Jewish Agency Paints Optimistic Report of Jewish Development in Memo to Mandates Commission
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Jewish Agency Paints Optimistic Report of Jewish Development in Memo to Mandates Commission

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Dissatisfaction with British policy in connection with land legislation, immigration, protection of public security; employment of Jews in public works in Palestine and on the police force; and government contributions to education and health work are expressed by the Jewish Agency for Palestine in a communication addressed to the Palestine High Commissioner, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learns today.

The communication accompanies a memorandum on Palestine development prepared by the Jewish Agency which the High Commissioner, Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope, will submit to the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations which convenes in Geneva on Wednesday.

The communication is signed by Nahum Sokolow, as president of the Jewish Agency.

The Jewish Agency points out that Jewish public opinion is once again experiencing the disappointment which had been somewhat allayed by the letter of Prime Minister MacDonald to Dr. Chaim Weizmann, because “the undertakings given in the letter which had a direct bearing upon the progress of Jewish work in Palestine were not implemented in such a way as to leave their mark upon the practice of the Palestine Administration.

“The Jewish Agency is aware of the steps which have recently been taken by the Palestine Administration in order to arrive at an estimate of Jewish contribution to public revenues in Palestine,” the letter points out, “and also of certain measures taken to increase the Jewish share in the employment on municipal works. Unfortunately, with the exception of the Haifa Harbor works, there has hardly been any appreciable progress as far as the volume of Jewish workers in public works is concerned.”

The communication expresses the hope that the matter will be adjusted in the near future and that a policy will be worked out which may be regarded as consonant with the assurances contained on the subject in the Prime Minister’s letter.

At the same time, the communication points out that the Council of the Jewish Agency believes that the letter of Prime Minister MacDonald to Dr. Weizmann, “is not a complete statement of policy and also contains reservations which afford grounds for apprehension. In these respects the Council looks to His Majesty’s Government to reach a satisfactory settlement with the Jewish Agency in the spirit of the Mandate.

“The Council regards the letter as a basis for further negotiations of the Jewish Agency with the Mandatory Government to effect the implementing of the assurances to the Jewish people contained in the letter and the creation of such conditions as will secure the uninterrupted development of the Jewish National Home.”

Discussing land legislation in Palestine, the Jewish Agency states there is a tendency, followed in administrative and judicial practice in dealing with land disputes that continues to “impede seriously the intensive and rational agricultural development of important tracts of the country to strengthen the position of the possessor, however, casual his possession may be, as against the lawful owner, and to encourage squatting and the preferment of fictious claims. The Executive of the Jewish Agency have no desire to withold from the cultivator or tenant such protection as legislation may provide, but they view certain features of the Protection of the Cultivators Ordinance, in its amended form, as well as the Land Disputes Ordinance with serious misgivings.”

The Jewish Agency calls for the reexamination of the question of the regulation of immigration and the machinery applied to it in the light of the obligation imposed upon the Mandatory Power by Article 6 of the Mandate. This the Agency deems necessary because the “very small labor schedules granted during 1931 and the fact that prospective immigrants with private means still have to satisfy very stringent requirements before being admitted to Palestine.”

“While the Jewish Agency greatly appreciates the steps taken by Your Excellency in order to improve public security, affected during the year by a series of murders, notably in the Northern District, and while it is our hope that the various reforms and changes in the Police and other service will render completely effective Your Excellency’s desire to ensure safety for all inhabitants of the country, it is my duty to point out that the participation of Jews in the Palestine Police is still far from satisfactory. There has been only a very slight change for the better in the enlistment of Jews in the Palestine Force and of what were known to be Sir Herbert Dowbiggin’s proposals for the re-organization of the Police in this respect, no significant part has so far been carried into effect. Important Jewish centres continue to have no adequate contingents of Jewish police at their disposal and in certain departments of the Service, the percentage of the Jewish personnel is particularly low.”

Continuing, the communication says “the situation with regard to the Transjordan Frontier Force continues to give ground for even greater dissatisfaction. Approximately £ 750,000 have been spent up to date out of Palestine revenue for the maintenance of this Force and its Reserve Detachments. It has become to all intents and purposes part of the permanent Palestine garrison. It guards the Jordan line and the Hydro-Electric Works, and has, among other things, to prevent gun running into Palestine. The defense of certain areas of Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley and Galilee is entrusted to it. Yet the Jewish citizens of Palestine are virtually excluded from its ranks. On January 1st, 1931, the Transjordan Frontier Force, the strength of which, including the Reserve Unit was 980, had twenty-eight Jews, including two officers on its lists. Considerations of equity and security alike call urgently for measures to be taken with a view to including, in a suitable form, a substantial section of Jews in the active ranks as well as in the Reserve Units of the Transjordan Frontier Force.”

The Jewish Agency reiterates that the Palestine government’s contribution to the maintenance of the Hebrew School System and the Jewish Health Services is in no way commensurate with the needs of the Jewish community and its contribution to public revenue, or in the case of the Health Services even with the ratio of the Jews to the total population of Palestine.

