In early 1947 the British announced their intention to abandon their Mandate for Palestine, and turn the question of the future of Palestine over to the UN. The General Assembly decided to set up the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) to investigate the cause of the conflict in Palestine, and, if possible, devise a solution. The commission held hearings in Palestine and invited representatives of the Jews and Arabs to testify. The Arabs refused to present evidence. Representatives of the Jewish Agency, including David Ben Gurion, Moshe Shertok and Abba Eban, testified and assisted the commission in its tour of the country. Chaim Weizmann also testified as a private person, though he was ill and did not hold any office at this time.
The testimony below is the second day of testimony of David Ben Gurion, in which he was, in particular, questioned about the conflicting letters and promises of Commander Hogarth. General Allenby and others by Sir Abdur Rahman of India.
June 10, 2009
Documents in this series:
Testimony of Ashkenazy Orthodox, Histadrut Leaders and Moshe Sharrett to UNSCOP
The introduction above is copyright 2009 by Ami Isseroff. The document below is in the public domain.
OFFICIAL RECORDS OF THE SECOND SESSION OF
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
SUPPLEMENT NO. 11
UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PALESTINE
REPORT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
ORAL EVIDENCE PRESENTED AT PUBLIC MEETING
Lake Success, New York
VERBATIM RECORD OF THE TWENTY-FIRST MEETING (PUBLIC)
Held at the Y.M.C.A. Building, Jerusalem, Tuesday, 8 July 1947, at 9 a.m.
MR. SANDSTROM, Sweden, CHAIRMAN
First Part - Testimony of Chaim Weizmann at UNSCOP
Continuation of hearing of representatives of the Jewish Agency
CHAIRMAN: We will now go on with the third point on the agenda: the hearing of the Jewish Agency. We will continue the questioning of Mr. BEN GURION and Mr. SHERTOK by Sir ABDUR RAHMAN.
(Mr. BEN GURION and Mr. SHERTOK took seats at the table.)
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : Mr. BEN GURION, do you wish to make any comments on the following declarations or statements on behalf of the British Government: 1. General Allenby's declaration, soon after the Turks were defeated, to the effect that he "reminded the Emir Feisal that the Allies were in honour bound to endeavour to reach a settlement in accordance with the wishes of the "peoples concerned and urged him to place his trust wholeheartedly in their good faith"; 2. Commander Hogarth's statement to King Hussein in January 1918 to the effect that the British Government were determined that insofar as it was compatible with the freedom of the existing population, both economic and political, no obstacle should be put in the way of the return of the Jews to Palestine; 3. Bassett's letter dated 9 February 1918, to King Hussein, to the effect that His Majesty's Government has hitherto made it their policy to ensure the Arab's liberation and it remained the policy that they are determined unflinchingly to pursue by protecting such Arabs as already are liberated from all dangers and perils, and by assisting those who are still under the yoke of the tyrants to obtain their freedom; 4. the Anglo-French Declaration made on 7 November 1918 to the effect that the goal envisaged by France and Great Britain in prosecuting in the East the war was to secure the complete and final liberation of the people who have for so long been oppressed by the Turks and the setting up of national governments and administrations which should derive authority from the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous populations, and to further and assist in the setting up of indigenous Governments and administrations in Syria (from the Taurus range to the Egyptian frontier and Mesopotamia) which had already been liberated by the Allies, as well as in those territories which, they were endeavouring to liberate, and to recognize them as soon as they were actually set up?
Mr. BEN GURION: No, sir.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Do you know anything about the Haycraft Commission which had been appointed to inquire into the Palestine disturbances of 1921?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, sir.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Have you read their recommendations?
Mr. BEN GURION: I believe I read them at the time.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Did the Arabs ever raise any objections to the Jews visiting Palestine or even to moderate immigration arising out of religious zeal before 1917?
Mr. BEN GURION: Before that they had nothing to say in Palestine. It was the Turks.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : Was Jewish immigration the cause of Arab riots and bloodshed in Palestine?
