Jerusalem (Sep. 3)
It was over four years agoâ€”in March, 1930, to be preciseâ€”that the four Jewish councillors in the municipality of Jerusalem retired en bloc as a protest against the anti-Jewish political activities pursued by the Mayor, a Moslem, Ragheb Bey Nashashibi, and against the fact that while the Jewish Vice-Mayor was the senior “city father,” the Arab Vice-Mayor was appointed to take Ragheb Bey’s place on his departure, with an Arab political mission, to London.
Since that time there has been no Jewish representation on Jerusalem’s city council, and it was only with the enactment of the recent Municipal Corporations Ordinance that new elections were provided. They will be held shortly, Jerusalem being the last municipal area in Palestine to hold polling for a new municipal council.
There are over 65,000 Jews in Jerusalem. But only 4,392 of them have been granted the franchise. Why is that? you naturally ask. The answer is a simple one. It is not every taxpayer who is entitled to vote. To be a voter one must of course be not less than twenty-one years of age but also must enjoy Palestinian citizenship (some people do not think the word “enjoy” is appropriate, which is the reason for the sad deficiency between Jewish residents and Jewish electors).
With a large cosmopolitan Jewish population, it stands to reason that, for technical or private reasons, there should be many who are loath to surrender their foreign citizenship, particularly those who are British subjects by birth or American citizens. In their estimation, the counter-advantages of becoming a Palestinian are too few to outweigh the privilege of remaining British or American or French or Italian.
Yet the anomalous position is that a Palestinian citizen is at the same time a British subject, swearing loyalty to the King of England, but conversely a British subject cannot exercise the functions or prerogatives of a Palestinian citizen. An attempt to clear up this position is now being made by Max Seligman, a United Kingdom national who practices law in Palestine, who has applied to the Electoral Committee in Jerusalem to reinstate his name among the list of electors, as he pays rates in the capital; and failing that, he will petition the District Court here to declare the Municipal Corporations Ordinance as ultra vires to the Palestine Mandate on the ground that it discriminates between various classes of inhabitants.
So with only about 8,800 electors in Jerusalem, of whom 4,392 are Jews, the latter will have only six of the twelve available councillorships.
The Jewish institutions have no counter candidates only one set of nominees, which means that polling in the different Jewish wards will be obviated by the return of unopposed candidates. So far the list agreed upon consists of I. Ben-Zvi, for the Laborites; Daniel Auster, advocate, General Zionists; Abraham Elmaleh, member of the Vaad Leumi Executive, for Sephardic Jews; Rabbi Blau or Vigdor Ende, Jerusalem merchant, for Agudath Israel; Haim Salomon (former Vice-Mayor of Jerusalem) for the Mizrachi, and J. Hackmashvill, manager of Barclay’s Bank, for the United Agudath-Israel â€” Oriental-Jews’ interests.
Isaac Ben-Zvei, chairman of the Vaad Leumi and member of the Central Council of Histadruth is proposed as Jewish Deputy-Mayor. If he takes that office, he will resign the chairmanship of the Vaad Leumi.
The Revisionists are taking no part in the polling or preliminary negotiations as they are dissatisfied with the measure of participation offered them in the councillorship interests. In all probability they will call for a blockade of the elections.
Perhaps the oustanding feature is the fact that with a majority of the inhabitants, Jews cannot have a Jewish Mayor. It is certain that General Wauchope will appoint a Moslem, perhaps reappoint the present Mayor, asâ€”according to informationâ€””the general political interests of Palestine dictate this as the only wise course.”