LONDON (Jan. 16)
Discussion or criticism of British policy in Palestine is taboo for the Palestine press which is also unable to report political developments affecting the future of the country. This mandated territory, according to information received here, is laboring under a war censorship far more extensive and intensive than that functioning in any of the belligerent countries and this censorship extends to all aspects of the news.
There is a two-fold censorship in Palestine – close supervision and censorship of all communications entering and leaving the country, and a second censorship under the local press ordinances operating in all publications in the country.
The great bulk of the cable and mail news material reaching Palestine comes from London. News cables to Palestine must first pass through the British censorship here before transmission. The fact that this censorship has approved messages, however, does not mean that they will be passed by the Palestine censorship.
In general, the censorship here is confined to matters of a military character and to the suppression of information which might be considered of value to the enemy, though there are cases in which it extends to other fields. A correspondent working in London still feels he has some latitude in reporting and in criticism of the Government. This is not the case in Palestine.
Dispatches sent there involving criticism of Government policy with regard to Palestine, reporting such developments as discussions regarding the policy or protests against the ban on Jewish immigration, etc., are suppressed by the Palestine censors. Their object, apparently, is to prevent publication of any reports in the local press which might have any effect on political conditions prevailing in the mandated territory.
Thus in recent weeks, news agencies serving Palestine found that dispatches reporting protests against the Palestine White Paper policy and the restriction of Jewish immigration and developments in connection with plans to issue a land transfer restriction ordinance were “killed” by the Palestine censorship.
A curious situation arose recently in the handling by the Palestine censorship of a cabled summary of an article by the Near East correspondent of the “Daily Telegraph.” The article was in general commendatory of British policy in Palestine and discussed at length the present situation there, reporting facts obvious to every observant Palestinian.
The message first passed the British censors in London without any question being raised, and apparently passed the Palestine cable censors and was distributed to the press by the local office of a news agency. The censors installed in two Hebrew newspapers permitted publication of the report after making deletions which did not correspond. The censors in three other papers killed the entire story.
The London correspondent of a Palestine newspaper recently had the experience of having eighty percent of an article on Palestine, based almost entirely on official statements and statements in the House of Commons, and almost entirely factual and informative rather than argumentative and critical, cut by the Palestine censor The article had, before despatch, been passed by the Censorship Bureau in London.
A strict censorship has also been established on all communications from Palestine even to London and other parts of the British Empire. This censorship is particularly severe on all political matters, and it has been responsible for serious inconvenience to many correspondents, particularly in the delays caused. The outgoing censorship has also been a source of vexation to many Palestinians, since all their personal and business communications with the outside world are subject to delay and censoring.
A well-known Palestinian now in London complained to this correspondent that a letter addressed to him by his wife had been returned to her by the local censorship authorities with the comment attached that it was “too long.”
It was learned here recently that the Palestine censors deleted the greater part of the copy of a memorandum submitted to the Palestine High Commissioner by the representative of a recognized Jewish body, which he was sending to that body, although the memorandum was definitely not for publication and was in the nature of an official communication.