Mr. BEN GURION: There was Jewish immigration, and there were riots. Maybe one was the cause of the other. It is a fact that there were both. Maybe there were other causes.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Could you give me any other cause?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, a very serious cause was the Axis powers who sent money and instructors to arrange for a terrorist campaign against Jews. This was one of the causes.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): When was this?
Mr. BEN GURION: 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1939.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): There were no riots before 1936?
Mr. BEN GURION: There were.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): What were they
due to? What was the cause of them?
Mr. BEN GURION: There were many causes. This was one of the causes. One cause, for instance, was that in 1929 there was a false accusation made against us by some people that we attacked the .Mosque of Omar, which was just as truthful as the accusation made against the Jews that they are drinking the blood of Christian children for ritual purposes. That was a very serious cause of disturbances in Damascus in 1940, where many Jews were murdered by the population for such an accusation. An accusation of that kind was made in 1929. This was the cause of serious riots when the entire Jewish community of Hebron, where there had been no immigration, was exterminated.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Was the extent of immigration between 19311939 in Palestine to the extent of 218,000 while, in the whole of the United States of America, Brazil, Australia and the Argentine, an area two hundred times larger than Palestine, the immigration was only to the extent of 207,000?
Mr. BEN GURION: Those are facts, yes.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): What do you know about the Jewish State of Birobidjan?
Mr. BEN GURION: I have heard about it.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : As a foreign State?
Mr. BEN GURION: I think it is an autonomy, but I really cannot give exact details.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : Have you had no chance to see this before?
Mr. BEN GURION: I think there are a number of things which you have seen and which I have not. No, I have not seen this.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : I am placing it before you. So you do not know whether it contains about thirty thousand square miles or only about one hundred thousand Jews?
Mr. BEN GURION: I know that Soviet Russia is such a vast country that it may contain such a large area as you say, but really, I cannot tell you.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : Do you know if it is really a State?
Mr. BEN GURION: No, as far as I know it is not. It is an autonomy, and it is loyal to that autonomous condition. There is only a Jewish minority, as far as I know, but I do not know. I am not an expert on it, and I do not know why I must give this information.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : I just wanted to know whether the official language of that place is Yiddish.
Mr. BEN GURION: So far as I know it is not. I think this is the .only place in the world where the official language is Jewish.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Palestine is sacred to Christians, it is sacred to Moslems; therefore would you permit all the Moslems and all the Christians to come and settle down in Palestine on the same basis on which you want to settle down in Palestine?
Mr. BEN GURION: There is a difference. Of course it is sacred to Christians. You are a Moslem and you say it is sacred to Moslems. I take your word for it.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): You do not know about it?
Mr. BEN GURION: Your authority is sufficient for that purpose. But Jews are coming to Palestine because it is our country, it has been our homeland for 3,500 years. In addition to that it is sacred to them because it is the centre of their religion. I know that Rome is sacred to Christians, and no Christian will ask the right to possess Rome. There is nothing like that here. We are here on the basis of the fact that it is the country of our people; we were dispossessed by force and we did not give it up. We are coming back to our home.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): I will come to that part a little later. I just wanted to know because you know that the Moslems used to turn to the holy area of Masjid Aqsa as their Kaaba until the Prophet ordered faces to be turned towards Mecca at the time of prayer.
Mr. BEN GURION: I am really afraid to contradict you, but the history which I know regarding Moslems is that at the beginning the Prophet of the Moslems called them to turn to Jerusalem and there were other things which he accepted in Jerusalem, but later on, when the Jews were living in Arabia, they refused to accept it, and many of them, especially Jews of the Medina died for it, because they refused to accept him as a prophet. He told his people to turn to Mecca, but so far as I know it has nothing to do with the reconstruction of Mecca.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : That was the Kaaba in Mecca. . .
Mr. BEN GURION: This is a discussion which does not concern me as it is a religious matter.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): I just wanted to know. How many synagogues were there in Palestine before 1939?
Mr. BEN GURION: I have not the information.
