Jerusalem (Jan. 5)
There is brilliant sunshine in Jerusalem to-day for the polling in the elections to the Palestine Jewish Assembly (Assefath Hanivcharim) the first to be set up as a legally recognised body under the Palestine Jewish Communities Ordinance, which came into force on January 1st., 1928. The streets are filled with voters going to the polling stations, or carried there in motor cars, with motor-lorries rushing past plastered with election posters and last-minute street corner campaigners delivering election speeches. The hoardings are covered with election posters. Business is at a standstill. The crowds are in holiday-mood, everything serving to accentuate the fact that the Jews form a majority of the population of Jerusalem. The police were reinforced to help to preserve order, but there was no occasion for them to intervene. No disorder has occurred anywhere.
85,000 ballot cards were distributed throughout the country, the Vaad Leumi informs the J.T.A. About 10,000 people who are entitled to vote could not be traced. Voting cards have been supplied to all Jewish residents in Palestine who could be traced who registered in 1927 as members of Kenesseth Israel, the organised Jewish Community, established under the Palestine Jewish Communities Ordinance. Subsequent arrivals, who are estimated at about 10,000 adults, are not entitled to vote. There are 114 constituencies, without counting the separate districts in the large towns.
The Agudath Israel, whose members did not join the Kenesseth Israel, availing themselves of the right to form separatist Jewish communities provided in the Ordinance, is boycotting the elections, and has put out posters in the streets warning Orthodox Jews that it is for bidden to vote. The Sephardic Rabbis also put out placards warning Orthodox Oriental Jews that it is sinful to vote because women are taking part in the elections, Chief Rabbi Jacob Meir, the head of the Sephardic Community, is not, however, among the signatories to the prohibition. The Agudist opponents of the Vaad Leumi are exploiting in their boycott campaign the fact that Mr. Rutenbarg himself, the President of the Vaad Leumi, is not standing as a candidate.
Few outstanding personages figure in the polls, which are identified by numbers. The Revisionists call their list, however, the Jabotinsky List. The General Zionists call their list the Ussischkin List, and the women who are contesting the elections separately, call their list the Henrietta Szold List. Incidentally Mr. Jabotinsky, Mr. Ussischkin, and Miss Henrietta Szold are all three at present out of Palestine.
The Yemenite Jews seem to be puzzled by the election issues and confused over the personalities of the respective leaders.
A conservative estimate of the result of the elections is that the Revisionists will poll about 30 per cent. of the votes cast, owing to the strong oppositionist feeling in Palestine Jewry at the present time. It is expected that the new Assembly will consist roughly of practically one-third Revisionists, one third Labour and one third Sephardim, with the General Zionists and the other groupings forming a very unimportant minority.