Stoker, Admitting Arab Attacks, Says Zionists Initiated Troubles for Propaganda Purposes and Urges M
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Stoker, Admitting Arab Attacks, Says Zionists Initiated Troubles for Propaganda Purposes and Urges M

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That atrocious injuries were perpetrated on Jews by the Arabs in the riots of last August was admitted by the Arab counsel, William Henry Stoker, in summing up for the Arab side yesterday before the Palestine Inquiry Commission. Throwing the responsibility for the disturbances on the Zionist Executive and charging that the Hebron Arabs had rushed to Jerusalem, frenzied by the news that Jews were attacking Arab brethren there, armed with clubs for self-defense, he maintained that the entire trouble had been initiated by the Zionist Executive in order to further their propaganda.

Stoker’s speech lasted five and one-half hours, two hours of which was consumed in rereading the evidence of numerous Arab witnesses who testified to assaults on Arabs. He also read from the testimony of Oswald Lees, district officer in charge of the Arab villages during the riots and who was since removed from that office and also from the Secretariat because of his outspoken Arab bias.

Stoker said he would not attempt to justify the brutalities at Hebron, but he wished the commission to consider that the Arabs there, hearing about Jerusalem, became frenzied and wanted to kill. They were primitively armed, he explained, and certainly atrocious injuries were committed, but, he hoped, it had been definitely established for (Continued on Page 7)


The news of the rioting at Haifa, the Arab counsel declared, had caused the riots at Safed. Nothing, he said, would have happened anywhere in Palestine were it not for the general rioting at Jerusalem. The commission, he said, should bear in mind the circular by M. M. Ussishkin, Director of the Jewish National Fund, which was distributed at Strasbourg, after the riots, and which urged the acquisition of new lands and the emigration of more Jews to Palestine as an answer to the recent riots and gave inside Jewish views of fight, showing it was not a one-sided attack. The Jews, the: Arab counsel said, would not admit: their responsibility because it would harm their propaganda.

Stoker insisted that the disturbances: had really started on August 17, with the fight at the Maccabee’s football field. The riots reached their pitch on the 23rd, he said. In support of this statement he pointed to the testimony of Arab witnesses who stated they were clubbed and stabbed by Jews during that week.


The Arab women hawkers did not come to Jerusalem because they feared attacks by the Jews, Stoker insisted, answering. Merriman’s contention that they did not come because they were aware their men were planning attacks on the Jews. The two first dead in Jerusalem on August 23 were Arabs, he said, and were brought in at 12:45 P. M. Following his summing up, however, Dr. Khabier, Arab assistant to the senior medical officer, called from Egypt, testified that the first dead Arab was picked up at 1:30 P. M., fully an hour after the murders of the Rothenberg brothers and Segal, at the Jaffa Gate.

Referring occasionally to Jewish self-defense measures taken before the "Arab attack," Stoker, nevertheless, argued that the Jews initiated the disturbances at Jaffa Road by throwing missiles at Liftans, while the massacre in the Georgian Jewish quarter near the Damascus Gate, occurred, he explained, because the Arabs learned of the happenings at Jaffa Road.

Quoting the testimony of Assistant Secretary Sidney Moody of the Palestine Administrative Service, to show how the Grand Mufti had been unable to calm the mob supposedly maddened by the sight of a blood-covered Arab, Stoker, satisfied that he had justified the Arab onslaught, went on to trace the Arab view as to political causes of the disturbances. He asserted that Sacher, chairman of the Palestine Zionist Executive, had not told the truth when he stated that the Zionists, previous to their congress at Zurich, had considered the Wailing Wall issue dead.


On the contrary, said Stoker, when Col. Frederick Kisch and Harry Sacher went to Zurich they left a temporary executive and the Revisionists, Wolfgang von Weisl and Klausner, remained behind. With them went Gershon Agronsky, who, Stoker charged, was their director of proganda. At this point Merriman, rising and interrupting the Arab counsel, shouted. "No sir, Agronsky was the honorary press advisor." Stoker replied that he thought he went in another capacity but would accept Merriman’s statement.

"The Revisionists," declared the Arab counsel, "are more honest than the Zionists." He described Solomon Horowitz, member of the Zionist Executive during the riots, as a peaceful gentleman until aroused and characterized Ziegfried Hoofien, temporary member of the Zionist Executive in August, as an optimistic financier. He insinuated that the Zionist funds were low, quoting cables sent to the Zurich Congress stating teachers at some of the schools were unpaid. He referred to Zurich as a "place where Zionists raise money for immigrants and land purchase." He stated that the Zionists also left behind Chief Rabbi Abraham L. Kook, "who, when his eyes are not full of tears is full of belligerence."


That Isaiah Braude, member of the temporary Zionist Executive, had repeatedly cabled the Zurich Congress about the general agitation of the public but that the Executive there replied advising him to "dampen the agitation," was another of Stoker’s assertions tending to prove that the issue over the Wailing Wall was not considered over. He cited a cable from Col. Kisch inquiring for developments over the Wailing Wall matter "which might help him in his negotiations with the Colonial office."

"I am not suggesting," said Stoker, that the events that happened were contemplated by Sacher, Kook and Klausner or even by the fire-eating von Weisl. They certainly wanted developments, however, that would persuade the Colonial Office to take steps regarding the Wailing Wall incidents."


Regretting that a conspiracy of silence seemed to surround Kisch’s reference to "developments," Stoker said that for his own sake Kisch should have been called to explain his cable to the temporary Zionist Executive. Stoker advanced a similar explanation for the outrage at the Wailing Wall during the Moslem counter demonstration. "Nobody suggested otherwise," he deposed, "than that the pressure of the crowd overturned the table, spilling oil and causing the fire which burned the papers,"-referring to the petitions.

That the entire responsibility rests on the Zionist Executive whether the (Continued on Page 8)

On behalf of the Arab Executive. Stoker said, he had undertaken to place everything before the Commission. He ignored the irrelevancy that his summing up was based mainly on the cables between the Zurich congress and the temporary Zionist Executive, and that this material had been handed him by Merriman, counsel for the Jews. Throughout the sittings this material has been capitalized both by counsel for the Arabs and for the government, both reading in sinister meanings and attempting to twist about the sense of the cables so as to convey a sense of Jewish guilt. Not the slightest evidence was offered by Stoker which would tend to show Arab or government responsibility.


Ingenious and simple as his allocation of guilt for the August riots was Stoker’s recommendation to the Commission regarding the Jewish National Home. The Mandate, he deposed, was contrary to Article 22 of the League Covenant. The Mandate, intended a national government for Palestine. Parliament, he said, never sanctioned it. Only one vote was taken in the House of Lords and that was adverse. "The Mandate might pass the House of Commons," he said, "but never would pass the House of Lords." He then suggested that it should be revised or destroyed.

In contrast to the tense and eager crowd which heard Merriman sum up Tuesday, yesterday’s court attendance was limited to a straggling few, the junior counsel on both the Arab and Jewish sides read or dozed, while the commissioners appeared to have difficulty in keeping awake. Journalists aroused themselves only at the last hour when, presumably, under directions from the Arab Executive, Stoker laid the responsibility for the greatest Arab crime at the door of the victims.

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