"But the Declaration was not issued merely to satisfy the status of the Arabs. It was also to offer them a spurious guarantee, in the phrase 'it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which shall prejudice the civil and religious rights' of the aforesaid so-called 'communities'. That their religious rights should not be prejudiced, indeed, was satisfactory, though there was not very much in that. Happily, it could be taken for granted. Wherever Britain rules religious rights are preserved.
"The crux arrives with 'civil rights.' What are 'civil rights'? All turns on this point. If civil rights remain undefined it is only a mockery to guarantee them. To guarantee anything, and at the same time not to let anyone know what it is, that is Alice in Wonderland legislation. 'I guarantee your civil rights,' said the White Queen to Alice in Palestine-land. 'Oh, thank you!' said Alice, 'what are they, please?' 'I'm sure I can't tell you, my dear,' said the White Queen, 'but I'll guarantee very hard.'
"If only the Declaration had been as innocent as the text of Alice in Wonderland. Its nonsense is deceptive nonsense, written with vicious intention. The Arabs were guaranteed civil rights, again because to the unalert ear it sounded as though they were being assured a man's normal rights, the freedom to choose the government of his country which every decent man should enjoy, the common political rights of a democratic regime.
"But in facts the Arabs were not assured these at all. The effect, and the aim, of the clause actually was to withdraw from the Arabs (fighting or suffering for us at the time under promise of independence) those very rights of independence for which they had contracted; to say nothing of their natural title to them. By sleight of tongue civil rights were substituted for political rights. If civil rights meant anything, which was uncertain and would take long legal proof (which was never offered) they meant most likely civic or borough rights, or such rights as a foreign householder can exercise in a country of which he is not a citizen. But this was untested theory. As practice went, 'civil rights' was an expression which was left without any interpretation, and so had no existence as a surety or guarantee at all.
"When in Jerusalem, once I asked a High Commissioner himself what were civil rights, and the answer of the High Commissioner was that 'Well, they would be very difficult to define.' Which is precisely why they were guaranteed to the Arabs. It was a triumph of draftsmanship, of course, to take everything away from them in terms of which appeared to safeguard them. A skilful ruse of the drafters, if a knavish one."
To be continued...