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British Report on Palestine to League of Nations Sees 1929 Events Overshadowed by Disturbances; Econ

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The events in Palestine and the activities of the British administration there for 1929 are overshadowed by the August disturbances, says a report of the British government presented to the League of Nations today. The report points out that it is unnecessary to refer to the disturbances themselves in view of the Palestine Inquiry Commission and hence finds it unnecessary to make any further observations in the report on the disturbances or their causes, and deals instead with the more important consequences of the disturbances.

In general the report concludes that the last months of 1929 in Palestine were characterized by political unrest, the strengthening of the forces of public security and a restriction of economic activity. The conflict over the Arab and Jewish claims to the Wailing Wall continued to afford an opportunity for disorder, the report points out.

Dealing with public security, breaches of the peace and the strength of the British garrison in the country, the report points out a series of attacks of a grievous character upon individuals during September and October, the breaking up of a gang of Arabs which proposed to operate in the Sharon valley, notwithstanding which the outward tranquility of the country was maintained and the tourist season opened and continued without untoward events.

With regard to economic matters the report says that Jewish indignation at the disturbances led for a short time to a sporadic boycott of Arab produce and subsequently the revival of Arab nationalist and anti-Jewish feelings resulted in an organized boycott of Jewish products. This, the report states, was accompanied by acts of intimidation but the conditions were so artificial in a small country where there must inevitably be economic intercourse between two sections of the population that it soon became apparent that the boycott involved Arab as well as Jewish losses. Nevertheless, the boycott, the report explains, had serious results for individuals which may reflect in the public finances but particularly in the revenue derived from the tariff on imported goods.

In Jerusalem, the report says, many Jewish merchants are moving into the new commercial district, abandoning the Old City while Jaffa shopkeepers are moving to Tel Aviv. An interesting record that the report points to is that since the boycott was directed against products from Jewish sources its early effect was a stimulation of importation to make good the deficiency in local products.

CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES PUT OFF

On constitutional matters the report says that the disturbances caused the postponement of further conversations on constitutional questions. During the year therefore, the constitutional character of Palestine was unchanged but the Arab Executive was in more intimate contact with the Palestine government than it has been for some years.

Referring to the formation of the enlarged Jewish Agency the report says that in general terms Arab and Jewish nationalism have received new impulses during the year. On the Arab side nationalism, which was never dead, was given renewed vitality through an appeal to religious sentiment. On the Jewish side nationalism, which in its economic aspects suffered reverses during the economic depression of 1926, 1927 and part of 1928, found renewed strength in the union of the Jews for the development of the Jewish National Home.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT UNIMPAIRED

Despite the general uneasiness in the early part of 1929 which culminated in the August disturbances, the report says that the economic development of Palestine was not impaired as gravely as might have been feared. Having regard to the series of economic hindrances which have been reported in the past years the country shows not only powers of sustained endurance but also of recuperation, the report states. Local factories continued to increase the sales of their products in neighboring countries despite a temporary setback after the disturbances.

DEMAND FOR LABOR INCREASES

Dealing with the government’s authorization of the entry of 2,300 Jewish workers, the report points out that the continued improvement in economic conditions has resulted in the creation of an opening for employment in industry, building and agriculture which has absorbed most of those who were unemployed at the end of 1928. The tide of immigration has turned, the report says, and the demand for labor, notwithstanding the setback of the disturbances, was greater than the supply.

Jewish immigration in 1929 exceeded emigration by 3,503, the report declares, while in 1928 immigration and emigration balanced each other.

Referring to the criticism of the Arab Executive regarding the cancellation of the Tel Aviv indebtedness of $375,000 the report points out that the Tel Aviv local council did not receive in the first seven years of its existence government grants, while on the other hand other municipalities such as Jerusalem, Haifa and Nablus were aided by assisting them to provide extraordinary works within the areas under their jurisdiction.

Replying to last year’s questionnaire of the Mandates Commission regarding the measures taken to place the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions which will secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home and the effect of these measures, the report answers that the authorization for the admission of 4,700 Jewish labor immigrants was granted, $100,000 was appropriated towards the budget of the schools under the control of the Jewish Agency, further protection was accorded in a customs tariff to aid newly established Jewish industries and the electoral regulations for the Jewish communities were published and 3,882 Jews naturalized.

AGENCY AIDED ADMINISTRATION

Replying to the Mandates Commission’s query whether the Jewish Agency had given any advice to the British administration last year and in what form and in what connection, the report answers that the Jewish Agency submitted observations on a draft of the commutation of the tithes and customs ordinances and also advised the administration that there is a reasonable prospect for the absorption of 8,701 new workers which the administration reduced to 4,700. The Jewish Agency was in constant written and oral communication with the administration throughout the year regarding the development of the Jewish National Home and the Wailing Wall and, after August, regarding the protection of Jewish property.

AGENCY CARED FOR RIOT VICTIMS

Regarding the nature and extent of the cooperation of the Jewish Agency with the administration the report points out that almost all Jewish victims of the disturbances were treated in Jewish hospitals, that the Agency expended $325,000 for food, clothing and housing of the sufferers, $40,000 for medical aid, $40,000 for legal aid and $275,000 for reconstruction. The report also enumerates that the Agency spent $3,350,000 for agricultural colonization, education, health, land purchases and agricultural training.

Replying as to what measures have been taken to facilitate Jewish immigration the report states that 5,249 immigrants entered, including 1,194 travellers who were permitted to settle in the country permanently and 368 political refugees from Russia. Unemployment among the Jews was inconsiderable, the report says. Except for a natural setback in August the figures fell month by month, the improvement being due to the inception of several important undertakings such as the Haifa harbor, the government house and new hotels. The supply of skilled men is still less than the demand, the report says.

JEWISH POPULATION 165,000

The estimated Jewish population in 1929 was 165,000 according to the report, which compares with 56,000 in 1918. The Jewish rural population increased 20,000, indicating that about 26 percent of the Jews settled on the land.

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