CHAIRMAN: I repeat my request to the public to keep silent.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : Did the President of the Tenth Zionist Congress, held in June 1931, make the following speech: "Only those suffering from gross ignorance or actuated: by malice, could accuse us of the desire of establishing an independent Jewish kingdom. The people who allege this seem, so far as they are honest, to confuse Zionism with the Messianic belief. Our boundless love for Palestine owed its origin also to this belief, but it has never occurred to us modern practical Zionists to introduce Messianic tendencies into our movement."
Mr. BEN GURION: Well, the President was here just now. I think you should have referred to him this question.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): No, I did not know that Dr. Weizmann was actually presiding at that congress.
Mr. BEN GURION: He was not the President of that congress. So far as I know, no such statement was made by the President who presided at the time.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Was it made by anyone else?
Mr. BEN GURION: I do not know. You asked me if the President made such a statement. As far as I remember, the President at that congress made no such statement.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : You cannot say whether anyone else made that statement? I am just trying to be clear in my mind about the question, but it may have been someone else.
Mr. BEN GURION: All kinds of persons made all kinds of statements, and I really cannot be requested to remember everyone of them.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Apart from the Zionist's attempts, have any other Jews made attempts to gain political sovereignty in Palestine? Have any other persons made any attempt to create a sovereign State in Palestine?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, Jews throughout history before the Crusades, during the Crusades-all the Jews were exterminated in Palestine. After that, in the time of the Turks, they made these attempts by going back to Palestine and trying to build it up, because they believed that by building up they were r&establishing, as they called it in their language, a Jewish kingdom. We do not now use the word kingdom, but what they meant was a State. There was a time when a kind of chapter was written by one of the Turkish soldiers, a high official in Turkey, on the movement to build a part of Palestine as a Jewish province.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): How far is the southernmost Jewish colony in the Negev from the Egyptian frontier?
Mr. BEN GURION: I imagine it is some ten kilometres. I cannot give you the exact figure. I do not know, although I have travelled there. Perhaps twenty kilometres.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): And are there any Jewish colonies near the Syrian frontier?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, there are.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): How many and how far? Just give me the figures.
Mr. BEN GURION: There are many Jews on the frontier. There is one colony outside the frontier of Lebanon. There is a colony where the frontier is in the middle of the colony.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Was any picketing ordinance passed legalizing picketing by the Jews of Arab labour in 1940 or thereabouts?
Mr. BEN GURION: No. there was picketing at many times, and there was a time when I had the privilege of taking part in it. Then Jews were excluded from work in Jewish colonies.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : Was the picketing ordinance passed?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, the picketing ordinance was passed.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Was it sometime in 1940 or thereabouts?
Mr. BEN GURION: No, before that. To what ordinance do you refer?
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): The picketing ordinance.
Mr. BEN GURION: No, not picketing, not in 1940. It was long before that.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Is it possible for you to imagine that any country in the world Canada, Australia, the United States of America, South Africa or England-will permit Jewish immigration in unlimited numbers if they are exposed to the risk of being outnumbered?
Mr. BEN GURION: I do not feel any need to imagine such a thing. If you mean to ask why we want to come to Palestine, I have told you it is because we are coming back to our country. But I do not know why you want me to imagine such a thing could happen except in our country. Of course we do not imagine, we could not imagine, such a thing. On the contrary, I told you in my opening speech that we were offered space in another country, in Africa: we refused it on that account, because we did not consider it our country.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Do you imagine the friendship between the Jews and the Arabs will increase if unlimited immigration is permitted in Palestine?
Mr. BEN GURION: I imagine that when the Jews are re-established as an independent nation they will establish good relations between themselves and their neighbours. Without it, no. There will be trouble with the Arabs who think they could do with the Jews what the Europeans did with them.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : Have the relations between Arabs and Jews been very strained since the Mandate?
Mr. BEN GURION: As I said, relations between individual Jews and individual Arabs were often very good in Turkish times, and they are very good now, but political relations between Arab communities and Jewish communities are not so good, and this is because they have been brought into opposition.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Who was in possession and occupation of Palestine as it is known today before the Israelites?
