In October 1882 Ben-Yehuda and Yehiel Michal Pines, two of the earliest Zionist pioneers in Palestine, wrote describing the indigenous Palestinians:
“There are now only five hundred thousand Arabs, who are not very strong, and from whom we shall easily take away the country if only we do it through
stratagems [and] without drawing upon us their hostility before we become the strong and populous ones.”
MORRIS, BENNY. RIGHTEOUS VICTIMS: A HISTORY OF THE ZIONIST-ARAB CONFLICT, 1881-2001. VINTAGE BOOKS, 2001, P. 49
Yesteryear in Parliament
Debates on Palestine in the British parliament during the period of the Mandate show how, in spite of Zionist pressure and support, there were plenty of M.P.’s and peers who could see the harm that was being done to Palestine by the imposition of the Balfour Declaration on the inhabitants.
Debate on the League of Nations in House of Lords on 22nd July, 1920
LORD LAMINGTON: “…it is specially desirable in our own interests that when we accept Mandates they should have the approval of every nation that adheres to the League. For my own part I may say I think this particularly applies to
Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine. So far as I can see there has been a complete disregard of Paragraph 4 of Article 22 of the Covenant. Paragraph 4 distinctly asserts that the wishes of the people who are put under a Mandatory Power should be first ascertained. So far as I am aware, that has not been done in any one of those three countries.”
EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON: “…my noble friend Lord Lamington, who draws attention to paragraph 4 of Article 22—to the very important consideration that the wishes of the communities concerned must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory. Of course that is so, and it is upon that principle that we have been acting in the case of Mesopotamia and of Palestine. … And I declare that no evidence of any sort can be adduced that the inhabitants, either of Mesopotamia or of Palestine, wish for any other Mandatory than ourselves. During the last two or three years we have been making the most earnest and continuous efforts to arrive at what is in the real mind of the people of Mesopotamia. We are anxious to meet them in every possible way. We are pledged there to set up some form of Arab Government. The form that we desire is the form which is acceptable to the people. The difficulty we have found has not been for one moment that they dislike the idea of our Mandate, but they cannot make up their own minds what is the particular form of independence that they want. You have there a great territory from Mosul in the North down to Basra and the Persian Gulf in the south; you have Kurds in the mountains in the extreme north; you have nomad Arabs in the south; you have the city population of Baghdad in the middle; and the commercial community of Basra in the south.
You can well understand that there is some difficulty in procuring unity among all those people. But that is our desire. And certainly against no nation or Government concerned can the reproach be made with less justice, that we have not made a principal consideration, in the choice of the Mandatory, the wishes of the communities themselves.”
[N.B. THERE IS NO REFERENCE IN LORD CURZON’S REPLY TO CONSULTING THE WISHES OF THE INHABITANTS OF PALESTINE, ONLY IRAQ. AND OF COURSE, NOT WISHING FOR ANY OTHER MANDATORY THAN BRITAIN DOESN’T MEAN THAT THEY WANT A MANDATORY AT ALL.]