Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hotel Palestine

Wisdom and insight never go out of style. The following trenchant words on the Zionist claim to Palestine were written by American Jew, lawyer and US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (1913-1916), Henry Morgenthau, Sr (1856-1946). They come from the final chapter of his 1921 autobiography, All In A Life Time:

"I have been astonished to find that such an intelligent body of American Jews as the Central Conference of American Rabbis should have fallen into a grievous misunderstanding of the purport of the Balfour Declaration. In a resolution adopted by them, they assert that the Declaration says: 'Palestine is to be a national home land for the Jewish people.' Not at all! The actual words of the Declaration (I quote from the official text) are: 'His Majesty's Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.' These two phrases sound alike, but they are really very different. I can make this obvious by an analogy. When I first read the Balfour Declaration I was making my home in the Plaza Hotel. Therefore I could say with truth: 'My home is in the Plaza Hotel.' I could not say with truth: 'The Plaza Hotel is my home.' If it were 'my home,' I would have the freedom of the whole premises, and could occupy any room in the house with impunity. Quite obviously, however, I could not occupy the rooms of any other of the guests of the hotel whose leases long antedated mine.

"These men would gladly entertain me as a visitor, but how they would resent and legally fight so unjustifiable an attempt as my trying forcibly to enter their premises and displace them and make their quarters my home.

"This is exactly the differentiation in meaning between the Balfour Declaration and the claims of those Zionists who profess to see in it British authority for claiming Palestine as the seat of a Jewish nation. The Balfour Declaration very carefully says: 'The British Government favours the establishment of a home land for the Jewish people in Palestine.' But this does not say that the Jews shall have the right to dispossess, or to trespass upon the property of those far more numerous Arab tenants whose right to their share in it is as good as that of the Jews and, in most cases, of much longer standing.

"Palestine is a country already populated, and the British Government has no intention of evicting the Arab owners of the soil in favour of the Jews. Nor, I may add in passing, have the Arab owners any intention of selling their holdings to the Jews, for they are fully aware of the Zionist programme, are very resentful of it, and intend to use every means at their command to frustrate it." (pp 390-391)

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