Mr. BEN GURION: There were a large number of people who came here; there are many names.
CHAIRMAN: Before whom?
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : Before the Israelites.
Mr. BEN GURION: The names are supplied in our Bible.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): All of them have died out?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, all of them.
Sir, ABDUR RAHMAN (India): All of them and their descendants have died out?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, they disappeared.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): And the fellaheen who exist in Palestine today, are they descendants?
Mr. BEN GURION: I do not think so.
Sir. ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Do you know that Abraham had two wives-at least, two wives with whom we are concerned-Hagar and Sarah. Sarah was the first and Hagar was the second. Ishmael was the son of Hagar; Isaac was the son of Sarah. Is that correct?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : Now it was predicted in the Bible-when I refer to the Bible I mean the Old Testament, I do not refer to the New Testament at all-it was predicted in the Old Testament that twelve tribes would spring from Israel.
Mr. BEN GURION: No, it is not true.
CHAIRMAN: Sir Abdur, will you please direct your questions this way?
Mr. BEN GURION: It is said in the Bible, with, regard to these two children that to "Isaac and " the seed of Isaac I will give this land."
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): When did the Jews leaves Palestine?
Mr. BEN GURION: They never left it.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): They have always been here?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, except in the period of the Crusades, when all Jews were entirely exterminated.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : When was that?
Mr. BEN GURION: You know it was the 10, 11 and 12 centuries.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): How many Jews did Titus deal very cruelly with the Jews?
Mr. BEN GURION: You can rely on the historical documents which are there. I mean that he was cruel. He destroyed the Temple, expelled their leaders, put them to death in circuses in Rome, sold them as slaves.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): And that also was first century A. D.?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, but he did not expel all the Jews-130 years after that the Jews made war on the Romans, and 600,000 Jews, according to the Apostles, were killed by the Roman legions.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : When was that?
Mr. BEN GURION: That was 130 A. D.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Coming now to more mandate matters, can you give me an idea as to how much of the budget is being spent I do not want the actual figure, if you will only refer me to the Administration Report I only wanted to have an idea from you how much in proportion to the whole income was being spent on public security?
Mr. BEN GURION: I will refer you to report, and I refer you to our witnesses, Mr Eiorowitz and Mr. Bernstein.
CHAIRMAN: We will reserve questions on the economic matters for the hearing of Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Berstein.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Now one thing more. I am giving you a list of the Arab villages which I am told were wiped out, and I ask you whether this is correct or not: Shatta, Afuleh, Jeidah, Tab'oon, Jinjar, Mejdel, Jisr al-Majme, Tel Adas, Jallood, Sasafeh, Tel EshShamaam, Al-Hartiya, Sheikh Breik, Hrief, Defna, Khan ed-Duer, Madekhel, Khayyan al-Walid, Cofarta, Jadra, Kirdana, etc. Have these Arab villages been erased? Do they exist now as Arab villages?
Mr. BEN GURION: I am grateful to those who gave you this material, that you gave us the opportunity to speak about that. I want, not only yourself, but the whole Committee to know about it. One of our witnesses will tell you the whole story of it, and not merely in a way of "yes or no" as you require.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): You give me the information later on.
Mr. BEN GURION: You will get the information later on, and I am very grateful that you raised the question.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : As statements were made by Jews that no Arabs had been displaced and by Arabs to the contrary, I wanted to verify it and to verify this.
Mr. BEN GURION: It is your job to do that.
CHAIRMAN: Will you please go on.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : Now is it correct that, in spite of the restrictive measures, the Jews have been actually acquiring lands from the Arabs?
Mr. BEN GURION: Yes, in a restrictive way. It is correct, for the last few years since 1939.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : Will you kindly give me all the figures on the division of lands acquired in breach of the regulations?
Mr. BEN GURION: I am sorry, we could not discuss them. It was not in breach of the regulations. It was in accordance with these regulations. You will get all these figures for all these years from 1939 until the present moment. It is a pity these regulations could not have been dropped; it was in accordance with the regulations.