The communication concludes on an optimistic note. It declares that Palestine does not appear to be severely affected by the crisis and is one of the few countries the public revenue of which does not reflect the crisis. It ends with the announcement that “the Jews have given evidence that ## setbacks can weaken the determination of the Jewish people to ### their National Home. On the foundations already laid the Jewish people will go forward with confidence,” the letter concludes.

The report itself, a statistical memorandum, paints an optimistic picture of general conditions in the Holy Land, due to Jewish initiative which it is revealed has also benefited the Arabs.

The report is divided into the following sections: Population; Immigration and Labor ; Employment of Jews on Public Works ; Agricultural Colonization ; Urban Development ; Industry ; Public Health ; Education ; Finance.


The Jews constitute 18% of the total settled population of Palestine and 16.9 percent of the whole population including Bedouin. In the ten years between the census of October 1922 and the census of November 1931, the Jewish population has increased from 83,794 to 175,006, while the non-Jewish population has increased from 673,388 to 860,148.

“Two satisfactory features revealed by the preliminary census returns,” says the memorandum, “are : the remarkable increase both in number and percentage of the whole, in number and percentage of the whole, in the Jewish rural population which rose from 15,172— 18.1% of the total Jewish population — in 1922 to 46,485— 26.5% of the total population in 1931— an increase of 31,313 or just 200 percent ; and the fact that the increase in the Arab population was most marked in those districts where most progress has been made in Jewish settlement.”

“The inference,” says the report, “appears to be that the development of the Jewish National Home is providing a livelihood not only for the Jews, but also for a very substantial number of Arabs. This inference is borne out by the fact that the emigration of Palestinian Arabs to other countries is lower at present than it was before the War, and that there is reason to believe that there is a considerable Arab infiltration into Palestine across the land frontiers.”


During 1931, a total of 4,075 Jews were registered as immigrants, while the total number of Jewish emigrants was 666, the lowest figure on record, says the report.

“The returns show a slight increase, both in numbers and percentage of the immigrants classified as of ‘independent means’ and as ‘dependents’ and a substantial decrease in the number of Labor Schedule immigrants.

“It is worth noting that, in spite of the severe economic depression prevailing in Europe and America, 233 families were admitted to Palestine as persons of independent means, i.e., possessing at least £ 1,000 each. The minimum capital thus introduced was £ 233,000, and it is probable that the actual amount in the possession of these immigrants was considerably higher.


“Jewish urban unemployment among Jews was less than 1% of the Jewish urban population throughout 1931.

“In rural districts the totally unemployed did not rise above 2.5% of the Jewish rural population.


“On the Haifa Harbor Works, there were employed at the end of 1931, 360 Jews out of a total of 1,700 work people. This represents a substantial increase over the previous year (when 183 Jews were employed out of a total of 1,120), though it is still no more than barely proportionate to the Jewish percentage of the total population and very far from corresponding to the much higher ratio of the Jewish contribution to the public revenues.

“No corresponding improvement took place on other Government works, or on works executed by municipalities. In Jerusalem where Jews constitute nearly 60% of the population, the 280 persons employed on municipal works at the end of 1931 included only 40 Jews, while on public works in the Northern (Haifa) District, there were at the same date 35 Jews out of a total of 480 workpeople.

“Though the rates of wages showed a slight decrease as the year advanced, there was exceedingly little friction between employers and employed.


Land purchase : “The Registers of the Government Department of Lands for 1931 show Jewish purchases of land amounting to 41,226 metric dunams valued at £ P1,075,121 as compared with 43,882 metric dunams valued at £ P817,260 in 1930. Land sales by the Jews in the same period reached a total of 22,641 metric dunams valued at £ P939,583 as compared with 24,516 metric dunams valued at £ P680,190 in the previous year.

“Palestine agriculture has naturally not escaped the consequences of the world-wide depression and fall in prices of agricultural commodities, but it has, on the whole, suffered less than other countries, since a large proportion of its agricultural produce is sold in the home market.

“The Jewish Agency made considerable progress with its consolidation work during the year.


“Building construction in the principle towns was maintained at its normal level during the year.


“The government contribution to the Jewish health services is extremely small. Jews seldom or never use Government hospitals and the expenditures on those branches of the social hygiene service which most vitally concern them is kept down to a minimum. With the exception of the grant of £ P2,500 to the municipal hospital of Tel A{SPAN}###{/SPAN} and a single small contribution to the Ez{SPAN}##{/SPAN}th Nashim Mental Hospital, the government made practically no contribution to the maintenance of the Jewish health services during the year under review.”


“Twenty-three thousand, one hundred and forty-five Jewish children, or about 66%, receive their education in the schools under the supervision of the Jewish Agency education department ; 30% attend other schools, just over 2% attend private Christian schools and only 0.2% Government schools.

“The Palestine government’s contribution is £ P19,200 or only 10.4% of the total expenditure of the Jewish schools.


“While the contributions to the funds of the Jewish Agency were affected by the world crisis, they were also materially affected by events and conditions in Palestine and more especially by the severe restrictions on immigration, the virtual suspension of labor schedule immigration and the absence for many months of any visible steps toward the fulfilment of assurances given in the Prime Minister’s Letter of February 13, 1931, to Dr. Weizmann and in the Government Despatch of June 26, 1931.”

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