|Resources » Zionism » Mount Herzl|
|Author: Louis D. Brandeis|
Efficiency in Public Service
Some of Justice Brandeis's ideas on the organizational methods to be pursued by the Zionist movement are explained in the following excerpts from a statement presented by him on July 14, 1920 to members of the American Delegation at the London Conference.
The opportunity for which we have been struggling has come. We have the opportunity of developing a Homeland, but nothing more than an opportunity. It is urgent that we enter upon the work, urgent because Great Britain and the other Governments expect it and require it, in order that we may establish our position in the Homeland. And the Jews, particularly the hundreds of thousands who are looking forward to relieving their present misery by going to Palestine, demand it. We must therefore act and act quickly. And yet everyone of you knows perfectly well that we are not adequately equipped in men, money or machinery to undertake that task.
So far as money goes, America, including of course Canada, has in the last two and one-half years contributed the money with which Palestine has been kept going. But we have not done anything else. All that we have done practically in this time is to pay the living expenses of the administration. And we have done it with very great difficulty. Except as through the Medical Unit we have made life a little more possible, we have not advanced a step towards developing the Homeland. And yet it is in the series of steps beyond keeping Palestine as it has been that our problem lies.
There has been a tremendous amount of talk in the past, and properly, of the political question, of political Zionism. The political question will be important hereafter, but to my mind practically the whole of politics lies in proceeding efficiently in the building up of Palestine. That is the only political act which can effectively produce the result and make of our opportunity success instead of failure. Politics as such may now be banished; certainly politics may go into suspense. There is nothing that can be accomplished from this time on by ingenious political action, however great our diplomats and however wise the individual may be in manipulating this portion of the population or that, or this official or that.
We have come to the time when there are no politics that are valuable except the politics of action. We must be in a position to act in Palestine, and we have to be strong outside of Palestine. And it is not the strength which will come through any individual or his wisdom or his position. The strength must tome through the strength of Jews organized together in large part in the Zionist Organization. Now, therefore, when we consider how we are going to make an efficient organization and accomplish our results, we have to see what the work is that is to be done. To my mind the work in the different countries of the Diaspora is no less important than the work in Palestine. Without that which will be done in the Federations of the several countries, our task is impossible of accomplishment.
Moneys must be given in several forms. A great deal will come by way of investment, and by way of quasi-investment. But it is absolutely necessary that a large part of the money which is going to develop Palestine is to come in the form of gifts from Jews throughout the world. There is no such thing as investment, in a proper sense of that term, unless there is either security or the prospect of a large return, which is the alternative in the investor's mind for security, you may run a risk if you have the prospect of a large return. That is good business, and it is not gambling. But if you have no prospect of a large return, you must have security or the approximation of security. On account of the nature and condition of the country there cannot be security in Palestine unless there is a margin created by the gifts of Jews throughout the world. And that is true for several reasons.
The first is that, unlike the land in other countries requiring development, the land in Palestine is not free. On the contrary, it is very expensive. The present price of the land in Palestine is, considered on a basis of producing power, far more than land of the same character in the world market anywhere else. And the land is in one way largely exhausted. Its trees had been cut off, and so there was produced the condition of swamps and consequent malaria. There must therefore be expended upon the land a very large amount of money before it can become properly productive. In other words we have to expend money to convert the raw material of land into real productive land. We also have to build up the men who are going to use that land, because they are ignorant of agriculture and of the ways of the country, and they have to be educated.
Those are expenses that have to be borne in the first instance. In my opinion those expenses can ultimately become remunerative. The land can pay a return upon what we spend on it, and the country can pay a fair return in the sense of giving a living to those who go there. But there is no short cut in Palestine to earning a living. It is difficult to earn a living there. It is more difficult in my opinion to earn a living in Palestine than it is in a large part of the world which is open to Jews. Therefore no investors can expect either security or a large return on a fairly conducted business unless there are done by us certain things which a state might do if it were ready, if it had great resources. This, the state, Palestine, is not ready to do. It has not the resources. And it has an appreciable debt resting upon it which the land must return. Therefore, to do the things we want done, we have to raise a very considerable amount. And we have to raise men to go with the money; men who will administer the moneys that we send there. That can be done only by an immense development of the work in the several countries of the Diaspora, America of course included.
Insufficient as our work in America may have been, I think we can say that there are other countries in which it has been worse. And I think that attention cannot b too much directed to the fact that we cannot succeed in our attempt unless we have cooperation from all of these countries, notably Great Britain, where the prospects of successful work are even better than in America. British Jewry is a part of the mandatory, and it will feel, in a way what Americans do not feel, an obligation and pride, and a sense of loyalty to England as well as of loyalty to the Jew, in working for Palestine.
