JERUSALEM (Dec. 21)
Testifying today at an open session of the British Royal Commission, Jewish religious leaders pleaded that immigration into Palestine and sale of land be not restricted.
The witnesses were Rabbi Joseph Zvi Dushinsky, chief rabbi of the extreme orthodox Agudath Israel, and Rabbi Moshe Blau, Agudah leader.
“On behalf of the people of the Bible,” Rabbi Dushinsky said, “I plead with you not to restrict immigration and land sales, to fulfill the Mandate and take into consideration Israel.”
Emphasizing that the Jews do not intend to dominate Palestine and wish only to build it up, Rabbi Dushinsky declared:
“The Torah (Jewish law) commands us not to take the land by force, nor to dominate.”
Lord Peel, chairman, asked:
“Does your demand for non-stoppage of immigration refer to pious Jews or to all of them?”
Rabbi Dushinsky replied: “We are making no distinctions.”
Lord Peel: “Even not taking into consideration absorptivity?”
Rabbi Dushinsky: “We are demanding immigration according to the mandate.”
Lord Peel: “Is there anything regarding absorptivity in the mandate?”
Rabbi Dushinsky: “I cannot say.”
Rabbi Blau, declaring he spoke for one-fifth of Palestine’s population, demanded for his organization taxation powers, grants for education, equal rights for its rabbinical courts and a share in public works and civil service posts.
Turning to the question of illegal Jewish immigration, Sir Laurie Hammond asked Rabbi Blau whether he was aware in that connection that fictitious marriages and divorces reached 41 per cent of the total. Rabbi Blau replied that he preferred to answer at an in camera session.
Continuing his testimony, Rabbi Blau asked that land be earmarked for the Agudah, emphasizing his organization was getting none from the Zionists.
Lord Peel asked why the Agudah insisted on separate demands.
Rabbi Blau replied that negotiations with the Vaad Leumi (Jewish National Council) looking toward common demands had broken down.
Sir Horace Rumbold asked if the question of women’s suffrage, to which the Agudah objects, was responsible for break-up of the negotiations.
“This was merely incidental,” Rabbi Blau replied.
The open session at this point was adjourned for an in camera sitting.