In its report on the Arab riots that prompted its formation, the Peel Commission observed: “The Arab Higher Committee was to a large extent responsible for maintaining and protecting the strike last year. The Mufti of Jerusalem as President must bear his due share of responsibility. It is unfortunate that since 1929 no action has been practicable to regulate the question of elections for the Supreme Moslem Council and the position of its President. The functions which the Mufti has collected in his person and his use of them have led to the development of an Arab imperium in imperio. He may be described as the head of a third parallel government.”
The following is the testimony the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, gave before the commission.
A: Mufti: It will not be the first time that Jews have lived under the aegis of an Arab state. In the past it has been the Arab states which were the more compassionate to them. History shows that, during all periods, the Jews only found rest under the protection of Arab rulers. The East was always a shelter for Jews escaping from European pressure.
Q: Lord Peel: You stated that the number of Jews has increased steeply, so that the number of Arabs, which during the time of the conquest was approximately 90% of the total population, has now dropped to 70%.
A: Mufti: That is correct.
Q: Lord Peel: Notwithstanding this, if you reach agreement with the English, will you be prepared to allow the Jews to remain in the country?
A: Mufti: That is a matter for the government that will be formed to deal with at the appropriate time. Its principle will be justice, and above all else it will concern itself with the interests and benefit of the country.
Q: Lord Peel: Do you think that the Jews will accept this declaration without receiving something more substantial? Such an oral declaration will not convince them.
A: Mufti: Jews living in the other Arab states currently enjoy freedoms and rights.
Q: Lord Peel: Does His Eminence think that this country can assimilate and digest the 400,000 Jews now in the country?
Question: Some of them would have to be removed by a process kindly or painful as the case may be?
Mufti: We must leave all this to the future.
Following the Mufti’s evidence, the COMMITTEE NOTED:
We are not questioning the sincerity or the humanity of the Muft’s intentions and those of his colleagues, but we cannot forget what recently happened, despite the treaty provisions and explicit assurances, to the Assyrian minority in Iraq; nor can we forget that the hatred of the Arab politician for the National Home has never been concealed and that it has now permeated the Arab population as a whole.
The Grand Mufti haj Amin Al-Hussaini; Testimony Before Royal (Peel) Commission of Inquiry, (1937).
Photo: American Colony (Jerusalem), Photo Dept., photographer, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.