[The purpose of the Digest is informative: Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does indicate approval.-Editor.]
Observations on the present situation in Palestine are contained in the New York “Times” of May 9 from its Jerusalem correspondent, T. Walter Williams. The correspondent praises the Zionist immigrants, who, he stresses, have changed the appearance of the country, but he offers criticism on a number of points. Thus, he writes, inter alia:
“There is a slump in business in Palestine at the present time because of a lack of capital and the inexperience of the people. There has also been trouble with the labor organizations, whose leaders are mostly Russian Communists and are trying to get control of the Municipal Governments in Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa. Wealthy Jews who came from Europe and America to invest their money have gone away because they could not see any prospect of a good return.”
Voicing the opinion that stricter immigration laws are needed to keep out old people who have no capital and are liable to become public charges, the correspondent gives the following views on Tel-Aviv:
“Tel-Aviv, the new Jewish city which adjoins ancient Jaffa, is going ahead and has a population nearly 40,000. What they are all going to live upon I have not been able to discover, as no one I have met in this country seems to know. They say trade, in a vague sort of way, and also express the hope that wealthy Jews who have retired from business in the United States will come to Tel-Aviv to end their days.
“In 1924 there was a large influx of Jews from Poland with moderate capital, which caused a real estate boom in Tel-Aviv. They bought large tracts of land from the Moslem owners. When the fluctuation of the zloty came in Poland, most of them lost their fortunes and further immigration into Palestine from that country of men with moderate capital stopped. About twenty-five of the leading speculators in Tel-Aviv went bankrupt through the stoppage of their credit by the banks and had to dispose of their land holdings at heavy losses.”
In conclusion the correspondent summarizes his general impressions, in the course of which he lauds Col. Frederick H. Kish, the political representative of the Zionist Organization in Palestine.
“Those who have known the prewar Palestine,” he declares, “are much surprised when they visit the country to find how the Zionist immigrants have changed its appearance by building substantial farm houses and good roads and tilling the land in every direction. In the rock sections the old terraces of the Bible days have been partly restored for the cultivation of grapevines.
“Americans who have resided in Palestine for many years all agree that the country is essentially an agricultural one and must be developed to be made self-supporting along those lines before money should be spent on industrial development.
“Colonel Frederick H. Kish, the present head of the Zionist Administration in Jerusalem, has a fine war record and is young, active and intelligent. He is enthusiastic over the future of Palestine and says that in less than three years the last link of railway between Haifa and Tripoli in Syria, via Beirut, about 160 miles, will be built, and Americans will be able to travel from Paris to Jerusalem in a through sleeping car, via Constantinople and Aleppo, in four and a half days.”