London (Mar. 31)
Although concluding that last summer’s attacks by Arabs on Jews were not premeditated the Palestine Inquiry Commission, appointed by the British Government to investigate the riots, in its report made public today unequivocably declared that the outbreak in Jerusalem on August 23rd was from the beginning an attack by Arabs on the Jews for which no excuse, in the form of earlier murders by Jews, has been established.
The report points out that the disturbances did not occur simultaneously in all parts of Palestine but spread from the capital during a period of days to the most outlying centers of population and to some of the rural districts. The disturbances, says the commission, took the form, for the most part, of a vicious attack by Arabs on Jews accompanied by the wanton destruction of Jewish property.
GENERAL MASSACRE AT HEBRON, NARROWLY AVERTED
Continuing, the report says, “A general massacre of the Jewish community at Hebron was narrowly averted.” It points out, too, that in a few instances Jews attacked Arabs and destroyed Arab property, but these attacks, it says, though inexcusable, were in most cases in retaliation for wrongs already committed by Arabs in the neighborhood in which the Jewish attacks occurred.
The outbreak was not, nor was it intended to be, declares the report, a revolt against British authority. Referring to the Zionists’ complaints against the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the report declares that the motive of his desire to secure his own position as president of the Supreme Moslem Council which formed part of the case put forward against the Mufti, has not been established. “The Mufti, so far as we can see, had no reason to suppose that his tenure of office was in any danger, and in playing the part that he took in the formation of societies for the defence of Moslem holy places and in fostering the activities of such societies the Mufti was influenced by the two-fold desire to annoy the Jews and to mobilize Moslem opinion on the issue of the Wailing Wall.
MUFTI MUST SHARE RESPONSIBILITY FOR RIOTS
“He had not intended utilizing this political campaign as a means of inciting to disorders. Inasmuch as the movement which he partly created became through the force of circumstances a not unimportant factor in the events which led to the outbreak, the Mufti, like many others, who directly or indirectly played upon public feelings in Palestine, must accept a share in the responsibility for the disturbances.”
The innovations of practice introduced by the Moslem religious authorities, of whom the Mufti is the head, in the neighborhood of the Wailing Wall, declares the report, were intended partly to annoy the Jews and partly to emphasize Moslem rights of ownership over the Wailing Wall, the pavement in front of it and the surrounding property. “Generally, however, in the matter of innovations of practice little blame can be attached to the Mufti in which some Jewish religious authorities would not also have to share.”
The report says that there is no evidence that the Mufti issued any requests to the Moslems of Palestine to come to Jerusalem on August 23 and that no connection has been established between the Mufti and the work of those who were either known, or thought to have been engaged in agitation and incitement. After the disturbances had broken out, the report points out, the Mufti cooperated with the government in their effort both to restore peace and to prevent an extension of the disorders.
PREMEDITATION OF ARAB EXECUTIVE NOT PROVEN
Referring to the Zionists’ complaints against the Palestine Arab Executive, the report concludes that the charges of premeditation and organization of the disturbances are not proved against the Palestine Arab Executive and “if made in relation to the actual events of August 23 and the following days, are negatived by the known facts. The charge of deliberate incitement as to disorder has not been substantiated against the Palestine Arab Executive as a body, but we have little doubt that some of the constituents who have been elected to the Executive carried out among the more ignorant Arab people a campaign of propaganda calculated to incite them. It is probable, though except in one case there is no proof, that individual members of the Arab Executive further exacerbated racial feeling after the disturbances had begun. For their failure to make an attempt during the week preceding the disturbances to control their followers, to declare publicly and emphatically that they were on the side of law and order, neither the Mufti nor the Palestine Arab Executive can be acquitted of blame.”
NO SERIOUS CRITICISM OF LUKE
No blame can be properly attached to H. C. Luke, Acting High Commissioner of Palestine during the riots, says the report, referring to the Zionist complaints against the government, on the ground that he did not obtain reinforcements from neighboring countries before August 23. “Looking back on the question in the full light of our present knowledge, it is our view that it would have been a reasonable precaution if Luke had mobilized the troops within his jurisdiction at some convenient place in Palestine sometime during the days which immediately preceded the disturbances, but for reasons which we have explained elsewhere, we do not think that any serious criticism can be properly levied against Luke for his failure to adopt this course.
“We endorse Luke’s action in declining to arm a considerable number of Jewish people whose services were