I believe that any organization that we are to create now must recognize that the World Organization is in one way at least no more important than the Great Hinterland. The Hinterland is to be the great reservoir of money and of men, and must therefore be developed in every part. That, I think is the first proposition. We Americans must develop our organization and strength at home, and we must govern our action with that constantly in view. At the same time we must insist that all other countries, beginning with Great Britain and the British Dominions, must; to the very utmost of their ability, develop their possibilities, possibilities which I consider even more favorable, numbers and position considered, than our own in America....
The only consideration which we are at liberty to regard is efficiency in that public service (to be rendered in Palestine), and not to pick men because of what they may have done in the past. The only proper test that can be applied in respect to the filling of these offices is fitness and efficiency. The man who is best fitted to perform a particular task must be selected. To my mind it is an insult to a devoted Zionist to appoint him to office only because of services which he has performed in the past It is an insult to the intelligence, to the high-mindedness of the Jew, the Zionist Jew, to consider, in filling an office, whether a proposed incumbent needs or wants the compensation which comes from it. If there are men in Palestine or elsewhere who have served us well in the past and do absolutely need for their living certain means which they are not able to get by their own effort, the question properly arises whether we should create, either through private effort or through the Organization directly, a Pension Fund just as Governments and public bodies do. But I consider it no less than treason to our Cause knowingly to appoint any man to office for any other reason than that he can with the greatest fitness fill that office. We have no right, and it would be folly, to appoint any man to any office in Palestine or elsewhere, just as it would be, with the enemy at our gates in the most terrible of war times, to appoint a man general or colonel or captain, because he was popular or because he was poor or because we love him. We have a problem so difficult, that unless we set that standard for ourselves there is, to my mind, no possibility of our solving it. And, of course, not only must we get the fittest men, but we must do with the least possible number. We must abolish every unnecessary office. We must make every man do every bit of work that it is possible for him to do. We must make men understand that every penny which they waste in any way, either by an unnecessary office or by a salary of more than is necessary, that just to that extent they are obstructing the work which lies before us. What we can do in Palestine depends wholly upon the amount of money we can raise and what men we can get to administer it.
Waste of money raised will not only deprive us of the amount wasted. It will cost us ten and twenty and one hundredfold the amount wasted through its deterrent effect on possible contributions and investments. Men are willing to give men can be made willing to give, when they know what they give, that whatever sacrifices they make, will result in some further approach to the end we have in mind. But every person who wastes a cent, whether it be in a cable, in a salary or in an unnecessary letter, is postponing directly or indirectly to perhaps a hundred times that extent, the achievement of our aim.
More Jews ought to understand this. We Jews have the intelligence to understand this. We must have character and high spirit enough to see that we may not allow our hearts and our love and our individual fancies or favors to guide us in the selection of the men who are to serve our organization.
When you consider the inter-relation of the work to be done in the Federations in the various countries, and the specific character of the work to be done in Palestine, you will see how essential it is to have an entire rearrangement of activities. To my mind, a large part of the men who have in the past occupied themselves in international activities can best serve the cause by going to their homes, with the knowledge which they have acquired from international action and experience, and particularly acknowledge of the necessities of the Cause and the character of those necessities, by going to their own people and making them understand that, unless that work is done in the Hinterland, success in Palestine is impossible. Make them understand the difficulties as well as the possibilities. Our undertaking is not a light thing. The time is past when jubilations are in order. There is a thing very different from jubilation before us now. Great sorrow will follow the jubilation unless our people, in the different countries as well as in Palestine, are made to understand the real situation; unless they are made to understand the difference between the unreal and the ideal. Zionism has given a new significance to the traditional Jewish duties of truth and knowledge as the basis of faith and practice.
As for the work in Palestine and the large number of people engaged in administrative work there. I am not of course criticizing their motives in any respect. They performed very important things in the past which it is no longer necessary to perform. Unless our people recognize that the greatest public service they can perform in Palestine is to earn there an honest living and not be dependent upon the Organization, we shall not accomplish our work. The highest work that can be done for Palestine is to earn a living in Palestine; to put the Jewish mind and Jewish determination and Zionist idealism and enthusiasm into the problem of earning a living in Palestine; thus setting an example for others to earn a living. That is real patriotism. A young woman who was in Palestine some time ago said that to make a good soup in Palestine was a contribution to the cause. I agree with her. But it is not a contribution to have someone else make a soup for you. It is not a contribution to get paid for making plans for a good soup. What we have to do is to make it possible for men to earn a living in Palestine. That is a very difficult thing. It cannot be done by subsidizing people. It can be done only by the individual efforts of men actuated by the proper motives, guided in the proper ways.
Our organization can accomplish a few things to this end. In the first place, we can make it possible for people to work hard in Palestine. That is, we can overcome malaria. We cannot properly judge any body's performance until we shall have done that. We cannot form an idea as to whether it is possible to develop any of our colonies or plantations unless we put people under conditions where they will work in health, that is, be as healthy as they are in other countries. The task is wholly one of eliminating malaria. Aside from malaria, the ordinary conditions in the country are conducive to the greatest physical wellbeing. We can, without pauperizing people, give them health it they are willing to live according to the rules essential to health.
