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Palestine Needs and Can Absorb More People, Experts Testify at Washington Hearing

January 14, 1946
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Palestine needs a larger population for the constructive effort from which both Jews and Arabs would benefit, Dr. Walter C. Lowdermilk, assistant chief of the Soil Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, testified yesterday before the Anglo-American Inquiry Committee, which will conclude its hearings here tomorrow.

The Jordan Valley irrigation project, be said, is as practical as any similar project in Southern California. He lauded the Jewish colonists in Palestine for their love of the land. Through application of modern technology, he stated, they increased productivity per acre and per man thus enlarging the world food supply and improving standards throughout the Middle East.

Dr. Abel Wohlman, professor of sanitary engineering at Johns Hopkins University and chairman of the Palestine Economic Board, told the committee that the present 100,000 irrigated acres in Palestine could, through the projected hydroelectric development of the Jordan, be increased by 650,000 acres at a cost of less than $200,000,000. “This is not a grandiose scheme but a grand scheme,” he said, “a banker’s undertaking which would pay out at three percent in under 50 years.”

The project can be developed in eight stages, he said. Results of the first stage would be evident within the first five years and other results in ten years. A twelve-month growing season, he said, would ensure success of the project. Dr. Wohlman emphasized that the purpose of the project is to recapture lands historically fertile. Discussing costs, Wohlman said the first stage would cost approximately $25,000,000, and other stages could be developed at a more moderate cost. As alternative financing sources, he presented government or joint government-private financing.

James Hays, engineer of the Palestine Economic Board, presented to the committee a technical outline of the Jordan project. His explanation of the plan for use of the Negav with irrigation aroused the committee’s interest. Henry W. Day shore, of the Palestine Economic Board and for 39 years with the United States Bureau of Reclamation, expressed the view that amortization of the project in forty to fifty years at the percent would make an appreciable difference to the water user.


The Reverend Charles T. Bridgeman, of Trinity Church in New York, who lived in Palestine from 1924 – 1944 as a representative of the American Episcopal Church, advocated immediate admission to the U.S. of as many Jewish displaced persons as can not be resettled in decent conditions in their former homes in Europe.” He said it would be hypocritical for us to force Great Britain to foist Jews upon the Arabs who have already received up to half their number, and not to enlarge American immigration quotas.

“Palestine is too small to serve as a solution of the Jewish problem.” Bridgeman said. He stated that the British Administration and not the Jews were responsible for improvement in Arab health and education.

The type of nationalism developing in Palestine is patterned after “eastern European totalitarianism,” he said. He declared that “narrow Jewish nationalism” provoked anti-Jewish attacks in neighboring countries. After Bridgeman had attributed the majority of the difficulties to the Jews, Sir John Singleton asked Bridgeman if the Arabs did not have faults too.

Rev. Daniel A. Poling, representing the Christian Council on Palestine and the American Palestine Committee, said that Christian Zionists in the United States favor the establishment of a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine. He also cited the recent Gallup poll as proof that Americans in general favor the project. He called for abrogation of the White Paper and implementation of the Balfour Declaration. Judge Joseph Hutcheson, American chairman of the committee, and two of the British members, Wilfred F. Crick and Richard H. S. Crossman, challenged Dr. Poling’s assertion that the Christian Churches favored the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine.

A joint statement by 123 Jewish chaplains in the United States armed forces was submitted to the committee by the American Jewish Conference, urging free entrance into Palestine of the uprooted Jews of Europe, and the establishment of a free and democratic Jewish commonwealth in Palestine. The statement was part of a supplementary memorandum presented by the conference.

It also contained a statement by Rabbi Philip Bernstein of the Committee of Army and Navy Religious Activities of the Jewish Welfare Board, declaring that thousands of communications in the JWB files testify to the hopeless situation of Jews in Eastern and central Europe. Statements by five army chaplains graphically describing the conditions of Jewish refugees in Europe, as they personally witnessed them, were included in the memorandum.

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