CHAIRMAN: Have you more questions on the political issue?
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Yes. Do you think that politically there is room in this country both for the Arabs and unlimited number of Jews?
Mr. BEN GURION: First of all, there is no such thing as unlimited number of Jews. There is a limited number of Jews.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): Unlimited number of immigrants, then?
Mr. BEN GURION: They are limited. I believe and I am convinced; it is not a matter of belief-that for the last 40 years I have done nothing but Study this problem because it is a matter of life and death for me and my people. I say it is a convention, and not merely a belief, that there is room in this country for every inhabitant in Palestine who is here already, whether Jew, Christian, Armenian, Arab, Moslem or any other, and several millions of Jews to come in. I am not able to fix the exact number, because this depends on a number of factors, mostly on the degree of development, and the degree of authority to have such a development.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): I hope you remember my question. I am not talking economically, but politically.
Mr. BEN GURION: Then I do not understand quite what you mean. You ask me about room; that is, whether there is room, and that is an economic question, but if you ask me about it politically, then it is no question at all. Politically, for instance, I can imagine a vast territory where not a single Jew can enter, although there are millions of square miles of land. They are two different questions, and politics has nothing to do with room.
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): As a matter of information, were exports of various commodities stopped from Palestine in 1920 or thereabouts?
CHAIRMAN: Is not that also in the economic domain?
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India) : It was a question pertaining to economics, and I will leave it. I am leaving out all the economic questions.
CHAIRMAN: Are there any more questions on the political issues?
Sir ABDUR RAHMAN (India): No.
CHAIRMAN: Then I think we shall have to adjourn and thank you very much.
Mr. BEN GURION: Everyone has finished with me?
CHAIRMAN: We will continue at a later hearing to question Mr. Horowitz and his colleagues.
Mr. BEN GURION: I mean that all the political side is finished?
CHAIRMAN: I might put some questions, and that is the same question that we put to Dr. Weizmann. What about a federal state? I do not imply by that we are specially interested in a federal State. We just want to explore the possibilities.
Mr. BEN GURION: I am ready to answer that now if you want. We will not consider any settlement which excludes complete independence and equality as a nation with Arabs in this country. If in any way a settlement is made where we are not in a nation, and which would deprive us of equality as a nation, we will have to be against it, because we consider two things as vital for our very existence and our human dignity, the belief that the Jew has self-respect as a people and as human beings, and these two vital issues are these: one, the right of the Jew who is unhappy, uncomfortable, oppressed, discriminated against-or for any other reason cannot stay where he is and there is economically a place in Palestine for him-that he should have a right to come and settle here; and the second is that the Jewish people as a whole, in their own country, should have the same status as any free people in the world. If the world will abolish separate sovereignties, we will bless it, because if the human family were to be one, even then the world cannot abolish self-government-but whatever regime there will be in the world for any other free nation, we claim for our people-not less and not more. We will be against any discrimination against the Jewish people, but if you will ensure our independence and equality as a nation, which also includes Membership of the United Nations, for the welfare of those who are in the country and for the welfare of our neighbours, it will be necessary-we believe that it will be necessary that the Jewish State, and I told you yesterday what we mean by Jewish State where Jews are in the majority and are all equal-that such a State should cooperate with the neighbouring States. We are the first to welcome it, even if that cooperation will not limit itself merely to economic, social and cultural matters.
If our neighbours are willing to cooperate politically as a regional organization, we will welcome it, and ties will be created between these and the neighbouring States, as agreed upon between them freely, and as desired by the United Nations. This may be the main consideration, but the condition is we should be an equal partner and that we should have mutual interest which should be desired by the United Nations.
So an independent Jewish State does not exclude it being part of a larger Jewry, the cooperation either of sympathetic States or Middle East States or any other foreign States. It does not exclude. It is possible that what we need is this cooperation, essential for our really endless work.
CHAIRMAN: Do you give preference to a federal State or a partition scheme?