We can also give to those who have not yet accustomed themselves to the peculiarities of the country, a certain amount of education in agriculture. We can let them have land practically free without exacting interest or returns for a considerable period, during the time of apprenticeship, while they are accommodating themselves to the new situation.
Our task is to bring into Palestine, as rapidly as we can, as many persons as we can. That really comprises the whole work before us. Of course we want to do it in a way and under conditions that will allow the men and women we bring there to become self-supporting and self-respecting and enjoy proper social position. We, of course, take this matter for granted and it requires no reiteration.
The Pilgrims Had Faith
An address delivered before the Second Annual Conference held in New York on May 27 and 28, 1923 of the Palestine Land Development Council and the Leagues affiliated with it. The Council and the Leagues were established to promote American interest in and aid for the solution of economic problems of Palestine.
Four years ago I visited Palestine accompanied by Jacob de Haas. Since then, I haven't ever doubted for a moment that what we are striving for can be accomplished. Since then, my difficulty has been in understanding the doubt which others feel. If any of you harbor a doubt, go see for yourselves; and the doubt will be dispelled.
The truth of Herzl's statement, "We have but to will it," impressed itself upon me at every point. Whether Jews really care for Palestine, care so much that they will put their hearts, and if need be their lives, into the solution of the Jewish problem, that is in my opinion, the only question open. For the opportunity is here. Doubters are not doubters of Palestine. They are doubters of Jews.
The land is an inspiration to effort. It is an inspiration not only because of its past and its associations; but because the present urges one on to make it bloom again, bloom not only physically, but spiritually. To accomplish that, we must care. We must be willing to enter upon a great adventure; must conceive of the life worthwhile as something other than the humdrum everyday existence to which so many of us are condemned, or rather, condemn ourselves. If, in our lives, we want something beside the commonplace, if we want adventure, if we want romance, if we want the elevation which attends intellectual and spiritual striving; if we want the deeper satisfaction of having aided in making this world and our own people better and happier, we must put our minds on what we can aid in doing there. If we cannot take a direct part within Palestine, if circumstances are such that we cannot go to the battle front, let us make sure that somebody else goes, in whose work we will interest ourselves, and in whose trials and ultimate success we have some part.
Do we Jews care enough for the things worthwhile in life to take the necessary part in that adventure? That is the question. Do we care enough, not only to contribute grudgingly some money, but to be a part of the undertaking? To be a part of it we need not be physically in Palestine, although for many that is the best place in which to do their part and the most satisfactory one. What is it that we who remain in the Diaspora can do? How can we contribute directly by our hands and brains, and above all through character, to Palestine's development? We can, in the first place, know what is to be done, know what is being done, know how it is being done; and know by whom it is being done. Knowledge, which grows with what it feeds on, will stimulate effort, will beget achievement. Knowledge, if comprehensive, detailed and accurate, is indeed power. To attain knowledge in this, as in other fields, requires work. Knowledge has its source in interest, but it can be attained only through persistent pursuit. It is not something which maybe had easily. Like all the other good things achieved in life, knowledge has to be toiled for. It is only by knowing intimately, and following from day to day the up-building of Palestine and the development of Jewish life as manifested there, that you can feel the deep interest and experience the joy and satisfaction incident to this new growth of our people. Palestine offers us the deep interest and the joy like that which all the world feels in the development of a child, an interest and a joy infinitely greater than that which attends the achievement of those who have reached maturity.
The great opportunity is here. The question is: What shall we do with it? Surely we will avail ourselves of it to the utmost. When I have felt a lack among those with whom I have worked, it has consisted less in unwillingness to make what some erroneously call sacrifices, than in failure to acquire that intimate knowledge of the details about Palestine's needs and conditions which are an essential of both good judgment and a real joy in our high adventure. For this deep joy can be achieved only through patient, persistent effort; and by reserving our resources of time and of money for the things in life worth while. So the first thing is to know. The second is to do. We do by being a part of doing. Don't take merely a passive interest. Don't try to find out whether you have done what people call your share. Your appetite grows with what it feeds on. When you approach the matter in this spirit, the question will surely be: "What further can I do?"
The Palestine Development Council was organized to create an instrument. By which those Jews, who are not so fortunate as to be able to take a direct part in the up-building of Palestine through settling there may effectively aid in carrying the work forward by their contributions made here of money and of time. The Palestine Development Council is only an instrument for doing things. The thing that it plans to do is not to extend charity, but to create opportunities for people worthy of Palestine to up-build and develop it. Familiarize yourselves with the work of this instrument, and with all things Palestinian so that you may aid in extending its effectiveness.
