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head, of Baltimore, be invited to come before the committee, as they had just returned from Palestine and might be able to enlighten the committee upon conditions there at this time and upon other matters in which we are interested in connection with this resolution. If you have no objection, I will be glad if you will hear at this time Doctor Lazaron, because he has an appointment in Baltimore and wants to return as soon as possible.
STATEMENT OF RABBI MORRIS S. LAZARON, OF THE BALTIMORE
HEBREW CONGREGATION, BALTIMORE, MD. Mr. SMITH. Doctor, please tell us about the conditions over there now, and whether you are in favor of or against this resolution.
Doctor LAZARON. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, last summer I spent three weeks in Palestine. When this matter was first called to my attention it was through the introduction of the Lodge resolution, which embodies the terminology of the Balfour declaration. Later I saw the Fish resolution, and while, naturally, every Jew appreciates the motives that prompted the gentleman to introduce this resolution, I must confess to a feeling of pleasure when I came this morning and found that in the House Mr. Fish had introduced a resolution similar to the Lodge resolution.
Mr. LINTHICUM. What is the number of that resolution ?
Doctor LAZARON. It is House Joint Resolution No. 308. I confess to pleasure at the introduction of that resolution, because it contains a certain point which I am sure will meet the feelings of hundreds of thousands of Jews in this country. The Balfour declaration, as embodied in the joint resolution, contains this language:
“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."
Although I am not speaking authoritatively for any group or organization of Jews-I am only voicing my own opinion-I feel that it is necessary, if any resolution be reported out that it have embodied in it the thought contained in that sentence, “That nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civ and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
Now, so far as my attitude toward the resolution itself is concerned, I see no reason why the United States, as a friendly Government, should not voice its confirmation of what has already been done by Great Britain. I was in Pal. estine last summer, and while I am not affiliated with the Zionist organization, I am completely in favor of the rebuilding of Palestine. While in Jerusalem I had a long conversation with Sir Herbert Samuel. Sir Herbert Samuel, as you know, is a Jew who has been appointed high commissioner for Palestine, representing Great Britain.
There was a great deal of criticism of Sir Herbert Samuel, not only on the part of the Jews but on the part of the Arab population; the Jews believing that Sir Herbert Samuel did not lean sufficiently far toward them, and the Arabs believing that he was entirely too partial to the Jews. Consequently he was criticized for whatever point of view he enunciated or whatever policy he maintained. It was my impression that Sir Herbert Samuel was leaning further toward the Arabs in order not to be criticized as being pro-Jewish.
There is keen feeling in both groups. In that connection, let me tell you of a conversation I had with Miss Henrietta Szohl, the daughter of a former rabbi in Baltimore. In discussing this very question with her I said, “ What if Sir Herbert Samuel did what you have advocated, or pursued a pro-Jewish policy in Palestine? Suppose that were done and ill-feeling should be stirred up among the Arabs, and we should have massacre after massacre?” This splendid and unselfish woman who has given most of her life to the Palestine cause said in reply, “ Well, the worst that could happen would be that many of us would be killed, but we are willing to be killed for Palestine.” That simply shows the intensity of the Jewish feeling in the matter.
On the other hand, the Arab population is just as excited and just as insistent. For instance, we were down in Hebron, the site of the Cave of Machpelah, which contains the tomb of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives. I did feel a natural family curiosity about wanting to visit Machpelah. I saw the British governor and asked his permission to go in. He asked if I were a Christian, and I told him, of course, that I was a Jew. He said, “I am very sorry, Rabbi Lazaron, but if the Arab sheikhs who have
charge should find out you are a Jew I would not be responsible for your life.” Not wishing to be gathered so summarily to my fathers, I did not press my claim for permission to enter.
The CHAIRMAN. I gather from this testimony that prior to the Balfour declaration the Jews and Arabs lived together peacefully, and that there was never any disorder, or not to any great extent. The Turkish Government apparently maintained there a force of only about 500 soldiers, but it is said that since the Balfour declaration, which the Arabs take as an effort to destroy their limited sovereignty, England has kept an army of several thousand men in Palestine. Since that time these massacres have occurred, although you would hardly be justified in calling them that, because they are entirely too small to be so designated; but there does exist this ill feeling that you speak of. Now, in view of these facts, are we justified in believing that the Balfour declaration was, as one of the witnesses described it, the exciting cause of the trouble between the Arabs and the Jews?
