Geneva (Jun. 8)
The Seventeenth Zionist Congress has been convened for June 29th., and the Second Meeting of the Council of the Jewish Agency for July 15th., and I shall report to these meetings with regard to the situation created by the Prime Minister’s letter addressed to me on February 13th., which will fall to be read as the authoritative interpretation of the October White Paper, on the subjects with which the letter deals, Dr. Ch. Weizmann writes in his covering letter to the High Commissioner for Palestine accompanying the annual memorandum on the development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine during 1930, which he asks him to transmit in the usual way to the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations for consideration at its meeting which opens here to-morrow, the question of Palestine being down on the agenda for discussion next Monday, the 15th. inst. On the receipt of that letter, Dr. Weizmann proceeds, I issued, in my personal capacity, a statement in which I expressed my opinion that the Prime Minister’s letter had restored, for the Jewish Agency, the basis of co-operation with His Majesty’s Government. The final decision rests with them (the Congress and the Jewish Agency Council Meeting).
In presenting this survey of Jewish activities in Palestine during 1930, the memorandum itself says, the Jewish Agency desires to draw the attention of the members of the Mandates Commission to the abnormal character of Palestinian conditions during the period under review. For various reasons, political as well as economic, 1930 was not in any sense a typical year, and the Agency feels obliged to preface to this memorandum a word of caution against the drawing of general conclusions on the basis of information, which however accurate in itself, relates to an admittedly abnormal interlude in the development of Palestine and of the Jewish National Home.
JEWISH POPULATION OF PALESTINE NEARLY DOUBLED DURING LAST NINE YEARS
According to an official estimate, the memorandum states, the Jewish population of Palestine in July, 1930, numbered 162,000, or 19 per cent of the settled population of the country as a whole, as compared with an official estimate of 154,330 in the previous July, and a Census (1922) figure of 83,794. There is some reason for believing that the 1930 estimate is too low rather than too high, and estimates made by the Jewish Agency at the end of the year, on the basis of reliable data, appear to indicate a Jewish population of roughly 175,000. Even on the basis of the lower estimate, it will be seen that the Jewish population has nearly doubled its numbers during the last nine years.
During the year under review 4,944 Jews were registered as immigrants by the Palestine Government (including 695 tourists, who were given permission to remain after the expiry of their tourist-visas). Jewish emigrants numbered 1,679, leaving a nett Jewish immigration of 3,265, as compared with 3,503 in 1929. The Jewish immigrants included 2,550 men (51.6 per cent.), 1,700 women (34.4 per cent.), and 694 children under the age of sixteen (14.0 per cent.). About 75 per cent. of the entrants under the Labour Schedule found employment in rural areas. It will be noticed that there was a slight drop in the number of admissions under the Labour Schedule, as compared with the previous year, and a very substantial drop in the number, as well as in the percentage, of immigrants of “independent means”, who constituted only 9 per cent. of the Jewish immigrants in 1930, as compared with 15.4 per cent. in 1929. The Labour Schedule figure would undoubtedly have been much higher than it was, but for the suspension in May, 1930, of the issue of certificates under the Schedule just approved for the ensuing half-year (May-October, 1930). At the beginning of the year the prospects of employment in Palestine were apparently fairly good – at all events good enough to justify the Palestine Government in issuing a supplementary schedule of 950 certificates in advance of the actual approval of the May-October Schedule. In the first four months of the year, 2,125 Jews entered Palestine under the Labour Schedule, i.e., about two-thirds of the total for the whole year.
SUSPENSION OF LABOUR IMMIGRATION ALSO RESPONSIBLE FOR DECLINE IN NUMBER OF INDEPENDENT MEANS IMMIGRANTS: THIS CLASS OF IMMIGRANTS DRAWN TO PALESTINE BY CONFIDENCE IN GOODWILL OF BRITISH GOVERNMENT AND AS SOON AS THIS CONFIDENCE IS SHAKEN FLOW OF JEWISH IMMIGRANTS WITH CAPITAL CEASES
The suspension of the issue of certificates under the Schedule naturally checked the flow of immigrants of this category, subsequent entries being restricted to those of persons to whom certificates had been issued before the suspension. In the view of the Jewish Agency the suspension is also responsible, at least in part, for the marked decline in the number of “independent means” immigrants as compared with the previous year. Immigrants of this class are drawn to Palestine almost entirely by their confidence in the goodwill of the British Government and in its ability to guarantee security and reasonably favourable conditions of life. As soon as this confidence is shaken – the check to immigration combined with the 1929 disturbances and their sequel of political uncertainty to shake it very severely – the flow of Jewish immigrants with capital of their own into Palestine automatically dwindles, and must cease entirely unless means can be found of re-establishing it. It is, of course, freely admitted that generally unfavourable economic conditions have prevailed during the year, both in Europe and America, and that these cannot have been without their effect on “independent means” immigration. When, in October, 1930, a new labour schedule was due, the economic situation was appreciably less favourable than it had been in the spring, and was held to justify the approval of only 1,480 certificates for the ensuing half-year.