We must remember that it is Palestine we are engaged in up-building, not another United States. The standard of accomplishment is a very different one from the standard which we are accustomed to apply here. Some say: "How can you expect success in so small a country?" To my mind, the smallness of the country contributes greatly to the probability of complete success. The problems are all compassable. None is so big in bulk, so complex as to make man seem inadequate for the task. For this reason, achievement is always in sight. The assurance that success appears thus possible is one of the things which makes work in Palestine, and work for Palestine so alluring. Bear in mind also that the money we invest in this adventure would not be lost if it made possible the development of the country and a worthy life there, even if the receipt of dividends in money on our investment were less probable. Whether the thing we strive for is achieved, not whether dividends are paid in cash on the amount expended, is the test of a good investment.
We are prone to think of America as the home of good investments. But nobody who has looked into American industrial and financial development can fail to know that, with the exception perhaps of the automobile and a few other recent industries, there has been hardly a single field of great business success in the United States, which does not rest on a foundation of failures. Almost every enterprise in the United States, with the exception of the Great Northern, is built upon a failure. The Atchison, Topeka, Santa Fe, and the Northern Pacific are outstanding instances of successful American railroads. But despite the rich land grants made by the government, both the Atchison and the Northern Pacific went through two receiverships. Stockholders and bondholders who lacked faith to pay burdensome assessments, or were unable to do so, lost all or much of what they personally had invested. This is true also of the original investors in the heavily subsidized Union Pacific. Most of America's 25,000 miles of railroad have a similar history. But they were great factors in our prosperity. When we think now of American successes, we think not of our beginnings, but of the flowers in full bloom. Bear that in mind when you apply a test to our Palestinian undertakings.
The thing that the Palestine Development Council has been primarily endeavoring to do with such funds as have come to it for investment, is to make sure that the money which goes to Palestine shall be used to up-build the country; that whether used for building loans or for the Rutenberg 3 project, or for other projects, it shall promote the growth of the country; that it; shall make possible that life, spiritual as ,veil as material, without which we cannot conceive of the longed-for Homeland.
In the task of establishing a Homeland worthy of the highest Jewish ideals every man and woman can aid and aid effectively, if he or she will only bear in mind what it is that, we wish to accomplish; and will make the daily contribution requisite to that accomplishment mean literally that we must give some aid each day. Why should we, who care for the development of Palestine, let a day pass without increasing our knowledge of Palestine, and at least thinking in what way we may do something to advance its development?
One hears of difficulties, of discouraging incidents, in Palestine. The discouragements of which people talk do not discourage me. It is only he who keeps the mind's eye too near to the object, instead of looking afar into the future, who will be greatly disturbed by a particular failure or setback. Look courageously into the future, be it near or far. Above all things, go to Palestine, and from its hilltops look off into the distance and see what the land is and what it offers. Then you will not doubt. And you will feel that no effort is too great.
We are trying to build a never land. When Americans think of building a never land, at least those of us who have lived in New England, they are apt to think of the Pilgrim Fathers. We remember what their adventure was and what they built. The Pilgrims had faith, we should have it. Like our early Palestinian pioneers, they did not allow themselves to be discouraged even by the death of half their number before the first year of settlement was over. Disease, death and sore trials were borne and put behind them. For the Pilgrims had the indomitable spirit. In time, Massachusetts became one of the most prosperous regions on earth. The same spirit which brought the Pilgrim west is the spirit which has sent many a Jew to the east, and should send many, many more. But those of us who remain behind may have an effective part in the building as well as those who have gone to the front. Let us persevere with redoubled energy. There is no place on earth in which your effort may bring you and to others worthier rewards.
Don't be discouraged. Don't be afraid.
The Human Resource
This address was delivered before the Second Annual Conference of the Palestine Land Development Council in 1923.
Let me call attention to a fact which modesty has prevented Julius Fohs from mentioning. The greatest of all Palestinian resources is the human resource; I mean this not only spiritually, but economically. If you inquire into the history of the really great businesses which stand as examples of signal successes in America, you will find that ill most cases the success is to be attributed mainly to the character, the ingenuity and the-persistence of the man who established the business rather than to favorable external or local conditions. Again and again I have asked in some American city: "Why in the world should this great industry have been established in this particular place seeing that it was remote from both the sources of its raw materials and from the markets for its products. And the answer has come back, "An extraordinary man happened to live here." A man of brains and of will determined that an industry should be established. Creation followed the will; and a century or less of wise persistence developed the small shop into one of the controlling industries of the nation. Such successes, almost without limit, we may look for in Palestine. The Jew, who has so often made bricks without straw, will find a way to take up in Palestine those industries in which brains and the work of man are the chief elements in making the product. Remember that even in the massive locomotive, the metal used represents hardly one-twentieth of the cost. It is the skilled labor, invention, management and capital which represent the main elements of cost. What may we not expect from the Jewish mind, Jewish persistence, Jewish ingenuity and Jewish capital, when employed in a country which is congenial, in a climate which is admirable and in surroundings which will call out the best that is in men.
