“A peculiar question, it seems to me, but a natural one for anyone who has not seen with his own eyes the Palestine of today,” exclaimed Michel Aleinikoff, industrialist of Haifa, Palestine, and member of the board of the Palestine oil industry Shemen, Inc., when asked the conventional query about the future of Palestine.
“For us in Palestine,” said Mr. Aleinikoff, “there is no question of a future; there is no question markâ€”our future is assured. We are a going concern. True, we are faced with weighty problems, we need much money, we must find a solution for the political and Arab problems. But all the countries of the world have important problems to settle and we along with them.
“Like the other nations of the world, we will have our ups and downs; in fact we have already experienced some of the vicissitudes of the laws of economics, but nothing can stop us; we are long past the time when our future was in question.
CAPITAL FLOWING IN
“Palestine is the only country in the world today with an official surplus of more than 1,000,000 pounds over and above the budget. Capital is flowing into the country at an amazing rate. We have no unemployment, and are faced with a tremendous shortage of housing. Despite the rapidity of building operations we cannot keep pace with the demand for new dwellings.
“But eloquence is futile; no one can hope to describe the amazing progress in Palestine. I can only tell you that when I arrived in Palestine seven years ago, after having been an active Zionist for twenty-seven years, I confess I was a little doubtful. I asked myself over and over again, ‘what of these things you have been telling others about Palestineâ€”are they true, is it workable?’ But after a short time in the country I saw that it was true, that I had been right all the time, and that there was not even the faintest shadow of justification for my doubts. And remember I arrived in Palestine during the depression that followed the first boom, when unemployment had reached its maximum.”
Mr. Aleinikoff declared that one of the most important problems facing the Palestinian Jews is the development of Haifa. “It is not a question as to whether Haifa is to be developed or not,” he said. “Haifa is certain to be developed with or without Jewish participation. But the growth of Jewish Haifa is entirely dependent on Jewish efforts.
NEW MARKETS PREPARING
“Haifa is the gateway to the Near East. With the harbor development practically concluded, Haifa becomes automatically the most important harbor on the coast. Oil from Iraq is piped to Haifa in a very short time, and when the Haifa-Bagdad Railway becomes a reality, new and enormous markets will be opened which will add to the importance of Haifa as a commercial and industrial center.
“One sometimes hears the saying in Palestine: ‘Haifa can wait.’ But if Haifa is to be Jewish, its development cannot wait. Out of a population of 50,000, according to the last census, 18,000 are Jewish. The biggest Jewish industries are in Haifa, and many new factories are being built there today.
“Unlike the situation in many parts of Palestine, the Jews in Haifa are advantageously placed. The Jews, including many national organizations, own hundreds of thousands of dunams of land in and around Haifa, so development can proceed unchecked.
“I am president of a cooperative community on the slope of Mt. Carmel. This community is called Hadar Ha’Carmel (Beauty of Carmel). It is a complete Jewish community with 10,000 inhabitants. with its own water supply and road system. At Bat Galim and Nvai Shanan are other Jewish communities. And at Schunat Chaim, named for the late Dr. Chaim Arlosoroff, are 200 workers’ familiesâ€”and there is room for thousands.
ACTIVE IN ZIONISM
“There is a large Jewish field in Haifa for the development of a great Jewish community second to none. The Jews must participate in this great adventure in the building of Haifa, for Haifa cannot wait.”
Mr. Aleinikoff, who was born in Russia, was active in the Zionist movement for more than thirty-four years, having served for many years as a member of the central committee of the Russian Zionists and as a member of the Actions Committee of the World Zionist Organization.
He has been engaged for many years in the oil business and is now a member of the board of directors of the all-Jewish oil factory Shemen, located in Haifa.
Shemen, which is a very modern industrial plant and was built exclusively by Jewish labor, employs some two hundred Jewish workers. The Shemen works consist of a large oil mill, an oil refinery, a factory for toilet soap, laundry soap, soap flakes; a tin and can factory; and a steam and power station.
Shemen produces an annual output valued at $1,500,000 and sells its products in 62 different countries. Up to now Shemen has not attempted to sell in the American market, but now feels ready to enter the great American market in open competition with their other foreign rivals. It is for this purpose that Mr. Aleinikoff has come to the United States.