Palestine has made important strides forward, in spite of the financial depression in the country caused principally by the economic crisis in Poland, according to a statement issued by Emanuel Neumann, General Director of the United Palestine Appeal, in which he summarizes the work in and for Palestine in the year 5686.
“The past year has been particularly difficult in the work of Palestinian reconstruction,” Mr. Neumann’s statement reads, “but the difficulties were not so much internal as external, more particularly the economic collapse which overtook Polish Jewry during this year. This crisis affected Palestine in two ways: in the first place it cut down seriously the income of the two great national upbuilding funds for Palestine — the Keren Hayesod and the National Fund. In the second place, it brought about a practical stoppage of private investment funds for Palestine and a large decrease in the number of economically independent immigrants. For example, while in the first seven months of the year 5685 only 4,000 of the 15,000 immigrants required assistance, the first seven months of the year 5686 brought 15,468 immigrants of whom 10,734 belonged to the Chalutzim class, for whom various forms of assistance are required. Thus, while the income from Polish Jewry was practically stopped, the need of the Palestine immigrants became greater and larger means than ever were required to provide for the immigrants and for establishing them in agriculture and industry.
“A striking illustration is furnished by the Chassidic colonies. The colonies of the Yabloner and Kusinitz Chassidim were originally established as self-supporting settlements, drawing their support from Poland. The Polish crisis, however, placed them in a helpless position. In these circumstances, the Palestine Zionist Executive came to their assistance through the Keren Hayesod, which took over the support of these colonies, while the National Fund placed additional tracts of land at their disposal.
“If we have been able through this difficult year, to preserve our institutions in Palestine, and to embark on new undertakings, it is due on the one hand, to the extraordinary idealism of Palestinian Jewry, especially the Chalutzim, and on the other hand, to the Jews of America, who have understood the situation and have generously responded to the United Palestine Appeal. The Appeal, in which the most important Zionist funds are united, has been successful in its effort, a fact which encourages the Zionist leaders and workers in their expectation that American Jewry will in the course of the coming year make a still greater effort for the upbuilding of the Jewish National Home.
“If, during the difficult year that has just ended, we had done no more than maintain our various activities and institutions, that would in itself have been a great achievement. Our activities in Palestine are manifold. Of the hundred agricultural settlements in the land, 43 are dependent on the Keren Hayesod and Jewish National Fund. The Keren Hayesod maintains the Hebrew School system, which embraces also the schools of the Mizrachi. This system consists of 7 elementary schools, 6 secondary schools, 8 trade schools and 46 kindergartens, with over 600 teachers and 16.000 pupils. In addition the Keren Hayesod supports the Orthodox Mizrachi institutions in towns and colonies, the work of the Cultural Commission of the labor organization, which maintains a series of kindergartens and elementary schools in the agricultural settlements, evening courses for adults, technical courses, etc.
“The health work of the Hadassah medical organization, which is embraced in the United Palestine Appeal through the Keren Hayesod as well as through the budget of the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization, takes in hospitals and clinics in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, Tiberias, Safed and other places, besides its medical and sanitation services in the colonies, the Chalutzim camps, and schools.
“The Hebrew University, which is the pride of Jewry, is supported partly by the Keren Hayesod, and since the establishment of the United Palestine Appeal in America the Hebrew University fund has become part of the Appeal.
“The Keren Hayesod has invested substantial sums in the Ruttenberg scheme it has established a Mortgage Bank for the promotion of house building. It grants loans to labor cooperatives, industrial undertakings and municipalities.
“Despite the difficulties of the past year, however, the Palestine Zionist Executive has been enabled, through the funds of the United Palestine Appeal, to expand its work, especially to extend the existing colonies and, as stated above, to take over the Chassidic settlements. It has made an investment of $150,000 in the Soskin plan for intensive agricultural settlement. It has invested $25,000 in the new city of Afuleh that is being built by the American Zion Commonwealth. The National Fund has purchased additional tracts in Amasia, Zemach, Um-Jani, Daganiah and Kubbah. The first steps have been taken for the establishment of an Industrial Bank, and a new industrial city near Haifa has been started.
“There were other items of expansion too numerous to detail in the present statement. We have reason to expect that American Jewry will respond generously to the appeal for seven and a half million dollars that has been launched for the coming year. Thousands of applications for immigration certificates have been received by the Palestine Zionist Executive, from Poland, Russia, Roumania, and other lands. Palestine bristles with numberless opportunities for further development, agricultural colonization, industry, commerce, etc. The utilization of these opportunities depends in the largest measure upon the response of the Jews of America.”