Realization Will Not Come as a Gift
The following address was delivered before the New England members of the Palestine Land Development League in Boston on June 24, 1923.
I am glad that, besides some older Zionists, we have sitting here many others, men and women who are far younger. For it is through these younger folk, aided by the older, that we shall find the full realization of our plans. To some of you it may seem that our progress has not been rapid, but when you compare where we are today, and where we stood ten years ago, when I first spoke to Boston Jews about Palestine, you will see how long a way we have traveled. Ten years ago the Homeland was a dream, a dream for which realization seemed so far. Then, we could do little more than hope and prepare ourselves for realization. Five years ago, with the Balfour Declaration, that dream began to take on the shape of opportunity. Now, for over four years the opportunity has been ours. The question is merely whether we shall take hold in that earnest, effective, and intelligent way which will make out of that opportunity the realization of our fondest dream. We know that much has not been done, but we know very much that has. What has been accomplished is not merely providing opportunity. The first steps toward the achievement of realization have been taken. We have found in Palestine not merely an open door, but a country in which all is possible which we had pictured to ourselves as desirable.
It is now four years since de Haas and I went together to Palestine. I had read much about it, heard much about it from those who had been there, and reasoned much about it. But it was only by going there that I could convince myself in fullness how much was open to us and why we should endeavor to work out the problem, not as a dream, but as a beautiful reality. I found difficulties, but the difficulties were inviting because in respect to every one of them solution seemed to be possible. To my mind, there is nothing about the Palestinian problem which the Jews cannot solve, if they will to solve it. To solve it, we do not require the superhuman effort of extraordinary individuals. We need only the everyday earnest effort which Jews are making, and by which they are achieving successes in other fields of activity all over the world. If the persistence, devotion and ingenuity, readiness of self-sacrifice and self-control which have given Jews high station individually in every branch of human activity and in every country on earth is practiced by those who go to Palestine, and is manifested by those who have an interest in it, there is nothing worthy which cannot be realized there.
None of the pictures which have been painted exhaust the possibilities that actually exist. But realization will not come as a gift; and it will not result from the mere giving of money. It must be earned, earned by effort, earned by a persistent, active desire to have and to hold that which lies before us. Some are making that effort on the fighting lines and are taking part there happily and effectively in the up-building of Palestine. Some who have gone from America have played a most creditable, as well as interesting part in that effort. Many of you know what the Hadassah Medical Unit has been doing. It undertook to make health possible in Palestine. And it really was not a difficult problem. For the lack of health was largely due to malaria. Happily, science enables us to grapple with this disease which had devastated many countries of the world for thousands of years. We know how to rid a land of it. It is a perfectly simple thing, a thing almost as simple as the removal of typhoid which once was a curse in so many of our cities. The Medical Unit, in connection with others, undertook to eliminate malaria.
It did so not only because malaria interfered with the joy of life, but because it is the disease which interfered most with self-support and the building up of the country. There remains some malaria in parts of the country. But that problem is being' grappled with and in a very few years Palestine will be one of the healthiest countries in the world. For otherwise all the conditions in Palestine are conducive to a healthy life in body as well as soul. Men may go to Palestine now and settle there with the assurance that they will be able to work there as well as in any part of the world.
To have assured, within four years, the elimination of malaria is a great achievement. For hard work is the stuff out of which Palestine must be built. Not Hanukkah, not gifts, whatever their nature, but the ability to make men self-supporting is the prime requisite. They must develop themselves and their families in the course of the development of their country. For immigrants into Palestine to become self-supporting is, in some ways, more difficult than it was for those coming to America, or going to Canada, or Australia, or South America. It is more difficult for this reason. America and Canada, South America and Australia were new countries with virgin soil. Palestine is a new-old country, old in having suffered for centuries from abuse. Its wonderful trees had been destroyed. Its water-courses had suffered from the destruction of trees. Its fertile land, no longer protected by the trees, had been washed away by the flow of the waters. Thus Palestine presents a new situation. I mean new to us, whose minds are accustomed to such things as the frontiersman, going out to build his hut with his own hand, with the expectation that next year, or the year after, it will be superseded by something better. Palestine is not like that. You must build homes for people and they must be built substantially, of stone, or cement, at a considerable cost. The slight structure which frontiers men built in other countries is not feasible. So we have in Palestine the housing problem.
We have had in Palestine another problem which was very serious. The cost of living is very high; higher there in many ways than here. The war made it so, with its great influx of gold through Egypt. Jews coming there from different parts of the world, largely impoverished, came thus into a country in which the cost of the bare necessities of life was great. We were, therefore, confronted with this problem. How can we make it possible for these people coming to this sparsely settled land, to supply themselves with homes and get a living from farms which they must first make ready for cultivation? In many places in Palestine you must make the land as well as raise the crops upon it. Moreover, it will be seven years from the time you plant your orange trees before you get a return. Just as water is necessary for irrigation, credit is necessary thereto enable people to conduct their business operations, to become self-supporting. We turned our minds, therefore, to devising instruments through which credits might be extended to deserving men and women, not as gifts, not as charity, but to enable them to make a living. The Palestine Cooperative Company undertook to deal with that question in two ways. To provide loans to cooperative societies of producers or consumers and to provide building loans for those who undertake construction.
