Reform of Police Force, Agency Regulation of Immigration, Tax Changes, Grants of State Land to Jews,
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Reform of Police Force, Agency Regulation of Immigration, Tax Changes, Grants of State Land to Jews,

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The demands of the Jewish Agency for Palestine with regard to Palestine are formulated in a 100-page memorandum submitted by the Executive of the Jewish Agency to the British government. Outlining a number of concrete measures which should be taken by the British government in order to insure the development of the Jewish National Home, the memorandum, exclusively obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, is divided into 11 chapters and a final one containing concluding observations.

Under the heading “Defence and Security,” the memorandum notes that the events of August, 1929, and the months following “clearly revealed the unsatisfactory state of public security in Palestine and the need for drastic reorganization.” Following a detailed survey of the policy pursued by the government with regard to defence and security from 1921 to 1926 in which the “most disturbing feature was the replacement of the Palestine Gendarmerie, which had been half British and fifteen per cent Jewish, by the Trans-Jordanian Frontier Force, which was to all intents and purposes an Arab force,” the memorandum goes on to an itemized examination of the government’s removal of the sealed armories, its failure to include a larger number of Jews in the Trans-Jordanian Frontier Force and other measures tending to leave the Jewish colonies defenceless.

The Jewish Agency’s memorandum then submits that the Jews must not be denied the right to defend themselves and their country, and proceeds to outline specific reforms in the policy of defence and security.


Among the suggestions made are the reorganization of the Palestine police on the basis of 40 per cent each of Jews and Arabs and 20 per cent British, or else a contingent of 33 per cent each of British, Jews and Arabs, the proportion to be dependent on the total strength of the police force eventually decided upon; an improvement in the moral calibre of the men recruited for the police, the conversion of the Trans-Jordanian Frontier Force {SPAN}###{/SPAN} a Palestine Defence Force composed of equal numbers of Jews and Arabs; and the reestablishment of the self-defence measures adopted in the agricultural colonies after the riots of May, 1921.

Other measures advocated in the Jewish Agency’s memorandum are the swearing in of a suitable number of inhabitants in Jewish rural and urban settlements as special constables for service in the Palestine Police Force in case of emergency, the supplementing of the Royal Air Force units by a battalion of infantry, the policing of predominantly Jewish districts mainly by Jews, but in places “where there is a weak Jewish minority the Jewish quota in the police should never be allowed to drop below the level at which it alone would suffice to act as a defensive squad.”

In connection with its proposal for converting the Trans-Jordanian Frontier Force into a Palestine Defence Force, the Jewish Agency suggests a revision in the budgetary relations as affecting Trans-Jordan. The memorandum finds it unfair for Palestine to have paid $1,750,000 for the upkeep of the Force in the three years from April 1, 1926, to December 31, 1928, while Trans-Jordan paid practically nothing.


Jewish immigration into Palestine unrestricted on racial grounds is the fundamental condition of the establishment of the Jewish National Home, the memorandum declares, pointing out that the economic capacity of Palestine to absorb a greater population than it now holds will always depend on the development of its resources. The memorandum finds it equally true that the development of the economic potentialities of the country “depends, above all else, on the influx of Jewish men and money.” One condition essential for the success of the Jewish effort, the memorandum declares, is the regulation of Jewish immigration by the authority chiefly responsible for Jewish settlement—the Jewish Agency of Palestine.

“Immigration,” the memorandum notes, “stands out as a matter of vital importance among the economic and social matters affecting the establishment of the Jewish National Home, in relation to which the Mandate confers on the Jewish Agency the right to advise and cooperate with the government of Palestine. The immigration machinery as it exists at present, and the place asigned to the Jewish Agency in the control of Jewish immigration, embody that principle and joint responsibility only to a very slight extent,” the memorandum points out, and adds that “the present system is not a comprehensive one nor is it free from sources of friction between the government and the Jewish Agency.”

Continuing its discussion of the immigration problem, the memorandum explains that insofar as labor immigration is concerned, the Jewish Agency “has been recognized by the Palestine government as a kind of subsidiary body. In the control of immigration of the independent means category the Jewish Agency has no part whatsoever. The functions assumed by the Zionist Organization through its Palestine offices in the various countries and through its Executive in Palestine, with regard to the selection of immigrants and to their securing a footing in the economic life of Palestine, have relieved the Palestine government of dealing directly with the countries of Jewish emigration and of creating an administrative machinery for the selection of would-be immigrants and for their reception on arrival.”


