by Douglas Reed
After the Peace Conference had approved the Zionist claim to
Protests against the undertaking then were growing loud, because its true nature was beginning to be realized, but Mr. Balfour assured Dr. Weizmann that “they were regarded as without importance and would certainly not affect policy, which had been definitely set.”
Here is the cryptic statement, often to recur later, that policy in this one question must not, cannot and never will alter, so that national interest, honour and all other considerations are irrelevant. I know of no other case where an unalterable tenet of high State policy has been fixed without regard to State interest or consultation of public opinion at any stage. At San Remo Mr. Lloyd George was worried lest “the frost” of peace should set in before the secret purpose was accomplished, and told Dr. Weizmann, “You have no time to waste. Today the world is like the Baltic before a frost. For the moment it is still in motion. But if it gets set, you will have to batter your heads against the ice blocks and wait for a second thaw.” Had Mr. Lloyd George said “second war” he would have been correct and possibly that was what he meant by “thaw.” In these circumstances the San Remo Conference “confirmed the Balfour Declaration and the decision to give the mandate to
That happened in 1922, as will be seen, but during the interval protests against the deed came from every responsible authority or community directly involved. The forces engaged in promoting it were three: the directing Zionists from
experienced opinion in such overwhelming measure that, had the question been any other than this one to which the “administrators” were secretly committed, it would have collapsed. The mass of protest was so great that it is enumerated in its parts here for comparison with the summary which follows. It came from (1) the Palestinean Arabs; (2) the Palestinean Jews; (3) the chief Zionist leader in America, as well as the anti-Zionist Jews of America and England; (4) the British officials and soldiers in Palestine; (5) British and American official investigators; (6) a large body of the press, then still free of occult control in this matter.
(l) The Arabs saw from the start what was in store for them, for they knew the Torah. Dr. Weizmann had told the Peace Conference “The Bible is our mandate,” and they knew about “the God of the Jews” and his promises of pogrom and reward: “When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and shall cast out many nations before thee … seven nations greater and mightier than thou; and when the Lord thy God shall deliver them up before thee, and thou shalt smite them; then thou shalt utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them” (Deuteronomy 7, 1-3).
Thus Zionism, and Western support of it, meant extermination for them under a Law of 2,500 years earlier (and the events of 1948 proved this). In 1945 King Ibn Saoud told President Roosevelt, “You have fought two world wars to discover what we have known for two thousand years” and in 1948 the intention literally to fulfil the above-quoted “statute and commandment” was proved by deed. Significantly, even anti-Zionist Jews could not believe, before it happened, that this literal “fulfilment” was intended. In 1933 Mr. Bernard J. Brown correctly cited the above-mentioned passage as the reason for Arab fears and said, “Of course, the uncultured Arabs do not understand that the modem Jew does not take his Bible literally and would not be so cruel to his fellow man, but he suspects that if the Jews bottom their claim to Palestine on the strength of their historic rights to that land, they can only do so on the authority of the Bible, and the Arab refuses to reject any part of it.” Mr. Brown of
The Arabs in 1920 were not deceived by Mr. Balfour's public pledge (in the Declaration) that their “civil and religious rights” would be protected or by Mr.
view. Nor have they at any time contemplated the disappearance or subordination of the Arabic population, language or culture in Palestine” (in the Second World War, as Prime Minister, and after it as Opposition leader Mr. Churchill gave his support to the process here denied).
(2) The original Jewish community of
(3) Mr. Louis Brandeis in 1919 visited the country which then, for twenty years, had formed the object of his revived interest in Judaism. He was at once disillusioned by actual acquaintance with the unknown land and decided that “it would be wrong to encourage immigration.” He urged that the World Zionist Organization should be greatly reduced, if not abolished, and that future activity should be restricted to the modest task of building up a “Jewish Homeland” through separate Zionist associations in the various countries. In effect this would have been simply a “cultural centre” in
This meant abandoning the concept of separate Jewish nationhood symbolized by a Jewish State, and was treason. It was (as Dr. Weizmann says) a revival of he old cleavage between “east” and “west”; between “Ostjuden” and emancipated Western Jews; between “Washington” and “Pinsk” (the name of the author of the phrase about “international pressure” was significant, not coincidental).
