Jerusalem (Nov. 6)
For the first time since the Commission of Inquiry began its investigation into the Palestine outbreak, the anti-Jewish hostility of British officials in the Palestine administration, long pointed to as a contributing cause of the feeling in the country, was brought to the attention of the Commissioners at the hearing yesterday.
Sir Boyd Merriman, counsel for the Jewish Agency, climaxed his cross-examination of Major Foley, Police Superintendent of the Northern District, with the charge that he was anti-Jewish and therefore, in all probability, his evidence was prejudiced.
“Are you surprised that the Jews of Haifa think there is no love lost between you and them?” asked Merriman.
“You mean they don’t like me?” Foley queried.
“I am instructed that the Jews regard you as their enemy,” Merriman replied.
“That is incorrect. But I am not surprised that the feeling exists, because I punished Jews who would not leave the streets,” Foley stated.
“You had a number of interviews with Jewish notables?” Merriman them questioned. “Yes.” was the reply. Continuing, Merriman queried: “In your last interview on August 27, did you not finish by stating: ‘After all, you fellows started the riots.’ or words to that effect?”
“I don’t think so. No, I didn’t consider them the cause,” Foley asserted.
“Didn’t you say on one occasion that the Jews interfered with the protection policy?” Merriman proceeded. “I may have said that on one or two occasions,” was Foley’s answer.
“What do you now consider the cause of the trouble?” Merriman demanded. “I think the Arab demon
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stration on the night of August 24 started the riot,” Foley replied.
The police failure, despite the fears expressed by the Jews, to halt an Arab wedding procession, advancing to Hedera and Carmel, which acted as the vanguard in the Arab outbreak in the north of Palestine, was the cause of Arab attacks in the Haifa area, Major Foley testified.
After hearing Major Foley’s testimony, the Inquiry Commission adjourned its session this afternoon to continue its tour of the areas attacked. Included in the itinerary were Hebron, Motza and Talpioth.
Major Foley, challenged by Sir Boyd Merriman, counsel for the Jewish Agency, conceded that despite the Jewish alarm and demands for aid, an Arab wedding procession, flanked by two Arab policemen, was permitted to proceed unhalted, becoming later the forerunners of the Arab attackers. However, he said, the mob was checked before it had done much harm.
The Police Superintendent declared that as early as August 18, five days before the actual bloodshed took place, uncontrolled rumors were rife that the Jews had bombed the Mosque of Omer and killed Moslems. He failed to mention what steps, if any, were taken to counteract “these most alarming rumors,” although as he testified, “he knew that they had produced sufficient unrest to cause the Arabs of Transjordania to contemplate crossing into Palestine.” The failure of the police to comprehend the seriousness of the situation was brought out in the testimony of Foley, who stated that the police did not fire the usual danger signal on August 23 and 24, when the attacks were at their height in Jerusalem and Hebron.
Using Foley’s written report, William Henry Stoker, Arab counsel, asked the witness whether the Jews in Haifa had used firearms. Foley replied that two armed Jews had halted him while visiting the Neve Shaanon quarter, and that he had heard of other shots from Jewish houses. On Monday, August 26, he declared, three carloads of Jews were reported driving about, firing at Arabs of both sexes. One car was captured, he continued, the occupants of which denied that the Jews had fired from Red Cross cars.
Describing the situation in Nablus, Foley laconically remarked, “the troubles soon ended there after the police had shot ten Arabs.”
For the first time since the inquiry has been inaugurated, the Commission was informed of the case of the forty-four Jews of Haifa, imprisoned for a month in the citadel at Acre and refused bail because, from a flour mill in Haifa, they defended themselves against attackers, as well as the case of Mr. Miller, prominent port contractor of Haifa, arrested for the possession of firearms, with his two sons, later released on five hundred pounds bail, and ultimately acquitted. Miller, one of the most prominent Jews in Haifa, was led through the streets of Haifa handcuffed, following his arrest. Asked why Miller had been accorded this treatment, Foley replied that it was the customary procedure. He had no satisfactory explanation for the arrest and imprisonment of the forty-four Jews against whom there was no evidence.
In his cross examination, Merriman brought out that inflammatory speeches in the mosque in Haifa were delivered on Friday by two notorious Moslem agitators, who were presumably sent from Jerusalem to stir up the Haifa Moslems. Sheik Yuness of Jerusalem, whose name is included in the previous testimony as one of the sheiks sent by the Grand Mufti to pacify the crowd in Jerusalem, at the very hour he was allegedly on a peace mission, in actuality was inciting the Haifa Moslems.