Doctor LAZARON. The Balfour declaration was one of the exciting causes, and another one of the exciting causes was very probably the misinterpretation of the Balfour declaration, which was either wittingly or unwittingly made by many Jewish leaders. The impression seemed to have gone throughout the Jewish world that England would give Palestine outright to the Jewish people; but, according to the terms of the Balfour declaration, such a thing was never contemplated for a moment.
The CHAIRMAN. Perhaps you can clear this matter up for me. This resolution reads, “ It being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." Now, suppose the Balfour declaration is carried into effect and the Jewish people in large numbers migrate to Palestine. In the course of time they would be in the majority, and the moment they were in the majority would they not interfere with the existing non-Jewish population?
Doctor LAZARON. I do not think so. According to the terms of the Balfour declaration, it provides that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities.
The CHAIRMAN. The point I have in mind is that the moment the Jews secure a majority in Palestine, then the civil rights of the existing non-Jewish population might be upset or disturbed. That their civil rights would be disturbed would be the natural result, would it not?
Doctor LAZARON. I would say that it is a very distant possibility, Mr. Chairman. Of course, I can not speak for what the future may bring.
The CHAIRMAN. If the Jews were in the majority in Palestine, they would do just as people have done in every other country in the world where they were in the majority, would they not? That has been the history of the world, has it not, and would they not elect their own people to office, and would they not dominate and control the government?
Mr. BROWNE. The people of the United States have not done that, because when people of other nationalities come in here and become citizens they have just as good a chance to secure office as anyone else, and sometimes a better chance?
Mr. SABATH. You do not know of any tendency on the part of the Jewish people who are there that would make you believe that they contemplate any step later on that would prejudice the rights of other people, do you?
Doctor LAZARON. I can only say to you, gentlemen, in answer to that, that the Jew has been subjected to oppression and tyranny, and he knows what it means to drink the dregs of the cup of suffering. I have sufficient confidence in the sense of justice of my people to believe that, were they to establish this Palestine Commonwealth the same just administration would obtain then as obtains now. In other words, under the British administration there are three groups represented in the government of the country, and there is self-governing autonomy for each particular group, the Arabs representing one group, the Jews one group, and the orthodox Christians one group. There is no reason to believe that even should the Jew ultimately achieve a majority the rights of any group would be impaired. There is every reason to believe they would not.
The CHAIRMAN. I did not have in mind that the Jews would commit any acte, of injustice, but I had in mind that the Jews would exercise the right which they would have, and which no one would dispute if they were in a majority in Palestine. If they were in the majority they would have a perfect right
to control the government in so far as they were permitted to do so under the British mandate.
Mr. MOOREs. They would have the same right to control there that the Negroes have to control in Mississippi.
Doctor LAZARON. The Jew in Europe is struggling for his existence. You must remember that the greatest feeling for Palestine comes not from America. We Jews who have been blessed with the stability and the security of America do not desire to go to Palestine; but what we want, gentlemen, is that there may be one place in the world-in Palestine, amid the old historical associations of our people—where those who care to go there may be given an opportunity to lay the foundation of a life. The Jew in central Europe has been and is living under a régime where national rights or group rights have been recognized as essential to liberty. He has been deprived of these rights and therefore of liberty.
Doctor PHILIPSON. You said the Jews in central Europe, but you meant the Jews in southeastern Europe, did you not?
Doctor LAZARON. Yes; the Jew who goes from southeastern Europe to Palestime will be going out of that sort of environment. In other words, he knows what it means to recognize group rights. The American citizen may not know what the recognition of group rights means, but the Jews going to Palestine know. It is a part of their political background. They have come to recognize it and accept it as a theory of government. Therefore, whatever government may be established in Palestine--and in that, it seems to me, we are looking into the very far distant future—the Jew will apply the lesson they have learned and will recognize the rights and privileges of the existing non-Jewish population in that land.
Mr. LINTHICUM. Can you tell us about the conditions you found when you visited some of the Jewish communities in Palestine? As I understand it, when you were there you visited some of the Jewish communities.
