Palestine at the Crossroads. By Ernest Main (Allen and Unwin, 7s. 6d.) This is just the kind of book that we should have expected from the author of Iraq, from Mandate to Independence. Mr. Ernest Main brings to this latest study of trouble-riven Palestine a deep personal knowledge of the Arab and of the twisted mentality of the Levantine. Here is Palestine, stripped of all false glamour and meretricious nonsense, portrayed as it actually is, coolly, competently, with something of the impersonality of the surgeon's knife.
Ruthlessly Mr. Main strips the pretensions of both parties of all pretences to false romanticism, and, as a result, the reader may see, in all its high lights, a picture of Palestine as it really is. There is nothing of that anti-Zionism and proArab sympathy with which your usual casual British writer on Palestine indulges. Neither is our author pro-Jewish in sympathy, nor unduly swayed by Britain's imperial claims in the Holy Land, though he has one most vitally and sympathetically important chapter upon this very point. No, coolly and impersonally, Mr. Main removes the false crust of prejudice and lies from matters Palestinian, and shows the whole political situation as it is.
He deals with the effect the Jews have had upon Palestine, he treats fully with the whole tangled skein of the MacMahon letters and the Balfour Declaration, the involved terms of the Mandate, and gives a clear description of the Arab social structure and shows how untrue is the claim of the so-called Arab "intellegentsia" to speak for the Arab population.
Mr. Main seems to think that Palestine has inherited the old Imperial attributes of Malta and the Egypt garrison. He pictures Haifa as the western pier of the Impenal bridge between India and the Mediterranean, and he sees no reason why this pier should not rest on both Arab and Jewish friendship for Great Britain. He shows conclusively that the Arabs have been the gainers by Jewish immigration, and that they have not reaped the benefit because the effendis wish to maintain their own political ascendancy, even though it costs the Arab population most dearly.
I agree with him that Arab ambitions in Palestine are entirely post-War, and that the Arab peasants are callously disregarded by their own leaders in their mad scramble for power. I have every sympathy with the Arabs in their legitimate aspirations, but I agree with Mr. Main that what passes here in England, as a campaign for Arab rights (such as the trouble of last year, and the present acts of terrorism and murder) is nothing but a selfish movement for the maintenance of a tyrannical, oligarchical and medimval ascendancy of a small clique, desperately grubbing for gold and power, over the mass of their own folk.
1", V. D.