These are examples of the kind of things the Palestine Development Council wishes to promote. It wishes also to aid in the development of the Rutenberg project 3 so-called hydro-electric plan for harnessing the Jordan to provide the country with power and irrigation. Everything that we have undertaken to do has been directly in the line of production, in the effort to make men and women effective, to give opportunity to the individual just as the Mandate has given an opportunity to the Jews of the world to make Palestine a Homeland. Our prime endeavor is to encourage initiative. It is not our brains, but the brains of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who are to go to Palestine, that will build up that country. What we are endeavoring to encourage is not anything new. It is exactly the thing which Jews are doing throughout the world: Those of us who do not wish to go, or cannot, may also have a vital part in the building of Palestine. But it cannot be done merely by giving or in., investing money. To have a vital part we must add to investment a willingness to take the trouble to learn what the needs of Palestine are and how they are being, or should be, met. To achieve for Palestine what the American Jew can do for it and for the American Jew what Palestine can do for him, we must make the development of the Homeland a part of the daily thought of the Jew. There are ample means of acquiring knowledge about it, and the happenings in that new-old land can be followed with the absorbing interest with which we follow the growth of a child.
We are not asking you to give. We expect you to get a return on your investment, a return, in money. But the greatest return which you will get is in the joy you will have in watching the development of the country. And when good fortune leads you to Palestine, and you see what Jews are doing there, what Jewish life really is what it makes of men and women and children in a Jewish country, then you will get satisfactions which with make you regard your cash dividends as negligible. Make it your business to know what is going on there; know j what has been achieved there. Confirm and enrich your; knowledge, if it lies within your power, by visiting the country and seeing things for yourselves. If you do that you will enjoy the greatest experience of your life.
The Only Promising Road
A landmark in the history of cooperation between Zionists and non-Zionists was the all day conference held in New York City on February 17, 1924. It was called by a committee headed by Louis Marshall. Cyrus Adler, Herbert H. Lehman and Horace Stern. The conference adopted a resolution calling for the organization of an investment company to develop the economic resources of Palestine. Another resolution called for a study of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the formulation of a plan for its extension to include non-Zionists. The following as Justice Brandeis's message to the conference.
The happenings of the post-war years have strengthened my conviction that the resettlement of Palestine by Jews offers the only promising road toward the solution of the Jewish problem; that there are in Palestine economic opportunities which if availed of, will afford to, at least, many hundreds of thousands the means of leading lives worthy of the high Jewish traditions; that there rests upon the Jews of America the duty of aiding in the up-building, by making careful studies of these opportunities, by necessary capital outlays, and by efficient leadership; and that with such aid we may hope for great advance in the economic, social, and cultural development of the country.
Palestine Has Developed Jewish Character
This is an address delivered at the first session of an emergency Palestine economic conference in Washington, D. C., November 24, 1929.
The road to a Jewish Palestine is economic, and the opportunity is open. I reached this conviction ten years ago when I became acquainted on my visit there with the country and the people, both Arabs and Jews. Since that time I have watched with deep interest the development of the Homeland. The happenings during each of those ten years, including the present, I have served to deepen my conviction.
Those of you who have been to Palestine know that in character and climate it resembles southern California. It is a miniature of southern California. Like California it has available water, water that has to be secured, as in California, by pumping and irrigation. But there is plenty of it there for all ordinary purposes if it is conserved and utilized. It was a surprise to me to learn that the rainfall in Jerusalem was a little larger than the average rainfall in London. But until recent attempts to conserve water most of it was wasted.
So you have a country which in climate resembles what we have come to regard as the garden of America. But it differs from California in one extraordinary particular and differs very much. Whereas everything in California which nature in its bounty has given, was until a few years ago preserved for man untouched, 1,500 years and more of abuse have done all that could possibly have been done to prevent Palestine from being fruitful. The trees were cut down ruthlessly, although the old Jewish law at every point taught the value of the tree. That old code prohibited the destruction of trees even in war, for the tree is man's friend. In those 1,500 years of abuse the soil was washed away and malaria overwhelmed the desiccated wastes. That is the difference, or was the difference, up to a short time ago, between Palestine and southern California. Fortunately the neglect of the centuries had only ruined Palestine's surface. The Jewish pioneers demonstrated that it was still possible to make Palestine into a land flowing with milk and honey and with much besides. Touched by intelligent effort supplemented by science, it began to bloom almost as a miracle. When I saw what had happened I felt convinced that all that was needed was men, means and wise and arduous toil. Palestine has affected me deeply, though I have lived most of my life largely apart from the Jewish people. I realized what it means to those who have been close to Jewish life. I said to myself then: While 1,500 years had been devastating the country, 2,000 years have developed the greatest of natural resources.
