Prague (Aug. 27)
The development of Palestine has definitely emerged from the experimental economic stages into the productive and profit-bearing stage, according to the report of the executive of the World Zionist Organization, submitted to the Eighteenth World Zionist Congress now in session here.
The 375-page report presents a detailed analysis of the political and economic factors involved in the upbuilding of Palestine and closely reports Zionist activities in furthering it.
Parts of the report dealing with the work of the political department, describe activities on such questions as security, immigration, public works, Arab relations and the Transjordan. The French report on the development of Palestine is criticized in the report as is the Government attitude on immigration, public works and constitutional reform.
Referring to the Transjordan, the report contrasts the widespread distress there with the prosperity of Western Palestine and describes efforts on the part of some Transjordan leaders to induce Jewish settlement there.
Discussing the economic situation, the report declares, “While in the majority of countries, unemployment prevailed and still prevails, Palestine has become a country where immigration and construction are in full swing and where capital is seeking investment. The wave of immigration has not, as in former years, turned to Tel Aviv alone, but has invaded other places.
“Palestine, which was previously regarded by many as only an object of philanthropic and charitable endeavor, was suddenly revealed to wide classes of Jewish investors as a secure and profitable channel for investment. This revaluation of Palestine’s practical importance is one of the main features of the present day situation.”
GROWTH OF IMPORTS
In speaking of trade, the report declares that the amazing growth of imports is “a characteristic feature of Palestine’s development during the increased from 40 to 140 percent. In one bank, the Ashrai, Jewish deposits rose in one year from 153,000 pounds to 319,000, an increase of 111 percent. The Anglo-Palestine bank, the largest in Palestine, increased Jewish deposits from 1,600,000 pounds to 2,250,000 pounds, an increase of 41 percent. Most important and significant, the Palestine Government finds itself with a cash surplus of 1,150,000 pounds.
GROWTH OF IMPORTS
In speaking of trade, the report declares that the amazing growth of imports is “a characteristic feature of Palestine’s development during the recent period. Since the war, Palestine imports have risen seven fold. In the decade since the war, 70 million pounds have been spent on imports, a sum equal to the value of imports during the whole of the preceding century.”
Recent Jewish investments in Palestine, according to the report, are primarily in agriculture and building. Out of an estimated total of 3,252,000 pounds invested, 1,350,000 pounds or 42 percent was invested in agriculture, mainly citrus planting. Building accounted for 1,400,000 pounds or 43 percent and only 15 percent of the total went into industry and handicrafts. An investigation of 213 immigrants of the capitalist class showed that of their total capital of 697,000 pounds, 54 percent was invested in agriculture. The investigation also proved that although in the countries of their origin these immigrants were mainly in commerce, in Palestine, they not only invested in agriculture, but turned to it as an occupation.
A shortage of labor in the agricultural sections was noticeable in the period under review, according to the report, while in the cities there was no unemployment. Attention is called to the fact that while the Palestinian farmers could not find enough workers, thousands of Jewish men in foreign countries were begging for labor certificates.
When the subject of the report turns from the economic field to the political arena the questions of immigration, Arab relations, public works, land problems, Transjordan and the ever-present problem of security are posed.
The report is a memorial to the late Dr. Chaim Arlosoroff, head of the political department for the two-year period covered by the report.
One of the chief points in the report is the relationship between the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Mandatory power, Great Britain.
According to the figures on immigration compiled by the Executive, a total of 21,767 immigrants of all classes have entered Palestine since 1931. Of the total, 11,384 were workers and entered on the labor schedules. Under the capitalist classification 3,122 persons received permission to go to Palestine. Relatives of persons already in Palestine received 2,697 certificates and 4,166 people came into Palestine under the unspecified classification.
Another main point is the subject of labor immigration. Every half year the number of Jewish immigrants to be granted certificates is determined jointly by the Agency and the immigration department of the Palestine Government. In October, 1931, the Agency asked for 1,721 certificates and received 350. In October, 1932, it asked for 6,760, based on the labor needs, and received 4,500. In April, 1933, 12,750 certificates were requested, and only 5,500 granted.
“In communicating the decisions the government gives the Agency no reasons for the curtailment which usually takes place. Subsequent inquiries elicit but meager explanations. The whole experience with labor schedules makes it advisable to consider that the time has come for a fundamental revision of the present policy of regulating immigration with a view to evolving a more satisfactory procedure,” the report states.
Referring to problems of the Zionist Organization, the report stresses the difficulties of relations with the Revisionist Union (extreme right-wing Zionists) and recounts the action of the Executive in reply to Revisionist demands for autonomy for that organization. It reports on a series of meetings at which an attempt was made to reach a common basis of agreement on the Revisionist demands.
“The Zionist Organization, which is based on a democratic foundation, affords freedom of thought to Zionists of all shades of opinion who comply with its rules and decisions,” states the report. “Revisionist associations arbitrarily established without the Zionist federations are unauthorized within the meaning of the constitution of the Zionist Organization, and are not entitled to describe themselves as Zionists.”
AMERICAN ACTIVITIES DECREASED
Reporting on Zionist activities in 42 countries, the report notes a decrease in Zionist activity and membership in the United States and in receipts from the sale of “shekolim” (the membership certificates required for voting for Congress representation).
“The time has come for even American Zionists to look upon shekel work in the same light as it is regarded by other countries,” states the report.
The membership decline began before the world depression, the report declares and was accelerated by the decentralization of the various organizations affiliated with the Zionist Organization of America. “There is some ground to believe that the whole Zionist movement in America suffered a loss of morale,” it states.
“Despite these adverse factors, the Zionist Organization of America succeeded in holding its own during the past year and stemmed the tide of membership loss. This was accomplished through the yeoman effort launched under the handicap of a much pared budget.”