Jerusalem (Oct. 16)
(By Our Jerusalem Correspondent)
Three weeks have passed since the incidents which occurred at the Wailing Wall on the Day of Atonement, and we Jews here in Palestine feel that the first round of our fight has been lost. Palestine Jewry has done all that was possible. It demonstrated, made manifest the indigration of the population. It demonstrated its unity in protest, and the unanimous demand of Palestine Jewry in a manner which is unique in its emphasis and determination. But world Jewry has not given us the support which we expected, nor did the support it did give come in time. There is a proverb which says that “twice blessed is he who gives quickly.”
Thousands of protests should have been hurled at the British Colonial Office and the Foreign Office within the first week after the incident at the Wailing Wall. They should have come from every corner of the earth, from every Jewish Community and organization, from San Francisco to Vladivostock. Then the effect would have been felt. We know that telegrams and demonstrations have no longer the importance they had once upon a time, but if they come pouring in suddenly like a flood, in hundreds and thousands, they must compel attention. If the British Government had received simultaneously telegrams from all its Ambassadors and Consuls abroad stating that the Jewish population there was stirred to indignation over the incidents at the Wailing Wall and demanded an immediate and radical solution of the question. Mr. Amery would surely not have been able to content himself with making a formal reply to the Zionist Executive, transmitting to it the official statement of the Palestine Government.
We here in Palestine accuse the Zionist World Executive in London of having failed to rise to the occasion of not having taken the necessary action, firmly, and in time. This was a moment when world-wide action was needed more than at any time. Only the Zionist World Executive was able to organize a great world-wide Jewish protest movement, and it did not do so. What does it matter if a telegram of protest is received today from the Union of Rabbis in America, and tomorrow from the Jewish Community of Warsaw, and a week later from another Jewish Community somewhere else? It has no effect. One protest is forgotten before the other arrives.
At the present moment the situation is as follows: In Palestine itself the matter will make no progress. The Palestine Government is against us and has openly declared that under no circumstances will it allow any change in the status quo. That is to say, the Jews will continue to have no rights at the Wailing Wall, just as it is now. The Arabs have organized a big countermovement. The Moslem Supreme Council has interviewed the Acting High Commissioner, who has given them assurances which have entirely satisfied them. The question can be solved therefore only in London, and we here are waiting for a world-wide movement to be started, directed from London. The intervention of the League of Nations is not necessary. The question can be solved here on the spot, if only the British Government will give the necessary instructions from London.
Under Article 14 of the Palestine Mandate a Commission has to be appointed to settle any disputes in respect to the Holy Places. But there is no dispute about the Wailing Wall. No one has any claim to the Wailing Wall except the Jews. There is no Christian claim to it, and no Moslem claim either. The Moslems own the places around the Wailing Wall, which constitute a Wakf, a Moslem religious endowment, devoted to social, religious, charitable, and suchlike purposes. The houses surrounding the Wailing Wall are occupied by Moroccan Arabs. It is a sort of Moslem “Kolel,” like the Jewish “Kolels” here from Warsaw, Hungary, etc. The law provides that land and houses belonging to a Wakf must not be sold, but may be exchanged for land or houses situated elsewhere. The Palestine Government, if only it had wished, could have effected such an exchange long ago in regard to the Moslem property at the Wailing Wall. But the Government is generally against us. Secondly, it is afraid of the protests of the Arabs, whom the Government encourages by its own attitude. Only a definite Order issued in London would be able to make any change in the situation. The British Government can decree that because of the justified demands of the Jews, the question of worship at the Wailing Wall must be regulated, and that to prevent any further disputes and conflicts, the area around the Wailing Wall must be expropriated and handed over into the charge of the Jews, who would have to provide the Moroccan Arabs with land and houses elsewhere in exchange for their present property. If this is not done, we may be certain that there will be fresh incidents at the Wailing Wall constantly.
The cornerstone laying of the temple of Knesseth Israel Congregation, Louis ville, Ky., will take place on Sunday. Mayor William B. Harrison, Rabbi Saul Silber, Chicago, and Rabbi Albert N. Mandelbaum, leader of the congregation, will deliver addresses.
Ground for the new temple was broken July 31 and the structure is expected to be ready for occupancy by May 1. The new synagogue will have a seating capacity for 1,250 persons, a religious school, ten class rooms, a Rabbi’s study, an executive office, library and community house. The community house will have accommodations for 600 persons.
Knesseth Israel congregation was formed through the consolidation of two of the oldest orthodox Jewish synagogues, the B’nai Jacob and Bech Hamodrash Hagodel.