Palestine has developed Jewish character. The sufferings to which Jews have been subjected during all those centuries has bred a people who could easily regain all that Palestine has lost. Jewish suffering not only taught Jews to think; it gave them the will, courage, pertinacity to succeed under all circumstances and amidst all difficulties.
I acquired on my visit to Palestine the faith which the experience of the years has deepened. To make Palestine Jewish is only a question of our will, intelligently directed. Step by step the pioneers were surmounting all obstacles. In an incredibly short time and at more than incredibly small expense they eliminated the scourge of malaria, the greatest hindrance to the progress of the country. I lived as a small boy in a malarial region, and I have some idea how this disease can hamper and frustrate the efforts of farmers. But our pioneers have done valiantly. There were times when I thought that the moneys we were sending to the country might lessen ambition and habituate the settlers to depend on outside help. But I found in Palestine a self-dependent, self-reliant community. There was no trace of pauperisation, idleness or loafing, but rather a lively sense of responsibility, a religious passion for work.
So marched the years. Now came the riots, the massacre of helpless old people and peaceful religious students. This too has shown the mettle of the people whom we have been aiding to develop Palestine. They have possessed the manhood and courage to look out for themselves, which is all that we could wish and all that any people on earth could wish for their pioneers in a new and difficult situation. Jewish intelligence, Jewish courage, Jewish persistence, have all been manifested, and I know of nothing, certainly in recent history, finer than the temper shown by these men and women, and I would almost include the children, under the perils which confronted them in Palestine. The massacres occurred only where there were the old, the infirm, and the helpless.
I repeat what I have often said, that our greatest asset in this effort is the character trained by 2,000 years of suffering. Therefore, I have no fear of the Arab or of any other question. I have no fear because I know in my heart, as my reason tells me from all that I have observed, in a life that is now beginning to seem long, that Jewish qualities are qualities that tell.
Our representatives in Palestine have been tested; and they stood the test superbly well. It gives me infinitely more courage, infinitely more desire to help them than I ever had before.
I was strongly in favor, and still am, of the Balfour Declaration, because I realized that it was as much to the interest of Great Britain as to our interest that Palestine should be developed by Jews. I reached that conclusion after very close relations with British statesmen who were here during the war. I believed in the feasibility of the Balfour Declaration because it was not only in accord with British interests, but consistent with the interests of all the European powers, their allies the world over. I learned in Palestine, and I believe it is still true, recent occurrences to the contrary notwithstanding, that the danger of the Arabs is grossly exaggerated.
Even ten years ago our people were able to protect themselves against the Arabs and consequently won their respect. They soon realized that the Shomer, the mounted Jewish police that guarded the colonies, was not to be trifled with. In Palestine I already heard of legends current among Arabs about the skill of the Shomer as a sharp shooter. Nothing gave me greater assurance of the ability of our people to take care of themselves.
But all this increases our obligations to those who are already there. They have proved themselves worthy of our tradition. We must prove ourselves worthy of them. We must not stint. We must provide them every opportunity for further development. What is equally our obligation is to other the hundreds of thousands who are ready to go to Palestine, the opportunity to do so. In my opinion a steady flow of Jewish immigration to the country and the growth of the Jewish community there will make Palestine perhaps, all things considered, the safest place in the world. There will of course be Jewish sorrow as well as Jewish joy. I found in the colonies far more of joy than of sorrow. They reminded me of our pioneers of the West and those who developed the East some two centuries earlier.
So I came to tell what I believe and what I think we are to do. Palestine needs money. It is as necessary to our projects there as water is to its soil. But remember, the Jew has used money only as an instrument. His chief commodity has been brains and character and will and strength of every kind. And our representatives seem to possess them all to a high degree.
Jews and Arabs
This address was delivered at the second session of an emergency Palestine economic conference in Washington, D. C., November 24, 1929.
I have entire confidence in the British Government. I have confidence both in its administration of justice in Palestine and in the integrity of the inquiry of the Commission. It would be contrary to British tradition if the government did not examine the situation fearlessly and frankly, recognize responsibility for errors committed, pronounce the appropriate judgment and take such action as may be required to preserve order in the future. The local administration has been the subject of very grave criticism. What happened in August evidences at least lack of understanding. But the shortcomings furnish no reason for questioning the intentions of the British Government. I believe, with Mr. Warburg that the British intend to discharge fully the obligation assumed. That, as I view it, is demanded by the fine traditions of Great Britain, and her leaders recognize that her standing before the world is involved. The British are even more interested in the preservation of order in the Near East than we are. So I have no doubt as to what the British will do.