Mr. BEN GURION: We want to have a State of our own, and that State can be federate if the other State or States is or are willing to do so in the mutual interest, on condition that our State is in its own right a Member of the United Nations.
CHAIRMAN: One other question which has not been raised before. Do you think the Holy Places would require a special arrangement for Jerusalem?
Mr. BEN GURION: Absolutely. Not only in Jerusalem; all the Holy Places should be so safeguarded internationally that the religions who have a special interest in those Holy Places should have free and unfettered access to them and, as far as possible, the custody should be placed in their hands. I cannot go further because I know what trouble it may make among Christian communities, but this ought to be left to a higher authority. But certainly there must be international guarantees for the freedom and sacredness of all the Holy Places in Palestine.
CHAIRMAN: Do you think trusteeship or something of that kind with regard to Jerusalem would be necessary?
Mr. BEN GURION: No, the question of the Holy Places is really a mix-up. The Holy Places are only a few places in Jerusalem. They are not Jerusalem. They are in the Old City also because there are differences of views, but that is not a matter for here. But you should not identify the Holy Places in Jerusalem with any other city in Palestine. They are in certain places. There is a Holy Place in Bethlehem for the Christians. There is a Holy Place in Nazareth. There are Holy Places for Jews, Christians and Moslems in Jerusalem. Here in Jerusalem "Holy Places" means only a certain spot of Jerusalem, but Jerusalem itself is not a part of those Holy Places, and therefore for the safeguarding of those places you ought not to include Jerusalem as a whole, outside of the Holy Places.
Mr. GARCIA SALAZAR (Peru): I do not know whether the point I am going to raise has been raised already. I sincerely believe that the Jewish people wish to live peacefully with the Arab people and to cooperate with them for the common good, but the situation in Palestine does not seem to be leading that way. Both peoples seem to be leading separate lives. In a normal life there are towns like Tel-Aviv, for the Jewish, or Gaza, or Hebron, which are only Arab in population. All of these are either wholly Jewish or wholly Arab. The schools too are separate. There is a school for Jewish children and a school for Arab children. There are separate technical schools for both of them, and even the University is practically a Jewish University. In industry, Jewish industry employs Jewish labour, and Arab industry employs Arab labour. Even the trade unions are separate. Do you not think that this physical and spiritual separation is making more and more difficult cooperation in the future, the cooperation that you want and that everybody wants?
Mr. BEN GURION: I think what you mentioned is a fact, and a very important fact, in the life of this country-that there is a separation or, I might say, a distinctness in economic life, in habitation, in 'culture, in schools, as you enumerated. It is true. But I do not think this precludes future cooperation between Jews and Arabs, just as I do not believe that because England and France have a distinct economy, language and tradition, they cannot cooperate. And although they quarrelled, for many centuries they regarded each other as their main enemy, since, I believe, 1940 there has been a very strong and growing cooperation between, these two countries. So the fact that people are living separately and distinctly must not preclude cooperation. On the contrary; we see the opposite phenomena: peoples having the same language and the same state of culture quarrelling among themselves and fighting each other. It does not follow necessarily that people, in order to cooperate, must use the same language; it does not follow necessarily that people using the same language cannot quarrel and make wars against themselves.
There are deep reasons why the Jews had to build new villages and towns. There were two main reasons. I am afraid I may enter into a rather long explanation, which I would not care to do at this late hour.
One reason was that they did not want to take away anything from the people who are here. Secondly, they could not live on the same level. But this does not mean that the Jew living in his village and speaking Hebrew, and the Arab living in his village and speaking Arabic, cannot cooperate in having the same conditions, to guard against thieves, against plagues, against all other things. And there are cases of such cooperation. But this is on a small scale. We are convinced that as soon as the Jews are equalized on the plane of statehood, perhaps not in one single day, but owing to the necessity of both peoples and the two established facts, there will be cooperation between them in spite of the fact that they live their own lives. They live their Jewish life, and they live their Arab life. We do not see any difficulty in cooperating because of that.
