Refugee Settlement in Kimberley Need Not Involve “racial Pockets.” Steinberg Holds
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Refugee Settlement in Kimberley Need Not Involve “racial Pockets.” Steinberg Holds

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Returning to Perth after an extensive tour of the North West of Australia, Dr. I. Steinberg informed the J.T.A. representative here that, while he was impressed with the suitability of the territory for Jewish colonization, he had not yet approached either the West Australian or Commonwealth Governments with any scheme or proposals. Dr. Steinberg, secretary of the Freiland League for Jewish Colonization, is at present engaged in preparing a report on rainfall, soils, etc.

When his attention was drawn to objections which have been advanced to the scheme in some quarters, Dr. Steinberg stated that any scheme for the establishment of refugees in the Kimberleys would not necessarily result in “racial pockets” or “foreign blocks.” If such a scheme could be evolved, it was important to remember that the Jewish colonists would have no political aspirations whatsoever, but would be most anxious to become good Australian citzens. The Jewish religion and Jewish culture would be maintained, but English schools and similar institutions would be established. Moreover, the colonization would have to be done by stages, and there would be no mass migration at the outset. One the territory had been opened up, there would be nothing to stop Australians from joining in the work, and this in its turn would help the migrants to become assimilated into Australian customs and conditions.

To the further allegation that the migrants might eventually gravitate to the over crowded cities, Dr. Steinberg replied that migrants would be chosen with strong agricultural tendencies and sympathies. He did not consider that financial guarantees could be offered that the migrants would stay on the land, but he was sure that the moral obligation would be respected by the new arrivals.

Dr. Steinberg added that he had been greatly impressed by the sympathetic attitude to his cause of individual members of the West Australian community. He could not anticipate or even comment on the possible Government attitude, however, as he had made no official approach as yet.

Dr. Steinberg will remain in Perth for some weeks.

While official circles remain silent about the scheme of settling Jews in the Kimberleys, the Australian press, with the exception of the “Daily News” which tersely dismisses the scheme under the caption of “Dreamland,” does not comment editorially. The “West Australian,” Perth’s leading newspaper, however, publishes a number of letters from readers, some of which are highly favorable to the scheme, while one suggests the danger of “racial pockets” being established.

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