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Snell Attributes Greater Responsibility to Mufti and Arab Executive; Leaders Blamed for Innovations

April 1, 1930
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

tine government should examine the press law now in force with a view to making provision, if such provision does not exist now, which would enable them to obtain convictions from the courts in any case in which it is proved that articles tending to a breach of the peace had been published in a newspaper in Palestine.”

Regarding the incitement, the report urges that “steps be at once taken to remedy admitted defects in the intelligence service of Palestine. An adequate and efficient intelligent service is essential to enable the government to check the activities of persons who endeavor to stir up racial feelings.”


On the functions of the Zionist Organization and the Palestine Zionist Executive the report recommends that “the government should reaffirm the statement made in 1922 that the special position assigned to the Zionist Organization by the Mandate does not entitle it to share in any degree in the government of Palestine. We recommend for the consideration of the government that they should examine the possibility of laying down some precise definition of the meaning of Article 4 of the Palestine Mandate.”

Recommendations for defence and security are that “the question of the most suitable form of garrison for Palestine should be referred to the appropriate advisors of the government. Until that question has been decided and thereafter until racial feeling has shown some marked improvement, no reduction should be made in the present garrison of two battalions of infantry. An independent inquiry should be made by an experienced police officer from some other dependency into the organization of the Palestine police department. You have already accepted and acted on this recommendation. The Palestine government should be instructed to inquire into and report upon the possibility of forming a reserve of special constables.”


Following the general conclusions of the Inquiry Commission which were signed by Sir Walter Chaw, chairman; Sir Henry Betterton, Conservative; R. Hapkin Morris, Liberal, and Harry Snell, Laborite, the report contains Mr. Snell’s reservations who says, “Although I signed the foregoing report I am unable to associate myself with some of the criticisms and conclusions which it contains and I wish to make clear beyond all question that my signature of the report does not imply agreement with the general attitude of my colleagues towards the Palestine problem.

“The policy of establishing a Jewish National Home undoubtedly raised complicated questions, both racial and economic, but I am convinced that those questions are neither unique nor insoluble and I believe that many of the immediate causes of the riots were of temporary rather than fundamental character and were due to the fears and antipathies which I am convinced Moslem and Arab leaders awakened and fostered for political needs. I, therefore, take a more serious view than my colleagues of the responsibility of those leaders for the character and conduct of the campaign of incitement which preceded the disturbances.

“I believe that the desire to secure the support of the united Moslem people provided the Mufti with all the motive he required and while I am not satisfied that he is directly responsible for, or even that he conducted some of the activities of his followers, I haven’t the least doubt that he was aware of the nature of that campaign and that he realized the danger of disturbance which is never absent when religious propaganda of an exciting character is spread among Moslem peoples.


“I therefore, attribute to the Mufti a greater share in the responsibility for the disturbances than is attributed to him in the report. I am of the opinion that the Mufti must bear the blame for his failure to make any effort to control the character of the agitation conducted in the name of the religion of which in Palestine he is the head. Nor am I able to accept the limits which are placed upon the responsibility of the Arab political leaders for the results of the campaign of agitation. The Arab Executive is clearly entitled, if it wished, to form organizations to further its views and its objects, but having done so, it should accept responsibilities for the activities of the societies so formed.

“If the campaign of political agitation had for its obectives the removal of grievances and the securing of safe-guards for the future, the methods of propaganda adopted by the Arab leaders were ill-chosen and futile. If on the other hand the campaign was designed to arouse Arab and Moslem passion, those who participated, knowing full well the results of like agitation in the past, cannot have been unaware of the possibility that serious disturbance would follow.


“Though I agree that the Arab Executive is not of necessity responsible as a body for the words or acts of its followers or even of its individual members, I find it difficult to believe that the actions of individual members of the Executive were unknown to that body, or indeed that those individuals were acting in a purely personal capacity. I am convinced that in no sense can the mass of the Palestine people be associated with the deplorable events of August.

“The good relationship which in places obtains between the two races was most strikingly shown during the disturbances by some brave Arab workmen, who at grave risk to themselves and their families, sheltered their fellow-Jewish workers in their homes until the danger had passed and then conducted them, disguised in Arab clothing, in safety to their own people. Finally, regarding the campaign of incitement, I am unable to agree with the conclusions in the reports acquitting the Moslem religious authorities of all but the slightest blame for the innovations introduced in the neighborhood of the Wailing Wall. Observing Arab nationalists (among whom I count many of the Moslem religious leaders) were quick to exploit the opportunity provided by the misguided action of the Jewish authorities in introducing a screen on the pavement in front of the Wailing Wall on the Day of Atonement in 1928.

“It is my view that many of the innovations which followed thereafter, such as the construction of the Zawiyah, the muezzin and the opening of a new doorway were dictated less by the needs of the Moslem religion and the rights of property than by a studied desire to provoke and wound the religious susceptibilities of the Jewish people.


“Though I agree with most of the conclusions regarding the complaints against the Palestine government made by the Palestine Zionist Executive, I do not accept all the arguments to those conclusions. My examination of the decisions and activities of the Palestine government during the period immediately preceding the outbreak and during the early stages of the disturbances has been governed by the consideration that the military and security forces at the disposal of that government were inadequate. In that fact I find a justification for many decisions which I could not otherwise have endorsed.

“The general question of whether in a country of racial division one race should be supplied with arms by the government for possible use against another, is admittedly a difficult one, but in the conditions prevailing in Palestine in August, unless the government felt that they were themselves in a position to protect the Jewish minority, it might, in fact, have been ‘fundamentally wrong’ for them to have furnished selected Jews with the means of defence for themselves and their fellow-men.

“I am unable to absolve the Palestine government from blame for not issuing an official communique denying that the Jews had designs on Moslem holy places. The fact that there are individual Jews in Palestine and elsewhere who indulge in millenial hopes that when the Messiah comes the Jewish temple will be rebuilt on the ancient site, ought not to have deflected the Government from carrying out, what in my view, was their clear duty.

“I don’t dissent from the conclusions in the report in regard to the failure

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