Palestine Progressing Despite Depression

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Considerable expansion in the economic and labor spheres is indicated in the report of the Palestine Administration for 1922, today issued. The economic depression notwithstanding. several important commercial enterprises were launched and incorporated during the year, the report shows. The widescale building activity resulted in a decrease in unemployment.

Attention is called to the fact that while there has been much “political discussion” in Palestine during the year under review, there were no disturbances, the discussion being confined to constitutional questions.

Improvement is noted in the railway and postal system, although it is indicated that motor transport, which many passengers prefer, has had a bad effect on the revenue of the government railways.

The American Express Company and Standard Oil are mentioned in the report, the former having opened a bank in Jerusalem, while the latter applied for a concession for reclamation along the Dead Sea.

The report cites the census figures among Jewish workers, showing over 16,000 men and women organized. Of these, some 2,600 are organized in cooperative labor associations. Jewish workers’pay and conditions of labor are shown to be much higher than those of Arab workers employed by Arab employers. An abstract of the full report follows:

The principal event of the year under review was the approval by the Council of the League of Nations of the British mandate for Palestine and the additional but conditional agreement of France and Italy relating to their respective interests in Syria.

Mention is made of the Palestine Order in Council decreeing the establishment of a Legislative Council, and of the Order granting a formal commission to Sir Herbert Samuel as High Commissioner for Palestine.

The British Government’s White Paper interpreting the Balfour Declaration favoring the Jewish National Home and the resolution of the Council of the League of Nations excluding Transjordania from Articles of the Palestine Mandate are also cited.

Measures taken in concert with the Zionist Organization in matters affecting the establishment of the Jewish National Home are covered in the report which shows that while there had been much political discussions during the year, it was along constitutional lines, no disturbances occurring anywhere.

Government revenues for 1921 and 1922 amounted to £E2,312,243, as against an expenditure of £E1,881,108. The surplus, however, may not be retained by the government but is chargeable to any liability which Palestine may owe on account of the Ottoman debt to be imposed under the Turkish Treaty.

The general economic depression did not affect adversely Palestinian trade to an appreciable extent. Imports and exports increased although values had fallen. Continuous expansion is noted in internal commerce. Twenty new companies wre incorporated while there were neither bancruptcies nor compulsory liquidations of established firms.

Country-wide building activity resulted in the absence of considerable unemployment. The agricultural recovery, too. was satisfactory. The area of cultivation had been increased. Tobacco-growing is making rapid strides and the last orange season was unusually profitable.

Competition of motor vehicles caused a decline in the railway revenue despite the many improvements which the Government introduced. Postal business showed a considerable increase. As against the pre-war average the number of tourists was doubled during 1922.

Of the 8128 immigrants, only 284 were non-Jews. The 7844 Jews came mostly from East-European countries. Finding it impossible to settle permanently in Palestine, 1418 immigrants left the country. Altogether the emigration from Palestine was 2939.

American shipping totalled slightly over 5 per cent of the 1776 ships which entered the port. The British percentage is 27.76. Palestinian-owned ships constituted a little under 11 percent of the total. Lack of harbour accommodations has proven a serious impediment to trade and development.

Banking institutions of all sorts showed a remarkable zeal. The Anglo-Egyptian Bank, a British concern, opened new branches in Ramalah, and Amman. The Imperial Ottoman Bank established branches in Ramalah, Bethlehem and Nablus. The American Express Company is doing business in Jerusalem. In addition there is a new Jewish Building Loan and Savings Association, the Central Cooperative Bank founded by the Palestine Development Council of New York, the Mortgage Bank established by the Zionist Organization, and the Jewish Workers Bank.

Applicants for concessions included the Standard Oil and the Turkish Petroleum Company. The development of sulphur baths of Tiberias, the swamps of lake Huleh, the salt deposits around the Dead Sea are contemplated by various applicants. Concessions were granted for generating hydro-electric energy on the river Auja near Jaffa and for extracting salt from the sea at Athlit. The former was granted to the Jewish engineer Ruttenberg, the latter also to a Jewish company.

A Jewish workers’census shows 12,278 men, anb 4,164 women employed in agriculture, building trades, and public works. The Jewish Cooperative Labor Association claims a membership of 2660. supposed to be the largest organization of its kind in existence. Jewish employees working for Jewish European employers generally work 8 hours a day, receive an adequate wage and work under proper European conditions.

Arab employees, especially those who work for Arab employers, put in many more hours and receive a much smaller wage. Wages of unskilled labor has fallen 20 to 25 per cent., skilled labor wages having remained constant.

The anti-malarial campaign has been productive of good results, deaths from malaria in 1922 totalling 65 as against 113 in 1921. A malarial research unit has been ecquipped by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, operating with the Government Department of Health.

Trachoma continues the scourge in southern Palestine, probably 97% of the population being afflicted with this eye disease. It is estimated that only 15% of northern Palestine suffer from trachoma. Except for small-pox in Hebron in January, measles in Gaza and Ramalah in February, no epidemics occurred during the year.

Land transactions during the year involved £E1,156,429, covering 74,299 dunams which changed hands. Efforts to settle Jewish ex-soldiers near Hebron were temporarily abandond when no water was found.

The report concludes with a statement that most Jewish immigrants settle in Jerusalem, Jaffa. Haifa and Tiberias, whither they are attracted by the urban building activities. Many Jews are adopting Biblical Hebrew names in substitution of their previous names, 1643 such certificates having been issued in 1922.

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