Geneva (Jun. 8)
In June 1930, the Vaad Leumi had the honour to submit to the Permanent Mandates Commission a memorandum in which an attempt was made to sum up the progress of Palestine and the development of Jewish colonisation in the past ten years, the Vaad Leumi begins its memorandum submitted to the session of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations which opens here to-morrow. In that memorandum, it proceeds, we gave expression to the desires of the Jewish Community in Palestine and their demands from the Mandatory Power and the local Administration, and referred to the general political situation in the country. We stated that so far from the country having been placed under such “political administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home”, so far from any facilities having been given for Jewish immigration or any aid to close settlement on the land by Jews or any special facilities for the naturalisation of Jews, Government have often taken a position which is tantamount to refusing members of the Jewish Community that civil equality which is guaranteed to national minorities even in countries in which declarations for the establishment of a National Home form no part of the public policy of the land.
We further stated in that memorandum that although the Jews of Palestine constituted 20 per cent. of the settled population, they have been paying nearly 45 per cent. of its revenue and receiving back only 14 per cent. of Government expenditure on Education, less than 10 per cent. of the expenditure on Public Health, and no more than 10 per cent. of Public Works expenditure. The Hebrew language which was in theory recognised as an official language was in practice denied equal rights with the other two official languages in Government Departments and especially in the police. Government have vested themselves with power to refuse without stating any reason for their action any application for naturalisation – and most applicants for naturalisation are Jews. All such applicants have to overcome many difficulties and often wait a year or two before they are privileged to get their certificates of naturalisation.
We stated that there were a number of officers in the Palestine Administration who were opposed to the National Home, and their personal attitude to the policy which they were commissioned to implement no doubt affected their administration of the provisions of the Mandate concerning the Jews. We stated that the Jewish immigrant has been meeting with a number of unjustifiable obstacles and difficulties on the way to his National Home. Thus, although the Immigration Ordinance 1925 provided that the minimum capital to be produced on demand by an immigrant of independent means was Â£500, legislation passed by the Government of Palestine in April raised this amount to Â£1,000. This restriction is justified neither by economic conditions in the world and especially in centres of Jewish emigration, nor by the economic conditions prevailing in the country for the absorption of immigrants of this class. In fact, the substantial fall in the Cost of Living Index in the country facilitates the absorption of people of more limited means than was the case during the period 1925-26. Finally we must state that during this past year under review, as during the years which preceded, nothing has been done to “encourage close settlement by Jews on the land including State Lands and waste lands” as provided for in the Mandate.
In that memorandum the Vaad Leumi had the honour to point out that the disturbances of August 1929, the conduct of the Government during those disturbances, the report of the Shaw Commission with its all too obvious tendency to exonerate the instigators from any guilt for the bloodshed which occurred as a result of their instigation, that all this and much more was the inevitable consequence of a policy of opposition to the Jewish National Home which some members of the Palestine Administration have been pursuing now for many years.
During the period under review (since we submitted our last memorandum) the policy of the local Administration has continued unchanged, the memorandum declares.
The Department of Immigration, the memorandum proceeds, has continued to function not as a Department for the encouragement of immigration but as one for its discouragement. Jewish tourists with adequate means who, after coming to observe conditions in the country decide to remain, meet with great difficulties in their endeavours to obtain permission to stay in Palestine. Members of liberal professions, who, while visiting the country were given definite offers of employment by local institutions, have been refused permission to remain. Generally speaking it may be said that the decision as to whether or not a prospective immigrant should be given a permit to enter Palestine and as to whether or not tourists should be allowed to stay is left to the discretion of the Chief Immigration Officer and such discretion is used by him arbitrarily.
The Government contribution to the Education Budget of the Jewish Agency, which is represented as based on the numerical strength of the Jewish population, actually amounts to one-seventh of the total education expenditure of the Government, although according to the figures of the Department of Health, the Jewish population constitutes 20 per cent. of the settled population in Palestine. Moreover, in preparing their estimates and deciding on the allocation of the grant-in-aid to Jewish education, Government would appear to have lost sight of the expenditure of the Public Works Department on buildings in which Arab schools are housed and of the expenditure of the Department of Health on medical inspection of Arab schools as well as of the Department of Education in the general administrative budget of Palestine; the Jewish Community derives practically no benefit from these sums which amount to over Â£20,000.
The Jewish medical institutions continue to bear almost the entire cost of the maintenance of the Jewish Health Service which caters for the members of the Jewish Community. The Hadassah (the Women’s Zionist Organisation of America) alone has spent no less than a million pounds on health work in Palestine during the last ten years. This expenditure has enabled the Government of Palestine to reduce their expenditure on the Health Services to the utmost possible limit and to allocate the bulk of their health budget to the service of the Arab population.
We regret to be unable to record any progress in the development of local government. Now as before the Municipality of Jerusalem, the capital of the country, continues without the participation of representatives of the Jews who constitute two-thirds of its population and contribute 80 per cent. of its revenue. The causes which prompted the Jewish councillors to withdraw from the Municipal Council still obtain, and Government have done nothing to remove them.
Again, although several measures have been taken with a view to effecting a thorough recorganisation of the Police Force of Palestine, the peace and protection of the Jewish community are by no means assured; for it was only very recently that Jewish farmers were attacked while tilling their land and members of the Yadjur Settlement near Haifa were ambushed and murdered by brigands. This murder shocked the entire Jewish Community, and to this day the murderers have not been found.
