London (Jun. 9)
Before the Moslems oppose the verdict, they may usefully reflect that whatever their views as to the competence of the Commission they have in essentials won their case, the “Times” writes in an editorial article to-day on the Report of the Wailing Wall Commission. The Report finds, it says, that they have the sole ownership of and sole proprietary right to the Wailing Wall and the adjoining pavement; while granting the Jews free access thereto for purposes of devotion it limits their right to carry the Ark containing the Scroll of the Law near the Wall to certain special occasions; it confirms the rules enacted by the Mandatory Administration against the bringing of screens, benches, and other appurtenances of worship to the Wall, and forbids the blowing of the Shofar or ram’s horn near the Wall, a prohibition which will remind many readers of the difficulties that arise in India when Hindu processions passing with strange music disturb the devotions of Moslems within their mosques. Indeed the only check on Moslem religious ceremonial is the prohibition of the “Zikr” during the hours when the Jews lament and pray before the Wall; and as the most learned doctors of Islam consider this noisy ritual dance and its epileptic accompaniments to be a survival of paganism it is improbable that enlightened Mohammedans will object to its partial suppression. As our Jerusalem Correspondent points out, the verdict of the Commissioners substantially stereotypes the provisional usages permitted by the local authorities after the troubles of 1929, and amply vindicates the common sense of the British officials who were responsible for them. The regulations which they then imposed were admittedly makeshifts, but they were based upon a British belief in a reasonable amount of give and take, and on the experience of the very competent officers of the Palestine Police. They are now embodied in the religious status quo which the Mandatory Power is pledged to maintain.
It is not certain, the “Times” points out in another passage in the editorial, that the Jewish and Moslem communities of Palestine will accept the verdict of the Commission save under protest. It is also possible, it says, that the Persian Government, which is a member of the League, and the Arab States which may soon be admitted to membership, will refuse to accept the Commission’s verdict on account of the reservation made by the Moslem representatives when they denied the jurisdiction of a non-Moslem Commission over a Moslem sanctuary. These possibilities are clearly recognised by the Commissioners, who admit that are the dispute has arisen out of an existing incompatibility in principles of religious faith and is the more far-reaching, “each of the parties being of the firm conviction that the issue will affect interests that are, for them, of ideal moment and which they cannot forego”.
The verdict of the Commission, the “Times” adds, however, will probably be accepted as final by the great majority of the States which are members of the League of Nations.