Geneva (Jun. 19)
Discusssion of the Palestine Mandate will be held by the League of Nations Mandates Commission, it was announced today when the commission’s session opened. Signor Theodoli was reelected as chairman of the commission today.
Rabbi B. Z. Uziel of Palestine arrived here today in behalf of the Vaad Leumi (Jewish National Council) and the rabbinate to explain to the Mandates Commission why they are opposed to the demands of the Agudath Israel, orthodox group, for the establishment of a seperate Jewish community within the existing Jewish communities framework.
Improvement in the general situation of Palestine despite the world depression and the resulting drop in Zionist funds is noted in the memorandum of the Jewish Agency for Palestine which was submitted to the commission. The memorandum covers the year 1932.
“The Jewish Agency is fortunate in being able, this year, to record a definite improvement in the general situation in Palestine, in spite of the inevitable decline in the receipts of the Zionist public funds, so largely derived from countries which have suffered severely from the recent economic depression,” the foreword to the memorandum notes.
“Indications of that improvement will be found in the report which follows, and especially in the fact that Palestine has successfully absorbed 9,000 immigrants during the year, has little or no unemployment, is gradually increasing its exports and diminishing its adverse balance of trade, and has managed to provide its Government with a surplus of between Â£300,000 and Â£400,000 on the year’s work.”
The report points out that the drop in jublic funds applied to Palestine during the year has been “to a great extent offset by the remarkable progress made by Palestine itself during the year under review. If the inflow of public funds was necessarily less than in previous years, the deficit was, so far as can be estimated, more than made up by a striking increase in the influx of private money for investment in agriculture and industry. Exact figures are not available, but conservative estimates indicate that well over Â£P3,000,000 of private capital, (almost entirely Jewish) entered the country during 1932, and was distributed between the three main channels of agriculture (plantations), building construction and industry.”
Zionist funds expended in Palestine during the year ending September 30, 1932, amounted to Â£P498,700 as compared to Â£P97,000 the previous year, the decline being largely due to the virtual completion of the work of the Palestine Emergency Fund in rehabilitating the victims of the 1929 disturbances.
The memorandum points out that the percentage of Jews employed on Government and municipal works continued low although some slight improvement was noticeable. An agreement was reached between the Jewish Agency and the Palestine Government establishing the percentage of 36.6 as the Jewish contribution to public revenues. The proportion of Jews employed on public works, however, was far below this figure, the memorandum declares, and on the railways continued as low as 12 percent. The question of a formula designed to bring the proportion of Jewish labor on public works into some relation with the proportion of public revenue contributed by the Jews, was discussed with the Palestine Government during the year, the memorandum states.
(The report of the Palestine Government to the Mandates Commission, made public last week, contests the Jewish claim for a proportional share of the work which is based on promises of Prime Minister J. Ramsay MacDonald to Dr. Chaim Weizmann, then head of the Jewish Agency, in 1931. “It is neither possible nor was it intended that the Premier’s assurances should be fulfilled by granting the Jews a share in the public works fixed solely in relation to the Jewish contribution to the revenue of Palestine,” the Government report states, interpreting the MacDonald promise as meaning only that the Jewish contribution will be taken into consideration.)
The memorandum also takes up the question of “displaced Arabs” and after reviewing the situation, points out that the total number of Arabs displaced by Jews in colonizing activities since 1918 “may be confidently estimated at not more than 600 â€” probably rather less.”
This subject is taken up more fully in a letter from Nahum Sokolow, president of the Jewish Agency, to the Palestine High Commissioner, accompanying the memorandum. Pointing out that the allegation that Jewish colonization had displaced large numbers of Arabs, had been proven false, Dr. Sokolow wrote:
“It is to be hoped, therefore, that the legend of a landless Arab proletariat created in Palestine by Jewish land purchases, has now been finally disposed of, and that it will from now on be possible to regard the question of agricultural development in Palestine from the point of view of encouraging Jewish close settlement on the land, with a view to furthering the development of the Jewish National Home and the general welfare of the country as a whole.”
In its section on immigration, the memorandum points out that despite the introduction of a new sub-category in the laws governing admission of immigrants with independent means, to permit entry of people with five hundred pounds capital at the discretion of the director of the department of immigration, only two were admitted in this category during the year. Immigrants admitted under the labor schedule were below the numbers for which the Jewish Agency had made application.
In his letter to the High Commismissioner, Dr. Sokolow points to the need for Jewish immigration and to the advisability of facilitating entry of limited capitalists. A larger labor schedule, he declared, would not only provide the country with needed workers, but would also provide opportunities for immigration for those who need them urgently in view of the situation of the Jews in Germany.
The memorandum notes the transfer of responsibility for the school system from the Jewish Agency to the Jewish communal authorities. The partial transfer of the Jewish Public Health Service to the Jewish community is also reviewed.