Adding that the Jewish Agency’s Palestine Executive submits to the Palestine government its proposals for the issuance of immigration certificates under the Labor Schedule, based on a forecast of employment available during the next six months, and that the High Commissioner does not even advise the Executive of the reasons which may decide him to reduce the numbers proposed by them, the Jewish Agency’s memorandum declares that this is “clearly an unsatisfactory way of handling the most vital matter with regard to the upbuilding of the Jewish National Home.”

Under the plan outlined in the memorandum, the Jewish Agency would be responsible for the control of Jewish immigration. It would exercise this function within the scope of immigration laws and regulations sanctioned by the Palestine government and the government would retain the right of scrutiny as to whether such regulations and laws had been followed in individual cases. The responsibility for the number of immigrants admitted in the different categories would also rest with the Jewish Agency, which would at the same time assume full liability for the immigrants not becoming a charge on the public resources of Palestine.

The Jewish Agency, according to the memorandum, would be prepared to discuss any suggestions as to the financial liability for the immigrants in the event of it being deemed desirable that such liability take the form of financial committments. The proposed arrangement could be adopted for a limoted period, the memorandum suggests, in the event that any apprehension is felt with regard to the working of the proposed plan.


Noting that the reasons generally advanced for direct government control of immigration do not apply to Palestine, such reasons usually being the desire to prevent immigrants of a lower cultural status from lowering the standards of life in the country they enter, and the aim of the government to avoid a change in the country’s racial and national character, the memorandum of the Jewish Agency points out that it “is universally acknowledged that Jewish labor immigration has raised the standards of Arab labor in Palestine,” while as to the second point, “the building up of a Jewish National Home and therefore the return of the Jews to Palestine is the very aim of the Mandate,” both the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate securing the Arab inhabitants international protection and safeguarding against any attempt at interference with their national life.

Turning to the economic depression in the Jewish community in the years 1926-1928, the memorandum declares that it affected only Jewish colonization and the Jewish population. The burden of that period of unemployment and the cost of the successful liquidation of that period was borne almost entirely by the Zionist Organization and other Jewish institutions, the memorandum shows, commenting that the depression of 1926-1928 was primarily caused by the irregular influx of private capital, an influx over which the Zionist Organization had no power of control.

From this the Jewish Agency concludes that the need is not for imposing additional restrictions on the entry into Palestine of persons of independent means and of a still closer scrutiny of the Labor Schedule but rather that the movement of Jewish capital and the demand for Jewish labor “being closely connected, should both be made subject to the control of the Jewish Agency.” Other immigration reforms suggested by the memorandum are the abolition of immigration fees, particularly for immigrants under the Labor Schedule, and a revision of the right of the High Commissioner to deport immigrants who are not citizens of Palestine.


As regards the land settlement policy, the memorandum points out that in the last ten years some $15,000,000 has been invested by the Jewish National Fund and the Keren Hayesod, the Agency’s chief financial instrument, in the purchase and improvement of land and the establishment of rural settlements, while the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association during the same period has invested $7,500,000, many millions of dollars being also invested by these agencies in Palestine before 1919, and by private persons both before and since the war.

Noting that the Palestine government has under review the question of aiding agriculture by way of credit facilities, the Jewish Agency comments on the urgency of the government’s program including the reclamation of land instead of leaving the draining of marshes and similar work, which benefit the country as a whole, almost entirely to the institutions concerned with Jewish colonization. It is also suggested that the Palestine administration should aid Jewish land settlement by placing at its disposal an equitable share of the State lands and granting fiscal facilities to the new settlers in the early stages of their establishment.

Pointing out that the Mandate provides that the Palestine government shall encourage the close settlement of Jews on the land, including State land and waste lands not required for public purposes, the Jewish Agency’s memorandum states that thus far Jewish land settlement has received “none of the support from the government to which, on its own merits and by virtue of the Mandate, it is entitled.”


