The admission and settlement of Jews in Syria, as announced recently by the French government, will probably be permitted throughout the whole of the land.
Industrialists, engineers and artisans, besides agriculturalists, are included in the categories to be permitted settlement.
The admission of agriculturalists the bulk of the new settlers, will entail a preliminary colonization organization. This preliminary work is essential in view of the fact that settlement is envisaged in the Valley of Ghab in the Haut-Oronte, where with a moderate investment 100,000 hectares of land (approximately 247,000 acres) can be cultivated.
Other tracts available for Jewish agricultural settlement include sections in the north of the Republic of Lebanon outside the Palestinian frontier, and the upper Euphrates and the Oronte.
WILL ADAPT IMMIGRANTS
Negotiations which finally culminated in the permission for 10,000 Jews to settle in Syria and Lebanon were initiated by the Committee for the Defense of Jewish Rights in Central and Eastern Europe, of which Senator Justin Godart is president.
This Committee has worked out a plan for selecting immigrants, under control of the French administration and by the High Commissioner of Syria, and for their adaptation to the customs of their future homes and for their obligatory study of Arabic and French.
Drainage of the Valley of Amouk and the creation of a society for the study of Franco-Syrian relations, to further the increased progress of French industry in the deserted territories of Syria, in collaboration with French and Syrian personalities, is supported by the Committee.
According to the plan of the engineer Joseph Loewy, under consideration at present, drainage of both the Valley of Amouk and the Lake of Antioch can be accomplished by a direct flow through a tunnel bored through the Beilan Mountain and exiting into the Mediterranean Sea. This feat will recover for settlement 300,000 hectares of land approximately (740,000 acres).
Small model self – supporting farms for the settlers, hardly dependent upon local exports and entirely independent of the world market, is envisaged by the Committee.
The development of Jewish immigration into Syria and Lebanon, it is believed, will bring a moral rapprochment between the Jews and Arabs which may have a great influence outside the Syrian States.
LOCAL CONDITIONS EXPLAINED
The diverse character of the inhabitants of the four Syrian States and of the autonomous Sandjak of Alexandrette, which has about a dozen churches of different sects, undoubtedly will facilitate the acclimatization of the Jewish colonists to local conditions.
It also promises to frustrate aims of extremist leaders who seek to foment discord between Syrian and Lebanese workers, on the one hand, and Jewish immigrants on the other.
Misunderstandings and difficulties arising from a confusion between the work of political Zionism in Palestine and the modest problem, although of vital necessity, of the admission of Jews to the Levant States, trailed negotiations for a long time. Last April Count Martel, High Commissioner for Syria, announced it was impossible to admit any number of Jews to Syria or Lebanon.
Further study of the question and continued negotiations, headed by Senator Godart, Baron Alfred Goinzbourg and Boris Gourevitch, the latter two members of the Bureau and secretary general, respectively, resulted in a change in the attitude of the Quai d’Orsay, the High Commissioner and certain notables in Syria and Lebanon, who had opposed Jewish settlement on a large or medium scale.
On October 30 the Committee for the Defense of Jewish Rights in Central and Eastern Europe made an official request to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pierre Laval, for the admission of Jews to Syria and Lebanon.
On November 19 a letter of good will, in the name of Laval and signed by Alexis Leger, secretary-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, informed Senator Godart that the request had been communicated to the Syrian High Commissioner for his opinion as to the practicability of the scheme, with the results outlined above.