Doctor LAZARON. You will remember that for years and years our Arab friends have been in that land. There was a very friendly feeling between the Arab and the Jew. Nevertheless, in most insi ances it was paid for. However, the present situation in Palestine as between the Arab and the Jew is changing. The intelligent Jewish leaders have not hesitated to declare the necessity that Palestine, when it is developed, shall be developed for the benefit of the whole population. The Arabs had done very little up to the time when the Jews went there, and when anyone goes to Palestine with an open mind he can pick out the Jewish colonies from those of the Arabs. He can see from the trees, from the houses, from the red tile roofs of the Jewish villages what Jewish energy and labor and sacrifice have accomplished. The best leadership among the Jewish people to-day is convinced that no steps should be taken that would prejudice the rights of the Arabs.
It would be wrong to adopt an aggressive anti-Arab policy, and under British suzerainty such a thing could be taken. Only within the last 10 days we have heard that one of the colonies, Petoch Tikvah, or the Gate of Hope Colony, has recently entered into a treaty arrangement with the surrounding Arab tribes looking toward a rapprochement between them, and many of the Arab sheiks in the southern district of Beersheba have emphatically denied their antagonistic attitude toward the Jew. There are many Arabs in Palestine who are in favor of the Jews coming in and building up the land.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you visit those colonies while you were over there?
Doctor LAZARON. Before the war there 43 Jewish colonies, but during the war there was some destruction and some were eliminated.
The CHAIRMAN. When was the first Jewish colony organized in Palestine?
Doctor LAZARON. Some 50 years or more ago, by Lord Rothschild. I have not that definite information.
The CHAIRMAN. But before the war there were about 43?
The CHAIRMAN. Can you give us an approximate estimate of the number of inhabitants of each colony?
Doctor LAZARON. No, sir; I can not.
Mr. LIPSKY. We can provide the statistics. The large colonies have about 3,000 inhabitants, and the number goes down to colonies with about 50 in
habitants. The newer colonies that have been established in Palestine are mostly on the cooperative basis, because they are composed of working people generally, who are engaging in cooperative agricultural work.
Doctor LAZARON. The sum total of the population of all the colonies is somewhere between 65,000 and 80,000.
The CHAIRMAN. I understood there are 76,000 Jews there.
Mr. LIPSKY. The total Jewish population is estimated to be between 75,000 and 85,000, and the population dwelling in the agricultural colonies would be about 12,000. There are about 12,000 in colonies that are established on their own foundations and maintained by individuals, and probably about 3,000 or 4,000 in those cooperative colonies. There are about 16,000, all told, working on farms.
The CHAIRMAN. Pardon my interruption, Doctor, but I wanted that information in the record.
Mr. MOORES. Did not Sir Moses Montefiore establish a Zionist colony somewhere?
Doctor LAZARON. He made visits to Palestine and attempted to bring certain Jewish people there.
Doctor PHILIPSON. He visited Palestine.
Doctor LAZARON. The whole situation sums itself up in my mind in this way: The Jewish people of the world, through the generosity of Great Britain and through the Balfour pronouncement, have been given the opportunity to go to Palestine, and there, by the sweat of their brows, to lay the foundation of a new life. They do not ask for any special privileges.
If I understand the spirit of the Jewish people, the Jewish pioneer in Palestine says, “ Give me this opportunity ; I do not want any special privilege.” When I was in Palestine I saw about 2,000 young men who had come from some section of southeastern Europe, and they were breaking stone under the pitiless, blinding Palestine sun. I spoke to them and said, “Are you disappointed, or did you expect to do this sort of thing when you came?” They said, “We did not expect to do this, and we were disappointed, but only the weaker ones go." I said to them, What do you want to do?” They said, “We want to dig in the soil of the Holy Land with our hands. We want to get back to the land." That, gentlemen, is all that the Jew asks. Now, since you have adopted a policy of restricted immigration to this country, which I think is wise, and since the only place in the world where the Jew can go and get any opportunity is in the South American Republics, and since there are hundreds of thousands of Jews in southeastern Europe who are knocking at the frontiers of every one of those lands saying, “Let me out, I want to go to Palestine,” I think they should have this opportunity. I do not want to go; my children do not want to go; but, as a Jew, and recognizing the fact that a sister nation like Great Britain has assumed the respon sibility for this mandate under whose terms justice is assured to all, I say that when these Jews come to us and say, “ Give us this opportunity; we do not want any favors, but we only want a chance," and that is all they ask. I say the opportunity should be given them. The passage of this resolution merely states to the world that our country takes its stand by Great Britain in desiring to confer upon the Jews who care to go to Palestine the chance that they ask. That, gentlemen, to my mind, is a summary of the whole situation.
