This article originally appeared in the December 26, 1936, issue.
Jerusalem, November 11
To the economic difficulties of settling millions of Jews in Palestine must be added conflicting political ambitions and racial and religious differences. The most striking political factor is the rise of Arab nationalism in Palestine. From a mass, of half-civilized, restless tribes with no common aim or interest, a self-conscious national entity has developed. The World War, contact with Western imperialism, and most of all the presence of the Jews have brought about this change. In the cities and towns, among the Arab intelligentsia and particularly among the youth, a deep-rooted hatred of all imperialisms now exists. The recent events in Palestine, repeated in essence in Egypt and in Syria, must be viewed as part of a movement sweeping across the Arab world. No foreign power financed the six-month Syrian strike; religion played an insignificant part, and Christians fought side by side with Moslems. The sufferings caused by the strike were borne almost cheerfully. In the strike at Jerusalem, Arab merchants scribbled on their bolted doors: “To Let. Apply at the High Commissioner’s.” The villagers expressed their defiance in numerous folk songs.
Palestine is still. seething, and another strike may break out at any moment. The Arabs are beginning to direct the nationalist flood into constructive channels. They are organizing small industries to shake off their economic bondage ta Europe; they are carrying on a fierce boycott campaign’ against the Jews. The manager of the largest clothing store in Jerusalem told me a few days ago that he had lost more than half of his business. Other Jewish shopkeepers say the same thing. Even more important is the almost complete cessation of the sale of land. No Arab feudal lord dares now to sell a single dunam of land; the peasants never have sold. “The land to those who work it,” is the slogan in the, villages. “Only thus can selling of land to Jews be prevented.”
But the Zionists have not merely to confront the opposition among the Arabs of Palestine, The movement for a united Arabia is gaining momentum. Though conquered and ruled, often tyrannically, by the Turks, Arabia has always been potentially united. The fact that the Turkish Sultan was also, as Caliph, the religious head of Islam took off the edge of the subservience. The Turks tried to give their conquest a facade of pan-Islamism, which often had a semblance of reality. During the World War the Arabs were won over to revolt against Turkey and to give military aid to the Allies by a promise of a pan-Arab kingdom; British airplanes dropped proclamations full of handsome promises. But the Versailles conference set them all at naught. Instead of helping in the unification of a free Arabia, France and England marked out zones of influence, mandates were set up, and Arab states without, any real independence were created. To make unity still more difficult, encouragement was given to feudal vested interests and to racial and religious minorities.