Palestine today stands on the threshold of a new and enlarged economic development. This was the recurrent note sounded Tuesday evening at a special meeting of the Palestine Economic Corporation, held at the Hotel Astor.
Called to take inventory of what the corporation has accomplished in Palestine, the speakers of the evening described how the organization, through a expenditure of $2,500,000 has pentrated every phase of Palestine industry, and indicated the course which future development in Palestine may follow.
Addresses were delivered by Felix M. Warburg, Julius Simon, Vice-Presidents of the Corporation. Dr. Cyrus Adler, Judge Julian W. Mack, Harry H. Viteles, General Manager of the Central Bank of Co-operative Institutions, and Emanuel Mohl, General Manager of the Mortgage and Credit Bank, the financial agencies through which the Palestine Economic Corporation functions in Palestine. All of the speakers, with the exception of Judge Mack, have recently returned from Palestine. Mr. Bernard Flexner, President of the corporation, presided. Messages of greeting were received from Justice Louis D. Brandeis and Lieutenant Governor Herbert H. Lehman.
There is peace in the country, the colonies and industries are thriving, unemployment is virtually non-existent, the speakers declared. Promises of wider development are held out by the completion of the Rutenberg Electrification plant, which will supply cheap power, the development of the Haifa Bay Harbor, thus opening up a direct route to Europe, and the exploitation of the Dead Sea. The Jews of America will be asked to subscribe between $750,000 and $1,000,000 when the corporation is formed to exploit the Dead Sea concession granted to Moses Novomejsky, Jewish engineer and Major Tulloch, Judge Mack indicated.
It is of the utmost importance that Palestine should be organized on a business basis, Mr. Warburg asserted. Palestine does not want charity.
The Jewish Agency will bring about an increased activity, Mr. Warburg indicated. “If the Jewish Agency goes through, as I have no doubt it will,” he said, “the support to the Palestine Economic Corporation will be considerable. It has invested much and it will invest more.” He urged co-operation between existing organizations in various countries so that there should be no conflict or competition.
“There is hope and progress in Palestine, as well as the promise for good sound development. The people there do not want charity any more than the people in New York. You must have patience. With patience, and confidence in your leaders, you will receive not only the gratitude and the appreciation of the people in Palestine, but business dividends as well,” Mr. Warburg declared.
A review of his impressions of Palestine was presented by Dr. Adler. The reduction of unemployment from 10,000 to 850, one-half of whom are unemployable, being invalids, etc., is an indication that immigration is on a sound basis, he asserted. The accre- (Continued on Page 4)
The most important aspect of Palestine upbuilding, in Dr. Adler’s opinion, is the acquisition of land. “Unless the Yishub acquires considerable land, it will have failed even if it succeeds. The people on the land form the backbone of any country. The lot of the farmer is a very hard one, he said, urging the formation of a Land bank with long term credits. He described the importance to Palestine of the Rutenberg Electrification plant, in view of the fact that the country is without coal, without wood, and without the Mosul Pipe Line, would have no oil. The Haifa Bay Harbor is of paramount importance and will give impetus to exports, substituting the present long and expensive route by a direct access to Europe.
“More should be done for Palestine,” Dr. Adler urged. ‘But not by way of charity. The sooner the whole project is put on a definite business basis, the better. The development of the country should not be placed in the hands of charity collectors but in that of business corporations, functioning not for profit, content with getting a small return for their investments, and putting all the rest back into the land.”
A special statement on the Corporation’s contribution to the Dead Sea concession was made by Bernard Flexner. The corporation, with a total investment of $125,000, is the largest single subscriber to the Novomejsky concession, Mr. Flexner said. Of this sum $50,000 was subscribed in 1921 and $75,000 recently to make up the $350,000 necessary before the concession could be granted Novomejsky.
Judge Mack, invited to address the meeting by the chairman, stated that he wished to make a correction of a slight error. His group has raised within a short time, in a quiet campaign, the amount of approximately $280,000 needed to make up the sum required by the British Colonial Office as condition prior to granting the concession to Novomejsky and Tulloch. It was his group that had asked the Palestine Economic Corporation to increase its contribution towards the project from $50,000 to $125,000.
(In a statement made to the “Jewish Daily Bulletin,” by Jacob DeHaas, published in the issue of May 24, Mr. DeHaas gave the impression that “the whole sum required (“almost one-half a million dollars”) was privately subscribed” through the efforts of the opposition group. Mr. DeHaas, in his statement merely remarked that his group “incidentally enlisted the support of the Palestine Economic Corporation.”)
The Dead Sea concession offers a great opportunity for Jewish labor and for increased immigration to Palestine,” Judge Mack said. “While it is true that the European Jew would find it difficult to work in the Dead Sea climate, there are thousands of sturdy, healthy Jews, accustomed to it, particularly the Yemenite Jews who want to come to Palestine who can and who wish to work there,” he said.
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