As to what we should do, I agree with Mr. Samuel Fels. We should so conduct our affairs in Palestine that what we do shall inure to the interest of all the inhabitants of Palestine, Moslem and Christian as well as Jew. And I believe that this is the prevailing opinion among Jews. Individuals there, like individuals elsewhere, may not agree. But those who feel themselves responsible for affairs recognize that prosperity for Palestine must mean prosperity for all classes of its inhabitants. No one who has been in Palestine can doubt that the Arabs of Palestine, the Christian Arabs, of whom there are relatively few, and the Moslems who live there have been greatly benefited by what the Jews have done there. I do not refer only to those Arabs who have benefited by selling their lands at very high prices; I refer also to the Arab laborer and the Arab shopkeeper. Until the agitation conducted under the cover of religious fanaticism misled the Arabs, a vast majority of them realized this.
Last summer, before there was any suggestion of an uprising, I had the opportunity of discussing with some of our people active in the conduct of our affairs in Palestine and who live there what our relations with the Arabs should be in enterprises started or planned. While we were reviewing the work of the co-operatives we discussed the advisability of opening the co-operatives to the Arabs, of opening our labor unions to Arabs, of inviting Arabs to participate in our industrial enterprises and thus become more closely allied to them. We discussed the advisability of learning their language so that we might familiarly visit them in their homes, as some Jews have been doing. When the recent disorders shall have been overcome the work which has been done by Jews for Arabs will be appreciated. Through our medical organization, through the elimination of malaria and other diseases we have done for the amelioration of the condition of the Arabs an extraordinary amount, considering the shortness of time.
Arabs, unlike some other peoples, have no inherent dislike of the Jew certainly they did not have it. Jews lived among them in perfect amity before and during the war. I have confidence they again do so.
The recent difficulties are, in my opinion, due largely to persons who own land in Palestine but live elsewhere and who object to the emancipation of the previously subservient fellaheen and the improvement in their condition resulting from Jewish settlement.
It is important not to mistake stimulated excitement for something deep-seated in the Arab nature; and it is also important not to forget that there is a very large number of Bedouins constantly coming into Palestine who are not Palestinians and who, in these troublous times, were led to serve as the militant force. Ever since anything has been known about Palestine, Bedouins have attempted to come in, and often as robber bands. Such incursions are not limited to Palestine proper. A delegation of Circassians from the neighborhood of Lake Huleh came to me, while I was in Galilee, eager to have me lay before Mr. Balfour their desire to be included within the new Palestine. They, a peace-loving community, were constantly being subjected to the incursions of the Bedouins. They wanted to come under the British dominion because they felt that the British would protect them against such incursions. The inhabitants of these fertile lands, whether they be Jews or Circassians, must protect themselves against inroads.
Applying, as well as I can, not sentimental tests but, the severe test that I have to apply in dealing with business questions throughout my life, I feel sure that the risks of Palestine development are small as compared with the possible gains. That there is risk is undoubted. That there is greater risk for the Jewish people as a whole if we do not go forward than if we do, is, to my mind, clear.
To take risks is the very essence of Jewish life, that is, to take necessary risks. The wise man seeks not to avoid but to minimize risks. He minimizes them by using judgment and by knowledge and by thinking. These are fortunately, preeminently Jewish attributes. Let us take counsel of our hopes, not of our fears. Let us inspire confidence in others by showing that we ourselves have courage to act. Confidence begets confidence, and achievement follows.
A Zionist's Vow
On the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday, in 1931, Justice Brandeis made the following acknowledgment of the greetings extended by the Convention of the Zionist Organization of America.
Please express to the delegates my deep appreciation and my hope that each will vow not to let pass within the next twelve months a single day without furthering in some way the up-building of Palestine.
Jews Will Continue to Enter Palestine
The following statement was presented by Justice Brandeis to Dr. Solomon Goldman, then president of the Zionist Organization of America-, following the issuance by the British Government of the so-called MacDonald White Paper on May 17, 1939. The White Paper was intended to freeze the development of the Jewish National Home and to maintain the Jewish community of Palestine as a permanent minority.
It is interesting to note the similarity between this statement and the comment of Jr. Winston Churchill, who, speaking in the House of Commons in May, 1939, stigmatized the White Paper as "a Plain breach of a solemn obligation "and" another Munich."
1. A legal obligation assumed by Great Britain is the basis for Jewish construction enterprise in Palestine. That legal right, sustained by humanitarian needs, cannot be obliterated for private advantage.
2. What does the world propose to do with the Jews for whom exile is enforced? Unless civilization has so reverted to primitivism as to wish the destruction of homeless Jews, it must encourage the proved medium to solve: in great measure the problem of Jewish homelessness.
3. The absorptive capacity is stated to be the criterion by which Jewish entry into Palestine should be determined. Disinterested experts have proved that Palestine is equipped to absorb 100,000 Jews a year.
4. On the basis of legal right, which Great Britain with the sanction of the world established, and of the pressing human needs, Jews will continue to enter Palestine assured of the confident support of the Jewish people that they will build in Palestine a land beneficial to all its inhabitants.
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