Harry Sacher

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Harry Sacher (c. 1882-1971), one of the original members of ‘the Manchester School’ of Zionism, worked at the Guardian as a journalist from 1905.

Sacher married Miriam, one of the daughters of Michael Marks, co-founder of Marks and Spencer (M&S), and became a director and historian of the company. The M&S leaders of Sacher's generation, Israel Sieff (who was married to Miriam's sister) and Simon Marks were also active Zionists.

In the 1920s, Sacher worked as a barrister in Palestine. (This, presumably, was the rationale for naming the Harry and Michael Sacher Institute for Legislative Research and Comparative Law in the Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, founded in 1959.) During this time, he was a member of the Zionist Executive in Jerusalem. Returning to London in 1929 to become a director of Marks and Spencer, he became one of Weizmann’s closest friends and advisers, and occasionally took part in negotiations with the British government.

Sacher and the Balfour Declaration

In 1917, Sacher, with Nahum Sokolow, wrote the original draft of the Balfour Declaration. Before it was sent by Balfour to Rothschild, the Sacher-Sokolow draft was amended -- Lord Milner insisted that guarantees be inserted for the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.

In early 1917, Sacher had caused some difficulties for Weizmann's negotiations with the British government. He had published, in the 15 February issue of the weekly Palestine (which he had founded with another Guardian journlist Herbert Sidebotham), an article entitled The Boundaries of Palestine which claimed an area that included Sidon in the north and Damascus and the eastern bank of the Jordan in the east. This angered Sir Mark Sykes who had negotiated the secret Sykes-Picot agreement with the French, under which Sidon and Damascus were to be within the French sphere of influence.

Felix Warburg's view of Sacher

Felix Warburg, the banker, knew Sacher -- they were both on the first Board og Governors of the Hebrew University (which was opened in 1925) along with such others as Weizmann, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud and Martin Buber. However, he regarded Sacher as a hothead. Rafael Medoff states, in Felix Warburg and the Palestinian Arabs:A Reassessment, that:

In the summer of 1931 rumours suggested that British Zionist activist Harry Sacher might be named the Jewish adviser to the commission.Warburg was alarmed to learn from Hexter that Sacher had once made a remark “to the effect that he would not believe an Arab under oath.” Warburg lobbied against Sacher ’s candidacy,warning that the appointment of such a “strongheaded avowed anti-Arab personality ” would suggest to the Arabs “that the Jews are their enemies and have no genuine desire to find a modus vivendi.”Arab-Jewish relations had to be kept out of the hands of belligerent Zionists and managed instead by level-headed patrician types.

Sacher's support for compulsory "transfer"

The Zionist settler Chaims Simons, in his Historical Survey of Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 1895 - 1947, states that:

Earlier at this same meeting [of the Jewish Agency Executive in London in November 1942], Harry Sacher, a lawyer and a British Zionist leader, had asked whether the Executive were "in favour of transfer of the Arabs either by compulsion or persuasion." [Lord] Melchett commented that instead of "sucking people from the desert into Palestine" the stream should be diverted in the opposite direction. He felt that for this purpose ten million pounds would be required so that "Palestinian Arabs could be settled in the Euphrates areas, Iraq etc. and by emigration and transfer, the minority status of the Jews would rapidly change." Namier [Lewis Namier was an English historian and Zionist who had served as political secretary to the Zionist Executive between the years 1927-31. In 1930, he had been an intermediary in obtaining the MacDonald Letter which in effect cancelled the Passfield White Paper.], however, doubted "whether it would be possible to get the consent of the Palestinian Arabs." Agreement by the Great Powers would be easier to obtain. Sacher answered that the problem of minorities was not limited to Palestine, but it was a European problem. He stated that "he was prepared to proceed on the basis of compulsory transfer of - say - half a million people."

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