Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

Palestine Stamps case, 1925

[language in Palestine]

Palestine Stamps Case

British court, Haycraft C.J. and Corrie J.
Source: The Palestine Bulletin, 11 October 1925



The Supreme Court  heard yesterday ex-parte the complaint against the Government brought by Mr. Jamal Jusseini (on behalf of the Arab Executive), represented by the advocate, Ouni. The charge brought was that the Hebrew initials of "Eretz Israel" be taken off the Palestine stamps and that only the Hebrew word, "Palestine," remain.  Judgment was reserved.


Source: The Palestine Bulletin, 13 October 1925


As already reported, the Chief Justice, Sir Thomas Haycraft, and Mr. Justice Corrie, heard on Saturday last the complaint preferred by Mr. Jamal Husseini against the Palestine Government.  The plaintiff demanded that the Court should oblige the Government to remove on "stamps" and other official documents the Hebrew letters "E-I" (being the initials for the Hebrew word, "Eretz-Israel," leaving only the word "Palestine" in Hebrew.

   Counsel for the plaintiff based his prosecution on Article 22 of the British Mandate for Palestine that states that anything inscribed in one of the official languages must be transcribed into the other two languages.  The initials "E-I" (Eretz Israel) were inscribed in Hebrew only, in contravention to the provisions of the Mandate. The Chief Justice asked Counsel whether he would agree that the initials "E-I" be also inscribed in Arabic and English.  Counsel replied in the negative.  Their Honours then pointed out that the initials "E-I" was the translation of Palestine. Counsel contended that "E-I" was not the right translation of "Palestine" their meaning being "The Land of the Jews."  He said that "Palestine" was already inscribed, and that the affixing of the initials "E-I" was tautological.  He was of opinion that their addition constituted a political point to prove that the land was that of the Jews. The Palestinians and the Jews were two separate nations, existing at separate times, and the meaning of one did not apply to the other.  He requested the Court therefore that: it should order the deletion of the initials "E-I" from stamps and other official documents in Palestine - or alternatively, to order the inscription of the words "Suria El Jenobia" (Southern Syria), Palestine's Arabic cognomen.

   The Court then considered whether it was competent to deal with the question.  Counsel for the plaintiff had relied on that article in the Palestine Constitution that states that any part of the population may call the Government to law for its actions, that oppose the law and that may affect the interests of a part of the inhabitants, bringing the Artas case as a precedent.

   The Chief Justice opposed the illustration that the Artas case was a precedent. Any part of the population, it was true, could bring the Government to law upon questions affecting its interest, but he was not of opinion that "E-I" constituted such danger.

   Counsel contended that there was a moral damage to a part of the population, but he did not prove that the Government could be brought to Court for any moral hurt. The Court considered that the points raised should be examined further, and accordingly adjourned the case "sine die."


Source: The Palestine Bulletin, 18 October 1925


   "Davar" states that no great importance is attached in Government circles to the Palestine "stamps" trial, the plaintiff in which had taken the Artas case as a precedent.  It is thought that the Supreme Court will dismiss the action.

   "Davar" is further informed that some Jewish circles intend to submit an action to the Supreme Court demanding that "W-I," which is now bracketed after "Palestine" in Hebrew, be written in full, "Eretz-Israel" and unbracketed.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School