Palestine Workers Turn from Land
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Palestine Workers Turn from Land

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Sharp criticism of the method of distributing immigration certificates, as result of which “a large proportion of unsuitable elements” were permitted to enter Palestine, was expressed at a press conference here by Samuel Dobkin, head of the immigration department of the Histadruth.

In the course of the interview Mr. Dobkin also expressed the opinion that the mandatory power was showing a “greater understanding of the absorptive capacity of the country.” It is possible, he pointed out, that 1935 would see a legal immigration of 60,000 to Palestine. He declared there was a possibility also that the government would issue a supplementary schedule of a few thousand to the present schedule.

Although there was an increase in the number of certificates for the last schedule, Mr. Dobkin pointed out that the method of distributing these certificates had created dissatisfaction among the various Zionist groups.


“The present schedule,” he said, “contained for the first time a number of certificates made out for particular persons according to the nominations of the Industrial Federation in Palestine and the Colonists’ Federation. These nominations did not seem to be sufficiently carefully made out and contained a large proportion of unsuitable elements, which is very harmful in the present stage of development when Palestine requires a well-prepared element both physically and culturally.

“The new system of nominations in certificates has created the greatest dissatisfaction among those groups which were at first in favor of this system.”

A group of statistics offered by Mr. Dobkin on the composition of the Histadruth and the percentage of members who have turned to cultivating the land was the subject of considerable comment among the newspapermen present.


His figures showed that while the growth of the Histadruth since 1932 has been 113 per cent, there had been a sharp decline of thirty-four per cent in the proportionate number that depended upon agriculture for a living. In 1932 the party had 30,070 members in its ranks, of which 11,600 were on the land, or thirty-nine per cent. The labor party has now 64,000 members, of whom only 22,000 have turned to agriculture for a livelihood.

A similar surprising situation was revealed by Mr. Dobkin in the distribution of trades among the Jewish workers. The number of building workers, he said, had increased from 3,000 to 13,000, while the number of Jewish land workers in the plantations had remained stationary at 4,500.

In 1932, he pointed out, there was an average of one Jewish worker to every ten dunams of Jewish plantation land. At the end of 1934 there was one laborer for every five dunams.


These figures, Mr. Dobkin explained, also took into consideration the fact that the present area of Jewish farms totals 150,000 dunams, of which two-thirds are not yet producing fruit and which require for the years 1935 to 1939 a total of 29,000 additional workers. The question arises, Mr. Dobkin said, whence these workers are to come.

Mr. Dobkin pointed out that the sharp rise in motor car imports during the six-month period from April to September, 1934, was a revealing index of the country’s rising prosperity. In that period 1,800 automobiles were brought into Palestine, or one for every nine immigrants during the period.

In 1932, Mr. Dobkin said £3,500,000 in Jewish capital was invested in Palestine in building houses, industry, agriculture and means of communication. Investments the following year totaled £6,000,000 and in 1934 they rose to £10,000,000. These figures, he said, did not include investments in commercial enterprises, purchase of soil and cultural undertakings. Imports amounted in 1932 to £7,000,000, in 1933 to £11,000,000 and last year to £16,000,000.


Mr. Dobkin denied reports published in the Neue Freie Presse and a number of other Jewish papers that 67,000 Arabs entered Palestine from the Hauran. He estimated the number of Arabs who had come into Palestine from all the neighboring countries, Syria, Transjordan, etc., because of the shortage of labor, at about 15,000 to 20,000.

All these figures relate to the quantity of immigration, he said. In regard to quality, during the last three years there was an altogether different picture. Of the 135,000 Jews who came into Palestine in the last three years, only 21,000 settled on the land, while 114,000 remained in the towns.

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