Jerusalem (Dec. 3)
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that hoary old anti-Semitic document, once the basis of Henry Ford’s attacks on Jews, was brought into the hearings of the Palestine riots when the Grand Mufti, whose evidence was heard here yesterday at a private sitting of the Inquiry Commission in his own house, admitted that he was a confirmed believer in the Protocols.
William Stoker, Arab counsel, seemed surprised when Sir Boyd Merriman declared that the Protocols had long since been exposed by the “London Times” as a forgery. Stoker had proposed to submit as evidence an Arabic translation of the French text of the Protocols. The Commission hesitated to admit the book as evidence, but finally ruled that while it was not evidence against the Jews, it might possibly indicate the mentality of the Arabs who believed the Protocols genuine. and hence the extracts were not read. The Mufti himself seemed to be unaware that the Palestine Government had prohibited the circulation of the Protocols.
The Mufti declared that the Jews did not have the right of access to the Wailing Wall but only permission to visit it a permission based on custom going back for 90 years, but they had no right to pray or raise their voices near the Wall. The sacredness of Burak. Mohammed’s horse, which is supposed to have been buried on the Wall, is referred to in the Koran, declared the Mufti, which in describing the precincts of the Mosque as blessed, includes also its surroundings, which means not only the Wailing Wall but the pavement, too.
As proof that the Jews had no rights to the Wailing Wall, the Mufti pointed out that the government had asked the Jews and the Moslems to supply documents concerning their respective rights to the Wall, and the rabbis had not furnished any documents. In the course of the hearing, he asserted his election to the presidency of the Supreme Moslem Council for life, despite the well-known controversy existing on that matter in Moslem quarters.
Declaring that the Moslems were irritated because the government had not checked the Jewish encroachments on the Wall, the Mufti insisted that his followers feared that the Jews had sufficient influence to make the government overlook the Jewish designs on the Mosque. As his authority for Jewish encroachments and Jewish designs on the Mosque, he cited the Mizrachs, Lord Melchett’s speech in which
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he declared that he would dedicate his life to the rebuilding of the Temple (the Mufti was unsatisfied with the explanation that Melchett spoke only figuratively), and Albert Einstein’s alleged statement that the Jews without the Temple were like a body without a head.
The Mufti continued by saying that the Zurich Congress. and especially the speeches of Harry Sacher and Dr. Stephen Wise, increased the anxiety of the Arabs because of the Jewish claim that the status quo with regard to the Wall was insufficient. He declared that the Moslems were convinced that the Jews had exploited last Tisha B’Ab, while the Zurich Congress was in session, to create disturbances in the hope of influencing the new British Labor cabinet to change the status quo of the Wailing Wall in their favor. Stoutly denying that he incited the August riots, he said that it was a Jewish habit to throw the blame on others. The fact of the matter was, he said, that the government had repeatedly thanked him for exerting his calming influence.
The Moslem counter-demonstration, he declared, was inevitable after the Jewish demonstration. Although prior to August 23, the Moslems had feared to enter Jerusalem owing to the threatening attitude of the Jews, who assaulted Arab women coming in from the villages, the Mufti said that the 23rd was extraordinarily normal. This was not only his conviction, but also that of Cust, Governor of Jerusalem, and of Saunders, who visited him that morning continued the Mufti. “Infact, the situation was so normal that Saunders had decided to return to the fellaheen the sticks taken from them carlier in the day,” the Mufti declared. About noon, the Mufti said, he heard shots from the Mosque area, but did not know who had fired them. He said that he did his best to silence the crowd and to further calm them, ordered the Koran read in the Aksamosque, but the people became more excited when Communist leaflets in Arabic and Hebrew were suddenly circulated. The trouble was intensified, he said, and when two bleeding and wounded Arabs appeared at the Damascus gate, the mob started to shout: “The Jews are killing our brethren!”
This concluded a substantial part of the Mufti’s chief evidence. Sir Boyd Merriman will begin his cross-examination of the Mufti today, and it will probably take at least two days.
Although the press was excluded, many Arab notables were present at the hearing, but it is understood that Merriman has demanded that none but counsel be admitted in the future.