In the first half of the year there was very little unemployment among Jews – in January there were 625 unemployed on the registers of the General Jewish Labour Federation, and in June only 523. Later in the year the effects of the uncertain political situation began to make themselves felt in a shortage of capital for agricultural investment, and this, combined with the completion of several large-scale industrial undertakings at the end of 1929 or early in 1930 (e.g., the Palestine Electric Corporation’s Jordan Power Houses, and two large hotels in Jerusalem), resulted in an appreciable increase in unemployment towards the end of the year. In December 1930 the total number of Jewish unemployed was 1,950, as compared with 334 in December, 1929. Of these 1,950, 1,003 were in the villages, and their unemployment is almost certainly due to the slackening of private enterprise (especially in the plantation of new orange-groves, etc.) consequent upon the unsettled political position. In the towns, as already stated, several important industrial undertakings were completed during the year; it is expected, however, that much of the labour thus displaced will shortly be reabsorbed by the expansion of other private undertakings.
The Registers of the Department of Lands show Jewish purchases of land during the year under review amounting in all to 43,882 metric dunams, valued at Â£817,260. Land sales by Jews amounted during the same period to 24,516 metric dunams, valued at Â£680,190. The corresponding figures for 1929 were: Purchases – 98,720 metric dunams; Sales – 34,204 metric dunams. As in previous years, much of the land registered as sold by Jews was land acquired by the Jewish National
Agricultural conditions in 1930 were generally less favourable than in previous years. Palestine naturally did not escape the effects of the fall in world prices of agricultural produce, and in addition suffered heavily from a plague of field-mice, causing, in some cases, the loss of 75 per cent. of the crops; the effects of the prolonged drought of the previous year; the spread of abortive diseases among pedigree stock; and last, but not least, the serious check in the inflow of capital, both public and private, from abroad for investment in agriculture, due partly to the uncertainty of the political position and partly to the generally unfavourable economic situation in Europe and America.
Despite these handicaps, however, the Jewish Agency continued the consolidation of its colonies with some success. The Palestine Emergency Fund placed at the disposal of the Colonisation Department that part of its funds which was earmarked for consolidation purposes and thus made possible substantial progress with the repair of the damage caused to Jewish settlements during the disturbances of August-September, 1929, though that progress was necessarily slow.
JEWISH INDUSTRY AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: JEWS BUILDING MORE TO AVOID RISKS OF RENTING ACCOMMODATION FROM ARABS
Building activity in 1930 was considerably higher than in previous years, but this was largely due, especially in Jerusalem and Haifa, to the desire of the Jewish population in the towns to avoid the risks – emphasised by the unfortunate events of 1929 – entailed by renting accommodation from Arab landlords, more especially in the crowded quarters of the Old City in Jerusalem.
The township of Tel Aviv had a fairly satisfactory year, in spite of the prevailing depression. Its population at the end of 1930 was estimated at over 40,000, and its income for the financial year amounted to Â£96,000, as compared with Â£91,000 in 1929-1930.
Although general industrial conditions were far from favourable during 1930, output was well maintained in certain groups of Palestine industries, including the metal, cement, flour-milling, wood-working and canning trades. In March 1930 the Jewish Agency took a voluntary census of urban Jewish industries, exclusive of certain heavy industries, and of the transport and building trades. This enumeration of industrial concerns gave the following results: 2,276 enterprises, with 9,362 persons employed, and Â£998,904 capital invested. To these figures have to be added the figures for the heavy industries not included in the census, e.g. Nesher Cement Factory, Shemen Oil Works, Palestine Electric Corporation, etc. For this group the following estimates may be given based on the figures ascertained at the Government Census of Industry in 1928: 12 enterprises with 1,200 persons employed, and Â£2,263,000 capital invested.
It thus appears that in 1930 there were approximately 10,562 persons employed in Jewish urban industries in Palestine (exclusive of the transport and building trades) and that the capital invested in these industries amounted to something in the neighbourhood of Â£3,250,000.
Â£1,245,000 SPENT IN PALESTINE DURING YEAR BY JEWISH AGENCY AND AFFILIATED ORGANISATIONS: UNFAVOURABLE ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS MAKE IT LIKELY AMOUNT OF PRIVATE CAPITAL INVESTED SMALLER THAN IN PREVIOUS YEAR THOUGH DECREASE OFFSET BY EXPENDITURE OF PALESTINE EMERGENCY FUND
In the year under review, as in past years, the memorandum says, the expenditure of the Jewish Agency continued to be defrayed entirely from voluntary contributions. In the financial year ended September 30th., 1930 (the Jewish year 5690) the Jewish Agency and its affiliated organisations, including the Palestine Emergency Fund, spent in Palestine a total of Â£1,245,000. This sum shows a substantial increase over the Jewish Agency’s normal Palestine expenditure, but this is due to the collections of the Palestine Emergency Fund, a temporary special-purpose Fund, which, it is reasonable to assume, absorbed much money which would, in more favourable circumstances, have been introduced as private capital into productive undertakings in Palestine.
A certain amount of capital was also invested in the country by private associations and individuals, notably by the Palestine Electric Corporation and Palestine Potash, Ltd., but no precise figures can be given for the total amount thus introduced. Nor can figures be given for the investment of the Palestine Jewish Colonisation Association, which is, of course, substantial. Unfavourable economic and political conditions, the memorandum concludes, make it likely that the amount of private capital invested was smaller than in previous years, though the decrease under this head is, of course, to some extent offset by the expenditure of the Palestine Emergency Fund.