Jerusalem (Dec. 11)
The first public allegation of a Jewish conspiracy in connection with the recent events in Palestine to be made by the Arabs, came like a bomb-shell today at the Commission’s hearings when Auni, one of the Arab counsel, asked in the course of the second day’s cross-examination of Isaiah Braude, the first Jewish witness, “isn’t it a fact that you received secret instructions from the Zurich Conference, encouraging you to organize demonstrations in the country for the purpose of creating the events?”
While such accusations had been made by the Arabs from time to time, especially in the Arab press, this was the first time that such a charge had been dignified by a public hearing. It had been previously hinted that the Jews encouraged the disturbances in order to create sympathy that would facilitate the collection of money for Palestine.
Braude, who was a member of the temporary Zionist Executive, while the Executive was attending the Zionist Congress at Zurich last Summer, denied the allegations and declared them “absolutely ridiculous,” adding that “no intelligent person believes such a story.” Auni tried to show that the Arabs had come to Jerusalem on August 23, armed with sticks and knives, because they had been frightened by the acts of the Jews at Mizrachi’s funeral. In support of this, he read a cable from the Zionist Executive to Zurich which read “the Arabs are afraid and excited.” Braude explained this as being a general reference and not applying to the excitement attendant on the funeral. He pointed out that he had warned Acting High Commissioner H. C. Luke that attacks were expected by the Arabs on the Jews, not by the Jews on the Arabs.
ARABS INSTIGATED RIOTS
The witness charged that “the Arab leaders instigated the disturbances on political grounds and they culminated in riots.” Commissioner Hopkins then asked, “who did the instigating?” Braude said he knew of no one else but the Moslem Supreme Council. Chairman Shaw asked Braude whether he meant “such things as the alleged Mufti’s letter to the villages, which was not found until after the riots.” Braude said that “before the riots I saw reports in the papers that such letters had been circulated in Lifta.”
By his questions, Auni apparently tried to prove that Braude, as the acting head of the Zionist Executive, was responsible for the mass meeting in Tel Aviv, and he cited the words “Jewish state,” which were used in the resolutions adopted at Tel Aviv, to indicate the ambitions of the Jews. Referring to these words, Braude explained that “these youths were not within the Zionist influence and had disobeyed repeated pronouncements from the Zionist offices against individual action.” Catching at this point, Auni asked, “then the Zionist influence does not extend to many tens of thousands of Jews in Palestine?” The whole meeting was “childish and probably the imaginative youth acting as secretary wrote the words ‘Jewish (Continued on Page 3)
state but we paid no attention to the whole thing,” said Braude.
Commissioner Hopkins interposed: But they unfurled the Hag and sang Hatikvah’ at the Wall. This was consistent with a Jewish state attitude, and while it was admittedly not official, it nevertheless shows the state of the public mind.” In answer Braude asserted that “their excitement led them into mistakes.” Chairman Shaw then said that “Zurich wired you to dampen down the excitement. The words ‘dampen down’ are used with regard to a fire that one wants to reawaken later.” Braude’s answer to this was “it never was our intention to stir the fire. I kept informing them of the excitement and they said “dampen it.” At this point, Commissioner Snell helped Braude by pointing out that the “dampening attitude” of the Zionists extended over a long period of time and that the Zionist Executive had always objected to public demonstrations.
CHARGES BRAUDE REMISS
Auni charged that Braude had been remiss in his duty by failing to officially deny the resolutions adopted at Tel Aviv, but Braude declared that “we do not deny one percent, of the statements appearing in the press. This was a childish matter.” The Arab lawyer, continuing on this point, declared that “a meeting of ten thousand people, asking for the establishment of a Jewish state, is a danger to public security. If ten thousand Arabs passed resolutions demanding that the Jewish be thrown into the sea, would that be called a childish rumor?”
To this Braude replied “it would be the duty of the Moslem leaders to call such a resolution to the attention of the government, as we did.” Auni charged that resolutions like those adopted at Tel Aviv would have been impossible before the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, while Braude said that “there is nothing to prevent people from meeting any time and anywhere, and passing resolutions.”
Auni then turned to a discussion of a cable sent to London on September I concerning the meeting of Horowitz, one of the members of the temporary Zionist Executive, with Luke and the Arab notables in Luke’s house. Auni charged that Horowitz, in describing this meeting, where the Arabs asked that the Jews be disarmed, had called the notables a “band of murderers and traitors.”
