Jerusalem (Dec. 2)
Amin El Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and head of the Moslem Supreme Council, charged with the chief responsibility for the riots of August, will today tell his version of the Palestine outbreaks to the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry, in the privacy of his own home. On the strength of an ecclesiastical privilege handed down by the Turks, the Grand Mufti’s testimony will not be given in public. While counsel for both sides will be present, no arrangements have been made for the accommodation of the press, the Mufti evidently desiring no publicity.
At Saturday’s session of the Inquiry Commission, Subhi Khadra, known as the Jabotinsky of the Arabs, was confronted point blank by Sir Boyd Merriman as an inciter of the August bloodshed. By a series of brilliant questions, Merriman made it clear that the young Arab leader, who is certain that the Jews intend to capture the Mosque, but doubts that Arabs murdered Jews at Hebron, knew precisely when the outbreak was scheduled to begin.
Tall, stern, youthful, and almost British in expression, Khadra figured in the evidence of District Commissioner Farraday as the agitator who took the Mufti of Safed toward Jerusalem several days before the massacre at Safed occurred. Described as a member of the Arab Executive and an attorney, Khadra’s chief evidence under the examination of Silley tended to show that in the period between the stabbing of the Jewish youth, Abraliam Mizrachi, and the beginning of the Jerusalem riots on August 23, the police were busy arresting Arabs on the complaints of the Jews, while all the Arab complaints were ignored. Under cross-examination of Preedy, government counsel, the witness was forced to admit that the police had dealt with both Arab cases which he previously cited.
One of the three Moslems who met at the house of H. C. Luke on the eve. of the riots with the Jewish representatives, Isaac Ben Zwi, Jewish labor leader, Braude in behalf of the Zionist, Executive, and Dr. Levy, Khadra testified he understood the Jews believed that the Arabs did not come to discuss amicable relations but to settle the question of the Wailing Wall.
This contention was shattered by Merriman, who introduced the cvi-
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(Continued from Page 1) dence of Luke, who stated that the Jewish representatives had distinctly declared they were unauthorized to negotiate the settlement of the Wailing Wall question, but were authorized only to seek a joint appeal in order to calm the excited populace.
Khadra insisted that the Moslem representatives could not entertain the ciliatory statement drafted by Braude, as to have done so would have been treachery.
After testifying concerning the pacifying activities of the Grand Mufti on August 23, Khadra said he started on a tour of the country the following day in order to mobilize the members of the Arab Executive for an urgent meeting of that body. He visited Nablus, Jenin, Haifa, Tiberias, Safed, everywhere telling the Arabs that their leaders were watching out for their rights.
The witness showed confusion when Merriman tried to show that the real purpose of his journey was to stir up trouble.
Sir Walter Shaw and the members of the Commission displayed much interest in Subba Khadra’s movements, inquiring why it was necessary to personally invite members of the Arab Executive, instead of telegraphing or telephoning them to attend the meeting.
Hedging, Khadra replied: “The situation was dangerous. It was my duty to collect members of the Executive, establish contact with the government, and in conjunction with the government take measures and plead against the disturbances and the bloodshed.”
“I put it to you,” at this point interposed Merriman. “Your object was to incite these places.”
“You are free to think what you like,” the witness answered weakly.
Denying that he is a member of the Society for the Protection of the Mosque, the Aksa, but admitting belief that the Jews intend to take the Mosque of Omar from the Arabs, Khadra played into the hands of Merriman.
The counsel for the Jewish Agency has awaited the opportunity of meeting a responsible Arab leader to confirm such a belief, as did the Elder of Nablus, Hammad, on Friday, it being the Zionist case that the circulation of this monstrous charge was largely responsible for provoking most of the trouble.
“Did you tell your friends of this belief?” asked Merriman.
“No,” answered Khadra.
“Had anything occurred in the ten days before the riots to strengthen your belief?” continued Merriman.
“Yes,” replied the Arab witness.
“Did you discuss this?” asked Merriman. “I might have done so,” said Khadra.
“Then you dropped a bombshell,” declared Merriman, asking: “What time were the Jerusalem riots really intended to start?”
