Monday, November 30, 2020

  • Monday, November 30, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
This is an except of a much longer speech by David Ben Gurion to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, at the YMCA in Jerusalem, on July 4, 1947.

And now I put the question to you: Who is prepared and able to guarantee that what happened to us in Europe will not happen again? Can human conscience, and we believe that there is a human conscience, free itself of all responsibility for that catastrophe? There is only one safeguard: a Homeland and Statehood! A Homeland, where a Jew can return freely as of right. Statehood, where he can be master of his own destiny. These two things are possible here, and here only. The Jewish people cannot give up, cannot renounce these two fundamental rights, whatever may happen.

The problem of Jewish-Arab relations is not merely the problem of Jews and Arabs in Palestine. It is the problem of the relations of the Jewish and Arab peoples as a whole. Their national aspirations in that broader sense are not only compatible but complementary.

Nobody can seriously claim that a Jewish Palestine could in any way endanger or harm the independence or unity of the Arab race. The area of Western Palestine is less than 1% of the vast territory occupied by the Arab States in the Near East, excluding Egypt. The number of Arabs in this country is less than 3% of the number of Arabs who have gained their political independence. The Arabs in Palestine, even if they were a minority, would still be a part of that large Arab majority in the Middle East. The existence of Arab States to the north, east, and south of Palestine is an automatic guarantee, not only of the civil, religious and political rights of the Arabs in Palestine, but also of their national aspirations.

But a Jewish Palestine, a populous, highly-developed Jewish State has something of great value and importance to offer, not only to the Arabs in Palestine, but to those in the neighbouring countries as well. Even the small beginnings of the Jewish State, where Jews have occupied and developed only a small fraction of the country, have already had a marked effect on the advancement of the population in Palestine. Even now the position of the Arab peasant and farmer in Palestine is superior to that of the Arab peasant and farmer in Arab States. Our national aim cannot be achieved without great constructive work, agricultural, industrial, material and cultural, and this must, by its nature, raise the economic and social standards of all the inhabitants of the country. We cannot fully utilize the water resources of Palestine, which are now being wasted, without providing larger irrigation possibilities for the Arab fellah as well. We cannot introduce modern methods of cultivation without the Arabs learning from that example. We cannot organize Jewish labour and improve conditions of work without similarly organizing the Arab worker and improving his conditions.

As long as the government is in foreign hands, the impact of our development on Arab advancement is small. The theory of holding the balance between Jews and Arabs, which in practice meant curbing and obstructing our work, was not only injurious to us but to the Arabs as well.

One may rightly ask: Why is it that a million Arabs can be safely left in a Jewish State and why should not a million Jews be left in an Arab State? If the Jews and the Arabs who are in Palestine ,were all the Jews and all the Arabs that exist in the world, this would be a very logical and conclusive argument. There would then be no reason whatsoever why one should prefer an Arab to a Jew or a Jew to an Arab, and only numbers would count. But one cannot ignore the fact that both communities living in Palestine are merely fragments of larger communities living outside, and both of them belong to these larger units and their fates are inextricably bound up with the larger units. By depriving the Jews in Palestine of a national home, by preventing them from becoming a majority and attaining statehood, you are depriving not only 600,000 Jews who are here, but also the millions of Jews who are still left in the world, of independence and statehood. In no other place can they have the desire or the prospect of attaining statehood.

In depriving the million Arabs of the same prospect, you do not affect the status of the Arab race at all. An Arab minority in a Jewish State would mean that only a certain number of individual Arabs would not enjoy the privilege of Arab statehood, but it would in no way diminish the independence and position of the free Arab race. The Arab minority in Palestine, being surrounded by Arab States, would remain safe in national association with their race. But a Jewish minority in an Arab State, even with the most ideal paper guarantee, would mean the final extinction of Jewish hope not in Palestine alone, but for the entire Jewish people, for national equality and independence, with all the disastrous consequences so familiar in Jewish history.

The conscience of humanity ought to weigh this: Where is the balance of justice, where is the greater need, where is the greater peril, where is the lesser evil and where is the lesser injustice?

The fate of the Jewish minority in Palestine will not differ from the fate of the Jewish minority in any other country, except that here it might be much worse.




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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون



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