The Zionists from
a Jewish nation from obligatory tithe-payments by members of the Zionist organization) and “a national budget.” Mr. Brandeis's weakness was precisely that of Dr. Herzl in 1903; the great Western governments were committed to the Zionists from
(5) As the “front-rank politicians” (Dr. Weizmann's phrase) in London and Washington were resolved at any cost to implant the Zionists in Palestine, without regard to any protest, opinion or counsel whatever, today's student might wonder why President Wilson and Mr. Lloyd George sent commissions of investigation to the land bartered about by them. If they hoped to receive encouraging reports (in the manner of Sir Henry Wilson's “mud-months” advice) they were deceived, for these investigators merely confirmed what the Arabs, Jews and British in
(6) By far the greatest obstacle to the Zionist ambition came from factual reporting in the press of what was happening in
Wilton in 1917-1918; experienced correspondents were driven to resign or to write books because their reports were ignored, burked, or suppressed; an editor who published the faithful report without submission to the censorship was prosecuted.
In 1919-1922 the censorship was ending and the newspapers naturally reverted, in the main, to the earlier practice of true reporting and impartial comment on the facts reported. This re-established the former check on governmental policies, and if it had continued would undoubtedly have thwarted the Zionist project, which could not be maintained if it were open to public scrutiny. Therefore the entire future for the Zionists, at this crucial moment when “the Mandate” still was not “ratified,” turned on the suppression of adverse newspaper information and comment. At that very juncture an event occurred which produced that result. By reason of this great effect on the future, and by its own singular nature, the event (denoted in the heading to the present chapter) deserves relation in detail here.
At that stage in the affair
Lord Northcliffe made himself the adversary of the conspiracy from
Then in 1922 Lord Northcliffe visited
the Zionist chieftain, Dr. Weizmann. Lord Northcliffe, on the spot, reached the same conclusion as all other impartial investigators, and wrote, “In my opinion we, without sufficient thought, guaranteed Palestine as a home for the Jews despite the fact that 700,000 Arab Moslems live there and own it … The Jews seemed to be under the impression that all England was devoted to the one cause of Zionism, enthusiastic for it in fact; and I told them that this was not so and to be careful that they do not tire out our people by secret importation of arms to fight 700,000 Arabs … There will be trouble in Palestine … people dare not tell the Jews the truth here. They have had some from me.”
By stating this truth, Lord Northcliffe offended twice; he had already entered the forbidden room by demanding “inquiry” into the origins of the Protocols. Moreover, he was able to publish this truth in the mass-circulation newspapers owned by him, so that he became, to the conspirators, a dangerous man. He encountered one obstacle in the shape of Mr. Wickham Steed, who was editor of The Times and whose championship of Zionism Dr. Weizmann records.
In this contest Lord Northcliffe had an Achilles heel. He particularly wanted to get the truth about
These facts, and all that now follows, are related (again, with surprising candour) in the Official History of The Times (1952). It records that Mr. Wickham Steed “evaded” visiting
In what follows the reader's attention is particularly directed to dates.
In May 1920 Lord Northcliffe had caused publication of the article about the Protocols in The Times. Early in 1922 he visited
decided that Lord Northcliffe was “abnormal” (March 31, 1922), and informed a director of The Times that Lord Northcliffe was “going mad.”
The suggestion of madness thus was put out by an editor whom Lord Northcliffe desired to remove and the impressions of others therefore are obviously relevant. On May 3, 1922 Lord Northcliffe attended a farewell luncheon in
On June 8, 1922 Lord Northcliffe, from
Such is the story as I have taken it from the official publication. None of this was known outside a small circle at the time; it only emerged in the Official History after three decades, and if it had all been published in 1922 would presumably have called forth many questions. I doubt if any comparable displacement of a powerful and wealthy man can be adduced, at any rate in such mysterious circumstances.
For the first time, I now appear in this narrative as a personal witness of events. In the 1914-1918 war I was one participant among uncomprehending millions, and only began to see its true shape long afterwards. In 1922 I was for an instant in, though not of the inner circle; looking back, I see myself closeted with Lord
Northc1iffe (about to die) and quite ignorant of Zionism, Palestine, Protocols or any other matter in which he had raised his voice. My testimony may be of some interest; I cannot myself judge of its value.
I was in 1922 a young man fresh from the war who struggled to find a place in the world and had become a clerk in the office of The Times. I was summoned thence, in that first week of June when Lord Northcliffe was preparing to remove Mr. Wickham Steed and himself assume the editorship of The Times, to go as secretary to Lord Northcliffe who was at
I was completely ignorant of “abnormal” conditions, so that the expert might discount my testimony. Anyway, the behaviour I observed was just what I had been told to expect by those who had worked with him for many years. There was one exception to this. Lord Northcliffe was convinced that his life was in danger and several times said this; specifically, he said he had been poisoned. If this is in itself madness, then he was mad, but in that case many victims of poisoning have died of madness, not of what was fed to them. If by any chance it was true, he was not mad. I remember that l thought it feasible that such a man should have dangerous enemies, though at that time I had no inkling at all of any particular hostility he might have incurred. His belief certainly charged him with suspicion of those around him, but if by chance he had reason for it, then again it was not madness; if all this had transpired in the light of day such things could have been thrashed out.
