Meeting of key Zionist leaders, 9 September, 1941


FO 371/45377

Present at this meeting were Chaim Weizmann (who had called the meeting), David Ben-Gurion, three of the Rothschilds, other Zionist leaders such as Selig Brodetsky and Simon Marks (of Marks & Spencer), and the prominent non-Zionist industrialist, Robert Waley Cohen.

The meeting is remarkable for the manner in which these people who were enforcing their vision upon Palestine first professed the conviction that everyone in the proposed Jewish state would be equal, and then went on to insist that non-Jews must first be ethnically cleansed.

Anthony de Rothschild began by stressing that there would be no “discrimination ... against any group of its citizens” in the Jewish state, not even “to meet immediate needs”, as equality and non-discrimination were principles “for which Jewry has always stood”. Weizmann and Ben-Gurion also assured the sceptics. However, Weizmann’s ‘equality’ included the transfer of most non-Jews out of Palestine while permitting “a certain percentage of Arab and other elements” to remain in his Jewish state, the insinuation being as a pool of cheap labour.

Anthony de Rothschild’s vision of equality and non-discrimination (‘not even to meet immediate needs’) was equally meaningless: it “depended on turning an Arab majority into a minority”, and to achieve this, there would be “no equal rights” for non-Jews.

Cohen found the scheme dangerous “for everyone concerned”, submitting that the Zionists were “starting with the kind of aims with which Hitler had started”, and which “seemed to be based on one religion and one race”. Cohen did not stop there: he suggested that if a state with equality for everyone were indeed intended, the state should be named with a neutral geographic term such as ‘Palestine’, not a religious name that denoted “one the basis of race or religion”.

Lewis Bernstein Namier refuted Cohen: he argued that if the state had a non-Jewish name, “they would never get a Jewish majority”.

Ben-Gurion and Weizmann, too, were adamant that the state must have a ‘Jewish’ name, with Ben-Gurion proposing ‘Judea’ as well as the presumed ‘Eretz Israel’. In another obvious but rarely spoken admission, Ben-Gurion clarified that the ‘Jewish state’ was not based on Judaism, not on the Jewish faith; it was, rather, based on being a ‘Jew’.

State of Terror, 72


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