What did the Zionists do to build a country during the Mandate Period?
Inspired by the Zionist ideal, supported by Zionist funds, operating under conditions made possible by Zionist political effort, thousands of Jews migrated from Europe to Palestine and there set about incarnating the ancient dream of return to Israel.They were not encouraged by fellow Jews or anyone else. The were assured that Palestine was an arid, backward country where Jews could not survive, let alone be creative; and that in any case it could absorb no more than a handful of settlers. Discouraged from all sides, grappling with heartbreaking difficulties, these Jews accomplished the impossible.
In one generation Zionists purchased underdeveloped, underutilized land and built a community of almost 600,000 persons, free and self-reliant. European Jews who had lost all rapport with soil and workshop came to Palestine to become farmers, mechanics, sailors, and fishermen. They caused the desert to blossom and turned villages into cities. They introduced modernity and democracy into the slumbering Near East. In February 1919, the Zionist Organization presented a "Statement on Palestine" to theParis Peace Conference. It included material showing the substantial Zionist investmentin Palestine and the dramatic progress to date, for example:
- Jewish activities, particularly during the last thirty years, have been directed to Palestine within the measure that the Turkish administrative system allowed. Some millions of pounds sterling have been spent in the country, particularly in the foundation of agricultural settlements. These settlements have been, for the most part, highly successful. With enterprise and skill the Jews have adopted modern scientific methods and have shown themselves to be capable agriculturalists. Hebrew has been revived as a living language; it is the medium of instruction in the schools and the tongue is in daily use among the rising generation. The foundations of a Jewish University have been laid at Jerusalem and considerable funds have been contributed for the creation of its building and for its endowment. Since the British occupation the Zionist Organization has expended in Palestine approximately BP50,000 a month upon relief, education and sanitation. To promote the future development of the country, great sums will be needed for drainage, irrigation, roads, railways, harbors and public works of all kinds, as well as for land settlement and house building.
- "Left to themselves, the Arabs of Palestine would not in a thousand years have taken effective steps towards the irrigation and electrification of Palestine. They would have been quite content to dwell—a handful of philosophic people—in wasted sun-drenched plains, letting the waters of the Jordan flow unbridled and unharnessed into the Dead Sea."