Showing that the list of lands claimed as State domains comprises an area of some 960,000 dunams and that the Palestine government has a claim to all waste lands which, according to the annual report of 1921, comprised an area of between two and three million dunams, the memorandum explains that 40 per cent of the State lands, for the most part fertile and irrigable, have been reserved for the Arabs and Bedouins, while hardly any of the State lands fit for cultivation have been assigned to Jews. The Jewish Agency then submits a tabulated list of 29 estates, comprising some 440,000 dunams, which, with the exception of the areas cultivated by tenants of long standing, it asks to have transferred on perpetual lease to the Jewish Agency on terms to be agreed upon.

Turning to the problem of agricultural taxation of new settlers, the Jewish Agency’s memorandum complains that the Jewish agriculture settlers are allowed none of the exemptions from, or reductions of, taxes which “are almost universally conceded on new settlements,” but on the contrary, “Jewish cultivators, particularly the new settlers, are much more heavily taxed than the Arab peasant, partly owing to the obsolete Turkish system of taxation still maintained in Palestine, and partly owing to the new regulations introduced by the British administration.”

After tracing the effects of the principal direct taxes, the Tithe, the Land Tax, the Transfer Tax and the Animal Tax, on the position and development of Jewish agriculture, the Jewish Agency submits that the new settler has “a claim to government assistance at least by way of remission of taxes during the initial stage of his settlement,” and recommends the following three measures as indispensable in the interests of Jewish agriculture:


“Pending the general reassessment of agricultural lands, the Transfer Tax and the Land Tax for land acquired for Jewish rural settlement shall be assessed, not on the purchase price entered in the land registries, but on the assessment of such lands registered in the tabu prior to their acquisition by Jewish institutions or individuals; new agricultural settlers shall be exempted from the payment of both the Land Tax and the Tithe during the period of the establishment of their farm—such a period of establishment not to exceed three years—and for a further five years; reduced tariffs on the Palestinian Railways shall be granted for the transport of building materials, livestock and manure for new agricultural settlements.”

Referring to the problem of the protection of tenants and cultivators, the memorandum points out that not until the coming of the Jewish colonizing agencies did the fate of the tenants receive any consideration as the Turkish law offered no protection to tenants, while the Jewish land settlement institutions, by compensating tenants and facilitating their transfer to other land, have established a practice which paved the way for the legislation introduced by the Palestine government which “the Jewish agencies have scrupulously carried out in the spirit as in the letter.”

Giving specific examples of how the treatment by the Jewish agencies has enabled the “tenants to improve their position without harm being done to the Arab rural community as a whole,” the memorandum explains that “broadly speaking there has been merely a redistribution of the farming population. The density of population in certain Arab rural districts has increased, and the creation of more homogeneous Jewish rural districts facilitated. It is a process conducive to the improvement of large adjacent areas, and to the formation of areas more uniform from the point of view of racial composition, cultural standards and administrative machinery.”


The memorandum than points out that the Palestine government could render this process more systematic and fruitful and contribute materially to “a radical solution of the problem of the landless fellaheen by supplementing the amounts of compensation paid by the Jewish institutions with long term credits, a facility which would enable the tenants to become owners of land elsewhere, in predominantly Arab regions.”

Pointing to the fact that the Arab tenants have utilized the money obtained from the sale of land to Jews for paying off their debts or improving their farms or investing it in plantations, installing modern irrigation plants, since they sell only their surplus lands, the memorandum shows that Jewish land settlement and Jewish immigration have further benefited Arab villages and Arab agriculture by providing them with new markets and teaching them new methods, offering employment to thousands of fellaheen and improving the hygienic condition of the Arab population by means of the costly reclamation works carried out by the Jewish institutions.


Showing that it is in the interests of Jews and Arabs alike to effect the transition from the extensive form of cultivation of large areas, “affording but a bare living for a sparse population to that of intensive cultivation of smaller holdings yielding higher returns and securing human standards of living to a much larger population,” the memorandum says that “if the means were provided for the drainage, irrigation and other improvements” on the 1,2500,00 dunams in the Coastal Plain and the Upper Jordan Valley, the fellah “who now lives in abject poverty on 100 or more dunams might become a prosperous farmer on an irrigated holding of 10 or 20 dunams, and on an area where now some 20,000 fellaheen eke out a miserable existence, room could be provided for an additional 50,000 Jewish settler families.”