Mr. ENTEZAM (Iran): (Interpretation from French): I have only one question, but before I put it to Mr. BEN GURION, I should like to tell him that I was very much touched by his allusion to the Emperor of Persia and it was at that time Persia who rendered a service to the people of Israel.
The question I have is as follows. As I see it, Mr. BEN GURION admits to only one solution, and that is an independent State of Palestine. It is quite evident that on that point Mr. BEN GURION and the Arabs are in full agreement. Both want an independent State, and both want a democratic State. I insist on the words "democracy" and "democratic State" because, in the first place, it is a fashionable and popular expression at present, and also because it means rule by the majority. The only difference between the Arabs and Jewish people on this point is that the Arabs say "establish that independent State now;" whereas the Jewish people say "don't do it now, but wait until we have a majority in the country."
If we admit that Palestine is a special case and might need special treatment, can we at the same time accept under the question of delay the principle of self-determination? It seems to me that it is difficult to admit at the same time that you must delay until an independent State is established and also admit the principle of self-determination. This is the question I have.
Mr. BEN GURION: I want first of all to tell the representative of Iran that while we have to forget, and we do forget, all the evils done to us, we never forget the good things which have been done to us, and it is not only in relation to Persia, although our relations with Persia really were the most temporary relations as between the Jewish people and the great empire which was on the border of Palestine.
As to the question of the representative of Iran, it really raises the whole issue. But I want first of all to say that it is not quite the same thing, even assuming that we talk about a democratic State. We conceive a democratic State as a State where all citizens are absolutely here I can used the word "absolute" because either it is equality or it is not; you cannot have equality of 99 persons because then it is discrimination-equal, whatever they are: Jews, Arabs, Moslems, or any other nationality or religion; while the State required by the Arabs, as expressed officially by the Arab delegation and by the Arab League, is one in which they want to have one discrimination-against the Jews, that they should not be free as equal citizens to settle; not the Jews outside Palestine, but the Jews who will be citizens in a so-called democratic Palestine State should not be able to settle wherever they like. So it is not quite the same. From the beginning they want to build a State on racial discrimination. But this is the real issue. It is not a question merely of time. They want it now, and we want it after a certain period. Formally, it may look so, but I think it would be unfair on my side to make the whole question merely a question of time, to say we also want to have a democratic State, but not now-after a certain number of years. It is quite a different thing. What we say is that here we Jews and we Jewish people have a State and have a right. No State, no political regime can be created in accordance with justice, with history, and with international law which recognizes this Jewish State and this Jewish right, which will preclude the realization of our right. And our right* consists of two things: our right to immigrate into Palestine as our right, not as a Jew immigrating to America. When I immigrated into America, America was free. I myself was expelled by the Turks from Palestine and went to America without a passport-I had not got a passport because all my papers were taken from me. I came to America in 1915. Even then the Jews, or any other persons from Europe, could immigrate freely into America. They did not immigrate as of a right because America could say, yes you are free to immigrate, or America could say, no. There was time when she said yes, and there was time when she said no. But the French Government, or the English Government, or the Persian Government cannot say to a Persian or French national you have no right to come back as of right. This is our right in this country, and in this country only. I am giving you our view, which I believe is the view of international law and of human conscience, as far as we knew it until now. This is our right, and we say it will be wrong to create such political conditions that will rob us of our right. This is done in many countries. I will give you an example, although it is not quite the same.
In the District of Columbia in the United States there are people living-and there are over a million, more than the number of Jews in Palestine-and they have no right of self-determination. They have not the right which every American has in every American State to elect their own Governor. They were deprived for a more general reason. This is the central place which belongs to all the forty-eight States in America, and because they have the privilege of living there they have not the right which the citizen of Ohio, or of Minnesota, or of any other State has. So it is not always absolute.