“I don’t approve of the question in this form,” countered Khadra.
Merriman then asked: “Were the riots in Jerusalem intended to start at a certain time?”
“Ask your clients,” was Khadra’s answer.
“I want an answer not your inference,” insisted Merriman.
Silley objected to Merriman’s question on the ground that it assumed Khadra knew the riots were intended.
When Khadra declared that he does not understand what is meant by “intended,” Sir Walter Shaw insisted that he should reply either “yes” or “no” to Merriman’s query. Finally Khadra replied that he does not agree with the assumption that there was any intention.
Turning to another field, Merriman queried: “Did you, as a member of the Arab Executive and an advocate, sign the protests against Sir John Chancellor’s proclamation?”
“Yes,” replied Khadra.
“Was the Hebron case warfare or murder?” Merriman asked.
“I knew nothing about it,” the witness replied.
Merriman repeated the question, instead of answering which, Khadra countered with naming the Arab family which was killed in Jaffa. Sir Walter Shaw interposed: “You are not answering the question.”
Merriman declared: “You signed this protest. I ask again-Was Hebron a fair fight or murder?”
“Cafferata is the proper person to ask.” Khadra then replied.
“Your protest says there was a popular rising in Hebron,” Merriman continued.
“We based our denial of Jewish charges of savagery on the statement by the British Doctor of the Public Health Department,” asserted Khadra.
“Do you agree with the High Commissioner about the unspeakable savagery?” queried Merriman.
“I protested against the proclamation.” replied Khadra.
“Was the High Commissioner right or wrong?” demanded Merriman.
“I disapproved of the proclamation,” Khadra maintained.
Sir Henry Betterton, member of the Commission, at this point, turning to an interpreter, said: “Ask the witness if he agrees the acts at Hebron were murder?”
“No,” was Khadra’s reply.
“Was it a question of suicide?” R. Hopkin Morris then wanted to know. Khadra finally agreed that it was not suicide.
After questioning Khadra about his service in the Turkish Army and de-
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(Continued from Page 3) sertion to the British in 1917, Silley introduced a facsimile of propaganda material dropped on Turkish lines by British planes, in which Arabs were urged to desert the Turks and help “Sherif and Emir of Mecca and King of the Arab countries,” on the British side.
When the Commission doubted the relevancy of this material to the subject of the inquiry, Silley declared: “The Zionists stand on what is known as the Balfour Declararion. My Clients stand on this proclamation.”
Betterton then interposed: “Is it your case that the existence of this proclamation contributed to the mental state producing the recent disturbances?”
“Yes, that is so. It is the latent feeling which contributed to the discontent,” replied Silley. The Commission then permitted the introduction of the facsimile, following which Silley launched into the story of Khadra’s movements between Palestine, Egypt and Hedjaz.
“What have this gentleman’s movements after he deserted the Turks to do with us?” asked Shaw.
“It is material that the Commission should know what the class, which this witness represents, feels. We propose to show what influence the promises exerted on the mentality of the people,” explained Silley.
The story Khadra told was that following immediately upon the heels of the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, he left Palestine, proceeding to Hedjaz. He had noticed that the Arab people, who always craved independence, were causing trouble under the Turkish regime, many of them have been martyred, while thousands deserted the Turks and fought with the Britisn as allies.
Khadra said that he was a lieutenant King Feisul in Damascus, later being elevated to the rank of major.
Merriman then read King Feisul’s letter to Professor Felix Frankfurter, member of the American Jewish Delegation at the Peace Conference, in which he gave his approval to the Zionist policy.
Khadra insisted that the independence promised to the Arabs included Palestine. He had never seen Feisul’s letter, he asserted.
Silley introduced the Peace Treaty, showing that Abdul Hadi and a Syrian named Haidar, had signed in behalf of King Hussein, and that Feisul’s signature was not there. He neglected to mention, however, that Feisul headed the Hedjaz delegation, but was absent from Versailles at the time the treaty was signed. Silley pressed this point, going as far as to say that Feisul was ignorant of the English language and did not know the contents of the statement to Professor Frankfurter.