transfer the Arabs from Palestine and the treatment of the German Jews by Hitler.

Shertok immediately discounted any parallel whatsoever adding that what Germany was doing to her Jews was "taking them and throwing them out without any concern for their future and without permitting them to take their possessions with them." In contrast, the transfer of Arabs would have either to be by agreement or not take place at all. Shertok, however, then explained what he meant by the word "agreement". "There does not have to be agreement with every individual Arab but there has to be agreement with another government. In any case, whether with complete agreement or without agreement, there must be no expulsion of people with negation of their property rights and without concern for their resettlement. Even were the transfer to be compulsory, there must be compensation for property left behind and concern for resettlement in the new location. If this is impossible, then it is impossible, but no comparison can be made between the transfer proposal here and the situation in Germany." (1)

Shertok's comments on transferare somewhat contradictory. He first says that transfer must be "by agreement or not take place at all" - agreement being with the receiving government but not with every Arab transferee. He then contradicts himself by speaking of transfer "with agreement or without agreement" - namely compulsory transfer - so long as the transferees receive compensation for their immovable property and steps are taken to ensure that they are properly rehabilitated in their new country. Finally he adds that even if this is found to be impossible, there is still no comparison to be made with Nazi Germany.
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