I cannot judge, and can only record what I saw and thought at the time, as a young man who had no more idea of what went on around him than a babe knows the shape of the world. When I returned to
Lord Northcliffe therefore was out of circulation, and of the control of his newspapers, during the decisive period preceding the ratification of “the mandate” by the
and bequeathed the effects of it to our present generation. The opposition of a widely-read chain of journals at that period might have changed the whole course of events. After Lord Northcliffe died the possibility of editorials in The Times “attacking Balfour's attitude towards Zionism” faded. From that time the submission of the press, in the manner described by the Protocols, grew ever more apparent and in time reached the condition which prevails today, when faithful reporting and impartial comment on this question has long been in suspense.
Lord Northcliffe was removed from control of his newspapers and put under constraint on June 18, 1922; on July 24, 1922 the Council of the League of Nations met in London, secure from any possibility of loud public protest by Lord Northcliffe, to bestow on Britain a “mandate” to remain in Palestine and by arms to instal the Zionists there (I describe what events have shown to be the fact; the matter was not so depicted to the public, of course).,
This act of “ratifying” the “mandate” was in such circumstances a formality. The real work, of drawing up the document and of ensuring that it received approval, had been done in advance, in the first matter by drafters inspired by Dr. Weizmann and in the second by Dr. Weizmann himself in the ante-chambers of many capitals. The members of Mr. House's “Inquiry” had drafted the Covenant of the
Lord Curzon's part was merely to moderate the terms of the “mandate” if he could, and he did achieve minor modifications, though these had little effect on events in the long run. An able statesman (not a politician) who looked like a Roman emperor, he was “entirely loyal to the policy adopted and meant to stand by the Balfour Declaration” (Dr. Weizmann), but was known personally to disapprove the project which duty required him to further (this might be the reason why he never became Prime Minister, for which office he was highly qualified). He contrived to delete one word from the draft. Dr. Weizmann and Mr. Cohen desired it to begin, “Recognizing the historic rights of the Jews to Palestine …” Lord Curzon said, “If you word it like that, I can see Weizmann coming to me every day and saying he has a right to do this, that and the other in Palestine! I won't have it.” Thus “historical rights” became “historical connection,” a lesser misstatement; Lord Curzon, a scholar certainly did not
believe that the Chazars from
Dr. Weizmann, while the draft was thus being prepared, set off on another international tour, to ensure that all members of the Council of the
Dr. Weizmann was able to reassure Signor Schanzer and left
By his journeys and visits Dr. Weizmann at last assured himself, in advance of the meeting, of all votes at the Council table save two, those of
Dr. Weizmann was cautious, twice using the words “in part.” His host, whose duty was to contemporary Spain, was being allured with the suggestion which had earlier fascinated Mr. Balfour; that Spain owed some indeterminate “debt” to “the Jews,” for all of whom his visitor claimed to speak, and that by wiping out Arab hopes in Palestine he could wipe out (in part) this debt said to have been incurred by Spain. Considered by standards of reason these conversations read like something from the Mad Hatter's Tea-Party. In any case, the Spanish representative promised the vote of
After all this secret preparation the stage was set for the meeting of the League Council in
Thus in 1922 the British future was left burdened with an undertaking which had never received public scrutiny and during the next three decades the growing bills began to pour in. Early in the process
President Wilson was dead and his Democratic party was out of office. President Harding was at the White House and the Republican party was back in power. It had been swept back by the wave of popular feeling against the disappointing outcome of the war and of instinctive desire to be free from “entanglements” overseas. The country felt itself well out of the
Then the Republican party led the Republic back in to the embroilments in which the Democratic party first had involved it. Presumably the party-managers, those architects of public misfortune, thought to compete with the other party for the favour of those powerful groups, and the “fluctuating vote” controlled by them, described in Mr. House's diary and novel.
In June 1922, just before the League Council in
round the neck of
 By 1950 the Zionists had opened a “Cellar of the Catastrophe” on a lower floor of the same building as a place of pilgrimage for Jews. A legend at the entrance said, “Entrance forbidden to those who have not strong nerves.” The Chief Rabbi of
 The “mandates” also bestowed on