Preedy, government counsel, then took up the questioning, and suggested that Braude had overstepped his authority during the absence of the Zionist Executive. He showed that Harry Sacher’s correspondence over the Wailing Wall question had not referred to any breach of the status quo, whereas Braude took it upon himself to publicly point out three infringements of the status quo in his communique of July 24. Defending himself on this point, Braude declared: “I believe that the Zionist Executive also regarded and still regards these as infringements, although Sacher had not stated so in his letter of July but had used the words interference with existing rights.’ I had to make a public statement due to the agitation in the press and I could not wait for instructions. I submitted to Mills a communique saying that the Zionist Executive would point out to the government the departure from the status quo, and Mills agreed to its publication.”
PREEDY QUOTES “DAVAR”
Referring to Braude’s efforts to quiet the press, Preedy began to read an article that appeared in the “Davar” on August 1, in which it referred to the biting insult to the Jewish nation and demanded that the Jewish community protest. “Do you call that a quieting article?” demanded Preedy. Braude erased the effect of Preedy’s reading by asking him to read the rest of the article, which went on to demand that the Jews act through existing institutions. “Let not private individuals deal with this matter. If a group of lunatics write and publish militant articles daily in the papers, let no one listen to these destructive voices.”
Government Counsel Preedy grilled Braude for four hours. The cross-examination was still unfinished when the session closed. In the seven weeks that the Commission has been taking testimony, Preedy has never been as tenacious and belligerent as he was in attempting on the one hand to draw from the witness an admission that the Jews were responsible for the riots and on the other hand to defend the government against the charges of Merriman, counsel for the Jewish side, that the British Government had failed to heed the most apparent warnings of impending trouble and had failed to take adequate precautions. Preedy had been somewhat indifferent and lackadaisical throughout the taking of the Arabs’ testimony, which had been definitely unfavorable to the government. He did his best, however, to assail Braude’s credibility and to save the honor of the British administration and the Palestine police.
SAYS PRESS COOPERATED
Preedy tried to get Braude to contradict his former statement that the “Davar” and the “H’Aretz” cooperated with the Jewish authorities to check agitation for two weeks preceding the outbreaks, while the “Doar Hayom” remained unamenable to national discipline. He succeeded only in marshalling translations of articles tending to discredit the Government because it did not recognize the sanctity of the Wailing Wall for the Jews, and warning the Jews against “the smell of fire coming out of the crevices of the Wall.” These articles also abused the Zionist Executive for “Knuckling” to the Government. Preedy’s point in regard to the articles was that it was dangerous for the public peace to discredit the government. Braude, however, said he did not mind the attacks on the Zionist Executive or even on the government, so long as the Jewish press did not preach violence as the Arab press was doing. Braude admitted that the “Doar Hayom” tried to force the hand of the Executive through articles calling for action regarding the Wailing Wall. He refused to admit, however, that it was anybody’s intention to stimulate agitation here in order to enable the Zurich Congress to exert pressure with the London authorities about the Wall. Preedy tried to make the witness admit that the general tenor in the Jewish press was that the Government should have acted regarding the Wall regardless of consequences, even if it
were necessary to expropriate the pavement.
Reading an article by Prof. Klausner in the “Palestine Weekly,” and also Ben-Avi’s proposal to divide Jerusalem into three “vatican cities,” Jewish, Moslem and Christian, the Government counsel remarked as his opinion that some Jews claimed the Wailing Wall itself.
SAYS POLICE BEAT JEWS
The witness denied that there was an unusual influx of Jews to Jerusalem at Tisha B’Ab time and belittled the previously mentioned mass meeting at Tel Aviv. He said he saw the raising of the Zionist flag at the Wailing Wall, but heard no shouts from the Jews such as “the Wailing Wall is ours; shame to the government and all who desecrate our Holy Places,” as officially reported. He agreed with Preedy that the speaker at the Wall should have been arrested, but adhered to his original statement that British police beat Jews near the post office while charging through the crowd with batons, after the funeral of the Mizrachi boy. They did this, he said, “without pity or discretion.”
Braude refused to agree that anyone had made any attempt to turn the procession away from the course chosen. Preedy asked him if he knew that one of the policemen whom the Jews had accused of brutality had been transferred for his own safety because the authorities had feared the Jews would “get him.” The witness replied that he had specifically named one constable, but that all were guilty of unnecessary brutality.
The session was closed as Preedy was cross-examining Braude as to whether the Zionists were justified ### their charge that the Government had not heeded warnings of impending trouble. It was brought out that the day before the outbreak. Acting High Commissioner Luke received a warning. A friendly Arab had warned his Jewish neighbor of impending trouble and had invited the latter to seek shelter in his house. “What should the Government have done?” queried Betterton, member of the Commission.
“I don’t know what the Government did.” replied Braude. “I think the results showed that insufficient precaution was taken. I believe more police should have been stationed in the vicinity. More searches should have been made in an effort to disarm the crowd and the policemen should have been armed.”
Preedy will continue his cross-examination of Braude today.
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