The CHAIRMAN. Before the Balfour declaration was made, there was nothing to hinder any Jew who desired to go to Palestine from going, was there?
Doctor LAZARON. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. That was true for, perhaps, at least 50 years, because they have been establishing colonies there during that time. The difficulty that is experienced in going now has arisen since the Balfour declaration was made.
Mr. Fish. Of course, a Jew might have been able to go to Palestine during the Turkish régime, but he was never assured of his property rights. His possessions might be taken away from him at any time, and there were all kinds of trouble under the Turkish régime. There was no absolute security under Turkish rule, whether in Palestine or any other place. Naturally, the Jewish people would not like to take the chance of going there and securing property without knowing what would happen to it.
Doctor LAZARON. And even more than that, because during the war the group sections of Europe where, perhaps, more than one-half of the Jews of the world live, were devastated, and hundreds of thousands of Jews lived out in the forests under lean-tos. Then, through the activities of the Zionist organization, this hope that had burned in the heart of the Jew for centuries seemed about to be realized. It became, not a dream or a fancy, but it was lifted into the realm of practical politics through the pronouncement of the Balfour declaration.
Mr. Fish. There are thousands of Jews to-day in such cities as Vienna, Warsaw, and Budapest, for instance, where they are out of work and where they are starving. They would be glad of this opportunity to go to Palestine, would they not?
Doctor LAZARON. Yes, sir.
Mr. Fish. There is one other question I would like to ask you : Many of the speakers here have said that the Jew is simply a commission merchant or business man, and does not know how to till the soil. I know that in many instances Jews have been successful agriculturists in this country, and we have in the United States Jewish agricultural societies. I know that in my own district we have quite a considerable number of Jewish farmers who are a little more prosperous than the ordinary farmers. There is nothing that I can see that would prevent the Jew from going back and becoming a very good farmer. Do you know of anything that would prevent them from going back to the land and becoming farmers?
Doctor LAZARON. No, sir. One of the reasons that prompted Great Britain to issue the Balfour declaration was that that country is now a link in the chain of the British Empire, and the only people who will get down to the soil are the Jews, and England knows that.
Mr. COCKRAN. You mean the soil of Palestine?
Mr. Sabath. The majority of those who go there, go for that purpose, do they not?
Doctor LAZARON. Yes, sir.
Mr. COCKRAN. That is the only opportunity open to them, is it not? The only industry that is open to the Jew at this stage in Palestine is agriculture of some form, or the cultivation of the soil, so that if he goes there, he must go there with the intention of making a living out of the soil primarily.
Doctor LAZARON. Yes, sir.
I just want to give you one picture of the relationship between the Arab and the Jew. I do not want to take up too much of the committee's time, but this is a matter I would like to present. · Last Easter, a year ago, there was a riot at Joppa, and in the little suburb of Tel Alsib, just outside of Joppa, still suffering from the blow, still fearful of the Arabs, the Jewish people were living under tents. At Rishon L' Tsion, 8 miles out of Joppa, there is a beautiful Jewish colony. Before the Jew came there that was all desert land, but now it is all blooms and blossoms. There are about 3,000 people there. Now, to my complete surprise, when we approached Rishon we saw scores of Arabs, who were leaving the colony and going to their villages around about. Those Arabs had been employed by the Jewish people in that colony for the vintage season. I say this to you in order to show you how deeply forgiving is the spirit of the Jew, because 20 of his brethren had been killed just a few months previously. Nevertheless he was giving employment and living in peace with the murderers of his brethren.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not know that you would be justified in calling the trouble at Joppa a pogrom. The British investigation disclosed that there was a controversy between Bolshevik Jews or labor-party Jews
Mr. COCKRAN (interposing). Are you quite accurate in that? The preliminary statement says that it was started from a rumor going out among the Arabs that certain Arabs were held as prisoners in a Jewish colony. That was the preliminary statement, and it was stated that various efforts were made to spread among the Arabs information that that was not true. That is called the preliminary report.
Mr. MOORES. How extensively is Hebrew spoken in Palestine?
Doctor LAZARON. Practically entirely among the colonies, and especially among the children.
Mr. MOORES. Do they speak Hebrew or Yiddish?
Doctor LAZARON. Those who have just come usually speak Yiddish. There is quite a problem in the education of the children of the recent immigrants, because the children who are growing up go to school and learn Hebrew, and