Two American Witnesses Offer Contradictory Testimony to Inquiry Commission
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Two American Witnesses Offer Contradictory Testimony to Inquiry Commission

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To the conflicting testimony from which the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry is expected to unravel the causes of the outbreak in Palestine, were yesterday added the contradictory statements of two American witnesses, Vincent Shean, correspondent of the North American Newspaper Alilance, and Miss Anne Goldsmith, an English teacher, and the daughter of a prominent New England Zionist.

On the witness stand yesterday and Wednesday, Mr. Shean asserted that it was Miss Goldsmith who informed him that armed chaluzim were coming to the Wailing Wall on Tisha B’Ab, that a Jewish demonstration would be held, that trouble was expected, and that a “bust-up” was inevitable. On the basis of this information. Mr. Shean sent despatches to the United States of a disictly anti-Zionist character, which were the cause of considerable resentment in Jewish circles in America. Taking the stand for the first time today, Miss Goldsmith flatly denied having given Mr. Shean the information described.

The American witnesses were preceded on the stand by Major McClaren, Acting Commandant of Haifa, in the absence of Colville, and by Major Crosbie, Police Commandant of Jaffa, in the absence of Major Campbell. They were heard by the Commission first in a public session, and later, privately without the presence of representatives for any of the three sides.

Silley, assistant Arab counsel, introduced a telegram sent by Mr. Shean to the North American Newspaper Alliance, notifying the syndicate of his intention to discontinue writing, declaring that he had turned anti-Zionist because he considered Zionism aggressive, dangerous, unjust, stating that he had witnessed a deliberate Jewish organized insult to the holiest Islamic place in Palestine. Silley also read into the record a letter addressed by Mr. Shean to Meyer Weisgal, editor of the “New Palestine,” then in Zurich, cancelling his arrangement to write articles and to deliver lectures under Zionist auspices.

Shean explained that his change of heart was caused by the Zionist temper. He declared he found the young Jews of Palestine flippant and cynical concerning the Arabs. He was convinced that the Jewish National Home interferes with the representative institutions of Palestine. The Zionists told him, he stated, that they can buy any Arab. His Zionist sympathies vanished when he learned that there were such things as separate school systems where the children were brought up to hate each other.

At this point, Harry Snell, Labor Commissioner, interrupted to ask: “Which Zionists are flippant?” “I mean mostly the young people, not the responsible official Zionists, who are very moderate.” “Do you find any temper among the Arabs?” asked Snell. “Yes, but I didn’t know any Arabs then,” Shean answered.

Sir Walter Shaw wanted to know whether Shean believed Miss Goldsmith expressed her own or authoritative opinion, when she warned him an outburst was imminent. Shean suggested she spoke from official knowledge.

At this point, Miss Goldsmith was called to the witness stand. From her testimony developed the revelation that the Palestine Government had ap-

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(Continued from Page 1) proached the London “Times” to dismiss Gershon Agronsky, staff correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency as correspondent of the “Times,” on the ground that he was a Jew.

Flatly denying Shean’s allegations, Miss Goldsmith told the following story. A friend and neighbor of the Agronsky family, staying in Mrs. Agronsky’s home, in Tel Aviv, she came to Jerusalem on August 14 to pay some bills. Mrs. Agronsky had requested her to visit an upholsterer and to inquire at the post office whether the London “Times” had arranged for collect messages to be filed by Mr. Agronsky and to deputize some reporter in the event something happened. At the upholsterer’s, she related, she heard that the Hadassah had ordered extra stretchers in the event Jews were injured on Tisha B’Ab, owing to the unrest in connection with the Arab building operations at the Wall, and that an Arab attack was feared.

After endeavoring to communicate with another correspondent, she decided to see Shean, who was a good friend of the Agronsky family. She decided to take him to the Wailing Wall, in the belief the Tisha B’Ab seene might interest him. She denied telling him a “bust-up” was inevitable. She declared she told him about the stretchers, but gave him no information about the Wailing Wall or the Jewish procession. Not having read the newspapers, she was unaware that trouble was expected. She saw no crowd and she never told Shean that armed chaluzim were coming to the Wailing Wall, as he testified Wednesday. She did not see a revolver, which Shean declared he saw, stating that if Shean saw one, he did not call it to her attention.

The crowd at the Wall consisted of young and old. There were tourists and visitors, and nothing irregular. She declared she remembered seeing an Arab, dressed in a white robe, edging his way through the worshippers a dozen times. Neither the Zurich Congresses nor politics were mentioned by her, she asserted.