Declaring that the Jewish colonization can provide these means, the Jewish Agency’s memorandum explains that “an Arab peasant possessing 100 dunams, by selling 80 dunams to Jews for a sum of $1,250 to $1,500 would acquire the capital he needs for paying his share towards an irrigation installation which would enable him to plant oranges or bananas, or to irrigate his vegetable or forage fields and within a short space of time he could double his income.”

While not proposing to suggest legislative or administrative measures, the Jewish Agency submits that it is “the task and duty of the Mandatory Power to recognize the desirability of the development outlined, to extend its assistance to institutions of a public utility character promoting Jewish land settlement on national lines, and at the same time to advise the Arab cultivator on the most suitable methods of intensification.”


In this connection the Jewish Agency suggests the formation, under the Agency’s auspices, of a suitably equipped Irrigation and Settlement Company for the “development, on a comprehensive scale, of intensive methods of cultivation on the holdings of fellaheen who are willing to exchange part of their land for the irrigation and other improvement schemes carried out by the Company; the Palestine government to supervise that the value of improvements so effected are in proper and economic relation to that of the land disposed of by the peasant, and generally to demand such safeguards as may be deemed necessary in the interests of the rural community as a whole, the surplus land thus concentrated in the hands of the Company to be used for Jewish close settlement.”

Touching on the question of Jewish labor on public works, the memorandum charges that the share of Jewish labor on public works is wholly inadequate. Noting that since the establishment of the civil administration the Palestine government has spent millions of pounds on public works, the extent to which Jewish labor finds employment on these works is a matter of paramount importance, the memorandum points out because “the government has never awarded to the Jewish Agency any concession to construct or operate any public works, utilities and services, or to develop natural resources, which the Mandate suggests the government do when the latter does not itself undertake them. Consequently the extent to which Jewish labor is employed on public works depends almost exclusively on the Palestine government and its labor policy.”

Citing figures to show that in 1925 the percentage of Jewish labor employed was only 1½% as against 6% in 1922 and that during the five year period from April 1, 1922 to March 31, 1921 but $160,000, or less than 3% was the share allotted to Jewish labor, the memorandum goes on to show that this condition exists because of the cheap unskilled labor supplied by the Arab population, because of the absence of laws to prevent the exploitation of cheap labor on public works, because of the failure to provide for a minimum wage or working day and the lack of a day of rest or restriction on the employment of women and children. Such practices, the memorandum claims, excludes Jewish labor from employment on the government works and prejudices the economic and financial interests of the country.


The Jewish Agency suggests three systems between which the Palestine government can choose in determining its labor policy: the continued encouragement of contractors to seek sweated labor; making the wage rates of organized Jewish labor the minimum wage on public works, thus giving equal opportunities of employment to Jews and Arabs; or the allocation at the beginning of each fiscal year of a definite proportion of public works undertaken by the government under conditions securing the employment of Jewish labor at the standard wage prevalent in the Jewish labor market.

Advocating that for the time being such proportions should be fixed at 50%, but subject to revision in accordance with the number of Jewish laborers in Palestine and the contribution of the Jewish community to the country’s revenue and economic resources, the memorandum cites such examples as Jerusalem where Jewish labor has been employed on less than 4% of the public works, though the Jews form 60% of the population, of Haifa, where the Jews form from 40 to 45% of the population, which spent $27,000 in 1927 on manual and clerical labor without employing any Jewish workmen or clerks, and of Jaffa where $45,000 were spent on public works in 1928 without employing a single Jew. “The Palestine government,” the memorandum emphasizes, “cannot disclaim responsibility for this unjust state of affairs.”

Concerning the future economic development of the country the memorandum submits a number of important recommendations. Among these is the setting up again of a department of commerce and industry (as it existed before the amalgamation with the customs and excise department) under a director conversant with the special needs and requirements of industry and the addition of members from interested groups, including the Jewish Agency, to the various economic boards set up by the government for the purpose of advising it on questions of customs and industry, railway policy, harbors and roads. These committees at present consist entirely of government officials.


