Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Agency to Raise $15,000,000 to Place 25,000 Refugees in Palestine in 2 Years

August 2, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A plan to raise $15,000,000 for absorption of 25,000 refugees in Palestine within two years was completed today by the Jewish Agency for Palestine. The largest part of the sum, about $10,000,000 is expected to come from American and British Jewish organizations, with the remainder to be raised by the Jewish Agency itself in countries other than England.

The plan is based on the British Government’s recently announced White Paper policy, which provides for admission of 25,000 refugees provided the High Commissioner is “satisfied that adequate provision for their maintenance is insured.” (Under an edict issued last month by Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald, both refugee and regular immigration to Palestine has been suspended for six months starting October. The action was taken as a punitive measure to halt illegal immigration, which threatened to outstrip the regular quota from which the number of illegal entrants were being deducted.)

In addition to the refugees, the “normal” immigration for the next two years. according to the White Paper, will approximate 20,000. Thus, the Jewish Agency assumes that Palestine will be in a position to absorb within the next two years 45,000 Jews, of whom 35,000 would be victims of Nazi rule. Believing that 10,000 will immigrate either through their own means or with the aid of relatives in Palestine, the Jewish Agency’s plan provides for the assisted immigration of 25,000 refugees. This number will include 10,000 chalutzim (pioneering students) aged 18 to 35; 3,000 middle class families comprising 8,000 souls between the ages of 30 and 45; 4,500 youths aged 15, and 1,000 students.

To facilitate rapid immigration, temporary encampments are foreseen in the Agency plan for those immigrants who will not be ready for absorption in settlements or towns immediately upon their arrival. Transitory camps will be prepared for the temporary accommodation of 8,000 persons. The camps will cost an estimated $600,000, while maintenance during the first six months will be approximately $500,000.

Leading American members of the Jewish Agency, especial those now in Europe on their way to the World Zionist Congress opening in Geneva August 16, have been acquainted with the plan in detail and have been consulted regarding the possibilities of obtaining at least half of the $15,000,000 in the United States. The project does not include the cost of transportation, which would run into heavy sums. It is understood, however, that the British Government may facilitate transportation by offering free passage on British steamers. At least, that is what some Agency leaders took into consideration when preparing the plan.

Under the plan, about $6,000,000 of the sum to be raised would go for absorption and settlement of the 10,000 person aged 18 to 35 who are particularly fitted for immigration to Palestine. The majority have undergone several years of training in agriculture and horticulture.

For persons who are to be brought into Palestine over and above the authorized “regular” immigration quota, it will be necessary to satisfy the Palestine authorities that they will not be added to the labor market but that places will be created for them either in existing agricultural settlements through their enlargement or in new industrial undertakings or by their employment in special public works such as reforestation, land reclamation etc. To achieve this end, special resources will have to be provided for construction of buildings and for investments calculated to increase the country’s absorptive capacity. Of the more than $6,000,000 to be spent for absorption and settlement of the refugees, therefore, about $1,500,000 will be expended on buildings.

Next to settlement of the 10,000 chalutzim is the problem of absorbing the 3,000 middle class families. Setting this category will cost, according to the Agency’s plan more than $3,500,000 since it comprises immigrants who, because of age and general upbringing, are unsuitable for agriculture. Devoid of their own means the immigrants in this category cannot be considered as founders of industrial enterprises or trades. The Agency plan, therefore, provides that they be afforded a new opportunity to reestablish themselves through creation of auxiliary farms adjoining towns, and through loans for small businesses or trades in the towns. In both cases, assistance offered would have to be on the basis of $1,200 per family. With such a provision, the Agency believes it should be possible to secure additional small credits from Palestine loan institutions to help the immigrants in this category towards reestablishing themselves.

The absorption of 4,500 15 year-old youths, 1,500 children and 1,000 students will cost an estimated $4,000,000. The cost includes erection of dormitories and maintenance Administration expenses involved in putting the two-year plan into execution are calculated at $150,000, which sum will include reception of the immigrants.

Recommended from JTA