Jerusalem (Dec. 5)
The “thirteen points” which were dwelt upon by the High Commissioner in his statement of correction to the League of Nations’ Council on the matter of the Mandates Commission’s report on Palestine have become a subject of dispute between the High Commissioner and the Arab Executive, which has sent a reply to His Excellency attempting to show that every one of his “points” is “either mistaken, one-sided or contrary to facts.”
Briefly the outstanding statements made in the reply of the Arab Executive are:
Your Excellency’s statement that the Supreme Moslem Council was established not after strong representations being made by the Moslem inhabitants of Palestine but on the initiative of the Government is mistaken. Practically every Arab paper in Palestine has published long articles in this connection exposing the urgent demand of the people for such establishment since the year 1919.
“Your Excellency denies that the Turkish Mahlul Land Law and its enforcement have driven any proprietor to sell his land. It is observed that those who sell their lands do not mention the causes of their action to the Government. It is, therefore, unsafe to deny that fact with a sweeping statement and without making a real investigation. As a matter of fact, a great many specific instances could be cited, etc.
“Your Excellency writes in contradiction to this Committee’s statement that during the latter part of the year 1923, ‘only 100 immigrants were admitted for the purpose of entering the labor market, the small number of other immigrants, who came in, were either members of the families of persons already in the country or individuals possessing means of their own.’ But it is a broadly known fact that during that year a great number of immigrants smuggled themselves in from the Syrian boundaries. The several acts and attempts of suicide among Jewish immigrants of the second category mentioned above because of humiliating poverty, show that a great part of them must have never possessed independent means. The Labor and Immigration Departments being both more or less in Jewish hands, immigration restrictions imposed by Your Excellency have had only a slight effect.
“Your Excellency’s contradiction to the statement that police distribution was inefficient and followed political requirements is unjustified. A reference to the police registers will show the disgraceful insecurity of the trunk high roads all over Palestine, owing to their unguarded condition, while the main bodies of the Police forces were lying in Jerusalem, Sarafand, Jaffa and Haifa to do little but await political strifes.
“Taxation per head is said to be Â£1,750 instead of Â£3,500 as quoted in this Committee’s report. It seems that Your Excellency has made your calculation from the reduced budget of last year. It was made clear in the Committee’s report that the two middle years of 1922 and 1923 were taken as an average for the four years which that report covers, viz: from 1920-1924. Hence Your Excellency’s error.
“Your Excellency’s letter rejects the fact that salaries of Government servants were fixed four years ago when cost of living was three times as much as it is now. If we take wheat, the stable element of food, the price of which is usually followed by prices of almost all other local products we find that the decrease was more than three times the original value; for wheat prices fell in 1920-1921. thanks to the Government’s land policy from P. 95-120 to P. 25-32 for the Tabba. The fall in prices of nearly all imported elements of food and clothing had in this period reached less than one half their previous value, etc.
“In contradiction to the statement that the Governor’s Office in Jerusalem occupies a building which would have been capacious enough to hold all the departments of the ex-Government, Your Excellency states that the building in question is also accomodating the offices of the High Commissioner, Secretariat, etc. Your Excellency will admit the fact that the departments mentioned have removed to this building only recently. During the greater part of the four years under review these departments occupied a huge building known as the Government House which Your Excellency now occupies as private residence. The present Governor of Jerusalem had during the greater part of these four years no less than five assistants each occupying a room, etc.
“Your Excellency has misunderstood the statement that Hebrew is spoken by no more than one-half per cent of the population. The statement means that inhabitants, who usually and in their homes speak Hebrew as their mother tongue, are only one-half per cent of the population. As a matter of fact, it is believed that even less than ‘four thousand’ Jews in Palestine treat the Hebrew language as above described. This Committee admits that a greater percentage of the Jews know the Hebrew language, but in their homes and business, the overwhelming majority speak Jargon, German, Spanish, Arabic, etc., but not Hebrew.
“Your Excellency treats as contrary to fact the statement that all new road and railway extensions built by your administration were to or from Jewish Colonies. But in naming these extensions Your Excellency has endorsed this Committee’s statement, noting that the road mentioned between Nazareth, Tiberias, Safad, Affuleh, Nazareth, Haifa and Tulkarem-Kalkilia were only repaired thus not falling within the scope of our argument. All other roads mentioned in your letter were to or from Jewish colonies besides those of Beit Nabala and Sarafand which were constructed for Military purposes.