Catholics in Palestine Object to the Proposed Revision of Tax System
Menu JTA Search

Catholics in Palestine Object to the Proposed Revision of Tax System

Download PDF for this date

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

Catholics in Palestine are reported to take an oppostional stand on the proposed legislation of the government for a revision of the taxation system.

Dr. Alexander Mombelli, Jerusalem Correspondent of the National Catholic Welfare Conference News Service, writing of the attitude of Catholics in the country, states:

“Proposed legislation in Palestine menaces the continued existence of Catholic schools and hospices in the Holy Land.

“The danger is revealed by a careful study of a skilfully drawn measure proposed for the regulation of the tax exemption of religious and charitable institutions. The act, if passed, would subject Catholic institutions entirely to the will of the Government, in fiscal matters, and, in time, would force the abandonment of some of the schools and hospices.

“During the last two years the English authorities have introduced so many innovations into the civil and penal laws of the Holy Land that now one finds it difficult to recognize the basic Ottomon code which had been in force for centuries. These modernizing reforms, in spite of the good intentions of their authors, have preoccupied the minds of Catholics, for, from time to time, they have seen rise a real danger to their religious liberty, or an attack upon their ancient immunities on missionary grounds.

“Only last year the Catholics found themselves face to face with a proposed legislative measure which, patently, would have stripped private educational institutions of their traditional autonomy. The danger of the act–a first step towards the imposition of state control on the schools of religious congregations — was so obvious that all afiected parties — Christians, Jews and Moslems — united in a forcerul protest. In the face of this opposition the British High Commissioner announced that the proposed law would be changed to coincide with the wishes of the people of the country.

Now has come the measure for the regulation of the tax exemption of religious and charitable institutions. The comments of the press here made in anticipation of the publication of the bill, could not then realize the real danger that it held for Catholic institutions. But a complete draft of the measure, published in the “Official Gazette,” enables one, with a little study, to underline the injustices that it presents.

“The general impression one receives from a diligent study of the text and the spirit of the proposed ordinance is that, if enacted, it will work to the great detriment of Catholic establishments, while evident attempts are made to increase exemptions in favor of the Zionists. It is interesting that the one chiefly responsible for all legisative reform in Palestine is the Attorney General to the Jerusalem Government, a Jew.

“In the bill, it appears, there are two ways of dealing. One gathers this from the distinctions made on the grounds of race or religion along institutions of a similar character. For example, exemption from taxation is admitted in favor of hostelries for the accommodation of immigrants, while the exemption is denied to hostelries accommodating pilgrins. The injustice here is evident. How may Catholies reconcile the introduction of tax immunity for Zionists coming in#### Palestine to help raise the price of immnodities and to add to the economical uneasiness caused by unemployment, and the simultancous abolition of the ancient tax immunity extended to the Case Novac and the hospices of religious congregations for the Christian pilgrims whose visits to the Holy Land bring manifest advantages to the country’s commerce each year?

“Another arbitrary distiaction is made, it seems. with regard to buildings of educational institutions which are conducted for profit,’ and ‘the land unifized for the purposes of agricultural instruction. With regard to the former, we are told the tax is applied to the Arts and Trades School of the Priests of Zion and probably to the printing office of the Franciscan Custody, while the agricultural institutes of the Jews are exempted.

“Because of their charitable mission to the country, the religious institutes in Palestine always were exempted under the Ottoman regime from any taxation. The English authorities, regarding the situation as an ana’chronism, are seeking to change matters.

“Therefore, they provide that henceforth even the convents shall pay the municipal tax rates, though for the first 10 years they shall be required to pay only one-half of the municipal rate. In a special paragraph it is stipulated that only those ?religious, charitable and educational institutions shall be exempted from taxation which are certified to be such by competent authority. It is anticipated by the people here that the competent authority will be the Government itself. And if one adds to this the provision that ‘the High Commissioner may make, and when made may vary or revoke Regulations,’ one realizes how directly dependent upon the absolute will of the Government Catholic institutions are made with regard to their fiscal contributions.

“That constitutes a great menace to Catholic enterprises in the Holy Land, which will be compelled to curtail their activities if they are forced to pay taxes. Then, their incomes derived from American and European charity, will be insufficient to sustain their present undertakings,” Dr. Mombelli concludes.

A cable despach of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency from Jerusalem, dated July 2, 1928, stated: Exemption from taxation and the payment of customs duties was granted to religious, charitable and educational institutions by a new ordinance promulgated by the government.

Harry Devine young Olympic star of Worcester. Mass, who received an official welcome from the City of Worcester on his return from abroad, will be given a reception by Jewish organizations here. On August 20, the Avoda Club will meet with the B’nai Brith at the Bancroft Hotel and will have is guest of honor. the young featherweight champion.

Devine, who fought his way to the semifinals after defeating two opponents, lost in his third fight to a boxer representing Holland. He was one of the few members of the American boxing team to win his way to the semi-finals. He holds the title of National Amateur Featherweight Champion.

A committee of nine has been named to take charge of arrangements and includes Samuel Caplan, president of the local lodge, B’nai Brith, Dr. Harry Saidel. Manny Berman and Louis Cramer, all representing the B’nai Brith and Joseph Talamo. president of the Avoda Club who served on the official city reception committee. John Kane, Henry Sher, Allen Price and Abe Sandman.

Harry Devine is the main support of his family and is employed in the Crompton ? Knowles Loom Works. His father, of Italian birth, is dead, his mother is Jewish. Devine attends synagogue and is associated with many Jewish organization in this city.

Mr. and Mrs. Jonah B. Goldstein entertained 140 guests at a concert at their home. in Neponsit Tuesday night as a means of getting together the residents of the community to enlist their interest in the wolk of the Jewish Educational Association.

Mr. Golastein and Bernard Semel outlined the aims of the association and the work of the Committee of One Hundred.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund