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Mary Fels Comments on Palestine Conditions As Agency Starts Work

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The report of the arrivai in Palestine of the first group of American experts of the Palestine Survey Commisston under the auspices of the Jewish Agency was welcomed yesterday by Mrs. Mary Fels, well known philanthropist and president of the Joseph Fels Foundation. Mrs. Fels has made substantial contributions to the Palestine upbuilding work and was largely responsible for the creation of the B’nai Benjamin Bank, which serves the needs of the sons of the first Palestine pioneers.

In an interview with the representative of the “Jewish Daily Bulletin”, Mrs. Fels said:

“The commission of inquiry as a result of Mr. Louis Marshall’s and Dr. Weizmann’s efforts is a very necessary thing. Today, unforturately, Jewish work in Palestine is not proceeding on sound lines. The Hadassah health work and the Zionist education work are being conducted with Zionist funds, thereby relieving the Palestine government of this responsbility and permitting it to concentrate its efforts on the Arab population.

“I believe that it will become evident to this commission that a surplus of revenue over expenditures in the Palestine Government’s budget is only possible because the Zionists are financing undertakings which in every other country is the concern of the Government.

“I believe that the center of the activity in Palestine should be colonization. Expenditures of funds for such purposes will benefit the Jews.

The present unemployment crisis is due to the short sighted policy of the Zionist Executive in concentrating Jews in towns, as in Tel-Aviv. When Jews are placed on the land, there is no unemployment among them. On my last visit to Palestine, I arranged for the importation of 100,000 grape vines from the selected vineyards of France which were transplanted in many of the Judean colonies where the older Jewish settlements are located.”

Commenting on the labor difficulties in Palestine, Mrs. Fels declared that unlike labor in England, which is the hope and strength of Great Britain, the Palestinian labor movement is theory ridden. The Jews of Eastern Europe who make up the recent immigration to Palestine, bring with them an outlook on labor conditions gained from their environment. The Jewish Federation of Labor in Palestine is attempting to fit Palestine to their theories instead of fitting themselves to Palestine’s requirements. By ranting against capitalism in Palestine where none exists, they produce the effect of scaring off investments by middle class Jews. The Jewish Federation of Labor, by underbidding private contractors in construction work and forcing the Zionist Organization to contribute to its deficit, makes the Zionists responsible for the throttling of open competition and hurting independent contractors.

“Another illustration of the out-of-bounds attitude of the labor federation is furnished by their action in calling a strike of the 500 laborers employed in the construction of a government road to Zichron because 40 Mizrachi laborers were engaged on the same project who were not enrolled members of their organization,” Mrs. Fels declared.

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