Other suggestions are the attachment of Palestine trade secretaries to the British consulates-generals in Beirut, Bagdad, Cairo, Teheran and Angora and to the Board of Trade in London, the expenditure connected with such appointments to be borne by the Palestine government, the judicious use of tariffs for the encouragement of industries having a reasonable prospect of establishing themselves on a self-supporting basis; government consideration of the feasibility of a general reduction of freight rates and the introduction of a special freight tariff on goods for export and the adoption by the government of the principle of passive and active improvement of trade as a measure for expanding industrial enterprise.

Further measures proposed are the introduction of such legislative or administrative measures as will permit manufacture and manipulation in bond; the finding of ways and means for reconciling the interests of the Palestine railways and of road transport with a view to ensuring close cooperation between the two services and paying attention to the further development of road traffic; the opening of a motor route between Bagdad and Jerusalem; the linking up of the Palestinian and Syrian railway systems; and the opening of the Customs House during the whole week including Sundays to obviate harm to the economic interests of the Jewish community.

Finding that labor legislation will play a leading role in furthering the general progress of the country, the Jewish Agency’s memorandum also contains a number of suggested admendments and supplementary clauses to the existing Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance of 1926 and the Industrial Employment of Women and Children Ordinance of 1927.


The memorandum finds that the Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance does not make it binding upon the employer to insure his employes against accidents, and that the Ordinance as it now stands applies only to occupations in which mechanical power is used, leaving unprotected thousands of workers in shops where hand-driven machines are used, as well as those employed in agriculture and warehousing who are exposed to dangerous working conditions. The Ordinance also makes no provision for the prevention of accidents by a regular inspection of working conditions.

As for the Ordinance on the Employment of Women and Children, the Jewish Agency notes that no protection is afforded to the working woman during the time of pregnancy, that the Ordinance protects children only up to the age of 12 in industrial establishments and only in a limited number of industries, leaving thousands of children in other occupations unprotected.

Advocating the issuance of a government ordinance fixing an eight-hour day in industry, handicrafts, building, transport and trade, the Jewish Agency’s memorandum suggests that pending the enactment of a law for compulsory insurance against sickness and incapacity (based on joint contributions from employers, employes and the government) the government should subsidize the Kupath-Holim (Sick Fund) of the Jewish Federation of Labor, the only institution functioning as a Friendly Benefit Society that insures the workers against sickness. The Agency also urges government protection for the employes, especially those in the government’s own works, against arbitrary dismissal for no fault of theirs after years of service.


The memorandum of the Jewish Agency charges that in Trans-Jordan, part of the mandated Palestine area under the supervision of the High Commissioner of Palestine, there exists discrimination against Jews, whether nationals of Palestine or nationals of states that are members of the League of Nations. Pointing out that Palestine proper has had the serious financial burdens of Trans-Jordan to shoulder because Trans-Jordan has been unable to carry them, and that the economic stagnation of that country proves that it would be unable to exist if separated from Palestine proper, the memorandum urges that the only solution for the whole range of questions affecting the future of Palestine and Trans-Jordan is to pool the resources of the two sections.

The status of the Jewish Agency is then discussed in the memorandum which takes up the definition of the Agency’s rights in accordance with Articles 4, 6, and 11 of the Mandate. No clear definition of the status and rights of the Jewish Agency has been arrived at by the Palestine government, the memorandum finds, although “a rather vague administrative practice has developed in the course of time as between the Mandatory and the Jewish Agency and as between the government of Palestine and the Jewish Agency.

Commenting upon the fact that the Mandate imposes upon the Mandatory a positive obligation to recognize the Jewish Agency as a public body, the memorandum urges that the term should be given some legal significance with rights over and above those enjoyed by commercial concerns. The memorandum further sets forth that the Palestine government should recognize the right of the Jewish Agency to advise and cooperate with the government in “matters which may affect the establishment of the Jewish National Home and the interests of the Jewish population of Palestine.” The government should therefore seek the advice and cooperation of the Agency before legislation is prepared or administrative action taken, and such advice is not to be rejected, the memorandum adds, “unless for reasons manifestly valid under the Mandate.”


Constant and systematic relations between the Agency and the government, the advice and cooperation of the Agency in matters of interest to the Jewish population, and recognition of the Agency as a public body “to assist and take part in the development of the country,” are obligations of the government, the memorandum says, adding that the government is also bound to cooperate with the Jewish Agency in settling Jews on the land including State land and waste lands not required for public purposes. To

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