JEWISH COMMUNITY OF PALESTINE HAS SUCCESSFULLY OVERCOME ALL ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF 1929 DISTURBANCES THANKS TO GENEROUS RELIEF BY WORLD JEWRY FOR RECONSTRUCTION: BUT WHAT RIOTS AND ARAB BOYCOTT FAILED TO ACHIEVE POLITICAL RESTRICTIONS THAT FOLLOWED HAVE ACHIEVED: SHAW REPORT AND GOVERNMENT STATEMENTS TO MANDATES COMMISSION IDENTIFYING THEMSELVES WITH SHAW COMMISSION MAJORITY COUPLED WITH SUSPENSION OF JEWISH LABOUR IMMIGRATION SERIOUSLY SHAKEN CONFIDENCE OF JEWS IN POLICY OF BRITISH GOVERNMENT
The instigators responsible for the disturbances of August 1929 who had hoped to shake the economic foundations of the Jewish Community by means of an economic boycott have utterly failed in their mischievous attempts, the memorandum goes on. The boycot leaders had hoped to derive personal benefit from the boycott, but the scheme proved abortive only a few months after it was initiated. The Jewish Community has successfully overcome all the economic consequences of the disturbances, thanks to the generous measures of relief extended by world Jewry for the reconstruction. Immigrants continued to come to Palestine, and until May 1930 there were practically no unemployed Jewish workers in the country. But what the riots and the boycott failed to achieve was achieved by the political restrictions that came close in their wake in the period that followed. The publication of the Shaw Report and the statements made by His Majesty’s Government before the Permanent Mandates Commission in which they identified themselves with the views of the majority of the Shaw Commission, coupled with the suspension of Jewish Labour immigration, have seriously shaken the confidence of Jews in the policy of the British Government. The political disappointments and the uncertainty with regard to future political developments have had a most depressing effect on the influx of fresh capital and on the economic situation generally. Signs of economic hardship began to make themselves felt in May 1930, immediately after the suspension of Jewish immigration.
Sir John Hope Simpson’s Report on Immigration, Land Settlement and Development seemed to be written with the specific intention of proving that Palestine was over-populated and that there was no room in it for additional settlers, that it offered no prospects for industrial development, that there was a shortage of cultivable land, not only for additional settlers, but indeed for Palestine’s present population and that the post-war Jewish settlement has had the effect of impoverishing the indigenous population and of dispossessing them of their lands. The Report served as the basis of the White Paper in which an attempt was made to validate and justify all those restrictions which had been imposed on Jewish enterprise in direct contradiction to the provisions of the Mandate and to add many more to their number. The Jewish Community in Palestine and Jews the world over have regarded that statement of policy as a pronouncement which must ruthlessly curtail and hinder all work for the reconstruction of Palestine by the Jewish people and as an attempt to put a stop to all creative effort by Jews in their historic homeland, to hold up Jewish immigration and prevent all acquisition of land by Jews for their own settlement. It was but natural that it should have provoked a wave of indignation against the British Government which declared its intention of being guided by the policy enunciated in the White Paper.
PRIME MINISTER’S LETTER TO DR. WEIZMANN CANNOT GIVE JEWISH COMMUNITY ANY SATISFACTION: LETTER HAS REMAINED WITHOUT PRACTICAL EFFECT ON ADMINISTRATIVE PRACTICE AND ATTITUDE OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES: HAS NOT STRENGTHENED HOPE THAT COUNTRY WOULD BE PLACED UNDER CONDITIONS SECURING ESTABLISHMENT OF JEWISH NATIONAL HOME: WE ASK PLEDGE TO ESTABLISH JEWISH NATIONAL HOME BE TRANSLATED INTO REALITY
In a special letter addressed by the Prime Minister to the President of the Jewish Agency, the British Government interpreted a number of passages in the White Paper, with a view to removing any apprehension as to an unsympathetic line of policy of the British Government towards the National Home, but the interpretations set out in the Prime Minister’s letter cannot give the Jewish community any satisfaction. That letter has remained without any practical effect on actual administrative practice and on the attitude of local authorities, in which no change for the better has been evidenced. It has not strengthened the hope in the early fulfilment of the pledge that the country would be placed “under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home”. The policy of the Palestine administration offers no assurance that Government seriously means to aid and encourage Jewish immigration to Palestine.
It appears that not with standing the Prime Minister’s letter to Dr. Weizmann, the Hope Simpson Report continues to guide the British Government in their Palestine policy and this fact makes it the more incumbent upon us to expose all its misstatements, errors’ and unfounded conclusions.
In submitting this memorandum to the Permanent Mandates Commission we ask that the pledge with regard to the establishment of the Jewish National Home be translated into reality. We ask that the Mandatory place the country under such appropriate conditions as shall assure the development of the creative effort of the Jewish people, and shall ensure that every Jew who is willing to invest his resources and energy in the upbuilding of the country or who seeks in it a refuge and an asylum from the persecutions of the Diaspora should be enabled to come to Palestine without any restriction. The Jewish Community in Palestine whom we have the honour to represent ask, in view of the historical association of the Jewish people with Palestine, of the fact that this association has been given official recognition by all civilised countries, that the gates of the country be opened to Jewish immigrants who shall be admitted not as alien immigrants but as sons repatriated to their country. It is our firm and sincere conviction that this right of the Jewish people to Palestine does not in the least way prejudice the rights of the Arabs to their full economic and cultural development.