Is Palestine to Become a Jewish State?

[Current Opinion; January 1918]

Now that Jerusalem has passed into the hands of the British, the recent words of Arthur James Balfour, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, addressed to Lord Walter Lionel Rothschild, Vice-President of the English Zionist Organization, assume wide-reaching significance. Mr. Balfour said: "His Majesty's Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use its best endeavor to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." These words make it clear that the Jews of the world are to be offered an opportunity to create a homeland in Palestine. It must not be forgotten, as the Boston Transcript points out, that the conditional promise made by the British Government carries with it no assurance of Jewish governmental autonomy in Palestine. National autonomy implies the existence or establishment of a distinct and preponderant population of a certain national type. There is as yet no such Jewish population in Palestine, the people there being predominantly Mussulman and Christian. Nevertheless, with forty Jewish self-governing villages and a population of some 15,000 already established in Palestine, Zionism may be said, for the first time, to have outgrown its Utopian phase. As the Jewish Morning Journal (New York) puts it:

"The question of the return of a part of the Jews to our old home with the consent and encouragement of the greatest allied powers of modern times has been brought into the sphere of practical politics, and the beginning of a natural deliverance has become as much a probability for the near future as the rehabilitation of devastated Belgium or the reconstitution of the destroyed Kingdom of Serbia.

"We would have been doubtful and, perhaps, uneasy about any other power; but with England we are safe."

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013



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