28 SEPTEMBER 1929, Page 17


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

Sin,7-Although I know little beyond what I have read in the newspapers about the rights and wrongs of the present situa- tion in Palestine, may I, as one who has lived in the East for nearly twenty years and knows and loves both' Hindu and Moslem India; say a word about our general attitude

towards races under our Mandate or Government ? , As Mr. W. E. D. Allen very rightly says in a recent letter to the Sunday Times—" we should examine our own inter- pretation and the Arai; interpretation of civilization. The civilization of sky-scrapers and charabancs may be the ultimate expression of the human spirit. On the other hand, it may not. Gandhi, Ibn Saud, and Habibullah seem to prefer the latter view."

Could we not now renounce, once and for all, the foolish idea that our mission is to civilize the brown races ? Our mission to savages may be that : I do not know the savage races, but I read that Sir. W. Arbuthnot Latie considers that they eat more sensibly than we do. But even the smuggest and most self-satisfied of us in the West must admit that Arabs and Indians and Chinese are not savages and are in another category. The races I have mentioned have had a great past, and now seem to be awakening to a great future. They need our help in trade, business organ- ization, and finance ; and will welcome it in these spheres. To safeguard such activities, and the interests of our merchants, we may need armed force for some time (the convulsions of a continent do not subside with the rapidity of a human cough, and it may be a century or two before the East is at peace with itself), but do not let us complicate matters meanwhile by taking upon ourselves any more moral or political responsibility than is absolutely necessary in these regions.

If we want to give the reality and not the shadow of self- government to India we must not follow the democratic institutions of this country, which, whether they do or do not represent the will of the people of Great Britain, are certainly unsuitable to a land of two hundred million peasants, who can neither read nor write, but are not for that reason by any means uncivilized.

Why is there this tacit assumption in nearly all the newspaper comment that I have read that the Arabs are less civilized than the Jews ? Let us remember that the Arabs taught us decimals and algebra, and conquered the flower of our chivalry for centuries. Let us remember, moreover, (a) that we are the greatest Moslem Power in the world, (b) that " atrocities " have been committed by both sides in this Palestine dispute, (c) that the Arabs are in great majority in Palestine and must eventually have the predominant voice in the administration of their country if the principle of self-determination is to mean anything. We 2annot, of course, go back on our word to the Zionists, and must see that our pledge is respected. But eventually the French and ourselves will have to give back to the Arabs all the lands that we now administer under Mandate. Our present Government has acted wisely both in Egypt and Iraq. Let us hope that it will be equally wise with regard to the other Moslem nations now in their birth-throes- there are three more at least—so that these peoples, whether they remain separate entities or become a Confederation, look on us as their friends rather than as enemies.

I am afraid that our present attitude towards Palestine may favour unduly the more arrogant dreams of the Zionists. Neither Palestine, nor Egypt, nor Transjordania, nor Syria, nor the Hejaz, nor the various political entities of the Indian sub-continent intend to fashion their political, intellectual, or

. religious future along European lines. Why . should they ? Why should we want them to ? There is room in the world for half a dozen creeds and cultures.—I am, Sir, &c.,