Jerusalem (Nov. 11)
That eight constables were engaged in searching the house of a Jew, named Shapiro, while the butchery was at its height in Safed, where eight Jews were killed, thirty wounded and the Jewish quarter razed, was revealed Saturday during the cross examination of Captain Farraday, Superintendent of Police at Safed, before the session of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry.
This was admitted by Captain Farraday, at the same time that he conceded that Safed was inadequately protected, that the authorities had reused to send him reinforcements, and chat he knew of the imminence of an outbreak for days before it occurred. The search for arms, it developed, disclosed a single broken pistol as the only firearm in a Jewish community of 3,200.
Further evidence of the inefficiency of the authorities was adduced by Sir Boyd Merriman, counsel for the Jewish Agency, after a two hour cross examination of the witness, which left him angry and perturbed.
Merriman hammered home the facts insufficiently emphasized in the official report of the Safed massacre. He pointed out that the official government report which at first described the massacre as an Arab-Jewish clash, was directly contradicted by Farraday’s report, which describes it as “a long-expected outbreak, begun when the Arabs invaded the Jewish quarter, butchering men, women and children, looting and burning Jewish property.”
Merriman showed that the SOS call of Farraday was refused by the authorities at a time when there were already British troops in the country, reinforcements arriving two hours after the massacre, and that there was sufficient warning that an outbreak was imminent. The Mufti of Safed frequently communicated with the Mufti of Jerusalem. A prominent Arab agitator visited Safed on the day of the Arab demonstration, Sunday August 25. All these facts should have been sufficient warning, he said. He revealed that despite all these indications, two machine guns were kept in the police barracks, instead of in the Jewish quarter. Merriman remarked on the strange coincidence that the police were in the lower part of the Jewish quarter while the mob was at its work in the upper, and vice versa.
While Farraday testified that he himself had killed two Arabs who had set fire to the petrol store owned by a Jew named Klinger, William Henry Stoker, counsel for the Arabs, suggested that the houses in the Jewish quarter had been set fire to by the Jews themselves in order to collect insurance.
Stoker also attempted to show that efforts at pacification had been made by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, bringing out that a telephone connection between the Grand Mufti and the Mufti of Safed had been tapped, the burden of the overheard conversation being the assurance of the Grand Mufti that the situation was well in hand and that the government was taking the necessary measures. He urged that the Arabs maintain peace. Stoker suggested also that the Moslem notables of Safed did their best to maintain order despite the shocking reports they received about Jewish atrocities elsewhere. The Arab demonstrations were peaceful and the Mufti issued a pacifying proclamation which was widely circulated.
Despite these declarations, Farraday, in answer to Stoker’s questions, was unshaken in asserting that all the violence was committed solely by Arabs, and that not a single Arab casualty was due to the Jews. All the Arab casualties were caused by the police and the military.
Subhi Khadra, notorious agitator, who visited Safed several days before the massacre, appeared Saturday, for the first time, as Stoker’s junior counsel.
Under the cross examination of Merriman, Farraday told the following story: In his opinion the outbreak was not organized, and the situation was quiet until rumors came from Haifa. At the same time, he declared that instigation began as early as August 24, five days before the attack on Safed occurred. Just before the outbreak, he threatened with imprisonment Chief Clerk of the Public Health Department, Nassouk, who, having spent his vacation in Transjordania and Jerusalem, returned to Safed and circulated the false stories that the streets of Jerusalem were running with Moslem blood. He was not sure, however, that Nassouk was the instigator. He stated that he knew of the intention to fire the kerosene store of Klinger and the Jewish quarter four days before the occurrence, the attackers having bought par affine and petrol to start the conflagration. The Jews continually begged for protection. He appealed to the authorities for reinforcements, saying he could not guarantee safety without troops. The Jews were definitely unarmed. He admitted searching Jewish houses in order, he said, to show the Moslems and the police that there was impartiality.
Asked whether Police Officer Cohen and eight policemen had not searched the house of the Jew Shapiro at the height of the butchery and arson, Cap- (Continued on Page 4)
In the face of Captain Farraday’s doubtfulness concerning the search of the house of the Jew Shapiro, Merriman produced evidence from the Magistrate’s Court which had tried and acquitted Shapiro on a charge of possessing arms, proving that the search had been made while the violence was at its peak.
Farraday agreed to Merriman’s description of the Jews of Safed, that they lived in harmony with the Arabs, that they did not engage in Zionist activities, that many speak Arabic, dress exactly the same as the Arabs, appear so much alike that the police mistook the first Jew killed for an Arab.
“Is it true that the Jews fired on the Moslems?” Merriman asked. “No,” Farraday replied. “Is it true that the Jews were armed and the Arabs unarmed, and that the conflagration was started by the Jews?” Merriman continued. “That is ludicrous,” was Farraday’s answer.
“Is the report of the Arab Executive true, to the effect that ‘it has been confirmed by the government that a Bedouin stranger, not knowing that it was imprudent to pass the Jewish quarter, was killed by the Jews?,” Farraday answered: “Emphatically, no.”
The Arab procession, consisting of eight hundred Moslems, created the critical situation in Safed, Farraday declared. The frenzied mob shouted: “We will defend the religion of Mohammed with the sword. We do not want the Jews,” waving the Arab national flag. “We do not want the Jews in Palestine. Down with Zionism. We want an Arab government.” When threatened with shooting if they did not disperse, some Arabs bared their breasts, crying: “We want death!” stated Farraday.
Reading from Farraday’s report, Merriman disclosed that the Mufti of Safed helped the police after Farraday threatened to hold him responsible if he did not maintain order, which it was in his power to do. In this connection Merriman revealed that on August 25, the Mufti of Safed left for Jerusalem, in the company of Subhi Khadra, notorious agitator, but was stopped by the authorities at Jenin and forced to return. “So we have the Mufti in Safed and Khadra in Jerusalem,” Merriman remarked.
Continuing the reading from Farraday’s report, Merriman declared that the night before the riot occurred, Farraday refused a military patrol which intended visiting Safed for two hours. Explaining his action, Farraday said that he needed reinforcements, not a mere nocturnal visitor. The departure of the patrol, he stated, would only have created the impression of military weakness. He needed troops for an indefinite period.
Preedy, government counsel, and R. Hopkin Morris, member of the Commission, defended Farraday in an effort to minimize the misunderstanding caused by his refusal of the patrol, by declaring that in the event of real trouble no troops were available.
Preedy urged that Cohen, the police officer who headed the search of Shapiro’s house, should be called to explain his action. Defending Cohen, Farraday said the officer had a great deal on his shoulders. He told of an attempt of an Arab to kill Cohen with an axe. The Arab has been sentenced to seventy years in prison.
The sessions Saturday were attended for the first time by Norman Bentwich, Attorney General, who sat with Preedy, Government Counsel, and Harry Sacher, member of the Zionist Executive, who sat with the counsel for the Jews. There was no session of the Inquiry Commission today.