A new theory as to the cause of the outbreaks was advanced to the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry by Silley, Arab counsel, who asserted that the Zionists had stimulated the disturbances in order to obtain money with which to make additional land purchases in Palestine.
Silley’s declaration that this is the stand which the Arabs take and formally present as their case, followed the report of a speech delivered by M. M. Ussishkin, head of the Jewish National Fund, on October 4, in Strasbourg, by Alfred Roch, an orange grower of Jaffa. Called as a witness by the Arab Executive, Mr. Roch asserted he attended the meeting and heard the appeal issued by Mr. Ussishkin, after the outbreaks, which was widely distributed, urging new land and new men as the answer to recent events in Palestine.
The Commission heard five Arab witnesses yesterday morning. It is expected eight additional witnesses will be called by the Arab Executive before it concludes its case. The Zionist case will open immediately afterward. Harry Sacher and Dr. Arthur Ruppin, members of the Zionist Executive, will be among the witnesses. Whether or not their evidence will be taken in camera is not yet known. There is a feeling here that in view of the sweeping allegations concerning Jewish land purchase made by Farah, the Zionist evidence regarding land purchases should be given in public.
The Commission examined in camera yesterday afternoon, Kirkbride, Acting Chief British Resident at Amman during the outbreaks.
Among the Arab witnesses heard were Farah, agricultural expert, who concluded his testimony; Haj Tewfik Hammad. Moslem elder of Nablus; a Greek cabinetmaker, and Dr. Oscar Chutzinger of the German Hospital of Jerusalem.
Dr. Chutzinger testified that on August 29 he saw some forty or fifty Jews pursuing a fellaheen and that a man picked up a heavy stone and threw it at the head of the prostrate Moslem, who died in the hospital that afternoon.
The cabinetmaker testified that he saw Jews beating Arabs during the football match when the Jewish youth Abrahm Mizrachi was wounded. On August 23, the beginning of the riots, he further stated, he saw Jews gathering on top of the Slonim Building on Jaffa Road, from which they threw, stones at the Arab crowd below.
Merriman did not examine these two witnesses, since the true circumstances of the events cited are too well known and uncontested. Preedy, Government counsel, also refrained from examining them.
The assertion of the Moslem Elder of Nablus that there is not a single person in Palestine who does not share his conviction that it is the ambition of the Jews to gain control of the entire country in order to rebuild the Wailing Wall, was badly shaken under cross-examination by Sir Boyd Merriman.
Displaying a keen interest in the political and religious acquaintances of Hammad, Merriman asked him: “Have you discussed your anxieties with the Moslem Supreme Council?” “Yes,” answered the witness. “Have you discussed your anxieties with the Grand Mufti?” Merriman continued. Again the answer was in the affirmative. “We are united in our belief on the question,” he asserted.
“Did you tell the people of Nablis what you thought the Jews intended to do?” Merriman queried. “No,” answered Hammad.
“Have you discussed the Jewish designs on the Mosque with your fellow notables of Nablus?” asked Merriman. “Yes, on many occasions,” was the Arab’s reply.
“Have you told them what you be-
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(Continued from Page 1) lieve?” Merriman persisted.
“Sometimes I told them. Sometimes they told me ‘we have the same information’,” Hammad stated.
“When did you begin to think the Jews had designs on encroaching on the Wailing Wall?” Merriman wanted to known.
“I had the same feeling before the war, but it increased with the issuance of the Balfour Declaration,” asserted Hammad.
“Was a letter from anybody in Jerusalem circulated in Nablus calling for the people to congregate in Jerusalem on August 23?” asked Merriman.
“I never heard of the letter,” was the answer of the witness.
“Not even from the Mufti?” queried Merriman.
“No letter was distributed; but I heard of proceedings against the person possessing a forged letter,” said Hammad.
Merriman reminded the Commissioners that regardless of whether or not such a letter was circulated, the District Officer of Nablus had testified on the witness stand that about one hundred and fifty young Moslems, referring to them as rowdies, who normally had not the price of carfare, proceeded to Jerusalem for the Prophet’s birthday.
Farah, the agricultural expert summoned by the Arab Executive, completed his testimony yesterday morning. Farah asserted that all contracts with the Zionist land agents were made by the poorest of the Arab sheiks, who were induced to submit to sale of their property by financial considerations.
He cited the case of the village of Subieh, where the government paid seven hundred pounds as compensation, of which the “weak willed” sheik received two hundred and seventy pounds, while the rest of the tribe was unable to raise forty pounds to pay a lawyer to fight their case. Farah failed to mention the remarkable fact that the Arab Executive is full of lawyers.
During the afternoon session, a series of Arab witnesses and one Jewish witness took the stand. Abdul Raschied, who had earlier in the day introduced the Mizrachs, the Jewish wall decorations, was recalled. In his cross-examination, Merriman brought out the fact that the witness had had a photo-engraving of one of the pictures made and reproduced in an Arab paper, but had eliminated portions of it. These portions included biblical quotations and the name of a rabbi who died before the World War, thus showing that the picture was old and harmless.
Merriman called in Emil Pokovsky, a Jewish printer, who testified that he had made the photo-engraving and that it had been finished on September 25, 1928, which was before Yom Kippur. He said that he would not have omitted any portions of it unless so ordered by the customer.
The next witnesses were Mohammed Kadamani and Haj Deeh, who testified to having seen at a Jewish procession at the Wailing Wall, a Jew carrying an iron rod and saying, “Tomorrow we will carry rifles.” Merriman did no cross-examining, apparently treating the testimony contemptuously.
Ibrahim Shihadeh, the next witness, a resident of Lifta, testified that he lived near the football field, the scene of a fight on August 17. When questioned by Maughanam, the witness said that he left his work at the Rothschild hospital on the afternoon of August 17, and as he returned home he saw a crowd of Jews, so he locked the door. Knowing Hebrew, he said he heard them say that they would kill him. The witness said that he was saved by Lees, “the man with the monocle,” who took him to Lifta in an automobile, where he had remained ever since.
In cross-examining Shihadeh, Merriman got from him the statement that he had remained in the house the entire day and night of the 23rd and 24th of August. “Did you know of the disturbances?” asked Merriman. “I knew nothing of them,” replied the witness. At this, everyone, including the Commissioners, burst into laughter at the thought of anyone in Lifta not knowing about the disturbances. Shihadeh was followed on the stand by another resident of Lifta, who also lives near the football field. He testified that he had been stabbed three times by Jews who broke into his house. His wife and children, he said, were saved by a Jewish neighbor, whom the Jews beat up when he tried to save the witness. He said that he had spent four days in the hospital and then returned to Lifta, because his house near the football field had been looted and burned. He told of remaining in Lifta during the 23rd and 24th, and he said he had heard of the disturbances.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.