Sunday, June 09, 2013

Jews As Scots

For the Church of Scotland, a message from April 30, 1929:

I want to call the attention of the Colonial Secretary to Palestine, because I do not think we are doing our duty to those people. Lots of people in this House and elsewhere keep on asking, "Why do you bother about the Jews; what business is it of yours?" There are two reasons why we are bothering about the Jews, and bothering about the success of the colonisation of Palestine. On the Labour Benches in particular, we are international, and, when we remember the conditions under which the Jews have lived for centuries in Poland, Russia and Rumania, where they have been deprived of any chance of economic freedom, and we have a chance of establishing these people under the British flag upon a freehold where they can become producers for themselves and real pioneer settlers on the land; when we have this chance of providing a refuge and freedom, I think we ought to seize the opportunity. It is deplorable that we are not taking this opportunity of providing freedom for an oppressed people, and at the same time providing for Great Britain a great future.

We are on the threshold of the development of a new Empire. Somebody wrote recently that the British Empire has so far been built up by the Scottish people, who have been the carriers of British culture to all the empty spaces of the earth, and there are no empty spaces left now to which the Scottish people can carry the English traditions of justice and freedom. If we can cement this alliance with the Jews by dealing fairly with them in Palestine and establishing there and in the Middle East new centres to which our ideas can permeate—not to the empty spaces of the world, but to the oriental spaces—if we see to it that the Jews take the place of the Scots in carrying out our ideas, then we shall build up a future race of which we shall have every reason to be proud. I hope we shall put an end to that detestable sloppish attitude of anti-Semitism which is at the bottom of the whole of the lack of co-operation that we see in Palestine.

We know perfectly well that the great hope of the future is that England and America will come together to regulate the peace of the world because we can move society on to different standpoints. The friendship between England and America cannot be better cemented than cementing it with the Jewish people throughout the world. For these reasons, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether we ought to miss this great chance. I have no hesitation in saying that there is throughout Palestine and this country an atmosphere of hostility on this subject which is largely based upon religious prejudice which I detest, because it is based upon the sloppish fear of what somebody else will say about us if we treat the Jews as we treat Scotsmen. If we are really anxious to help these people, then we must look upon them as though they were Scots. We have not only to adopt a completely different attitude towards the Jews in Palestine, but we have to change the attitude of the British administration towards the people there, because at present it is a sort of super-quintessence of obscurantism.


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