When there is an overriding right which may displace that right of self-determination no country will recognize-neither Persia nor France the right of self-determination, let us say, of one of their dependents to be independent. There are certain rights of self-determination, and when I say the right of the Jew to come back to his country and the right of our people to be here as equal partners in the world family, it is an overriding right which applies to Palestine, and therefore no regime-not only an Arab State, should be created, even no trusteeship, no mandate should be created-which will make that right impossible of realization. This is why we oppose it. It is not a matter of time only, but given sufficient framework, it can be safeguarded only if there is independence and the Jews are in the majority. Then the Jew will be able to come back if he is persecuted. I am not naming any country-let us say Patagonia-but if he is in danger of being murdered or persecuted there he will be able to come back if there is a place for him because the majority will see to it. And the Jewish people as a whole-not every Jew-will enjoy the same status as any other people. This is the crucial point, and not the matter of time.
Mr. LISICKY: (Czechoslovakia): I presume that Mr. BEN GURION has listened to the statement of Dr. Weizmann, which was acknowledged with enthusiastic applause by the public. This statement favours a partition of Palestine into two states. I should like to hear the opinion of Mr. BEN GURION on this scheme-not his personal opinion because it is more or less known, but the opinion of the Jewish Agency. I am not asking for an immediate answer. I should prefer very much a considered opinion of the Jewish Agency after deliberation. If I may ask, I should like to see included in this considered opinion the point of view of the Jewish Agency on the possible federate scheme of these two States-a Jewish State and an Arab State-in Palestine after the partition. I do not mean any rigid federation, but rather a sort of loose confederation, a sort in which the independent character of the Jewish State should be completely set forth. I put the question, but I am not asking for an immediate answer.
Mr. BEN GURION: I will make two remarks on that. One is that Dr. Weizmann is thought so well of by the Jewish people and occupies such a place in our history and among us that he is entitled to speak for himself without any public mandate. You heard his views. I also had the pleasure of listening to them. As you do not insist on my giving you the answer now about the scheme of partition. I will not do it, but I will tell you what we told the Government last year and this year while we believe and request that our right, at least to the Western part of Palestine should be granted in full and Western Palestine be made a Jewish State, we believe it is possible. We have a right to it, but we are willing to consider an offer of a Jewish State in an area which means less than the whole of Palestine. We will consider it. But I am glad you do not want me to give a complete scheme.
On the question of federation I made it clear before that it-depends really on what you mean by the word "federation." When you say "federate State," you mean that the Jewish State would be an independent State. I will give you an example, in Australia, for instance. Although Australia belongs to the Commonwealth of Nations, Australia is independent. When England makes war, Australia may remain neutral; and when Australia makes war England need not make war. It has its own representation and its own representatives, although it is tied up with a larger group in a free commonwealth.
If you mean that the Jewish State should be federated with other states while remaining an independent State with Membership, than we are perfectly willing. In fact, we would welcome it if this were for the benefit of all the peoples in this region and if this were the desire of the United Nations. But if you mean that there would be a federate State as, let us say in the United States we-here there are forty-eight states-New York is a state, but really it is one state; the United States is as much a single State as France, or as the United Kingdom, although there is Wales and Scotland and England. If you mean the Jewish State should be a part of a federate State as New York is a part of the United States, that is a denial of the Jewish State and Jewish independence. We would be against this. Such a scheme as this means not a Jewish State.
Mr. LISICKY (Czechoslovakia): I think you did not hear when I spoke about a loose confederation.
Mr. BEN GURION: I say we will be ready to enter not a loose federation, but a much closer federation with free and equal status as a free and equal people, whether confederate or federate. This does not preclude the federation of a Jewish State with some of the neighbouring States.
CHAIRMAN: Does anyone else wish to ask a question? If not we shall have to adjourn the hearing until tomorrow at 9 a.m.
Mr. BEN GURION: Will you allow me before I leave to express my gratitude for your patience and your kindness-everyone of you-in asking your questions and listening to my answers. I know you want the truth and, as far as I and my colleagues can, we want to help you, and I am grateful for your patience and "your kindness.
CHAIRMAN: We thank you, Mr. BEN GURION. The members of the Committee will now retire to a private meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 1.25 p.m.
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