The attacks in Haifa and Jaffa, and the events leading up to them were reviewed. Under cross-examination by Viscount Erleigh the admission was inade by McClaren that he failed to bring together Jewish and Arab spokesmen, after he had been informed by Shabbatti Levi of Haifa that he had approached a Moslem named Ibrahim Bey Khalil, regarding a joint meeting on the 24th of August to check the agitation. At the same time, Levirequested McClaren to preside. McClaren declared that he had had a casual conversation with Khalil, but that nothing came of the proposed meeting. At any rate, he said, it would have come too late, since feeling was so tense, and since Khalil had gone to his house in Mount Carmel and did not return until after the disturbances.

He said that he had first heard of the troubles in Jerusalem on Friday evening, August 23rd, when the outbreak started, aifa with its Moslem population of 13,000 and Jewish population of 14,000, the remainder being Christian Arabs and Europeans, showed slight interest in the agitation until August 24th. On that day he informed a Jewish deputation that precautions had been taken to safeguard them. Although they were excited. the Jews assisted him in maintaining order, while the Moslem notables also promised to keep order.

Under Erleigh’s cross-examination McClaren admitted knowledge that agitators, and in particular the Young Men’s Moslem Association, were busy spreading propaganda, and that pamphlets had been distributed which excited the Samarian Arabs. He conceded that only the prompt action at Nablus prevented the trouble there from spreading.

He agreed with Silley, assistant Arab counsel, that the trouble, while neither spontancous nor simultaneous, radiated gradually as the news spread of the anti-Jewsh movement.

Major Crosbic described his efforts to prevent the Arab demonstration on August 25th in Jaffa, which he considered to have a most dangerous portent. He declared that he met the Arab leaders twice. At their first conference,

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(Continued from Page 3) they were unanimously decided against the demonstration. At their second meeting, held after eleven o’clock in the evening, unanimity was lacking, it being obvious that outside forces had been at work to influence the Moslems not to check the demonstration which was bound to result in trouble.

Major Crosbie agreed to Mr. Silley’s statement that while a small, discontented majority was responsible for the actual attack, the whole population of Jaffa was opposed to the Balfour Declaration.

A general massacre in Tel Aviv was prevented, Major Crosbie declared, by the prompt action in firing of the Police Officer Riggs. Riggs and a group of four men with rifles protected the Jewish quarter of Tel Aviv. A crowd which surged around them shouted, “Kill Riggs,” and subsequently attacked a Jewish house, where the Jewish owner was killed and his two sons wounded. Crosbie agreed that Riggs’s own description that “by firing we prevented further concentrated attacks” was accurate. Crosbie denied Silley’s innuendo that the firing excited the Arabs, declaring that at the time all the Arabs were belligerent.

Sheik Muzza Far of Jaffa, Arab lawyer, who is on the government’s blacklist and who occupied a seat with the Arab counsel, was identified yesterday by Crosbie as the sheik who delivered a speech before the Young Moslem Association. At the same time, R. Hopkin Morris, member of the Commission, recognized him as having addressed a petition to the Commission when it visited Jaffa.

Crosbie, in reply to Erleigh’s questioning, declared that he did not recollect an interview with a Jewish farmers’ deputation informing him of the danger of an attack on the Jewish colonies. While Erleigh read him the list of the members of the deputation from the “Davar,” Labor daily, Crosbie stated that he remembered only making an appointment, but not that the interview had taken place. He said further that once the disturbance had started, so many meetings were held that he could not remember them all. When Erleigh pointed out that this was a very important meeting, dealing with the exodus of the Arab laborers and their women from Petach Tikvah, Crosbie hedged, saying: Such departures are usual whenever a conflict arises between Arab and Jewish labor, over orange picking for instance. Preedy, government counsel, supported the suggestion that the exodus was due to labor friction. Sir Boyd Merriman, flushing, corrected that impression.

The question of the Jewish self-defense again figured in the proceedings when Silley attempted to draw out Major Crosbie on the subject, and the spurious booklet which Stoker tried to introduce yesterday was again offered by Silley. The queries of the Arab counsel received little satisfaction from Major Crosbie. He declared that he had heard of it, but that he did not know definitely of its existence, and that he understands that it is a Jewish defense force against Arab attacks. “As a result of the policy the Jews follow?” Silley demanded. “That I am unprepared to say,” replied Crosbie. Losing his temper, Silley attempted to introduce the booklet on the Self-Defense in the pogroms in the Ukraine ten years ago. When Merriman strenuously objected, Silley exclaimed: “If my instructions are correct the headquarters of the Self-Defense are in the Ukraine, but there are branches all over the world.”

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